Links 8/15/12

Dog Shot on 14th Street by NYPD Officer: Eyewitness Account [Update] New York Observer

Neanderthal breeding idea doubted BBC

Is the USDA a wholly-owned subsidiary of Monsanto? Cornucopia Institute (Francois T)

Drought, Fracking, Coal and Nukes Wreak Havoc on Fresh Water Supplies EcoWatch (Lambert)

Meet the 82-year-old nun who just committed the worst nuclear security breach in U.S. history Grist (Aquifer)

Call Marlo from The Wire on the Phone Slate (YY)

Argentina’s New Literary Tradition: Pensions for Aging Writers New York Times

Correa: Assange asylum rumors false, no decision yet RT (Aquifer)

RBA wags the dog on housing affordability MacroBusiness. This is sounding SO much like America early 2007 it isn’t funny.

Eurozone crisis: Time to tax the rich? VoxEU

Europe returns to recession MacroBusiness

Currency’s Days Feared Numbered: Investors Prepare for Euro Collapse Der Spiegel

‘Economic suicides’ shake Europe as financial crisis takes toll on mental health Washington Post (Scott). Um, the Journal picked up on this months ago. And does no one recognize the plan is to bring austerity and its attendant woed to the US?

Arson attack damages offices of Greek neo-Nazi party Globe and Mail

World shipping crisis threatens German dominance as Greeks win long game Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

Lib Dems push to reopen bank reform Financial Times

Northern Ireland: A peace to protect Financial Times

U.S. Navy ship collides with tanker off Hormuz AP (YY)

Israel has not decided on Iran strike: U.S. defense chief AFP

Secrecy creep Glenn Greenwald

Grassroots Activists Struggle to Motivate African Americans to Vote Black Youth Project (Chuck L)

GOP pros fret over Paul Ryan Politico

The 64-Gazillion-Dollar Question Other Words (Aquifer)

Link: 1.5 million people were told that extreme conservatives are happier than political moderates. Approximately .0001 million Americans learned that the opposite is true Andrew Gelman. How about: people who are extreme politically give extreme answers! This studies always treat correlation as being causation. Gah.

A Transactional Genealogy of Scandal: from Michael Milken to Enron to Goldman Sachs William Bratton, Adam Levitin. On CDOs.

Wall St. “Cheetahs” and the Financial Transaction Tax Real News Network (Aquifer). Nurses again as important advocates (oh, and Lisa Epstein lost :-()

Paul Ryan sold shares on same day as private briefing of banking crisis Guardian. Whoops. Saw this yesterday, neglected to include it.

Judge Tosses Case Against Fannie and Freddie Courtroom News Service

Campaign: Ryan’s Medicare Policies Draw Fire Medpage (Aquifer)

Late Night: Romney’s Rafalca Folds, But Could Spawn a Hot ‘n’ Sexy Industry Lisa Derrick, Firedoglake. Taking issue with Lee Sheppard’s view that Rafalca can’t make it as a business under IRS rules.

* * *

lambert here:

D – 25 and counting*

But we have tried to frame a law which will give some measure of protection to the average citizen and to his family against the loss of a job and against poverty-ridden old age. This law, too, represents a cornerstone in a structure which is being built, but is by no means complete. –Franklin Delano Roosevelt, August 14, 1935

Montreal. Strike: “Following three more votes Monday to end the strike, the tally now stands at six to one among junior colleges, called CEGEPs in Quebec, in favour of returning to class.” Strike: “Of the 160,000 students who boycotted their classes at the height of the strike in the spring, there are now some 110,000. If that number were to drop below 100,000, several university and college associations would automatically end their own strike mandates.” … Strike, student: “We have a provincial election [Sept. 4]. We can vote there.” … Strike, “‘We’re going to respect the back-to-class votes that happened in the different student associations,’ said Camille Robert, co-spokesperson for [CLASSE].”

CA. Legalization: “The Los Angeles City Council’s unanimous vote Tuesday to ban all pot dispensaries was met with a mixture of anger and support.”

FL. Charters: “[Last spring], every Florida parent group warned that the parent trigger was a transparent attempt by the charter operators to trick parents into handing their public school over to the charter chains. By funding opposition to the senators who oppose the parent trigger, the for-profit charter chains are demonstrating that the parent groups were right.”

GA. Corruption: “In a state of 9 million people, it is more than a coincidence when a handful of families have multiple members serving in appointed positions to government boards.” With handy list! … Charters: “The controversy over whether the state can fund a charter school over the rejections of a local school board will be decided in November’s election.” … Climate: “This year GA became the latest state to enact new rules to prevent heat-related deaths of high school football players, a category in which the state leads the nation.”

LA. Evacuation: “A nearly 400-foot deep sinkhole in LA has swallowed all of the trees in its area and enacted a mandatory evacuation order for about 150 residences for fear of potential radiation and explosions.” That’s some sinkhole. … Austerity: “UNO President Peter Fos announced plans Tuesday to trim spending by $12 million to make up for a budget shortfall.”

MA. Local politics: “In the old days, a few self-selected insiders [spent] hours each day on the phone gossiping like teenagers about the politics of the day. Those calls along with an inside track to what would be ‘in the paper’ were all one needed to be perceived as a power in local politics. All that has changed. I don’t know if the internet and social media are a cause of it or a symptom of it or just tools that are used by people with a different view of how politics work in a changing city.”

ME. Civic engagement: “The state senator who led the push for a study of an east-west highway across ME has asked Gov. Paul LePage to suspend the study until the Legislature can enact protections for property owners.’didn’t think we’d be stepping into this kind of hornets’ nest,’ said state Sen. Thomas.

MI. Referendum: “A showdown is brewing in Pontiac over who controls city government after the city council voted Monday night to reclaim the power it lost when an emergency manager was appointed to run the financially-struggling community [after] a ruling earlier this month by the MI Supreme Court to let voters in November decide the fate of Public Act 4, the emergency manager law.” … Extractive economy: “[The Enbridge 2010 spill] gushed more than three million litres [790000 gallons] of oil into the Kalamazoo River and cost around $800 million U.S. to clean up.”

NY. Police blotter: “A shop in Nanuet will pay a total of $15,000 after an investigation by state AG Eric Schneiderman’s office found products such as nitrous oxide canisters had been mislabeled.” So Lawsky claws back $350 million from Standard Chartered, and Schneiderman busts a head shop. … Climate: “A reactor at the Millstone nuclear plant in Waterford, Conn., has shut down because of something that its 1960s designers never anticipated: the water in Long Island Sound was too warm to cool it.”

PA. Fracking: “John Arway, executive director of the state Fish and Boat Commission, said he was torn between the commission’s mission as stewards of the environment versus what could be significant — and sorely needed — new revenue sources generated by allowing Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling beneath some of the 56 dams managed by the commission statewide and by selling some of the water in the impoundments for fracking. Mr. Arway said the commission ‘can’t even come close’ to being able to fund the estimated $46.5 million needed to repair 19 “high-hazard” dams.” So the petro-state is a win-win!

TX. Voting: “A federal judge in Galveston today denied the state’s request for a stay that would have allowed TX to enforce several of its voter registration laws.” … Disease: “The number of [380] reported West Nile cases is far higher this year than each of the last five years, and the outbreak has been highly concentrated in North TX.” … Lawsuits: “He stated in a nine-page, hand-written lawsuit that he told the grocery sacker, a black man, ‘Wait a minute, don’t touch my groceries. I can’t have someone negroidal touch my food. It’s against my creed.'”

VA. Transparency: “[Joan Fenton]’s planning to keep documenting [UVa Board of Vistor’s] meetings, and making the recordings available to the media and UVa’s special collections library, until it becomes a standard part of board meetings.”

WI. Voting: “For now, at least, it seems the [recall] ballots in Waukesha County are ‘safe’ and can hopefully be counted by actual human beings. [F]or that to happen, the Hand Count Votes Now! coalition will have to challenge and reverse [County Clerk Kathy] Nickolaus’ July 17 denial in order to gain access to examine ballots.” … Sustainability: “Over the past year, [UW student Isaac] Sinnott has volunteered with a program called Full Cycle Freight, which helps local restaurants productively dispose of organic materials. This diverts thousands of pounds of food scraps away from landfills and transforms them into fertilizer for local farms.” … Extractive economy: “More than 50,000 gallons of oil was spilled in Grand Marsh, and more than 17,000 tons of contaminated soil has been removed [of 45,000 total]. The Enbridge Energy Partners pipeline has since reopened.”

Outside baseball. Sociopaths: “[US Rep James Sensenbrenner:’ ‘[A Romney administration] will be controversial. It will cause pain‘ to restore the economy.” … Sociopaths: “America 2012. It’s just one big laboratory for the S&M fantasies of the Villagers.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that. … Sociopaths: “‘You fall through the cracks and there’s nothing you can do about it,’ said the 52-year-old home health aide. ‘It makes me feel like garbage.'” That’s not a bug. It’s a feature. … The left: “For all the well-deserved bashing that Ryan is taking from my party, the Ds need to ask themselves why they won’t encourage the growth of unabashed liberals the way the GOP has allowed far-right politicians to blossom.” Citizen Dave, stone D. … Water: “A well may be fracked up to 18 times. The water, usually drawn from natural resources such as lakes and rivers, is unrecoverable once it’s blasted into the earth, and out of the water cycle for good.” … Water: “No one tracks the number of wells that go dry, but state and local governments and well diggers and water haulers report many more dead wells than in a typical summer across a wide swath of the Midwest.” … Judicial restraint: “Once legality and candor are rejected as the criteria for right action, then the measure must instead be based on substantive and controversial moral and political judgments.” Interesting.

Grand Bargain™-brand catfood watch. Semantics: “Do not say: ‘entitlement reform,’ ‘privatization,’ ‘every option is on the table,’ [BWA-HAHA-HA!]” the National Republican Congressional Committee said in an email memo. “Do say: ‘strengthen,’ ‘secure,’ ‘save,’ ‘preserve, ‘protect.’” … Oopsie: “[ERSKINE BOWLES:] Have any of you all met Paul Ryan? …. I’m telling you this guy is amazing. … He is honest, he is straightforward, he is sincere. And the budget that he came forward with is just like Paul Ryan. It is a sensible, straightforward, serious budget.” … Finessing the issue: “Three D House members objected Tuesday to a request by four senators that Obama and Romney be asked which of the [Catfood] commission’s proposals to address the debt they support. The Ds said such a question would force ‘candidates to choose solutions from one menu of options.’” … Two-tier retirement: “Ryan has drawn nearly $400,000 from retirees this election cycle, dramatically outperforming most House lawmakers.” … Two-tier retirement: “I didn’t anticipate the ‘vote to cut benefits for people not yet retired some decades in the future’ gambit.”

The trail. Polls: “[P]olls become more accurate as you get closer to the election. But this is the part of the cycle when that rule is violated, because of the vice-presidential announcements and the conventions. We are now entering a foggy period in the polling.”

Robama vs. Obomney watch. Film at 11: “Both campaigns kick today off by accusing the other of lying.” … Guess who: “He demonizes some. He panders to others. His campaign strategy is to smash America apart and then cobble together 51 percent of the pieces. If an American president wins that way, we all lose.”

Romney. Ryan pick: Hot or not. … Ryan pick: “”There are people in his district shocked to find out he was a big player on budget stuff. He has been able to define his own story. He didn’t really spend any time in state politics and right out of college he went right into interning. While he is a WI congressman, he is not somebody who came up through the state ranks.” …. Ryan pick: “I spoke to many people at the [IA State Fair] and found two reactions over and over – ‘He’s awesome!’ and: ‘Paul who?’ A lot of people, even here in neighboring Iowa, have no idea who Paul Ryan is.”

Obama. Retooled stump speech: “OBAMA: Now, let me just see a show of hands. How many folks are making more than $3 million a year? (Laughter.) Okay, this guy back here. (Laughter.) I’m looking for a campaign contribution. (Laughter and applause.)” Making them love the con; see Stoller here. … Needler-in-chief: “[Obama criticized Romney’s] assertion that ‘You can’t drive a car with a windmill on it.’ [saying] ‘I don’t know if he’s actually tried that. I know he’s had other things on his car,” drawing laughter from a crowd at a farm here.” Try the veal. … Vote for Obama because RomneyCare: “[OBAMA:] I really think he had a great health care plan when he was in Massachusetts. Seems to be working really well [BWA-HA-HA-HA!]– One of the reasons why we set up the same kind of plan nationally and we’re implementing it right now.” … The pitch: “[OBAMA: ] If you put in the effort and you are responsible, then you can find a job that pays the bills. You can have a home that you call your own.” Well, you could have a home that you call your own if the banksters hadn’t destroyed the land title system, committed umpteen frauds on the court when foreclosing, and been given a Get Out of Jail Free card by the administration. Other than that…

* 25 days until the Democratic National Convention ends with a deep-fried dry water for everybody on the floor of the Bank of America Panther Stadium, Charlotte, NC. 25 is the minimum age of candidates for election to the United States House of Representatives.

* * *

Antidote du jour:

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  1. Lloyd C. Bankster

    So I decided to take NPR’s Adam Davidson out to Masa’s restaurant in New York. Told him it was a reward him for the excellent job he’s been doing on Planet Money.

    Told him Jamie, Bob [Rubin] and I had decided he can stay, for now at least. As long as he doesn’t get any funny ideas and step out of line. Like that Phil Donuhue anti-war nutjob once did over at MSNBC.

    Remember Phil? You’ll notice he’s not around anymore. A couple phone calls to the parent company took care of that little problem.

    Told him Masa’s owner is a friend of mine, so I’ll order for both of us.

    It will be a surprise.

    Adam responded, “Sir, yes sir. What time shall I be there?”

    So there we are sitting at Masa’s restaurant.

    For myself I ordered the usual: the fatty bluefin tuna tartare cloaked in osetra caviar, followed by a toro-and-caviar dish, then I proceeded to an elegant kaiseki-style preparation of sea trout in a shabu-shabu broth, followed by an indulgent bite of shaved summer truffles pressed onto sushi rice and I finished up with a grapefruit granité.

    To wash this down, I sampled a bottle of 2008 Premier Cuvée Pinot Noir. (Not a bad vintage, btw, and 2008 was a very good year, at least for myself and the rest of the 0.01 percent.)

    Adam must have been expecting some kind of caviar dish as well, because he tried showing off his French, asking me “quel vin boire avec le caviar?” but instead I had the waiter surprise him with a Jack-in-the-Box Junior Bacon Cheeseburger along with a diet Mountain Dew.

    For desert, I had the waiter bring Adam an Oreo Milkshake, also from the Jack-in-the-box take-out menu.

    You should have seen the excited look on Adam Davidson’s face when the waiter brought out my order first, licking his chops in anticipation, followed by the crestfallen look of absolute devastation when the waiter served him his Junior Bacon Cheeseburger and Mountain Dew.

    So I told him: “Listen to me Adam. Like I said on the phone, you can stay at NPR. For now. But never forget this: you and all the others, Ezra Klein, Andrew Ross Sorkin, Roger Lowenstein, all of you, you’re nothing but c*m-buckets for the 0.01 percent, you spineless piece of shit. And the funny thing about c*m-buckets is how replaceable they are. Are we getting the picture here, Adam? Am I making myself clear?”

    “Now stop looking at me like that and eat your f**king burger.”

    Adam gulped, nodded that he understood, then nibbled on his cheeseburger.

    But you should’ve seen the look on his face when I told him that.

    Bootlicking, bowing, brownnosing, compliant, cowering, crawling, cringing, servile, slavish, sniveling, spineless, submissive, subservient, and sycophantic. All at the same time. In one look, he managed to express everything I like about NPR, Adam Davidson and the entire US media.


    1. albrt

      Lloyd, why didn’t you run for President on that “Americans Elect” ticket? I think you would have been a good fit.

      We really needed a guy halfway between the Republicans and the Democrats in the sense that he understands what motivates both of them.

      And don’t tell me it’s too much trouble for a job nobody wants. I can see from your story that you’re a public-spirited fellow, and you have what it takes to hire the people to get the job done.

      1. Bev

        No “American Select.” Who would that One American Select on a computer which cannot be verified, refuted, observed?

    2. Flying Kiwi

      Pinot Gris with seafood? Look old chap Rollers, private jets and Greek Islands are one thing but there are certain ‘standards’ you know. And I’m rather afraid some of the older members had a few shares in Penn Central and… well, you know how it is. Axes to grind and all that. And bringing those oiks, like that chap the other day… I mean, a reporter or some such, wasn’t he?.. just to impress them… well, you know how that is, too. So I’m afraid the membership committee… well, I’m sure I needn’t go on. I mean, when it comes down to you’re just not one of us, old boy. And you’ve still got a nice office to go to, haven’t you? And a pretty little secretary, I’m sure. So, er, well good luck and toodle-pip.

      1. Lloyd C. Bankster

        Keep being a smart ass and next thing you know I’ll be serving your spleen for dinner, along with a nice Pinot Noir.

        But just for the record, yes, Pinot Noir (not Pinot Gris, you moron) goes perfectly well with meats with some degree of fattiness — especially with a twist of pepper or slightly bitter vegetables on the side. But the tannin of Pinot Noir is also very soft, very tender, making this usually a very sleek, smooth, easy-drinking red wine which goes just as well with white meats like fish, veal, pork, chicken or Flying Kiwi.

        In fact, a slightly chilled bottle of typical Pinot Noir is just as soft and easy to drink as most California Chardonnays.

      2. hermanas

        Penn Central was my boss in ’71.
        Became Avida (Fla real estate),then bankruptcy.
        The die was cast.

    3. Bev

      Such great writing and also so true. Please contrast your story to tell about brave journalists and politicians.

      So here is the story of a brave politician.

      Petition for the commutation of sentence or pardon of Governor Siegelman

      Dear Friends,

      Five years ago, my dad, Don Siegelman, was taken away in handcuffs and shackles. Many came to see his case as a travesty of justice. It has been a tumultuous struggle within the court system and a huge blow to our faith in government. He has lost his reputation, practically all his assets, and his freedom. I desperately need your help to free my father. Please sign this petition to President Obama asking him to restore justice and pardon my dad!

      Why Sign?

      Gov. Don Siegelman was the 51st Governor of Alabama, serving from 1999 to 2003. He served in Alabama in public office for 26 years and is the only person in the history of the state to be elected to serve in all four of the top statewide elected positions: Secretary of State, Attorney General, Lieutenant Governor and Governor.

      My dad was wrongfully convicted in 2007 in a case that Pace Law Professor Bennett Gershman called “one of the most egregiously bad faith prosecutions by the Justice Department ever.” Numerous public servants such as Al Gore, John Kerry, and Wesley Clark believe my father was wrongly prosecuted and wrongly convicted.

      The American Trial Lawyer Magazine has called Dad “America’s #1 Political Prisoner.” The New York Times said my dad was charged with something that has never even been considered a crime in America, and CBS’ 60 Minutes reported that the prosecution team coached key witness Nick Bailey more than 70 times and offered him a deal to testify against my father.

      Conservative columnist George Will expressed in The Washington Post, “Everyone who cares about the rule of law should hope the Supreme Court agrees to hear Don Siegelman’s appeal….today’s confusion and the resulting prosecutorial discretion kill the exercise of Constitutional right, of political participation and can imprison people unjustly.”

      More than 100 state Attorney Generals, both Republican and Democrat, many law professors, and thousands of people like you, have tried to help, garnering the attention of the media, organizing letter campaigns, and writing excellent articles, but ultimately the case was left to the courts.

      113 current and former state Attorney Generals from across the U.S. signed a brief to the U.S. Congress and Supreme Court saying, “There is reason to believe that the case brought against Governor Siegelman may have had sufficient irregularities as to call into question the basic fairness that is the linchpin of our system of justice.”

      Fred Gray, attorney to Rosa Parks, and Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth, both close companions to the late Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., came to court to hold my mom’s hand the day of sentencing in 2007. They wrote letters to the Department of Justice, to Congress, and to the President to convey that Don Siegelman is the “target of the Bush Justice Department, which has now endangered the style of government we fought so hard for.”

      However, this is not about Democrats versus Republicans, far from it. It is simply about what’s right and wrong, what is fair and what is not. As Thomas Jefferson said, “A prosecutor who alleges enough wrong doing will always get a conviction.”

      This petition is much more than just one man’s freedom. It is about American freedom. If this can happen to my dad, as governor, it can happen to anyone. The law is so unclear, even the most nobelist among us may be targeted by bad-faith prosecutors and wrongly convicted.

      Please join me in asking President Obama to pardon my dad and let this issue stand before Congress and the Supreme Court.

      Al Gore appealed, “Don Siegelman isn’t just fighting for his freedom – he’s fighting for the integrity of our democracy… As Americans, we have a responsibility to protect our democracy from those who would take advantage of it and abuse their power.”

      Please sign my petition asking President Obama to grant Don Siegelman clemency!

      The Supreme Court has denied my dad’s appeal, and he has been re-sentenced to more than five years in prison. As Dad explained when the surprise verdict came in 2007; “This is dangerous to our democracy and it is wrong. If this ruling stands, rogue prosecutors or a rogue Justice Department can prosecute contributors and elected officials they simply do not like.”

      At this point, my dad’s only hope is a commutation of sentence or pardon. Our hope for truth lies in holding our elected officials accountable. Our hope for justice is a great public outcry. Please join me in asking the President of the United States for clemency in my dad’s case by signing the petition on and sharing this message publicly however you can. By doing so we may one day clarify the law and keep our democracy and freedom intact.

      Thank you so much for considering the facts and helping me free my dad!

      With the greatest appreciation,

      Dana Siegelman


      And, here is the story of brave journalists. RollingStone and Democracy Now are you listening?

      August 14, 2012

      Siegelman Case Has Roots in the Iran-Contra Scandal and the Assassination of a U.S. Judge in the 1980s

      Iran-Contra scandal

      The roots of the Don Siegelman prosecution can be traced to the Iran-Contra scandal and the assassination of a federal judge in the 1980s, according to a new report from a Washington, D.C.-based investigative journalist.

      The Siegelman case also has connections to a lawsuit styled Avirgan v. Hull, which was dismissed in curious fashion–an action that might have been a forerunner to the rampant judicial corruption we see today, especially in the Deep South.

      Siegelman trial judge Mark Fuller long has been involved in efforts to cover up massive CIA drug- and gun-smuggling operations that are tied, in part, to Iran-Contra, according to the Wayne Madsen Report (WMR). Fuller also has been involved in a cover up involving the 1989 mail-bomb assassination of federal judge Robert S. Vance in Birmingham.

      How did Fuller become connected to such nefarious activities? His hometown of Enterprise, Alabama, is home to a prime airfield that has been used in the smuggling operations, Madsen reports.


      And, because that was not property investigated, well it continued.


      August 8, 2012

      Siegelman Prosecution Has Ties to 9/11 and Ugly Activities at an Alabama Air Force Base
      Mohamed Atta

      The prosecution of former Alabama governor Don Siegelman was driven in part by a desire to cover up activity related to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, according to a new report from a Washington, D.C.-based investigative journalist.

      Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery was a hotbed of 9/11 activity, according to the Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), and forces close to the Bush family were concerned that a Democratic governor might get wind of the misconduct and expose it.

      Mohamed Atta, who is believed to have flown American Airlines Flight 11 into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, was among the Saudi, Egyptian, and Iranian pilots trained at Maxwell. Part of Atta’s training came under the auspices of Doss Aviation, a Colorado company that was owned in part by an Alabama lawyer and entrepreneur named Mark Fuller. President George W. Bush appointed Fuller to the federal bench in 2002, and the judge went on to oversee the trial of Siegelman and codefendant Richard Scrushy.

      The Bush family has long-standing ties to Montgomery. George W. Bush transferred in 1972 from the Texas National Guard to serve as political director for the U.S. Senate campaign of Montgomery businessman Winton “Red” Blount. According to WMR, Bush allies understood the Alabama political landscape and knew that a Democratic governor might pose a problem:


      1. Doug Terpstra

        Thanks, Bev. I signed this the other day, and I hope others will too. Though I’m loathe to dignify the Obama regime with petitions, this one is worthwhile, and there are times even Obama inadvertently does something good, much like a broken clock that can’t help being right, accidently, twice a day.

      2. Bev

        Another case in point.


        is a link to another brave journalist:

        The Warning in Gary Webb’s Death

        December 9, 2011

        Special Report: Modern American history is more complete because journalist Gary Webb had the courage to revive the dark story of the Reagan administration’s protection of Nicaraguan Contra cocaine traffickers in the 1980s. However, Webb ultimately paid a terrible price, as Robert Parry reports.

        By Robert Parry

        Every year since investigative journalist Gary Webb took his own life in 2004, I have marked the anniversary of that sad event by recalling the debt that American history owes to Webb for his brave reporting, which revived the Contra-cocaine scandal in 1996 and forced important admissions out of the Central Intelligence Agency two years later.

        But Webb’s suicide on the evening of Dec. 9, 2004, was also a tragic end for one man whose livelihood and reputation were destroyed by a phalanx of major newspapers – the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times– serving as protectors of a corrupt power structure rather than as sources of honest information.

    4. Doug Terpstra

      Superb, Lord Lloyd. Your heart is in the right place, publicly rubbing your underling’s nose in his unworthiness. But Kiwi does have a point about the impropriety of bringing the help to the boys’ club. It could have been a more private affair after all. On the other hand, the important lesson in public humiliation would have been lost.

      So from fellow club member Jamie to Kiwi: “This is not the Soviet Union … This is the United States of America. Guess what… [for some of us] It’s a free. Fucking. Country.”

      1. Charles LeSeau

        “So from fellow club member Jamie to Kiwi…”

        I believe Kiwi’s point was that Lloyd (nor Jamie) doesn’t belong to “that club” at all no matter how hard he tries. Lloyd was thoroughly showing his nouveau riche trash pedigree, and – for all his wealth – will never get to hobnob with the landed gentry in quite the way he wants because he will always betray his real upbringing as the son of a postal clerk in some way or another. Er, oops, I think that’s another Lloyd with the postal clerk dad. My bad. Anyway…

        There’s an excellent Roald Dahl short story about the nouveau riche and wine called ‘The Butler’, where a new millionaire tries to become a wine expert at the advice of his butler and ends up ostentatiously praising the expensive wines he serves at dinner parties only to be shown up at the end for the undiscriminating ignoramus he truly is. Won’t spoil how. Fun reading.

        1. skippy

          Concur. Had he taken him to the Men’s Club it would have been another matter, entirely! This was at an exclusive eatery and from the items ordered, not an evening meal, pets not allowed beyond 4:30ish thingy and was more than likely an early week day.

          Skippy… although you can bring pets to the club, but, only the bistro attached to the Gym and only lunch. Open face sandwiches with chips and ONLY ONE common beer, preferably a pilsner. In addition they must chip in for the bill, no freebees in this world!

          PS. Lloyd et al have yet to own a house of worship (more than a few hundred years old) in ones own backyard. Lloyd will never have what he desires the most and that is what makes HIM so malleable.

          1. charles leseau

            Indeed. Lloyd also probably hires – [snort] – an interior decorator to make his aesthetic decisions for him at his, er, ranch or mansion or whatever he calls it. And of course he decided to – [snarf] – restore the 15th century Chateau he purchased in southern France last year. Philistines with money. Whatever is the world coming to? It’s almost as if they think themselves new feudal Lords or something, but have skipped the centuries of education, shed family blood, and proper breeding required for the title to mean anything. [SNIRK]

          2. skippy

            Ohhh, now you done it, I’ve soiled my one of a kind garment.

            Lloyd et al do keep us all in stitches, whores as wives, vulgar displays of inadequacy, attempts to unearth questionable lineage. I mean after sex what’s there to talk about[?], fashion, some small enterprise, neuroses that afflict the commoners, whom crawled into bed with them as a child, its all so garish.

            Skippy… better we let nature take its course, this is how it has always been, the fit must live, so the unfit can survive.

            PS. will you be attending the sledding this year?

    5. Cyclist

      Hmmm, the only thing that rings false is the “2008 Premier Cuvée Pinot Noir”. Going to the actual Masa winelist, you might choose the 2008 Domaine de la Romanee Conti ‘La Tache’ if you want to stick with 2008 as a vintage. Only $2850, a steal….

      Actually, looking over the Masa winelist I found it to be pretty disappointing. No one should be drinking 2008 Romanee Conti wines yet, unless you just want to show off.

      1. Lloyd C. Bankster

        Cyclist (in response to Lloyd C. Bankster comment: “Hmmm, the only thing that rings false is the “2008 Premier Cuvée Pinot Noir…”

        There is a new and improved version of this comment (the official true version) now available at eXiledonline, in response to their most recent article entitled: “New York Observer Picks Up S.H.A.M.E. Project Exposé On NPR Host Adam Davidson’s Conflicted Ties To Wall Street Sponsors.”

        In this true and official version, I washed my meal down with a 30-litre double Nebuchadnezzar-size bottle of Armand de Brignac Midas Champagne, a special order made days in advance and priced at $127,600.

        We’re talking a huge bottle here, weighing 99 pounds so it required two waiters to bring it out, nevertheless Adam was not offered a single drop of bubbly…

    6. TK421

      Adam should count himself lucky–I thought you were going to turn around, bend over, and drop your pants and say “here’s your lunch! now kiss it!” A cheeseburger and milkshake would be a treat to the six million Americans who have no source of food other than food stamps.

  2. Jim Haygood

    With icebergs sighted nearby, New York’s Times-Titanic installs a new captain on the bridge:

    The New York Times Company has named Mark Thompson, the departing director general of the British Broadcasting Corporation, as its new president and chief executive.

    In choosing Mr. Thompson, a veteran of television who has spent nearly his entire career at the BBC, The Times reached outside its own company, its own industry and even its own country to find a leader to guide it in an uncharted digital future.

    “We have people who understand print very well, the best in the business,” Mr. Sulzberger said in the interview. “We have people who understand advertising well, the best in the business. But our future is on to video, to social, to mobile. It doesn’t mirror what we’ve done. It broadens what we are going to do.”

    Oh, how exciting! Edge away from print, which kind of sucks these days (especially on paper), and foray into new, fluid fields such as video, social and mobile, which already have firmly established, dominant players.

    Yeah — that sounds like a Harvard Biz School recipe for success!

    Maybe Sulzberger should solicit a street level view from some of the food cart vendors on Eighth Avenue. Likely advice: FUHGIDDABOUTIT!

    1. albrt

      Perhaps they’re hoping to win a prize for being the millionth firm to adopt a video-social-mobile business model.

      Call it the Millionth Mover Advantage. TM.

  3. Max424

    re: Dog Shot on 14th Street by NYPD (left writhing on the street like a wounded animal)

    The New York po-po can’t shoot straight. Seriously man, they can’t aim worth a damn. Check out this report:

    “New York City cops chased down and executed Darrius Kennedy in Times Square last Saturday. The encounter began with an attempt to arrest the 51-year-old street performer on suspicion of smoking a marijuana cigarette, a misdemeanor. Kennedy fled arrest and waved a knife at the police, leading them on a slow-motion chase as he walked and skipped backward down Seventh Avenue.

    It ended with Kennedy cornered at the entrance to an office building, seven blocks south of where the initial encounter began. By this time he was surrounded by scores of police, some armed with military-style assault weapons, and hemmed in by police vehicles. Two of the cops closest to him opened fire, shooting some 15 rounds and hitting him seven times. He was pronounced dead at Bellevue Hospital less than an hour later.”

    How do you miss a motherfucker 7 times when you got em cornered? Darrius the Ganja Toking Street Performer should have been riddled with 15 bullet holes, not seven.

    Jeepers, I know little kids who can knock flies out of the air with a water pistol on a windy day, and these high powered clowns can’t hit a stationary weed smoker from 20 feet away?

    New York City’s finest. Pshaw.

    1. Aquifer

      Who needs quality when ya got quantity?

      “Missed with that one? Oh, well, i got a million more ….”

  4. F. Beard

    re Paul Ryan sold shares on same day as private briefing of banking crisis:

    Haha! So Paul Ryan was (still is?) a bank owner. So much for his libertarian credentials!

    “The issue which has swept down the centuries and which will have to be fought sooner or later is The People vs. The Banks.” – Lord Acton, Historian, 1834 from

      1. Walter Wit Man

        Brad DeLong is a slime ball and of course he’s wrong again.

        Even DeLong admits Ryan is speculating on bank stocks. He’s buying Goldman Sachs and Citibank because he thinks they are “undervalued.”

        What the hell is he doing speculating in bank stocks?

        These politicians shouldn’t even be speculating in the stock market, let alone bank stocks. Doesn’t surprise me deLong is an apologist for politicians getting rich of the banks they are supposedly regulating.

        1. Roland

          By the way, I might have to admit that you right after all about Joshua Landis of being what you call a “perp.” Quoting from a media article cited on his own blog:

          ‘The University of Oklahoma’s Josh Landis, who runs the blog “Syria Comment,” warns that U.S. reluctance to arm the opposition puts it at a disadvantage in helping shape the post-al-Assad climate.’

          What Landis is willing to do, for the sake of retaining his place in the US foreign policy community, turns my stomach. Maybe the CIA threatened his wife’s family still living in Syria–that’s the only charitable explanation for his pro-imperial sellout.

          1. different clue

            How does one tell if someone is a ‘perp’ as against simply being sincerely wrong? Or differently viewed?

          2. Walter Wit Man

            Thanks Roland. Yeah, I have no doubt about him. It all adds up. Plus, there are just too many similarities with Juan Cole, Angry Arab, and Scott Lucas of “Enduring America.”

            These 4 Amigos all run a similar operation.

            We have good information Juan Cole is a CIA asset.

  5. Thorstein

    Lisa Epstein, an oncology nurse turned foreclosure fighter, lost in her primary bid to become the Democratic candidate for Palm Beach County Clerk of Court. With almost all precincts in, Bock had won 83,215 of the 109,065 votes, or 76.3. Put differently, Epstein won only 25,850 votes, or 23.7 percent. There are 844,589 registered voters in Palm Beach County (this was the only race in this election, and Dems, Repubs, and Indies could all vote), so voter turnout was 13%.

    The result is testimony to the efficacy of ”Get Out The Vote” efforts by the imperial party machines, especially for lower offices. To my mind, this is why Epstein should have run as a Green. Today, she has accomplished nothing. As a Green she would still have lost, but she would have helped build a team for the next fight. In the next election, a Green GOTV effort turning out 57,365 additional Green voters could be enough to win this kind of critical election.

    Of course the imperial parties could step up their campaigns, too, but they would have to do more than march their zombies to the polls. They would have to acknowledge the issues in public. Sunshine helps green things grow.

    1. Klassy!

      From the Palm Beach Post endorsement of Bock:

      The race for Palm Beach County Clerk and Comptroller is a choice between two Democrats — a well-intentioned but misguided advocate for homeowners and a veteran with 14 years in the office. On Aug. 14, voters should choose the veteran. There is no Republican challenger, so the winner of the primary will take office next year.

      It isn’t just that Clerk Sharon Bock has more experience than Lisa Epstein, an unemployed nurse. It’s that Ms. Epstein wants to transform the clerk’s office, which is a keeper of public records and auditor of county money, into an arm of law enforcement as part of her fight against foreclosure fraud.

      nice touch- “unemployed”.

      1. Ms G

        “nice touch – unemployed.”

        Klassy — indeed. No means shabby enough in that contest.

        On the other hand, “Unemployed” as a derogatory term for a person out of work in now endorsed by President Obama (see Lambert’s “Obama” rundown).

    2. Aquifer

      Have to agree – what more proof is there needed that you cannot reform the Dems from the inside? The Dem machine squashed her – “A reformer? Good gawd, NO!”

      If you really want to fix the system – don’t sign up on either the Dem or Rep list …

      Could she still run as a Green, or is it too late?

  6. F. Beard

    re “I didn’t anticipate the ‘vote to cut benefits for people not yet retired some decades in the future’ gambit.” :

    Just as monetarily sovereign governments can provide inherently risk-free storage for their fiat so can they provide risk-free pensions. No one else can. Therefore, unless we are willing to let old people starve because their private pensions fail then Social Security must remain. That would be true even if we had a true free market, which we don’t. Instead, we have government for the rich at the expense of the poor.

  7. jsmith

    On the 64 gazillion dollar question:

    “I used to believe,” Edelman writes in his new book, “that the debate over wealth distribution should be conducted separately from the poverty debate, in order to minimize the attacks on antipoverty advocates for engaging in ‘class warfare.’ But now we literally cannot afford to separate the two issues.”

    Ok, use your letters now…M-M-M-MA-MA-MA-MAR-MARK-MARX.

    Regarding the collision of ships in the Strait of Hormuz:

    Please see Ray McGovern’s piece from a couple of days ago where his efforts to establish a “hot-line” between ships in the strait so that there would be a lessened chance of an “accidental” triggering of war were negged by the US.

    Gee, the United States and Israel wouldn’t use a false pretext to go to war, would they?

  8. LucyLulu

    So, Romney takes Rafalca as a business deduction even though the horse is a hobby. And having been in the horse industry for most of my life, Rafalca is a hobby under IRS rules, not a business. None of these horses EVER make a profit, and she will be lucky if she ever has foals to recoup even a portion of her expenses, she’s getting a bit old for first time motherhood (and her foals would never sell for $500,000 as Sheppard suggested would be necessary, dressage foals don’t sell for that kind of money). Once upon a time, when the IRS still did audits, the business claim for Rafalca would have automatically flagged Romney for an audit. They want proof, they want to see payrolls, accountings, business plans, and as mentioned, profits must be declared or expenses will be disallowed.

    So, when Romney says he paid all the taxes required by law, does that mean he paid all the taxes required if he doesn’t get audited? Or if he does?

    Romney is on record as saying that Americans wouldn’t want a candidate who overpaid his taxes

    There, fixed it for you, Mittens.

    1. Larry Barber

      The IRS stills performs audits, they just don’t audit people who can afford good lawyers, it’s much easier to bully poor people and it looks just as good in the IRS Agent’s performance review.

  9. zephyrum

    Regarding “Eurozone crisis: Time to tax the rich? VoxEU”, the proposal to levy 10% of net worth in excess of 500K Euros seems problematic.

    Not that it would fly in the US, but here in California, assuming a $600K threshold, I would be forced to sell my home. In theory I could get a 2nd mortgage for the levy, but since my income is already considered “too small” for my existing 1st mortgage that would be difficult to achieve.

    Perhaps they believe that everyone above the threshold is just sitting on a big bank account?

    It’s (threats of) proposals like this that push the US electorate to support the interests of the very richest citizens. Are the voters in Germany so different?

    Stupid policy decisions–if you don’t know how to fix something, grab an axe and start swinging.

      1. Ms G

        Another answer could be that lenders were (encouraged by government and regulators) desperate to put anyone in a mortgage and to lend out as much as needed just to get the loan done. I know, great way to structure a real estate market. We’ve seen the results, and yet nobody’s talking about shifting away from the paradigm of subsidized homeownership or “everyone entitled to own a home.” Now the goal is just to keep propping up the inflated (unaffordable) housing prices. Too bad for those who thought they were behaving like prudent, rational actors and didn’t take on debt just to own a house. :(

        1. Aquifer

          I know that folks were encouraged to buy beyond their means. When i took out a mortgage on the first house I bought, I was told i could “afford” much more – but the idea of being “house poor” never seemed to me a very good one and i had
          learned, the hard way, that making financial commitments on the basis of expectation of future increases in income wasn’t a very good idea, either …

          I know there was a lot of fraud out there, no doubt, but i also think there are some folk who should have known better …

          If this guy’s income dropped a lot, i can see the problem – but if his net “worth” is >$600K, potentially subjecting him to such a tax, is it all house? And if so, gotta ask, does anyone need a $600K house?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Perhaps they can refine the threshold.

      US GDP around 15 trillion with 300 million population – per capital 99% share is $50k per year

      If you hope to live 30 years after retirement, that would be $1.5 million, based one’s fair and compassionate share (50k a year) of the GDP, whether you are an infant or bedridden.

      Depending the cost of living in your area that might be adjusted

      Accounting further for various contingencies, with a safety margin of 2 or 3, the limit could be somewhere between $5 or $6 million.

      What this shows is you have to hit 0.01%, the half biilionaires and billionaires harder.

  10. Aquifer

    Re PA fracking beneath dammed (in more ways than one) lakes:

    Hmmm, let me get this straight – these guys will allow fracking beneath dams in order to get money to pay for damaged dams ….. And, adding insult to injury they will consider selling water from the dammed lakes to the frackers so they can pollute it and inject it into the ground below the lakes … What could possibly go wrong?

    “State Sen. Tim Solobay, D-Canonsburg, attended the Dutch Fork meeting Wednesday and said afterward he wasn’t particularly concerned about impacts from drilling near the lake. ‘Let it start and let’s see what happens,” he said. “It’s not cast in stone.'”

    What IS cast in stone, however, is this guy’s brains – and the people of PA elect these idiots? Course i should talk, I live in NY :) …

  11. Ms G

    Adding a link from AP re House Committee Investigation of Countrywide Mortgage Fraud and “VIP” loans to politicians.

    NY Rep. Edolphous Towns took it on himself to delete all references to names of borrowers employed by “House” and the names of the “VIP” club. He was overriden only when it became totally untenable . . .

    Corruption Trumps Democracy

  12. Ms G

    Thanks Lambert for the rich chronicles.

    I was dumbstruck by this Obama quote:

    “[OBAMA: ] If you put in the effort and you are responsible, then you can find a job that pays the bills. You can have a home that you call your own.”

    Are the 8 million unemployed, X millions underemployed, Y millions employed and crawling in place while clamped in the jaws of asset inflation – wage deflation LISTENING?

    It is all a big joke to him. And he jokes about it openly. Presidential Cruelty on display as I have never seen it in my 3.5 adult decades.

    1. Walter Wit Man

      I was just in a swing state and the campaign commercials were nonstop . . . Romney was implying that Obama is giving all these losers free money without making them work. This free money makes them dependents and these losers won’t take jobs in the fields were they are needed. Romney argued that Obama did away with work requirements for welfare and he would make these people work again (like Clinton did!).

      Obama had a scare ad about abortion and how Romney wants to end funding for Planned Parenthood.

      1. Ms G

        So Romney ads totally lying about Obama giving money to losers where in fact Obama is openly laughing (Bwah Ha Ha) at the unemployed (in public speeches no less).

        Good example of Lambert’s Regressive Bulls**t dynamic. Kleptocrat accuses Kleptocrat of not being Kleptocratic while accused Kleptocrat actually deriding the (out of work or broke) victims of Klepto Looting.

        It really does make your head hurt. Don’t know how Lambert does is, but am grateful that he does.

        1. Walter Wit Man

          Well, here’s my guess on what the Romney add was getting at:

          1. It was referring to federal ‘welfare’ and not unemployment insurance. Maybe these rules were loosened a bit during the recession on a bipartisan basis (a policy that was not controversial a few decades ago).

          2. Romney is probably hinting at the fact that people on UI benefits are often on the honor system when it comes to searching for work. They want to go to force people to take lessor work or go into a different field.

          1. LucyLulu

            The Romney ad refers to Obama’s recent policy of allowing state governors to have option of if/how they implement welfare-to-work requirements. Giving states more freedom/flexibility to implement their welfare programs, one of those things conservatives usually like. Obama responds by saying he is not ending anything, he is leaving it up to states and governors.

            I’m in a swing state. One side will air an ad that is highly misleading if not an outright lie, while the other side expresses outrage that the other party would use such deplorable tactics. Switch places. Rinse and repeat.

          2. Ms G

            In my personal view, the technicalities of what “welfare” program we’re talking about is irrelevant and focusing on that is getting lost in the forest (and missing the trees).

            The relevant/realistic lens, again in my view, is how do these 2 differ on flows of funds from government to people versus flows of funds from governement (people’s money actually) to the FIRE sector. Robomney favors axing all flows in the first direction and opening up the spigot in the other. Both view the tragedy of mass unemployment, underemployment, and subsistence wages as a satisfactory state of affairs on which to continue the life of Kleptocracy.

          3. Walter Wit Man

            Thanks Lucy for filling us in as to the policy debate, such as it is.

            I figured it was something like that. As Ms. G states below, I’m sure Obama and Romney are in a fake fight intended to distract us as they jointly weaken the social safety net.

            Obama will allow himself to be portrayed as the lazy shifty communist to right wingers. But the jokes on us because they don’t realize Obama is empowering the slave masters to better control their slaves. Obama and Romeny will both enable the further cracking of the whip on the backside of America’s unemployed.

            For instance, I saw that in Iowa they set up computer labs for people seeking work and they had to close them because no one could find jobs from them. And I know a number of states and the Republicans nationally are making noise about job seekers not changing industries when they should or not taking work because unemployment is better. I see more and more of a push to put the blame on job seekers and Obama is probably empowering Governors to whip their unemployed by denying benefits and making them jump through impossible hoops.

            And Democrats are being told it’s yet another example of Obama giving the Republicans exactly what they wanted (states rights–the right of states to enslave their people) and another example of those meany Republicans refusing to take yes for an answer.

            Democrats get outraged at the Republicans for refusing to accept Obama’s offer of surrender and even make further demands after Obama “compromises.” Then Democrats are encouraged to vote for Obama, because by golly, he double dog swears that he’s going to stand up to those Republicans next time. Hope y’all.

            He’s going to tax the rich! Just like he said last time. But this time he means it! The choice is clear, doncha know.

            I can’t believe this act still works on people but alas we are a tamed people.

          4. different clue

            I don’t know what percent of one’s income unemployment insurance will pay if one gets unemployed. To make it so easy that I can keep track of my own argument, I will suppose unemployment insurance pays at half-the-rate.
            So if you get disemployed, u i pays you half your on-the-job pay. But only till you get another job. If you TAKE another job at half the pay of the first job, and then lose THAT job, u i pays you half of THAT rate of pay, which would be a QUARTER of your original rate of pay in your first job. Now what sense does it make to subject yourself to that risk? It seems so counter-intuitive as to be counter-sensible.
            If I got disemployed, I would spend my entire u i period looking for work at the same (or better)rate of pay in my field or a similar field. Meanwhile I would lower my standard of living as much as I could to save some of my u i payments to survive on when they stopped. THEN . . . I would look for any old work at any old pay. I can see why some wage-depressing bussinessbeast would object to my doing that. I would try to be as humble and shuffly about it as I could . . . to delay or avoid poisoning the well for those who come after me.

          5. DANNYBOY

            To: different clue

            “Wish it were so. In practice, the Unemployment Department serves to demean, insult, offend and humiliate those who turn to them for help. It improves their ‘measured performance’. Having recently reread Studs Terkel’s Hard Times, I draw strong parallels between the head-bashing then and the head-bashing now.

            I’ve interviewed that other mistreated group: Welfare recipients. OMG! and not in a good way.

            These two presidential pawns are just setting the tone. The actual dirty work is done by their goons in Unemployment and Welfare offices.

            The hope that keeps-me-going, as I’ve written before, is that the general population will just stop taking it. I expect that within short days, they will collectively realize that their parent and grandparents came from places like this. So that their children would have better.

        2. Lambert Strether

          Ms G: The campaign discourse is fascinating to me, rather in the way that a “Can’t take your eyes off it!” train wreck, or the battle of the Somme, are fascinating. [Adding: And I feel I’m doing a little to help innoculate people against it.]

          However, on the state and local level, despite the fact that it’s reactive to the 1%’s ongoing effort to turn the country into a second-world petro-state, I find the fracking material immensely heartening, because it’s a great wave of civic engagement. Combine that with the Capitol occupations and Occupy, and the picture brightens considerably. Of course, it’s the function of Democratic Party to pollute and destroy such social movements, but it may be, if we’re lucky, that the Ds are so openly corrupt and contemptuous that they can’t run that play successfully any more.

          Then again, Obama’s the playmaker, and he really is very good, as is his team. Look at the way they’ve managed to make themselves into the defender’s of women’s rights, after running a 2008 campaign marked by the most vile misogyny, and the Stupak Amendment, and so forth. A few memes, a little funding for planned parenthood, and voila! Nobody’s got their eye on the ball any more…

          1. Ms G

            Lambert, I can’t tell you how appreciative I am that your are (1) fascinated by the train wreck and (2) write and montage so compellingly. What I know of the heartening developments in The fracking area is exclusively thanks to your coverage. And your memes and perspectives are effective inoculators but also help to help “us” talk to our friends who are still standing where I was about 9 years ago.

            Keep up the fantastic and important work. The drops are forming huge circles in the lake!

          2. Ms G

            Adding. On Obam’s “artful” manipulation of identity politics (femminism, in the event, as well as the strangely popular “gay rights” — see echo in NYC with Bloomberg suddenly pandering to LGBT) — the second I see id politics being used in either culture, commerce or politics, I run the other way (not screaming anymore, just indignant). Mostly because 99% of the people I know fall for it hook line and sinker, not realizing they are mincemeat in the slice/dice – divider/conquer grinder.

          3. different clue

            To Ms G actually . . .

            The way the Obamazoids are defining feminism downward, we might have to rename it feminimalism after they get down with it.

          4. DANNYBOY

            Ms G and everybody,

            Read Neil Fabricant’s Mike!: Wall Street’s Mayor, for Billionaire Mike’s take on women. Oy.

    2. YesMaybe

      To be fair, this is taken out of context and distorting what he was saying. He was saying that was how things used to be and should be again. Not that I buy it, but that’s what he was saying. Here is the passage from the article:

      Mr Obama builds his core argument around what he calls the “basic bargain that made this country great” and built the middle class.

      “If you put in the effort and you are responsible, then you can find a job that pays the bills. You can have a home that you call your own,” he said.

      “You won’t go bankrupt when you get sick. You can retire with some dignity and some respect. And maybe most importantly, your kids can get a great education and they can dream bigger and do even better than you did.”

      1. Lambert Strether

        Read on: If the landtitle system has been privatized and destroyed, as it has been, then it is literally not possible to call a house your own, now or at any point in the future.

  13. Walter Wit Man

    Re Wikileaks, Assange, and Asylum . . .

    This is a good test for the non-aligned states to see if they are susceptible to Western intelligence operations.

    Let’s see if Ecuador and Venezuela, etc., can figure out that Wikileaks is a U.S./Western disinformation operation.

    Maybe they use this opportunity to refuse asylum to “teach” the world that Wikileaks is a U.S. intelligence operation. Or, maybe they play along.

    In any case, it’s very suspicious the media is already putting words in Ecuador officials’ mouths. Kind of like we see going on with Syria. They are using outright falsehoods to sell us something.

    After the Obama and his terrorists attack Syria and Iran look out Venezuela and Ecuador. Obama still hasn’t finished his coup in Honduras yet though . . . .

    1. Cynthia

      If the US government were really interested in stopping tyranny, mass murder, terrorism, war crimes etc., it would start by repealing NDAA 2012, dismantling the Empire Inc., stop running guns and drugs, stop allowing gun and drugs monies to be laundered (HSBC scandal recently), stop murdering innocent people arbitrarily with drones etc. etc.

      The hypocrisy is beyond Orwellian.

  14. jsmith

    Here’s one to remind all US citizens that you live in the most unabashedly hypocritical and murderous nation on planet earth:

    “The United States on Tuesday accused Iran of setting up a pro-regime militia in Syria as Washington increasingly ties the crisis there to interference by its long-time foe Tehran.

    Leon Panetta says:

    “We are seeing a growing presence by Iran and that is of deep concern to us. We do not think that Iran ought to play that role at this moment in time, that’s dangerous… It’s adding to the killing that’s going on in Syria.”

    Panetta urged Tehran to stay out of the conflict, saying: “Our hope is that Iran thinks better about how much they do want to get involved. The Syrian people ought to determine their future, not Iran.”

    1. jsmith


      How does a human being such as Panetta face his wife and children after a day such murderous lying and propaganda?

      Oh, I forgot, once accepted into the ranks of the elite, a person cedes their humanity for the honored mantle of sociopath.

      And one more for Wednesday:

      Want to help the Iranian earthquake victims?

      Eff you, sucka, doncha know we have sanctions that need adhering to?

      That’s right, the U.S. imposed sanctions on Iran which will – a la Iraq – kill and make suffer millions of sick people and children will also deny the Iranian earthquake victims of any aid as well.

      I’m sure Madelaine Albright’s cockles are toasty.

      1. sleepy

        I wonder how Obama goes home after murdering a 16 yr. old American citizen and hugs his 14 yr. old daughter.

    2. Walter Wit Man

      Iran and Syria signed a Mutual Defense Treaty a few years ago (following up on their Mutual Defense Pact in 2006 around when Israel attacked Lebanon).

      Iran may have an obligation to defend Syria from outside attack. Who knows, our media is ignoring this basic fact and pretending it doesn’t exist.

      Turkey is a member of NATO for instance, and an attack on Turkey will obligate the U.S. and NATO to defend it. The U.S. has reminded Syria of this, and indeed Turkey already invoked the NATO treaty to call a meeting. So what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

      Why shouldn’t Iran help Syria defend itself from attack? The U.S. and NATO are already committing acts of war against Syria. They are using terrorism. Real terrorism. Killing women and children and beaming in hate speech calling for the death of religious groups. The U.S. is doing this. Iran has a legal right to defend itself.

      Actually, Syria would be justified in counter attacking. The only reason they probably won’t is practical. But they and Iran are totally within their rights by attacking Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, at least.

      1. Cynthia

        The US Empire and its terrorist creation al-Qaeda attacked Syria in an attempt to replicate their success in Libya, where Russia and China made the mistake of trusting the US Empire’s proposed “humanitarian” intervention through the auspices of the UNSC. Clearly, given the result in Libya, China and Russia will probably never again trust the US Empire. Which is to say, what’s happening in Syria has absolutely nothing to do with Russia’s “regional agenda” and everything to do with the US Empire’s continuing crime spree — something which many Westerners seem to overlook.

    3. Cynthia

      The Obama administration is along for the ride on this crescendo of war propaganda and preparations. In between each double-step forward toward war, there’s a half-step back as a mere sop to antiwar supporters of Obama. That’s what all the stagecraft regarding tensions with Netanyahu amounts to: a mere sop. Obama’s reluctant warrior act is a key part of how the same old war is being sold to us yet again.

      Were there any substantial disagreement with this march toward war on the part of anyone in Washington, we would be seeing public displays of “pressuring Israel to cease and desist.” But nobody in the Administration, and nobody in Congress that I’m aware of, is able to stand up to the juggernaut of Israel and the US military industrial complex. An election year is a great time to launch a new war, or to massively expand an old one, apparently.

  15. craazyman

    Whatever happened to Andrew Witmer?

    I had decided to outsource half my thinking to him and he disappears. Now I have to think for myself half the time. The other half the time I just believe whatever I read here in NC posts, pretty much.

    There’s a lot that needs explaining these days and Mr. Witmer is the man to do it, if I recall correctly, a Harvard math whiz who could actually write. my my!

    How can the US financial system continue to levitate itself if most of the banks are insolvent? I have met reasonably well informed professional bond managers who think the big banks are doing great! That doesn’t make sense to me.

    What if the ECB prints like a newspaper? What will happen if the money just goes to the banks and dissapears, the way money does in most places?

    How can an Ayn Rand disciple be a candidate for Vice President? That’s one step from being president!

    How can an Ayn Rand disciple even work for the government in the first place? That makes no sense to me. Shouldn’t they be doing something astounding and romantic, like being a grim-faced entrepreneur with no time to waste on public service?

    Very little these days makes sense to me. It makes sense less and less, more and more.

    Half my thinking is a fruitlessly expended effort to understand things that make no sense. The other half fortunately just sits around and doesn’t do much except waste time, which is what I really like to do.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      “Dittmer” although I assume your variant on his name was deliberate.

      I’ll tell him he is missed and readers are asking for an encore.

  16. Hugh

    Re the 64 Gazillion Question, it is good to see Peter Edelman onboard with one of the three great issues of our times, wealth inequality: The “economic and political power of those at the top,” Edelman explains, is “making it virtually impossible to find the resources to do more at the bottom.”

    There is also a reference to class war, another of the great issues, but Edelman continues to be reluctant even now to take it on.

    “I used to believe,” Edelman writes in his new book, “that the debate over wealth distribution should be conducted separately from the poverty debate, in order to minimize the attacks on antipoverty advocates for engaging in ‘class warfare.’ But now we literally cannot afford to separate the two issues.”

    Why hasn’t Edelman been more worried about the very real class war that has been waged for the last 40 years, that is his whole adult life, against the poor and the middle class by the rich and the elites? Why hasn’t he as an “expert” in the field written on this years ago?

    This willful expert blindness can be seen in the following:

    “The only way we will improve the lot of the poor, stabilize the middle class, and protect our democracy,” he notes, “is by requiring the rich to pay more of the cost of governing the country that enables their huge accretion of wealth.”

    On the one hand, this seems like a step in the right direction, but in another way it completely misses the point. It is not that the rich aren’t paying more in taxes that is the problem. It is precisely that huge accretion of wealth that is. That wealth represents a vast sequestration of resources, resources that are no longer available to the rest of society for good jobs, homes, healthcare, education, infrastructure, and retirements.

    Are Lloyd Blankfein, Jamie Dimon, the Koch brothers, Buffett, Soros, and Gates really worth to society their millions and billions? Michael Phelps might be a great swimmer but is he really worth $40 million and counting to society? Is Paris Hilton? Are the Walton heirs? Everybody likes Jennifer Anniston but does her having $20 million to drop anytime she wants a new place really represent a wise use of our society’s resources? Or Taylor Swift having $5 million to blow to be near a current boyfriend? This isn’t wealth envy. It is resource worry. If there were only one or a handful of these, it would be no big deal. Our economy is plenty big enough to withstand some excess, unproductive wealth accumulation. But in the aggregate, these people whether they work hard or not, whether they add some value to our society or not, are killing the rest of us. The next time, and everytime thereafter, when you hear so and so made so much or spent so much, ask yourself this: Is that person really worth that much to society, especially when our society has the problems it has?

    Pardon the digression, but finally I would just point out that Edelman doesn’t mention kleptocracy, the third of the three great issues at all. This is what keeps Edelman in the ranks of the Establishment. It is the belief that the status quo only needs tweaking, and that in fact it is open to such tweaking. But whether Edelman is in denial about kleptocracy and so his prescriptions are futile or whether he is aware of it and so deceptive doesn’t matter, the result is the same. Nothing will happen. He is looking to the looters to end or reduce their looting. How likely is that?

    1. Aquifer

      I have tried to insert, here and there in my various soap box conversations the necessity for making the distinction between how much one “makes” and how much one “earns” – the idea being that some folks “make” considerably more than they “earn” and vice versa. It seems to me that if we become very conscious of what we mean when we use these terms and not use them interchangeably we would be more immediately aware of the fact that some are, indeed, overpaid and some underpaid.

      I think this line should be introduced whenever the subject of what someone “makes” comes up – did (s)he “earn” it? Or if it is brought up as what one “earned” the question is, “Ah, but what did you ‘make’?” If we can get folks to start thinking in this way – maybe we can get the ball rolling on getting one’s “just” desserts …

      The second thing is to examine our definition of “worth” and be clear what we mean – “worth” as defined by whom? to whom? If your kid makes $20K/yr does that mean Gates is “worth” a thousand (or whatever the multiplier is) times more than your kid? To whom? You? Society?

      “How much are you worth?” “How much did you earn?” “How much did you make?” 3 separate questions ….

      1. different clue

        . . . and beyond speaking of how much someone “makes” as against “earns”, we might begin speaking of how much someone “takes” and “gets”. That might lead people to wonder how they “take” it and “get” it.

    2. Ms G

      Maybe this sounds simple, but isn’t another “major” issue the destruction of wage levels contemporaneously with the artificial inflation of the cost of living on pretty much every single front from housing (rent or buy), gas, electricity, water, food, subway tokens, road tolls, a book, a movie, stamps, health care (cough) insurance, and on down the line.

      Everything is out of reach for even people lucky to have jobs — and forget about having a few extra bucks put a side or the ability to kick back for a few hours without stressing about incipient indigence.

  17. Aquifer

    Yo, craazy! Most of the time, including now, i really do enjoy your posts!

    As to how can a Rand devotee work for the government – he can’t, he is working against the government. There ya go!

    (Where’s that “Easy”, or is it “Simple” or is it “BS”, button, when you need it?)

    1. Aquifer

      Rats! i can never get these comments to behave and land where they are supposed to … Well, it is a crazy comment, addressed to a craazyman, so what else can i expect?

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s not so straightforward but I think I know what you mean.

      We destroy those whom we love. So by working for it, they work against it.

      1. Aquifer

        But is the converse true? That is the question ….

        If it is then Ryan loves the government, indeed …

        Hmm, I did violate my own “dicta” – I should have defined what i meant by “government” – the one he IS working for is the “government” the duopoly has made – the one he is working against is one that would work for us. It is the latter “government” i refer to …

      2. Ms G

        No, no, no, Prime Beef!

        It works like this. Ryan is helping the great enterprise of turning government into a bird-feeder by (1) taking some of the cash as salary and (2) giving a lot of the cash out to private-crony “private partners” in “public private partnerships.”

        This is how it is totally consistent that Ryan is a Randroid while “working for” (extracting from) gummit!

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Thanks for the correction.

          So it should be, when he “works for” the government, he works against it.

          1. Ms G

            Yeah, in that very Atlas subversive kind of way, by milkin’ it and helping out with the looting. He he. Sneaky. Well, he’d rather be shoveling tax payer dollars to himself and his cronies than s**t in Louisiana.

  18. ScottS

    Re: GOP pros fret over Paul Ryan

    How stupid are Republicans? Every move further to the right simply gives Democrats more room to maneuver to the right and pick up more well-off donors.

    I suppose this is how parties keep the same names but trade positions on the political spectrum.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      GOP pros only pretend to fret over Ryan. And most only pretend to be stupid; it’s standard class warfare shtick to move ever rightward. It’s the rest of us Muppets who are consistently fooled by the game, the relentless theater of democracy, nothing but malicious farce.

      All that Ryan lacks is the black hat and handlebar moustache with waxed spiral tips. An even better choice than half-term boonies Governor Palin, he is the perfect guaranteed-to-lose, comic villain against which Obama can burnish his lesser-evil credentials to a brilliant shine. Never fear, the wool-clad wolf is here to save us!

      Barring divine intervention, or economic collapse (over Bernanke’s dead body or printing press), Barry’s got this one in the bag. And Social Security and Medicare will be under Wall Street’s tree before Christmas.

      1. LucyLulu

        Once again, one can’t help but wonder if the Romney campaign isn’t intentionally throwing the race.

  19. KnotRP

    Ritzholtz has a link up, which is worthy of discussion:

    • All Four Official Recession Indicators Are Looking Up (D. Short)

    …which ultimately relies on this chart 4-pack:

    …of course, what the eternal sunshine of the spotless mind crowd are ignoring is where FRED chose to center the y-axis zero point. Look left of their chosen frame of refrence, and take a gander at how the line is way out of bounds relative to normal “angles of approach”. Why, you might ask? Well, that’s because the y-axis zero point was goal-seeked, rather than placed where it really belongs (which, incidentally, would make the FRED graphs show just how f**king badly the economy really is). Every kid in school should have to read A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper, so they know a shell game when they see it….


    Lying sociopathic parasites.

    1. Hugh

      Additionally, the zero month is June 2009 and the left of the y-axis only goes out 12 months prior. However, the recession began in December 2007, that is 18 months prior. So 6 months of fall are missing.

  20. Hugh

    A single time 10% asset tax on net wealth is put forward in such a way that it would be rejected out of hand. It goes too far down in the net wealth brackets. At the same time, it leaves open the question of what net wealth is. Is it just assets minus liabilities or are dwellings and farms below certain limits excluded?

    Late last year (December 2, 2011), I remember advocating actually multiple 10% asset taxes as part of a wider rewriting of the tax code:

    A 50% tax rate for incomes above $300,000. A marginal 90% tax rate for income above $1 million. All income earned here and abroad from whatever source to be declared and taxed as income. Any wealth and/or income undeclared to be confiscated and subject to additional financial and criminal penalties.

    A yearly 10% asset tax on household wealth above $20 million.

    Current charitable foundations set up by families (think Gates, Buffet, etc.) to also be taxed at this rate.

    A 50% tax on gross corporate profits. All profits and assets here and abroad to be declared or subject to confiscation with additional financial and criminal penalties.

    No employee stock options

    Once a person’s net worth declined below $20 million they would no longer be subject to the tax. This would cover most people’s primary and even secondary residences, family farms, and small businesses. My view is if you can’t make it on $20 million in this country, you aren’t trying. And almost no one can make the case they are worth more than $20 million to us and our society.

    I should hasten to add that none of this is carved in stone. But an equitable tax system needs to have both wealth and income limits built into it. We have the resources for a fair, just, and decent society with good jobs, homes, healthcare, education, infrastructure, and retirements. We do not have the resources for these and an overclass of unproductive or marginally productive multimillionaires and billionaires.

    1. psychohistorian

      I like it.

      Too bad the rest of the wold is brainwashed into believing that private ownership of property and ongoing accumulating inheritance are Gawd given rights.

  21. kevinearick

    Slavery & Gold, Black or Otherwise

    The demand side price of oil is $18, and the supply side contract price is $65, to maintain the slave population of make-workers reinforcing all the artificial borders for the purpose. The spot price reflects the risk of ponzi demographic collapse, which is the debt assigned to future generations serving as collateral at the base of its pyramid. Price is a fulcrum.

    The civil war was not about abolishing slavery. White guys created the NAACP, and the KKK was and is about money. From capital’s perspective, you may accept its money to conform or die. Killing you off is just more expensive, because nature ensures that you will be replaced, with additional uncertainty. Lincoln didn’t employ fire by accident.

    Government certified unions are not labor. Labor does not build its foundation on words in a book, commissioned by capital, King James, or anyone else. Capital money has never been, nor will it ever be, labor’s God.

    The assumption of a reserve currency, that it may be printed to infinity, replacing God, is true relative to the imploding empire, until it isn’t; it is not true relative to nature. That’s the traveling salesman problem Wall Street is paid very well to solve, which is why it is still printing and selling capital appreciation bonds, on the back of future generations, to keep the day to day union operations in California, and elsewhere on the global MAD IC chip, going. The empire debt mismatch has reached terminal velocity, leaving Governor Brown with no choice but to act and sell a tax increase that will accelerate tax base collapse beyond the Fed’s window, whether it is accepted by so registered voters or not.

    Yes, by all means, save the school to jail pipeline. Meanwhile, labor will do what it always does, go to work, building the future. Whether capital and the middle class choose to recognize holy matrimony as the limit of government operation or not is irrelevant to labor.

    Labor serves at the pleasure of nature, which serves the universe, which serves the unknown. Jobs change hands on a regular basis, as does capital, in a competition to accelerate the gene churn pool, which is why individuals work for labor.

    You are welcome to choose slavery certification, but don’t interfere with family self-governance and mistake good manners for no response. Labor employs time. Capital fights time. The middle class rides the current between the poles, which may be adjusted at will to drown out the noise.

    Capital must expend itself continually to reassert its authority. Labor doesn’t have that problem. Life is about labor and labor is about life, which is the point of birth. The womb is the cradle and love is the usher, which is why capital is hell-bent on shorting the process to its own end.

    California is set up to birth and tax stupidity. If you want out, turn the channel, but don’t expect to change the empire program. Only the dress changes, upon the end and beginning of each iteration. Within the empire, lying resonates and the truth burns the ear.

    You can put lipstick, a robe, or a suit on a wh-, but it is still a wh-, which is just another name for a robot, serving the purpose of robots. Choosing a path based upon empire resistance results in the same choice, with increasing pressure on decreasing volume, because the implicit side, the unknown, expands accordingly, upon reversion.

    Tuning distance is only rocket science for a robot, enslaved by virtual memory, enabled with false assumptions. There is much more to Galileo’s gravity than meets the eye, and much less with Galileo’s money. The shortest path to gold is not lead, except in the something for nothing economy, and its days are always numbered by its first act, end to beginning.

    From the perspective of capital, resource control is the point of selling oil, which is the point of selling cars, which is the point of building roads. From the perspective of labor, the car was temporary, like all implements. Capital is always on a bridge to nowhere, self-satiated in the measurement of its own economic activity, seeing only itself, propagated along a wave of propaganda.

    Speculators bet on the casino itself, whether they know it or not, and when they bet against the casino without permission and win, the casino gets mad and burns itself down, like the spoiled child that it is. Life is full of surprises, but casino operation is not one of them.

    Life isn’t fair in the short term, but it is quite fair in the long term. Value depends upon the timing of your perspective, and the world unfolds accordingly. Travel across the empire’s arbitrary borders, to maintain that choice for your children. Whether others care or attempt to impede your travel is irrelevant to you, but becomes dramatically relevant to the middle class.

    “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” The majority is always welcome to vote for its own enslavement, but it applies the outcome to others at the cost of its own destruction. The chain of despair encircling the empire’s neck is always forged in jealousy, replicated in its own image.

    Pull the crisis managers, the damsel in distress prophesying Armageddon vs. nirvana, out of the fire, until it suits your purpose not to. When someone calls at 3am to tell you that the empire is on fire, disconnect the phone and go back to sleep. The sun will always rise on prosperity, if you meet it at the horizon of the unknown.

    The political choice is always false, unless you choose to make it true, of your own free will. GDP is a lie, always has been. Act upon it to the extent you require gravity for your development. Labor requires no more gravity in this iteration.

  22. F. Beard

    Karl Denninger wants to eliminate credit creation UNLESS one has property: The Red Pill of Banking.

    Ya see counterfeiting for those with property is OK because the loan is backed by the marked-to-market value of the property. So the property-owning-rich get loans up to the value of their property (minus a percentage so the bank won’t lose money if the loan defaults).

    Nice try Karl! But your plan is fascist since it grants privileges to the rich at the expense of the poor. The rich would get the new money while the poor would get the price inflation.

    I’d post this at your site except you banned me.

    1. F. Beard

      Ho hum. My comment is “awaiting moderation.”

      Short form: Karl Denninger has a fascist plan to save banking by limiting credit creation to the amount of property one owns.

    1. skippy

      Now that does beg the question, does it not.

      Skippy… not all pigs embassy’s are created equal… ha!

    1. They didn't leave me a choice

      >Diplomatic asylum is not a concept recognised by Britain- and, even for those countries which do recognise it, it should not be used “for the purposes of escaping” the courts, Hague said.

      Unsinkable aircraft carrier sinking, save yourselves, you fools. The british government has decided to take a dip in the deep end of the insanity pool, apparently.

  23. different clue

    Lambert Strether,

    This comment system is difficult to target “nesting” in.
    So I will just make a new comment in which to ask the question: has the whole land title/deed/proof-of-ownership system been destroyed for every house? Or only for those houses which were sold after MERS was invented so their “ownership proofs” could be diverted through the MERS system? Thereby MERSing up their titles?

    Could houses which were last bought-and-sold beFORE MERS was invented still have clean unpolluted titles which have never been MERSed up? Which are still physically recorded in some analog meatspace County Courthouse somewhere? And if a “new buyer” refuses to buy unless the proof of seller-buyer-new ownership is physically recorded in an analog meatspace County Courthouse without permitting any MERS involvement . . . can that “new buyer” keep the uncontaminated title uncontaminated? Thereby doing his/her part to maintain some islands of clean title clean houses?

  24. mrsteven

    i am a private loan lender,who give out loan in a very
    low interest rate of 2%.we give out all kind of loan like Educational
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    $1,000,000.00USD- $10,000,000.00USD at a 2% interest rate. Duration of 1- 10
    years depending on the amount you need as us.

    For more you have to fill out the following
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    I need an urgent response
    Thank you and God bless

    1. LucyLulu


      Not even the Nigeria banking business is safe from the vampire squid tentacles of Goldman Sachs…..

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