Links 3/11/13

A Point of View: Mary, queen of maths BBC (RS)

Tropical forests unexpectedly resilient to climate change Nature

In vote, resource-rich Greenland debates new global role Reuters. TINA?

Wells Fargo Typo Victim Dies in Court LA Weekly (AH). Running this again because WF should not have impunity for this outrage.

Foreclosure crew clears wrong Texas building Houston Chronicle

Germany’s anti-euro party is a nasty shock for Angela Merkel Daily Telegraph

Grillo’s party to tell Italy president it can lead government Reuters

Corralling Mobsters, if Not Many Big Banks Gretchen Morgensen, Times

Crackdown on cash for access begins FT. CEOs “pimped out” to asset managers?

Hedge Funds Cut Bets to ’09 Low as Goldman Says Buy: Commodities Bloomberg

Rigging the I.P.O. Game Joe Nocera, Times. Doing God’s work.

Modeling fraud in the financial system mathbabe

China’s Economic Data Show Weakest Start Since 2009 Bloomberg

Photos of Trash Heaps Made to Look Like Chinese Landscape Paintings PetaPixel

Tibetan self-immolations spark China tension Al Jazeera

‘Occupy’ activists snub events Kathmandu Post (diptherio)

Alice Walker – honouring truth BBC (SM). No doubt Obama fans will call Walker a racist.

Report: Obama still secretive despite transparency vow McClatchy

Right for the wrong reasons Democracy in America, Economist (referencing).

Three Democratic myths used to demean the Paul filibuster Glenn Greenwald, Salon

Rethinking Watergate/Iran-Contra Robert Parry, Consortium News (jawbone)

As Cosma Shalizi Says, “The Singularity Is in Our Past”: Saturday Twentieth Century Economic History Weblogging Brad DeLong

Homeless in Silicon Valley Salon

How To Make A Video Go Viral — Based On The Variables In This Algorithm Business Insider

Mozilla says no plans to return to iOS CNET

Cubans evade censorship by exchanging computer memory sticks, blogger says McClatchy

Harvard University administrators secretly searched deans’ email accounts, hunting for media leak Boston Globe

Moocs are no panacea for universities FT. Listening, Helen?

Do op-ed writers provide their own hyperlinks? West Coast Stat Views (on Observational Epidemiology and more)

Behavioral Investing Specimen No. 864: The Barber The Reformed Broker

One Way to Cheer Up: Cheer Harder Times (Sports)

Trans Pacific Partnership: A new Constitution Angry Bear. Must read. Yikes!

Antidote du jour (furzy mouse):

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. fresno dan

    Three Democratic myths used to demean the Paul filibuster Glenn Greenwald, Salon

    “Indeed, the whole point of the Paul filibuster was to ask whether the Obama administration believes that it has the power to target a US citizen for assassination on US soil the way it did to Anwar Awlaki in Yemen. The Awlaki assassination was justified on the ground that Awlaki was a “combatant”, that he was “engaged in combat”, even though he was killed not while making bombs or shooting at anyone but after he had left a cafe where he had breakfast. If the Obama administration believes that Awlaki was “engaged in combat” at the time he was killed – and it clearly does – then Holder’s letter is meaningless at best, and menacing at worst, because that standard is so broad as to vest the president with exactly the power his supporters now insist he disclaimed.”

    Greenwald forgot “imminent” which now means 2, 3, or 10 years….
    It is amazing to me that people put such trust in the government, when just a few short years ago an adminstration lied about weapons of mass destruction. Why do people thing they won’t lie about naming someone a “terrorist”???

    1. Ned Ludd

      People don’t care if the government lies, as long as they aren’t one of the victims. From one of the front-page writers of Firedoglake:

      Teddy Partridge:Simply put, as a gay man, I don’t want to die in a MittCamp.

      And I think his faith and his indebtedness to the far right will enable him to square death camps for gays with his Presidency. This from the man who left for Mexico with his current husband, to be away during the Bush43 inaugural in case the boxcars rolled.

      But this time is real. Let’s face it, I’m not going to be on the pointy end of a drone missile in the second Obama term. The first Mitt term? Can’t guarantee it.

      Vote self-interest. I am.

      Simply put, Teddy Partridge voted for Obama because he would murder Muslim children, not him.

      1. from Mexico

        I spent years in the trenches of the gay rights movement, something that now I’m almost embarassed to admit.

        The new crop of GLBT activists seems to have forgotten something very fundamental. As Martin Luther King put it, the Civil Rights movement

        says that it is as much a moral obligation to refuse to cooperate with evil as it is to cooperate with good. Noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as the cooperation with good.

        — MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., “Love, Law and Civil Disobedience,” New South, December 1961

        1. Ned Ludd

          The first protest I organized was for gay rights, and I have no regrets, whatsoever. However, liberals often limit their activism to advocating for “rights”, typically the rights of people like them or people in their social circle. They forget the larger struggle for justice.

          Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. – Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter From Birmingham Jail

          As the wobblies say: “An injury to one is an injury to all”.

      2. Binky Bear

        You would be happier with Mitt building the first Mormon temple in Tehran after the first use of tactical nuclear weapons in combat since 1945? Those were the choices: Obama and drones and gay rights or Romney’s Reich. Sour grapes on your part or what?

        1. jrs

          They were both disgusting and I can’t help having a bit of disgust and contempt for anyone who voted for either one.

        2. Doug Terpstra

          You’ve fallen into the either/or lesser-evil fear trap. Please see Hugh’s comment below: “Obama and Romney, the Democrats and the Republicans, are complementary evils. Vote for either, and you validate and further the process of their evil.”

          The factional differences are fractional … merely theatrical. Mitt wouldn’t build his Mormon post-nuke homophobic temple in Tehran (although they don’t have “that problem” there) any more than Obama would build his gay Marxist black-power utopia in Nairobi (after nuking Tehran of course). They both work for the same plutocracy; the culture war is mostly distraction. You haven’t caught on yet?

          1. Montanamaven

            Nicely put. I refer to Republicans and Democrats as tribes and their activities akin to professional sports team loyalties complete with bumper stickers and cheers. But who wins anything? Certainly not the fans. The players get paid whether they win or lose. What really do the fans get other than a hangover?

  2. Peter Pinguid Society

    Re: Watergate

    Watergate was only a scandal in the sense that the Peter Pinguid Society (which has 100 percent control over the media) used the media to portray Watergate as a scandal. The truth of the matter is that this kind of thing happens all the time, and Watergate was business as usual. The idea behind making Watergate into a scandal, was that it enabled the Pinguid Society to inject America with a new sense of righteousness, an awareness that 99 percent man should avoid these kinds of deceitful actions themselves. Leave deceitful actions to the adults: to the 0.01 percent.

    This does not mean to suggest that Watergate was a conspiracy theory, no, it really happened, and people really did get in trouble over it, but the media (working for the 0.01 percent) is what made it into a scandal. Otherwise it would just have been another event.

    The story that Watergate conveyed to gullible 99 percent man is that some leaders of a capitalist democratic nation broke the law and then once the scandal broke, the legal system kicked in and restored justice to the government. A victory for democracy that proves the legitimacy of the capitalist system, right?

    Well, not exactly. The scandal was NOT that the leaders of a capitalist democracy had broken the law. Members of the 0.01 percent are ABOVE the law. The scandal was making the public believe there was a scandal in the first place.

    In other words, the scandal was getting the rubes to believe that capitalist democracy is anything other than cruel or immoral, a monstrous unprincipled enterprise run by the 0.01 percent for the sole benefit of the 0.01 percent.

    What about the Vietnam war? That wasn’t a scandal? What about using B-52s to carpet bomb Cambodia, killing tens of thousands of Cambodian villagers? And yet, Henry Kissinger (one of the architects of the secret bombing of Cambodia) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize….

    But in the minds of gullible 99 percent man, Watergate and the carpet bombing of Cambodia were completely unrelated, no, for 99 percent man, Woodward and Bernstein rode in on white horses and saved the republic all by themselves, proving once again that “the system worked”.

    What was at stake with the simulation of the scandal known as Watergate was the regeneration of morality in order to entrench the simulation even further. With “justice” being done in the prosecution of those involved in Watergate, the government (controlled by the 0.01 percent) was able to hide it’s own immorality and to perpetuate the appearance of legitimacy in the minds of the 99 percent.

    Morality was thus proven through immorality. The immorality of the state is real, but simulations (such as Watergate) co-opt reality and perpetuate the simulation by treating the real as if it were a scandal.

    We are the Peter Pinguid Society, we are the 0.01 percent.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      So Woodward was never really a prinicpled journalist after all but just another tool, a veal-pen apologist? How disillusioning.

      It’s really very kind of you, PP, to descend from Olympus and explain reality to the undeserving servant class. If you have any shortcoming at all, and please, I’m not saying that you do, it would have to be your humility.

    2. Peter Pinguid Society

      It’s true that as members of the 0.01 percent, our goal is to destroy you. The reason for explaining reality to the servant class is that we’d like you to have a fighting chance, but for that you must have the same goal with regard to us.

      After all, a boxing match is no fun if the opponent is knocked down three times in round one.

      I urge you to keep up your courage. Not that you have the least cause for hope.

      Continue. Have no fear. The worst is already past. To be sure, we will tear you apart again… but…. from your point of view, you don’t really have that much more to do with life. Remember this: as a member of the 99 percent, fundamentally, you’re already dead.

      You are now face to face with eternity. Nothing left to lose, so you might as well give it your best shot…and if you cut us, we will bleed.

      May the best man win!

      We are the Peter Pinguid Society, we are the 0.01 percent.

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        And, PPS, we appreciate that you now can tell it like it is, because *TINA*. More!

  3. Ned Ludd

    In the article about Germany’s anti-euro party, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard says “Angela Merkel suddenly has a ‘UKIP problem’ on the her right flank”. In the U.K., the right-wing, Eurosceptic party UKIP is surging the polls.

    • Labour:39%
    • Conservatives:27%
    • UKIP:17%
    • Liberal Democrats:8%

    The Liberal Democrats are busy betraying all of their core values. Last week, 50 of their 57 Members of Parliament voted for secret courts and closed material procedures:

    The point about closed material procedures is that they deny claimants the right to know the evidence that the government has presented against their case. The claimant is not allowed to learn the reasons for a judgment and cannot respond to evidence during the hearing, which means a government lie may go unchallenged.[…]

    There has been a lot of semi-plausible bluster from Kenneth Clarke, the Tory minister without portfolio and a QC, who argued that the bill enhances justice because undesirable types will not be able to bring baseless claims that the government cannot defend, for fear of betraying its own secrets and those of Britain’s allies.

    Those who voted for the bill evidently forgot how we arrived here. There were no baseless claims, rather credible allegations of rendition and torture, which gave claimants a very good case against the UK government – and that’s the reason millions in taxpayers’ money was paid out. The only conclusion to draw, on the basis of the available history, is that this law is designed to cover up the truth.

    The bill was rushed through the Commons “to avoid an embarrassing motion against it at the [Liberal] party’s spring conference this weekend”. On Sunday, “two of their most prominent campaigners against secret courts resigned from the party”.

  4. Ms G

    ALEC lobbying hard to *reduce* the minimum wage.

    Watch Obama jump on this one to walk back his proposal to increase it to a pathetic $9/hr down to the current minimum wage, whilst invoking the principles of “reason,” “balance” … aka, The Third Way.

    Time to turn up the volume on demands to increase minimum wage to $20/hr with adjustments (upwards) for states with higher costs of living. NOW!

    1. AbyNormal

      “I feel that the Nelp report unfairly casts Alec as a suppressor or oppressor of American workers. We are not against employees of companies. Rather, we believe the market should dictate wages,” said an Alec spokesman.”

      was that the Market that dictated Corporate & Financial Industries LOSSES onto our backs?

      sorry Ms G but when i even smell ALEC i fear i won’t make it to the toilet

    2. Cynthia

      There’s an extra dimension here. As more states pass the ALEC-written Prison Industries Act, private corporations are able to use prison labor at slave wages, with very little oversight, particularly if their fellow ALEC member, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) is running the prisons. Voila! They now have the cheap labor source they’ve always dreamed of.

      Pair that with mandatory minimum sentencing for minor offenses, target the poor, and defund the public defenders’ offices. And on top of that, they got us to foot the bill for the captive labor force! How sick is that. Even the states without the corporate industries bill are looking at using prison labor to supplant public workers — even when the cost of incarceration exceeds the wages and benefits of the public worker! Another way to kill the public sector.

      1. Ms G

        You have it, Cynthia.

        Interesting, too, that the BLS jobs numbers appear focus on “non-institutionalized” persons. I wonder if they count prison slave labor in some part of the jobs report.

        There is a sliver of a silver lining in the LA school board story in that even with all truckloads of money that Third Way people (Gates, Bloommberg, Walton, et al) threw at the election in support of the privateer-predator candidate, they lost. But not by much. And apparently the guy that won is not entirely straightforward about defending public education against the attacks of the Charter School Privateer Fraud Brigade.

        1. Ms G

          Cynthia — half my comment was irrelevant to the minimum wage – prison complex issue. Sorry about that.

          (It relates to a piece in the LA Times about out of state billionaires pouring money into local school board elections to get privateers in office, etc.)

  5. Brindle

    Re: Alice Walker–Honouring the truth.

    A must hear interview. The interviewer tries to steer Walker back to a more apologist view of Obama but she holds firm with the truth.

    On drones: “It is a criminal act…they should be brought to justice for these things.”

    On voting for Obama in 2012: “The idea about voting for the lesser of two evils means you’re voting for evil and we should refuse. There is no reason why we should continue voting for evil people, who do evil things in the world.”

    1. Expat

      Alice Walker is a wonderful woman. I wondered, a couple of years ago, when I saw her on C-SPAN mooning over Obama (“that face”). Now that she has spoken of her eye-opening conversion, perhaps we may be permitted to be nostalgic about our hopes upon Obama’s election. The first Black man to lead a major Western country since the 2nd century, AD. A president of the US with a funny name. A speaker whose eloquence stood in diametric contrast with the previous inhabitant of the White House. Not a populist by any means but an intelligent liberal. Surely an advocate for the public interest. But, like Clinton before him, he caved in to illiberal special interests before he was even inaugurated. Without, apparently, a thought of the huge majority around the world that would have had his back.

      1. Brindle

        My take is that Obama has always been an authoritarian-violence loving-corporate shill. His “eloquence” was always an act.
        Obama did not have to become personally involved in targeted killings, it was his choice because that is who he is, he gets satisfaction in being involved in killing.

        As Walker has said, Obama is evil.

        1. CB

          Entirely self-aggrandizing. Obama is about himself. Eloquent? Boring, pompous windbag. I call him Windy City.

        2. LeonovaBalletRusse

          Yes, the Big O has all the traits of the psychopath.

          Hare, Babiak, Sheridan, explain it all for us on YouTube.

      2. Cynthia

        Obama serves many useful purposes for the elites. He attracts hatred from male whites (and female whites) which spurs them to greater racism, which, in turn, causes greater divisiveness in middle-class society.

        He keeps middle-class blacks and other middle-class people of color quieter while the elites strip them of what modest wealth they have managed to accumulate.

        He has done the bidding of Wall Street and the Pentagon to a tee.

        He is able to accomplish awful things (such as continuing the Patriot Act and Bush’s torture program, enacting Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), launching drone attacks on all sorts of innocent brown people, conducting vicious attacks on whistleblowers, etc., etc.) that a Republican would be hard pressed to accomplish. If Obama were a Republican, the Left would take up arms against him for these and other blatant acts of fascism. Instead, they give Obama a pass just because he is a Democrat, and especially because he is a minority.

        I think from a DESIRED RESULTS perspective, Obama is the guy for TPTB.

        1. lidia

          Indeed! I find it beyond frustrating to keep reading in all media, right and left, about how Obama is “struggling” or how he has “failed” in this or that…

          I can’t identify a single failure or setback. I truly don’t know what either side is talking about. It’s like they have bought into the myth that O. is some kind of progressive, or even a Democrat, which he is clearly not, nor did he ever pretend to be! His language, to me, has always been equivocal, and people just want to read into it what they will, whether from a position of hope or a position of fear.

          No Hope.
          No Fear.
          Just Business as Usual.

      3. different clue

        It’s not that he “caved in” to those interests. He was their false-flag Trojan Judas Horse right from before-the-beginning.

        1. CB

          Yes, he was and there are/were several well researched articles online that made the point. I’ve linked to them often enough to get frequent linker points, so I’ll leave it to inquiring minds to follow up. Chicago newspaper article about Obama in the IL senate; Boston Globe on the public-private housing debacle in Chicago, which made some people a lot of money and cost the taxpayers a lot of money; a couple of FDL articles about Obama at the Hamilton Project. There was plenty of information available before the 2008 election.

  6. Ned Ludd

    Greenwald links to a good article in Salon by South-Asian-American philosophy professor Falguni Sheth, who responded to the liberals who piled on Rand Paul for being a racist.

    Is [Rand] Paul a racist? Here’s a better question: Is Paul any more racist in his economic and drug policy endorsements than the White House in its policies of kill lists, targeted killings, drone strikes, TSA no-fly and watch lists, Department of Homeland Security’s Secure Communities program or “See Something, Say Something” policy? Is Rand Paul more of a threat to black and brown populations (American or foreign) than the current administration, which deported more than 1.5 million migrants during its first term and separated tens of thousands of migrant parents from their children? Is Rand Paul more of a threat to our safety than the current administration?

    Greenwald had his own back-and-forth about this topic with one of the editors of Mother Jones.

    Adam Weinstein:Fun to watch liberals cheer on a guy who hates the Civil Rights Act as he deploys a legislative tactic perfected by segregationists.

    Glenn Greenwald:@AdamWeinstein Fun to watch liberals mock one of the few efforts to oppose tryannical powers, secret assassinations & rampant secrecy

    According to his bio at Mother Jones, Adam Weinstein is “a Navy vet and ex-Iraq contractor”. His œuvre includes such hard-hitting investigative journalism as: “Barack Obama Loves Kids, Chairs, Fedoras, Pirates, and Nancy Reagan”. I doubt he has a problem with Obama’s tryannical powers, secret assassinations, and rampant secrecy.

  7. Jim Haygood

    Ben Bernanke slides helplessly down the deep throat of a Venus Flytrap of his own making:

    When Ben S. Bernanke asserted last month that the Federal Reserve doesn’t ever have to sell assets, he raised questions about how the central bank can withdraw its record monetary stimulus without stoking inflation.

    The Fed may decide to hold the bonds on its balance sheet to maturity as part of a review of the exit strategy Bernanke expects will be done “sometime soon,” he told lawmakers in Washington on Feb. 27. This would help address concerns that dumping assets on the market will lead to a rapid rise in borrowing costs. It also allows the Fed to avoid realizing losses on its bond holdings as interest rates climb.

    Removing asset sales from the exit plan Fed officials agreed to in June 2011 means the central bank would stop prices from accelerating by relying primarily on its ability to pay interest on the cash it holds for banks. Given that the Fed’s total assets have reached an unprecedented level of more than $3 trillion, leaving them untouched when the economy picks up may stoke inflation, according to Dean Maki, chief U.S. economist at Barclays Plc in New York.

    When the Fed announced its QE1 asset purchase program in Nov. 2008, it said that it was a temporary crisis measure that soon would be reversed. But in Nov. 2010, a second round of asset purchases commenced, making clear that the Fed’s promises were nothing but the hot air of good intentions gone bad.

    Bernanke has now confirmed that the Federal Reserve is in the same position as JP Morgan’s ‘London whale’ — or to go even farther back in history, the Hunt brothers’ silver stash in 1980. Once you corner the supply of an asset, you ARE the market. And the burning question that accompanies the forlorn notion of selling is: TO WHOM?

    Bernanke is trapped in a prison of his own devise. The Federal Reserve cannot shrink its bloated balance sheet without crashing the bond market. QE4-evah is PERMANENT, folks. And if the serpent of inflation raises its ugly head, well … you might want to stock up on rice, beans, candles, matches and toilet paper.

    What is now certain is that the Bernank is a goner when his term ends next January. Now that young Ben has sh*t the bed in unprecedented fashion, the Fed’s only option is to give his successor room to decry (in standard political fashion) ‘the mistakes of the past eight years.’

    He meant well, comrades.

    1. Emperor Wang of Market Mongo

      “Fed’s only option is to give his successor room to decry (in standard political fashion) ‘the mistakes of the past eight years.”

      You should be so lucky. However, the Fed DOES NOT EVER MAKE MISTAKES!

      So you will get Janet Yellen, whom will continue the policies of Greenben.

    2. different clue

      Actually, you might want to stock up on rice, beans,candles, matches and toilet paper now. Nowwwwww.

  8. TomDor

    I am amazed- not. We have ‘free market’ fundamentalists who go on about how this 800 pound – man made manifestation (free market) – would do better if it were left on it’s own to do freely what it wants. That’s right – many believe that what man created should be free to roam without regulation. We created it and now we allow this danger to roam free. Now, globally, we want to ensure that this beast (created by man) can not be killed by man.
    It is amazing to me that, the generally accepted idea is that man is not perfect and, yet, what man creates is perfect and deserving of immortality…. I say hubris, egotistical and, totally the peg, if allowed to stand, in the death of humanity.

  9. Sufferin'Succotash

    Just when I thought wasn’t being paranoid enough, along came the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

      1. patricia

        Every time something causes my brain to go dead still and then begin roaming around aimlessly, pathetically waving the flag of “well you shouldaknowdknowdknowd”, I know I’ve flopped down another level in hell.

        What level am I at now? Lol

    1. Doug Terpstra

      You are not nearly paranoid or cynical enough, SS. In the Brave New World Odor, especially WRT Obama, we can no longer attribute to incompetence, cowardice, or greed what can only be explained by malice, mental disease, and/or conspiracy (strike ‘or’).

      Lee Camp, in Moment of Clarity, notes that the secretive TPP, which Obama is actively pushing, on the heels of three of his new rigged trade pacts (Korea, Panama, Columbia), is an especially insidious evil because it is so mind-numbingly, kill-me-now boring. Camp: “Boring evil is the worst because people don’t give a sh*t.”

      If anything will usher in Alex Jones dreaded one-world government/currency it’s the TPP.

    2. ScottS

      Not that TPP sounds like good news for any of us outside the skyboxes, but wouldn’t the same be true of the WTO? It’s been bad, but hasn’t brought about the NWO as most understand it. Is TPP an order of magnitude more evil than the WTO?

  10. Peter Pinguid Society

    Re: Alice Walker

    It was a joy to read the comments following the interview with Alice Walker, such as the following (more or less typical of them all):

    From the Obot retard known as Pancha Chandra:

    “Obama is in a bind. He has to balance conflicting demands from different groups representing different racial origins. He has performed magnificently, balancing the affairs of state with matters close to his heart. His dream is to see justice and fairness to all racial groups, black and white. His detractors would find so many petty points to slam him. They need to look at the broader picture.”

    From the Obot retard known as Cat:

    “I am sure Ms Walker is disappointed that President Obama has not made ALL the changes many of us hoped he might. However, he is only the president, not the King.i wonder if she would prefer the available alternatives that the GOP offered voters? I hoped for a single payer health care to eliminate the insurance companies having such power. His efforts are a good start. I remain hopeful.”


    If this is what passes for intelligence among the 99 percent, then it looks like we have nothing to worry about.

    We are the Peter Pinguid Society, we are the 0.01 percent

    1. jrs

      Not the 99% just Obama “liberals” (liberal yea, I don’t think that word means what they think it means if they think it means Obama policies).

      So are Romney voters better? Sometimes I suspect so, some have less of the true believer in them than the Obama tiolet polishers. But what is almost certainly better: the non-voters.

      1. different clue

        Or those lonely few who voted for some other Third Party.

        We! Are! the One Point Five Per Cent!

  11. rich

    Bankers Above the Law. . .There Will be Hell to Pay

    4) A key point of my recent book, Lawless Capitalism, is that “investment and financial markets can only be built upon trust.” How can any investor trust a financial system dominated by megabanks that are above the law? Capitalism requires trust and trust can only be inspired by a rational rule of law applicable to all. Exemptions for the most economically powerful are likely to be the most economically damaging as they control the most concentrated resources. In other words, giving legal indulgences to those with trillions under their control means that trillions will be deployed with no care towards illegality. Only profit, no matter how cravenly grabbed, will matter. The American people are already rapidly losing trust in the system. In a recent Northwestern/Univ. of Chicago survey, only 22% of Americans trust the financial system. Holder’s bold power-grab on behalf of the banks is sure to accelerate this unraveling of trust. That means severe economic pain.

    5) Another key point of Lawless Capitalism (as well as Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson’s instant classic Why Nations Fail) is that laws and regulations must tether elite interests to macroeconomic growth and under conditions of high inequality that challenge intensifies. Holder’s statement is simply further proof that elites will eschew the law and seek to operate outside legal constraints once too much economic wealth is concentrated in too few hands. We learned that in the run up to the subprime collapse and Holder seems intent on repeating that painful lesson. This can be termed the injustice of inequality.

  12. Central Reich Institute of Kos-ology

    Topic: Obots

    Quite apart from their undeniable utility value, Obots afforded an almost ideal object lesson for the classroom. Any number could be had for virtually nothing, they were perfectly docile and mindless and needed neither cages nor compounds, AND they were suitable for a variety of experiments (weighing, measuring and so forth) at every stage in their evolution.

    Through every stage of Obot evolution, measurable cerebral activity was virtually absent.

    They could be used to illustrate the structure and distinctive features of insect anatomy, insect domestication, retrogressive mutations, and the essential measures which are taken by breeders to monitor productivity and selection, including extermination.

    In the film, we see an Obot-worker receiving eggs dispatched by the Central Reich Institute of Kosology, and depositing them in sterile trays. We see the hatching, the feeding of the ravenous Obots, the cleaning out of the frames, the spinning of the silken thread, and finally the killing, accomplished in this case not by putting Obots out in the sun or in a hot oven, as was often the practice in the past, but by suspending them over a boiling cauldron.

    The Obots, spread out on shallow baskets, have to be kept in the rising steam for upwards of three hours, and when a batch is done, it is the next one’s turn, and so on until the entire killing business is completed.

    1. Central Reich Institute of Kos-ology

      Greetings Emperor Wang,

      We’ve breeded far too many of them, and would like to send a Large Cargo Shipment of Obots to colonise your planet. To make this offer attractive, we will provide a level 5 fusion plant, a level 4 robotics facility, a level 3 shipyard, and a level 4 research facility, as well as some simple defenses to keep your farms safe from contamination.

      Like this you could ferry Obot resources to your other planets for research and fleet preparations.

      For details, contact Mar-Kos, Central Reich Institute of Kos-ology.

      1. Emperor Wang of Market Mongo

        Hmm. We have all those things already, and we surround our farms with Guard Corn – nothing gets past.

        But I understand the Obots want to go to Mars? Your Emperor hasn’t been there yet. Maybe just send them there, send some pics, and we’ll call it even?

        P.S. I recall your “President” Bush wanted to go to Mars. Bush Pride Week or something like that he called it?

    2. Ms G

      It would be a grave omission if this post were not posted in the comments section of the Alice W interview.

      (Poor woman – no sooner does she just say exactly what she means (and feels and believes) that an inter-galactic army of Koss-Obots moves in to tell the world what she *really* means, says, thinks believes. This reminds me of an episode in SNL long ago where Stewart Smalley insists to Magic Johnson that he (Magic) has psychological issues and problems, with Magic simply repeating “no” over and over again (in vain).

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


    Suicide bomber.

    Samurai seppuku.

    Kamikaze pilots.

    Some do violence to others and some do, but one thing they share – they all do violence to themselves.

    Hunger strike – another act of violence…again, to oneself, whether you’re Gandhi or not.

    Non-violence starts with respect one’s own body, unless you’re saying the goal is too important to be non-violent and so, for my people, I do violence to myself. But, if that’s the case, don’t say that’s non-violence.

    I consider it violence.

    1. Laughing_Fascist

      The Chinese show up and a committee actually moves into a Tibetan temple. The bios of all monks in the temple are assembled. All monks are forced to to condemn the one true Dalai Lama (whom they believe who was born into the world by divine plan) as a pedophile, bourgoise, murderer, traitor, etc.

      The committee requires all monks to swear that the communist chosen dalai lama is the real dalai lama. That Tibet is a province of China. That the monks must swear allegiance to the chinese communist party. That the senior monks who used to be the teachers (and now reside in re-education camps) are fraudsters. That the committee, which presided over the local crackdowns on the uprisings, murdering tibetans because they dared object to destruction of their culture and religion, is the true teacher. And that all monks report to the committee several times daily to recite all of the above nonsense and swear they believe it.

      I can see how this might get tiresome for monks after months, years, decades. The chinese communists are violent. Accusing the hopeless monks of violence seems designed to undermine their sacrifice.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        ..accusing helpless monks of violence…undermine their sacrifice…

        My point is actually that violence is called when it is appropriate.

        Just don’t be afraid to say so and believe it’s non-violence.

        So, monks are being violent. But I am not sure I am doing any accusing in saying that. In fact, I believe I believe violence to oneself might be debated as to its necessity. Moreover, there is emotional/spiritual violence, in addition to physical violence. Being very angry at injustice is emotional violence. There is nothing shameful or to be accused of about that.

        Just don’t say it’s non-violence.

    1. patricia

      Not even bamboo grows as fast as humans and their desire to throw stuff out. Weird, isn’t it?

  14. Expat

    Re: Brad DeLong’s column. For an antidote, listen to KPFA’s Almost Behind the News interview with Robert Gordon, the Northwestern University economist who has been explaining why our standard of living has not been going up in the US. Facebook is simply not as much of a gamechanger as indoor plumbing.

  15. Laughing_Fascist

    “Corralling Mobsters, if Not Many Big Banks” NYTs

    Wow. Gretchen Morgenson did a great job of laying out examples of the dismal job our next SEC Chairwoman Mary Jo White did while a federal prosecutor. White can claim the Gotti prosecution but when it came to financial fraud she was seriously embarassed by NY state prosecutors who actually put people in jail in cases that Mary Jo either settled or declined to prosecute at all.

    The NYTs better reign in Morgensen before she makes the fairytales about White that other Times authors have been publishing less believable.

  16. TimR

    From that archdruid link yesterday, I don’t know what Greer is referring to exactly:

    “…Funding antigovernment propaganda here in the United States without getting caught would be easy enough to do, and plenty of hostile governments might find it a gamble worth taking. I find myself suspecting at times that this might be what’s behind the remarkable way that American public life has become saturated with propaganda insisting that the current US system of government is evil incarnate, and that any replacement whatsoever would necessarily be an improvement.”

    If you had asked me, before reading this, I would have assumed that *Greer* probably believed the US govt was evil incarnate. Well, maybe with more qualifications and subtlety than that, but “bad” nevertheless.

    I thought most of the propaganda permeating American public life was putting a smiley face on the mendacious things US govt does, or deflecting from it, or ignoring it. I wish Greer gave examples so I knew what he meant.

    Also he seems to accept the idea that govt debt is a major, pressing problem, and speculates that the sequestration fiasco may have been a clever ploy to do some necessary (if trivial) cutting, while giving both Reps and Dems plausible deniability. I would have thought Yves/NC would find that a dubious view???

    He can be an interesting writer, but I’ll admit I only skimmed this after a bit. Just seemed like he was rambling on and on without much specifics or useful info.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      The Archdruid is always worth reading, but in this particular piece he seemed to me to be drawing back a little from the implications of his own thinking. “ZOMG, it’s all coming true! Wait a minute…”

    2. patricia

      Yes, as the article unrolled, he slowly morphed into my harumphing establishment uncle. I am supposing it was just a glitch in the screening that will be fixed by next week.

    3. sleepy

      I’ve enjoyed some of his fiction piece but never paid much attention to his political views, perhaps assuming he was a survivalist sort.

      I dunno, just to speculate, maybe the “anti-government propaganda” he refers to is the “anti-regulation/government can do nothing good” stuff.

  17. Hugh

    Perhaps the best way to look at Watergate and Iran/Contra is as dry runs.

    My principal criticism of Rand Paul’s filibuster is that while it raised the visibility of the issue of extra-judical killings of Americans on American soil, it did not change, indeed was designed not to change, any outcomes. Get 4-6 Senators who can hold the floor 24/7. Force Holder to issue a clear and unequivocal retraction of the Obama Administration’s position on this type of murder, and we have something to talk about. As it was, Paul held the floor for a day, Holder issued a mealy-mouthed clarification which if anything increased the scope for extra-judicial killings, and all the Establishment players went home happy.

    Obama and Romney, the Democrats and the Republicans, are complementary evils. Vote for either, and you validate and further the process of their evil.

    1. different clue

      Well, he took a beachhead which any other 4-6 Senators were perfectly free to rotatingly-secure and rotatingly-hold. The other 99 Senators revealed that no 4-6 of them cared enough to secure and hold that beachead.

    2. ScottS

      My thing with Rand Paul/Holder is that Holder is counting on the continued deconstruction of language where he can define “engaged in combat operations” to be anything down to buying liquor on Sundays. Instead of demanding a clarification we are never going to get and thus enabling the deconstruction of language, why not take him at what we understand his words to be? I don’t have a helmet on, so I’m not “engaged in combat” as I know it.

      So when (and I mean when) an American is killed on American soil who is doing nothing that normal human beings would consider combat, we can be properly outraged and nail the bastards to the wall for lying. Their simpering “b-b-but by ‘engaged in combat’ we meant sending cranky letters to the editor” will wither against a serious populist rage enabled by furor over being lied to.

      I’m sick of weasly legalease. Combat is combat. 9/11 was a job for intelligence agencies and the FBI to handle, not for military. The next 9/11 is the same — for intelligence and FBI, not for the military.

  18. Hugh

    The DeLong piece overlooks kleptocracy only mentioning in passing unequal distribution of his millennialist “future” among the planet’s billions. He also ignores resource constraints, overpopulation, and global warming. Just very hard to take seriously.

  19. craazyman

    are these links from two years ago? It says 3/11/11. Seems hard to believe it’s 2013. You’d think there’d be a Mars colony by now and people flying around in anti-gravity machines. What’s up with that? Nothing has changed. It could be 1954 almost, except for the internet. Even men’s haircuts aren’t that different — real men that is, who go to barbers. Not girly men who pay $100 for a hair salon cut. Beer tastes the same. So does wine. What’s really different? Nothing. Goes to show you. Things were more advanced in 1969 when dudes were flying to the moon each year. And music was better. So was cinema. So was financial regulation. So was Wall Street. Some things were worse, for sure, but other things are worse now. Things are basically going backwards mostly. I’m beginning to get a feeling again that some storm is building in the noosphere. I don’t know what it is yet, but there’s a sense of increasing opacity and a deadening of all current paths. I’m not an eco-freako like Reverend Kunstler or a pollyanna. I’m far more sophisticated, like a rarefied mental satellite flying by myself in space but sending signals back. Sometimes you just need a beer. Maybe this is one of those times. Thankfully I have one, right now. Lambert probably good to give Hedges credit for that headline. I don’t mean to give you a wedgie but fair is fair. hahahahah I guess it’s public domain by now. He’s always on a TV somewhere. How about this “Beauty is a force that makes us crazy.” It’s true. But making beauty is so hard,where do you start? at the beginning, as Van Gogh, said “with the same integrity and the same interest”. it’s not easy and mostly you miss. but every once and a while, every so often. Booom! :)

    1. ScottS

      What would you do differently if you knew what you know now, but it was 3/11/11?

      And I take exception — beer is much better now than in the 50s. Miller/Coors/Michelob are swill. Deregulation was good for one thing, at least: craft-brew beer.

  20. bulfinch

    RE: Sports Fans/Mental Health — so, if I scream at the TV, I’m actually not being a great big jackass, but contributing to the overall well-being and soundness of my mind?

    Very good.

  21. j.s.nightingale

    Top Comment from the Beeb’s Mary Queen of Mathematics piece:

    “The Butterfly Effect represents the absolute nonsense of the pure mathematics racket. It requires the assumption of an incompressible fluid with an infinite speed of sound, no friction, no damping and that the world is only a function of the initial conditions. Chaos theory assumes a frictionless, time reversible unreal world which depends only on initial conditions. The real world should be considered a time dependent boundary value problem with friction. Deterministic mathematics has never been able to handle those assumptions.”

    Substitute ‘neoclassical economics’ where appropriate.

    1. ChrisPacific

      True, but missing the point. The key finding of chaos theory was that even if you simplify the model to the extent described in the comment, under certain circumstances you can still get the sort of behaviour described by the butterfly effect – namely complex, highly structured behaviour that is unpredictable over the long term and shows a lot of characteristics normally associated with randomness, even though it’s fully deterministic.

      This was revolutionary because, although we see this behaviour in nature all the time, it had always been assumed that it was a consequence of imperfect modeling (for the reasons described in the comment). Simple models were expected to always produce simple solutions. The fact that complex behaviour of the type we find in nature could actually be an intrinsic property of a mathematical model (even quite a simple one) was quite a revolutionary idea at the time.

  22. Nixon, Omnipotent mastermind

    Parry’s fragmentary watergate facts need to be bounced off Russ Baker’s more sophisticated structural research. Parry was last seen berating all you self-indulgent naifs who refused to vote for criminal CIA Puppet Ruler Barack Obama because Obama sucks less &c. &c.

  23. Kim Kaufman

    “Trans Pacific Partnership: A new Constitution Angry Bear. Must read. Yikes!”

    The thing to watch about the TPP is it getting “fast-tracked” through Congress. Prez will hand down to Congress, give them short window to vote up or down — no amendments, no changes. If you’re the kind of person who complains to your representative in Congress, ask them not to let it get fast-tracked. That’s one way to stop/slow it down for further sunlight.

    1. ScottS

      You mean the Senate:

      Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution, includes the Treaty Clause, which empowers the President of the United States to propose and chiefly negotiate agreements between the United States and other countries, which become treaties between the United States and other countries after the advice and consent of a supermajority of the United States Senate.


      Supermajority for treaties: 67%
      Democrats in Senate: 53

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