Links 5/19/13

Feline Fate: Brigitta the Wheelchair Cat Adopts Lost Kittens Der Spiegel

Carbon storage in Arctic tundra shows ecosystem resiliency ScienceBlog

Harry Reid eyeing July for the `nuclear option’ WaPo. 2013 and not 2009?

Obama’s trust-in-government deficit Dan Balz, WaPo

Despite sequester, high-level federal executives slated to get bonuses McClatchy

Dueling Jobs (and Big Paydays) Gretchen Morgenson, Times

Bulls vs. bears

Dow at an all-time high, who cares? mathbabe

Economic Prospects for the Long Run Ben Bernanke, Bard College at Simon’s Rock. (English majors, rejoice!)

Historical Echoes: The “Mississippi Bubble” – When One’s Back Could Be Rented Out as a Writing Desk  Federal Reserve Bank of New York. A la Les Liaisons dangereuses (1782)?

‘Moral issues’ lead banks to refuse porn stars bank accounts and loans Daily Mail

A Defense of the Financial Sector Conversable Economist

The Liquidationist Urge Paul Krugman, Times

Framing Above the Market. Baseball metaphor!

London Therapist for Disheartened Bankers Tells Their Tales of Woe Daily Finance (CB). Will Dr. Jennifer Melfi please pick up the nearest white courtesy phone?

Can two senators end ‘too big to fail’? Big Picture

Eurovision Song Contest won by Denmark BBC (bookies lose big time; winning entry; Copenhagen).

A thousand days of austerity El Pais

Greece: A reality check Ekathimerini

Italy coalition: Thousands rally in Rome against cuts BBC

A Black Mound of Canadian Oil Waste Is Rising Over Detroit Times. Guess who owns it!

How Qatar seized control of the Syrian revolution FT

Syria: The Turning International Tide Moon of Alabama

Breaking the Kill Chain Foreign Policy

Cannabis: Colorado’s budding industry Guardian

Competitive Pricing in Oregon is a Test Case for Obamacare Mother Jones (also too). Because magic marketplace (i.e., unlucky citizens in AK, AL, DE, HI, MI, ND, NE, RI, SC, and WY, insurance monopoly states).

Switching Modes, or Changing Gears The Crow’s Eye

Is This Virtual Worm the First Sign of the Singularity? Atlantic (furzy mouse)

Revenge, ego and the corruption of Wikipedia Salon

These Are The International Social Networks Closing In On Facebook Business Insider

Social networks as evolutionary game theory FT Alphaville

Living by the Numbers: Big Data Knows What Your Future Holds Der Speigel

Open Data and Wishful Thinking Another Word for it. BLM issues rule for fracking data storage. Private industry website, check. Proprietary PDF, check.

An Open Letter To Justin Wedes (background) @diceytroop. PDF of moleskine, scanned. Still interesting!

Antidote du jour (MR):


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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. AbyNormal

    The Llama is a woolly sort of fleecy hairy goat, with an indolent expression and an undulating throat; like an unsuccessful literary man.

    1. DakotabornKansan

      Gold of the Andes – The Llamas, Alpaca, Vicunas and Guanacos of South America

      “God created the llamas of these cold regions for the good of the inhabitants, who without this animal would have a very difficult life…the Giver of all things, Our Lord God, compensated for the barrenness of the uninhabitable punas and paramos of these sierras by putting there such a large number of these docile animals, that they cannot be counted, for they have been all around there since ancient times, and were all the wealth of all the mountain Indians.” – Bernabe Cobo, History of the New World, 1653

    2. Lyle

      Just to make clear a Llama is a relative of a camel (in the same biological family).

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      One doubts the media, therefore one is.

      If they say clean air is good for you, it’s time to wonder a little if it is really good for you or what could go wrong…

  2. AbyNormal

    re, Switching Modes, or Changing Gears…What a Read (Thanks)
    “Punishment is about forcing people to make an either/or distinction. Punishment doesn’t correct. It has never reformed. Punishment defines who is a loser and who is a victor. Punishment establishes civilizations. It’s the four chambered blood pump of business, law, family, religion.”
    “And perhaps not incidentally or accidentally, I have fewer and fewer attachments to this leftism, this urgent need to fight a Big Fight. Perhaps, it’s because my children are now facing the actual prospect of having to sell themselves, and I want to be the model for a way of life which is neither strife, nor self-annihilating revolution. Or maybe it’s because I know from past modes of self and memory that it doesn’t work, this leftist critique of society. Nobody is convinced. Nobody cares. It’s time to cut losses and find a life boat.”…The Crow’s Eye

    When we know what we most fear, we know what we most care about. patti digh, if your alive your creative

    1. jrs

      more that even if people are convinced and do care, they dont’ see a darn thing they can do about it so ….

  3. William

    Antidote du jour. The daily first-thing-in-the-morning assault on ones’ sensibilities. The price of admission. The “Oh god look what it’s this time” Will it be large wild cats kept as pets again? Will it be another celebration of human mastery over all living things? An assault on an animal’s dignity?

    Today’s offering is horrifying and disgusting. Aw, what’s wrong with just having a little fun with the animals? Let’s also tease the caged ones and get a reaction. Let’s breed a dog that lives on the edge of existence so we can have a miniature one that we think is nifty. Nice little toy.

    This kind of disrespect for life is at the core of an endless list of our crimes against the natural world. Instead, how about promoting knowledge and awareness of the life around us, starting with the soil bacteria and fungi? We cannot hope to beat Monsanto, factory farmed food, and other ills if people do not have the basic foundational knowledge of and respect for non-human life.

    The juxtaposition of the antidotes with the daily hand-wringing over the results of our nearly complete lack of any sense of stewardship is jarring.

      1. optimader

        Sometimes a haircut is just a haircut.

        HAHAHA.. indeed! and sometimes it serves a higher purpose like enabling a species to sustain in it’s historical symbiotic relationship that has evolved over at least the past 6.000 years thousands!

        Proving yet again there will always be someone who will get their hair-shorts in a bunch while seamlessly demonstrating their lack of depth at a plastic keyboard into the most evolved expression of human technological exploitation yet devised!

        Help Alpaca do what they do to survive:

  4. petridish

    RE: Obama’s Trust in Government Deficit

    While the corporate media insists on framing the issue as one of big government vs. small, that premise is incorrect. Most Americans have no idea how much they would miss “big” government if it were to go away. (Keep your government hands off my Medicare and all that.)

    The correct context is good government vs. bad, corrupt government, whatever the size. Government of, by and for the corporations could only masquerade as government of, by and for the people for so long. The cracks are getting too big to hide.

    There was no doubt that a democrat would win the 2008 presidential election. TPTB wisely, I think, decided that either a black or a woman should be designated to keep the charade going for a little longer–the public would be inclined to cut a historic first enormous slack. It was a brilliant call. By 2012, nobody worth any kind of salt even wanted the job.

    The disconnect between Obama’s actions and his superfluous and unnecessary campaign rhetoric is just a meaningless annoyance in pursuit of his ultimate payoff (which I’m sure will be huge.)

    Ron Unz captures what is actually happening in his article “Our American Pravda.”

    This is the last paragraph:

    “Consider the fascinating perspective of the recently deceased Boris Berezovsky, once the most powerful of the Russian oligarchs and the puppet master behind President Boris Yeltsin during the late 1990s. After looting billions in national wealth and elevating Vladimir Putin to the presidency, he overreached himself and eventually went into exile. According to the New York Times, he had planned to transform Russia into a fake two-party state—one social-democratic and one neoconservative—in which heated public battles would be fought on divisive, symbolic issues, while behind the scenes both parties would actually be controlled by the same ruling elites. With the citizenry thus permanently divided and popular dissatisfaction safely channeled into meaningless dead-ends, Russia’s rulers could maintain unlimited wealth and power for themselves, with little threat to their reign. Given America’s history over the last couple of decades, perhaps we can guess where Berezovsky got his idea for such a clever political scheme.”

    1. ohmyheck

      The good news is that Komrade Berezovsky overreached and was exiled. How did that happen? Maybe we could learn from his mistakes and pull off a few “forced errors” on our Elites?

    2. Jackrabbit

      Who knew that a Wall Street-sponsored, Chicago-way Administration that sold America a Third Way bill of goods would be secretive, controlling, and play fast and lose with the truth?

  5. Ep3

    Re: obamas trust in govt article
    The author confuses two topics; Obama and his reputation, and the reputation of the institution of govt. Obama could care less if ppl hate the IRS even more than they already do. As long as it doesn’t make him look bad, and his precious legacy.

    1. ratfeck

      There’s a big unspoken issue here. Under the Patriot Act and bits of covert law concealed in unrelated legislation, IRS is tasked with coercive investigation for the US government’s national-intelligence stasi. The public fixation on partisan abuse of IRS powers successfully diverts attention from illegal interference with taxpayers’ privacy. Under this or any administration, opposition figures in state-sanctioned parties are going to have it much easier than people who challenge violent repression and official impunity.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Reid is “all but certain to take action if the Senate GOP blocks three upcoming key nominations…” (from the link). And that is “all but certain” to strike fear in the hearts of the GOP, which quails at the prospect of Reid’s trademark muscular domination of the Senate.

      Every time I hear willowy Reid threatening to get tough, I hear my three-year-old nephew, who, when not getting his way, would declare in an ominous tone “you’re making me maaaad!”. After evoking only hilarious laughter, that trantrum tactic was quickly cured. He’s now nineteen and still gets teased about it.

      Reid, who knows the GOP don’t care about his trademark hollow threats, apparently thinks his similar wet-noodle-lash warnings still carry some weight with the public, unaware that his portrait accompanies “wimp” in the dictrionary. The only time he’ll pull the nuclear option is when he’s told to do so by his investors, quite likely only when it is needed to facilitate cutting Social Security and Medicare. After which typical rules of the ineffectual Roman Senate will revert to ensure status quo gridlock.

  6. Jim Haygood

    Following in the footsteps of Bill Clinton’s ‘Monica missiles,’ the Sociopath-in-Chief launches a ‘Lois Lerner’ drone attack on a dusty corner of Yemen:

    At least four people were killed and a number of others wounded in a drone strike on a vehicle carrying suspected al-Qaida members in southern Yemen, a local official said on Saturday.

    The official said the strike took place at dawn on Saturday on a road to the north of Jaar in Abyan Governorate, near Aden. He did not say who was behind the strike, but previous drone strikes have been carried out by the United States.

    Message: I care!

  7. rich

    Max talks to Dr. Michael Hudson, author of The Bubble and Beyond, about debt and wage deflation and about the intersection of interest rates and wages going back to David Ricardo when wages were measured against the price of bread to today when they are measured against the price of debt.

    “Capital must protect itself in every way. Debts must be collected, mortgages foreclosed as rapidly as possible. When through the process of law the common people lose their homes, they will become more docile and more easily governed through the strong arm of government applied by a central power of wealth under leading financiers. People
    without homes will not quarrel with their leaders. This is well known among our principal men now engaged in forming an imperialism of capitalism to govern the world. By dividing the people we can get them to expend their energies in fighting over questions of no importance
    to us except as teachers of the common herd. It is thus by discreet action we can secure for ourselves that which has been so well planned and so successfully accomplished.” – U.S. Banker’s Association Magazine, 1924

  8. Little John

    Conflicts of interest in Wikipedia: it’s interesting how Salon didn’t touch on the widespread practice of SEO specialists, public relations firms (and presumably, government propagandists) editing Wikipedia for the benefit of their clients.

    Wikipedia admins don’t seem to have a problem with their volunteers having these kinds of conflicts of interest. As long as content is being added to Wikipedia, everyone benefits, is their motto.

    Wikipedia supposedly has software that detects clusters of related edits (and therefore, sockpuppetry and astroturfing). But public relations firms have even more advanced software that games Wikipedia’s algorithms. Then you’ve got toys like HBGary’s “persona management” software that lets a single person pretend to be hundreds of unrelated people, and I don’t think Wikipedia can be trusted to ‘self-correct’ once you venture out of the realm of undisputable facts.

    1. David Lentini

      it’s interesting how Salon didn’t touch on the widespread practice of SEO specialists, public relations firms (and presumably, government propagandists) editing Wikipedia for the benefit of their clients.

      Yeah, it’s not like Salon has any conflicts of interest. Oh, wait!

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