Links 11/19/13

Sumatran tiger cub Bandar continued to charm the camera Gawker

Promiscuous mice bear sexier sons BBC

Scientists Discover 10,000-Year-Old Cave Paintings in Brazil Sci-News (Chuck L)

Monty Python to reform for new stage show Telegraph

Postal Service Officially Taken Over By America Haters Kevin Drum. You cannot make this up.

How to Feed Your Mummy ScienceNow

Sleep Therapy Seen as an Aid for Depression New York Times. Americans are horrifically sleep deprived. It would be an appalling testament to the state of medicine if a lot of people who are on meds really just need another hour or two of dream time to process out their stresses. My endocrinologist has said all women should be tested for testosterone (pretty much none are, it’s a pricey test) because 1/3 of the women on antidepressants have low testosterone, and getting them up to normal levels in most if not all cases would chipper them up.

Faster Drug Approvals May Carry Additional Risks for Patients Quelle surprise!

UN agog at “extreme” Australian climate stance MacroBusiness

US TPP is not in our interest Bangkok Post

Europeans Fault American Safety Effort in Bangladesh New York Times

Challenge for the Government: 4 Million Are Displaced, and Hunger Grows New York Times

Credit-Driven China Glut Threatens To Turn Into Bank Debt Crisis Bloomberg

China and Japan are heading for a collision Gideon Rachman, Financial Times. Important. This conflict keeps simmering in the background and the temperature is rising.

TEPCO risks all at Fukushima Asia Times (Deontos)

Unit 4 Fuel Loaded In Cask At Fukushima Daiichi SimplyInfo (Deontos). If you want to keep close tabs, this is the site for you. Frequent updates.

Bundesbank says Italian and Spanish banks still hooked on home state debt Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

Exclusive: US blocks publication of Chilcot’s report on how Britain went to war with Iraq Independent (Chuck L)

Explosions Near Iranian Embassy in Beirut Kill at Least Seven Wall Street Journal

When Iran Negotiations Aren’t About Iran OilPrice

Big Brother is Watching You Watch:

Indonesia anger at Australia spy row BBC

Court order behind spying on US citizens is revealed Guardian

NSA spying challenge turned aside Scotus (Deontos)

Obamacare Launch

White House told of health Web site issues in March Washington Post

ANOTHER ACA VICTIM: INSURANCE BROKERS Politico. Not sure this will garner much sympathy.

Analysis: Republicans plan 2014 campaign around Obamacare chaos Reuters. An obvious move.

Democrats are screwed next year if they can’t figure this out riverdaughter. I said a week ago they ARE screwed

The Obamacare time bomb Washington Post. Yowza.

Obama ratings hit new low after health-care flaws Washington Post

Republicans and Democrats to work together to gut Social Security, pass Chained CPI, without CALLING it a “grand bargain” Lambert. While you were all distracted by Obamacare, the catfood plan marches on…

Walmart to be prosecuted for firing striking workers, union group says Guardian

When airlines don’t compete Felix Salmon

UK probes private accounts of foreign exchange traders Financial Times

Why Does the Media Ignore Timothy Geithner’s Disastrous Leadership of the NY Fed? Bill Black, New Economic Perspectives

JPMorgan agrees to shoulder WaMu bill Financial Times. Translation: they aren’t going to try to make the FDIC eat some of the putback costs.

Securitization, Foreclosure, and the Uncertainty of Mortgage Title Adam Levitin, Credit Slips (Deontos)

5 years of QE and the distributional effects Walter Kurtz

Krugman & Co. — totally flabbergasting neoclassical apologetics Lars P. Syll (Jan)

Antidote du jour (furzy mouse):


And a bonus (a video, too funny, of dogs fighting to get their beds back from cat occupants):

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  1. MacCruiskeen

    Re: sleep: I can beleive it. I was recently diagnosed with apnea and put on a cpap machine. Now I think my wife should get one too. It’s really made a difference in how I feel during the day.

  2. Brick

    On “Bundesbank says Italian and Spanish banks still hooked on home state debt”:

    I like what he wrote, but I don’t like his numbers on Spain. He used the total. I think it would have been better to use the numbers for “banks, savings banks and credit co-operatives” only. Not that it changes much for the overal picture:

    €182 bn instead of €188 bn and 12.78 percent instead of 12.68 percent. But after all he is talking about banks.

    On the Bundesbank: It has become nothing but a big talking emarrassment. The euro crisis is in their eyes now the “European sovereign debt crisis” and what needs to be done?

    “Euro-area economic policy: continue consolidation and reform process” on the fiscal side and:
    “Refocus monetary policy on core task of safeguarding price stability” And what the hell ever that is supposed to mean for the monetary side.

    They want to do absolutely nothing other than continuing the course that is not working. Weidmann is against OMT and was against lowering the base rate. Seriously he is proably the best paid German doing absolutely nothing.

    1. financial matters

      “”A monetary reflation blitz along the lines of Abenomics in Japan would make it a great deal easier to cope with this bad debt legacy. All the ECB has to do is to is target nominal GDP growth of 5pc a year (easily within its power) — or 5pc M3 growth, to mimic the effect – and a big part of the problem would disappear.

      As I have written many times, the health of banking system and debt structure in both Italy and Spain is a simple mathematical function of the denominator effect. The higher the nominal GDP path, the easier it is to outgrow the debt burden. A real central bank can achieve this with a flick of the fingers. If it wants.

      Italy and Spain are formidable countries. They are entirely savable within EMU under expansionary policies, yet all too easily lost under contractionary policies.

      If I were an Italian or a Spaniard, I would have a few caustic words to say about the Bundesbank’s report today. Had Frankfurt not pushed for two premature and destructive rate rises in 2011, and had it not opposed any pre-emptive stimulus over recent months to avert incipient deflation, and had it not let eurozone M3 money growth go negative over the last five months, the banks in Italy and Spain would now be in far better shape.

      Monetary policy error is at the root of the problem.””

      I think this analysis has several flaws. First I think it is a fiscal policy error rather than a monetary policy error that is at the root of the problem.

      Second, I don’t think GDP is a good measure of a healthy functioning economy and third I don’t think central banks should be targeting GDP, that should be fiscal policy.

      He seems to equate the health of the banking system with the health of the general population.

      1. Brick

        “First I think it is a fiscal policy error rather than a monetary policy error that is at the root of the problem.”

        Well, the real error is having a monetary union without a fiscal union; and the thinking that the Maastricht criteria would magically prevent local crises or something.

        But as things stand, we do not have any actual functioning fiscal policy in Europe. It would clearly be better if Germany would go for an expansionary policy in the long run, but in the short run that does not change the fiscal outlook for the GIIPS.

        No rescue is possible without Germany and the country demands austerity (see the above Bundesbank statement) that leaves Europe with only monetary policy; and here we have also seen a major error in the completely baseless and absolutely crazy rate increases.

        Without an European fiscal policy, the ECB is the only institution able to act, so it should actually in my opinion do target higher inflation (or growth if you will) for a while, but it can only do so if the German Constitutional Court decides that it has no business in making any decision on the OMT.

        You are right GDP growth is not a good measure of the health of an enconomy, but it is the only thing that can stop those banks from going bankrupt.

        1. from Mexico

          Brick says:

          Well, the real error is having a monetary union without a fiscal union; and the thinking that the Maastricht criteria would magically prevent local crises or something.

          The belief that a monetary union is possible without a fiscal union is a tenet of neoliberal theology. Of course it isn’t working. It has never worked.

          It is unfortunate that countries like Greece and Spain must reinvent the wheel.

          “A wise man learns from his experience,” Confucius counseled; “a wiser man learns from the experience of others.”

          Unfortunately a wise man is a rarity, and a wiser man even more so. Europeans have absolutely refused to look across the Atlantic and learn from the experiences of countries in Latin America’s southern cone. Instead they choose willful ignorance. How does one explain this?

          Harry J. Hogan wrote of Carroll Quigley: “It always frustrated him that each nation, including our own, regards its own history as unique and the history of other nations as irrelevant to it.”

          Many in Latin America believe Spain will be the first apostate, the first to reject the one true faith of free market fundamentalism. This, they believe, is because Spain shares a common cultural and language bond with the southern cone.

          I’m not holding my breath.

          One thing is for sure, and that is that the neoliberal zeal will pass, as all crusades do. But before it does, it will leave in its wake untold destruction and human suffering.

  3. Klassy!

    A reminder:
    This will be good:
    featuring barack Obama (and so much more!)
    This interview will take place on stage at The Wall Street Journal CEO Council annual meeting, which brings together the world’s most powerful chief executives to address the most pressing public policy and business issues of the day.

    That list of issues is especially urgent in 2013. Among the topics the CEOs will tackle in November: the ubiquitous threat of cyber hacking and the “fix” needed from business and Washington; the boom in U.S. energy production and how best to harness it for economic growth; and the innovation and disruption roiling higher education in the U.S. and globally.

    An exclusive group of policy makers and experts will join the CEOs in their deliberations, including: President Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States; Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey; Jacob J. Lew, Secretary of the U.S. Treasury; Paul Ryan, Chairman of the House Budget Committee (R., Wis.); James R. Clapper, Director of National Intelligence; Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank; Penny Pritzker, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce; Lawrence H. Summers, the 71st Secretary of the U.S. Treasury; and many more.
    (will they all be in one room?)
    invite only but the plebes can view the live stream from 3-4 PM EST.
    There’s a drinking game in there.

    1. diptherio

      Lie-by-omission/half-truth — take one drink

      Hackneyed neo-liberal talking point — take two drinks

      Outright-bald-faced-lie — chug the rest of your beer

      Lame attempt at humor — take a shot

      Let the games begin!
      (I’m not much of a drinker, but you all go ahead)

      1. Klassy!

        I’m thinking “innovate” will get you sh*tfaced in no time. Probably demand for skilled labor and immigration reform too.
        Are they on to ‘disrupt” yet?

        1. Klassy!

          Egad. I guess I didn’t read the second paragraph (too dazzled by that list or luminaries, no doubt) there’s innnovation and disruption right there.
          Lots of “reforming” too, I’m sure.

        2. diptherio

          Right, right…my categories are too broad…it would just turn into drink until you pass out.

          “Market solutions” might be a good one to drink to…

  4. Jim Haygood

    From ‘US blocks publication’ linked above:

    Senior diplomatic sources in the US and Whitehall indicated that it is officials in the White House and the US Department of State who have refused to sanction any declassification of critical pre- and post-war communications between George W Bush and Tony Blair.

    Without permission from the US government, David Cameron faces the politically embarrassing situation of having to block evidence, on Washington’s orders, from being included in the report of an expensive and lengthy British inquiry.

    Not just Britain, but all of Europe’s NATO members remain militarily occupied by the US, seven long decades after a war ended.

    With its mounting outrage over US spying and public sympathy for granting asylum to Edward Snowden, Germany could end up being the first occupied European vichy democracy to eject its American overlords.

    There’s no such thing as ‘sovereignty’ when a nuclear-armed occupier keeps troops, air and naval bases stationed on your soil for its discretionary use in ‘out of area’ aggression such as the egregious Iraq invasion.

    1. from Mexico

      Pierre Charasse calls the disease which Mexico and the EU suffer from “the new Stockholm Syndrome.”

      He asserts that with the The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) the transnational capitlists want to do the same thing to Europe that they did to Mexico with NAFTA: destroy its culture, society, national/popular sovereignty and economy root and branch.

      “The servile attitude of the Europeans is very similar to that which is known as ‘the Stockholm Syndrome’,” Charasse writes.

      Unfortunately, even though Charasse is French, I couldn’t find his articles written in any language but Spanish:

  5. McMike

    O/T: advising parents about investments. [Hi, given the likelihood of a stock bubble, this issue is on my mind, and the crowd here seems as good a place as any to bring it up…]

    My parents are in the 80’s and have a decent sized portfolio invested in a diversity that is conventionally associated with a younger person (60% stock). They are loathe to get out of stock, due to media conditioning, and a bit of consumer-level greed bandwagon. In addition, to move to very short term investments and money markets is to admit that their lifespans have an expiration date and doing so locks that in.

    Ok, these are emotional issues we can learn to deal with.

    My problem is what do I recommend? Given the difficulty in calling the timing of a top. Given the fact that in this era, nothing is “safe”, even short treasury funds or money market funds might face a bail-in or squid scam. Given that money market funds are going backwards after fees…. what do I recommend? There is no good place to put money right now, since every asset class- every asset class (even gold and guns) – is prone to manipulation and mania.

    They are in their 80’s, and I strongly suspect that a bubble correction will come within a year or two that will wipe out 50% to 60% of their value. So, how do I help them lock it in now?

    Bonus question: my dad has a blue chip stock that he has held for decades as his “rainy day” fund – the price has probably quadrupled or more. How do we decide if it is better to cash it in to lock the gain (and pay taxes), versus risk letting the price pop and then pass through estate?

    1. Jim Haygood

      Some seniors are surprisingly risk tolerant. Others do not fully realize how risky stocks actually are (though they should, if they were paying attention in 2008).

      One compromise is to work their 60% stock exposure down to a more comfortable 30% or so, via a series of incremental sales over the next six months (i.e., five percent per month).

      A portfolio with 30% equities still has some exposure to Bubble profits if the S&P hits 2,000. But it won’t be destroyed if the S&P subsequently crashes to 1,000 (about a 13% overall loss from here, if 70% of the portfolio is in Treasuries).

      Though crude, brackets of S&P 1,000 and 2,000 roughly reflect potential downside vs. potential upside in stocks.

      1. Mcmike

        Thanks, I like the idea for a progressive sell-off.

        What are your thoughts on short bond funds & money market funds being the next killing floor for pillage? (I don’t know the mechanics, some sort of bail in I suppose, but I do know that they are “due” for thier turn on the wheel).

      1. Mcmike

        Interstingly, there isn’t much in the way of farmland REITs available.

        As for status items, I used to have a bunch of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon. Quite good. Then the hedge fund cretins got wind of it. Now you could sell the stuff for $300 to $500 per bottle. If you could find some to sell.

        My portfolio, alas, went into the pie hole.

        1. optimader


          “…I used to have a bunch of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon. Quite good. Then the hedge fund cretins got wind of it. Now you could sell the stuff for $300 to $500 per bottle. If you could find some to sell…”
          I am 100% on the same page philosophically with you, unfortunately as an investment there is no direct channel to the retail market that I know of.

          An indirect strategy that I prefer is investing in a distillery startup (I would never recommend it, but I like it, or did I say that already?) that is putting up aged spirits in the product mix. Clear spirits for cashflow and cask aged whiskey as a longterm asset. An interesting business model that also benefits society/quality of life!

          A friend of mine in Cali is doing just that: this:

      2. Emma

        Ferraritastic Taste in Cars Optimader!

        And if you had some spare change, buy a classic Alfa Romeo too, and a 60s E Type Jag…

        Cars can be totally titillating for girls too…..Tee hee hee!

        1. optimader

          You are a woman of my own heart..
          The two quintessential British sports cars I have squirreled are:
          1.) Austin Healy 100-4
          2.) Series I XKE roadster

          IMO both are excellent stores of value w/ upside potential.

          “…The New York City Museum of Modern Art recognized the significance of the E-Type’s design in 1996 by adding a blue roadster to its permanent design collection, one of only six automobiles to receive the distinction.[4]…”
          What I would pull the trigger on today is a good example of:
          3.) Iso Grifo series I or II
          -or more generally-
          anything designed/built by Eng. Bizzarrini. He was a genius, actually still is, as he is alive and still teaching at the University of Rome.

          When he departs this mortal coil, his rolling art will take a value bump. And I hope this doesn’t happen for a long time.
          Another choice I think has decent upside as they can be had relatively inexpensively , but needs to be a perfect example:
          4.) Citroen SM:
          A design decades ahead of its time.
          Then of course there is:
          5.) Alejandro de Tomaso’s Mangusta

          The list goes on…

          1. optimader

            What I would pull the trigger on today is a good example of:
            3.) Iso Grifo series I or II
            -or more generally-
            anything designed/built by Eng. Bizzarrini. He was a genius, actually still is, as he is alive and still teaching at the University of Rome.
            When he departs this mortal coil, his rolling art will take a value bump. And I hope this doesn’t happen for a long time.
            Another choice I think has decent upside as they can be had relatively inexpensively , but needs to be a perfect example:
            4.) Citroen SM:
            A design decades ahead of its time.
            Then of course there is:
            5.) Alejandro de Tomaso’s Mangusta
            The list goes on….

        2. optimader

          You are a woman of my own heart..
          The two quintessential British sports cars I have squirreled are:
          1.) Austin Healy 100-4
          2.) Series I XKE roadster
          IMO both are excellent stores of value w/ upside potential.
          “…The New York City Museum of Modern Art recognized the significance of the E-Type’s design in 1996 by adding a blue roadster to its permanent design collection, one of only six automobiles to receive the distinction.[4]…”

  6. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    10,000 year old paintings in Brazil.

    That adds to those in Cueva de las Manos in Argentina and, if I recall correctly, those in Pedra Furada in Brazil.

    If you are rich enough, maybe one day, you get to acquire one of them caves in a London auction.

    I mean, where else are you going to put your billions and billions of dollars. Help the middle class? You are kidding – these guys (and gals), in perpetual serfdom, are the sources of their wealth.

  7. TarheelDem

    If brokering health insurance policies gets transferred to the exchanges, one step in the disintermediation of the relationship between patient and provider has been accomplished. But that likely will not be complete until employer-based plans are brought into the system as a lot of employers use brokers.

    Does anyone know if lobbyists for brokers were involved in the writing of the bill in any way, or were they completely shut out?

  8. fresno dan

    Why Does the Media Ignore Timothy Geithner’s Disastrous Leadership of the NY Fed? Bill Black, New Economic Perspectives

    “The IMF and the NY Fed are far more private than public and they both exist primarily to serve banks. They NY Fed is owned by the private banks it supposedly examines and supervises and the banks elect bankers to act as the NY Fed’s directors (including until very recently the supposed “public interest” directors). They are not subject to U.S. government caps on pay, and in the case of the IMF the employees have their pay increased to compensate for the U.S. taxes they are supposed to pay (which Geithner did not pay for many years). Geithner’s disastrous “public service” at the NY Fed and the IMF made him a multi-millionaire at great cost to the public.”

    Why indeed? Per the long discussion in this blog yesterday about interest rates, Krugman, etc. there is a conventional wisdom among the “serious media.” The FED saves the world (it certainly contributed to causing the world to have to be saved due to its lack of banking oversight and its inability to see corruption and fraud, but that NEVER even brought up).

    But like everything in the media, it is Kim Kardashian, kittens, puppies, and simple kooks who don’t like the FED. And the business cable shows are noting but Rubin, Goldman Sachs treasury secretaries, and the demopublican belief in BANKS. Anybody who criticizes the FED is a tinfold hatter wearer – you will scarcely see any view other than the banks had to be saved WITH THE SAME PEOPLE WHO GOT US INTO THIS MESS…and by the way, the crisis was so tough, they needed record setting bonuses in 2009…(which was pretty much due to the FED)

    1. Bill Frank

      When considering MSM reporting, one must always remember that the MSM is owned by and serves the interests of the super rich. It is the most effective misinformation machine in human history.

  9. from Mexico

    @ “UN agog at “extreme” Australian climate stance”

    …GermanWatch released its annual climate performance index, which shows that Australia now sits, along with Canada, as the worst performing industrial country in the world. Both countries get a resounding fail, and are only saved from last spot by Iran, Kazakhstan, and Saudi Arabia.

    Australia’s position was already poor because of its high emissions levels and limp-wristed renewables policies, but the decision by the Abbott government to repeal the carbon tax and dismantle all climate and clean energy institutions and initiatives sent it down six places to number 57 of 61.

    I’d like to use this as another opportunity to plug a series of posts on Canada’s The Progressive Economics Forum. The series treats of Mel Watkin’s classic 1963 article: “A Staple Theory of Economic Growth.” Here’s a link to the introductory post, and the other 12 posts can be seen on the ledger on the right-hand side of the screen:

    Even though this has not happened in the past, both Australia and Canada now run a heightened risk of falling into what Watkins called a “staples trap.” Another name for it is the resource curse. The preeminence of neoliberal thought, both globally and locally, greatly exacerbates this risk. Canada and Australia can both now boast, lamentably, the presence of neoliberal gurus in most top political and academic posts.

    Besides the environmental consequences, there are a litany of other adverse consequences which befall a nation which succumbs to the resource curse. Loss of popular national sovereignty is one of the most pernicious, as transnational corporations buy and sell local politicans as if they were mere toys, playthings. If local politicans refuse to sell out, there’s always the deep state, which the US has unleashed against at least one Australian leader in the past who refused to sell out to the transnational corporations.

    Alberto Daniel Gago, an economist from Argentina, in his contribution to the series enumerates a number of other malevolent consequences of falling victim to a staples trap:

    • In a global era, staples industries typically rely on multinational corporations, that appropriate profit through their direct investments in staples projects. Transnational corporations control the overall staple trajectory, giving them a leadership role in the overall economic and political dynamic that does not necessarily serve the broader interests of the host economy well.

    • These large global corporations also tend to absorb and exclude small and medium firms from the formal production system. The multinational corporations, from their dominant position, transform the regional production system into oligopolies, ultimately controlling the natural resources and capturing the resulting economic surplus.

    • Peripheral capitalist regions dependent on staples fail to develop into full-fledged industrialized economies; these countries can be caught in a circle of economic re-primarization and de-industrialization.

    • Instead of promoting broader economic diversification, multinational corporations strengthen only a few specialized productive branches and activities within the peripheral capitalist regions.

    • The resulting concentration and centralization of economic power produces a dialectical process of economic, social, political and cultural fragmentation – and in the long term leads to instability.

    1. McMike

      Australia seems intent on committing climate suicide – it is surely on the spear point of nations that will suffer from heat and sea level rises.

      Canada, on the other hand, is sick of winter, and is looking forward to becoming Louisiana.

      Don’t think for a second that they mind the ice sheet melting.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It would not be surprising to have some nations try to game Global Warming.

        Welcome to Siberia – the new sun belt (if you don’t mind a little too much methane from the melting permafrost). Enjoy!

      2. skippy

        Our newly minted Fundamentalist in Chief is going to take the last bite of the cheery… after the ensuing fail… its anyone’s guess.

        skippy… hinterlands near the beach looks like the only reasonable plan, pop head out when dust settles and rebuild.

      3. Optimader

        Hey, its an entire continent w/ a population less than 2/3 of california. Paging Pareto to the lobby bar for a ruling…
        Leave ’em alone and lets bash china some more

  10. Bridget

    Riverdaughter is an optimist. As even the most worshipful of Obots begin to realize they’ve been screwed, the Democrats’ prospects for 2014 look as thin as Obamacare’s provider networks:

    I’ve been at a loss to comprehend the depth of denial I see on display from Democrats. Had all federal workers been put on Obamacare, sans subsidies, maybe they’d have seen this coming. Or at least they’d have a really good grasp by now of the devastation they have wrought. But they are cocooned with federal healthcare benefits, and or subsidies, (and, I’m guessing DC area zip codes have decent provider networks ) so they don’t get it. They don’t think they need a new plan. They’re just gonna go down with the one they’ve got.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Imagine a Big Government so big that everyone is a government worker.

      No more unemployment…EVER! You and me, all of us, are insured!

      (And everyone is in his or her place in the government totem pole – perfect order! ‘You know your place.’)

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Sorry, not ‘you and me.’

        It should be ‘me and you’ – you know, grammar rules…if you can obey these rules, you will grow up to obey a lot of other rules…unless you’re into ‘shock’ writing.

        You shock people with writing that disregards rules.

        Rules? What rules? You know what I mean if you can read the writing?

  11. tyler

    Re: “Challenge for the Government: 4 Million Are Displaced, and Hunger Grows”

    I thought this article was going to be about the US.

    1. rich

      CEOs Seeking to Slash Social Security Stumble Over Their Own Hypocrisy

      Billionaire Pete Peterson once thought it would be a good idea to make rich CEOs the public face of his long-standing campaign to slash Social Security.

      Guys like Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs and GE’s Jeffrey Immelt have indeed won many a battle in Washington. And so it was perhaps understandable for Peterson to assume these corporate chieftains could deliver victory on austerity.

      But as Congress heads toward yet another budget showdown, America’s most powerful CEOs are finding that their enormous wealth can also be a double-edged sword.

      Last year Peterson put up the initial $5 million to create the Fix the Debt campaign, a PR and lobby machine led by more than 135 CEOs of major corporations. Honeywell CEO David Cote says he organized fellow corporate leaders to chip in the rest of the organization’s $45 million initial budget.

      With that kind of dough, you can hire a lot of hot shot Mad Men. But even Don Draper would have a hard time glossing over the flaws in the Fix the Debt model. Its central theme: “Shared sacrifice” is needed to save America from fiscal Armageddon. But how do you pull off broadcasting that message when your CEO spokespeople have retirement fortunes larger than the operating budgets of most mid-size American cities?

      1. savedbyirony

        If you want to read a nasty piece of generational warfare mongering over S.S., check out the Washington Post’s editorial about the suggestion to raise S.S. benefits instead. Looks like P.P. and co. are trying mighty hard to cloak S.S. cuts in a “do it for the children, and children do it for yourselves” movement, and what the Dems (or AARP or the Save Social Security movement, etc.) should do is find some photogenic 20 something to speak to his/her people and explain that the jobs you can’t find, the wages you can’t live off of, the student debt you are buried under have nearly nothing to do with Social Security, nor is cutting it’s payments to your parents and grandparents going to help you achieve prosperity, though it may very well deprive you of some of your loved ones a little sooner.

  12. Antifa

    The recent failure of America to bomb Syria, followed by actually discussing detente and easing of sanctions on Iran is a ray of sanity quite unexpected.

    Quite unappealing to Israel, yes, but it could be that this Administration has decided that there isn’t anything good for America in a war on Iran. That all results from such an adventure are extremely bad results for us.

    This is quite a change in tone, at least. It could all go back the other way with our next Republican President, but for the next couple of years we might see some sanity in this area.

    Was it was experienced strategists in the Pentagon who made the folly of an Iranian War clear? Was it foreign policy experts at the State Department? Or was it the clarity of our getting right down to the wire on bombing Syria before suddenly asking ourselves, “What are we doing!?!”

    We may never know. At least not until some insider writes a book about it in 2020 or so.

    But the change in course is welcome. Any day when Brer Rabbit refrains from slapping a tar baby is a good day. Things get sticky real fast after that first punch.

    1. from Mexico


      It’s like a breath of fresh air after having been subsumed in the rancid stench of neoconservatism for so long.

      1. Mcmike

        Yes, indeed. Nice change of pace.

        Alas, it was motivated mainly by the GOP’s “whatever it is, I’m against it (if Obama is for it)” strategy.

        Which means it will most certainly revert.

        1. tim s

          Not necessarily, or even likely. The two parties are more similar than different on core issues like this. It is only on superficial issues that they take sides, and even then usually just to posture for anyone who still believes in them.

          1. Mcmike

            Yes and no.

            I agree that in general the ptb share commin cause on bombing and war profiteering.

            But on both clinton and obama’s unilateral actions (serbia, somalia for clinton, lybia syria for obama), the right have been certifiable doves.

            1. Antifa

              The standing Order of the Day at the Pentagon is the same as it is for the pimps down at the waterfront:

              “We wanna see mo’ money tomorrow.”

              Here’s hoping the wunderkinds at the Pentagon have finally connected all the dots and realized how impossible, or impossibly expensive, moving oil out of the Persian Gulf will be if the Iranians don’t want it to move. If people are going to start shooting at supertankers, Lloyd’s of London won’t insure them at any price, and they won’t sail.

              And if oil doesn’t move, America doesn’t move, and poof goes the Pentagon’s enormous, well rounded budget.

              “Which would be a Bad Thing, General. Sir.”

              So our war makers have sent forth the word that we aren’t willing to poke that particular hornet’s nest no matter how much Israel wants us to, on account of our enormous, well rounded behinds are sitting right on it.

              “It’s not about winning, gentlemen, it’s about living with the consequences. It’s about defending our sacred budget, our bottom line. War is a business, and it’s above all an oil business!”

              Here’s hoping they’re that smart.

              We know they’re that greedy. The war hawks in Washington have a dream: that someday Congress will pass a bill setting aside Five Percent of America’s GDP, right off the top, for the Pentagon’s use. Why not? We’re practically there now, why not go for it?

              And after Five comes Six. And then Seven . . . and why not?

    1. Vatch

      A little web searching and the use of Wikipedia, followed by the use of Google images, seems to indicate that they are Visayan spotted deer (Rusa alfredi), from the Philippines.

  13. OIFVet

    Re: “Obama ratings hit new low after health-care flaws”. Barry doesn’t care, he did the job he was tasked with exceptionally well. From Gallup: “For the first time in Gallup trends since 2000, a majority of Americans say it is not the federal government’s responsibility to make sure all Americans have healthcare coverage. Prior to 2009, a majority always felt the government should ensure healthcare coverage for all, though Americans’ views have become more divided in recent years.” There was a need to head off real change in order to preserve the status quo, and who would be better equipped for the task than ‘hope and change’ Barry and his tag team republican partners? So while Barry was selling the progressive lambs the “universal coverage” cool aid the republicans were selling the horrors of “socialized care” to the “keep your gubmint hands off my medicare” crowd. Throw in a FUBAR roll out of the “reform” and you have successfully headed off the trends that had threatened the insurance and pharmaceutical cartels’ profits. Brilliant in a very evil sort of way. Only a democrat could have done this, and be cheered on by “progressives” in the process. Mission accomplished Barry.

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Promiscuous mice…sexier sons.

    Rich people bear wealthier sons, one assumes, is the inferred lesson of the day we must busy ourselves, sorry, brainwash ourselves with.

  15. savedbyirony

    Re: cutting social Security (Sometimes, Lambert, i think you want it to finally happen just so you can gloat about having told us so for so long) Want to help it not happen, people could be atleast informed about this: Why are we exaulting what the Senate minority leader is saying? And i hope he keeps right on saying it. The “No new taxes” mantra is probably the best way to prevent chained CPI from happening this go round.

    As for the typical backhanded slap towards Hillary C., of course this is all conjecture, but a Madame Pres. C. would NEVER have created the ACA mess, would not play along with the debt ceiling blackmail (i think she would have made clear that the 14th Amendment is there to be used for just such cases of extortion, stacked Supreme Court or not)and i suspect probably she would have done a much better job of relieving Main Street while still bailing out Wall Street. (Doubt she would have done any better about prosecuting banking crooks, though.) Wall Street backed Obama over Clinton because he was the best color and sex to beat her and especially because he was going to be more cooperative to their interests. A female running for Pres. in 2016 for the GOP is a plus for them because they have such a growing difficult time winning the women’s vote, but a female running for Pres. as a Dem is not a vote getter just by virtue of her sex. In fact, she’s a sitting duck for every typical stereotype and criticism the American people (both men and women) are taught from birth to aim at females. And we have just the Mass Media to selectively and professionally push it. I’m not particualarly big on either Warren or Clinton winning the nomination in 2016, but would love to see Warren run because i think she would raise the level of discoure and pressure for real, systemic banking reform to a critical level in both parties, IF the country and its elections are still functioning remotely like anything approximating a representative republic which isn’t looking too good right now. But more to the point, if a woman does win the Dem nomination in 2016, will she have even a remote chance here of being examined for her past record, leadership skills, political savvy, campaign funding, ect. or will she be condemned out right simply for being female and thus, naturally, just a “history making” plant?

        1. ohmyheck

          “In terms of postmodernity, consumer culture has been seen as predicated on ‘the “narcissism of small differences”…to achieve a superficial sense of one’s own uniqueness, an ersatz sense of otherness which is only a mask for an underlying uniformity and sameness’.”


        2. savedbyirony

          No, as regards Lamberts “reporting” on possible Social Security cuts, in this particualr case i don’t see why his approach doesn’t qualify as one of those self-defeating “memes” people here are always complaining about. As for comments towards women Pres. candidates in 2016, i would not want one elected or dismissed out of hand because of the historical novelty of it. Constantly suggesting that a female candidate could be nothing other than another “Obama” trojen horse candidate i think is being too dismissive.

      1. ohmyheck

        Oh, and, if you please, conjecture me this: Do you think HRC would have screwed up delivery on that War with Syria the Neocons wanted so badly? Obomber really blew that golden opportunity. Do you conjecture that Hilary would have failed like Ombomber did? Or would have her steadfastness and integrity stood up and gotten us into WW3? Inquiring minds want to know.

        1. savedbyirony

          Actually, i think they waited until she left the State Department before trying to start that war because as Sec. of State she would have been trying behind the scenes to prevent the attacks from even being suggested, both for political and stategic reasons. (I do agree she would have been much more effective than Kerry, though, in pushing the Congress and other world leaders to back such missile strikes and was thankful she was not still in office.) Drone attacks certainly increased while she was in the O administration but a neo-con style hawkishness did not. (and I’m not trying to play down the criminality of Drone attacks)But I’m not advocating “H.R.C.” for Pres. in 2016 here, i just don’t want anti-Clinton inclinations to bleed over into anti-female Dem. candidate bias.

          1. ohmyheck

            Newp. You think wrong.

            “After calling for Assad to step down from power in August 2011, the Administration did little to achieve that end. President Obama overruled the advice of his own Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, CIA director, and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all of whom recommended that the U.S. should arm moderate elements of the Syrian opposition.”

            In other words, Obama did not listen to then-Sec. of State, Hilary Clinton, who was advising that he should allow the CIA to arm the Syrian rebels, back in 2011. (Too bad the CIA went and did it anyway…)

            Linky goodness (or not)

            I am a woman, and I have no intention of voting for a candidate based on what nature endowed them with betwixt their legs.

            If you think that readers here will vote on the basis of gender, I find it very hard to believe. Why would you think that?

            PS- There’s more—lots more, in case you haven’t come to the conclusion that Hilary Clinton is a war-mongering Neocon. Google is your friend, but if you can’t bother to look, I will happily supply you with all the facts you need. It would be my pleasure! :-)

              1. savedbyirony

                No, I’m a little worried about Demint and so are some of the folks who actually work and have worked for the Heritage Foundation (as well as supposedly objective media observers/critics; but i know that won’t fly in this post)

                1. ohmyheck

                  Oh for goodness sake.

                  If the Heritage Foundation propoganda arm is cheering the advise given by Hilary Clinton, what does that say to you?

                  Chumming the waters….

                  Fish in a barrel….

                  Can we haz better HilBot Vaginistas, peez?

    1. savedbyirony

      If I’m going to push Senator warren here, i might as well add this:

      All those House members of both parties who have to face elections next year, no matter what they really want to do in their black little hearts, if they get an earful against cutting S.S. right now from the American people while the “bargaining” is taking place, i don’t think they will allow for the chained CPI to end up in the deal.

    2. ohmyheck

      “Complete conjecture”…why, yes, it is. So unless you are a 33rd degree Mason, or have a superior cystal ball given to you as a gift by benevolent Tralfalmadorians, or have the metaphysical ability to cross timelines into other dimensions and report back to us Inferiors here at NC, your post, um, lacks value.

      1. savedbyirony

        Well, as far as not knowing for sure what could have been, that was clearly admitted. As for healthcare, though, in the 90’s that was to be her defining accomplishment, i think the woman has a long memory and payback is a bitch. It’s hard to imagine a such a longtime campaigner as Clinton coming up with and allowing such a mess as the ACA, but it’s possible.

        1. JTFaraday

          I think HRC has too much pride in herself to f*ck it up this bad.

          As I once said, if you want an excellent administrator for the neoliberals-in charge, she’s your man.

  16. PeonInChief

    I’m so glad I’m not the first to comment on the cats and dogs video. We have the same problem, but with cat Dashiell and our new kitten, Graham. They both want my lap. I showed Dash the video, hoping that he would assert his right to senior cat status.

    1. Mcmike

      Always wondered what would happen if you charted suicides and small plane wreck rates among people who got too close to TPTB, versus the general population.

      I would imagine that while there is an uptick in suicides due to the hard lifestyle, there’s also an uptick in “suicides” (with a little help…)

      It’s especially hard on people who get caught up in the periphery. Man, they get put through the grinder.

      and on microbiologists…

      1. anon y'mouse

        yeah, I find that list itself suspicious.

        like including 84 year old men who seemed to have died in their beds is suspicious somehow.

        but, I’ve never bothered verifying it (is that even possible for a non-journalist or private investigator?). it just seems to come up a lot on kookytown type websites to mistify the conspiratorially-inclined (like myself).

  17. James Levy

    Tension between Japan and China is very worrisome. Both nations are in such deep trouble that you can imagine them blundering into war. More likely they will blunder into an “incident” wherein a few ships might get sunk before they pull back from the abyss, but once ordnance starts flying anything can happen. Neither nation has anything like a knockout punch capacity to inflict major damage quickly on the other. Both political elites could use a “victory” in such a skirmish, but just as significantly, and ominously, neither political elite could easily survive a defeat. It could be 1904-05 all over again, this time Japan versus China rather than Japan versus Russia.

    1. craazyman

      with 1 billion people, China could form a human bridge and walk across the water to Japan. When they get there they could kick out the Japanese and take over the whole island.

      China would still have 850 million people left over. Maybe the 150 million Japanese would head to China.

      With numbers that high, a few million here, a few million there, and who notices?

      Frankly, I think a lot of folks wouldn’t be able to tell Chinese from Japanese just by looking at them or listening to them. You might not even know it happened unless you were sophisticated and cosmopolitain.

      You just hope they’re both too lazy to do soemthing like that. I’m thinking of buying a Mamiya 6×7 camera and that plan would certainly be compromised in the event of wide-scale conflict.

      Did anybody notice the new hit from Lorde — Royals. It’s all over Youtube. She’s as good as Adele and they lyrics, they just say it all. The times are changin’ and when you see a song like that you know the world is getting ready for soemthing good. Something good is being born. Will we live to see it coming in the clouds? Maybe it will be us after the Rapture.

      1. craazyboy

        Well, I can see why China would want to invade Japan – a chance to get near Fukushima and gain superhuman powers – or even telepathy – in time for the Tokyo Olympics and deny the Japanese athletes this advantage.

        But the US Navy is there too, and may thwart their plans, seeking a way for Navy or Californian athletes to gain this advantage. (Not to mention Samoans – can you say NFL contract?)

        Plus telepathy capability is certainly a National Security priority for the US.

        1. craazyman

          If 150 million Chinese decided to go swimming, what could the navy do about it?

          It makes no sense.

          Nothing makes sense if you think about it long enough. It just dissolves into smaller and smaller parts until it’s gone.

          With all the econommic growth going on, why is the earth still the same size? It’s no bigger today than it was in 4000 BC. That makes no sense at all. You’d think it would be at least 100 times bigger after all that economic growth. That would mean the radius would be 10 times bigger. And we’d all weigh close to 1800 pounds each. That makes no sense.

          The only thing that makes sense is that economic growth is just something that takes place in people’s minds. Now that makes sense!

          1. craazyboy

            In physics class they told us about Conservation of Matter. So that explains why the earth doesn’t get bigger. But with all the conversion to energy we’ve done, you gotta worry maybe it’s getting smaller. Or maybe it just gets hollow. That would fool the science guys measuring it’s diameter. Dyathink?

            P.S. The Chinese can’t swim.

          2. Optimader

            “With all the econommic growth going on, why is the earth still the same size?”

            Then why are archeological sites always referred to as digs??
            Think about it

            1. craazyboy

              It can only mean one of two things.

              1) The Earth is getting less dense.

              2) Sunlight energy is growing the Earth bigger.

              Makes you wonder why their hasn’t been a popular Science Magazine article on the subject?

            2. craazyman

              whoa! that’s a very good point. I hadn’t thought about that. I guess that shows how much growth there’s been since they first buried the stuff.

    2. Hugh

      Japan is a US military protectorate, even more so than Taiwan. But as we have seen with Taiwan, the connection to the hegemon places strict limits on what China can do. As long as the US keeps a sizable presence in the Western Pacific, this situation is unlikely to change. While there are plenty of tensions throughout the area, and many of these involving China, China actually benefits from a more stable region created by there being a hegemon and that hegemon not being either itself or its neighbors.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Though one wonders how long their pride can ‘enjoy’ that benefit of an outsider hegemon.

        1. optimader

          A long time, particularly with the precarious balance of trade requirement their economy requires.

          Chinese leadership may be a lot of things but they aren’t idiots.

          Japan is a traditional “enemy” and it all makes for good Red Meat political theater to deflect attention from internal “issues”.

      2. skippy

        Got to keep those gawdless commies[???] penned in and spread democracy – cough – I mean neoliberalism aka free markets or corporate kleptocracy…. everyone’s 401K depends on it… eh.

        1. Hugh

          I was doing a traditional reading of the power relationships of American empire. You are right though that the US is moving beyond engagement with the Chinese and moving back toward the Cold War focus on containment. Both the TPP and changes in military doctrine in the Western Pacific viewing China as an adversary are very much about penning the Chinese in. The TPP is very much about competition between Chinese and American kleptocracies. The military side of the equation is more complicated because Chinese nationalism has set up territorial conflicts with virtually all of its Pacific neighbors from Vietnam to Japan. This plays into the hands of the US as hegemon since these nations see the US as a counterweight to renascent Chinese imperial ambitions.

          1. James Levy

            All true, but 1914 shows that some times the cart leads the horse. Modern historiography is pretty clear that Austria was in the policy driver’s seat throughout the July Crisis, and the assumption that Austria was merely a stalking horse for Germany was false. Abe could easily make the mistake of believing that he has a blank check from Washington and push things too far. International relations are not the realm of cold calculation textbooks like to present them as. Austria needed to fight in 1914 because if the heir to the throne could be gunned down on “Austro-Hungarian” territory and the nation that armed and trained that terrorist was not thrashed, then Austria was no longer an independent Great Power. Nations have been known to risk disaster rather than suffer such a humiliation.

          2. skippy

            Amends Hugh… it was meant more of an add on, not directed in any way at you.

            skippy… I still cringe at all the vacuous rhetoric and cold war dogma.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


      That’s when they found out the money for the Imperial Qing Navy went to Empress Dowager’s stoney boat at her Summer Palace.

      Luckily (for the Chinese) today, stoney boats are not in fashion. Rich (communist) Chinese want French chateaus. Their middle class? Those mothers who want to get around their one child policy, they dream of giving birth in America.

  18. kevinearick

    China and Japan, again…

    War: The Bank Exit Plan

    Ask the kids of those who worked on the line; this economy was farmed, not engineered, during WWII, by farm kids that designed, engineered and built it, in real time. Boeing is a classic example. The union cartel simply occupies and grows artificial scarcity inside the discarded derivative shell, learning nothing, collecting gold. “Those with the gold make the rules.”

    Why would you build something to self-destruct if it is not interrupted? What is work? What is a constitution?

    Bank must have war, the ultimate artificial crisis, to hide its stupidity. Debating the definition of a debt bubble, while the Fed pushes the global middle class closer to the brink of war, is a waste of time. Its problem/solution is that no one of any consequence is showing up for the parade, so it sees no bubble. Just bulldoze the houses.

    An empire can only measure itself, relative to itself. Gross Product measures middle class control, with artificial inflation.

    You don’t care about the cost of manufactured food. You care about the cost of nutrition. You always begin by shopping for fresh, healthy fish and meat, protein. Take a look at the cost of real food, in the former empires and the current empire. Labor has no interest in manufactured food, clothing, or housing.

    Regardless of your monetary theory, you must have labor, which capital hunts down with monetary and fiscal policy, property prohibition, show up. If you stand still for just a moment, you will see that the human economy is running exactly backwards relative to nature. What do you suppose it will take to get labor to show up, short of war, which will take place on American soil?

    The middle class herd is well within its constitutional rights to vote groupthink tyranny in and individual freedom out, but when it attempts to enforce its equal outcome “rights” on labor, it blows up, every time, because that is how you build a constitution, from the bottom up and the top down. Labor isn’t where the middle class “thinks” it is.

    From the perspective of labor, capital is nothing more than a self-serving propaganda machine, serving as a convenient extension of gravity, a lightning rod or an antenna. The business doesn’t make anything. If you want to live in an artificial economy defined by Kissinger and Associates, that’s your business, but don’t be surprised to find yourself inside a bomb.

    Labor doesn’t have to blow up capital. The middle class is its own worst enemy. Labor is the live line. Never saddle a dead horse, unless you want to drop the load.

    The best way to rob a bank may be to own it, but labor never needs a bank.

  19. Hugh

    On September 15, 2006, two years to the day before Lehman blew up and intiated the 2008 meltdown, Geithner gave a speech in Hong Kong which was later cited as predicting the meltdown because it talked about increased levels of risk. But in fact, the speech re-assured that shocks could be easily handled by the system thanks to all the financial innovation going on.

    “The U.S. economy appears to have become more resilient to financial shocks. Over the past two decades, the U.S. economy has experienced several episodes of significant financial market strain. These episodes were associated with spikes in risk perception and significant market volatility within financial markets, but none proved exceptionally damaging in terms of the overall macroeconomic impact.”


    “The resiliency we have observed over the past decade or so is not just good luck. It is the consequence of efforts by regulatory, supervisory and private financial institutions to address previous sources of systemic instability. Risk management has improved significantly, and the major firms have made substantial progress toward more sophisticated measurement and control of concentration to specific risk factors.”


    “The available evidence is consistent with the view that the changes in the core of supervised institutions, growth of the leveraged sector and rapid financial innovation have strengthened the efficiency and resiliency of the overall financial system.”

    I lifted these quotes from a post I wrote on this speech back in November 2008. As I wrote back then, Geithner, as president of the NY Fed/sockpuppet of the banks, had a ringside seat to the biggest frauds and manipulations in world history. He was on the phone on daily basis with the heads of the banks most involved with them. Yet he not only didn’t “see” them, he was selling the line that the very activities that precipitated the meltdown would prevent a meltdown from ever happening.

    1. craazyman

      They Won’t Admit It

      They can do all the math they want, but they won’t be able to answer this simple question:

      If the global economy has been growing for more than 100 years, why is the earth still the same size?

      1. craazyboy

        If the earth increased in size, it would move out in a larger orbit from the sun, and we would get global cooling and a stable industrial growth world.

        But since it doesn’t grow in size, we are doomed, and they obviously don’t want to talk about that.

  20. JTFaraday

    re Antidote: And a bonus (a video, too funny, of dogs fighting to get their beds back from cat occupants)

    The nerve of those cats. I can’t believe they even tried to cross that Pekingese. You don’t see her making nice with her catty foes at the end of the video that’s for sure.

    And, here’s a funny video of the humans amusing themselves trying to make us think the cats feel guilty about it, (all well after the fact):

    1. Rowlf

      To expand a bit more, it is a discussion of pensions, union relations, health care costs and manufacturing costs mainly of German companies versus United States companies.

  21. Gaylord

    Fukushima — the link provided to SimplyInfo website is useless, just sterile data mostly from industry sources with no honest news from anti-nuke sources. Here’s a much better source —

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