Links 1/9/14

“Absurd on every single level”: How the feds may be crippling the legal pot industry Self-promotion #1, Salon

The Government Guide to Screwing Poor Homeowners Self-promotion #2, The American Prospect

Macy’s Plans Layoffs and Closings, Though Its Holiday Sales Were Up NYT

Goodyear Workers in France Occupy Plant WSJ

The Quest to Improve America’s Financial Literacy Is Both a Failure and a Sham Helaine Olen, Pacific Standard

Yes Walmart, You Are In Fact Responsible for What You Sell Credit Slips

The Business of Magazines: Vanity Fair and Fortune Reverse Roles Eric Starkman

House Financial Services Chairman to Seek a Volcker Rule Change NYT. Fully expected. But then there’s this letter from House Democrats basically asking for the same thing. The backstory here is that one regional bank, Zions, lost a boatload of money on trust preferred CDOs that isn’t coming back, and they want to be able to hide that. And because community banks are sainted, everyone in Washington is falling all over themselves to endorse this.

Funds with $100 Million May Be Too Big to Fail, FSB Says Bloomberg

China seeks more disclosure by banks BBC

Racism, Sexism, And The 50-Year Campaign To Undermine The War On Poverty Think Progress

1 in 5 homeowners drowning Housing Wire

Where Will We Live? James Meek, London Review of Books

Christie Stuck in a Jam Over Lane Closings Bergen County Record. This exploded today. However, as bad as it is to engage in petty retribution, causing traffic delays for a city because its Democratic mayor wouldn’t endorse you, didn’t Christie’s scotching of the Hudson River tunnel, for similarly false political reasons, consign the entire STATE to traffic jams?

Italian Unemployment Hits 37-Year High Business Insider

The Invincible JPMorgan Felix Salmon. They chose not to notice the movement of $6.8 BILLION out of one of Madoff’s accounts over the course of one month. For context, in reporting my marijuana banking story, I learned that pot-related businessmen lucky enough to get “wink and a nod” bank accounts are advised to keep their transactions below $3,000 to avoid triggering a red flag.

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch:

DOJ files motion to block release of NSA information

“It Was Time to Do More Than Protest”: Activists Admit to 1971 FBI Burglary That Exposed COINTELPRO Democracy Now. Good episode.

Obama Likely to Accept Change in Spying on Leaders AP

Borrowers Hit Social-Media Hurdles WSJ. Your lender is watching you on Facebook.

Record High 42% of Americans Identify as Independents Gallup

China spending curbs dent Bentley sales Financial Times

Noam Chomsky: U.S. Politics Are Now ‘Pure Savagery’ Huffington Post

Yesterday’s “Symbolic” Gesture Is Today’s Long-Held Political Stance Emptywheel

US inflation expectations hit eight-month high Financial Times

Jerry Brown $154.9 billion budget will propose repaying school funds, bolstering reserves Sacramento Bee. This actually represents a continuation of austerity cuts for a state that’s $2.1 billion ahead of revenue projections this year.

Sound Government Finances Will Promote Recovery Robert Rubin. Ugh.

Antidote Du Jour:


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About David Dayen

David is a contributing writer to He has been writing about politics since 2004. He spent three years writing for the FireDogLake News Desk; he’s also written for The New Republic, The American Prospect, The Guardian (UK), The Huffington Post, The Washington Monthly, Alternet, Democracy Journal and Pacific Standard, as well as multiple well-trafficked progressive blogs and websites. His has been a guest on MSNBC, CNN, Aljazeera, Russia Today, NPR, Pacifica Radio and Air America Radio. He has contributed to two anthology books, one about the Wisconsin labor uprising and another on the fight against the Stop Online Piracy Act in Congress. Prior to writing about politics he worked for two decades as a television producer and editor. You can follow him on Twitter at @ddayen.


  1. participant-observer-observed

    Re “Record-High 42% of Americans Identify as Independents
    Republican identification lowest in at least 25 years”

    “The results are based on more than 18,000 interviews with Americans from 13 separate Gallup multiple-day polls conducted in 2013.”

    ~Pretty hefty data sets for today’s MSM media culture,even if it is done by Gallup.

    Independents bumped up in 2007; what happened then, Dem flight? 2013 shows steady growth of independents.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The theoretical upper bound, I believe, according to my quick calculation, is 90% independent, with the remaining 10% split between Democrats & Republicans.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        With the first coffee break over, the first preliminary revision is in and now, I believe, it’s possible to have 99% independent and 1% D & R combined.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      I always thought there was a reason Gallup and CNN had a split a few years ago, and money is always an issue. Considering the state of CNN and Gallup’s own self esteem, I could easily buy that Gallup didn’t think CNN was professional considering Nate Silver’s pointing out CNN’s poll of polls inadequacies.

      “Independents bumped up in 2007;”

      The Dem identification jumped after Murtha in 2006 when the Democratic position became opposition to the Iraq War with the loss of a respected member of Versailles to the DFHs. The GOP was in the midst of a decline, but the Dems didn’t jump until then. Could the rise of indies be Iraq Surge related which the Democrats did nothing to stop? Given Gate’s book, it seems the Democrats may have thought the Surge was a wonderful idea. Outside of the Obots, Obama enjoyed anti-war support considering the pro-war votes of Hillary, Edwards, Biden, and Dodd.

  2. DakotabornKansan

    That frog reminds me of the classic cartoon in the December 1970 issue of the Lampoon by Sam Gross.

    It is the diner scene with the “Try Our Frogs’ Legs” sign and the frog on a cart coming out the kitchen:

    It’s also on the cover of his How Gross! The Collected Craziness of S. Gross, which is a favorite on my bookshelf.

    Sam Gross predated cartoonist Gary Larson’s Far Side by several decades.

    1. Charles LeSeau

      Sam Gross was great. I had a T-shirt of that frog leg cartoon when I was a kid. :)

      The late B. Kliban’s cartoons also predated Gary Larson, particularly with the weirdness (sometimes way stranger in fact, to the point of questionably accessible humor value), though he’s unfortunately remembered now only for his more commercially viable Cat series. He had two books in particular that are constantly among my toilet lit, Never Eat Anything Bigger Than Your Head and Biggest Tongue in Tunisia. Highly recommend getting both, for anyone with a slightly off sense of humor.

      Some Kliban bits, and unfortunately only a few representative of his best:

      A modern cartoonist, relatively unknown, continues in a similar vein, Nicholas Gurewitch at Perry Bible Fellowship.

      1. DakotabornKansan

        You have brought back many wonderful memories.

        My late mother introduced me to Kliban’s cats, wearing oversized tennis shoes, many years ago.

        Kliban Cat Calendars were a regular feature in her home.

        Kliban defined cats as ”one hell of a nice animal, frequently mistaken for a meat loaf.”

        He said that “Cats look like cartoons. There’s something funny and vulnerable and innocent about them.”

        Nobody drew cats like Kliban.

        I was unaware of Kliban’s Never Eat Anything Bigger Than Your Head and Biggest Tongue in Tunisia. I don’t know how I missed them.

        Maybe I was distracted by his guitar-strumming cat singing: ”Love to eat them mousies,/Mousies what I love to eat./Bite they little heads off . . ./Nibble on they tiny feet.”

      2. Patricia Marino

        I love Kliban too! You can see his cartoons, including non-cat ones, at — they put up one per day alongside the other dailies.

      3. NotTimothyGeithner

        I clicked the pbfcomics link, and I noticed there are new ones. I think he had made a PBF retirement announcement a couple of years ago, so I was pleasantly surprised.

    2. evodevo

      YESSS ! I had that cartoon pinned to my bio lab bulletin board for years, before it finally disintegrated from advanced age. Freaked some of my more sorority sissie students out. Gary Larson cartoons littered the research bldg. too.

    1. AbyNormal

      James Lovelock 2008…”Before we start geoengineering we have to raise the following question: are we sufficiently talented to take on what might become the onerous permanent task of keeping the Earth in homeostasis? Consider what might happen if we start by using a stratospheric aerosol to ameliorate global heating; even if it succeeds, it would not be long before we face the additional problem of ocean acidification. This would need another medicine, and so on… Whatever we do is likely to lead to death on a scale that makes all previous wars, famines and disasters small… We have to consider seriously that as with nineteenth century medicine, the best option is often kind words and pain killers but otherwise do nothing and let Nature take its course.[..]

      Physicians have the Hippocratic Oath; perhaps we need something similar for our practice of planetary medicine… We should be the heart and mind of the Earth not its malady. Perhaps the greatest value of the Gaia concept lies in its metaphor of a living Earth, which reminds us that we are part of it and that our contract with Gaia is not about human rights alone, but includes human obligations.”

      1. tex lumbago

        Why don’t they try some geo-engineering like switching off half the power stations? Think that would work better than any of the rubbish they have dreamed up so far.

      2. BondsOfSteel

        Ha! Edward Teller… he’s designer and architect of the H-Bomb… and his solution to climate change is to explode an H-Bomb. Whata surprise. To a man with a hammer, everything is a nail.

        Seriously… geo-engineering will cause global changes. There will be winners and losers. Without some kind of arbitrator… some kind of global governance, geo-engineering will be the cause of WWIII.

      3. Curtis

        We have done a few very large experiments such as the use of tetra ethyl lead in gasoline, and discovered that it had some bad side effects. The CO2 experiment that is currently underway, has become the equivalent of a religious war. The nay sayers may be similar to the doubters of Noah. If you feel that CO2 will win, and want to do something equivalent to Horton Hears a Who, move to higher ground and start making compost heaps, biochar, and the equivalent. is one of the sources to become informed. These people are probably the sons and daughters of the hippies that are now selling their produce at the farmer’s markets.

    2. coboarts

      We can transition away from increasing harm. We can clean up our messes. We can replant vast areas, but we can in no way ‘manage’ Earth at a planetary scale. These science boys aren’t as smart as they like to think.

      1. evodevo

        Well, it’s not usually the ecologists/biologists who suggest ameliorating … they all know what kind of complexity they are dealing with. It’s usually the engineering types who favor interference.
        Oh, and we’ve also already had that experiment on a national scale – we injected tons of sulfur into the atmosphere over 100 yrs or so, and mitigated global warming to some degree. This became evident when scrubbers came on line, reduced the acidity of the NE lakes, and accelerated warming effects over the last 4 decades…..damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

  3. tomk

    Is it possible that the difficulty the marijuana business is having finding banking services could be an opening for alternative, non-profit, utility modeled banks, puppy dogs rather than vampire squids, to arise?

    1. sleepy

      Unfortunately, I would suspect the feds would quickly find a way to ensare those non-profits into general banking regs, if they are not covered already.

    2. David Dayen Post author

      Unfortunately, if you want FDIC insurance or to use Fedwire, you have to comply with federal banking laws. So a “puppy dog” bank catering to cannabis would basically have to be a big vault, until they resolve these questions.

      There’s always bitcoin…

  4. AbyNormal

    around this day in Monetary Land:

    Biddle threatened to cause a depression if President Andrew Jackson did not re-charter the bank, The privately owned Second Bank was chartered in 1816. President Jackson did not sign the bill to renew the charter. “This worthy President thinks that … he is to have his way with the Bank. He is mistaken…[opposition] can only be broken by the actual conviction of exiting distress in the community… Our only safety is in pursuing a steady course of firm restriction [of the money supply] – and I have no doubt that such a course will ultimately lead to restoration of the currency and the re-charter of the Bank.” The result of the contraction of the money supply was a financial panic followed by a deep depression in 1837. (Edward Kaplan, The Bank of the United States and the American Economy)

    He was the only President ever to do so. This after he decided not to renew the charter of the private Second Bank of the United States.

  5. tongorad

    Feudalism on the march:

    Teachers offered personal loans to buy school supplies

    “If you’re looking for just one image that says a thousand words about what’s wrong with America, here’s a contender. It is a screenshot of the website for the Silver State Schools Credit Union…Yep, it’s an invitation to K-12 teachers to go into debt to do their job.”

  6. tongorad

    Workers clash with police in Vietnam
    “Workers building a massive Samsung factory in Vietnam have battled police and torched motorbikes, in a rare outbreak of labour violence in the tightly controlled country.

    Samsung and other tech companies such as Intel and Nokia are increasingly moving production to Vietnam, where labour costs are cheaper than in neighbouring China.

    Vietnam’s Communist rulers are encouraging them with tax breaks, eager to move away from traditional exports of clothes, shoes and shrimps to higher value products.”

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Does anyone know how Vietnam works? The veterans who I’m sure had a hand in the bureaucratic and political establishment after South Vietnam ended aren’t spring chickens anymore.

  7. ohmyheck

    Wait, what? Nuthin’ about the meet-up? I have an internet friend who attended, and all she said before going to bed last night was, “The meet up was awesome. We took over the 2nd floor. Yves was stunned at the turn out.”

    Ahem… all of you attendees, start talking. Spill the beans. Give it up. Info, please….sheesh.

    1. AbyNormal

      “So long as the laws remain such as they are today, employ some discretion: loud opinion forces us to do so; but in privacy and silence let us compensate ourselves for that cruel chastity we are obliged to display in public.”
      Marquis De Sade ‘)

    2. craazyman

      If blogging doesn’t work out, Yves has a future as a Broadway showgirl.

      It was incredible! She was sitting at the table belting out a pop song like you’d see on Youtube. And not just a line or two. The whole song! We were all stunned. I thought she was way too serious and wonky for that sort of thing, but not only did she do it, she sounded really good too!

      Finance and politics is beyond tedious. Aren’t we all sick of it by now? I know I am. How much more Doom and Gloom can you take? It just goes in circles in your head while real people are out having fun someplace. Time to break the Doom & Gloom loop and start living. What about some Youtube links to singers and songs and then some analysis about how many beers it takes to get cranked up so you can do Karoke right?

      1. diptherio

        Another question in urgent need of an answer is how many beers it takes to get cranked up to listen to Karaoke right. Perhaps you should start an NC research team…

        1. Yves Smith

          Yes, craazyman’s generous assessment was a function of how many beers he’d had…hhm, mathbabe, who is big on karaoke, probably is already working on a paper on that. Likely a power law function, like most things relating to entertainment.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          If my theory that everyone is a singer, thinker, writer, film director, plumber, interior decorator, etc is correct, Lambert can sing too.

        2. Lambert Strether

          Heh. I seem to have faded into the background quite successfully. Just how I like it.

          * * *

          It was great, and I had a wonderful time. Kudos to Yves for putting it together (and to the waitpersons; it was a wild crowd).

      2. optimader

        kudos, good for you’all… Life’s too short to not set aside time to enjoy yourself.. particularly if there’s a draft Guinness or three available.

  8. Keith Howard

    Could a state-owned bank provide the financial services that the legal MJ business needs? Perhaps, Colorado People’s Bank. We need some way to get a foot in the door for utility-style simple retail banking. Let the feds try to put the State of Colorado in jail.

    1. diptherio

      That’s a really interesting take Keith. I’m definitely no expert, but I do know that Bank of North Dakota does not rely on FDIC insurance, which is one less leverage point the Feds would have against a State bank.

      Perhaps CO could start a State-run bank specifically to serve the needs of the MJ business community. They could argue that since the state has an interest in collecting all that tax revenue and therefore in MJ businesses having bank accounts with auditable records, and since the Feds are making that impossible, they have no choice but to set up their own intra-state system. It could be how a public bank gets started in that state.

      1. susan the other

        Agree. Back in the early 1900s cattlemen had their own banks to get advances and pay back their accounts after the auction. Why not instead have Marijuana Banks of Colorado and wherever. Put it on the sign. Make it an enterprise that a public bank is proud to finance.

    2. David Dayen Post author

      It’s less about the FDIC and more about the use of the payments system, like Fedwire. The state bank would have to be a giant vault.

      Some good news after I wrote this was that Visa/MasterCard relaxed their laws, and as a result most customers can pay by debit or credit. But that doesn’t solve all the problems, and the merchants are still at risk.

  9. k

    The Hudson River tunnel would help transit, and most pols, even in transit-oriented cities that dot the NE, still have the windshield perspective that too many (as in most) traffic engineers and too many planners have promoted since the 50s, which is that we must keep private cars moving at all costs. Transit riders can suck it for all these folks care. No matter that improved transit access shifts some folks from private auto use to transit use, decreasing the burden on our roads, among many other benefits. That’s far too long-sighted even for many progressive politicians to understand. Even those who do get it are often so cowed by the car lobby that they won’t go to bat for it See: congestion pricing’s fail in NYC.

  10. Eureka Springs

    Banks worrying about prosecution? Seriously! Cry me a river. Where’s the Onion when we need it?

    Mercedes worried about a bumpy ride. Kissinger worried about the Hague…..

    In this, one nation under neoliberalism, in no time at all this entire industry will be run by giants… the little guys will be back to working for minimum wage at 7-11 counter – selling packages of Marlboro marijuana ultra heights 420’s in no time.

    Too much cash… what a problem.

    I mean how many how many corner bootleggers do you buy liquor from these days? A few bootleggers will become the Cindy McCains and Penny Pritzgers in a generation… the rest, well we know the hymn.

  11. NotTimothyGeithner

    Uh oh! The President is taking a bold stance on poverty with his “promises zones!” I think he is going to synergize the paradigm people! Somewhere I know a GE employee had his green belt project stolen by a White House staffer.

      1. uncle joe

        A million of the Restofus on the Mall March 15th.
        Just a suggestion.
        To quote ‘W’ : We gotta stop that shit.”

  12. gonzomarx

    C4 news have been running a series on the rental/housing market over the last couple of months.

    Broken ladder

    but the pieces on Fergus Wilson seem to be getting some traction. A poster boy for the new normal.
    ‘If I’m heartless then all landlords are’
    “Landlord Fergus Wilson owns around 1,000 properties in Kent. He has served eviction notices on 200 families who depend on welfare to cover their rent. He explains why. ”
    Bad advice in a bad situation: the young mum evicted despite paying her rent

  13. rich

    The Roots of the Next Crisis, and the Dark Hallway Beyond

    When a subculture that has become accustomed to crushing and liquidating things for its own power and pleasure, whether it is natural resources, the environment, crops, animals, land, or social organizations, eventually runs out of things, and becomes frustrated and angry in its seeming impotence to continue on. That is when a predatory social and economic philosophy turns into pure fascism, and it can start liquidating people.

    Indirectly and somewhat benignly at first, but with a growing efficiency and determination over time. It will begin with the weak and the defenseless, attacking and objectifying them even in the most petty of ways. It will then turn to its critics, then everyone who is defined by them as ‘the other.’ And finally it will liquidate and consume itself, starting at the periphery, and then bringing the madness home, wrapped in familiar and comforting symbols of the past.

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Consigning the entire state to traffic jams.

    There is a national model – unless you repair the freeway to wealth for the 0.01%, the rest of you can just get stuck in traffic jams on your way to your daily rations.

  15. optimader

    For whomever had the opportunity to catch the excellent Frontline last night…
    bottom line the financial remedy payout was $1.9BB… the fraudulently accrued assets = ~$9BB
    Crime pays?

    “…In other words, Cohen plays dumber than a platinum-plated doorknob (incidentally, something about Cohen’s face and his sinister stare during the deposition brings to mind a young Dick Cheney). …”

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