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Reflections on the Costello Piece at Naked Capitalism

I think it is good for a liberal Democrat, like Joe Costello, to make this kind of critique.

“Make no mistake folks, there’s a criminal element atop our financial industry, who operate with both the complicity and culpability of much of our political class.”

I would just point out that it is incomplete. It is not “an element” that is criminally minded and acting. It is the whole shebang. Our financial industry is a criminal enterprise. But it is itself only part of the larger criminal enterprise that is kleptocracy and encompasses all of our elites: financial, political, industrial, governmental, legislative, judicial, academic, lobbyist, military, and media. It is a collaborative effort. All of the checks and balances have been removed or turned to kabuki. Read more about Reflections on the Costello Piece at Naked Capitalism

Blogger Meeting with Obama: A Missed Opportunity

On October 27, 2010, a group of 5 "liberal" bloggers met with Obama: Duncan “Atrios” Black of Eschaton, John Amato of Crooks and Liars, Barb Morrill of Daily Kos, Oliver Willis and Joe Sudbay of AmericaBLOG. Bloggers often criticize the MSM for asking lame questions, not focusing on the important issues, being easily fobbed off with pap, and not following up. Reading the transcript of their interaction with Obama, I would say they got rolled and performed pretty much on par with the MSM.

The general form went something like this:

Blogger: Question
Obama: blah, blah, blah
Blogger: Thank you Read more about Blogger Meeting with Obama: A Missed Opportunity

Burns, Greenwald, and Julian Assange

The last time I beat Glenn Greenwald by a day in writing on the NYT John Burns' hit piece on wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Read more about Burns, Greenwald, and Julian Assange

The Times and the Tariq Aziz Death Sentence

On October 26, 2010, the NYT reported that Tariq Aziz had been sentenced to death by an Iraqi court. Aziz went back to the beginning with Saddam and was both his foreign minister and then was moved up to deputy prime minister. What I wanted to write about is how the Times story gets it wrong and misses the real story. Read more about The Times and the Tariq Aziz Death Sentence

A Reply to Frerico

The 2% argument (voting for a candidate who is 2% better than another) is specious because we can not quantify candidates and parties. Even those X voted liberal/conservative 94% of the time are meaningless if you have ever taken a serious look at how votes occur in Congress. They all depend on which votes were chosen to base the rate on and they don't look into the vote to see if it was real or cosmetic (as in voting for cloture and then against a bill, that is voting against a bill but ensuring its passage). Read more about A Reply to Frerico

Well, that didn't take long

In the world of espionage, one of the oldest ploys going to discredit a message has been to discredit the messenger. The last time wikileak's Julian Assange did a major document release, it took about 3 weeks for the campaign to hit its stride with rape charges against him in Sweden. I should mention that in these character assassination schemes, sex has always been the favored mechanism because some part of the charges always stick in the public's mind. Read more about Well, that didn't take long

A Blast from the Past

When wikileaks did its first document dump of classified material from the war in Afghanistan, we saw a number of pushback efforts. It would cost American and Afghan lives, irreparable damage was done. And then there were the convenient "discredit the messenger" charges in Sweden attacking wikileaks founder Julian Assange. None of this panned out. What the leaks did was confirm with the government's own documents what most of us already knew.

Now the second wikileaks dump, on Iraq, has come out and we are seeing new wrinkles in the pushback. Read more about A Blast from the Past

Well, this is entertaining

Michael Kwiatkowski's recent post on dumping Obama appeared here and at FDL's Seminal. In it, he took shots at Jane Hamsher and the Seminal for being openly hostile to organizing a progressive alternative to the Democrats. As someone who was long at FDL, I can say those shots are accurate. When I tried to push the formation of such organizing there a couple of years ago, I was told "Can't do that now. Read more about Well, this is entertaining

Follow up to letsgetitdone's post on Ezra Klein

So much of what I see in the MSM is the construction of narratives whose purpose is to direct our attention away from what is really going on, where the real problems are, and what real solutions might look like. A vital tool in this is the false metric. One of my favorites is the U-3 measure of unemployment which is currently 9.6%. Real un- and under employment is more than twice that. So just by making the U-3 the centerpiece of your narrative, you have already cut the problem in half. Then throw in a "natural" unemployment rate of 5% and you have cut the problem in half again. Read more about Follow up to letsgetitdone's post on Ezra Klein

Understanding Kleptocracy

Foreclosuregate has focused attention yet again on the scams and frauds of the banks. And with it has come a revisiting of all the other scams and frauds the banks ran, and in most cases are still running, in the housing bubble and its aftermath, in CDOs and CDSs, in the greater world of derivatives, and in markets and the economy generally. But will it last? Will it lead to effective action? I don't think so. For there to be an effective response there needs to be a reasonably complete understanding of the problem. And I don't see that happening. Read more about Understanding Kleptocracy

Goldsmith, the Times, and kooks

There was an amazing rant by Jack Goldsmith in the New York Times raging against Judge Kaplan's exclusion of a prime witness in the Ghailani African embassy bombings trial because Ghailani had been tortured into supplying the identity of the witness.

Goldsmith, who got hired on to the Harvard Law School faculty by Elena Kagan, rails against those who actually believe in the Constitution and the rule of law, you know, liberals and civil libertarians. For Goldsmith, there should be no Article III trials, not even military commissions in such cases: Read more about Goldsmith, the Times, and kooks

BLS Jobs Report, September 2010

The overall jobs picture for September 2010 painted by the BLS numbers is of an economy dead in the water with some further deterioration around the edges. As I often point out, the BLS report is based on two surveys, household (employees) and establishment (employers). The first measures people, the second, positions. The numbers are scaled up from these surveys and passed through models (which have not been working that well for the type of recession we are in) to give seasonally adjusted figures. It is these which are usually cited both in the reports and in the news. These are estimates and undergo revisions in the following two months and again at the end of the year. Read more about BLS Jobs Report, September 2010

More Irresponsible Speculation

One of the themes that I have been trying to push for a while is that there is a pervasive and false "Washington" narrative that we are being relentlessly fed. In it, Democrats are stymied and forced to compromise with 'obstructionist' Republicans for every bit they get for us. Meanwhile much of their platform is left unrealized due to the senseless, but extremely effective, opposition of the Republicans. It is frustrating but there it is. It really isn't their fault. We need to stop our whining and go out there and keep voting for Democrats, because look at the alternative. Read more about More Irresponsible Speculation

Why There is No Populist Alternative on the Left

Before the 2008 election, I stressed the need for a progressive party. The Democrats were not addressing our concerns and Obama, as most progressives acknowledged at the time, was not and never had been a progressive. I was told the important thing was to elect Obama and put an end to the bad days of the Bush era. Well, we can all see how well that turned out. Read more about Why There is No Populist Alternative on the Left

Thoughts on the History of the Current Crisis


Most of us who write on the economic history of our economic woes do indeed begin with Carter. We tend to cut him some slack, probably more than we should, because he was dealing with a bad recession and some temporary pro-business legislation during such a period would not be unusual and might even be useful. The problem is that when the recession went away these measures didn't. By then Reagan was President and voodoo supply side/trickle down economics was all the rage. Bush I was a continuation of the trends begun under Reagan. Read more about Thoughts on the History of the Current Crisis


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