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  • Madness. Larry Kudlow’s capitalist slip said it best: “The human toll here looks to be much worse than the economic toll and we can be grateful for that.”

    The financial signs and portents look ominous. Look at the yen. It’s at something like a postwar high. How will that alone—forget about PIIG rating downgrades, revolution in the Middle East, botched financial reform—affect the creditworthiness and collateral of myriad financial institutions? You might not expect the Marketplace shills to don sandwich boards saying “The End Is Near,” but shouldn’t some reporting ask a few what-ifs about whether a Lehman-like financial chain reaction could occur? Maybe it’s all hunky-dory, but if a swath of Japan becomes uninhabitable—and Tokyo real estate crashes—what happens to the banks and investors holding the mortgages? Supposedly the big Japanese banks practice what’s called cross-shareholding: they own large amounts of stock in public companies they do business with. What if they sell shares to meet reserve requirements? The financial world seems highly dicey right now, a breeding ground for black swans.

  • dingusansich commented on the diary post Japan Nuke Watch, Thurs am JST: Water Drops and Fire Hoses by Scarecrow.

    2011-03-16 19:52:37View | Delete

    Ditto, please. Numbers with links to comments if the post is a reply and latest posts at bottom of page, as elsewhere on the site.

  • Yep. And you know what? Frum may make money on that bet, just as traders doubled, tripled, quadrupled, and more on the too-big-to-fails if they got in near the bottom. PR and think tank elves even now are hard at work on a huge, lavishly financed push to sell nukes to a frightened, skeptical public, which the Washington elites will at any rate ignore. Count on it.

  • dingusansich commented on the diary post Japan Nuke Watch, Thurs am JPS: Water Drops and Fire Hoses by Scarecrow.

    2011-03-16 19:31:09View | Delete

    Possibly because Japanese banks, insurers, et al. need yen for domestic use, so they’re selling assets denominated in other currencies; that’s amplified by FX traders betting on a move into yen and the carry trade, which a strong yen will utterly slaughter outright—and that’s before the margin calls. We’ve barely begun to feel the financial [...]

  • Stewart Brand has really done nothing other than the Whole Earth Catalog

    Here’s the Wikipedia entry on Brand. It looks as if he’s done a bit more than Whole Earth. That’s not advocacy or apology, just an observation.

    Thanks for the Rendon link. Is that evidence he’s a “warmonger”? Could be, but it’s not cause for summary judgment. Another explanation: dude is a gatherer of viewpoints, like an encyclopedist (e.g., Whole Earth Catalog), because he’s an optimist—especially a technological optimist—who believes in dialogue. Do I agree with giving Rendon a forum? Not so much. Does his inclusion of Rendon in a public conversation make him a warmonger? Seems a bit harsh.

    I looked for statements by Brand about Iraq and found nada. Could it be he’s so into techtopia that he’s tone-deaf about hosting a Rendon—clearly a fixer for empire—because … he just doesn’t think that much about power and empire? That would make him less a positive warmonger than strangely naive and perhaps something of a dupe. Truth is, I just don’t know enough of the biography to say with confidence.

    I mentioned him above because you can be quite sure the promoters of and apologists for nuclear energy will be out in number very soon, and Brand-like arguments in defense of the nuke “renaissance” will surely be trotted out. That’s why I linked to Wasserstein, as a sort of intellectual KI.

  • But … but … Stewart Brand!

    I wonder how enthusiastic Brand is about nuclear now, after 3/11. He’s a smart fellow, at times visionary, so it’s worthwhile to give him a hearing, but here his obvious enthusiasm got the better of him. For a contrary perspective that current events sadly give much more weight to, check out Harvey Wasserman on Brand and other nuclear advocates.

    Thanks as always for your research, Jon.

  • dingusansich commented on the diary post Japan Nuclear Watch, Wed. am JST: New Fire and Explosion at Unit 4 Fuel Pond by Scarecrow.

    2011-03-15 17:57:08View | Delete

    Most amusing.

  • Thanks. I did. I saw numbers for current radiation but not an analysis of how bad this may get, and where. Which may be unknowable because of the multitude of variable. I’m simply asking.

  • Any numbers on how much and what kind of radiation may be released by the Fukushima reactors under different scenarios—for example, a day’s full core exposure of a single reactor core—based on what’s now known? Not to be alarmist, but should people on the west coast of the U.S. think seriously about picking up an [...]

  • It’s curious how the administration mimics Quantico. When White House chief of staff Bill Daley learns what Crowley said, he responds, “He’s done.” No back talk! Do as you’re told! Rather than take away his boxers and flip-flops, Obama’s henchman Daley—banker, Democratic Party sachem, dynastic Chicago pol—strips him of his State Department job. It’s like doubling down on the “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.

    Before the firing, Obama could plausibly deny knowledge of Manning’s treatment; the White House could have quietly taken Crowley’s criticism as a legitimate team-of-rivals policy squabble, and indeed, it’s possible Crowley intended only to raise the profile of the dispute. Instead the White House came down solidly and publicly for detainee abuse. It may not be, as Talleyrand quipped, worse than the crime, but it’s certainly a mistake, unless Mr. 11-Dimensional-Chess sees victory in treating his base to death by 1,000 cuts.

    Even the ‘bots on Daily Kos find such high-minded stances troublesome to prop up. Though they’re undoubtedly working at it! Yet if they were to interpret Obama’s statement on Manning as a statement about them, they might not be quite so eager to defend the indefensible.

  • dingusansich commented on the diary post News Flash: Obama Misquoted on Manning! by dingusansich.

    2011-03-13 22:02:59View | Delete

    President Obama is terribly misunderstood, much like that man he appointed to a presidential commission, then had to fire because he spoke out of turn about Social Security moochers and military veteran parasites. I think his name was Alan Simpson.

  • dingusansich wrote a new diary post: News Flash: Obama Misquoted on Manning!

    2011-03-13 10:32:18View | Delete

    Thumbnail It has been reported, in a shameful display of mistranscription, that President Obama cavalierly dismissed concerns about the treatment of Bradley Manning when replying to a question at a press conference . However, the quote was not only reported inaccurately but taken egregiously out of context. Here is what the president actually said:

    With respect to those who foolishly [...]

  • That it is less than 9.4%

    That’s an interesting argument. By that logic the Obama legislation for health insurance restructuring (the word “reform” seems inappropriate) is positive—if you ignore the mandate, the entrenchment of middlemen, the pharma deal, and so on—because a win, whatever its content, is clearly better than a loss. Here, 8.9% looks better than 9.4%—if you ignore the labor force participation rate, part-time employment taken because full-time jobs aren’t available, workers who’ve given up looking for jobs entirely—because a lower number is better than a higher one.

    Obama will be in good shape for reelection if the bright, shiny object—ooh, unemployment is 8.9%!—leads to hopey-changey, neo-Reaganesque, morning-in-America optimism among voters. Which could happen. People in a propaganda-induced trance believe the darndest things. In that sense, yes, true enough, it’s good news for Obama. But there’s some small chance that the reality—actual, not statistical, unemployment, for instance—will reach up out of the crapper and bite this CYA administration in its ample behind.

    In fact, if the administration waits long enough, until everyone out of a job gives up, it can reach zero unemployment while pleasing its corporate sponsors with a job market slack enough to destroy all labor bargaining power. That’s the best of all possible worlds. Might even bring the Koch brothers around to the virtues of a stalking-horse Democrat rather than an openly Foxist Republican in the presidency …

    PS: Jon has been brilliant on health-insurance restructuring, and as a (stalking) horse-race handicapper of the ’12 election he may be on the right track. Point is, the wild card here isn’t the U3 rate but U6: the unemployed, the underemployed, and the dropouts. U6 gets less play, but it’s much higher than the headline U3 the media inexplicably relies on. It’s not employment that’s improving but, for purely technical reasons, U3. Remember, the map is not the territory: U3 is the former; U6 more closely resembles the latter. Headlines notwithstanding, that is an iceberg that could sink an Obama campaign.

  • It’s all about emotions. People may know, in some limited, abstract way, they’re shafted daily by the rich and powerful, but what weighs far more is what they’ve felt most immediately, about someone “close” but “different.” The bogeymen vary. Race could be a focus; so could religion. It hardly matters. What does matter is that emotion can trump thought. There may even be very good evolutionary reasons for that. But it seems fairly evident that you can rile people up about outsiders, and it’s a whole lot easier to kick the dog than the master.

    You can just imagine how pleased such people are when liberals as much as tell them they’re behaving childishly. As if they don’t know who their enemies are. If it weren’t a real problem it would be comical.

    On the subject of real problems, I hope help is on the way for you and the other 99ers. Best wishes to you all.

  • Exactly. The core competency of the political operative in this environment is a talent for redirecting emotionally energy, especially anger, from rational to irrational targets, from the rich to the almost as poor. Divide and conquer.

  • See 151 above.

    When you’ve got a spare hour or three, check out Chris Marker’s Grin Without a Cat, about the protest movements of students and works in 1968 Paris. Toward the end the narrator reads a memorable passage from the letter by a leftist that says very much the same thing. In essence the letter says it’s a mistake to romanticize the People, but it’s also wrong to despise or dismiss them because they’re capable of pettiness and spite.

  • Is it not possible the white working class GOP alignment, to the extent it exists, is less a matter of aspiration than of ably stoked resentment?

    It’s the idea that the undeserving get something for nothing, and on the dime of the white working class, that really seems to rankle. They may hate the rich even as they want to be them, but they hate even more the notion of handouts to people who are, as they see it, in pretty much the same boat they’re in. (Handouts to them are okay, however, because they deserve them!)

    And they hate liberals for not getting that.

  • Or the New York Yankees pretending to be a pub softball team. What the Dems say they want isn’t necessarily what they actually want.

    What they actually want is cash. Cash means votes. With enough cash they can buy elections; or rather, without enough cash they can’t win elections. They know that. Economic justice and public good are not high on their list of priorities. They’re simply not accountable. The great questions concern how to change that (or just shift it a little).

  • Jacob and Paul, agreed on the analysis as presented in the summary.

    This is the fundamental electoral paradox: wealth gives a minority power far beyond its voting numbers, but for campaign finance reform to pass, politicians must weaken the very patrons they depend upon for election.

    That’s partly why straight-up reform of money in politics seems unlikely to come about through elected officials beholden to (and afraid of) wealthy patrons. Without leashing the malefactors of great wealth, what can the nonrich expect but lip service? A savior would be nice, of course, but as they say, hope is not a plan.

    So, if drying up the money supply is a first, necessary step, what are the possibilities for reform via referendums, basically end runs around elected officials through direct democracy?

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