Daily Archive: 01/17/2011

Jan 17 2011

Prime Time

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

Now with 50 Top Stories.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Whistleblower hands Assange offshore bank secrets

by Robin Millard, AFP

1 hr 45 mins ago

LONDON (AFP) – WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange vowed to publish secret details of offshore accounts after a Swiss banking whistleblower handed over data Monday on 2,000 purportedly tax-dodging individuals and firms.

Former Swiss banker Rudolf Elmer, who worked for eight years in the Cayman Islands, a renowned offshore tax haven in the Caribbean, personally gave Assange two CDs of data at a London press conference.

Elmer said he wanted the world to know the truth about money concealed in offshore accounts and the systems in place to keep it secret.

Jan 17 2011

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Paul Krugman: The War on Logic

My wife and I were thinking of going out for an inexpensive dinner tonight. But John Boehner, the speaker of the House, says that no matter how cheap the meal may seem, it will cost thousands of dollars once you take our monthly mortgage payments into account.

Wait a minute, you may say. How can our mortgage payments be a cost of going out to eat, when we’ll have to make the same payments even if we stay home? But Mr. Boehner is adamant: our mortgage is part of the cost of our meal, and to say otherwise is just a budget gimmick. . . . . .

We are, I believe, witnessing something new in American politics. Last year, looking at claims that we can cut taxes, avoid cuts to any popular program and still balance the budget, I observed that Republicans seemed to have lost interest in the war on terror and shifted focus to the war on arithmetic. But now the G.O.P. has moved on to an even bigger project: the war on logic.  

E. J. Dionne Jr.: GOP test: A civil and honest health-care discussion

President Obama’s call for “a more civil and honest public discourse” will get its first test much sooner than we expected.

Having properly postponed all legislative action last week out of respect for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of the Tucson shootings, the House Republican leadership decided it could abide no further delay in a vote on its “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act.” And so, as a spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor explained, “thoughtful consideration of the health care bill” is slated for this week.

It’s disappointing that the House did not wait a bit longer before bringing up an issue that has aroused so much division, acrimony and disinformation. After all, the repeal bill has no chance of becoming law. The president would certainly veto it, and the Democratic-led Senate is unlikely to pass it.

Moreover, it was the acidic tone of the original health-care debate that led Giffords, in her widely discussed interview last March, to suggest that we “stand back when things get too fired up and say, ‘Whoa, let’s take a step back here.’ ”

Robert Kuttner: Consolation and Inspiration From Dr. King

On this, the commemoration of the 82nd anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birth, we can take some solace from what Dr. King did in the face of forces far more annihilating than the ones that progressives face this cold January.

Impossibly enough, he built a movement.

He did so in an era when the consequences for challenging the racial order in the American South were swift and brutal. You lost your economic livelihood, or your life.

In 1955, when Dr. King led the Montgomery bus boycott, the chances of such a movement seizing the nation’s conscience, and within less than a decade including the full moral authority of an American president, were just about inconceivable. He was a minor 26-year-old radical, hardly known outside his own circle.

In 1955, except for a recent Supreme Court decision on school segregation widely held to be unenforceable, there was no support from the government to end the racial order in the South. The Democratic Party was fatally dependent on the votes of Southern racists. The Republican Party of Lincoln was failing to lead even on something as rudimentary as a federal anti-lynching law.

Jan 17 2011

Does Money Make You Stupid?

Monday Business Edition

I can of course only speculate (unless you want to give me some), but returning to the theme of last week’s Gold diaries, including 2 by TranslatorPopular Culture and Pique the question always is can you eat it?

Gold is easily digestible, since it is non reactive, but it has no nutritional value.  It’s eating dirt, like the Haitians.

Oil is more dirt eating, only it goes up in the air to kill us and is quickly disappearing.  A real economist would expect the value of Gold v. Oil to decline due to supply and demand, but what do I know?

The real utility of Money is not as a store of value, but as a medium of exchange.  By turning over the ability to create money to private enterprises with little regulation through leverage we’ve encouraged a series of financial inflations in the speculative value of assets that will never be realized in a free market.

Even the most Randian will admit there will be winners and losers, their problem is that compared to their exposure to loss there is literally not enough money in the world to cover their bets.

Eventually it’s this shadow economy that’s going to have to take a hair cut and a devaluation.

Why?

Because that’s where the money is.

If you are leveraging 30 : 1 (that is, betting 30 for every 1 you actually have) where is the bigger number?

Business News below.

Jan 17 2011

On This Day in History January 17

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

January 17 is the 17th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 348 days remaining until the end of the year (349 in leap years).

On this day in 1961, President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivers his farewell address to the nation warning the American people to keep a careful eye on what he calls the “military-industrial complex” that has developed in the post-World War II years.

A fiscal conservative, Eisenhower had been concerned about the growing size and cost of the American defense establishment since he became president in 1953. In his last presidential address to the American people, he expressed those concerns in terms that frankly shocked some of his listeners.

Eisenhower began by describing the changing nature of the American defense establishment since World War II. No longer could the U.S. afford the “emergency improvisation” that characterized its preparations for war against Germany and Japan. Instead, the United States was “compelled to create a permanent armaments industry” and a huge military force. He admitted that the Cold War made clear the “imperative need for this development,” but he was gravely concerned about “the acquisition of unwarranted influence…by the military-industrial complex.” In particular, he asked the American people to guard against the “danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.”

Military-industrial complex (MIC) is a concept commonly used to refer to policy relationships between governments, national armed forces, and the industrial sector that supports them. These relationships include political approval for research, development, production, use, and support for military training, weapons, equipment, and facilities within the national defense and security policy. It is a type of iron triangle.

The term is most often played in reference to the military of the United States, where it gained popularity after its use in the farewell address speech of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, though the term is applicable to any country with a similarly developed infrastructure.

It is sometimes used more broadly to include the entire network of contracts and flows of money and resources among individuals as well as institutions of the defense contractors, The Pentagon, and the Congress and executive branch. This sector is intrinsically prone to principal-agent problem, moral hazard, and rent seeking. Cases of political corruption have also surfaced with regularity.

A similar thesis was originally expressed by Daniel Guerin, in his 1936 book Fascism and Big Business, about the fascist government support to heavy industry. It can be defined as, “an informal and changing coalition of groups with vested psychological, moral, and material interests in the continuous development and maintenance of high levels of weaponry, in preservation of colonial markets and in military-strategic conceptions of internal affairs”.

Jan 17 2011

Six In The Morning

It’s OK You Can Tell Me I’m Hu Jintao! Really      



China Leader’s Limits Come Into Focus as U.S. Visit Nears

With President Hu Jintao at the helm, China has become a $5 trillion industrial colossus, a growing military force, and, it sometimes appears, a model of authoritarian decisiveness, navigating out of the global financial crisis and sealing its position as the world’s fastest rising power.

But as Mr. Hu prepares to visit Washington this week in an attempt to defuse tensions with the United States, Obama administration officials are grappling with what they describe as a more complex reality.

Jan 17 2011

Pique the Geek 20110116: Gold

This is the companion piece to the one about gold from Friday night in Popular Culture.  Obviously, we intend to get geekier tonight than we did Friday.  Then we talked about gold being used primarily as money or other symbols of wealth.

Tonight we will discuss how gold is mined and purified, and the actual industrial uses for it as opposed to jewelry and investment purposes.  The old picture that most folks have about the forty-niner with his gold pan is far from how gold is mined, and was not really very accurate even then, being mostly a product of Hollywood.

Jan 17 2011

Prime Time

Premiers all over.  60 Minutes because of the ball game.  Animation Domination.  PBS counter programs with Downton Abbey.  68th Golden Globes.

I do want to thank you for offering such a powerful piece of manpower as Virgil Tibbs.

Orpheus! I am known to men as Dr. Orpheus! And mine is to perceive and control the delicate arrangement of the cosmos!

They give out Ph.Ds for that?

Junior college upstate, communication major, minor in women’s studies. But I assure you, sir, the doctor title was bestowed upon me by a higher power than a mere college professor!

The Venture BrothersEeney, Meeney, Miney… Magic, Ghosts of the Sargasso

Oh, ya’ think, genius. What was it that tipped ya’ off, brainiac? Was it the rubber mask; maybe the huge zipper? But you had to go and kill ‘im anyway. If you’d a played by the rules, the Ghost Pirate rules, none of this would have happened! But, no, you had to go and kill a guy.

Later-

Jan 17 2011

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Battles in Tunis as new government takes shape

by Dario Thuburn, AFP

52 mins ago

TUNIS (AFP) – Tunisian soldiers on Sunday attacked loyalists of ousted leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali holed up in the presidential palace, a security source said, as the struggling interim leadership prepared to announce a new government.

“The army has launched an assault on the palace in Carthage, where elements of the presidential guard have taken refuge,” the senior source told AFP on condition of anonymity, as an eyewitness reported heavy gunfire in the area.

Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi meanwhile vowed there would be “zero tolerance” against anyone threatening the security of the country and said a new government for the North African state “may be” announced on Monday.