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Is it absurd to try to weather the storm?

stormIs it beyond our ken to maintain a noble purpose as we guide our battered ships of state through the dark shadows of this mild squall of an economic crisis? Whom of us will risk life and limb to keep the ships afloat? Who will cast away possessions for the same purpose? Who will act to subvert these sacrifices? How will the storm weather us, as we weather the storm?

I ask these question because these darkling foreshadows are pallid compared to those that will attend the forthcoming Category Six typhoon of environmental collapse. How will that storm weather us, if we weather the storm? Given the tendency of people to adopt default positions in crisis situations, how we perform now, should give us some indication of how we’ll perform in much more dire circumstances.

Curiously, given the introduction, the point of this post is not to delve into the ugliness which portends. The point of this post is to ask the question, “How should we behave when faced with the absurdity that the cultural virtues that we cherish undermine the existential preconditions of our culture?” In other words, what does a wine-inspired poet do, when he finds that greater amounts of drink are fueling his muse, but not curing his cirrhosis and, in fact, killing him?

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Don’t Expect Apologies From the Dark Minions of the Kool-Aid Kingdom

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Dear Riverdaughter,

There is an interesting parallel between the situation of anti-Obama Democrats and that of the members of the resistance in post-WWII France. Given these parallels, I think it unlikely that we will receive an apology from the dark minions of the Kool-Aid Kingdom, generally-speaking. I think it more likely that they will continue to attempt to diminish us, because our existence reminds them of their failings.

Preventative maintenance requires this rider. I know the situations are not equivalent. I’m noting something they share.

Furthermore, there is no doubt that the vast majority of Obama supporters were not engaged in scorched Earth politics. They are not the object of this analysis.

As France re-made herself after WWII, participants in the Nazi/Vichy structures were embarrassed by the very existence of those who refused to participate under Nazi power. They were even more embarrassed by the existence of those who fought the power. The existence of the Resistance stood in stark relief to those who participated in Nazi-esque collusion.

As establishment people, they overcame their embarrassment in two ways. The first thing they did was to deny and exclude access to the power structure to resistance participants. They also worked to remove resistance participants from the structure, where possible.

The second thing they did was fabricate resistance credentials and attempt to bury their collusion with the Nazis. They created the myth of their integrity. By preventing the possibility of comparison through their exclusionary activities, they safeguarded the myth of their integrity. Their large numbers, tied to the fact of their establishment ensconsement, enabled the myth to become reified.

It is unsurprising that the dark minions among Obama’s enablers, who practised scorched Earth politics within the Democratic party and beyond, continue to assault those who worked against his ascendance. We are living examples of their moral and/or intellectual shortcomings.

They are tied to the power structure of the party. The re-writing phase of their autobiographies is underway. Expect some to engage in rearguard, credential boosting actions, like shearing the hair of the less powerful, more identifiable members of the Kool-Aid Kingdom.

These actions will mean little, however, until the history of the Resistance is co-optively revised. To do so, they will need to make us disappear from the public eye, through means that deny our power or diminish our voice.

I expect no apologies from the dark minions of the Kool-Aid Kingdom. I expect they will attack us because it is the only way for the myth of their integrity to take root.

gandalf

Yours,
Steven

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This creek smells funny. How did we get here?

Shit_Creek_
Imagine you were rowing your boat gently down the stream and one of the oars got caught in the hatch. What would happen? Logic suggests that the current would slowly move you downstream as you spun the boat in circles.

O.K. Rowboats don’t have hatches, but Orrin Hatch is a creature and a feature of the ship of state and it is people of his intellectual and moral quality who are spinning the boat in circles when it’s clearly in need of proper direction. In fact, abandoning the first metaphor, they’ve piloted the US up the creek to where it is today. When you’re up this creek, you need a paddle, not an Orrin.

In response to Charles Schumer’s statement, that the Democrats can pass healthcare reform without Republican support:

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who joined Schumer on the show, said Democrats should not try to use reconciliation to force through a bill which could not overcome a filibuster in the Senate.

“If they use that, that would be an abuse of the process,” Hatch said. He also said creating a government health plan open to all would be a grave mistake. “If we do that, we’ll bankrupt the country.”

Earth to Orrin. What do you think you’ve been actively working at for the last 8 years? What do you think lying to the public to make a war in Iraq, and loosely regulating the financial community, have to do with the current economic situation?

The Republican Party set the stage for bankrupting the nation by adopting neo-conservatism as its political philosophy. Neo-conservatism, which is conservatism without moral and intellectual grounding, is bankrupt at the conceptual level, so it’s hardly surprising that Bush’s application of its principles gutted the economy of the nation. It’s also why so many Republicans continue working to bankrupt the nation by applying the principles they say prevent bankruptcy.

Ideologues whose brains can’t get beyond binaries are incapable of accepting the empirical world when it conflicts with their beliefs. One such belief is that public healthcare would bankrupt the economy, when every study ever published in The New England Journal of Medicine on the topic shows that public healthcare is more efficient and cost effective than private healthcare.

With people like Orrin at the helm, there is no reason to wonder why the country is up the creek. I can think of at least two good uses for a paddle.

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The Culture of Cannibalism in US Politics: The Cycle of Corruption

MarkTwain_arts Mark Twain, in “Cannibalism in the Cars,” suggested that cannibalism of the body politic is a logical outcome of the practice of the political values of the elected representatives of the United States, in dire circumstances. What would occur, if such dire circumstances did not require a natural disaster, but became a systemic feature of the political landscape?

doncamp

The current economic crisis and America’s abject failure to provide economically-efficient, affordable healthcare are two examples of dire circumstances that are systemic features of America’s political landscape. Both crises are the results of bad governance. Both circumstances are direct products of the growth of influence of en-corporated political interests (encorps) in the system of governance of the United States. Bad governance, in both cases, involves a betrayal of the public trust that is manifested in not regulating the encorps in a way that protects the public’s interests, especially with respect to not meaningfully regulating the encorps ability to influence government officials.

The United States was born wary of the power of vested interests to influence public policy. Alexander Hamilton’s comments in the Federalist Papers are an example of this concern. .

In republics, persons elevated from the mass of the community, by the suffrages of their fellow-citizens, to stations of great pre-eminence and power, may find compensations for betraying their trust, which, to any but minds animated and guided by superior virtue, may appear to exceed the proportion of interest they have in the common stock, and to overbalance the obligations of duty.

Unfortunately, keeping the vested interests out is not a simple matter. How can it be when parties themselves are collective expressions of a set of weighted interests? Frankly, it is sensible for people of like purpose to strive together to achieve their aims, and there is nothing necessarily insidious about the practise. In fact, it’s a cornerstone of Democracy and civil society.

It is also, however, the entry way for corruption because the crux of the matter is not that people have differing and competing interests: it’s that they differ so greatly in terms of their power to realize those interests. When the power to realize those interests is used to unjustly deny the interests of less powerful, but equally or more deserving citizens, through a donation that is traded for a piece of unjust legislation, then it can be said that a positive feedback loop of corruption has been initiated.
The overly simple analysis that follows attempts to describe the basic workings of this system.
Continue reading

Timmy’s Tantrum vs. the Mosuo Matriarchy

0,1020,1534447,00mWhile reading Dakinikat’s post on Geithner’s profanity-laced rant against Sheila Bair and Mary Shapiro I could not help but wonder how the dynamic would have been changed had either Bair or Shapiro been in Geithner‘s position and vice versa. This lead me to wonder if their gender might have influenced his performance tactic or if his control issues manifested themselves in a gender-neutral fashion. Then, having recently read a piece in Der Speigel on the Mosuo matriarchy, I wondered how differently the whole episode would be playing out, if the Mosuo matriarchy’s institutional structure was guiding their behavior.

At the outset, it is worth noting that the Mosuo matriarchy is only one of potentially myriad forms of matriarchy. This brief mainstream media-derived post should not be seen as claiming that all matriarchies would carry similar features based upon a specific essentialized version of human femaleness in its socially-dominant context.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Is Mosuo society a paradise for feminists?

Coler: I had expected to find an inverse patriarchy. But the life of the Mosuo has absolutely nothing to do with that. Women have a different way of dominating. When women rule, it’s part of their work. They like it when everything functions and the family is doing well. Amassing wealth or earning lots of money doesn’t cross their minds. Capital accumulation seems to be a male thing. It’s not for nothing that popular wisdom says that the difference between a man and a boy is the price of his toys.

Hmm. I think it fair to suggest the Mosuo’s take on the role of the Federal Reserve Bank, and Wall Street in general, would proceed along a vastly different tack then it did in the aforementioned meeting. Given the downplay of capital accumulation, how does this cash out in terms of social organization?

SPIEGEL ONLINE: What is life like for a man in a matriarchy?

Coler: Men live better where women are in charge: you are responsible for almost nothing, you work much less and you spend the whole day with your friends. You’re with a different woman every night. And on top of that, you can always live at your mother’s house. The woman serves the man and it happens in a society where she leads the way and has control of the money. In a patriarchy, we men work more — and every now and then we do the dishes. In the Mosuo’s pure form of matriarchy, you aren’t allowed to do that. Where a woman’s dominant position is secure, those kinds of archaic gender roles don’t have any meaning.

Continue reading

Geithner and Summers: Economic Disaster Deja Vu

g + s

Timothy Geithner’s profanity-laced rant against Sheila Bair and Mary Shapiro for their rational, reality-based concerns about increasing the power of Federal Reserve Bank, as opposed to increasing oversight of the system, should elicit a kind of déjà vu because the scenario has been played before. (Note: Increasing oversight does not mean policy disclosure.)

In 1997-8, Brooksley Born, the head of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, tried to open a discussion about introducing oversight measures into the OTC derivatives market by producing a memo because she could see that:

“There was no transparency of these markets at all. No market oversight. No regulator knew what was happening,” Born says. “There was no reporting to anybody.”

Summers, Rubin’s deputy (and now director of the National Economic Council), said the memo had “cast the shadow of regulatory uncertainty over an otherwise thriving market, raising risks for the stability and competitiveness of American derivative trading.”

History, in the form of the role these derivatives played in this economic disaster, has proven that she was right to undertake that initiative. Unfortunately, Greenspan, Leavitt, Rubin, and Summers, to name some major players, were effective in pushing legislation that ended the CFTC’s ability to undertake oversight.

Born assailed the legislation, calling it an unprecedented move to undermine the independence of a federal agency. In eerily prescient testimony, she warned of potentially disastrous and widespread consequences for the public. “Losses resulting from misuse of OTC derivatives instruments or from sales practice abuses in the OTC derivatives market can affect many Americans,” she testified that July. “Many of us have interests in the corporations, mutual funds, pension funds, insurance companies, municipalities and other entities trading in these instruments.”

Notwithstanding, her concerns were dismissed and her ominous predictions came to pass.

Geithner is a protégé of Summers.

Is it not an ironic twist of fate, and a testament to Geithner’s blind faith against oversight, that he, like his mentor before him, is assailing intelligent, moral, qualified women for pointing out the  folly of his ways.

{Note: I defer all economic inquiries to our resident expert, Dakinikat.  My interest in the situation is the social dynamic.}

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Convergence on Goldman-Sachs

Slide1While the rest of the country strips Sarah Palin of her humanity for no good reason except that mobbing is so much fun, something very weird is going on with Goldman-Sachs.  There are a number of credible sources reporting now on the arrest of Sergey Alenyikov on July 4, 2009 at Newark Airport.  Mr. Alenyikov is accused of stealing G-S source code and uploading it to a computer somewhere in Europe.  Goldman sent the Feds to round up the rogue programmer because, as the US Attorney on the case says, the source can be used to manipulate the market.  Daytraders who monitor the market very closely say that they noticed some non-linear activity in the several weeks leading up to the arrest and that afterwards, the markets seemed to have returned to normal, whatever that means since last year’s crash.

But it gets more interesting.  As Bloomberg notes, how do we know that Goldman-Sachs hasn’t been using this code all along to manipulate the markets?  The theory goes something like this: Goldman-Sachs gets to put a unix server with the code on a network cable somewhere and uses a packet sniffer to watch the transactions that come across from traders at other companies.  With that knowledge, G-S is able to anticipate trades and shave a bit off for itself for every transaction.  If this is true, it means that G-S has a massively unfair advangtage in trading compared to, well, just about everyone else. Here’s a post at the Big Orange Cheeto for those of you who eat netstats for breakfast and think Perl poetry is romantic.  It goes into quite a bit of technical detail.

Check out this video from Bloomberg that lays it all out:

What’s really disturbing about this case is that the government seems to be extraordinarily receptive to calls for help from G-S.  Either the Goldman crew close to the White House is concerned with losing their bonuses or the potential for market failure is huge. Either way, it lessens confidence in the system.  It looks like “all traders are equal except some traders are more equal than others”.  What happens to the system when the people who have no choice but to operate in it no longer have any trust?  This leads me to my podcast du jour recommendation.  This one is from Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippet.  Her topic this past week was The Science of Trust with guest Chris Farrell, a neuroeconomist.  The secret to keeping everyone honest is the neurotrsnsmitter hormone oxytocin.  Oxytocin promotes empathy.  Approxomately 2% of the population has insufficient levels of oxytocin to experience empathy with other human beings(and you’re probably thinking they all work at Goldman-Sachs, right?)

Farrell says that the lax regulatory system is partially responsible for the financial disaster, although he takes a pretty long time before he gets around to saying it.  Farrell thinks that for *most* people, *most* of the time, the feelings of empathy lead to a sense of reponsibility and honesty.  That’s why you might have felt you could trust your banker with your money.  But in recent years, there have been advances in technology that lead to a depersonalization of the banker-client relationship.  It’s hard to see the person behind an account number on a monitor.

The podcast is part of a series by Tippett on Repossessing Virtue, all highly recommended.  You don’t have to be religious to have an ethical model.  But ethics, virtue and trust are all severely lacking in this dog eat dog world where nothing much makes sense.  Societies start to unravel when the sense of morality and consideration for others is replaced by, well, nothing at all.

If Tippett is concerned with repossessing virtue, I guess you could say that the fundamentalist group, The Family, is concerned with redefining it.  A second podcast recommendation is one that Terry Gross did last week on The Family, a religious community in DC that has been the spiritual guiding force for many enemies of The New Deal over the decades.  John Ensign was a recent alumni as was Governor Sanford of South Carolina.  The Family believes the end justifies the means and that chosen Family members are possessed of the virtue that requires no further regulation by the government.  They will lead us because it is their destiny and if they cheat on their wives on Family property, it must mean that God works in mysterious ways.  Caveat: Terry Gross is the best interviewer in the world but she has kool-ade psychosis and it is unfortunately seeping into her interviews.  “The propaganda is strong in this one.”  Proceed with caution.  Her bias shows.  Even so, if this group is only 1/10th as bad as the interview suggests, it’s pretty bad.

Update: It looks like Citadel is getting in on the act now.  The former head quant at Citadel started a new company called Teza Technologies and hired Aleynikov. Mikail Malyshev signed a 9 month noncompete clause when he left Citadel back in February.  That means he wasn’t supposed to open his door until November.  Maybe it’s all a preparation phase thing.  Teza is cooperating with the FBI. This stuff is starting to sound familiar.  Several of my former colleagues (all Russians BTW, tho’ I’m sure it’s all a coincidence) have gone to work for quant firms, though I can’t imagine they’ll be writing code.  Who knows?


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A small evil group to which no one we know belongs

Goldman-Sachs Tower.  (Sauron lives here.)

Goldman-Sachs Tower. (Sauron lives here.)

Early in the primary season last year, my colleague from up the hall told me of a dinner she had with her Wall Street working neighbors.  Now, not all of the people in NJ who work on Wall Street are evil people.  Some of them were just rank and file finance types.  One of my colleague’s friends quit Wall Street to work part time as a professor.  So, these people were not in the corner offices.  I thought for sure she was going to tell me they were all die hard Republicans.  Not so.  She said her friends said they feared a Depression if McCain was elected and a deep recession if Obama was elected.  They actually thought that Hillary was the one who was most economically sound.

No, I’m not being a Hillary groupie here.  My mind had been made up to vote for her anyway and at that point, Obamamania was in full swing.  What I found disconcerting is that these people who typically vote Republican thought it would be a disaster and they didn’t think Obama was going to be much of an improvement.  My colleague didn’t say anymore about it but after that point, she didn’t criticize Hillary anymore.  I think they told her something that frightened her.

A couple of days ago on Conflucians Say, I mentioned that it feels like the country is being controlled by a “Small evil group to which no one we know belongs”.  It feels like feudalism, as if the Normans had reconquered and grabbed everything in sight.  There’s a new patronage system.  To the victors go the spoils.  The rest of us have become serfs without any real rights.  Go ahead, try to assert your right of assembly.  Try to get your speech widely heard outside of the blogosphere.  Try to be non-religious and apply for govenment grants for your social programs.  Try to get your case of age discrimination heard fairly before the Supreme Court.  (Guys, I am really concerned about Sonya Sotomayor considering who is appointing her)

And then, I read the piece by Matt Taibbi yesterday about Goldman-Sachs called the Great American Bubble Machine.  It’s all about how G-S has been right there in the middle of every major financial crisis sinee 1929.  Opaque investment securities?  G-S.  Credit default swaps, CDO’s, the internet bubble and collapse of NASDAQ?  G-S.  How about the $4/gallon oil crisis of last year that hurt so many families and caused food riots in other parts of the world?  G-S.

G-S are those greedy nobles who rape, pillage and take what they want without consequence.  It’s really too bad that the US got rid of bills of attainder for special cases because if there was ever a corporation that should never be allowed to get anywhere near taxpayer money ever again, it would be Goldman-Sachs.  Unfortunately, our current government is infested with former Goldman-Sachs guys who have their fingers in everything financial.

Matt’s piece is full of charming quotes but this one really stood out for me because the person in question had a huge impact on the outcome of the primaries last year but mostly flies under the radar in today’s media environment:

The market was no longer a rationally managed place to grow real, profitable businesses: It was a huge ocean of Someone Else’s Money where bankers hauled in vast sums through whatever means necessary and tried to convert that money into bonuses and payouts as quickly as possible. If you laddered and spun 50 Internet IPOs that went bust within a year, so what? By the time the Securities and Exchange Commission got around to fining your firm $110 million, the yacht you bought with your IPO bonuses was already six years old. Besides, you were probably out of Goldman by then, running the U.S. Treasury or maybe the state of New Jersey. (One of the truly comic moments in the history of America’s recent financial collapse came when Gov. Jon Corzine of New Jersey, who ran Goldman from 1994 to 1999 and left with $320 million in IPO-fattened stock, insisted in 2002 that “I’ve never even heard the term ‘laddering’ before.”)

Ahuh.

After reading this piece, it no longer surprises me that Corzine hasn’t done diddly squat for the homeowners of NJ and their outrageous property taxes.  I’m pretty deaf to the local Democrats who wail, “But if Corzine isn’t re-elected, we’ll get stuck with Christie and he’s a Republican and it will be WORSE!”  Really?  How could it be worse?  What has Corzine done for us?  He might as well have been Thomas Kean.  They were virtually indistinguishable.  Corzine, for all intents and purposes, *is* a Republican, albeit a socially liberal one.  So, what’s the diff?  Shouldn’t someone be held responsible for the gross unfairness, ineptitude and greed of the modern Democratic party?  And who better than Jon Corzine, former CEO of Goldman-Sachs who claims to not know that his own company was scamming ordinary day traders on his watch?  Where do Corzine’s loyalties lie anyway?  NJ has survived Republican governors before.  We have a Democratic assembly.  Why not just vote nothing on top?  I’m not giving my vote to Corzine until he starts to act like a Democrat.

In fact, I can’t think of a better way to kick the Democrats’ asses in gear than to defeat Jon Corzine.  He can be a cautionary tale: this is what will happen to you if you don’t start acting like a Democrat.  You won’t get another chance.  Your ass is glass.  Oh, and by the way…

WHERE IS MY VOTE. JON???

NJ and NY, where the financial groups hold sway, were the ones that put Obama over the top at the Democratic Convention last year.  Those were states where Hillary won by 10 points or more.  The votes of Hillary supporters were wiped out at the convention. Zeroed. Nullified.  Like the primaries in those two states never even happened. We were disenfranchised, not by crazy Obamaphiles, but by a small evil group to which no one we know belongs.

And the former CEO for Goldman-Sachs lead the way.


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Your Breakfast Read, Served By The Confluence

Morning Read

The “homosexual agenda” on the march
After MA, CT, IA, VT, ME too has decided to get into the “marriage-ruining” business. NH is waiting around the corner.
Maine Governor Signs Same-Sex Marriage Bill

Gov. John Baldacci of Maine signed a same-sex marriage bill on Wednesday minutes after the Legislature sent it to his desk, saying he had reversed his position because gay couples were entitled to the state Constitution’s equal rights protections.

Isn’t it about time Obama undertakes something about this pervasive homosexual agenda? So far he’s been silent on DADT, hasn’t said a word about the proliferation of gay marriages, and has kept mum while some are talking about a gay Justice on the SCOTUS. At least we know Hillary would have shot gays in the face.
With Gay Issues in View, Obama Is Pressed to Engage

Dems to Specter: Watch out!
I count myself amount those who were happy Arlen Specter left the Republican Party to join to Dems, not for the sake of Specter himself but simply because it’s a zero-sum game. He has to be reminded that Dems have him by the nuts sack.
Meltdown: Specter stands alone

Since declaring himself a Democrat last Tuesday, Specter has defied Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the White House on virtually everything that’s come down the pike: the budget, mortgage reform, the Al Franken-Norm Coleman race, even President Barack Obama’s appointment of Dawn Johnsen to head the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel.
All while quibbling over whether he said he’d be a “loyal Democrat” — and insisting that he had an “entitlement” to transfer his Senate seniority from one side of the aisle to the other.

Specter Isn’t Sitting Too Pretty These Days

What to do with “Torturegate” architects?
Bush attorneys who wrote terror memo face backlash

Iraq, the good and the bad

The Good:
Blackwater era ending in Iraq

The Bad:
Ambush by an Ally Chills Trust in Iraqi Units

When the gunfire broke out, Capt. Sean K. Keneally scrambled over to Master Sgt. Anthony Davis, who was lying flat on his back, and dragged him to a nearby building.
It was too late. Sergeant Davis, a member of a small team of American military advisers embedded with an Iraqi Army battalion in this remote town, was dead.

Af-Pak
Civilian Deaths Imperil Support for Afghan War

Clinton expresses ‘deep regret’ over deadly US airstrike in Afghanistan

Pakistan Strife Fills a Hospital With Refugees

Obama applauds Afghan and Pakistan cooperation

Entertainment recommendation for SoS Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton, Watch These Movies!

High Noon, Godfather II, Grand Illusion, and 22 other indispensable movies for understanding war and diplomacy.

Staving off a Depression
Budget Proposes Cuts in 121 Programs

President Barack Obama’s detailed 2010 budget plan, due out Thursday, will propose to eliminate or consolidate 121 domestic and defense programs to save $17 billion, administration officials said Wednesday.

After being stress-tested, BofA needs another $34,000,000,000, Wells Fargo $15,000,000,000 and Citi $5,000,000,000
Fed’s Bank Results ‘Reassuring,’ Show No Insolvency

Banks Need at Least $65 Billion in Capital

American stocks surge after leaked results of banking stress tests bring relief to investors

Timmy explains the methodology. (Wasn’t it some giant Monte Carlo simulation?)
How We Tested the Big Banks (Timothy Geithner)

U.S., Europe Are Ocean Apart on Human Toll of Joblessness

Rupert wants to charge the Internets
News Corp will charge for newspaper websites, says Rupert Murdoch

He wasn’t only a big time crook
The Bernard Madoff I knew: former secretary tells of sexist, sex-mad swindler

What Does “Qualified” Mean?
People opposed to identity politics on the SCOTUS like to propagate the trope about the “most qualified” person for the job. Let’s forget the fact that a SC Justice doesn’t have to be a lawyer, there are a gazillion people with a law degree in the US. Who’s the most “qualified” for any single job among them? “The SCOTUS is not the place for identity politics.”Really? Why not? It’s all about the best fit.
Identity Politics Not New to Supreme Court

W.E.B. Du Bois was quick to endorse the appointment of Louis Brandeis to the Supreme Court. “As a Jew,” Du Bois said, quoting Isaiah, Brandeis knows the experience of “being despised and rejected of men.”

Prepare to be awed by Odd Day


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Your Breakfast Read, Served By The Confluence

Morning Read

The war against Judge Sonia Sotomayor. Already
It all started with this excerpt from an article in The Politico:

The top candidate, on paper, is Sotomayor, 54, a Clinton appointee to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. She meets the empathy criteria, having grown up poor in the South Bronx, as well as Obama’s preference for sterling credentials, having graduated from Yale Law School.

Even before Souter’s retirement was formally announced, some in the GOP already say they’re gearing up for a fight with Obama over his nominee, particularly if he picks Sotomayor.

It didn’t take long for some to begin the GOP’s bidding.

Jeffrey Rosen started with a hatchet job in the “esteemed” TNR: The Case Against Sotomayor

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been talking to a range of people who have worked with her, nearly all of them former law clerks for other judges on the Second Circuit or former federal prosecutors in New York. (…) Nearly all of them acknowledged that Sotomayor is a presumptive front-runner, but nearly none of them raved about her. They expressed questions about her temperament, her judicial craftsmanship, and most of all, her ability to provide an intellectual counterweight to the conservative justices, as well as a clear liberal alternative.

Wonkette had an excellent summary of the article:
Is Frontrunner Mexican Lady Judge A Dumb? Anonymous Sources Think So!

Matt Yglesias responded To Jeffrey Rosen after making a very intriguing catch in the piece:

I haven’t read enough of Sotomayor’s opinions to have a confident sense of them, nor have I talked to enough of Sotomayor’s detractors and supporters, to get a fully balanced picture of her strengths.

Eric Boehlert has a simple question for Jeff:

Isn’t it probably a good idea, journalism-wise, to do that before publishing a take-down piece that’s filled with anonymous quotes and is headlined, “The Case Against Sotomayor”?

Glenn Greenwald has a thorough analysis of Rosen’s article:
Jeffrey Rosen, TNR and the anonymous smears against Sonia Sotomayor

Watch Rebecca Traister smack down Jeff
Her Honor: Domineering and dumb

Political headaches
Barack Obama hints at tougher line on Israel

Pakistani President Tries to Assure U.S. on Taliban

Barack Obama to meet Afghanistan and Pakistan presidents

US investigating Afghan reports of 70 civilians killed

US, Karzai seek to mend fraying relationship at summit

Washington has been increasingly critical of the Afghan president. But with Karzai likely to win reelection this year, both sides will want to dial back the recriminations.

Economic headaches
Ben Bernanke says things are not as bad as they could have been
Bernanke’s Outlook a Bit Brighter

The U.S. economy seems to be contracting at a slower rate than it was a few months ago, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke told lawmakers yesterday, delivering a message of optimism that was tempered by his forecast that the economy could perform well below its potential for some time to come.

Didn’t we hear for days that it was $10,000,000,000?
BofA Faces $35 Billion Gap

Glenn Hubbard, Hal Scott and Luigi Zingales join Richardson and Roubini
Banks Need Fewer Carrots and More Sticks

This is really scary
Latest round of Microsoft layoffs may not be last

Our daily GOP Quo Vadis
Republicans on the Hunt for Messengers as Party Moves to Reconnect With Voters

Palin joins old pal McCain to rescue GOP from extinction

D.C. determined to ruin my heterosexual marriage
D.C. to Recognize Gay Marriages

Congratulations, House Dems
Matthew Shepard Act

Latest from “Torturegate”
Torture Memos: Inquiry Suggests No ProsecutionsAn internal

Justice Department inquiry has concluded that Bush administration lawyers committed serious lapses of judgment in writing secret memorandums authorizing brutal interrogations but that they should not be prosecuted

How to Handle the Guantanamo Detainees(By Lindsay Graham and John McCain) So now beyond preemptive war there is preventive detention?

Third, preventive detention will continue to have a place in the war on terror . Under the law of war, the idea that an enemy combatant has to be tried or released is a false choice. Rather, it is well-established that combatants can be held off the battlefield as long as they present a military threat.

John Bolton is a Bag of Douche
Obama’s Prosecutions by Proxy

Huh???
Chinese civil servants left fuming by order to smoke more

That wasn’t too long, was it?
After 1,000 years, women can see treasures of Mount Athos

For the first time in almost 1,000 years, many of the legendary Byzantine treasures of Mount Athos in Greece are on view to women

In today’s absolutely unnecessary gloating
Red Sox clearly better than Yanks
Let’s not even get in that painfully ridiculous New Yankee Stadium. We will have the next decades to laugh at it.


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