Posted by Brad @ 3:33 pm on July 7th 2011

Financing The Financial Industry, Secret Fed Style

And Ron Paul’s the one they called crazy all these years.

Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. (LEHMQ)ís brokerage borrowed as much as $18 billion in four separate loans from a previously secret program of the U.S. Federal Reserve in June 2008, three months before its parent filed the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history.

The program, which peaked at $80 billion in loans outstanding, was known as the Fedís single-tranche open-market operations, or ST OMO. It made 28-day loans to units of 19 banks from March 7, 2008, to Dec. 30, 2008. Bloomberg reported on ST OMO in May, after the Fed released incomplete records on the program. In response to a subsequent Freedom of Information Act request for details, the central bank disclosed borrower names, amounts borrowed and interest rates.

People always use the failures of Wall Street or health care as evidence that markets don’t work. What they need to understand – almost as much as market proponents do – is that we don’t have unregulated free markets in these sectors. In fact, we have a kind of corporatist system in which the lines between the biggest corporate entities, and the American government, are increasingly blurry, and regulatory systems, rather than counteracting that, tend to exacerbate it.

Posted by Brad @ 2:39 pm on July 7th 2011

Murdoch Shuts Down News of the World

You’ve probably heard of the scandal over in Britain, wherein private investigators hired by editors at News of the World – by the way, far and away Britain’s best selling newspaper – routinely hacked into the cell phones and voice mails of celebs, royals, and, the straw that broke the camel’s back, families of soldiers killed in war and crime victims and their families, including, for instance, a recent teenage girl kidnapee whose voicemail (mostly panicked family members trying to locate her) they checked and then deleted, before police had a chance to.

It’s a huge scandal across the pond, and a lot of eyes were on Murdoch, the great gremlin of the media world, to see how he would respond.

Well, he responded literally as strongly as he possibly could. He is terminating the entire institution immediately, shutting the entire newspaper down forevermore. Sunday will mark the 168-year-old paper’s final edition.

Bear in mind, this is the best selling English-language newspaper in the world. It’s hard sometimes for Americans to understand the tabloid scene in Britain. Britain is often thought of as more cultured and refined than America, and when we think of their media landscape we tend towards comparisons between, say, Fox News and the BBC. But in fact, the great majority of their media business are tabloids that make ours seem tame and frivolous in comparison. News of the World is kind of like TMZ, the National Enquirer, and the New York Post combined, and with the cultural pervasiveness and reach of CNN, Newsweek, and Time combined. It’s pretty much shocking that they would just be, you know, canceled outright. But there you are.

Posted by Brad @ 4:37 pm on July 6th 2011

Republicans Hate The American System of Jurisprudence

Period, full stop.

An emblematic Corner post titled “Do We Want the Casey Anthony Jury on Terrorist Trials?” makes the case that…

Well, makes the case.

Posted by Brad @ 4:27 pm on July 6th 2011

Military Suicides

An interesting mid-week note: President Obama has decided to reverse longstanding policy, and, as Commander in Chief, write letters of condolences to American servicemembers who commit suicide while under deployment.

Posted by Brad @ 12:37 pm on July 6th 2011

Jiang Zemin Dead?

Maybe, who knows.

Posted by Brad @ 12:33 pm on July 6th 2011

Things You Won’t Hear in the Republican Debates

Illegal immigration from Mexico has fallen to its lowest levels since the 1950s—and we may have now, for the first time ever, entered a period where we are actually seeing a net LOSS of illegal immigrants from Mexico.

The decline in illegal immigration, from a country responsible for roughly 6 of every 10 illegal immigrants in the United States, is stark. The Mexican census recently discovered four million more people in Mexico than had been projected, which officials attributed to a sharp decline in emigration. American census figures analyzed by the nonpartisan Pew Hispanic Center also show that the illegal Mexican population in the United States has shrunk and that fewer than 100,000 illegal border-crossers and visa-violators from Mexico settled in the United States in 2010, down from about 525,000 annually from 2000 to 2004…

Got that? You will not hear these facts represented in any public policy debate on this matter, so remember it.

Also worth noting: the reasons for the decline probably won’t be ones that most Republicans want to hear.

The first is because decreased influence of the Catholic church and increased sexual liberation has made birth control much more prevalent in Mexico, thereby leading to smaller families, and increasing standards of living.

The second is because the American economy has declined enough that it is not longer the irresistible magnet it once was.

So there you have it. Turns out we didn’t need a fence to curb illegal immigration. We just had to wait for Mexico to become less Christian and America to become less rich. Mission…accomplished?

So anyway, the real debate over illegal immigration isn’t really how to curb the flow, which appears to be curbing itself. The real debate is what we do with the illegal immigrants that have already settled here, unwashed masses of filthy degenerates like this guy.

Posted by Brad @ 12:26 pm on July 6th 2011

Meet the New Government Thugs, Same as the Old Government Thugs, but ADORABLE

Conor Friedersdorf points to an initiative the TSA may be undertaking in an attempt to improve its image a bit. They are widely publicizing their initiative to raise over 500 puppies, naming each one for a victim of 9-11. And you don’t hate puppies, or 911 victims…do you?

Posted by Brad @ 10:41 am on July 6th 2011

In Praise of Leaking

Glenn Greenwald, great as always, highlights recent leaks from the Obama administration to reporters clearly intended to demonize Pakistan (probably rightly), along with other leaks (surely authorized) about Afghanistan policy and how thoughtful the President is on the matter. He contrasts that with the sharp stance the same administration has taken against leaks that are actually of much less strategic import but which are embarrassing to the United States and which work against Obama’s political aims, rather than for them. Meanwhile, many in the press and the voting public are perfectly willing to crucify those latter kinds of leakers, using all the arguments one would expect would apply to leaking period, but which patently aren’t applied in the cases of leaks that help advance the government’s aims. Nobody, in other words, is trying to stop leaking – they’re just trying to dictate what we, the people, are able to learn from them. And I think a lot of Americans don’t get this, so they instinctively turn up their noses at guys like Julian Assange while praising the “investigative journalism” of someone like Bob Woodward. Ergo, this isn’t a national security issue so much as a freedom of press issue, and most Americans, under the security blanket of the former, seem to be turning against the latter in principle.

Or, as Greenwald puts it:

There are, broadly speaking, three categories of political “leaks”: (1) ones that reflect well on the U.S. government and its allies (here’s the glorious leaked story of how the U.S. got bin Laden); (2) ones that reflect poorly on the U.S. government (U.S. officials are guilty of waste, corruption, illegality); and (3) ones that reflect poorly on foreign governments the U.S. wishes to demonize (Pakistan murdered a journalist). Obama’s highly selective war on whistleblowers is design to eliminate category (2) leaks — that’s what it’s been aimed at thus far — leaving only categories (1) and (3), i.e., those that advance the U.S. government’s interests and are often “authorized,” either legally (by declassifying the information) or informally (with a wink and a nod).

Put another way, the Obama administration is creating a world of journalism where they exclusively control the information that the public learns and, in essence, defining the parameters of a free press in the U.S. The result is that the only “leaks” that will exist are coordinated government disclosures designed to advance government aims and disseminate propaganda (by deceitfully masquerading official government statements as anonymous “leaks”). That’s why this behavior matters so much.

Posted by Brad @ 10:21 am on July 6th 2011

Follow the Money

Last quarter’s fundraising totals, top finishers:

Jon Huntsman: $4.1 million (including a large donation from himself)
Tim Pawlenty: $4.2
Ron Paul: $4.5
Mitt Romney: $18.25

All others are negligible.

The big question mark is Michelle Bachmann, who has yet to release numbers but who I would guess makes a strong second place showing (8-10 million sounds about right, although I have no idea).

Point being, barring something like Rick Perry entering the race, this is very much Mitt Romney’s race to lose. People have talked a lot about how this is a race without a frontrunner. Six months ago I’d have agreed with them, and even said that to me Romneycare is likely a disqualifier. But if the GOP of 2008 can forgive John “Amnesty” McCain-Feingold, they can apparently forgive Mitt Romneycare, and this race looks to have more of a frontrunner right now than 2008 ever did.

Posted by Rojas @ 5:32 pm on July 5th 2011

Since the world seems to be up in arms about errors in criminal justice at the moment…

…might I suggest that our readers give a few seconds of their time to The Innocence Project? It represents not only an opportunity to get angry about miscarriages of justice, but to involve yourself in ACTUALLY CORRECTING THEM.

Posted by Brad @ 5:09 pm on July 5th 2011

Nevermind, THIS is the Music Viceo of the Week

Also, Geekiest Music Video of the Year. Maybe ever.

Here is Neil Gaiman, on Minnesota Public Radio, inducing Mythbuster’s Adam Savage, into doing “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor, As Gollum.

I dare anybody to try to one-up the Nerd Quotient of this one.

Posted by Brad @ 11:28 am on July 5th 2011

Music Video of the Week

AV Undercover is a feature that is genius in theory but turns out to be pretty blah in practice. But having They Might Be Giants gather 16 people in a tiny room to help them cover “Tubthumping” by Chumbawamba turns out to be pretty epic.

They Might Be Giants – Tubthumping

Posted by Rojas @ 2:05 pm on July 1st 2011

Let’s be very clear about this.

The Constitution does not permit the President of the United States to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling in order to finance additional spending. Kevin Drum:

Maybe I’m missing something here, but it strikes me that this doesn’t come close to implying that the debt ceiling is unconstitutional. What it really suggests is merely that the public debt is the only untouchable part of the federal budget. The government is required to dedicate its tax revenue first to paying off any debt that’s due, but once that’s done the Constitution is silent. If the debt ceiling has been reached, and there’s not enough money left to issue Social Security checks or buy more aircraft carriers after current debts have been paid, then Social Security checks get reduced and aircraft carriers get put on hold.

This is not a difficult Constitutional question. If the President of the United States asserts for himself the ability to unilaterally finance continued spending in the absence of Congressional authorization, we will be in a legitimate impeachment situation.

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