No Associated Press content was harmed in the writing of this post
Combat operations have concluded for:
- Army Pfc. Douglas J. Jeffries Jr., 20, of Springville, CA.
- Army Spc. Koran P. Contreras, 21, of Lawndale, CA.
- Navy civilian James W. Coker, 59, of Mount Pleasant, SC.
- Army Pfc. Christophe J. Marquis, 40, of Tampa, FL.
- Army Spc. Christopher J. Scott, 21, of Tyrone, NY.
Days since Washington Post has updated its Faces of the Fallen site: 87. They really can’t be fucking bothered can they?
I don’t link to lambert enough. I’d excerpt this but it’s too short. Have a quick look though.
I’d meant to link to this but neglected. Better late than never! Once upon a time civil disobedience was considered one of the noblest forms of civic engagement. Now it’s considered elitist or emo or any other number of disparaging things. Quite an evolution, eh?
Then there’s this (since extended!) We all hear entrepreneurial risk takers lionized on the right, but it seems that actual risk causes today’s entrepreneurs to curl up in the fetal position. Maybe it’s time to start envisioning a world without them.
On that last point, this has been stuck in my head for a while (emph. in orig.):
Corporations and companies, from the largest to the smallest, do not, as a child of six knows, exist to create jobs. They exist to create profits. Any jobs created are a means to that end, and the jobs “created” can be created anywhere, not necessarily here.One of the reasons to be suspicious of “job creators” rhetoric is that for a business, jobs are at best a necessary evil. They are part of the cost of creating profits, but they are just that: costs. Businesses do not want to have to employ people and they certainly to not want to do so on any more generous terms than they have to. They will only create jobs when there are no better options, and then will do so on the meanest possible terms. They exist to create profits, not a happy workforce (via). When you strip away the the HR spin it comes down to this: businesses have a fundamentally antagonistic stance towards their employees.
This is why collective bargaining matters and why unions matter. Workers need some way to effectively make demands on management. That is what checks the otherwise relentless drive towards longer hours, unsafer conditions, and poorer wages. And that is why it is so frustrating for Washington to be consumed with such touching concern for these profit-seeking entities. The message is: we’re on their side, not yours.
There is a tremendous desire for a national policy of direct job creation. Not filling in business’ wish list on the (implied) promise to create lots and lots of (part time, low paying) jobs if the list is filled; not bribing them to hire people via yet more tax loopholes; not another round of the failed and discredited policies that created the job crisis. Just plain, direct creation of jobs by the government. That, and a robust platform of expanding union membership.
Maybe these so-called “low information” voters aren’t so low information after all. Or perhaps it’s just that many of the rest of us are “wrong information” voters.She gets right to the core of an issue quicker than just about anyone.
Steve M. goes without a net: Draws a comparison between the Republican field and early 90’s hip hop. And he not only carries it off all the way to the end but comes up with one of the year’s best post titles. But Steve, don’t leave us hanging! Who is the GOP Sir Mix-A-Lot?
In fairness, this is probably the best Chris Cillizza is capable of:
Note how the pundit’s ironic deprecation falls like the rain on the just and unjust alike, on those who precipitated the needless crisis and those who despaired of it. He seems oblivious that one side - or a sizable faction of one side - has deliberately attempted to damage the reputation of Congress to achieve its political objectives.
Winning comments at Balloon Juice. LT drops the memorable phrase “cortex-crushing fuckery” and frapalinger says “He’s trying to get David Broder’s ghost to vote for him - and it’s not going to happen.”
The aide said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”We were ruled by criminals, they acted with evil intent and impunity, and got away with it. I used to think that if word got out enough, something would happen. That people just didn’t know what was happening, and if they did surely demand action, that the law would begin to assert itself and our institutions would vindicate themselves by refusing to put anyone above the law.
Nope! Word spread far and wide and…nothing happened. High level accountability? That’s not the way the world really works anymore. So autopsies like Pro Publica’s are nice, but I don’t expect them to be anything more than academic exercises. (This from Athenae is nice though.)
A case study in the decline of US manufacturing. (Spoiler alert: Unions not responsible!)
ECONNED EXCERPT from pp. 189-90, on the culture of opacity:
It is difficult to assess the economic impact of these questionable practices without doing forensic accounting, which would require access to banks’ books. However, there is enough evidence of chicanery to indicate that this was a large-scale problem. Given how thinly the major financial firms were capitalized, it would not take much of this sort of thing for it to have played a driving role in their undoing.Even a properly enforced regulatory system seems easy enough to evade.
In fact, the odds are high that Lehman engaged in fraudulent accounting. A survey of eleven research notes published by firms like Goldman Sachs, Sanford Bernstein, Fox-Pitt, Oppenheimer, and Merrill in the weeks prior to Lehman’s demise, when it teetered on the verge of bankruptcy, shows that not one even considered the possibility that Lehman’s net worth was negative. Remember, not only are these experts paid to evaluate the prospects of these firms, but they also have direct access to management and ask questions about the financial statements. Some skeptical observers assumed Lehman would show perhaps $10 billion in negative net worth on a roughly $640 billion balance sheet that showed $26 billion of equity on its last quarterly statement as of the end of May (the bankruptcy was September 15, 2008). That means that the worst downside generally contemplated was a decay of roughly $36 billion (a change of plus $26 billion to minus $10 billion). No one dreamed that the firm had an even more massive hole in its balance sheet.
Yet the losses to creditors in the bankruptcy are not $10 billion, but $130 billion and counting, which meant the change in condition from its last financial statement was a stunning $156 billion. One had to assume that the Treasury did not think the balance sheet shortfall was that large, otherwise it would not have allowed the firm to fail.
The bankruptcy consultant overseeing the messy global bankruptcy has tried to attribute the stunning losses to the disorderly collapse, but the black hole is simply too large for that explanation to be sufficient. Lehman’s accounting was already coming under harsh scrutiny prior to the implosion. For instance, Lehman had large stakes in two end-of-cycle real estate investments, Archstone and SunCal, that looked certain to come a cropper. Although the exposures had been written down, critics still saw the valuations as far too rich. Similarly, in an effort to satisfy the experts,Lehman started making disclosures that only seemed to confirm doubts. For instance, in its March 31, 2008, report, it added a footnote disclosing its CDO exposures. The write-downs taken were a mere $200 million on $6.5 billion. That total included $1.6 billion of below investment grade tranches, sure to be badly impaired, making the low haircut a red flag.
The general point is that the financial statements of complex financial firms are close to impenetrable, which often makes it hard for even experts to assess the true performance of these enterprises. With Lehman, verifiable valuations were suspect, calling the reports as a whole into question. If you are going to burnish your results, common sense says not to do it in an obvious way.