A good part of the reason I started blogging was because I went to a history conference at a UT branch up between Dallas and Fort Worth and found that, contrary to belief, many well known academic historians have found community history projects to be invaluable because of their focus and details. Photos rated high. Photos with details rate high. Interviews with participants in events rated high. Interviews with older people rated high if you cover their experience and perspective.
- Prairie Weather


“Protest works. Just look at the proof”


The last place you will hear about the new American labor movement is in big American outlets.

Via lambert, via susie. See them, their blogrolls, Twitter hash tag #1u and just about any other outlet where citizens can get the word out.

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW)

The CIW is a community-based organization of mainly Latino, Mayan Indian and Haitian immigrants working in low-wage jobs throughout the state of Florida. Via.


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Weekend Wrapup

No Associated Press content was harmed in the writing of this post


Our image in the Muslim world would probably improve if we stopped killing so many Muslims.


Combat operations have concluded for:

  1. Army Pfc. Justin M. Whitmire, 20, of Easley, SC.
  2. Army Spc. Kurt W. Kern, 24, of McAllen, TX.
  3. Army Sgt. Noah M. Korte, 29, of Lake Elsinore, CA.
  4. Army Staff Sgt. Joseph J. Altmann, 27, of Marshfield, WI.
Via.


US spy drone crashes in Afghanistan. Here is your updated drone crash scorecard:


Drones are starting to get some attention thanks to a piece by the Washington Post (sigh). Here is digby’s take, and this from Jim White: “Despite the allure to Brennan and Obama that drones are somehow magic, clean ways to take out enemies, they are fraught with all the same real world problems as any other tool of war.” Including this.


Ron Paul doesn’t care about civil liberties. He isn’t a civil libertarian, he just would prefer states to do the oppressing. And as Tom Hilton points out, there are a whole raft of implications to that which would be deeply objectionable to progressives. A Paul presidency would be a train wreck domestically. But on foreign policy he is advocating policies that would substantially benefit the country.

If his isolationist streak meant ending our wars and zeroing out foreign aid is that a wash? Of course not. We spend a fortune on wars and a pittance on foreign aid. It would be a huge plus.

As Glenn points out, Paul is putting some of the most pressing issues of our time - war and peace - onto the table. He is forcing a discussion on them at a time when no one in Washington, Republican or Democrat, wants to talk about them. If you’re more interested in what we actually do in this country than in cheering for the right team that’s a pretty important contribution to the discourse. I would hope it’s possible to endorse someone’s views on a particular subject - particularly when they are cogently presented - without conflating that with a blanket endorsement of everything the individual says. This seems to me a mark of intellectual maturity along the lines of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “the true test of a first-rate mind is the ability to hold two contradictory ideas at the same time.”

But because we’re already having folks like ABL trying to shoehorn everything into election year politics we are being told it all has to be looked at in the context of who we will cast a vote for more than eleven months from now: “So, am I monster for caring more about my uterus and the rights of minorities and the underclass than I am about the victims of drone strikes in a foreign land? Maybe. But I’m ok with it.” (This is probably a much easier position to take when you aren’t the one sorting through the body parts.) Do we really have to pull out those scales a year before the election? Couldn’t we wait till, say, September or so?

Also, it’s kind of funny that she approvingly quotes Schaub criticizing Greenwald for “his terribly-clever use of the weasel word ‘many’,” using her own weasel word of “more” to make it seem like she isn’t really that worked up about it - that seems to be the pretty clear context to me, anyway - and responding with this when called on it:

Too bad your reading comprehension skills are so lacking that you could read what I wrote and make such a mind-numbingly stupid statement.

Here’s a hint. Look for the word “more” in my post.


Batocchio has kept up Jon Swift’s year end blog roundup tradition. Much thanks to him for continuing it, and rest in peace Al. The blogosphere is a poorer place without you.

I’ve personally used it as an occasion to highlight my favorite post from Avedon, and here it is. Memorializing the dead is good, but we should also be more careful to appreciate the living. As Al McGuire once said, “Why wait until the guy’s dead? Buy him a drink while he’s alive!” What’ll you have, miss?


In that same spirit, Corrente had a really great year. I saw a lot of bitching about 2011 on Twitter, but politically there were some really good things happening. Last year was more about issues; this year will be more about personalities. Anyone think that will be an improvement? Corrente will be a refuge from what promises to be a year nonstop horse race coverage and candidate worship. This week: Occupiers still occupying (via) and a largely overlooked item about strategy (via).


mistermix: “If your need to hate is greater than your desire to help, then your charity will have to be financed solely by private contributions, so you can deny help to those you deem not worthy, just as Jesus did.”


Via Twitter I saw a site called citebite that appears to let you highlight an excerpt from a post, like this. Very cool.


ECONNED EXCERPT from pp. 268-9:

It is easy to be overwhelmed by the vast panorama of financial instruments and strategies that have grown up (and blown up), in recent years. But the complexity of these transactions and securities is all part of a relentless trend: toward greater and greater leverage, and greater opacity.

The dirty secret of the credit crisis is that the relentless pursuit of “innovation” meant there was virtually no equity, no cushion for losses anywhere behind the massive creation of risky debt. Arcane, illiquid securities were rated super-duper AAA and, with their true risks misunderstood and masked, required only minuscule reserves. Their illiquidity and complexity also meant their accounting value could be finessed. The same instruments, their intricacies overlooked, would soon become raw material for more leverage as they became accepted as collateral for further borrowing, whether via commercial paper or repos.

But even then, the banksters still needed real assets, real borrowers. Investment bankers screamed at mortgage lenders to find them more product, and still, it was not enough.

But credit default swaps solved the problem. Once a CDS on a low-grade subprime was sufficiently liquid, synthetic borrowers could stand in the place of subprime borrowers, paying the borrowers paid and winning a reward when real borrowers could pay no longer. The buyers of CDS were synthetic borrowers that made synthetic CDOs possible. With CDS, supply was no longer bound by any earthly constraints on the number of subprime borrowers, but could ascend skyward, as long as there were short sellers willing to be synthetic borrowers and insurers who, tempted by fees, would volunteer to be synthetic lenders, standing atop their own edifice of risks, oblivious to its precariousness.

Institution after institution was bled dry. Yet economists and central bankers applauded the wondrous innovations, seeing increased liquidity and more efficient loan intermediation, ignoring the unhealthy condition of the industry.

The firms that had been silently drained of capital and tied together in shadowy counterparty links teetered, fell, and looked certain to perish. There was one last capital reserve to tap, U.S. taxpayers, to revive the financial system and make the innovators whole. Widespread anger turned into sullen resignation as the public realized its opposition to the looting was futile.

The authorities now claim they will find ways to solve the problems of opacity, leverage and moral hazard.

But opacity, leverage and moral hazard are not accidental byproducts of otherwise salutary innovations; they are the direct intent of the innovations. No one at the major capital markets firms was celebrated for creating markets to connect borrowers and savers transparently and with low risk. After all, efficient markets produce minimal profits. They were instead rewarded for making sure no one, the regulators, the press, the community at large, could see and understand what they were doing.

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