Tunisia and America’s Civil War

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His Highness the Mushir Mohammed Essader, Bey of Tunis.jpg
On Thursday evening, I attended a State Department reception hosted by Under Secretary of State for Economic affairs Robert Hormats commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the OECD. The reception was supported by the US Council for International Business and featured Secretary General of the OECD Angel Gurria, AFL/CIO President Richard Trumka, US Ambassador to the OECD Karen Kornbluh, and some others.
Somewhat off topic though, a very large, strikingly colorful painting in the Benjamin Franklin diplomatic reception rooms caught my eye. The portraint depicted the monarch of Tunisia in 1865.
The plaque on the painting reads:
bey of tunis.jpg

His Highness the Mushir Mohammed Essadek, Bey of Tunis
Portrait presented as a souvenir of his Friendship on November 1865 by his Envoy Gen. Otman Hashem, bearer of letters of condolence for the assassination of President Lincoln and of congratulations for the termination of the Civil War.

I don’t know how long that painting has hung in the Franklin Room — but certainly before the recent revolution in Tunisia.
I wonder if Secretary of State Hillary Clinton mentioned the painting during her recent trip to Tunisia.
But it is interesting to remember that 150 years, the American Civil War was just starting and the world watched with fascination and horror as a quickly rising, growing power engaged in horrific self-destruction. And at the end, governments sent notes of congratulations to the victorious side.
Something to keep in mind.
– Steve Clemons

Comments

33 comments on “Tunisia and America’s Civil War

  1. Ozzie Nelson says:

    “Is it my imagination or has TWN been de-trolled?”
    Yes, the trolls were ejected simultaneously with my castration. Figuratively speaking, of course.
    But the up side is that TWN is now a haven for regular folk, and any minute now you can expect Ben Nelson to come a-calling for a back fence chat about our shared economic travails. He feels your pain.
    Coffees on, and Auntie Hillary is cookin’ kosher meatloaf. The Gulf is back to normal, its OK to drink your daily dose of radiation, we’re liberatin’ Libya, and ‘Ol Goldstone has finally come to his senses.

    Reply

  2. Kathleen Grasso Andersen says:

    Love the portrait…exotically romantic… evocative of by gone days and far flung places…fantasmagorical…I’ve always wanted to go to Tunisia because the name fascinated me…Tuneeeeezia.
    Is it my imagination or has TWN been de-trolled? I’ve been AWOL for so long I missed the last kerfuffle in the comment section…I just couldn’t say anything meamingful because of my disillusionment with political reality but TWN is therapeutic.

    Reply

  3. questions says:

    File under Oh, and…..
    Oh, and h/t kos:
    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2011_04/028993.php
    Rick Perry, Gov of the New and Independent Republic of Texas, is requesting international aid from the United States of America to help battle forest fires that are out of control.
    Perry indicates that though he has no regrets over his unilateral decision to secede from the United States, as it is clearly a money-saver, he is perfectly happy to accept, gratis, US aid whenever his new nation is on fire, or invaded, or suffering from any other completely predictable crisis.
    Perry says, “Of course! We LOVE being FREE riders here in the Republic of Texas. Freedom is the only thing there is. And with the dumb jerks in Washington — who would have taken away our freedom to avoid taxes — still being willing to pay our bills, well, there is such a thing as a FREE lunch! And I’m taking a big bite of that there money sandwich!”

    Reply

  4. questions says:

    New and noteworthy things out there in lala land:
    How now, Moody’s? (From the Tempest, sort of.) The unsmile at Congress means something very (un)profound depending on whose interpretation you’re reading about at any given moment. The Republicans think it means that the democrats have to cut seven gazillion dollars from aid to the starving while giving nine gazillion dollars to gazillionaires. Possibly, I guess.
    The dems think it means that we should have a clean debt ceiling bill, cut some spending through gutting some useful programs, and increasing taxes (oops, did I say that?) through cutting tax expenditures. So we still can’t say “increase taxes”, but we can now say CUT tax expenditures — cuz it sounds like “cutting spending”. Funny.
    DeLong has a take, as well. He thinks perhaps it’s a political move and the market reaction is taking into account the slowdown/redip recession that will occur if any of the more right-leaning budget proposals becomes law.
    The thing with the economy is that the truly preferred solution sounds counter intuitive. When you’re in debt, you should cut spending. You can’t, as an individual, increase revenue because your boss isn’t gonna go along with that and because child labor laws forbid your selling the labor of your toddlers to a rug weaving company. So you dump your cell phone, you disconnect the cable, you eat ramen every night, and you worry yourself to death.
    When a government gets austere this way, though it SOUNDS right to many people’s ears, it causes far more problems than it cures. Spending our way to fiscal health just sounds bad because we’re not really good at this kind of thinking.
    The cognitive dissonance gives the conservative memes a lot of power.
    ******
    The book of the moment really is Treasure Islands by Nicholas Shaxson. It’s a must-read on the history and practices of the tax haven industry. Really eye-opening!
    Shaxson seems to confirm something fairly basic — we do now and have always really hated paying taxes. And the more money we have, the more we hate paying taxes. And for every country, there is an individual rational preference for becoming a tax haven to attract filing fees and lawyer jobs and MONEY, and when all nations work to become tax havens they engage in a race to the bottom that will destroy social cooperation.
    The people Shaxson describes are all acting with individual rationality — it’s always better to get others to pay for the services you use. They are all so insanely rich that it’s hard to imagine what life is like at that level. And they have no sense of duty to anything, anyone, any cause, any nation, save their own bank accounts.
    There is no shame, no fellow feeling, no connection, no sense that they owe anything, no sense that they should pay for the services they use. Nothing.
    It’s all the money illusion.
    It’s all quite Hobbesian.
    It’s kind of sickening.
    And much of it is completely legal.
    Tax avoidance is legal. Tax evasion is tolerated. And the rest of us pick up the slack.
    So what I see happening is that rates will be reduced, loopholes closed to increase compliance, and then tax avoidance will increase. We have the systems in place already. We have the accountants in place already, and money, profits, income — it doesn’t accrue in any single place anymore, so the accountants “move” it to a haven.
    Who knew that the banana picked in Latin America, shipped to England, and sold in London generates profits solely in the Caymans?!
    Trillions of dollars flowing around outside the tax base. Meanwhile, we’re fighting over the crumbs, small bore funding for dental clinics or birth control or heating assistance.
    What you have to be, soul deep, to be worried about offshoring your money so that you save a few hundred thousand dollars on the millions you earn….
    ******
    Also out there, Kyodo News seems to have restored its paywall for Japan nuke coverage. Hmmm.
    Kos has an update for the day:
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/04/19/968179/-Fukushima-ROV-#51:-TEPCO-Releasing-More-InfoRadiation
    ****
    Jan Brewer vetoed teh crazee. When the best news of the day is a veto of one of the more insane state bills, one worries. Good on her or her advisers for noting that even if ballot access issues are not Constitutional in nature (who knows), really, the states should not be imposing requirements for documents that a)not all citizens have access to, b)not all states generate c)include documents that don’t prove anything at all (the religious/circumcision/baptismal records do not prove US birth by any stretch of the imagination, nor are they government-issued thus far. I suppose one day we could have government baptismal records, but not thus far.)
    So a cheer or two or three for someone’s realization that, yes indeed, the right can go a few miles too far sometimes.
    ***
    Fred Hiatt is apparently another example of someone on the right who is figuring this out. DeLong has the details, but no link to the Hiatt piece. At any rate, Hiatt is starting to be very uncomfortable with the positioning the right has gotten itself into. When legitimacy as a Republican demands fealty to birtherism and to climate change denialism and to a range of other crazees, it’s time to start speaking up.
    Trump is a parody of the right, but he is parodic only insofar as he is adopting the official positions of the right. The right is a parody of itself.
    And finally for now, it’s worth spending a fair amount of time reading the comments on the WaPo political and financial stories. The level of panic, anger, frustration, and anti-government sensibility is quite sobering. Much is wrong headed, but all is deeply and intensely felt. Obama has to take this into account, and plenty of MCs have this as the dominant strain of thinking in their districts.
    Of course, media coverage doesn’t help, but people would lean this way no matter what.

    Reply

  5. Paul Norheim says:

    More on the dramatic events in Syria in the New York Times:
    “The renewed protests amounted to a rejection of concessions outlined by President
    Bashar al-Assad in a televised address Saturday, notably lifting the country

    Reply

  6. Paul Norheim says:

    Looks like the Arab revolution is gaining momentum – in one of the most complicated countries, with
    the potentially most dangerous and violent outcome – Syria:
    BBC World:
    “Syria’s government says unrest in the country’s third-largest city, Homs, and in the northern city of
    Baniyas amounts to an armed insurrection.
    The warning came after thousands of demonstrators occupied the centre of Homs on Monday, vowing
    to stay until the president was ousted.
    Witnesses say security forces fired on the protesters in Homs and there are reports the square was
    cleared.
    Rights activists say about 200 Syrians have been killed in weeks of unrest.
    President Bashar al-Assad announced on Saturday he would end nearly half a century of emergency
    rule next week, while the authorities have also been releasing political prisoners, both key demands of
    protesters.
    But Syria’s unprecedented wave of unrest shows no sign of abating, says the BBC’s Kim Ghattas in
    Beirut, neighbouring Lebanon.”
    More here:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-13124591

    Reply

  7. Kleptocracy Inc. says:

    Welcome to the Plutocratic States of America.
    One Dollar, One Vote!
    A land where all dollars are equal, but some are more equal than others.
    “G.E.

    Reply

  8. GeldedSerf says:

    So, bottom line, a very high percentage of our Congress represents the 1% of our population, in the private sector, that have achieved millionaire status.
    The rest of us, the 99%, can eat sh-t, for all they care.

    Reply

  9. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Dozens of millionaires in Congress’ freshman class, analysis says
    The members of this year’s freshman class in Congress are far wealthier than the people they represent, with dozens of millionaires joining the ranks of the House and Senate, according to a new analysis released Wednesday.
    By Dan Eggen
    The Washington Post
    WASHINGTON

    Reply

  10. PissedOffAmerican says:

    According to a CRP study there are 261 millionaires currently serving in Congress. 1 in 5 had accumulated wealth of over $10 million and 8 of the 261 members were worth $100 million or more. Many members have investments in companies that were at the center of the financial crisis and are also heavily invested in health care drugs. During the period from December 2008 to December 2009, the wealth of their members increased by an average of 16%.
    http://texasdarlin.wordpress.com/2010/12/13/a-troubling-disconnect-the-millionaires-in-congress/
    So, these money grubbin’ elitists give a gawd darn about your and my travails, a poisoned environment, or the unlikelyhood of being held accountable for selling us out?

    Reply

  11. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “We now have major problems with the getting of nuclear power, oil, and natural gas”
    Yes, its called “greed”. Bribed and impotent regulatory agencies, and “representatives” in DC that have turned our capital into a brothel that caters to special interests, global corporations, and political circle jerks.
    These “accidents” are avoidable. And when they are not avoided, there needs to be accountability.
    Heads should roll. But they never do. Money exchanges hands, campaign coffers are inflated, the media is handed their script, and these posturing empty suits, like this wriggling worm Obama, tell us “all is well”. “The oil has dissappeared”, “The radiation is not at harmful levels”, “The air in Manhattan is safe to breathe”, “Agent Orange did not poison our vets”, “DU dust isn’t harmful”…..
    The list goes on and on. Prostitutes, the lot of them. How many times must they sell us down the river, exchange our health, our well-being, for a few pieces of silver, before the American public accepts that we have NO representation in DC?
    Republicans and Democrats alike are being poisoned by these self-serving elitist pigs. How long will we allow ourselves to be neutered by the purposeful incitement of partisan animous that is employed by the leadership of the two parties in their tactical campaign to render We The People impotent?

    Reply

  12. questions says:

    David Frum makes a beautiful discovery:
    http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2011/04/david-frum-two-cheers-for-the-welfare-state.html
    POA, there’s an ongoing kos diary series on BP. A couple of times a week the bad news comes out…. Now it’s tar balls washing up from mats of tar on the ocean floor.
    There’s also some new kind of well cap that may or may not work, but that is required to be available in a “timely” fashion to seal in the next deep sea oil mess.
    We now have major problems with the getting of nuclear power, oil, and natural gas.
    There’s a message in there for us to discover, if only we do a frum.

    Reply

  13. PissedOffAmerican says:

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=24370
    EXCERPT………
    And just-released confidential BP and government emails confirm my previous posts showing:
    The government is keeping scientists away from “ground zero” of the oil spill and – for that reason – scientists cannot accurately measure the size of the oil spill
    When university scientists found underwater oil plumes, the government said shut up, don’t tell anyone … and then tried to discredit them
    BP and government representatives are still keeping scientists and reporters away from areas impacted by oil
    BP is controlling university research, and the professor who downplayed the oil spill is being called a “shill” by a fellow professor
    BP and the government famously declared that most of the oil had disappeared, when it hadn’t
    The government did everything in its power to help cover up the severity of the spill
    As the Guardian reports today:
    BP officials tried to take control of a $500m fund pledged by the oil company for independent research into the consequences of the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, it has emerged.
    Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show BP officials openly discussing how to influence the work of scientists supported by the fund, which was created by the oil company in May last year.
    Russell Putt, a BP environmental expert, wrote in an email to colleagues on 24 June 2010: “Can we ‘direct’ GRI [Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative] funding to a specific study (as we now see the governor’s offices trying to do)? What influence do we have over the vessels/equipment driving the studies vs the questions?”.
    The email was obtained by Greenpeace and shared with the Guardian.
    END EXCERPT.
    And what are the —-s (rhymes with mutts) in Washington DC doing about it???? NOTHING.
    (Except handing the care of our environment over to entities such as BP, and taking the power away from our so called “regulatory agencies”)
    Also, a short note about “civility” and “ad hominem”.
    I, in recent days, subjected myself to a few refresher sessions of RW talk radio due to a long commute. Hannity, Limbaugh, and Levin were the sampled fare. Is there anyone reading this that doesn’t believe these pussbags spew their poison at the direct behest and under the careful tutelage of the Republican Party??? Yet “We The People” are expected to confront such despicably divisive spew with respect, civility, and unoffensive grammar? Can there be a more despicable calling than being tasked to utilize your celebrity to turn neighbor against neighbor, American against American??? And what of the scum in the GOP and the media corporations, who condone, participate, subsidize, and celebrate the efforts of these media pussballs? Are we to afford them the respect they refuse to allot to the “regular folk” out here who are suffering due to their incompetency and self serving agendas?
    I owe them NOTHING, least of all my respect or civility.

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  14. questions says:

    “Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said the country’s financial crisis is “so imminent and so difficult that I think we have to allow the so-called Bush tax cuts all to expire.” ”
    http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2011/04/17/business/AP-US-Geithner-Debt.html?hp

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  15. karenk says:

    recently I was surprised to learn that in the early 19th century the US actually fought in the Barbary/Tripoli wars against what would now be cities in Libya, Algeria and Tunisia due to pirates there who were attacking US merchant ships coming thru n africa who wouldn’t pay them. the more things change the more they stay the same…

    Reply

  16. Irradiated and gasping for air. says:

    Heres Naomi Klein wieghing in on what these —-s (rhymes with mutts) are doing to WE THE PEOPLE’S environment…..
    http://www.naomiklein.org/articles/2011/04/our-lives-are-under-threat-some-most-powerful-and-richest-entities-heres-how-we-can
    Our Lives Are Under Threat From Some of the Most Powerful and Richest Entities — Here’s How We Can Fight Back and Win
    By Naomi Klein and Bill McKibben -
    April 8th, 2011
    Not for forty years has there been such a stretch of bad news for environmentalists in Washington.
    Last month in the House, the newly empowered GOP majority voted down a resolution stating simply that global warming was real: they’ve apparently decided to go with their own versions of physics and chemistry.
    This week in the Senate, the biggest environmental groups were reduced to a noble, bare-knuckles fight merely to keep the body from gutting the Clean Air Act, the proudest achievement of the green movement. The outcome is still unclear; even several prominent Democrats are trying to keep the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases.
    continues….

    Reply

  17. Ad Humanem says:

    So, Clinton is over in Japan, “pledging support”. She can’t “pledge support” from DC? She needs to blow a bunch of money by going there?
    Or, are all these “minor” expenditures not to be considered part of the overall waste of the taxpayer’s treasure? What do you figure it cost us for her to posture on Japanese soil?? Security, her staff, costs associated with transportation? Half a mil, at least, I betcha. Probably way more.
    What would a phone call of cost us?
    Bear in mind, ALL these —-s (rhymes with mutts) in DC are gallivanting around the globe.
    I see Boner (How the heck do you get “Bainer” out of “Boehner”???) just pissed away a fair hunk of change with a “suprise visit” to Iraq. Uh, gee, what do you think WE THE PEOPLE got out of this expenditure??? Pffffft, there goes another coupla hundred thousand bucks. Chicken feed, right? I mean why should we sweat them pissing away (on one trip) more money than most of us make in a coupla years, when were talking TRILLIONS wasted.
    Little puddles of waste don’t add up to oceans of waste, eh?
    No. Better we gut the EPA, and make sure our less fortunate women folk don’t have access to affordable gynecological care. And lets make sure we feed an Israeli before we feed our own, eh?
    Yep, I’m sure we’re all better off with Boner wasting our money in Iraq, and Clinton making an appearance in Japan. Heck, who needs cell phones and email when you can use up jet fuel?
    (Gee, questions, its really a simple request. Whats the issue, why not answer?? Why are so many here afraid to reveal their proffession?)

    Reply

  18. questions says:

    The very hungry judge does not grant parole:
    “Are judicial rulings based solely on laws and facts? Legal formalism
    holds that judges apply legal reasons to the facts of a case in a rational,
    mechanical, and deliberative manner. In contrast, legal realists
    argue that the rational application of legal reasons does not
    sufficiently explain the decisions of judges and that psychological,
    political, and social factors influence judicial rulings. We test the
    common caricature of realism that justice is

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  19. A Real Regular Folk says:

    Hey Dan and Carroll, I’m a bit curious about what you think of the “days not weeks” Libyan adventure, now that Obama’s words have once again been shown to be a load of crap????
    (Can I say that? Or is it just “vulgarity and ad hominem”?)
    Meanwhile, our environmental protections are being dismantled, simultaneously with an unprecedented global need to have environmental protections and regulations in place and rigidly enforced.
    These whores….
    (Can I say that, or need I advance the lie that these “leaders” are “representing” the people’s interests???? Perhaps I am expected to exhibit a respect that is insincere, and obviously unearned by these profiteers, criminals, and elitist globalists???)
    …..in Congress are so blatantly catering to large corporation’s rape of our environment that only an idiot can fail to see whats happening.
    The fly larvae on the Right….
    (Is it OK if I use a little science jargon in my accurate descriptions of the average DC insect??? Does that make it past the censor’s ax?)
    ……are giving away the farm, and the future health of our children and their planet.
    When environmental protections should be forcefully applied, to reverse the rapid degradation of our global environment, they are instead dismantling them. How does this serve anyone’s interests, except those who profit by destroying our planet??

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  20. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Questions…….
    Why not inform us as to your role in academia???? Exactly what do you do? Teacher? Proffessor??? Administrator???

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  21. questions says:

    It’s a miracle!!!!!
    It’s a miracle school!!!!!! Will miracles never cease!!!!! Will Chris Christie institute miracle reform!!!! Will Arne Duncan Save Us All ™!!!
    “Whenever a district has a dramatic increase in test scores, look for cheating, gaming the system, intensive investment in test prep. Testing is NOT instruction. It is meant to assess instruction, not to substitute for it.
    When a charter school reports miraculous results, be sure to ask about the attrition rate. Some highly successful charters push out low-performing kids and their enrollment falls over the years (and the departing students are not replaced). Recently Arne Duncan hailed a

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  22. questions says:

    Facts for Chris(t) Christ(ie):
    http://schoolfinance101.wordpress.com/2011/04/14/logical-gaps-in-the-nj-ed-reform-debate/
    No comment could touch the careful analysis in this post.

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  23. questions says:

    Oh, FRACK! We’re gonna get cancer from natural gas, too!
    “WASHINGTON

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  24. questions says:

    h/t Yves Smith:
    http://brontecapital.blogspot.com/2011/04/fatal-risk-must-read-book-on-aigs.html
    A book review of Roddy Boyd’s Fatal Risk all about the AIG mess.
    The Boyd is not pro-prosecution, but, according to the review, is angry that the people who didn’t stop AIG’s slide are now well-paid elsewhere.
    Sounds like a good read.
    And one of the more interesting notes in the review is that Eliot Spitzer nailed Hank Greenberg for a comparatively minor deviance of proper practice, and this, ummm, prosecution forced Greenberg out. Greenberg WAS AIG, and w/o him, AIG was in worse shape. The reviewer notes that Greenberg was older and worse for the wear and significantly less sharp and careful than he had been earlier in his career, but still it’s possible Greenberg would have caught on to market problems and helped AIG escape the worst of it.
    Prosecutions are a funny thing.

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  25. DakotabornKansan says:

    Bill Pearlman wrote that he

    Reply

  26. questions says:

    Yves Smith lays it out:
    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/04/bill-black-fiat-justitia-ruat-caelum-let-justice-be-done-though-the-heavens-fall.html
    Accounting fraud, the financial crisis, the need for prosecutions, the weakness of the arguments against prosecutions, a comparison with the S & L crisis, and an debunking of the Yglesias/questions/Geithner view of things.
    Compelling reading.
    Still, I have to ask, when Smith points out that Ryssdal points out that JP Morgan earned 5 billion last quarter, so how fragile can they be, I still wonder about massive underlying fragility.
    I get the feeling that the profits are as illusory as the wealth during the bubble, that underlying shakiness is the rule of the day, that extend and pretend is far greater, far more necessary than we would ever hope.
    There was certainly massive fraud on an individual level, and as a matter of policy. That’s completely clear.
    There is certainly some political power in the financials, and this power is exerted in the admin and in Congress and by constituents and donors alike.
    There is a desire not to account for the very real housing and derivatives losses as they are many times the size of the housing market itself, if I’ve been reading this all correctly. The meta level bets on the derivatives were, I believe, larger than the total amount of loans.
    To bring all of this to justice would be to do far more damage than we can sustain. It’s not just a fragility issue, it’s that justice would leave us nothing left to rebuild.
    Now, Yves Smith knows way more about the markets than I do, and I have a huge amount of respect for her judgment. At the same time, there are so many other people who also know the level of fraud, who also want justice but whose sense of how to pursue that justice and at what cost it’s “worth” it are very different.
    I’m not convinced that everyone who is either unsure about prosecutions or is dead set against them is actually siding with his economic class. Indeed, I think that many who oppose the uncovering of the vastness of the fraud are deeply concerned about further credit crunches,further slowing, stopping, and ultimately reversing the “recovery.”
    To reverse the “recovery” would have a far harsher effect on low- or no-income people than it would on the bankers themselves.
    And further, many of the fraudsters are likely lower level minor thugs who are actually just regular mortgage brokers trying to make a fast buck. We’ll try and fine and jail a bunch low level critters and the really big thugs will either get away with it all, or will be penalized in minor ways. Their millions or billions are likely safe.
    And meanwhile, the cost of our really coming to know how little we have, how little we’re worth, how uncertain our future is, how stupid we were, how a dream house is a nightmare and not the underpinning of a new family estate, how the only real part of the economy is the exchange of labor for necessities, how our school funding system is a total disaster that played a role in all of this — were we to come to grips with all of this all at once, in the middle of a “recovery” — well, in my very limited view of things, that might actually hurt the bottom of the income scale more than the top.
    I have no idea how long we can extend and pretend. I have no idea if 2014 is a miracle number that will bring the Rapture and blessed wealth and people’s homes will return to floating above the water rather than being below. I have no idea if by 2014 we will have reckoned our losses individually in many cases, together in some.
    But I get the feeling that extend and pretend, as crazy as it is, is far more psychically important than Yves Smith gives credit.
    The moral left can be as stern as the moral right regarding punishment, putting things to rights, making sure the rules are followed and so on. It’s a compelling vision at times, but it may not work in the mess we’ve found ourselves in.
    Going forward, I would have a strong preference for much better rule-writing, much better regulation, much better policing of behavior, and much more in the way of countervailing forces, choices for local funding with a smaller role for the secondary market and the tertiary market or whatever comes after the mortgages are sold from the local bank.
    But the reckoning can be more hellish than heavenly, and extending and pretending makes the present life more bearable.

    Reply

  27. questions says:

    And in Syria–

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  28. questions says:

    Afghanistan — since there isn’t an Afgh. thread floating around, here’s this:
    “In Sangin, a riverine area that has been the deadliest part of the country for coalition troops, a journey between two bases that used to take eight hours because of scores of roadside bombs can now be completed in 18 minutes.”
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/in-afghanistans-south-signs-of-progress-in-three-districts-signal-a-shift/2011/04/14/AF7gBwqD_story.html
    We are apparently improving commuting times in Afghanistan! 18 minutes to get to work! Maybe we should try light rail and BRT too!
    Now, is there really progress? Is there only localized “progress”? Will we get reports that things are going a little better, just one or two more Friedman units please???
    What does it mean to do better if the possible governing structure is a “governing” “structure”?
    Good times are just around the corner:
    “Those indications of progress are among a mosaic of developments that point to a profound shift across a swath of Afghanistan that has been the focus of the American-led military campaign: For the first time since the war began nearly a decade ago, the Taliban is commencing a summer fighting season with less control and influence of territory in the south than it had the previous year.”
    *********
    And a money report:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/fundraising-by-gop-house-freshmen-off-to-slow-start/2011/04/16/AFLYJuqD_story.html?hpid=z2

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  29. Paul Norheim says:

    Speaking of corrupt regimes in the MENA region, here’s some excerpts from a Wikileaks document released by the
    Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten today about the corrupt system in Saudi Arabia:
    “S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 07 RIYADH 004784
    SUBJECT: SAUDI ROYAL WEALTH: WHERE DO THEY GET ALL THAT MONEY?
    1. (U) CLASSIFIED BY ACTING DCM ALBERT THIBAULT. REASON: 1.5
    ————————
    SUMMARY AND INTRODUCTION
    ————————
    2. (C) SAUDI PRINCES AND PRINCESSES, OF WHOM THERE ARE THOUSANDS,ARE KNOWN FOR THE STORIES OF THEIR
    FABULOUS WEALTH–AND TENDENCY TOSQUANDER IT. THIS CABLE EXAMINES THE MECHANISMS, NOT
    COUNTINGBUSINESS ACTIVITIES, THROUGH WHICH SAUDI ROYALS OBTAIN THEIR MONEY.THESE MECHANISMS OFTEN
    PROVIDE THE SEED MONEY FOR ROYALS TO LAUNCHLOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS VENTURES. A SUBSEQUENT
    CABLE WILLEXAMINE THE BUSINESS ACTIVITIES OF SAUDI ROYALS.
    3. (S) THE MOST COMMON MECHANISM FOR DISTRIBUTING THE NATION

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