a new low in topical enlightenment

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Issue #127 (December 28, 2011)

Centennial, WY

Photo by Joe Carducci






































Drawing by James Fotopoulos


















From the Wyoming Desk of Joe Carducci…


Allysia Finley in WSJ, "The Chicago Expulsion Act of 2011".

“That's the legislative initiative of State Reps. Adam Brown and Bill Mitchell, who think politicians from the Windy City have blown the state too far left. ‘At every town-hall meeting I hear, 'Can't we separate from Chicago?'’ says Mr. Mitchell. Chicago pols control almost all seats of power in Illinois. Gov. Pat Quinn, House Speaker Mike Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton, Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Secretary of State Jesse White are all Democrats from Chicago. So was former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who this month was sentenced to 14 years in prison for corruption, including trying to sell President Obama's vacated seat in the U.S. Senate. Consequently, as Mr. Wooters says, a lot ‘of the money that we have down here goes up there to bail out Chicago.’”



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Mark Wyman in CT, "The Illinois North-South split".

“The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 specified that Illinois' northern border should run from the southern tip of Lake Michigan straight across to the Mississippi River. But Ohio and Indiana had edged their borders up a bit, so in 1818 Congress moved the line 60 miles north and handed Illinois its lake port, taking the land from the Wisconsin Territory. While the new state's politics were strongly dominated by settlers from Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina, before long those pioneers were challenged when the Erie Canal crossing New York State scrambled migration patterns. By 1840 the Buffalo-to-Chicago steamship fare on the Great Lakes was $20; 10 years later it was $10. Largely as a result, the cluster of cabins known as Chicago grew from fewer than 400 inhabitants in 1833 to a city of more than 4,000 by 1837. And it kept growing. Yankees and other Easterners were soon pouring into Chicago. Many continued on across northern Illinois, impressed by the rock-free soil (no stone fences here!), forming new communities that quickly boasted both a church (usually Presbyterian or Congregational) and a public school. Of Chicago's first 10 mayors, five were born in New York and four in New England. Forty-seven percent of its residents counted in the 1850 census were from New York or New England.”



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WSJ: "Corporate Carve-out Revolt".

“It's not often that the Occupy Wall Street and tea party movements see eye-to-eye, but a tax bill before the Illinois legislature is testing whether left and right can combine to limit corporate tax favoritism. The proposal would give an estimated $85 million tax exemption to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and Chicago Board of Trade and a $15 million annual break to Sears Holding Corp. to mitigate the state's big tax increase earlier this year. It would also vastly expand the earned income tax credit. The bill sailed through the state Senate two weeks ago, but it was crushed in the House in a stunning 99-8 vote later that same day. After intense lobbying by the Merc and Sears, a similar bill will be voted on as early as today.”



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Richard Teitelbaum in Bloomberg Markets, "When Hank Paulson Tipped His Hand".

“On the morning of July 21, before the Eton Park meeting, Paulson had spoken to New York Times reporters and editors, according to his Treasury Department schedule. A Times article the next day said the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency were inspecting Fannie and Freddie’s books and cited Paulson as saying he expected their examination would give a signal of confidence to the markets. At the Eton Park meeting, he sent a different message, according to a fund manager who attended. Over sandwiches and pasta salad, he delivered that information to a group of men capable of profiting from any disclosure. Around the conference room table were a dozen or so hedge- fund managers and other Wall Street executives -- at least five of them alumni of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), of which Paulson was chief executive officer and chairman from 1999 to 2006. In addition to Eton Park founder Eric Mindich, they included such boldface names as Lone Pine Capital LLC founder Stephen Mandel, Dinakar Singh of TPG-Axon Capital Management LP and Daniel Och of Och-Ziff Capital Management Group LLC. After a perfunctory discussion of the market turmoil, the fund manager says, the discussion turned to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Paulson said he had erred by not punishing Bear Stearns shareholders more severely. The secretary, then 62, went on to describe a possible scenario for placing Fannie and Freddie into ‘conservatorship’ -- a government seizure designed to allow the firms to continue operations despite heavy losses in the mortgage markets.”



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Ross Douthat in NYT, "The Decadent Left".

“In a recent issue of The New Yorker, Jane Mayer highlighted ‘the difference between the focused, agenda-driven campaign’ fought by critics of the Keystone pipeline ‘and the free-form, leaderless one waged by the Occupiers.’ Given that anti-Keystone activists succeeded (at least temporarily), she wrote, ‘the Occupy movement could do worse than to learn from the pipeline protest.’ But there’s a sense in which the pipeline protesters and Midwestern unions are exactly the people that the O.W.S. crowd should not learn from, if they aspire to appeal to a wider audience than left-wing activists usually reach. Yes, Occupy Wall Street was dreamed up in part by flakes and populated in part by fantasists. But to the extent that the movement briefly captured the public’s imagination, it was because it seemed to be doing what a decent left would exist to do: criticizing entrenched power, championing the common good and speaking for the many rather than the few. The union rallies and the Keystone demonstrations, by contrast, represented what you might call the decadent left, which fights for narrow interest groups rather than for the public as a whole.”



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William McGurn in WSJ, "The Church of Kathleen Sebelius".

“There was a day when liberals and libertarians appreciated the importance of upholding the freedoms of people and groups with unpopular views. No longer. As government expands, religious liberty is reduced to a special ‘exemption’ and concerns about government coercion are dismissed, in the memorable words of Nancy Pelosi, as ‘this conscience thing.’”



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WSJ: "The Cellulosic Ethanol Debacle".

“The optimistic forecast is that this plant will produce about 23 million barrels a year -- a fraction of what Washington promised in 2006. In September the Department of Energy provided POET, which advertises itself as the ‘world's largest ethanol producer,’ a $105 million loan guarantee for cellulosic. To recap: Congress subsidized a product that didn't exist, mandated its purchase though it still didn't exist, is punishing oil companies for not buying the product that doesn't exist, and is now doubling down on the subsidies in the hope that someday it might exist. We'd call this the march of folly, but that's unfair to fools.”



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Richard Epstein at Hoover.org, "In Private Enterprise We Trust".

“Unfortunately, Gore and Blood have picked a bizarre way to promote accurate assessments of long-term firm value. One of their odd recommendations calls on firms to ‘end the default practice of issuing quarterly earnings guidance’ on the ground that these reports encourage a mentality that ‘overemphasizes’ short-term profits at the expense of long-term wealth creation. But that criticism shows a profound misunderstanding of how valuation processes work. In general, the scarcity of information is one of the key stumbling blocks toward making an accurate assessment of the current value of the firm. Faced with this difficulty, too little information -- not too much information -- is the central problem. Wholly without regard to any requirements of the SEC, firms publish quarterly reports to supply some information to improve the estimates that shareholders and lenders make of the businesses. The want of this short-term information should have the predictable effect of reducing the value of assets. There is no way to evaluate the long-term prospects of a firm by ignoring all short-term data. Nor does it help to say, baldly, that we need not worry about cutting out that information because the ‘standard’ models of economics rely on, as Gore and Blood write, ‘the illusion of perfect information and the assumption that markets tend toward equilibrium.’ Not so. The first part of this sentence has been uniformly rejected by economists and corporate experts of all stripes for well over 50 years.”



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Philip Howard in WSJ, "Starting Over With Regulation".

“This is the way regulation works in America: Regulators try to imagine every possible mistake and then dictate a solution. The complexity is astounding. Under a recent federal directive, the number of health-care reimbursement categories will soon increase from 18,000 to 140,000, including 21 separate categories for ‘spacecraft accidents’ and 12 for bee stings. There are over 140 million words of binding federal statutes and regulations, and states and municipalities add several billion more.”



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WSJ: "Federal Police Ranks Swell to Enforce A Widening Array of Criminal Laws".

“In the latest survey, by the Government Accountability Office in 2006, there were 25,000 sworn officers in the smaller government agencies (which excludes departments more commonly associated with crime fighting: Treasury, Justice, Defense and what is now Homeland Security). That number includes police, inspectors, security guards and rangers, as well as criminal investigators. Across all government agencies, there were about 138,000 federal law-enforcement officers that year, GAO figures show. The Justice Department accounted for more than 40% of that total. Among the smaller agencies, currently there are 3,812 criminal investigators, up from 507 in 1973, the first year for which records are available from the Office of Personnel Management. The EPA received its first two criminal investigators in 1977. It now has 265.”



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Ira Stoll at NYSun.com, "Andy Stern v. Free Labor".

“One of our favorite moments in a long newspaper life came in a conversation about the fall of the Soviet Union. We had put a question to the president of the AFL-CIO, Lane Kirkland, along the following lines. ‘Lane,’ we said, ‘what about all the talk about how our victory over the Soviet Union was a conspiracy between President Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II, and yourself.’ He looked at us and said: ‘They had nuttin’ to do with it.’ Kirkland didn’t mean to deny the role of Reagan and the Pope in the defeat of Soviet communism. His wisecrack was designed to emphasize the long, pre-meditated, and too rarely recognized role that the free trade union movement played in the long, twilight struggle — and the fact that it was a free trade union, Solidarity in Poland, that finally cracked the Soviet rule in the East Bloc by putting paid the lie that communism defended the interests of working men and women. We were thinking of this as we read, in the Wall Street Journal, the paean penned by the former president of the Service Employees International Union, Andrew Stern, to the Chinese communist system. ‘China’s Superior Economic Model” was the headline over the piece.’”



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Nathan Hodge in WSJ, "In Iraq, U.S. Shifts From One Large Footprint to Another".

“U.S. troops are on track to leave Iraq before the end of December, but the U.S. involvement there is anything but over -- meaning local resistance to Americans, and the security challenges that come with it, will continue. In place of the military, the State Department will assume a new role of unprecedented scale, overseeing a massive diplomatic mission through a network of fortified, self-sufficient installations. After the troops have left, the U.S. presence in Iraq -- which peaked at 170,000 -- will number between 15,000 and 16,000, including federal employees and private contractors.”



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Robert Landers in WSJ on Scott Farris’ book, Almost President.

“‘Dewey, along with his protégés Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon,’ Mr. Farris writes, ‘moved the Republican Party away from an agenda of repealing the New Deal to a grudging acceptance of the permanent welfare state.’ Dewey -- who had been a nationally renowned prosecutor and then a three-term governor of New York -- called himself a ‘New Deal Republican.’ He favored the pursuit of liberal ends by conservative means. ‘It was fine for the federal government to initiate social reforms, Dewey believed, but those reforms should be implemented at the state or local level, and they should be funded in a fiscally responsible manner that did not increase the national debt.’ Barry Goldwater dismissed the Eisenhower administration's Dewey-esque ‘Modern Republicanism’ as nothing but a ‘dime store New Deal.’”



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Virginia Postrel at Bloomberg.com, "U.S. Universities Feast on Federal Student Aid".

“As veteran education-policy consultant Arthur M. Hauptman notes in a recent essay: ‘There is a strong correlation over time between student and parent loan availability and rapidly rising tuitions. Common sense suggests that growing availability of student loans at reasonable rates has made it easier for many institutions to raise their prices, just as the mortgage interest deduction contributes to higher housing prices.’ It’s a phenomenon familiar to economists. If you offer people a subsidy to pursue some activity requiring an input that’s in more-or-less fixed supply, the price of that input goes up. Much of the value of the subsidy will go not to the intended recipients but to whoever owns the input. The classic example is farm subsidies, which increase the price of farmland.”



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Ira Stoll at Futureofcapitalism.com, "Disabled America".

“Has the number of disabled Americans really doubled in the past 20 years and has it really gotten three times as expensive to take care of them? The answer to the first part of that question is probably not: ‘there is little evidence that the underlying health of the working-age population in the U.S. is deteriorating.’”



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Christopher Caldwell in FT, "An incentive is not a reward, it’s an exercise of power".

“Incentivising is not only the market’s alternative to coercion. It is also powerful people’s alternative to persuasion. It can render governing classes unaccountable. Rulers get the outcome they desire, while the masses on whom it was imposed get the responsibility for having chosen it. An incentive is not a reward, something that can be fair or unfair. It is just a hedonic incitement. Prof Grant notes that the controversial bonuses paid to AIG employees after the insurer’s $180bn bail-out were revolting to those who think of bonuses as wages but acceptable to those who think of bonuses as incentives.
Dubious incentivisation is the hallmark of much of the US public sector.”



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John Paul Rathbone in FT, "A beginners’ guide to debt crises: lessons from Latin America".

“Technocratic governments (pace Italy and Greece) can work. Fernando Henrique Cardoso, for example, was an academic before he became Brazil’s finance minister and twice president. But bear in mind that Mr Cardoso had a popular mandate. Without that, any government is just a caretaker. Argentina is a case in point. In 2001, it ran through a series of governments before triggering the world’s then-biggest default ($100bn; so small compared to Italy’s €1.9tn bond market). Even the brilliant economist Domingo Cavallo failed to turn the tide. To restore competitiveness without breaking Argentina’s euro-like currency peg, he engineered a ‘synthetic devaluation’. Across-the-board export subsidies and import duties came straight out of the textbooks, but didn’t work. Just as they often do in Europe today, investors saw the country’s debt dynamics still working against it.”



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Roderick Parkes at EUobserver.com, "EU counterterrorism policy: a case of casino technocracy".

“After years of self-denial, EU policymakers are outing themselves as technocrats. From now on decisions will be scientific and evidence-based. The years of European vanity projects, dogma and ideology are over. Even our parliamentarians have given the idea of technocracy an enthusiastic I Like This. In a resolution on Wednesday, for example, the European Parliament called for an evidence-based assessment of the EU’s counterterrorist policies. It all goes to show how much we want to believe that European decision-making is a logical and linear process – a process in which law-makers identify the problems that require EU-wide treatment, adopt the right solution and then tweak it in the unlikely eventuality that it does not work properly.”



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Kerin Hope in FT, "Tax collectors accused of bribery".

“Greek tax collectors routinely pocket 40 per cent of fines imposed in disputed tax cases in return for lowering the penalties paid by miscreants, a former senior Greek finance ministry official has revealed. Diomidis Spinellis said a standard scale is used at more than 250 tax offices across Greece to handle settlements with wealthy individuals, family-owned companies and self-employed professionals – seen as the country’s biggest tax evaders. The long-established practice is known as the ‘40-40-20 deal’, he said. The tax evader receives a discount of 40 per cent on the agreed fine, while the tax official takes another 40 per cent – effectively a bribe. The state receives only the remaining 20 per cent, he said.”



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Noelle Burgi in Le Monde diplo, "Greece in chaos".

“Greek citizens are subject to a Kafkaesque bureaucracy, with its incomprehensible, fluctuating regulations. Addressing colleagues, a civic employee in the Cyclades said: ‘People want to conform to the law, but we don’t know what to tell them, [the authorities] haven’t given us any details.’ A man had to pay € 200 and present 13 papers and proofs of identity to renew his driving license. Salary cuts among public employees have disrupted the public sector. ‘When you call the police to alert them to a situation, they reply, it’s your problem, you deal with it,’ said a retired engineer officer from the merchant navy. Tensions are rising. Reports show a big increase in domestic violence, theft and murder.”



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Rachel Donadio in NYT, "Italy’s Leader Offers Tax Increases, but No Deep Reforms".

“Mr. Monti has said he wants to make Italy more equitable — especially for young people and women, whom he has called a “wasted resource” — and to help the economy grow. But even as he pledged on Thursday to address labor reform and other structural changes in the coming weeks, he has run up against a wall of vested interests. ‘In Italian society, there is no division between left and right; there’s a division between those who are inside or outside some organized groups,’ said Sergio Fabbrini, the director of the School of Government at Luiss Guido Carli University in Rome. ‘All the main political parties from left to right represent the insiders. The left represents the pensioners, the trade unions. The right represent various insiders: the lawyers’ organizations, notaries.’ The only way for young people and women to be represented ‘is to have a technical government,’ he added, ‘but of course a technical government will have to pass through the approval of the Parliament. And here again the insiders are well organized.’”



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Clive Crook in Bloomberg Markets, "Why the Euro Must Be Saved".

“Their hope was that Europe’s new currency would speed the development of a European political identity -- a necessary condition for achieving their larger ambition, a United States of Europe. Once Frenchmen, Germans, Italians and Greeks were citizens of Europe first and of their own countries second, the project would be strong enough to withstand shocks like those of recent months or, better, would avoid them in the first place.

Actually, this made some sense. It was a gamble, but it could have paid off.”



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Tony Curzon Price at Opendemocracy.net, "Why I wish I could condemn Cameron’s decision whole-heartedly but can’t".

“I wish I could condemn the narrowness and stupidity of Cameron's decision to veto the Franco-German proposal of EU Treaty modifications with all my heart. I am deeply committed to the para-national. Three of my grandparents grew up fluent in at least one language none of the others spoke. I grew up on borders and never feel so comfortable as when positioned in-between things. I want Europe to succeed, to be the model, the stepping stone, for the global government we need and should dream of. And yet I can't condemn it. I can't help thinking that Cameron made the best of a bad choice. The fatal flaw that leads me to this uncomfortable conclusion is the almost complete absence of a European democratic community; it is more than the democratic deficit in the institutions of Europe - it is a European deficit in the civil society of the continent.”



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Wolfgang Munchau in FT, "The British will fare better in this Anglo-French spat".

“Beggar-thy-neighbour type economic policies have a long tradition in Europe. They can work when you are the only one who pursues them – or when the weight of countries not pursuing them exceeds that of those that do. In that case, the adjustment usually goes along with an improvement in the current account position. Given the size of the eurozone, and the policies of the rest of the world, the scope for an increase in the eurozone’s current account position is relatively small. The failure to take into account the effect of co-ordinated austerity has been the main reason the European authorities misjudged the adjustment dynamics in Greece. They are now making the same mistake on a much grander scale.”



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Hugh Carnegy in FT, "Sarkozy’s summit ‘victory’ proves to be shortlived".

“Over weeks of negotiations with Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, Mr Sarkozy yielded to pressure from Berlin that imposing budgetary discipline required automatic sanctions embedded in EU law for eurozone countries that broke fiscal rules. But Paris insists that building this inner eurozone core should be based not on transferring more power to the EU’s central – and unelected – institutions, such as the European Commission, but on an ‘intergovernmental’ basis of the council of eurozone heads of government. French officials say this does not mean the creation of new, parallel institutions – although the council will have a permanent president and a ‘reinforced structure’ to prepare summits and carry out decisions. But Mr Sarkozy does stress the central role of the eurozone council, which is now due to start meeting monthly as long as the crisis lasts.”



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Samuel Brittan in FT, "‘More Europe’ is a mindless slogan, not the answer to all problems".

“The selling point of the original Common Market was that it would bind the basic industries of Germany and France so closely together that the wars that had split Europe asunder would become inconceivable. Oddly, the economic logic was less clearly spelt out; but the thought was that, at a time when the future of world trade was in doubt, here, at least, was an area where trade would flow freely; and production take place in the most efficient centres with a strong safety net to protect the victims of change. It is not a coincidence that this was also the guiding philosophy of the German social market; nor that agriculture was subject to a different and more protectionist regime. Some of the most job-destroying rules came from the later social charter, from which John Major’s government secured an opt-out; even Tony Blair dropped it. The enlarged EU has moved in a perverse direction. Its ruling spirits combine a penchant for micro and industrial policies that destroy jobs with an espousal of deflationary macro policies.”



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Paul Betts in FT, "Greek banks become victims of Europe’s rule by diktat".

“The scorn poured on Mr Cameron, ostentatiously fronted by French president Nicolas Sarkozy, will have reminded Mr Papandreou of the drubbing he received from the euro fraternity at the recent Cannes summit. Having dared to propose that Greek people be allowed their say on the increasingly severe austerity measures imposed on them by the EU, Mr Papandreou was humiliatingly scolded and sent home to withdraw his offer of a referendum and resign. The British can console themselves that the UK still has the choice – right or wrong – to stand up to the rule by diktat that seems to have become the norm the more the eurozone crisis has ballooned, alongside the ever increasing desperation of its leaders. They might cast an eye over the ‘victor’s justice’ that Mr Sarkozy and Angela Merkel, German chancellor, have meted out to Greece when considering the merits of Mr Cameron’s stand in Brussels.”



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Gareth Harding at EUobserver.com, "Vaclav Havel: Europe’s philosopher-king".

“Havel, a man with a shuffling gait and mumbling, monotonous speech, represented a radical break from the ossified politics and personalities of the past. In addition to books and beer – he worked in a brewery for nine months in 1974 – the man who paved the way for the Czech Republic’s entry into the EU and NATO loved rock music. He founded the Charter 77 movement in protest against the arrest of members of the rock group Plastic People of the Universe. He appointed Frank Zappa as a special ambassador shortly after his election as president. And when the Rolling Stones rolled into Prague in August 1990 he welcomed the group on stage. So when a jean-clad man tapped me on the shoulder and asked for a cigarette at a punk-rock concert in Prague that summer I wasn’t entirely surprised it was Vaclav Havel. ‘Sorry, Mr President but I don’t smoke’ I replied. For once in my life I wished I did.”



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Pavel Bratinka interview in American Interest.

“I was always sure I would live to see that end. But when Brezhnev died and the new man was Andropov, I became absolutely certain I would see the end while still in my prime. That the Soviet Politburo named a member of the secret police for that job told me all I needed to know…. Of the regime’s three pillars -- the party, the army and the secret police -- only the secret police could not afford to live in illusion or isolation and still do its job. So when Andropov was appointed, it was evident to me that the reality wing of the Soviet establishment had gotten the upper hand.”



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Neal Ascherson in London Review of Books on Norman Davies’ book, Vanished Kingdom: The History of Half-Forgotten Europe.

“The Jagiellonian realm was a pre-modern state. Fussy-minded historians used to call it ‘ramshackle’; it’s better called ‘dispersed’, and that’s what attracts Davies. It contained Balts and Slavs of many varieties, Germans, Jews, Armenians, some Tatars and even some Scots. Their religions might be Roman Catholic, Greek Catholic, Russian Orthodox, Calvinist, Lutheran, Jewish or Muslim. But, with lapses, they got on with one another, perhaps because little was required of them beyond loyalty to the king and grand duke. The commonwealth’s boundaries were fluid; its constitution (kings elected by acclamation, parliament subject to the veto of a single member) was a controlled chaos. To its swarming nobility, it felt like a sort of democracy -- ‘golden freedom’.”



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Steven Shapin in London Review of Books on Mary Jo Nye’s book, Michael Polanyi and His Generation: Origins of the Social Construction of Science.

“Many Hungarian intellectuals of that generation passed through double exile. After the 1914-1918 war, and the break-up of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, their geographically challenged homeland experienced, first, the brief Red Terror of the Hungarian Soviet Republic headed by the Bolshevik Bela Kun, followed immediately by the longer-lasting White Terror of Admiral Miklos Horthy’s government. Kun had a Jewish background; the commissariat was heavily Jewish (or formerly Jewish); and, even though well-off Jews had suffered under the Kun regime, the White reaction sometimes referred to the displaced Soviet Republic as the ‘Jewish Republic’ and presided over the ‘Magyarisation’ of Hungarian institutions.”



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Gordon Fairclough in WSJ, "Poland Gives Arab Nations Lessons".

“Poland has offered humanitarian and medical aid since people in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya rose up against authoritarian rule earlier this year, but Warsaw’s main focus has been on the less tangible work of promoting democracy. In November, Poland sponsored a simulation exercise for dozens of Tunisians, designed to give them experience in managing affairs of state during the country’s transformation to democracy. Tunisia in Ocotober had its first parliamentary election since the ouster of former strongman Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.”



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Isabel Kershner in NYT, "Finding Fault in the Palestinian Messages That Aren’t So Public".

“‘This is the inner truth of the Palestinians,’ he said. ‘They really mean it. It is not what they say on CNN, but it is what they teach their children.’ But for many, the subject of incitement and media monitoring has become as contentious as some of the messages, especially since these pronouncements are often used to score propaganda points.
The book goes to the heart of this debate. Its authors — Itamar Marcus, the founder and director of the privately financed Palestinian Media Watch, and an analyst from the group, Nan Jacques Zilberdik — called their book ‘Deception: Betraying the Peace Process.’ ‘There is no preparation for living with Israel as neighbors,’ Ms. Jacques Zilberdik said. ‘Instead, we see the opposite.’”



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Raymond Ibrahim at MEForum.org, "Collective Punishment Under Islam".

“Collectively punishing dhimmis -- non-Muslims who refused to convert after their lands were seized by Muslims, and who are treated as ‘second-class’ infidels -- for the crimes of the individual is standard under Islam. In this instance, dhimmis are forbidden from striking -- let alone killing -- Muslims, even if the latter perpetrate the conflict. Prior to the fight that killed him, the Muslim in question had, through the help of radical Salafis, burned down the Christian's home and was threatening him over a property dispute. Still, non-Muslims are forbidden to raise their hands to Muslims, even in self defense. Collectively punishing Egypt's Christians is common.”



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Tony Barber in FT, "Written in blood".

“An appreciation of how wrenching the war was for France’s political leaders and population must start from the recognition that, from a French point of view, Algeria was no mere colony but an integral part of the nation. From the 1880s its administrative structures were the same as those on the mainland, consisting of departments, prefectures and communes. That Algeria might be lopped off was close to unthinkable, akin to losing a limb. But the notion that Algeria was essentially no different from Brittany or Languedoc was a fiction. The code de l’indigénat (native code) was a ‘uniquely repressive set of laws that applied only to Muslims’, writes Evans. ‘French Algeria was rigidly segregated. Exclusion was a defining prin­ciple. Political separation produced physical separation. Europeans, Jews and Muslims inhabited different spaces, co-existing but never truly intermingling. Marriages between these different groups were very rare indeed, and the result was a society that was deeply divided and deeply unequal, defined by hatred, conflict and tension.’ Why did the French settlers never go their own way, forming an independent state like Britain’s 13 American colonies in 1776? Demography supplies the answer.”



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Ambreen Agha at South Asia Intelligence Review, "Karachi: Annus Horribilis".

“On December 12, 2011, the Gadap Town Police in Karachi, the Provincial capital of Sindh, rescued 53 children chained in an underground dungeon at a seminary, the Jamia Masjid Zakaria Kandhelwi Madrassa Arabia, situated in the Afghan Basti in the Sohrab Goth area of Karachi. These children had been chained for 30 days. Unearthing tales of torture, the Police revealed that the chained captives received indoctrination from Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan instructors, preparing them to join the outfit’s ‘jihad’ (holy war) on the Afghan front. One of the rescued students stated, ‘We are being made mujahedeen (holy warriors) here. We are being made Taliban here. They say you should get training... we will send you to fight.’ An unnamed Police official told the Press, ‘The rescued students included kids as young as seven years old and 21 teenagers,’ and further revealed that the chained students were beaten and barely fed. This gory incident is only the tip of the iceberg. There are more than 1,935 seminaries in Sindh, of which 1,800 are in Karachi alone.”



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Andrea Wenzel in CSM, "Using Islam to counter jihad in southern Thailand".

“‘It’s not like the Pakistan-Afghanistan border where madrassas are producing militants,’ says Don Pathan, a journalist and security analyst based in Yala. The fight is rooted in an ethno-nationalist narrative about restoring the historically Malay kingdom of Patani, says Mr. Pathan. Militant cells can come from secular origins. For example, a Malay soccer team once became a militant cell. ‘It’s that narrative that you see every day, the minute you walk out of your home and see armed troops walking up and down your street. It radicalizes people,’ he says.”



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Vikas Bajaj in NYT, "Wal-Mart Debate Rages in India".

“If the government eventually lets foreign firms expand beyond wholesaling to open retail stores, Mr. Mahajan said, many of his retail customers would be forced out of business, while squeezing out traders like himself who have long served as the crucial middleman in Indian commerce. ‘We’ll be destroyed,’ Mr. Mahajan said last week, minutes after he and dozens of other traders burned an effigy with a bloated belly and a crudely drawn face, meant to represent multinational marauders. But Indian business is far from united in opposing foreign retailers. Farmers like Avtar Singh Sidhu, who sells potatoes to PepsiCo for its Lays chips and has sold baby corn and other vegetables to Wal-Mart’s local partner, the Indian conglomerate Bharti, argues that foreign retailers will be a boon to India’s struggling agricultural sector. The multinationals, he said, will buy directly from farmers and pay better prices than local wholesalers. Already, he said, PepsiCo is offering 6 rupees per kilo (or 11 cents) for his potatoes, while local traders offer only 3 rupees (6 cents). ‘We need more competition,’ Mr. Sidhu said.”



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David Barboza in NYT, "Entrepreneur’s Rival in China: The State".

“The patents Cathay won prompted Dupont, a leading global producer of nylon, to become one of Cathay’s biggest customers. And the $120 million that Goldman Sachs and other backers have pumped into Cathay in recent years primed investors in China and abroad to eagerly await a public stock offering that had been planned for earlier this year.
They’re still waiting. According to Cathay, a factory manager stole its secrets and started a rival company that has begun selling a suspiciously similar ingredient, undermining Cathay’s profits. Instead of planning to go public, Cathay is now struggling to stay in business. In this counterfeit-friendly nation, employees run off with manufacturing designs almost daily. But according to Cathay, this was copying with a special twist: the new competitor, Hilead Biotech, is backed by the Chinese government.”



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Michael Wines in NYT, "A Village in Revolt Could Be a Harbinger for China".

“On paper, the Wukan protests never should have happened: China’s village committees should be the most responsive bodies in the nation because they are elected by the villagers themselves. Moreover, the government has built safeguards into the village administration process to ensure that money is properly spent. Village self-administration, as the central government calls it, is seen by many foreigners as China’s democratic laboratory — and while elections can be rigged and otherwise swayed, many political scientists say they are, on balance, a good development. Actually running the villages, however, is another matter. Village committees must provide many of the services offered by governments, such as sanitation and social welfare, but they cannot tax their residents or collect many fees. Any efforts to raise additional money, for things like economic development, usually need approval from the Communist Party-controlled township or county seats above them. In practice, the combination of the villages’ need for cash and their dependence on higher-ups has bred back-scratching and corruption between village officials and their overseers.”



***


Rahul Jacob in FT, "China’s stuttering local land sales programme poses threat to growth".

“Land sales typically account for about 40 per cent of local government revenues which Chinese city and county governments rely on to finance large infrastructure projects. For city governments across China, most of whom are seeing a fall-off in land sales, this will translate into larger debts – and consequently fewer railway stations, airports and even opera houses being built. For the wider Chinese economy, the problem is more serious: China relies on large investment projects to boost and maintain its high gross domestic product growth rate – running at 9.1 per cent in the third quarter. If the trend in land sales continues, China’s GDP growth rate will slow and its banks, which have accepted land as collateral for local government loans, could potentially be saddled with bad debts.”



***


Victor Cha in NYT, "China’s Newest Province?".

“But even as Beijing sticks close to its little Communist brother, there are intense debates within its leadership about whether the North is a strategic liability. It was one thing to back a hermetic but stable regime under Kim Jong-il; it will be harder to underwrite an untested leadership. For Xi Jinping, expected to become China’s president over the next year, the first major foreign policy decision will be whether to shed North Korea or effectively adopt it as a province. All indications are that Beijing will pursue the latter course, in no small part because of a bias among its leadership to support the status quo, rather than to confront dramatic change.”



***


Daniel Tudor in FT, "State and big business decide to foster entrepreneurship".

“That the chaebol have made large contributions to South Korea’s economic development is beyond doubt. However, one unfortunate consequence of their size and diversification has been the discouragement of entrepreneurship and the hindrance of small- and medium-sized business. Because of Korea’s risk-averse culture and the power of the chaebol, the usual choices of bright graduates have been to join the civil service, one of the professions, or a chaebol. Times are changing, however, and the country is experiencing a start-up boom.”



***


James Hookway in WSJ, "Par Value: Vietnamese Investors Sink Savings Into Golf Memberships".

“Prices for club memberships around Hanoi have risen from around $6,000 in 2004 to roughly $30,000 now, with some of the plushest, complete with swimming pools, villas and tennis courts, reaching $130,000. That's not as expensive as top clubs in Japan or Singapore, but it is still a large slice of change in a country where the average income is around $1,200 a year. ‘Buying a membership is better than putting cash in the bank, better than putting it in the stock market, and better than putting it into gold,’ said Do Dinh Thuy, a 48-year-old management consultant, amid the steady thwack of balls being driven out onto a local range here in Hanoi's suburbs. He recently bought a third membership, ‘and that one's not for playing -- it's for investment.’”



***


David Pilling in FT, "Just two cheers for a sputtering Indonesian dream".

“Why is Indonesia growing so slowly? The very question seems absurd. A huge exporter of coal, liquefied natural gas and palm oil, Indonesia’s economy continues to rattle along at 6 per cent. Driven in large part by domestic demand, it is reckoned to be among the most resilient economies to external shock. Its finances look rock solid too. With near-balanced budgets, low inflation and a debt-to-gross domestic product ratio of 25 per cent, it is enough to turn a Greek statistician honest. What is more the future looks brighter still. Of south-east Asian economies, Indonesia is the only one the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development expects to grow faster in the next five years -- at an annual 6.6 per cent -- than it did in the last.”



***


Michael Gardiner at Japantimes.co.jp, "The Scot who shaped Japan".

“Firstly, the British Empire had demanded a typology of race (Brits on top; others in need of civilizing, benevolently or otherwise) that would be drawn on by Meiji conservatives as if it were natural and universal. In due course, this was to amplify Japan's sense of an Imperial civilizing mission, while following the humiliation of World War II it would again resurface to amplify a face-saving myth of Japan's separateness. This conception of race had largely been invented in Edinburgh (the famed medical school's anatomy was key) in the 1840s and '50s, and was typical of a peripheral region that had been humiliated and had lost government power (following failed rebellions in 1715 and '45) and was after new universalizing, rationalist, managerial guidelines — the Scottish Enlightenment — to help them spread into empire. Imported at a very rapid pace in the Meiji Era and, translated into samurai terms, this typology became a principle for the free-market civilizing mission that was the Japanese empire.”



***


Josef Joffe in American Interest, "Declinism’s Fifth Wave".

“The United States now faces its fifth wave of Declinism, that sinking feeling that the country’s best days are over. The first wave rolled across America with the ‘Sputnik Shock’ of 1957, when Little Johnny was said to have fallen behind Little Ivan in the Three Rs. That wave crested in John F. Kennedy’s 1960 campaign against Richard Nixon. JFK rode all the way to the White House on a non-existent ‘missile gap’ that supposedly presaged America’s demise at the hands of the Soviet Union. The second angst attack came with the quagmire in Vietnam, as the 1960s turned into the 1970s. Cities burned, students revolted: This was America’s ‘suicide attempt’, as one Jeremiah put it. Yet when Richard Nixon ended the draft, the students went back to their libraries, and when the war ended, the ‘dominoes’ did not fall all over Asia. ‘Decline 3.0’ was marked by Jimmy Carter’s ‘malaise’, exploding inflation and the dollar shrinking to half its former size. The theme, all the way into the early 1990s, was Nippon’s Revenge. Having grown at 10 percent per year, Japan would wrest back commercially what it had lost after Pearl Harbor militarily. (Re-read books like Ezra Vogel’s Japan as Number One, substituting ‘China’ for ‘Japan’, and it is back to the future in 2012 -- for the fourth wave.)”



***


Richard Haas in American Interest, "The Restoration Doctrine".

“The fact is that the benefits of inclusion in a global commons cannot be expected to outweigh parochial aspirations in many respects. There is more than a little irony in my pointing this out, since I developed and introduced the idea of integration a decade ago when I was Director of Policy Planning at the State Department. Why is the idea not gaining more traction? The simple answer, as already suggested, is that most governments are more sensitive to immediate domestic political and economic pressures and interests than they are to medium- and long-term considerations, be they strategic or economic. This goes a long way toward explaining the lack of push behind a new world trade pact. There are also flat-out disagreements. For example, there is no consensus on the limits of sovereignty or on the appropriate times to use military force. Finally, there are differing priorities and differing resource constraints. Integration, still perhaps the most appealing foreign policy compass for the long-term, is an idea whose time has not yet come.”



***


George Packer at Newyorker.com, "Hitchens and Iraq".

“Hitchens took me on a long excursion through his political life, an account of the Education of Christopher Hitchens, with key stops at the fatwa on Salman Rushdie, which had pitted everything he loved against everything he hated, and the first Gulf War in 1991, which he had opposed. He described driving through the refugee camps in Kurdistan at the end of that war, with peshmerga fighters who had a picture of George H.W. Bush taped to their windshield. The thought of America on the side of a liberation movement occurred to Hitchens then, for the first time. It didn’t change his position on the war, but it planted a seed. His monologue continued up until 9/11 and the singular insight that the attacks had given him: the American revolution was “the last one standing” and beat pretty much any conceivable alternative in the oppressed corners of the world. He was saying that he had been wrong, something that Hitchens didn’t do often enough -- wrong not about anything in particular (he defended every specific political choice he’d made), but about the core question of whether America was a force for good or evil in the world.”


***


Mark Pagel interview at Edge.org.

“One of the first things to be aware of when talking about social learning is that it plays the same role within our societies, acting on ideas, as natural selection plays within populations of genes. Natural selection is a way of sorting among a range of genetic alternatives, and finding the best one. Social learning is a way of sifting among a range of alternative options or ideas, and choosing the best one of those. And so, we see a direct comparison between social learning driving idea evolution, by selecting the best ideas --we copy people that we think are successful, we copy good ideas, and we try to improve upon them -- and natural selection, driving genetic evolution within societies, or within populations. I think this analogy needs to be taken very seriously, because just as natural selection has acted on genetic populations, and sculpted them, we'll see how social learning has acted on human populations and sculpted them.”



***


NYT: "Hope in the Age of Man".

“Some environmentalists see the Anthropocene as a disaster by definition, since they see all human changes as degradation of a pristine Eden. If your definition demands that nature be completely untouched by humans, there is indeed no nature left. But in fact, humans have been changing ecosystems for millenniums. We have learned that ecosystems are not — and have never been — static entities. The notion of a virgin, pristine wilderness was understandable in the days of Captain Cook — but since the emergence of modern ecology and archaeology, it has been systematically dismantled by empirical evidence.”



***


Roger Hodge in London Review of Books on S.C. Gwynne’s book, Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanche Tribe.

“The Parkers had fought Indians in Illinois, Tennessee and Georgia, and they expected to fight them in Texas as well. They probably didn’t realise, however, that their grant from the Mexican government had placed them deep in Comancheria, the area of the South-West controlled by the Comanches, or that the Mexicans intended to use the rapidly growing colonies of English-speaking settlers from the US (known as Anglos) to create a human shield between the Comanches and their traditional raiding grounds further south. It is unlikely the Parkers would have passed up the free land in any case. They were devout and aggressive Baptists who believed that God had empowered them to make the barbarian deserts bloom. ‘The elect are a wrathful people,’ Elder Daniel Parker said, ‘because they are the natural enemies of the non-elect.’”



***


Steven Mithen in London Review of Books on Chris Stringer’s book, The Origin of Our Species.

“Mysteries remain, and the fossil and archaeological evidence continues to turn up new ones from time to time. Who, for instance, were the Denisovans? This human population has been identified by the analysis of DNA extracted from a 40,000-year-old finger bone and molar tooth found in Denisova Cave in Siberia. The expectation was that the DNA would assign the bones to either Homo sapiens or Homo neanderthalensis, but instead it indicated a completely new human species living in eastern Asia, a derivative from Homo heidelbergensis well over half a million years ago. Even more mysterious, the distinctive Denisovan DNA has been found in a population of living humans: not East Asians, as might have been expected, but Melanesian inhabitants of places such as New Guinea.”



***


Michael Neill in London Review of Books on Louise Noble’s book, Medicinal Cannibalism in Early Modern English Literature and Culture, and Richard Sugg’s book, Mummies, Cannibals and Vampires: The History of Corpse Medicine from the Renaissance to the Victorians.

“Paradoxically enough, the routine practice of corpse medicine coincided with a period of extreme anxiety about the cannibal indulgences of people outside European civilisation. The literature of voyaging and discovery exhibits an obsessive interest in the anthropophagous customs of New World indigenes, which are held up as proofs of irredeemable barbarity.”



***


James Taranto at WSJ.com, "Selling ‘Diversity’".

“This ‘diversity bureaucracy’ is unquestionably a worthy target of scorn. It is, as Mac Donald suggests, fundamentally parasitic, producing nothing of value to the taxpayers, students and parents who foot the bills. Resources wasted on this nonsense are not spent on actual education -- or, for that matter, on other vital government services or investment in the real economy. But to read Mac Donald's writings on the subject, you'd think the burgeoning diversity bureaucracy was nothing more than a patronage machine or an ideological vanity project. Actually, it is central to the business model of contemporary higher education, and that is why institutions like the University of California prioritize it even at a time of fiscal distress. Mac Donald seems to adhere to the old-fashioned idea that the purpose of a university is education. It's a worthy ideal, and of course learning goes on at universities. But in today's world, education is not the primary business of the higher-ed industry. The main ‘product’ that institutions like UC Davis are selling is credentials -- job-hunting licenses.”



***


Ruth Graham in WSJ on Jean Baker’s book, Margaret Sanger.

“If Sanger had approached the issue as a matter of individual human rights, she would be a heroine today to everyone but the conservative Catholics whose predecessors she battled in her day. (In 1921, the archbishop of New York, a Sanger nemesis, proclaimed birth control a greater evil than abortion: ‘To take life after its inception is a horrible crime; but to prevent human life that the Creator is about to bring into being is satanic.’) But she never seemed to be able to decide whether the main benefit of birth control was freedom or social welfare. And that's where things get sticky for both her legacy and Ms. Baker's defense of it. Eugenics was an enormously popular idea in the early 20th century, supported by everyone from presidents Wilson and Hoover, to leading scientists, to the Supreme Court, which issued an 8-1 ruling in 1927 upholding the involuntary sterilization of institutionalized citizens. Sanger seemed to agree.”



***


Michele Brown at LAreviewofbooks.org on Peggy Drexler’s book, Our Fathers, Ourselves: Daughters, Dads and the Changing American Family.

“With respect to muscularization more generally, it is worth recalling a bit of fairly recent history: Congress’s 1972 passage of Title IX, which guaranteed equal funding for girls’ sports in schools. It would be hard to overestimate its importance in the story Drexler attempts to tell. Symbolically and literally, it marked the moment when Victorian models of girlhood gave way to more muscular ones, and eventually to ideals of girl grit and resilience. In other words, culturally speaking, in the 70s and especially the 80s, girls were viewed less and less as delicate flowers or future mothers than as potentially hard-hitting players in public life. It could be argued that it was fathers who were the initial midwife to that transformation — perhaps not consciously, but because of their desire to see their individual daughters triumph. Some of Drexler’s enabling fathers are then part of that group who taught girls to invade personal space, collide, pick themselves up, keep their eye on the ball, and, perhaps most significantly, to score and invest that scoring with significance — not always an easy task, according to some coaches of girls’ sports.”



***


David Hart in New Criterion, "America & the angels of Sacre-Coeur".

“There may not be a distinctive American civilization in the fullest sense, but there definitely is a distinctly American Christianity. It is something protean, scattered, fragmentary, and fissile, often either mildly or exorbitantly heretical, and sometimes only vestigially Christian, but it can nevertheless justly be called the American religion—and it is a powerful religion. It is, however, a style of faith remarkably lacking in beautiful material forms or coherent institutional structures, not by accident, but essentially. Its civic inexpressiveness is a consequence not simply of cultural privation, or of frontier simplicity, or of modern utilitarianism, or even of some lingering Puritan reserve towards ecclesial rank and architectural ostentation, but also of a profound and radical resistance to outward forms. It is a religion of the book or of private revelation, of oracular wisdom and foolish rapture, but not one of tradition, hierarchy, or public creeds. Even where it creates intricate institutions of its own, and erects its own large temples, it tends to do so entirely on its own terms: in a void, in a cultural and (ideally) physical desert, at a fantastic remove from all traditional sources of authority, historical ‘validity,’ or good taste (Mormonism is an expression of this tendency at its boldest, most original, and most effervescently vulgar). What America shares with, say, France is the general Western heritage of Christian belief, with all its confessional variations; what it has never had any real part in, however, is Christendom.”



***


Darrin McMahon in NYT on Jonathan Israel’s book, Democratic Enlightenment: Philosophy, Revolution, and Human Rights 1750-1790.

“Whereas historians in recent years have emphasized how often religion and Enlightenment got along, Israel relegates such cushy coexistence to a ‘Moderate Enlightenment’ that was decidedly second-tier. The great names one learns at school — Voltaire and Rousseau, Newton and Locke, Leibniz and Kant — turn out never to have been willing or able to think themselves through to the new. Israel’s real heroes were hard-nosed atheists, materialists and revolutionaries who brooked no compromise with the status quo. Israel traces the lineage of this Radical Enlightenment to Baruch Spinoza, the 17th-century philosopher who serves here as the father of all atheists and ‘one substance’ materialists who rejected the suspiciously spiritualist dualism of mind and body. Spinoza was certainly a radical critic of Scripture, who denied miracles and seemed to equate ‘God’ with nature. But in Israel’s controversial account, a complete ‘package’ of modern values sprang from Spinoza’s head — fully formed like Athena from Zeus — including equality, democracy and a litany of basic human rights.”



***


Franklin Foer in New Republic on Dwight Macdonald’s collection, Masscult and Midcult: Essays Against the American Grain.

“Macdonald was a first-rate talent scout. At politics, he opened his pages to young writers such as Paul Goodman, Irving Howe, C. Wright Mills, and Daniel Bell, he published essays by little-known European intellectuals such as Camus, Weil, Chiaromonte, and Arendt. Yet his eye for the undiscovered somehow failed to manifest itself in his criticism. Unlike Edmund Wilson or Susan Sontag, Macdonald never had much desire to trumpet the good news about literature or film. He never used his essays to call attention to an obscure novel.”



***


Nate Jackson in LAT, "Ed ‘Big Daddy’ Roth, creator of Rat Fink: A son remembers".

“But after the decline of hot rod culture in the '70s and '80s, Roth's conversion to Mormonism and family squabbles over the business, Rat Fink and company became less and less ubiquitous until it all seemed to fade away entirely. ‘My dad was always convinced that once the Beatles came to the States, kids kind of lost interest in cars and American culture and started picking up guitars instead,’ said the 51-year-old Roth, who worked for two decades as a manager in an auto parts store and is a reserve policeman for the City of Bell.”



***


Erick Lyle in L.A. Weekly, "Black Flag’s Damaged Changed Punk, and L.A.".

“In late 1981, Black Flag moved their headquarters to an unused office at Unicorn Studios on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood. ‘We had a whole top-floor office,’ Cadena says. ‘It had a shower, so that was cool. We slept under the desks.’ (The site where they would make a record that presented a definitive punk vision of dread, paranoia and existential angst now houses a Trader Joe's.) The band launched into their now-legendary daily rehearsal regimen, sometimes practicing up to eight hours a day. ‘Those of us who woke up early slept on the floor of the outer offices,’ says Carducci. ‘The guys who slept in the practice room got no sun and so might sleep till noon. At that point we all slept on the floors in our clothes; the rooms had carpeting, but not shag enough to help make that comfortable, exactly.’ ‘We looked like trolls who lived under the bridge!’ Cadena adds. ‘Greg's dad would get a big bag of random clothes for us from the thrift store and we'd dig through it. Like, 'Oh, I love these polyester pants that don't fit!'’ Rollins chimes in: ‘We ate wherever we could. I ate off people's plates after they had gotten up. I did a lot of that.’”



***


Bob Lee at "Thelosangelesbeat.com", Live Review.

“I didn’t turn around to watch the crowd at the moment ‘Nervous Breakdown’ began but I could feel a wave of energy at my back, and Youtube clips shot from the crowd show the Civic floor erupting into an over-boiling mass of humanity. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a band booed so intensely for stopping; Morris diplomatically stepped out to apologize that they hadn’t had time to rehearse anything else.”



***


"The Way Out Lyrics of Meat Puppets II" by Matt Smith-Lahrman.

“Cris suggests here that the mingling of personalities, the joining of perspectives of people from slightly different life experiences, comes together for the Kirkwoods and Derrick in a way that makes Meat Puppets II a unique album, one that mixes together Derrick’s ‘hip’ understanding of punk rock with the Kirkwood’s sense of ‘horror’ and love of classic rock from the ‘sixties and seventies.’ Derrick adds a sociological twist to Cris’s statement about the coming together of personalities in the creation of Meat Puppets II. He suggests that the structural situation of the band members’ lives was a contributing factor to the unique sound of the record. Specifically, he suggests the fact that they didn’t have day jobs and lived in a house already paid for and, therefore, could concentrate on nothing but their art made all the difference in the world for making Meat Puppets II the eclectically pure album that it turned out to be.”



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Vickie Chang in O.C. Weekly, "Gary Tovar Has His Goldenvoice".

“Chuck Dukowski, founding member and bass player of Black Flag and the man behind the Goldenvoice logo still in use today, says there was one main distinction between Goldenvoice and other promoters at the time: ‘Gary and Goldenvoice were willing to work with us and other new groups coming out of the punk rock underground. When the going got rough, Gary wasn't scared away by police pressure.’ Born in Los Angeles, Tovar was now splitting his time between Santa Barbara and Huntington Beach. He decided to start his venture first in Santa Barbara, comparing it to ‘practicing in the minor leagues before I came into the majors.’ Goldenvoice's first show featured T.S.O.L., Shattered Faith and Rhino 39 at La Casa de la Raza on Dec. 4, 1981.”



***


Alice Bag audio interview by Matt Smith-Lahrman at Newbooksinpopmusic.com.


***


Nicholas Pell in L.A. Weekly, "Tons of Punk Videos Were Yanked Off Youtube: Here’s What Happened".

“On Wednesday morning, several punk bands awoke to find their videos had been removed from YouTube. They were understandably irritated; that's almost worse than running out of beer. In their places were notes that they'd been yanked due to Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) complaints lodged by SST Records -- the legendary label founded by Black Flag's Greg Ginn, formerly based in Los Angeles but now in Austin. The allegation? That these videos were using unauthorized SST music. But that was not so.”



***


Duff McKagan interview at Thenervousbreakdown.com.

Interestingly, instead of discussing Axl’s behavior, you focus more on the fact that you never called him out for that. You never confronted him, and you take accountability in that sense. But do you think that he would have been receptive to that if anyone had said something to him at that point?

I don’t know. You raise the point of my self-discovery of my role, but the other part (how Axl might have reacted) is a whole separate study. But this is also a book written by the guy now -- I’m writing this book and I’m sure as I can be of myself today. I couldn’t say that when I was twenty-seven. Saying ‘I’m a bad ass motherfucker!’ isn’t being sure of yourself, that’s just being full of yourself. So I know that if I were the guy I am now back then, I would’ve said, ‘Okay guys, alright -- let’s everybody just stop. Stop.’ I would have said to the management, ‘Stop -- don’t book us another gig. We need to come off the road and we need to step back and examine this whole thing. The band needs some time away from all this stuff so we can figure our shit out.’ Because we were really close dudes, and now we’re all separate. Or I might’ve also said, okay -- like Izzy did -- if you can’t stop it, I’m out. So it’s really a study of my own self. I didn’t stand up when I should have. I didn’t rise to the occasion. I did rise to a lot of occasions, but I didn’t rise to as many as I think I did.”



***




James Fotopoulos in NYC:

•Jan 5 - Anthology - premieres Chimera, Thick Comb, Untitled (Thanks. Get In…)
•Jan 6 - Anthology - Alice in Wonderland
•Jan 7 - Microscope Gallery: Drawings and Videos


Fantasma.


***


Target Video 77: cal punk and performance
Annie Wharton Los Angeles


“The TargetVideo77 show at the Annie Wharton gallery is up through Jan. 13th. Hope you get a chance to view the two single channel video installations, one of which is pure Black Flag. There are also large format prints selected from the videos on exhibit (and for sale.)”


***


LATmag: 50 78rpm picture disks.


***


David Brauner at Minneapolis Post, "Boogaard’s brain: How the New York Times got that story".

“Though the story eventually included a photographer, a videographer, two multi-media producers and a graphic artist, Branch says his editor’s original instruction was, ‘Why not spend a month or two getting to know as much as possible about Derek Boogaard?
At least in terms of time, That’s probably the greatest thing a reporter will ever hear.’
The story grew as ‘we realized all these potentially uncovered and interesting tangents — hockey enforcers, youth hockey in Canada, fighting in the NHL,’ Branch explains. ‘In all of our coverage, we’d do a single story, but [we asked] what if we stepped back and tried to explain an entire life?’”



***


Obituaries of the Month


Bob Hare (1931-2011)

“There was money to be made in serving coffee at 50 cents to $1 per cup, he told The Times in 1959 when his coffeehouse was reported to be one of only two in the South Bay. He had borrowed $2,000 to open the Insomniac on Pier Avenue and grossed more than $100,000 the first year, according to a 1960 Times article. As the Insomniac expanded to include a bookstore, art gallery, and book and record departments, Hare billed it as ‘America's First Supermarket of Culture.’ One night in 1962, he advertised a bill that included blues singer Brownie McGhee and harmonica player Sonny Terry; Mel Carter and the Gospel All-Stars; and ‘a new folk trio,’ the Landsmen.”




Jacob Goldman (1921-2011)

“In the late 1960s, Xerox, then the dominant manufacturer of office copiers, was searching for ways to move into new markets when he proposed an open-ended research laboratory to explore what C. Peter McColough, chief executive at the time, called ‘the architecture of information.’ Computer systems were still not available in offices at that time, and little was known about the shape of what would come to be called ‘the office of the future.’ Xerox had recently acquired Scientific Data Systems, a California computer maker, to compete with I.B.M. in the data-processing market. At the time, however, computers were largely centralized systems that were not interactive. The minicomputer market was just being pioneered by the Digital Equipment Corporation. Xerox did not initially have a grand strategy for entering the computing business, only an inkling that the data processing world was both an opportunity and a potential threat.”




Park Tae-joon (1927-2011)

“Mr. Park was a young colonel in 1961 when he participated in the military coup that put a general named Park Chung-hee in power. Just four days after the coup, Gen. Park, who was no relation, tapped Mr. Park as his general secretary. Over the next few years he built a reputation as an economic problem-solver for Gen. Park, who named himself president in 1963 and held power until 1979. No steel mill was built in the early years of President Park’s government. So the president asked his former aide, Mr. Park -- who at the time was running a state-owned tungsten firm -- to visit Pittsburgh, the capital of the U.S. steel industry, and return with ideas for building a steel mill in South Korea.”




• Jim Rathmann (1928-2011)

“Royal Richard Rathmann was born outside Los Angeles in Alhambra, Calif., on July 16, 1928, and was called Dick. He earned renown in Southern California drag-racing circles, receiving 48 traffic tickets before he was 18 — four during one lunch break. He moved to Chicago to race hot rods, then stock cars.When he was ruled too young to compete in a stock car race in Iowa in the 1940s, his older brother, James, traded driver’s licenses with him. (James was not competing in the race.) From then on, Dick Rathmann was Jim; Jim Rathmann, Dick. The older brother was also a superb driver: he won 13 times on the Nascar circuit and claimed the pole position in the 1958 Indianapolis 500. Jim Rathmann made his Indianapolis debut in 1949 at 20, claiming to be 24. He finished second in 1952, 1957 and 1959. Had he finished second again, he would have had the most runner-up finishes. Rathmann parlayed his driving success into a thriving Chevrolet-Cadillac dealership in Melbourne, Fla., where he worked with General Motors to enable astronauts to lease cars at virtually no cost. A Corvette once owned by the astronaut Alan Shepard is now displayed in the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum beside a sign that says it came from Rathmann.”



***


Thanks to Jay Babcock, Andy Schwartz, Steve Beeho, Elise Thompson, Chris Woods, Andy Schwartz.

























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• The New Vulgate
• Joe Carducci, Chris Collins, James Fotopoulos, Mike Vann Gray, David Lightbourne
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3 comments:

  1. Anxiously awaiting my chance to purchase Vanished Kingdoms!

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  2. Huge SST Records discussion: http://www.avclub.com/articles/sst-records,67485/
    Viva

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    SUBMIT YOUR ANSWER and you could get a prepaid VISA gift card!

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