February 4th, 2012



So the big news yesterday was that the unemployment rate dropped from 8.6% to 8.3% in January, with 243,000 jobs being added. This news caused the DOW and Nasdaq to climb to 4-year and 11-year highs, respectively. This is the fifth straight month that the unemployment rate has dropped. Good news, right?

Not if you're playing the partisan politics game. Like clockwork, the right-wing blogosphere discredited the jobs report as they have every previous jobs report. This time, the big talking point is how 1.2 million people supposedly dropped out of the workforce. This was promptly debunked by economic journalists at the WSJ and Washington Post as a misinterpretation of the report due to adjustments from the 2010 census. Yet even after this was explained, they kept right on repeating the lie.

Given the ongoing economic turbulence for the last 4 years, and the situation in Europe that threatens to wreak havoc again around the world, why is the economy being used a political football to get some guy into the White House? Is it worth hurting the economy? Do the ends justify the means? Am I completely wrong about this? Bueller?
Godzilla, default

Why Communism and Fascism are different things:

This post is perfectly appropriate to the monthly topic but offers me the chance to work out a few irritations I have whenever the F-word comes up (Fascism, not fuck, though of course fucking is always a more fun topic than fascism) for cheap political points by people without any obvious elements to support their case. Specifically the source of irritation is a claim made by both the Mises-worshiping Right and the Trotsky-worshiping left that the historical totalitarianisms were exactly the same. They generally prefer to use the word "fascist", claiming for instance that Stalin and Mao were fascists when reality, of course, says something precisely different.
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To me I think that the dangers in treating all totalitarians as equal and the same is that these movements are clearly not the same,and it does no good to go after a crocodile with methods appropriate for hunting wolves. The very menace movements like this posed means that their true natures should be remembered, and their clear differences noted. Otherwise absurdity reigns triumphant in a fashion that while producing some hilarity portends a greater menace than recognizing the obvious evils and dangers of both of these long-dead and unlamented movements.

Berezovsky v Abramovich

Here's a glimpse at the muddy Russian politics that has become so dominated by various "businessmen" with dubious reputation in the recent decades that it is hard to imagine any description of Russia without the word "oligarchy".

It all began in the 90s. Maybe in order to understand the Russia of the 90s we'd do good if we read a bit of Shakespeare. At least that's what the British lawyer of the oligarch Roman Abramovich, Jonathan Sumption once recommended as he was defending his client in court against a $6 billion claim from another key figure in Russian big business, Boris Berezovsky. The claim was for some shares in the SibNeft oil company, which Berezovsky is claiming that he and another partner of his (the late Arkady Patarkatsishvili) had been forced to sell to Abramovich far below their market price, due to political pressure from Kremlin. The other claim in this court battle were some shares in the aluminium giant RusAl (the Russians are crazy about weird abbreviations with zero imagination, like MosFilm, MinAtom, RosCosmos, etc).

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me in front.

Going Underground

I know that at least one person here wondered where I was, but I thought that I had better come in with a good story. So, here it is.

A documentary was aired on Channel 4 recently. in the UK, C4 is not the Beeb, but it tries to be upmarket - all docs and serious hi brow stuff like art and drama while still remaining a commercial channel.

So, I was not surprised when they ran this. " Confessions from the Underground" it was called.
It said that the people who worked on the Tube ( the London Underground) were not allowed to talk to the press without permission - so actors were repeating verbatim what real Tube workers had said to the camera in interviews. Collapse )