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Feb. 17 2010 - 8:08 am | 5,488 views | 3 recommendations | 151 comments

Feeling low

Sorry for the lack of posts; I’ve been really sick for days. I hope to be back at it soon.

What are you reading these days? And, are there issues I should be checking out?

Let me know in the comments.


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  1. collapse expand

    Get well soon na krab.

    This is the article that’s seemed to cause a bit of a stir recently:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/16/us/politics/16teaparty.html

    Long NYT look into the Tea Party movement with interviews and backgrounds. It’s not exactly groundbreaking, but given the work you did in The Great Derangment I’d think you might have some input. Myself, I grew up among the trailers of the people you spent time in Hagee’s church with, so I already know what’s going on there.

  2. collapse expand

    Not reading much right now, am addicted to the Olympics , get lots of rest and get well real soon

  3. collapse expand

    I’m more than a year late catching Frontline’s “The Warning,” but it was somehow relieving to know that somebody was fighting loudly to prevent our financial systems imminent collapse. Any reader of this blog would find it interesting and it’s available online:

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/warning/

    IMHO- A vindicated Brooksley Born needs a place close to the President’s ear in this administration.

  4. collapse expand

    I think the manipulation of oil prices is a story that needs more push. Americans are suffering enough without having the big banks play with the price of an important staple. We can refuse to use credit cards and move our accounts to stable credit unions but we can’t stop using oil anytime soon.
    The demand for oil has dropped considerably in the past year but the price has gone up and OPEC policies are not the main reason. Big banks are hoarding oil everywhere they can to create the illusion of scarcity. Do you know that J.P. Morgan is the largest owner of physical oil in New England?

    • collapse expand

      You could not be more accurate. The nymex where oil is traded is by far the most corrupt market I have ever seen. This is an area that needs extensive investigation. These games being played with gas and oil prices affects every american, everyday. The only way to teach these guys a lesson is to play there own game. If the president came out and said he was releaseing 2 million barrels a week from the strategic reserve it would cause a panic. The problem is they would lose so much money we would have to bail them out again.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  5. collapse expand

    Matt i’ve been reading lots of stuff…but what i think needs to be covered is how the Republicans get away with inventing their own facts and Democrats are pussies.

    yes i said it. the Democrats are the 90’s fucking Clippers. If they can’t get shit done when they have majorities then fuck them. i’m done! peace!

    No health care reform, and i’ll sit my ass home in 2010 and 2012, not even Sarah “Retard!” Palin will scare me enough to come out and vote. To hell with it.

  6. collapse expand

    Not reading much right now, too busy with work and stuff. But I am looking forward to your newest article on Goldman Sachs and the rest of the greedy banks in the upcoming issue of RS!

    Feel better soon.

  7. collapse expand

    Hope you recover quickly, we need you.
    I have read articles where you have stated your love of film, and I was recently turned on to a prolific freelance editor who does montages of some of the best American directors’ work.
    Here’s an homage to The Coen Brothers.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEfk6CfObEI

  8. collapse expand

    hope you feel better soon, sir.

    i’m sure you’re already up to date on goldman sach’s damning involvement in greece’s financial crisis.

    i thought it might be funny to convert “four amendments and a funeral” into graphic novel format a la robert crumb and harvey pekar’s “american splendour” style. so i started sketching it out into comic panels.

  9. collapse expand

    Have you caught wind of the “brown bagger” movement for progressives? There’s something going on today. Don’t know if or hold hope that anything will come of this movement, but it’s here today.

    Or Senator Bennett’s letter to Reid (oh so effective in the job bill doncha know) to push through the public option.

    Get well soon.

  10. collapse expand

    If you could somehow explain the reason our military always seems to catch or kill the #2 person in terror but never #1 or #3 for that matter. If I was a high ranking member of a terrorist organization I would change the rank system so a #2 would never exist, because I think we caught them all. Hope you feel better soon.

  11. collapse expand

    Sorry to hear of you have taken ill. I hope you recover quickly. Thanks for keeping us updated. Even though you really don’t know us individually ( I am presuming you don’t know most readers one on one), you always make things feel personal in your writing – not just drone reporting but that you actually care about what you are talking about. People may not comment on every article they read of yours but you are appreciated. Take good care of yourself Matt.

  12. collapse expand

    matt, read your article on Yelstin the other day and think the president of Sri Lanka would be a great one to right about in terms of media and human rights violations.

    http://www.thesundayleader.lk/2010/01/10/and-then-they-came-for-me/

  13. collapse expand

    I just started reading “Wall Street’s Bailout Hustle” as my RS issue seems perpetually late. I like the title. By now, Matt Taibbi must be public enemy number one over at GS.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if they had an “Irish” (sneeze, did I say Israeli?) hit squad playing mixed doubles in a nearby tennis court, if you know what I mean.

    By the way, doesn’t anyone read fiction any more? I recently read Joshua Ferris’ “The Unnamed” and it was good, but weird. Kind of like sugar free ice cream — it’s good going down but when you’re done with it, you’re not sure of the point of the whole exercise.

  14. collapse expand

    Sorry you’re sick. Feel better.

    What do you think of Henry Paulson’s Op-Ed in yesterday’s NY Times?

  15. collapse expand

    Just so everyone knows, Tom Friedman’s wife’s company–or the company she is an heir too–is being bought out for $10 billion. So they’ve got that going for them, which is nice.

    http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-02-16/simon-property-offers-10-billion-for-general-growth-update1-.html

    Anyway, if we’re talking strictly reading related to politics/the economy etc. Michael Hudson’s posts on Counterpunch are always a great read. Here’s his latest one:

    http://www.counterpunch.org/hudson02152010.html

    In fact, Counterpunch as a whole, with the three Cockburns, is a great website/newsletter that outdoes a lot of the more popular sites liberal/progressive blogs like Huffington Post. In fact, Counterpunch isn’t really liberal/leftist (although the editors certainly seem to be); it’s just good journalism.

    Taibbi, as far as what you should be checking out, maybe your take on the Tea Party and their impact, whatever that may be, on politics in 2010. Other than that, since I’m not original (see my username for proof) you should just stick to the economy/health care stuff (christ I hate that word) since you do a better job of it than most in the mainstream media. Keeping up with what goes on in wall street is enough of problem without someone to sort out the bullshit. Keep up the good work.

  16. collapse expand

    And I also read Michael Lewis’ “The Mansion: A Subprime Parable,” which another blogger was kind enough to link for us.

    While I used to be a fan of Lewis’ prior work. This article made me lose a lot of respect. Let me summarize it:

    It’s hard to have a mansion. Being rich is tough on the kids because sometimes they got stuck in the elevator on weekends. And, of yeah, sometimes a mansion can make you do things like defraud clients and commit crime.
    Honestly, Lewis, you have lost your way. Success has gone to your “upper middle class” head.

    The only parable I take away is that you have become the very thing that you made a career off ridiculing: Rich, self-obsessed assholes.

  17. collapse expand

    Sorry you are feeling sick. Make sure to drink a lot of grape gatorade. It calms the spirit :)

    This is a short, interesting read from the “East Bay Express” (Bay area weekly newspaper).

    http://www.eastbayexpress.com/ebx/running-a-business-with-26-ceos/Content?oid=1577035

    It’s hard for me to understand why all companies aren’t set up this way…..and then I remember, this is America.

  18. collapse expand

    I’m re-reading Infinite Jest. I find new nuggets of awesome every time I revisit the book.

    Oh, I’m also having fun reading the RNC 2010 Obama Agenda Survey I received in the mail yesterday. What wonderful fiction!

  19. collapse expand

    Best wishes to get better.

    Perhaps it will make you feel better if you know that other people are paying attention to the economic issues you broke ground on:

    US Economy Grinds to a Halt As Nation Realizes Money Is Simply a Shared Illusion

    IN-DEPTH: Should the Government Stop Pouring Money Down a Giant Hole?

  20. collapse expand

    Matt I am curious about the death of campaign finance reform. I feel this is another reason for a Libertarian, such as myself, to hate the Republican party. Republicans claim they want a small government, but I think what they really want is an unelected government run by business oligarchs… just as expensive and burdensome to the American people. Influence is bought and paid for pennies on the dollar by these hypocrites. I suspect there is a new breed of Jack Abramoffs being grown. I would like to know how influence is being peddled today and how it is evolving. Where are all the retiring congressmen going? Are they going to end up at think tanks or lobbying firms making 10 times what they are making now? I think there are more blood sucking leeches that need to be exposed. The Teabaggers are stooges. They have no idea how they are being used.

  21. collapse expand

    Much reported, but little observed yesterday, was the end of the tea party movement. They will hold future rallies, but the meeting of Michael Steele and 50 leading tea party activists signals the beginning of the inevitable co-opting of the teabaggers by the GOP. Teabaggers may not know it yet, but they are about to be subjected to a massive Republican propaganda onslaught this campaign season that hits all the right chords–reduce spending, curb illegal immigration, and return America to its “traditional values.” Republicans have been manipulating their base to perfects for about thirty years now, so they know what they’re doing. I suspect there will be some serious primary challenges to a few Republican incumbents, but those candidates are at a grave disadvantage from a funding standpoint. Heavy-hitting campaign donors (corporations) are not going to back insurgent teabagger candidates because no one knows what to expect from people like JD Hayworth. And money is almost everything, especially now that corporations can spend unlimited amounts of money on behalf of candidates.

    Teabaggers, we hardly knew ye.

    Max Canning

  22. collapse expand

    Right now, I’m kind of obsessed with inflation vs. deflation. Really rooting for the former, because I’m long in precious metals. Be interesting to see how Bernanke and the Fed walk that high wire.

  23. collapse expand

    Hey Matt, How about this one:

    Food Stamps Create Jobs… in India
    Several States With High Unemployment Are Outsourcing Food Stamp Services

    http://abcnews.go.com/Business/Economy/comments?type=story&id=7452561

    JP Morgan now controls our food stamps. When the currency collapses, food will become a valuable asset. Pretty smart hedge, wouldn’t you say? It’s easy to be smart to do when you control the game.

    Hope you feel better soon!

  24. collapse expand

    Hi Matt. Short time reader, first time poster.

    Roughly two months ago, a friend of mine who follows economics closely recommended your columns and I was quite impressed. Bear in mind, my knowledge of economics is midway between “economics dummy” and “economics retard,” so potentially, I may be impressed easily.

    However, I tend to be a quick study and being somewhat obsessive compulsive, once my interest is piqued I have a tendency to… well… go over the top in reading and learning whatever I can on whatever topic is driving me at the time.

    I’m responding to your question in respect to what I’ve been reading and I was curious as to whether you’d read Naomi Klein’s “Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.”

    I was compelled to ask about this due to the fact that she provides analysis of Russian economics during the time you resided in the country. I haven’t yet read your Russian columns yet, but I’ll check them out in the next couple of weeks.

    I thought her book was quite informative and offered myself a personal epiphany in respect to how corporations are increasing their stranglehold on our elected officials, much the way you’ve emphasized the point with your columns on Goldman Sachs, et al, with your columns on the recent economic crisis.

    Thank you kindly and might I add that you should continue to spank David Brooks soundly.

    The mainstream media has shirked the responsibilities to which they love to lay claim; independent and unbiased reporting. Just the facts, Ma’am.

    Anyway, hope you get better soon! Eat lots o chicken soup and use liberal amounts of Vick’s Vapo-rub.

    Nahhh… fuckit. Go for the run n lemon hot toddy! It has a higher entertainment quotient.

    Thanks again, Matt! Cioa for niao.

  25. collapse expand

    I don’t event need to post a link Matt, just go google the terms “greece goldman sachs derivatives”. They might have the European Commission snap a ruler down on one of their tentacles.

  26. collapse expand

    Was recently digging up some older articles on Sibel Edmonds. Her interview with Giraldi back in November didn’t seem to get much press.

    Her comments re: State Secrets Privilege, if true, leave us awfully exposed to abuse of executive power. Not that we weren’t exposed already.

    http://www.amconmag.com/article/2009/nov/01/00006/

  27. collapse expand

    Matt,

    Your old buddy/co-worker Mark Ames posted this on exiled.com. It is an hour and a half long PBS broadcast from 1986 by Bill Moyers entitled – Secret Government: The Constitution in Crisis. It would be easy and fascinating “too sick to write” viewing.

    The broadcast functions as a scathing and no holds barred history of America’s National Security State, beginning (in the film) with Truman’s signing of the National Security Act in 1947 and ending with the Iran/Contra scandal. It doesn’t cover every dirty war America fought in that time, but it touches on a lot of them. And it is downright eerie how this show seems even more topical now than when it was aired. Just substitute “terrorism” for “communism” and leave all the plot elements in place.
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3505348655137118430#

  28. collapse expand

    Hey Matt, you might find this read-worthy.

    More vampire squid tentacles are surfacing.
    According to Bloomberg GS was underwriting big fat greek government bonds.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=asBNXSLtlN9E

    Get well soon.

  29. collapse expand

    Hey Matt, you might find this read-worthy.

    More vampire squid tentacles are surfacing.
    According to Bloomberg GS was underwriting big fat greek government bonds.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=asBNXSLtlN9E

    Get well soon

  30. collapse expand

    Matt, would a brief delving into the scope-members of Mr. PrezBo’s soon to be convened “National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform” be worth a twirl? Hot Potato, milquetoast commissions usually are comprised of weak-minded, pastured politicians seeking a last pinch of limelight and walkaround coin rarely more than theater of the absurd with all members throwing their two-cents into a mix that fills volumes with half-witted drivel. In retrospect, may be just be a painfully stupid waste of time.

  31. collapse expand

    After the apparent capture (alive no less) of Mullah Baradar, I ran through some of the conservative blogs to see how they were reacting to this great success for the U.S. One would think they would be happy we had bagged a big one, with the cooperation of the often recalcitrant ISI.

    Silly me. If they have reacted at all, it has been with backhanded comments like “at least we know the ISI won’t read him his Miranda rights”. On Fox News this morning they had some dip-shit ex-CIA guy saying that capturing Taliban doesn’t accomplish anything – you have to kill them (not kidding).

    Obviously hypocrisy is like breathing for these people, but why can’t they be called out for the fact that they are not really Pro American at all. Their behavior in this situation only confirms that they would rather see America fail if this would lead to a new GOP regime.

  32. collapse expand

    Thomas Freidman wants to replace the term “Global Warming”, with “Global Weirding”. I think he needs another whipping.

  33. collapse expand

    Maybe this is not the kind of book you would normally read, Matt, but I recommend http://www.amazon.com/Hope-Guide-Sacred-Activism/dp/1401920039 . If you are low this could make you high. Try it. Geoffrey

  34. collapse expand

    I’d personally like to see you tackle the oil/natural gas/U.S. Energy story in a bit more depth. You’ve touched on it here and there but I think it warrants the full treatment, arguably moreso than U.S. finance.

  35. collapse expand

    Hey Matt,

    So remember that like, 1 billion gallons of coal ash that spilled when that 60 foot damn broke in Tennessee last year?

    Well, despite covering 400 acres in 6 feet of coal ash heavy metal sludge, and amid promises to clean the whole disaster up, more than a year later, less than 3 percent of the spill is cleaned up.

    This raises greater questions about other “slurry dams” that are in Appalachia, that might be 9 times larger and built over an elementary school.

    http://www.sludgesafety.org/what_me_worry/marsh_fork/index.html

    Generally, there are cool things happening in WV by people who, you know, don’t want their homes blown up.

    http://climategroundzero.net/

    Get better
    blase

  36. collapse expand

    In the off chance that you might want something a little less serious than the day-to-day crises we face, I have recently been reading Harold Lamb’s books of swashbuckling in the world of Genghis Khan, which I got from Amazon. Also, Arturo Perez-Reverte’s Captain Alastride novels of Spain, more sword play.

    Also, I am exercising my NetFlix account looking for gems of films I somehow have missed. The latest one I found was called “The Night They Raided Minskys” with Britt Ekland and Eliot Gould about the death of burlesque in NY. Great stuff and might make you feel better.

  37. collapse expand

    Thanks for asking, Matt, and take care of yourself. What I’m waiting to see you comment on: Goldman Sacks selling financial crack to Greece (and presumably others), and the EU investigation thereof. IMHO, politicians must be even bigger marks for sub-prime loans than “irresponsible” homeowners, since politicians A) have their nation’s money to play with; B) have every incentive to goose their short-term economy at long-term cost; C) can expect to get bailed out by other nations when their national economy collapses; and D) are occupationally selected by skill at politics, not at finance. Maybe it will be the Europeans, not the Americans, who productively investigate both American war crimes and American financial crimes.

  38. collapse expand

    Every time I think education in this country can’t get worse, it promptly does. The national education landscape is starting to look like a set from “The Road.” Over the last nine years of No Child Left Behind, teachers have been turned into technicians applying one size fits all programs on our children with disastrous results, minimum competency tests that tell us nothing about student performance and can’t match with their own state performance standards, an embarrassing high school graduation rate due in no small part to do-or-die graduation exams that adversely affect our low income students.

    Now we have Arne Duncan’s (Margaret Spellings in drag) Race to the Top and if states want any part of the federal pie they must submit applications that do away with teacher experience (I mean come on, who would ever gets better with experience), and advance degrees (why would anyone consider teaching as an intellectual pursuit?) as criteria for advancement. Instead let’s use multiple choice state tests created by publishing companies that also sell the materials needed to pass the test. Consider a state like Georgia where the last go through with eight grade students on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) revealed only 29% of the state’s kids are reading at an eighth grade proficiency level. Georgia’s own state test says the national test has it all wrong and that actually 89% are proficient. Someone is off a few students. Thank God for Mississippi where their state test has a proficiency rate in the 90’s. You really don’t want to know their NAEP rate.

    Add to this, state mandated furloughs in states whether districts needed them or not, and we have a morale so low and a fear factor so high that we have cheating teachers and administrators, clueless school boards who lose their district’s accreditations, and worse, administrators so frightened that they have teachers putting on the board the specific daily performance standard and teaching to it directly because the slightest disruption of test scores means someone is out of work.

    Education is probably the only issue that republicans and democrats agree on and they both have it wrong.

    Anyway, you wanted to know what I was reading about…

  39. collapse expand

    Sorry to hear you have been sick and hope you are better soon. I just wanted to say how much I enjoy your blog, as much as I have always enjoyed hearing your thoughts when you are on Bill Maher. You say it like it is and we need more of that.

  40. collapse expand

    Hope you recover soon Matt.
    I do feel somewhat ashamed to ask a “non-finance-journalist” for this but seem to be the only one able and willing to tackle complex issues. Here is one for you: Lehman had 22 bn in equity before filing and a 150 bn hole after filing 11. Some of it is explainable, but most not yet explained. And nobody, and least the Second Southern District Court of New York seem to be interested where the difference went.

    We are talking here about a pivotal moment in Western Capitalism and nobody is asking the right questions.

    Have you ever thought about it ?

  41. collapse expand

    Anything that falls under the general heading of “well-connected middlemen with privileged information (Stiglitz’s asymetric information) leeching from society, riskfree” sounds good to me. Since two readers have already mentioned oil price manipulation, I’ll say that sounds like a decent place to visit if it interests you.

  42. collapse expand

    Matt…

    I would like some truth squad…why can the President come out this morning with rosy stuff about the first anniversary of “teh stimulus”…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yC8rb4oqXFU

    …but the person he hired to oversee TARP, Elizabeth Warren, is “worried”…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBbsx56cVrI

    …does he listen to her at all?

    Hope you feel better.
    Cheers.

  43. collapse expand

    Feel better, man. I’m sure hearing public insurance option slayer Evan “My wife is on the board of Wellpoint” Bayh complaining about how we just can’t reform health care because of the lack of bipartisanship can’t have helped with your recovery efforts…

  44. collapse expand

    Think you’re ill now? Whether money, lack of free agent talent or a bridge theory, Theo has decided to make the Red Sox a defensive team. Fine. But how much sense does it make to have two of the worst defensive catchers in the game? Anytime an fairly above average runner reaches first it’s it might as well go down as a double in stat sheet. Big trouble lies ahead in Boston

  45. collapse expand

    Hi Matt. Happy Year of the Tiger!

    I think the WTO needs attention. Obama as a candidate promised to renegotiate US trade agreements but never has. You could explore how the WTO is a sort of super-government, why China was accepted, and Russia never was. How our membership in the WTO means we can’t legally break up some of the big banks or legislate financial products.

    Zero Hedge touched on this in an article titled “The OTHER Reason that the U.S. is Not Regulating Wall Street“. I have my own admittedly conspiratorial take on this in my article “David Rockefeller, China, Free Trade, the WTO and the New World Order“. Basically it looks to me like the American Middle Class has been abandoned by the people in power.

    And with regard to the whole conspiracy theory thing, it wasn’t that long ago that you would have been called a conspiracy theorists for saying that Goldman Sachs is a “great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity”. No more.

  46. collapse expand

    Matt,

    I just finished reading the brand new issue of Rolling Stone and your incredible “Return of the Vampire Squid”.

    I shook my head an amazement so many times I am dizzy (and queazy…).

    Get well soon pal! we need you like oxygen…

    AP

    (PS)Check out this. I think you might dig it:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OET8SVAGELA

  47. collapse expand

    Hope you feel better soon. this really lit up interest on the NYT last week:

    How Christian Were the Founders?
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/14/magazine/14texbooks-t.html?em

    Miss your posts and insight – take care.

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    I'm a political reporter for Rolling Stone magazine, a sports columnist for Men's Journal, and I also write books for a Random House imprint called Spiegel and Grau.

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