the big lie and fannie may, policy outcomes strongly reflect the preferences of the affluent, too connected to fail

The Big Lie is directly descended from the Third Reich,

From Chapter 10 of James Murphy’s translation of Mein Kampf:

But it remained for the Jews, with their unqualified capacity for falsehood, and their fighting comrades, the Marxists, to impute responsibility for the downfall precisely to the man who alone had shown a superhuman will and energy in his effort to prevent the catastrophe which he had foreseen and to save the nation from that hour of complete overthrow and shame. By placing responsibility for the loss of the world war on the shoulders of Ludendorff they took away the weapon of moral right from the only adversary dangerous enough to be likely to succeed in bringing the betrayers of the Fatherland to Justice.
All this was inspired by the principle–which is quite true within itself–that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying.

—Adolf Hitler , Mein Kampf, vol. I, ch. X[1]

Big lies about public policy and national security continue. One, among several, of the reasons they seem to succeed so well in the U.S. is that the general population does not want to believe that one of their fellow citizens, regardless of cultural or political differences, would be so cynical, to stoop so low as to betray their own country – as the Bush administration did in regards portraying Iraq as an imminent security threat. It is not that any political group is pure as the driven snow of pre-Industrial Revolution, the conservative movement has wrapped its ideology, the antithesis of the ideology of a democratic republic, in love of country, of goodness, family and their interpretation of Bible scripture. Let’s say there was a movement that wanted to undermine the framework, the ideals and the aspirations of a democratic republic. We could hardly expect that movement to be honest about its objectives. For better or worse real life is not like comic books or old TV melodramas. The bad guys are hardly going to make themselves obvious. As Sinclair Lewis said, “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” That quote is from 1935. Around the time the Right ( forget the political labels Democrats and Republicans) decided that any attempts to help Wall Street were good, but helping ordinary Americans was Marxist. The far Right have not changed much since. They lost a lot of ground for 40 years, than came the Silent Majority, the Regan Revolution. Both embodiments of Lewis’s warning. A lot of good people bought into a lot of policies that were  not in the best interests of middle to blue collar America because it was sold as the godly and patriotic thing. It was crap wrapped in red, while and blue velvet. So it goes with the Myth about Freddie Mac and Fannie May caused the Great Recession – The Big Lie

You’re chosen for an investigative panel related to your topic. When other panel members, after inspecting your evidence, reject your thesis, you claim that they did so for ideological reasons. This, too, is repeated by your allies. Soon, the echo chamber you created drowns out dissenting views; even presidential candidates begin repeating the Big Lie.

Thus has Peter Wallison, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and a former member of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, almost single-handedly created the myth that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac caused the financial crisis. His partner in crime is another A.E.I. scholar, Edward Pinto, who a very long time ago was Fannie’s chief credit officer. Pinto claims that as of June 2008, 27 million “risky” mortgages had been issued — “and a lion’s share was on Fannie and Freddie’s books,” as Wallison wrote recently. Never mind that his definition of “risky” is so all-encompassing that it includes mortgages with extremely low default rates as well as those with default rates nearing 30 percent. These latter mortgages were the ones created by the unholy alliance between subprime lenders and Wall Street. Pinto’s numbers are the Big Lie’s primary data point.

Blame must be shifted away from private banks, i.e. the private business sector at all costs. I read a lot of conservative blogs and other sites. This Fannie-Freddie lie is repeated endlessly by pundits and echoed by their commenters. Where is their evidence? They have none. They cannot get the most basic facts right. Freddie and Fannie do not make loans, much less sub-prime loans. They buy loans from banks. Many conservatives loved this up until…ahhh 2008. Buying loans from banks allowed the banks to quickly recoup capital and make more loans. Most sub-prime loans did not meet Freddie-Fannie criteria. F&F loaned a much lower percentage of sub-prime loans than private banks. That the right-wing American Enterprise Institute cronies Peter Wallison and Edward Pinto shrilly insist otherwise does not make it true. The Federal Reserve and independent studies show AEI and their “scholars” are lying. Will the zombie lie about Freddie and Fannie stop if people like Joe Nocera, Paul Krugman, Kevin Park and data set after data set proves they’re wrong. Of course not. The Big Lie is an old success story. It is tried and true. To stop believing the big lie about Fannie and Freddie is to believe that a huge chunk of conservative mumbo jumbo is wrong. In religion is is like Galileo claiming the earth revolved around the sun, to prove one piece of dogma wrong opens up the door for questioning all dogma. In this case if we question how fellow Americans who claimed to be god fearing patriots betrayed their country ( a lot of the world’s bankers betrayed their countries and they used ultra-nationalism as a cudgel as well)) that is just a slippery slope to questioning a lot of the twisted tripe conservatives sell as patriotism. And we can’t have that now can we.

black and white bench by the river

Those that have more get more, Inequality and Democratic Responsiveness

By allowing voters to choose among candidates with competing policy orientations and by providing incentives for incumbents to shape policy in the direction the public desires, elections are thought to provide the foundation that links government policy to the preferences of the governed. In this article I examine the extent to which the preference/policy link is biased toward the preferences of high-income Americans. Using an original data set of almost two thousand survey questions on proposed policy changes between 1981 and 2002, I find a moderately strong relationship between what the public wants and what the government does, albeit with a strong bias toward the status quo. But I also find that when Americans with different income levels differ in their policy preferences, actual policy outcomes strongly reflect the preferences of the most affluent but bear virtually no relationship to the preferences of poor or middle-income Americans. The vast discrepancy I find in government responsiveness to citizens with different incomes stands in stark contrast to the ideal of political equality that Americans hold dear. Although perfect political equality is an unrealistic goal, representational biases of this magnitude call into question the very democratic character of our society.

It is not the case that the middle-class and lower income blue collar America never gets what it wants, it is that there is a pretty strong bias in paying attention to and catering to those at the very top. Many Americans across the economic spectrum really have bought into the distorted picture of the captains of industry being some how deserving of special credit and treatment. Ironic for a country founded on egalitarian ideals, where titles such as Prince and Lady were done away with.

snow, landscape, trees

winter morning haze

Smart Guide to 2012: The networks that run the world

It’s the same for any complex system: from the global economy to the human brain, understanding the connections is key. To make sense of the world you’ve got to know network theory – the branch of mathematics that holds the answers. Network analysis is really taking off, thanks to a mass of data on complex systems, combined with heavy-duty computing power to crunch the numbers. One emerging theme is that biological networks can resist perturbation, up to a point. Disturb the system enough and things go awry – which is what happens when we get sick.

[  ]…Because networks created by human activities (Revealed – the capitalist network that runs the world. Nothing innately wrong with capitalism. It is simply easily corrupted and frequently used as a form of social-Spencerism ) aren’t shaped by natural selection they may collapse if disrupted. This is why network theorists are busy studying connections between big firms. “Too big to fail” is only partly right: “too connected to fail” is the message from network theory.

I’m a little skeptical about making too strong a link between biological systems and artificially created ones. I can see similarities, though neuron based systems don’t tell us much about how to keep man-made ones from breaking down.

black and black photography, portrait

one moment

worker by august sander. From his “Man of the Twentieth Century” project. That also included women.

Lizzy Parks – All That


american masters of design, ray and charles eames

Charles & Ray Eames were a husband and wife team of artists. Despite the names and the confusion they have caused for some media reviewers, theywere not brothers. PBS did a documentary on them as part of the American Masters series. A short biographic essay is on-line, Charles & Ray Eames: The Architect and the Painter

Charles and Ray Eames headed the most creative design office in post World War II America. Frequently photographed in matching clothes, poses, or both, each brought a rich array of talents to their life/work partnership (1941-1978) as well as a contagious enthusiasm for life and art.

Dazzlingly bright-eyed, Ray looked like a cross between Dorothy in the enchanted Land of Oz and an artistic version of the energetic and engaging Jo March in Little Women. Charles, who looked (like) film star Henry Fonda, was handsome, charismatic and thought by many to be a “genius”.

Their studiously simple lifestyle revolved around their “laboratory” workshop and office in Los Angeles. No one worked harder than this pair; and no one took greater pleasure in their work. Together, they (and those who worked in the office) created some of the most iconic furniture of the twentieth century, which, together with their architecture, interiors, films, multi-media shows and exhibitions helped shape how people thought about objects and buildings.


You can watch the entire documentary on-line, but apparently it is blocked for countries outside the United States. I can appreciate the frustration with that since I would like to watch some BBC programs on-line, but they are blocked for countries outside the U.K. The trailer is available, EAMES: The Architect and The Painter – Trailer

Arts and Architecture magazine cover by Ray Eames via library of congress

Charles and Ray leaving Los Angeles for
Moscow with the Films for the
1959 American National Exhibition,
photograph. Library of Congress.

Ten to the power of one slide from a slide show for Powers of Ten. “These elaborately conceived and executed panels were created by the Eames Office for Powers of Ten. Forty-two large square images that mark the powers of ten were used in the production of the film and later reproduced for the 1982 book, Powers of Ten: A Book About the Relative Size of Things in the Universe and the Effect of Adding Another Zero, written by Philip Morrison, Phylis Morrison, and the Office of Charles and Ray Eames. ” Difficult to see clearly on this small thumbnail, but it is a picnic scene. Also Library of Congress.

Wire side chair, 1951
Charles Eames (American, 1907–1978); Ray Eames (American, 1912–1988); manufactured by Herman Miller Furniture Company, Zeeland, Michigan
Metal wire, painted black. This and some other furniture designs can be seen full size at the Metropolitan.There is an on-line slide show here – A slide show at the Metropolitan Museum – Charles Eames (1907–78) and Ray Eames (1912–88). We’ve probably all seen the ubiquitous plastic chair design by Charles that still is common in bus depots, airports and laundry-mats.