Friday, January 16, 2015

SAR #15016

The moment somebody says, ‘I believe in free speech, but,’ stop listening; the moment you limit free speech, it stops being free speech. Salman Rushdie

Another Shoe: At the same time the Swiss National Bank set the franc free to appreciate against the euro it announced it would push the negative interest rate on deposit balances to -0.75%. A bunch of hedge funds lost a bunch of money, Swiss stocks lost about $100 billion in the blink of an eye, Swiss exports will cost more and the Swiss economy will dip towards recession, but the real import of the moves is that a solem promise made and reiterated by an important central bank has been broken. Goldman Sachs, putting lipstick on the pig, opined that this would assure that “the ECB is going to do QE, and it’s going to be big...” trying to quiet the market so they can rig things so they profit no matter what. As usual. But it is a very interconnected world, so speculate carefully.

Power of the Purse: House Republicans have 'defunded' the executive actions Obama ordered to shield certain categories of illegal immigrants from deportation. Expect more of this, for the Republicans remember that bit from grade school where we were told that the House controls the government's purse strings and know that no matter how popular a President or a Presidential program is, those who control the House Budget Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee actually run the country. Which is why Paul Ryan has absolutely no interest in being President.

Essay Prompt: Why are the Brits letting Cameron & Company privatize the crown jewels​?

Occam's Razor: If unemployment has really fallen as much as the BLS keeps insisting, why are wages still stuck? Easy – the real unemployment rate is much higher than claimed by the government, much of it hidden by the record low 'labor force participation rate'. This isn't rocket science, folks. 
Sole Searching: The CIA has investigated the CIA's illegal searching of computers used by the Senate Intelligence Committee and found that no one at the CIA had done anything wrong. Ever.

Fact Checking: House Republicans, with a little help from 28 so-called Democrats, have passed a bill to get the Keystone XL pipeline underway, bragging about job creation and energy independence. Which would be fine if the project would employ more than 3,900 for a year and fewer than 40 permanently (except for the emergency clean-up crews that will be needed), and if Alberta's Heavy West Canadian crude wasn't destined for shipment overseas after being refined along the Gulf Coast. If prices don't rise above the current sub-$50 level it will be moot anyway. 
Broadbanded: The fastest broadband services in the US are some of the cheapest, too. Check out Chattanooga, and Lafayette – where the government operates the system, not AT&T, Comcast or Verizon. So why isn't your town looking out for you? Why doesn't the federal government help fund local broadband expansion and make super-fast internet available to all as a basic right. Like healthcare. 
Damn, Damn, Damn: After rising inexorably for decades, suddenly the number of Americans who are encountering financial ruin because of medical bills has started to decline. And fewer Americans are avoiding visits to their doctors because of the cost. Credit Obamacare; quickly, before the Republicans gut it.

Wrong: Pope Francis is mistaken when he says one cannot make fun of the various religions. One most certainly can, quite easily. If we can poke fun at the flat earthers, snake handlers, Minnesota Unitarians, Republicans and free marketeers, we can poke fun at other human foibles like organized religion. Freedom of speech is freedom of speech right up to yelling 'Fire!' in a crowded theater. Short of that, it becomes a matter of judgment and discretion, not law.

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