Saturday, October 31, 2015
Every now and then you should check your internal tape against reality.
Protecting Democracy: Turkey's insecure and paranoid would-be dictator, president Tayyip Erdoğan, faced with an election he shouldn't win but will, has seen cops to seize two TV stations run by political parties that oppose him. He's also imprisoned a couple of children who tore down one of his election posters – a crime that could get them two years in jail. Erdoğan continues his support for ISIS, attacking Syrian Kurds (along with killing Turkish Kurds whenever it's convenient). He's a US ally.
Over/Over: Apple's made $234 billion in profits this year and has north of $300 billion stuck under mattresses overseas – money it has paid no taxes on. Why do we let them get away with this?
Ingrate: An Englishman who has been released from fourteen years of captivity in the US torture/interrogation camp at Guantánamo without either charges nor a trial, wants to sue for damages. Again, why did we let them get away with this?
Over There: A federal appeals court says that federal agencies like the FBI and CIA – or the Agriculture Department for that matter – can imprison and torture Americans as long as it is done outside the US. Nice to know they can't catch you here and torture you there. Not legally, anyway. [Enter chorus...]
Redeployment: Saudi Arabia has flown 500 ISIL soldiers [ISIL is pretty much a wholly owned subsidiary of the Saudi government] from bases in Turkey to an airport in Aden, Yemen where they are to join with Saudi led forces in attacking Houthi forces.
Politics: Dennis Hastert, GOP Speaker of the House speaker for eight years paid over $3.5 million in bribes to keep his sexual misconduct secret, will serve “no more than” six months and may serve no time at all. Where Denny, who went from being a high school coach to a low paid congressman, got that much money in the first place is not a question anybody really wants to answer.
Possession Of Possessions: A US circuit court has ruled that possession is ten tenths of the law when it comes to stolen art. In the case of Van Gogh's The Night Cafe, Yale cheerfully admits that it was stolen from the Konowaloff family during the Russian Revolution and somehow ended up being bought by the school in 1961. Yale was particularly pleased because the ruling will probably let them keep other works of art stolen by the Nazis and later re-stolen and sold.
Democracy Being “Messy”: During the eight years that Nouri Maliki was the US handmaiden running Iraq, he and his henchmen made off with $500 billion – easily one of the most sucessful profitable war profiteers in history. Why didn't we send them a few more pallet loads of $100s and keep our troops at home?
Us and Them: The 100 top paid CEOs in the US have retirement savings that dwarf the combined savings of 40% of all US families. They stole it fair and square, much of it by shipping your job overseas. Note that at least half of US workers lack company-sponsored retirement plans.
Porn O'Graph: Coming and going.
Posted by Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III at 7:34 AM
Friday, October 30, 2015
Clarification: The US now acknowledges that “direct action” is combat by another name, as it starts (?) ground operations against ISIS in Iraq... and Syria. Okay, so they didn't actually say “Syria” yet.
Lipstick On Pigs: September new home sales fell 11.5%. Housing starts were up, but completions fell, and house prices were rising twice as fast as wages. The US trucking industry is slowing dramatically, leading to cuts at diesel engine factories. Even the bankers are cutting back – Deutsche Bank is letting 15,000 go. Maybe there's a reason the economic recovery doesn’t feel like one.
Family: Our closest relative is the orangutan, 20,000 of whom are danger of being burned alive in Indonesian forest fires.
Asked & Obvious: Are all these corporate share buy backs jeopardizing future growth? Nope, if there was any hope of expanding future growth they wouldn't be trying to bamboozle the shareholders with buybacks.
Buy High, Sell Low: As part of the budget/debt limit deal, at the GOP's insistence the government will sell off part of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. You know, the oil we've squirrelled away to protect against an unseen disaster to our oil supply. The one we filled up at $80-$90 a barrel. Because,
the GOP points out,
we can get $44 abarrel for it these days.
Straw, Last Few: We live in terrible times in a terrible country, according to the GOP candidates. Our women's physicians are harvesting brains from living babies (Carly Fiorina). The federal government is persecuting Christians for their religious beliefs (Ted Cruz), and putting them in jail for practicing their beliefs (Mike Huckabee). Our nation is being over-run by brown-skinned drug dealing rapists (Donald Trump). Things are so bad that the president should unleash drone strikes on those who would join ISIS (Lindsay Graham). And health insurance is mandatory, gasp! (All of 'em.)
Farmer's Almanac: It takes a long time to walk from Aleppo, Syria to Sweden. Those who set out today will still be enroute in December, looking for shelter in January... It's a human tragedy that will become far worse.
Freedom From The Press: The government refuses to obey a US District Court order to release videotapes to the press that show prisoners at Guantanamo being force-fed. Rectally. According to the judge, “what the government is really saying is that its classification system trumps the decisions of the federal courts.”
Simplification: In Bal Harbour, a ritzy community just north of Chicago, the cops simplified law enforcement by becoming the criminals and running a money-laundering service in and around Chicago. They “earned” $2.4 million while returning $71.5 million to their clients who were mostly drug dealers. No arrests were made. No police reports were made. Profits, however, were made. And spent. Somewhat like the Justice Department and Wall Street.
American Heroes: We are constantly bombarded with propaganda proclaiming that our combat troops are “American heroes”. Unless, of course, they have PTSD. If a soldier comes back from a second, third or fourth combat deployment and is diagnosed with mental health problems (Imagine!), the Army gives them dishonorable discharges for “misconduct”. In the last six years they've done this over 22,000 times. This saves the military and the VA immense amounts of money and lets the military downplay the horrific psychological damage repeated deployments required by an Army far too small for
the empire its
Picture This: FBI Director James Comey blames citizens with cameras for increase in violent crime.
Posted by Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III at 7:41 AM
Thursday, October 29, 2015
Reality Check: Paul Ryan got only 200 votes from his fellow Republicans, becoming their nominee for Speaker of the House. It seems likely he will go on to actually become Speaker. But when he does, remember he only got 200 Republican votes, and it takes 218 votes to pass a bill in the lower house of Congress.
Understatement: Iraq wants to make it very clear that they do not want US troops now, never have, and did not ask for them now, nor at any earlier date – no matter how Cheney remembers things.
Handy Dandy: Pepsi's Aquafina rband bottled water – the largest selling brand of bottled water – will now carry labeling that confesses what has been true all along: it's tap water. Sure it comes in a neat little environmentally disastrous plastic bottle, but what's inside comes from”public water sources.” Tap water, in other words.
Preview: In Arizona, which recently cut benefits under TANF (food stamps) by 20%, a poor family can get welfare assistance. But only for 12 months. Total. Over a lifetime. Chill out, this is the Paul Ryan model of public assistance where being poor is a personal problem.
An Echo: “Rubio has missed more votes than any other senator this year. His seat is regularly empty for floor votes, committee meetings and intelligence briefings. He says he's MIA from his J-O-B because he finds it frustrating and wants to be president, instead. [...] Sorry, senator, but Floridians sent you to Washington to do a job. We've got serious problems with clogged highways, eroding beaches, flat Social Security checks and people who want to shut down the government.”
Progress: The Senate has passed a cyber-security bill which contains legal protections for internet providers who share your personal information with the government. The politicians are portraying this further erosion of privacy as a Good Idea.
Dollars And Nonsense: Ben Carson's budget plan calls for a Balanced Budget Amendment which would keep the government from helping the poor and unemployed come the next economic downturn. It would impose a 10% Biblical flat tax, increasing taxes on the poor and middle class and cutting them dramatically for the rich. This would raise about $1.1 trillion a year, while the current federal budget is north of $4 trillion. To close this gap Carson would freeze government hiring (saving about $5 billion a year) and reduce all government budgets (except defense) by 4% (saving another $15 billion a year). Of course the math doesn't work, it wasn't supposed to. After all, Ben seriously believes the world was created in six days, and in such a world, the irrational is mandatory.
Clarification: About a thousand Bikini islanders are asking to be relocated to the US as rising seas “threaten their adopted home.” Actually, it is not “their adopted home”, it is the small island concentration camp where the military shipped them when we wanted to nuke their home.
Worse And Worser: Sure the Planned Parenthood investigating committee under Marsha Blackburn is going to be about as bad as the last half-dozen Benghazi committees, but the prizewinner is really the House Science Committee, headed by Lamar Smith of Texas who doesn't believe in science.
Mistakes Were Made: Tony Blair now says that he's sorry that his and Bush's war crimes led to the creation of ISIS. Fine, as far as it goes, but the real blame rests on Paul Bremer's insistence on disbanding the Iraqi Army and the US Command staff for giving in to Cheney and imprisoning and torturing its former leaders.
Posted by Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III at 8:08 AM
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Sure governments are bad at business. So is business; most startups fail.
Speak Softly And Carry A Dictionary: While Obama continues to maintain that there will be no boots on the ground, or if there are they will not be engaged in combat operations, the Secretary of Defense says the troops deployed in Iraq (and occasionally in Syria) will only engage in “direct action”, not combat. He also said that no US-trained Syrian rebels had come under Russian airstrikes because, despite a lot of effort and money, there are no US-trained rebel forces.
Echo: The newly elected president of Guatemala is a professional comedian. That's not exactly what we did – George was an amateur.
Definition: The US Special Forces soldiers who called in the air strike on the Doctors Without Borders Hospital in Afghanistan knew it was a hospital but thought it was under Taliban control, making the sick and wounded men, women and children fair game to be burned to death in their beds. Knowingly bombing a hospital is a war crime, no matter whose running the place. Same goes for the Saudi attack on a similar hospital in Yemen.
Brave New World: What number comes next in this series: 1981, 1982, 1983, ____ ? Right, 1985, because the Orwell's estate claims exclusive use of the number “1984”.
Another Sideshow: House Republicans, seeing the shine has gone from their Benghazi investigation and not sure Marsha Blackman can carry the day with her Planned Parenthood witch hunt, is opening an investigation aimed at impeaching the director of the IRS. Because the DOJ said it found no crime...
Frying Pan/Fire: Despite the Saudi war on Yemen and the long-running civil war, refugees from Ethiopia and Somali continue to arrive, fleeing worse lives at home.
Neverland: The main Republican candidates more or less agree on tax policy: Zero tax on capital gains and much lower taxes rates on everyone plus a $2,500 per-child tax credit. Oh, and a balanced budget. And growth, lots and lots of economic growth. Too bad all our prevous rounds of tax cuts for the rich haven't produced much growth, but this time it'll be different. It says so, right there in Ayn Rand's novels.
Interesting Idea: In order to reduce the influence of unconscious bias in the selection process, college applications in the UK will be identified only by number, no names.
The Way We Were: “Why should we pay any attention to anything Republicans say about deficits?” Since JFK, every Republican President has deepened the deficit and every Democratic President has left office with much smaller budget deficits than he inherited.
First, Amended: The US Customs have intercepted about 300 clay tablets thought to be looted Biblical artifacts looted from Iraq, destined for Hobby Lobby's corporate headquarters. The Christianized owners will claim this interferes with their constitutional right to worship graven images.
Principal Principles: As the Republican party dissolves into an incoherent swirl of ideologues, the odds seem to favor of the Democrats retaining the White House in 2016 and possibly 2020 and beyond., if fo no other reason than that it is still an elective office. If the GOP cannot field candidates who bridge the chasm between traditional Republicans and the crazies on the Freedom Caucus/Tea Party edge while having at least some appeal to the independent voters, it is doomed. Right now such a candidate is not in view, and if one was he or she would be dismembered by the far right who insist on repealing not just Obamacare but every social advance made since FDR was first sworn in.
Posted by Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III at 7:22 AM
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
We must conserve consumption.
Honorable Men: Jon Boehner and Barak Obama had a secret. For months they, along with Pelosi and McConnell, have been working to avoid a US default in November and a government shutdown in December. It may even have been the impetus for Boehner's retirement – a parting gift to both the Republican party and America, although a lot of Republicans will not see it that way. It is not a done deal yet, it still needs at least some Republican support in the House, but it is as good as it is going to get for both sides. The budget and the debt are removed from political play until after the next election, both sides get a little and give a little. It's called politics, and that's what the far right of the GOP simply doe not understand. The biggest single beneficiary is, of course, Paul Ryan – who will not have those two traps facing him on day one. Details are thin, a lot of feathers have been ruffled, life goes on.
Earth Reportedly Round: The New York AG is mounting an investigation to determine if Internet providers are cheating their customers. Nest up: Bears in the woods.
Merit Badge: Coal-fired power plants be damned, greedy idiots burning off forests in Indonesia are second only to China in greenhouse gas emissions, out-pacing the worst efforts of heedless Americans. Just to grow palm oil for those very same heedless Americans to fatten themselves on.
Infallible, Inc: The voice of God's Earthly Representative has been handed a defeat by bigoted bishops who have no intention of loving their gay brothers. Well, not openly.
You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet: The Republican crazies, having pointlessly beaten Benghazi to death, have now set their investigative sights on Planned Parenthood. The lineup is to be led by Marsha Blackburn, Joe Pitts and Diane Black who will examine the fictitious sale of baby parts as documented by the doctored and long since debunked videotapes. With luck it will take less than four years and eight separate pointless hearings.
Shocker: Autism is over-diagnosed. Way, way over-diagnosed.
Self Immunization: Wisconsin's beloved right wing dictator has signed a law designed to prevent prosecutors from investigating him and his staff for any more political crimes.
Voice In The Wilderness: Seven and a half years late, as usual, Obama discovers that our schools have an unhealthy addiction to testing instead of teacher. Would have been nice for him to discover leadership somewhat earlier in his presidency.
Show Me The Money: Over 85% of the money from right wing PACs that flows into the Tea Party Leadership Fund flows right back out to consultants, not to issues and most certainly not to candidates. It is hard to tell which is the bigger con, the Tea Partiers are trying to pull on us, or the one the funding fraudsters are pulling on the politicians.
Porn O'Graph: Shipping Out
Posted by Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III at 8:09 AM
Saturday, October 24, 2015
Surveillance presumes secrets.
Variation On A Theme: When the anti-austerity left won the Greek elections, the EU/ECB/IMF thwarted the will of the citizenry and used their financial hammers to control the country in order to keep the bond-holders happy and the euro alive. A similar drama appears to be unfolding in Portugal, where a coalition of leftist parties hold the majority but appear to be being kept from power with the constitutional president reportedly refusing to permit the duly elected anti-austerity and strongly eurosceptic parties from taking office. It will get noisy, very noisy, before this gets settled.
Who We Are: Given that Donald Trump talks to the voters using a fourth-grade vocabulary and Bernie Sanders talks to the same folks as though they'd at least made it to high school, guess who's gonna win.
So? Some bleeding heart liberals who don't understand profit margins claim that resettling Syrian refugees would cost lest and result in fewer deaths than widening the war on whoever it is we're at war with at the moment. Or the next moment.
Run, Don't Walk: Mainstream economists are starting to mutter vaguely about the possible risk of a new recession in the US. Just as we were getting used to this one.
Because Donations: While seriously underfunding the Department of Transportation, House Republicans have voted to remove all records of trucking company accidents and traffic safety information from the public record. That'll teach those pesky personal injury lawyers and their crippled clients.
It's Come To This: The American Academy of Pediatrics want all US doctors to screen every child they see for signs of malnutrition or hunger.
Longer Arm Of The Law: An amendment to the cybersecurity bill pending in Congress would give the US the right to pursue, prosecute and jail foreign nationals for doing things in foreign countries with other foreigners as victims. The crime does not have to happen in the US. Neither the perpetrator nor the victim need ever ti gave been in the US. For 10 words or less, explain how Congress got the right to give this supposed right to US courts, without citing an appropriate passage of the Old Testament.
It's Just Money: Canada's new liberal government thinks it can do better than pay $10 billion for a bunch of F-35 fighter jets that can't fight.
Because Stealth: Not satisfied with their goal of having everyone in the country carrying a concealed weapon, now the gun nuts want the right to secretly buy silencers for their guns. But only to protect the hearing of those who fire off a box or two of ammo on a Friday night. Has nothing to do with being able to gun down children without making too much noise.
Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe: Guess which “one country” stopped the UN from urging the world-wide decriminalization of the personal possession and use of drugs – all drugs.
Representatives: The House Republicans have – for the 61st time – voted to repeal Obamacare. They did not even hold a hearing on raising the debt ceiling, because that isn't as important as their compulsory groupthink session. Beats working for a living.
W/O Comment: The annual Love and Sex With Robots conference has been canceled. The robots couldn't get time off.
Posted by Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III at 7:28 AM
Friday, October 23, 2015
Our prosperity was borrowed.
The Perils of Paul Ryan: Paul Ryan, taking a victory lap around the Capital, says the far right has capitulated to his demands and are now united behind him, so he will reluctantly agree to become the next Speaker of the House. A few details remain, like the actual election, but it seems to be a done deal. Too bad we don't know quite what deals were done.
Pay To Play: Some Senate Democrats, having sat through seven previous Benghazi investigations that came up with nothing of interest, say that the current House Republican political witch hunt serves no legitimate purpose and that the GOP should reimburse the taxpayers the entire $5.4 million cost of the charade.
Smoking Gunned: Investigators from the TX AG's office raided a series of Planned Parenthood facilities apparently looking for the “baby body parts” being gruesomely harvested as shown in the doctored videos that made the rounds recently. Texas has deprived the women's health provider of all Medicaid funding and is looking for some evidence that might keep a judge from telling them to back off – as has happened to GOP led defunding in Arkansas and Louisiana.
University Education: The University of Kentucky claims it has exclusive rights to the word “Kentucky” and no one else can use it on a product or t-shirt. They also tried to copyright “education” but they couldn't prove they had any.
Easy Did It: San Diego's Imprimis Pharmaceuticals is going to be marketing its own version of pryimethamine for $1 a pill,, the generic drug that little smartass was selling for $75o a pill. They'll probably lose money at this, but certainly win in lots of other ways.
If Only: So far Iceland has sent 26 of its top bankers to prison for their role in ruining their banks and the Icelandic economy. So far the US Department of Just Us has not brought criminal charges against anyone making more than $14.67 an hour.
Go, Who Halts There: In Manchester, NH you need a good reason, a really good reason to sit in your car on a public street in the middle of the afternoon. Because if you don't you can be pepper sprayed, tasered, handcuffed and arrested if the cops figure you are “not in the area for legitimate purposes.” This one will cost the citizens a goodly amount.
Cops R Robbers: Cops in West Tennessee say that if the state makes them stop stealing money and property from people driving down the interstate through 'criminal forfiture', they will be forced to find other ways to pad their meager salaries.
Eye On The Prize: The gays have finally achieved their goal – the IRS says it will recognize same-sex marriages anywhere in the US for purposes of taxation and the associated tax benefits.
Posted by Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III at 8:19 AM
Thursday, October 22, 2015
Extra! Extra! Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu – concerned that he was losing ground to the Republican crazies – assured the World Zionist Congress that it was the Palestinians, not the Nazis, who were responsible for the Holocaust. This isn't the first time Bibi has tried to mislead a congress. This simply isn't true. Israel would do well to keep comparisons to the Nazi's to themselves.
Hell No, He Won't Go: Biden will not seek presidency,
as VP to begin new career
as a strip tease artist.
Compromised: The Republican study Committee has issued its “Terms of Credit Act” under which it would increase the nation's debt ceiling by $1.5 trillion if and only if Congress passes legislation cutting $3.8 trillion in “mandatory funding” over the next ten years. [That means cutting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and food stamps by about $400 billion a year.] These House Republicans would also reach into the Senate and mandate a change in the Senate's own rules, eliminating the filibuster on spending bills. The legislation would also freeze all government regulations until July 1, 2017, preventing the Obama administration from issuing any new regulations – essentially stopping it from governing. This, alone, should doom their proposal.
Demockery: A great majority of the American public wants an end to the country's longest war. Congress knows this and just doesn't care.
Coincidence: In the last decade or so, Democratic states have tended to pass laws making it easier for their citizens to register and vote, while Republican-controlled states have made it sometimes almost impossible to register and vote.
Leadership Qualifications: Paul Ryan, the GOP's answer to pockets on shirts and sliced bread, wants to privatize Social Security and Medicare, and shut down all of the federal government except for defense spending. Ryan also demands that the right wing loonies leave him alone and go along with his leadership decisions. Ryan refuses to agree to anything as a pre-condition for the Freedom Caucus' endorsement and insists they go along with rules changes that would limit their power in the future. The game's afoot.
Duh? CIA director John Brennan has used his personal AOL email account for what surely looks like government business. Secret government business.
Gonna Be Some Changes Made: Canada's new leadership brings into question the future of the Keystone pipeline, Canada's acceptance of the TPP, any ongoing involvement in US wars of aggression and the purchase of the questionable F-35. Worst of all, they intend to legalize marijuana.
Trust Us: When SunTrust bank lays off an IT worker, part of the agreement they must sign to get their severance pay requires that they be on call, free, for the next two years. Would you want to rely on a bank whose computer systems are maintained by unpaid serfs?
Asked & Obvious: While Congress pretends it wants to reduce the number of incarcerated American, why are Senate Republicans trying to expand the prison population? Ever hear of for-profit prisons?
Welcome Wal-Mart Shoppers: Amazon is planning to hire 100,000 seasonal workers for the holidays, 25% more than last year.
Posted by Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III at 8:20 AM
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
Don't you have a “disposition matrix?”
Let's You and Him Fight: The Saudi foreign minister has warned Iran to “stop meddling in the affairs of the kingdom's neighbors... in the region, in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.” Especially in Syria, where the Saudis support the Sunni factions fighting Assad and the Shia, which are backed by Iran.
A Pound Of Flesh: In Alabama Judge Shylock Wiggins will trade you a fine for a pint of blood. The full schedule isn't posted, but rumor has it that a kidney will get you out most felonies. Otherwise, the Judge is sure, “The sheriff has enough handcuffs.”
Down To The Sea... The US is selling warships valued at $11.25 billion to Saudi Arabia. In that the Saudis are not overly famous for their naval prowess, it is a good question who is bribing whom.
Noted: Ever notice that those who worry about the deficit want to do things that increase the deficit? Like tax cuts, “ tax cuts do not pay for themselves and lead to much larger deficits.” And foreign wars, boyo do those things cost.
Move Along, Nothing To Prosecute.... Barclays and Wachovia, chipping in $378 million, have joined RBS, JPMorgan, Credit Suisse and UBS in bringing the banks' combined payments to the National Credit Union Administration for a wide variety of crimes and misdemeanors they committed while fleecing us all with various mortgage backed securiteis. No one, of course, did anything wrong... it's all just “good will”.
The Way We Were: Rep. Mo Brooks (Ready-AL) says he is ready to start impeachment proceedings against President Hillary the day she is sworn in. Nothing like being prepared.
Finer Points: In September, US housing starts crept up a tad to 1.2 million units. Yea! Homebuilder sentiment is reportedly at decade-level highs. More Yea! Building permits, which builders apply for before they can act on these positive vibes, followed the current trend and weakened further. Big Boo!!
In Absentia: Since Shell shelled out $7 billion without hitting it richer, the Interior Department decided to spare others the embarrassment and has canceled future auctions of leases in the Arctic and will not extend the current leases there. No point in wasting money.
Swan Song: Chris Christie, who has had his hopes of moving to the White House crushed, is taking his displeasure out on the chronically ill and disabled, by crushing their housing program funding.
Houdini, Inc: Over the last decade, Chicago cops have “disappeared” more than 7,000 people into an off-the-books interrogation facility, 6,000 of them black males, where they were held incommunicado and denied access to a phone or lawyers.
Motivation: Montana Republicans have blocked the state from accepting $40 million in federal pre-school funding because it would cut into the profits of private pre-schools.
Posted by Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III at 7:53 AM
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
“Lies trump truth when people want to believe.” Robert Glinsky, The Friendship of Criminals.
The Enemy Of My Enemy: One thing that the Russian airstrikes has made very clear is that the US/CIA has been equipping al-Qaeda's Syrian franchise with weapons and pretending they are “moderate rebels”. The working theory is that when compared to ISIS, al-Qaeda is quite all right. Tell that to New York.
Asked And Depends On Who You Are: Was Poverty Reduction in the Developing World Worth the Hit to U.S. Workers? “an interesting philosophical question, but it has nothing to do with the reality.” The poverty in the Southern states is largely attributable to the outsourcing of jobs to the developing world.
Logically: If projected third quarter earnings do not justify current stock market confidence and valuations, then...
Our Crowd: The only explanation for the growing support that “the triumvirate of crazy - Trump/Carson/Cruz — has is the identification their supporters share with them. Their supporters do not understand how crazy these candidates are because they, too, are batshit crazy. Many of the others – Bush, Rubio, Ryan – escape being thought crazy because of their practiced ability to lie with a straight face.
Dumbed Up: The Donald has more support from Republicans without a college education than any of the GOPers has among college grads. And Jebbie is Mr. Inevitable no more.
Stupid Works: Drug testing people seeking government assistance has repeatedly been proven to be useless in every way but one. To start with, welfare recipients don’t do drugs more than folks with money, so drug testing requires an unreasonable search. And it is obviously intended to shame and demean those needing help. That's what makes it acceptable – those voters who believe the downtrodden are freeloaders. Make 'em suffer and crawl, it's the Republican way of showing compassion.
Ring Around The Rosy: Wal-Mart's acknowledgement of its sales and profit problems is fair warning to all those in its supply and manufacturing chain that they are going to be squeezed even more. If Wal-Mart goes, so will many of them.
Nostalgia: “It is, after all, rather odd to talk about the virtues of conservatism-that-was without giving a single example of someone who embodied those supposed virtues. Who’s the poster child for the intellectually humble, incrementalist, humane creed that we’ve supposedly lost?” We suspect there never was such a person.
Allah The Merciful: The death toll in the Saudi Arabian Hajj Disaster is now over 2,100.
Datapoint: The data is unequivocally clear: American cops disproportionately kill blacks by a wide margin. Attempts to explain this runs up against this reality: Men who hunt deer have more interactions with deer than vegetarians do. Tend to kill 'em, too.
Text Me: Turns out that social media is anti-social. The under-30 are addicted to their cell phones and think that texting is a social activity. It is not.
Porn O'Graph: Divide and conquer.
Posted by Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III at 7:23 AM
Monday, October 19, 2015
Kick Them While They're Down: A couple of globally prominent law firms are gathering high powered clients for a $40 billion class-action lawsuit against VW for the shareholders' cumulative losses caused by the company's various frauds. They should check with the French, who have raided VW's French headquarters searching for documentary evidence.
Gained In Translation: A Chinese general claims that China will not recklessly resort to force in the South China Sea. Vide 'recklessly'.
Unconditional Surrender: In return for not forcing the United States into default, Senate Majority Mitch McConnell demands major reductions Medicare spending and Social Security benefits as well as repeal of EPA Clean Water regulations that interfere with the coal industry's dumping mountaintops into our streams and rivers. McConnell is giving Obama less than three weeks to capitulate to all these demands. Ain't gonna happen. Then, come December, the crazies want to shut down the government if Obama doesn't defund Planned Parenthood. And this ain't gonna happen, either.
Default Position: All the independent focus groups and online polls show that Bernie Sanders 'won' the first debate, so naturally the media continues to insist that Clinton prevailed. Because they don't want him, even if we do.
Assignment: If you haven't read Jeremy Scahill's The Assassination Complex, detailing the horror of the American drone program, do.
Previews: John Kerry assures us that the current migrant crisis in Europe is but a small-scale rehearsal for the mass migrations that the rising sea levels, intense droughts and other impacts of global climate change will bring. Brace yourselves.
Your Money or Your Lies: Ben Carson, self described tough guy who warded off a gun waving robber, now 'thinks' that Popeye's didn't actually call the police after the robbery. Me, I'd like fries with that.
About That War: Tony Blair agreed with George Bush to launch a war in Iraq at least a year before Dick Cheney got around to starting it. And we don't even have the decency to be embarrassed about our military adventuresome.
Clarification: The government will soon require that all drones be registered; yours, not theirs.
Evidence: The Social Security Administration's 2014 Wage Report confirms that the economic recovery has done little for the majority of workers. Median wages rose $366 last year, bringing wages back up to 1999 levels. But corporate profits are soaring.
What Big Teeth You Have: The CEOs of several of the world's largest oil and gas companies - BG Group, BP, Eni, Pemex, Reliance Industries Ltd., Repsol SA, Saudi Aramco, Shell, Statoil and Total – now claim ““Our shared ambition is for a 2 degree Celsius future. … Over the coming years we will collectively strengthen our actions and investments to contribute to reducing the greenhouse gas intensity of the global energy mix.”
Quoted: “The only upside of the concentration of the wealth at the top is that they have more money to pay in taxes.” Joseph E. Stiglitz
Noted: “The idea that globalization is a force that is good and beneficial for all is an illusion. Tectonic economic changes such as those brought by globalization always have winners and losers.” And you know which you are.
Porn O'Graph: Bad moon rising...
Posted by Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III at 7:51 AM
Saturday, October 17, 2015
Religion is like a hobbyhorse; I don't mind you having one as long as you don't try to make me get on and ride with you. - Tristram Shandy, more or less.
Hasten, Slowly: The administration is reportedly considering delaying presenting the TPP to congress for ratification until after the 2016 election, when the political costs of selling out the American people during a “lame duck” session would be lower.
Morbidity and mortality: Since the 2008 financial crisis, central banks have printed up over $14 trillion dollars in IOUs on someone's labor or property. This didn't cure the problem, which was too much debt. It added to it, increasing global debt by 40%. Seems that adding more debt doesn't actually address the problem of too much debt. Good thing everybody pretends not to notice this.
Slide Effects: Germany authorities have told VW that their lackadaisical approach to covering up their emissions crimes won't do, and have ordered them to recall some 8.5 million cars and fix them. The government will then test the cars to make sure the repairs are effective. VW says it might be able to start the retrofits in late 2016. This is just Germany. The rest of the EU – where about a third of all VWs will need repair – will follow suit. In the US it remains to be seen if VW has enough money to spread around Washington to avoid this hassle.
Quoted: “You can pretty much name any intractable problem in the U.S. and you can trace it back to the money corrupting the political process. ...” Barry Ritholtz
Roster: Just so you remember, the Paul Ryan the crazies want for Speaker is the guy who wants to abolish the FDA, the National Institutes of Health, the Air Traffic Control System, gut Medicare and Medicaid while cutting taxes on the rich and spending on the poor. That Paul Ryan.
The Way We Were: In constant 2013 dollars, the median US household income in 1999 was $57,000. In 2013 it was $52,000 - nearly 10% less. Your results may vary.
Droning On: The drone-based US assassination program kills about seven bystanders for every intended target eliminated, but “It's like swatting flies, we can do it forever easily and you feel nothing... how often do you really think about killing a fly?”
Turtle: Bernie Sanders raised more campaign funds in the third quarter than any of the Republican candidates.
Roses: The CIA pretends that it waterboarded only one detainee. Okay, after a while they admitted that it was maybe three detainees. Maximum. And by torturing the English language, the lawyers may be right. But if you don't actually use a board, is it still water-boarding? According to the spooks, nope. If you include other forms of “simulated drowning”, then they will grudgingly admit there might have been another dozen detainees “water doused”. Sorry, guys. We all know that “informal field interrogations” most likely subjected tens if not hundreds more to this form of torture. But, hey, you want to pretend otherwise, fine by us. What's on TV tonight?
We Didn't Know: The British Treasury says that “hundreds of billions of pounds of international criminal money” is laundered through British banks every year. Almost makes you wonder why they don't do something to stop it. Almost.
Asked & Obvious: If the “Freedom Caucus” is so great, why don’t they just nominate one of their own?
Posted by Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III at 7:42 AM
Friday, October 16, 2015
Demanding things the world cannot provide leads to disappointment.
Customer Demand: Mich McConnell thinks the US public wants massive cuts to Medicare, reductions in Social Security and the neutering of the EPA's attempts to preserve drinkable water and breathable air. He's so sure that he says he will make the US into a deadbeat nation that cannot pay its bills if Obama and the Dems don't give in. They aren't going to, so now what? Are these guys deliberately setting out to destroy the Republican Party? Or the whole country?
Wrong Is Wrong: Serious and respected editors of The Lancet, The New England Journal of Medicine as wall as the Stanford School of Medicine say that at least half of all medical clinical results published are incorrect, unreliable, false. It is not just that the results cannot be replicated, but they are false, faked, untrue. Medical science, they say, has “taken a turn towards darkness,” and “It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published". Particularly studies involving drugs and medical devices. In short, "there is increasing concern that most current published research findings are false" In earlier days these charges would be headline news, prompting Congressional investigations. Today it is business as usual.
Up Against The Wal-Mart: There's been a lot of hooey written about Wal-Mart's problems and its supposed solutions, but it comes down to this: Wal-Mart is a retailer trying to manage its way to a profit. Doesn't work. Ask K-Mart, Sears, JCPenney and friends. You have to sell your way to a profit and you can't sell what you don't have on the shelf in a dirty store with disinterested employees. Chasing Amazon sounds like fun, but Amazon isn't their competition, Dollar General is. Cutting prices more will start another race to the bottom, and Wal-Mart seems to already be there. And $30 or $40 billion in stock buybacks isn't working either.
Circus Act: The Republican Wannabees have settled on a general plan to replace ObamaCare with a) tax credits to help the poor pay for private insurance plans, b) reducing the current protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and c) limiting federal funds given to the states for Medicaid programs. Everybody in favor, go to your rooms.
Dumb & Dumber: Seems the new and improved 2016 Vws have a new and improved ways of fooling emission testing protocols. Makes it hard to pretend that the bosses didn't know and didn't authorize these things. Also will make it impossible to sell them in the US. Das Auto know better.
Fearless Foes: We are, it says here in the propaganda pamphlets, fighting ISIS. Our vaunted air assets on on the job! Other reports say that ISIS earns $1.5 million a day to finance its war by selling petroleum. I've lived in West Texas and can assure you that oil wells, pipelines and refineries can neither run nor hide. They just sit there. Yet the ISIS oil fields keep pumping money into their barbaric cause. Why is it that only 196 of over 10,000 US airstrikes have been targeted at ISIS oil– which keeps on keeping on? Are we that bad, or are we not trying?
Stand And Deliver: For a long, long time the Republican base – both the money and the mouthy – have been promised an end to big government, abortion, illegal (and legal) immigration, not to mention gays littering up the public square and handouts to the lazy. And the Republicans in Congress have not kept the faith. Faceed with the unmeetable demands they themselves helped create, they now find themselves not only unable to govern but unable to even elect a leader. All they know how to do is make promises – especially the promise to bring the nation to its knees in supplication. Ain't gonna happen. Keep you eyes on the center ring.
Knock Knock: When is the end not the end? In Afghanistan!
Posted by Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III at 8:12 AM