Monday, January 4, 2016

SAR #16004

Force does not work the way its advocates seem to think it does.” James Baldwin.
Emperor's Clothes: Armed white terrorists - not protesters, folks, armed insurrectionists - have taken over a federal wildlife refuge, threatening to fight to the death because they don’t recognize U.S. laws. They should be dealt with quickly and appropriately. At the very least the FBI should offer to drive them to Walmart.
Pinheads: Liberal/Keynesian economists Paul Krugman, Larry Summers and Brad DeLong are having an entertaining public disagreement about how the Fed is wrong to raise rates. Not that it was wrong, they agree that it was, but Summers tries to give them credit for knowing something that is "outside accepted models", while the other two politely don't say that the Fed is just guessing and hoping - which it is. I think they are talking about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. I also think there is a grand conspiracy to ignore the monsters under the bed - the $2.4 trillion in excess reserves that the banks can turn into over $20 trillion in new cash and the question of how to drain $4 trillion out of the economy without making the 1930's look like the good old days.
Happy New Year: Saudi Arabia has executed 47 men for various bombings, attacks, for writing bad poetry, and for being the wrong flavor of Muslim. Apparently the Saudis want to get a running start on topping last year's grisly total.
Because It Can: PG&E's cost for producing electricity dropped 8.8% in the first nine months of the year, so it's raising electrical rates by 8.5%. Its cost for natural gas has plummeted 36%, so it's raising gas rates by 4.0%. The company explained that their customers had been cutting back on their use of gas and power, so it had to raise prices to make up for the lost volume. The regulators? Oh, no problem, PG&E got them pretty cheaply too.
Irrational Exuberance: Amazon has a market value of $325 billion, up from $145 billion a year ago, which seems a tad high for a company that earned only $328 million in the last year. Why do investors think the company is worth 985 times its earnings? The story is the company is sacrificing earnings for growth - they've been saying that for a quarter of a century. Sure they make a lot of sales; they just don't make a lot of money. It spends more ($11.6 billion) on R&D than Bristol-Myers Squibb but hasn't yet cured cancer. It's enough to think that people are just gambling in the dark, sure there's a bigger fool out there. There probably is.
Noted: Power and riches not only corrupt,they coarsen the humanity and narrow the intellect of those who posses them in vast amounts, which goes a long way towards explaining the last 30 years both in the US and the UK.
Nondenominational: Justice Scalia was out telling the little kiddies that there is "nothing wrong" about parading God around in public because there is "no place" in our constituitonal tradition that says the state can't pick sides on religion. He also claims that God has been "very good" to the US. Scalia didn't say which god he was so enamored of, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim or Pastafarian.
Porn O'Graph: Buying friends.
A Parting Shot:


McMike said...

Re peaceful assembly and thoughtful trespassing and hostile occupancy of federal facilities by heavily armed Constitution-loving white guys who wish to secede from the union and are willing to kill government authorities and peace officers to do so.

The glaring disparity is not just treatment of blacks and Muslims, the glaring disparity is also with the treatment of the legitimately peaceful Occupy movement. Which was infiltrated, surveilled, harassed, surrounded, provoked, and eventually attacked by police.

The cops are not just handling these right wing zealots with kid gloves due to the political ramifications, they are doing so because the right wingers are armed and represent the tip of a reactionary right wing that is itching for a reason to go berserk.

And while I personally think that if one or two of the occupiers were killed via drone, the rest would slink off, it would be interesting to see what would happen nationally after an open confrontation.

In any case, I hate to admit it, but this does rather validate the premise behind the second amendment. This seems to make a case that you are much more likely to get your grievance heard, and live to tell the tale, if you confront the government and its agents with weapons at the ready.

George Anderson said...

On a more Orwellian note, I submit this for your consideration:

How damning is this considering 90% of the adult population can't lift their noses out of their 'smartphones'?

kwark said...

RE McMike:

The fellow who they're "protecting" is a convicted criminal and their "leader" Ammon Bundy wants to steal OUR public land under this notion of "unwinding government ownership". What a load of BS. There's absolutely NO doubt that if these weren't white dudes with cowboy hats that refuge office and it's occupiers would be a smoking crater. There's still hope.

rjs said...

the Oregon story isn't as simple a story as has been portrayed...sure, Bundy is an asshole, but there’s a lot of sympathy for his position among those who own land and farm all over this country...a few of my correspondents and most of my neighbors here in Ohio have had to fight off threats of eminent domain or public officials who would use the law to take or use their land at one time or another, so they see this fight as one they’ve had to face themselves...with the explosion of new gas and oil pipelines, it’s a very common complaint; strangers arrive and start surveying your land...i’’ll bet if you talked to those who stopped the Keystone XL in the plains states you’d find the same sympathies...

McMike said...

re rjs. You raise an interesting conundrum, and highlight some cognitive dissonance on the part of wannabe sage brush rebels.

One the one hand, with Bundy, we have the federal government trying to obtain even well-below-market grazing fees on behalf of the landowners (the taxpayers) for the rancher's privilege of a lease to graze stock on land he does not own. Uncle Sam may be a unresponsive landlord, but he charges about 10% of the free market rate.

On the other hand, in Ohio, we have government using eminent domain at the behest of land developers and oil drillers to seize privately-owned land for the use of corporations, to do whatever the hell they want with it.

All or most of the farmers having dutifully voted GOP for generations, a time when the legal and ideological framework for this situation was being laid down. Leaving one to wonder indeed what the hell is the matter with Kansas, a state that once served as the cradle of the grange movement.

All the while, these farmers/ranchers exist in an industry that is heavily government protected, subsidized, and guaranteed. And I am sure they claim to hate it even as they cash their checks. And maybe they do hate it, but again their ire is directed as the party writing the check, and not the corporate behemoths that pull the strings.

These folks are not unlike wall street bankers, whining about regulation even as they prosper in (in the bankers' case) the most unregulated and immensely subsidized industry in the history of economy.

Idaho in particular, host to irrigation projects, highways, federal firefighting funds...

kwark said...

I'll second McMike's words. In this instance the "abuse" on Federal lands in the West is the requirement by Federal land managers that lessees like Bundy (and his father in Nevada) follow laws and regulations. Oh my, how unfair.

It's true that there's plenty of room for complaint about how big biz get's special attention and sweet deals on the use of public lands but that is NOT what Bundy is complaining about.

And to be clear from my earlier comment, I actually don't want these guys bombed into oblivion. I would like them convicted and sent to a Federal penitentiary - some public space I'd be happy they could call their own.

rjs said...

i'm not defending the Bundys, but i can understand the sense of entitlement they have for land that they've worked on and lived on all their lives, even if they dont have legal title...i've had neighbors who were the same way, and they did more to take care of the land they squatted on than the absentee legal owners who never showed their faces...

McMike said...

I am sure that's true. And in some cases they may even have a legitimate (moral, if not legal) claim for squatter's rights.

But in my experience, many farmers are often just like everyone else: looking to get something for nothing. And they lose sight of that somewhere over time, until it hardens into an undo sense of entitlement (queue wall street).

In any case, my main point is that they choose to focus on only one enemy. Missing who is really pulling the strings.

kwark said...

My experience in California is that pretty much ALL holders of Federal grazing leases would like you to think they and their family have been there forever - even if the lease has only been around since 1975 or they acquired the lease last year! Not to mention that quite a few of these folks are gentlemen ranchers - their lease is a hobby affair - who make their money elsewhere. And while many of these folks do care about the land, in the arid west, a painfully large number of them grossly overgraze their land and abuse their water rights. So take any attribution of their actions to "good stewardship" with a grain of salt.

These criminals have been given an incredible opportunity to use public land - to their profit - for WAY below market rates. Now, having had that opportunity for years, they magically have some moral claim to the land? If the land were leased from a private party this sort of claim would be laughable. Only in our totally skewed media does this even get air time.

George Anderson said...

Anybody click on the link in my first post? It's far more dire than a bunch of rebel media on steroids!

rjs said...

yeah, George, i'd heard about that China credit story last week, albeit not from the video you linked to...

McMike said...

re Chinese citizen score. Yes, it's horrifying.

But we do already have an American flavor of that pretty much in place. All the pieces are there already. The government - with its corporate partners - already divides, marginalizes, excludes, and subtly harasses people through no fly lists, social media filtering, mandatory programs, etc. I am sure the NSA already has all of us scored, and that score surely seeps through in subtle ways.

And in any case, the American version of the citizenship test IS the credit score. Being a good but compliant consumer IS good citizenship, and is already an effective means to keep the majority of people on the Rez. Your access to jobs, internet speed, human networks, etc. are already governed by your spending capacity.

George Anderson said...

Thank you, I was worried that no one would take notice. My son led me to this one (being a gamer and they, the younger generation, is referring to the phenomenon as the 'gamification' of social media.

I'm living proof of the existence of a working US model such as the one you outline above. I've only worked 3 months last year (when I was hired for a production bubble and let go the moment I finished the job.)