Monday, February 29, 2016
Change is guaranteed, improvement is not.
Kinder, Gentler: While Hillary is running around promising ponies to the blacks in South Carolina, Bill Clinton's dismantling of the welfare state is entering its last lap. Starting appropriately on April Fool's Day at least 20 states will implement rules that say no single person without dependents or disabilities will be able to get food stamps for more than three months out of every three years. Can't find a job, starve. Can't find a job that will pay enough to put a roof over your head and eat, live on the street or starve. Best estimate that this will toss at least half a million people into the gutter, just so a few folks can gloat over the punishment being handed out to Them, the freeloaders. Congratulations.
Four Republican Monkeys: No to confirmation. No to a vote confirmation. No hearings no matter who the nominee is. No meetings with the nominee, not even as a courtesy. They have even put it in writing. They are so damned adamant that it seems quite possible that they are trying to convince themselves, not us.
Sowing, Reaping: For 24 years and counting the Clintons have simultaneously courted Wall Street, fleeced the American public and managed to pretend be the enemies of the former and friends of the latter. Bill's big achievements were crippling the welfare state, ending Glass-Steagall (thus letting banks gamble with your money) and passing the Commodity Futures Modernization Act (deregulating derivatives, like the sliced-and-diced mortgage foolishness) , and passing NAFTA and with it shipping 9 million US jobs abroad. For which they have been handsomely rewarded. Bill is worth $80 million, Hillary another $45 million – all from working for the citizens and giving speeches. Right.
Unclear On The Concept: The UK likes everything about the European Union except the part about European union.
The Quote: “The senator [Bernie Sanders] is upset with a political and economic system that is often rigged to help the privileged few at the expense of everyone else, particularly the least advantaged. He believes that we have a two-tiered society that increasingly dooms millions of our fellow citizens to lives of poverty and hopelessness. He thinks many corporations seek and benefit from corporate welfare while ordinary citizens are denied opportunities and a level playing field. I agree with him.” Charles G. Koch
Asked & Obvious: When it comes to political discussions, do facts matter? No. The misinformed, presented with objective facts, become even more entrenched in their misbegotten delusions.
Secret Sauce: To recap: Barak Obama began his presidency promising the most transparent and open administration in history and delivered the most secretive and paranoid. We'll never know what turned the suave, cosmopolitan and intelligent man with a penchant for sardonic humor into one of the most secrecy-obsessed mandarins in our history. But that he is: Whistleblowers? Jail 'em. Emails? Read 'em. Phone calls? Listen in. Citizens? Track 'em. Muslims? Drones, of course. Wall Street crooks? Pay the blackmail.
Caste Cast: If the 590,000 white men (who represent 1.2% of the 25 to 54 year old) who are institutionalized (jail, mostly) were counted as unemployed, which they are, the unemployment rate would be 6.4% not 5.0%. If the 7.7% ob black men of the same age were counted, the unemployment rate for blacks would be 19%. Black men are imprisoned at six times the rate of white men. There are more young black high school dropouts in prison than have jobs. Add in local jails, which are not included in these statistics, and things are worse, much worse. On in nine black kids has a parent in jail. There are more young black male high school dropouts are behind bars than have jobs. One in 13 black adults cannot vote because they have criminal records. They don't get jobs for the same reason, or if they do they are minimum wage and short hours. We jail so many blacks that it skews our social statistics.
A Parting Shot:
'Westron wynde, when wilt thou blow...”
Posted by Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III at 7:30 AM
Saturday, February 27, 2016
“Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” Spock.
Innocent Bystanders: It's kind of amusing to watch the GOP reaping what it spent so many years sowing. Now that Trump is gathering in the racist, xenophobic, government hating rank and file that's been crushed by the rich who think they own the party, the national leadership has discovered that most Republican voters are not really Republicans. Faced with a Trump triumph, the Old Guard is wondering if the Democrats will save us. Nope, because the Democrats are bent on self-destruction too, with Hillary. Barnum was right, no one ever went broke underestimating the American public. Or its politicians.
Definition: Frau Merkle is now pushing for ‘market-conforming democracy’, which is Eurozone-speak for 'more austerity'.
It's The Money, Stupid: “International terrorism is a strategic foreign-policy tool, which, in almost all instances, is applied by fundamentalist Sunni Islamists, whose operations are financed by fundamentalist Sunni royal families of the Arabic nations. The royals (and their billionaire friends who receive state contracts from them) in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, and Kuwait, are the main financial backers of jihadists. Actually, those royal financial backers are terrorism’s controllers, and the jihadist fighters are merely their soldiers — soldiers who are well paid by their controllers, but who fight not only for the pay: they fight also because they share the same fundamentalist Sunni faith as their controllers do. Their clerics tell them to obey their royal masters, and it’s a ‘holy war.’” It's not ISIS-controlled oil fields we should be bombing.
Academic Fleedom: Now that students can tote guns into classrooms, Texas universities have advised faculty members to “avoid sensitive topics”, wear bulletproof vests and get adjuncts to teach the rowdier students.
Herd On The Street: Last year was the worst year for world trade since the Recent Disturbance, with the value of international goods shipments declining 13.8%. The first two months of this year have not been encouraging, either.
Easy Come, Easy Go: Personal income increased 0.5% in January. So did personal spending.
Report To The Commissioner: “Looking back on almost 15 years in which the United States has been engaged in something like permanent war in the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa, one thing couldn’t be clearer: the planet’s sole superpower with a military funded and armed like none other and a “defense” budget larger than the next seven countries combined (three times as large as number two, China) has managed to accomplish -- again, quite literally -- absolutely nothing, or less than nothing.” So why do we keep droning on?
Footnote: While making the world safe for America back in 1965/66, the US helped Indonesian forces kill a million or so civilians. See, you thought it was a new thing with us, right?
Creative Destruction: There’s too much of everything, its far too cheap, and that’s not good for anyone. It’s hurting everyone. Oil costs almost nothing. Copper, iron ore, all that stuff – nobody wants it, but they keep mining the stuff anyway. More surplus. Lower prices. Can't even sell enough to pay the interest. But nobody has any money so even though stuff is nearly free we can't buy it. We got so good at making stuff without humans that the humans can't afford to be consumers. The only way to save the economy is to crash it. Time to start over.
Open Call: US District Judge Mark Kearney, auditioning to replace Scalia, has ruled that the First Amendment does not give the public the right to record their employees as they go about their public functions in pubic. For example,according to Kearney yo do not have a Constitutional right to film cops in the execution of their assigned duties. They're legally invisible.
Porn O'Graph: It's not just wages...
A Parting Shot:
Posted by Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III at 7:14 AM
Friday, February 26, 2016
When a young person turns to crime, has he failed, or have we?
The Problem: The real problem with this country is that our taxes are way too low, our government budget isn't far enough in deficit, and we treat the rich and their minions as though they were our betters and deserve all they can steal.
Point Of Order: Coral will not survive into the next century because of the acidification of the oceans. Nor will any of the countless little thingys with shells that make up the base of the food pyramid in the seas. Imagine, no sharks at the beach. Also no shells, no fish, not much of anything swimming in the sterile ocean. Also no shrimp, no lobster. Got your attention yet?
Facts Not In Evidence: The headline reads: “It's time to admit that American intervention can't fix Syria”. This makes the unwarranted assumption that American intervention has 'fixed' anything since 1945.
Children Without A Country: Republican Illinois intends to make children into invisible stateless non-persons by denying them birth certificates if the mommy won't identify the daddy to the all-seeing state. Maybe the moms could just put down the names of various Republican legislators. The public good here was a little vague. If a kid doesn't have a birth certificate, does he really exist? Surely the little tyke couldn't qualify for food stamps or public education.
Cornucopia: House Republicans are considering legislation that would “return” much of the federal lands to the states, who would in turn “return” it to the private sector (for a modest campaign contribution) for mining and logging without regard for any environmental controls. It's a race to the bottom, sponsored by the bottom feeders for the bottom feeders and the public be damned.
Takes One To Know One: Mitt Romney, who famously refused to release his tax forms while running for president, claims that Trumps refusal to release his givers us “good reason to believe that there's a bombshell in Donald Trump's taxes.” The suggestion is that his reported income and wealth will not match his reputed income and worth.
Win/Win: Astronomers have solved the mystery of where fast interstellar radio bursts come from (about 6 billion light years over that-a-way, where two neutron stars crumple into one another). And in doing so they 'found' about half the missing 'normal' matter in the universe. Turns out it wasn't missing, just hiding. This does nothing to account for the dark matter and dark energy that makes up 95% of the mass of the universe. Gravity shows that it is there (and here and over there and everywhere) but we haven't the slightest idea what it is...
Lax Tax: Under Ted Cruz's tax proposal, the top 0.1% (average income $10 million) would see their taxes cut by nearly $2 million (1,994,000) on average. That 43,000 times more than the guys in the lower 20% of the income scale would get – combined.
A Parting Shot:
Posted by Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III at 7:41 AM
Thursday, February 25, 2016
Has all that I have said amounted to nothing? Jesse
How Low Will They Go? Parking your money is even more popular than the little red-haired girl. So popular that it will cost you to do it, as the return on 1, 3, 5 and 10 year Treasuries is negative. Tracking when the Treasury yield curve (10Y-2Y premia) goes negative has been a consistent forecaster of recessions. It is now negative and at its lowest level since 2007. Not to worry, JPMorgan says the chances of a recession this year are only 31%. But then they add that the odds are 50-50 next year and 2 out of three within three years.
Distinction/Difference: What is the point of closing Guantanamo's torture chambers if those being illegally held there are simply disappeared into other Federal maximum security coffins? The feel-good isn't worth the hypocrisy.
Going, Going, Goners: About a third of the world's coral reefs have died and the rest will probably die off by mid-century. But not to worry, they are just the nurseries for much of the ocean's fish. Why? As the oceans absorb CO2, they become more acidic and absorb increasing amounts of calcium carbonate, the mineral corals use to build their skeletons. The oceans today are 26% more acidic than they were before we started making the Koch brothers rich.
An Observation: “Pessimism among investors reflects not just the indicators pointing towards recession. There is a deeper concern that, if or when that recession comes, policymakers will have very few options for dealing with it.”
Here Come da Judge: A federal judge has ordered several of Hillary 'The Candidate' Clinton's aides to answer questions under oath about The Emails. This is not a plus in the win column for Ms. Clinton.
Happy Birthday: Russia, anxious to elbow the US out of the way, has bestowed 10,000 automatic rifles (for which read Kalashnikovs) and millions of rounds of ammo upon their once lost but now newfound friends in Afghanistan. The country's military is starved for equipment because politicians in Kabul steal most of the billions in aid money the US continues to pour into that particular bottomless pit.
It’s The Corruption, Stupid: If Bernie wins, and the polls show pretty convincingly that he could beat Trump, the Democratic Party's current power makers will be out of power – which explains their devotion to the Mrs.
And Then There Were None: The Arizona Senate has passed a school voucher program that, by 2018, would allow every student in the state attend a private or parochial school using tax dollars. The only requirement would be that before making the decision to flee public schools the student would be required to attend a public school for at least 100 days – which could be four months of kindergarten. What could possibly go right with this plan?
Flashback: In China, 45% of new debt is being used to pay interest on old debt, much like using a new credit card to pay off an old one. Don't try this at home...
The Rich Boys: Hemingway was wrong, it's not the money that makes the rich so different from you and me, it is that they live so much longer. They have better food, better healthcare, they do not labor and they live in safer neighborhoods.
A Parting Shot:
Posted by Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III at 7:26 AM
Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Sometimes “tomorrow” is an unwarranted assumption.
Sunshine Units: Wikileaked documents show that the NSA bugged meetings between various EU ministers and their Japanese counterparts discussing secret trade negotiations, meetings between our friend Frau Merkel and UN chief Ban Ki-Moon, as well as discussions between Netanyahu and Berlusconi, as well as private meetings between Sarkozy, Merkel and Berlusconi. Only to fight terrorism, of course.
A rebuttal: I have owned several puppies, seen a number of rainbows and lived where single payer health systems worked just fine; deal me in.
They're Rich, Not Crazy: Since at least last fall, the rich who had supported Romney in 2012 were already donating more to Hillary Clinton’s campaign than the combined amount they had given to 11 of the original 17 Republican tools. This suggests that the main difference between Clinton and the Republican candidates is the rhetoric that would gain her the White House, not the reality of what she would do once there.
Danger, Will Robinson: “Household wealth is increasingly dependent... on home-price appreciation.” Been there, done that.
Pick & Chose: Economist Timothy Taylor has mined the OMB's latest opus and presents a marvelous list of did-you-know's that'll let you pick a couple of supporting facts for whatever it is of yours that needs supporting, from inflation to life expectancy, infant mortality to GDP growth and the increase in the number of Donald Trumps.
Pieces, In Our Time: The sale of arms to dictators, rebels and other scum contines to set new records, up 14% over the last five years. The US corners most of the market.
Tide, Rolling In: Scientists report that the global rate of sea level rise during the last century was the fastest in 2700 years, and the rise continues to accelerate. Except in North Carolina and Oklahoma, where it is illegal, and Miami where it might slow the building of beach front condos. Other scientists expect that the continuing acidification (through CO2 absorption) of the oceans will result in terminal deformities in at least half of all juvenile corals in the near future. Go snorkeling now.
Priorities: LA County taxpayers spend over $233,000 a year for every kid kept in lockup.
Infrastructure Investment: Ted Cruz says he will
and train enough storm troopers
personnel staffing and infrastructure – both fixed facilities and
the requisite transportation and logistics systems
– to locate, arrest, process and deport 12 million immigrants.
This, he says, will free up several million minimum wage service and
maintenance jobs for our indebted college graduates.
A Parting Shot:
Posted by Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III at 8:15 AM
Tuesday, February 23, 2016
We have become accustomed to the government executing people in our name.
Guns & Roses: Economist James K. Galbraith has responded to the CEA's hatchet job – and more importantly Paul Krugman's uncritical acceptance of their questionable conclusions – of Professor Friedman's analyses of Senator Sanders' economic program, finding that “under conventional assumptions, the projected impact of Senator Sanders' proposals stems from their scale and ambition. When you dare to do big things, big results should be expected.” It seems that Clinton supporter Friedman is a tad more rigorous than Clinton supporter Krugman, which is probably more revealing than the analyses themselves. It all goes to show how panic has spread throughout the DNC's networks.
Dissembling: Tim Cook says Apple's refusal to unlock iPhone for FBI is a
'civil liberties' issue.
Pre-existing Conditions: For Big Pharma, Big Healthcare and the healthcare insurance scammers, the best off all possible worlds would be another Clinton White House, this one facing a Republican Congress. She does not have much of a want list and would be unable to enact what little nips and tucks she thinks passable. So they would all keep getting richer and contributing to her re-election campaign.
Quoted: “I'll be so proud when my daughter is president and runs a corrupt oligarchy
Find The Exit Nearest You: If you live in Michigan, leave now. Don't pack, just go. The state is home to two of the deadliest cities in the nation: Detroit, easily the easiest city in the nation ; and Flint, which leads the nation with the highest level of governmental depraved indifference to the death and maiming of its children. In Michigan, especially if you are black, you get to chose between the bullet or the constant drip, drip, drip of avoidable poisons.
Reminder: Sanders, not Clinton, is the nation's best chance to stop Trump. Let's keep our priorities straight.
Parable: When it comes to Britain's vote on leaving the European Union, the EU seems to have put its one egg in its one basket because they've only got the one egg and the one basket. Without Great Britain there is no European Union.
Plausibility: “In 2012, the American people decided that Barack Obama should appoint justices to the Supreme Court to fill any vacancies that occurred between January of 2013 and January of 2017. Period. ” Seventeen Supreme Court justices have been confirmed during election years.
Data Point: The latest Quinnipiac Poll (Feb 18) showed that among likely voters, 71% of the men and 64% of women find Clinton “not honest and trustworthy.”
Imaginary Friends: Why do we – and our representatives in the major political parties – pretend that the Supreme Court is supposed to be politically impartial, but insist that our side gets to pick the justices? Why don't we have impartial Presidents? Will the mythic wisdom of the Constitution us?
A Parting Shot:
Monday, February 22, 2016
Saturday, February 20, 2016
Think how much economic activity providing all Americans safe drinking water would generate.
Parity: The same government that let the Wall Street bankers award themselves millions of dollars in bonuses while the banks were sucking the Treasury's teat also created a law that lets pension funds cut pensions 50% or more. Why underfunding pensions should punish the workers and not the employers is a mystery lost in a sea of lobbyist money.
You Don't Always Get What You Pay For: If money were the deciding factor in political campaigns, Clinton and Bush would be getting ready for November, not Super Tuesday.
As Always: People protesting the worst methane gas disaster in history have been arrested. The people who let the leak go unrepaired for years have been left to their ill-gotten gains. You'd think they were bankers or some such.
Mr. Rogers: It has only taken Bernie Sanders 50 years to become an overnight sensation.
Clarification: Common Core standards were developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, not the federal government. Their adoption by the states has been voluntary, not mandated by the federal government. Hey, listen up Kansas, I'm talking to you.
In Like Flint: It's not just Flint or Hoosic Falls or even a small handful of places, lead and other poisons lurk in many of the nation's water supplies. Don't ask, even though what you don't know may damage or kill your children.
Lump Summed: As the recovery continues, American corporations have just reported the worst quarterly earnings since 2009.
The Parting Shot:
The Albert,52 Victoria St, London.
Posted by Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III at 7:08 AM
Friday, February 19, 2016
“I don’t think it stands to reason that it’s a good thing for the University of Texas to admit as many blacks as possible.” Antonin Scalia, RIP.
An Apple A Day: Continuing the assault on privacy, the head of the NSA makes the unprovable claim that Apple's Tim Cook is right, Apple’s fight with the FBI is bigger than just one iPhone - it's that encryption is making it “much more difficult” for the agency to monitor everything you do. To 'prove' their case the superspies claim they could have prevented the Paris terror attack if only they had an even bigger budget and all phones had 'back doors' so the surveillance state could monitor our every thought. Yes, we should be afraid, of the terrorists but perhaps more so of those who would save us from them..
Sum Numbers: On the Republican side, The Donald still polls way ahead of the pack, while on the Democratic side the Quinnipiac poll has Sanders beating the various GOP wannabes by 4 to 10 points. Hillary, not so much.
You Are Here: Janurary's index of leading indicators led downwards again, following a decline in December. The Philly Fed (negative for the sixth consecutive month) report joined the Empire State report of economic activity in pointing to decline. Neel Kashkari, newly minted head of the Minneapolis Fed warned that the US economy is “softer than expected.”
Hide And Seek: Your employer may know you are pregnant before you do, certainly soon after you know. You got a problem with that? Does your employer?
Redundant: Another group has just discovered that the TPP will put the coup de grace to American manufacturing.
Goal? Moscow is being plastered with posters proclaiming that 'Smoking kills more people than Obama.' Are they trying to get Russians to smoke less or Obama to kill more?
Lost In Transition: While the media pants after the Trump and Cruz show, off in a far corner of our country, without anyone noticing, our fifth largest state has slipped into bankruptcy. Illinois – which, granted, isn't the least corrupt of the bunch – has $8 billion in unpaid and pretty much unpayable debts. It's also got Chicago, but that's another problem.
Keeping Score: US 10-year Treasury bonds are selling at a discount that guarantees negative returns. Who's buying, and why?
History 101: The University of Texas now allows students to carry handguns in classrooms. Sorry, but I can't forget that many years ago I lived with someone who was in the plaza when Whitman began exercising his right to
bunch of people
Translation: I didn’t: "I
think you'd catch me
it was a hypothetical queston
er... made a mistake,”
James Clapper mistakenly
now says about lying to Congress.
The Supremes: “The justices of the Supreme Court have shaped a nation where children toiled in coal mines, where Americans could be forced into camps because of their race, and where a woman could be sterilized against her will by state law. The Court was the midwife of Jim Crow, the right hand of union busters, and the dead hand of the Confederacy. Nor is the modern Court a vast improvement, with its incursions on voting rights and its willingness to place elections for sale.” Not to mention its continuing crusade to treat women as chattel.
Nice To Know: Rubio, distinguishing himself from his fellow wannabes, says “I wouldn't go as far as calling Clinton a 'traitor'.”
Keeping Score: In this, the Best of All Possible Countries, 51% of public school students come from homes deep enough in poverty to qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. Many of them get bags of canned goods to take home so they can eat over the weekend. Yea, capitalism.
Mirrors: Startup founder Justin Keller, one of our young elite, complains that “I shouldn’t have to worry about being accosted. I shouldn’t have to see the pain, struggle, and despair of homeless people to and from my way to work every day.”
Protecting The Self Serving: Tampa police are refusing to provide security and crowd control for a sold out Beyoncé show because they didn't like her Superbowl half-time program. Everybody's a critic.
The Parting Shot:
Posted by Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III at 7:25 AM
Thursday, February 18, 2016
We invented democracy because human beings have a tendency to confuse their own interests with the public’s. Steve Randy Waldman
The First Cut: A court has sided with the government in insisting that Apple supply the FBI with software to break encryption on a particular cell phone. Apple, which originally said it could not be done, says that to do so would open the door to similar intrusions on its customers privacy by authoritarian governments. Donald Trump, like many others, insists that invading some people's privacy is acceptable – as long as it's not his, which is pretty much Tim Cook's point. Besides, doesn't the NSA have all the relevant calls on file?
On Point: “A uterus doesn’t qualify you to be president of the United States. You have to have policies that’s reflective of social justice.'”
Back To The Drawing Board: Goldman Sachs economists are questioning the efficacy of capitalism and asking if corporate profit margins can maintain their current elevated levels. What if our understanding of economics is wrong and corporate capitalism is fatally flawed? At base capitalism is all about making money (or rather, increasing the wealth of the capitalists at the expense of everyone else) and is wholly indifferent to how this is accomplished – producing goods, providing services or extracting rents. Some are beginning to suspect that Marx was right and that all capital is taken from labor and not produced magically elsewhere in the process.
On The Money: “Our portfolio advice has been pretty horrendous lately..” JP Morgan. Lately?
The War Lovers: Donald Trump only gets partial credit for pointing out that Bush invaded Iraq based on lies. While true, it only gets to the mechanism, not the motivation. Yes, Bush's advsiors – neocons all – lied, but they lied for a reason. They were true believers in an ideology that demanded American , through an unending series of military adventures, make the world safe for America. That ideology behind the Project for the New American Century still dominates the upper reaches of the GOP.
Evidence: It turns out that the Oregon seditionists were, as we thought, full of
Embryology: The point missed by most of those who doubt Senator Sanders' chances to win the fall election is that winning this time is not the essential point. Yes, it would be nice. And yes, even if Bernie wins he won't get most of what he and his supporters want. The movement is the point. The occupy movement. The Black Lives Matter movement. The takeaway is simply this: Another Sanders, younger, perhaps of color, could one day soon win the Presidency at the head of a movement strong enough to change the direction of the country.
Third Time's Not A Charm: On an annual basis, US Industrial production has fallen for a third consecutive year. This has happened 19 times in the last 100 years, and in 90% of those occasions an economic recession has followed.
Porn O'Graph: Something's happening here...
The Parting Shot:
Posted by Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III at 7:23 AM
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Economists spend an inordinate amount of time and effort explaining why things didn't happen. Demetrius
Contractions: According to the Empire State Manufacturing Survey, the contractions continue to be a month apart, as it reports NY manufacturing business activity declined for the seventh consecutive month.
Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, Maybe: British Prime Minister David Cameron has promised the British people a vote on the 'Brexit' question by 2017, and has set forth changes that might help keep the UK in the EU. Eastern EU nations have made counter-proposals that will be discussed at a meeting in Prague on Thursday. Great Britain is looking for special concessions that the other nations are not eager to provide. Europe's banks are adamantly against a British exit because they are sure it would lead to a complete breakup of the EZ and probably the EU, as well as an economic recession for all.
Finger On The Scale: Donald Trump isn't being paranoid when he accuses the RNC of stacking the debate audience in favor of Jeb! - the establishment's choice. He'd best expect it to continue, as Sanders undoubtedly does, as both the RNC and DNC are preparing for brokered conventions. There also seem to be well-financed mysterious operatives seeking personal data on potential delegates, supposedly to 'influence' their decisions.
Fact: We have already had an election to decide who gets to appoint the next Supreme Court Justice. Obama won by over 5 million votes.
For Whom The Bell Tolls: The paltry handful of American manufacturing jobs that have survived NAFTA, China's inclusion in the WTO and various bilateral trade agreements are unlikely to long survive the TPP – American workers simply can't compete with the $1.70 an hour paid in Mexico and even lower wages in the other TPP conspirators.
Private/Public Cooperation: The federal government now uses private debt collection agencies to pursue student loan dead-beats. These agencies seek judgments in federal court ordering the debtor to pay and then turn to the US Marshal's service to serve warrants and arrest the debtors. So the government pays an middleman to use the federal government's resources to recoup money owed – through what is essentially a system of debtors' prisons.
Paul/Peter: Republican Mary Lou Bruner, running for a seat on the Texas Board of Education, claims that “Obama has a soft spot for homosexuals because of the years he spent as a male prostitute in his twenties.” This undoubtedly tells you more about the Texas Sate Board of Education than it does about Mr. Obama.
The Profilers: Ted Cruz's campaign has a clever mobile app – called 'Cruz Crew' – that is designed to gather personal information from users’ phones, tracking their movements and stealing all the names and contact information on the infected phones. Nor is the Cruz campaign the only one doing this.
Porn O'Graph: Mirror, mirror on the wall.
The Parting Shot:
Posted by Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III at 7:24 AM
Tuesday, February 16, 2016
“The money was good, and it was there for the taking.” Jesse
Clarification: It turns out that Article 2, Section 2, Clause 2 says that the president shall nominate justices to the Supreme Court unless the president is a Democrat in the fourth year of his elected term. It is too bad that Justice Scalia's actuarial event did not occur at a time more convenient to the Republicans – it is awkward for them to try to prevent the clear wording of the constitution from being followed in replacing a firm proponent of “original intent”.
Lessons Learned: Eight years into the Great Dismal Swamp a few things have become clear, the most important being that the world's central banks – specifically the Fed – have failed to drag us out of the doldrums. After bailing out the big banks with trillions, wasting a few hundred million on a puny pretense at putting people back to work, flinging money at the problem with QE I, II, and III, (globally this comes to $12.3 trillion) and then pretending things were turning up well enough to engineer an ill-timed interest rate hike... all this and now we're being prepped for negative interest rates, which are really, really uncharted territory. No one really knows what is going on. “No one knows what the Fed is really trying to accomplish, or what it can accomplish, or how to go about accomplishing it.”
The Skinny: Oprah bought a big chunk of Weight Watchers not because it works, but because it doesn't. But she knows from long personal experience that permanent lifelong weigh loss is simply not achievable, but the desire to do so is everlasting – as are the profits to be made from the needy.
Feedom Of Choice: The British government has decreed that deciding who you want to buy things from is not a basic right, especially if you boycott arms makers, fossil fuels, tobacco producers or illegal Israeli settlements.
Ultimate RICO: US families whose relatives have been killed by Mexican drug cartels have brought suit against HSBC on the basis that it knowingly participated in and profited from the criminal activities of the cartels – and use as evidence the bank's admission that it laundered over $800 million for the cartels, an act for which it paid nearly $2 billion in penalties.
It's Different This Time. Really: Those who make their living stealing your living claim that the economy is not entering a recession, this is not 2008, and – for the first time ever – the market is wrong.
Better Never Than Late: Is there really long suppressed evidence that Sirhan Sirhan could not have and did not shoot Bobby Kennedy?
Porn O'Graph: You don't always get what you pay for...
The Parting Shot:
Posted by Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III at 7:57 AM
Monday, February 15, 2016
Good Riddance: With the death of Antonin Scalia, the GOP has finally abandoned the constitution of these United States. No longer shall we hear of 'original intent' or 'literal interpretation', for they have discovered that their new and improved version of the Constitution limits a president's term of authority and responsibility to three years, after which he bakes cookies and sits on the front porch for eleven months, leaving everything that comes up to his yet to be nominated, much less elected, successor. [Note that eleven months is not “a few”, Senator Rubio. That is 25% of a presidential term.]
Should the American people have a say in who gets nominated? Yes. And they did. They elected a president to do those sorts of things. It was a guy named Obama and in 2012 5 million more Americans chose him than chose the other guy. Filibuster all they wish, the Republicans will only be damaging their rather shopworn credibility even further as obstructionists, sore losers and poorly behaved, uncivil miscreants.
How serious and reasoned they are, promising to reject anyone the President nominates – no hearings needed. As Mitch McConnell sees it, his “number one job” is to defeat Barack Obama, no matter how much damage is done to the country. No process. No pretense of serious deliberation. No playacting of democratic governance. Attack and posture. This is the same Mitch McConnell who in 2005 correctly pointed out that “the President, and the President alone, nominates judges.” Let the games begin.
Loyalty Oath: Hillary Clinton's version of the Democratic party includes having to sign a pledge to be a loyal supporter of Barak Obama, except when she doesn't.
Economic Theory: The heart of the capitalist system is based on setting aside some of your income and investing it in ways that will return some measure of profit. Then combining the profit with the capital and doing it again – known as compound interest. You cannot do that in a negative interest environment. Negative interest is a ploy by central banks to get you to consume everything you have, seed corn and all. What it leads to - aside from a war on cash as central banks try to control all your money all the time - this effort to quash the accumulation of capital, this punishing of saving and investment, is something new, as yet unnamed; it isn't capitalism.
On Duplicity and Gullibilty: Ms Clinton would have us believe that the powerful men who run Wall Street are just ordinary guys who give her millions of dollars and expect nothing in return but that she seek a fair and just society, even if this discomfort them.
Because They Can: The UK's highest court overseeing the spies at GCHQ have ruled that it is completely legal for the government to hack phones and computers and to remotely activate the microphones and cameras in such devices. No warrants. No suspicion. No privacy. And not just in Merrie Olde, but anywhere in the world. The NSA undoubtedly has a similar blessing.
Shoe, Fitting: Perhaps there should be a special place in... heaven?.. for a politician who accepts $133,000 from private prison operators while telling Blacks and Latinos that she wants to end private for-profit prisons.
Porn O'Graph: Love makes the world go round, always has.
The Parting Shot: