Saturday, June 30, 2012

SAR #12181

We are a society ripe for harvest.

Less Enthusiasm, Gentlemen: Yes, the markets soared on the news that European Leaders had squared the circle. But it might do to inspect the results of their labor a bit closer, for it is hard to see how borrowing money from people who have none to spare and lending it to people who are already too far in debt is going to solve the problem. It seems a tad unlikely that the structural problems inherent in today's euro can be solved by printing more euros. Europe's problems are not going to be solved by bankers, nor by politicians. The solution lies with the Europeans themselves, and until they stop being French and German and Spanish and Italian and so on, and become Europeans, the euro is a lost cause.

Hiding The Silver: The US consumer continues to resist the lure to spend, spend, spend, as Personal Spending grew exactly 0.0% while Income edged up 0.2% and the savings rate reached 3.9%, highest it's been since January.

Lake Woebegone Writ Large: More and more countries are becoming “exceptional”. Now the US is exempting China (Iran's largest customer) and Singapore from the US embargo on Iranian oil – joining Japan, India, South Korea, Turkey, South Africa, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and 10 European countries. The move may have something to do with the disdain shown by China's Foreign Ministry: "China is always against one country's unilateral sanctions on another country, according to its domestic law. It is even less acceptable for such unilateral sanctions to be imposed on a third country."

Sleep On It: Over 200,000 public school students are homeless, sleeping in shelters.

Another Brick In The Wall: Joining the hottest spring on record and the current central US heat wave and the growing drought in the middle of the country, scientists point out that more frequent and larger wildfires are also predicted by the climate change theorists. It is, they say, “what global warming really looks like.”

Yes, But: The WSJ now says the US will not import a single barrel of oil from the Middle East by the year 2035, which is consistent with what the peak oil people have been saying all along. The Journal says it is because the US will be overrun with cheap energy from oil, fake oil and natural gas. The Peak Oilers say it is because Saudi Arabia will use all they can pump domestically, leaving none for export. Stay tuned.

Dewey Wins: Both Fox and CNN reported, incorrectly, that the Affordable Care Act had been declared unconstitutional. Trust, but verify.

The Parting Shot:


Getting away for the weekend.

Friday, June 29, 2012

SAR #12180

Truthfully, weren't you surprised?  How about relieved?

Unclear On The Concept: Rand Paul (Clueless-KY) says that just because the Supreme Court rules a law to be constitutional does not mean that the law is constitutional.

Statistically Speaking: The GDP, PCE and Initial Claims numbers were blandly unchanged, dashing immediate hopes for additional QE. The actual numbers are irrelevant; no fuel, no fire.

Confusion Reigns: EU leaders have decided to “commit to a growth pact” by promising to come up with $120 billion “to promote growth”. That doesn't include the $120 billion Spanish banks need, nor more than about $4.27 in new money. Or does it? We'll know soon because they'll finalize a plan to save the euro by the end of the year. It wasn't clear whether they meant the plan would be ready by the end of the year, or the euro would be saved by then. Oh, yeah. It's the plan. Saving the euro will take a while longer.

What Number Comes Next? $2 billion, $4 billion, $9 billion, $__ billion.

Basics: “It's a bedrock principle of our era: Companies should be run for the sole purpose of increasing their stock prices, or returning "value" to shareholders, the ultimate owners.” That's so mid-20th Century – everybody knows that corporations are run solely for the benefit of senior management.

Words To The Wise: According to PM Rajoy, “Spain cannot afford to finance itself for long at current rates,” Germany's unemployment rate increased (to 6.8%) for the third month in a row, and GDP in Britain fell 0.3% in 1Q2012 after falling 0.4% in 4Q2011.

Obligations: The banking association made up of the banks that manipulated LIBOR for fun & profit are shocked that they got caught.

Things That Are Not Crime: This week we learned that taking customer money to pay your taxes is not a crime. Manipulating the prices of stocks and bonds is not a crime, and that manipulating LIBOR, the world's key interest rate, is not a crime. But then, not a single bank that enabled Madoff's Ponzi scheme (and should have known he was bent) has given a single client a single cent, nor have Madoff's “consolidators” been jailed. Nor have any Wall Streeters taken a perp walk for mortgage-related securities fraud. And certainly several gentlemen involved in various parts of the MFGlobal affair should be on extended vacations... We are a nation of laws, unenforced laws.

The Parting Shot:


Breaking out!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

SAR #12179

There is no such thing as sustainable development.

Fly/Ointment: 'States must sacrifice sovereignty to save euro.' vs 'Over my dead body.' Truthfully, the wealthy nations of Europe are unwilling to pay for the poorer ones.

Crime, No Punishment: Barclays is paying a £290 million ($450 million) fine for engaging in “gross manipulation of the LIBOR rate” – the benchmark rate for $350 trillion in interest-rate sensitive products world-wide, including adjustable rate mortgages in theUS - “on a daily basis over a four-year period, commencing as early as 2005." Barclays also promised not to get caught doing it again. Details of their modus operandi are here.

The Human Condition: Everyone is talking about the pending collapse of the Eurozone, but nobody is willing to risk much money betting on it.

Mighty, Falling: Philp Falcone, founder of the hedge fund Harbinger Capital and one of the heroes of Wall Street, has been accused by the SEC of misappropriating client assets, manipulating bond prices, and “favoring” some of his investors over others. Seems he made money the old fashioned way, he stole it.

Clarification: Most, if not everything, you have read, heard or been told about the ATF/Fast & Furious/Eric Holder affair is wrong. But John Boehner won't let that stand in his way.

Equal Justice: A prisoner with three months remaining on a three year sentence for a parole violation died of seizures in his urine-soaked cell because the prison officials refused him medical treatment in order to save money "balance the needs of our offender population with limited resources." Wonder if Falcone could be sent there, or the guys from Barclays.

Comes The Dawn: Congressional leaders have suddenly discovered that they can change laws. Wowser! And maybe, just maybe, they'll apply this new knowledge to put off the automatic spending cuts for a while. Like until everyone forgets about the whole thing.

Market Wisdom: If the 'efficient market theory' is correct, markets would price in all known data and the price would represent its true value. Thus there would be no room for the variations in bid and offer that lead to profits.

Us And Them: An new poll shows that over 60% of Americans support taxing the rich more, but do not support cuts in Social Security or Medicare. Would someone copy the Republicans on this, with a separate copy to Paul Ryan.

Continuity: If there’s a crummy shopping center in your neighborhood, it will only get crummier. Upscale malls, on the other hand, will continue to be updated. Them that has, gets.

Who Are These People? A new poll believe 63% republicans still believe Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. And 64% think Obama was born in another country.

Fill In The Blank: US policy regarding ____ is short-sighted and dangerous. [Usual prizes - limit 5 guesses.]

Wrong In So Many Ways:There's another cornucopian report on oil making the rounds. If this represents the level of intellectual rigor and honesty found among Harvard experts and major oil corporation leaders, pessimism for our future becomes mandatory. The author, Leonardo Maugeri - like David Yergin - has been making similar Pollyannaish predictions for years.

The Parting Shot:


Come a little closer, my dear.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

SAR #12178

Prices are often based on perception, not reality.

Blitzkrieg 2.0: Four EU functionaries have drafted a plan to eventually turn the eurozone into a full-fledged political federation, with the first steps revolving about rescuing banks under the authority of the ECB, with common resolution funds to... Oh, never mind, Germany opposes almost all of the proposals, so while the EU summit will discuss them this week, they are already non-starters.

Another Notch On The Control Stick: A US drone strike killed “at least” five militantsTM in Pakistan, each of whom was specifically targeted on the president's people-we-want-to-kill list.

This Little Piggy: Cyprus, squealing all the way home, became the fifth eurozone state to ask the EU for a bailout. Estimates are that it will need €5 billion, which equals about half the island's GDP.

Good Question: Where is poverty in the national agenda?

Better Question: What words best characterize a legal system that knowledgeable observers assume will not follow the law, but will advance a particular political agenda?

Everything Must Go! The European bailout for Spain's banks will be conditioned on the banks raising capital by selling off assets – ending a longstanding close interweave between the banks and Spanish corporations. Such assets are not particularly attractive at the moment, so a lot of Spanish equity – abut 10% of the country's blue-chips - will be gobbled up by rich northern neighbors.

Reality Check: North America is poised for a huge natural gas shock. Far from being an energy exporter, North America is going to experience a natural gas supply crunch. Details inside...

Super Duper Secret: The ECB says it can’t release documents showing how Greece used derivatives to hide its borrowings because Goldman won't allow it and, besides, they may show that EU leaders were complicit.

Ocean, Current: Tide gauges show that the world’s oceans have risen about 7 inches in the last century, and that rate is accelerating – due to melting ice, of course, but also due to the expansion of the water as it warms. And it is warming. But the rise will not be uniform -the moon's pull, oceanic currents, the Earth's rotation and more affect where ocean wate3re piles up. And the rise and fall of the land also plays a role. The California coast is sinking, which will increase the effective sea level rise. The US East Coast is seeing the seas rise four times higher than the global average - Except off North Carolina, where sea level rise is illegal.

Excuses, Excuses: The Bank of England said that Britain's economic outlook “has worsened markedly” because of the eurozone crisis and the global slowdown taking root in the US.”

Scientificly American: An article in Scientific American, entitled “The TSA’s Dumb Air-Security Rules Are Not Based on Science: Outdated screening rules aren’t making for safer skies–just longer lines”, concludes “... the TSA’s irrational half measures and out-of-date electronics policies don’t protect us all that well from terrorists. They do, however, make life miserable for the innocent.”

Readin' & Writin': The textbooks being promoted for use in Louisiana’s for-profit charter schools (which will soon be all of them) reveal that the Loch Ness monster is real and that the Great Depression “was exaggerated by propagandists, including John Steinbek, to advance a socialist agenda.”

Deep In The Heart: In Texas, a US District Judge has decided that some laws – those that put barricades in the way of union organizing – are retroactive.

Porn O'Graphic: The man in the middle.

The Parting Shot:



Tuesday, June 26, 2012

SAR #12177


Our financial and political leaders fantasies will destroy us all.

Warning, Plot Spoiler: Chancellor Merkel has made it clear that Germans are not going to pick up any part of Spain's tab. Or Italy's. So why are they holding another 'summit' this week? She's already torpedoed any chance for “euro bonds, euro bills and European deposit insurance with joint liability and much more” as “economically wrong and counterproductive.”

Suspicions Confirmed: “Voter identification efforts are meant to suppress Democratic votes in this year’s election.” So says Mike Turzai, Republican leader of the Pennsylvania House.

Dispatches From The Front: Turkey claims Syria has shot at a second of its aircraft, an “act that won't go unpunished.” It has invoked Article 5 (an attack against one NATO member shall be considered an attack against all members.) of the NATO charter.

Points of View: After the Supreme Court tossed out three out of four provisions of Arizona’s anti-immigrant law, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer said that the ruling had “vindicated” the racist and unconstitutional law.

Independent Judiciary: Legal scholars think the individual mandate in the health care act is valid, and that it will be overturned by a party-line vote.

Tangled Web: A Republican member of Michigan's Board of State Canvassers has resigned, leaving the Board without a quorum and thus unable to act on such things as certifying referendums for placement on this fall's ballot – including one repealing the Emergency Manager Law and another putting collective bargaining protections into Michigan's constitution. The Republican governor is in no hurry to replace the absent members.

Get 'em, Tiger: "What's the justification for complex banking at all? Why shouldn't banks be run on the utility basis?” Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism.

Contract Law: Homeland Security, after carefully ignoring the opinions of senior military, Coast Guard and DEA officers, is shoving drones into the fight against drug smuggling in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. Too bad we don't have any surveillance coverage of the closed door considerations.

Suffrage: Michigan Republicans are backing a bill that would prevent the wild-eyed liberals of the League of Women Voters from conducting voter-registration drives until its canvassers undergo state-approved training. The bill does not provide for such training.

Angels On The Head Of A Pin: The administration, in refusing to release any documents in response to an ACLU/NY Times FOI request concerning the targeted killing of individuals, including Americans, by drones, said that public administration comments on the subject “were carefully phrased to avoid” discussing or acknowledging such operations. This includes, somehow, Obama's announcement of the murder-by-drone of Anwar Al Awlaki, a US citizen.

Size Matters: Exxon now admits that it released 28,700 pounds of benzene from its Baton Rouge plant, not 10 pounds as originally claimed.

Roving Eyes: Much to the dismay of creationist theorists, scientists have found a “halfway” specimen. In this case it is a fossil fish that stands, or rather lays, halfway between a standard model fish with one eye on either side of its head and the flat-fish model that has both eyes on one side, like halibut and sole. On eye has migrated towards the top of the head, but had not yet crossed over.

Setting An Example: Vern Buchanan (R-FL), chief fundraiser for the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee, is under federal investigation for his “business practices, his campaign finances and his alleged attempt to try to stop a witness from talking.”

Porn O'Graph: Let's not get too excited.

The Parting Shot:


The light at the end of the tunnel.

Monday, June 25, 2012

SAR #12176

Our economic system requires unquestioned belief in miracles.

RISK: Turkey (taking a break from bombing northern Iraq) flew a jet over Syrian airspace and Syria shot it down. Both steps seem reckless. Did Turkey act on behalf of some other state? Did Syria? What happens next, in Ankara and Damascus, Washington and Moscow, NATO and the UN, may clarify things. Or not. As a footnote, Saudi Arabia is prepared to underwrite a “Free Syria Army”.

Out To Pasture: After 15 docile years on a farm east of Austin, a genetically modified grass – Tifton 85 – has suddenly begun producing cyanide gas and killing the cattle that eat it. Makes one wonder how long the GM stuff on the grocer's shelf has been ticking away.

My Way/Highway: The ECB said it would begin accepting crap cut the rating thresholds and amend eligibility requirements for Spanish asset-backed securities it would accept as collateral. The Bundesbank said 'No.' Which pretty much explains what's going to happen at the European summit this week. Germany is loath to pursue policies that would put German taxpayers on the hook for losses, be they Greek, Spanish or Italian, and it's their ball money.

One Down:Monsignor Wm. Lynn of Philadelphia has become the highest ranking Catholic convicted of enabling child sexual molestation by priests. So far.

And The Point Would Be? The US Army hauled troops from as far away as Maryland to conduct “a training exercise” on the streets of St. Louis. Putting down citizens in what cities in what country is it they are rehearsing? Haven't the taxpayers build entire “urban environment training sites” on military bases for them to practice on? Who is being trained, the soldiers or the citizens?

Asked & Answered: “Are we sustainable?” Who's “we”?

Pretty Please: Greece, having voted to try to stay in the eurozone, has asked for an extension of the deadlines it is supposed to meet under the bailout program. It wants to scrap that part of the deal that requires cutting 150,000 public-sector jobs, lower the taxes imposed on cafes and restaurants as well as on agriculture. The new government also wants to exempt more income from taxation. Greece is already behind schedule and it seems unlikely that the Germans EU will give them much more rope. When the Troika arrives in Athens this week, they will find that Greece has missed all of the austerity targets, broken all of the promises previously made. Hardly a good way to start the conversation.

Observed: Americans were much better off when they paid higher taxes and higher interest rates and manufactured more of the things they bought, and when the 1% didn't own 99% of everything. Tell me about globalization again, I forgot the point.

Making The Case: The US could save enough in administrative costs with a single-payer system to cover all those currently uninsured. Administrative costs consume 31 percent of US health spending, most of it unnecessary. Socialized medicine? Yes, but we already are there - taxes already pay for more than 60% of US health costs. Co-pays account for 20% and employers only pick up the remaining 20%. Americans pay the highest health care taxes in the world, essentially paying for, but not getting, national health insurance. For-profit, investor-owned hospitals, HMOs and nursing homes have higher costs and score lower on most measures of quality than their non-profit counterparts. Computerized medical records and chronic disease management do not save money. A single payer system would save money, and lives.

Is It Coaled In Here? Coal is piling up in Qinghuandao, China's main port of entry for coal, because the power plants inland have reduced their demand for coal just as the factories they supply have reduced their demand for power. All of which suggests a sharp decrease in manufacturing activity.

Don't Worry, Be Happy: The Romney campaign is vetting Paul Ryan (Certifiable, WI) for the vice-presidential nomination on the Republican ticket. Jon Stewart is ecstatic.

Porn O'Graph: Climbing to the top, one step prisoner at a time.

The Parting Shot:


Opening soon.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

SAR #12174

When we think we understand what's going on, we fool ourselves.

Salvation Isn't What It Used To Be: First the 'zone was saved, for the ECB was going to accept toxic crap as collateral (sounds vaguely familiar). But wait, the Bundesbank and Frau Merkel say doing so would violate certain treaties (like those that the EU is based on). And worse, she'd like some (total) control over how the funds would be spent.

On A Scale Of Ten... Oil, which started the year at $103 a barrel and peaked at $110, has dropped to $78. What in the world is going on? Despite appearances (and statements) to the contrary, the Fed, ECB, BOJ, BOE and so on are not being “accomodative” enough. The fall in energy prices is a huge canary, flopping around at the bottom of a mineshaft. If they cannot reflate some bubble, any bubble, pretty soon, things are going to get ugly – the fall in the price of energy is deflationary, not something to celebrate.

Time's A'Wastin': Italy's ECB/IMF/EU appointed Prime Minister says that he, Hollande, Rajoy and Merkel have just a week left to save the euro, or Europe will splinter, abandoning all hopes of a grander integration, both financial, fiscal, and political – which seems to have been the goal of at least some of the players for some time now.

In The Wilderness: What's wrong with this picture: Corporate profits are at their all-time highs while wages, as a percent of the economy, are at their all-time lows. How much greater will the gap become before the serfs pour into the streets with pitchforks?

Hell & Environs: The absolute and inevitable doom that awaits us if we do not do something about the federal deficit and federal debt has never actually been proved to be real. Those who preach this particular doom are trying to validate a personal belief or, more likely, trying to achieve a hidden and unstated political goal. We've been running a real-life experiment on deficits and the debt for quite some time now and none of the promised plagues have descended on us: no rampant inflation, no interest rate punishment, no diversion of resources from the private sector (which is awash with cash it dares not deploy). Maybe someday, maybe. But so far, doom remains just over the ever receding horizon. Maybe it's gone to hell.

Where's Pogo? The text of the draft agreement to be signed at the Rio+20 summit is so weak it doesn't even set out any aspirational goals, much less setting forth serious commitments to specific steps to be taken within specific time frames in hopes of preventing catastrophic climate change and the probably collapse of civilization.

The Path: Over the last 30 years, the US economy has generated only $1 for every $3 of debt it has assumed. If the 'growth' is subtracted from the borrowing, the gap is a negative $38 trillion.

How Far Down Is Down? When will the market reflect the fundamental weakness of the global economy? And when will the market finally hit bottom? Granted the connection between the stock markets and reality is tenuous, eventually Wall Street is going to notice that the real economy is weak. Failing. Slip-sliding away. Then what? More easing, more kicking the can, and ever greater divergence between them and us.

Dollar Dethronement Development: The 'dollar exclusion zone', once confined to Asia, has slipped a tentacle into the New World, as China and Brazil agree to a currency swap. When the US Dollar is ultimately dethroned, no-one will have seen it coming. Well, except for folks in China, Japan, Russia, Iran, India, Iraq and now Brazil. And you, of course.

Tab A, Slot B: The EPA says food waste in the US has risen 50% in the last quarter century and has replaced paper as the largest single component of US landfills. At the same time, the UN Children's Fund reports that 1.5 million West African children are in “imminent danger” of starvation.

Teaching Aid: You can join the effort to inform TSA personnel of your rights by wearing a T-shirt with the 4th Amendment printed in metallic ink on it – ink that they can read while gazing at your torso in the x-ray scanner.

Porn O'Graph: Through a glass, darkly.

The Parting Shot:



Friday, June 22, 2012

SAR #12173

When things go wrong, it is not the leaders or investment bankers who pay...

Cow/Cabbage: First US manufacturing comes in with its slowest growth in 11 months, the number of new unemployment claims is essentially stagnant, Mid-Atlantic factory activity hits a 10-month low, and sales of existing houses slip in May. Then the markets have their second worst day of the year, dropping 2% - which gets blamed on poor data from China and Europe plus the Fed's cutting its forecast for the US economy. After the close, Moody's rained on everybody's parade, downgrading 15 of the world's largest banks including BofA, JPMorgan, Citi, and even Goldman Sachs. Morgan Stanley got kicked down two notches. None of this was news nor comes a a great surprise, except to those whiz-kids who run our economy. Friday has no major announcements scheduled, so the day can be spent figuring out what it all means. Yeah, there's a bunch of European data due, but Europe is so over already.

Ignorance is Profitable: By a 26 to 73 vote, senators representing major food corporations were able to keep the public from finding out how much of their food is descended from Frankenstein.

Safety Last: Experts now - 30 trillion tons too late - say that injecting toxic crap deep into the earth is not safe and the US industries should never have been allowed to do it. It will damage all of us - but you can be sure not a single company will have to spend a dime in remediation.

On Target: The UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, says that Obama's use of drones threatens 50 years of international law and fears the US arrogance in assuming it has the right to tour the world killing people it doesn't like may set a bad example. To put not too fine a point on it, some - if not all - of the drone strikes certainly may constitute war crimes.

You're In The Army Now: Knee-jerking to Obama's P to KB3, The Mitten says that the only way kids illegally smuggled into the US by their parents should be able to become US citizens is if they survive a three year enlistment in the military.

Tidal Currents: Americans definitely don’t trust banks and the federal government, but do think state and local governments had “about the right” amount of power. Americans have clearly supported higher taxes on the rich and a much more punitive approach to banker compensation. Neither has happened. Americans were not clamoring to fire huge numbers of teachers, police, firemen and health service workers. Republican theologians were.

Sequestration Is As Sequestration Does: As January approaches and the federal government's purchasing officers begin gearing down in anticipation of forced sequestration of federal funds, the nation is going to find out how popular and how important federal spending is. If anything will prompt the citizens to demand tax hikes on the rich (or anyone but themselves) cutting military spending will.

Name Of The Game: Paul Krugman isn't the only one who knows what the ECB should be doing to calm the crisis. Europe's leaders are quite aware of what should be done, what is being done, and why the two diverge. There is an agenda, which essentially consists of using the crisis to force member countries to accept long-term structural reforms that the ECB wants. 'Federalizing' budgets and finances is not the goal, but a step towards that goal. Too bad the citizenry is not inclined to move in that direction.

Perspective: Greece's lawyer thinks it will take at least 1 trillion Euros to solve the eurozone's sovereign debt crisis, and that the next nation to seek help will be Cypress, not Spain nor Italy. He also sees capital controls being applied to stop the hemorrhaging from banks in the bailout-needing countries.

A Quotation: "the United States has been taken over by an amoral financial oligarchy, and the American dream of opportunity, education, and upward mobility is now largely confined to the top few percent of the population." Charles Ferguson.

Porn O'Graph: The mean median.

The Parting Shot:


Now appearing...

Thursday, June 21, 2012

SAR #12172

We are still animals, territorial animals.

Pass It On: European leaders have found a way to solve the problems in the eurozone. They are going to borrow money from Italy and give it to Spain, then borrow money from Spain and give it to Italy. It is hoped that Merkel will let them do this, because most of the money that does not come from Spain and Italy will come from Germany. Maybe, but a senior member of Merkel's party says Athens needs to "make up for lost time.”

Spinning Wheel Spins: The Fed has lowered its guess as to where the economy might be going by 20%, thinks unemployment will stay in the 8.2% range for a while, and sees PCE inflation drooping to about 1.2%. How is it that Bernanke keeps saying that the Fed can do more 'if needed' but never does the more?

Fooled Again: In Greece, the new leadership is the same as the old leadership.

Always Low Wages, Always: Laborers locked in processing plants, forced to work 24-hour shifts, under 24/7 surveillance even in the trailers they are housed in... in Louisiana. Processing seafood for Walmart.

Recovery Slows: Half of all jobs in the US pay less than $34,000 a year. One out of four pays less than $22,000 a year. Food Stamps are the only income for 6 million people. The Republicans, of course, are trying to cut funding for the program.

And Water Is Wet: That House Republicans hold AG Holder in contempt is not news. House Republicans hold everyone who isn't beholden to either the Tea Party or the Koch brothers in contempt.

Quoted:It’s never been clear to moi why “____ should be run like a business” when most businesses fail, and the average lifespan of an S&P 500 company is 15 years.

Asked & Answered: “Are we moving toward a fact-free future?” As distinct, one assumes, from the fact-free present we already live in. Why run up all that debt “getting an education” when all you really need is faith, belief, credulity and the willing suspension of dis-belief?

Can You Hear Me Now? Ottawa Airport has installed microphones throughout the facility to monitor conversations. All the better to protect you.

Mouth/Soap: Michigan Rep Wan Schmidt (R-Penis) says that preventing Rep. Lisa Brown (D-Vagina) from speaking was like “giving a kid a timeout.” And it wasn't because she said 'vagina', it was – he claims – because he doesn't think a woman means 'no' when she says 'no'.

A Washing Of Hands: The Catholic church is fighting efforts by state legislators to lengthen the statute of limitations on sexual abuse cases. They're all for forgiving the sinner, before they have to pay damages.

Porn O'Graph: The price of gas is shocking.

The Parting Shot:



Wednesday, June 20, 2012

SAR #12171


The sun will rise tomorrow, and the day after.

Act Two: Egyptians have returned to Tahrir Square by the thousands to protest the power grab by the military.

Multiple Guess: The reasons NSA gave for not letting Congress know about how many Americans are being spied on by their government: 1) They don't know. 2) Looking up the answer would interfere with eavesdroping on Americans. 3) It would be an invasion of citizens privacy to let Congress know. 4) How many Americans are there?

Spot On: “The worst thing about the Greek election is the possibility that it will encourage the Germans and the ECB to persist a bit longer with their fantasies about how things might work.” - Krugman.

Because There Are So Many Of Them: Mitch McConnell, repeating the misleading fact that between 45 and 50 percent of Americans pay no income tax at all,” which ignores payroll taxes that most of the wealthy manage not to pay at all, and sales taxes which are the most regressive taxes around. Mitch says the poor should be taxed more in order to protect the endangered millionaires.

Good On Her: If you haven't yet experienced “The Vagina Monologues”, why didn't you venture up to Lansing, MI, to enjoy the production in support of Rep. Lisa Brown?

Litany of Ignorance: “We are de-evolving, hurtling headlong into a past that was defined by serfs and lords; by necromancy and superstition; by policies based on fiat, not facts.  … Now, we seek to operate by revealed truths, not reality.  Decrees from on high – often issued by an unholy alliance of religious fundamentalists, self-interested corporations, and greedy fat cats – are offered up as reality by right-wing politicians.” And so on. Great rant.

A Little Off The Top: The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet.

Pictures At An Exhibition: In New York this year, each night sees “more than 43,000 people, including a record 17,000 children” sleeping in municipal shelters. The average stay is nearly a year. Mind-boggling, as is having places for that many in shelters.

Inquiring Minds: The ECB has loaned various failing eurozone banks & countries just a tad over €1.2 trillion so far, to little or no effect.

Democracy Inaction: Republicans, betting on the come, have shut down consideration of the president's nominees for the nation's courts – wanting to save these vacancies to be filled with right wing extremists if they bamboozle enough voters in November. Yes, it ties up the nations judicial system, but who cares?

Stimulus: Manufacturers expect the market for domestic drones to grow to over $11 billion a year by 2022, mainly through sales to local police departments..

An Ouch of Prevention: In Michigan, a known hotbed of illegal voting, where exactly zero cases of such have been prosecuted in the last decade, the GOP pushed through three new bills aimed at keeping potential Democratic voters from voting – and ruled that the 66 votes they got were close enough to the required 73 to have the laws take immediate effect. Protecting democracy is hard, but someone's got to do it.

Corporate Welfare: World-wide, fossil fuel subsidies totaled over $400 billion in 2010, with the struggling oil industry receiving about $200 billion. Meanwhile, governments wasted $66 billion on renewable energy projects.

The Parting Shot:


Trillium sp.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

SAR #12170

Financial interests owe allegiance to no state, the reverse is not true.

Mooting The Question: Greece is going to run out of money before Austerity cures all of its problems, no matter who forms a government. And if Angela gets her waywhich is likely – Spain and Italy will also be forced out of the eurozone.

Superman's Cape: Fearless Joe Arpaio, self-important Arizona sheriff, continuing his successful campaign to qualify as an ass, has arrested a 6-year old girl who is suspected of being an illegal immigrant.

Divorce: After 30 years of cohabitation, the US has told Egypt's generals it wants a trial separation.

Terrortory: The biggest bar to a European solution that would maintain the euro and forge at least the beginnings of the political framework required to make it viable is seen in the rise of far-right political nationalism. The members of Golden Dawn (Greece), the Front Nationale (France), the True Finns (Duh), and even Sinn Fein are representative of the fear-fed fascist revival that is prowling Europe.

Mirror, Mirror: With the diplomatic version of a straight face, the US has denounced the death of Yemeni General Ali Qoton by an al-Qaeda drone suicide bomber.

Promises, Promises: If the Republicans get their way and prevent the Congress from taking effective action on the “fiscal cliff” legislation – spending cuts, tax increases etc. - 82.9% of US households will face tax increases averaging $3,700. These are the same Republicans who are proud of nearly shutting down the government the last time around.

Liar's Poker: Venezuela claims it has passed Saudi Arabia in the amount of petroleum “reserves”.

Well Said: “Industrial society was only possible because our species briefly had access to an immense supply of cheap, highly concentrated fuel with a very high net energy...   Starting in the 18th century, fossil fuels—first coal, then coal and petroleum, then coal, petroleum and natural gas—gave us that energy source. All three of these fossil fuels represent millions of years of stored sunlight, captured by the everyday miracle of photosynthesis and concentrated within the earth by geological processes that took place long before our species evolved.  They are nonrenewable over any time scale that matters to human beings, and we are using them up at astonishing rates.” From the Archdruid, who you should read weekly.

Lighten Up: Researchers say the collective population of the world is 17 million tons overweight – and that nearly 6 million of those excess tons reside in the US of A.

Fiction: The Pope says that child abuse by Irish clergy is “a mystery”. No, the mystery is why any parent, anywhere, would let a Catholic priest within 10 miles of a child.

Lessons Learned: Impossible is an overused word, and forever doesn't last all that long. For example, we now routinely ask when the eruozone will break up, how fast and how far will China's economy fall, can Japan borrow from the future much longer, and will the US follow Japan into 20 years of stagnation or will global warming get us first? And all of this – even the climate change – was avoidable.

Public Notice: The United Nations has placed Canada on its human rights watchlist as a consequence of Bill 78.

Austerity in Ohio: Since January 2011, Ohio has cut its Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash assistance program by about 25%, by throwing nearly 70,000 people—including 40,000 children—off of the rolls. That's more people than are on TANF assistance in 39 states.


Monday, June 18, 2012

SAR #12169

The rabbits are all gone and the hat is empty.

Back To The Future: The markets will be ecstatic that Greece has returned to the status quo – divided, facing impossible debts and unsustainable austerity as the country continues to sink into the miasma. Various Eurozone leaders hinted at some slight possibility of moderation in their demands, but as long as Germany say “There cannot be substantial changes in the engagements...” there will not be. Remember – all the Greek parties were calling fro a relaxation of the terms of the bailout. Not much has changed.

Bread Eaten In Secret: McConnell defends political contributions as free speech, says requiring disclosure of donors would harm democracy.

Camouflage: In Britain, the Cameron government is going to subsidize private investment in infrastructure improvements, which will let them play favorites among possible projects and contractors. It also lets them undertake a Keynesian stimulus without calling it neither Keynesian nor stimulus, and – more importantly – lets them change course without admitting they've spent two years doing the wrong thing.

Interesting, Very Interesting: According to BLS data, 100% of jobs added in the US since 2010 have been ineligible to collect unemployment insurance, mostly because the wages and hours have been insufficient to qualify.

En Passant: In an editorial commenting on the repetitive lack of honesty in The Mitten's campaign utterance, there was casual reference to the fact that Romney's "entire campaign rests on a foundation of short, utterly false sound bites." He does it because he can get away with it unchallenged, just like the rest of them.

Just Saying No: Spain's prime minister says that for now he will not implement the IMF's latest recommendations, which he characterized as “nonbinding advice.

Compare And Contrast: After a June first Taliban attack on a US outpost in Khost, US officials in Afghanistan reported that the attack had been “successfully repelled”, but made no mention of friendly casualties. Turns out there were 2 US soldiers and 5 Afghan civilians killed and more than 100 US troops sustained minor injuries.

Round Two: Egypt, under supervision of the ruling military dictatorship, is electing a president without a constitution or parliament. The winner will essentially be an absolute dictator with complete executive, administrative and legislative powers. What could go wrong?

As The Worm Turns: In parts of Illinois, corn from Monsanto's proprietary GM seed has been overwhelmed by rootworms that seem to be impervious to the insecticide engineered into the crop. In Brazil, farmers have won a $2 billion judgment against Monsanto.

Another Log In The Fire: Syrian rebels have been meeting in Washington with US officials, begging for arms – including surface-to-air missiles. Presumably to shoot down the helicopters Assad has been getting from the Russians. Remember how this strategy worked in the long run in Afghanistan?

Viewpoints: The Republicans are aghast that information was leaked to the public that the President sits down weekly with aides to draw up a list of people to be killed. People from all over the world. People who are “believed” to a threat to.... whatever. Where's the shock that the U.S. government has a formal process to select victims of its ongoing campaign of serial murder? The dog didn't even bark, Watson.

What If They Held A Game And Nobody Came? So far 2,450 current and former NFL players have filed 89 concussion-related lawsuits against the league and its owners. Will they prevail? Probably. Will it change the game? Yes. Will this go smoothly?

The Parting Shot:


After the storm.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

SAR #12167

The burden of proof should rest on those who profit.

Thin Reed: The markets closed at 30-day highs because investors Wall Street believes that this time the world's central banks will save the day limit the carnage. Oh, wait, been there, done that.

Priorities: Don't worry about the Greek election; Greece is a sideshow – the real deal is Spain. With the market demanding a 7% yield, Spain has to generate at least a 5% return in order to pay back the money it borrows. How likely is that? Then what? Will more austerity help? Has it so far? Pretty soon no one will want to lend Spain any money. Then what?

Whistling Past The Graveyard: OPEC says that petroleum at $110 a barrel is a fair price, one that the world's economy can afford. Too bad the world economy is collapsing and can't afford $90 a barrel.

Unexpectedly #237: US industrial output unexpectedly fell 0.1% in May, sharply down from April's 1.0% gain. Consumer goods, especially weak auto production, led the decline. Consumer confidence also fell unexpectedly, missing expectations by the largest margin since 2006.

Cue Dramatic Music: This year's Arctic sea-ice extent has already dropped below the 2007 record for lowest in recorded history. May 2012 was the 36th consecutive May and the 327th consecutive month with a global temperature above the 20th century average. There is no consolation prize.

Generally Low”: A National Research Council report found that injecting wastewater underground – as part of fracking – can cause earthquakes, but not very often and only of a magnitude of 2.0 or so. Go back to sleep.

Rules of the Game: "During the financial crisis, at least 18 former and current directors from Federal Reserve Banks worked in banks and corporations that collectively received over $4 trillion in low-interest loans from the Federal Reserve." How did you make out?

Is There An Echo In Here? Last weekend, Spain celebrated getting €100 “with no strings attached.” Thursday the ECB said that Spain must make further cuts to meet its deficit target of 3% of GDP next year. Now the IMF, designated adult looking after the EU's money, says Spain must raise the VAT tax (now) and cut public employee wages (again), saying that even with the bank bailout funds Spain's future looks “very difficult.”

Self Inflicted Wounds: ExxonMobil is complaining that climate extremes and increased storms made worse by the global warming effects of the CO2 from burning petroleum are cutting into their profits.

Hook, Line & Sinker: The hitchhiker who was writing a book on the kindness of Americans and who claimed to have been shot by a passing stranger, now admits he shot himself to drum up interest in his book. It gets lonely on the road.

Bragging Rights: The US Navy has increased its presence in the Asian Pacific by 20%, now deploying 60% of its warships in the theater. As Secretary Panetta explained, “Make no mistake, in a steady, deliberate and sustainable way, the United States military is rebalancing and bringing an enhanced capability development to this vital region." Rebalancing my foot.

Politically Incoherent: The Republican National Committee reached out to the Latino community via the Internet, expressing concern for the difficulties they and their families face. The website featured a photo of Asian children.

Porn O'Graph: Visualize the warmth, feel the heat...

The Parting Shot:


Time to slip away...

Friday, June 15, 2012

SAR #12166

Internal liberty varies inversely with perceived external danger.

Summer Reruns: Europe in the 1930s and Europe today are becoming increasingly similar. Mass unemployment, especially among the youth, financial instability and distress among the peoples, growing support for extremist parties of the far left and far right. But we are too smart to follow the pattern into authoritarian governments, rabid nationalism, closed borders... Aren't we?

Up, Up, and... Initial claims for unemployment rose 9,000 from last week's 377,000 as the economic recovery rolls on. Another 135,000 people lost their extended benefits last week. The Dow closed up 1.25% on the news.

No Fat Lady, No Singing: Egypt's highest court – packed with Mubarak appointees - has invalidated the recent parliamentary elections, so the 'temporary' military rulers gave themselves full legislative authority in perpetuity or until someone wrests it from their cold dead hands.

Penultimate Sacrifice: Republicans in the House are blocking US soldiers who have been raped (mostly by other US soldiers) from access to abortion. Killing is wrong.

Definitions: Three of the individuals 'preventively detained' before the NATO meeting in Chicago are being charged with material support for terrorism and conspiracy to commit terrorism. Or so it's said. The prosecutor has refused to tell them what their charged with, saying they don't have the right to know what they are charged with until their arraignment hearing on July 2nd.

Confusion: Okay, my mistake. It was flag day. with an ‘L"’. We at SAR would have celebrated, but didn’t see the ‘L’, thought the festivities had something to do with gay marriage.

In Quotes: A US drone attack killed “at least three 'militants'” early Thursday in Pakistan, by firing two missiles into the central marketplace of the main town in North Waziristan. It was not immediately known if we are going to claim these as high-value targets.

Bootstraps: In India, one of those fabulous BRIC nations that are the hope of the future, 21% of the population is undernourished, 46% of their children are malnourished and about 66% of the population eat less that the minimum targets set by the government. India's GDP per capita has nearly doubled in the last decade and no, I've no idea where the money goes – probably to the same types that end up with it here.

Stopped Clock: Newt says that “the current (electoral) system is rigged, frankly, in favor of the wealthy.” Doesn't happen often, but this time he's right.

Takes One To Know One: Michigan Republicans have banned a female Democratic representative from speaking during debates, after she said “Mr. Speaker, I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina, but no means no.” It was unclear if it was her use of the word 'vagina', or her possession of one that so offended them. A second female representative was banned for knowing the word 'vasectomy'.

Kick The Crip: America's median family income fell from $49,600 in 2007 to $45,800 in 2010 – a drop of 7.7% - and is still falling. We just don't have enough money to buy enough stuff to boost the economy, and, wisely, no one will lend us any significant sum. What to do? A little more equitable distribution of the gains from our labors. We might learn something from history. The WAPA, CCC, Social Security, unemployment insurance, minimum wage... the things FDR did back in the 1930's to get the US out of the hole the 1% had gotten us in. And yes, the economic engine called WWII certainly helped. But this time, let's borrow and spend on infrastructure, not bombs.

Premeditation: Republicans at nearly every level of government are doing their utmost to ignore science's warnings of the catastrophic climate changes rushing at us. Their efforts to deny the threat and delay remediation should be noted and remembered for when the time comes for apportioning responsibility for the destruction of much of life on Earth.

Porn O'Graph: Peter & Paul in Pennsylvania.

The Parting Shot:



Thursday, June 14, 2012

SAR #12165

Not every psychopath uses a knife.

Nation, Building: A wave of coordinated bombings and shootings targeting Shi'ite Muslim pilgrims in Baghdad, and police across Iraq killed at least 84 people on Wednesday and injured over 300. Good thing we already won and went home.

Hyper Over Inflation: A harbinger of stagnation if not deflation, producer prices fell sharply in May, down 1% - mostly due to the decline in energy prices.

Divorce Proceeding: Hamid Karzai demands that NATO force stop bombing Afghan homes, even in self defense. “Even when they are under attack, they cannot use an airplane to bomb Afghan homes. Even when they’re under attack.” Calling the clashes with Taliban fighters "police actions", he asked. "Do you do this in the United States?’ There is police action every day in the United States in various localities. They don’t call an airplane to bomb the place.” If Mr. Karzai is not careful, he'll find himself in Guantanamo.

Judgment Day: Prosecutors have dropped all charges against John Edwards; being despicable isn't a crime, just a character trait.

Farm Teams: Congress is working on what is laughingly called The Farm Bill, which generally has something in it about paying farmers not to grow stuff, but is mostly about food stamps - which will get $768 billion of the bill's $969 billion cost over the next ten years. (Rand Paul’s attempt to drastically cut food stamp spending was defeated 65-33.)

None Of The Above: It doesn't matter who gets to play president - the president can do only what Congress lets him do. He can't raise taxes, can't spend money the Congress hasn't authorized, can't even start wars if Congress takes back the authority it has lent him. We all know that the 535 Congress Critters are the ones responsible, good or bad. but enjoy the entertainment - they're spending a lot of money on it.

Hidden In Plan Sight: Greece and Spain, under their austerity programs, have slashed government employment... just like the United States. Since the Great Recession began, states and local governments have cut their payrolls by 3%. Without these cuts, US unemployment would be about 7.0% instead of 8.3%.

Business Is Business: The Pentagon has told the State Department to go easy on Russia about those attack helicopters Assad is getting. DoD is buying helicopters from the same Russians for Afghan government forces.

The Law of Rules: The upcoming Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) - a NAFTA for the Pacific - will have the same secret tribunals that NAFTA and CAFTA and the WTO have that allow corporations to overrule the laws of the nations in which they do business. To hell with the UN, it is agreements made in secret, enforced in secret by unelected faceless technocrats that make up the New World Order.

Give And Take: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services project that the US will spend $4 trillion over the next decade for drugs that should cost less than $400 billion. That would cover the interest on $11 trillion of the national debt for that decade.

Revival! A new video of al-Qaeda leader Abu Yahya al-Libi has been posted on the internet. Al-Libi was killed, or possibly wasn't, in a drone attack a week ago, the military says. Pinpoint, drone...

Predation: "Over the last thirty years, the United States has been taken over by an amoral financial oligarchy, and the American dream of opportunity, education, and upward mobility is now largely confined to the top few percent of the population... If allowed to continue, this process will turn the United States into a declining, unfair society with an impoverished, angry, uneducated population under the control of a small, ultrawealthy elite. Such a society would be not only immoral but also eventually unstable, dangerously ripe for religious and political extremism." Charles Ferguson, Predator Nation quoted by and go read the rest at Jesse's.

The Parting Shot:


Butterfly Weed
Asclepias tuberosa

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

SAR #12164

Unemployment is just Mr. Market doing his job.

Net Worth, American Family Edition: The Fed says the median net worth of American families dropped nearly 40% from 2007 to 2010. Don't panic, the difference between $2.50 and $1.50 is less than a cup of coffee. Nothin' from nothin' leaves nothin'.

Rules Of The Game: If austerity doesn't work, flog the peasants and try again. Two, it is best to get most of the details of a bailout worked out before the bailout is announced. Clearly the problem in Spain and Italy is that there has not been enough suffering for the people nor bonuses for the bankers. But don't panic, The Mitten's economic advisers are sure the problem requires the adoption of more austerity

Faith Fully: The NYT is reporting that The Mitten “will strongly push school vouchers if he gets into the White House,” citing his belief in the wisdom of the free market. You know, the one that brought us the housing bubble and crash and all that jazz.

The Wars Drone On: The more civilians we kill with drones, the more terrorists there will be to kill with drones and the more power the US executive branch will gather into its grasp. A vicious cycle that will eventually be interrupted by a terrorist drone flying down Main Street, seeking revenge.

Watch This: The FEC says former Senator Larry 'Wide Stance' Craig misused hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds to pay his legal fees arising from his airport bathroom habits.

War Games: A UN report claims Syrian troops and a militant group loyal to Assad is responsible for boys as young as 10 being tortured and infants facing execution in their beds or being burned alive. The US says there is little it can do, while the Russians send more assault helicopters to Syria. Seems almost like old times.

Eppur si muove: Virginia Republican forces scientists to stop using ‘climate change’ terminology because it is “liberal code” which – if used - will bar scientific proposals from being funded. For example, changing the term “sea-level rise” to “recurrent flooding” got $138,000 in funding.

Yoda 2.0: The chair of The Mitten's national steering committee insists claiming that state and local government needed to cut back on teachers, firefighters and police is part of the “wisdom” that Romney will bring to the White House.

Crysalysis: The Spanish EFSF loans will morph into ESM debt when that fund comes into existence, making today's senior bond holders tomorrow's juniors. Makes you want to run out and buy some Spanish bonds just to watch the transformation. Or the bonds of any of the once and future PIIGS. Don't stand between Angela and the money.

Like Ships In The Night:US negotiators are quietly slipping out of Pakistan without securing a land route to Kabul through Pakistan. The US says the bribes required would be too high, the Pakistanis say no more drones.

What Could Go Wrong? Ohio State is going to lease out the university's parking to an Australian company on a 50-year trial basis.

Out Of The Bag: It seems some folks are upset that America's industrial policy is run by the Pentagon for the benefit of defense contractors and retired admirals, and would rather have an industrial policy aimed at jobs and rebuilding the economy. Jeez, nobody keeps a secret anymore.

Stumped: Over 120 dolphins have died off the Texas coast, prompting an investigation into possible causes like the drought-related algae bloom or a more widespread mortality event that has plagued the northern Gulf of Mexico for two years - gee, what happened in 2010?

The Parting Shot:


Quit bugging me.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

SAR #12163

Authoritarian governments come with very high body counts.

Recap: Spain borrowed €100 billion and will give it to the banks which will use it to buy Spanish government bonds, transferring the debts of the banks to the citizens, who have no jobs. More likely than not the €100 billion will come from the ESM, which will set up the seniority contest that recently played out in Greece and will drive up Spain's borrowing costs. It will also drive up the cost to France and Germany. Despite Spanish PM Rajoy's assurances, the money comes with conditions, the IMF will be sitting at the table”monitoring” the Spanish austerity program. And it's not a bailout, it's 'assistance.' Whatever it's called, it was fooled the markets for 2 hours but was a complete failure after 6. Krugman: “It’s becoming increasingly clear that it will take utter catastrophe to get any real policy action that goes beyond bank bailouts. But don’t despair: utter catastrophe may be just around the corner.” Italy is next.

Here & Now: , John Hussman says a new recession is already here, has been all along, because we never addressed the problems that produced the first one. Our problems stem from a series of poor decisions made by people who should have known better, which have made recurring crisis inevitable. They ought to stop digging the damned hole.

What's A Heaven For? Economic theory does not have to be right or useful, being interesting is sufficient.

Normal? Who's Normal? Before we all went crazy sometime in the 90s, existing home sales were about 3.5 million a year. Today they are about 4.6 million a year – 30% above the 90s norm, although the population has only increased by 10%. Why should sales increase? The US savings rate is far below the long-term average, which means that customers are spending every penny they can get their hands on. So why would anyone think spending is going to pick up?

Silver Lining: The descent into recession has lowered the price of gasoline in the US by 40 cents so far. One interpretation is that the price of oil rises until it tips the world's economies into recession, demand drops, prices drop and eventually the cycle repeats.

Shame: Of the 35 richest countries in the world, the United States ranks 34th in childhood poverty – mainly because it ranks first in income disparity.

Enough, Already: Raymond Dolin of West Virginia, hitchhiking through the US writing a memoir entitled The Kindness of America, was waiting for a ride by the side of Highway 2 in Montana when a man drove up, shot him and drove away.

Cat/Bag: The Labor Department is “postponing” the requirement that reporters filing stories on just-released unemployment and economic data do so from a room under government control, using government-provided computers and government-provided internet access. So the government can protect them, it says.

Talking Turkey, Or Not: Turkey has more journalists in prison – nearly 100 - than any other country.

Cross My Heart: In Kabul on Saturday, General Allen pledged to halt attacks on residential areas "altogether." On Sunday the General added the caveat that "NATO would continue to conduct operations against insurgents who use civilian dwellings for shelter...” But a senior US defense official said “We’re bombing civilian residences and killing civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan, because that’s what our leaders insist we have to do...”

Warmup Question: Who cheats more, bankers or politicians? Bankers, next question.

Upstairs, Downstairs: Statistics show that America is no longer the land of opportunity and that the 'American dream' is a myth. America's social mobility is one of the lowest of any of the advanced industrial economies. Americans who are born poor are overwhelmingly likely to stay poor, just as those born rich will be rich. Chose your parents carefully.

The Parting Shot:


A new day.