Thursday, January 31, 2013

SAR #13031

Politicians continue to fail because we continue to let them.

Spin Cycle: The 4Q2012 GDP report shows an annualized decline of 0.1%, against expectations of 1% growth. The generally accepted excuse is a draw-down in inventory levels that will surely be restocked in the coming months. Right, Shirley? Then what about the 1.25% hit GDP took from reduced Federal Spending? That gonna come bounding back, too?

The Greater Good:The head of Egypt's army says the current political crisis "could lead to a collapse of the state." By which he means military dictatorship for the sake of democracy.

Coasting Along: NOAA, our official Chicken Little, says that roughly half of all Americans live in coastal areas threatened by the effects of climate change, warning that the inevitable increase in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events coupled with the increasing rate of sea-level rise will "affect the sustainability of many existing coastal communities." 'Affect', as in, wash them away.

Oxymoron: Clear-thinking economist.

Oh, Boy! The FDA has approved selling Plan B emergency contraception pills via vending machines. The Republicans, of course, will be up in arms, aghast at letting young women control their fertility as if their bodies were their own. It goes against the Right's drive to impose Sharia law on the women of America.

For The Children: Crime pays. If the disgusting wealth of the Lords of Finance does not convince you, try these: Joseph Goebbel's heirs are billionaires. And the  Barclays, the Chase and the Bush family made money financing the Nazis. Then there's always the Vatican, and the half billion they've still got left from Mussolini. Mubarak's kids have over $40 billion, Putin, alone, tops that. Gaddafi was worth $200 billion and little of that will ever be repatriated. Most (if not all) of the $32 trillion hidden in offshore accounts was acquired illegally, mostly by the elite – dictators, drug lords and their bankers down at the laundromat. A few may hove gotten their money honestly – assuming that child labor, starvation wages and such are legal - but none come to mind.

Reading, Writing and Reloading: A Missouri Republican wants all first graders to take an NRA course on what to do when a madman starts shooting up their classroom. Students who successfully survive the course will get a coupon their parents can use to get $25 off their next handgun purchase.

Damn:A new study reports that vegetarian diets cut the risk of heart disease by 32%. It won't let you live forever, but it'll feel like it.

Clarification: Lou Barletta (R-PA) thinks that Republicans should not make an effort to compete for Latino votes and should not try to kiss up to them by joining Democrats in any form of immigration reform, because “The majority that are here illegally are low-skilled or may not even have a high school diploma. The Republican Party is not going to compete over who can give more social programs out. They will become Democrats because of the social programs they’ll depend on.” He didn't get the memo.

Porn O'Graph: Ah, I think I see the problem.

The Parting Shot:


Anybody know what this one is?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

SAR #13030

Low expectations mean I'm rarely disappointed.

Smoke and Mirrors: President Obama emphasized climate change as a priority of his second term. Nice, but it's too late. Within the lifetime of today's children, global warming will push the average temperature up by more than 4ºC, producing a climate that has not existed on earth for 15 million years. It is technically possible to halt such changes by ending our use of fossil fuels. We are not going to do that. We are not even going to reduce our use of them. The administration has not proposed and have no intention of proposing a carbon tax. - probably the only step we could actually take of any consequence. It would have to be a big tax, growing bigger quickly. Don't hold your breath.

Shocking! It turns out that “so-called ‘Right-to-Work’ and ‘Paycheck Protection’ bills are really just meant to bust unions and strip workers of their rights.” Who would have guessed?

Stat Salad: One-third of adults living in poverty are employed. In the US, one out of four jobs pay below the federal poverty level. Low-paid 'temps' are becoming the norm. About half of US college graduates are working in jobs that do not require a college education.

Revisionism: The NM Republican who wanted to send rape victims to jail if they aborted a resulting pregnancy, has said that that was not the intent (although it clearly was) and has amended the bill to remove the victim from the threat of jail But those who “assist in destroying evidence" would to go to jail for a few years. That'd be the nurses, receptionist, doctors and, one supposes, the taxi driver. Sadly, the Republican right blames women for making men beat on them, blames women for letting men rape them, and sees no reason why women should be allowed to learn read and write. Or vote.

Perspective: While the Case-Shiller Index shows housing making the best gains (5.5% y/y) since The Crush, it remains unclear just how much of the increase is driven by investors buying up slums to rent to the unemployed.

Devil/Details: Caribbean coral reefs are producing " less than half of the key ingredient that makes their calcium skeleton compared to pre-industrial times." Many reefs are no longer growing, and coral reefs are declining around the world. Caribbean corals have shrunk by about 80% in the last 40 years. Who cares? Well, the half a billion people who depend on corals for their living.

New & Improved: The US, running out of brides to kill in Pakistan, is relocating some of its drones to a base in Niger, near the Mali border. What could go wrong?

General Explanation: As humans evolved, increasing levels of intelligence conferred competitive advantages to the brighter. Once language, and especially writing, developed, native intelligence stopped being much of an advantage, as we could - and do - simply steal good ideas from others. And that explains far more than one would wish.

Equality: BP has plead guilty to, among other crimes, felony manslaughter in the deaths on the Deepwater Horizon rig. No one is going to jail. Don't try this at home.

For Profit: A charter school in Chicago fines parents if their children misbehave in school. Big time. One unemployed mother got hit with a $3,000 bill. In the last 3 year this charter school operator has collected nearly $400,000 from low-income families. They may not be good at teaching reading and writing, but they sure are teaching the principles of capitalism.

The Parting Shot:


Remember when...

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

SAR #13029

Economics is the study of ways to justify selfishness.

The Big Lie: The rapidly retreating Paul Ryan now assures the American voter that the Republicans are in favor of gun control and were only kidding about shutting down the government and starving the elderly, but will hold “spending at levels written into law”. Whatever that means.

Public Health: Israel, which welcomes coreligionists with open arms, has been using one of those arms to administer birth-control injections to immigrants from Ethiopia. Is there a word to describe anti-Semitism aimed those with black skins? Oh, right. Racism.

Bean Counters: Why is the Boeing Dreamliner not what they dreamed about? Because they decided to outsource 60% of the design, engineering and manufacture of the aircraft - to take advantage of the economies [sic] of globalization. One thing they've learned: the more complex the supply chain, the more likely it is that something(s) will go wrong. And about that money they saved...

Let Me Count The Ways: Saudi Aramco will deploy 170 drilling rigs this year. Yeah, that Saudi Aramco, the one with gaboodles of reserves and a 12 mbd production capacity. That's 400% more than just 2 years ago. Why the rush if they've got so much already?

Follow The Money: In early January $114 billion was withdrawn from the nation's depository banks. No one can figure out (a) why or (b) where it went. Write if you get work.

Steak/Sizzle: The Republicans are in full flight, trying to become acceptable to the electorate by repackaging and relabeling their ideology rather than changing it. Ryan says he never favored austerity, just gutting social programs. Jindal says the party is populist, completely redefining that fine old word to mean "favoring the rich". At least McClain was honest in explaining their sudden turn around on immigration: "Elections, elections, elections." They are not changing their goals, simply hiding them.

Quoted, Sort of: "I underestimated the risks, and if we do not act immediately, we are screwed, our children are screwed and our grandchildren will curse our names. " That's a loose summation of Lord Stern's longer mea culpa for suggesting - several years ago - that global warming would be limited to 2 or 3ºC. It won't.

How Unusual: A European Court has ruled that a nation (Iceland in this case) does not have to make good the losses the greedy (Brits and the Dutch in this case) suffer when a private company (Iceland's banks) goes belly up. How refreshing, not going after the taxpayers to pay for what a bunch of bankers did.

Sic 'em: “People like me have been saying for five years, don’t worry about these deficit things for the time being, they’re a non-issue. Other people have been saying, ‘Imminent crisis, imminent crisis!’ How many times do they have to be wrong and do people like me have to be right before people start to believe this? We need to focus on what is urgent right now, which is creating jobs and getting this economy back to full employment.”

Clip & Take To Your Doctor: Sponsors get the answer they want. "Industry-funded trials are more likely than independently funded trials to produce a positive, flattering result." This is one of the most well-documented phenomena in the growing field of “research about research.” A 2010 study examined over 500 trials of 5 major classes of drugs and found that 85% of the industry-funded studies were positive while only half the non-manufacturer funded ones were. In 2007 a study of every published trial of statins found that industry-funded studies were far more likely to give favorable results. How likely? Not twice as likely. Nor five times, but twenty times as likely. Which is unlikely.

Onward: Great Britain's GDP did not grow at all last year and remains 4% below its pre-Lehman Brothers level., while the US has regained all that and then some. One has a Keynesian stimulus, the other got a bad case of austerity. Lessons? Who said there'd be a test?

The Parting Shot:


Monday, January 28, 2013

SAR #13028

More of the same is a safe bet, until it isn't.

Gag Me: Paul Ryan now says that drastically cutting social safety-net spending on programs for the sick and the poor will prevent the need for austerity measures. And John Boehner, leader of the would-be populist Republican born-again party, says that ending abortion is "a defining human rights issue " and that ending abortion is a top GOP priority. Those, like Jindal, who claim the Republicans are " not the party of big business, big banks, big Wall Street bailouts, big corporate loopholes or big anything,” have a very long row to hoe.

In Passing: In 1990, 21.8% of 65 to 69 year-olds worked. Today it's 30.8%. Ah, the golden years.

Not So Fast, Buster: Robert Shiller is at best cautious in the face of the current boosterism for the housing markets. He sees the current indicators as unconvincing for either a boom or a decline. Don't forget, at base a house is a place to live, 'better' does not necessarily mean 'good', and almost no one in the industry is actually your friend.

Scusi: Silvio Berlusconi, the once and wannabe future Italian premier, said - at a Holocaust Remembrance Day in Milan - that Mussolini "did good things" and the anit-Jewish racial laws, the roundups, the concentration camps and the shipping of Italian Jews to Auschwitz were mistakes.

Don't Be Shy: George Soros thinks that the world is about to enter a period of "evil." For the US, he predicts "riots on the streets that will lead to a brutal clampdown that will dramatically curtail civil liberties. The global economic system could even collapse altogether." Soros attributed this to rising inequality in income levels.

Measure For Measure: Those on the left should tamper their enthusiasm for the immediate future. “They forget that Obama started his first term with solid majorities in both houses and a filibuster proof majority in one of them and that public sentiment at the time was running so high against the banks that he could have pushed anything he wanted with the public’s blessing." His “lack of action to serve the vast majority of Americans, his astonishing squandering of two years of Democratic majorities, is insurmountable.  It has caused irreversible damage to our personal fortunes and those of our children.” Most likely what we'll get is what we got.

Smoke, Fire? Libya, never a paragon of virtue, will not disclose the details of its oil sales this year. Meet the new boss, same corruption as the old boss?

Open Secret: A NY research firm reports that it is likely that OPEC'’s claimed petroleum reserves are overstated by as much as 70%. If this is either news or surprising, you haven't been paying attention. For decades.

Dead Certain or Certainly Dead: Absent a bailout, Cyprus is going to default. A Cypriot restructuring will be much messier than Greece has been to date. First, because Cypriot bonds were written under foreign laws, which erects a lot of barriers to some of the iffy things done with Greek bonds. Second, and far more serious, Cypriot banks hold a lot of Russian money, and the Russians do not have a reputation of looking kindly on those who lose them a lot of their ill-gotten gains.

Disposal: Of all the food produced each year around the globe, about one-third of it goes to waste - due to inefficiencies and waste in every step from harvesting to processing to markets and on through preparation and consumption. Much like our energy supply, our food supply could benefit from a great deal of applied low-tech efficiencies.

Porn O'Graph: What'd you do with my housing recovery?

The Parting Shot:


Cliff dwellers.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

SAR #13026

Those most enthusiastic about hard work generally don't to do any.

Discussion: Does the Electoral College make sense in today's society? The Constitution leaves how a state arrives at and apportions its electoral votes up to the individual states - so it has always been open to mischief. Would changing from a state-by-state 'winner take all ' system (except for three states) to a congressional district-based system be 'undemocratic', more democratic, or less democratic? What about apportioning based on direct vote within a state? What about a national direct vote? What the hell is 'democracy' anyway?

Guilt By Association: Will all the publicity about Boeing's problems with lithium batteries dampen enthusiasm for electric and hybrid cars?

Growing Pains: Unemployment among the under-25's in Greece and Spain now exceeds 55%, more than twice the euro-zone average. And the worst is yet to come. Let's hope it doesn't arrive as “European Spring” with extreme events and social unrest.

One To Watch: A US Court of Appeals has ruled that recess appointments are constitutional only if both the vacancy and the appointment occur between the end of one Senate Session and the beginning of another, with 'session' defined as in “we are now in the 113th Congress, 1st Session. Which means presidents have been doing Bad Things for over a hundred years. Judicial activism at its finest.

Wait, Wait... Insurers, mumbling vague threats about chaos and unpreparedness, insist the government delay implementing the health insurance exchange due this fall. They say they are concerned that it “would not be in the President's best interest.” Or theirs.

Just Rewards: The only former US official to go to jail over the torture committed during the Bush era is the whistleblower who confirmed reports about the CIA torture program.

Progressively: Here's yet another subject on which the Republicans are way out of step with the citizenry: 55% of us think that implementing Obamacare should be a top priority and another 31% think it should be a priority. Only 11%, mostly Republican governors, disagree.

Consider the Source: Former this and that Newt Gingrich claims that the AR-15 military-style rifle is not an assault weapon. Now the AK-47, there's an assault weapon.

Get Out Of Jail Indictment Criticism Free: Using the famous "all the other guys did it" defense, UBS Chairman Axel Weber suggests that there should be a one-size fits all settlement for everybody involved in rigging the world's basic interest rates for years. Of course, banks that have already paid up would get a rebate...

Accounts Differ: December's big fall in new house sales either (a) Wasn't Pretty or (b) Doesn’t Change Story of Housing Recovery or (c) All of the above.

Confirmed: A person with power and authority is more likely to believe he or she has a better moral compass than those with lesser status. They see the world in black and white, while mere mortals tend towards shades of gray. That goes a long way towards explaining politicians, popes and mom.

Porn O'Graph: Income and outflow; read the caption.

The Parting Shot:


Friday, January 25, 2013

SAR #13025

The oil business is not about producing petroleum, it's about producing profits.

On Democracy: So, there is no filibuster reform, but serious changes in the way new legislation and (most) presidential nominees are considered by the Senate will change. Before we all (mea culpa) get too exercised at Harry Reid's compromise, consider what happens when the minority cannot moderate majority excesses. Democracy is far, far from being simple majority rule. Although requiring by roll call that 41 Senators vote to sustain a filibuster might not have been too onerous.

All Together Now: A majority of Americans favor stricter gun control, but just like our wishes regarding abortion, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and jailing the bankers, the politicians will ignore the will of the people; the Republicans have gerrymandered themselves into private dutchies and the Democrats need the money.

Understudy: John Boehner says he is upset at President Obama for trying to “annihilate the Republican party”. Odd, I thought that what he and Ryan were all about.

Multiple Choice: The Republican claim that they’ll produce a plan to balance the budget in 10 years, without cutting military spending or cutting benefits for those over 55, without a penny in additional revenue is: (1) absurd. (2) some other word meaning absurd. (3) a scare tactic. Or (4) an absurd scare tactic.

Situational Ethics: Catholic Health Initiatives, a faith-based hospital chain, has beaten a malpractice suit by maintaining that a fetus – even a seven month fetus – is not a person, and negligently killing it is not an instance of wrongful death. Not if it cuts into the profits. Just one of those things.

Working Title: Climate change is “driven by overpopulation, overconsumption of natural resources and the use of unnecessarily environmentally damaging technologies and socio-economic-political arrangements to service Homo sapiens‘ aggregate consumption." Moreover, "careful analysis of the prospects does not provide much confidence that technology will save us."

Getting High: When the Greenland ice sheet and the low-lying ice in western Antarctica melt, the world's seas will rise by 40 feet. Pick a date, place your bets.

Evidence Locker: A Republican idiot in New Mexico has introduced a bill that would require rape victims to carry any resulting pregnancy to term, in order to “use the fetus as evidence” at trial. Terminating the pregnancy would be “tampering with evidence” a 3rd degree felony punishable by 3 years in prison. Rep. Brown said this was the only way to prevent rapists from forcing their victims to have an abortion. Happens all the time in Albuquerque.

What'd He Say?  UK Prime Minister David 'I don't want a country called Europe' Cameron proposes a 2017 referendum on leaving the EU and committing suicide en mass. Ah, the future's not what it used to be.

Flash Frozen: Initial unemployment claims, at 330,000, were the lowest in five years. But. But California (the nation's largest workforce), Virginia and Hawaii were all 'estimates', not actual reports. Expect revisions.

Insight: The Republicans do not seem to have a clue about how to operate in the better nation that we've become in terms of equality for those who are not upper-class white males. Being the rear guard is a thankless task.

Porn O'Graph: Hey, Big Spender...

The Parting Shot:


On the Beech.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

SAR #13024

We are running an experiment with everybody's future, and nobody knows how it will turn out.

Two Down, At Least Two To Go:House Republicans led(?) by John Boehner, capitulating once again, have decided to 'extend' the federal debt ceiling to May 19th - as long as they don't actually have to vote to increase the limit.. The next can to be kicked down the road is the sequester silliness on March 1, followed by the expiration (and renewal) of the continuing resolution at the end of March. Don't say this drama has to end; it's the new normal.

The Cost of Salvation: How much would it cost to actually do something about global warming? About $700 billion a year – and cutting way back on the consumer society. And that's why we're not going to do it. We'll pay on the way out.

Asked and Obvious: Should taxpayers fund the rebuilding of those areas devastated by Sandy (and Katrina, etc.) that will most likely be hit again and again in the years to come? Wouldn't it be smarter to offer funding to relocation efforts?

Something to Jim Crow About: In Virginia, the Republicans - smarting from Obama's victory - are going to apportion the state's electoral votes by congressional district. That way they can gerrymander the state's presidential votes and get by stealth what they cannot achieve by light of day. The change would have reduced Obama's 13 electoral votes to only 4, despite the huge plurality of actual voters and their desires. Voters desires, after all, are the last thing Republicans are concerned with. "One person, one vote" has always annoyed them. It is not an accident that this would disenfranchise blacks and other non-white voters.

No Man/Island: Why should folks in Seattle be protesting shipping coal to China? Because coal combustion is the leading human-caused source of CO2 emissions. Coal burned anywhere is global warming everywhere. Now on to petroleum fueled transportation, number two on the hit list.

Right Place, Right Time, Right People: Go watch - and then wonder why you don't do the same sort of thing for members of your own species.

Slipped & Fell: Johnson & Johnson, back in 2011, figured out that 40% of their hip implants would fail within 5 years, resulting in painful and painfully expensive replacement operations. Of course they thought the pain would fall on the recipients and not their profit margin, so nothing was said. Or done. Now the first of perhaps ten thousand lawsuits is changing their analysis.

Dance Steps: If you think the war for Iraq's oil is over, you have not been paying attention; it's only just begun.

Mulligan! The US electricity supply network needs a do-over, starting with generation (40% of US carbon emissions come from power plants), a rebuilding of the distribution grid (which deregulation has let go to the dogs), upgrading the grid's stability and redundancy (to cope with the coming increase in Sandy-type natural disasters) and improving grid security (the transmission network is the blood supply for the economy and it is virtually undefended from sabotage and terrorism – and ordinary wear and tear). At this point it might be cheaper to start over, under central control, and do it right - certainly profit-now deregulated privatization isn't up to the job.

Wrong In So Many Ways: The Republicans have launched a website asking for our advice. No, it's not The Onion, but it might as well be. I'm pretty sure they don't want my advice.

On Unions:"The labor movement was the principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress.... The captains of industry did not lead this transformation; they resisted it until they were overcome." It is time for a revival.

Porn O'Graph: The arc of justice, the making of a rainbow.

The Parting Shot:


American Goldfinch, winter uniform.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

SAR #13022

You can’t negotiate with nature.” Paul Ehrlich.

Ground Rules: The attack on BP's Amenas gas plant came too soon after France’s military adventure in Mali for that to have been the actual cause. The terrorists took over a well defended plant and held it for four days while holding a large number of hostages. No demands were issued. The dead hostages appear to have died in the Algerian assaults, not from executions. No damage was done to the plant by the terrorists. So, what was this all about? A try-out for a leadership position? A demonstration of will and ability aimed at encouraging future blackmail payoffs?

Apologies: Yesterday I questioned Harry Reid's waffling on reforming the Senate's filibuster rules. Tuesday he announced he will use the 'nuclear option' to reform the "untamed menace" of the filibuster as now used by Republicans, making it clear that he neither expects, wants, nor needs Republican support on the issue. Finally.

Life As We Know It: A majority of Americans, 54%, believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases and 70% say Roe v. Wade should not be overturned. Faced with overwhelming support, Republicans anti-choice zealots are turning to less public, piecemeal approaches to ending abortion access in the US, concentrating on gerrymandered safe districts in state legislatures to force their version of Sharia law on an inattentive public.

Ecumenicism: A well regarded ultra-orthodox Jewish religious counselor in NYC has been sentenced to 103 years in prison for molesting a young girl. See, it's not always the Catholics, it just seems that way.

The Shadow Knows: What happened to the shadow housing inventory hanging over the housing market? Where are last year's 3 to 10 million houses that were in foreclosure or doomed to be so soon? By late 2012 the shadow inventory had fallen to just over 2 million. The theory is that many of the off-market houses were bundled into large group purchases by investors, while many more - following the recent series of mortgage settlements - have finally been refinanced and removed from (current) potential default and foreclosure. Most remarkable, though, has been the determination with which underwater homeowners make the poor investment decision to keep paying on their losing propositions in hopes of at least breaking even some day - mostly because they feel obligated not to fail on their promise to pay. Shame, in other words, has kept many houses off the market.

Good On Them: Wal-Mart has finally told its global supply network that if they contract work to factories that have not been authorized by Wal-Mart - in terms of health and safety issues - Wal-Mart will immediately cease doing business with them. Late, but admirable.

Old Folks At Home: Japan's Finance Minister wants elderly people to "hurry up and die." Calling the incapacitated elderly "tube people", he said he would refuse end-of-life care for himself. Maybe he's been reading Paul Ryan's stuff.

Wholly Mackerel: Mackerel has been struck off a list of sustainable fish, because the total catch is far in excess of limits "scientifically recommended and previously agreed upon by all participating countries.” Never a cop around when you need one.

Porn O'Graph: Where the boys are. Girls, too.

The Parting Shot:


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

SAR #13022

When you get to the point where you just can't go on, do what you did the last time you were there.

Obama's Speech: The last President who tried to inject a little realism into the discussion was Carter and looked what happened to him. Others are more enthusiastic. Last time I checked it was not words, but actions, that counted - and surrender is not the required action.

Suggestion: "It might be worth considering ,on Martin Luther King Day, the power and nature of the forces that opposed King’s vision for social and economic justice – and still do."

All Enemies, Foreign and Domestic: A report from West Point has angered the far right by observing the " dramatic rise in the number of attacks and violent plots originating from individuals and groups who self- identify with the far-right of American politics.” The military should, the right-wingers insist, concentrate on international threats. Maybe they should read the oath of office taken by Army officers.

Let Us Prey: Records just released confirm that in 1986-7, the Archbishop of Los Angeles conspired with a top adviser to conceal priests' molestation of children from police. They succeeded in hiding the crimes for 15 years, hallelujah.

The Sea Also Rises: One slice of the future will resemble Sandy, another the 2012 drought, another the wildfires, and so on. Our carbon dioxide emissions continue to exceed the worst-case scenarios of climate scientists. Rising sea levels and storm surges will reshape every U.S. coastline, where half of Americans live. Should we rebuild, or retreat? How far do we run before we decide to make a stand?

Where's Waldo: Harry Reid (D-NV) has decided not to push for changes in the Senate filibuster rules because he wants “to avert a partisan showdown”. What planet is he from?

Take A Number: How long will it take the US to hand over the 300 tons of gold the Germans have asked for? Seven years. Why will it take seven years? Well, the stuff is heavy and the bank is unionized...

Quote: “It has become clear that there is no safe and responsible way to drill for oil and gas in the Arctic Ocean.” - Carol Browner (Obama's former Energy Czar) and John Podesta (Clinton's former chief of staff).

How Dry I Am: Droughts can no longer be viewed as something that happens now and then. Droughts are becoming the new normal and are not going away. The current one, the one we think of as 'last year's drought' actually started in 2010, and shows little inclination to go away. And even if it does, its effects will linger for years. Ask the trees, the water table, the farmers.

It's Still A Dream: At least five people were shot along the route of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in New Orleans. We may overcome, someday.

Leveling The Preying Field: Oxfam says that world poverty could be eliminated four times over with the money the richest 100 people made just last year - $240 billion. Just. Last. Year. What's wrong with this picture?

If, Then Maybe Then: Fish being caught near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plants “are just as contaminated today with cesium 134 and cesium 137 as they were more than one year ago”.  This “implies that cesium is still being released to the food chain”. Which in turns suggests... ah, they'd tell us, wouldn't they?

On the Head of a Pin: Is it moral to profit from hunger and starvation? If you are Goldman Sachs, does the answer change?

Greening Up: Electricity generated from solar photovoltaic arrays now meets 5.6% of Italy's total electric demand. Together PV, hydropower, geothermal, and wind generation, Italy produces 25% of Italy's electric power. In other areas they're not doing quite so well.

Porn O'Graph: Putting it crudely.

The Parting Shot:


Under the bridge.

Monday, January 21, 2013

SAR #13021

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Martin Luther King Jr.

Situational Ethics: Everyone is shocked, shocked mind you, to learn that the treasurer of the ruling Spanish political party 'acquired' some €15 million which he kept in a Swiss bank account. (The money is thought to come from bribes, and the scandal may bring down the government.). No one is shocked to learn that US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's banker friends made billions from information he leaked to them. Allegedly.

The Augustinian Solution: Obama is going to issue detailed rules for killing folks via drones. Of course the rules won't apply to the CIA, not yet.

Advise and Dissent: Delegations from some 140 countries have agreed to adopt a ground-breaking treaty limiting the use of health-hazardous mercury, the Swiss foreign ministry said. The world’s first legally binding treaty on mercury, reached after a week of thorny talks, will aim to reduce global emission levels... So, what will the Republicans find wrong with this one?

Too Much, Too Soon, Too Late: Now that the UK is going down for the third time, the Chancellor of the Exchequer suggests the government might think about backing down a bit on the austerity programme.

Been There, Done That: The UN says that 30% of 'detainees' handed over to the Afghans by NATO (for which read US) forces have been taken to secret facilities and tortured. NATO's Sgt Schultz, of course, knows nothing. Nothing.

Heresy: Warren Buffet was read out of the Capitalist Church after proclaiming that “the debt itself is not a problem,” and that he had an enormous head start in life because he was born white and male.

No Longer News: The Royal Bank of Scotland expects “a hefty fine” for its part in rigging Libor rates. Mamas don't let your children grow up to be cowboys bankers. HBSC is doling out $249 million to swindled homeowners, as part of the $5.7 billion a group of banks is paying for their part in wrecking the economy.

One For The Road: The EPA has given one on the largest polluters in the US – the cola-fired Navajo Generating Station in AZ - another five years before it has to stop killing the planet.

Perpetual War For Perpetual War: Intelligence and political leaders say that the West must be prepared to continue to 'respond' to the terrorist threat for decades. You know, like the Crusades, except the goal is not Jerusalem, but the world.

Wrong In So Many Ways:Republican former presidential wannabe Rick Santorum insists that Americans should be allowed to have armor-piercing bullets in case children are wearing body armor because they are “a right in our country.” As are M-60 grenade launchers, machine guns, Claymore mines and the Stoner M63 weapons system.

Loser In Translation: Former Republican this and that Newt Gingrich says that President Obama’s policies are allowing terrorism to “potentially” infect the United States. Nope, I don't know what he's talking about. Most likely he doesn't either.

The Parting Shot:


Saturday, January 19, 2013

SAR #13019

Finance runs on psychology, not facts.

The Word: "I will tell you unequivocally, we're not going to default," Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the Republican whip, said Thursday, "We will raise the debt ceiling .”  Promises, promises.

Cartographers: A group of "leading CEOs", whose work day consists of chairing meetings and talking on the phone while going here and there in the corporate jet, think the rest of us - farmers, miners, bus drivers, machinists, school teachers, cashiers - should be happy to work until we're 70. Aren't you glad they've got it all mapped out? Me neither. I would, if I could get paid like a CEO for sitting around talking politicians into bailing me out, but until then, keep your creepy hands off Social Security and Medicare.

Miracle Cure: Why is Mario Draghi being canonized for hiding the disaster that is the euro-zone instead of solving at leas some of its problems? That Greece hasn't officially been called comatose and Spain is still among the more-or-less breathing is no reason to celebrate, nor should we wander off absent-mindedly thinking the euro's problems have been solved. They have not. They haven't even been addressed. The region's GDP is still falling, unemployment is still rising, necessary losses have not been taken, and social restiveness still smolders. The show is not over; it's just an intermission, the finale is still to come.

Non-enigma: Why are manufacturing jobs no longer the best paying jobs for American workers? One thing stands out: Factories are no longer unionized.

Reality Check: Global economic development is a bad idea. Bringing the entire world to 21st Century European and North American standards is a really bad idea. If everyone in the world used energy at developed world levels, holding global climate warming to just 4ºC or even 6ºC would be impossible. Before we bring the poor into the future, we ought to check and see what that future will actually look like. Then we might consider an advance to the rear.

Quietly: In yet another demonstration of the democracy America is spreading at the end of a gun (and the cameras of a drone), a series of car bombs exploded across Iraq on Thursday, killing 19 and wounding over 100.

Follies: The IEA's elementary school teacher turned executive director says that high petroleum prices have “nothing to do with supply and demand” (sic) but "might have to do with expectations." (Goldman Sachs is expecting $150 a barrel this summer.) Might have to do with the cost of bringing new oil onto the market, too. Either way, "the market looks tighter than we thought." Demand in India and China's resumption of strong economic growth might, just maybe, have something to do with increasing prices, too - although the IEA seemed immune to such factors.

Labor Slaving Devices: Once upon a time, people's ability to learn and to work - to earn money - served to keep inequality within bounds. No longer. Once, technological change augmented the abilities of human beings, and the workers got a share of the increased productivity. But no longer. Now technology is replacing human beings, and the unemployed (and most of the still-employed) are not sharing in the increased profits. But when robots have replaced workers, who will buy the products? Where will the capitalists' profits come from?

Adventures In Medical Research: "A new study found that fecal transplants can be a dramatically more effective course of treatment than antibiotics in the case of at least one kind of bacterial infection." Think of 'fecal transplants' as being given an enema with healthy, bacterial flora from the feces of healthy individuals. The idea has been around for 50 years (and goes back to 4th Century China), but for some reason hasn't caught on.

Porn O'Graph: In summary.

The Parting Shot:


Friday, January 18, 2013

SAR #13018

The US goes to war, killing people in order to help them.

Shearing The Sheep: Under the Affordable Care Act, health insurers must accept everyone who applies, cannot charge more for serious (and costly) medical conditions, and must cover a whole range of previously uncovered conditions. All of which costs more. But because everyone must pay equally, the well will pay as much as the chronically ill. And both are going to pay more. A whole lot more. And that's just the ante.

Preferences:Republicans oppose Chuck Hagel for Defense Secretary because he thinks war should be the last resort, not the first.

Little America: America has – by ever larger steps – gone from a nation of laws to a nation of powerful men making laws in secret.  Often even Congress doesn’t know what the Executive is doing; they are not even allowed to know the purported legal basis on which the administration does the things they won't admit to doing. Daily, secretive, unaccountable agencies are making life and death decisions which effect our most basic rights, providing secret evidence to secret courts. They even withhold this secret evidence from the judges, who are instructed to take their word for it. Never mind the wiretaps, the drones, the surveillance, the President has assumed the right and power to murder Americans, without legal process nor challenge. Why? Because we wouldn't understand, because of national security, because they know best. They say. And there is no appeal.

More Numbness: Unemployment claims plummeted (suspiciously) 37,000 to 335,000. Explanations vary.

Freedom From Information: Responding to a FOI lawsuit requiring they produce documents relating to the Justice Department's warrantless use of GPS to track Americans, the Department provided 109 totally blacked out pages and two that did not address the question.

Global Warning: BP says “Burn it, burn it all!”

Business Expense: All the billions that financial institutions are paying in lieu of going to jail for all the mortgage and foreclosure-related crimes they've committed against Americans are tax deductible. Try that with your speeding ticket.

Climate Warming Inaction: Now it's Australia's turn to be the poster child for global warming. But who cares? If getting your voters interested in changing their lifestyles and paying higher costs to slow global warming in their own back yard is impossible, and it is, how the hell are the folks in the US or China going to be persuaded to stop eating high off the hog to save a bunch of Aussies? And what's all this boo-hoo about a wildfire? We have 'em all the time.

11th Commandment: California Republican Tim Donnelly says that guns are “absolutely essential to living the way God intended..” Thou shalt bear assault weapons and shoot the little children.

Going South:Now that they are losing their playground in Afghanistan and have not yet been invited to expand their messing around in Iran, US Special Operations forces are planning to set up paramilitary forces in Mexico to “hunt drug cartels” the same way they went after bin Laden. Old home week; Latin America has such good memories of paramilitary forces. Movie rights have not been optioned.

The Parting Shot:


Thursday, January 17, 2013

SAR #13017

Do bankers con themselves first?

Tradition: Not all of the House Republicans told Sandy's victims to suck it up and go away, but 179 of them did. But old softie John Boehner broke his own rule about not bringing legislation to a vote if a majority of the majority were against it, so the $50 billion aid bill passed 241 - 180. Makes resolving the debt limit and the looming sequestration and the needed continuing resolution all the more problematical.

Day Rate: Jamie Dimon can't lose for winning. JPMorgan cut his pay in half, to only $11.5 million, even though the company's net income set a record - they blamed him for not making even more.

Salvation, Downsized: Germany, the supposed strong man of Europe and the Euro, has had a letdown: German GDP grew (if that's the word for it) only 0.7% in 2012, way down from 2011's 3.0% and 2010's 4.2%. And European car sales are down, too, falling 16.3% in December. Damn, where are the benefits of austerity when you need them?

The Best Offense Is Offensive: The NRA says that Obama is an "elitist hypocrite" for having the Secret Service protect his daughters. Actually, the Secret Service does not give him an option. And what this has to do with assault weapons is unfathomable.

By Any Other Name: In terms of global warming, 'black carbon' - soot to you and me - from burning coal, gas, petroleum and wood is second only to the CO2 released by the same burning. Black carbon aerosols have been known to warm the atmosphere for many years by absorbing sunlight. They also speed the melting of ice and snow. Directly and indirectly soot has a warming effect about 60% that of CO2. The good news is that burning less carbon-based fossil fuel will cut both CO2 emissions and black carbon particulate emissions.

Draining The Swamp: New toll roads being built to alleviate Jakarta's traffic mess will only increase the use of cars and make the problem even larger. Lots of other large cities could have told them so, Beijing for one.

More Evidence: Joining Louisiana's Bobby Jindal in doing away with the state's income tax and loading the burden on the poor through sales taxes, Governor Heineman of Nebraska now says his state, too, will coddle the rich and soak the poor by embracing the least progressive form of taxes possible. He's also going to abolish taxes on corporations. Ah, the party of the people. The rich people.

Hot Seasoning: 2012 joins 2000 thru 2011 among the 14th warmest years on record (dating from 1880). And "natural variability" does not explain the relentless march of ever hotter summers, an ever warmer planet.

Prognostication: UBS, in the person of their chief technical analyst, is convinced that what goes up must come down. In this case he's talking about the stock market. He expects, nay assures, that the market will crash by exactly 42%, back to about 850. His method, he claims, has been 100% accurate going back to the 1800's. But don't panic, this won't happen for 5 to 8 years - long after you've forgotten his guesswork.

Porn O'Graph: Unemployment, going long.

The Parting Shot:


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

SAR #13016

As an all-purpose mantra, 'technology' is about as effective as 'om'.

This is not a Test: The threats are real. House Republicans see the idea of a government shutdown and a default on government debt payments as a Good Idea, no matter what it would do to the US economy or the future of the Republican Party. They are sure that the recent redistricting has made their re-election inevitable until after the next census and perhaps forever. Their fear is not of being defeated in the election, it is of being defeated in the primaries, where big conservative money could support their replacements if they stray too far from the lunatic fringe. So it makes convincing political sense for them to behave irresponsibly. House Republicans are happy to sacrifice the prospects for a national Republican party win to preserve their own influence, prestige, and contributions. They are not, at least by their standards, irrational. Opinions vary.

Through The Mirror: Senator Ron Wyden (Human - OR) wants the Administration to specify the conditions under which the President can assassinate Americans. I expect the answer isn't 'None'.

The Bottom Line: President Obama has reiterated that he would be "happy to have a conversation about deficit reduction," which he does not equate with negotiation. He also says,"I’m open to making modest adjustments to programs like Medicare to protect them for future generations." He did not define 'modest'. But if sounds like this conversation will be a concession, except it's not a concession if you wanted to "adjust" the social safety net all along.

A Quote: "The maddening thing is that if you fix the jobs problem you largely fix the deficit problem. The reverse is not true. If you "fix" the deficit you kill the jobs."

Don't Worry, Be Happy: Some, perhaps they've been reading the Hitchhiker's Guide, are not worried, they are sure the House Republicans will realize they hold a losing hand and will fold and raise the debt ceiling and then work out "something" on the sequestration. And then, then they will shut down the government rather than pass a 'continuing resolution' to keep funding the budget. I'm not cheered.

Goldilocks: If you are too fat or not quite plump enough, you may not live as long as those who are just right, like me. And 'just right' seems to be a BMI between 25 and 30, no matter what the doctor says.

Cow/Cabbage: It costs the 50 largest publicly held oil companies $92 a barrel to produce "new" oil. Natural gas from shale deposits costs about $8.50/mcf to produce (and that's before the lawsuits). There is a message for your pocketbook in there somewhere.

Better Late Than Useful: Now, finally, it dawns on Dr. Bernanke to suggest that the debt ceiling be abolished because it has no practical value. Of course he thinks the Republicans are trying to be practical...

Poor Workers/Working Poor: The number of US families are falling into poverty despite the parents being employed and becoming part of the 47.5 million of our officially poor. That's because most of the jobs available in our economy are McJobs, that do not pay a living wage and provide no benefits. Politicians cite the increasing employment in the service sector as a success.

The Parting Shot:


Puffed balls.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

SAR #13015

The difference between preventing a war and starting one seems curiously unappreciated of late.

Celebrate Appropriately: Currently, 10.6% of houses with a mortgage are either seriously delinquent or in foreclosure. This is a slight decline., but foreclosure starts are expected to climb, now that banks and mortgage servicers have figured out how to game the new regulations and procedures.

For Whom The Bell Tolls: Cutting Social Security is no longer up for debate; It has, according to Obama, become "a worthy end in itself." The administration claims it is "a technical fix", not a cut in the safety net. They lie.

Feature, Not Failure: Last year “the world’s 100 richest people became $241 billion richer”.

The Human Condition: Step back and contemplate how much more media time was spent on the ridiculous Mayan apocalypse prediction than on the ominous and growing body of evidence that we have pushed the planet to the edge of disaster through global warming. Homo sapiens my foot.

What's Wrong With This Picture: Developers and promoters of projects in flood planes and coastal areas are now installing generators and assuring prospects that “they wouldn’t be terribly inconvenienced in case of a natural disaster.”

Just Because: Saudi Arabia denied that it cut oil production in December to push crude prices higher. Perhaps they didn't cut production, perhaps it fell? That's scary. But maybe they just didn't need the money.

Sob Story: Wells Fargo, while posting record earnings, complained that people were depositing money much faster than they could find reasonably safe and profitable places to invest it. The entire banking industry is facing similar problems. The share of each dollar on deposit that gets lent out is at its lowest level since the 2008 debacle. If the private sector is not going to spur economic growth through lending to create and stimulate businesses, perhaps someone else (hint, hint) should undertake serious stimulus spending.

The Car of the Future: Will run on gasoline.

We Come In Peace: Just as US sanctions against Saddam (because of his wholly mythical WMD program) resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths among Iraq's poor, US sanctions against Iran (because of its mostly mythical nuclear ambitions) are depriving Iranians of needed medications. Just collateral damage as the US spreads democracy.

No Problem: The attorney Michigan hires to enforce the state's new right-to-work law – which prohibits requiring employees to pay union dues – will have to pay state bar dues in order to practice law in the state.

Future, Tense: According to the International Energy Agency, the United States will become the world's leading oil producer in just a few years. Imagine that. Then imagine pigs, flying.

Definition: 'Chained CPI' - the newest way to cut Social Security while pretending not to cut Social Security. It works by whittling away at the magic of compounding: reducing the CPI adjustment by 0.3% a year - say from $30 a month to $25 a month would lead - after 20 years - to a cut in monthly income of $70 a month, which will buy a lot of cat food. Instead of cut, cut, cutting, why not create a cost of living index for the elderly, based on the things the elderly actually spend money on? Isn't the point of Social Security to provide a secure retirement, not to see how little the elderly can scrape by on?

Essay Question: Healthcare and the profit motive—do they work well together? Please write your answer on the margins of a dun notice from a hospital, your doctor, or your insurance company.

Plot Spoiler: The National Climate Assessment detailed the horror that man-made global warming will visit on the planet and its inhabitants, emphasizing that global warming is getting worse, that it is man-made, and that the US isn't going to do diddly-shit to stop it for fear of reducing the profits of the energy companies. Okay, I added that last part, but it's true.

The Parting Shot:


Monday, January 14, 2013

SAR #13014

The ability to persuade people that the US opposes tyranny is a testament to the potency of propaganda. Glenn Greenwald.

Just You Wait: Britain's economy has now shrunk for four of the last five quarters, its manufacturing sector has shrunk by over 2% in the last year and inflation is set to hit 3% this year. Not to worry, the benefits of austerity will show up any day now – about the time the US embraces the idea. Oh, wait...

Redundant Question: Is the Republican-forced decimation of the Postal Service a step towards privatization? If you got both the one about the bears in the woods and one about the pope's religion correct, you can probably guess this one.

Without Comment: BP, claiming the Deepwater Horizon disaster could have been worse, wants their fine reduced by $3.4 billion.

Designated Hitters: Realizing that at this point the American people have not been sufficiently softened up to swallow yet another war, the US has gotten Britain to join France in the proxy war being waged against Muslims in Mali. The US is providing “intelligence-sharing and logistics support” to the effort. 'Logistics' is spelled m-o-n-e-y.

Confession:Global warming is no longer a future issue.

As Advertised: Output from the Bakken oil shale fell in November as producers pulled drilling rigs out of the area. The decline in rigs and the rapid depletion rate for wells in the Bakken indicate that the “boom” will quickly become a 'once upon a time' event. Similarly, Total will stop investing in dry shale gas wells because low gas prices make the undertaking unprofitable. It is flows and not reserves that count in the marketplace.

Question Time: When the banksters pay the government a bribe to escape prosecution, who really foots the bill?

He Ain't Heavy, He's Lloyd Blankfein: Goldman Sachs’ Lloyd Blankfein and other tycoons want to convince average folks to expect less from Social Security so they, the rich, can escape slightly higher tax rates. Since 1980, Lloyd and the rest of the top 1% of Americans have seen their incomes increase by 275% while the typical hourly wage for workers has increased just $1.23. They’re not satisfied with having “most”, they want “all”.

The Idea of the Corporation: Corporations were once vehicles responsible to their shareholders. Not so much anymore. HP lost $13 billion and paid its CEO $15 million for doing such a fine job in her first year. Shares lost about half their value.

The Shipping News: Reality check: Oil producing nations can export only that part of their production that is not needed for internal use. Over the next 5 years, new Saudi refineries will reduce the amount of petroleum available for export by 1.2 million barrels a day. They currently produce about 9.3 million barrels a day and export abut 7.1 mbd. By 2018, they'll only have 5.9 mbd available for sale, a 17% reduction. Nothin' from nothin' leaves nothin'....

Rule: Threatening to hurt tens of millions of Americans unless you get your way should not be recognized as a legitimate political action. Perhaps we could encourage the Rs to threaten hold their breath...

The Parting Shot:


American Goldfinch.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

SAR #13012

Despite the advertising, one size does not fit all; it seldom fits any.

Sauce, Goose & Gander: So far, Congress has cut about $1.2 trillion from the projected 10-year deficit, 28% from tax increases and 72% from spending cuts. To stabilize the public debt as a percent of GDP, another $1.2 trillion in spending cuts and revenue increases are needed. To meet the Republican demand of dollar for dollar tax increase to spending cuts, 90% of that would have to be in the form of tax increases. Sounds about right.

Observation:Your war, waged under a fake banner of human rights and democracy, is in fact a war against poor Afghan people. You are not only traitors to the Afghan people, but to your own people as well. You are stealing from the pockets of poor Americans and Europeans and wasting billions of dollars on killing and looting in order to safeguard only the interests of a very small, elite minority.” Ah, to see ourselves as others see us.

Correction: 'Catastrophic Mass Extinction' Likely if Temperatures Rise 6 Degrees in Next Century

Gospel: The US is staggering from fiscal crisis to fiscal crisis. The politicians, having failed to throw the economy off a cliff in January, now seem intent on smashing it against the debt ceiling in a month or so. How did we get into these traps? Ideology. Specifically Grover Norquist's anti-tax idiot-ology, which has been swallowed whole by the Republicans. They have no empirical basis for this silliness. A top marginal tax rate of 35% is inherently neither better nor worse for the economy than 70% or 90%. We need to look at “what are taxes for?” and decide how much taxation is necessary to meet society's goals. But signing an ideologically based pledge removes all the hard work of trying to figure things out. It eliminates the need to think. To cross oneself and chant "free markets, no taxes" is to substitute faith for facts, to place unquestioned loyalty above the need to save lives and provide for the common good. Because dreams trump reality. This is not a new play.

Rose Colored Oil Drums: A growing chorus claims that US oil production will rise to 7.9 million barrels a day by 2014. Then what? Doesn't this mean we will be depleting our remaining resources even quicker? Oh wait, rising prices create oil...

Two Rights, One Wrong: Economists claim that free trade agreements benefit the countries involved. The American workers think know that they are worse off. Both are right, but you have to squint your eyes and accept that by 'countries' the economists mean 'the capitalists who run the countries”. They make the rich, richer & the poor more numerous.

Bulletproof: Yet another study reports that Americans have the poorest health and shortest lifespan among citizens of developed countries. We die at higher rates from violence - homicide to car accidents, from alcohol and drugs, from heart and lung disease, obesity, diabetes and on and on. The solutions, they say, are affordable health, education, a better social safety net, fewer guns. Blah, blah, blah. Don't pay any attention, they're just jealous. We're Number One!, just ask anyone.

Whistling In The Dark: In December the US budget deficit was a paltry $260 million. But don't let me distract you from the debt and deficit crisis.

Asked and Answered: Is it time to kill off Wall Street? Yes. As the daily press testifies, Wall Street is inhabited primarily by “crooks and scoundrels, and very clever ones at that; in short, they are villains.” Regulators and regulations kept bankers and other well dressed brigands in check for nearly 40 years after they brought on the Great Depression. During that time major financial crises were conspicuously absent, while capital investment, productivity, and wages grew at rates that lifted tens of millions of working Americans into the middle class. Since Wall Street captured Washington and abolished regulation and oversight, financial blowups have proliferated and living standards have plummeted. There's a teaching point somewhere in there.

Porn O'Graph: Why there are soup kitchens.

The Parting Shot:


Northern exposure.

Friday, January 11, 2013

SAR #13011

Money is a social artifact, not one of God's commandments.

Best Laid Plans: One proposal to save(sic) Social Security is to increase the retirement age even further, beyond the current graduated raise from 65 to 66, to 68 or even 69 for 'full' benefits. But the CBO estimates that extending the retirement age will increase the "labor force participation rate' by about 4%. What would increasing the participation rate that much to to unemployment rates? How much would this delay younger folks from moving up? Will this end up costing the country more than it saves? Is this really a 'painless' fix?

Peer Pressure II: Yesterday the US warned the UK it had best stay in the EU. Today Chancellor Merkel suggested to the UK Prime Minister that holding a referendum on remaining in the EU would "cause economic disaster for the UK and paralyze Europe." Sovereign doesn't mean what it used to.

Resourceful: The Pentagon has an oil man from Houston in charge of the contracting process for Afghanistan's oil and gas fields. Unfortunately the Taliban are not completely happy with this arrangement.

Essay Question: Why do people think economists are charlatans?

Erosion: Maybe Marx was not wrong, just a few decades ahead of his time. It seems likely that capital will continue to concentrate in fewer and fewer hands while surging unemployment will combine with sagging wages to undermine the mass consumerism that the current version of capitalism requires in order to function. The resolution of paradox will not necessarily be non-violent.

Prevention: If our health care costs were in line with costs in other countries, we would be looking at budget surpluses, not deficits. If we did not also waste trillions of dollars on an unnecessary military behemoth we could start building a country worthy of our dreams. And if our political system is too corrupt to allow these reforms, then we should reform the system without them.

Our Town:Climate change, jobs, the trade deficit (and thus the budget deficit), rotting infrastructure and rotten education – these are the real and really serious problems facing us. So what are the politicians doing? Fiddle-farting with imaginary monsters labeled Tweedledee and Tweedledum debt and deficit. And guns. But you know they're not going to do anything about any of the three. Why do they ignore the real problems? (a) Big Money, or (2) Big Money.

Finger/String: Remember, tightfisted Paul Ryan (Inconsistent-WI) was for flood relief (for Wisconsin in 2008) before he was against flood relief (for Sandy's victims, 2013).

Lollipops: Both Congress and the White House have long since demonstrated they have no interest in the suffering of the millions of unemployed Americans. Instead, they are intent on reducing government spending, which will reduce economic activity, which will reduce employment even further while Washington cuts the social safety net to shreds. Who loves ya, babe?.

If/Then: Expertise say the 'platinum coin option' is legal, so if Obama surrenders to the blackmailers it won't be because he has to, but because his self-identification as the great compromiser requires it. But the only things he's compromised so far are his principles.

Preponderance: Independent high-quality population studies, longitudinal studies, and MIR imaging studies have repeatedly found a linkage between childhood lead exposure and violent crime. After a while it becomes convincing.

Porn O'Graph: Getting to the bottom of things.

The Parting Shot:


Trenella foliaca