Saturday, April 30, 2016

SAR #16121

Litmus test: Single-payer health care, universal voter registration and a carbon tax.
Pogo, Etc. “‘The Democratic Party has to reach a fundamental conclusion: Are we on the side of working people or big-money interests? Do we stand with the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor? Or do we stand with Wall Street speculators and the drug companies and the insurance companies? … our job is to revitalize American democracy.'”
Overreach: An investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) tribunal – the corporate extortion mechanism built into TPP and TtiP – ruled that Russia had to pay $50 billion to the former stockholders of Yukos Oil. In that Russia was not a signatory of the trade agreement that suit was filed under, they're not going to pay.
No Runs, No Hits, Lots of Errors: The Fed once again has failed to revive the economy. QE didn't work. Zero (and occasionally negative) interest rates haven't worked. Core Personal Conception Expenditures – a measure of inflation the Fed wants at 2% - has fallen last quarter to a dismal 1.6%. But those who actually buy food when they can afford it have seen food prices up 10% in the last four months, which translates to a 30% inflation rate. Let's face it, the central bankers and their economists haven't the faintest idea what they're doing.
Stacked Deck: The US, after investigating the intentional bombing of a civilian hospital in Afghanistan that killed 42 civilian doctors and their patients, has ruled that the obvious war crime was, in fact, not a war crime, but “disciplined” 16 soldiers, including one general. Must have been investigated by the same lawyers who discovered that torture wasn't actually torture when the US does it.
Sooners: In Oklahoma, if you get your date drunk enough you can do anything you want and it is not a crime – because sexual assaults “cannot occur where a victim is so intoxicated as to be completely unconscious at the time of the sexual act”. I'm not letting my daughter even drive through the damned state.
Accountability: Shawano,Wisconsin has adopted an ordinance that will result in fines for parents who cannot teach their child not bully others. Yeah, a form of bullying.
A Parting Shot:

Friday, April 29, 2016

SAR #16120

Gasp: We knew that the CO2 being taken up by the oceans was driving up the acidity to the point – currently 30% more acidic than before we started killing ourselves with progress - that crustaceans such were having trouble making shells and corals were bleaching. Now we find that the oxygen levels in the seas are falling; warming oceans absorb less oxygen and turn over more slowly, leading to depletion at depths. This deoxygenation poses a major threat to marine life and is one of the most deadly side-effects from a global warming. No oxygen in the water, no life in the seas. No life in the seas, little elsewhere.
Wish Them Luck: Iran is calling for the global destruction of weapons of mass destruction. If they will include religion under that rubric, I'm for it.
Mirrors: The US foreign policy establishment, in and out of government, Republican, Democrat and academic is having kittens over Trump's foreign policy speech. Based on the last thirty years of misadventures and international disasters, quite where the establishment gets a pulpit to preach from is a mystery. Name something they've gotten right. Anything? We'd be a lot better off without their expertise and so would hundreds of thousand dead civilians.
Boom: In March the median annual household income in the US reached $57,263, close to the real level of that existed in January 2000. Yeah, recovery!
Capitalism Clarified: The Taiwanese conglomerate building a state-of-the-art steel mill on the Vietnamese coast explains that the choice is “whether to catch fish and shrimp” or to build the mill. Let them eat ball bearings.
Like A Virgin: Ted Cruz's Super PAC either transferred or donated (there seem to be legal differences) but at any rate gave Carly Fiorina's Super PAC half a million dollars. No, not to get her to help him lose, but back when Trump was accusing Cruz of having extra-marital affairs and one of Carly's campaign workers was rumored to be involved. This is the only known instance of a candidate giving an opponent half a million bucks.
Hide In Plain Sight: The National Security Agency is so busy scooping up every tweet, text, email and phone conversation that is overwhelmed and cannot separate the wheat from the chaff. If there is any wheat, that is.
Job Well Done: Volkswagen's departing CEO will get a $8.2 million goodbye gift in honor of his years and years of deceitful marketing. Cheap compared to the estimated $18 billion the deliberate fraud will end up costing the stockholders.
Quoted: Many Americans have almost no savings, so they have barely any wealth. Two-thirds live paycheck to paycheck.”
Right Hand Washes Left: Germany is going to underwrite the sales of new electric cars to the tune of €1bn. Maybe they could take the money from the profits that VW, Audi and others have made cheating on diesel emissions.
Making Haste Slowly: The Fed now sees real GDP growth in 1Q2016 as 0.6%, maybe even 0.5%, not the puny 0.4% previously reported. Too bad it seems based on Consumer spending, largely on services,
Succinctly: “I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.” John Boehner describing Ted Cruz.
A Parting Shot:

Thursday, April 28, 2016

SAR #16119

This is not capitalism; this is mere plunder by a powerful few. We do not have 'capitalism.' We have a corrupt system of kleptocracy ruled over by the big money power of a relatively few.” Jesse
Smoke/Fire: Puerto Rico will cut its minimum wage to $4.25 an hour. Because beggaring the worker is the best way to pay back Wall Street bond holders. Just ask Argentina.
Creativity Abounds: Apparently a lot of liberal arts majors are getting jobs as creative artists in S&P 500 companies' accounting departments, which would explain why 90% of them no longer use Generally Accepted Accounting Principles in reporting earnings results. 380 of the Non-GAAP reports claimed net income to be up 6.6%, while using GAAP showed the same companies' net income declined 11%.
Europe Running Out Of Mattresses: Unilever, the Anglo-Dutch behemoth, is offering €300 million of debt maturing in 2020, with a zero interest coupon. The potential four year yield will be 0.06%.
Happy Motoring: 97% of all new diesel cars exceed official pollution limits, some by as much as 600%. VW was giving power-point lectures on how to foil emissions tests back in 2006, and Mitsubishi says if first found ways to beat the tests 25 years ago.
Quoted: “Voters know at a gut level that our system of global capitalism is working mainly for the 1 %, not the 99 %. That’s a large part of why both Sanders and Trump have done well, because they tap into that truth, albeit in different ways. The Panama Papers illuminate a key aspect of why the system isn’t working–because globalization has allowed the capital and assets of the 1 % to travel freely, while those of the 99 % cannot.”
Politics 101: In the US political process should the interests of the voters or the interest of the party prevail? Party, obviously. After all this is not a democracy. Wasn't intended to be. That's why over half of us think the system is crooked, it is.
A Bite Out Of The Apple: Poor, failing Apple; it only made $10.5 billion in profit in the last fiscal quarter and only has $233 billion in cash sitting around after its gross profit margin slipped from 40.8 cents on the dollar to 39.4 cents. How's it supposed to survive at such low levels of greed to goodness?
Words & Deeds: Dennis Hastert, back when his full name was Speaker of The House Dennis Hastert, wanted to “put repeat child molesters in jail for the rest of their lives.” When he was sentenced to 15 months in jail for hiding the money he used to hide his abuse of children for decades, he cried and begged for leniency. If his first name wasn't “Former House Speaker” how many years would he have gotten? Maybe he gets the volume discount, sort of like a Catholic priest?
Question For Graduates: What would you rather do with your life, work in an office cubicle or sail around the world with a cat?
A Parting Shot:

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

SAR #16118

Apples, trees.
My granddaughter is her school's valedictorian this year and as such is required to give a speech at graduation. I asked her what her talk was going to be about.
It has to be about the present and the future”, she said.
Oh, and have you decided on what you're going to say?”
Yes,” she said, “The present sucks and the future is going to suck even more.”
I told her to call me if she needed any help fleshing out either argument.
- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

SAR #16117

One Liners
Plan B: Saudi Arabia says it will diversify its economy away from dependence on petroleum. There must be more profit in exporting jihad terrorism than anyone suspected.
Privilege: Great Britain has ruled that Members of Parliament do not have to release their tax returns and are not subject to anti-money laundering laws, because the Prime Minister...
Punishment: Missouri is spending millions to keep Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funding for fear that someone, somewhere, might get an abortion. Someone poor.
Compassion: David Cameron's conservatives have refused to accept 3,000 unaccompanied refugee children stranded in camps in Europe into the country. But they will continue to ship arms to Saudi Arabia, which has earned them £2.8billion since the destruction of Yemen began.
Better Than The F-35: According to the Marines, 70% of their F/A-18 jets can't fly.
Fair And Balanced: On 9/11 Saudi terrorists killed 3,000 Americans. Since then the US has killed over 1.3 million civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Credit Where Credit Is Due: Nebraska has abolished civil forfeiture, the appalling process that lets the cops steal your money, house and car for no reason whatsoever. Good on them.
Auction: Charles Koch says that Trump and Cruz are terrible role models and he will not support their run for the presidency. Plus he doesn't own them. He notes that Hillary, based on her long-standing relationship with Wall Street, would be a better president because she stays bought.
The Line Forms On The Right: A Federal judge has ruled that former detainees tortured by the CIA can sue the government.
Pyrrhic Victory: Belatedly, the US has become the 175th nation to sign the totally worthless Paris climate agreement.
Unclear On The Concept: Donald Trump Jr. complains that Ted Cruz is bribing delegates to win the nomination. How did he think it was done?
A Parting Shot:

Monday, April 25, 2016

SAR #16116

The scandal is what the law allows...”
Being fresh back from captivity among the civilized, my loathing for any number of our leaders seems fresh and surprising. But after a few days I will revert to being, like you, resigned to the way the world.
But before that sets in, where to start?
On the world stage full of purported leaders who are dangerous fools, Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has a special place. He charged the EU several billion dollars to let the EU force hundreds of thousands of terrified refugees into concentration camps in Anatolia, then upped the ante and said there would be no deal unless Turks were allowed visa-free travel throughout the EU. He also wants journalists who “disrespect him” jailed, and comedians who make fun of him extradited to Ankara for appropriate punishment - a condition that Angela Merkel found reasonable. Meanwhile his troops are gunning down women and children (suspected of being Kurds) fleeing Syria as Erdoğan pursues his genocidal war against the Kurds while trying to pretend that the slaughter of half a million or more Armenians a hundred years ago never happened. All while US President Obama – who has committed a few war crimes himself – pretends that the Armenians committed suicide...
Amusingly, the US now claims that it had understated the number of collaterally damaged dead civilians in US air strikes in Iraq and Syria, and that there had actually been 42. This does not, obviously, include the hundreds of thousands of collaterally dead and wounded civilians previously inflicted on innocents in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya...
The circus over the – gasp! - Saudi involvement in, planning of and financing of both Ossma Ben Laden and the 9/11 attackers is hard to understand. (That some of the 9/11 hijackers lived with an FBI informant prior to the attack is not being much mentioned.)It has been obvious to all since the day of the attacks the the Saudis were deeply involved. That's what is in the 28 pages totally removed from the 9/11 report. Ask any of the members of the commission who produced it. On top of that there is not the “Document 17” which includes documentary evidence of the direct involvement of the Saudi Embassy in Washington DC in the tragedy. And Seymour Hersh's report that the Saudi government paid Pakistan hundreds of millions of dollars to hide Ben Laden seems to be another solid piece of reporting that will be ignored.
Why does the US continue to submit meekly to the Saudis? It is not the oil – we seem to have plenty. It is not their usefulness as an ally, they are scorpions in the bed. What to the Saudis have? Money. And a lot of blackmail material in the form of past dirty deeds and in the form of $800 billion in treasury notes that they threaten to sell if Obama doesn't behave.
Echo Chamber: Police in Brazil have “swept away” Brazil's street children as they pretty up the place for the Olympics. “Swept away” - a rather prettily vague term, not nearly as descriptive as the mass killings of “vagrants” by South Korean authorities before the 1988 Olympics.
Bad Idea: The Native American Council has offered amnesty to 220 million undocumented whites currently occupying their country.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

April 16, from hiding.

 “This is not capitalism; this is mere plunder by a powerful few.”
An assigned reading from Jesse

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Gone Fishing

Friends and others:  I am being held hostage at an undisclosed location and being tortured by complete radio silence - internet, tv, newspapers - all forbidden.

Once I escape, I will return...

Monday, April 11, 2016

SAR #16101

As an organizing principle, greed is better than cruelty.
Self-Licking Ice Cream Cone: Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan, disingenuously asks“Who Owns the Future?” being pretty damned sure it's he and his fellow wizzards.He's wrong, it's Siri.
Aye, There's The Rub: Research continues to find that our ubiquitous use of anti-bacterial soaps does more harm than good, to us, to those around us and to the environment. Worst damage is the impetus these compounds give to the development of bacteria resistant to antibiotics, making relatively harmless bacteria into relatively deadly ones.
Friends In High Places: Bob Graham, former Florida governor, Democratic U.S. Senator and chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, says the Select Committee's secret report has 28 excised pages detailing the “substantial” support the 9/11 hijackers received from an organized network financed by the Saudis. He personally finds it “ implausible to believe that 19 people, most of whom didn't speak English, most of whom had never been in the United States before, many didn't have a high school education, could have carried out such a complicated task without some support from within the United States.”
A New Spin On Global Warming: Greenland has lost so much ice – over 600 trillion pounds a year of late – that it is changing the distribution of weight on the Earth, which is changing the way the Earth wobbles on its axis. The shift is harmless, but interesting.
Downsized: The homeless in Los Angeles cannot, by law, possess more stuff than can be stuffed into a 60-gallon trashcan. Presumably the city will be issuing transhcans, or perhaps setting up sizing boxes like the ones for carry-ons at the airport. The new law also instructs the police to confiscate homeless people's tents from public property if they are not taken down at daylight.
Assume A Cow Is A Circle: Blinding us with numbers, Wharton Business School Professor Olivia Mitchell assures us that Social Security going to experience a $28 trillion shortfall. This is technically possible only if Social Security exists as an ongoing program for forever. Actually for ever and ever. For my lifetime and your lifetime and the lifetime of my grandchildren, taxing all income at the current rate will make the program solvent. End of story.
Asked & Answered:Is the media biased against Bernie Sanders?” Bernie who?
A Bit Fit: As a nation of individuals, we have readily accepted that we are personally responsible for our own wellbeing. It's not true, of course. Scientists can do a good job of evaluating the risks and benefits of this or that drug or exercise for large groups and populations, but translating the group experience to the individual is chancy at best. Society would be better off if we united to address the environmental factors that damage our health and paid a lot less attention to questionable “lifestyle”changes. As long as factors outside of the individual are part of the causal chain that produces health, unless we do something about these factors, no amount of lifestyle modification is going to lower the burden of disease in populations. Sure, there are individual things you can do – stop smoking, exercise more, eat healthy – but before you marry a Fitbit, ask yourself how many diet books you've bought.
NY Frame of Mind: In March the Emerson College poll gave Clinton a 48 point lead over the guy from Vermont. Now Bernie is only 18 points away. In California Hillary's lead is down to 6 points after leading by double digits in January.
A Parting Shot:

Friday, April 8, 2016

SAR #16099

Resistance is fertile.
Getting Out Of The Vote: Campaigning for his wife in Philadelphia, Bill Clinton says Black Lives Matter activists are defending murderers . He also defended Mrs Clinton's use of the word “super predators” to describe black youth. This was all part of his attempt to explain that his signing the draconian mandatory sentencing bill that has decimated black youth was a necessary compromise with the Republicans, the same sort of necessary compromise Hillary says will be needed to further gut welfare and whittle away at Social Security. No wonder that a McClatchy-Marist poll shows Sanders edging Clinton nationally, 49% to 47%. She has been wrong on the Iraq invasion, the financial crisis, free trade, mass incarceration, domestic surveillance, police brutality, debt and income inequality, among others. That's also why 25% of Sanders voters will not back Clinton if she's the nominee.
Free College Now: The US Department of Education reports that more than 40% of Americans who borrowed money from the government to go to college are not paying or are behind on repaying the $200 billion they owe. This is not quite what Sanders has in mind when he advocates tuition-free public colleges.
Fear And Loathing: The elite in Washington and on Wall Street are deeply worried that Trump's rejection of America's ubiquitous and continuous foreign military interventions and his openly dismissing the claimed recovery will embolden the proletariat to demand better.
Roll Model: When the Catholic Dioceses of St. Louis wanted to illustrate the power and scope of Catholic leadership in the area, one of the twelve men they chose to feature was former Bishop Robert Flynn who was convicted in connection with sex abuse in the church.
Castor Oil: Economists (and oligarchs and CEOs and politicians) keep justifying “free trade” agreements by pointing out that these treaties have resulted in “huge improvements in living standards among the poor in the developing world.” Maybe so, but decades of stagnating wages and vanishing jobs may have boosted corporate profits, but they haven't put food on the table in Detroit. Time to stop the nonsense and find a way to encourage others without harming our own.
Short Form: One of the most convincing arguments if favor of higher estate taxes is Donald Trump.
A Parting Shot:

Thursday, April 7, 2016

SAR #16098

Confidence often bears little relationship to competence.
An Example: The Treasury has new rules aimed at curbing the rush of US companies to merge with strawish foreign dogs and then pretend that the merged company, conveniently out of the IRS' reach, is now in Can't-Touch-Me land. They went into effect on April 4th and have already put a stop to the Pfizer/Allegan $160 billion deal. That Obama would take on what would have been the world's largest pharmaceutical company over something as trivial as paying US taxes makes one wonder what is really going on and if the Republican Congress will let this assault on profits continue.
Quite So Story:American People To Blame For Current State Of Politics...” True. Just as it was a mistake to turn the running of companies over to the self-interest of CEOs, letting our hired hands in Washington and the statehouses and all those city halls have their own way, unsupervised for so long, has gelded us.
Yes, Mother: Hillary says she has “had enough” of Bernie Sanders impertinence and he'd better toe the line from now on or she'll send him to bed without any supper. If she can't stand a little gentle poking from Bernie, wait 'til she has to face Trump's assaults on a daily basis.
Ins And Outs: Renewable energies – mainly wind and solar – are eclipsing traditional fossil fuels in the hearts of investors. In 2015, renewables garnered some $250 billion in new investment, double the $125 fossil fuels garnered. Even Scotland, which plans to finance independence with North Sea oil, got 57.7% of its domestic energy consumption from renewables last year. Maybe the danger is not peak oil but peak oil investment. Might think about this as you set up the kid's college fund.
The New South: Maine has joined the slave states and is putting a 'Christian' initiative on the ballot this fall which would strip gay rights from Maine's Human Rights Act. Like North Carolina's it would strip “sexual orientation” of legal protection from discrimination – but doesn't specify which sexual orientation, so refusing to rent to a married heterosexual couple would be just fine. These people never think things through, fortunately.
Trade Is Good For Something-or-other: Ford is planning to open $1.6 billion small car plant in Mexico and transfer much of its US small-car production there while creating (or transferring) 2,800 jobs.
A Parting Shot:

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

SAR #16097

I seem to have misspoken.
Your response to my hasty and ill-conceived resignation – filled as it has been with expressions of appreciation, affection and some degree of addiction - has swayed me nearly as much as my spouse's insistence that I stop bombarding her with puns, sage observations and wry insights else she would make up the bed in the Other Room.
So here's the deal. I'll resume posting SAR on most weekdays, with content no longer than I easily can slip into the day. Photographic Parting Shots and Pornographs will be occasional treats.
But I will not impose requirements on myself regarding the seriousness or relative importance of the items selected for comment. Let's face it, no one wants to hear about global warming – we're toast and there's really nothing more to say. Or the death of democracy – the corpse is cold and the mourning done. That the rich have already inherited the earth is incontestable and only an organized attempt at their overthrow would be worth comment. And so on.
Pretty much, I'm freeing myself from the rules I imposed on myself. You are all invited along for the ride.
And before you get all comfortable, I'm going on vacation, so between now and the end of the month, posting will be... occasional.
What really got this reconsideration started was this item:
Give 'em A Hand: Research suggests that ejaculation may lower the risk of prostate cancer.
So here's the latest edition:
Abolition, women's suffrage, trust busting, civil rights and gay marriage were once impossible, Ms. Clinton.
Panama Root Canal: Where are all the Americans? Why go to Panama if we’ve got Delaware, Nevada, and Wyoming?
Assigned Reading: The Showdown At the Philadelphia Corral.
Yes, But: The Lady in Waiting (Impatiently) says that Bernie Sanders is a 'single issue' candidate. True, but that single issue that he cares so much about is us.
Humanity: Children who survived the disastrous earthquake in Nepal are being “sold as slaves” to British families.
Shopping List: Gotta go to the bookstore today and get my new Tennessee State Bible; it's the law.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

SAR #16094

Announcements in the rear view mirror may not have been as close as they appeared.

Friday, April 1, 2016

SAR #16091

The Republican Party today is a joke maintained by the media.” Bernie Sanders
Greasing The Wheels: Halliburton, Rolls-Royce, Samsung, Hyundai, Leighton Holdings and lots more have been identified as practicing capitalism by bribing their way into contracts, creating political instability, turning citizens against their governments, and fueling the rage that would erupt during the Arab Spring — and be exploited by terrorist groups like al Qaeda and the Islamic State. Companies and individuals pay at least $1 trillion in bribes to public sector officials annually. That's what public service is all about.
The Money Quote: “America’s infrastructure is so bad the self-driving cars can’t even find the lanes on the road”. Experts estimate that 65% of US roads are in poor condition, and rate the US transportation infrastructure as, at best, 12th in the world.
Knock Knock: In an attack on Sanders, Clinton insists that Americans cannot “hold out for the perfect,” then offers herself as being less than perfect. Far less.
The New Economy: One way of looking at the new, gig, Uberized economy is that it is something it is not – it is not new and it is not exciting and we certainly hope it is not the future – for nearly all of the growth in employment in the US in the last decade has been in the use of self-employed contractors and 'temps'. Day laborers, one and all; no benefits, no future, no power.
Ribbons, Booties? Mississippi, like a bunch of the other slave states, has passed a law making it explicitly legal for both private and public sectors to discriminate against LGBT people. It is not clear what will happen if they chose to refuse service to a gay who turns out not to be gay. How are the good people of Mississippi to know who they are to discriminate against, now that color alone won't do? Will the targets be required to wear different colored ribbons, or patches?
If Only: The FTC is suing VW for over $15 billion for its false advertising - when will they get around to Trump and Cruz?
Once Around: Fort Worth officer indicted in shooting of man holding barbecue fork Woman killed by Arizona officer held scissors... Arizona Capitol protester booked on felony charge for safety pin on his pants... Denver Police Seized Phone As Woman Recorded Arrests... Fort Worth police office claims he used mace on bikers because he "couldn’t safely approach" the truck he'd pulled over... ‘Please don’t shoot me,’ unarmed man begs — before being shot dead by Arizona police... Officers not charged in Minneapolis police killing of Jamar Clark... California deputy accused of bribing witnesses who saw colleagues beating unarmed man... Law enforcement took more stuff from people than burglars did last year... Since 2000, at least 143 people in Minnesota have died after being shot, tased or restrained by a police officer, to date, not a single officer has been charged in any of those deaths... Maui officer arrested 5 times in 1 year; still on force... Alabama police officer arrested, accused of sexually assaulting woman while on duty...
A Parting Shot: