Wednesday, July 31, 2013

SAR #13212

Cost-effectiveness depends which costs you care about.

Half A Loaf: PFC Bradley Manning has been found not guilty of 'aiding the enemy' but faces over 100 years in jail for the 19 lesser charges - half of which he has plead guilty to. Send him a Thank You note.

Gimmie Shelter: Case-Shiller reports that house prices have risen 12.7% y/y - and that was less than expected! Prices, not values. Sucha price rise is "not normal, not sustainable, and... not very believable." The price rise reflected by the C/S index over the last three months is the fastest pace of annual price acceleration since 2006. At the same time, US home ownership has fallen to 65% from the 69.2% reached in 2004. Y'think this movie'll come out the same again this time?

Just Do It: Over the next 5 years the US needs to spend about a trillion dollars on repairing and replacing the nation's infrastructure. Given incredibly low interest rates and incredibly stubborn unemployment, now might be a good time to do something useful all the way 'round.

Goose, Not Gander: American Robert Lady, who helped kidnap a man from a Milan street and send him off to the CIA archipelago to be tortured, has been convicted by an Italian court and an international warrant for his arrest has been issued. American Edward Snowden released information revealing how extensively the government was spying on its citizens. Guess which one the US government is hiding from prosecution.

A Nation of Laws: The nation's eavesdropper in chief, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, has admitted that agencies under his direction have ignored “court orders on phone record collection.” Among other things...

Roll Model: In the last two years Jamie Dimon's JPMorgan has paid nearly $7 billion in fines for the various crimes it has mostly gotten away with. [$7 billion is chump change to the too big to flail banksters.] Most recently they paid the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission $420 million for rigging electricity rates. No one has gone to jail and no one has had to give back their bonus money.

Crocodilian: BP warns that the cost of the “Gulf accident” will eventually exceed $42 billion, which will eat into its profits (even after it writes it all off its taxes, which it doesn't pay anyway). So they are turning to the courts to toss out many “fictitious” and “absurd” claims. And they'll drag claimants through any legal process available the get the injured to accept pennies on the dollar. Or just go away.

Testimonial: Florida's education chief, Republican Tony Bennett, has ordered his staff to find grounds he can use to “wiggle myself out of the repeated lies I have told over the past six months” about charter school client Christel House.

Porn O'Graph: Picture/words.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

SAR #13211

Modesty is a form of dishonesty.

Mostly Downers: Even the Realtors had to acknowledge that pending home sales declined in June, blaming it on increased mortgage rates. Stocks declined on the news, then late in the day the blame for the fall in stocks was blamed on Ben and the Boys getting together. Manufacturing activity increased a bit, but slower than desired. None of this matters much and it certainly doesn't explain anything of significance.

Down To The Sea In Slips: Some hackers from UT/Austin managed to 'spoof' an $80 million yacht's GPS system. This time they had the owner's permission. And a federal court has blocked researchers from explaining how they can hack into a car's computer system. Pretty soon some junior Edward Snowden at NSA will notice you've paid for too many drinks and will electronically take your keys away. Not possible? Well, maybe not yet.

Innocence Is No Defense: A court employee was fired for perverting the course of justice when she gave a wrongfully convicted man copies of court papers that proved his innocence. No, it wasn't Scalia, not directly, although it smacks of his view of justice.

Another Precinct Heard From: Maryland officials say that in many cases insurance rates under the Affordable Care Act will be... affordable. This is one more of an growing number of states that have found, counter to what the Republicans are preaching, that Obamacare is going to lower insurance premiums for most people. Even so, Marco Rubio claims that Obama's insistence on implementing the law (as he is required to do) will force Rubio to shut down the government and blame it on Obama. Set that to music. 
Laurels: About the only real accomplishment of the Republicans over the past couple of years is their triumph in destroying the US Postal Service through their legislation requiring the USPS to fully fund 75 years of health care benefits in a ten year period. Bet you can't do that, either.

Chimera: In the 30-plus years since Ronnie confused the movies for reality and decided to build a Star Wars missile defense system, the US has spent $250 billion and to date has come up with nothing. Nada. The prototypes cannot hit their target even when the game is rigged. But that is just a minor inconvenience to the military and their space-war civilian contractors. All they need is more money. Much more.

Vocabulary Builder: Disemployment: The Obama policy of encouraging people to leave the work force as a way of decreasing unemployment while decreasing employment thus creating customers for the bread and circus society.

The Parting Shot:
 Moth Mullein, Verbascum blattaria

Monday, July 29, 2013

SAR #13210

"The definition of infinity is that you wait long enough, everything happens." Lloyd Blankfein

Civics Lesson: The Egyptian military has killed at least 65 72 in its offensive against clashes with Muslim Brotherhood supporters of the deposed Mohammed Morsi. According to some witnesses, "most were shot in the face." Citizenship training is expected to continue and intensify in the coming days.

Repeat After Me: Edward Snowden is not the story, the story is what he told us about the way Big Brother spies on us - and everyone else - 24/7.

Handy Formula: Each degree Centigrade of global warming will raise global sea levels by more than 6 feet. Not tomorrow or next week, but CO2 stays in the atmosphere a very long time and as the decades and centuries pass, it keeps trapping warmth, melting icecaps and expanding the oceans. Once it gets to the atmosphere, it is persistent and the resulting rise in sea levels is inevitable.

FYI: In case you hadn't noticed, "inequality of opportunity begins at birth." 
Another Brick In The Wall: Feudalism was not replaced by capitalism because the peasants were demonstrating in the streets. Nor was the change brought on by well-intentioned government regulations. "It happened because a sequence of smallish individual actions - often without consciousness of their full effects - meant that, eventually, people found better things to do than obey feudal lords. Perhaps the transition from capitalism will occur in a similar way."

Gimmie Re-Write: The GOPers are aghast that President Obama would mention Ho Chi Minh's well established admiration of America's Founding Fathers. It's a historical fact, but only in the reality based world.

Correlation Is Not Causation: The American Family Association of KY claims that banning school prayer has resulted in lower SAT scores and an increase in teen pregnancy by 500% and STDs by exactly 226%. There has also been an increase in the number of people who have lost their appreciation for the difference between causality and coincidence. And an increase in making up numbers, too.

Wasn't His Dog: German president Joachim Gauck says whistleblowers like Edward Snowden merit respect, unlike Chancellor Merkel who's all for stringing him up.

Proof/Pudding: While no one knows quite how it's supposed to work nor how Ben's going to get down off this particular horse, quantitative easing is the panacea of the day. All that is clear so far is that it is a boon to the banksters and financial services industry. And that's enough to ensure it is termed a success and continued for quite some time.

Reality Check: Despite Republican claims, only a handful of employers actually have cut workers' hours because of Obamacare's provisions. But reality has a well known penchant for embarrassing Republicans.

Onward Christian Soldiers: The USMC has officially decided that a "lack of spiritual faith" is a sign of instability in soldiers, one that may keep them from killing in the name of Mammon, if not God.

Enough Said: Noises in tourist's head were from flesh-eating maggots.

The Parting Shot:

Saturday, July 27, 2013

SAR #13208

Mighty, Fallen: Aware of its reputation, the US has promised Russia that Snowden would not face the death penalty and would not be tortured (depending, of course on the definition of that rather flexible term) if the Russians would just hand him over. Nothing was said about a little sodomy and voluntary confinement. So far Putin is not convinced
Grounded: Halliburton has pled guilty to destroying evidence of its role in the Deepwater Horizon disaster and agreed to pay 0.0007% of last year's profits as a mea culpa. "Their willingness to plead to this may also indicate that they'd like to settle up with the federal government on the civil penalties." Also on the cheap. The company made a separate and voluntary contribution of $55 million to the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation. Out of the goodness of their heart.

War Plans: The US – or at least that part of it under control of House Republicans - intends to intensify its economic warfare against Iran by eliminating its ability to export any oil at all. The Senate is expected to go along; Washington hasn't met a war in the last 60 years that it didn't like right off.

Guilty Consciences: With FHFA's $885 million settlement with UBS for mortgage bond fraud as motivation, Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank have “set aside money” to pay their pennance, while RBS expects to have to make “a multi-billion dollar payment” to the US and be broken up. SAC Capital, which already has paid nearly a billion in oops money is now facing “a raft of criminal charges”. George Bailey these guys aren't.

As Planned: The bankruptcy lawyer the governor of MI sent to Detroit has filed for bankruptcy, as instructed. Now he is preparing to sell off the city's art collection, public lands and buildings and so on. He is also going forward with the preplanned gutting of pension funds, unions and unsecured bondholders, giving them 10 cents on the dollar. Banks will be getting 75 cents on the dollar. Seems fair.

Freedom From The Press: The White House is "concerned and disappointed" that the journalist who reported on the US drone strikes in Yemen that killed dozens of innocent civilians has been released from jail. Knowing the truth may set you free, reporting it, not so much.

Mean Spirited: Republicans are actively trying to undermine the federal health care system by refusing to help their own constituents navigate the system. Republicans not only don't want to help their constituents access needed help, they continue to lie about the program. Never before in the nation's history has one house of Congress devoted most of its efforts to undermining a law that passed both houses, was signed by the president and upheld by the Supreme Court.

Fog Of War: The Pentagon maintains it is “not sure there is a list” of places and people being targeted by drones, and if such a list does exist, you can't see it because the people our drones are lobbing missiles at don't know we're dropping missiles on them. Or something like that.

The Ears of Providence: Next time you misplace your cell phone, just ask the guys at NSA – they can locate it even if it's turned off. The can also probably turn it on an listen to you, just as they can with landline phones. That's why they know a lot more about you than you think. 
Words Is Words: Did George Zimerman get away with murder? Define 'murder' in light of the chase someone down and then stand your ground laws.

The Parting Shot:
Mountain Mint, Pycnanthemum loomisii

Friday, July 26, 2013

SAR #132074

Sometimes failure is the lesson.

Slowly, Slowly... Three former UBS banksters have been sentenced to federal prison for rigging the market for certain municipal bonds. The longest sentence was but 27 months, a fraction of what the Justice Department had sought, and a tiny, tiny fraction of what they deserved. Perhaps it is an object lesson for the folks at SAC Capital Advisors who have been indicted by the Feds after a six year investigation into insider trading at a firm that was responsible for about 10% of trades on the NYSE. Next?

Less Bread, More Circus: Michigan's Governor Snyder strongly supports the Michigan Strategic Fund's approval of spending $225 million on an arena for gladiatorial contests featuring debt collectors against pensioners in bankrupt Detroit.

Sight/Mind: In the wilderness near Cold Lake, Alberta, an underground oil blowout has been going on for nine weeks. No one understands what happened or what is happening, while animals are being killed and lakes and the forest are being contaminated. The leak shows no signs of stopping. The operator, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd, shows no signs of knowing how to stop it.

Sturgeon’s Revelation: At the very least, 90% of everything is crap. 
Sausage: The leaders of the Senate Finance committee, currently rewriting the entire US tax code, have assured fellow senators that they may insert whatever loopholes their owners desire with absolute confidence that neither they nor their perfidy will be identified for at least 50 years. It's called doing the public's business. Or giving the public the business. Or something like that.

Novel Idea: Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) wants to force the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to hear both sides of cases brought before the court. Which would require that the defendant know he's being castrated before the voice change sets in. It'll never catch on.

Some're Reruns: The Republicans are again ready to push the country into default and shut down the government – you hadn't noticed because the media and the country have come to see this as the GOP's default position. There is no economic justification for this, especially their long disproven claim that cutting spending will boost the economy. Why? Because they are fearful that Obamacare is going to work and going to be liked by most of the country. “Thus this last-ditch effort to stop people with preexisting conditions and/or low incomes from getting health insurance. Apparently, the prospect that their fellow citizens might receive this help is so horrifying that nothing else matters.”

Takes One... San Diego's Mayor Bob Filner has been 'uninvited' to address the National Women’s Veterans Association of America about sexual assault. He was overqualified.

Sound The Attack! “We need to adopt public policies in advance to help rescue the economy before the next zero bound episode. That means giving the Federal Reserve a powerful new tool to hand out money to people and working out an automatic mechanism for state governments to get injections of money in severe downturns." Do I hear a second?

Carlos Atlas: According to Steve King (R-Wonderland) most of the young immigrants who would be covered under the DREAM Act are drug mules. JHe says we can identify them just by checking out the calf muscles they've got from humping “75 pound bales of marijuana across the desert.”
The Parting Shot: 


Thursday, July 25, 2013

SAR #13206

I used to know how to order a cup of coffee I could afford.

Conundrum: The White House is delighted that the House rejected the Amash Amendment – which would have curtailed the NSA's vacuuming up everybody's phone data 24/7 because there had not been an open, informed discussion of the amendment. There was no open discussion because the program is secret and no details can be discussed in public. NSA did brief some members of the House, in secret. 
What He Said: Egyptian junta leader General Al-Sisi has called for "the people to take to the streets this coming Friday to prove their will and give me, the army and police, a mandate to confront possible violence and terrorism." By which he means he wants an excuse to crush the Muslim Brotherhood, sort of a popular referendum on the military dictatorship.

Aiding And Abetting: Estimates claim that – worldwide – criminal enterprises take in $870 billion a year. It wasn't immediately clear if this was before or after the big banks take their cut for laundering the money.

A Prize In Every Box: If you took your 5 year-old daughter to the ND State Fair, did you enjoy explaining to her why you took that cute little doll away from her? You know, the “the most realistic fetal model ever developed,” And the well illustrated pamphlet describing fetal development up to the moment of abortion, did you read that to her, or just help her color the pictures?

The Sadness of Ignorance: 53% of Americans think Edward Snowden should be charged with a crime, any crime. They'd rather be safe than free - so they're settling for neither.

Bell-Whether, Or Not: Caterpillar, usually taken as a good proxy for the world's economic outlook, reported earnings that were nearly 15% below expectations, then announced that "World economic growth slowed in the first half of the year, and we are revising our growth estimates downwards... we expect that world economic growth for 2013 will be a little over 2 percent." Then added "We expect weak growth, high unemployment and low inflation..."

Frisky: Ray Kelly, NY commissioner of police, says all those unconstitutional 'stop and frisk' insults to the citizenry's constitutional rights have prevented not only “another terrorist attack”, but an additional 7,383 homicides. Exactly.

Technically: MIT is attempting to quash a Freedom of Information motion seeking information regarding Aaron Swartz' Secret Service file. Curious, in that they are not a party to the motion - which MIT fears will cause it to look bad for its role in driving Swartz to commit suicide. Academic freedom at MIT apparently means that academics are free of the consequences of their acts.

Countdown: With today's CO2 levels, at 400ppm, matching those a few million years ago when the sea level was 65 feet higher than today; a significant rise in sea level is unavoidable. But no one knows how quickly the rise will occur (quite rapidly, in some past episodes) because atmospheric CO2 has never increased as rapidly before. Are you feeling lucky?

Food/Thought: "Our understanding of economics is stuck in the past, in a world of scarcity, a world without advertising, where making things rather than selling them was the fundamental economic problem." 
Conditional Rape: If the rapist doesn't orgasm (or at least doen't leave evidence of same), then the act was not a rape - according to USC police. At UNC-Chapel Hill, co-eds who report rapes are threatened with expulsion for besmirching the school's good name. Even so, being female beats being black. Marginally.

Right To Know: The pharmaceutical industry is anxious to defeat legislation here and in Europe that would require they publish all the results of all their drug trials, not just those that will increase profits. They pay the band, they get to name the tune, that's the American way.

Understatement: The release of methane from a warming Arctic “is an economic time-bomb” that “would cost the world's economies $60 trillion” It would also raise temperatures dramatically and cause widespread hardships, massive migrations, widespread starvation and the death of millions. But let's worry about the money.

The Parting Shot:

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

SAR #13205

We've traded wisdom for information.

Tidal Flows: BofA says that its big institutional clients have been net sellers of stocks all year, and over the last month they have abandoned stocks at record rates. Retail investors, on the other hand, keep throwing their money away.

Off The High Board: The Richmond Fed's data dump was less than stellar, way less. The retail sales index was down, a - 11 against an expected +7. The manufacturing index also was down, also a -11 against an expected +9. The months ahead will be better, they said. The best is yet to come... Well, maybe not, new orders also crashed.

Margin Of Error: The government claims drones permit surgical precision in targeting our enemies. Apparently a 20% oops rate is acceptable, including over 10% of the surgically dead being children. That's why the Air Force puts a souvenir US flag in every drone missile. Kids collect them.

Asked And Answered: Should Goldman, JPMorgan and the rest be permitted to control power plants, oil refineries and warehouses full of commodities from aluminum to zinc? Permitted?

Nostalgia: Remember when the US housing industry hinged on first-time buyers, young marrieds? That was before marriage was a merger of student debtors, when wages actually rose for the middle class. That's okay, someone has to rent all those REO houses speculators have scooped up.

Being Prepared: The SEC is warning the $2.6 trillion money market industry to be aware of the immense risks they face if the tri-party repo market were to collapse. Nah, nothing happening here, it was just a slow day at the office.

Thought Experiment: "To land the best... jobs, workers need sophisticated vocabularies, advanced problem-solving abilities and other high-value skills that the U.S. economy does a good job of bestowing on young people from wealthy families — but can’t seem to deliver to poor and middle-class kids." Why could that be? 
Something's Happening There: According to Tokyo Electric, proud parents of the Fukushima reactors, “something like steam” is billowing out of the number three reactor. “Something like steam,” take a guess how radioactive 'something' might be.

Porn O'Graph: It's not a recovery, it's a camel.

The Parting Shot:
 Passion flower, Passiflora incarnata

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

SAR #13204

In an ideal world there would be clear distinctions between business and extortion, blackmail, banking and governance.

The Great Escape: After a two-day attack on Abu Ghraib, over 500 inmates - mostly senior al Qaeda leaders awaiting execution - have escaped. The well-coordinated operation is just the latest battle by insurgent Sunis against the Shi'ite-led government installed in Iraq following the US invasion a decade ago. 
Down Is The New Up: Existing home sales declined 1.2% m/m in June; excuses abound, except the one about the non-recovering economy.

Waste Not, Want: Those who want to terrify us with the specter of death by debt have seized Detroit as their new rallying cry - it was the greedy unionized government workers who brought down the city and, they warn, will bring down cities across this great nation unless their pension rights are destroyed. That's the game plan. That and selling off the art to the usual suspects. Disaster capitalism at it's best. 
Fairness Doctrine: All those CEOs making 468 times their average employee's wage write their compensation off their companies' taxes, driving our taxes up by $120 billion a year.
No Interest: Turkey's rebellion is spreading throughout the country. Not just that park in Istanbul, nor just a few major cities - it has spread throughout the southeast, with heavy clashes between the police and government troops and the protesters. No, you didn't see it on the evening news.

Ah, Those Guys Again: The Lemmings have decided not to even pretend to care about the environment, the earth, or the future and announced they plan to cut the EPA budget by 34% and to prohibit any federal rules that would limit carbon emissions from power plants, no matter how high the temperature or the tides rise.

Noted: Chicago schools are laying off 2,100 employees while the city puts $55 million into a college basketball arena. Priorities.

Unchecked and Unbalanced: The Administration maintains that NSA's 24/7 monitoring of everything you say and do - and by inference, think - “cannot be challenged in a court of law”. Nor can federal courts review the legitimacy of the administration's murder-by-drone of American citizens abroad, either "before or after the Americans were killed." Nor can anyone - court, congress or citizen - investigate whether the NSA is blackmailing top government and military officials - including the Supreme Court Justices.

Unredeemable: “All in all, we are continuing to learn a lot from this slump, not just about how the economy works, but about how many economists work. Unfortunately, none of the news is good."

Fail and Fail: The Federal Reserve has a dual mandate to promote price stability and ensure full employment. It has yet to achieve either. It has set an annual inflation target of 2 percent, yet the consumer price index rose only 1.4 percent in the 12 months ending in May and is now floundering. The only decrease in the unemployment figures is due to people leaving the labor force; not exactly a big victory for Gentle Ben there, either. Central banks are limited to monetary policies that can raise or lower short-term interest rates, and buy or sell securities. That’s it. Those actions did bit not create jobs,but fiscal policy (ie. spending) can. Don't blame the Fed, blame your local congrescritter.

Re-Booting: In a pilot project to evaluate 'on-line learning' in math-related courses, the on-line learning mostly didn't happen, with only 20% to 44% of students getting passing grades - even though 83% 'completed' the course, whatever that might mean.

No Deposit No Return: Not news, but notable, is the publicity currently surrounding Goldman Sachs' manipulation of aluminium prices, to the tune of several billion dollars in profits. Multiply by any number of other basic commodities. Is what they're doing illegal? No, just devious. Should it be? What, and impose controls on the big banks? Heaven forbid.

'Twas Always So: "Black criminality is more than myth; it is socially engineered prophecy. If you believe a people to be inhuman, you confine them to inhuman quarters and inhuman labor, and subject them to inhuman policy. When they then behave inhumanely to each other, you take it is as proof of your original thesis. The game is rigged. Because it must be." Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Porn O'Graph: Not climbing Jacob's Ladder.

The Parting Shot:

Monday, July 22, 2013

SAR #13203

The executive branch now views every American as a potential suspect first, and as a citizen second." Rep. Rush Holt
Apples and Oranges: If Detroit were a Citi instead of a City, the government would have bailed it out long ago. What's a paltry $19 billion to Gentle Ben, who throws $85 billion into the cesspool in lower Manhattan every month?

The Sixth Degree: NAS says it doesn't spy on everyone, only those who are in contact in some way with those who are in contact in some way with those who are in contact in some way with someone who is on the terrorist watch list. The average person is in contact (in NSA's sense) with about 40 people, each of whom is in... so with over 25,000 on the terrorist watch list, times 40 and all of those times 40, and all of those times 40, Kevin Bacon's your cousin. And by reading this item, you and Hamid Karzai are bosom buddies. Or, worse, Senator McConnell and Orange John Boehner.

It's Only Money: The Navy is going forward with a $2.5 billion drone program following a successful test exercise. 'Successful' in this case meaning that exactly half the drones performed as required. Close enough for government work.

Move Along, Nothing To Be Seen Here: For at least the last six weeks there have been unstoppable oil spills from an underground oil blowout at a major oil sands operation in Alberta. Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. is not discussing the scope of spills at four separate sites, which are off-limits to media and the public. 
Just Say'n: The last time concentrations of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide were as high as they are today (400ppm, about 5 million years ago), big chunks of the East Antarctic ice sheet melted and global sea levels rose more than 65 feet.

Hammers: If you've got a hammer, lots of things seem to need a whack. With more-or-less acknowledged wars winding down and 4,611 of Al-Qaeda's top lieutenants already vaporized, the US has a fleet of more than 400 Predators, Reapers, and Widowmakers that it needs to either mothball or find new places to terrorize. Guess which plan has the most support.

Rant: "The "automatic stay" trumps everything as to the city of Detroit. However,... bankruptcy law, being federal law, will trump state law because of the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Who, then, will have to cover the workers' pension benefits, given the Michigan constitution's provision that no pension can be reduced? The overwhelming number of comments on the web... are appalling in that they are virtually unanimously calling for all of these retired and soon-to-be retired workers to receive nothing, ever.
There is a cabal that is calling for all worker benefits (particularly all government worker benefits) to be completely eradicated. ... [A] chorus of voices all saying (and saying it in almost identical ways) that workers (all workers) should receive no benefits whatsoever (because, it is argued, such benefits are never affordable), ...advocating the elimination of all worker benefits in the United States with a seeming groundswell of support that drowns out other voices strikes me as some sort of PsyOps operation.
What is really alarming about this are the responses that state "these workers should have known better than to contribute to what they knew was an unsustainable retirement program, and thus they should not receive anything." These same comments continually also seek to blame these workers for "having voted for the Democrat [sic] policies."
The use of the bankruptcy code to deprive workers of the retirement benefits they were promised is an outrage. And, no, it isn't just happening to municipal workers. Private companies have been creating these "crises" for years, mostly unnoticed. One hallmark of the Republicans in national office is a hatred of workers, especially government workers, and even more particularly unionized government workers. There is most likely no upside for them to provide any relief for these workers. Therefore, I doubt there will be a favorable resolution for these disenfranchised municipal workers." OkieLawyer, from SAR #13201 comments.

Porn O'Graph: Housing starts stop.

The Parting Shot:
Spotted Touch-me-not, Impatiens Capensis.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

SAR #13201

"Dreams are born of imagination, fed upon illusions, and put to death by reality." Tyler Durden
Not So Fast: A Circuit judge has ruled that Detroit's bankruptcy would lessen the pension benefits of public employees, which is explicitly prohibited by the state constitution, must be withdrawn. Wanna bet how this plays out?

Sucinctly: Don’t worry about labor force participation. It’s not coming back. The unemployment rate will continue to decline – but not because the economy is picking up, but because ever more people will drop out of the labor force. Magically, less employment will lead to less unemployment. When will people begin to re-enter the labor force and start looking for jobs? Probably around 2030. Maybe 2040.

Secrets Is Secret: The administration maintains that eavesdropping on everyone all the time is simply "in the public interest" and thus constitutional. Besides, it is a secret and because no one can know the secret, no one knows enough about the secret to challenge it in court. Not even in one of the ever-popular secret courts.

Wait, Wait: The EPA now says its report on the evils of fracking will not be released until 2016, by which time most of the sweet-spots will have been fracked.

Fine Print: Senator Warren, claiming it was obscene for the federal government to make $51 billion in profits from its student loan program, has offered a bill that would allow students to borrow money at the same rate banks do - currently about 0.75% - instead of 6.8%. In response a "bipartisan group of senators" (bipartisan here meaning they represent a wide variety of banks) has reached a compromise that would lower borrowing rates for 2015 and only 2015, after which the rates would climb to 8.5%, or maybe 9.5%. Well, 10.5% for sure. 
Danger, Will Robinson: The number of people becoming realtors is surging; the lure of easy money. Ditto, buyers.

Forecast: Residential construction took an immense dive last months, why? The homebuilders' association claims it is just the native caution of the builders, not wanting to get too excited. Others blame the weather – too hot, too rainy, too Philadelphia... Or maybe it's the increase in interest rates that is dampening enthusiasm. But as long as the population keeps growing, sooner or later we're going to need more houses and construction will pick up. Despite the weather.

Politics As Usual: Pennsylvania earned over $1 billion in profit from the state lottery last year, so Republican Governor Tom Corbett plans on selling the lottery to his friends to privatize the program.

Competition: The Arizona Public Service Co. wants to charge customers who install rooftop solar panels $50 to $100 or more a month to cover the cost of maintaining the power grid. The charge is not for an interconnect that would let the customer sell power back to the company, but simply to punish fleece the customers. 
Day in the Park: As a public service, the state of Ohio has a deal with their electric utilities to shut off the air conditioning in the state's prisons when the temperature puts a severe draw on the electrical supply. Money, of course, changes hands.

Money For Nothin': In the last quarter, Microsoft made nearly $5 billion in profit, selling CDs and such - not bad for essentially nothing. Sure they had to pay the coders and such, but $5 billion a quarter in profits?

Quoted: "Under Obamacare, "a few people will be hurt — young, healthy individuals too affluent to qualify for subsidies, wealthy taxpayers, etc. — a much larger number of people will be helped, some of them enormously... Conservatives are right to be hysterical about [Obamacare]: it’s an attack on everything they believe — and it’s going to make poorer Americans’ lives better. What could be worse?"

Porn O'Graph: Working In America, The Collapse 
The Parting Shot:
Wild potato vine, Ipomoea pandurata.

Friday, July 19, 2013

SAR #13200

"We need to figure out a better way to stimulate demand than either going to war or going into debt" Tom Streithorst

Hardball: The US, seriously upset because Venezuela might end up providing safe-haven for Edward Snowden, has revoked entry visas of Venezuelan diplomats and businessmen and threatens to suspend the sale of gasoline and oil to Venezuela. Nothing was said about the million barrels a day of Venezuelan petroleum the US imports. Another well thought out knee-jerk.

The Unions, The Unions! Detroit has filed for bankruptcy; guess who'll get the blame. Better, guess who'll get the profits.

Re-Constituted: Ken Cuccinelli, VA Republican candidate for governor, wants to ban oral and anal sex between consenting adults as a way of stopping predators from sexually assaulting children – who are neither adults nor consenting. Didn't the Supremes find such a stricture unconstitutional ten years ago? Who says being a Republican sucks?

Cup/Lip: US Secretary of State John Kerry says he’s “won Arab League backing . . . to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks”- without the Palestinians, apparently, who have already refused Kerry's offer.

Irrational Exuberance, The Sequel: House prices in Southern California were up 28% y/y. Bubble, what bubble? These are solid values and you can turn around and sell the place for an immense profit in a few months.... "This market’s getting really interesting.”

It's All Greeks To Me: Greece has knuckled under to Germany & The Rest by sacking another 4,000 government workers and putting 25,000 teachers, firemen, police and sanitation workers in a "mobility pool"in which they are given eight months to find work in another department or get fired. Unemployment, now at 27%, is expected to continue to rise. No Greek governmental departments are hiring, of course. This €7 billion to Athen's debt, which they will immediately use to pay off the German banks for earlier loans. The wheels on the bus go round and round...

Paradox: According to Republicans central planning is a Bad Thing for governments but a Requirement for successful businesses, yet they desire to run the government as though it were a business.

Those Were The Days: Jimmy Carter, former US President and full-time honorable man, says that “America has no functioning democracy,” and that Snowden's NSA revelations have not harmed US national security because terrorists, friendly nations and anyone who wasn't brain dead already knew.

Better Mousetrap: Retail stores have begun tracking your movements (via your cell phone) while you shop. Hey, you thought it was just NSA and the cops?
Fearcast: As long as House Republicans are secure in their gerrymandered safe districts and only have to fear primary candidates from the farther right, expect the idiocy to continue = more pointless 'debates' on budgets, deficits, national debt, reading and writing until at least 2020. Also expect continued Republican attempts to throw women, children, the poor, the unemployed and uninsured into the street whenever possible – for their own good, of course.

Slippery Slope: Fearing the possible infringement of 2nd Amendment rights, House Republicans have rejected a bill banning "the sale of firearms to individuals on the FBI’s terrorist watch list”.

Porn O'Graph: Warm-up question.

The Parting Shot:

Thursday, July 18, 2013

SAR #13199

There are two kinds of investments: those that lose all their value at once, and those that lose value slowly.” Dmitry Orlov

What Part of Globalization Don't You Understand? The US Sideshow Senate wants the oil business to explain why the price of oil (and thus the price of gasoline) is so damned high, when we're drowning in all that new tight oil and shale oil. I hope at least one of the titans of industry can convince the Senate that shale oil etc. is part of a global market where the highest bidder gets the oil. And maybe they could bring up how damned expensive all this new oil is to wrest from the ground.

Gullibility: Global regulators are attempting to devise ways to convince the public that the benchmarks that form the base of our financial markets – things like Libor, the price of gold and oil and wheat and so on – are being honestly reached. Even though they're not.

On Average: While Wall Street is reporting 20% to 70% increases in their income, the average American worker's wages remain unchanged after adjusting for inflation. Of course Wall Street's earnings greatly come from cutting costs – like wages. Of June's 195,000 new payroll jobs, 75,000 were in restaurants and bars, where the average weekly paycheck is about $351, less than half the average for all other private industries. In recent months, reports out of Washington and Wall Street have flooded the media with stories about how the economy is looking up. If only. 
Deathbed Conversion: The World Bank has suddenly discovered that coal-fired power plants are bad for us and will limit its lending for them to countries that have "no feasible alternatives" to coal, which is vague enough to let them continue financing most of them.

Hat/Hurry: Two of the top officials at the Bonneville Power Administration have been abruptly shown the door when it was discovered that they had retaliated against a half-dozen employees who had been “helping an inspector general’s inquiry about hiring practices.”

Hiccups: June's housing starts fell 9.9% from May, mostly due to a strong drop in multi-family house starts. Single-family starts were only 0.8% below May's numbers. We are to believe that the housing market is still booming; the decline was “due to the weather.” Permits for future construction also fell, in anticipation of more weather.

Thoroughness: There are well over 500,000 miles of undersea cables carting email and internet hither and thither around the globe – and through NSA computers. For our benefit, they say.

Grades: Republican state senator Osmond (yes, one of those Osmonds) wants to make education optional in Utah. He attended high school in Utah and is proof that, at least in his case, it was a waste.

Anything, Something: The feds – finally – are reportedly considering charging low-ranking Wall Street banksters with “intent to commit fraud.” Or felonious jaywalking. Or maybe excessive hubris... 
Covered: The usually calm and thoughtful American public has come unglued because Dzhokar Tsarnaev made the cover of Rolling Stone
Pure Coincidence: No Such Agency is being credited – by the CIA no less – for overhearing “al Qaida-linked groups” on the phone chatting about a bombing campaign against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. They needed a little good PR.

Appealing, Really Appealing: The Obama administration is appealing a judge's decision that would end “genital searches' in Guantanamo. Waterboarding is okay, but playing with their genitals is forbidden? Okay, but answer me this: what in the world can these guys in their cages get to hide beneath their genitals?

The Parting Shot: