Saturday, January 30, 2016

SAR #16030

Racism as a political weapon wielded by elites against the 99 percent, nonwhite and white alike.” [The Nation].
Growth Spurt: The rousing economic recovery that prompted Yellen and the Fed to begin raising interest rates in order to keep inflation in check turned out to be a disapointing 4Q15 GDP growth rate of 0.7% (subject to downward revision), mostly because the main driver of the US economy, consumer spending, wasn't. But never fear, those captains of capitalism on Wall Street reacted to weakening GDP growth (and thus weakening profits) by jumping upwards because they see slower (or no more) interest rate hikes and the possibility of even more free money!
Asked And Obvious: Expressing her dismay over the “shockingly weak” punishments that have been visited on Wall Street's corporate criminals, Elizabeth Warren askedWill those who led the financial system into crisis ever face charges?” No. Next question please.
On Wards: CO2 levels will reach 405 ppm within three years, at which time a 2°C rise in global temperature will be locked in and we can stop the silliness about magic spells and salvation. At the current rate (and there is no real world evidence that we are actually going to take the cure) we will reach the 450ppm in about 20 years, locking in a 3°C rise.
Money Talks: Polling shows that Democrataic voters making less than $30,000 prefer Sanders, while those making over $100,000 favor Hillary, who personally favors making millions.
A Little Off The Top: Michigan Gov. Snyder's mostly redacted emails (dating back to 2014) had this nugget when discussing the brain damage children in Flint were suffering from the lead in Snyder's cheap water: “It is just a few IQ points. … It is not the end of the world.” But responding quickly to the looming threat of evisceration, Snyder has appointed a committee to study the problem and come up with “feasible actions for upgrading Flint’s water system” by 2018. As long as it doesn't involve actually replacing the lead pipes.
Another Verse: President Obama, fresh from victories in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, is now going to save Libya from the Islamic State.
Charity Clarity: Trump's spokesperson Katrina Pierson, she who called the President the “head Negro” and “a jihadi,” when asked about where the money supposedly donated to veterans at the Thursday night barn dance, first said “I'm sorry, I can't hear you.” And then explained the money was “going to a Trump organization” because they couldn't find a veterans' group that would accept the money.
Enough: Chicago police officer will sue estate of teen he fatally shot, citing the emotional distress killing the kid has caused him.
Pilling On: One group of Clintonistas claims we should not ask our masters for anything – like universal healthcare – and should settle for what they are willing to let us have. Another Hillary fan club says that universal single payer, while afforded by every other industrialized civilized country, is a great idea, but one that we cannot afford. So Bernie should go back to Bennington without actually trying.
Borrowed: “Note to our readers: Donald Trump is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, birther and bully who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.”
The Parting Shot:

Friday, January 29, 2016

SAR #16029

The rich don't just think they can get away with it, they know.
Clash of Civilizations: A French diplomatic dinner for Iran's Hassan Rouhani was canceled when the French refused to remove wine from the menu. Good, it was bad enough that Italy put bras on Rome's statuary to protect Hang 'em High Rouhani's delicate sensibilities.
Behavioral Analysis Units: Political campaigns - just like banks, health insurers and the NSA – know far more about you than you think they do. They know that if you like canned asparagus you probably oppose abortion... and so on. They know what you buy and where you shop and what restaurants you go to and what car you drive and the put all this together to figure out how you will likely vote and how to capitalize on this, to get you to vote for their doofus rather than some other doofus. But they all are doing it, so relax and enjoy the attention.
Infrastructure: The top US Army General in Iraq says that the collapse of the Mosul Dam is likely and will be “catastrophic”. What do you think will be fixed first, the Mosul Dam or the Flint, MI water supply?
Best Friends For Never: The US government has reluctantly concluded that sentencing a journalist to life in prison for reporting on a regime's secret and illegal arms supply to jihadists is reason to question that nation's “commitment to democracy.” There should be no question that Erdogan's Turkey is committed to to ending democracy as fast as possible and letting Erdogan rule as an absolute monarch, with no input from the masses. The US should wash their hands of Erdogan and let him get back to killing Kurds.
Progress: Ecuador is auctioning off one-third of its remaining rainforest to Chinese oil companies.
Very, Very Secret: The claimed ISIS super-duper Android based encryption system for exchanging messages and instructions on how and when to destroy the west turns out to be vaporware at best and most likely a hoax.
Good Question: Jeremy Corbyn asked David Cameron if ordinary people can pay the same rate of tax as Google and Apple.
Robin/Spring: Caterpillar, generally taken to be a good indicator of the global economy's health, reports that its Q4 retail revenues fell by 23% leading to a 111% collapse in operating profit – if profit is the right word for a $114 million loss.
Hang 'Em High: The governor of Maine, citing a constitutional right to carry arms, is encouraging his citizens to “Load up and get rid of the drug dealers.”
Horse/Cart: In that China gets most of its electricity from incredibly dirty coal-fired plants, using an electric car is up to five times worse for the environment than driving a gas guzzler.
Short On The Basics: A group of ranchers in Utah have denounced federal control of their lands. Actually, it's federal control of our lands; they are supposed to be renting them from us.
Circus, No Bread: Some wonder if our freedoms will survive the current political season – which assumes we have any such things left. Truth: your vote does not matter. Hasn't for several decades. We do not have a democracy, nor even a democratic republic. What we have is a choice of front men (mostly men) chosen by and answerable to the economic élite. But the entertainment beats the tedious work involved in self-government.
Noted: According to the IMF and World Bank, “these are bad times for oil producers and their creditors.” Ah, understatement.
The Parting Shot:

Thursday, January 28, 2016

SAR #16028

Anyone who shrugs and claims that change is just too hard has crawled into bed with the billionaires who want to run this country like some private club.Senator Elizabeth Warren
Closing Time: The FBI has told the secessionist idiots in Oregon that play time is over and it is time to go home – after a brief demonstration of their options. Actions are not without consequences.
Prozak In Every Pot: The US Preventive Services Task Force (an “independent panel” loosely under Health and Human Services) wants every American be screened for depression and put on a regime of drugs, especially pregnant women, new mothers, and those with pharmacy coverage in their health insurance.
Walls/Ears: “Wall Street’s serial corruption and wealth transfer system is at the very heart of wealth and income inequality in America. … the business model of Wall Street is fraud.”
Faint Praise: Jeremy Spencer, an associate superintendent with the GA DOE, has been fired after he explained that it was unfair to compare Finland's educational achievements with Georgia's because Finland's students were all white.
Gotcha! While your grab and run, gas station, and grocery store typically have a 2% profit margin for providing you your gas, snacks and grub, the banks behind the credit card you pay with make at least 2% for letting you buy the stuff. Who is ripping you off, even if you pay cash? Ah, but you knew that already.
Neat: What if NASCAR switched to racing electric cars?
Data Stream: The rich third of US households spend only 65% of their income, investing the rest to make even more. The bottom third end up spending more than they make; that's how the system is designed.
Two Forward, One Back: While Bernie Sanders was at the White House trying to get Obama to stay the hell out of the primary contest, Hillary was offering Obama a seat on the Supreme Court if he'd keep pimping for her.
Asked & Answered: Why are the Iowa caucuses followed so closely when Iowa only has 6 electoral votes? Iowa is important mainly because the media and the punditry say it is.
Porn O'Graph: Correlation is not causation. Not always.
The Parting Shot: 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

SAR #16027

The name becomes the reality.
Long Form: The tens of millions Americans who have been working hard but getting nowhere have come to understand that the system is rigged against them, and they want it to change. They are being given a choice between “an authoritarian son-of-a-bitch who promises to make America great again by keeping out people different from you” and “a political activist who tells it like it is, who has lived by his convictions for fifty years, who won’t take a dime of money from big corporations or Wall Street or the very rich, and who is leading a grass-roots “political revolution” to regain control over our democracy and economy.” It will be an interesting contest, unless Hillary ends up giving us more of the same.
Smokescreens: The six largest Too Big To Exist US banks operate 19 traditional banks and hide the rest of their control of the US and its economy thorough 14,001 subsidiaries.
Totally Profitable Partnership: The biggest thing that the TPP will trade is jobs. It will simply trade them away. Studies of the plan say that not only would it result in the loss of tens of thousands of jobs in the US and Canada, but a net loss of jobs throughout the twelve co-conspirators. It would also shrink both the US and Japanese economies.
The Home Team: Republican Robert Gates, former Secretary of Defense, says that the Republican presidential candidates have a grasp of national security issues that “would embarrass a middle schooler.”
The Easy Button: Savants keep trying to figure out why US corporations are sitting on so much cash when, for a hundred years and more they were net borrowers. They borrowed to expand, they borrowed to develop new products, they borrowed to acquire other companies. They didn't pile up $1.9 trillion while borrowing money to buy back their own stock. So what's going on? Pretty much it is the simple fear of failure – they can't find customers for what they have, they can't find new things that anyone would have the money to buy, they already own most of the competition and they simply can't find anything useful to do with the money except hunker down and hope they survive whatever disaster is knocking at the door.
The Essence: Danny DeVito says we are a nation of racists. Danny is right. Our economic system is based on racism. Our political system is based on racism. Our social system is based on racism. Our laws and our justice system is based on racism. Never mind what we say, look at what we do.
Nutshelled: What, beside the obvious, should be drawn from the endorsements Sanders gets from the membership of groups whose leaders continue to bow to Hillary?
Munchies: Rather like our dogs, we are designed to eat whenever we get the chance. No, our bodies don't know if we're hungry – or at least don't care. We'll eat. And even when we are vaguely dieting we don't judge very well how much we've eaten. Want to do a bit better? Then write it down. Write it down before you eat it. And try to eat better tasting stuff slowly enough to appreciate it.
Practiced, Not Perfected: US Secretary of Defense Carter says that “We have 3,500 boots on the ground’ in Iraq and ‘we’re looking for opportunities to do more.” Doing more would include deploying more troops to Iraq. And there's always Syria.
The Parting Shot:

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

SAR #16026

There can be no great accumulation of wealth without exploitation.
Futility: For years, decades even, the US citizenry has become ever more reluctant to waste time following politics and trudging off to pull a lever for toady R or toady D, having long since figured out that if democracy comes down to chosing between the power elite's two nominees, then democracy is a hoax. Along comes Bernie Sanders, who seems to think government by and for the people might be a workable idea, and that a bit more government paid for by tapping the rich for by reverting to Eisenhower-era tax rates might be a workable idea. Those who haven't seen any point to voting are beginning to pay attention.
Say Amen: The easiest thing you can do to lose weight: avoid restaurants.
The Longer View: Some don't understand how “lower oil prices can cause a recession?” That's because they are too tightly focused on the here and now to see the operative cause and effect. The recession was not caused by low oil prices, but by the high ones before the credit crash. Only creating ever more credit (going consuming more and more of our tomorrows) made the high priced, end-of-the-oil-era oil possible. The recession that followed the credit crash (and that has been papered over, rather poorly, by QE etc. but still persists) caused the low oil prices. The lack of demand comes from our overwhelming debts. Take a longer view of things.
Lost and Found: The contest between Hillary and Bernie is not really about who gets to live in the White House, but whose White House it is. Will the Democrats continue their slide into useless me-tooism as the right of center standard bearer for polite Republicans, or will the party of the people actually once again become the party of the people? Will Sanders' campaign for a more equal and secure economy based on a stronger democracy build networks of activists across constituencies and across the country? Will the campaign create a lasting movement that people will commit to and keep working at and towards, even if the initial effort loses to Wall Street? Stay tuned.
Twilight Time? Saudi Aramco's chairman flatly rejects any suggestion that a possible initial public offering for as-yet unidentified parts of the company would include Saudi oil reserves. Mainly because if it did they would have to open their books for an independent verification of their claimed reserves, something which they will never permit – mainly because most of their claimed reserves are unlikely to exist.
Duck and Cover: Records of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle show that only 5 of the 77 Catholic clergy identified as “likely sex abusers of children” since the 1920's have ever been convicted of their crimes. There are Roman Catholic 195 archdioceses/dioceses in the US.
The Parting Shot:

Monday, January 25, 2016

SAR #16025

I've come to understand my confusion.
Stumped: Hillary simply cackles maniacally when asked about all the money Goldman Sachs has given her (Wall Street's paid the Clintons over $125 million since 2001) as her military-industrial complex entangled 'experts' up the volume of their McCarthyite attacks on Sanders. Krugman continues to say that the best way to reign in Wall Street and get us a single payer healthcare system is not to try, especially if it would harm the profits of the rich. Funny, taxing the rich used to be a core Democratic Party value, now they call it socialism.
Just Say No: As the mosquito-borne Zika virus spreads towards the United States, El Salvador asks women not to get pregnant until 2018.
They're Back: Insured (by you, the US taxpayer) commercial banks and savings associations are exposed to $274 trillion in notional (face amount) derivatives, and five banks hold 93% of that amount: Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, and Morgan Stanley. Just one of these behemoths, Morgan Stanley, only survived the 2007 crash with a $10 billion injection of funds from US, along with over $2 trillion in below-market-rate loans. [And we know about this only because of Bloomberg and Senator Bernie Sanders.]
Quoted: “Consumers just don't seem to be showing up...”
Culture File: While The Donald jokes (?) that he “could shoot somebody in the middle of Fifth Avenue and not lose any voters”, A man in NC shot and killed a man who came thorough the blizzard to help him and a man in Arkansas shot and killed a firefighter who was trying to help him. 'Cause guns make us free.
More of the Same: The exploiters, the extractors, the developers have discovered “a billion dollar ocean” - the Arctic is open for business. What could possibly go right?
Pax Americana: As the Republicans get ready to carpet bomb any Muslim that gets restive, let us keep in mind just how peaceful are the places we've introduced to democracy in the last decade or so: Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Ukraine come quickly to mind. But our efforts maintain peace and freedom in the US, where most of us spend 40 years working off our debt to the banks for cars, houses, healthcare, and education. Sure we work longer hours for less pay than most other developed nations and send more of our fellow citizens to jail (and to death), but we're patriots; we accept defeat as victory, debt-slavery as freedom... Sorry, Orwell was a bit more succinct.
Answered: Bloomberg asks, “Are we headed for a recession?” Headed?
Head Fake: The National Security Agency is siding with those who do not want 'back doors' built into their electronic communications. No, they're not advocating privacy, they are simply sure they can break whatever encryption you have access to and want to fool you into thinking you've got some privacy. You don't.
Fairly Tale: Commentators are beginning to suspect that herding is at play in the stock markets. Really.
Porn O'Graph: To the tune of...
The Parting Shot:

Saturday, January 23, 2016

SAR #16023

D-E-S-P-E-R-A-T- I -O - N : A flock of second-tier Clintonian operatives and fellow-travelers has begun calling Bernie Sanders a communist, claiming he wants to dismantle Obamacare, warning that he would sacrifice Israel to ISIS and proclaiming that he does “not believe in capitalism.” None of this is true, but repeated often enough, but given the trends in the polls, she's got to do something.
Budget Cuts: Governor Snyder has released his (totally redacted) emails in an attempt to prove that poisoning the people of Flint was supposed to be a temporary measure that would save about $5 million over two years. That it has killed at least 10 people and loaded the blood and brains of 10,000 children with lead was collateral damage that should not be viewed as environmental racism and should not be taken into consideration when looking at the overall budget savings and ideological purity. Besides, Snyder explains, it was those damned lazy civil servants... and the (unelected) political hack he let run the city.
Protecting & Self-Serving: A bill pending in New Jersey would keep the public from accessing police videos from body and car cameras, as well as 911 calls. Because what we don't know won't hurt them.
Theory of the Crime: California's AG is investigating Exxon Mobil to see if its decades of lying about the dangers of global climate change and the degree to which petroleum products were responsible constitutes fraud under various securities laws requiring full disclosure of all relevant information concerning the current and future prospects of the company. Such as reducing the value of its reserves...
Mattress Stuffing: Why are American corporations sitting on $1.9 trillion in cash – after all, traditionally corporations were massive borrowers, not gargantuan hoarders. But then, corporations used to be optimists, ever looking for new and better products to bring to market in order to make profits for the stockholders instead of trying to find tax-efficient ways to buy back their own stock as a way to feather the CEO's retirement. But to be fair, maybe all these senior executives are reluctant to invest because (1) they know the economy sucks and will continue to do so as thus there are no profits to be made and/or (2) they are sure the whole thing's going to come tumbling down and “cash will be king.” Then there's the possibility that it is just the herd instinct they are all following each other's lead assuming that the guy in the lead knows what the hell is happening. He doesn't.
Submit: Eleven-year old girls must be taught to stay “pure” until they trap a man, they must turn to their fathers whose job it is “to protect their purity” and teach them to be subservient. Or so emails from the Mesa Valley School District in Colorado claim, while directing the young girls to a Wake Up Ministries website where they could learn about the “gag reflex” that tongue-kissing prompts and sign up for an indoctrination meeting. The school system said it had reviewed the material and did not find it to be demeaning nor religious propaganda.
Porn O'Graph: Full and frank disclosure, or water, water everywhere...
The Parting Shot:

Friday, January 22, 2016

SAR #16022

To quantum physicists the world probably makes sense.
Angles On The Head of a Pin, For Now: An apparently impartial Harvard constitutional specialist says that it is abundantly clear, especially for the strict constructionists, that a “natural born citizen” means someone born within the sovereign territory of the United States (except for children of US public officials serving abroad). In 1789 founding father James Madison said that the US used place of birth rather than parentage as the defining criterion. Senator Cruz was not born in the US. QED.
Bullseye: “Good thing the market is composed of rational actors. Otherwise, we might really be in trouble.”
If Not Now, When? Oregon's governor, along with a lot of the rest of us, wonders when the federal government is going to do something about the group of seditious outlaws in Eastern Oregon. Where are the SWAT teams, the armored vehicles, Seal Team Six. Where are our vaunted forces of law and order to protect the public against an armed insurrection?
Asked And Answered; “Is the stock market telling us we’re headed for a recession?” Maybe. Maybe not. Nobody knows, especially not investment advisers.
Vital Signs: The Manufacturing Business Outlook Survey report had both bad news and good news. The bad news is that manufacturing activity in the US remained negative. The good news was that it wasn't as bad as it was the previous month. The Department of Labor reported a 10,000 surge in initial unemployment claims last week, the highest since last summer but added a soothing “this is still a very low level” of claims. Yep, under 300,000. Sounds good to me.
None So Blind... Billionaire Steve Schwarzmann, CEO of the Blackstone Group of Thieves, says he simply cannot understand what a large portion of the US electorate are so upset and angry about. “What,” he asks, “has made the people so unhappy?”
Statistically: At least since NAFTA, trade agreements have included Investor-State Dispute Settlement clauses – a forced arbitration with the arbitrator picked by the investor, not the state. Research shows that overwhelmingly the beneficiaries of ISDS have been extra-large international companies with more than $10 billion in annual revenue and ultra rich individuals with net worth in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The losers have been the people, who have to pay the taxes to raise the money that is regularly awarded to the already filthy rich.
Consider the Source: Former Official Wizard and Saviour of the Economy Helicopter Ben Bernanke tells us not to worry about China's $28 trillion in debt because it is “an internal problem.”
Preparations: Our masters, gathered in Davos, are worried that robots and automation and artificial intelligence will upset the economy and threaten their profits. Yes, they acknowledge with a brushing motion of the backs of their hands, a few million of you will lose your jobs and not find work ever again, but you won't be losing your dividends and they will...
You First: Plans are afoot to turn the former WWII concentration camp on Mamula Island off Montenegro into a luxury resort. But it will be done tastefully, preserving the “historical value of the island” with a “memorial room” mentioning those who were incarcerated and those who were killed or died of starvation. There will also be memorial T-shirts and coffee mugs.
The Parting Shot:

Thursday, January 21, 2016

SAR #16021

Today's mantra: “... worse than expected.”
Way Down South: The zika virus, the one that leads to microcephaly in babies, may have infected 700,000 people in Colombia, including at least 560 pregnant women. Iceland's nice this time of year.
Turtles and Hares: A CNN/WMUR survey finds likely New Hampshire Democratic voters prefer Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton, 60% to 33%. No wonder the tone is getting snippy. This might also explain Krugman, Ezra Klein and Jonathan Chait parroting Hillary's claim that the Democrats will have to settle for whatever crumbs the GOP will let them have rather than standing up for the people. FiveThirtyEight reports that “Donald Trump is really unpopular with general election voters” and notes that Sanders is the only candidate from either party who has a net-positive rating, while Trump is the most unfavorable. Hillary ends up with an 8 point unfavorable rating, which given her history isn't bad at all.
Ham Sandwich: Reports claim that the prosecutor never gave the Tamir Rice grand jury an opportunity to indict the officer who killed the child.
Helpless: Sarah Palin claims that her son's arrest on weapons and domestic violence charges is President Obama's fault because Track came off the tracks after being deployed to Iraq.
Free Trade: Independent economists examining the TPP conclude that it will free about 450,000 people from their jobs in the US. In exchange the country will get to give up much of its soverignty to make and enforce laws that concern companies and profits. Go team.
Net/Net: Scientists predict that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish, and that's not counting the plastic in the fish.
Matthew 6:34: Trump says he'll find a place for Palin in Washington. Or John 11:35.
Wish I'd Said: Rick Wilson, a consultant for establishment Republicans, says that most of Trump's “are childless single men who masturbate to anime. … These are not people who matter in the overall course of humanity.”
Ipso Facto: The Black Lives Matter protesters who blocked the San Francisco Bay Bridge may not face punishment because one of them was named Bundy.
Democratic Principals and Principles: Warren Buffett is hosting a $33,400 a plate fundraiser for Clinton the day before the Iowa caucus. Bernie won't attend, it's the night he does his laundry.
Spousal Privilege: A judge has ruled that a Baltimore cop cannot be forced to testify against his fellow officers in the Freddie Gray murder case.
An Apple A Day: Over half of the world's supply of cobalt, an element essential to lithium batteries, comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo where it is mined by children under slave-like conditions. 'Like' this and share with your friends.
Grooming Tips: The government of Tajikistan, in an attempt to curb radical Isalm, is forcing 13,000 men to shave off their beards. They're doing away with headscarves, too.
Porn O'Graph: Just sayin'.
The Parting Shot

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

SAR #16020

Skim milk masquerades as cream...Gilbert & Sullivan
Definition, Glut: The impression that we are “drowning in a sea of oil” is not exactly right. We have a bit too much capacity, true. The IEA says that the world is producing about 99.5 million barrels a day (mbd) and using about 97.5 mbd. Makes doing the math pretty easy – we've got about 1.5% too much oil right now. The gap is expected to grow a bit, with demand growing about 1.2 mbd this year and production remaining about 1.5 mbd above demand, which will “put storage infrastructure under pressure.” The glut will disappear, along with cheap gas at the pump, once those in the worst financial shape (most likely those with the most expensive to produce oil) drop out. Closing 2 mbd in production would do the job. Don't expect volunteers.
Full Disclosure: The real question about the Saudi “plan” to sell part of Saudi Aramco is not why they might want to do that – they've already burned through 15% of their foreign reserves – but how much it would be worth. A public offering would require complete and detailed disclosure of their reserves – something they have strongly resisted for decades. And most of the world suspects that a fair percentage of the claimed 260 billion barrels are mythical.
Yes, and No: Yes, there is a grade of crude oil in North Dakota that is pretty much worthless – it is “North Dakota Sour” and it is full of sulfur, a thick and acidic sludge. But it is also not worth talking about, unless you own part of the 15,000 barrel a day production. Exxon spills more than that every day. Even if you include the production of South Texas Sour ($13.25 a barrel) and Oklahoma Sour ($13.5o) all you've got is an ignorable footnote.
Porn O'Graph: Guns not roses. More leads to most.
The Parting Shot

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

SAR #16019

Fine Print: The executive chairman of the World Economic Forum says that the worldwide crash of commodities prices will spread “economic woe” across the world sending a wave of immigrants to Europe that would “eclipse today's refugee crisis.”
Say/Do: After telling the debating society that she was serious about cracking down on Wall Street she has scheduled a Wall Street fundraiser for four days before the Iowa caucus. And why not, they've already paid her $2.9 million for chatting with them.
Message In A... If you buy a barrel of oil, have them drop it off in the barrel. The barrel is worth more than the oil in it.
Words Is Words: The Japanese Foreign Minister says that the women from conquered countries who were forced to work as whores in Japanese Army-run brothels were not sex slaves, they were just “comfort women.” Wonder if he'd say the same thing if it'd been his mother.
Pants Suit On Fire: The Clintons – both Hillary and the little Ms – have been “less than completely truthful” in their characterization of Sanders' healthcare proposal.
Tidings of Comfort and Joy: Speakers at the World Economic Forum expect that robots, AI and automation in the world's 15 leading countries will take over 5 million jobs. There is a small and fleeting concern as to where these five million former consumers will end up.
97 Pound Weakling: The latest national polls show that Bernie would defeat either Trump or Cruz, while Hillary would lose to Cruz. She may well lose to Bernie before that.
Priorities: Citigroup says its huge increase in quarterly profits was due to a sharp drop in legal costs as they finish buying off prosecution for various mortgage-related issues.
Spoon, Gag Me With A: Marco Rubio says he rushed out on Christmas Eve to buy a gun as “the last line of defense between ISIS and my family.”
The Parting Shot:

Monday, January 18, 2016

SAR #16018

Is the drop in the value of oil a diagnostic marker similar to a sudden severe drop in blood pressure?
Trump This: Donald says he is “self-funding” his entire campaign for dictator president although he has only put up $100,000 of his own money so far – while an aviation company he owns has been paid $723,000 so far by his campaign – which reports $4 million in contributions so far. He seems unclear on the distinction between self-funding and funding himself.
The Choice: Clinton: Settle for what the Republicans will give us. Sanders: Work for what we know right.
The Slide: For those following along at home, the Atlanta Fed's guess about the US Q4GDP growth has declined from 2.9% (Nov 2015) to today's 0.6%.
Off-Brand: While we were watching the daily gyrations of the Dow 30 and S&P 500, the Russel 2000 has fallen 23% from its peak. So far.
The Peacemaker: Explaining that the new regulations were a health and safety measure and had nothing to do with any religion or religious practice, Benjamin Netanyahu is calling for a complete ban on the "unbearable noise" Imams make when calling the faithful to prayer.
Understatement: “Small oil price declines may be expansionary through usual channels, but really big declines set in motion a process of forced deleveraging among producers that can be a significant drag on the world economy.”
Closer To Home: PM David Cameron has authorized an investigation into the funding and other support various domestic extremist and jihadi groups have received from Saudi Arabia. It was fine for the Saudis to bankroll ISIS, but blowing up Bloomsbury is a bit cheeky.
Quoted: “The world is full of nations and rulers that are fighting for bare survival. And things like that don’t play out on a short term basis.”
Tell Me Again About The March of Civilization: Pakistan has ruled that banning child marriage would be “blasphemous” and “anti-Islamic”. For several months before the media brought it to our attention, the UN was aware of the mass starvation being forced on the people of Madaya by the Assad regime. Gang rape, torture and mass killings have become common in Burundi as law and order collapses. Kuwait Airlines is abandoning its NY to London route because it might have to fly an Israeli. Al-Qaida, in an attempt to regain some relevance, has attacked a hotel in Burkina Faso, killing at least 20, to no particular end. And the world's 62 richest people hold as much wealth as the poorest 3,500,000,000 of us mere mortals.
Rewrite: Tyler Cowen's essay, Can economics change your mind? would have been of more interest if he'd asked “Can economists change their minds?”
Mulligan: A week ago the Dallas Fed met with banksters and told them they didn't have to mark their heavily impaired energy-sector loans and investments “to market” because that would make the banks look weak and the Fed foolish. Is that sound I hear a domino falling?
Choice Multiples: The US explained that two of its small naval craft ventured into Iranian territorial waters due to (1) Iranian aggression, (2) unspecified mechanical failure, (3) “inadvertently drifted into Iranian waters, (4) navigation errors, (5) all of the above, one after the other.
Huh? The self-centered and essentially clueless Uber passenger who was videoed committing the crime of assault and battery is now suing the driver for $5 million for recording the crime. His lawyer probably offices with the bunch that think they can copyright the names of our national parks.
The Parting Shot: 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

SAR #16016

For Your Consideration: Is there any reason to suspect that any central banker anywhere in the world, now or in the last twenty years or more, had or now has the faintest idea what was going on? On what evidence?
Shadow Boxing: US transportation of goods by truck, rail, pipeline, waterways and air has fallen y/y to the lowest since before the 2009 disturbance in the force, and the Baltic Dry index has simply collapsed. One of the reasons for the lack of freight might be that US industrial production fell nearly 2% y/y and is collapsing at the fastest rate since May of 2008 and only 76% of US industrial capacity is being utilized.
Throat Clearing: The President of the NY Fed (speaking more or less for Yellen) now says that instead of further increases in the prime rate the Fed may have to cut interest rates. Which should raise the question of negative rates someday soon.
Advise & Consent: The Saudi foreign minister has confirmed that US and British military are present in the Saudi command and control center that does the targeting for Saudi airstrikes on women, children, schools and hospitals in Yemen. But, he claims, they are only observers and do not get to pick the targets.
Asked & Equivocated: What degree of privacy will Americans give up for 'security'? For convenience? Would they answer the same way if the question were “How much government snooping in your private life...?” The willingness to give up one's privacy seems directly related to how realistic understanding one has of actual threats.
Report Of The Commissioners: The National Association of Counties reports that over 90% of the counties in the US have not fully recovered from the recession.
Heel: Mike Huckabee says that poor Americans should be trained like dogs are, with reqards for good behavior and punishment for bad behavior. And being poor is bad behavior, shame, shame. The punishment would be his proposed national 10% sales tax, which would hurt the poor and shift the rich's share of taxes to the middle class. Down boy.
Ground Rules: Paul Ryan Ryan says that President Obama “degraded” his office by denouncing bigotry and those who encourage bigotry because that is an attack on each of the Republican primary candidates.
Correlation: There are now almost twice as many hedge funds as there are Taco Bells, and Taco Bell may be a better investment.
Making America Great Again: “America achieved its most rapid growth and technological progress ever during the 1950s and 1960s, despite much higher top tax rates and much lower inequality than it has today.”
Clear Sailing: The US Navy is buying ships that sail pretty well in good weather and fair seas. Less salubrious conditions lead to the the bow collapsing or the ship rolling over.
Dewey Wins! The one group that backs Bernie Sanders very strongly is voters. That should worry Hillary and embarrass the pundits who can't seem to accept that the Sanders candidacy is serious and strong. She's also feeling grumpy because Bernie's not being nice to her Wall Street friends – who've given her $5.8 million so far. She also doesn't want to be 'divisive' by talking about single-payer, attacking Sanders for caring about those who Obama left behined.
The Parting Shot: