Links 1/27/16

Traffic Comes to a Halt, and a Kitten Is Saved New York Times (David L)

Dog accidentally runs half-marathon and finishes in seventh place Telegraph

Concepcion Picciotto, who held vigil outside the White House for decades, dies Washington Post (resilc)

How to View Five Planets Aligning in a Celestial Spectacle New York Times (Chuck L)

The Rise of the Artificially Intelligent Hedge Fund Wired (resilc)

Feeling smug about your solar rooftop? Not so fast PhyOrg

California Fish Species Plummet To Record Lows NationofChange (furzy)

Surge of Americans tests limits of Cuba’s tourism industry Reuters (EM)

Uganda: When Democracy Doesn’t Count New York Review of Books

China?

China accuses George Soros of ‘declaring war’ on yuan Guardian (margarita)

China GDP Growth Could Be As Low As 4.3%, Chinese Professor Says WSJ China Real Time Report

China struggles to tell world its thinking Financial Times

Grexit?

Greek leaders clash over pensions reform Financial Times

Syraqistan

Top 5 Ways Putin has won big in Syria and why Europe is embracing him Juan Cole (resilc)

10 Months of the U.S.-Backed War on Yemen American Conservative (resilc)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

After Embarrassing Hacks, Feds Roll Out New Government Agency Mother Jones (resilc)

The Drone Racing League, A Professional Sports League Dedicated to First Person View Drone Races Laughing Squid (resilc)

Obamacare markets face fresh troubles Financial Times

2016

The economic losers are in revolt against the elites Martin Wolf, Financial Times

Donald Trump Drops Out of Fox News Debate Because Megyn Kelly Is Moderating Vanity Fair (furzy), He can’t handle Kelly and he wants us to think he can stand up to Putin?

Donald Trump and Fox News are at war CNN. Furzy flags this section: “The poll suggested a real reluctance to attend, perhaps because Trump, as the frontrunner, arguably has the most to lose on Thursday night.”

Three More Reasons Trump Will Be The Nominee Talking Points Memo

Note to Hillary: Clintonomics Was a Disaster for Most Americans Nation (resilc)

Sanders Makes Headway in South Carolina US News (furzy)

Why Is There a Media Blackout on Bernie Beating Trump in the Polls? Alternet

Bernie Sanders new ad is optimistic and diverse. Slate (furzy). Notice it repeats the “firewall” notion when that is looking less solid (Hillary has had an over 25 point drop in approval ratings among SC black voters), Moreover, Sanders has the conundrum of trying to reach local voters while being scrutinized as a national candidate.

As Sanders Slams Wall Street Elite, Clinton Ditches Iowa To Fetch Their Checks Common Dream (furzy)

Bernie Sanders Blocks Obama’s FDA Nominee for Big Pharma Ties Alternet. This will really piss of the Administration. A hold is not insurmountable (Bernanke had a stunning five holds on his reappointment under Obama) but it’s a significant obstacle.

The Republican Party May Be Failing FiveThirtyEight (resilc). Awfully tortured.

The 2016 Election and the Failures of the “Governing Wing” American Conservative (resilc)

“You’ve Got to Cozy Up”: More Politicians Admitting That Money Controls Politics Intercept (Chuck L)

How Two-Party Political Systems Bolster Capitalism TruthOut

Obama bans solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prisons Reuters (EM)

The Supreme Court Just Blocked The Harshest Abortion Ban In The Country NationofChange (furzy)

Anti-abortion activists indicted in Texas for Planned Parenthood video Reuters (EM)

Super Bowl Spotlight on Santa Clara Reveals How It Has Changed New York Times (EM)

Angry White Men

Leaders of occupation at refuge in Oregon arrested; 1 killed, another wounded in highway confrontation Washington Post

Oregon Standoff Leader Ammon Bundy Arrested by FBI in Violent Confrontation Wall Street Journal. Note that one of the people in the car pulled a gun, making him a Darwin Award candidate. What I fail to understand is why the State and Federal officials didn’t cordon these guys in, and say, basically, “Nothing and nobody goes in or out until you are ready to leave permanently, as in we go in, make sure you’ve cleared all your crap out, and we escort you out.” No supplies and they would have gone with their tail between their legs in ten days max. If they had cut their power, it would have happened in two days unless there was a generator, then they’d need to wait until they exhausted the fuel supply. They might not have wanted to damage the pipes (I’d assume difficult to impossible to repair well in the winter) but the work-arounds would almost certainly have cost less than what it has been reported to cost to deal with these rebel wannabes.

Gunz

State by state, more guns mean more killing of women. Slate (resilc)

The Fearful World of Network News in 2015 IPS (margarita)

Dollar’s Rise Poses Risk for Fed Plans Wall Street Journal

US shale groups slash capital spending Financial Times

J.P. Morgan paying $1.42B to settle much of Lehman suit Seeking Alpha

Class Warfare

Hedge Funder John Paulson Puts Up His Own Fortune to Save His Firm Vanity Fair. I’ve said this before: Paulson despite his ginormous subprime short profits has never been a good money manager. If you are running money for third parties, you need to be particularly attentive to the first rule of investing, which is do not lose money. He had a not very good track record before that, and always was way too predisposed to take a a small number of highly risky bets. And it was one of his subordinates, not Paulson, who found the subprime short opportunity and persuaded him to invest in it.

Paulson Pledges Personal Holdings to Back Firm After Assets Fall Bloomberg. Resilc: “Except the ones in Caymans, Swiss, Singapore, Dubai and….”

Richest US universities reel in donors Financial Times

Automated Ports Have Dockworkers in the Netherlands Threatening Strikes Motherboard

Antidote du jour. Kulantan: “Crow in the Gold Coast.”

raven links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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183 comments

    1. fritter

      Leave it to a “Savage Mule” to advocate escalating violence in one breath and the evil of guns in another. DC has a gun ownership rate of about 3 % and the highest murder (gun and non-gun) rate in the country. So lowest ownership and highest murder rate. It doesn’t matter that lack of health care kills far more people or that we spend billions arming people overseas. There is no fact or logic that will convince a certain number of people that guns are a scourge of epidemic proportions. Its really kind of sad. Its like watching little old ladies spending their social security on lottery tickets.

  1. Brindle

    re: Obama bans solitary confinement..for juveniles…..

    So, why did he wait seven years to do this? Obama is your basic mediocrity, My liberal friends blame the GOP for his ineffectiveness, but the bottom line is that he just a hack with a gift for oratory.

    1. wbgonne

      So, why did he wait seven years to do this?

      Because Obama doesn’t give a shit about this and is only doing it to burnish his “liberal” credentials as he exits.

    2. Jim Haygood

      That was one of those WTF? headlines. Normal countries don’t HAVE juveniles in federal prisons.

      Be thankful that the Bush/Obama administration is introducing a kinder, gentler Gulag.

      Ten thousand points of light, kids! :-)

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        If the gulag is on remote Devil’s Island, you can see more than 10,000 points of light at night.

        Good chance you become a very good astronomer.

  2. Laughingsong

    Re: “Got to Cozy Up” – just the title made me remember (and mourn the passing of) the late, great Molly Ivins: “Ya got to dance with them what brung ya.” What I wouldn’t give to receive one more essay from her about the state of things today, from the Great Beyond.

    1. Steve H.

      Dear friend and great actor Diane Kondrat did up Molly in the play ‘Red Hot Patriot’ a few years ago. Tween Molly & Ann Richards, Texas has proved it could produce more cattle than hat.

      Why do Texas men have truck nuts? ‘Cause it’s the women who’ve got the balls.

      1. Steve H.

        By the way, that’s literally true. Becky Hammon:

        “On August 5, 2014, Hammon was hired as an assistant coach for the Spurs, becoming the first full-time, salaried female coach in NBA history.”

      2. griffen

        That’s a hilarious quote! I think coach Hammon is the real deal & working for coach Pop must have it’s blessings.

    1. rusti

      I was traveling in an auto rickshaw in the Indian state of Rajasthan a few weeks ago and the driver suddenly slammed on the brakes in the middle of the heavy traffic and hopped out to pick up a puppy that was trying to cross the road. After placing it on the other side it kept trying to run the same trajectory, and the driver finally spotted its mother on the other side, picked it up and walked it over there, then came back and jumped in the driver’s seat without saying a word.

      It was a really beautiful moment that probably happens a thousand times a day, but it tugs at the heart strings to see the conditions in which most people and animals live. This line from the story a few days ago about the origin of dogs resonated with me:

      Researchers also point out that of the estimated one billion dogs in the world, only a quarter of them are pets. The vast majority of dogs run free in villages, scavenge food at dumps, cadge the odd handout and cause tens of thousands of human deaths each year from rabies. They are sometimes friendly, but not really friends.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        What did that do to the driver’s productivity and efficiency?

        Does it inspire any of us to shout: Down with Productivity!!! Down with Efficiency!!! Let’s praise Idleness. At least idle time to smell and hug puppies???

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  I don’t know if I am too critical of myself, self-hating perhaps, but whenever I work out in my Latin Groove cardio-class, I reprimand myself for releasing more carbon into the atmosphere, instead of just idling along.

    2. Ed Miller

      Got one better than saving a kitten. I was driving home one evening in heavy when I saw that traffic had stopped on the Tualatin Valley highway in Beaverton, Oregon about two miles from my house. As I moved into the right turn lane to go onto 160th Avenue I saw that all cars had stopped for a duck and her brood of ducklings so they could cross one of the busiest highways in the county. This is a 4 lane highway where traffic is usually running 50+ mph.

      Cars stopped in both directions, ignoring the green lights, and waited and waited. The mother duck was hesitant to move between cars but everyone waited and waited and waited until she and her ducklings crossed all lanes.

      I’ve never seen anything quite like it before but I’ve only been here (Oregon) for 15 years. I don’t believe that I’ve ever lived anywhere else where a duck would even try to cross such a busy road.

  3. allan

    Subprime Reasoning on Housing

    The authors:

    David Beckworth is a former economist at the Treasury Department and a visiting scholar at the Mercatus Center; Ramesh Ponnuru is a columnist for Bloomberg View and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

    Which means they are both essentially Koch employees.

    The NYT embarrasses itself by publishing this dreck, but you have to admit that the title is very accurate.

    1. griffen

      “I find the lack of analysis disturbing.”

      Their commentary on FED tightening does not mention what was occurring in the short-term funding and money markets. Bear, and Lehman, respectively, were known to be funding short (1 month – 13 months) and the short term money didn’t roll. This also manifested in the broader Commercial Paper markets.

    2. diptherio

      I’m just happy to find out that fraud had nothing to do with it. That’s a relief. I was starting to feel like I couldn’t trust Wall Street bankers any more…

    3. craazyboy

      Ya gotta admit they’re on to something.

      “This housing decline caused financial stress by sowing uncertainty about the value of bonds backed by subprime mortgages. These bonds served as collateral for institutional investors who parked their money overnight with financial firms on Wall Street in the “shadow banking” system. As their concerns about the bonds grew, investors began to pull money out of this system.”

      Somehow, by some mechanism unknown to us, loose money begat high housing prices, the net effect begat subprime loans, then investor concern over the value of these bonds eventually grew. [in spite of the AAA rating]

      But market manipulation[stimulus] by the Fed and fraud is such a difficult thing to prove, so no rational person would go there.

  4. wbgonne

    Sanders Makes Headway in South Carolina US News (furzy)

    Unstated in the article title, “among African Americans.” This appears to be true and, if so, is potentially ruinous for Clinton. Hillary must not only win the black vote, she must do so overwhelmingly because Sanders is now walloping her among Millenials and at least competitive with her in all other demographics. That’s why Obama was forced to put his thumb on the scale earlier this week. Obama is trying to send dog whistles to African Americans. It might work, it certainly has for Obama’s seven-year reign, but it’s one thing to command racial loyalty directly and quite another to attempt to do it via transference. Such sleight-of-hand requires a deft touch and Hillary is brutally ham-handed (as the SC focus group recognized).

    One other note on the subject of AA loyalty to Obama: no, blacks will never directly turn against Obama, but most blacks realize that Obama’s policies have failed them. Since Obama is untouchable and Clinton is cloaking herself with Obama’s policies, Clinton may be the one to get the shiv that Obama deserves. Ironic, huh?

    1. fresno dan

      As the law unwinds in Chicago, Clinton’s entanglement with Rahm may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. What will the Obama “justice” department do with regard to Chicago?
      Soon, to drive a wedge between Clinton and blacks, all Bernie will have to do is ask that question…

        1. nowhere

          (Spoilers!)

          Will he stab a light-saber (Justice Department report) through Han Clinton’s chest causing a disturbance in the Force (polling results) that is felt by Senator Palpatin…err, I mean Hillary?

        1. Strangely Enough

          And, an authoritarian like Kagan, who understands sometimes you got to “torture some folks.”

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Will Hilary put 2 ex-presidents on the Supreme Court?

            Bill and Barry?

            Bill might have to give up millions to serve on the court though.

            “Do you feel my financial pain?”

      1. neo-realist

        No President since Taft has been on the SC and I believe Presidents are so sick of the grind once they’re gone that they would rarely if ever do another fed govt. gig. Furthermore, somebody as divisive as Obama wouldn’t get the votes nor does he have the thick skin for the conformation process. Corporate Boards, golf, speeches for hundreds and millions of dollars, and in Obama’s case, more Hawaii time.

        1. hunkerdown

          I dunno, Clarence Thomas reportedly has a pretty sweet lifestyle, him and his RV. Seems you can pretty much show up when you want, are answerable to no one except your buddies in the ruling class, almost never under time pressure save the odd election that needs thrown…

    2. 3.14e-9

      I find it amazing there is no other ethnic group that folks are talking about that are already locked up. Folks need to have to earn our vote, you don’t OWN our vote, and Bernie Sanders is doing everything he has to earn that vote like any other person would have to do.

      Ohio Sen. Nina Turner, in an interview with Chuck Todd on MSNBC.

      A MUST-SEE! This woman is a ball of fire. And man, did she ever put Todd in his place.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=maVfNQbmZtM

    1. Higgs Boson

      That could be bad for Sanders; they have a nice chat just before the Iowa caucus, and Mr. Obama announces that while he respects Senator Sanders’ positions, the senator is just plain wrong.

      Or maybe there will be some horse trading over Califf’s nomination to the FDA.

      But I really think this smells like a set-up of some kind.

      1. Steven D.

        Obama’s a diffident dilettante about most things. But he’s a tiger when it comes to caging the left.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Clinton also hates Bill, and the word is losing Congress gnaws at Obama. Bernie weeks away from Minnesota’s primary pulled in a crowd as large as the one in St. Paul’s when Obama secured the nomination.

            1. Oregoncharles

              The ability to draw crowds is far more important in a caucus state than a primary one. Commitment matters.

      2. Brindle

        Sanders needs to be ready to fight. Obama is well versed in the Chicago Way:

        —“They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. *That’s* the *Chicago* way!”—

        1. Steven D.

          Obama is putting Bernie in a tough spot. This will show if Bernie is tough enough to be president.

      3. GlobalMisanthrope

        My money’s on this being about Califf. Earnest doth protest too much with the Christmas Ball thing.

      4. nippersdad

        Reminds me of Kucinich’s plane ride just prior to the ACA vote. Not sure that is an invitation I would be interested in accepting.

      5. TedWa

        I agree. While Bernie was pushing for Elizabeth Warren to run for President, Hillary had a sit-down with her and afterwards Warren didn’t even consider it. Has Warren expressed her support for either candidate? She should be endorsing Bernie because their goals are very much the same. Why isn’t she? What did HRC say to her? Something is afoot. Stand strong Bernie ! we got your back. There’s no telling what these neoliberals will say to get their way.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I think Barry is going to pull ‘for the good of the party, and therefore, for the good of the country’ sermon on this mount.

            1. cwaltz

              Here’s the problem with that argument, Bernie Sanders could not care less about the Democratic Party. He’s an Independent. He ran as a Democrat for pragmatic reasons to allow him ballot access(ironic considering the Democratic Party is trying to paint him as a pie in the sky idealist.) Bernie’s goal isn’t to protect a party or its financial interests, his goal is to give functional government to those that might not have the means to own a lobbying firm.

              I’m sure the conversation that they’ll be having will be similar to the one they had over health care. What would it take for you to back off? It’ll be a negotiation. The difference this time is Sanders is coming from a position of power with the headwinds for the presidency instead of as a single vote out of 100 that Obama needs to pass legislation he wants.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                I think that would be good…not caring about the Democratic party.

                And better still if he brings a lot of reformers with him to both houses.

                “Bernie, you need us, the Democrats.”

                Let us hear no more of that ‘you need us’ stuff.

        1. neo-realist

          A cabinet position if elected? I believe Warren wants an opportunity to shape economic and financial sector policy regardless of which dem is elected. If she endorses Sanders, but Hillary wins the Presidency, she will be frozen out in all likelihood.

      6. trinity river

        I agree. This meeting worries me. O will come out for Hillary since it is the best way to protect his legacy. Bernie will just open the doors so that everyone can see what has been going on. This challenges Obama’s legacy.

    2. low_integer

      I’d like to think Sanders will listen to Obama’s spiel, pause for a second, and then begin his reply with: “Listen here, junior”.

  5. jlowe

    “If they had cut their power, it would have happened in two days. . .” Doubtful, when you consider the fragile and patchwork nature of our transmission infrastructure. As I’ve discovered from recent experience, a 5-day outage following a wind storm last year, the utilities simply don’t know where every piece of their equipment and every pole is located. And just where would they have “cut the power”, without cutting the power to a dozen surrounding ranches, with ranchers living there who are already pissed off with government at all levels? Taking out their power likely was considered as a scenario during the planning process and rejected. Maybe someone will issue an after-action report some day and we’ll find out.

    1. alex morfesis

      The utilities simply dont know…so you have spent time reading the fiduciary theatre notes at your local public utility commission and actually believe that nonsense ? Make yourself a buck or two by attaching where you found that with some 10 q and drop it off in the little sec box that they never read since it is doubtful your utility is reporting to its investors that it does not know where every piece is or where the poles are at and what they each actually do.

      1. LifelongLib

        Dunno. A couple years ago I was walking in my neighborhood and encountered a guy wearing a backpack with an antenna sticking out and a tablet computer in his hand. When I asked what he was doing he said the city was trying to establish the exact location of all the fire hydrants, valves, etc. And during local construction projects contractors often hit gas lines etc. that aren’t documented or aren’t located where the maps say they are. So it may well be that a utility might not know where all their circuits and equipment are.

        1. jlowe

          It’s been a question I want to ask my electrical utility some day, now that they’ve been through a big outage. I envision much the same thing – a horde of civil engineering interns from the nearby schools equipped with GPS- and camera-enabled tablets, walking the entire service area, shooting the coordinates of the poles, taking pictures and making notes on the conditions of the poles and the area around them – noting, for example that a pole is inside of my neighbor’s fence with a lot of brush around it, meaning they’ll need to bring in a mower and take down a customer’s fence, to be replaced later, if they ever have to get at that pole. All of this information then gets pulled into shapefiles and plopped on the utility’s basemap in ArcGIS. Did they ever do it? Dunno. But I recall a press conference at the height of the outage, when in response to irate questions of why was it taking so long to restore power, the utility’s spokesperson stated “we don’t know where all the poles are. . . .”

          1. Gio Bruno

            Oh, If the Utility has a GIS system (ArcGIS is but one) they know exactly what are the coordinates of each and every pole in the system. Take a day with Google Earth Pro (it’s now free) and you’ll get an idea of how advanced information management has become.

            The problem is getting that information out to the folks in the field. But cell phones are resolving that issue quickly.

      2. Lord Koos

        I read that there is actually a technical issue with cutting power to the facility. It’s a pretty remote rural utility, and apparently power cannot be interrupted to the refuge HQ without cutting power to nearby ranches.

        However I still fail to understand why they didn’t just cut off their supply chain and mail service with road blocks.

    2. evodevo

      Well, if that’s the case, how does the electric company cut off your power when you don’t pay the bill? I imagine there probably was a way ….I have NO idea why they didn’t. It would have ended this debacle a LOT sooner.

  6. fresno dan

    Donald Trump Drops Out of Fox News Debate Because Megyn Kelly Is Moderating Vanity Fair (furzy), He can’t handle Kelly and he wants us to think he can stand up to Putin?

    ================================
    My view is that Kelly is the worst of the FOX commenters/entertainers because she is most astute at disguising her bias.
    Last night Kelly did something that made my jaw drop – she practically French kissed Michael Moore. I don’t care for Moore, but why would Kelly have Moore on and why the love fest? Inquiring minds want to know…
    One has to understand that Ailes runs the politics of FOX (Murdoch is interested in the money) and that a memo of talking points is generated daily by Ailes. So Ailes undoubtedly wants a winnable repub.

    But I think something else is going on that goes beyond Trump. So I would speculate that Ailes is trying to set Kelly up as the preeminent FOX “fair and balanced” MAINSTREAM “real” journalist – somebody set up as not completely in the tank to right wing loons – Ailes certainly can’t do it with Hannity or O’Reilly.

    Getting the zeitgeist reported and vetted by the mainstream media that poor Kelly is just a hard working OBJECTIVE journalist just trying to run a repub debate is good strategy on the part of Ailes – the fact that Trump is bad, boorish, and misogynist does not make Kelly, Ailes, or FOX good. Indeed, considering Foxes generally misogyny it is irony of infinity and beyond.

    But anybody who has watched even a smattering of Kelly’s show knows that it is all right agenda all the time. It is in my view worst because it is not so obviously biased as the other newspinion FOX shows.

    As they say, never get in an argument with a woman who broadcasts pixels by the zillions…

    1. scott

      So Trump decides to go to a Wounded Warrior Project function instead. Surprisingly (or maybe not), CBS news airs a hit-piece on the WWP last night, citing expensive parties and huge overhead compared to other charities.

    2. Carolinian

      Thanks for this. Let it not be forgotten that Fox News is the outfit that gave us George W. Bush (with plenty of help). If Trump takes them on then that can’t be a bad thing even if his feud with Kelly seems petty. When it comes to politics in this country the news media have long believed that they are running the show, and since these reporters almost all work for rich plutocrats then that is not good for democracy. As some of us have lamented while listening to Broder or Russert or Andrea Mitchell drone on year after year, “how do we vote you out of office.” It’s quite likely that Ailes, who controls everything on his channel, encouraged Kelly to take on Trump in order to show who is boss. He may be learning that it’s not him.

    3. Dino Reno

      In the world of entertainment, which is where these debates fall, nothing is more important than billing. There is only room for one name on the marquee: Trump, One Night Only! Kelly is demanding star billing as well and Trump was smart to reject it. It’s his one man show and he can pack the house every night. (The other candidates are cast.) Sharing the bill with a wise-cracking, blonde, screwball comedienne would be career suicide for Trump. I have known stars to get out a ruler and measure the size of the type in an ad. Fox made a stupid move. This will come back to bite them.

      1. MikeNY

        +1

        The Donald has proved himself much cagier than I ever expected. He has the most to lose; why risk it? Plus, he shows he’s not afraid to poke his finger in the eye of the MSM.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Much of Trump’s popularity stems from originally just being a default or none of the above candidate. When the establishment started deriding Trump “supporters,” it became visceral, and in the absence of the mythological Ronnie Reagan or a war “hero*”, we’ve been bombing Iraq for over 25 years, Trump went from “none of the above” choice to the only choice. I think GOP voters looked, but the best candidate can be described as a cookie cutter Republican. The GOP and media elite jointly attacked the GOP base. Trump never attacked them. Submitting to the will of the GOP elite is beneath him within the GOP voter frame.

          *They puffed up Petraeus for years. I believe there is an element searching for this kind of leader.

          1. neo-realist

            Trump understands that even if your policy positions appear to have been crafted on a napkin, you can succeed with many low information intellectually lazy Americans if you enunciate those positions with bluster and confidence–“Trump, I like what the man says”, “He says what he means”, etc.

    4. Katniss Everdeen

      ” He can’t handle Kelly and he wants us to think he can stand up to Putin?”

      Not necessarily an accurate analysis, especially considering this quote from the current more serious and thoughtful Andrew Bacevich post on national security questions the candidates SHOULD but WON’T be asked:

      “A presidential election campaign ought to involve more than competing coalitions of interest groups or bevies of investment banks and billionaires vying to install their preferred candidate in the White House. It should engage and educate citizens, illuminating issues and subjecting alternative solutions to careful scrutiny.

      That this one won’t even come close we can ascribe as much to the media as to those running for office, something the recent set of “debates” and the accompanying commentary have made painfully clear. With certain honorable exceptions such as NBC’s estimable Lester Holt, representatives of the press are less interested in fulfilling their civic duty than promoting themselves as active participants in the spectacle. They bait, tease, and strut. Then they subject the candidates’ statements and misstatements to minute deconstruction. The effect is to inflate their own importance while trivializing the proceedings they are purportedly covering.”

      Deligitimizing this media circus, which turns blonde bombshell “journalists” into covergirls while doing absolutely nothing to advance the public’s knowledge and understanding of truly seriois national issues, should be understood as a service, regardless of personal feelings about the candidate who is doing it.

      Credit where credit is due.

      Piling on with pot shots that only advance the trivial, distracting “narrative” is unproductive.

      1. nippersdad

        I was surprised at his specific, positive, reference to Lester Holt in that piece. The way Holt set up the discussion of our actions in Ukraine and why they came to pass made my mouth drop during the debate. Either he is uninformed or misinformed; neither seems “honorable” in someone with the responsibility to get out the facts. After that he ranked right up there with Mrs. Alan Greenspan talking about Wall Street in the credibility stakes.

        1. voxhumana

          I’m not a big fan of Holt either but I remember the anti-Putin propaganda set up to the question you refer to as coming from Mitchell… i could be wrong…

      2. JTMcPhee

        Bacevich (“Catholic Conservative” and longtime eater at the table of Empire, now with subtle reservations, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Bacevich) and “doing their civic duty:” What a wonderfully quaint and no-longer-operative notion. If ever it had any validity at all, in relation to the people who rule us and their minions. Dig into various “heroes” of civic duty, including FDR and labor leaders and, for my Lord Jesus’ sake, all those priests and preachers, and you may find little snippets of doing stuff that is consistent with the vague popular mythos of what constitutes “civic duty,” basically “taking care of stuff that matters to me personally.” But in the nitty-gritty you find all the complexities hidden behind the myths, and what emerges is yes, the New Deal, but only for white folks, and only to keep the rabble from erecting gibbets or guillotines as the only way the ordinary mopes (who given the opportunity would mostly prefer to join the Elect Elite themselves) had, once again, to try to demolish the power structure that bleeds the rabble for the pleasure of the Elysium Elites. And how about that Church hierarchy that fosters and protects all those men who felt the calling to the priesthood in their groins, enabling them to live pretty well with a nice sinecure and guaranteed income and quick transfers to new groping grounds when some believers started to notice that the clergy was catechizing their kids with the Gospel of the Holy Hand Job?

        Not really any need to say it, but the void between what used to be taught as “civic duty,” from honesty and fair dealings and participation in one’s government and community, and the reality of where we are and the pretty unarguable unlikelihood of ever bringing practice closer to preaching, is vast and just getting bigger with each small and large predation. Very few of us are willing to even accede to the notion that there is a “common good” that can be defined. Ants and bees have developed consensus on that front, one that out of some wisdom us naked apes don’t partake of, that seems to fit them for survival and stability and all that (I know, it’s more complicated than that, everything is) — we humans, on the other hand, want our “freedom” and “liberty” and “opportunity” to fokk each other over, to serve the insatiable demands for pleasure once we individually have established the substrate to provide us the basic needs of life.

        An odd thought that branched off from the above: At my age and “state in life,” I find among other things that I possess enough clothing and shoes to probably last me the rest of my life. Can’t grow my own food, or make my own toilet paper, but my wife and I have all the pots and pans and knick-knacks that our kids hate and will have to deal with when we die, and all the dishes and flatware and serving pieces we could ever need.

        Is it my “civic duty,” as our Presidents and pundits tell us, to keep buying stuff, “consuming” so the Demand Side of The Economy can keep pumping up the machinery that has us humans eating up the whole planet? I recall a SyFy story where economists looking at a future deflation death spiral were, by algorithm and Big Data, able to identify the butterfly wing flutter that triggered it all — some mope who, looking at his job loss and family to feed, had decided against buying a new washing machine to replace the one that died beyond yet another repair. Jumping back in time, the EconoMafia types made him an offer he couldn’t refuse: Buy that Maytag, or meet your cement overshoes… Maybe I need to stretch my small fixed income to go the extra and buy that new laptop, the one with the firmware and webcam that makes it easier for public and private snoops to stay on top of me… It’s my “civic duty.”

      3. fresno dan

        Katniss Everdeen
        January 27, 2016 at 9:59 am

        Nice analysis.
        I also can’t help but enjoy the delicious irony and poetic justice of FOX, being the biggest proponent in the world of cynicism with regard to the motivation of the press, getting a HUGE steaming pile of it….

    5. Skippy

      Wrt Fox… all one has to remember is the Reagan Library opening dedication fiasco on faux news… the place must be over some old burial ground or something…

      Skippy…. I hear the Astrology wing is top shelf….

  7. flora

    re: Trump and the Debates.

    My 2¢ :
    The GOP party leaders , e.g. Barbour et.al., are starting to ask other candidates to exit voluntarily because they fear the campaigns are tearing each other apart with no one emerging to challenge Trump or Cruz. Campaigns are spending fortunes to tear each other and the party apart. Jeb has got to win a debate or the party bigwigs will ask him to leave. (Making it clear who will decide the nominee …hint: it ain’t the voters.)
    Trump leaving a debate lets them fight among themselves for a win.

    1. flora

      There’s been talk of doing a brokered convention and offering up someone like Paul Ryan if the GOP voters don’t shift away from Trump and Cruz.

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        It won’t be Paul Ryan. His family likes living in Wisconsin and he can’t risk that by running for President and losing.

    2. flora

      re: Why Is There a Media Blackout on Bernie Beating Trump in the Polls?

      My guess, for exactly the same reason there was a media blackout on occupy wall street.
      And the outcome of that long blackout was that people started using social media and other sources to get information.
      Well played MSM, well played. /s

  8. griffen

    Referring to the links on John Paulson, I have little to add except for the noted fact that a once hot-hand has turned cold.

    He’d probably shut his fund(s) if the downward trends continued.

    1. Steve H.

      I appreciate the thought. Last I heard, not one net watthour has been produced by a solar panel, given the total inputs to production.

      I would caution, however, against linking to a source who complains about a hangover after claiming eating meat is the cause of coming mass extinctions. The transformity of ethanol is estimated about three times that of beef, and he’s not suggesting carbon-taxing liquor out of existence.

      1. nowhere

        Well… kind of.

        “Solar panels make energy, but they take energy to make, too. And, until about 2010 or so, the solar panel industry used more electricity than it produced, according to a new analysis. Now, the industry is set to “pay back” the energy it used by 2020.”

        So current panels produce more energy than manufacturing, but as a whole, the industry will move into the black in 4 years.

        1. inhibi

          Its a bad analysis in that it is very very hard to quantify all the costs of manufacturing, including the costs of extraction of the various minerals/petroleum byproducts needed to make a solar panel. For sake of simplicity, the total energy is tabulated by cost which is then converted to energy.

          These ‘analysis’ are therefore much to simple to really show or illustrate the true cost required. It’s like how they claim that the empire state building took about 7 million man hours. In reality, this overlooks the extraction of the metal and concrete, the processing, etc. It only looks at the total build time.

          You can be assured that solar panels and any other ‘renewable’ sources of energy are much less efficient than currently thought. There is also a general degradation of solar panel efficiency over time which is wildly understated. Technology is getting better everyday, but I don’t think that solar panels are going to be the key to breaking our dependency on oil.

          1. nowhere

            To quibble a bit. Whether it took 7 million hours or something like 8 million hours (including “the extraction of the metal and concrete, the processing, etc”) would be something like a 10-15% under estimate. Not negligible, but does not lessen the achievement.

            The point is that the curve for EROEI has passed an inflection point (or soon will).

            I’d like some evidence of “[t]here is also a general degradation of solar panel efficiency over time which is wildly understated.” Here is a useful link that is shaping my opinion.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Don’t know about feeling smug in solar-panel areas.

      But I do know a lot of people are feeling (and inhaling) smog in many areas without solar panels.

    3. GlobalMisanthrope

      This is precisely why the media are playing the old news about carbon swaps up post COP21. It’s part of the set-up for nuclear power as the only real alternative. So don’t you worry, the MSM will be getting these stats out there in an IV drip.

    4. grayslady

      Personally, I find it rude, regardless of subject matter, for a commenter here to troll his/her own website. On January 20, 2016, you published the exact same information that you linked to in this comment, only then it was your website diatribe masquerading as a long form comment.

      The website you link to has only one post: that post is the same one you published on January 20. Not much of a website, in my opinion. I wish you’d quit trying to hijack the comments section.

    5. heresy101

      What a lot of Koch nonsense! Are you telling me that all the energy to develop a combined cycle plant is different than that required for PV panel production? At $1,200/kW it will take 25/30 years to pay for that $600M for a 500MW plant.

      A 500MW PV facility will cost about $900M over 25 years but put out only about 1/5 the energy. So why would you choose PV over natural gas? The answer is that you don’t have to buy coal or natural gas from the Koch’s!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! On a levelized basis PV will soon (1-2yrs) be cheaper than fossil fuels. It is an upfront capital investment that the FED should be investing in rather than giving it to the banks to gamble with.

      Three coal companies have gone broke (and stuck the public with their hazardous waste) as well as many fracking companies being on the ropes. Part of the reason is the evil house of Saud and the remainder is that PV continues to drop and utility scale energy can be had as low as $50/MWh ($0.05/kWh).

      The financial wiz’s on this site need to look at those investments over time. When storage drops to $400/kWh (not very far off), get all your retirement funds out of gas and oil.

  9. Vatch

    Oregon Standoff Leader Ammon Bundy Arrested by FBI in Violent Confrontation. . . . .What I fail to understand is why the State and Federal officials didn’t cordon these guys in, and say, basically, “Nothing and nobody goes in or out until you are ready to leave permanently, as in we go in, make sure you’ve cleared all your crap out, and we escort you out.” No supplies. . . .

    I don’t understand why the officials didn’t do that, either. I guess their patience was finally wearing thin; one of Bundy’s terrorists is dead, apparently.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I don’t think there was a need to rile these guys up. Those guys whining about sex toys did plenty to fizzle their potential local support. I haven’t followed or cared that much about the situation, but my guess is the lack of a siege softened support for the leadership of Bundy. Instead of 20 loons with guns, they were likely reduced to four or five. Not receiving care packages was likely demoralizing. Letting the children in was bizarre.

      1. Ottawan

        Right on for the most part.
        Whether to block people from an occupied area is a tricky call, and the best call is to let people through. In past armed land disputes, Ontario, Quebec, and federal police allowed people to go, but with checkpoints and all that.
        The so-far-best idea in Canada is to punt the problem (see Caledonia). It’s not worth anyone dying.

      2. Plenue

        Right-wing terrorism is far more of a threat to this country than anyone in the middle-east. And at one point the FBI reduced their domestic right-wing extremist monitoring department to literally one guy, after backlash following the release of a report pointing out that fact. It’s possible someone high up is fearful this could snowball into something greater. Given the insane number and depth of problems in this country, there’s real reason for elites to think of it like a power-keg. These militia are complete fools, and what they believe they’re fighting for is gibberish, but they are taking a stand. It only took one guy setting himself on fire in Egypt, after all.

    2. jgordon

      Considering the albatross the middle east has become, it might just be that everyone with authority in the government is criminally incompetent. At first blush that’d seem to be unlikely, but uh–well. The facts speak for themselves.

      Yet another milestone on the road to imperial collapse.

      1. Jason

        I’m leaning towards incompetence myself. Malheur is deep in flyover country. I expect it takes the FBI a long time to get anything done without nice hotels, their preferred restaurants, and morning espresso.

          1. Oregoncharles

            One possibility is outright collusion with the powers the militia types are supporting.

            But following my father’s advice, I never underestimate incompetence. There had been a big policy change: “No More Wacos!” But they seem to have no idea what to do instead. I suspect they were just plain dithering until they started looking ridiculous, so they decided to arrest as many as they could away from the refuge, then close down access. Which they should have done a long time ago.

            And a footnote: this is being run from the Portland FBI office (a long way from Malheur, as someone implied), which does not have a good record. Note the involvement of the state police, who probably did the shooting.

    3. nobody

      What’s being reported on LaVoy Finicum’s facebook page, via his daughter, is that:

      “LaVoy Finicum has been murdered. LaVoy’s hands were in the air and he was shot in the face.”

    4. BondsOfSteel

      I would guess it’s because the Feds wanted to avoid another Waco or Ruby Ridge. Both of these events fed the whole anti-government militia movement.

      IMHO, letting these guys come and go and them arresting them out in the open was smart. A long protracted siege / gun battle was what many of the protesters wanted.

      BTW, I believe there are still people hold up at the refuge and the Feds are now in a siege with them. It could still go full Waco.

    5. trinity river

      Yves: What I fail to understand is why the State and Federal officials didn’t cordon these guys in, and say, basically, “Nothing and nobody goes in or out until you are ready to leave permanently, as in we go in, make sure you’ve cleared all your crap out, and we escort you out.”

      I agree 100%. I can’t remember the situation but sometime in the 70s, a police force did just that so that no one was killed. After that, I expected police all over the states would do the same in other situations. Unfortunately not. Waco was particularly disastrous. We again & again watch people die unnecessarily.

  10. Vatch

    Bernie Sanders Blocks Obama’s FDA Nominee for Big Pharma Ties

    Did junior Senator Obama ever put a hold on one of Bush’s toxic nominees? Probably not.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Here’s a neat little article from a search that your question inspired me to make:

      “OBAMA’S VOTING RECORD AND POLICY POSITIONS PRIOR TO HIS ELECTION AS PRESIDENT,” http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/viewSubCategory.asp?id=1526 (sic — article also covers post-election BS too — author apparently added to older text and didn’t bother to change the headline)

      Interesting both as a catalog of all the hot-button litmus test dog whistle items that the oligarchy lights up to fire up “the base,” and as a handy reminder of the two-faced chiseling bunco-artist pronouncements of The Only President We Currently Have. I especially like the bits this RW site has selected to point out Obama’s position(s) on “universal insurance” for medical care…

      Oh, and Dick Morris is a “political analyst.”

      Why “we” are never going to have a sane and stable and decent world.

      Stupid fokking humans…

      1. fresno dan

        thanks for that.
        Just reiterates that we can choose a president who wears red ties, or we can choose a president who wears blue ties, but we can’t choose a president who wears both…
        Hmmmmm – upon further reflection, that is exactly wrong. They all wear blue and red striped ties but the only color they pay any attention to is green…

  11. allan

    Airlines Reap Benefits From Cheaper Fuel, Consumers Not So Much

    The average domestic fare should fall less than 1 percent in 2016 after declining 5.6 percent in 2015 from the previous year, based on the business-travel association’s report. Economy travel within North America should average about 5 percent less this year, similar to the decline through the first 10 months of 2015, according to an Expedia Inc. analysis of Airline Reporting data.

    Industry executives decline to discuss ticket prices. American, Delta, United and Southwest have agreed to cooperate with a U.S. Justice Department antitrust review, begun in July, of whether airlines discussed the supply of seats to gain pricing power.

    Here in flyover country, flight schedules have been cut, counter and ramp workers have been outsourced, and prices are higher than two years ago.

    1. Ranger Rick

      That’s the best part about rising energy prices: entire industries can raise their prices in response, then wait for the cost of energy to fall. They reap the benefits of having a fatter margin. Everyone wins except the customers, who are left wondering whether supply-side economics works at all.

    2. ambrit

      Agree. The cost of a short haul air ticket is higher per mile than long haul flights. This could be an artifact of fixed costs for any flight in general, but, just as in the grocery stores, prices on the basics keep going up. I have noticed a wave of product individual serve volume reductions recently, with, as is now no surprise, no price reductions. Also, one of my ‘basic supply cost’ indicators, ramen noodles, have gone up 25%, .20 to .25 USD per individual packet, in the Wal Mart. Apropos of nothing, since the price of crude oil has dropped, and stayed down, has anyone seen public transportation prices, as in NYC subway ticket prices, drop?

      1. TedWa

        My own main beef lately is why aren’t supermarket prices dropping instead of rising? The cost of transport has fallen significantly and when gas fell in the past I saw supermarket prices drop. Why not his time? We’re seeing a 5% rise in prices instead. Fed intervention to raise inflation? Strange

        1. RP

          I work in grocery industry. See comment above re: Airlines. Margin just gets bigger for them; suppliers fuel surcharges have gone down ZERO. Supply-side, otherwise known as sponge-up economics..

      2. craazyboy

        I’m still shocked that the price of Peso Beans has gone up 50% over the last 3 years.

        Now I used to be able to find $1 broccoli without too much difficulty, but now it’s $1.50 at least.
        But recently I saw that some place around the Bay area is the broccoli capital of the world, so I decided it must be drought related. But then again maybe there is a shortage of Indian programmers in the Bay area. Things can work in mysterious ways.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I know of a city adding vehicular decal fee to its business license fee and the DMV’s new carrier inspection fee for motor-carrier permits, all starting this year.

          Probably all justified though. They didn’t offer any explanation.

          1. craazyboy

            Prop 13 only lets property taxes increase at a rate of 2% a year, unless the property is sold, then it get reset at 1.5% of a million bucks or so. So that’s probably why CA cities need to scrounge around for money.

            1. Jess

              CA cities and school districts need to scrounge around for money because for decades they have underfunded pension liabilities that are now coming due. Couple of years ago Gov. Moonbeam pushed a ballot measure to raise money to repay funds that had been diverted from education during the early years of the GFC. One of the platforms was more money to local schools, the other was no increase in UC tuition. So what happened after the measure passed?

              ALL — repeat ALL — of the money went to back-fill unfunded CalSTRS pension fund liabilities. Not a dime went to the classrooms. Plus, it still left local school districts across the state some $7 bil short of what they needed for the latest CalSTRS assessment. And the icing on the cake: US Regents voted to increase UC tuition 5% a year (compounded) for the next four years.

              Cities are in the same shape. My local city’s CalPERS assessment has risen from roughly $1 mil/year to over $4 mil/year just in the last four years.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                We hope the stock market will never go down again; otherwise, it will be more than $7 billion dollars.

                Private sector seniors are not much better. Those lucky enough to have $10 million saved (the 0.1% maybe), at 65, say, looking forward to another 15, 20 or 25 years here before the end of the world thanks to global warming, can get about $30,000, or a little more, a year from his/her bank with that $10 million at 0.3%.

                1. craazyboy

                  But if you have 10 million you can spend the principal without becoming overly concerned about outliving your bank account.

                  1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                    For the average senior, there is no such cushion.

                    At, say, $50,000 saved at age 65, he/she would have to manage survival at $150 a year (not $150/month), with that meager self-financed pension plan.

                    1. craazyboy

                      That’s more like it. The $150/ year pays for your newly raised $150/month medicare deduction. Now if we could just cut SS.

              2. craazyboy

                I never really believed Prop 13 was the problem. So I sold my place and escaped from the land of fruits, nuts, and flakes. They got me on the way out, tho. What used to be a $50 recording fee from the city when I bought, became a $500 recording fee when I sold. (ten years ago – hate to see what it is now). Then, the Democrat CA decided I didn’t get to use the Bill Clinton! Federal tax exemption on the first $250000 gain on your property(for single returns) and I had to pay at cap gain CA tax rates on my state return.

                1. hunkerdown

                  If we can do it to whatever class you’re in, we can do it to investors. Now is the time for the 100% exit tax over a million.

                  1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                    100% exit tax on anything over a million.

                    Spend it or hand it over to the taxman.

                    “We will spend it to buy government,” say the rich.

      3. Jim Haygood

        ‘Has anyone seen public transportation prices, as in NYC subway ticket prices, drop?’

        What are you, some kind of agitator?

        Since 1940, when the city took over the two private subway lines, fares have risen by a factor of 55 times, while the CPI rose by a factor of 17 times.

        So the peasants can’t afford the train? Let them get on their bikes and ride!

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          You have to be cruel to be kind, so they can live longer via biking (as long as they don’t breath in Beijing-like smog).

      4. Lord Koos

        I ship a lot of stuff, and likewise, where is the rollback on fuel-based price increases from UPS, FEDEX and the USPS?

        1. JTMcPhee

          All part, albeit pretty puny small, of a rear guard effort to slow the pace of inevitable deflation by maximizing margin?

          Occurs to me to wonder if “deflation,” that condition that we are taught from grade school history and Econ 101 to fear like death itself, does not become part of an opportunity to start another kind of reconstruction/ There’s been a lot of stuff published, frequently in the many informed comments in this space, about better saner more “equitable” ways to organize a political economy. So much momentum and inertia in thinking about stuff in “classical economics/neoliberatarian” modes, it’s hard to imagine and then actualize something different — worker co-ops, food forests, stopping the idiot loosening of “technology” and all the ‘really cool stuff’ that all those innovative destruction-creators are so happy to bring “to market,” “socialized medicine,” de-funding and de-powering the corp-ses…

          Of course that’s just rainbow-pony unrealistic — more likely to devolve into that war of all against all that is at the heart of so many popular games and movies and stuff… And my favorite notion from the Scandinavian tradition (beyond what’s left of democratic socialism, in what fortuitously was a mostly homogeneous population) — Ragnarök:

          In Norse mythology, Ragnarök is a series of future events, including a great battle foretold to ultimately result in the death of a number of major figures (including the gods Odin, Thor, Týr, Freyr, Heimdallr, and Loki), the occurrence of various natural disasters, and the subsequent submersion of the world in water. Afterward, the world will resurface anew and fertile, the surviving and returning gods will meet, and the world will be repopulated by two human survivors. Ragnarök is an important event in the Norse canon, and has been the subject of scholarly discourse and theory….

          It sates itself on the life-blood
          of fated men,
          paints red the powers’ homes
          with crimson gore.
          Black become the sun’s beams
          in the summers that follow,
          weathers all treacherous.

          Do you still seek to know? And what?…

          Brothers will fight
          and kill each other,
          sisters’ children
          will defile kinship.
          It is harsh in the world,
          whoredom rife
          —an axe age, a sword age
          —shields are riven—
          a wind age, a wolf age—
          before the world goes headlong.
          No man will have
          mercy on another.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ragnar%C3%B6k

          Lots more interesting stuff in just the little Wiki entry, food for thought and reflection…

          We could do better, but we probably won’t — all those prophets, even the simple ability to conceive of a horrific end to the species and the innate mental and physical ‘talents” to bring it about with apparently no effective homeostatic energies in the mix, all that cognitive horsepower that appears as Cassandrian and Tiresian jeremiads, can’t just be monitory minatory…

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The airlines are just copycatting the big banks.

      Lower rates.

      Cheaper oil.

      “Very soothing…”

    4. sd

      Just flew through Seattle. Used to be a really well run airport. Efficient, clean, well organized. Fricking nightmare. I don’t know what happened, because something clearly changed, but it’s an airport I will now try to avoid.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I suspect Big Business and Big Government (in the case, the Bid Security division of Big Government) at the expense of the Little People and Little Passengers.

      2. LifelongLib

        I’ve only been to Sea-Tac as a final destination (or departure) and never had any problems. What happened with you (last time I was there was July)?

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Automated ports…Netherlands.

    Will we see automated lawyers too?

    And later, automated judges?

    “Please deposit one more dollar into the pocket of the robot judge. Batteries cost money.”

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I can’t say.

        I am trying to improve my sesame index score. Have to be an obedient citizen.

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Super Bowl spotlight on Santa Clara.

    To be followed by Super Ping-Pong Bowl and Super Cricket Bowl.

    “None of this cultural hegemony over here in this melting pot.”

  14. Jim Haygood

    At this moment, the notorious FOMC biker gang is wrapping up a 2-day meeting in its ramshackle Washington DC headquarters.

    They’ve got a little PR problem, you see. On Friday, the first estimate of 4th quarter GDP will be released. Alarmingly, the Atlanta Fed’s nowcast is projecting 0.7% annualized Groaf. If the number is indeed this bad, seven billion people will realize that the FOMC’s menacing “dirty dozen” hiked rates last month on an economy that was already stalled.

    And for what? Was inflation a problem? Hell no; it’s 0.7%. Labor shortages? Not with millions of idle “discouraged workers” camped on their front stoops.

    No, the FOMC’s little shiv in the gut to the economy was all about stockpiling ammo to defend themselves from the consequences of their own screw-ups.

    So what will Janet “Hardtail” Yellen and Stanley “Shovelhead” Fischer do today? Probably just hunker down, posing as the discussion facilitators of a harmless social club of seniors interested in economics.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      What do rates have to do with love, check that, to do jobs?

      Lowering rates did nothing for jobs the last many years.

      Seems like a diversionary tactic.

      “How about money to the little people directly? No more public and private trickle down!!!”

    2. tegnost

      I’ll make the uneducated guess that it was their best chance to raise, IMO rate increases will negatively impact emerging markets and the middle east, but at the same time they are/were worried about the perception of doing nothing, so they did their .25 and now they can undo it which, again I’m guessing here, may lift stocks because bankers love free money, could spur the completion of consolidations, and finance one more round of buybacks. I’d welcome any educated guesses…

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        If it’s Hilary vs. Trump, they will lower rates and make sure the S&P doubles from where we are today.

        Then the math becomes simple. Hilary vs. Trump, Hilary wins.

        1. Lord Koos

          I like the idea that if Sanders should win, and they try to crash the economy after his election, it will simply provide more public support, allowing him to go into crisis/emergency mode and get even tougher on the financial sector.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            We’d probably be too paranoid, in that situation, to think about Seven Days in May.

            1. Oregoncharles

              I’ve always wondered…

              But nothing in Sanders’ congressional record suggests he’s that radical. That said, the real power of an outlier President lies in finding out where the bodies are buried.

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Over at Marketwatch: Denmark can now seize migrants’ assets.

    It’s all about money, basically.

    Bring over your assets, and contribute to our economy with your labor, EXCLUSIVELY.

    “Plenty of upward mobility.”

    This (taking away of your assets) will make sure you look for work, illegally if necessary.

    Go compete with our workers. Show them you can contribute to this economy…at least show them you can work harder than native workers.

    We have a minimum wage here, but no maximum effort law. If you want to work 20 hours a day to climb up the ladder, go ahead. Just don’t do it on company premises – we don’t want to look bad. Do it on your own time, in your cramped basement apartment. We admire your antipathy towards idleness.

    This will show those lazy Danish workers. Eight hours of work maximum a day? Laughable.

    1. nycTerrierist

      Shame on Denmark. Despicable to fleece desperate refugees and take what little they could salvage. Really nasty policy.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Money has no fatherland.

        Neither does it know shame.

        “Bring me more refugees…with assets…or able bodies.”

  16. hemeantwell

    Top 5 Ways Putin has won big in Syria and why Europe is embracing him Juan Cole (resilc)
    Glad to see you included this. It’s the best summary of developments since Russia entered the war that I’ve seen, providing an overall strategic framework, and helps pull together the more tactical-level articles that you’ve linked at Sic Semper Tyrannis and Moon of Alabama.

  17. Rex

    The Drone Racing League

    I didn’t know this til yesterday, FAA has published new rules on drones including what we used to call model airplanes (radio controlled). A fee and registration required, deadline for existing “drone” registration is Feb. 19. Hobbiests are outraged. Hobby groups are trying to get FAA to be reasonable. One example.

    Overreach, much?

    1. craazyboy

      Resistance is futile. The fee is only $5, and they waved it if you sign up quick. So I did.

      They basically made everything that weighs more than 250 grams require registration and you print a ID number on your flying machine. You are also sternly told that you will not fly out of “line of sight”. Here there are some valid safety concerns due to the advent of autonomous drone capability in the hands of hobbyists.

      Other than that, old rules still apply. You can’t go above 400ft, or within 5 or 6 miles of any kind of airport. Flying directly over people, sports stadiums and similar activity verboten.

        1. craazyboy

          You aren’t supposed to fly directly over people. You’re supposed to go to some open space and do it there. Like a park or something. The idea is not to crash it into people and pets. Keep in mind, most people fly these things not much farther away than a football field length. They get hard to see and orient properly.

  18. tegnost

    Ambrit, the plumbers flag is half mast in seattle today, guy buried in a reportedly 10′ deep trench, R.I.P. I ran the excavator for the plumber replacing a badly broken section of sewer line at the job in august but we were much shallower than that, 4-6′- note to all, don’t get in a trench over your head without bracing, I think over 4′ it’s required?

    1. ambrit

      Oh, poor guy. I’ve been buried several times in shallow trenches, but never that deep. Being held fast up to your waist, which happened to me, is scary enough. Total immersion? I can barely imagine the horror. I’ve been trapped under a slab once. The entrance to the tunnel collapsed. I had to actively work at managing my near panic. Once you panic you’ve probably had it. Thay plumber in Seattle didn’t have a chance. Someone will do time for this. Trench bracing is mandatory, per OSHA, below a certain depth, I’m not sure how deep. If nothing is done to the guilty parties, the Local should picket the job. That poor man suffered the consequences of someone elses’ bad decision. This is one of the primary reasons that Organized Labour began in the first place.
      You know the actors in this. Since they are doing street sewer work, why wasn’t there a trench box? Was he doing a building hook up? A side note, is there a frost heave depth for that locale?

      1. tegnost

        no frost at 10 feet but lots of sewer lines are made of concrete and broken by tree roots or just settling. He was working for a contractor according to the article. He must have been trying to get under the basement.

  19. allan

    Brutal summary paragraph in NYT Public Editor Margaret Sullivan’s analysis of the paper’s skimpy coverage of Flint until the last month:

    After all, enough Times firepower somehow has been found to document Hillary Clinton’s every sneeze, Donald Trump’s latest bombast, and Marco Rubio’s shiny boots. There seem to be plenty of Times resources for such hit-seeking missives as “breadfacing,” or for the Magazine’s thorough exploration of buffalo plaid and “lumbersexuals.” And staff was available to produce this week’s dare-you-not-to-click video on the rising social movement known as “Free the Nipple.”

    She will be missed.

  20. ProNewerDeal

    Anyone aware of a political spectrum graph done on the 2016 Pres race?

    I wish politicalcompass dot org, apparently run by UK Poli Sci Profs, would crank a chart out, at least including say Sanders, H Clinton; Trump, Cruz, Rubio; Green’s Jill Stein; Libertarian’s Gary Johnson. Isn’t it sad that this type of analysis apparently has not been done yet by either CorpMedia or the “progressive” “indy” media, given the amount of voluminous 2016 election coverage?

    Here’s the http://politicalcompass.org/uselection2008 chart,
    which is a 2D political spectrum, the x-axis being economics, & y-axis being authoritarianism. Note how Dem Kucinich is closer to the Green party’s Nader, than Hillary0bama are to Kucinich. Hillary0bama look slightly closer to the R’s J McCain than Kucinich.

    I would imagine that the 2016 spectrum looks similar, substitute Sanders for Kucinich, Dr Jill Stein for Nader, & Rubio/Jeb!/Kasich for McCain. 2016 Hillary is perhaps slightly more economic right-wing than 2008 Hillary. Perhaps 2016 is equal in authoritarianism as 2008 Hillary, with the neocon warmongering & anti-free speech dictatorish rhetoric on Edward Snowden, cancelled out by her “evolved” moderate pro-social rights, on gay marriage/abortion/etc.

    Some D Teamer pundit “gatekeepers” like Thom HartMann & NorMan GoldMan are trying to sell the notion “any Dem is CLEARLY BETTER than any Republican” (as well as the Classic “Do it for The Supreme Court TM!”). In the case of Hillary, I wonder if that is really true, or only “barely true”/”distinction without a difference”.

    What do yall think?

    1. diptherio

      Hillary will only appoint pro-choice SCOTUSes, I think that much is true. I also don’t think it matters.

      Taking into account all that we know, Hillary would be a continuation of Obama, who was a continuation of Bush. If A = B and B = C, then A = C. Hillary will not be better than a Republican, QED. And at least if we get Trump, we might get universal healthcare, or something approaching it, and a less interventionist overseas policy…just sayin’ [ducks]

      1. tegnost

        I agree, not at all impressed by Obama’s picks. I also think one of the attractions of Trump is no one knows, he might really ruffle some feathers, but Obama “might” have done that too.

      2. LifelongLib

        Trump’s positions:

        https://www.donaldjtrump.com/positions

        A quick glance shows nothing specific about health care. However he does support “simplify[ing] the tax code”, getting rid of the “death tax”, and not increasing the debt/deficit, which in the past have benefited people with more money at the expense of people with less money. Not much there to appeal to many on the left.

    2. ProNewerDeal

      fw Prof. Noam Chomsky is saying to vote for the D as Lesser of 2 Evils, even if it H Clinton. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/01/noam-chomsky-bernie-sanders-policies-election-160125180058899.html

      This gives me pause to consider my view. I trust Chomsky’s judgement & intelligence, & I am fairly confident he is not some type of D party hack; much more so than I can say for the likes of HartMann or GoldMan.

      Hopefully Sanders is able to defeat H Clinton, so I will not be forced to make this tough choice of LO2E H Clinton versus the Infinitesimal Win Probability Yet Actually Good J Stein from the Green Party.

  21. Oregoncharles

    “Dog accidentally runs half-marathon and finishes in seventh place”

    The impressive thing is that she finished the race, especially with all the detours to sniff things. Of course, Ludivine wasn’t competing, just joining the pack. Dogs can run much faster than humans (30 mph typical top speed vs. 20 mph), but usually not as long. We used to clock ours over 30 miles an hour – using a car to give her some real exercise. But only in short bursts. On hikes, she would literally run circles around us, until she got tired and decided to walk with us. We miss her.

  22. Oregoncharles

    “The Republican Party May Be Failing FiveThirtyEight (resilc). Awfully tortured. ”

    Indeed. I should be at work, but this impinges on one of my pet theories.

    A caveat: history may not apply because the legacy parties are now so small: depending on the poll, about 29% Democrat and 21% Republican. That is not a major party; it’s a remnant, a very atypical and, in both cases, very conservative remnant.

    The article is based on a book; both of them use a very broad definition of “party”: essentially all active supporters and allies including interest groups whose loyalty is entirely contingent. That is, indeed, a loose coalition. But I would use a much tighter definition: those whose living depends on the party. That includes office holders, of course, along with consultants and, crucially, actual employees. (By this definition, the Green Party in the US hardly exists, which is part of the problem. For minor parties, you have to include active volunteers like me, simply because there aren’t many employees.) They have leverage because they’re always there, but their dependency also makes them manipulable.

    Importantly, once the parties become so small in terms of supporters, a crash-and-burn becomes much more likely, especially when they’ve been crammed into one corner, a thoroughly unpopular corner, of US politics. “Two right wings don’t fly very far,” except so far they have.

    Some years ago, a Harpers Magazine author, Walter Karp, claimed that the party machinery, as defined above, cares far more about CONTROLLING the nomination than about winning elections. That’s what their rice bowl depends on. Of course, they have to win enough elections to remain a factor, and the politicians generally care about winning (although members of Congress probably make more as lobbyists). But in this sense, the parties really are very coherent bodies which can make deals with each other; since there are only the two, those deals could even be unspoken – “everybody knows” how it works.

    Obviously, there are times they lose control, generally because they’ve offended the broader membership. This year looks like one of them. But there haven’t been any votes yet, and therefore no chances to cheat or manipulate the results. Both Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two votes, are demographic outliers and not a very good indication; reality sets in with S. Carolina. How clean is the electoral system in S. Carolina?

    By the time Oregon votes in May, it’s usually over; this year, it won’t be over if the apparatchiks, especially Republican, intervene and force it into the convention. In any case, a very interesting electoral year. Up for grabs, I’d say. Remember: if the pattern, or deal in my opinion, holds, the next President will be a Republican – any Republican.

  23. 3.14e-9

    RE: Sanders Makes Headway in South Carolina. Here’s why:

    “I find it amazing there is no other ethnic group that folks are talking about that are already locked up. Folks need to have to earn our vote, you don’t OWN our vote, and Bernie Sanders is doing everything he has to earn that vote like any other person would have to do.”

    NINA TURNER FOR VP?

  24. 3.14e-9

    MEETING OVER. And it’s not what we might have thought.

    Obama is refuting that he endorsed Clinton and says he will remain neutral. HA!

  25. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    China vs. Soros.

    Trillions to make war on billions, unless Soros leverages.

    But Soros is not an army of one. He’s not the only one warring on yuan.

  26. ewmayer

    Re. NYC kitten rescue:

    Fortunately for the kitten, the officers were from the Police Department’s Strategic Response Group, trained, the police said, in counterterrorism tactics and “advanced disorder control.”

    We’ve all heard the phrase ‘herding cats’ in reference to the non-order-followingness of the feline character, but claiming training in ‘counterterrorism tactics’ was useful here seems a tad of a stretch.

    Also note a possible feel-good tie-in here with Black Lives Matter – “even if they’re cat lives!”

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