Mar 22 2018

Dow 23,000

So the Dow closed down 724.42 (or 2.93%)

First of all the Dow Jones Industrial Average is only 30 Stocks and a terrible Economic Indicator, it doesn’t even relate well to the general Stock Market. Most professional traders look at the S&P 500 which, as the name implies, includes 500 firms (that is down 68.24 points or 2.52%), or the NASDAQ, an even broader measure of equities (that is down 178.61 points or 2.43%).

Second, Stocks bear almost no relation to the overall Economy. Nobody has any money invested in them except the wealthiest 10%, and the wealthiest 1% holds 80% of that. Since these people are Millionaires I wouldn’t cry too much Argentina.

Another observation is that Stocks are experiencing a HUGE bubble, think Tulips. With the interest paid on T-Bills and other Bonds at near record lows (indeed only experiencing any rise at all as a result of arbitrary Fed decisions that yes, they like paying people to give them money to hold as opposed to charging them for the privilege which the Market would be perfectly happy to do) there are few places to invest except in fake Leonardos.

The sad truth is the Investor Class has decided that they are permanently entitled to 10% or better annual returns without actually making anything or doing any work. What you are seeing is Asset Inflation as large sums of money chase small real returns.

The Dow should be hovering to the scant side of 10,000 because that’s how much the Economy has grown since the Financial Crisis. Instead Investors are speculating, gambling in the BIG Casino and wailing and gnashing their teeth when the roulette wheel comes up double zero (European Casinos, being more gentile, have but a single slot where everybody loses- the extra one is an example of United States “exceptionalism”, U.S.A.! U.S.A.!).

It is of course Neo Liberal policy to inflate these bubbles as hard and fast as they can to create the illusion of dynamic growth while simply robbing the peasants of their hard earned Coppers to add to the already groaning coffers of the Ultra Rich. This is the entirety of Barack Obama’s Economic program with the side benefit of immunizing the thieves not only from the consequences of their criminal acts but the loss of their assets.

So don’t expect anything except cackles of glee from me as this bonfire of vanity vaporizes the “notional” value of Billions of electronic bits on the balance sheets.

To be predictive you can expect this wave to move through the Asian and European markets overnight until we see if there is a dead cat bounce tomorrow or if Investors have finally wised up and there is a real reckoning (I’d bet against the latter, Investors are stupid).

The irony is that Donald John Trump who’s been trumpeting (see what I did there?) Stock Market valuations as validation of the Chicago School Supply Side Voodoo Economics that is Republican Orthodoxy (in a very religious and faith based sense) has suddenly had that prop kicked out from underneath his fat ass because, and remember- Neo Liberal Policy can not fail, it can only be failed, he wants to start a Trade War with anybody and everybody whether it makes sense or not in order to distract from his Russia/Hookers/Corruption problems.

Mar 22 2018

Bernie, Liz, and Mike: Inequality

You may ask why I feature Bernie Sanders a lot and there are two principal reasons. First, he’s certainly the most popular Democratic (Socialist) Politician nationally by a mile. Second, I think the Democratic Party is controlled by an Elitist Neo Liberal group of Republican-Lite Conservatives that like to style themselves “Progressive” who want to curry favor inside the Beltway by sucking up to the Corporatist Agenda and screwing their Activist Base at every opportunity. Lesser Evilism is not a strategy for electoral victory, as Harry Truman said- “Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for the real Republican all the time.”

Bernie, Elizabeth Warren, and Michael Moore (along with Darrick Hamilton and Ana Kasparian, but they’re Economists and not nearly as famous) had a Town Hall on Inequality March 19th.

This is a recording of the live stream made by The Guardian and the action starts about 20:25 in (the other videos I reviewed had terrible audio or missed the beginning).

Here’s a piece Bernie wrote for The Guardian 3 days before that-

The corporate media ignores the rise of oligarchy. The rest of us shouldn’t
by Bernie Sanders, The Guardian
Fri 16 Mar 2018

The rapid rise of oligarchy and wealth and income inequality is the great moral, economic, and political issue of our time. Yet, it gets almost no coverage from the corporate media.

How often do network newscasts report on the 40 million Americans living in poverty, or that we have the highest rate of childhood poverty of almost any major nation on earth? How often does the media discuss the reality that our society today is more unequal than at any time since the 1920s with the top 0.1% now owning almost as much wealth as the bottom 90%? How often have you heard the media report the stories of millions of people who today are working longer hours for lower wages than was the case some 40 years ago?

How often has ABC, CBS or NBC discussed the role that the Koch brothers and other billionaires play in creating a political system which allows the rich and the powerful to significantly control elections and the legislative process in Congress?

Sadly, the answer to these questions is: almost never. The corporate media has failed to let the American people fully understand the economic forces shaping their lives and causing many of them to work two or three jobs, while CEOs make hundreds of times more than they do. Instead, day after day, 24/7, we’re inundated with the relentless dramas of the Trump White House, Stormy Daniels, and the latest piece of political gossip.

We urgently need to discuss the reality of today’s economy and political system, and fight to create an economy that works for everyone and not just the one percent.

We need to ask the hard questions that the corporate media fails to ask: who owns America, and who has the political power? Why, in the richest country in the history of the world are so many Americans living in poverty? What are the forces that have caused the American middle class, once the envy of the world, to decline precipitously? What can we learn from countries that have succeeded in reducing income and wealth inequality, creating a strong and vibrant middle class, and providing basic human services to everyone?

We need to hear from struggling Americans whose stories are rarely told in newspapers or television. Unless we understand the reality of life in America for working families, we’re never going to change that reality.

Until we understand that the rightwing Koch brothers are more politically powerful than the Republican National Committee, and that big banks, pharmaceutical companies, and multinational corporations are spending unlimited sums of money to rig the political process, we won’t be able to overturn the disastrous US supreme court decision on Citizens United, move to the public funding of elections and end corporate greed.

Until we understand that the US federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is a starvation wage and that people cannot make it on $9 or $10 an hour, we’re not going to be able to pass a living wage of at least $15 an hour.

Until we understand that multinational corporations have been writing our trade and tax policies for the past 40 years to allow them to throw American workers out on the street and move to low-wage countries, we’re not going to be able to enact fair laws ending the race to the bottom and making the wealthy and the powerful pay their fair share.

Until we understand that we live in a highly competitive global economy and that it is counterproductive that millions of our people cannot afford a higher education or leave school deeply in debt, we will not be able to make public colleges and universities tuition free.

Until we understand that we are the only major country on earth not to guarantee healthcare to all and that we spend far more per capita on healthcare than does any other country, we’re not going to be able to pass a Medicare for all, single-payer program.

Until we understand that the US pays, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs because pharmaceutical companies can charge whatever price they want for life-saving medicine, we’re not going to be able to lower the outrageous price of these drugs.

Until we understand that climate change is real, caused by humans, and causing devastating problems around the world, especially for poor people, we’re not going to be able to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel and into sustainable forms of energy.

We need to raise political consciousness in America and help us move forward with a progressive agenda that meets the needs of our working families. It’s up to us all to join the conversation – it’s just the beginning.

Mar 22 2018

Pondering the Pundits

Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from> around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Gina Haspel’s role in the torture era demands attention

Fifteen years ago, President George W. Bush launched the invasion of Iraq, initiating one of the longest military engagements in U.S. history. In an address to the nation, Bush declared, “America faces an enemy who has no regard for conventions of war or rules of morality.” He added, “The people of the United States and our friends and allies will not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder.”

Those weapons never materialized, of course, and the decision to go to war under false pretenses proved to be catastrophic for both the United States and Iraq. Nearly 4,500 Americans died. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, including at least 180,000 civilians, have been killed since 2003. The financial costs of the war also vastly exceeded the Bush administration’s projections, totaling over $3 trillion, according to Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard professor Linda Bilmes.

Yet, in the post-9/11 era the United States sacrificed more than blood and treasure. The country severely damaged its moral standing by adopting a barbaric torture program in brazen defiance of constitutional law and international conventions. That program has been the subject of fierce debate — and often harsh criticism — over the past decade and a half. President Trump’s nomination of Gina Haspel to become the next CIA director is a disquieting reminder that the United States has never truly reckoned with the disgraceful legacy of torture.

E. J. Dionne Jr.: Yes, we should be outraged about Facebook

In 1964, the novelist Eugene Burdick published “The 480.” The best-selling book described, as Burdick wrote in his preface, “people who work with slide rules and calculating machines and computers which can retain an almost infinite number of bits of information as well as sort, categorize and reproduce this information at the press of a button.”

The title refers to 480 categories of voters, defined by demographic characteristics, created by the Simulmatics Corp., a real company, as a way of targeting appeals to small subgroups. The novel’s drama centers on data manipulation’s role in lifting a dark-horse candidate toward the Republican presidential nomination.

We’re told of five different campaign mailings directed “to five carefully selected groups that shared only one quality: they were likely to turn out to vote and they had a special grievance.” I suppose that’s two qualities, but you get Burdick’s point. And, yes, the author’s engaging tale was based on reality: John F. Kennedy used Simulmatics in his 1960 presidential campaign.

“The 480” speaks to how long Americans have worried about the manipulation of our political decisions by tech magicians with access to mounds of information.

The Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal takes our paranoia to a whole new level. But paranoia, implying psychologically unhealthy delusions, is the wrong word. There is nothing disordered about the outrage created by the invasion of an estimated 50 million Facebook accounts for the ultimate benefit of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

The upshot is that private companies that traffic in the enormous amounts of personal data we voluntarily give them are not living up to their obligations both to each of us as individuals and to the common good.

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Mar 22 2018

The Breakfast Club (Never Give Up)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:00am (ET) (or whenever we get around to it) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

 photo stress free zone_zps7hlsflkj.jpg

This Day in History

Britain enacts the Stamp Act on its American colonies; The ‘Garbage Barge’; Skater Tara Lipinski reaches the record books; The Beatles release ‘Please Please Me’; Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber born.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

There’s no glory and no respect in making fun of the weak, the powerless.

Bassem Youssef

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Mar 21 2018

Connect The Dots

Rogue individuals with mental illness.

Who Is Mark Conditt, the Suspected Austin Bomber?
By MICHAEL GOLD, The New York Times
MARCH 21, 2018

Mr. Conditt created a blog about his political views as a requirement for a political-science class he took at Austin Community College, according to McKenna McIntosh, a classmate of Mr. Conditt’s. In an author description, he described himself as a conservative. His posts include arguments against same-sex marriage and sex offender registries and a defense of the death penalty.

Mr. Conditt, the oldest of four children, was home-schooled by his mother. He also attended classes at two Austin Community College campuses from 2010 to 2012, but did not graduate.

The suspect was described as a quiet man from a “tight-knit, godly family” by Donna Sebastian Harp, who had known the family for nearly 18 years. “He was a nerd, always reading, devouring books and computers and things like that,” Ms. Harp said.

The suspect’s motive is still unclear. The first explosions hit African-American residents whose families are well-known in the city’s black community, though two white men were injured by an explosive triggered by a tripwire on Sunday.

Mar 21 2018

BBC 4: Cambridge Analytica

It seems that everyone is pretty much acknowledging that BBC 4 got the scoop on the Cambridge Analytica story, at least as far as the video presentation.

I like to present original sources, there is already a ton of commentary about the information that has been revealed, check Google News for a wide sampling. After you watch these you can make up your own mind.

The pieces were broadcast Monday and Tuesday and appear to represent the entire coverage, anyway all that my rudimentary YouTube search skills can discover. I think I’ve assembled them in the correct order too, though that’s somewhat difficult to judge. I apologize in advance for errors or omissions.


Adam Schiff

Big Data

Undercover Secrets

CEO Under Fire From MPs

Alexander Nix was suspended from his position as CEO of Cambridge Analytica last night.

Mar 21 2018

The Breakfast Club (From Now On)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:00am (ET) (or whenever we get around to it) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

 photo stress free zone_zps7hlsflkj.jpg

This Day in History

Dr. Martlin Luther King, Jr. begins march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama; the Sharkville massacre in South Africa occurs; Wrongly incarcerated Randall Dale Adams is released from prison; Musician Johann Bach born.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

I believe in luck: how else can you explain the success of those you dislike?

Jean Cocteau

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Mar 20 2018

The Russian Connection: “A Bannon of Sleazebags”

I have to admit I didn’t pay much attention to the Facebook – Cambridge Analytica story when it broke on Saturday. But on Monday, the story became a really big deal when the markets took a nose dive and it was headlines on two continents as more of the story came to light. As I said, on Saturday evening a whistleblower revealed that 50 million Facebook profiles harvested for Cambridge Analytica in major data breach

The data analytics firm that worked with Donald Trump’s election team and the winning Brexit campaign harvested millions of Facebook profiles of US voters, in one of the tech giant’s biggest ever data breaches, and used them to build a powerful software program to predict and influence choices at the ballot box.

A whistleblower has revealed to the Observer how Cambridge Analytica – a company owned by the hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, and headed at the time by Trump’s key adviser Steve Bannon – used personal information taken without authorisation in early 2014 to build a system that could profile individual US voters, in order to target them with personalised political advertisements.

Christopher Wylie, who worked with a Cambridge University academic to obtain the data, told the Observer: “We exploited Facebook to harvest millions of people’s profiles. And built models to exploit what we knew about them and target their inner demons. That was the basis the entire company was built on.”

Documents seen by the Observer, and confirmed by a Facebook statement, show that by late 2015 the company had found out that information had been harvested on an unprecedented scale. However, at the time it failed to alert users and took only limited steps to recover and secure the private information of more than 50 million individuals. [..]

The data was collected through an app called thisisyourdigitallife, built by academic Aleksandr Kogan, separately from his work at Cambridge University. Through his company Global Science Research (GSR), in collaboration with Cambridge Analytica, hundreds of thousands of users were paid to take a personality test and agreed to have their data collected for academic use.

However, the app also collected the information of the test-takers’ Facebook friends, leading to the accumulation of a data pool tens of millions-strong. Facebook’s “platform policy” allowed only collection of friends’ data to improve user experience in the app and barred it being sold on or used for advertising. The discovery of the unprecedented data harvesting, and the use to which it was put, raises urgent new questions about Facebook’s role in targeting voters in the US presidential election. It comes only weeks after indictments of 13 Russians by the special counsel Robert Mueller which stated they had used the platform to perpetrate “information warfare” against the US. [..]

Kogan, who has previously unreported links to a Russian university and took Russian grants for research, had a licence from Facebook to collect profile data, but it was for research purposes only. So when he hoovered up information for the commercial venture, he was violating the company’s terms. Kogan maintains everything he did was legal, and says he had a “close working relationship” with Facebook, which had granted him permission for his apps.

The company has linked to a Russian oil company, that is currently sanctioned by the US, and a university in St. Petersburg. It also ignored the ban on foreigners working US elections. In the 2014 midterms and the Trump campaign, firm was staffed mainly by young Britons and Canadians:

The company’s responsibilities under US law were laid out in a lawyer’s memo to the company’s vice-president, Steve Bannon, British CEO Alexander Nix and Rebekah Mercer, daughter of billionaire owner Robert Mercer, in July 2014. It made it clear that most senior and mid-level positions involving strategy, planning, fundraising or campaigning needed to be filled by US citizens. [..]

It was clear that as a company largely run and staffed by Britons and Canadians, apart from Bannon and Mercer at the top, Cambridge Analytica – which was to go on to work on Donald’s Trump presidential election campaign – had a looming problem. [..]

It specifically called for Nix to step down from work on US elections. “In order for Cambridge to engage in such activities, Mr Nix would first have to be recused from substantive management of any such clients involved in US elections,” it said.

Employees working for Cambridge Analytica in the US at the time claimed that rather than tackling the problem, management appeared to ignore it. [..]

The legal memo also warned Cambridge Analytica that it needed to carefully hide behind a firewall any work it did in a single state or election for a particular candidate and for any of the so-called super-PACs (political action committees) supporting the campaign.

These committees can spend unlimited funds but cannot coordinate with individual candidates.

Then on Monday, with Facebook stocks tumbling, more was revealed the more unseemly services Cambridge Analytica offered its clients with the release of this video of CEO Nix:

In a series of meetings with a reporter posing as a representative of a wealthy Sri Lankan family seeking political influence, Cambridge Analytica executives initially denied the company was in the business of using entrapment techniques.

But Nix later detailed the dirty tricks the company would be prepared to pull behind the scenes to help its clients.

When the reporter asked if Cambridge Analytica could offer investigations into the damaging secrets of rivals, Nix said it worked with former spies from Britain and Israel to look for political dirt. He also volunteered that his team were ready to go further than an investigation.

“Oh, we do a lot more than that,” he said over dinner at an exclusive hotel in London. “Deep digging is interesting, but you know equally effective can be just to go and speak to the incumbents and to offer them a deal that’s too good to be true and make sure that that’s video recorded.

“You know these sort of tactics are very effective, instantly having video evidence of corruption.”

Nix suggested one possible scenario, in which the managing director of Cambridge Analytica’s political division, Mark Turnbull, would pose as a wealthy developer looking to exchange campaign finance for land. “I’m a master of disguise,” Turnbull said.

Another option, Nix suggested, would be to create a sex scandal. “Send some girls around to the candidate’s house, we have lots of history of things,” he told the reporter. “We could bring some Ukrainians in on holiday with us, you know what I’m saying.”

When he wasn’t talking about meddling in elections with entrapment tactics, the Cambridge Analytica executive referenced the potency of political misinformation. “It doesn’t have to be true,” Nix said. “It just has to be believed.” Just the kind of company the likes of Donald trump and Ted Cruz would love.

You would think this would get the House Republicans to reopen the investigation into the Trump campaign’s connection to Russia. As reported by Steve Brennan at MSNBC’s MaddowBlog, nope, not interested. MSNBC host Rachel Maddow looks at this scandal and others that is rocking the already troubled Trump administration.

Thanks to Charlie Pierce for the “bannon of sleazebags” meme who explains why this is not an anomaly:

On January 27, 1972, a creative and ambitious lawyer named G. Gordon Liddy, then in the employ of President Richard Nixon’s re-election campaign, made a presentation in the office of Attorney General John Mitchell concerning something he called Operation Gemstone. This was, Liddy said, a program designed to disrupt the Democratic convention, and also to keep the Republican convention secure from disruption. Liddy priced the whole thing out at $1 million. He proposed kidnapping “radical” leaders and holding them incommunicado in Mexico until the GOP convention was over. [..]

John Mitchell, who was no bowl of buttercups, determined amusedly that Liddy’s proposal was not quite what he had in mind. White House counsel John Dean was horrified. In his now famous “cancer on the presidency” meeting in the Oval Office, captured on the White House tapes of March 21, 1973, Dean told Nixon about this most extraordinary gathering:

Dean: … [Clears throat] So I came over and Liddy laid out a million dollar plan that was the most incredible thing I have ever laid my eyes on: all in codes, and involved black bag operations, kidnapping, providing prostitutes, uh, to weaken the opposition, bugging, uh, mugging teams. It was just an incredible thing. [Clears throat]

Poor Gordon Liddy. A man ahead of his time. If he worked for Cambridge Analytica—and, knowing what we know now, it’s amazing that he doesn’t—he could have set this whole thing up from his recliner at home with a few keystrokes. No uncomfortable meetings. No outraged White House counsels.

There simply was nothing about the Trump campaign that wasn’t rotten at its core. The candidate himself and most of his advisers had a positive gift for finding the most rancid operatives available to do the most rancid kind of work. By the time the election rolled around, the whole Trump operation had rats in its brains and poisonous spiders in its blood. It produced not a presidency, but a wart-ridden golem of a presidency, wandering and staggering around the landscape with bits of its pestiferous flesh falling into the public prints every day. Good Christ, what has this country done?

That about sums up the Trump Administration. Quite a den of back stabbing thieves and crooks.

Mar 20 2018

It’s Spring?

Die Winter, Die photo SbrPSgdhy_zps8ec885b5.jpg The sun crept northward over the equator 12:15 PM ET marking the beginning of Spring. You would never know it here in the northeast. Once again winter is hanging on another nor’easter hitting the region late tonight and tomorrow dumping up to a foot of snow. This is the fourth in the last four weeks. It still feels like the winter that just will not die in most of the country.

Most of us won’t notice it much but starting on Wednesday there is now more daylight than darkness and the warmer sun, despite the still cool temperatures, will bring early spring flowers, buds in the trees and help melt the still lingering mountains of dingy snow in parking lots.

Spring comes with lots of traditions, cultural, religious and mythical. The egg, a symbol of fertility is the subject of one of the biggest myths. The balancing of an uncooked egg derives from the notion that due to the sun’s equidistant position between the poles of the earth at the time of the equinox, special gravitational forces apply. Actually, it can be done anytime of the year on a flat, level surface, a steady hand and no vibrations. It’s the same with that broom balancing, that works best with a new broom that has uniform, even bristles.

There are lots celebrations in many countries and cultures including the internet.

There are lots celebrations in many countries and cultures including the internet. Google celebrated with one of its popular animated “doodles.”

In Iran, ancient new year’s festival of Nowruz is celebrated:

According to the ancient Persian mythology Jamshid, the mythological king of Persia, ascended to the throne on this day and each year this is commemorated with festivities for two weeks. These festivities recall the story of creation and the ancient cosmology of Iranian and Persian people.

In many Arab countries, Mother’s Day is celebrated on the Spring equinox and the Jewish celebration of Passover starts on the first full moon after the Northern Hemisphere vernal equinox.

Most Christian churches calculate Easter as the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the March equinox but the Eastern Orthodox Churches use the older Julian calendar so the actual date of Easter differs.

In Japan the Spring Equinox became an official holiday in 1948, Shunbun no hi.

We Pagans celebrate Ostara, one of the Eight Sabats of the Wheel, as a season of rebirth. The name is derived from Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring and fertility, and many symbols are associated with Ostara, including colored eggs and, what else? Rabbits:

In medieval societies in Europe, the March hare was viewed as a major fertility symbol — this is a species of rabbit that is nocturnal most of the year, but in March when mating season begins, there are bunnies everywhere all day long. The female of the species is superfecund and can conceive a second litter while still pregnant with a first. As if that wasn’t enough, the males tend to get frustrated when rebuffed by their mates, and bounce around erratically when discouraged.

Colored eggs are one of the symbols of fertility with an interesting, and this unconfirmed scary, history from Witches’ Voice :

As for the Easter egg hunt, a fun game for kids, I have heard at least one pagan teacher say that there is a rather scary history to this. As with many elements of our “ancient history, ” there is little or no factual documentation to back this up. But the story goes like this: Eggs were decorated and offered as gifts and to bring blessings of prosperity and abundance in the coming year; this was common in Old Europe. As Christianity rose and the ways of the “Old Religion” were shunned, people took to hiding the eggs and having children make a game out of finding them. This would take place with all the children of the village looking at the same time in everyone’s gardens and beneath fences and other spots.

It is said, however, that those people who sought to seek out heathens and heretics would bribe children with coins or threats, and once those children uncovered eggs on someone’s property, that person was then accused of practicing the old ways. I have never read any historical account of this, so I cannot offer a source for this story (though I assume the person who first told me found it somewhere); when I find one, I will let you know!

I once stood an egg on the dining room table and left it there. One of my cats, Mom Cat, sat staring at it for quite some time. After several minutes, she very gently reached out with one paw and tapped it. It rolled off the table and smashed on the floor before I could reach it. As I cleaned up the mess, Mom Cat sat on the edge of the table watching, as if to say, “yes, gravity still works.”

March will have it’s second Full Moon on the 31st. When two full Moons occur in a single calendar month, the second is called a Blue Moon. Full Moon that occurred on the 1st is called the Worm Moon by Native Americans because as the ground begins to soften, worms begin moving through the it. A sure sign of Spring is the return of the Robin. It’s also called the Sap Moon signaling the start of sap flowing in the trees and the start of the annual tapping of maple trees.

If it ever gets warm enough to open the windows, you can smell the warm earth. If only winter would end like this:

So break out the new brooms, rakes, shovels; check out the local garden center for bedding plants and start unearthing last years Spring and Summer clothes; it’s Spring.

Mar 20 2018

Pondering the Pundits

Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from> around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

Paul Krugman: Trump and Trade and Zombies

Almost four decades have passed since Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously declared, “Of a sudden, the G.O.P. has become a party of ideas.” And his statement still holds true, with one modification: These days, Republicans are a party of zombie ideas — ideas that should have died long ago, yet still keep shambling along, eating politicians’ brains.

The most important of these zombies is the “supply side” insistence that cutting taxes on the rich reliably produces economic miracles, and conversely that raising taxes on the rich is a recipe for disaster. Faith in this doctrine survived the boom that followed Bill Clinton’s tax hikes, the lackluster recovery and eventual catastrophe that followed George W. Bush’s tax cuts, the debacle in Kansas, and more. [..]

Yet there is more to economic policy than taxes; Trump himself, while willing to sign whatever tax cuts Congress sends him, seems far more interested in international policy, in particular the supposed evils of trade deficits. And that’s where things get interesting.

Richard Trunpka: The politicians screaming about a trade war are beholden to Wall Street

Wall Street’s hair is on fire about steel and aluminum tariffs imposed by President Trump, because closing mills and factories in the United States and moving them overseas is how investors enrich themselves.

And those wealthy investors reap even fatter profits when offshore mills and factories violate trade laws. Wall Street doesn’t care about the social and economic costs of unfair trade, because working people and our communities pay the price.

We care about working people and our jobs, and we care about holding bad actors accountable. That’s why the AFL-CIO has consistently made the case for the use of tariffs to crack down on trade law violations. In the case of steel and aluminum, it’s not just about unfair trade practices, it’s also about national security.

This isn’t about Trump. And it certainly isn’t about partisan politics. Many in both parties have failed working people on the issue of trade. The politicians who are screaming about a trade war have one thing in common: They are beholden to Wall Street.

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