30 September 2022

Still Cannot Make Planes

It appears that the FAA says is calling bullsh%$ on Boeing's incomplete paperwork for certain models of the 737 MAX.

It's only what, 3½ years since the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302?

Seriously, as the saying goes, "You had one job."

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) told Boeing it has not completed key work needed in order to certify the 737 MAX 7 by December, according to a letter from the FAA seen by Reuters.

Lirio Liu, the FAA's executive director of aviation safety, told Boeing in the Sept. 19 letter that the agency had concerns about the planemaker's submissions and sought discussion "about realistic timeframes for receiving the remaining documents."

The FAA told Boeing to turn in all remaining System Safety Assessments (SSAs) by mid-September "if the company intends to meet its project plan of completing certification work (and receiving FAA approval for this airplane) by December."

Liu said as of Sept. 15, "just under 10% of the SSAs have been accepted by the FAA and another 70% of these documents are in various stages of review and revision."

Boeing faces a December deadline to win approval from the FAA of the 737 MAX 7 and 10 variants, or it must meet new modern cockpit-alerting requirements that could significantly delay approvals.

Don't worry about Boeing though, they will get it done, they are already shelling out big bucks to lobby Congress for an extension.

I wish I could say that this is some sort of twisted joke, but it's true:

The Federal Aviation Administration sent a high-level letter to Boeing this month warning that the documents the manufacturer has provided for certification of the 737 MAX 7 model are wholly inadequate — making it unlikely that MAX 7 certification will be completed by a year-end deadline.

Political action has begun in Congress, however, to provide Boeing the time and leeway it needs to complete the safety assessment documentation.

A Republican senator on Thursday filed an amendment to a pending bill that would grant Boeing the extension it will need to get both the Renton-built MAX 7 and MAX 10 certified without any further design changes.

The MAX 7 is the smallest model in Boeing’s new 737 MAX family of jets. The FAA warned Boeing in March that the largest model, the MAX 10, is also unlikely to meet the deadline


If Boeing misses the deadline without a congressional extension it would have to redesign and upgrade the MAX’s crew alerting system.

Boeing has lobbied Congress, arguing that maintaining commonality between the MAX crew alerting systems and those on the prior 737 NG models would be safer than upgrading the MAX systems. 


Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun even said in July that rather than upgrade the systems, he might cancel the MAX 10 if an extension isn’t granted.

Now that threat would also have to include the MAX 7.

I may have misspoken. It may not be that Boeing cannot build planes, it may be that Boeing does not want to build planes.

Oh dear, it's too expensive to fix the problems, so they will just sh%$ can two models, because they need to spend money on stock buybacks in order to help senior management get rich off of their stock options.

Break out the cuffs, Ponch.

Quote of the Day

There is a tendency, especially when it comes to the über-rich and powerful, to assume and to fantasize about what we can’t see. We ascribe shadowy brilliance or malevolence, which may very well be unearned or misguided. What’s striking about the Musk messages, then, is the similarity between these men’s behavior behind closed doors and in public on Twitter. Perhaps the real revelation here is that the shallowness you see is the shallowness you get.
—Charlie Warzel at The Atlantic discussing the text messages between Elon Musks and the other titans of industry when he started looking at buying twitter.

(Emphasis mine)

There is no man behind the curtain.  There is no curtain.  There are just a bunch of entitled, privileged white boys (mostly on the last bit) who won the birth lottery.

They possess no special talents, nor any great intellect, just luck, public subsidies, and the willingness to break the law brazenly.

To quote Honoré de Balzac, (sort of, the history is complicated) "Behind every great fortune lies a great crime."

It's Bank Failure Friday!!!

We had the 2nd credit union failure of the year, the Liquidation of Paducah Teachers Federal Credit Union of Paducah Kentucky

Here is the Full NCUA list, and the direct link for this year.

Still no commercial bank failures since 2020.

29 September 2022

Tweet of the Day

This is an unsurprising consequence of a race to the bottom for workers. It shows up in the assembly line, or at the cashier's counter, or on the phone as subtle slacking and sabotage.

Once Again, We See That There Is Nothing That the Financial Industry Cannot Destroy

In this case, it is the private equity driven implosion of the enterprise software firm Citrix, where private equity companies loaded it up with debt for a buyout, and now that interest rates are up, the company is toast.

The PE firms generated enormous "Management Fees" for themselves, so they will be fine though.

Unless and until corporate bankruptcy laws are changed to inflict real pain on the Wall Street types, this will not change:

Fall is here, stagflation is in the air, and Bloomberg terminals are aflutter with news of a great “reckoning” for private equity, triggered by Federal Reserve rate hikes.


[Apollo private equity head David] Sambur referenced a signature example of what he called the “reckoning”: the embarrassing scramble of banks to find buyers for bonds associated with the $16.5 billion leveraged buyout (LBO) of the enterprise software firm Citrix Systems. Banks loaned “affiliates” of Vista Equity Partners and Elliott Management $15.5 billion to close the deal back in January, but interest rates have risen an unheard-of three percentage points since then, and even with generous assistance from Sambur’s employer, banks have been forced to raise the yield on Citrix bonds commensurately to convince anyone to buy them.


“It’s important to understand the vast amount of our fee revenue is agnostic to asset market’s valuations,” then-CEO Kewsong Lee told investors in the Carlyle Group’s publicly traded stock on its second-quarter call. “We’re not at a point where our ability to finance transactions is impacting our ability to get things done,” echoed KKR investor relations chief Craig Larson. Apollo’s chief financial officer emphatically declared that “market driven declines” had produced “only an approximate 1 percent drag on our management fees.” Blackstone made similar assurances.

When they say that, "T the vast amount of our fee revenue is agnostic to asset market’s valuations," they mean that they are looting the company, and they make out like raped apes in either case.


Citrix Systems is a 33-year-old developer of enterprise software that enables remote work. Its profits and stock price soared in 2020, then crumpled in 2021, when vulture investment firm Elliott Management began accumulating a 10 percent stake in the company, apparently using derivatives as opposed to regular shares to evade regulatory scrutiny and/or juice returns. Elliott had more than doubled its money by “activist” investing in Citrix during the Trump years, when it controlled a board seat on the company. It sold its stake early in the pandemic, only to be lured back in October 2021 amid a surge in private equity tech buyouts, driven by the underlying premise that converting software sales into a subscription business was a new fail-safe proposition.


Then in December, the news broke that Elliott’s private equity arm and Vista were proposing to merge Citrix, Tibco, Blue Prism, and Wrike, in a deal that would value Citrix at $13 billion, a roughly 30 percent premium to its stock price. The merged entity would eventually borrow $15.5 billion to consummate the deal, while raising an additional $2.5 billion in “preferred” equity shares from four private equity firms: Apollo, Blackstone, Carlyle, and Oaktree Capital Management. Elliott and Vista’s contribution to the transaction, meanwhile, seemed to be generally limited to the firms’ pre-existing shares in Citrix and Tibco.

The four software companies together had a combined EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) of roughly $1 billion in 2021, giving the deal a debt-to-EBITDA ratio of at least 15. The average 2021 vintage software LBO had a ratio around seven, which itself is very high. Some $741 million had to be earmarked to pay the fees associated with the brilliant underwriters who signed off on this transaction, plus another $375 million in dividends to the preferred equity holders. Even if Citrix could have borrowed all $15.5 billion at the going 2021 rate of 5.55 percent—and it doesn’t work that way—the first interest payment would have sent the company into default.

They knew that this was a basically pillaging the company


A couple of high-profile european money managers have made waves over the past few months for likening private equity to a “Ponzi scheme.” Private equity has always been a game of getting your money out of a company early and often enough that you can still turn a profit if the whole thing winds up in bankruptcy court. (The aforementioned David Sambur memorably referred to this as the “cake and eat it too” method during the collapse of the Caesars casino empire.)


In the old days, PE firms aimed to cash out of “investments” by taking portfolio companies public in an IPO. But in more recent years, the majority of private equity portfolio companies have been sold to other private equity firms. More recently, a new twist on the secondary buyout trend emerged when private equity firms began offloading portfolio companies to … themselves, via an incestuous innovation known as the “continuation fund” that swallowed $65 billion worth of private equity assets last year.


Both private credit and continuation funds enable private equity firms to keep insolvent portfolio companies out of bankruptcy court and the public spotlight for ever-longer periods, making it harder for workers and other victims to claw back profits. It’s worth noting that corporate bankruptcy filings have slowed to a trickle amid the evaporation of the bond market, even though well over a fifth of the top 3,000 publicly traded companies are officially “zombies,” according to a Bloomberg analysis.


In other words, while the Fed’s rate hikes, which may induce a global recession, punish the cheap-money bonanza that pushed private equity to great heights in recent years, nobody should assume that the industry has no recourse on the way down. They have ingeniously constructed a number of escape hatches, ones that need to be scrutinized and regulated.

They need to be prosecuted and frog marched out of their offices in handcuffs. 

It's the only thing that will stop them.

It's Thursday


And initial unemployment claims fell by 16,000 to 193,000while the final revision of the 2nd quarter GDP numbers is down at an 0.9% annual rate.

Needless to say, these are highly conflicting signals.

My guess would be that employers, particularly on the low end, were workers used to be largely disposable, are seeing their recruiting costs going through the roof, so they are a bit slower to pull the trigger on layoffs.

Then again, what do I know?


28 September 2022

Hell of a New Years Surprise

If you don't laugh, you cry

So the literal honest to God Italian Fascists won parliamentary elections in Italy, for the first time since Benito Mussolini.

It's a hell of a thing to learn on Rosh Hashanah. 

I will say, as I have for years, that the fact that there is no credible Euroskeptic left, the closest to this is Die Linke in Germany and they are neutral, has a lot to do with this,

The EU is dominated by Germany, and German sado-monetarism, and by unelected bureaucrats, the European Parliament cannot write or amend bills, and it was designed from the start, when Jean Monnet founded the European Coal and Steel Community, as an anti-Democratic institution.

Unless or until a Euroskeptic left emerges, or unless and until the EU develops governance with meaningful citizen input through representative democracy, this problem is going to get worse, and not better.

We are already seeing a replay of 1914 in Europe, and I really do not want to see a replay of 1939.

Quote of the Day

I disagree with the reviewer’s specific implication that more honest reporting about how dire RBG’s health was in 2019 and 2020 could have stopped Amy Coney Barrett from being confirmed — that die was cast when Ginsburg declined to resign before the 2014 midterms — but that’s still no excuse. The tendency of certain elite legal liberals to venerate the institution because of their relationships with the people involved and communicate this to the public has been a major part of the problem.

— Scott Lemieux at Lawyers, Guns & Money on how Nina Totenberg's personal relationships poison her journalism.

Let's be clear, this is not to suggest that Ms. Totenberg's reporting is uniquely corrupt or self-serving by the standard of legal reporters, or reporters in Washington, DC in general.

The implication here, one that I agree with, is that the entire DC journalistic and political ecosystems are toxically intertwined.

Live and Learn

I had always thought that Niccolo Machiavelli had said that exiles were never to be trusted in his seminal work on governance, The Prince.

I was wrong, it was from his book, Discourses on the First Decade of Titus Livius, Specifically in Chapter XXXI of Book II, "Of the Danger of trusting banished Men."

I've only started reading the book, but his outlook on ancient history is remarkably modern, or perhaps I should say that it is timeless:

The danger of trusting those who are in exile from their own country, being one to which the rulers of States are often exposed, may, I think, be fitly considered in these Discourses; and I notice it the more willingly, because I am able to illustrate it by a memorable instance which Titus Livius, though with another purpose, relates in his history. When Alexander the Great passed with his army into Asia, his brother-in-law and uncle, Alexander of Epirus, came with another army into Italy, being invited thither by the banished Lucanians, who gave him to believe that, with their aid, he might get possession of the whole of that country. But when, confiding in the promises of these exiles, and fed by the hopes they held out to him, he came into Italy, they put him to death, their fellow-citizens having offered to restore them to their country upon this condition. It behoves us, therefore, to remember how empty are the promises, and how doubtful the faith, of men in banishment from their native land. For as to their faith, it may be assumed that whenever they can effect their return by other means than yours, notwithstanding any covenants they may have made with you, they will throw you over, and take part with their countrymen. And as for the empty promises and delusive hopes which they set before you, so extreme is their desire to return home that they naturally believe many things which are untrue, and designedly misrepresent many others; so that between their beliefs and what they say they believe, they fill you with false impressions, on which if you build, your labour is in vain, and you are led to engage in enterprises from which nothing but ruin can result.

To this instance of Alexander I shall add only one other, that, namely, of Themistocles the Athenian, who, being proclaimed a traitor, fled into Asia to Darius, to whom he made such lavish promises if he would only attack Greece, that he induced him to undertake the enterprise. But afterwards, when he could not fulfil what he had promised, either from shame, or through fear of punishment, he poisoned himself. But, if such a mistake as this was made by a man like Themistocles, we may reckon that mistakes still greater will be made by those who, being of a feebler nature, suffer themselves to be more completely swayed by their feelings and wishes Wherefore, let a prince be careful how he embarks in any enterprise on the representations of an exile; for otherwise, he is likely either to be put to shame, or to incur the gravest calamities.

Because towns are sometimes, though seldom, taken by craft, through secret practices had with their inhabitants, I think it not out of place to discuss the matter in the following Chapter, wherein I shall likewise show in how many ways the Romans were wont to make such acquisitions. 
Credit to Project Gutenberg for the making translation available online.


This message has been brought to you by anthropogenic climate change.

Reality beats satire every time.



Lewis Black says what needs to be said about Candy Corn:

27 September 2022

Say What?

The New York judicial conduct commission has ruled to remove a judge from the bench for pulling a gun on a black defendant.

Normally, I would say, "Maybe the system is working,"  but the incident in question happened in 2015 or 2016, and it was only investigated after he bragged about it during a judges' convention.

How the hell does this not get investigated from the get-go?

A New York judge is in hot water this week after bragging about pulling a gun on a Black man who appeared in front of him in court.

On Thursday, the state’s judicial conduct commission ruled that judge Robert J. Putorti be removed from his position after pulling out a semi-automatic handgun on a Black defendant in the Whitehall Town Court in Washington County. After the incident, he bragged about it to his colleagues and friends for years.

According to Syracuse.com, the incident happened in late 2015 or early 2016 but wasn’t investigated until Putori boasted about his actions during a judge’s conference and then later to his supervising judge.

Putorti, who was the presiding judge over the case, agreed to a plea deal after the defendant admitted to attacking his wife and another man with a knife. Putorti also agreed to reduce the defendant’s fine to meet an amount the defendant could pay.

At a later court appearance, Putorti pulled out his legal handgun and pointed it at the defendant after he allegedly crossed a stop line in front of the judge’s bench.

The incident was largely forgotten about, but Putorti couldn’t leave it be. He later told his cousin, who was a college journalism student and bragged to his colleagues at a judge’s conference in 2018.

It appears that the inmates are running the asylum here.

No, It Wasn't the Russians

This is not a boat accident
It looks like someone just blew holes in the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines near their terminus in Germany, which had the ability to supply the bulk of the natural gas needs for northern Europe with Russian gas.

Some people are suggesting that the Russians did this, but all they have to do is to shut off the tap at their end, and they derive no benefit from this.

Had the assault been on the Norwegian gas line, the people attempting to blame Russia might have a case, but it's clear that someone with significant resources decided that it was more important to f%$# with Russia than it was to keep Europe out of a depression.

I wonder who that could be?

Sabotage is the most likely cause of leaks in two Baltic Sea gas pipelines between Russia and Europe, European leaders have said, after seismologists reported explosions around the Nord Stream pipelines.

A seismograph on the Danish island of Bornholm, near where the leaks occurred, twice recorded spikes on Monday, the day on which the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines underwent dramatic falls in pressure, the German geological research centre GFZ said.

A Danish military flight over the leaks brought back striking images from the ruptures, including one showing an area of bubbling gas a kilometre wide on the sea’s surface.

European commission president Ursula Von der Leyen said the leaks were due to “sabotage”, and threatened the “strongest possible response” to any deliberate disruption of European energy infrastructure.

“Any deliberate disruption of active European energy infrastructure is unacceptable and will lead to the strongest possible response,” she warned, and urged and investigation to get full clarity on the “events and why”.

Danish prime minister Mette Frederiksen described them as “deliberate acts”, adding: “We are not talking about an accident.”


The seismograph recorded near-silence until just after midnight GMT (2am local time), when there was a spike representing a tremor in the earth followed by a continuous hissing wave form. The pattern was repeated at 5pm GMT.

The first question, of course, is "Cui bono." 

The second question is who has the capability to do this?

Given that the pipelines are about 70m (230 feet) down where the incident occurred, below the 40m (130 feet) depth commonly seen as the limit for conventional SCUBA diving.

This implies that whoever did this was using specialized gear, and possibly a specialized breathing mixture like Nitrox (above atmospheric O₂ concentration), or Heliox (He-O₂ mix).

It's possible that a private actor could do this, but not particularly likely.

Or, it could be a remarkable coincidence.


Image of Impact Crater

Given the of the NASA DART probe's impact on the asteroid Dimorphos, we must remember the stalwart work by the prime contractor on this mission, Acme corp.

The mission was intended to demonstrate the ability to alter the trajectory of a celestial object that might otherwise strike the earth.  It is intended to serve as a demonstration and test bed for a system to deflect celestial objects that might threaten the earth:

A multimillion-dollar spacecraft collided head-on with an asteroid the size of a football stadium on Monday in an unprecedented test of Nasa’s capacity to defend Earth from a doomsday scenario.

Nasa’s craft successfully crashed into the asteroid Dimorphos 6.8m miles from Earth. The mission, known as Dart (Double Asteroid Redirection Test), marked humanity’s first attempt at moving another celestial body, with the goal of seeing if a large asteroid hurtling toward our planet could be successfully diverted.

The spacecraft collided with the asteroid at 15,000mph at 7.14pm EDT. Live-streamed video showed the asteroid’s rubble-strewn surface looming into focus before the spacecraft hit and cheers erupted in the mission control room. Teams of Nasa and Johns Hopkins University scientists hugged each other as Dart’s successful impact with Dimorphos was confirmed.


Samson Reony, the Johns Hopkins applied physics laboratory mission commentator, was equally exuberant about the “game changing” achievement. “This is when science, engineering and a great purpose, planetary defense, come together, and, you know, it makes a magical moment like this,” he said.

The test aims to determine if intentionally crashing a spacecraft into an asteroid is an effective way to change its trajectory. A relatively similar strategy involving a nuclear missile rather than an unmanned spacecraft failed during a key point in the plot of Morgan Freeman’s fictional 1998 planetary disaster film Deep Impact.

At a post-mission press conference, Dart scientists described the mission as a success but cautioned that it will be about two months before they know if the spacecraft succeeded in its ultimate objective of altering Dimorphos’s trajectory.


She said the craft had landed 17 meters from its target; close enough to represent a complete success. “It was basically a bullseye. I think, as far as we can tell, the first planetary defense test was a success, and we can clap to that.”

It is surreal seeing a NASA control room burst into applause at a crash.

I am So F%$#ing Stoked

A new Deadpool, including his Frenemy Hugh Jackson as Wolverine.


Support Your Local Police

After one deputy confessed to a double murder was found to have failed his psych exam, the Alameda, California sheriff's department reviewed its files, and they found that they had to put ⅒ of their deputies on leave for also failing their psych exams.

If you think that law enforcement gives a flying f%$# in a rolling doughnut about the quality of personnel on their force, and hence the quality of their law enforcement, you were misinformed:

We now know that all was perhaps not so well with the Alameda County Sheriff's deputy whom the sheriff's office had previously said had a spotless record, after he turned himself in for a double murder.

The shocking double-homicide occurred in a quiet subdivision in Dublin on September 7, and 24-year-old sheriff's deputy Devin Williams Jr. was quickly suspected of the crime and soon turned himself in to the agency he worked for. Within days we learned that it was an act of passion, and Williams was "blinded by love," his mother says, amid an affair he was having with an older, married woman.

The victims were 42-year-old Maria Tran, a psychiatric nurse, and 57-year-old Benison Tran, her husband. Mrs. Tran reportedly met Williams while she was at work — presumably when he was a patient — at John George Psychiatric Hospital in San Leandro. The Alameda County Sheriff's Office never confirmed whether Williams had any history of mental illness, and all we knew was that Williams was not hired by the Stockton Police Department for unknown reasons after the conclusion of a one-year probationary period in January 2021.

Now, as KTVU reports, we are learning that Williams received a "D. Not Suited" grade on his psychological evaluation for the deputy job. And the sheriff's office is saying that they had been operating under the belief that "D. Not Suited" evaluations did not preclude individuals from being hired, but they have now learned that is not the case. This has resulted in 47 deputies — about 10% of the force in Alameda County — being put on paid leave pending new evaluations.


The fact that 10% of the deputies on the force were given these unsatisfactory psych evaluations has caused an uproar, in particular among civil rights advocates with concerns about how these deputies may have handled their cases. Civil rights attorney Adante Pointer spoke to KTVU, wondering aloud how many cases might need to be reopened based on this revelation. And another attorney working on a consent decree at the Santa Rita Jail, Kara Janssen, found the news "deeply concerning."
"Deeply concerning."  Gee, you think!

The 47 officers now on leave are receiving full pay pending their second opinions, but some are questioning whether these second opinions can even be trusted.

Let me remove any doubt here:  The new evaluations cannot be trusted.


The department previously said that his [the double murderer cop] record was "immaculate" and that he had passed all of his necessary evaluations.

This is a pretty good indication of how serious this department is about the quality of its personnel:  Not at all.


26 September 2022

Tweet of the Day

Suddenly, it all becomes clear.

Clintonism, Neh?

In discussions about the almost certain election of a Fascist, and Fascism adjacent government in Italy, Hillary Clinton said, "The election of the first woman prime minister in a country always represents a break with the past, and that is certainly a good thing."

This is a snapshot of who and what she, and what Clintonism is more generally.

The policies don't matter, even if the management team is diverse.

A more nihilistic political philosophy is difficult to imagine: 

“The election of the first woman prime minister in a country always represents a break with the past, and that is certainly a good thing,” Hillary Clinton said to an Italian journalist at the Venice International Film Festival earlier this month. She was speaking of Giorgia Meloni, a member of the Chamber of Deputies, who could make history if the Brothers of Italy party does as well as expected in Sunday’s elections.

That would be one sort of break with the past. But Meloni would also represent continuity with Italy’s darkest episode: the interwar dictatorship of Benito Mussolini. As Clinton would surely concede, this is not such a good thing.
I'm not going to get into the roots of Meloni's likely victory here, but the sort of blithe acceptance of the election of a fascist because of their gender is remarkably depressing.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

The degree to which cryptocurrency and related endeavors (NFTs, etc.) it is clear that this entire financial ecosystem is a profoundly criminogenic enterprise.

I have never been able to come up with the words to say this succinctly, but private equity maven Orlando Bravo did when he said that the, "Crypto industry is not as ethical as private equity."

Mr. Bravo is a founder and managing partner for the PE firm Thoma Bravo, and is big into crypto, and even he sees this as a morass of fraud:

Orlando Bravo, the billionaire co-founder of Thoma Bravo and a bitcoin enthusiast, has said he was disappointed to find that ethical standards in parts of the crypto industry are not as high as in private equity.

Bravo, whose buyout group invested about $150mn in Sam Bankman-Fried’s cryptocurrency exchange FTX last year and has stakes in four other businesses in the sector, said in an interview with the Financial Times that his firm is pausing investments in other crypto companies.

The private equity executive said he was happy with the deals Thoma Bravo had done so far but he had come across problems in the wider industry.

“I’ve gotten to know that world a little bit more, and some of the business practices don’t rise to the level of ethics that we’re all used to in private equity with your investors and your customers and your community, and that has been a bit disappointing,” he said. 

Bravo, who has said he personally owns bitcoin, criticised the crypto market for what he called a “disturbing” lack of transparency. But he stressed that he was still bullish about bitcoin and believed the industry was “just young” and ethical problems would “get fixed over time”.


Bravo, whose firm rushed into the booming market for special purpose acquisition companies, or Spacs, said the model should be made more like private equity. Spacs have been criticised for enriching the so-called “sponsors” who set up the cash shells, even if the target company loses value after going public.

The idea that the level of ethics in crypto would be unacceptable for a private equity firm is mind buggering.

PE is, after an industry that refuses to allow its contracts with public pensions to be made available to the public, and obscures its fees and actual returns.

The segment that deals with SPACs, as Mr. Bravo's does, is even dodgier than your run of the mill PE firm.

If crypto is too corrupt for this guy………

25 September 2022

No Blogging Tonight

Too busy with preparations for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

I'm doing the chicken soup.

Posted via mobile.

24 September 2022

It Needs to Be Said

When looking at Republican House leaders over the past few decades, it is clear that they have been flawed.

That being said, since at least Bob Michael in the 1980s, none of them have been deeply stupid, until Kevin McCarthy, that is.

He sent out the latest Republican legislative agenda, called "Commitment to America," and mailed copies of it to his fellow Republican leaders, including ……… Wait for it ……… Nancy Patricia D'Alesandro Pelosi.

"Wait," you are saying, "Isn't Nancy Pel………"

Yes, yes she is.

It also turns out that, in addition to publicly going to unpopular places, like banning abortion and supporting voter suppression, it got a number of very basic things things deeply wrong, like misquoting the first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln:

We had a little sport with Kevin McCarthy’s “Commitment To America” plan of inaction earlier this week. I believe the concept of rake-stepping was discussed at some length. Well, the agenda had its rollout on Friday, complete with an explanatory video. And, well…WHAP!

From HuffPost:
The GOP’s video, “The Preamble to the Commitment to America,” opens with a narrator highlighting aspects of what it means to be an American. “We celebrate the rich heritage of the American story and the vibrancy of the American Dream,” the voice says, over footage of a drilling rig at sunrise. But this video snippet, an apparent nod to America’s natural resources, wasn’t filmed in America. It’s stock footage created by Serg Grbanoff, a filmmaker based in Russia.
Classic. But that's not all! The Daily Beast took note of McCarthy's use of an Abraham Lincoln quote and did what everyone should do when they encounter a Lincoln quote in the wild—make sure that Honest Abe is the one who said it. Turns out, it was yet another rake to the face. Per the Daily Beast:
“Commitment,” reads the quote, “is what transforms a promise into reality.”

For McCarthy’s purposes, it’s a pitch-perfect message. There’s just one problem: there’s no record of Lincoln actually saying it[...]What may have injected this phrase into the public’s bloodstream was not Lincoln but Lehman Brothers, the Wall Street titan that collapsed in the 2008 financial crisis. In 1986, Lehman Brothers placed a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal thanking its longest-tenured employees. At the top of the page is the full quote that is attributed in some places online to Lincoln.
Even Sideshow Bob didn't have this many bruises.

It really is remarkable just how committed to stepping on their own dicks the Republicans are.

Thank heaven for small favors.

What Do You Get When You Mix 1984 and The Handmaid's Tale?

You get the Covenant Eyes and Accountable2You apps, which spy on parishioners for their churches, allegedly to keep them from doing "impure" things.

And people wonder why young people see churches and extreme and too concerned with personal sexual morality and are fleeing in droves:

Gracepoint is the kind of evangelical Southern Baptist church that’s compelled to publicly enumerate all of the ways it’s not a cult. “We’ll admit that we’re a bit crazy about the Great Commission and sharing the Gospel,” reads an FAQ page titled, “Is Gracepoint a Cult?” So when Grant Hao-Wei Lin came out to a Gracepoint church leader during their weekly one-on-one session, he was surprised to learn that he wasn’t going to be kicked out. According to his church leader, Hao-Wei Lin says, God still loved him in spite of his “struggle with same-sex attraction.”
Their disavowal of cult status appears to be false advertising.
But Gracepoint did not leave the matter in God’s hands alone. At their next one-on-one the following week, Hao-Wei Lin says the church leader asked him to install an app called Covenant Eyes on his phone. The app is explicitly marketed as anti-pornography software, but according to Hao-Wei Lin, his church leader told him it would help “control all of his urges.”

Covenant Eyes is part of a multimillion-dollar ecosystem of so-called accountability apps that are marketed to both churches and parents as tools to police online activity. For a monthly fee, some of these apps monitor everything their users see and do on their devices, even taking screenshots (at least one per minute, in the case of Covenant Eyes) and eavesdropping on web traffic, WIRED found. The apps then report a feed of all of the users’ online activity directly to a chaperone—an “accountability partner,” in the apps’ parlance. When WIRED presented its findings to Google, however, the company determined that two of the top accountability apps—Covenant Eyes and Accountable2You—violate its policies.

The omniscience of Covenant Eyes soon weighed heavily on Hao-Wei Lin, who has since left Gracepoint. Within a month of installing the app, he started receiving accusatory emails from his church leader referencing things he had viewed online. “Anything you need to tell me?” reads one email Hao-Wei Lin shared with WIRED. Attached was a report from Covenant Eyes that detailed every single piece of digital content Hao-Wei Lin had consumed the prior week. It was a trail of digital minutiae accumulated from nights spent aimlessly browsing the internet, things Hao-Wei Lin could barely remember having seen—and would have forgotten about had a member of his Church not confronted him. The church leader zeroed in on a single piece of content that Covenant Eyes had flagged as “Mature”: Hao-Wei Lin had searched “#Gay” on a website called Statigr.am, and the app had flagged it.

Gracepoint, which focuses on colleges, claims to “serve students” on more than 70 campuses across the United States. According to emails between a Covenant Eyes representative and a former Gracepoint church leader that WIRED reviewed, the company said that in 2012 as many as 450 Gracepoint Church members were signed up to be monitored through Covenant Eyes.

“I wouldn’t quite call it spyware,” says a former member of Gracepoint who was asked to use Covenant Eyes and spoke on the condition of anonymity, due to privacy concerns. “It’s more like ‘shameware,’ and it’s just another way the church controls you.”


Ed Kang, pastor of Gracepoint Church in Berkeley, California, and a major figure in the organization, says in an email that volunteer staff members are required to install Covenant Eyes or Accountable2You “as part of their staff agreement.” But he disputes that church leaders were instructed to monitor congregants’ phone activity. “Usually it’s whoever they [congregants] designate, and we actually discourage leaders from being the accountability partners as that seems a bit too heavy,” he writes. (All five former Gracepoint congregants who spoke to WIRED said a church leader was their accountability partner.) Kang adds that the number of Gracepoint congregants who use Covenant Eyes or Accountable2You “may be significantly higher than 450 nowadays” and that Accountable2You “has better pricing.”

This is beyond creepy, and (particularly among white Evangelical churches) it is all to common a behavior and a fixation of a certain type of cleric.

Maybe if they spent less time focusing on where people's genitals were, and more time focusing on how people can lead a just life and make the world a better place, they would not be hemorrhaging young members.

A Public Service Announcement

After we dropped Nat off for her play, and before the play was canceled, we went to a little cafe across the street, Joe Squared.

I had a very nice risotto, and a couple of glasses of beer. (Sharon* was driving back from the play)

One was an IPA, and I rather enjoyed it.

The second was a Belgian ale, and it knocked me on my ass.

Belgian ales can be dangerous.  They sneak up on you.

I WAS Going to See Some Plays Tonight

Nat was acting in a short play show, and they had written one of the plays, and we were going to see it tonight.

They canceled the play because of a gas leak.  After we picked up Natalie, the fire trucks rolled up, one assumes with respirators, to locate and shut down the leak.


23 September 2022

Happy Birthday

To the as yet unnamed Island near Tonga, which emerged from the ocean a few days ago.

With regard to climate, it's actually a pretty big deal, not because the island emerged, but because it put an enormous amount of water into the stratosphere, where it is likely to (very slightly) increase global temperatures and reduce the level of ultraviolet protecting ozone:

A new island has sprung up in a patch of the southwest Pacific Ocean riddled with underwater volcanoes, according to NASA Earth Observatory. 

It began with the eruption of an underwater volcano found in the Central Tonga Islands on September 10 – and within just eleven hours, a landmass emerged from the watery depths, created by oozing lava that had been cooled by the ocean waters and solidified.

Over the following days, lava continued to pour and the newly formed island grew. The island was 170 meters (558 feet) in diameter on September 16 and eventually swelled to 182 meters over the following two days. 

By September 20, the island had grown to cover 24,000 square meters (6 acres) with an elevation of 10 meters (33 feet).

The heating effect, which will be rather short term is only about .05°C, but I am sure that some climatologists are getting a serious geek on about this.

Not an Accident

Following an expose from the ICIJ, a law was passed by Congress to require greater transparency in corporate registration.

Rather unsurprisingly, the release of the database has been repeatedly delayed.  This is not a surprise.  The powers that be have no interest in outing their tax-dodging corrupt patrons, so they are slow walking this.

Systemic corruption much?

A key U.S. reform designed to halt anonymous companies hiding illicit activities and funds remains stalled in the U.S. Treasury Department two years after the FinCEN Files, a global money laundering probe led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, spurred calls for strengthened safeguards.

Experts say the Treasury Department is badly behind schedule in implementing the law mandating the government to collect ownership data from companies operating in the United States. Transparency advocates who cheered the new law now worry that the delays are so severe that the all-important registry could remain unfinished by the next presidential election, and that a new administration might have less interest in implementing and defending the law.

“There is a lot of anxiety that the Biden administration will take the whole four years to finalize the rules setting up the beneficial ownership registry,” Elise Bean, an anti-corruption expert and former chief counsel of the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, said. “It is hard to understand what is taking so long.”


In September of 2020, ICIJ, BuzzFeed News and more than 100 media outlets published the FinCEN Files, exposing more than $2 trillion worth of suspicious transactions flowing through the global financial system that U.S.-based banks that did little to stop. The project was named after the Treasury Department’s financial crime fighting office, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN.

Experts said the creation of a registry of company owners was key to curbing the sort of financial secrecy exposed by the FinCEN Files and other ICIJ investigations. Forcing company owners to identify themselves would help stem flows of dirty money through the U.S. financial system, which advocates have consistently flagged as notoriously opaque and vulnerable to money laundering.

Citing public outcry following the FinCEN Files’ release, U.S. lawmakers advanced a landmark anti-money-laundering bill called the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020, which included the Corporate Transparency Act. The law tasked FinCEN with setting up the new database and writing the detailed regulations that would undergird the system.

Those rules were supposed to be finished months ago, but so far, experts say, FinCEN has only proposed one of the three sets of rules needed to launch the ownership database. And even this first set — governing how the data will be collected and who must report company ownership — hasn’t been finalized, experts told ICIJ.

I am not sure if this corruption at the Presidential appointee level, or if it is at the civil service level, where decades free market absolutism has poisoned the culture, but this is clearly the result of a concerted to prevent this database from ever seeing the light of day.

This Would Not Have Happened before the George Floyd Protests

A police officer arrested an autistic boy at a school, handcuffed him, hogtied him, and then tased him like he was a Christmas ham. 

 The officer in question, Jackson County Sheriff's deputy Matthew Honas, has been fired, though the disciplinary board has not revoked or suspended his law enforcement officer certification.

The kid was just sitting there, and the officer tortured him with a weapon that can kill people.  (Itnore Taser International's excited delirium bullsh%$)

That he was fired is good.  That he can get another job in law enforcement is a travesty, and the fact that he has not been charged is an affront to the conscience:

A Jackson County sheriff's deputy used his Taser on a 12-year-old autistic boy without warning as the youth sat handcuffed, shackled and hogtied in the deputy's vehicle.

The state's law enforcement oversight body says Matthew Honas on Feb. 23 used excessive force multiple times on the boy, including tying him up in a manner that threatened "his ability to breathe properly."

The Kansas Commission on Peace Officers' Standards and Training on Aug. 22 issued an order of reprimand to Honas. While Honas was discharged March 3 from his deputy's job in Jackson County, the commission chose not to revoke his certification as a law enforcement officer.

The encounter was captured on Honas' in-car camera, KSCPOST said.

Money quotes further down, "His hands were cuffed behind his back and (Honas) began to press L.H.'s jaw pressure points without giving any direction to L.H. to do anything. This appeared to be of a punitive nature, particularly with the dialogue between (Honas) and L.H. at the time," and, "About five minutes later, Honas tased the boy without warning as he was sitting in the patrol vehicle with his feet outside the vehicle."

These were purely punitive actions.  The officer was not threatened, and the officer had not asked the arrestee to do anything, so the child could not have been non compliant, there were no instructions to comply with.

The frightening thing is that 5 years ago, this guy might have gotten a week off and a note in his personnel file.

22 September 2022

This is Why They Use Subcontractors

One of the features of Amazon's business model is that it relies fairly heavily on contractors.  This is not because contractors are inherently cheaper than Amazon executing on its own, but because Amazon can coerce the contractors into cutting corners and behaving dangerously without incurring any liability for Bezos' not-so-little monster:

Amazon.com Inc. has rapidly built a sprawling network to move merchandise around the nation’s highways. Many of the trucking companies it hired for all that driving are more dangerous than their peers, sometimes fatally so.

They include one company whose driver was found with a crack pipe after running an Amazon trailer into a Minnesota ditch. He was convicted of driving while high. Another driver hauling Amazon freight was involved in a fatal accident in Kansas after losing control while braking—two months after his employer ignored a police order to fix the truck’s brakes, police reports show.

A third driver at another company had two crashes during a single trip between Amazon warehouses, ultimately careening across a Wyoming highway into an oncoming truck, killing its driver.

All three companies received unsafe driving scores that raised red flags at the U.S. Transportation Department, a Wall Street Journal analysis of government data found. Between February 2020 and early August 2022, more than 1,300 Amazon trucking contractors received scores worse than the level at which DOT officials typically take action, the Journal found. DOT scores are a widely used industry standard for assessing trucker safety.

Trucking contractors that worked frequently for Amazon were more than twice as likely as all other similar companies to receive bad unsafe driving scores, the Journal analysis found. About 39% of the frequent Amazon contractors in the Journal’s analysis received scores at that level.

Trucking companies hauling freight for Amazon have been involved in crashes that killed more than 75 people since 2015, according to the Journal’s review.

Amazon controls its contractors down to the individual route on a day to day basis, so this is not something that just happens, it is something that Amazon, and Jeff Bezos, have consciously decided to do to boost profit margins.


E-commerce has boomed in recent years, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, prompting Amazon to expand its logistics arm. It has bought or leased about 63,000 trailers since 2015, and hundreds of trucks to pull them, according to regulatory filings and the company.

It hires outside companies to drive the loads, which in August totaled more than 1.5 million, according to Amazon. The market for long-haul truckers is highly fragmented, and attention to safety varies by company.

One trucking company that worked exclusively for Amazon, the now-defunct Condor Riders Corp., had an unsafe driving score that placed it among the most dangerous trucking companies in the nation in March and April 2020, the DOT data show. The government scores are based on speeding tickets and other infractions.

Remember, this is Amazon.  They put cameras in their contractors' trucks to ensure that drivers are not taking too long for a pee break.  That they would not know this is absurd.


Mr. DasGupta [Steve DasGupta, safety director of Amazon Freight] also disagreed with the Journal’s approach of looking at contractors scores over a period of more than two years, arguing a company’s current monthly score best captures its safety performance over time.

The Journal’s analysis focused on 3,512 trucking companies that were inspected by authorities three or more times while hauling trailers for Amazon since February 2020. That group carried 75% of Amazon tractor-trailer shipments documented in records of government inspections, which include routine compliance checks, such as at weigh stations, and traffic stops.

The data show companies that “frequently haul Amazon’s freight are systematically more likely to have poor driving safety scores,” said Jason Miller, a Michigan State University professor who studies transportation safety and validated the Journal’s methodology and findings. The result, he said, is that “American motorists are put at greater risk.” (See related story for the Journal’s full methodology.)


Many companies won’t hire trucking firms with a “conditional” rating or lower, industry officials say. MJS continued to pull Amazon trailers at least until September 2021, inspection records show. At the time, Amazon required trucking contractors to have safety ratings better than conditional, the company said.

Yeah sure, somehow the company that tracks its workers to the individual step missed this.


Truck operators such as United Parcel Service Inc. keep such serious safety violations low. Since early 2020, state inspectors and police cited UPS for tractor-trailer drivers who kept false logs of driving hours in fewer than one in a thousand inspections. By contrast, they flagged Amazon contractors at a rate about 70 times higher. UPS drivers are employees who receive salaries, rather than contractors who often are paid by the mile. 

So, notwithstanding Amazon's protestations, other shippers can maintain safe operations, because they don't f%$#ing cut corners, and don't abuse their workers as badly.

This is a choice, and a criminally negligent choice at that.  Allowing Amazon to hide behind contractors, and to allow the commerce behemoth to get away with slap on the wrist fines and judgements is not enough.

People like Jeff Bezos and Mr. DasGupta need to be frog-marched out of their corporate offices in handcuffs.

This is Called a "Death Spiral"

One of the consequences of the Federal Reserve's aggressive interest rate policy is that it pushes the exchange rate up for the US dollar, and in addition to making the US less competitive on international markets, it forces other nations' central banks to raise their interest rates to protect their currency.

If their currency falls shortly, then their largely dollar denominated debt would become unaffordable, and the cost of imported goods would rise, increasing inflation, but it also has the effect of slamming the brakes on their economies:

Central banks around the world moved Thursday to combat the effects of a soaring dollar and rising inflation, joining the Federal Reserve in risking a recession to rein in climbing prices.

In a flurry of central-bank meetings from Norway to South Africa, many raised rates by larger-than-expected margins in a day that analysts at ING billed as “Super Thursday.”

The Bank of England raised its key interest rate for the seventh consecutive time on Thursday. Before the news came out, the British pound briefly touched its lowest point in 37 years against the dollar before recovering some of its losses to reach $1.13.

Even some countries that didn’t move rates—the Bank of Japan left its policy rate at its previous low level—took other action to ease the growing inflation pressure.

This has gone from belt-tightening to economic contagion in the space of a few months.

We are going to be driven into a world-wide recession by the fixation of the central banks.

It's Thursday

And we have another unemployment report, with initial unemployment claims rising slightly, up 5,000 to 213,000 last week, and continuing claims fell slightly.

Aside from the determination of Fed Chair Jerome Powell to create unemployment, I do not know what this all means.


21 September 2022

Snark of the Day

This is a very well deserved take-down of Maggie Haberman.

She has carried almost water for Donald Trump as Lake Michigan does for Sea Lampreys.

Nationwide Popcorn Shortage Announced

Ginni Thomas, insurrectionist and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, has agreed to testify before the Januray 6 committee.

I'd say, "Pass the popcorn," but I do not think that after the news about Trump, there is sufficient popcorn remaining.

At this point, it appears that her testimony will be given in private, and I am not certain if she will be under oath, but I really want to be a fly on the wall for this.

Could I Get Some Butter Flavored Oil on It Too?

New York State Attorney General Letitia James has announced that her office is suing Donald Trump and his adult children for $¼ billion for fraud and tax evasion, and will be moving to prohibit them from operating as executives of any company operating in New York. 

She also noted that the results of the investigation have been passed along to the DoJ and IRS.

One of the things that is particularly delicious about this is that Trump's tax returns are likely to be introduced as evidence and become a part of the public record.

Win or lose, Trump's finances are going to get a lot of exposure:

New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit Wednesday accusing former president Donald Trump, three of his grown children and executives at his company of flagrantly manipulating property and other asset valuations to deceive lenders, insurance brokers and tax authorities into giving them better bank-loan and insurance policy rates and to reduce their tax liability.

The 222-page civil complaint asks the New York Supreme Court to bar Trump, as well as Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump, from serving as executives at any company in New York, and to bar the Trump Organization from acquiring any commercial real estate or receiving loans from any New York-registered financial institution for five years.

It seeks to recover more than $250 million in what James’s office says are ill-gotten gains received through the alleged deceptive practices. While the lawsuit itself is not a criminal prosecution, James said she has referred possible violations of federal law to the Justice Department and the IRS.


The lawsuit, filed in New York Supreme Court, is the result of a more than two-year investigation by James. It names 23 assets that are mostly properties and ground leases in the Trump Organization portfolio, including his Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida, his Seven Springs estate in Westchester County, N.Y., and the D.C. hotel in the Old Post Office building on Pennsylvania Avenue NW, which he leased from the federal government until he sold it in May.

“The inflated asset valuations in the [financial] Statements cannot be brushed aside or excused as merely the result of exaggeration or good faith estimation about which reasonable real estate professionals may differ,” the lawsuit says.

The civil complaint cites drastic manipulations of Trump’s personal asset portfolio — allegedly at his direction and with the assistance of Trump Organization executives — in representations made to financial institutions and insurance carriers. It alleges that the true value of his assets were concealed through careful doctoring of reports and by changing the methodologies used for various calculations.

For example, Mar-a-Lago, a historic site, was valued at $739 million on the basis that there was potential for residential development on the property. In reality, Trump gave up his rights to construct homes there in exchange for sizable tax benefits known as conservation easements. The true value of Mar-a-Lago was roughly $75 million, the lawsuit says.

That ain't a rounding error.

Trump’s New York triplex apartment at Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue was reported as 30,000 square feet, when really it was a third of that size. In 2015, he allegedly valued the apartment at $327 million — up from $80 million four years prior — based on the wildly inflated square footage, a valuation James said was “absurd” given that at the time only one apartment in New York City had ever sold for even $100 million.


In addition to naming Trump and three of his children personally, the suit names the Trump Organization and Allen Weisselberg, its longtime chief financial officer who recently pleaded guilty to tax crimes, and controller Jeffrey McConney.

If the New York Supreme Court were to bar the Trump Organization from acquiring any real estate or taking on any loans, as the attorney general has requested, it’s unclear how the company could continue to operate, even without the Trumps at the helm.

While the sanctions sought are stunning, I think that the real damage here is that this will introduce into open court that Donald Trump is nowhere as rich as he alleges.

He will be revealed to be a "loser".

Pass the Popcorn

In not much more time than it takes to type this sentence, the Court of Appeals for the 11th circuit has ruled that Judge Aileen Cannon was full of crap when she requiring a special master to review document classification.

As I understand it, the special master will continue his work, but only on the documents not flagged as classified, and only to adjudicate whether or not attorney-client privilege is involved, and not for matters of executive privilege, which is a significant reduction of scope, but I need to add the caveat that I am an engineer, not a doctor, dammit!*

An appeals court sided with the Justice Department in a legal fight over classified documents seized in a court-authorized search of former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, ruling Wednesday that the FBI may use the documents in its ongoing criminal investigation.

The decision by a three-judge panel of the appeals court marks a victory, at least temporarily, for the Justice Department in its legal battle with Trump over access to the evidence in a high-stakes investigation to determine if the former president or his advisers mishandled national security secrets, or hid or destroyed government records.


n Wednesday night’s ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta found fault with Trump’s rationale that the classified documents seized on Aug. 8 might be his property, rather than the government’s. The appeals court also disagreed with the rationale used by U.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon in agreeing to have the classified documents reviewed by a special master to see if they should be shielded from investigators because of executive or attorney-client privilege.

“For our part, we cannot discern why [Trump] would have an individual interest in or need for any of the one-hundred documents with classification markings,” the court wrote, noting that the stay it issued is temporary and should not be considered a final decision on the merits of the case.


The panel found particularly unpersuasive the repeated suggestions by Trump’s legal team that he may have declassified the documents — citing an appearance by Trump’s attorneys on Tuesday before special master Raymond Dearie, who pressed them to say whether the former president had acted to declassify the materials in question.

“Plaintiff suggests that he may have declassified these documents when he was President. But the record contains no evidence that any of these records were declassified. And before the special master, Plaintiff resisted providing any evidence that he had declassified any of these documents,” the panel wrote. “In any event, at least for these purposes, the declassification argument is a red herring because declassifying an official document would not change its content or render it personal.”

Prosecutors have said that two parts of her order — allowing the special master to review the roughly 100 documents that were marked classified and halting the criminal investigation surrounding those documents while the special master conducts a review — jeopardize national security interests.

Theoretically, the Trump lawyers could demand an en banc hearing of the appeals court, or they could appeal to the Supreme Court, but given that the special master, , has already shown that he finds the arguments made by Trump attorneys to be specious, I am not sure that they would gain anything from this but a delay.

Of course, the 11th circuit is covered by Clarence Thomas, and his corruption and hypocrisy is legion, so he might stay the order.

*I love it when I get to go all Dr. McCoy!

And the Beatings Will Continue until Morale Improves

The Federal Reserve has raised its benchmark interest rate by another 75 basis point (¾%).  

Housing is falling off a cliff, and we are seeing other signs of a significant slow-down, and Fed Chairman Jerome Powell is signalling that he wants to continue driving the economy off of a cliff:

The Federal Reserve approved its third consecutive interest-rate rise of 0.75 percentage point and signaled additional large increases were likely even though they are raising the risk of recession.

Fed officials voted unanimously to lift their benchmark federal-funds rate to a range between 3% and 3.25%, a level last seen in early 2008. Nearly all of them expect to raise rates to between 4% and 4.5% by the end of this year, according to new projections released Wednesday, which would call for sizable rate increases at policy meetings in November and December.

“We have got to get inflation behind us. I wish there were a painless way to do that. There isn’t,” Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said at a news conference after the rate decision.


 Officials projected that rate rises will continue into 2023, with most expecting the fed-funds rate to rest around 4.6% by the end of next year. That was up from 3.8% in their projections this past June.

Analysts said they hadn’t expected the Fed to show quite so high an endpoint for the rate. Given how persistently elevated inflation has been, “I wouldn’t be surprised to see them go even higher than what they’ve written down—say, to 5%,” said Ellen Meade, an economist at Duke University who is a former senior adviser at the Fed.

The approach of the Federal Reserve currently, as it always is, is that the solution to inflation is to put downward pressure on ordinary working folks, because the remuneration of ordinary working people is the root of all evil.

They are ignoring supply chain issues, the increasingly large role of monopoly rents in our economy, spikes in energy prices, the effects of anthropogenic climate change on agriculture, and the degree to which resources are siphoned from the real economy by an increasingly parasitic and bloated financial sector.

It's not particularly surprising that the Federal Reserve operates in this manner, it was conceived at the start to function an ally to capital and big finance in their fights against labor.

20 September 2022

This is a Logical Response to Prior Behavior

Given US behavior with regard to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (Aka the Iranian Nuclear Deal), it is no surprise that Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi is demanding binding guarantees from that the United States won't pull of the deal.

Given that the US unilaterally withdrew 4 years ago, and up to that point the Iranians were in compliance with the deal, this is a logical request.

The US response in the negotiations has been to insist on no guarantees, and to demand further concessions, because the US Foreign Policy Establishment is delusional:

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, in his first U.S. media interview, said that the Biden administration’s promise to adhere to a new nuclear agreement was “meaningless” without guarantees that the United States would not again unilaterally withdraw from the deal in the future.

“If it’s a good deal and fair deal, we would be serious about reaching an agreement. It needs to be lasting,” said Raisi, speaking through an interpreter in an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes,” conducted last week in Tehran and broadcast Sunday evening. But he added: “We cannot trust the Americans because of the behavior that we’ve already seen from them. That is why if there is no guarantee, there is no trust.”

Tehran’s demand for guarantees that the United States would stay in a new agreement has become a principal sticking point in the failure of Iran and world powers to negotiate a deal to replace the 2015 version from which the Trump administration withdrew in 2018. Negotiations that began nearly a year and a half ago have now sputtered to a virtual stop.

Administration negotiators have made clear from the beginning of the talks, which include Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China — all signers of the original deal, along with the United States and Iran — that no U.S. administration has the power to bind the actions of its successor.

So the US is asking for concessions in exchange for a neat photo op that could be overturned the next day.

The issue here is that the Iranians believe that that the US cannot be trusted to keep its agreements.

Given the history of United States foreign policy over the past 70 years, or the past 250 years if you want to count our interactions with aboriginal peoples in North America, it's hard to argue with their assessment.

I'm not sure how you square this circle, but the likely outcome of US intransigence, a nuclear armed Iran, is the worst possible outcome.

Remember the Christo-Fascist Coach in Bremerton?

After leading public prayers, and coercing students on his team into prayer, the Supreme Court ruled that he had to get his job back.

He's not interested, it appears Joseph Kennedy is more interested in racking in the big bucks on the Christian Dominionist circuit.

Ka Ching!!!

When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that Bremerton assistant football coach Joseph Kennedy had the right to pray on the field, it wasn’t widely understood then that the court had also ordered the school district to give him his job back.


So the school district has been flummoxed about what’s happened since. They complied by offering to reinstate him, they say, and now the football season is in full swing. But Kennedy is nowhere near the sidelines.

“He’s had the paperwork for his reinstatement since August 8th, and we haven’t gotten so much as a phone call,” says Karen Bevers, spokesperson for Bremerton schools.

Instead, as the Bremerton Knights were prepping for the season in August, Kennedy was up in Alaska, meeting with former Vice President Mike Pence and evangelist Franklin Graham. On the eve of the first game, which the Knights won, Kennedy was in Milwaukee being presented with an engraved .22-caliber rifle at an American Legion convention.

The weekend of the second game, which the Knights also won, Kennedy appeared with former President Donald Trump at the Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey. He saw Trump get a religious award from a group called the American Cornerstone Institute.

Coming up this month, Kennedy’s scheduled to give a talk as part of a lectureship series at a Christian university in Arkansas.

Basically, Mr. Kennedy is a "Made Man" of the MAGAt crowd now, and he's making his living touring.

Wingnut welfare.

Mandy Rice-Davies Applies*

Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase is having major butt-hurt over increased capital reserve requirements for banks.

He (Laughably) claims that this increases will cause a major risk to the economy.  What he really means that it can't make as much money because when times are good, the more JPM can leverage its money, the more profits they can generate, and the larger bonuses for ……… Wait for it ……… Jamie Dimon.

The federal reserve is tightening monetary policy, so increasing the required reserves of banks, particularly bigger ones, like Mr. Dimon's operation, are a sensible measure to prevent a Federal Reserve induced recession to turn into a full blown financial crisis:

Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan, has warned US lawmakers that capital requirements for large banks pose “a significant economic risk” that is curtailing their capacity to lend to homebuyers and other customers.

Dimon said “the continued upward trajectory” of capital requirements is making it harder for banks to meet customer needs just as “storm clouds” are gathering on the horizon for the US economy.

“This is bad for America, as it handicaps regulated banks at precisely the wrong time, causing them to be capital constrained and reduce growth in areas like lending, as the country enters difficult economic conditions,” Dimon said in written remarks to the House committee on financial services.

Dimon lamented that JPMorgan, the largest US bank with $3.8tn in assets, must set aside more than $200bn in additional capital because of the impact of new rules.


However, JPMorgan, as well as Bank of America and Citigroup, are still facing higher capital requirements due to their designation as global systemically important banks. Dimon criticised the capital rules as “not reflective of actual risk”.

The storm clouds, he is referring to is deliberate policy by the Federal Reserve.

Typically, they raise rate and increase capital requirements.  Both have the effect of reducing the money supply.

The latter, IMHO, is a better policy if you want to reduce the money supply to cool off the economy. (I don't, I am more of MMT guy, but that's for another post)  It both pulls money out of the economy and reduces systemic risk.

It also reduces bank profits, but I consider that a win as well.

*Well, he would say that, wouldn't he? Seriously, know your history.