J.J. Grandville ‘A Comet’s Journey’, Illustration from ‘Un Autre Monde’ 1844
So many articles today, I’ll put up a separate Covid Rattle shortly here: Covid Rattle March 4 2021.
“Tucker every once in a while has a segment that just completely knocks it out of the park.This is one of those times.”
Tucker Dr. Seuss
Dr. Seuss was never a major literary figure, but his memory matters more than ever. The battle over what Dr. Seuss stood for — over what it means to be racist — will have consequences that extend for generations. If we lose that battle, America is lost. pic.twitter.com/PXzBABcRJv
— Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) March 3, 2021
Excess savings, sure, but only among the rich. Who don’t spend it.
“..the cumulative tab for our four-decade-long experiment in radical inequality has grown to over $47 trillion from 1975 through 2018..”
• It’s Time for Major Wealth Redistribution (Lee Camp)
[..] we desperately need wealth redistribution. And before anyone starts yelling something about Joseph Stalin, here’s the part that’s going to blow your mind — in the United States we’ve already had wealth redistribution for decades. Fifty trillion dollars has been redistributed from the poorest Americans to the top one percent over the past several decades. That’s right, a new study shows the richest people in the world have stolen trillions from average Americans. To put this in easier to access terms — you know how mad you get when someone takes the last donut? Well, imagine that multiplied by 50 trillion. (Quick reminder: If you make $40,000 a year, it would take you 1.25 Billion years to make $50 trillion.)
The new study reveals, “…that the cumulative tab for our four-decade-long experiment in radical inequality has grown to over $47 trillion from 1975 through 2018. At a recent pace of about $2.5 trillion a year, that number we estimate crossed the $50 trillion mark by early 2020.” And to be clear, this money has been stolen from nearly every American. Had income distribution and buying power remained the same as it was from the end of World War II to 1975, ” . . . the aggregate annual income of Americans earning below the 90th percentile would have been $2.5 trillion higher in the year 2018 alone. That is … enough to pay every single working American in the bottom nine deciles an additional $1,144 a month. Every month. Every single year.”
The richest people in America are pilfering over $1,100 from you personally and everyone you know every single month of every single year. Just imagine what each living soul in America could do with an extra $13,700 per year — how many people that would feed, how much less stressful their lives would be, how many fewer foreclosures there would be, and how many more people would get the healthcare they need. Yet every time the most modest tax increases are proposed on the richest Americans, or every time someone so much as mumbles about putting in a public jungle gym or putting in filters to take the metal chunks out of the water or fixing the holes in our bridges that are bigger than the ones in Maria Bartiromo’s head — every time someone brings up these common sense solutions, the elites of our society (who own the media outlets and the levers of the state and the law enforcement and the courts) start screaming from their wine-soaked ski resort orgy balconies, “That’s wealth redistribution! That’s class war!”
Sure they’ll all vote for him again.
• Joe Biden Just Yanked Away Stimulus Checks From 17 Million Americans (Week)
During the campaign for the two Georgia Senate races, Joe Biden repeatedly promised to pass $2,000 stimulus checks if the Democrats won. After they did, the administration argued that $2,000 really meant $1,400 in addition to the $600 that had already gone out in the December rescue package. Whether that is true or not, now Biden is inarguably breaking his promise. Under pressure from moderate Senate Democrats, he has reportedly agreed to cut down the formula under which the checks will be sent out. In the previous packages, the amount started phasing out at $75,000 in income for individuals and $150,000 for joint filers, and vanished entirely at $100,000 and $200,000 respectively (as of 2019). Now the phase-out will start start in the same place but end at $80,000 for singles and $160,000 for couples.
The $1,400 promise clearly implied at least that the checks would go out according to the previous formula used under Trump. But now singles making between $80,000-100,000 and couples making between $160,000-200,000 will get nothing. The Washington Post’s Jeff Stein reports that roughly 17 million people who previously got checks now will not. The supposed justification here is that moderates want the aid to be more “targeted.” In fact this formula is horribly inaccurate, because the income data the IRS uses is from the year before the pandemic (unless people have already filed their taxes — and by the way, if your income decreased in 2020, you should do that immediately). This formula is therefore doubly wrong — there are no doubt millions of people who have lost jobs and should qualify but won’t, and a smaller number that have gotten raises and shouldn’t qualify but will. And this change will only save a pitiful $12 billion.
So the states get what their citizens can’t.
• COVID Relief Showers States With 600% Of Lost Tax Revs (ZH)
Joe Biden is giving so much money to states as part of the $1.9 trillion stimulus package that they’re set to receive approximately six times more money than estimated tax revenue shortfalls across the country, according to Bloomberg. While the package carves out nearly $200 billion for state governments, the cumulative tax revenues which have disappeared in the current fiscal year are just $31 billion. “In other words, that money could make up for that loss and be plowed back into states’ economies, such as their own version of relief checks, infrastructure projects and more, depending on the federal guidelines around the aid.”
In short – states, assuming they don’t squander the funds (who are we kidding?), could play a pivotal role in accelerating the recovery – assuming the money actually stimulates jobs and/or ends up in the hands of consumers. The funds would also allow for the unwinding of various budgetary cuts which began last March, and are responsible for the elimination of more than 1.3 million state and local government jobs – which Bloomberg notes is “nearly twice as many as were lost after the last recession.” Republicans, however, argue that some of the stimulus should be cut or shifted to other priorities which could have a more immediate impact than essentially giving states their own giant slush funds.
“If the whole point of this bill is to stimulate economic activity, the federal government has ways of doing that, that may be more efficient than sending checks to state and local governments,” said Moody’s director of public sector research, which estimates that $56 billion is the actual price tag states need to cover shortfalls through 2022 after previously allocated aid is taken into account. Bloomberg also notes that “the financial impact overall has been far smaller than initially feared when Covid last year sent the US economy into the deepest recession since World War II, which left governors nationwide braving for the gravest fiscal crisis of modern times.”
Deficits on that scale were averted after the federal government pushed through stimulus plans in March and again late last year, driving stocks to record highs and promising to increase collections of capital gains taxes. The magnitude of the shortfalls also reflects the unusually uneven nature of the recession: While lower paid service industry employees were thrown out of work, the highest earners who pay far more in state taxes were less affected because they were able to work from home.
A lot of information here.
• Durham File: A Documentary Roadmap To Special Counsel Probe (JTN)
Freed from his double duty as Connecticut’s chief federal prosecutor, Special Counsel John Durham is zeroing in on the final phase of his far-reaching investigation into whether FBI officials or others committed crimes while conducting the Russia collusion probe, such as misleading federal judges or Congress. All expectations were that Durham would wrap up his probe with final indictments and/or a report last fall after a plea deal was reached with former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, who admitted he falsified a document submitted to substantiate an application for a surveillance warrant targeting the Trump campaign.
But FBI Director Chris Wray revealed Tuesday that the entire process — including the bureau’s ability to discipline agents involved in the Russia case — was slowed down at Durham’s request because of continuing concerns about potential criminality. “Because we are cooperating fully with Mr. Durham’s investigation, at his request we had slowed that process down to allow his criminal investigation to proceed,” Wray told the Senate Judiciary Committee. “So at the moment, that process is still underway in order to make sure we are being appropriately sensitive to the criminal investigation.” Wray’s comments signaling additional crimes are being investigated are consistent with what former Attorney General William Barr said late last year when he upgraded Durham from a U.S. attorney to a special counsel and expanded his investigative staff.
Interviews with a half dozen sources who have had interactions with Durham’s team say he is focused on whether FBI executives knowingly and unlawfully misled the FISA court and Congress by withholding exculpatory evidence, extending an investigation without justification and creating the illusion there was evidence of Russia collusion when most had been debunked or dismissed. The sources said one former senior FBI official has provided invaluable cooperation and context to what decisions FBI leadership and field agents were making in the probe on such consequential matters as what to tell Congress, the courts and Justice Department lawyers about the flaws, political origins and falsehoods in the Russia collusion narrative.
Most of the evidence that supports those concerns is now in the public domain after a series of declassifications that began last year and ended when former President Donald Trump declassified hundreds of pages of the most sensitive evidence during his last 24 hours in office in January. .
May be he should let Biden’s blunders grab the spotlight for a while.
• Trump Eyes 2024 Run Without Mike Pence (ZH)
Former President Donald Trump is telling allies he’s seriously considering a run for president in 2024, but may do so without former Vice President Mike Pence on his ticket, according to Bloomberg, citing ‘people familiar with the discussions.’ On Sunday, Trump all but announced at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) that he was running again – while privately, according to two of Bloomberg’s anonymous sources, he’s discussed “alternatives to Pence as he takes stock of who he believes stood with him at the end of his term and who didn’t.” Trump’s advisers have discussed identifying a Black or female running mate for his next run, and three of the people familiar with the matter said Pence likely won’t be on the ticket.
That said, given Trump’s history of choosing the ‘best person for the job’ regardless of color or sex, and notwithstanding obvious establishment picks, we imagine that last bit may be a non-starter for Trump. According to the report, Trump is considering South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem – who Trump Jr. and girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle are hosting a Friday fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago. Meanwhile, Trump publicly endorsed South Carolina Senator Tim Scott’s re-election. Scott is the only black Republican in the Senate.Following the 2020 election, Trump was livid after Pence didn’t “do the right thing” and reject Electoral College votes for Joe Biden from several contested states. In response, Trump tweeted that Pence “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our country and our Constitution.”
Pence rejected his boss’s appeals to unilaterally overturn Trump’s re-election defeat when he presided over the congressional count of Electoral College votes on Jan. 6. The event turned into an insurrection by Trump’s supporters, who invaded the Capitol, disrupted the count and forced the vice president and members of Congress to flee. Five people died in the melee. The two men didn’t speak for days afterward. Pence hasn’t said whether he’d be interested in running with Trump again, according to person familiar with the situation, who believes it’s doubtful Pence would. -Bloomberg. “President Trump hasn’t made any decisions regarding a potential 2024 run, but the buried lede here is that the media can’t stop talking about him,” said Trump adviser Jason Miller. According to the report “there’s been no serious consideration of future vice presidential candidates yet,” and if Trump runs, he won’t likely make a formal announcement until summer 2023, according to the anonymous sources.
• A Change in the Water (Ben Hunt)
Every morning, we take the previous day’s financial news – all of it – and run it through the Narrative Machine to see if any interesting clusters pop out as a topic for us to write about in one of these quick Zeitgeist notes. And when I say clusters, I literally mean clusters – the building blocks of a graphical representation of linguistic connectivity. But when I say clusters, what I really mean is patterns. I really mean changes in the narrative structure. We’re not doing this to learn new facts. We’re not really interested in the specifics of what people are saying. We are very interested, though, in how people are saying it. We’re looking for changes in how we talk about what is important in markets and investing. We’re looking for changes in the water in which we swim.
That water is changing today. It’s changing a lot. Increasingly, the common knowledge of our investment world – what everyone knows that everyone knows – is that inflation is a problem and you should be focused on it. For example, today in a popular financial news media aggregator, RealClearMarkets.com, of the 21 articles highlighted on their frontpage aggregator, 6 of them were about inflation … is it here? is it coming? what does it mean for your portfolio? does Bitcoin fix this? etc. etc. Again, I have zero interest in the specifics or the facts or the message or the sentiment of these selected articles (even though one of them was yesterday’s Epsilon Theory note).
What interests me a lot, though, is the CHOICE made by the editors and algorithms of RealClearMarkets.com to select these articles over all of the other financial news stories available to them. What interests me a lot is the recursive ENGAGEMENT that these articles and their shared linguistic structures trigger in readers, such that they will look for more articles on this topic, which means that more articles on this topic will be written. This is how common knowledge happens. This is how the water in which we swim changes.
“Wall Street and its vast army of apologists, lackeys, toadies, schemers, scammers, con-artists and profiteers will have us believe that the Everything Bubble is permanent..”
• When Does This Travesty of a Mockery of a Sham Finally Implode? (CHS)
The mutually reinforcing crises aren’t in the future, they’re here now, and Jay Powell’s shuck-and-jive has lost its magical powers to cloak the rot with speculative bubbles. How many more times do we have to watch Jay Powell claim his speculative bubble isn’t a bubble, and that his massive expansion of billionaires’ fortunes will magically create jobs for all those living in the real world he’s created of stagnation, social depression and inequality? In other words, when will this travesty of a mockery of a sham finally implode? When will the Universe tire of the lies, fraud, embezzlement and corruption and bring the whole rotten charade down? When will we tire of the stale tale of reflation, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing?
We all know the Status Quo’s response to the global financial meltdown of 2008 has been a travesty of a mockery of a sham–smoke and mirrors, phony facades of “recovery”, simulacrum “reforms,” serial bubble-blowing and politically expedient can-kicking, all based on borrowing and printing trillions of dollars, yen, euros and yuan, quatloos, etc. and funneling them to financiers, corporations, monopolies, cronies and billionaires. When will the travesty of a mockery of a sham finally come to an end? How many more “saves” does the Ponzi Scheme of central banking possess? Wall Street and its vast army of apologists, lackeys, toadies, schemers, scammers, con-artists and profiteers will have us believe that the Everything Bubble is permanent and its continued expansion will hide all the systemic rot hollowing out America.
On the other hand, maybe manipulation, lies and artifice can no longer keep the Everything Bubble from popping. The chart I prepared back in 2008 (below) give us a flavor of the confluence of crises that are no longer in the future–they’re here now. Cycles are not laws of Nature, of course; they are only records of previous periods of growth/excess/depletion/collapse, not predictions per se. Nonetheless their repetition reflects the systemic dynamic of growth, crisis and collapse, and so the study of cycles is instructive even though we stipulate they are not predictive.
Since each mechanism that burns out or implodes tends to be replaced with some other mechanism, this creates the recurring cycle of expansion / excess / depletion / collapse. Four long-wave cycles are plotted in the chart:
“No one has been charged with a firearms violation.”
• No Shots Fired By Rioters, No Firearms Recovered During Siege On Capitol (JTN)
No firearms were recovered on the U.S. Capitol grounds on Jan. 6 during the riot, and no shots were fired by the demonstrators, an FBI official on Wednesday told Congress.”To my knowledge we have not recovered any [firearms] on that day from any of the arrests at the scene at this point,” said Jill Sanborn, assistant director of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division. “No one has been charged with a firearms violation.” Sanborn made her comments during a joint oversight hearing in the Senate to examine the breach of the U.S. Capitol. In addition to Sanborn, witnesses included the commander of the Washington, D.C. National Guard, and civilian officials from the Pentagon.
During testimony, Sanborn responded to questions from Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, who asked whether firearms were present or used during the siege. “How many shots were fired that we know of?” Johnson asked. “The only shots fired were the ones that resulted in the death of the one lady,” Sanborn said, referencing Ashli Babbitt, a protester who was shot and killed by a Capitol Police officer during heightened tension inside the building. Other testimony examined the timeline of when the National Guard was dispatched to help an overwhelmed civilian police force during the siege on the Capitol.
The National Guard was dispatched to the riot more than three hours after Capitol Police made a desperate call for help with a “dire emergency,” a two-star general testified Wednesday before Congress. Major Gen. William Walker, who commands the District of Columbia National Guard, told senators that the 1:49 p.m. call for help from the guard on Jan. 6 was approved in a message that reached him after 5 p.m. At that point, troops who were waiting on buses sped to the Capitol, and helped to secure a perimeter, Walker said. Walker made his comments during a hearing to examine the breach of the U.S. Capitol. In addition to Walker, civilian officials from the Pentagon and the FBI are scheduled to testify.
“More US sanctions were announced yesterday against our country. In this particular case, with regard to arms exports, they cause bewilderment…”
• Biden Bans Export Of Defense Articles To Russia, Which Got None Since WWII (RT)
Russia’s Service of Military-Technical Cooperation has noted its “bewilderment” after Washington imposed an export ban on “defense articles and defense services” to the country, despite Russia not receiving any US arms since 1945. On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken unveiled new sanctions against Moscow after the alleged poisoning and “attempted assassination of Russian opposition figure Aleksey Navalny.” “The US government has exercised its authorities to send a clear signal that Russia’s use of chemical weapons and abuse of human rights have severe consequences,” a press statement from Blinken said. As part of the restrictions, Russia has been included in Section 126.1 of the US International Traffic in Arms Regulations, which essentially means that any requests from Moscow to buy defense-related items would be flatly rejected.
“More US sanctions were announced yesterday against our country. In this particular case, with regard to arms exports, they cause bewilderment,” the federal service noted. “Arms supplies from the United States to Russia are not carried out and, of course, are not planned.” The government body also noted that the last time any military equipment was delivered to Russia from the US was through the lend-lease program during WWII, which ended on August 21, 1945. Speaking to Moscow daily RBK, Russian International Affairs Council expert Andrey Frolov noted that the new sanctions are likely to be toothless and do not pose any threat to the military-industrial complex, which does not rely on American supplies.
Another expert, Ruslan Pukhov from the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies think tank, revealed that restrictions won’t actually prevent any export contracts if the US wants to implement them. In particular, he cited the example of Rosoboronexport, which was removed from the sanctions list to sign a contract to supply the Afghan Army with helicopters, and was put back on the list straight after.
Defying credulity, the spokesman suggested that the US had “acted in a deliberate manner that aims to de-escalate the overall situation in both eastern Syria and Iraq.”
• Delusions of Self-Defense: Biden Bombs Syria (OffG.)
Every power worth its portion of salt in the Levant these days seems to be doing it. On February 25, President Joe Biden ordered airstrikes against Syria. The premise for the attacks was implausible. “These strikes were authorized in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq,” claimed Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, “and to ongoing threats to those personnel.” More specifically, the strikes were in retaliation for rocket attacks in northern Iraq on the airport of Erbil that left a Filipino contractor working for the US military dead and six others injured, including a Louisiana National Guard soldier. The targets in Syria were facilities used by Iranian-backed militia groups, including Kataib Hezbollah and Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada. According to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the attack left up to 22 people dead.
The Biden administration has resorted to tactics long embraced by US presidents. To be noticed, you need to bomb a country. The measure, more a sign of raging impotence than stark virility, is always larded with jargon and bureaucratic platitudes.“We said a number of times that we will respond on our timeline,” explained Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to reporters keeping him company on a flight from California to Washington. “We wanted to be sure of the connectivity and we wanted to be sure about the right targets.” He was convinced “that the target was being used by the same Shia militants that conducted the [February 15] strikes.”
Seven 500-pound bombs were used in the operation, though Stars and Stripes initially reported that “the type of weaponry used” was not disclosed. The Pentagon had been keen to push a larger range of targets, but Biden was being presidential in restraint, approving, as the New York Times puts it, “a less aggressive option”. Kirby insisted the operation had been the sensible outcome of discussions with coalition partners. “The operation sends an unambiguous message: President Biden will act to protect American and Coalition personnel.” Defying credulity, the spokesman suggested that the US had “acted in a deliberate manner that aims to de-escalate the overall situation in both eastern Syria and Iraq.”
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From Trump’s world to Orwell’s world.
Shahid Buttar: Democrats are taking us from Trump's world to Orwell's. pic.twitter.com/G2kW5hfsEE
— Turncoat Don (@TurncoatD) February 28, 2021
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