The Fall of the Colors

We look at the fall forest — here at Shavers Fork, West Virginia — but we do not see the falling trees. (Wikipedia Photo)

Every day, most of us look directly at one of the worst manifestations of global industrial pollution — only one of which is climate change — and yet we do not see it. Especially this time of year, we stare at it, take trips to see even more of it, and marvel to each other about how “gorgeous” it is. We look at the colors of the forest, but we do not see the sickness of the trees. Let me warn you: once you do see, you cannot unsee, although you will wish most fervently that you could. Continue reading

Presidential Poll Dancing

TrumanDewey

Pollsters used to get it wrong once in a great while, as when they missed Harry Truman’s victory. Now they get it wrong a lot, and it matters.

There are a lot of things wrong with the horse-race meme as it is applied to presidential politics. (“Coming around the first turn, it’s Chump Change in the lead, with Doctor Strangelove coming up on the inside….”) We all understand, if we think about it for just a minute, that an election is not a horse race, and to describe it as if it is adds nothing to our comprehension of what is actually happening.

It accomplishes the same thing Ronald Reagan used to do, in his early days as a sportscaster, when he took the box scores of a faraway baseball game off the wire service and used them to imagine the game itself and broadcast a play-by-play description. No harm, no foul, we might say; although the broadcast was bogus, it was entertaining, made money for the broadcaster, and was, as they say, inspired by true events.

But what if the box scores were bogus? Continue reading

Fortune: “Frackers Face Mass Extinction”

It’s twilight in the fracking patch. America is slowly awakening to the dimensions of the disaster. (Photo by Daniel Foster/Flickr)

Awareness is gradually seeping into the financial press that the Great American Oil Revolution has been over for months — witness the current Fortune headline, “Frackers Could Soon Face Mass Extinction.” If the general media had any grasp of what was happening in America, or what it meant, CNN would be doing wall-to-wall coverage of the deserted man-camps in North Dakota, the unemployment lines in Texas, the equipment yards stacked with idle derricks, the spreading panic in the junk-bond, bond and stock markets. Instead we get Donald’s beautiful tax plan, Hillary’s elusive emails and Carly’s mythical video tapes.

Today is the last day of the rest of the frackers’ lives. That’s because it is the last day of the third quarter of the year, the day after which banks audit their loans, assessing anew the value of the assets held as collateral. Continue reading

Habemus Papam: We Have a Pope

Pope Francis is touching millions -- by being nice. Who knew that would work? (Wikipedia Photo)

Pope Francis is touching millions — by being nice. Who knew that would work? (Wikipedia Photo)

[WARNING: One of the side effects of reading the following may be a brief period of feeling somewhat good about things. It should pass by itself (just read any other article on The Daily Impact) but if it persists for more than four hours, please seek medical attention.]

I am not a Catholic. Not even a Christian, really, despite my admiration for the teachings of Christ; none of the organizations that profess to represent him seem to me to do so. I am not an atheist, it’s just that the God that I believe in is not the one they are all talking about. But as of today, I am a Papist. Continue reading

When This Caterpillar Dies, We Don’t Get a Butterfly [UPDATE]

Unsold Caterpillar bulldozers lined up in Sao Paulo, Brazil. These are the caterpillars that signal what the financial winter is going to be like. (Photo by Roger W/Flickr)

Unsold Caterpillar bulldozers lined up in Sao Paulo, Brazil. These are the caterpillars that signal what the financial winter is going to be like. (Photo by Roger W/Flickr)

In order to have an industrial economy you have to build industrial things — roads, ports, buildings, power stations and their grids, airports, houses and shopping centers — and you have to replace them when they wear out. Such building is the activity on which an industrial society rests, the primary source of jobs and all the consequent economic activity that flows from people with jobs. What every one of these building projects needs, in addition to capital and workers, is heavy machinery. That is why the health of Caterpillar, the world’s dominant manufacturer of heavy equipment, and to a lesser extent England”s JCB, are taken as precursors of the world’s financial health.

Call hospice. Continue reading

If Corporations Were People, VW Would be Bernie Madoff

Auto emissons

No, seriously, I can pass the emissions test, just put me on the machine. I’m a Volkswagen clean diesel, for crying out loud.

Volkswagen has just perpetrated on the United States and possibly the world an act of criminality that is stunning for its scale, depravity, and lack of a payoff. The company — the whole company, not just a few proverbial bad apples — has been caught designing its diesel cars (The Jetta, Passat and the BMW X5) to control their emissions when being tested, but to remove those controls when being driven normally. As a result, for six years about half a million diesel autos have been emitting 40 times the nitrous oxide, a smog precursor, allowed by law. The cars that did this were marketed as “clean diesels.”

In an article headlined “Pure Evil, VW Edition,” a website called Reality Based Community explained what the company did: Continue reading

The Great Rebate: Can We Get Our Money Back?

They lined up like contestants in a game show, in front of the prize they get if they win — a huge airplane known as Air Force One. Hard to know what the intended symbolism was, but it made them look like very small people. They came, ostensibly, to explain why they should be selected Pilot in Chief (with the two current front runners leading in the race because they have never flown an airplane).

They were in California, which was burning. Continue reading

Cops in America: Safer Than They Have Ever Been

Police stand watch as demonstrators protest the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown on August 13, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri.

Police stand watch as demonstrators protest the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown on August 13, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. If there is a war on cops, the cops in St. Louis County are ready. But where is the evidence, and who is the enemy? (Wikipedia photo)

The notion that there is a “war on cops” being conducted in America — beloved of headline writers, politicians, and cops — is a complete myth. Policing, it turns out, is not an especially dangerous job, nor is it getting more so. If you want to honor someone who goes out there every day and puts his life on the line for you, hold a parade for the person who catches your fish. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, commercial fishing is the most dangerous job in America. On the Bureau’s list of the ten most dangerous occupations, police officer does not appear. Nor is the trend going the wrong way; fewer cops were murdered in 2013 than in any year in the past generation, and it looks like 2015 will be about the same. Continue reading

America’s Refugee Crisis: On Its Way

Syrian refugees in a camp in Turkey proclaim their reverence for the Koran being held aloft, and their hatred for Syrian dictator Hafez Assad. (Photo by Freedom House/Flickr)

Syrian refugees in a camp in Turkey proclaim their reverence for the Koran being held aloft, and their hatred for Syrian dictator Hafez Assad. (Photo by Freedom House/Flickr)

Hideous choices now urgently confront the countries of Europe as they flounder in deep waters, borne down toward drowning by the inexorably growing weight of human misery cascading into and over them from Africa and Asia. Solutions are not even imaginable, especially when so few recognize the root causes. [See “The Choice Worse than Sophie’s,” “A Tsunami of Climate Refugees is Drowning Europe.”] What even fewer will admit is that a refugee crisis of similar intensity is coming to America. In a sense, it is already here.

The refugee crisis now gestating in the United States is not one of desperate brown people pouring over our southern border, Continue reading

The Crash of 2015: It’s Here

A CNBC anchor after trying to explain hedging against the volatility of stocks indexed to the Volatility Index.

A CNBC anchor after trying to explain hedging against the volatility of stocks indexed to the Volatility Index. The end is near now.

Screw it, I’m calling it. I’ve been watching the so-called “markets” of China, the United States and a couple dozen other countries fall off a cliff, get up, stagger upward, fall off another cliff, and repeat. I’ve been listening to the chattering class say over and over again, this is normal, seen this before, everybody buy the dip. I’ve been watching the zombie oil-fracking revolution in this country go into spasms, jerking a few feet forward, a few feet back, gasping for breath, while the cheerleaders agree: perfectly normal, blood pressure okay, reflexes good, lend them more money. This is not normal, it is not okay, it is the Crash of 2015. Continue reading