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

Financial Doomsday Clock “One Minute to Midnight”

Midnight in the Market

Watching the Great Bubble of China deflate. What happens in China does not stay in China.

The hair-on-fire headline reads, in full: “Doomsday clock for global market crash strikes one minute to midnight as central banks lose control.” But here’s the thing — the headline does not appear in a hair-on-fire, Chicken-Little website such as (one might slanderously call) Zero Hedge, David Stockman’s Contra Corner, Wolf Street or (dare I append this name to the list of Titans?) The Daily Impact. It appears on the website of  one of the world’s top mainstream newspapers, Britain’s  The Daily Telegraph. And here’s the subhead: “China currency devaluation signals endgame leaving equity markets free to collapse under the weight of impossible expectations.”

Worried yet? Don’t be. It’s way too late. Continue reading

A Tsunami of Climate Refugees is Drowning Europe

refugees-greek-sea

Can you imagine what it would take for you to take your family on a vessel like this to cross an angry sea to a foreign country, just to stay alive? This boat is bound for a Greek island from North Africa.

One of the most desperate and destructive diasporas in history is rolling out of the parched regions of Africa and the Middle East, over Europe, toward extinction. They are being called refugees from war, but the wars they are fleeing have their origins in the desperation of people who have no food, and they have no food because of the savage droughts being inflicted on their countries by global climate change. Hence, it is perfectly legitimate, and more importantly it is honest, to call them climate refugees.

(Among all 423 current candidates for US President, only Martin O’Malley demonstrated a grasp of this reality when he said that climate change is responsible for the rise of ISIS. He was almost universally ridiculed for saying it, and this tiny, lonely spark of sense fell on wet ground and was instantly extinguished.) Continue reading

The Crash of 2015: Now Arriving at Gates 3,7,12,19…..

This is where stock and gas prices are going. To see the panic index, turn your screen upside down.

This is where every component of the world economy is going. To see the panic index, look at your screen in a mirror.

If the world economy were an airline, what we’d be seeing now is hundreds of late and cancelled flights, missing airplanes, bankruptcies, thousands of staff layoffs and millions of unhappy customers. (Whoa, that was supposed to be a metaphor!) If we were in a hub airport of this airline, every incoming flight would be a tattered, smoking airplane with flat tires and bullet holes bearing more bad news from shell-shocked passengers. Some examples:

International Arrivals:

From China: The Shanghai Composite Index lost 13.4 percent of its value in July. That’s more than a correction and would have been a crash if the government had not a) halted trading in half the stocks listed, b) forbade the selling of large blocks of shares, and c) bought most of the shares that were sold. Continue reading

Blue Water Rising: It Could be Worse

Scientists are increasing their projections of how high sea level is going to rise, and how fast. (Photo by Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com)

Scientists are increasing their projections of how high sea level is going to rise, and how fast. (Photo by Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com)

The good news is that the mainstream media are beginning to report the bad news about climate change and rising sea levels. Witness these headlines from just the past few days:

  • Florida leads nation in property at risk from climate change” — The Miami Herald
  • U.S. Flood Risk Could Be Worse Than We Thought” — Time
  • Climate Change Will Cause Increased Flooding In Coastal Cities” — Forbes
  • The world’s most famous climate scientist just outlined an alarming scenario for our planet’s future” — The Washington Post

The bad news is that even now, the pundits cannot stop using the weasel words, false equivalencies and unsourced generalizations that give the politicians and other willfully ignorant people enough room to act as if nothing important is happening. Continue reading

American Exceptionalism: Not the Rule Any More

America-Firsters hated it when Will McAvoy deflated the country’s standing in the world on HBO’s The Newsroom. They hate it even more when academic studies show everything he said was true. (HBO Photo)

America-Firsters hated it when Will McAvoy deflated the country’s standing in the world on HBO’s The Newsroom. They hate it even more when academic studies show everything he said was true. (HBO Photo)

In the first episode of HBO’s The Newsroom, anchorman Will McAvoy (played by Jeff Daniels) delivers a rant that begins: “There is absolutely no evidence to support the statement that we’re the greatest country in the world.  We’re 7th in literacy, 27th in math, 22nd in science, 49th in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, 3rd in median household income, No. 4 in labor force and No. 4 in exports.” Writer Aaron Sorkin was accused of everything but jihad for having his character express such negative thoughts about America, and the program was heartily loathed during its run by real Americans. Now, three years later, a new academic study confirms what Will had to say. And more. Continue reading

The Fires This Time

The Rim Fire in California’s Sierra Nevada burned over a quarter million acres in 2013. Seemed amazing then, now it’s just another day in the woods (and on the tundra). (US Forest Service photo)

The Rim Fire in California’s Sierra Nevada burned over a quarter million acres in 2013. Seemed amazing then, now it’s just another day in the woods (and on the tundra). (US Forest Service photo)

An appalling amount of the Northern Hemisphere is on fire. At the beginning of this month, 314 wildfires were raging in Alaska alone. They have seared 5 million acres so far this year and have torched up to half a million acres in a single day. Meanwhile, to the east in Canada’s Northwest Territory, hundreds of fires were raging in the permafrost zone, having covered over two million acres by the end of June. The forested northern provinces of British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan were similarly afflicted — 522 fires in northern Saskatchewan alone by June 30, nearly four times as many as last year in the same period. Continue reading