Fox News personality Kimberly Guilfoyle on The
expressed her desire for Russian President Vladimir Putin, or
someone like him, to briefly hold power in the United States, and
“get it done right.” That is, dramatically escalate our war in Iraq
until the Islamic State (a.k.a. ISIL or ISIS) is eliminated.
Let’s not deprive Guilfoyle of context, though. In an
Obama-bashing session Tuesday, co-host Greg Gutfeld lauded a
proposal by London Mayor Boris Johnson to strip of their
citizenship any Brits who go into terrorist zones, and questioned
why our president isn’t doing something similar.
Gutfeld: Can we actually do this without violating their
so-called civil liberties?
Guilfoyle: Um, guess what? I don’t care. In fact, I hope we
violate a lot of their civil liberties. This is war, this is
terror. There should be no mercy involved, because they have shown
none. Can I just make a special request on the magic lamp? Can we
get, like, Netanyahu, or, like, Putin in for 48 hours, you know,
head of the United States. I don’t know, I just want somebody to
get in here and get it done right, so that Americans don’t have to
worry and wake up in the morning fearful of a group that’s
murderous and horrific like ISIS.
First, it seems that Guilfoyle has overstated the threat of
ISIL. “The FBI and Homeland Security Department say there are no
specific or credible terror threats to the U.S. homeland from the
Islamic State militant group,”
reports the Associated Press.
Perhaps the Fox personality isn’t familiar with Russia’s
equivalent to America’s War on Terror: The Chechen Wars. Putin
wasn’t around for the first one, which lasted less than two years.
But when he took power in 2000, he dragged out the second bloody
domestic conflict until mid-2009. Officially. The insurgency continues
to this day, with over 600 reported terrorist crimes in the
region just last year. The most recent suicide bombing on Russian
this past December. I think he’d need more than 48 hours to
take on ISIL.
Guilfoyle’s comments seem particularly off-color, since Russia’s
latest military aggression is an unjustified land grab in
Ukraine. Did Putin “get in there and get it done right”? He
quickly, successfully seized Crimea, but six months later, it’s
proven to be a 10,000 square miles money pit. Additionally, the war
has brought the ruble to its
lowest value in years, has turned the European Union against
Russia with sanctions, and is putting the country on the
brink of recession.
Big government begets bigger government. The Fox host
admits civil liberties don’t mean shit to her at the first tenuous
sign of danger thousands of miles away. Lucky for her, violating
rights is one of the Kremlin’s favorite hobbies.
Just ask a Russian libertarian: Dissident media is
censored, activists and journalists face prison time, and exiling
is in again.
The Obama administration has many faults, but if
neoconservatives want authoritarians, they can shuffle off to
Russia and spare the rest of us.
The New York Times recently published a
fascinating story and
Q and A with Jeffrey Kessler, a lawyer on a quest to bring down
the NCAA’s restrictions on paying players. The lawsuit centers
squarely on how such restrictions hurt players who never see a dime
of the money they earn for their schools. Kessler believes
conditions are right to abolish the faux-amateurism of college
sports once and for all:
[Kessler:] “Our case is directed specifically at the core
restrictions that prevent schools from deciding for themselves how
they want to treat their players. What we are seeking to do is
remove the shackles so that the schools can decide themselves what
is the fair and appropriate way to take care to their players.
If you have a school like Texas that earns close to $200 million
for their football or basketball programs, you might decide it is
fair to give some of that to the players who are generating the
money once you are no longer stopped from doing so.”
Kessler uses direct—some would say libertarian—language in his
attacks on the NCAA. He considers the organization to be a criminal
“cartel” that prevents schools from giving players market-based
[NYT:] In a recent decision in the O’Bannon case, the
judge ruled that schools should make scholarships cover the full
cost of attending, but also set up trust funds for athletes that
are potentially limited to $5,000 a year. Is that a good enough
[Kessler:] The market should decide what’s
the result. If a school wants to offer $5,000 a year to their
players, they can do that. And if another school wants to offer a
different number, they can do that. Someone might say, “Let’s put
it in a trust fund.” Someone else might say, “I’m going to pay
through increased health benefits or insurance.” Someone else might
say, “I’m going to give you enhanced scholarships.” That’s what
Q. In your scenario, couldn’t we see schools engaging in
bidding wars for teenagers?
A. The players won’t get one dollar more than
the markets decide they are worth. Schools will make different
decisions. Some schools will not want to do this at all.
The Ivy League doesn’t offer athletic scholarships — that’s not
going to change. The idea here is, let schools decide, let’s not
have a cartel decide. That’s what’s illegal.
The complicating factor is that colleges exist in a world filled
with other market distortions that would frustrate any
great sports liberation. Most obviously: State universities get
some of their funding by coercing taxpayers, and even though their
athletic departments are often separate financial entities, that
boundary is sometimes blurred.
The best way to undue all this market confusion is to privatize
the universities entirely, of course.
“Swatting” has been highlighted
in the press when celebrities have been targeted, but that’s only
part of the story. Tech-savvy pranksters have called the police
claiming to be at a home or building engaged in violence, sometimes
claiming to have shot other people and threatening even more
violence. But it’s a scam, and police send SWAT teams out to
respond in force to peaceful people living their lives and put
everybody at risk.
Though the swatting of celebrities gets much more attention,
they aren’t the only targets. Popular gamers who have YouTube or
Twitch channels have also been targeted. These Internet celebrities
may be unknown to the general populace, but many of them have
thousands—even millions—of fans, and gaming is obviously a popular
recreation for technophiles, even the sinister hacker types.
Furthermore, calling in a SWAT raid on a gamer who streams play
online may result in the raid being captured live on web cam,
something the swatter probably finds even more amusing. That’s
exactly what happened Wednesday to Jordan “Kootra” Mathewson of
Littleton, Colorado. His streamed session of Counter-Strike at his studio in an office building was
interrupted when a SWAT raid came storming in. Alt weekly Westword posted the contents of a press release detailing
what the swatter told the police:
Littleton Police received a 911 call at 11:27 am this morning
reporting a shooting and hostages at 1221 W. Mineral Avenue.
Littleton Police, Littleton Fire Rescue and law enforcement from
multiple agencies responded. There were no victims discovered after
the initial search of the building by entry teams. A second search
of the building confirmed that there were no victims and no shots
fired at the location. Police are questioning several employees of
the office building who are cooperating with investigators.
Nearby schools and buildings were all evacuated.
Here’s the video below. Take note of how they treat Mathewson
(and what happens when they discover they’re being streamed live on
I suppose it’s a “training issue” that police officers for some
reason believe “acting like a threatening asshole to any other
human being you encounter” is synonymous with “gaining control of a
situation.” These reactions are exactly the kinds of things
swatters are hoping for. Because the police have developed this
reputation for violent, over-the-top reactions to everything, they
are actually reinforcing the value of using swatting as a way to
The defense would be, “What if it were real?” The police can’t
simply ignore these calls. In a sad irony, these are actually the
kinds of calls that SWAT teams were invented to help deal with. But
I suspect that’s one of the reasons that inspire such an explosive,
credulous response from police. Data shows that SWAT raids are hardly ever
used for actual hostage situations any more. Every real hostage
or violent situation where the police can play the heroes can be
used as a counterargument to calls for police demilitarization.
As much as law enforcement agencies complain about the growth of
hackers instigating unjustified SWAT raids, their own stormtrooper
mentality of responding to every single interaction with the public
certainly doesn’t help matters.
The Russian Ruble has collapsed this morning to its weakest against the USDollar on record. The drop – similar in size to the drop when US and Europe unleashed Sanctions 3.0 – has sent USDRUB to 36.89. Russian stocks are down 2.2% this morning – biggest drop in 3 weeks – and Russian bonds are weaker (10Y +20bps back above 5%). We can’t help but think somewhere Shinzo Abe is getting ideas about how to really devalue his nation’s currency to competitiveness…
The last time the Ukraine who cried Russian wolf invasion swore it had blown up Russian military vehicles, as part of the humanitarian convoy, it turned out rather quickly it had lied after it couldn’t provide any evidence of this. So, in keeping with crying wolves, now is the time for try #2. From BBG:
UKRAINE SAYS TWO COLUMNS OF RUSSIAN MILITARY VEHICLES DESTROYED
UKRAINE SAYS RUSSIAN MILITARY VEHICLES DESTROYED NEAR ILOVAYSK
Judging by the market reaction, which actually rose on the headlines, it is becoming clear that Ukraine propaganda has lost all market moving abilities, as not even the algos buy the fabricated attempts at escalation.
And in other news, after not even NATO, which has been in full warmonger mode today, dared to use the word “invasion” opting instead for the much more politically correct “incursion”, here is the UK using the same phrasing:
CAMERON: CONCERNED BY EVIDENCE OF RUSSIA INCURSION INTO UKRAINE
Finally, and as always, we look for Putin’s take on today’s events.
However, one thing is clear: since only Citadel’s execution algos of NY Fed trading orders matters, expect today’s “drop” to be quickly erased and the manipulated rally in the last minutes of trading to take the S&P to fresher, recorder highs as the world supposedly teeters on the edge of World War III.
Bravely, the state government of California is
on the verge of banning the sale of Confederate flags… by the
state government of California. Both houses of the California
legislature voted in favor of the bill by a large margin and Gov.
Jerry Brown (D) is expected to sign it. The bill’s sponsor claimed
the legislation was meant to fight “the ugly hatred of racism.”
Political commentator John McWhoreter, who has described himself
as a “cranky,
liberal Democrat,” provides the right context to see the bill
for what it is, a largely symbolic effort that’s not actually
“making a real difference in black lives (and deaths).” An excerpt,
via The Daily Beast:
If we are really OK with ourselves, we do not require that our
environment be perfectly free of any visual evidence historically
connectable to ills of the past. Beyond a certain point—and I say
we’re beyond it—it’s time to live in the present and look
And no, not forward in the sense of pretending racism doesn’t
exist. I mean forward in working on racism-related issues that are
susceptible to constructive address—which flag-banning is not—and
making a real difference in black lives (and deaths).
When we talk about “fending off” racism, we need to fend off the
kind of thing that happened to people like Michael Brown, John
Crawford, Eric Garner, and Ezell Ford all within the past month’s
I would add only that the state’s move to ban Confederate flags
from being sold by the state government doesn’t go far enough.
Given California’s serious fiscal problems, the state shouldn’t be
in the business of running gift shops at museums in the first
place. It’s a function that could easily be relegated to the
private sector. Renting out museum gift shops would probably create
more revenue for the state, and a stable source since it won’t be
based on the government’s ability to run a profitable gift
Also of note to stress the hypocrisy of the California
legislature for deciding that in the month police brutality and
racism have become a national issue they would tackle the sale of
Confederate flags at government stores: In addition to Brown,
Crawford, Garner, and Ford, who was killed in Los Angeles, there
were at least two other questionable deaths at the hands of police
in California in just the few weeks
after the Brown shooting: 19-year-old Diana Showman was shot by
a cop in San Jose who said he mistook a power drill in her hand for
an Uzi, and 36-year old Dante Parker, an employed, married, father
of two died in police custody after being Tased.
There’s also the
beating of a woman by an officer of the California Highway
Patrol earlier this summer. He is not on patrol duty but continues
to collect a paycheck after being caught on tape wailing on a
woman. And last week a sheriff’s deputy in Kern County, California,
received probation and 480 hours of community service for
killing two pedestrians while driving his patrol car in excess of
85 miles an hour and striking and killing two pedestrians. His
negligence will cost taxpayers more than $8 million but
California’s civil service laws make it almost impossible to fire
him for the action. The inability of police departments to
appropriately discipline and dismiss problem cops makes it
virtually impossible to effectively combat police racism. Given the
power armed government agents have to use violence against
residents, which they tend to use disproportionately against black
ones, California’s legislators need to focus on civil service
reforms that will make it possible to “fend off the ugly hatred of
racism” where it’s at its most lethal, in police forces around
California and the country.
“The de-escalation strategy with Moscow has failed,” warns Joachim Krause, Director of the Institute for Security Studies, concluding ominously that “A war between Russia and the West… is a real possibility.” As Handelsblatt reports, Krause states “we should not deny this reality any longer.”
The Director of the Institute for Security Studies at the University of Kiel, Joachim Krause, holding a war between Russia and the West for possible, the West should now not clearly show the flag in view of the escalating situation in Ukraine. “A war between Russia and the West, I do not wind up currently, but if the West will not respond with the necessary determination and effectiveness, a war in a few years could be a real possibility,” Krause told Handelsblatt Online.
The fact that Russia’s invasion takes place in the Ukraine a week before the NATO summit, show that Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin challenged the West generally. “We should set out and deny this reality any longer.”
“What we are experiencing these days, is an armed aggression of Russia against Ukraine,” Krause said. He referred to the aggression defined by the United Nations of 1974 Then was also to be considered “sending by or on behalf of a State of armed bands, groups, irregulars or mercenaries” as interstate aggression, “if this is of such gravity as to in its consequences a regular invasion equals “.
Thus, the policy of the federal government had failed to hold a de-escalation strategy which Moscow to intervene militarily in the Ukraine.
* * *
But, but, but US equities tell us that risk is de-escalating?
Pending Home Sales fell 2.7% year-over-year making this the 10th month of falling YoY sales. This print beat expectations of a 3.5% decline but last month’s data was revised lower to a 4.7% decline. MoM sales jumped 3.3% but the series has been extremely noisy in the last 6 months as the Northeast saw a seasonally-adjusted gain of 6.2% MoM (and Midwest fell 0.4%).
LAPD Deputy Chief Stephen Downing (Ret.)
writes: It is sad that it took a police killing and
the excessive deployment of a military presence by local law
enforcement in Ferguson, Missouri to focus national attention upon
a problem that has been metastasizing within American law
enforcement since the early 1970s.
The militarization of local law enforcement was seeded by the
Nixon administration’s declaration of the war on drugs in the early
1970s, and took root in the 1980s as result of President Reagan’s
escalation that poured millions into the drug war, shifting the
focus of local law enforcement away from violent and property
crimes to mostly small-time drug offenders.
Last December, Federal Judge Clark Waddoups struck down a
central part of the Utah law banning polygamy. Yesterday he issued
the rest of his ruling, dealing not with the statute itself but
with the husband and wives at the center of the case—Kody, Meri,
Janelle, Christine, and Robyn Brown, stars of the reality show Sister Wives. Nate Carlisle of The Salt Lake
Waddoups in December struck the section of Utah’s
bigamy statute that can be applied when someone “cohabits with
another person” to whom they are not legally married. Utah law made
such a union a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
Waddoups said the ban violated the First and 14th amendments to the
Waddoups let stand the portion of the statute that prevents someone
from having more than one active marriage license.
In the final portion of his ruling Wednesday, Waddoups found the
Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman violated the Browns’
constitutional rights when he oversaw a 2010 investigation into
whether the Brown family was committing bigamy. At the time the
Browns lived in Lehi. They have since moved to Nevada. Buhman
not to file criminal charges, but Waddoups said the
investigation stifled the Browns’ rights to free speech, religion
and equal protection.
Waddoups ordered Utah to pay the Browns’ attorney fees as a result
of that finding.
Utah’s attorney general says he plans to appeal the ruling; if
he does, I hope he loses again. As I wrote
when Waddoups’ earlier decision came down:
The case is drenched in the politics of
polygamy, but in one important way it isn’t about polygamy at all.
The Browns all live together, but only one of the wives has a
marriage license. To the extent that their family departs from
American marital norms, it is a private arrangement unrecognized by
the state. The Browns’ household is more like the informal and
contractual gay unions that have
existed for decades than the fully recognized same-sex
marriages that many states are beginning to allow today.
And that’s all that is now legal. Previously, Utah considered a
person guilty of bigamy if, “knowing he [or she] has a husband or
wife or knowing the other person has a husband or wife, the person
purports to marry another person or cohabits with another person.”
It is the final part of that restriction—the bit about
cohabitation—that comes into play here. If a dozen roommates in San
Francisco decide to set up a polymorphous polyamorous partnership, the law
would have nothing to say about the matter. (The building code
enforcers might object, I suppose. But that’s a separate issue.)
Utah’s rules are different, and they are different because of a
long legacy of prejudice
and religiously targeted persecution. Pointing to this persecution
and to a history of selective enforcement, Judge Clark Waddoups
ruled that the portion of the statute prohibiting cohabitation
violates the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty.
Pointing to other matters of law, such as the fact that Utah no
longer has common-law
marriages, he ruled that the ban on “purport[ing] to marry
another person” should apply only to someone attempting or
pretending to acquire more than one marriage license. That puts
households like the Browns’ in the clear.
So Utah is not about to start recognizing group marriages. It’s
just going to stop bringing criminal charges against people who
have done nothing more than establish their own unlicensed big-love
To read the rest of that article—including my argument that this
decriminalization will make it easier, not harder, to act against