Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Growing Sense of Ill Ease.

Upon returning from the long holiday weekend I was confronted with a couple of stories that I found most disconcerting and not at all coincidental. The first was an email reporting that Lockheed Martin had shut down all secured external access to email and other systems due to a cyber attack that had succeeded in making off with SecurID related data and possibly the means to generate one time codes that would allow entry into its systems. The warning also stated that the hack “strongly pointed to state-sponsored hackers.” If this were not disturbing enough I then came across a story in this morning’s Wall Street Journal titled “Cyber Combat: Act of War.” The first sentence sent chills down my spine. “The Pentagon has concluded that computer sabotage coming from another country can constitute an act of war, a finding that for the first time opens the door for the U.S. to respond using traditional military force.” The full story can be found here: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304563104576355623135782718.html?mod=WSJ_hp_LEFTTopStories

Couple this with the fact that we have a President in office who seems to think he can conduct undeclared war against whomever he feels whenever he wants and dismisses as “unnecessary” any obligations under existing legislation to obtain required authorization from Congress before extending US military action beyond 60 days and we have a recipe for both a Constitutional crisis and military crisis that could spin out of control with but one unexpected incident.

Now let’s throw into the mix a statement by the Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs, Moshe Yallon; “We would strongly hope that the entire civilized world will come to realize what threat this regime is posing and take joint action to avert a nuclear threat posed by Iran, even if it would be necessary to conduct a pre-emptive strike.”

It’s not that I don’t think that Iran does not represent an existential threat to Israel and Western Civilization in general. After all we are dealing with religious fanatics and not rational pragmatists as we had in the Soviet Union during the Cold War. That in and of itself is cause for grave concern, but I fear that either the President and his advisors (Zbigniew Brzezinski, is back and his advise worked out oh well for Jimmy Carter) are functioning like that group of blind men standing around an elephant and only able to see and describe what is within their immediate grasp, or this is all a deliberate manipulation of information and public opinion to drag us into an even wider war as the supposed solution the growing and ever threatening financial crisis. After all the American people have a long history of throwing out politicians and parties in the midst of economic crisis, war not so much. What better excuse to seize to the $10 Trillion in private IRA’s and 401K’s than a “national security crisis?” See my previous post.

So then say your prayers, for many it may be the only recourse we have left.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Obama and the Middle East or Doubling Down with Br’er Rabbit.

Seems it was not that long ago that I warned that our involvement in “liberating” Libya was going to become a tar-baby for Obama’s foreign policy. Weren’t we told it would be a “matter of days not weeks” before the situation was resolved? Well here we are 60 days in and the President’s authority under the War Powers Act is set to expire and by law he must go before Congress to get further authorization to extend our military involvement. I’m sorry Mr. President you just issuing a statement that our involvement is now “open ended” doesn’t cut it with the law or the American People.

So just what is the President’s plan here? It might have been a plausible story at the start that the Libyan people overwhelmingly wanted to get rid of Kaddafi and his clan. That Kaddafi and his supporters are having a fair amount of success in holding the rebels at bay in spite of the application of US and NATO air power raises some serious questions of judgment about getting involved in the first place.

Does this administration honestly think that making speeches placating the Palestinians and calling for more uncounted billions of dollars in aid be sent to the Arab world is going to make up for bombing the snot out of civilians in Tripoli? Obama likes to present himself as an anti-colonialist but this sure looks like the early 20th century's Teddy Roosevelt “carrot and stick”, American neo-colonialism to me.

I can’t help but conclude that Obama is in so far over his head that all he has left is shooting from the lip, throwing stuff against the wall and hoping something will stick. It’s a pretty bad specter of a man and a nation that somewhere in the back of his mind he may have resigned himself to being a one term President and is more concerned with creating some sort of “Well I tried” legacy than with actually solving any real problems.

So with one fist firmly imbedded in the tar of Libya he swipes with the other at Assad in Syria and then jumps in with both feet into the Palestinian question. With all the chaos going on in the Middle East I don’t think any rational person could tell you what that part of the world will look like in six months from now never mind a year or two. So then trying to create a new policy initiative built not just on shifting sands but in the middle of a blinding sandstorm, is either the epitome of narcissist arrogance or burgeoning ignorance or more likely the combination of the two. Or maybe he’s getting so much smoke blown up his backside by his so-called advisors that he’s blinded by the excess coming out his ears and can’t see he’s being played for a fool and the fall guy for an even more conflagrational war.

Growing Weary of the 9-11 Truthers.

It seems like about once a month or so we get another article somewhere either raising questions if not making nefarious accusations about the fate of Building 7 at the World Trade Center. The latest being that it was deliberately brought down so that it could be done in a controlled manner so as to minimize any collateral damage of it coming down on its own.

Whether it’s this scenario or any of the others, there are a couple of questions that I never see addressed. One: If it was a controlled demolition, how was it done so quickly? There exist many video productions of controlled demolitions. They all, without exception, document how it is a well thought out, planned and fully engineered process involving specific physical modifications to the structure that can take weeks if not months to put into place before the sirens go off and the button is pushed. Two: Even if one were to dismiss question #1 and contend that it was “rush job” executed to some pre- arranged plan, how can it be explained that during those events of that terrible day, as literally dozens if not hundreds of cameras both of the news media and private citizens, were focused on ground zero, no one has come forth with any video of these alleged demolition crews either going into or out of the building. Police, fire and rescue crews were everywhere, yet none have come forward to document any such “suspicious activity.”

I do know that that the center of building 7 contained a large open area with large, long span beams supporting the structure above it. These beams, as manufactured and installed may well have been more than adequate to do the intended job and I’m sure calculated to factors of safety to withstand shock loads. Much of the strength of these kinds of beam structures comes from both the particular alloy used and from how they are heat treated to lock in particular grain structures in order to maximize and balance yield and tensile strengths. When these kinds of specially conditioned steels are subsequently subjected to prolonged exposure to heat, as with an uncontrolled fire, grain structures change, molecules revert from the stronger face centered structure to the weaker body centered structure, and their thermally engineered strength goes away. Already subjected to huge loads, coming out of design intent, that their new metallurgical condition can no longer sustain, they bend and collapse. Having been located centrally in the structure everything then fell into this now unsupported void, looking very much like a “controlled” event.

Just my two cents worth, but I think it’s kind of an “Occam’s razor” kind of deal.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Tyranny at the Treasury Department or How I Learned to Love the Debt Bomb.

It would be my guess that both the two headed beast of Repulicrats in Congress and Tiny Tim the tax cheat at Treasury are breathing a collective sigh of relief at the moment. They just rolled out the opening precedent for the largest theft in history and the public’s response so far has been; “the Govonator did what?” Between Arnold’s peccadilloes and those of IMF chief Strauss-Kahn they could have not asked for a better cover for or distraction from this grand little scheme.

Maybe someone should check Geithner’s phone and email logs to see how long it took Helicopter Ben at the FED and his good buddy Blankfein at Goldman Sachs to call in their congratulations. I’d bet the first line was something like: “Debt ceiling? We don’t need no stinking debt ceiling!”

Getting pushed up against the legislative limits, rather than actually cutting off some of the bureaucrats budgets Treasury announces that it will start “borrowing against” the pension funds of Federal employees. They further assured us saying that there was no reason to worry because the Treasury was “legally” required to pay back those funds as soon as they became available under any new increase in the debt ceiling. The justification for this little sleight of hand was that that the pension funds are held in government controlled accounts. In reality the Treasury Department is simply converting whatever equities that are held by those funds into Treasury bonds. The banks collect huge fees for conducting the transactions, they kick back the pocket change to the politicians in campaign contributions, everybody keeps their mouth shut, and the powers that be laugh at the rest of us while making their deposits in off shore accounts.

So how much is in those accounts? What 2 – 3 trillion or so? Well that should be enough to keep up the spending charade for the next year or so while the public is kept distracted by the so-called “battle” over the budget and any debt ceiling legislation. Anyone who thinks this is anything but the first round in an even bigger scam to come is either stupid or already works for a politician or investment bank. With those monies now fully under their control, the Eye of Sauron will next fall upon that fat and inviting $10 trillion or so sitting in private IRA and 401k accounts. Well stealing from government employees is one thing right but how could they justify stealing private funds you say? Herein lays the all powerful and ubiquitous “commerce clause.” I can hear it already, “Well you see the government has done you the favor by allowing you to save all that money without letting Shylock, I mean the government, taking its ‘fair share’ through taxation. So at least, what 30% - 40%, is actually the government’s money and not yours.” It will kind of be like the Germans marching into the Sudetenland, they got their foot in the door, took what they said they were entitled too and after a short breather gobbled up the rest of Czechoslovakia.

Hey it worked for Greece didn’t it? It’s working in Spain right? The NY Times and the Washington Post aren’t running any front page stories on renewed riots in Greece or street protests in Madrid so they're either not happening or they're just not that important, right?

It’ hard to believe that Congress or the Obama Administration are serious about actually cutting the profligate spending. They both know that if they do, that number will come straight off the top of the GDP. But then maybe that’s part of the plan. The GDP falls, the market panics, the FED has it’s excuse for QE3, the FED loans even more money to Wall Street at 0%, they then buy up collapsing equities at bargain basement prices, the market goes back up and voila, problem solved! Better yet another couple of trillion dollars previously held by private individuals and pension funds are now in the hands of the Blankfein and friends and those now liquid funds are now ripe for the picking and conversion into Treasury Bonds!

So instead of complaining all you ingrates need to be thankful for the wizardry of the banks that have saved the economy once again! Hey those T-Bills are going to make wonderful wallpaper for you luxury one room retirement condo. That is if you don’t use them all for the toilet paper you won’t be able to afford first!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Gold & Silver, Good vs. Evil, and the Triumph of Insanity Principle

Anyone who knows me and/or has read what I have written previously knows that:
1. I am a lifelong student of history.
2. I am a strong advocate of buying gold and silver in these times of economic unraveling.

In a previous piece I raised and discussed my serious differences with one Glenn Beck and questioned who and what was motivating or influencing him in regards to monetary and economic policy. (Surprise, surprise he never answered my very direct inquiry). That said, there are some points on which he and I are in agreement; there does exist good and evil in this world. Whether one wants to call them demonstrations of the existence of God and the devil are a matter of personal decision if not individual struggle of conscience. But for the sake of this piece let’s just call them good and evil. I can’t and won’t elucidate on all the manifestations of good or evil but I do know that one of the manifestations of evil seems to be of a recurring theme.

The arc of history is a long and complex one, but I do know this about it; anyone who tells you that they have the definitive interpretation of it is either a paid shill for some political operation or blindly possessed of an egotistical arrogance out of all proportion to their actual understanding. This writer is no exception to this characterization.

As the child of a WWII vet and growing up in the ‘50s and ‘60s I was exposed to my share of the narrative of that war. Whether it was “Victory at Sea” early on or “The World at War” later on or all the myriad war movies in between, the Second World War was almost as much a part of my experience as it was of those who actually went through it. All the details of strategy and tactics, the results and implication of individual battles aside, I think the overarching lesson of WWII is in the uniqueness of its extremes. I can only speak for myself, but perhaps more than any other images of those that came out of the war, the systemic and systematic extermination of people and peoples made the greatest and most horrifying and formative impression. While the Japanese may have conducted the “Rape of Nanking” and indeed the rape of all they conquered out of a manifest cruelty or simply as mindless sport, it pales in comparison to the mechanized efficiency of the Nazi’s concentration camps.

Unfortunately today there are far too many who would try to simplify these events, if not to dismiss or excuse them, but to categorize them as just another example of “man’s inhumanity to man.” By doing so, they also dismiss their historical continuities and seek to separate, even if only unconsciously, from the continued existence of the very same manifest evil.

Even Hitler knew that although much of the German population may have been more than comfortable with their own prejudice and the de facto discrimination against any and all outside the new definitions of the “ideal German”, there would still be those who would be repulsed by an overt and stated policy of systematic genocide and extermination. Yet today we see not just a single nation, but groups of nations and alleged political and religious movements that have transitioned beyond even that poorly exercised moral restraint and into an open and stated policy of hatred, genocide and extermination. A policy that repulsed the entire civilized word not seventy years ago is manifest anew and far too many either turn a blind eye or find justification or excuses for it.

One would be hard pressed to find a credible historical narrative that would separate the rise of fascism, particularly Nazism and the economic despair and chaos of the Weimar hyper-inflation and the subsequent global depression. I’m not saying that there is a direct corollary between the event of the ‘20s and ’30s and today, but I do think that the onset of inflationary increases in the price of food and energy are playing a part in the growing turmoil in the Middle East and it is being used to manipulate the baser instincts in furtherance of the same corrupt and evil agenda.

It would also be a mistake to view its overt racism as the only pernicious danger of fascism that is on the rise. That even some of those who do recognize the corollary between the Nazis and the jihadists ignore its other dangers leaves us all to be sucked into its vortex. The merging of government and business in the creation and implementation of policy is the textbook definition of fascist governmental structure and yet we ignore it. President Eisenhower warned us about the emergence of the “military-industrial complex” back in the ‘50s and yet we ignore it.

How easy it is then if one pays much, or perhaps too much, attention to what is happening around us on a daily basis to become entangled in the minutia of the details of the moment, of the short term view or get caught up in the cause du jure and as a result, either lose or corrupt our long range perspective.

So what then does all this have to do with gold and silver as mentioned in the title of this piece? As I mentioned above I am, and remain an advocate of buying gold and silver in these perilous times. I do so not as a means of making a quick buck but rather as a means of protecting yourself and your family against the uncertainty of the times and the very real and exigent problems of inflation. I do so in recognition that the merging of government and business has produced a market system that nothing more than a rigged game, rigged for the benefit of bankers and business and politicians and to the detriment of the rest of society. A rigged game that has become known as “ponzinomics.” It’s a game that even many prominent politicians and businessmen recognize, but refuse to address because the consequences of it coming undone are too terrible to contemplate. So they go on accepting the lies, damned lies and statistics that come out of government bureaus and tell themselves it can just keep going on as is, if we can only just raise the debt ceiling now and worry about cutting spending later, as if to think that either/or, or some combination of the two will actually fix the problem or delay the consequences at least through the next election cycle or until after the next annual report comes out.

I am not alone in my advocacy of acquiring precious metals or railing against the corruption of the revolving door between banks, business and government. It doesn’t take an extensive search on the internet to come up with dozens if not hundreds of sites that share at least some of this perspective. What bothers me however is that some of the more notable figures in this field have become possessed of a dichotomous if not schizophrenic view when these two subjects intersect. They are all the ready to condemn the “evil empire” of Wall Street for manipulating markets with impunity and the apparent acquiescence of our so-called regulatory institutions, and corrupt and dangerous taxation and monetary policy. Yet at the same time they portray and would have their readers believe, that the chaos in the Middle East and the ongoing “Palestinian question” is all the result of some massive “Zionist conspiracy” to control US foreign policy and the region itself. What bothers me even more is that they come off as so self-righteous and condescending in stating their position as if to issue an unquestionable dismissal to any who might disagree. In this they seem to echo the arrogance and method of the political left in some of it most extreme forms. The climate alarmists for one come to mind. I can almost see it as playing the “race card” in reverse, if that makes any sense to the reader.

Is Israel perfect; is its foreign policy beyond reproach? Of course not, no nation is and no policy is. One of the consistent currents of history, up until the era on the UN anyway, has been that nations that institute wars of aggression against their neighbors and lose, subsequently also lose territory. At their ends treaties are signed, territories are annexed, borders are redrawn and populations migrate, often forcibly, to conform to the new conditions. Apparently when Muslim states wage war against Israel and lose this paradigm no longer applies. The Palestinians remain in refugee camps because their Arab brethren keep them there and refuse to allow them to integrate into their societies, not because of anything Israel is doing. They are a means to a political end, and nothing more.

In the ‘30s the world failed, no refused, to take Hitler at his word when he laid out his plans in “Mein Kamph.” The result was the most costly and destructive war the world has ever seen. Today the world refuses to take the Muslim fanatics at their word when they call for the same thing as Hitler. Isn’t the “Insanity Principle” doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Psychological Disconnect of the Petro-Dollar

Whether you are among those that consider the jihadists to be “terrorists,” or are among those who consider US foreign policy to be “terrorism” in its own right, or at the least is the source or cause of terrorism, has become quite irrelevant at this point of the conflict. Once one enters into the quasi-mystic world of moral and cultural relativism, all connections to logic, reason and historical precedent get left behind. This is how and when this particular form of political correctness becomes an obstacle to understand and addressing the clash of cultures between the West and Islam.

If one were to listen to much of the Arab and Islamic world and it defenders in the West, the source of the West’s “crime” against Islam has been our mere presence in the region, infidel boots desecrating the “sacred ground” of Islam. Since the dawn of time stronger nations have been influencing and manipulating if not conquering weaker ones as an instrument of foreign policy for their own benefit. How then is Western colonialism any different than the Moor’s occupation of Spain or the Ottoman Turk’s conquest of Greece and the Balkans? It’s not that there is anything inherently wrong with the concept of taking pride in a national or cultural identity. The problems arise when the element of religious fervor spills over into becoming a moral justification for an irrational blood lust exercised in the name of the supremacy one concept of “god” over another.

Such is of course the greatest of human weaknesses and failings over the centuries and indeed the hardest to overcome. “My god is better than your god.” “Worship my god, my way or be put to the sword or burned at the stake … etc… etc.” For much of the Arab world and particularly among the extremists elements, it is not just the presence of the “infidel” on their sacred soil, be it for whatever reason, that creates the offence, but that a modern world of advanced technology, mass and instantaneous communication, Western culture, be it in whatever form, automobiles, music, movies, television and now the internet have infiltrated and corrupted the desired static “purity” of their would be medieval 8th century societies.

Irrespective of whatever may be the foreign policy machinations of our governments, I’d think that most Westerners would be more than glad to limit our dealings with that part of the world to simply buying their oil at whatever price and wash our hands of most all the rest of it. Sadly the world of economic interaction does not work that way. The accumulation of all those petro-dollars does the recipients little good if they can’t in turn further exchange them for some other more tangible goods or services. Therein lays the rub, the source of the conflict. How can the Arab street aspire to maintain some ethereal and static 8th century cultural “purity” and at the same time desire all those technological innovations that are the epitome of, the very manifestation of the Western capitalist and cultural system? Under what paradigm can they benefit from interaction with and indeed absorption of these elements of Western culture and at the same time hope to remain apart and uninfluenced by it? Is there not some failure of logic, some rational disconnect in blogging on some jihadist web site that calls for the death of the great Satan and the imposition of Sharia law on the West and at the same time using the fruits and benefits of Western technology in complaining about the corruption of Islamic culture by influences of this same Western technology?

We are left then to assume that the desired interpretation of Arab and/or Islamic cultural “purity” would be one where children are seen but not heard, where women are neither seen nor heard, and the delusion that the intellectual liberation that comes from the exposure to a myriad of sources of information and influences from outside a previously closed society, is a genie that can and should be forced back into the bottle via the instruments of violent religious fervor, and failing that, at the point of a gun.

The fact remains that in spite of their adherence to tribalism, narrow moralistic interpretations and tolerating elitist, corrupt leadership structures, those Arab states floating in petro-dollars enjoy some of the highest standards of living in the world. At the same time these so-called sovereign states remain xenophobic in the extreme. They import the vast majority of their labor force to both, build, maintain and operate the means of exploiting their oil resources and to build the fabulous modern architectural infrastructures they now enjoy. They then keep their hired help largely confined to enclaves, kept separate from Arab society in general.

All this new found wealth has led to a considerable percentage of the native populations to have transitioned from the camel to the Corvette, from the goat herd to the art collection, and from living in tents into living in luxury high rise condos, and thus becoming, if not the idle rich, at least the idle well to do. Doing so absent any history of their fathers and their father’s fathers working hard, saving and sacrificing to provide for their progeny’s future and to build the society and the benefits they now enjoy. Deprived of the Western model of a generational economic, social and cultural evolution they find themselves, quite understandably in a state of culture shock, weather they want to admit it or not. How else then does one interpret Islamic families immigrating to the West to create a better life for their families and then turning around and slaughtering their wives and daughters for the cultural crimes of becoming “too Westernized,” or refusing to enter into an arranged marriage, or dating a non-Muslim, absent this contention of culture shock or a psychological disconnect in reason or logic?

In the West the transformation and growth of the middle class into widespread economic affluence took place over generations and decades if not centuries, driven by advances in technology and the governmental systems that grew out of the enlightenment. The accompanying changes and normalizations in social mores and attitudes about class and religious differentiations were slower to develop, take root and gain general social acceptance, often only after a great deal of social turmoil and conflict. A shorter-term example would be the contentious evolution of the American civil right struggle. A longer-term example would be the protracted and violent conflict brought about by the Protestant Reformation. The point being, that changes in social attitudes do eventually catch up with the economic changes that drove them, but it takes time and generations.

In the oil states of the Arab world, when measured against the Western example, this economic transformation has been revolutionary rather than evolutionary and has taken place in a virtual blink of the eye. There has been no generational time frame to allow for any gradual changes in the social attitudes to catch up to the implications of this economic revolution. This retardation of changes in social attitudes catching up to the economic changes has been exacerbated both by the absence of any underlying long-standing traditions of individual liberty and self-reliance as found in the West and the continuance of adhering to tribalism and narrowly constructed moralisms as defense mechanisms against the social implications of an irreversible economic revolution. It is emotional discomfort of this embedded culture shock and psychological disconnect from reason and logic that has become the fertile ground of Islamic nihilism and its demagogic practitioners. And we have been reaping the whirlwind of their corruption for the last 30 years.

Now throw in the added pressure of rapid inflation in food prices and you not only ignite the fires of even more social unrest, you further accentuate the contradiction with one of the most basic and universal of human desires, one that knows no borders or states; the desire to lead a better life than your parents, to provide a better existence for your children and grandchildren than you had yourself. Clearly the Arab and Islamic world has a lot of catching up to do. The questions becomes not ones of if it will be tumultuous and violent but ones of how much of that tumult and violence is the West responsible for, how much of it will spill over into the rest of the world and how deeply will the West get drawn into it while acting in its own self-defense.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Strange Case of Gold, Oil and Mummar Kaddafi.

What with the world’s attention diverted with demise of Osama Bin Laden and dubious controversies over whether or not to release any photographic evidence of his brain matter, the story of the ongoing violence in Libya has been moved to page 12 so to speak. That is until just the other night when Kaddafi’s forces managed to blow up the last remaining oil facilities in rebel hands at the port city if Misrata. Going up in the smoke of the fires was not only the rebels last hopes of holding the city but any potential of funding there little revolution with oil and any financial viability to the curiously and hastily created new Central Bank of Libya.

I’d say that it’s a pretty safe bet that Kaddafi is a low life tin pot dictator not much different than any other low life tin pot dictator found all across the Arab world. This raises the questions of why Libya and why now? As the wave of violence spread across the Middle East Kaddafi was hardly the only or the first to turn his guns on his subjects. In particular, as in Syria, where using unarmed protesters for target practice is now a daily ritual.

So is there something going on under the surface with Libya that is perhaps not being discussed but is also perhaps a driving force behind the “humanitarian mission” that NATO has undertaken? Well let’s look at a few elements, some not necessarily making the front page in the New York Times.

1. Shortly after the so-called rebels took control of the city of Benghazi it was announced that it would become the home for a new Central Bank of Libya and would seek association with both the (International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Bank for International Settlements (BIS).

2. This new “Bank” would also become the financial clearing house for new oil export agreements between the new rebel “government” and other Arab states that would provide the logistical support to get the oil out of Libya, i.e. tankers and refinery capacity.

3. Libya’s existing Central Bank is wholly owned by the State and is not affiliated with either the IMF or the BIS. (Not to mention that it also owns about 12% of the major Italian banks.)

4. Just a few months before this “revolution” spread to Libya, Kaddafi (through the state owned bank) announced that they were seeking to create a “Gold Dinar” to be used by Arab and African States as the medium of exchange for oil transactions within the region.

5. Any such transaction would be outside the reach of the IMF and BIS and would not necessarily be based on any translation of the spot price value based in U.S. Dollars, and whatever the agreed to transaction price was, based in Gold Dinars.

With any such transactions now taking place directly between the buys and sellers and cutting out the western spot market and banking interests and eliminating whatever their cut of the action is for the currency trades certainly casts an additional if not different light on the above questions of “Why Libya and why now.”

I’ll be waiting for Osama Ben Bernanke to be asked about this at his next propaganda press conference. But I won’t be holding my breath.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Death of Osama and the Lack of Political Will

The announcement that US Special Forces had found and killed Osama Bin Laden has brought out a variety of reactions to the event and reactions to the reactions. After watching them the old concept of the “theater of the absurd” comes to mind.

While the release of pent up frustration in celebratory reaction by much of the public is understandable, its condemnation as somehow crude or gosh is just as predictable. We we’re told that we should be “better than that,” that we should not celebrate the death of another human being. That it brought us “down to the level” of the Arabs who celebrated in the streets on 9-11.

Well at this point, for me at least, the revulsion factor kicks in. I would ask just who do these sanctimonious jerks think they are? But then I remember that they are most likely the products public education and the victims of some faceless pseudo-Marxist college professor, and are therefore completely lacking in any real exposure to military history. How else can one explain how their pontifications are so out of context with any historical precedent? I guess then that by their standards we had no right to celebrate the end of World War II or when von Ribbentrop or Tojo danced at the end of a rope after their convictions for war crimes. I doubt that the vast majority of them could tell you who von Clausewitz or Sun Tsu were without making a quick check with Wikipedia first. As such I am forced to dismiss their opinions as not worth consideration never mind even being bothered listening to them. This is what happens when people become more concerned with political correctness, moral relativism and “sensitivity.” The very notion that we should be “civil” in how we conduct war is ludicrous on its face. As someone who has traveled through the Arab and Islamic world I can state without hesitation that the only thing they respect is strength, and that they have nothing but contempt for weakness and accommodation.

So what then will become of American foreign policy in the wake of Bin Laden oh so celebrated demise? Given the combination of the particular ideological bent of the current administration and the continued and growing economic problems on the home front I would suspect that the lure of isolationism will become far more appealing. The population in general has grown weary of a seemingly endless war, so I would fully expect this administration to use this as an excuse to declare “mission accomplished” in the Afghanistan Theater and begin pulling out the vast majority of our troops. This would then become fodder for the re-election campaign slogans that Obama “got us out of the war” in Afghanistan. This of course would then begin the pressure to do the same in Iraq. Throwing in the need to cut our expenditures as an added measure may well make such a move politically irresistible. I’m not saying that I would be opposed to such a move if it included the caveat that it include a warning to both the Taliban and Iran that any further terror attacks against Western interests or an aggressive move into Iraq would be met with a swift and decisive move to stop it, up to and including the nuclear option. If he were to couple any such withdrawal with an announcement of renewed support for Israel and that a percentage of our troops in the area were going to be re-deployed there as a tripwire against renewed Arab state aggression against it I might change my mind. Sadly I don’t think such decisive and bold actions are within the realm of this President’s thought or even consideration.

Wars are won by seeking out and exploiting your enemies’ weaknesses. For the Islamists we face their greatest weakness is in their religion itself. Although there are those within the military and intelligence establishment that recognize this, our government lacks both the spine and the political will to exploit it.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

So What's Another Trillion or two?

As the debate on the debt ceiling begins to move closer to its inexorable place on the front burner we are beginning to see what some of the real numbers are, and we can expect the hyperbolic rhetoric to ratchet up a few more notches. It would be hard to imagine anyone being able to top former Bush Treasury Paul O’Neill who recently stated "The people who are threatening not to pass the debt ceiling are our version of al-Qaeda terrorists. Really. They're really putting our whole society at risk by threatening to round up 50 percent of the members of the Congress, who are loony, who would put our credit at risk."

Never the less expect the issue to create some sharp divides, both in Congress and amongst the public. Needless to say the politicians will play football with this for as long as they can and milk it for whatever perceived partisan advantage they think they can get. Facing reality and making hard choices are not their forte, never has been and don’t expect it to be anytime soon. As someone once said “Governments always do the right thing, but not until all other options have been exhausted.” Pretty much sounds like the game plan we can expect.

Already things are starting move into the realm of what can only be called bizarro world. With only some $30 Billion remaining below the legally prescribed maximum, (.002% of the total $14.3 Trillion allowed) the Treasury announced today that it plans to issue $72 Billion in 3, 10 and 30 year bonds next week. This of course would place the Treasury department technically in violation of the law. But who’s going to stop Little Timmy Geithner and his band of merry pranksters? The President? The Congress? Don’t hold your breath. Congress and the DOJ can’t even be bothered to enforce the new regulations they passed in the Dodd-Frank so-called financial reform law. I’d like someone to ask the CFTC about those required position limits that were supposed to be in place by January 15 but are still “under consideration." Couldn’t possible have anything to do with the CFTC Chairman being a “former” Goldman Sachs employee now could it? But I digress.

I would expect that this “technical” violation will become the Administration’s lever to try and force the increase through. “We can’t have this situation go on. We can’t prosecute the Secretary of Treasury for willful violation of the law now can we?” Yeah right like that will ever happen.

So now we get to the revelation of what the Treasury really wants. Hold onto your hats, or more precisely your wallets. The Treasury says it needs an additional $2 Trillion debt capacity through the end of 2012! I’d ask if they are kidding but I know that they are perfectly serious. Never mind that this number is well over 100% of US GDP or represents a 14% increase in total debt. The problem that is not being spoken of, is not that the Congress is going to keep spending like there is no tomorrow, that’s to be expected, we’re talking Congress here, it’s that of the already $14.3 Trillion in outstanding debt, 28% of it is due to come due in this same period.

So here we sit already $14.3 Trillion in the hole and Timmy and company want to dig the hole $2 Trillion deeper. Of that already existing $14.3 Trillion, $4 Trillion either has to be paid off, rolled over, or sold to new holders. Paid off? Not a snowballs chance in hell. Rolled over? That percentage already held by the FED, maybe, as to the rest, not a snowballs chance in an equatorial jungle. Sold to new holders? Therein lays the POMO game's perennial out. Think Japan is going to be buying any more US debt, never mind rolling over what they already have? I doubt it, they’re already selling anything not welded down to finance their rebuilding process. China? Well they might by some but it will be far outweighed but what they are already selling and what they will continue to sell. India? Same story as China. The Europeans? Silly rabbit. PIIGS is all you need to know there.

Who does that leave then? It doesn’t take a genius to guess the FED and ultimately the US taxpayer and their children and grandchildren. So you can pretty much bet that the Wall Street banks will continue to prosper and pass out those fat bonus checks while our GDP begins to contract, real unemployment grows and the rest of the world casts an increasingly jaundiced eye on our ability, never mind willingness to address or fiscal problems.

What could possible go wrong? Never mind. I forgot is it "Survivor" or "Dancing With The Stars" that’s on tonight? Bin Laden is still dead isn’t he? Can we bring him back and kill him again?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

My Silver Dreams of Cheap Gas and Bread and Circuses

So now we have a new distraction to keep our attention focused away from the pickpockets of Wall Street. Our military and intelligence teams that made it possible to bring Osama Bin Laden to his just reward deserve all the congratulations and praise for a job well done, that are coming their way. But in the long term it will not change the ongoing deterioration of either our economy or the overall foolishness of thinking that fiat currency has any real value just because Uncle Ben Bernanke and Tiny Tim Geitner say so.

Look at it this way.
In 1964 gasoline was $0.25 a gallon, today its $4.00 a gallon.

In 1964 LBJ removed all silver from American coinage and recalled all Silver Certificate currency bills.

Today a 1964 90% silver quarter ($0.25) has a melt value of $8.00.

In 1964 a 16 gallon tank could be filled for $4.00.

Today a 16 gallon tank costs $64.00.

BUT if we were still using silver coinage and Silver Certificates that $0.25 face value quarter would buy you 2 gallons of gasoline and you could fill your 16 gallon tank for only $2.00!

So before you go complaining about the oil companies and speculators “ripping you off,” ask yourself a couple of questions:

1. Was it the oil companies or the politicians and the bankers who put us this road to fiat currency ruin by taking us off the silver standard?

2. Was it oil companies or the politicians and bankers who sold off ALL of our nations silver reserves?

3. How is it that as the politicians keep getting those fat campaign contributions and the bankers on Wall Street keep getting those fat yearend bonuses checks, you get up every morning and worry about how much gas and food have gone up and will you have a job next week.

But hey we do have your bread and circuses! Osama Bin Laden is dead, the dollar may take a dead cat bounce off of the .73 level for a few days, so all is well, right? After all its NBA and NHL playoff season, Baseball is just getting started, so we can get lost in that for awhile. At least until the cable company comes along and pulls the plug because your unemployment ran out.