Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Austerity for thee, but not for me. or Greece, a reflection of our future.

Not Long after Barak Obama’s election Newsweek magazine emblazoned its cover with the open declaration “We’re All Socialists Now.” What they meant of course was that the election had put us firmly and irrevocably on the path to European Socialism in America and that the capitalist system as we had known it was dead and buried.

It seems however that intervening events have raised some question about that irrevocable course. The administration’s right from the start crawling in bed with the very forces that brought us to the brink of disaster in 2008, its unwillingness and/or inability to delineate never mind address the problems that created the disaster, this policy of embracing the status quo and extend and pretend had almost immediate repercussions on the political front. If the President doesn’t like this reversal of fortune or the Tea Party, maybe he should look in the mirror. Both action and inaction have consequences; it’s a beast of his own making.

Any questions about European Socialism aside I have to agree with Newsweek on one thing, capitalism as we once knew it is dead. It has been replaced with a system of crony capitalism, the government and corporate partnership, a neo-fascism or more succinctly; a kleptocracy. This is the Rosemary’s Baby born of decades of deregulation and the revolving door between the Treasury Department and the banks, particularly the Federal Reserve Bank and the Wall Street investment banks like Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, HSBC and others. We now live in a system where the insiders prosper greatly and divide their pocket change between the politicians they buy through campaign contributions and the growing legions of government employees who reap salaries and benefits far beyond anything the working and taxpaying public could ever hope to earn in the private sector.

The inevitable result of what the United States has become in the macrocosm, we can see being played out in microcosm in Greece. (And soon Spain and the rest of the PIIGS.) These 1/10 of 1%ers have leached off the wealth of the nation through insider corruption, embezzlement and outright fraud. They have done so with virtual impunity as it’s their fellow kleptocrats who hold the civil and financial reins of authority.

They have taken their profits from the creation of massive piles of debt based money knowing full well that the as long as they maintained control the loans would never have be paid off. With each passing year the lender of last resort, the Federal Reserve, and the spender of last resort, the Federal government must create more debt and interest payments in excess of what was created in the previous year or deflation sets in. So make no mistake, whether it’s called QE3 or some euphemism for it, more money will be printed at an ever accelerating pace. On one end the profit statements of the FEDs primary dealers will continue to grow, the annual bonuses will be paid, and on the other end real unemployment will rise, wages will stagnate, real estate values, and home sales will continue to fall. The middle class, the self-reliant and privately employed worker, the small businesses of this world are being wiped out, and by design, to be replaced with the welfare recipient, the unionized government employee and a new Walmart on every block.

If you want to know what will happen in Congress as the day of reckoning draws closer on a debt ceiling vote, cast your eyes to Greece. Just as our banksters and politicians are desperate to maintain the illusion of American capitalism and reserve currency status, the Europeans are desperate to maintain the façade of the Euro and European unity around it. The Parliament in Athens has passed a new “austerity plan” in exchange for a new infusion of Euros. Nobody really thinks that this plan will actually be put in place or that any of the fiscal target will be met. The government will delay and put every obstacle in place to prevent privatization. Meanwhile the same government and financial elites will skim off a fat share of the proffered cash, nothing will change and there will be talk of bailout round 3 (or is it 4, I’ve lost count) before winter sets in.

It should be no surprise then that the populations are showing up in the streets. Between 30% and 40% of workers hold government jobs, at the national, provincial or local level. For decades they have selfishly bought into the false promise of ever expanding wages and benefits paid at the public’s expense. They have been played for suckers and now, to paraphrase Margret Thatcher, socialism has run out of other people’s money. Well at least other Greek’s money. The game now is to keep playing with other European’s and American’s money.

Take a look at this picture. Just last week this fat pig, I’m sorry there is no more fitting term, Greece’s Deputy Prime Minister issued a warning that if the austerity plan was not passed there would be tanks in the streets. It sounds like he is channeling Hank Paulson’s desperate pleading for the TARP package.

I could think of no better caption than “Austerity for thee, but not for me.”

These elites, these politicians and bankers are but 1/10 of 1% of the population, if that. They are busily engaged in selling us the fraud that the other 99.9% of us must sacrifice ourselves for their survival. Whether we buy it, and if we do, for how long, remains to be seen. As I write this the Finance Ministry building in downtown Athens is ablaze. Do we really want Syntagma Square in Athens to be coming to a town near us? If we don’t send the clear message to our politicians in the next elections that the game has to stop, the banks have to be broken up and the corrupt must be tried, convicted and jailed (can you hear me Ben Bernanke, and Lloyd Blankfein, and tax cheat Tim?) then our last chance for a peaceful resolution may well be gone and the beginnings of George Orwell’s “jackboot stomping on a human face forever” in his novel “1984” may well be upon us. Finding courage is difficult, failing to find it may be disastrous.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Government in Search of its Moment.

The reaction across the blogosphere to the establishment of this new “White House Rural Council” has been almost universally negative. In first reaction it would be easy to recall President Reagan’s warning about the nine most frightening words; “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.” The range of adjectives that could and have been applied to this initiative range from “presumptuous” and “arrogant” on the low end and ratchet up on the scale of paranoia to “insidious” and “pernicious” on the high end.

It’s pretty hard not to see the opening salvo in the creation of yet another vast, mindless bureaucratic boondoggle as frightening in and of itself. After all one needn’t look to hard to see all the great benefits that liberal democracy and government assistance have provided to the upper mid-west. Detroit comes to mind as a most shining example.

The question that first comes to mind is just who is it that hatched this hair brained scheme in the first place? And why would anyone think that peaceful if struggling rural communities (full of “bitter clingers”) would want anything to do with the systems and methods that turned such once great places as Detroit into festering slums of poverty, violence, corruption and decay?

Is this the liberal mindset simply gone delusional? Or perhaps an administration seeing itself on the road to political ruin and grasping at creating yet one more dependent class that can be psychologically bound to government assistance? Or is there perhaps something else going on here? While the public hand is being played with this nonsense is the other hand setting us up for something even more dangerous behind the scenes?

Well, for me at least, it’s a bit hard not to become a little paranoid by what I see potentially going on here, so let me lay a few things out point by point.

On the first level there are no doubt a great many naïve liberals out there who can be sold on the notion that this is nothing more than a necessary “outreach” program to the rural “poor” in desperate need of government help. What better way to employ these vast legions of new college graduates with their worthless sociology degrees than to disperse them among the ignorant masses to spread the word of the great beneficent federal government?

On the level just below that are the equally naïve political operatives who will see and this as a opportunity to use a new bureaucracy to try and convince the “rural bumpkins” that without President Obama and his party bringing these new benefits to them they would be either lost, forgotten or somehow suffering in even worse conditions. “So just pull that straight Democrat Party lever the next time you step into the voting booth why don’t you?”

Below these two layers of camouflage we will find the real danger however. Once this little army of well meaning operatives is dispersed they, like good bureaucrats everywhere, will start generating reports about what is going on in their individual locations. Where are they being well received, where are they meeting resistance and to what degree? Once some community or communities have been identified as particularly resistant to and even resentful of yet more government interference in their lives comes the time to send in the “agent provocateur” who in the name of enforcing some new useless, meaningless and unwanted bureaucratic regulation will commit some egregious act intended to create a violent reaction. Be it a demonstration turned violent, the firebombing of some local office or better yet, from their perspective the death of some “innocent and well intentioned” federal employee. They will then have what they have truly been after; the “hard evidence of domestic terrorism” coming from the conservative “flyover country.” They will have their Horst Wessel, their martyr for the cause, ( their “burning of the Reichstag” moment. I can here it now; “Civil order must be maintained, these acts of lawlessness must not be tolerated.”

Hummmm now just what will they do with all those battle hardened troops that are being brought back from Afghanistan and Iraq? Why would they deploy them to the southern border to stem a real invasion when they can be dispatched back to their local National Guard units and then called out to suppress this “new threat?”

Yeah, yeah I know I’m just ranting like a paranoid loon here. Do I really think this bunch of stumble bums could actually pull such a stunt off? Frankly, no. That does not mean however that such machinations are beyond the mindset of the Fabian socialist, crypto-fascist, very real paranoids, inhabiting the halls of the present administration. This is after all the man who said we need a domestic security force, just as powerful and just as well funded as the military. We just had the President of the Postal Workers Union suggest that the letter carriers be made part of the Homeland Security Department. What better way to create a vast network of government spies than the recruit the very people who visit your doorstep six days a week?

The creation of this “White House Rural Council” may be just the first step. One can only hope that by shining enough disinfecting light on this disease infested cockroach of bureaucracy we can at least send it scurrying back under its rock if not kill it outright.

That said, I think that the deterioration of the domestic and indeed global economy will politically overwhelm this administration long before any such effective network could be put in place. The danger then becomes violent crowds in the streets tired of being out of work, or having the safety net of social wefare pulled out from under them or just plain sick and tired of ineffective government telling them how to run their lives or that all the chaos is their fault. That will bring us back to the very same very real threat of violent government suppression of an angry populace. It’s working out so well in Greece and the Middle East, why not here?

Never mind, just relax, bread and circuses, “So you think you can dance” is on tonight. What more could we need or ask for.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

And Now For Something Completely Different.

Nine moths ago my wife and I suffered the loss of our 10-year-old Chocolate Lab, Scooter, after a long fight with cancer. He passed away in my arms after lifting his head one last time to look at me as if to say, “I’m sorry I have to go now.” He then collapsed and died. I was devastated and we both went through a long and painful period of mourning.

We recently decided that the time had come to fill the holes in our hearts and lives that his passing had left. In Scooter’s memory we wanted something Chocolate in color and in consideration of my wife’s allergies we decided on a “designer” breed, the Labradoodle.

Not wanting to become involved with or lend support to a “puppy mill” we did our research and found a home breeder who works as a dog groomer and owns a female Chocolate Lab and who’s employer owns a full size Chocolate Poodle.

We made an appointment to go see the puppies and instantly fell in love. So much so that we ended up bringing two brothers home. Jake and Elwood now have a new home and will no doubt soon become the most spoiled dogs in the neighborhood!



Thursday, June 16, 2011

Greece is the Word, the Final Act or Beware of Europeans Baring the Gift of Default.

To say that the markets and the rating agencies were not impressed with Wednesday’s chaos in Athens would be an understatement. The DJIA closed down 178.8 points, resuming its six week slide after Tuesday’s brief uptick. The down grading of Greek debt to CCC was quickly followed up with warning that major French banks were overexposed of Greek bonds and were likely to be downgraded as well and Barclays Bank finally admitting that it had “serious problems” in its European operations.

It had been anticipated that Wednesday’s scheduled vote in the Greek parliament was going to be difficult at beast but as events unfolded by the end of the day it could only be described as a disaster of Promethean proportions. With the ruling PASOK party having fallen apart like a cheap suit it looks like Greece is now faced with the reality of a nonfunctioning government.

The above chart shows how that it is the US taxpayer that is the key player (perhaps biggest victim would be a better term) in the unraveling farce known as the Euro Zone. It could not be clearer that that the $600 Billion in QE2 US funny money has been transferred entirely into European banks. It’s not just the European banks that have had their accounts padded so as to absorb the oncoming shock wave. From the chart it’s pretty clear that US banks have been holding back reserves as well to cover their own exposure to the European debt contagion. All of this money, every single dime, has been provided by the US Federal Reserve and represents nothing more than the debt obligation of the US taxpayer for generations to come.

So now the curtain on the final act is about to be raised, and it’s all according to plan. Germany gave us a peek under the edge on Thursday morning with their suggestion that any implementation of “restructuring” of Greek debt be put off until September, knowing full well that Greece will run out of money long before September gets here. Default is thus assured. Before anyone speculates that Germany is just trying to buy some time perhaps in order to come up with an alternative solution is naïve at best or stupid or a liar at worst.

With a zero probability of an orderly debt restructuring in Greece why would there or could there be any expectation that Portugal, Ireland and Spain will continue on with their own struggles down the same path of destruction? Why would they think that they could finish in a different place than where Greece is now? Why would they wish to inflict the same chaos, uncertainty and turmoil on their populations that the Greek government has done? The simply answer is they won’t. Any why should they? With the monies in place the PIIGS all get to go into default and return to their own currencies, the insurance companies that issued the Credit Default Swaps go belly up (AIG round 2), the banks absorb the shock and remain solvent (at least that’s what they will tell you), and the US taxpayer gets stuck with the bill.

It’s almost like World War Two played out again in some sick, twisted alternative universe. Europe engages in decades of foolish behavior, petty sanctimony and self-indulgence, ignoring the corruption in their midst. Then when the consequences of an implosive self-destruction become inevitable and unstoppable the US rushes in to rescue them from themselves all at the expense of unborn generations of US taxpayers. Think of it as like we put the Marshall plan in place before the destruction came. Only this time Germany ends up as the nominal strongman of Europe, yet having to keep a wary eye on a reemerging Russia, on whom it remains dependent for energy supplies. The US then gets left as the odd man out having absorbed once again the costs of European self-indulgence, but this time also having been stripped of the productive capacity that might allow the burden to be paid off.

So what then happens when the American people recognize the mess they have allowed the so-called experts, politicians and bankers to get us into? Will we think, oh let’s just declare default ourselves and pass it off to the Chinese? Will we again listen to some fool politician who will tell us that all of those Treasury bonds held on the FED’s balance sheet is just money we owe to ourselves?

We better think again. We have been played for fools. We just got put on the hook to bail out the very banks that own the Federal Reserve and they will now be stronger than ever. Their answer will be same question the Greeks have been staring down; sell you national assets and sell your sovereignty back to the very elites whose bacon you just pulled out of the fire. You didn’t think that they were really going to let themselves get stuck with the bill for their own corruption now did you? That’s what the naïve bumpkins, otherwise known as the US taxpayers are for. You’re not really going to take up arms against your European masters again are you? OR ARE YOU?


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Greece is the Word Part Three Rev. 1 or Go long on Popcorn as this is going to get very interesting.

Update: June 15th 2011

First a correction to yesterday’s post. The story reported by a small Greek television station about a tunnel leading from the Parliament building to a nearby port has been exposed as a hoax. There does exist however a tunnel to a local hotel that is only some 250 yards away.

There are at least two other potential elements to this ongoing story that remain unspoken. The first is the Greek Army, which has so far remained in their barracks. There should be little doubt that the government is trying to keep one on the demonstrations outside and another eye on the Army, which already has an established record of playing the coup de tat card when things get out of hand. If they do it will be interesting to watch to see if they become the ultimate enforcer for the bankers or the defenders of Greek sovereignty against both the bankers and the communists. The second is will a default in Greece spread to Portugal, Ireland and Spain and bring down the Euro in short order with the UD dollar shortly to follow? Oh never mind, Irish Finance Minister Noonan stated today that his government may not (read will not) redeem Anglo-Irish Bank senior bonds at par and that the institution is in such bad shape it should no longer be even considered a bank! My my but isn’t the IMF having a wonderful day?!? In military terms it looks like a pincer movement with the Germans caught in the middle once again. At this rate they may withdraw from the Euro zone even before the Greeks!

If anyone happens to drive past the Eccles Building this evening look for the midnight oil being burned as helicopter Ben and the boys will be watching those films of “Baghdad Bob” for some quick lessons on how to spin the disaster. It worked so well for Saddam and company didn’t it? Look for some sort of bogus pronouncement that the $1.20 jump in the ratio price of the dollar and the $4.30 drop in the price of oil is “evidence” of a strong dollar and the market's confidence in it. I don’t know whether to puke or laugh as the reality is that it’s simply the result of panic out of the Euro and the Pound Sterling. Any statement will read more like the FED grasping at straws than honest analysis.

Trying to follow and make sense of todays staccato of events was akin to trying to take stop-action photographs of a bullet train with an old tintype camera.

The failure of the Parliament to vote today on the bailout may prove to be a moot point as it looks like the financial contagion risk is already spreading, in spite of all the efforts of the bankers and politicians to keep it in check. Funny isn’t it how reality has a way of overwhelming “the best laid plans”? The European financial agencies and ratings groups had already started to react preemptively before dawn even broke over the Aegean. S&P had already downgraded the four largest Greek banks to CCC from B. (This is below junk bond status.) Meanwhile Moody’s warned that it may downgrade at least three French banks due to their exposure to Greek debt. Additionally Barclays Bank in London has announced today that it has “serious problems” in its European unit. There was no mention if they were related to the Greek situation but there can be little doubt that it is. Small wonder then that as markets opened Greek three year bonds were priced at 40.5 cents on Dollar and the yields hit 28.6%.  The Greek stock exchange opened down 3.5%. I can just see the investors flocking to gobble this stuff up! Yeah right. I’d bet that the bid to cover ratio is one very ugly number.

It has to be remembered that the chaos in Athens is something that in many ways the Greeks have brought upon themselves by having elected the same crooked political families for generations simply because they promised them a never ending stream of government largess. Now that the lie has been revealed, they public wants to lay all the blame on the politicians and ignore their own responsibilities in having electing them in the first place. As always the small independent businessman and his employees will be the ones caught in the middle.

None the less today’s chaos has all of Europe focused on Athens. As the crowds grew this morning in Syntagma Square outside the Parliament building the riot police broke out the tear gas early, but so far only against overt trouble makers on the fringes of the demonstration. The Prime Minister’s convoy came under a bombardment of eggs, oranges and water bottles.

Yesterday the PM announced that he will be conducting a Cabinet “shake up.” Speculation was that the Finance Minister, a “former” Goldman Sacks employee, who has been a focus of the demonstrator’s anger, may be the first to go. If there was any doubt that such a cosmetic move will not placate the crowds it was soon dissolved by the government coming apart at the seams. With the other political parties refusing to negotiate with the ruling PASOK party PM Papandreou offered to step down in a last ditch attempt to form a new government. That failing, he later reneged on the offer and said he will stay on, from a new government and seek a vote of confidence. With this much chaos, the chances of a vote on, never mind passage of the so-called “intermediate package” are less than zero. Can you spell power vacuum or worst-case scenario? As the sun went down over the Adriatic the crowds grew larger. At the time of this posting the crowd seems to be remaining calm if not basking it something of a victory over the government. The air temperature may be cooling but it remains to be seen if the gathering gets heated up by the ongoing speech making. All this will of course be accompanied by about 30 seconds of coverage on your nightly news broadcast.

If it’s not on FOX or NBC it simply didn’t happen. So folks just belly up to the useless distraction bar. What is it “American Idol” or “So You Think You Can Dance” that’s on tonight?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Greece is the Word, Part Three: Sacrificing the Dollar to Save the Euro or the Greek Revolution Will be Televised.

The most prominent speculation on the monetary front (if one listens to the talking heads) is whether or not the FED will institute a QE3 program once QE2 comes to a close at the end of June. A more pertinent speculation might be will Helicopter Ben and the boys at the FED still have jobs in the not too distant future. The Feds long standing policy of not revealing just exactly what they are doing in the cloistered halls of the Eccles building was brought to an end by a court ruling on FOIA requests seeking disclosure to find out just exactly who got that $700 Billion in TARP funding. There was little surprise and no small amount of anger when it was revealed that a large part of it went to US subsidiaries of European banks.

Having been exposed as taking better care of their European banking masters than the US citizens (which is their charge) one would think that the FED would take it as a lesson learned and refrain from the practice in the future. Apparently the arrogance of the elite knows no bounds however. It seems while they have been feeding the public and the politicians the lie that this latest round of money printing was needed to prop up the DJIA and “stimulate” economic growth here at home by providing cash to domestic banks to fund loans to business and individuals, the reality is that it has been nothing more than another rescue program for the European banks.

Since the inception of QE2 in November of last year the FED has printed in excess of $600 Billion in new magic money. If the reader will take the time to examine this chart it will tell you all you need to know.

The blue area represents the cash reserves of small domestic banks in billions of dollars. The grey area is the same for large domestic banks. The purple area is for foreign banks (those with US operations that can be used to transfer US dollars from here to their European operations.)

It doesn’t take a genius to see that since November the reserves of domestic banks have remained largely flat and that those of the European banks have gone vertical. And by how much? Oh just that $600 Billion or so that Bennie boy has printed.

So what’s going on here? Once again it doesn’t take a genius. On Wednesday the Greek parliament is scheduled to vote on the latest austerity package and the next round of bailout money for their bankrupt economy. (Read kicking the can down the road to default one more time.) Problem is some of the members of the ruling PASOK party are announcing they will be leaving the party in protest of the plan. If their numbers begin to grow passage of the proposal may become problematic. With the Parliament building surrounded by ever increasing crowds every day the psychology of fear and concerns for the personal security of the members would seem to be taking root. Small wonder then that there have been reports that the long abandoned escape tunnel under the Parliament building is being cleared out by foreign workers in case the situation tips over the edge.

Neither should we be surprised then that the ECB (European Central Bank) recently announced that it would be able to withstand a Greek default. Thanks Bennie, the US taxpayer and yet unborn generations just got to save the Banksters again!  Any wonder then why Obama meets at the White House with his Wall Street donors?

Got gibbets? Just how much longer the taxpayers are going to stand for this ongoing theft and fraud remains to be seen. Probably until it’s too late, if it isn’t already.

Unless of Course, we Lose………..

In order to understand the status of the conflict between Jihadist Islam and the West in general, one must first define the term enemy and how the juxtaposition as enemies comes about. At the present stage of the conflict there can be little doubt that it was these elements of Islam that declared the West to be their enemy, and had been engaged it committing act of war long before all but a very few bothered to take their actions seriously. Historically the argument could be made that the conflict goes back for nearly a millennium, having it roots in Moorish conquest and subsequent expulsion from Spain and Portugal and the conflicts with the Ottoman Turks in the Balkans.

The attitude of many practitioners of Islam is that once Islam conquers an area or nation its inhabitants have no further right to reassert themselves and reclaim their lands. Their only choices being to convert, pay the tax for not converting or die. That this is a complete anathema to Judeo-Christian Western civilization is an argument that should not even need to be made.

It is the Jihadists who have defined the alternatives as either our destruction or theirs. When a group or nation has declared itself to be your enemy, wages war against you, kills your soldiers and civilians and neither shows or expresses any inclination to negotiate except as a means to gain a position of political or military advantage from which to wage further war, WHAT CHOICE TO YOU HAVE BUT TO WAGE WAR AGAINST THEM AND KILL THEM AS EXPEDIENTLY AS POSSIBLE?

It is they who have declared us to be their enemy and waged war against the west. The time for turning the other cheek has long since passed but sadly our politicians lack the courage to wage total war as was done in WWII. As ugly as they are, wars are not won by negotiating from a weak or defensive position. Wars are won by killing the enemy and destroying their ability and will to continue the fight, leading to either their total destruction or their coming to the negotiating table from a weak and defensive position.

That is a lesson the history has taught a thousand times, but the moral relativists just won’t or don’t want to see it applied to this conflict.

No reasoned Westerner would define all Moslems as bad. But I must reiterate it is the Jihadist ‘s interpretation of Islam that has declared war against us and defined our status as non-Moslem as justification. I have heard no declarations of a need or desire to kill Moslems in the name of Christ, yet the opposite is the battle cry of the Jihadists. Neither the US nor any Western nation has declared that the desired end of conducting war against Jihadist Islam or the dismantling of Saddam Hussein’s tyranny in Iraq was their conversion to Christianity. Again the same cannot be said of the Jihadists.

To the Jihadists the absence of status as a Moslem or failure to adhere to their interpretation of Islam is the definition of the loss of innocence. But for the moral relativists the problem is one of “lack of understanding.” If there was such a thing as a Neville Chamberlain award they would win it hands down.

Putting forth the Crusades as an argument or justification is disingenuous at best. No one could rationally argue that Christianity as practiced today is the same as it was practiced in the 1100’s. The same cannot be said for Islam. Christianity went through a reformation and has evolved in its interpretation and practice. The inquisition is an historical fact but it is not an ongoing practice. Again the same cannot be said of Islam.

The supposition and expounding on only parts of the story of Christianity is what is dangerous. Twisting half-truths as the whole story is far more dangerous than lies cut from whole cloth. The spread of Christianity’s through most of the Mediterranean and Roman world came about because Emperor Constantine came to realize that it had grown to become a force he could no longer reckon with. Stories of his “miraculous” conversion not withstanding it became more a matter of “if you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em.”

If Christianity then became a means through which he could exert control of the Empire so be it. He was a Roman Emperor after all. Rome had a long history of tolerance for the religions of conquered nations. It was only when the corruption of the likes of Nero, Caligula and Claudius wrought havoc upon the Roman economy that the Christians became the targets of convienience persecution and the scapegoats for the consequences of Imperial excess. Yet it continued to grow, leading to Constantine’s momentous decision.

Neither the excess’s nor shortcomings, successes or failures of the Bush administration are relevant to the issue. The Jihadists were at war with us before he came to office and will still be at war with us when Obama is gone, unless and until we address it as an issue of total war rather than one of “proportional response” or criminal acts, or as long as there are those in power who view the world through rose colored glasses or through a lens of political correctness or moral relativism.

To do so is to venture into the realm of the absurd. As stated one of the root causes of the aggression is because we are not Moslems. We should no more waste time and effort trying to ‘understand’ them than one should try to reason with a rapist. When faced with kill or be killed, you kill or you get killed. Even if one could reason with them or ‘understand’ their motive do you honestly think that it would change their tactics or murderous intent? To me that answer seems a pretty clear and unambiguous no.

So then getting back to the Jihadists, it’s not a matter of invasion or conquest, it’s a matter of destroying their will to fight. Look at the air campaign in the 1st gulf war. The Iraqi army's will to fight was destroyed before the first tank crossed the border.

My personal ideas or suggestions not withstanding are strategic not tactical. Just as in WWII if we knew the Germans or Japanese were using a particular town or city as a marshalling area or production center we bombed the crap out of it and civilian casualties were not of paramount concern. The object was to destroy the enemy’s ability and will to fight. We didn’t fight the war with one hand tied behind our back. When Truman made the decision to drop the a-bomb on Japan it was not out of some blood lust it was a calculated decision as the quickest way to end the war with the fewest further casualties on both sides.

To those who would choose not to accept the cogency of such an arguments, or would so easily dismiss it as vague or just plain wrong, that is of course their right and I might argue obligation. But with such rejection comes another obligation, one to propose your own course of action. The difference between the Germans of the WWII era and the Jihadist of today is that Germans at least had a rational fear of death and a semblance of what would become of their posterity. The Jihadists do not possess either of these. Hence there repeated call that they “love death” more than we “love life”. It is not possible to reason with the irrational. How else can we conclude otherwise than that if they are so in love with death that they will not stop until we give it to them?

The murdering rapist is in YOUR house, what are you going to do? As I asked at the very beginning: WHAT OTHER CHOICE DO WE HAVE? If you can’t or won’t answer that question with a viable solution that has a reasonable expectation of success, then what place do you really have in the argument, other than as a victim?

For further background see my previous post “The Psychological Disconnect of the Petro Dollar.”

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Greece is the Word, Part Two.

I’d like to think that for those of us who have spent the better part of the last few years trying to prepare ourselves and our families for the ongoing and now accelerating financial disaster, the parade of daily events have now moved beyond being harbingers of troubles to come and have taken on more of an air of farcical comedy. If watching the DJIA tumble yesterday in the closing minutes with each bit of flapping drivel that came out of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s mouth wasn’t entertaining enough, this morning’s CNBC piece titled “Obama Presses Europe, Pledges Help for Greek Crisis” nearly had me exhaling coffee through my nose in fits of laughter. Sometimes laughter is the only way to cope with tragedy.

It’s not that making obvious corollaries has ever been the strong suit of the gods at CNBC but this is ridiculous. After being basically flat most of the day, rumors started spread about the contents of Bernanke’s non-event speech around 2:30 and the numbers started to decline. As soon as he opened his mouth and started spewing his MOPE at 3:45 they went over the edge and fell another 55 points, down 108 points off the day’s high. What was he selling? This inflation is just a “temporary” event caused by a few issues with some commodities. Never you mind those churning noises coming from the basement of the printing presses at the FED working 24/7. Nothing to see here, move along, move along.

Then we get the absurdity of President Obama “pledging” help for any second (or is it third or fourth, I forget) round bailout of Greece. The CNBC article’s statement that Chancellor Merkel is “under political pressure at home to avoid being the financial savior for other struggling European countries” has got to be the understatement of the month. Merkel’s party has been getting its walking papers handed to them in local elections. The German people are simple fed up with financing the foolishness on the Euro periphery and Merkel knows that if she doesn’t get adequate cover from Obama for flushing more money down the Aegean toilet she’ll be looking for another job soon. She may well be done for either way.

I would suspect however that the President’s “pledge” isn’t much more than lip service. Facing his own electoral demise, if he’s not aware that the American populace is no more in the mood for bailing out failed foreign states than the Germans are, then he lacks even what little grasp of reality even I would credit him with. As more and more 99 weekers fall off the back of the unemployment compensation bus and even larger numbers pour into the front any political posturing that “Obama saved Greece” will inspire anger and resentment not admiration.

Just as with our own fiscal condition (anywhere from $60 Trillion to $100 Trillion in unfunded liabilities depending on who you talk to and what you do or do not include in the calculation) there exists no viable or functional methodology that will avert the inevitability of a default of some form. Year over year productivity in the Greek economy has contracted by 11%! Taken alone industrial production is down by an even larger number. Given such a reality just how is even more austerity in government spending (laying off workers and putting them on the dole) and increasing taxes going to facilitate an even larger debt obligation even if some agreement to provide Greece with more money could be reached?

Can meet foot, see you down the road, has reached the end of its usefulness. Posturing, printing and vain management of perception is coming up against hard political realities, and politicians will always, always, always put the preservation of their positions of power over and above any other consideration. They know it won’t work, they know it’s all just a game of extend and pretend, they just don’t want the voters to know it. At least not until we get past the next election cycle, and then they will be telling us one more time to trust them to “fix” the problems they created. I think we’re in for a long hot summer in every possible way. By the time October gets here we may be faced with an entirely different and worse if that’s possible, political and economic landscape than we have today.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Will the Democratic Process Remain Relevant?

Over the weekend the size of the crowds protesting in Athens against any new bailout package and its attendant austerity programs swelled to new highs in terms of size. This weekend elections in Portugal saw the current Socialist government go down to an overwhelming defeat. Here in the US the reaction was a barely stifled yawn. I know, I know they replaced the Socialists with the Social Democrats, I’m attempted to yawn myself. In reality the change in government might make a few voters feel better or give them the illusion that they might actually bring about change through the ballot box, but as one voter commented, coming out of the polling station, that’s not the reality they face; "I think the election won't bring anything new because it's the IMF in charge of the country now ... Any party that gets to the government will just have to follow IMF rules,"

Well at least one individual is thinking straight. The question then becomes how long will the electorates of Greece, Portugal and the rest of the PIIGS, and eventually here in the US, stand by and allow their national and individual sovereignty to be surrendered to a bunch of unelected bureaucrats and bankers? At what point will they recognize that the bankers and their wholly owned politicians have deliberately manipulated them into this position? When will they realize that their rights to self-determination take precedents over the yearend bonuses of the bankers? I would guess not soon enough to forestall either the growing chaos spreading across the Atlantic or the bankers and politicians trying to implement their globalist “New World Order” that will leave all power and decision making in their hands and delegating our most sacred traditions to irrelevancy. Oh we will still have our elections, but if we are not careful the options we will be given there will differences without distinction.

As far as they are concerned the debt must be serviced at all cost. All else must be sacrificed on its sacred alter, be it liberty, democracy or constitutional government itself. All must suffer, except for the banks and their power and control. We may not recognize it but it’s already happening. As the economy of mainstreet suffers, unemployment climbs and actual production shrinks, Wall Street and only Wall Street prospers. In 2008 our government handed out $125 Billion in taxpayer funds to maintain the illusion of the solvency of the big banks. In 2009 these same banks passed out $135 Billion in bonuses to top executives.

The great Keynesian experiment is about to come to an end. What will come out of it will either be a renewal of the individual spirit and the destruction of the feudal lords of the banking elite, or the utter destruction of the individual and his rights and the emergence of a global fascism on a monumental scale. In the end, at least here in the US it’s going to come down to a question of whether or not the military decides if it loyalties lie with corrupt government or with the people whose liberties they have sworn to protect. Will they become the jackboots of repression or protectors of the people from whose ranks they come? That is the risk and the imponderable that the powers that be face, and they will do everything they can to portray any and all who dare stand against them as, racists, radical, reactionaries or whatever brush they can tar them with to try and bend that ultimate power of military authority to its will. They know full well that without it or if it turns against them they stand no chance to prevail.

We can only hope. Will Lincoln’s words from the Gettysburg address still ring true? Or will “Government of the people, by the people and for the people” be cruelly morphed into government of the banks, by the banks and for the banks? We can only hope.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Greece is the Word! (With all due respect to the recently departed Jeff Conaway.)

Well folks it would appear that the Greek situation will be coming to a head very soon. Sooner than expected by some and not soon enough for others.

In some ways it’s hard to figure out whom to feel sorry for in this Promethean tragedy. On the one hand you have the Greek citizens and unions who have repeatedly elected the same corrupt politicians based on the foolish promises of ever expanding social welfare programs and public employment with unrealistic compensation and benefits packages.

In order to finance this fool’s errand the government has nationalized larger and larger segments of the private economy, borrowing the money to do so. As those now government held industries became less and less efficient and less and less profitable (as always happens under nationalizations) the government was then forced to borrow even more money to subsidize them in order to keep up the charade of prosperity.

On the other hand you have the bankers and the sovereign wealth funds of the other European states that were of course more than glad to help them out. After all the Greeks weren’t the only ones playing this game of circular self-deception. The Italians would lend to the Greeks and the Greeks would lend to the Spanish and the Spanish would lend to the Irish and round and round it would go. All of them being good European Social Democrats, they were of course obliged to help each other out.

But it was only a matter of time, at some point on the circle the piles of debt would grow so deep and heavy that that corner of the system would have to lose inertia and come dragging to a halt and begin to pull the other players down with it. Quite simply what has happened is that the accumulated interest and principle due on existing debt has out grown the capacity to take on more debt, and it just so happens that it’s Greece that is only the first to reach this point in the end game.

This brings us to where we are today. Someone has to pay. The banks say there have to be “structural reforms,” i.e. austerity, lay off state workers, reduce benefits, raise taxes, privatize state owned industry in order to make the payments on the existing debt in exchange for lending the government even more money. The government, that is to say the politicians, who are owned by the banks that finance their campaigns, by agreeing to these terms, bring themselves to odds with the citizens and particularly the unions who equally feel that they own the politicians through their votes and union’s political contributions.

The threat from the banks being that if Greece does not comply, then it would imperil the stability of all the debts of the other PIIGS that are behind the Greeks by only a matter of degrees. This in turn would destabilize the financial systems of Germany and France that played their own part in this little game of Russian roulette.

The unions and the radical socialists are already making their play with the very real threat of social chaos and the now almost daily mass demonstrations and violence. (There was very little mention in the news here of the fact that they had occupied the Greek Financial Ministry building on Friday.)

So we have what appears to be the irresistible force meeting the unmovable object. Which is which I will leave for the readers to decide for themselves. Is a compromise possible wherein the banks and bondholders take a haircut and loose billions not only in Greece, but also across the entire spectrum of European debt and risk seeing the entire Euro experiment come to an end? Do the citizens, led by the unions and the radicals get the revolution they want, overthrow the government they elected, declare default, withdraw from the Euro and pay the debt with a wildly inflated Drachma, and similarly bring down the Euro system? Or are bribes paid and the Greek military step in with its well-established tradition of performing a coup d’etat to become the banks enforcers? Whatever the outcome you can pretty much guarantee that the independent Greek business owner and those citizens that work for them are the ones that will be caught in the middle and suffer the most. They are the ones for whom we should have the greatest sympathy. Seems like that’s how it always works out.

In any case, its going to be a long hot summer in the Aegean and the waves of unrest may well spread all across the northern shores of the Mediterranean Sea. (Any confluence with the chaos in the Middle East and North Africa is just to dizzying to contemplate at this point, but will need to be addressed at some point whether we want to or not.)

So while the readers watch this splendid little farce come to its violent conclusion they might be well served by asking themselves just how different is all this from our own situation? With state after state facing growing deficits and increasingly under funded pension obligations, are our politicians and bankers and unions all that different than the European’s? Or is this the “European model” that so many of them aspire too?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

More Half Truths from Mr. Glenn Beck

Firstly, as I have said before, I am all in favor of the defense of Israel from those neo-Nazi forces around it that seek it destruction. What I am opposed to is the distortion of historical truth to further that agenda. Mr. Glenn Beck has once again proven himself guilty on this account.

On last night’s show Mr. Glenn Beck has engaged in a bit of historical distortion in one of his narrations. He seems most adept at this practice of only telling part of a story and distorting other parts of it in order to craft his narrative. He and his audience would be better served by the whole story not just snippets crafted to allegedly fit “time restraints” or more likely, his personal agenda.

In this case he portrayed King Antiochus Epiphanes as a Syrian, which he was not. He was in fact a Greek; more specifically a Seleucid Greek, who had an ongoing conflict with the Ptolemaic Greeks of Egypt over the control of Judea. Neither did he mention the context that the greatest conflict the Jews of the time faced was not about which of these Greek power centers would control Judea, but rather a struggle amongst themselves as to how much Hellenistic (Greek) culture would, could or should be intertwined with their own. It was out of this conflict that the anti-Hellenizers, the Hasideans grew.

While the Jews felt it was enough that they marched in his armies and paid taxes and tribute to the Seleucid king, Antiochus Epiphanes felt that only by thoroughly Hellenizing all of the peoples of his kingdom could he create the unity necessary to take on the Ptolemaists. Only problem was when he marched into Egypt he ran smack into the Roman Legions now occupying it. During the conflict the Jews heard a rumor that Antiochus Epiphanes had been killed and immediately set to removing all the Greek statuary from there Temples and Holy sites.

Except Antiochus Epiphanes was in fact not dead. Retreating from Egypt, angry and humiliated, and entering Judea to see what had been done in his absence, it was then in a pique of anger and humiliation that he instituted his policies of inviting pagans to move into Jerusalem and banned the practice of circumcision.

Neither did Mr. Beck mention that it was out of the ensuing 25 years of war that the Hasideans were renewed and finally defeated those elements within Jewish society that were in favor of Hellenization, but also the rise of the Maccabees, literally the “hammer” that repeatedly smashed Antiochus Epiphanes’s armies and eventually secured not just peace with the Seleucid Kingdom, but the full independence of Judea from the Greeks.

So then I can only conclude that Mr. Beck cannot or will not see that the use of truncated and distorted narratives of an otherwise true story are a disservice to his audience but opens up the pathways of criticism for himself and any of his audience who might repeat his distortion as fact. But then I guess credibility is not the issue, stirring the pot is the issue. Mr. Beck has so often stated that “the truth has no agenda” one has to wonder why he leaves so much of it out of his stories.

For anyone looking for a clear (and secular) narrative of Jewish history I would refer them to “Jews, God and History” by Max I. Dimont.