Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Phony War Revisited

Back in September, I made a post that referenced The Phony War that occurred from September of 1939 until May the following year. In that time, because no armed clashes occurred between the Allied and Axis forces, World War II didn't seem like much of a war, and certainly not the fearsome stuff of endless History Channel shows that feature unprecedented bloody battles between military titans that leave tens of millions dead, and most of Europe, from the streets of London to the Steppes of Russia, a burned out husk. Likewise, in our time, for the better part of a year, because no fresh disasters have appeared to demonstrably pound the U.S. economy, our ongoing depression, appears to be, well, not so depressing.

I fear this relatively halcyon time is coming to an end sometime this year. The key idea behind my assertion is that our economy is still very fragile, and that the remedies that have been heretofore applied will not hold in the face of growing threats. Such threats as I have in mind are China's bubble economy popping- an inevitability which is vastly under reported around these parts- Europe's still simmering sovereign debt crisis-which is what our sovereign debt crisis will resemble at some point in the future- the air travel imperiling volcanic eruption (which, strangely, may not have been) in Iceland-which had it continued for another few weeks would have surely been an economic boat rocker- the distinct possibility, not to say probability, of yet more bank blowups in the U.S., and, last, but not least, a destabilizing fresh outbreak of military hostilities.

I'm sure I've left out a few other major risk factors. After all, however unlikely it is that The Vampire Squid comes under a major legal assault that sunders the firm, or that J.P. Morgan is indicted for its manipulations of the precious metals market to salvage the dollar, all of these potential developments are out there waiting to press hard against our shaky economic edifice. If I can be allowed a moment of fantasy wish fulfillment, in the cases of the end of Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan, after some serious fallout into capital markets, I am inclined to imagine that the ultimate benefit to mankind would be profound.

Suffice it to say that, time, as it were, despite the better than year lull in local financial and economic catastrophes, despite the liquidity fueled moon shot in the stock market- the marquee display at "The U.S. Economy has Recovered" fun house- is, simply, not on our side. In the meantime, we must make the best use we can of our time in the eye of this enormous, once in an epoch, hurricane.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Excuse Me?

Scott Brown, the newly elected interim Senator from The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, was invited on the Today Show and asked if he was planning to run for President of the United States. Huh? What? For &^%# sake! This is the level that we have sunk to in the U.S. I realize that politics and governance in this nation is an absolute slime pit of mendacity and corruption, but is the position of POTUS really the province of any imbecile that wants it? I probably shouldn't be asking this question given the enfeebled nature of Bush junior, but at least he'd held office for more than a few months when presented with the opportunity to run for President.

Note: Scott Brown may not be an imbecile, but, so far, he has certainly not distinguished himself as anything other than just another business as usual operator.

In the meantime, based on his response, we have learned something about Scott Brown. He has little sense of decorum, protocol, or honesty. Brown said he was "ruling out" a run for Presidency. Is that because you realize that you are, even by President Obama's meager standards, woefully ill equipped for the job, or is it because no sane and/or monied group has tried to draft you to run? That should have been the follow-up question to the initial question posed by the bubble head who asked what shouldn't have been asked in the first place. Lame is as lame does. Come to think of it, we can and would do much better without Scott Brown or the mainstream media.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

It's Official. Obama is Creepy.

Almost every Presidential Administration has one. You know, the designated creep. The one whose manner, and sometimes even appearance, makes one's skin crawl. Bush junior had creepy Dick Cheney working close by in an official capacity, and Karl Rove, less close by, in an unofficial one. Clinton, of course, had Dick Morris and Hillary. Most of us who pay attention to such relative minutiae thought the Obama Administration's designated creep was Rahm Emanuel, and so he is. There's only one problem, President Obama, himself, is beginning, at least to this onlooker, to take on the mien of someone with a sinister purpose.

This is, of course, entirely subjective, but I submit, as partial evidence, Obama's penchant to tell enormous lies with the straightest, if in this instance, pissed off, face imaginable. This too is subjective, and hardly new amongst Presidents. But be aware that, whatever you think of this policy, the odds of Obama repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell are very small. You would never know it though from the response Obama gives to the relatively mild hecklers at a benefit for California Senator, Barbara Boxer

More evidence of Obama as Creep in Chief might be gleaned from a recent NASA press conference that strangely included no NASA personnel. Here, too, it seems one is meant to take away the exact opposite impression of the actual policy being pursued by the Administration, namely to materially scale back on NASA missions. And I also offer this chilling news release that pertains to a development apparently meant to coincide with the upcoming mid-term elections this coming fall.

Finally, at least in this particular missive, and with thanks to The Golden Jackass newsletter, is the revelation that the new health care bill that President Obama strongly advanced, does, in fact, contain provisions for electronically chipping citizens. Specifically see pages 1001-1008 for the National Medical Device Registry for mention of a program to be enacted within 36 months of passage. See also page 503 for the phrase "medical device surveillance." All this is contained in HR Bill 3200 from the House Ways and Means Committee.

There is more of this sort of business to be proffered as part of my Obama is creepy thesis. Suffice it to say that, for now, all we would need to seal the deal on the status of the POTUS is word that formation of a Nixon like Committee to Re-elect the President (aka CREEP) has been, or is being, formed for President Obama.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Little Goldman Update

Count me among the skeptics regarding the reams of opinion coming out this weekend that the pending SEC case against the vampire squid stands an excellent chance of opening the floodgates (of hell) on the likes of said squid and other high profile criminal actors slouching and slithering about the banking and financial world.

Whatever the outcome, we onlookers are about to have something either affirmed or called into question. Should the SEC drop the ball in this case, as they customarily do-when they don't simply turn their backs on capital market criminality, as I would assert is their actual remit -then those who are in doubt should have irrefutable proof that, where the Obama Administration is concerned, our President is, indeed, not a change agent but, rather, a calcifying one. However, if this case gains steam, and most importantly, becomes a criminal proceeding, hopefully with local magistrates riding herd on the lawsuits, some of us will have to rethink matters regarding the true nature of Obama and Co. In the meantime, I'm not holding my breath.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Someone is Trying To Tell Us Something.

Are you listening to the multitude of transmissions? The very high number of earthquakes and related activity in recent months, among other earthly events, says something is afoot. The volcanic ash spewing from Iceland has serious implications, and none of them are good, especially if the noxious and hot plumes of volcanic ash continue for any length of time. Imagine the depressing effect on business activity. I, for one, am supposed to be traveling to the UK on Tuesday, which now looks decidedly iffy. Word has it that already more flights have been grounded than on that infinitely more storied day of massive ash dispersion, 9/11.

One wonders what, if any, the effects may be on the jet stream, weather patterns, and, shudder, crops. How about a little global cooling, scarecrow! We know from our chaos theory studies what can happen when one lone butterfly flaps its wings. Well, there are many butterflies flapping of late, and one would do well to hope that they cancel each other's ever widening ripple effects out.

In the meantime, the SEC, in a civil case, has charged vampire squid extraordinaire, Goldman Sachs, with fraud. On one level, I make very little of this indictment as it is a civil charge not a criminal one. The idea that this capo da capo tutti of corrupt financial firms could not be charged criminally is, well, criminal. It also seems reasonably obvious that this move by the SEC is being timed by The Obama Administration to nudge recalcitrant Republicans into supporting the Democratic party's very tepid financial reform now before Congress. However, despite this bit of Kabuki theatrics, the execrable powers that be may be, despite their best efforts, unwittingly giving an opening to real change.

That, of course, remains to be seen, but in the meantime, the idea behind my own bit of wishful thinking is that, however mild this charge of wrongdoing is likely to be in its full, practical, effect, it has the potential to be, at least symbolically, important. The cat, as it were, is now out of the bag. The powers that be are almost certainly engaged in concocting yet more sham justice, but, in so doing, they have, in essence, admitted that which they have heretofore assiduously avoided admitting, namely that the system is rotten. Think Catholic Church. Great debacles start slowly. For now we can only hope, pray, and, of course, blog.


The bearish reaction in the share market today gives the lie to the idea that the state of the stock market is healthy. After all, if just the merest hint that disinfectant is about to be applied to this festering casino can cause a few percentage points to get instantly shaved, what would happen if they changed the accounting rules so they reflected reality and not a sick fantasy? And why is this important?

Beyond the implications of a compromised capital market, the waves of selling that immediately manifested when the news broke that the SEC was charging Goldman Sachs with fraud demonstrated, like nothing else can, just how bogus our economic recovery is, based, as it is, in large part, on the share market moving ever higher. The stock market, for those who don't know, is TPTB's marquee performer in their high production values feature length propaganda film entitled, "Economic Recovery's Here"

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sarah Palin/The Whore of Babylon update

The single most obnoxious politician defacing the U.S. landscape today, and that is saying something, has infected my hometown with her presence. I am treating this like fallout from a nuclear blast, and staying as far away as possible from The Common where her commonness is holding forth. Apparently TWOB's mantra today (and perhaps every day Palin bloviates to the unwashed, unintelligent, and adoring throngs who traipse in from heaven's knows where to see Tina Fey's most fecund comedy fodder) features such disingenuous pablum as "Take back government."

What government did you have in mind WOB?

Who is/are the government? Hint: They aren't, as you and your whore mongering MSM media employers would have it, our "elected officialdom." Federal legislators are merely shills for the corporate oligarchy that are, in fact, the U.S. Government. Ask any of the thousands of FIRE economy lobbyists who write checks to members of both parties, and also craft the nation's legislation that is subsequently signed off on, but scarcely understood, by our elected officials. And it gets better. Lately, even the SJC is on board with the imperatives of our corporate oligarchy.

"Government has been on a spending spree" offers TWOB. Indeed, but unless you are prepared to discuss everything, and I mean everything, that government spends our money on, and perhaps, more importantly, who benefits on those expenditures-which you aren't, because you never have been- I don't want to hear one word, not a peep, from you or your addle-brained faux Libertarian supporters. Now, please, kindly shut up, piss off, and leave those of us with some critical faculties in peace.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Did Someone Say Recovery?

I wrote the piece below in response to a post over at financial blogger and trader extraordinaire Rick Ackerman's site. Apparently he is considering featuring it tomorrow. In the meantime, here is a link to a piece that just came out today that buttresses my assertions.

I expect that cognitive dissonance about the land is now both pervasive and immense. The number of unemployed, underemployed, and otherwise financially and economically imperiled has ratcheted up over the last few years, and though the economic deterioration that began in earnest in early 2008 seems to have, at least by some modestly credible measures, abated somewhat in the last few months, the new normal, such as it is, is distinctly less healthy, less favorable to most, than it was.

And yet, despite the immutable facts of a reduction in the standard of living for so many, we keep hearing talk of recovery, which is, by definition, absurd, since a recovery assumes the reclamation of a prior state. The only prior state that has been recovered is the one that Wall Street was operating in before the financial world, as we knew it, ended in a thunderous calamity. In fact, even that picture isn’t entirely accurate since Wall Street has now, de facto, if not de jure, captured at least two, if not all three, branches comprising the Federal Government.

And the Federal Government, whose agenda is unmistakably crafted and shaped by corporations, if we are operating euphemistically, and owned like a mindless piece of chattel (by the remnants of the FIRE economy) if we are not, in concert with the MSM, which is also the province, lock, stock, and barrel of “bottom line” concerns, are all in on maintaining -to the vast majority’s detriment- the grand, if tenuous, illusion of prosperity. That Matrix will continue to function as is until some critical number of those trapped within it lose even more than they have lost already. At that point, one imagines a genuine move towards revolution and freedom- which, as Kris Kristofferson observed, is “just another word for nothing left to lose”- will emerge in a such a way as to make the Tea Party movement look like the tepid, co-opted brew it is. Unfortunately, by then, it may well be too late. Vamos a ver.

Weekly Haiku

Outdoor Cat

Warily staring
From within a dense thicket
She toys with her prey

Monday, April 5, 2010

Now They Tell Us.

Some of us had a pretty good idea that this sort of thing was coming. One wonders what number of the voters who supported Obamacare would have supported it had they known or even suspected what was in store. Municipalities are going to be damned if they do, and damned if they don't, since cutting all these massively overpriced health care plans down to size will make public employees feel substantially less well off. Given how many of our fellow citizens are employed by government, it is hard to see how this will not have, at least economically speaking, a depressing effect on local economies.

And yet, not massively paring these bloated plans from the system will bankrupt local government, because, who, in our implacably shrinking economy, can afford twenty five and thirty thousand dollar health care premiums? But wait. Not so fast! The whopping tax penalty on Cadillac insurance plans won't take effect until 2018, when Obama, and possibly Bella Pelosi and Scary Reid, will be long gone from the corridors of power.

So, in the mean time, municipalities can continue to hurtle down the path of bankruptcy, paying enormous premiums for overstuffed health care plans on behalf of employees, retirees, and elected officials. As the gory details continue to dribble out, the more one sees of Obamacare the more one gets the sense that, just as with the response by team Obama to the banking system and financial services sector debacle, another can has been well and truly kicked down the road.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Heartwarming B.S.

Now that the balance of power has tipped even more in favor of the prosperous few, we need more articles like this to help keep the ever growing numbers of the restless many from getting restive. Ah, yes, the world's richest individuals, all men, of course, and humble, live just like you and me, or so we are told. Hey, Carlos Slim, (what a marvelously ironic name for a plutocrat) doesn't even own his own plane or yacht. No word yet on whether Mr. Slim or his cohorts fly commercial coach.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The End of Popery.... but not Potpourri

In fact, potpourri season is just beginning, even as Popery's prospects seem to grow shorter and darker by the day. In the not too distant future I am going to have a predictions post, because, as silly an enterprise as making prognostications can be, it's still fun. But back to The (most un-fun) Catholic Church, which strikes this pagan as being in the not so early stages of a terminal decline. It's high time really. When one considers what is known about The Church's treachery throughout history, and then factors in that which is not known-but is bubbling to the surface like so much pus on a burst blister- it's a slam dunk that eventually the deeply corrupt, nay, perverse organism that is The Catholic Church should crumble once and for all.

We seem to live in a time where immense and pernicious frauds are being unmasked. From the U.S. banking and financial system, to The Catholic Church, there is more revealed rot about than one can reckon with. For those of an astrological bent, these stresses are the sign of a new age, one whose entrance is marked by the extinction of destructive institutions of one kind or another. What a comforting thought. Having said that, I give two to one odds that Pope Ratzinger represents either the final or the penultimate Pope.

The Church, which started with one leader, said to be Christ's disciple, Peter, has survived a schism that gave rise to The Eastern Orthodox Church, a period where two Popes operated simultaneously, and The Reformation, to name a few stresses, some of which were self generated. But the seemingly never ending revelations of systematic molestation by priests of child parishioners all across the western world, complete with denials and coverups that seem to lead all the way to The Pontiff himself, may represent something of a last straw. In the meantime, the shamelessness of some number of the Catholic clergy seems to know no bounds. And on that note, may those of you who celebrate it, have a Happy Easter.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Tax Dodger's Truth.

Well, as it is April Fool's Day, one should not be taken by surprise by fresh evidence that Tim Geithner never wavers from spewing the enormous and epic untruth that had the big criminal enterprises of Wall Street not been given free money (aka bailed out) with next to no strings, and zero oversight, things would have been much worse. Undoubedtly things would have been far worse for Wall Street's various and sundry criminal enterprises, but beyond that, the case for worse for the rest of us breaks down rather badly.

And now, The Treasury Secretary creature from the Wall Street Black Lagoon's incessant protestations that enabling bankster grand larceny was for the best is being matched by nauseating efforts to persuade you and me that he cares about the millions of folks who've paid dearly for Wall Street's heretofore unrestrained monstrous transgressions. Yes, Turbo Tim, it is "deeply unfair" that the criminals of Wall Street are smelling like roses even as some untold number of American (formerly) working stiffs have the rank odor about them of
organic fertililzer. And as you were right there at the scene of the crime, making the crime possible, and as you and your superiors have done %&#*! all to fully address, let alone amend, the original crime, your present posture appears like, well, posturing.

It gets better though, loyal readers, as Tax Dodgin' Treasurer Timmy now admits something that more than a few of us have suspected for quite some time, namely that chronic high unemployement is, for all intents and purposes, here to stay, a fixture of the, by now, well fertilized landscape. Quelle surprise! He regrets this lamentable state of affairs as well, but, as always, rest assured, that Mr. Geithner wants you to know, for those of you who did not get the memo, that while manning the helm as this unfortunate condition unfolded, the Obama Administration's efforts were just short of heroic. In the meantime, best of luck in your efforts to find a new, or better, job, and, in advance of the full implementation of Obamacare, stay well.