Tuesday, May 19, 2009

How The Drug War and War On Terrorism Has Made Us Safer

Here's a look at our legacy from two incredibly expensive wars. One a prohibition wars that makes the US government a competitor in the organized crime business and the other an endless war on a tactic.

Torture a hallmark of Phoenix's drug kidnappings
PHOENIX, Arizona (CNN) -- Jaime Andrade had just gotten out of the shower when the men came to snatch him.
Jaime Andrade was kept in this closet for three days without food or water, police say.

His wife, Araceli Valencia, was mopping the kitchen in their family home on a typical warm spring morning in Phoenix, Arizona, "when she suddenly felt a hard object pointed to the back of her head and a voice in Spanish tell her not to move," according to a Phoenix, Arizona, police investigative report.

"I told you not to look at me!" Valencia heard one of the kidnappers bark as he struck Andrade across the head.

Her four children bawling, Valencia was hustled into a bedroom where an armed man fondled her and threatened to rape her if she didn't tell him where Andrade hid his money, according to the report.

After beating and binding Andrade, one of the kidnappers put a gun to Valencia's head. His message: We're taking your husband and SUV. We'll be watching your house. If you call the cops, he's a dead man.


This is the safety we're paying for. This is what we got in exchange for our government robbing us of our freedoms and constitutional rights.

We can slaughter millions of people thousands of miles away, to make life better for Halliburton, but we do it by making life at home more dangerous.

And Obama has made it clear that he intends to escalate this violence by kicking the drug war up a notch. It won't be long before Mexico's problem runs rampant through our border states. Organized crime thrives in a prohibitionary climate. The bigger the risk, the bigger the rewards, the more intense the violence.

Then there's the problem of the CIA being in the heroin smuggling business. We can't end the illegal drug trade, so we have to fight a battle for market share. the CIA backs their violent drug lords, and other nations back their violent drug lords. Innocents are caught in the middle.

Thank you Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II and Obama. You've done a great job of destroying the country I love.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Bush III or the Saga Continues Under Obama

Take a look at the following article...
Cheney's Chief Assassin Is Now Obama's Commander in Afghanistan.

Most of you have probably heard by now that General Stanley McChrystal has taken over the War On Afghanistan. The media though, doesn't say much about what this means.

From the article, "McChrystal’s rise to leadership is marked by his central role in directing special operations teams engaged in extrajudicial assassinations, systematic torture, bombing of civilian communities and search and destroy missions. He is the very embodiment of the brutality and gore that accompanies military-driven empire building. Between September 2003 and August 2008, McChrystal directed the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations (JSO) Command which operates special teams in overseas assassinations."

In Iraq, the war has been reduced to simmer, not because we won hearts and minds, but because we slaughtered whole towns. With Negroponte and McChrystal ruling the country, death squads slaughtered civilians at a frantic pace. Finally, millions of people fled Iraq. It's likely that several million innocents have died in Iraq. After all, by 2004, the British Medical Association had estimated that over a million Iraqis had died in our war.

Now it's Afghanistan's turn to be decimated. Under Obama's leadership, we will slaughter millions of people and create a disaster of a humanitarian crisis.

But, like in Iraq, this will generate massive profits for mercenaries and it will give the oil industry safe and free access to oil in a foreign country. In the case of Afghanistan, the UnoCal pipeline.

In Afghanistan though, the is a wild card. In the 1980s, when the Russians took Afghanistan, so that they could build the pipeline, Reagan founded Al Queda under the leadership of Osama Bin Laden. The US then gave Osama Bin Laden the weapons needed to drive the Russians out of the country.

If Russia decides at this time to give the US a little payback, it could deal a huge blow to Obama's plan to slaughter millions of innocent people to steal their nation away.

And Russia has a capitalistic motive for doing this. If they can shut down or control the pipeline, they have control over petroleum flowing through Georgia.

I'm not hoping that Russia starts arming a counter insurgency. I do see it as one of their options.

At the same time, I can't support the slaughter of civilians, just so Obama's friends can steal their stuff.

It's wrong to rob and murder people. We shouldn't as a nation be in this business.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Unsticking Lizards

My wife had me out of bed early this morning with a terrifying emergency.

There was a large gecko stuck to some duct tape in the kitchen. As I approached, it struggled to get free, but all four feet were firmly stuck and it's tail already broken off.

I carefully cut the duct tape around each foot, and went to look up on the internet, the answer to how to unstick it's tiny little feet. I knew if I pulled the duct tape away, it's tiny feet would be pulled off.

All the answers talked about WD-40. that was a bit strong for a gecko I thought. So I tried what I had on hand.

I dabbed a few drops of olive oil on it's feet, and a few minutes later, the duct tape fell away. I took the little fellow out into the back yard and dropped it in a pile of leaves. A moment later it was gone.

One good deed for the day.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Lessons From Another Age

From the Auschwitz Alphabet.

Hope -
Despite the madness of war, we lived for a world that would be different. For a better world to come when all this is over. And perhaps even our being here is a step towards that world. Do you really think that, without the hope that such a world is possible, that the rights of man will be restored again, we could stand the concentration camp even for one day? It is that very hope that makes people go without a murmur to the gas chambers, keeps them from risking a revolt, paralyses them into numb inactivity. It is hope that breaks down family ties, makes mothers renounce their children, or wives sell their bodies for bread, or husbands kill. It is hope that compels man to hold on to one more day of life, because that day may be the day of liberation. Ah, and not even the hope for a different, better world, but simply for life, a life of peace and rest. Never before in the history of mankind has hope been stronger than man, but never also has it done so much harm as it has in this war, in this concentration camp. We were never taught how to give up hope, and this is why today we perish in gas chambers.

Borowski, pp. 121-122.

Self Deception
For purposes of defense, reality can be distorted not only in memory but in the very act of taking place. Throughout the year of my imprisonment in Auschwitz I had Alberto D. as a fraternal friend: he was a robust, courageous young man, more clearsighted than the average and therefore very critical of the many who fabricated for themselves, and reciprocally administered to each other, consolatory illusions ("The war will be over in two weeks", "There will be no more selections", "The English have landed in Greece", "The Polish Partisans are about to liberate the camp," and so on, rumors heard nearly every day and punctually given the lie by reality). Alberto had been deported together with his forty-five year old father. In the imminence of the great selection of October 1944, Alberto and I had commented on this event with fright, impotent rage, rebellion, resignation, but without seeking refuge in comforting truths. The selection came, Alberto's "old" father was chosen for the gas, and in the space of a few hours, Alberto changed. He had heard rumors that seemed to him worthy of belief: the Russians are close by, the Germans would no longer dare persist in this slaughter, that was not a selection like the others, it was not for the gas chamber, but had been made to choose the weakened but salvageable prisoners, in fact like his father, who was very tired but not ill; indeed, he even knew where they would be sent, to Jaworzno, not far away, to a special camp for convalescents fit only for light labor.

Naturally, his father was never seen again, and Alberto himself vanished during the evacuation march from the camp, in January 1945.

Levi, Drowned, pp. 33-34.


Karl Denniger recently went on one of his rants about how the rich shouldn't pay taxes, because they create jobs.

He argued that the more you earn the less you get taxed.

Everyone but me seemed to agree with him. But I guess it's because I'm not rich.

I've known a few millionaires in my day. They all say the same story. They are in a high tax bracket, but they pay virtually nothing in taxes. They say that only dumb shits pay high taxes with all the breaks Bush gave them. So I wonder why Karl is bitching? Isn't he smart enough to employ the numerous tax dodges provided to millionaires?

What Karl and all the rest are saying is that the less you make, the bigger the bite out of your check the gov should take. If you don't earn much, the government should tax you at a higher rate than someone making more.

Karl wants the government to punish people for not being millionaires like him. he wants the government to kick you while you're down.

He made the argument that entrepreneurs like him, can't work up from humble beginnings if the rich are saddled with high taxes. I guess Karl started out rich, because otherwise, his humble beginnings, don't fit his argument. If he wants people that aren't rich, taxed at a higher rate, how will they save and work to start a business, with the government taking all of their money? This would create a barrier to people pulling them up by their bootstraps, and it is the status quo.

And finally, he makes the classic argument that if the rich have to pay higher taxes, then they can't reinvest in creating jobs. Well that's bullshit. If you have a business, salaries come out of gross profits, not net. A business gets taxed on profits, not income before expenses are deducted. So money spent on salaries in a business, has no bearing on how an owner's personal income taxes are levied.

Karl, I'm really surprised at your dishonesty, in your arguments about taxes. you're usually a straight shooter. But on personal income taxes, you're spreading disinformation.

Personally, I'm for the flat tax and no personal deductions. They government should not be in the business of socializing your expenses. If you want to take on burdens or responsibilities, it's not the government's job to redistribute income to subsidize you. No deductions for dependents, expensive homes, expensive cars, etc...

If you can afford those things, then I shouldn't have to pay a higher rate, so that you can deduct them.

And Karl, you might think that I should pay a higher rate to subsidize your lifestyle and you may be in favor of socialized taxation for the wealthy, but I respectfully disagree. I'm a capitalist and more of an independent on matters of personal responsibility. I don't agree with your plan for taxing the poor to give to the rich.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Will Your 401k Be Left Out In The Cold?

Take a look at the following article:

401(k)s Hit by Withdrawal Freezes
Investors Cry Foul as Some Funds Close Exits; Perils of Distressed Markets

The meat of the issue...
Some investors in 401(k) retirement funds who are moving to grab their money are finding they can't.

Even with recent gains in stocks such as Monday's, the months of market turmoil have delivered a blow to some 401(k) participants: freezing their investments in certain plans. In some cases, individual investors can't withdraw money from certain retirement-plan options. In other cases, employers are having trouble getting rid of risky investments in 401(k) plans.


The rationale...
"To sell property at inappropriately low prices in order to generate cash for a few would hurt the majority of investors and violate our fiduciary obligations," said Terri Hale, spokeswoman for Principal Financial Group Inc., the parent of the fund's manager. The fund, which had $4.3 billion in net assets at the end of April, still is making distributions for death, disability, hardship and retirement at normal retirement age.

As you've heard me argue before, we can't all retire at once. The market will crash, we'll be wiped out. And it looks like this becoming obvious, even to the High Priests of Mammon. They suddenly see that they can't let everyone have access to their money, and still honor payments to existing retirees.

What they are experiencing is a run on the 401ks. If they let people have their money, they'll go bankrupt and the funds will be wiped out. This is because there is less money in the funds than invested.

This situation was driven out of two basic inputs.

1. Money put into the funds over the bubble years, bought stocks from the gambling houses at prices that were far above the fundamentals. Now the prices are dropping and the funds are hemorrhaging red ink. This is in essence, buying high and selling low. The fund managers assumed that this stock market Ponzi scheme would go to infinity, and it didn't.

2. The people managing these funds, needed expensive cars, big houses and lobster breakfasts. They are expensive to maintain and cost much more than they produce. While they were able to skim a lot of the retirees money off the top during the bubble years, it's now harder to skim million dollar bonuses off the top, without making big dents in the funds.

So to protect these cash cows, the brokers must freeze the payouts. They can't eat lobster everyday and buy a new Mercedes every six months, if people are allowed access to their own money. If Joe and Jane Six Pack are allowed to cash out their 401k to block foreclosure on their home, why a broker's kids might not have the tuition to get into a fancy private school. It's better if Joe and Jane cry over their own children and worry about where they will live, than to have a broker's kids live with the shame of going to a lesser private school.

Even had the brokers and bankers not been stealing so much, the 401k system is still a Ponzi Scheme. It like the gambling stock market it is based on, only retains value so long as more money goes in, than comes out. With industrial growth in decline in the USA, and energy production declining or at best at times, flat, there is no productivity gains to back the rising debt. The market must lose value. Now the market might be able to see gains, along with the GDP, if the government increases the speed of the printing presses, and takes over most the GDP. The the GDP could become a measure of government spending. As printing money is free in the electronic age, the government could see it's measured GDP return to happy growth days, even as the private sector withers away and dies. Then we may see 3% growth in 401ks, as the price of bread and electricity grows at 12%.

There is a big downside to the 401k freezes. As word spreads, more and more people will opt out of these plans. As the money flowing in slows, the market and these funds will continue to lose value. Those that can't get their money now, are unlikely to see it when they retire.

One of the greatest frauds committed in the 20th century, was the widespread lie that stock market gambling, is an investment vehicle. People who tend look at a thing to see what it is, weren't fooled, but most Americans in this case, certainly were. The market has been portrayed as mysterious, complicated, and difficult to understand. But it really isn't.

When you buy stock, you're placing a bet that you can sell it at a higher price than what you paid. When you invest in a fund, you're financing professional gamblers. These professional gamblers went to professional gambling schools, gambling seminars, in house gambling training, and other gambling classes. They gamble with other people's money, and that makes them professionals.

It doesn't matter now if you have money in a 401k or not. This fraud and many others will cause severe damage to the US economy. We'll all suffer from it. Well most of us. The fraudsters may well just keep profiting from fraud.

For the banksters, lying, cheating and stealing is just a part of doing business. They laugh at honest people that play by the rules. When it comes to shifty business dealings, I've heard more than one executive say, "That's something for the lawyers to work out."

So don't expect any of this to turn around. The gamblers and flat earthers are in charge. They'll stay in charge. They'll destroy our country. And we'll let them because they offer us eternal hope. And as long as we are offered hope, we'll allow still another transgression against us, without taking action.

As the 401k crisis unfolds and retirees die hungry in the cold and dark, their broker will be digesting another lobster dinner over a bottle of expensive wine, while watching their 84" TV, on their yacht... So long as we trust gamblers to manage our retirement, well, they'll be gambling our retirements away.