Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Small Town Story - Soft Fascism

I've lived in a few small towns in Texas. They have some good qualities to commend them. They also have some ugly warts, magnified by the big fish in a small town fishbowl effect.

There was one small town, that I knew a few folks in, back in 2001. And this relates to a few stories one could hear back then in the Dairy Queen, or one of the Feed Stores, Bait Shops, etc...

One day this town was rocked by the news that Muslims flew airplanes into the World Trade Center. This upset everyone in the small town. It was a horrible day. People had a right to be upset and angry.

Then the news people got on the TV airwaves and told everyone to report suspicious activity.

Well, everyone that had Not Our Kind (NOKs) for neighbors, knew who they were. They dressed funny. They worshiped funny. They weren't quite right in the head.

So they all called the police and FBI to tell them about their suspicious neighbors. the FBI is reported to have gotten many thousands of leads, all across the USA.

So in this small town, the FBI and the local police went out to visit these suspicious people. They put the men folk in handcuffs and took them to the local jail. Their women wailed and pulled their hair out. This was mighty suspicious behavior.

Then some of the good citizens got visiting privileges with these NOK men. When they came back they bragged and bragged how they wailed on them terrorists, real good. "Punched him real hard!" they would say.

The women were allowed periodic visits, but couldn't drive. So the local law enforcement used those open air sight seeing carts, to drive miles and miles to the jail on the highway at slow speeds, so everyone in town could see the suspicious NOK women going to see their men.

The NOK folks then began to have trashy yards. Garbage would be strewed across their lawns in the morning and the women would go out and dutifully clean it up. The walls of their homes were plastered with eggs and graffiti. Sometimes crosses would get lit on fire in their yards. They worked hard to clean this stuff off of their homes and keep their yards neat.

When Christmas came, many of the NOKs put nativity scenes in their windows. But the town's people weren't fooled.

One day, the NOK men, were transferred to a prison somewhere else.

They hadn't been able to make mortgage payments on their homes, ranches or keep up their businesses since their incarceration. So the banks took those away and sold them at auction. Even the NOK women had to leave.

Now these towns don't have those particular kinds of 'Not Our Kind' of people around anymore.

The End

I Doubt I'll Ever Understand the ArchDruid

I asked John for clarification on the paragraph he wrote to me, below. I've linked the comment page, so that if you like, you can see the full conversation. It might be supposed that I'm taking this quote out of context. But it makes no sense to me, so even though I'm in the conversation, it is missing a lot of context already, from my viewpoint.

JMG I've noticed makes very vague statements and you can interpret them different ways. I guess that's a general trait of the religious class. He accused me of oversimplifying, when he's intentional vague. I did simplify, because I'm trying to understand him, and arguing about nitpicking details, in my experience goes nowhere in this sort of discussion. It wouldn't help me understand his philosophy.

The following quote, can be interpreted in a lot of different ways.

John Michael Greer Wrote, "As for the relative culpability of small thieves vs. big thieves, of course you don't see the kind of cheating the government you're likely to commit as the same kind of thing you criticize in Goldman Sachs. Nobody does -- and yet 10 million Americans cheating the government out of $1000 a year very quickly outstrips anything Goldman Sachs has done. The reason why so many people like to project the shadow of their own misdeeds onto some convenient scapegoat, such as bankers, is that it allows them to ignore the impact that their own actions have when multiplied by the millions of people who are doing the same thing.

You do share their guilt; that's why you're trying to pin so much blame on them."

If he's not engaging in a personal attack, or arguing that if I don't like being a victim, then I must be a criminal, then maybe he's discussing mass guilt? I hope he's not trying to defend and support the crimes that GS is committing.

As I can't get him to give me a straight answer on anything, does anyone know his position on this? Does he believe that we are all individually responsible for all of the sins and crimes committed by our fellow man?

I'll admit at one time, I felt responsible for events unfolding in my country. I did so because for a time, I stood behind some of the people that had gone on to do a great deal of damage to my beloved country. I have learned from that. I now oppose most of the politicians and the system that are nurturing the corruption. I've lost my faith in political parties as they exist today. I've come to understand that power does give shelter, for corruption to fester in.

I do not believe that I am responsible for what other men do. I am not responsible for their actions and decisions. I am not responsible for the crimes of men that will never meet and never influence. And I am not responsible for crimes that I oppose.

JMG is clear I believe in telling me that because I oppose these crimes, I share the guilt in them. So in his view, I am guilty of a host of terrible crimes.

I wonder what crimes that JMG does not support? Does he feel he is guilty of these crimes?

Is this any way to go through life? Carrying the load of the world's guilt upon your shoulders?

John Michael Greer wrapped it up with an accusation that I'm a criminal tax cheat. I seem to have a real knack for finding some unusual people on the web. I sent him a civil response, asking him not to call me a criminal in public. I told him that he didn't seem to actually be reading what I wrote, and did my best to correct his interpretation of what I had written.

At the top of my reply, I mentioned that he should probably not allow the comment, as I am addressing it just to him, and I don't have his email address. I told him i would continue reading his articles, but I would no longer comment.

The exchange I had with him, reminded me a lot of the problems I had in a Baptist Sunday School as a child, that led to me being kicked out of the church at 13. I asked too many questions. I was bothered by the inconsistencies. And I was informed that Satan filled me questions and I was dammed for all eternity. Maybe that's not such a bad thing, if this is what hanging with religious leaders will be like in the afterlife.

When you or anyone else cheats on your taxes, you're pocketing government revenues. When you or anyone else votes your pocketbook rather than your conscience, you're distorting government decisions for personal profit. When you or anyone else dismisses what's left of our constitutional government as a fascist regime, you're undermining democracy. The faults of the government are simply the faults of the people, projected onto a larger screen; every people, in other words, gets exactly the government it deserves.

This is why it's so disingenuous for people like you to insist that those evil so-and-so's in Wall Street and Washington are responsible for everything wrong with this country. That insistence is an attempt to excuse their own contributions to our troubles by blaming others. Carl Jung called it "projecting the shadow," and it's become very nearly universal in contemporary American politics.

As for me, well, I don't claim to be blameless, but I don't cheat on my taxes, I don't vote my pocketbook, and I don't trash talk what's left of American democracy. You do the math.

Friday, October 23, 2009

T. Boone Pickens says US Firms 'Entitled' to Iraqi Oil

T. Boone Pickens says US Firms 'Entitled' to Iraqi Oil

WASHINGTON - Oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens told Congress on Wednesday that U.S. energy companies are "entitled" to some of Iraq's crude because of the large number of American troops that lost their lives fighting in the country and the U.S. taxpayer money spent in Iraq.

Boone, speaking to the newly formed Congressional Natural Gas Caucus, complained that the Iraqi government has awarded contracts to foreign companies, particularly Chinese firms, to develop Iraq's vast reserves while American companies have mostly been shut out.

Pickens forgot to mention, that we didn't go kill over a million Iraqis, just a show of friendship. We did it to show the Iraqis that they are our property, they are our slaves. We can slaughter them anytime we like, because we own them as if they are animals.

But Pickens does make a good point. If a young father from Tennessee get s his head blown off, then T. Boone Pickens should get a new sports car and another wing added to one of his mansions. The widow and the children of the dead soldier should be proud that every dead soldier represents a profit center to Mr. Pickens, as they wait in the government lobby, to see a food stamps case worker.

And in Iraq, orphans should be glad that T. Boone Pickens gets to enjoy lobster for breakfast, lunch and dinner, because their parents were slaughtered in a war to steal Iraq's oil.

Death makes the vultures fat. And the vultures are proudly preening over it.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Nature Of The Collapse

The ArchDruid (John Michael Greer) has written another fine post, "The Twilight of Money"

Most of it I agree with completely. All of it I agree with in principle.

I've posted a concise and polite question, concerning this on his site. But my comments don't seem to appear there anymore. I've posted counter arguments to some of his theories that he hasn't countered with logic or facts, to my satisfaction anyway. I also posted an argument that he disproved, and I accepted. If he's locked me out, I can't be sure for which it might be.

Now in his current argument, what I'm not so sure about, is his point that our current bubble, and the collapse following it, is essentially the same as prior collapses. That all we're seeing is a difference in scale. This argument is an old one. On many levels, it holds true. Especially on the upswing and for the short term the downswing. Further out, there is some serious room for argumentation.

Now the trend has been...,
After every prior collapse, on the following upswing, technology became more sophisticated, and populations swelled to new highs. This was possible, because with each fall, there were still regions of the world with untapped bounties in resources. A bit of improved technology opened those up, and a civilization rose again, to reach new highs.

Of course, not every civilization that rose from the ashes of older ones, exceeded the previous one. But the historical trend has been upwards.

And here we are, at what appears to be, an apex. And it's an apex looking over a cliff.

If we look at the meaningful resources available to us, every single one of them is decline. And still we are working to harvest them faster and faster, while our population and hunger grows. With the peak of conventional oil in the rear view mirror, our civilization is in the opening stages of it's collapse. As predicted, we're trying to move to a purely economic system that attempts to replace industry and jobs, with nothing but the free flow of freshly minted monies.

The ArchDruid covers this in his post. And rightly argues that other civilizations did a similar thing.

In closing, he makes this comment, "A similar trajectory almost certainly waits in the future of our own economic system, though what use the shepherds who pasture their flocks on the Mall in the ruins of a future Washington DC will find for vast stacks of Treasury bills is not exactly clear."

And in this statement, he and I may be seeing our divergence. In the past, John has argued that after our civilization has ended, we will evolve into an enlightened society. Our technology will grow beyond the bounds we enjoy today. And this civilization will live in peace and harmony with the Earth.

I assume he still believes this. This was a point of disagreement between him and I. I don't see how this enlightenment will occur, without an enlightened power, forcing our evolution to this state. I don't believe that we can do it, and I don't think the odds of alien intervention is high. Absent an evolutionary force to drive us to enlightenment, I think the traditional evolutionary forces will dominate our development.

But even so, isn't such an argument, a divergence from the historical model? If our fall, leads to us evolving into a more enlightened species, then isn't that a strong divergence from the trend, making this cycle a dramatic departure from the previous ones?

As my readers are aware, I don't put much stock into the idea that we'll become an enlightened species, some time after the fall. John suggests that it may take a thousand years or more. In my view it might as well be millions or billions, this is not a direction that evolution naturally takes a species. Evolution pushes species to change, to fill empty niches in the ecology. And after the fall, with homo sapiens being the dominant species on the planet, we're likely to begin filling those niches and diverging. In this view, we are likely to fill predator and prey roles. Enlightenment will take a back seat to survival and the steady ecological pressure to restore balance between the species and populations.

Our descendants won't have an abundant endowment of fossil fuels to drive a new era of scientific advancement. They'll have to go back to making things by hand. As we're eliminating old growth forests, even a civilization powered by charcoal is out of the question, until the planet heals itself, assuming we let it.

This fall, will be hard and dramatic. If it does resemble a historical precedent, than Easter Island is likely the best one. But we never saw Easter Island play out. We interrupted it before the descendants could show us what may happen next.

In this fall, there will be no resource rich civilization to break our decline and lift the world to new highs again. There will be no place to escape to. There will be no gradual decline, spanning many generations.

This decline is missing many of the safety values, that prevented us from coming even close to extinction. This decline may cause our extinction, and at best will drive our numbers so low, that our descendants will evolve into new species, and so homo sapiens will become extinct. This is what evolution does to species that undergo a bottleneck event in a changing environment.

So I think that the differences are large enough to confidently say, this time is different. But this is not a very happy message of hope.

I know I've promised more garden pictures and upbeat posts. Folks have pointed out that I'd get more readers if my posts were not so depressing. JMG publishes such upbeat posts. He gives folks hope and tries to put events into a nicer perspective. I truly believe that he believes what he writes. I enjoy much of what he writes, and I respect him for his views.

However, I don't believe that the evidence leads us onto the garden path. So I can't in good conscience write as if it does. We will have good days and bad days. All through the decline, there will be sunny days and gloomy days. This is what life is. This is our place on the Great Mandela. Make the most of it. We still have time to live full lives, if we only learn to embrace the good things that we have in the here and now.

If there is one thing that I have learned, as I've lived through the apex and the opening days of the decline, is that each day is a blessing and the misery comes from yearning for what we can't have. We live in a society that teaches us that we have a right and a duty, to take more than we need, and to hunger for what we don't have. If we can't do this, then we are diminished as human beings. This is perhaps our biggest failure as a society. Our failure to recognize when enough of something, is plenty.

JMG and I don't diverge in my view, much on anything that matters to the here and now. We preach much of the same things. From that perspective, it doesn't matter which of us is more correct, about what happens in the coming decades. We both argue that folks should be preparing to for harder times now, so that when they come, they won't seem so hard.

"Better eat it up now, you don't know if you're going to eat tomorrow." - My Late Grandpa Albert

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Mama Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Bankers

Introducing the Remington Riders

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Lewis Carroll Nobel Prize for Economics

If you can write 'Alice In Wonderland', or the 'Hunting of the Snark' in the language of mathematics, then you too, can win the Nobel Prize for Economics.

That's all it takes. Just simply express nonsense, using a an array of valid mathematical expressions, leading to a conclusion, that leaves you wondering if there can even be an answer, and you've got it!

No Easy Answer to ‘Too Big to Fail,’
Nobelist Williamson Says

By Vivien Lou Chen

Oct. 13 (Bloomberg) -- There’s no easy way to deal with the question of institutions whose failure might pose a threat to the financial system, said Oliver Williamson, co-winner of this year’s Nobel Economics Prize.

“There is no silver bullet,” Williamson, 77, said at a news conference yesterday at the University of California at Berkeley, where he is professor emeritus. “There is no instant answer that I or any of my students or any of my colleagues would be prepared to advance on that.”

Williamson is a founder of organizational economics -- the study of how institutions are created and developed and how they affect growth. In research that may have applications to the financial crisis, he suggested that it is better to regulate large companies than to try to break them up or limit their size.

The administration of President Barack Obama has proposed giving the Federal Reserve responsibility for overseeing financial institutions deemed “too big to fail.”

Williamson shared this year’s Nobel prize with Elinor Ostrom, a political scientist at Indiana University in Bloomington and the first woman to receive the economics award.

“There’s a possibility we could foresee some of the hazards,” such as those in the current crisis, and “take advance action,” Williamson said. The Fed and Treasury Department face “important organizational issues” similar to those raised by his work. Still, he said, he doesn’t think the crisis influenced the Nobel committee’s decision to award him the prize.

Williamson called himself “a lucky guy.”

In his academic work, Williamson found that large corporations exist primarily because they are efficient and benefit owners, workers, suppliers and customers, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said today in Stockholm.

Continued Consolidation...

I've written a few dozen times, this century and the last, that as the downturn commences, we'll see corporate consolidation, funded by taxpayer subsidies. The biggest corporations will be able to pay the best bribes, to get free bailouts, and they'll use the power of those funds to destroy their smaller competitors.

This will allow bankrupt mega corporations to thrive and to destroy profitable corporations. After all, if you don't have to earn a profit to stay in business, you can undercut everyone. If the federal government is giving you many millions in free money, you can use that to buy out profitable businesses, then shut them down.

Here's a Bill Hatch reporting on this very phenomenom.
Dairy Industry Goes Down the Tubes

This is nothing but another public gift to banks. If dairy cost/price ratios continue along the same dismal path to keep profits high for Dean Foods/DFA investors, all it will really achieve is to allow mega-dairies to pay down enough debt to borrow more to buy smaller dairies to produce more milk at a loss until the banks again go to Congress for more taxpayer funds to get bailed out again so that even fewer, larger mega-dairies can again restore their credit and buy more cows, until the next time.

A Question For Democrats

Have we given Obama enough time to show us what kind of President he will be?

Or do we need to wait a while longer before we judge him?

Does he need more time, before we can hope that he might act on the principles, that we would wish him to hold dear to his heart?

Has the clock run out on Nancy Pelosi yet, or should we wait a little longer to see if she'll quit sniffing neoconservative butts, like a dog in heat?

If you folks can't control your party, then the neocons are going to be back in control soon. You opportunity for change will have been squandered, and the Republicans will build on the legacy of anti-American fascism that Bush and Obama have worked so hard to build.

So long as you support Obama's policies, you're going to get more war, more corporatism and a continual erosion of civil liberties.

And to you Republicans, why are you folks against Healthcare. You folks fought to run up a debt to make the Muslims that own Halliburton and many of our defense contractors wealthy. You argued with me that Hallliburton needs the giant big bucks, because they are the only corporation qualified to do what they do, like operate cafeterias and latrines. And you told me that soldiers can't do these things. So Halliburton needs to be paid like $50 bucks a plate, to server spoiling food to marines.

so what's the big deal about Healthcare Reform. It's purpose is the same. to rip you off and give the money to rich people. You made it a of patriotism during Bush's presidency. Are you turning traitor now? You love being ripped off before, what happened?

Is the only difference that we're only throwing money away, whereas with Bush we also threw away American lives? If so, have hope! Obama is escalating the glory wars! Soon we'll be wasting American lives faster than ever! and we'll be wasting even more money!

And remember, whatever expansion of waste and fraud that Obama delivers, is just a new baseline for the Republican Party to build on when it retakes the White House.

So when Obama leaves, whatever massive foundation of looting and pillaging he has built in the Democratic Party image, the Republican will be able to refocus, to grow and expand to provide graft and tributes for Republican interests.

So don't worry, be happy. We'll be swapping out Lady Liberty's Rapists soon enough.

Obama Makes The Foregone Decision

More lives, more money, wasted in a war that nobody needs, except for a few foriegn oil corporations.

Obama approves 13,000 more troops to Afghanistan

Even if you happen to love war, for war's sake, does it make sense to use American troops as charity mercenaries to enrich foreign oil and gas corporations?

Friday, October 09, 2009

The Nobel Booby Peace Prize

I sat incredulously and listened to the new reports that President Barack Obama has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace. I waited patiently to hear why they awarded it to him. Did he accomplish something in Europe that we did not hear about in the USA? Did Israel make Peace with the Palestinians? Did Obama end the two wars that he's been escalating?

No, it was none of those things. Obama was awarded the prize because the Norwegians had feelings of hope. Obama made them feel warm and fuzzy, and gosh darn it, they really like him. Never mind his broken promises. Never mind that he is fully supportive of two wars that accomplish nothing for the USA, yet incur staggering expenses and have caused the death of well over a million innocent human beings. At least that was the count a few years ago. Now that Obama is in office, we seem to have turned a blind eye to the continued glorification of the USA through the slaughter of human beings.

And as Obama contemplates whether he should send more troops to waste more money, slaughtering more human beings for no good reason, he has now been endowed with the most prestigious award in the field of the humanities.

And I'll say it out loud. the Nobel Prize For Peace is now officially a stupid joke.

I had hoped that when the committee gave the award to the human slaughter demon, Henry Kissinger, that they were experiencing a temporary lapse of reason. Henry Kissinger has worked tirelessly all of his life to have people slaughtered for politic expediency, all over the globe. He played a principal role in getting 50,000 American and 65,000 Vietnamese slaughter in the Vietnam war. A war that appears ever more senseless as we gain more clarity in hindsight. Good arguments have been made that he should have been tried for war crimes and likely executed for the role he played. And we give this bloodthirsty demon a Nobel Peace Prize?

So now the prize isn't given out based on actions or accomplishments, but on the feelings that a person inspires in the committee members. Why couldn't the members just send roses and chocolates, and leave the reputation of the Nobel Prize for Peace intact?

Oh, I've got a funny feeling in my toe! - Bigwig

Sunday, October 04, 2009

FBI Made Terrorist Was Troubled

Dallas plot suspect's family says he was troubled, not a terrorist

Hosam Smadi’s relatives here in Jordan see that childhood trauma as evidence that he did not start out determined to blow up one of Dallas’ signature skyscrapers. He came to the United States in April 2007 because he saw it as a land of opportunity, they said. He faked a marriage to stay here. He even considered converting to Christianity. They blame the FBI for enticing him to become an Islamic extremist — and entrapping him in a dangerous gambit.

I'm seeing a trend here. The FBI is aware that these young men are troubled and need help, but they don't see that they need help. they instead use them as patsies, so that they can waste millions in tax dollars and see career advancement and big money bonuses. And before someone from the FBI tries to tell me that aren't making big money, ask yourself, do you make more than $50k a year, have steady employment and medical coverage? If the answer is yes, then in the new America you're helping to create, you're making big money.

This is getting pretty bad when the FBI is obviously in the business of training and grooming trouble young men, to become terrorists, just so they can bust them.

I guess it's better to waste money destroying lives than to save them.

This is our country. the land of government institutionalized crime. If it's not bankers robbing us blind, it's law enforcement turning illegal entrapment into an institutionalized policy.