Thursday, January 24, 2013

Apparitions in the fog

I came across this in the comment section of a previous post and thought it deserves your attention. It sure as hell got mine:


Tip of the hat to Joe Six Pack.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Stocks are up again....

If you question why the stock market remains strong while real world economies flounder, look no farther than Helicopter Ben and the Federal Reserve.

This Is What 1,230 Days (And Counting) Of Explicit Market Support By The Federal Reserve Looks Like

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Victors write history

Sabbath day. January 12, 2013.

Yesterday Leah and I ventured to Seguin to see Zero Dark Thirty, a sobering film depicting the manhunt and eventual assassination of Osama bin Laden. The show was riveting, the drama thick, action sequences well orchestrated, meticulously paced and produced. I am led to believe the story results from interviews and accounts taken from participants portrayed in the film; what you see on screen closely resembles what actually took place on the ground.

Some decry the film because it depicts torture sequences that led agents to Osama bin Laden. Popular sentiment of the more gentle natured amongst us suggests torture doesn’t work. Unfortunately, sometimes it does. While true that those being tortured often can and will lie, even lies sometimes reveal truths, as experienced interrogators hear not only what is said, but also what is not and can compare offerings from a detainee with evidence gathered from other sources, playing one against another. Having endured torture myself, I know that when someone applies enough heat to your ass, most if not all will say something. To my personal shame and regret, I squealed on more than one occasion, dating as far back as my own childhood and a couple of wrecked motorcycles....

The more conspiratorial among us will say the whole story of Osama’s demise was a hoax; he died long ago; the fact that no pictures were provided and that his body was buried at sea destroyed evidence of the whole charade.

For what it’s worth, I think Osama bin Laden was killed as depicted by the film, that he did actively plan and participate in a plan to hijack airliners which were then flown into buildings on suicide missions. However, that is only part of the story.

I learned from the film and for that reason, I recommend watching it. But not without issuing a warning: you are being propagandized when you do. I’m not sure that’s the intent of the filmmaker, but it is the effect. As did the lead interrogator pursuing Osama in the film, I learned not only from what the film depicts, but also what it omits.

To begin, there was no plan to capture Osama alive. Period. Why, may I ask, is that?

While each participant aiding in the fabrication of the story probably told the truth to the best of his or her ability, considering the modes operandi of armies and espionage agencies--the requirement that agents and soldiers are told what they know on a need to know and only on a need to know basis--and therefore are rarely cognizant of the big picture (including even the president of the land, I would add), a series of truths may be arranged in a way that supports undeserved and unwarranted conclusions.

The film begins with phone conversations from people trapped in the twin towers, gut-wrenching stuff. In a matter of minutes, viewers are drawn into a man-hunt for the obvious perpetrator and master-mind, without offering much in the way of how this man became the lead suspect in the case.

I will not drag you through conflicting and contradictory evidence refuting the official version of 9-11 events; suffice it to say I do not believe the whole truth has been revealed, not by this film, and certainly not by our government.

Assassinating Osama bin Laden assured that we would never hear his first-hand account of events.

I don’t cry for the man; he was a killer of innocents, in thought and deed. But he shares that trait with people of high repute in our own society.

And the victors write history.

Oddly enough, today, Robert Kennedy Jr, shared that   he doesn't believe a lone gunman killed his uncle, a sitting president. Furthermore, apparently his father, Robert Kennedy, the attorney general of the land at the time, didn't believe the Warren Commission either.

Friday, January 4, 2013

No free ride

I seldom venture into the local Wal-Mart store, but yesterday was an exception. Sent to find freezer storage bags unavailable elsewhere, I walked by the clothing section and checked out prices. I was shocked how cheap goods can be had. A nice shirt for $7. Sounds good, no?

Perhaps, unless you’re the poor SOB making that $7 shirt.

Or the local business that wants to manufacture shirts and has to compete with this obscene price.

I hear people say excessive governmental debt is no problem. In the next breath they say we need to create new jobs. Then they say we need unions for fair wages, safe and clean working conditions. And, we need to produce goods in an environmentally acceptable fashion.

We do not live in a vacuum.

When we create new money without also creating more underlying real wealth, we dilute the value of our currency relative to the currencies of the rest of the world. We have gotten away with this for a couple of reasons: first, the notion that oil must be traded worldwide in dollars and only in dollars, and second, a belligerent and powerful military combined with a propensity to punish those that don’t adhere to notion number one.

We all, whether we admit it or not, enjoy an advantage created from the spoils of war.

This unnatural and unfair value applied to the US dollar allows us to buy foreign goods cheaper than we can produce them. Multinational corporations, often bearing names that sound quite American, offshore manufacturing jobs to get away from minimum wage requirements, environmental concerns and safe working conditions.

In essence, the stuff you find in your local Wal-Mart and for that matter nearly any other store or outlet where you shop is made by slaves toiling in unsafe and miserable conditions, while trashing the planet in the process. And we kill those that resist the plan, directly and by proxy.

The result is what you see all around you.

We are not alone. European nations have also long used similar exploitation to live at higher standards than the rest of the world. The European Union is largely a response to losses in power and prestige to the United States and our model of exploitation since World War II.

They and we expect a higher standard of living without questioning where and how real goods and services required to maintain that standard are acquired.

I say there are consequences that come with stolen goods. Call it karma. Reaping what you sow. The law of reciprocity.

There is no free ride.

So, how do we fix this mess? This late in the game, I don’t honestly know, but if someone made me king, I can tell you how I’d start.

First, bring home our troops. All of them.

Second. Institute standards and a certification process for any goods imported into this country in large scale, including minimum wages, environmental standards, and safe and clean conditions for workers in foreign countries. Any non-certified goods should be subject to severe tariffs. You employ slaves; you cannot sell goods in this country, or we will tax the living shit out of you (creating revenue in the process).

Don’t give free money to able-bodied citizens; instead provide employment through projects that raise the common wealth of the country.

Change tactics in the so-called War on Drugs; treat addicts as sick people instead of as criminals; legalize marijuana and dilute forms of drugs created from natural opiates and stimulants; offer the hard stuff to addicts in controlled environments for those wishing to break or effectively control their addiction….

Thereby greatly reducing the population of our prisons; shorter more intense sentences should be employed for anyone considered rehabilitatable (my computer says this isn’t a word. It should be).

Go after fraudsters, allow too-big-to-fails to fail and redistribute resulting assets through auction. Real estate, both commercial and residential is too expensive, largely a result of too much money in the hands of wealthy imperialists and nowhere else to spend it, and values must be reset.

Reduce the size and scope of federal government while augmenting the power of state and local governments. One size does not fit all; to be effective, government needs be nimble and cognizant of local issues and conditions. We’re better off as a confederation, (or union for those that dislike the word) of semi-autonomous states than as a nation where all is dictated from one central governing body.

I am sure a transition to these ends would be uncomfortable, perhaps even disastrous in the short term, but the cause of the pain wouldn’t be the cures I prescribe, but instead the inevitable result of the reckless and immoral imperial model we have applied to get where we are and have what we have.

One thing for sure. There is no free ride in this world.

We will have to go back to work to get out of this mess.

Or, we will fail catastrophically.

Take your pick.