Watching the slow-motion train wreck of an economic system collapse unfold

Watching the slow-motion train wreck of an economic system collapse unfold
click pic to reminisce

Transparent Bullshit  

Posted by howard in nyc in ,

2014_09_15
17:35

Obama renews overt military attacks in Iraq, extending them to Syria, to counter the newest threat to our security, ISIL.  Bullshit.

This will be used to relaunch regime change in Damascus.  US bombs will fall on Assad's forces, and the US will now, finally, overtly try to destroy his rule.  I think this is Obama's idea of being clever--under the cover of the latest escalation against Terrorism, fool us all by actually waging war on Damascus.  What Russia does in response (if anything) will be quite interesting.  How this blows back, on Israel or otherwise, will also be interesting.

The  ceasefire in Ukraine has lasted longer than I expected, but it was never widespread or comprehensive.  While most of the fighting did stop, and the lack of killing over the past week is welcome, battles continued and shelling of civilian residential districts in Donesk killed dozens.  The ceasefire, to a significant degree, is bullshit.

During this respite, the Kiev forces are concentrating, reorganizing and rearming.  I expect they will launch significant attacks very soon, trying to secure some military victories before winter comes.  This is a guess--there are so many factors in play.  I also assume such a possibility is in the forefront of planning by the Novorussia military.  As well as in the plans of Putin and Russia, in their defense against the continued advances of NATO/EU/USA in Ukraine and the rest of Europe.

Amid all the propaganda and lies, attempting to discern the internal politics of Kiev and of Russia is particularly challenging.  The role of wealthy oligarchs in both capitals is particularly opaque.  While the Kiev regime was installed by the US and the EU, the degree to which the Western powers are pulling the strings day to day may have significantly decreased, given the military failure and the US 'pivot' to Syria.  Or not, and the next round of military violence visited upon the Donbass in the East may be specifically directed by Washington.

When the fighting renews, I anticipate Russia will respond in kind, as they did this spring and summer.  The latest round of mindless sanctions against Russia will again damage European economies much more than the target, both directly and with the inevitable Russian retaliatory sanctions.

There are big forces in the American power structure that promote these moves toward more and more war.  The fact that the economy is dead and not getting better cries out for major war to distract us from the harsh reality.  The dogma of so many of those in power (including in Jerusalem) that any chaos in the Arab world is a positive factor drives many of these policy 'failures'.  The factions in the Arab world allied with Washington (Saudi Arabia and Qatar in particular) who have interests not aligned with American security much less with peace.

Yeah, attempting to discern the internal politics of Washington, New York, London and Jerusalem ain't exactly simple either.  Not all bullshit is transparent.


World War III Ain't Gonna Start Itself  

Posted by howard in nyc in , ,

2014_08_29
21:05

The madness of the West's (USA, EU, NATO, Germany) attempt to tiptoe into Ukrainia is turning out not so much as the Obama State Department (and affiliated secret services) planned.  Such big brains and wise knowledgeable souls, too.  Shame they didn't foresee that Putin and the actual 'folks' who live in Eastern Ukraine didn't just say 'OK' when a democratically elected government was brutally overthrown, admittedly with intense involvement of the US, led by Assistant Secretary of State Victoria 'fuck the EU' Nuland, and all the atrocities of the subsequent civil war, fueled and funded by US dollars, weaponry and policies.

This historic episode, unfolding since the start of this year, has been fantastic and surreal.  I am especially struck by third aspects--the increased level of raw lies and misinformation being relentlessly spewed by our government; secondly the astounding success of the Eastern Ukrainian people in winning this civil war (it ain't over yet, but the fat lady is warming up); finally, Putin's actions which have seriously reduced the risk of WW3, while at the same time securing the best interests of his nation using minimal military force and maximal diplomatic efforts.

I have not written much on this topic, but it is far more important than other current events.  ISIS in Syria/Iraq, Israel-Hamas, Ferguson, Mo are all repetition of well-established behaviors.  The clash of Russia and The West, this round at least, is novel, and has not been this hot and dangerous for decades.  One reason I have not written much is that the narrative of the USG and the media is so 180˚ from reality, and that false narrative is so widely accepted.  I can climb that steep hill in my own mind easily (a lifetime of practice) and in face to face discussions with friends, but not so much on a humble, little-read blog.

I tried to write a summary of events of the past eight months, but I just don't have the heart.  Instead, an extremely brief synopsis.

The US/NATO/EU actively overthrew the democratically elected, Russian leaning leader and government of the Ukraine in February. The US supported and financed, to the tune of ~$5 billion the junta that overthrew a democratically elected, Russian-leaning government.  This government was corrupt, but not particularly compared to prior Russian-leaning or West-leaning governments.  The rebellion followed the unacceptable rejection of a free-trade agreement with the EU.  (Funny, people don't generally turn out on the streets to demand regime change over trade agreements--not exactly the emotional hot button that fuels revolution.)  Without overt US prodding and support, there is no regime change--this is not a matter of opinion.

Nuland video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2y0y-JUsPTU#t=447

They installed a hand-picked junta, which immediately passed laws restricting ethnic/cultural Russian Ukraine citizens in the eastern part of the country from basic rights of citizenship.  Not long afterward, people in two eastern provinces voted to secede, and Kiev launched a civil war to prevent their secession.

In response to the US coup d'etat in Kiev, Putin snatched the Crimean Peninsula, an essential piece of territory if you have a big navy.  It was far less of a snatch than portrayed by the US, as Russia had a long-term lease on naval bases there, the population is overwhelmingly Russian-speaking and otherwise ethnically/culturally, the new government in Kiev quickly passed laws outlawing the speaking of the Russian language and other stupid discriminatory laws, and the people of the Crimea overwhelmingly voted to secede, and to join the Russian Federation.

Obama and the West did not like this.  The leveled economic sanctions against Russia, and sent money and arms to Kiev to push the civil war.

The US loves elections, except when they don't.  Twice this spring in Ukrainia, the USG declared elections they did not like as invalid.  The second time, in Crimea, they couldn't do shit about it.  So they declared sanctions, the next best thing to doing nothing (but running their mouth.)

The civil war quickly became an exercise in ethnic cleansing, by the Kiev junta, with full matériel support and probable operational support of the USA, NATO and the EU.  But instead of a quick victory (as promised by Kiev,) the war bogged down.

The Kiev junta (and their west backers) have screamed and screeched repeatedly blatant large lies that Russia was 1) invading; 2) massing troops on the border getting ready to invade; 3) was directly responsible for the civil war (conveniently ignoring the direct responsibility of the USA for the civil war and the whole mess; 4) frequent outrageous specific lies regarding destroyed invading Russian armored columns, but providing zero evidence, just replacing the lie of the day with a new lie.

Then, someone shot down a civilian airplane, murdering 300 people.  Russia was immediately blamed, Putin anointed the next Hitler, and more sanctions leveled.

Funny thing, since that airliner was destroyed nearly two months ago.  There has been no large scale Russian invasion--only support on the same covert level as that of the West.  The actual culprit in the airline murder is likely the Kiev government.  Yet, no info from the black boxes, from satellite surveillance, from examination of the wreckage has been produced.  You can be sure were there proof of Russian or rebel blame, it would be all over the tv.  But, crickets.

Another funny thing.  The rag-tag rebels have been winning the civil war.  Despite weekly pronouncements (ie lies) that the rebels are being crushed, on the verge of defeat by the junta forces, the rebels are kicking ass and establishing their freedom from Kiev.  And while Putin is certainly providing some level of materiel support, just as is NATO and the USA, this is a rebel thing.  Putin's overt actions are sending food, water and generators into the war zone.  And advocating peace and negotiation.

I could go on and on.  I am distressed because the Kiev junta has murderously bombed the urban centers of the rebel territory relentlessly for weeks now.  As their defeat materializes, they increase the bombing.  Murdering their own citizens, with the full support of the US/NATO.  As they scream 'it's all Putin's fault--the Russians are coming'.

The lies and propaganda are distressing enough.  The mass bombing and murder of civilians, women and children, which dwarfs that happening simultaneously in Gaza, to the silence of the western media saddens me deeply.  Particularly because Obama and the west could stop the madness at any time.

But, there are fish to be fried.  The motives of the US were 1) NATO expansion, including military presence in Ukrainia, on Russia's doorstep, in violation of prior US promises across several administrations; 2) economic rape of the Ukrainian natural resources and assets, primarily fossil fuel, pipelines for fossil fuels, and vast agricultural lands; 3) retribution against Putin for his involvement in Syria, for Edward Snowden, and for his repeated making Obama look like the fool he is.

 As usual, oil/gas/pipelines underlie the whole murderous mess.  Mass civilian bombings, war fever, slav killing slav while the west prompts their proxies to kill some more.  And, ignominious defeat looms, with likely dismemberment of Ukrainia.

That is if we are lucky.  World wars start amid such instability and active stupidity/propaganda/casual mass murder/bullshit rhetoric from political leaders.  False accusations of invasion and shooting down airliners (passenger ships/the USS Maine) are lifted straight from our history books.

If only the USA would mind it's own fucking business, there would be a hell of a lot less killing and war.  But, not much profit nor political power in that.

August-September Tickets  

Posted by howard in nyc in

2014_08_21
22:15

Last six weeks of the season, they have a shot.  They aren't playing like contenders, but they are showing signs of life.

I thought I would be using the end of August tickets, but stupid work.  So, up for grabs.

Tickets can be transferred electronically, instantly and securely, via the giants' web site. you can pay me with Paypal, (even though i hate those fuckers i don't have an alternative set up) or if we have done business before, just send me a check.

The giants use differential pricing, so I will list the literal face value for each date. Face value varies between $37 and $87. Price is always negotiable, up as well as down.

Here are the open dates for the end of the season.  shoot me an email anytime, or comment here on the blog.


Mon 8/25 SOLD stubhub
Rockies 7:15
$37

Tue 8/26  SOLD
Rockies 7:15 
$54

Wed 8/27 SOLD Todd
Rockies 7:15

Thurs 8/28 SOLD
Rockies  12:45
$64

Fri 8/29
Brewers 7:15pm
$54

Sat 8/30 SOLD Marv
Brewers 1:05pm

Sun 8/31 SOLD Dayna
Brewers 1:05pm 
$64


Tue  9/9
 DBacks 7:15
 $37

Wed  9/10
 DBacks 7:15
 $37

 Thu  9/11SOLD eddie
 DBacks 12:45
 $54

Fri  9/12 SOLD Todd
Dodgers 7:15

Sat  9/13 SOLD Steve M.
 Dodgers 6:05

Sun  9/14 SOLD Dayna
 Dodgers 1:05


Thu  9/25
Padres 7:15
 $37

Fri  9/26
Pads 7:15
 $54

Sat  9/27 SOLD Todd
Pads 1:05

Sun  9/28 SOLD eddie
Pads1:05
$64 

The Latest Madman Who Must Be Stopped  

Posted by howard in nyc

2014_07_28
23:45

The screech of US Government propaganda against Russia and Putin rings ever more loudly in my ears and in the lapdog mass media.  The degree of blatant lies, garbage and just made up bullshit is astonishing even compared to recent history (Syria, Libya and Afghanistan, much less Sadaam's fake-ass WMD.)

I've tried my best to hold my tongue during this Ukrania coup (clearly engineered and financed by the USG) and subsequent civil war.  Particularly after the shooting down of the Malasian Air jet, killing nearly 300 people.  But the nature, quantity and loudness of the lies from Obama, Kerry and the rest of the Ministry of Truth machinery is an incredible sight, even after a long life of suffering government lies.

The coordinated magazine covers of the newest Hitler, demonized in images on Time, Newsweek and The Economist, quaint in light of the fact that people don't actually read magazines anymore, set me over the edge.  Ten days after the apparent shootdown, not an iota of evidence has been offered to support the accusation that Putin, Russia or the Russsian-oriented rebels in East Ukraine/Novorussyia are guilty of the act.  Nothing, from the leader of spying and surveillance, with all those spy satellites, signals intelligence listening posts, internet monitoring, much less the actual flight data recorders and control tower communication tapes.

Nothing.  Not a goddamned crumb of evidence.  And you can be damn sure if such evidence existed, Joe Biden would be waving it in his hand at a press conference.

Instead, a constant rain of accusation.  Russia is firing missiles into the war zone (while it has been factually confirmed that Ukraine Army missiles have landed in Russia and killed people.)  Russia is providing heavy armor and weaponry (while the USA has advisers on the ground and the billions of US aid and IMF loans are being used to pay the Uke Army).  Now, that Russia has violated a treaty by testing cruise missiles, or some such.  Practically every day, a new charge, before any actual evidence to substantiate the prior screeches.

I can't and won't itemize here.  Plenty of folks more qualified and more devoted than me do so daily (start with http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.com/ ) But as a general rule, whatever is being said on CNN or by Kerry and Obama has turned out to be the 180˚opposite of reality.  That makes it easy to follow from a distance.

The media insists the Uke army is winning--in actuality they are getting destroyed by the undermanned, under equipped rebel force (who get most of their armor and heavy artillery the old fashioned way, captured from their enemy.)  The Russians are accused of wanton indiscriminate missile lanches--the Uke army is actually doing this, inflicting mass civilian casualties and terror.  The Ruskies shot down the airplane--yet the unpalatable likelihood that the Ukes intentionally murdered those 300 people, with an air-to-air missile from a fighter jet if not from their own SAM battery, or at the very least steered the civilian jet into a war zone for who knows what purpose.

If you hear it on the news, the opposite is the most likely true. 

These fucking people, overthowing yet another government they don't like, for the goal of containing Putin/fucking with Putin/getting revenge for how Putin clowned them in Syria.  And of course, massive natural gas and oil considerations--reserves, pipelines, etc.  No major war or war mongering does not have a huge energy component.  They have no idea, apparently because they never cracked a history book, how a small miscalculation, a small overreaction on either side, a unforeseen event in the context that they have created, can lead to a massive, cataclysmic, world war of annihilation.  Much less that their intentional war, meant to be brief and limited, can spiral out of their hands.

Then again, maybe they do know, and they just don't give a fuck.

I have a feeling this round of lies and propaganda is very different, than the recent and the more distant past.  I'm no fan of the psychopathic murderer Putin.  But he is the restrained party thus far, in both action and words.  Incredibly restrained considering how NATO and the USA are sowing death on his doorstep, overthrowing an elected government and installing a puppet (imagine the Soviets doing something like this in Mexico how the USG would've responded.)

And the propaganda is thus far highly effective.  I think a huge factor is fatigue--people who are generally informed and thinking (ie my circle of friends) are just exhausted by Iraq, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, on top of the domestic and economic circus that is life in 2014.  And, of course Israel/Gaza dominating the media.  So they are easy fodder to passively accept the message--'I'm really worried about the madman Putin trying to expand'.  I've heard this over and over. 

The populace of the USA are already halfway ready to accept the 'necessity' of a major war with Russia.  I'm just beyond boggled and flummoxed.  Weird, dangerous, ominous times.

Giants Tix and Nostalgia  

Posted by howard in nyc

2014_07_21
11:45

As often occurs, I've been remiss in keeping the ticket list current.  With a few more followers, I'll be more motivated.

I'm in Cali today, had a high school reunion, and I'll get to see the Dodgers series.  I plan to be back sometime in late August, but I'll list some games I know I will not attend.

Great to see you guys at our reunion.  For some irrational reason I feel the weight of all these decades pressing upon me, in a melancholic way.  I think my denial regarding youth and the march of time finally broke.

shoot me an email anytime, or comment here on the blog. Sorry I don't have the face value prices at hand; we can work something out just give a call.






Fri 7/25 I'm using them
Dodgers 7:15pm

Sat 7/26 I'm using them
Dodgers 6:05pm 

Sun 7/27 I'm using them
Dodgers 1:05pm 



Mon 7/28 SOLD
Pirates 7:15
$37

Tue 7/29 SOLD
Pirates 7:15 

Wed 7/30 SOLD
Pirates 12:45 
$37


Tue 8/12
White Sox 7:15pm
$54

Wed 8/13
White Sox 12:45pm 


Fri 8/15
Phillies 7:15pm

Sat 8/16 SOLD
Phillies 1:05pm

Sun 8/17 SOLD
Phillies 1:05pm 
$64

Mon 8/25
Rockies 7:15
$37

Tue 8/26
Rockies 7:15 
$54


_______________
I think I am going to be able to use these last five dates of August, but I don't know yet (as of 7 August).  I'll keep it updated.

Wed 8/27 SOLD Todd
Rockies 7:15

Thurs 8/28
Rockies  12:45
$64

Fri 8/29
Brewers 7:15pm
$54

Sat 8/30 SOLD Marv
Brewers 1:05pm

Sun 8/31 SOLD Dayna
Brewers 1:05pm 
$64






Six Dead in Isla Vista  

Posted by howard in nyc

2014_06_01
22:45

I don't think Neil Young will be rhyming that line.  Nothing poetic or musical about this tragic massacre.

This hit me hard, in contrast to the last time an insane man killed a bunch of college students on Del Playa Avenue (2001, four dead when he intentionally drove through a crowd.) I think in large part because my cousin is suffering from recurrent breast cancer and is facing imminent death.  In smaller part because I had visited IV just three weekends prior, walking the same streets.

But affect me deeply it did.  The hateful and random murders caused me to think hard and deep why these things are becoming more frequent.  I was forced to set aside my strong ideas about guns in America (300 million is a fait accompli, any serious attempt to significantly reduce that number will require a government so intrusive as to render all personal freedom a relic.)

I cannot seriously consider that we magically crossed a gun availability threshold at some point in the past decade or so, that suddenly made these shooting incidents occur.  From no angle of this can I reasonably conclude that the guns are the primary problem.  This incident alone, the crazed killer stabbed three victims to death; he maimed several with his car.  The prior Isla Vista mass murder did not involve a gun.

We don't have primarily a gun problem, regardless of my opinion or of the mass knee-jerk emotional response.  We have a crazy person problem.  A homicidal-crazy person problem.

The recurrent screeches and pleas for gun control as a response to crazy people committing mass murder are illogical, emotional and tiresome.  They ignore the arithmetic of 300 million guns.  They indulge in a particularly pediatric fantasy that more government power (and money) can somehow magically protect us from such gun violence.  This childish indulgence ignores the dismal record of the government at prohibiting possession of all manner of drugs.  It further ignores the fact that the particular juristictions that have the most severe government gun restriction (Chicago, New York City and Washington DC) somehow have the most gun violence, and the amount of gun violence is independent of the changes in laws (it's the economy, stupid!)

But the most infuriating emotional argument of those who trust government to remove guns from the hands of crazy homicidal maniacs is that to not pass further gun laws equates 'doing nothing'.

If your remedy, which is already proven to fail, is not adopted, that is the rhetoric equivalent of 'doing nothing'.

Ironically, such a course of thought and action itself 'does nothing' about the actual problem.  The crazy person problem.

Yeah, that is a tough one.  A problem that does not lend itself to an emotionally satisfying answer like 'have the government take away all the guns'.  I ain't got an answer.  I can help frame the question rationally, which is itself pretty rare.

There are probably more of these mass murders in recent years because there are more homicidal-crazy people.  And what treatment/support they are receiving is less effective and less available.  Maybe, some of the 'treatment', like antidepressant medications (SSRIs in particular), or childhood psychiatric meds (Ritalin/Adderal) are the cause.  I have no idea, but consideration of such possibilities is drowned out by the gun debate, as well as squashed by the pharmaceutical profit maniacs.

I think there is a bigger reason.  We have more sick, crazy people, sick to the point of mass murder, because we are a sick, crazy society.  Much sicker and crazier than two or three decades ago.  This is one of the results.

I found myself falling back on the way I was trained to think about problems in my profession.  A sickness/disease model provides a clear metaphor for my thinking about 'why'.

We have a diseased culture/society.  I've ranted at length on this.  Gun violence is not a primary cause--it is a symptom.  To treat this primary illness by taking away the guns is folly.  It makes as much sense as proposing a case of recurrent metastatic cancer, involving multiple organs, be treated by amputation of one body part that is involved and declaring that as the only way to cure the primary disease.

And that failure to perform that amputation is tantamount to 'doing nothing'.

The gun violence is a tertiary symptom.  The problem is crazy people.  The larger problem is a sick society that produces crazy people by the millions.  The prognosis is fucking grim.  Throwing more government power and money at the tertiary symptom will fix nothing, and will certainly make things worse.

There are remedies for our sick society.  There are remedies for the increasing number of crazy violent people.  They are hard, expensive and emotionally uncomfortable remedies.  Like reversing our increasing worship of money, power and war in distant lands.  Or actually treating mentally and emotionally disturbed people beyond prescribing a pill.  Or families being more involved in the support of a crazed, emotionally disturbed young man than buying him an expensive car to boost his self-esteem or calling the cops to check on him.  (Sadly, this creep's parents were finally moved to the correct action--go and see him yourself--only too late to avert the mass deaths.  I don't mean to pile on them; I just wish, as I am certain they do too, that they had taken that action earlier, and saved their son's life as well as the other six lives.)

The number of times that such an incident occurs, the gun thing is revived, and either zero or minimal legislative action results is the most infuriating cycle of all.  The point isn't even to politically achieve significant gun control--it is just to feed some elusive emotional need, to indulge in some ridiculous fantasy focused on 300 million scary inanimate objects (without bothering to count the objects.)

Another symptom of the big sickness.  Emotional satisfaction is all important.  Sure beats the hard work of thinking.

I try very hard not to indulge any of my own peculiar fantasies, regarding our sick society and the increasing numbers of crazy people.  I see the direction we are proceeding, and I see us gaining speed.  More worship of and love of money; more fraud and deceit; less political response and accountability to anything but money, less thought and involvement by the masses in the nearly irrelevant political process; more chemicals in our sedentary bodies.  More war.  Yadda Yadda.  Faster and faster we head ever forward.  The dead young bodies are just another symptom of metastatic recurrence.

Giants Tix, June 2014  

Posted by howard in nyc

2014_06_01
21:45

Team is playing great.  I hope I can get to a bunch of games, but not until late June.  More tix for y'all.

Same story as prior years.  I will put the tickets up one month at a time, since my travel plans are usually last minute, and I like to use the seats when i am visiting Cali. so around the last week of each month I will post available dates for the following month.

Tickets can be transferred electronically, instantly and securely, via the giants' web site. you can pay me with Paypal, (even though i hate those fuckers i don't have an alternative set up) or if we have done business before, just send me a check.

The giants use differential pricing, so I will list the literal face value for each date. Face value varies between $37 and $87. Price is always negotiable, up as well as down.

Here are the June dates.  I'll try to keep the site updated.

shoot me an email anytime, or comment here on the blog.

Fri 6/6 SOLD
Mets 7:15pm

Sat 6/7 SOLD
Mets 7:05pm 

Sun 6/8 SOLD
Mets 1:05pm 



Mon 6/9
Natinals 7:15
$37

Tue 6/10
Nationals 7:15 
$37

Wed 6/11
Nationals 7:15 
$37

Thu 6/12 SOLD
Nationals 12:45 



Fri 6/13
Rockies 7:15pm
$54

Sat 6/14 SOLD
Rockies 1:05pm 

Sun 6/15
Rockies 1:05pm 
$64
 
Last week of the month, I am hoping to use myself.