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

Mr. Obama's war for oil  

Posted by howard in nyc

Remember, folks: the causes and reasons for war are often remembered far differently than as stated or widely understood at the beginning of the conflict.

 This has been the case over and over.  Sure, Libya is 'different'.  Actually, it is quite remarkable that a coalition of Arab states is welcoming this US intervention (sure, the French and Danes would've gone ahead had we decided to sit on the sidelines), as are the people of eastern Libya.

But rest assured.  In short order, the Muslim world and beyond will soon be saying, "sure, Gaadafi was bad, but they had no business invading Arab North Africa."  And that is if Libya comes to a swift, happy conclusion, with Gaadafi gone, rebels in charge and committed to popular democratic rule.  And oil continues to flow to Italy and elsewhere in the EU.

Anything goes wrong, and the ire of the world at yet another American intervention will grow.  Again.

The obvious hypocrisy of Yemen and Bahrain, where the US government and military are on the side of the dictators literally shooting their own people, while we assist the people of Libya rebelling against another dictator who this year we don't like.  A dictator who was a pariah, but then he paid a big bribe to the west, gave up some uranium, and was off our shit list, from 2003-2011.  A horrible terrorist murderer, who six months ago was an ok guy, allowing Halliburton and other western companies profit from that oil trade.

There are two huge forces at work, as I see it.  First is the obvious geopolitics of oil.  Keep the oil flowing is the overwhelming factor in all American policy, regardless of refusal to state the obvious by almost everyone.  China has developed a similar addiction to Middle East oil.  Inevitably they will gradually get more and more involved in this region.  Eventually with military force, by proxies or directly.  So far their actions have been small, subtle and non-military.  India, and thus Pakistan, will get into this mess too.

Second is the Sunni-Shia division in the Arab Muslim world.  They love fighting one another only slightly less than they love killing Jews.  The first shot of the coming battle along this religious schism has been fired with the Saudi invasion of Bahrain.  On behalf of the Bahrain (Sunni) royals; against the Bahrain (Shia) majority population, up until this week protesting peacefully for democratic reforms.

Throw into the mix Iran: sitting on one of the larger pools of oil, a nation on the Shia side of Islam; a longtime enemy of the Saudi Kingdom.  And an active supporter of any Arab, Sunni, Shia, Druze or whatthefuckever who wants to kill Jews in Israel.

I can't help to draw parallels to the late summer of 1914.  Yeah, I know, a tired metaphor, a ragtag group of Serbian anarchic rebels assassinate the heir to the occupying kingdom throne, the Archduke of Austria-Hungary.  But I see the multiple sparks ultimately resulting in these two large forces dictating how leaders and nations line up and fight a big hanging hairy conflict.  Foreign powers that need oil--America and our baby brothers in Western Europe, India and China.  And Arab Muslim states that have that oil, but some of them hate each other on strong religious terms.

Exactly how the nation-states line up into sides will be determined.  The Saudi's have the biggest pool of oil, and they will only accept dollars if you want to buy some.  The Chinese are tightly tied to the US dollar.  Those two dollar facts are subject to change.

I will guess that Sunni will line up against Shia, China against the US and the West, Pakistan against India.  Pakistan is 80% sunni (according to the wiki); Iran is 92% shia, and officially a Shia State, the Ayatollahs and all.

Yep.  US, Europe, India and Iran on one side; China, Pakistan and Sunni Arabia on the other.  of course Israel with the West team.  Despite the rhetoric of the current monkey in Iran, who remember lost his election in 2009, the people there and ultimately the old men in clerical robes that call the shots could give a crap about Israel.  They are much more concerned with what happens in next door Iraq, whose leader killed a couple of million Persians not all that long ago.  They were quite happy to see Mr. Saadam go; they are cool with Iraq as long as their Shia brethren get a fair shake, and they probably have more control over events there than the Obama administration, as we withdraw many of our ground troops.

Iran, to oversimplify, despite all the blab blab you hear, hate the Sunni and Saudi much more than they hate the US and Israel.  But they don't hate China at all yet.

A lot of my thinking is influenced by John Xenakis and his work at his Generational Dynamics website.
Which in turn is based on a foundation of Strauss/Howe and their Fourth Turning explanations of major historic events based on the turning of four generations.

Obama's action here is typically incoherent, hypocritical, illegal and likely to be counterproductive.  I think it is folly for the US to start another military action, with the stupid Iraq and Afghan actions continuing, with the covert Pakistan and Yemen actions against Al Qaada (i don't know if i support or oppose those two, if they are smart or stupid, because my leaders don't trust me to tell me what they are doing and who they are killing).  Without clear, discussed objectives, without any clue as to what is likely to happen next or how we may be drawn further into a post-Gaadafi situation.  In the context of rebellion in Yemen and protest suppression in Baharain. Without Congressional debate, much less constitutionally mandated declaration.  Yeah, I know, how quaint, the fucking constitution.  I'm just old fashioned.

And even if I concede for a moment that it truly is in the vital interests of the USA to act to support the Libyan rebels, against Gaadafi.  Why today?  Did that vital interest not exist one week ago?  two weeks ago?  When Gaadafi could've been toppled with a feather, and with minimal bloodshed?

Even if this is a good idea, it was a much much better idea two weeks ago.  And obviously, Obama was ignorantly hoping events would play out as they did in Tunisia and Egypt, without strong decisive action by the US.  That just a few speeches would turn the trick.  Despite the long history of rebellions against brutal dictators generally being protracted, bloody affairs.  Being fooled by these two outliers in Tunis and Cairo.  Didn't these fuckers ever read a history book at Harvard or Yale?

Regardless of the rhetoric of the moment, or the excuses that will follow, about being forced by events or by the looming shadow of humanitarian crisis, this is Obama's war of choice.  For oil.  For Italy's oil. Against a nation that bears zero threat to the United States.  Without congressional approval, much less a declaration of war.  Even if this goes perfect, and is over in a few weeks, it is wrong beyond what I imagined possible a couple of years ago.


"The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation…"
~Senator Barack Obama, quoted by the Boston Globe, December 20, 2007

2011 season for the world champion san francisco giants  

Posted by howard in nyc

i haven't tired of those words yet this off season.  but spring is coming.

ticket situation here is the same as always.  since my sister moved out of cali, there are many more dates that i need to sell the seats.

i will not know my travel plans very far in advance, so around the last week of each month i will post available dates for the following month.  end of March i will post tickets for April.

i no longer use paypal, because of the bullshit they pulled on wilikeaks.  so until i set up another vendor that can take credit cards or something, you'll have to mail me a check, old school.


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

great documentary movie everyone should see  

Posted by howard in nyc in , ,

march 13, 2011
first, every thinking american should watch this feature-length documentary film, a wonderful description of our horrific economic plutocracy and the hoax of our puppet political leaders.

Lifting the Veil
http://vimeo.com/20355767
or
http://www.metanoia-films.org/compilations.php

this is how severe things are. a right-leaning, fiscal conservative, social and economic libertarian guy like me has more and more common ground with the far left. me and noam chomsky, hand in hand.

i'm incredibly frustrated by friends and acquaintances who are so invested in their political dogma of either flavor, red or blue, that they are unable to recognize or process the obvious truths of our situation. the true nature of obama's actions and policies. the true nature of the relentless direction of the nation and the economy: theft and concentration of the wealth by a tiny number of folks at the top; horrible deadly wars for oil, profit, and power for the sake of power; restriction of information and freedom as the security state grows in power and blatant oppression; and political leaders who have zero accountability to the people, 100% accountability to the power elite, via money and lobbyists.

people support obama from the blue side, completely ignoring the facts of his actions. people hate obama from the red side for completely wrong and bullshit reasons. and people allow themselves to be distracted by the wisconsin sideshow, with the delusion that a handful of public employees are an important proxy for the progressive cause, or suppression of those teachers and cops is a great victory for the free market. wisconsin is a meaningless distraction, supremely effective.

i am desperate for people to recognize what is important, and what is trivial. so many still see democrats and republicans as the division in this country, when it is the tiny number of power elite against all the rest of us.

the biggest tool is preserving the deception is the false calm of the last two years. the fake economic recovery, that channeled a relatively small amount to soothe appearances and preserve optimism while channeling many more trillions to the top. and the wars spread and increased in killing alleged enemies, with few squawking.

the calm can't last forever. and it may crack soon. but sadly, i expect the masses to continue to miss the truth, only to be distracted by new sideshows, new deceptions. leading up to the next election no more democratic than the elections staged by stalin, castro or hussein.

the choice between a greater or a lesser of two evils is not a choice. evil red, or evil blue. evil obama or evil (fill in the blank--because it truly makes no difference).

i think it is gonna crack soon. as i have said, before egypt and libya, oil was up to $85. of course no one will remember that. before japan's triple threat--earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown, the macro picture was precarious (europe debt, falling dollar, dead housing market, and stalling job growth and stock market). but no one will remember that.

the recovery was always fake. even the fake will be finished in weeks or months. the bigger deceptions will continue, but resumption of the easily visible proof of economic collapse hopefully will focus minds.

the brilliant carlin gives a three-minute summary of the doc. this clip is included in the above linked film.

should be played in every schoolroom every morning, instead of the pledge of allegiance.

"It's a Big Club; and You Ain't In It!"

the black bird has landed  

Posted by howard in nyc

we now have our black swan.

massive earthquake, tsunami, nuclear power station disaster with radiation release. the third largest economy in the world is officially paralyzed. and it will take at least weeks to get moving back towards normal, if not months.

i think that qualifies as a taleb-esque black swan.

this will not cause nearly so much damage to the economies of china, the usa, and the oil producing states (japan is the 3rd largest importer of oil), as it will reveal the true condition of things.

this is less the straw that broke the back, than it is the revelation that the emperor indeed is nekkid. as is his entire entourage.

in any event, equities gonna get hammered next week, despite fed printing another $35 billion. commodities too. except oil (i have no fucking clue) and gold (up with flight to safety, i think, but i'm not betting on that one either). currencies, sovereign debt, fun and games. corporate debt, down. muni debt, down. insurance companies--are you fucking kidding me? heard today aflac has 1/4 of the japanese market for whatever they sell. that'll leave a mark.

those are my wild-assed guesses. here is what i fully expect.

japan holds a lot of us treasury debt. at the same time, their bonds have been held at record low interest rates for 20 years; their currency, despite all their efforts to devalue, has stayed real strong. how these factors will play out together, i am not smart enough to know. i'll be lucky if i can watch and understand as things unfold.

lots of turmoil is gonna be unleashed on the markets in a hurry. but like i've been saying, this was expected and inevitable. just needed a trigger. and we got it.

March Jeopardy Challenge  

Posted by howard in nyc

Friday Mar 25--
Category: PHILANTHROPY
Clue: The Pink Pony Fund, for breast cancer care & prevention, is a philanthropic initiative of this fashion company
Answer: 
What is Ralph Lauren?

Monday Mar 28--
Category: SPORTS IN AMERICA
Clue: Founded in 1795, this city that hosts a popular annual sporting event has "sport" in its name
Answer:
Where is Williamsport, PA?

Tuesday Mar 29--
Category: COASTAL STATES
Clue: With 301 miles, it has the most coastline of current states that were part of the 13 original colonies
Answer:
Where is North Carolina?


and i'm calling shenanigans.  they even call it long island.  i'm not buying this one.


Wednesday Mar 30--
Category: INFLUENTIAL 19TH CENTURY THINKERS
Clue: At the University of Bonn in 1836, he was wounded in a duel with a member of an aristocratic Prussian fraternity
Answer:
Who is Karl Marx?


Thursday Mar 31--
Category: SHAKESPHEARE PLAYS
Clue: One of the 2 plays whose plots are set in motion by shipwrecks, one off Illyria & one off an unknown island

Answer:
What are 'Twelfth Night' or 'The Tempest'? (you just need one of the two.)









Monday Mar 21--
Category: COMIC BOOK CHARACTERS ONSCREEN
Clue: From 1966 to 1968 this role was played by 2 different actresses in a TV series; it was also the title role in a 2004 film
Answer:  Who is Catwoman?


Tuesday Mar 22--
Category: GARMENTS OF THE WORLD
Clue: The custom of hijab, Arabic for "veiling", can include this garment, mentioned by Kipling
Answer:  What is the burqa?

Wednesday Mar 23--
 Category: BRITISH NOVELISTS
Clue: In his journals he described how he once set 2 groups of boys against each other, likely inspiring his 1954 novel
Answer:  Who is William Golding? (Lord of the Flies) kill the pig; cut his throat; bash him in!

Thursday Mar 24-
Category: 19th CENTURY LITERATURE
Clue: Armor-clad knights face off in a game of baseball in an 1889 work by this author
Answer:  Who is Samuel Langhorne Clemens, aka Mark Twain? 
The book was A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.

 
Friday Mar 25--
Category: PHILANTHROPY
Clue: The Pink Pony Fund, for breast cancer care & prevention, is a philanthropic initiative of this fashion company
Answer: What is Ralph Lauren? 




Monday Mar 14--
Category: AFI's 50 Greatest Film Villians
Clue: Of the 50 on the list, only one never appears on screen: Man, from this 1942 animated feature.

Answer:  What is Bambi?

Tuesday Mar 15--
Category: SPORTS & MUSIC
Clue: In July 2010 this Rock & Roll Hall of Famer performed at the Baseball H.O.F. induction ceremonies 

Answer:  Who is John C. Fogarty?

Wednesday Mar 16--
Category: VOCABULARY
Clue: Pronounced one way, this 7-letter word can mean unjustified; pronounced another, it's some sickly
Answer:
What is 'invalid'?

Thursday Mar 17--
Category: 20th CENTURY NOTABLES
Clue: Between April 1909 & March 1910, he killed 296 animals, including 9 lions & 8 elephants 

Answer: Who is Theodore Roosevelt? (ex-president)

Friday Mar 18--
Category: THE PRESIDENCY
Clue: With a combined age of just 90 years, this president and vice-president were the youngest team ever inaugurated
Answer: Who are Clinton and Gore?  46 and 44yo respectively.



Monday Mar 7--Where are the US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan? (three of those six)

Tuesday Mar 8--What is the pillory?

Wednesday Mar 9--Who is Henry VII? all for want of a horse. (richard iii'd lament, according to shakespeare. 'my kingdom for a horse!)

Thursday Mar 10--What is New York? (dewey and fdr)

Friday Mar 11--Where is Amsterdam?


Thursday Mar 3--Who is Oscar Wilde?
Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much

Friday Mar 4--What is radium?