The Pentagong Show

The Pentagong Show
United State of Terror: Is Drone War Fair?

Friday, July 24, 2009

It's the Stupid Economy.

Continuing to try and make sense out of the economic wreckage, and rebuild an economy that's based on reality instead of puerile fantasies of instant gratification and mechanized domination and elimination of every culture on the planet that's not oil-based, there are certain contradictions that must be confronted and discussed as though we were a nation run by adults with some iota of concern for their children's future that supersedes their immediate desire to purchase their love at the discount store.

Although there are many subjects that come to mind, the three that resonate the most are:

Globalization and the Nation State
US Imperialism and Democracy
Peak Oil Production and Predatory Capitalism

Why these three are tantamount is that each of them is impossible to maintain in tandem, yet that is what we pretend we can do, and that is how those in power maintain their positions. In a country where one of the major "news" outlets can actually call itself Fox News, naming itself after a creature known for its craftiness and duplicity, and calling itself fair and balanced while unabashedly championing every flawed policy of the Republicans, while vowing to do its best to destroy the country rather than allow one policy of the opposition to ever see the light of day, there is no outcry against the impossibility of the coexistence of the three topics enumerated above, because only jingoism and Nationalistic charlatanism holds sway. The very idea of rationally discussing such topics is suspect and deemed unpatriotic because it assumes a possibility that the US may be a less than perfect Nation, and our motives less than purely altruistic.

The most important of this triad of topics is peak oil. Because the direction the country took after it lost its predominance as the world's major oil producer, while maintaining its position as, by far, the world's most voracious oil consumer, have colored every National and International policy the US has pursued ever since. With never a discussion, much less an admission, that the change in this most fundamental of dynamics, in an economy completely enslaved to its addiction to profligate energy consumption and perceived god-given right to destroy anything in it path that blocks it from satisfying this all-consuming thirst, the thought that such a monumental change may have altered our relationship with the rest of the world, is dismissed out of hand. The one event, the WTC bombing, that any reasonable person would have thought would surely bring about some kind of soul-searching, some mature questioning of our role of global destroyer of any economic system on the planet that stands in the way of the all-consuming, resource-stripping juggernaut of Predatory Capitalism, was instead used as a pretext to notch the madness up to an even higher extreme, and any who questioned this stratagem was attacked as unpatriotic and treasonous.

Which is, of course, nonsense. The pursuit of Globalization, militarization, Corporatism and Imperialism are all intricately entwined with the reality of Peak Oil Production...which is , of course, why this reality is kept in the background and never discussed. In one of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes episodes, his perspicacious detective astounds the local yokel investigator by lying in the dirt and extracting an item from the mud, making him look much like a conjuror. When the astonished local asks "but, but, but, how?", the ever-composed Holmes replies: "Because I looked for it."

Having constructed in his mind a sequence of events that must have occurred in order for the facts in the case to have been possible, a piece was missing that was easily recovered once he knew what to look for, and where it was most likely to be found. Similarly, by pretending that Peak oil production is a phenomena in a far off esoteric future, pondered only by wing nuts and America bashers, instead of upon us right now, the power structure can pursue its Imperialistic, Globalized agenda without its own citizens ever looking in the mud for what's quite obviously there for anyone to find who knows what to look for.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

There's something in the rigging, Captain: Capitolism

The Boeing Co.'s (NYSE: BA) profit rose in its second quarter, thanks to shipments of military aircraft. A success of the free market again: huge government contracts that pay even when the contractor can't deliver without raising the cost, calling it an "overrun"; having won with the lowest bid, because it had every intention, right from the outset, of jacking up the price once it was too late for the government to back out. Thereby still paying out huge dividends to its shareholders, which, by any definition of the terms, is Centralized planning, state-sponsored terrorism (since the planes are used exclusively to strafe and bomb civilian targets and populations (when was the last time a US AIR Force jet was threatened by another nation's Air Force? That's right....WWII)), and market manipulation. That's what GSE's do, manipulate the market by providing a government guarantee: the rich take the profits, the country takes the risks. GSE: Lockheed, Martin Marrietta, and Boeing are all GSE's. So is Halliburton, KBR, Exxon/ Mobil.....ok, ok , you get it, the entire free market system is a rigged game, and that' s the whole reason its flailing. Without the backing of the US government, US Corporations would be be non-existent.

But more specifically, the reason the Keynesian stimulus is not working is because it's going into the wrong pockets, the same pockets it was going into before: the military and all its adjutants, and ancillary industries, which now include Burger King and Starbucks. Neither enterprise, having been forced to close stores in America, had to close a single outlet in Iraq or Afghanistan, as they have a captive customer base... and I do mean Base.

All this ties in with Supply side economics and the Orwellian newspeak used to talk about free markets even as they have been deliberately turned upside down and the needs and wants of consumers are dictated to them from a centralized authority that creates demands for everything starting with the very money it needs to produce the goods, and the consumers need to buy them. Everything is as centrally planned as in Soviet Russia: badly. With the difference being that there is no collective, no community, no organization allowed to exist other than the individual and the family structure, barricaded in their suburban trap and thinking they're "free".

We've become so inured to the inability of the economy to function without huge stimulus provided it by military spending that we've blinded ourselves to the fact that such spending is an enormous on-going Keynesian stimulus to the economy. This means that all the wrong industries prosper and grow. Only those with Federal government access and funding via Pentagon contracts survive, as they are the ones that'll be enabled to pay higher dividends, thereby attracting more investor dollars: this is the only free market remnant in what is now Capitolism: if Washington DC isn't your major customer, you lose. Everything else has been outsourced to foreign countries to produce, since the profit margins needed to make them in a country that doesn't allow its industries to use public resources such as rivers and streams as the receptacle of their waste aren't large enough.

More on this next.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Someone Needs to Clean Big Ben's Clock.

Per today's Washington Post article, BernBanke argued before the House Financial Services Committee that the Fed's actions helped prevent a global economic calamity, and he promised an exit strategy to head off fears of inflation. Somehow he forgot to mention that it was the Fed's (specifically Bernanke's) "fears of inflation" that ratcheted up interest rates to a level that brought on the biggest depression in the world in the first place. Quarter after quarter, in baby steps, to give the market time to unwind their over-leveraged positions and enhance the profitability of the crash, the Bernanke Fed, in order to fight off the specter of inflation, made inevitable by the Greenspan put, and put a little bit of teeth into the Bush Treasury's "strong dollar" stance, while US exports continued to dwindle and banks continued to swindle, brought the financial system to its knees.

The BernBanke pincer play was to trap the ARMageddon buyers of low-cost ninja loans into extortionate, hi-interest home payments, using the same strategy so successfully used on the current generation of college loan recipients, car buyers, and credit card users: trap 'em and sap 'em. One problem with this strategy was, of course, that the States have their own laws, one of which is the non-recourse nature of home loans in most states (something many home buyers themselves were unaware of).

So as the market for new loans got saturated and the profit-outlook of the ilks of Goldman Sacks America started to dwindle, the interest payments from all those it had suckered into loans that they would never, ever, be able to pay off would increase, offsetting the decline in those hefty securitisation fees from a declining new loan volume.

The fly in the ointment of this plan, was (is) of course, inflation. And since the Fed has long since stopped putting even a pretense of functioning for the overall economy, and operates under the sole mandate of providing profitability without risk to the entire banking sector while shifting the risk onto the backs of the rest of us, inflation was the only thing the BernBanke Fed concerned itself with, the rest of the economy could follow the "Free Market" mantra and fall right into the toilet: that's for the politicos to hash out. BernBanke's only job was to provide a smooth road for easy profits for all his friends and supporters who got him the job in the first place. In that respect, nothing has changed, and nothing will.

So, far from "the Fed's actions helped prevent a global economic calamity", the Fed's actions are precisely what caused the global economic meltdown. But, like the journalist who sat close-lipped while Cheney's daughter defended her father's legacy of "Keeping this country free from attack for 8 years", rewriting history in a single phrase, that just happened to be a blatant, ridiculous lie, we sit transfixed while this leftover from the most criminal administration in US history does the same. Big Ben's time is up. Like Condoleeza Rice, stating that "We never discussed planes flying into buildings", even though terrorists had already attacked the WTC with car bombs and there was a movie out in which the very scenario of a plane being commandeered to fly into the White House had played in movie theaters across America, Benron can whine that he never saw the largest financial collapse EVER coming, despite his $200,000.00 paycheck to do precisely that, and still expect to keep his job. Meanwhile, because of his complicity millions of people who were doing their jobs perfectly well will never have another one.

But Big Ben's got one of them thar big gub'ment jobs. He'll never have to worry about accountability; that's just for us private economy stooges. We who don't understand the complex world of high finance. Not that he does either, by his own admission, but it's only in the private sector that competence is monitored, measured, reviewed and employees are constantly threatened, cajoled, and peremptorily dismissed for the slightest misstep. Nope. He's got one of those public sector jobs that's paid for by the very private sector all those public sector employees disdain, because we have to actually (ooowww, gross) produce something. So Benron BernBanke can relax: he's safe. But as long as he is safe, the rest of us are in ever-growing peril: Someone Needs to Clean Big Ben's Clock.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Obama's Politics of Despair: A Nation of Crack and Cable.

Sung to the tune, from "Mack and Mable", of "I Won't Send Roses", (a performance of which, by Michael Feinstein, can be seen at:

I'll first strike poses
And you'll believe,
I'll conjure miracles
Pulled from my sleeves;
The lack of truth in what I say
To stave admission of decay
Will turn you grey kids,
Before your day, kids.

Forget my shoulder
When you're in need,
And fewer birthdays
Is guaranteed.
And when I fleece you, you will be
The last to know
I'll first strike poses,
And poses suit you so.

To some I'm tantric:
Totally Boss;
'Cross the Atlantic,
They call me dross.
I'd be the first one to agree
That I'm preoccupied with me
And it's inbred, kids,
Just ask the Fed, kids.

In me You've placed things,
Like trust and verve,
But rank betrayal's
All you deserve
And since there's now no fighting chance:
We're out of dough.
I'll first strike poses,
And poses suit you so.