The Pentagong Show

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

Monday, August 10, 2015

Après quelques Mois, Le Déluge.

Trying to keep down a poplar uprising.

Much has been written about the circus act that Fox Views sponsored last week, but I find Kunstler's description of it as, "The Spectacle", to be the most apt. That's why I was surprised to see Jeff Subleski retort to a comment I made describing Rand Paul as a toy poodle surprising: "Got it, you are one of those voters that makes his choice based on superficial characteristics like a haircut or maybe gender.  Good luck with that." 

"How strange", I thought, "he intends to use this cavalcade of debauched wannabe's, paraded like a gaggle of well-groomed geese complete with nonsensical honking, as something on which to base his decision for whom to vote". Well, right back atcha Subleski, Good luck with that.

Jeff's comment is far more illustrative than even Kunstler's description. Because, whereas Kunstler sees through the gossamer thin veil of contempt which with Fox presented this lineup one would more expect to see in a police station behind a one-way mirror being eyed by a potential witness to a crime, Jeff's remark reminds us that many of our young people are taking this Spectacle as much  more than the Kabuki theatre it's orchestrated as; they really think this charade is a "Debate", never having actually seen what an authentic debate, conducted by a non-partisan panel of inquisitors, would normally look like.

The above picture was posted by a "friend" on Facebook, and, using the pun in the above caption, I answered his objection that, "You'd think those trunks would be thicker after 76 years" (The chairs were (supposedly, I don't believe a word of it) laid out for a wedding in 1939 in Poland. The wedding was abandoned, and so were the chairs due to the German invasion. They were found again after the war with the trees growing through them. (Mmm -Hmmm)), with the assertion that that was a poplar misconception. To which he brusquely replied, "Those are not poplars". Well, "Duh!"

That's how I felt after reading Jeff's comment. Really? You took that literally? To be taken to task for something you say is one thing, but to be reprimanded for saying something that you thought was obviously (or  at least you thought it was obvious) said for humor, leaves me a little paralyzed. What do ya say to that? For the FB post, another friend came to the rescue by responding, "They must be poplar, look how many "likes" they got", saving me from  having to get snarky (which was my first impulse, which it often is online ... one I am sagaciously, methinks, usually able to suppress, as it is less than helpful). But for the Foxy snarky Jeff post, I can't conceive of any way of setting him straight in a one-line quip, not when I feel pretty much like The Kunstler on this one, namely, as he said in closing this week's posting:

"I’m with those who think that the 2016 election campaign is going to be a wild spectacle beyond the current imaginings of news media. I’m serenely convinced that, among other things, the banking system is going to implode so hard and fast well before the nominating conventions that the nation will be in a state of near chaos. What’s out there now is just a tired dumb-show replaying the shopworn themes of an era that is about to slam to a close."

That seems fairly close to how I feel about things (except the "serenely convinced" part, I feel neither serene nor convinced, apprehensive would more aptly describe my general outlook), not that either one of us is necessarily right. But when you get most of your news form the internet, it leaves you with a different perspective than you come away from the nightly news with, namely, that this haphazardly stitched together collection of discarded promises, blood-sucking scams and bally-hooed asset valuations, riding on an economy that everyone, (even the most ardent "deniers", all of whom , including The Donald, were, a mere four  years ago during the last election cycle, all proudly calling themselves, "Birthers", because they knew, just knew, that the President was born in Uganda or Kenya, or somewhere in the country of Africa (now don't go all Jeff on me, that's a joke, son, a JOke! Although it is actually what many of those birthers said), even as they were proposing to pass a Constitutional amendment so that they could do exactly the same thing, ie, make the fact that Arnold Schwarzenegger was not a citizen still allow them to vote for him as President), is fully cognizant of the fact that the path we are heading down currently will not ever "Make America Great Again".

As even these deniers know, we are in nothing more than a holding pattern right now. Nobody, not even the self-congratulating employees of the Fed, know the way forward. They have become so inured to simply fixing the numbers so that they align with their prognostications that they've lost all conception of an economic system that has real accounting standards that can't just be waved away by the FASB so that the perpetrators of a globalized Ponzi scheme can rob the public blind in order to keep their sinecures and thereby, as a second thought, keep the maelstrom swirling by filling the punchbowl with what they hope no one will notice is cheap gut-rotting moonshine.

But, given that we know the future has no place for the ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) machines we're slapping together at a rate of 17 million vehicles per annum (a scant percentage of which are electric, since the heftier price for such vehicles renders them unaffordable, even to the relatively well-heeled, without public monies being used to supplement their purchase), while we stoke the tourism trade, which assumes cheap and reliable air transport, which spews carbon into the atmosphere at the highest level, 30,000 feet, and without which the tourism trade collapses, or this internet, which, despite the seemingly small cost to us to stay online, is supported by a creaking electrical grid and was built with the purpose of collecting all of the users' data and sifting through it for evidence of misbehaviour, leaves us with an economy more and more dominated by fewer and fewer companies,  the largest of which are currently using the Fed's free money to buy back more and more of their own stock, making it unavailable to the buying public, enriching the current shareholders and impoverishing the rest, the same thing the Fed is doing with the housing market, and, until recently, when the lack of demand could no longer be hidden by accounting tricks and hedge fund inflows, with commodities.

Now, I know I'm not the most  optimistic person in the world, but when I see Michael Snyder's "Economic Collapse" blog, Wolf Richter's "Wolf Street", Stephen Roach, David Stockman, Peter Schiff, Michael Shedlock, and, my mentor Doug Noland ( I found his new blogspot, well not so new anymore, I suppose, just recently; Whoohooo!, thanks Naked Capitalism), all perceiving 'weakness' in the economic picture, it tends to give one pause, and it tends, given many of the facts about the economy listed above, to leave one less than sanguine about our economic prospects going forward. Yet this most germane of issues was never even flitted over during the Spectacle.

But Jeff didn't notice any of this. Jeff thinks, even after watching a debate about our future in which the moderators ask superbly coiffed and manicured contestants what they said to god when they woke up that morning, and, of course, what he said in response, that the reply to any such queries can be anything but superficial, yet can, apparently, be used to make a sound analysis on which to base your voting behavior on. But, of course, it can't. All it can do is demonstrate that the private sector, which is what the Fox network would swear it belongs to until it's red in the face, has now become yet another realm where religion is using its bigotry and intolerance to assert its ugly agenda, making this debate look more like a Punch and Judy Show the Taliban would orchestrate than anything a Democratic Republic of free-thinkers and their duly elected (except The Donald, The Donald's never been elected to anything) representatives would debase themselves by participating in. 

Monday, August 3, 2015

The Age of Futility: What goes to Wall St. stocks, stays in Wall St.'s stock.

Precarious perch: it's not just a fish on the "Endangered Species" list.

The one favor that we can we thank Paul Krugmaniac for is the association he made between weather and the economy. After hurricane Sandy he made a remark about the economic benefits rebuilding would bring. This started a bit of a firestorm in and of itself. If true, it would mean that the rising sea levels and megastorms that the climate is promising to deliver in the future will give the dying beast of Kamikaze Kapitalism Kulture a new lease on life as it sparks fires, inundates houses, and destroys transport.

Now that we're in 2015, the year it all becomes Manifest, the beginning of the revulsion against the proud and stupid Marc Rubios and Senator Inhofes of the world, to the point that if they continue, they will be hunted down like the rabid dogs they are and torn to pieces by an incensed mob of climate refugees. The Members of ALEC will have their names made public and rounded up and shot off the planet in a rocket, sentenced to live aboard the Space Station. David Koch will be hog-tied to his brother and lynched in tandem if they keep fueling the burning of fossil fuels on one hand, while showing the inevitable results on PBS' Science on the other. By funding both, they show the evil nature of their activity, they know full well, but prefer your death to their having to live without a constantly growing fortune of bribed/extorted/bullied, gains from their criminally insane, but highly profitable, enterprises.

As national heat records on three continents fall to a blistering heat wave, the first winter cyclone to hit the southern hemisphere, ever, Racquel, drenched the Solomon Islands; meanwhile in Portugal, Syria, Iran, Pakistan, parts of India Russia, and China, Brazil and Chile, Australia, the North American West, and Oceania, all across the globe, the land is drying out, subjected to an increasingly intense cycle of desiccation followed by a deluge of rain that torrents down hillsides and floods cities and agricultural crops, leaving a swath of devastation that provides further examples of the interactions of Nature and nurture: when weather is unpredictable, there is no possibility of growing anything with which to nurture ourselves, as it is destroyed before it can be harvested: flooded before the shoots can grow, or baked dry by desiccating heatwaves and never-ending drought.

This is the harbinger of a new era: The Era Of Futility. The era when the harder you work, resulting in merit pay increases, makes you, not more likely to be rewarded by a promotion, but with a pink slip, because those increases make you more likely to be laid off as "uneconomical". Additionally, the more sick/personal days and vacation days you accumulate, the larger a liability you become. And this isn't merely on a personal basis, but on an economy-wide scale, it is the dynamic that ones builds when one allows the accumulation of a nation's savings to be spent on not only evil-minded, nefarious foreign adventures to bring hallowed demockracy to other lands, while it is systematically and deliberately undermined in your own, or when one invests, using the capital built up by the savings of your own population, in other countries' production, using government guaranteed funds that will leave the gamblers richer should the enterprise succeed, but the taxpayers poorer should they fail, and still refer to the economy upon which such shenanigans depend and within which they flourish, as Capitalism. It is not. It is Capitolism. The evil doppelganger of capitalism wherein the governing elite are more instrumental in your success than fulfilling the needs of the populace for which enterprises supposedly exist in the first place. If this were not true, the amount of money businesses spend on Pac's, lobbying, campaign finance, and advertising for services they don't actually render and products they can't really manufacture, such as the nonexistent "Love" in that Subaru that was shipped from thousands of miles away, so they must tell you, and spend millions and millions of dollars to do so, and you must, DO, believe it's true (else the campaign would've been scrapped long ago, but it wasn't ...because it works! You buy into the absurd belief that a piece of iron is welded together with  love). The Congress just voted to reinstate the EXport-Import Bank for just such enterprises. You take the brunt of the Risk, the businesses reap the rewards, using the profits derived therefrom to pay lobbyists to reduce their own tax burden to zero ... see Apple for details on how this is done, as they keep $200billion offshore to avoid taxation, or, as Cisco did, amass enormous amounts of capital while your stock is soaring skyhigh and pay your investors nary a nickel in dividends.

So it goes with education. The more education that you're on the hook for, the lower your chances of getting hired, because, employers do a credit check, and that amount of debt makes you a bigger credit risk, DEcreasing your prospects.

The more you save of the pittance they do pay you, the less likely you will be to have any ability to accumulate assets, because, as we're once again seeing in China, repeating the pattern set in 2007, and in the oil patch here in the US, since the collapse in oil prices a year ago, the retail investors are left in the dust as the insider traders cash in their chips and leave the table, yet again. In a healthy economy, this isn't such a bad thing. It means that older investor leave a healthy share of their capital in interest-earning CD's in insured accounts in banks and younger entrepreneurial energy uses excess cash to start businesses instead of putting it in the Wall St. casinos. To paraphrase Las Vegas' motto, what goes to Wall St. stocks, stays in Wall St.'s stock. Main St. is now Down-the-Drain St.

This is the quandary one ends up in when one turns over the entire economy to the Militarization of not only industry , but the culture. When a Muslim blows himself up to protest the presence of foreign armies in their sacred sites, we call it militarized Islam, or the Religion of Terror, completely ignoring that that is exactly what the White Supremacist south had been doing for generations, or that the AIPAC calls any attempt to stop the burgeoning growth in military spending, referred to blithely as "Defense" spending, "anti-Semitic". In other words, ALL mono-theistic religions are bloodthirsty: it's their nature. They are all based on exclusion, and often eradication, of non-believers, enabling confiscation of their property, and, should said religion rise to the level of governance, to the murder of any heretics who are first tortured into 'confessing' their apostasy, and then dispatched in the most heinous manner, as an example to what happens to non-believers in the sanctioned Truth. Which isn't to say that governments can't end up with this attitude as well, but they usually don't start out that way, so there's at least a chance for people.

What brought this to mind, is the situation in Egypt, where those poor people ousted a dictator, followed all the rules, or so they thought, arranged an election, and the majority, which was overwhelmingly Muslim, ruled, but they then instituted religious rule so stifling and undemocratic that there was revolt, and now the military, which, like their Isreali neighbors', is supported by you via your tax dollars flowing into their coffers, rules once again. Futility.

As fires blaze in the northwest of North America, and drought dries out once-fruitful farmland, while floods inundate huge swaths of Myanmar, India, and Bangladesh, this may sound less than tragic, but it is but one more example, along with trying to plan for your future, get through today, or decide who to vote for in your own country's elections, of the New Beginning humanity is facing: The Age of Futility. When planning, whether to buy a house with savings that end up confiscated, farm a plot, where seeds sprout only to wither in blasting solar radiation or be inundated by raging floodwaters, or birth a child that you wish to raise, but, sans insurance, you're so overwhelmed paying for the maternity stay that saving for college is simply not an option, the interest on the hospital debt is all you can manage to pay, and so it's futile to even try to save, which, of course, is your own fault, somehow.  You should have given your money to the crackers who became frackers and gotten rich. Of course, that would make you a true believer, and so, you'd have invested your ill-gotten gains in more fracking companies, and lost it all when the price collapsed and all the insiders got their money out first. Tough luck, Charlie! Welcome to the Age of Futility, when no matter what you do will soon enough do it to you.