Archive for the 'Greedy Bastards' Category

Apr 28 2016

Running with the devil…….

If you have been following my sparse postings lately ( and judging by the hit counter, you haven't) you will know that I am no fan of the junior Senator from the less than great state of Texas, Ted Cruz. In my lifetime, I have seldom seem an individual more vile, self serving, selfish bastard in American politics-and that is saying a lot. Especially when consider the long history of vile, self serving bastards we have had in American politics over the last 240 years.

Ted Cruz

myopic self-righteous, power hungry asshole who won't listen to anyone or change his views no matter the circumstances.

That guy you're dating is a total Ted Cruz. Run for the hills before he defunds your abortion savings account.

by wonkette2016 October 01, 2013

If a bus ran him over on the road, I would really have to think hard about running over to help him, or giving the bus driver a 100 dollars for performing a public service. Even the father of the underworld is wondering about this guy:

25hhhg

My Canadian Counterpart, whose writing I dearly miss ( and I wish was commenting on this election) had him sized up pretty well back in 2013:

I've never met Ted Cruz, so I can't say as an absolute certainty that he's a psychopathic retard. But because he's a Republican and a Tea Partier, he can't honestly object to either characterization, since both are such a central part of his political base. 

Republicans and Teapers get awfully pissy when I say things like that, but I'm hardly the one that's been in the trenches finding new and ever more self-defeating ways to turn superstition and stupidity into conservative virtues. 

Even before the advent of the Tea Party, supposedly conservative politicians have equated self-promoting ignorance as folksiness, which explains the non-sexual appeal of Sarah Palin perfectly. Christ, when I try to explain to reasonable, intelligent people why I hold conservative positions, I have to bend over backwards to demonstrate that I'm not a fucking yahoo. And that's exhausting because people like Ted Cruz have made it their life's mission to make it exhausting. ………….

But people with normal cognitive functions – including most rational Republicans – have come to loathe Cruz with the power of a thousand suns.

I don't want to see Cruz turned into Robert Taft, the serious conservative that wasn't given a chance. He needs to be Alf Landon, the guy who got beaten within an inch of his fucking life.

 

 

And those are just the printable sentiments I have for him. Under the influence of Scotch I have a whole different view point.

So imagine my surprise when I read that even people who are supposed to be on his side, truly hate the guy. And he really may be spending his summers in the 7th circle of hell:

Much of the discussion – and laughs – focused on Boehner’s views on the current presidential candidates. Segueing into the topic, Kennedy asked Boehner to be frank given that the event was not being broadcasted, and the former Speaker responded in kind. When specifically asked his opinions on Ted Cruz, Boehner made a face, drawing laughter from the crowd.

“Lucifer in the flesh,” the former speaker said. “I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.”

On which, Mr Boehner and I are in complete agreement. Wow. Vindication from an very unlikely source.

So given that Satan's image picked a running mate, just the day after he was mathematically eliminated from having a realistic shot at enough delegates to win the nomination, what does Mr. Boehner's pronouncement make Carly Fiorina?

'

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Apr 13 2016

New Job Opportunity

What could possibly go wrong with this?

The story of how Prince secretly plotted to transform the two aircraft for his arsenal of mercenary services is based on interviews with nearly a dozen people who have worked with Prince over the years, including current and former business partners, as well as internal documents, memos, and emails. Over a two-year period, Prince exploited front companies and cutouts, hidden corporate ownership, a meeting with Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout’s weapons supplier, and at least one civil war in an effort to manufacture and ultimately sell his customized armed counterinsurgency aircraft. If he succeeded, Prince would possess two prototypes that would lay the foundation for a low-cost, high-powered air force capable of generating healthy profits while fulfilling his dream of privatized warfare.

I cans see the job advertisements now:

International firm seeks experienced pilots. Must have 1200 hours flight time, half of that at night and be fully instrument rated. Prior military experience a must. May involve some personal risk. Salary? HUGE. Must be available immediately and look the other way when shady financial and maintenance practices encountered.

And of course you must be able to dodge the inevitable question from your friends and steady girlfriend (s): Why isn't this fucking guy in jail?

I mean really. What the hell does it say when the CEO of the firm gets voted out by his own board and has shady financial dealings with the Chinese?  Isn't that the same as playing for the bad guys?

That source, who has extensive knowledge of Prince’s activities and travel schedule, said that Prince was operating a “secret skunkworks program” while parading around war and crisis zones as FSG’s founder and chairman. “Erik wants to be a real, no-shit mercenary,” said the source. “He’s off the rails exposing many U.S. citizens to criminal liabilities. Erik hides in the shadows … and uses [FSG] for legitimacy.”

Last October, FSG’s corporate leadership grew so concerned about Prince’s efforts to sell paramilitary programs and services that the board passed a series of resolutions stripping Prince of most of his responsibilities as chairman.

FSG also terminated the contracts of two of Prince’s closest associates within the company after management became suspicious that they were assisting Prince in his unapproved dealings, according to two people with knowledge of FSG’s inner workings. Smith declined to comment on internal FSG personnel matters.

In recent months, FSG employees became alarmed when they began to hear reports from sources within the U.S. government that their chairman’s communications and foreign travel were being monitored by U.S. intelligence. According to three people who have worked with Prince, his colleagues were warned not to get involved with his business deals or discuss sensitive issues with him. “I would assume that just about every intelligence agency in the world has him lit up on their screen,” said one of the people advised to avoid Prince.

And then , of course, there is this little matter to deal with.

race2

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Mar 15 2016

The Big Short

If you have not seen The Big Short, you really should. I am a big fan of Michael Lewis' books and this was as good a book as any he has ever written.

For those who don't know, the Big Short is about a group of folks who independently realized in 2005 that the real estate market was headed for big trouble. As a result they decided to short real estate bonds and securities, in a big way. They turned smaller amount of money ( in one case  $120,000 into $449 million).

This type of finance is rather complicated, so one of the devices they use is to "pause" the movie for explanations like this one:

 

 

And this one:

 

Fortunately the cameraman never panned down on her shirt or I would never have understood the explanation. 

If you have not seen the movie go see it-It's a great way to understand how the system is rigged.

Finally, here is a good explanation of how mortgage bonds worked:

 

 

Mark Baum: The banks have given us 25% interest rates on credit cards. They have screwed us on student loans that we can never get out from under. Then this guy walks into my office and says those same banks got greedy, they lost track of the market, and I can profit off of their stupidity? Fuck, yeah, I want him to be right!

 

2 responses so far

Mar 13 2016

A convenient dodge

The forces of He, Trump conspired to tear apart a piece of Chicago, last night. Never mind that Trump has spent months and months stoking up his crazed supporters to be just this violent-somehow in the minds of many Americans it is the media's fault. Which is how we get such brilliant tidbits of local wisdom like this:

yeah, it's Chicago. Thug City

Not that the Democrats would instigate anything. Chicago politics. A Rahm & BHO special.

If the MSM can inflame it they will.

The media gave rise to Donald Trump simply because he's interesting. The news media have been forced into a 24 hour news cycle that needs to entertain as much or more than provide information. It’s all about ratings and advertising… Nothing better than a cat fight no??

 

It's an interesting point of view and I am quite sure the writers of those phrases have gotten a lot of mileage out of trite little sentences like those. At a minimum, it makes them feel better and it gives them someone to blame. There is just one major problem.

That point of view is 100 percent wrong.

It's wrong for a bunch of reasons and when one gives voice to it, they are showing a real lack of understanding of how news works in the 21st Century. It also shows a complete disregard for the history of journalism and how we got here to where we are today. As I said, its really a convenient dodge to avoid having to admit the truth. Namely, that it was people just like themselves that gave rise to Trump and the sooner they accept responsibility for that societal failure, the better off the rest of us will be. To borrow a phrase from 2012-you built this.

There is no Main Stream Media. Let me repeat that for the learning impaired, THERE IS NO MAIN STREAM MEDIA and there has not been for about 20 years. The term main stream media is just plain flawed. Lets replace it with a more accurate terms. 1) News outlets, 2) crossover outlets and 3) opinion outlets.  The marketplace of news expanded and enabled by the internet, is an immensely diverse place.  Its more like a giant COSTCO. You can get anything in this market. Its up to you the shopper to make intelligent choices. Or not so intelligent choices. Each news product being sold or posted has its strengths and its weaknesses.  Some outlets have quality. Many do not.

Since the dawn of the television age there have been three developments that have forever destroyed the idea of a monolithic news media, liberally biased. The first major development was the tearing down of the "firewall" that existed between News directorates and the corporate end of the broadcasting business. Now in the 50's and 60's there were a limited number of channels and there was a clear division between news and entertainment. The three broadcast networks did news because they understood that as custodians of publicly granted airwaves they owed a public service. Also too-there was still a great number of news reporters who had cut their teeth in print and radio and were committed to a certain set of journalistic standards. Even then there were outliers such as Hearst Papers, but they were few and far between and public opinion combined with a lawsuit or two could usually put them in their place. The key element of journalism, on the whole,  in the period from the 50's to the end of the 70's was the recognition of the idea that producing quality reporting was end to itself-regardless of cost. The quality of the story was what mattered, not the company bottom line or the audience level which, it was assumed would come if you produced a quality product.

This viewpoint began dying in the late 70's and the sickness spread in the 80's due to a number of reasons. One was the deregulation fever that swept the country under Reagan. The number of broadcast outlets increased as cable came online. A key development was the beginning of 24 hour cable news, which meant that speed to the screen became one of the key benchmarks by which is news outlet was judged. It had been that way earlier in TV, however technology, prior to the 80's had kind of acted as an "editor" if you will. The time lag also allowed real editors to correct misinformation and get copy right. All that went out the window in the age of CNN.

The final nail in the journalistic coffin was the advent of the internet, smartphones and the world wide web.  The latter gave rise to blogs and to social media. Suddenly, anyone could be a reporter or an opinion maker. Special training in the skills of writing and editing were no longer required.Coupled with that development was the creation of a news network that was "news" in name only. Its real mission, as Jon Stewart later pointed out to his audience and anyone else who would listen,  was to be a 24 hour a day propaganda delivery system. Thus the "crossover" outlet was created. A network whose business model was to lure advertisers, and to espouse a particular point of view. After a shaky start in 1996, the network took off in the administration of George Bush and pretty much left the "news" part of the business behind.  Because Fox was successful from a money standpoint, other networks like MSNBC followed their business model.

One other point about technology. Smartphones and social media meant that people took in their news in smaller and smaller chunks. The goal for many outlets was click bait.  Reading for content became to many Americans, something they no longer had time for-or they were no longer smart enough to do. Another ugly development in the early 2000's was the advent of news fabricators like Andrew Breitbart. Now it was acceptable to make up the news if it did not meet the criteria of what one wished to report. 

By the end of 2010 the whole mess had become a sad shadow of the journalistic world Edward R. Murrow had created.

So what does all of this have to do with the advent of Trump?

I'm glad you asked. While it is true that the quality of journalism has declined due to technology and the rise of a certain category of fact free blogs, mostly on the conservative side-but also on the left, and it has created a less discerning electorate; it would be wrong to cite that as a reason for Trump's rise to demagogic heights. The role of certain media outlets is merely a symptom of a much bigger disease.

First of all, the "blame it on the media" crowd ignores the reality of the Trump phenomenon. Like it or not-the fact that Trump has been able to make the hideous statements that he has made-and pay no political price for it at the ballot box- is news. And this turn of events has long term implications for the American political system. The news outlets have an obligation to report it. Some outlets do it well and a lot of others do it poorly. Some fan like Fox  the flames.

But the news media is not the ones making Trump successful. They don't have that power. Only voters do and when they vote for Trump they are squandering that power in a manner the Republican party has been fostering for a very long time. A very specific subset of the American people created Trump and they have no one to blame but themselves. They laid the foundations of Trump's no nothing beliefs back during the Bush administration with the "dissent is treason" lines regarding opposition to the Iraq war. They amplified in 2008 when many of them behaved like thugs at Sarah Palin's rallies and not one person in a leadership position stood up to brand it as the criminality it was.

From that point in time, it just went careening over a cliff. As John Cole pointed out in a rebuke to a National Review  worthless piece of shit columnist Charles Cooke:

Either they are too stupid to recognize it, or they don’t want to take the blame, or some combination of both, but they built Trump. It was decades of these stupid mother fuckers shouting about Obama being a secret Muslim or Hillary murdered Vince Foster and Dan Burton shooting a fucking watermelon to prove it to another melon based theory about Mexicans having calves the size of cantaloupes and women wanting to abort babies for shits and giggles and sending rock salt to Olympia Snowe and claiming there is no global climate change because LOOK RIGHT FUCKING HERE I HAVE A SNOWBALL IN FEBRUARY or convincing America that welfare and food stamps only go to young bucks buying t-bone steaks or welfare queens with big screen tv’s or that public transportation is totalitarianism or that the main cost cutting technique of health care reform will be Death Panels or that prison makes you gay or that man and dinosaurs lived together in harmony or that women can magically abort pregnancies created by rape or that scientists are genetically creating human/mice superbrains or that agribusiness is using aborted fetuses in soda or that if gay people marry pretty soon people will be marrying dogs or that Presidents Lincoln and Washington used electronic surveillance and actually writing, promoting, and believing a fucking book that said liberalism is fascism and running this person as a Vice Presidential candidate to claiming with no scientific evidence that vaccines cause autism.

My bad. That last one is a Democrat. Fuck you, Robert Kennedy, you fucking stain on our party and your family name.

But that list is real. I didn’t make any of it up. And that’s just a list of things they BELIEVE IN, and not a comprehensive list of the stupid shit they’ve actually done or the vile things they have said. That’s just too depressing to actually tabulate.

 

That, despite its profanity ( which I actually think helps make the point), is a pretty good summary of the descent of the modern GOP into madness over the last 20 years. And again, these points would never have gotten as much traction as they did, had there not been fertile ground to plant the seed in. The seeds of anti-intellectualism found purchase because a great many people stopped learning.

I am always amazed, that for people who claim to love the free market so much, conservatives never understand this particular reality. If the stupidities put forth by outlets like Fox News, the reprehensible dregs of the Liars Club-assholes like the not so dearly departed Breitbart, John Hinderaker, William Jacobsonworthless whore Michelle Malkin and the rest were not well received by a large audience, they would stop publishing them. If one or two of them actually got nailed in a multi-million dollar lawsuit ( as the estate of Breitbart has) it might make them think twice. One has only to read the slime that passes for their comment sections to know that is not the case. The media, with the exception of Fox is biased towards sensationalism and scandal-but it is the consumer ( yes that is you) who makes that possible.  A large number of people have joined the anti-intellectual bandwagon that the GOP has used to propel itself to electoral victories in areas where stupid people tend to thrive.
 

Could the "media" be better as a whole? Sure it can-but it does not have to be now because it's doing perfectly fine in the garbage pit that is American electoral discourse. That doesn't mean there are not quality news outlets still out there-but one has to be diligent about finding them. And few Americans these days  seem to have the knowledge or abilities to do so.

What about MSNBC or Daily Kos? It happens on the left too!

When someone says that, I know they have no real curiosity whatsoever. The facts just don't support the statement. Only one party is jumping like lemmings over the side of a cliff:

Yes, both parties have become more polarized, but one more than the other. Republicans are more conservative than they have been in over 100 years, have fewer moderates than Democrats, and have changed more, political science research shows — and it’s only getting worse.

While 54 percent of Republicans told Pew last month that their party’s leaders in Washington should be more conservative, most Democrats — 57 percent — say their leaders should be more moderate. Just 35 percent of Democrats say the party should be more liberal.

“While the Democrats may have moved from their 40-yard line to their 25, the Republicans have gone from their 40 to somewhere behind their goal post,” Norm Ornstein of the conservative American Enterprise Institute and Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution wrote in a Washington Post Op-Ed on congressional dysfunction titled “Let’s Just Say It: The Republicans Are the Problem.”

The current GOP is now well to the right of George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan and even Richard Nixon.

 

Blaming the "media" is not just cop out by the folks who do it, it is a failure of people to accept responsibilities for their own actions. We The People-we created Trump by not participating in our democracy and by not being more selective in our choice of elected officials. In the aggregate, The United States of America has a selfish and ill-informed electorate that makes bad choices. And the results are on display this year for all the world to see.

The media didn't do it.

We did.

As the news industry evolves toward a new era, we could do far worse than looking to Ed Murrow again for guidance. Murrow believed that "to be persuasive, we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; to be credible we must be truthful." The hard fact is that truth doesn't come tailor-made for any one ideology or political party. More examples of independence and character might be what it takes for the news industry to again be trusted as the honest brokers of American politics.

 

Tomorrow: How to be a better news consumer like me. laugh

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Feb 24 2016

Pouring gasoline on an open fire

So, it would appear a portion of America really wants to prove to the rest of the world how ignorant they really are. Donald Trump won Nevada. Yet another shameful moment that is the United States election of 2016.

Now the media is all over Mr. Trump, calling him unstoppable. Which is interesting since he has not yet broken the threshold of 100 delegates. If I was not seeing the land of my birth self destruct before my eyes, I simply would not believe it.

And probably what is more shocking is that people are pretending to that they did not see this coming.

The truth is Trump has been a long time coming. The rise of the sense of victimhood among a certain percentage of Americans aided by a certain "news" network and a blogosphere that made it its life's mission to vilify both a democratically elected president and the processes that got him there, and here we are.

 

 

 

Now personally I don't think the Trump bandwagon is moving as fast as the Pundits say it is-especially since , in theory, Super Tuesday could change the balance. So too,  could a late entry in California by Rmoney, trying to force a brokered convention.

But if Trump does become the Republican nominee, the party will have no one to blame but itself. They created this monster, starting in 2008 when Caribou Barbie let her adoring fans get out of control, and no one in the Republican party had the decency to call them out as they thugs they were. Or again in 2009 when hordes of tea swilling freaks took over parks and other venues. Year after year it got worse. 

And now the party elders are trying to pretend they had nothing to do with creating the mess.

Well, over in Israel, they know better. Chemi Shalev wrote in Haaretz today:

In the seven and a half years since they lost the White House in 2008, Republican leaders have been wary of their voters’ rage and have thus tried to stoke it in their favor. With the assistance of the all-powerful broadcasters of right-wing media, they have savaged the evil administration, stirred resentment, incited against minorities and immigrants and portrayed an enfeebled America that has been brought to its knees. They poured more and more fuel on the fire, until Donald Trump came in to spread the flames, in their direction as well. Dumbstruck, they are now helpless as he burns down their house.
 

 

And now it would appear, like Doctor Frankenstein, they are upset that the monster escaped the laboratory:

But the voters’ wrath isn’t directed only at President Barack Obama and the Democrats, but at their own party leaders as well. They want fresh blood, someone new, an “outsider,” as the polls phrase it. Trump promises them to stick it to one and all, with no holds barred, and they, like the children of Hamelin, follow his tune in ever increasing numbers.


Trump handily broke the 35 percent ceiling that experts had imposed on him, based on his previous performances, and reached 45 percent instead. He beat Marco Rubio by a whopping twenty points, in the fourth consecutive state that the so-called savior Florida senator has now lost. Republican bigwigs who had been pressing Ohio Governor John Kasich to suspend his campaign in order to join forces with Rubio against Trump could have saved their breath: based on Tuesday’s results, it wouldn’t have made the slightest difference.


Cruz, who was once again losing his fight with Rubio over second place, was in an even greater bind in advance of next week’s Super Tuesday battle royale. Cruz, whose position as the GOP’s angry prophet has been usurped by Trump’s all-out tirades, had hoped to win at least a few of Southern Evangelical states that are participating in next week’s face-off. Now Trump’s momentum is threatening to erase Cruz’s lead in his home state of Texas as well. That’s a blow from which he would not recover.

I genuiely fear I watching the democracy of America self-destruct right in front of me.Six years ago I wrote a post based on an article in the New York Book Review that pointed out :

Americans have not caught up yet with the changes that are going on in the world. They are two slow witted, for the most part,  to recognize them. The 20% or so of us who do recognize it-are castigated for having the gall to point it out. As I have pointed out before-the Tea Bag revolution bears little resemblance to the American revolution and a lot of resemblance to the French one.

 

Welcome back Monsieur Robspierre, your table is waiting.

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Dec 28 2015

200 dollars well spent.

If there are only two news outlets you can subscribe to, I recommend the following: The Economist ($139.00/yr) and the products of STRATFOR ($99.00/yr). It is money well spent and when you think about it is just a years worth of Netflix and Hulu.

STRATFOR recently published its 10 year forecast for the decade through 2025. It makes for an interesting read. Its worth the time and effort to read and understand-and even better, right now you can get it for the low , low, price of ZERO dollars. That's right you can download it free.

STRATFOR makes not pretensions of trying to be 100% accurate. "We do not forecast everything. We focus on the major trends and tendencies in the world." Nonetheless they get it right more than they get it wrong:

This is the fifth Decade Forecast published by Stratfor. Every five years since 1996 (1996, 2000, 2005, 2010 and now, 2015) Stratfor has produced a rolling forecast. Overall, we are proud of our efforts. We predicted the inability of Europe to survive economic crises, China's decline and the course of the U.S.-jihadist war. We also made some errors. We did not anticipate 9/11, and more important, we did not anticipate the scope of the American response. But in 2005 we did forecast the difficulty the United States would face and the need for the United States to withdraw from its military engagements in the Islamic world. We predicted China's weakness too early, but we saw that weakness when others were seeing the emergence of an economy larger than that of the United States.

So now its the end of 2015. What do they have to say?

The European Union- STRATFOR projects a weaker Europe. 

The European Union will be unable to solve its fundamental problem, which is not the eurozone, but the free trade zone. Germany is the center of gravity of the European Union; it exports more than 50 percent of its GDP, and half of that goes to other EU countries. Germany has created a productive capability that vastly outstrips its ability to consume, even if the domestic economy were stimulated. It depends on these exports to maintain economic growth, full employment and social stability. The European Union's structures — including the pricing of the euro and many European regulations — are designed to facilitate this export dependency.

This has already fragmented Europe into at least two parts. Mediterranean Europe and countries such as Germany and Austria have completely different behavioral patterns and needs. No single policy can suit all of Europe. This has been the core problem from the beginning, but it has now reached an extreme point. What benefits one part of Europe harms another.

 

As a result they see a division at the Alps with Poland becoming stronger and the Europe south of the Alps becoming disenfranchised from the rest of Europe. Germany will suffer because of this-but Poland will gain. ( Which probably does not bother the Poles so much).

What will define Europe in the next decade is the re-emergence of the nation-state as the primary political vehicle of the continent. Indeed the number of nation-states will likely increase as various movements favoring secession, or the dissolution of states into constituent parts, increase their power. This will be particularly noticeable during the next few years, as economic and political pressures intensify amid Europe's crisis.

Russia- Putin may think he is strong now, but STRATFOR says it can't last. It is not structurally stable enough to do so and low oil prices will exacerbate that situation.

It is unlikely that the Russian Federation will survive in its current form. Russia's failure to transform its energy revenue into a self-sustaining economy makes it vulnerable to price fluctuations. It has no defense against these market forces. Given the organization of the federation, with revenue flowing to Moscow before being distributed directly or via regional governments, the flow of resources will also vary dramatically. This will lead to a repeat of the Soviet Union's experience in the 1980s and Russia's in the 1990s, in which Moscow's ability to support the national infrastructure declined. In this case, it will cause regions to fend for themselves by forming informal and formal autonomous entities. The economic ties binding the Russian periphery to Moscow will fray.

The problem of course, as they go on to point out is that Russia falling apart is not just Russia's problem, it's every one else's too. After all, Russia has nukes.

Middle East- Pessimism rules the day.

The Middle East — particularly the area between the Levant and Iran, along with North Africa — is experiencing national breakdowns. By this we mean that the nation-states established by European powers in the 19th and 20th centuries are collapsing into their constituent factions defined by kinship, religion or shifting economic interests. In countries like Libya, Syria and Iraq, we have seen the devolution of the nation-state into factions that war on each other and that cross the increasingly obsolete borders of countries.

This process follows the model of Lebanon in the 1970s and 1980s, when the central government ceased to function and power devolved to warring factions. The key factions could not defeat the others, nor could they themselves be defeated. They were manipulated and supported from the outside, as well as self-supporting. The struggle among these factions erupted into a civil war — one that has quieted but not ended. As power vacuums persist throughout the region, jihadist groups will find space to operate but will be contained in the end by their internal divisions.

This situation cannot be suppressed by outside forces. The amount of force required and the length of deployment would outstrip the capacity of the United States, even if dramatically expanded. Given the situation in other parts of the world, particularly in Russia, the United States can no longer focus exclusively on this region.

Their is a lot more to read. I'd publish a link to the article itself, but that's not how you get to read it. STRATFOR gets you to sign up for their e-mail list and then they send you the article via e-mail. The key takeaway, however, is one that readers here have heard me say many times before: the rise of the multi-polar world is happening and the US will have to be able to compete in a world where it is not alone as the predominant power anymore. We can't stop its rise, and in fact -we will its rise into overdrive through the reckless and uncalled for invasion of Iraq. That-as they say in alternate history stories-is the point of departure. It probably would have happened anyway, but probably slower. Our friend George W. Bush put an end to all that.

So, big times ahead for China, right?

Not really.

China has ceased to be a high-growth, low-wage economy. As China's economy slows, the process of creating and organizing an economic infrastructure to employ low-wage workers will be incremental. What can be done quickly in a port city takes much longer in the interior. Therefore, China has normalized its economy, as Japan did before it, and as Taiwan and South Korea did in 1997. All massive expansions climax, and the operations of the economies shift.

And since international capitalism thrives on screwing little people, China's slave labor farms will be replaced by new ones they project. In Africa and Southern Asia."No one country can replace China, but we have noted 16 countries with a total population of about 1.15 billion people where entry-level manufacturing has gone after leaving China."

So it will be a heady decade if you are a rich oligarch. For the rest of us-the next ten years are going to suck.

 

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Jul 01 2014

The 140 character summary of the Hobby Lobby decision.

3 responses so far

May 23 2014

Musings of a moron

David Brooks, also known here by the not so affectionate moniker of “Chunky Bobo”, has written a column so absurd that you just have to shake your head in stupefaction that this man still has a job-much less a respected position in American journalism. Like McMegan-it appears that Chunky Bobo has thrown in the towel on making democracy work-and has instead decided to go down the path that Lenin led the Russians down almost a 100 years ago.

According to Brooks,  it is all the government’s fault-while the actual voters who are the machine that makes a good democracy work, are to be held guiltless:

It’s now clear that the end of the Soviet Union heralded an era of democratic complacency. Without a rival system to test them, democratic governments have decayed across the globe. In the U.S., Washington is polarized, stagnant and dysfunctional; a pathetic 26 percent of Americans trust their government to do the right thing. In Europe, elected officials have grown remote from voters, responding poorly to the euro crisis and contributing to massive unemployment.

According to measures by Freedom House, freedom has been in retreat around the world for the past eight years. New democracies like South Africa are decaying; the number of nations that the Bertelsmann Foundation now classifies as “defective democracies” (rigged elections and so on) has risen to 52. As John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge write in their book, “The Fourth Revolution,” “so far, the 21st century has been a rotten one for the Western model.”

 

Brooks’ solution. Send for the sycophants and call on the wisdom of Lee Kwan Yeu:

A new charismatic rival is gaining strength: the Guardian State. In their book, Micklethwait and Wooldridge do an outstanding job of describing Asia’s modernizing autocracies. In some ways, these governments look more progressive than the Western model; in some ways, more conservative.

In places like Singapore and China, the best students are ruthlessly culled for government service. The technocratic elites play a bigger role in designing economic life. The safety net is smaller and less forgiving. In Singapore, 90 percent of what you get out of the key pension is what you put in. Work is rewarded. People are expected to look after their own.

These Guardian States have some disadvantages compared with Western democracies. They are more corrupt. Because the systems are top-down, local government tends to be worse. But they have advantages. They are better at long-range thinking and can move fast because they limit democratic feedback and don’t face NIMBY-style impediments.

Really? China? A model for free people to follow? It is hard to believe Brooks actually wrote that line and believes it. Yet it would appear he does.

There is just one big problem with Brooks’ prescription-he has not examined all the side affects that come with the cure. While I am a believer that some of the Singaporean programs could be applied to good effect in the US- it is important to remember that Singapore is not, by any remote stretch of his Gaultian imagination a real democracy-or a place where equality and freedom of speech are thriving. There are more than a few facts that Brooks is leaving out of his narrative.

Specifically, Brooks slants his narrative to make it look like the Sinagaporean system does not have anything in place that he hates, such as universal access to health care. Or mandated ( and strongly enforced) mandates to pay in to both employers and employees. Ask yourself how that is going to go down with his teabagger friends. When Brooks makes the statement that 90% of Singapore’s pensions come from employees, he is either flat out lying, or showing his ignorance once again. ( A citizen is required to provide 20% of his income to his CPF fund, but he also gets an employer contribution of at least 5 and mostly 14%.). And it has to be looked at in context-Singapore provides services to its people that , based on Chunky Bobo’s other pronouncements, are an anathema to the true believer in Burkean Bells. Well financed and run public transportation for one.

And of course, either through ignorance or just plain deceitfulness-he ignores the fact that there is a tiered system of Singapore’s populations that would not welcome American ideas of equality of all under the law. Or put another way-a lot of Singapore’s progress is built on the backs of people who don’t enjoy the benefits of the government he suggests, and are in fact marginalized by the same government. Ask Filipinos and Bangladeshis how much of this Guardian State idea benefits them. This as they work for wages that are well below what their Chinese employers would ever see.

And you could also ask Mr. Brooks how much he enjoys a one party state, where criticism of the government is allowed, but only to a certain point. And folks who try to bring opposite view points are harassed and or sued out of existence. Kind of forgot that little detail, didn’t you David?

Brooks is wrong about what is broken. American Democracy is not broken-at least the model of it is not. The participants in that model however are badly broken-especially those residents of one political party, that to put it idly has gone completely insane. Our country used to get things done, now we have the most unproductive Congress in years. And its because of a collective freak  out by people who ought to know better-over the election of a black man to the white house. As I have said before, I don't think it is necessarily racist-but it is part of an effort to marginalize one political party. It is crazy. And it happens because a certain percentage of the American population proves itself to be really stupid.

However, this is typical Bobo. He fancies himself as a member of the elite. He forgets that under Singaporean rules-he can't. He's not Chinese. But Bobo would never take the time to learn that.

 

 

 

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Apr 15 2014

The impeachment of Barak Obama

It’s a double whammy of depression, of late. On a personal note-the ongoing churn at my place of employ is making the ability to enjoy the choice location more than a little problematic sometimes. As the S.O. and I settle into the new house , the more we like many of its features. The one obvious down side has been the lack of internet connection-but the porch and view from said porch offsets it to a great degree. And after days like this one:

218318.strip

 

I need the peace and solitude it brings.

So I have that bit of downward pressure on my life-offset in great deal by location, but it’s not enough to overcome the frustration of knowing I am right, being right, and being unable to make the types of meaningful changes that need to be made.

Adding to the downward pressure on my spirit is the realization that I will be returning to the US of A-not by choice as much as lack of one. And that when I get there-the downward spiral of US politics will have continued its decline into abject stupidity.

Especially since as many pundits predict-the GOP may take the Senate as well as keep the House. Once that is accomplished, I fully expect the Congress of the United States to do nothing (something they are already doing), but  they will begin a full throated effort to impeach Barak Obama.

It’s coming-you can rest assured of that. And since it takes 67 Senators to convict, and the odds of the GOP winning that many seats are virtually nonexistent, it will be another typically pointless gesture undertaken by the teabagger crazed loons who run and who support the current twisted political vision known as the Republican party.

The bulk of 2015 will be spent talking about it and the Fox Noise machine will kick into overdrive trying to convict the president in absentia, since they will be unable to achieve their real dream of ending his political career. (Remember these were the same people who were telling you that Romney was going to win big).

Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Tex.), who has said there are enough votes in the House to impeach Obama, added: “We’ve also talked about the I-word, impeachment, which I don’t think would get past the Senate in the current climate. . . . Is there anything else we can do?”

Why, yes, there is, congressman: You can hold hearings that accomplish nothing but allow you to sound fierce for your most rabid constituents.

The Republicans in the House know there is no chance of throwing this president from office. Yet at least 13 of the 22 Republicans on the panel have threatened or hinted at impeachment of Obama, his appointees or his allies in Congress. They’ve proposed this as the remedy to just about every dispute or political disagreement, from Syria to Obamacare.

 

This kind of political fight is exactly the last thing the country needs right now-but when did the GOP ever make doing the right thing a priority? Certainly not since the middle of the 20th century.

So how will it happen? I predict they will use the “slow burn” technique. They will pass their 65th or so vote to repeal the ACA.  When that  gets vetoed as it surely must,  it will set forth the following scenario:  there will begin a series of hearings trying to establish that the President exceeded his executive authority by making decisions on extending deadlines and such.  Using those as the pretext they will turn over to the House committee that does such things a resolution demanding the impeachment of Obama for exceeding his legal authority as President. ( When he in reality he has not even used his authority near enough). The old canards will be dragged out: Bengahzi, IRS, and all the rest of the nonsense that has been long been put to bed.)  Fox will have hour after hour of commentary for its brain dead audience-hyping the idea of impeaching the President. Comparisons to Clinton's blowjobs will resound. This will all occur in May or June of 2015 with the actual trial set to occur in September of 2015 after the summer recess. ( allowing the illusion of justice and due diligence by allowing both sides time to prepare-it will also try to be timed so as to make Biden a real lame duck if they should get lucky and win).

Nothing of substance will be accomplished by the Congress in 2015. They will stall on the budget-and perhaps force another debt ceiling fight, hoping to use that to pile on in the process, leaving the country to tear itself apart politically. And in the end-the President will be acquitted, but there will be loads of sound bites that ultra conservative Presidential candidates can use repeatedly showing how the Kenyan usurper was never supposed to be in the job anyway. ( Popular vote or Electoral college results not with standing).

And Nate Silver will be pilloried again-for denying the Romney monster the victory they feel was rightfully his in 2012.

And in the meantime what happens to the country?  Wages will continue to stagnate and more and more wealth will continue to move upward-aggravating the tepid economic recovery by seeing more and more Americans slide downwards in terms of purchasing power. In fact, the country could slip back into recession because of the turmoil the impeachment crisis will create in world markets. Holders of 401K's-like me-will see themselves condemned to working for the rest of our lives at unsatisfying jobs ( as the comic mentions above) because the value of our accumulated savings will tank.

And that will be all occurring before we get to 2016. 

Now ideally, an impeachment drama would produce the kind of universal public outrage that will backfire on the GOP and make it a pariah in the elections of 2016. It can and should lead to a recognition of the flawed and selfish viewpoint of American Politics and economics that was legitimized by Mitt Romney in 2012 ( with his disgusting codification of the rhetoric that 47% of the American population are nothing but "moochers")-and seized upon by soulless men such as the Zombie Eyed Granny Starver , Paul Ryan.

But it won't. Primarily because that kind of outrage will come from an informed electorate-something the United States has not had for a long time. Only about 20% of us actually understand the issues in the proper context, and draw the correct conclusions from it. Another 30% subscribe to the "I got mine, so fuck you!" philosophy of the current teabagger controlled GOP-and the remaining 50% just can't be bothered to get up from the TV to learn anything. Or vote.

If that does not give you good reason to be depressed about the future of the land of my birth-you are not grasping the problem.

Its a bad news story, that could be easily fixed and could have been as long ago as 2009.

But it won't.

Welcome to the new dark ages.

 

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Dec 11 2013

The Zombie Eyed Granny Starver, hard at work

Yesterday afternoon, the Devil's apprentice himself, Paul Ryan ( Worthless Cocksucker-WI) and his Democratic counterpart Mrs Landingham (H/t to Charles Pierce for the term) announced they had reached a budget deal.

Some deal. Rather than go for the straightforward approach of repealing the rest of the Bush tax cuts and lifting the cap on Social Security ( and let me make this abundantly clear for the all the deficit scolds out there, worthless people that you too are, Social Security does not contribute to the deficit and its time you stupid people stopped saying that.)

Instead we get this bit of trickery designed to fuck a whole lot of us at the drive through:

In a move expected to save $6 billion, the Bipartisan Budget Act announced Tuesday by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., calls for reducing annual cost-of-living adjustments for military retirees under the age of 62. Working-age military retirees would receive an annual pay adjustment that is 1 percentage point less than the rise in consumer prices. For example, the 1.7 percent COLA that took effect on Dec. 1 and will first appear in January checks would be just 0.7 percent for military retirees under age 62 but still be 1.7 percent for older retirees if the proposal were now in effect. The COLA reduction would be phased in three years. The December 2014 COLA would be reduced by 0.25 percent, the December 2015 COLA would be reduced by 0.5 percent and the full reduction would take effect with the December 2016 COLA. Disability retirees would not have their COLAs reduced. The plan could come to a vote in the House this week and, if it passes, be taken up by the Senate next week. The budget plan also saves $6 billion from changes in federal civilian retirement.

As Charles Pierce pointed out, once again the GOP gets to fuck over hard working people and steal,  while the Democrats simply can pat themselves on the back for politely letting them do it.

Apparently, the nation once again avoided a Grand Bargain by the skin of its teeth, but what makes me nervous is the fact that, at the press conference, the ZEGS spent most of his time celebrating what his side had gained out of the deal, while Mrs. Landingham spent most of her time celebrating the fact of the deal, and stressing that The American People would be glad to see both sides working together.

This is how the scale generally gets loaded in Washington — Republicans get enough of what they want so as to rest up for the next big grab while the Democrats throw themselves a parade to honor how mature and grown-up they are. For them, the deal is an end in itself. For the Republicans, it is a means to an end. The fight gets fixed that way. For all the huzzahs, you can hardly hear the cries of the people who are being sold down the river.

I am one of those people being sold down the river-and just reiterates for me why the Zombie Eyed Granny Starver has to go. If you have been reading here for a while you know that I have no sympathy for Paul Ryan, wishing fervently that he would drop dead in the early morning DC weather. There to be run over by a passing bus in his last brief moments of consciousness. And that would not even begin to repay him for the evil he conspires to do.

And take a look at the sleazy way this evil man tries to justify his thievery:

"We think it is only fair that hard-working taxpayers, who pay for the benefits that our federal employees receive, be treated fairly as well. We also think it is important that military families, as well as nonmilitary families are treated equally and fairly," he said.

Got that boys and girls? It's a back handed insult at federal employees and military retirees, as he implies that they don't work hard and have not earned their benefits. ( As opposed to say, greedy corporate CEO's) Not to mention its a double whammy for them since they have not had a pay raise since 2009 AND a lot are already contributing 15% of their salaries (same amount I have contributed since I left the military)  to our retirement accounts just to match the amount I would have been contributing were I still with my civilian corporation job. ( This due to the differences in how salaries are computed).

The Military coalition should be screaming bloody murder about this. So should a lot of other organizations. But they won't. It's for the children!

There are a whole bunch of other goodies tucked into this bill-many of them bad ideas that started not with politicians, but with budget hacks inside DOD. Who keep whining about treating people decently. And lets not even mention the abomination in the Defense bill that strips Convening Authorities of their authority to act in court martials. I'll have more on that tomorrow.

 There is a special place in hell reserved for you, Ryan,  and the rest of the herd. Please be speedily on your way.

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