October 31, 2008
And you think it's an accident, some "natural order of things? That's what the super wealthy want us to think. And profit-driven establishment, celebrity media to plays along, because it's a good deal for them. Ain't it grand? I'm gonna be like that some day, so we better not tax them.... that would be spreading the wealth.... in the wrong direction.
One moment, you're loping through the woods, snout held high, smelling the scent of fresh game on the wind, then the next thing you know -- you're being led around on a leash and collar, encrusted with tacky rhinestones and you're salivating at the sound of an electric can-opener.
Rockstroh continues, at length, calling for self reflection:
One moment, you're a child, entranced in play, hardwired to eternity -- the next thing you know, you're sitting at work and your passions, hopes, and yearnings have been shrunk down to Toy Poodle-sized agendas ... You're truckling for your boss's approval; you're counting the minutes until break time, when you can devour some junk food.
We are reminded to ponder an honest view of sanity
“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” - Jiddu Krishnamurti
And he offers an alternative conceptual path:
"True sanity entails ... the dissolution of the normal ego, that False Self competently adjusted to our alienated social reality ... and through this death a rebirth, the ego now being the servant of the divine, no longer its betrayer." —R. D. Laing
Knowing where we are, and how we got here, helps reveal the path to true sanity:
what engenders the formation of the False Self? When we were children [including in centuries past], authority, in the form of parents, educators, clergy, loomed before us. Alternatively menacing and comforting, these powerful figures could just as easily have crushed us as comforted us.
We loose our self identity, the wolf becomes poodle:
Hence, to accommodate the overwhelming demands of authority, we learned how to curry favor from these baffling, seemingly implacable forces by the creation of a cipher persona, a False Self, a tricky, tap-dancing, little apple polisher, who strives to garner approval and acceptance, thereby avoiding punishment, rejection and scorn, by means of the reflexive subjugation of his true nature.
And this lost identity takes on a societal dimension:
The victims of False Self adaptation are the quintessence of the corporate/consumer citizen... Consequently, this fear-ridden existence has rendered us a society of grotesques: In the present day United States, children have grown as fat as steroid-fed, corporate-farmed livestock; this has transpired because we overfeed them a diet consisting of steroid-fed, corporate-farmed livestock.
And this societal dimension bleeds into an international dimension:
And these proto-fascist, behavioral control tricks are not just for kids [or peasants of centuries past]. Corporate Capitalism has left us Americans psychologically arrested in a pathetic simulacrum of childhood where our inchoate fears of being preyed upon by our (so called) protectors (who we internally and accurately recognize as monsters) are displaced into compulsive consumerism (including overeating) and a reflexive fear of outsiders.... we learn it is acceptable (as well as politically useful to our power mad leaders) to displace our anger and fear upon outsiders. Ergo, the so-called Clash of Civilizations is unloosed and slouches, by way of the Washington Beltway, to Iraq, Iran and beyond to be born.
So, here we find our False Selves:
This is the manner that we as a society came to believe we can “compromise” on acts of torture committed in our name and not fear the loss of our souls as a result of our complicity. Although, the loss of our national soul would only prove redundant: Years ago, we decided our souls, both individual and national, were somewhat less than useful to us – and not nearly as compelling as a new widescreen, plasma TV and the like
It's hard to break out of this "prison," in part because it has no walls, only subtle threats of the consequences of not conforming:
we're given a "safe" place within the community -- not cast out into the wilderness and fed to the wolves. This fear is not an outrageous fantasy: It is, in fact, a primal memory... this knowledge still lingers within our psyches, where the memories of such terrors still howl just beyond the tree line of our waking awareness, instilling within us the terror of ridicule, of failure, of being ostracized.
As unorganized individuals we are controlled by common fears:
It’s the same trauma we experience daily due to our own powerlessness against the dictates of the corporate state and its threats, both implied and overt, to cast us into the howling wilderness of financial ruin, poverty, and homelessness.
But, there is a way toward true sanity:
Self-knowledge can provide us with a point of entry to the act of empathy. Yes, even extending it towards one as loathsome as George W. Bush.
Rockstroh confesses imperfection:
A caveat: The proffering [of] empathy to Dick Cheney would be pushing the parameters of empathy to the breaking point: Upon being subjected to Cheney's glowering, reptilian aura, even Mahatma Ghandi would be reaching for a pair of brass knuckles.
Are we defeated? Is there no hope?
To resist, we must cast off the fear of being an outcast.
Rockstroh offers a vision of hope and examples:
Even in this fear-ridden era, there are some among us -- types such as non-conformists, creative thinkers, and artists -- who welcome (rather than cower before) the metaphorical wolves (that are recognized, each to each, as fellow outcasts). Instead of being eaten by the wolves, they are suckled and raised by them... Nourished by their outsider status, the creative spirit thrives when freed from the constraints of a mindless adherence to groupthink.
He offers some final guidance:
One must always remember this: We human beings are of nature too. Accordingly, within us lies an indomitable self, encoded with the grace and fury of the natural world, and, if acknowledged and respected, it will awaken and arise. Then the real dogfight begins: The fur will fly, as we fight, fang and claw, to retake our own essential natures, and, by extension, begin the struggle to restore health, imagination and empathy to a nation of cage-accepting, torture-countenancing sick puppies.
Phil Rockstroh, A Soul Defying, Tacit Approval Of Torture: How Did We Come To This? 29 September, 2006
Thanks to Further Left Forum for bringing this essay to my attention
October 30, 2008
October 29, 2008
Even if Paulson's motives are pure, his deeply engrained biases apparently are not. This is revealed by what is being passed off as a "glitch" in the "rescue plan."
Treasury Department officials met with banking industry representatives to resolve a glitch in the rescue program that has temporarily prevented some 6,000 of the nation's 8,500 banks from applying for government support.
Treasury is buying preferred shares in banks as a way of injecting cash into the institutions. But about 6,000 of the nation's banks don't have publicly traded shares of stock and therefore are not set up in a way to meet Treasury's current qualifications.
The word "duh" comes to mind, followed by the thought, "Paulson is so Wall Street centric that he launched a historic buy-out of the banks, but only thought in terms of those that trade ownership shares on.... Wall Street
The critics of this view will say, "Hey, that's not fair. Paulson operates at a higher level of analysis. He has tasked Neel Kashkari, the Treasury's assistant secretary for international affairs, to be the interim head of Treasury's new Office of Financial Stability."
OK, aside from the fact that the 35-year old Kashkari (pronounced Cash Carry) may not have the years of experience needed to take on such a task, his experience is as a former Goldman Sachs banker at the former [speculative] investment firm once headed by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson*. In other words, Paulson's selection of Kashkari is further evidence that Paulson is a Wall Street guy with Wall Street centric views and is producing a Wall Street Centric bailout plan.
* Yes, that is two "formers"... Goldman Sachs is a former investment bank, and now is just a commercial bank.
Associated Press, White House to banks: Start lending now, Jennifer Loven, October 28, 2008.
Associated Press, Paulson picks interim head for rescue effort, Martin Crustsinger, October 6, 2008.
October 27, 2008
October 26, 2008
This next one of the Democrat's, [which is] being proposed, should be very, very concerning to all Americans because to me it sends a message that $700 billion bailout, maybe that was just the tip of the iceberg. 
So, how big might the iceberg be? Well, economic Nobel laureate, Paul Krugman, gives us a sense based on some historical examples:
Japan’s bank bailout in 1998 was more than $500 billion, in an economy whose dollar GDP was only about 1/4 that of the United States today. Do the math. And the just-announced IMF loan to Iceland is $2.1 billion — that’s for a country with only 300,000 people. Both of these numbers seem to suggest that an eventual outlay of $2 trillion is in the realm of possibility.
Add that to the $3 trillion war that was supposed to cost $60 million, the rest funded by Iraqi oil revenues.
As I write this on Sunday night I'm reading that "Monday in Japan" finds the Nikkei 225 Stock Average has fallen to a 26-year low. Paul Krugman has another bit of insight to share...
Right now I feel like the guy who was told, “Cheer up — things could be worse!” So he cheered up, and sure enough, things got worse.
Worse? We turn again to Paul Krugman for the truly unspeakable in his blog entry dated October 10, 2008 entitled "Faustian Bargains."
"I’ve lately become a reader of Across the Curve, the blog of the bond trader John Jansen.... it’s really helpful to have reports from a “tone and feel of the markets” guy who can tell you what the numbers can’t.
And his opening comment this morning is a shocker. After describing some of the weird action in Treasuries, he says:
Is this the beginning of the end for the dollar and the Treasury market? Is this the first sign of the bursting of the bubble in Treasury securities? That market, in a sense, represents the ultimate bubble as it exists at the whim and caprice of foreign investors, who have as participants in a Faustian bargain, financed our war(s) and our lifestyle so generously over the last decade. Maybe even that bizarre construct is crashing about us as we speak.
Krugman closes, "Maybe I should be drinking something a bit more … calming .. than coffee right now."
 Politico.com, "Palin allies report rising camp tension," Ben Smith, October 25, 2008.
Paul Krugman's Blog, The Conscience of a Liberal.
October 25, 2008
Democracy is not an outgrowth of free markets. Democracy and capitalism are antagonistic entities.More on this is said and is worth reading. The same post also quotes a successful hedge fund manager who, not trusting banks anymore, has suspended operations. He has critical words for the financial elite and governing class. For example:
The establishment is out of control. It is a historic moment in which informed people need to step up and recognize the other thing stated in that blog entry:
legislation was repeatedly brought forth to Congress over the past eight years, which would have [reined] in the predatory lending practices of now mostly defunct institutions. These institutions regularly filled the coffers of both parties in return for voting down all of this legislation designed to protect the common citizen. This is an outrage, yet no one seems to know or care about it.
Democracy, like individualism, is not based on personal gain but on self-sacrifice.
Image Credit: GDAEman on DeviantArt
Now we hear that the hot temper seems to run in the McCain family. John's younger brother Joe is hating life for recently loosing his temper and called 911 to complain about a traffic jam in the Arlington, VA area. Perhaps it's anger. Perhaps it is also a sense of entitlement.
Associated Press, After Joe the Plumber, Joe the Hothead ?
October 24, 2008
October 22, 2008
1. Financialized Economy
2. Debt (which relates to #1)
3. Real Estate Boom/Bust
4. Global commodity inflation
5. Dishonest Economic Statistics
6. Price of Oil
7. Demise of the US Dollar
Georgia Plans to Execute Troy Davis on October 27
And the State of Georgia has announced it plans to execute Troy Davis a week from today on October 27. Last week, the Supreme Court decided it would not hear Davis’s appeal of a death sentence for the 1989 killing of a police officer. Since his original trial, seven of the nine non-police witnesses have recanted their testimony. There is no direct physical evidence tying Davis to the crime scene. (DemocracyNow Headline, October 21, 2008).
This is it. The last chance for a man who is probably innocent.
Contact the State Board of Pardons and Paroles Ph: 404-656-5712
Contact Governor Perdue through his webform
Take Action through Amnesty International Web Site
October 20, 2008
Senator Obama's grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, the daughter of a Midwest oil company clerk who, according to Obama
"taught me values straight from the Kansas heartland" — things like "accountability and self-reliance. Love of country. Working hard without making excuses. Treating your neighbor as you'd like to be treated."
During his nomination speech Obama said,
"She's the one who taught me about hard work. She's the one who put off buying a new car or a new dress for herself so that I could have a better life. She poured everything she had into me. And although she can no longer travel, I know that she's watching tonight, and that tonight is her night as well,"
Now, does that sound "exotic" or "otherly" as McCain and Palin would have unknowing Americans falsely believe?
Associated Press, "Obama leaving campaign trail to visit grandmother," October 20, 2008.
October 19, 2008
Mother Jones Magazine,"Chronicle of a War Fortold," September October 2006 Issue.
October 18, 2008
On Wednesday October 15th 2008, former Army Sergeant Nick Morgan, a 24 year old veteran of the US war in Iraq, was nearly killed by riot police, his face crushed under a police horse, during a peaceful protest outside the final US presidential debates.
Morgan is a native of Annapolis, MD who spent four-years the US Army and one year in Iraq. He was a participant in the Winter Soldier hearings and is an active member of the Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), a national organization of 'Global War On Terror' veterans who had come to the Presidential debates in Long Island, demanding that veterans' concerns be heard during these nationally televised dialogues MORE
Text: Now Public: Crowed Powered Media
Video: iwitnessvideo on YouTube
October 17, 2008
October 15, 2008
Investigative reporter Max Blumenthal went to Wasilla, Alaska and talked to numerous people and went through records. Blumenthal found:
"... she was more closely associated with this party and with fringe right-wing elements than the media had previously discovered ... And not only did she, you know, associate with them in order to advance her political ambitions, she advanced their agenda on a local and state level. Beginning with Mark Chryson and a character named Steve Stoll, who’s known around Wasilla as “Black Helicopter Steve,” because he’s rumored to have buried several high-powered automatic weapons in his front yard in expectation of the federal government ushering in the new world order..."
These guys supported her campaign for mayor. Blumenthal continues...
So, as soon as Sarah Palin was elected, what did she do? She wanted to reward her supporters, for example, Black Helicopter Steve. So the city council seat she had just vacated, she nominated Steve Stoll for this seat. His nomination was blocked by a city councilmember named Nick Carney, who we interviewed, and Nick Carney told us he blocked the nomination because Steve Stoll was a violent influence on a local level.
But it gets creepier. The Infiltration Strategy:
In 2007, Alaskan Independence Party Vice Chair Dexter [Clark] unveiled the party’s new strategy at a neo-secessionist convention in Tennessee, which was attended by all the neo-Confederate groups that the Alaskan Independence Party affiliates with. And his new strategy was called the infiltration strategy, that because these fringe parties can’t get anyone elected running under their own party banner, he urged them to infiltrate the ... Republican and Democratic parties. And he pointed to Sarah Palin as the most successful example of this strategy...
MORE: Max Blumenthal's interview on DemocracyNow
MORE: Video: Break the Back of the Enemy. Max Blumenthal on Sarah Palin's ties to right wing militia movement in Wasilla, Alaska.
Look who links to the Alaska Independence Party: Nordic American Aryan Migration Movement
Democracy Now, Max Blumenthal on Sarah Palin’s Radical Right-Wing Pals and Her Ties to the Pro-Secessionist Alaskan Independence Party, October 13, 2008.
The Atlanic, Breaking the Back of the Beast, Max Blumenthal video, October 12, 2008.
October 14, 2008
October 13, 2008
"John McCain: If your campaign does not stop equating Sen. Barack Obama with terrorism, questioning his patriotism and portraying Mr. Obama as ‘not one of us,’ I accuse you of deliberately feeding the most unhinged elements of our society the red meat of hate, and therefore of potentially instigating violence."
“John McCain, you are no fool, and you understand the depths of hatred that [surround] the issue of race in this country. You also know that, post-9/11, to call someone a friend of a terrorist is a very serious matter. You also know we are [a bitterly divided country] on many other issues. You know that, sadly, in America, violence is always just a moment away. You know that there are plenty of crazy people out there."
“Stop! Think! Your rallies are beginning to look, sound, feel and smell like lynch mobs."
“John McCain, you’re walking a perilous line. If you do not stand up for all that is good in America and declare that Senator Obama is a patriot, fit for office, and denounce your hate-filled supporters when they scream out ‘Terrorist’ or ‘Kill him,’ history will hold you responsible for all that follows."
DemocracyNow, "Former McCain Supporter Accuses the Senator of “Deliberately Feeding the Most Unhinged Elements of Our Society the Red Meat of Hate” October, 13, 2008.
October 10, 2008
So, the lesson is, if in the future we or the banks want to take a risk to make big bucks, but things go bad, the government (aka tax payer) will bail us out. That gives us an incentive to take big risks for potentiall big profits, and not worry about the consequences. This is known as the moral hazard of such policies, and is looked down upon gravely by honest conservatives. John McCain doesn't appear to be one of them.
But there are better alternatives. I provide one below.
0) Most of our mortgages now reside in "bundles" of 500 - 1,000 mortgages that can be sold or used as collateral for issuing bonds (aka securities) that make up the mortgage backed securities we hear of. Before we can do anything with individual mortgages, they must be un-bundled, and the bad mortgages must be separated from the good mortgages(McCain has to do this too).
1) Buy Bad Debt: We the tax payer (aka the government) give holders of bad mortgages (like banks) the option of buying their bad mortgages and assuming the debt (let banks get them off the books). The option is completely voluntary. The houses would be purchased at the prevailing prices. With prices continuing to drop, the mortgage holders have an incentive to sell them to us (the tax payer). The banks loose the red part on the graph above, but with prices dropping, they could loose more (they better sell now).
2) We Own Bad Debt: Waahoo! The tax payer now owns lots of property. Not the first time. We (aka the government) were the largest property owner in the US following the 1980s Savings and Loan Bailout (same thing, smaller scale, yet HUGE... making today's debacle, uber-HUGE, I like to call it historic).
3) Separate Renters from Owners: The government will need to provide jobs to help sort out the mess. Some home buyers will be able to pay for the house, with some adjustments. They can continue to own their home. Others will be in way over their heads. For them, the government takes ownership of the house, and the people can rent. A third group might be able to "rent-to-own." Nobody is thrown out into the street. The payments on mortgages and rent help pay for the new jobs needed to "sort thru the mess."
4) Sell the Houses Back to the "Free Market:" In time, as the economy recovers and the property values have risen, the tax payers can place these houses back on the market and receive a hansom profit. Most likely, the reintroduction of homes back into the market would be done over several years through a bidding process.
5) Enjoy the Profits: We take the profits and pay for all the things we need, not military stuff nor any corporate welfare, etc.
6) Control Our Destiny Forever: We rule over the banking industry, as we should, and we live happily ever after. Ah Men.
October 9, 2008
October 8, 2008
October 7, 2008
I ran across it while looking for the reporting on an Iceland official saying that the days of the US international reserve currency are over. Iceland is negotiating a 5 Billion Ruble loan from Russia. I hear Russia has also told Belarus that it wants to conduct future sales in Rubles, not dollars.... just a rumor at this point.
October 6, 2008
This isn't the only time McCain has tried to influence regulators. Remember Vickie Iseman? McCain tried to strong-arm Federal Communications Commissioners on behalf of Paxon Communications for whom Iseman was a lobbyist.
HuffPolitics YouTube Channel video.
October 4, 2008
October 3, 2008
October 2, 2008
Dodge, Dodge, Dodge the question Sarah.
Team of "Mavericks." If you say so Sarah.
"Never Again" will a corrupt speculative bubble be allowed to grow and burst if Palin and McCain win. OK. If they win, lets hold them to the regulatory oversight Palin has promised.
Palin side-steps the question about McCain's record on deregulation, twice, an very blatantly shifting the question to... a Republican favorite, buying votes with tax cuts.
Then there is the tax question:
Palin plays the "redistribution of wealth" card.... in this case, opposing the redistribution from the ultra wealthy to the middle class. She still believes in trickle-down economics despite the train wreck that we're experiencing because of.... trickle-down economic ideology.
Oh Boy! The health care "ultimate bridge to nowhere" line by Biden deserves more air play.
Taking on the oil companies in Alaska. Did she really break up a monopoly?
Yea. Windfall profits tax on the oil companies. Let see you implement that nationally Sarah.
Uh, Sara. You mean toxic waste on wall street that's affecting main street. Will any of the pundits mention her freudian slip in reversing the streets?
Sarah is a question-dodge. Will she and McCain support reducing both interest and the cost (principle) of the houses to keep people from being foreclosed upon.
Sarah and climate change. "I don't want to argue about the charges." At least she finally admits we've got to reduce emissions.
Some people might be happy that Joe Biden referred to off shore drilling as "raping" the coastline. Not Sarah.
What was the answer on civil unions Sarah? Not the the "marriage" question. Another obvious dodge.
"Your plan is a white flag of surrender in Iraq." Well, now there is some "straight talk," not presidential, but straight.
Obama is not just naive, not just a bad judge, he is "down right dangerous" when it comes to negotiating directly with adversarial foreign leaders. (Fear, Fear, Fear).
World view: America is that nation of exceptionalism, which is why we can attack countries, unprovoked, and it's "OKaeee". The US can do no wrong. When the US kills civilians it's OK because the US is exceptional.
"Consummate Maverick." Are we supposed to believe that?
How many times did Palin say "Maverick" in this debate?
Oooo. The "Maverick he is not" memorable line by Biden blasting McCain's claim to be a Maverick.
Fight Fight Fight, says Sarah. Nice closing statement. Apparently Republicans like fighting.
October 1, 2008
Politics is an ugly business, and that was on display for the world to see this evening. Need votes from southern state congress critters? Sweeten the bailout bill with hurricane relief. Need votes from business-friendly congress critters? Sweeten the bailout bill with business tax breaks.
Never mind that we should own the institutions we're bailing out, and benefit from any future profits they make, if they survive. Never mind that we've now seen consolidation of the banking industry to three major banks, which are way too big to fail, and should be operated as public utilities because they've become monopolies. Never mind that the Senators voting on the legislation have major conflicts of interest because they are owned by the financial industry they're bailing out.
Few are saying "let 'em crash." But if we buy them, we own them. If these financial institutions survive, all the future profits accrue to us, the people. Not just until they get stabilized, but for a few generations. We're gonna milk those profits that have been going to the top 1% of the insiders, and we're going to fix our infrastructure, our schools, our healthcare and retirement systems. We're going to spread the wealth to the wider society, because we are now back in charge. And if the Congress doesn't get it, we'll select new representatives who do get it.
We want a new system. We don't want this to happen again, as in the S&L crisis, the dot-com bubble, the Enron et al phony energy deregulation. Never again.