It Was a Grand Ole Party

Last one to leave – turn out the lights.


RIP

I’ve voted Republican most of my life, though in the interest of disclosure, I admit that I’ve always been more of a radical constitutionalist. Having been a vote that the GOP could solidly count on for 15 years, I broke with the GOP in 2004, opting to vote for Michael Peroutka for President in the general election. At that point, my exasperation with the party had grown so great, I voted for the socialist Sherrod Brown over Mike DeWine. I wasn’t a Brown supporter by any stretch, but given the massive lead Brown had, I figured it was a way to telegraph my disapproval with the direction in which the party was oriented.

I am, sad to say, ruling out a vote for any GOP candidate in the 2008 election season, excepting for the outside chance that Ron Paul will be at the top of the ticket. If I have to hold my nose and vote for socialist statism of one stripe or another, I’ll select the pure socialists who make no hedges about their intentions, and at least offer a person not interested in invading more sovereign nations an audience. A vote for the Republicans has become a vote for more war and increasingly entrenched fascism.



I’m under no illusions about my decision. I am not deluded to believe that my idealogical home is in the Democratic Party – I know that it is not. I am also not sending a message. I am done with the Republican Party, and hope to see it die an unceremonious death this election season. To me, it is the electoral equivalent of a mercy killing.

I held out great hope as the campaign season started. For the first time in my voting life, there was a candidate who was embracing the historical positions that had caused me to first self-identify as a Republican. But it appears that the GOP voters have rejected conservatism, opting instead to redefine what I understood it to mean to be a Republican.

I say “bring on McCain“. Regardless of the opponent, I predict a bloodbath at the polls, and not just at the top of the ticket. I predict that this election will go down as the closest corollary to the Little Big Horn on record. Not only will the Democratic nominee win an electoral landslide, the coattails will be long enough to hand the Democrats a daunting governing majority.



I’m not anxious to see the days of democratic domination return, but I am even less anxious to see what currently passes for conservatives to control the apparatus of government. While both parties are controlled by the neocons and their world-dominating agenda, there remains a truly restraining populist bent among the rank and file in the Democratic party.

In all likelihood, Dr. Paul will be on the ballot in one way or another in November, allowing me to stave off the lesser of two evils analytics. But if I had to pull a major party lever in November, I’d go with the lesser of those evils. Go Hillary (ouch!), and good riddance GOP.


The Terrorists are Winning

There are few certainties in this world, but one that I feel pretty safe predicting is that I will be called anti-American, a terrorist supporter or worse for what I intend to write in this entry.

It isn’t that my logic is flawed, or that I am showing a bias in my analytics. If such exists, I invite the reader to make it known. No…. it is because I refuse to suspend reason and subscribe to the orthodox groupthink demanded in political discussion today.

My contention that the terrorists are winning in no way denotes support of their cause, their ideology or methodology on my part. It comes from a dispassionate analysis of the available evidence, and I am in fact decidedly opposed to their cause.

mushroom


To determine whether my hypothesis is true, we must define ‘winning’ in this context. Terrorists are not standard combatants, and do not try to capture or hold strategic geography. They do not act as normal combatants, and their goals are atypical as well. Terrorism in the middle eastern context might be better defined as clandestine guerrilla warfare. Winning for these ‘terrorists’ is for the invaders to pack up and go home. There are no territorial gains to be realized, outside of regaining sovereignty over lands occupied by the invading force.

Given our commitment to staying in the region for generations, the forces assembled in opposition to us must necessarily take the long view in their war. They face a prohibitive deficit in relative armaments, and cannot drive out the occupying troops with force. That would be a suicide mission, so they employ the only avenue available to an inferior force – guerrilla warfare.


bad

Outside of the World Trade Center bombing in 1993 and the subsequent events on 9-11, there has been very little that can be objectively described as terrorism aimed at America. While the bombing of the military barracks in Lebanon, the USS Cole bombing and similar actions may be tragic, they are valid strikes against a military target. I am not advocating or supporting the strikes in any manner, mind you, but recognize that in a war, there will be deaths. Every wartime death doesn’t equate to terrorism.

If you accept my premise as laid out here, then we are left with two substantial actions that on their face appear to meet the criterion necessary to be ‘terroristic’ in nature. For purposes of discussion, here is the operative definition:

the calculated use of violence (or the threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political or religious or ideological in nature; this is done through intimidation or coercion or instilling fear


9-11

It is interesting that both instances occurred in the same place, to a location that can objectively be called the center of the American economic system. It is this financial system that affords the United States the capital to wage it’s wars and occupy most of the world. A compelling case can be made that these acts are not in fact terrorist in nature, as they were attacks on legitimate targets for an entity at war with America. That doesn’t address the morality (or lack thereof) of their battle, so please spare me the knee jerk accusations of being a ‘Islamo-fascist sympathizer’. There will be plenty of time for that. ;)

You don’t agree? Was the United States’ bombing of industrial centers in Berlin and Dresden during World War II terrorism? What about the “weapons of mass destruction” used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? I trust that once you get past any ridiculous notion of American exceptionalism, you’ll agree that the ‘twin towers’ were in fact legitimate military targets. If not, you’re better at rationalizing away logical arguments than I am. When Osama Bin Laden was fighting the Soviets in the late 70’s and early 80’s, he was a freedom-fighter worthy of our support. What has changed that makes him no longer a freedom fighter, except the entity that he now fights?

I’ve veered down this intellectual side road to make the case that the ‘War on Terror’ can be better understood as a guerrilla war being fought by indigenous peoples in the middle east, who thus far have actually killed far fewer civilians world-wide than we have in either Iraq or Afghanistan. Understanding the reality of the situation is critical if we ever hope to end the war that is ongoing. It is this unwillingness to take an unfiltered view of the entire situation that has caused America to lose face in the world. We are seen as hypocritical, supporting the freedom fighters when the occupiers are Soviet, but feigning righteousness when our own occupying forces are targeted.

Now, some bright reader will surely note that there are car bombings in civilian centers in Baghdad and Kabul, and they would be correct. This wouldn’t provide a justification of our military presence there, unless you can explain why American Marines don’t patrol the streets of Jakarta and Manilla as well. But most of what I’ve said to this point is not germane to the conclusion which I am attempting to support: namely, that the ‘terrorists’ are winning.

But – you may take note – I’ve basically said that they aren’t terrorists. They are guerrilla warriors, right?

Here is another variation on the definition of terrorism:

The use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, esp. for political purposes; The state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terrorization.

There is certainly terrorism afoot in the United States, but not the kind that can be measured with a friendly color-coded scale. It is not about bombing civilian targets, and it is not being waged upon us by Osama Bin Laden. The chief ‘terrorist’ occupies the highest elected office in our land, and his ‘lieutenants’ fill the halls of many a big, stately building in Washington DC. (Now would be the time for cat-calls and ad hominems.)


bush-bomb

Who can argue that our government doesn’t use intimidation or coercion for political purposes, with violence the ultimate ends for non-compliance? It is not just in our heavy-handed foreign policy, but in domestic policy as well. We are inundated with warnings that there lurks around every corner a bad man who wishes to do us harm; we are encouraged to acquiesce to demands from the government for greater unchecked access to our personal communications and general invasions of our civil liberties, and dissenters face penalties ranging from ridicule to imprisonment. There are few more effective acts of coercion than imprisonment, and the result of these activities is undeniably a state of fear among the general populace.

The people who are presented to us as terrorists can never hope to defeat us militarily. We have the most advanced weapons on the face of the planet, and they are using pipe bombs. If we are of a mind to deny them to ever strike out at us, we have the means at our disposal. But they are critical props in the real terrorism that is ongoing; the terroristic campaign to forever alter the understanding of what rights are fundamental and beyond the scope of government to infringe is raging. At this moment, the terrorists in Washington are winning.

The Oligarch’s Stooge

In tonight’s California debate, McCain again displayed his utter lack of even a rudimentary understanding of economics. His shortcoming is somewhat muted since it is shared with two of the other combatants, all of the moderators and most of the assembled audience.


wow
Hey Moe!

About 31 minutes into the debate, Volcanic Johnny is sure that there is someone to blame criminally for the credit crisis that is currently wreaking havoc in our financial markets. The problem (he says) is that we aren’t regulated enough (I know…. this from the Reagan conservative). He’s just sure that a new oversight agency and more forms to sign when you get a loan is what can prevent future crises. While it is typical of his reactionary outlook and illustrative of the crisis-oriented narrative justifying his candidacy, if he is really interested in understanding the problems, he should look at the Fed policy on interest rate targets during his Senate tenure that made money cheap and caused these problems.

lead crook
Bernanke talks over the head of the legislators who are looking out for us….

When money is cheap, the banks and financial institutions have access to inflated amounts of capital. That translates into a surplus of available capital for loan, and drives the interest rate down. The reduced rates fuel the borrowing activities of businesses and households. Loans are ‘securitized’ and sold off in large bundles, and ratings agencies stamp the stuff ‘AAA’. This allows the proceeds to be returned to the lending institutions, and loaned out again. And securitized again…….

The ‘virtuous circle’ is repeated endlessly. To a person who makes a living in the financial markets, wealth flows in. Every mortgage has a fee for the broker. The securitizing agency gets it’s cut, and the banks make their loan fees. Real estate agents benefit greatly; Stock and commodities brokers have huge windfalls of fees as the surplus money chases the finite assets.

The multiplication of wealth is frenetic, fueled by the cheap credit made available by the central bank, and benefiting the corporate interests, particularly in banking and financial sectors. The lower classes – those who ‘work hard, not smart’ (or lack access to the large pools of cash needed to work smart) – get left behind, as the relative wealth of the financial class balloons to embarrassing proportions.


cash

This is the supreme evil of central banks. It is the engine of corporatism. It allows the financial class to amass an insurmountable control over the nation’s wealth, which facilitates the control of all other substantial assets. It allows the manipulation of our mass media (including the bloggers supported by partisans to spout the party line), functional control of the productive capacity of the nation and the ability to buy every political office of any consequence.

Our minds are pacified through the media as they control the parameters of acceptable debate, and we are goaded into fighting over trivia. And while the great unwashed toil away in fear of the financial calamity they worry is around the corner, the central bank powers the corporatist oligarchs through good times and bad.

John McCain asks if there is anyone criminally to blame. Sure there is, but they are long since dead. Representative Carter Glass, a Democrat from Virginia and Senator Robert Latham Owen, a Democrat from Oklahoma were the lead sponsors on the bill that saw 341 Representatives and Senators vote to hand over this incredible power to the so-called ‘money interests’.
[Federal Reserve Act of 1913]

The folks who pushed low interest, easy money loans at the local broker’s office? They are just doing what the Federal Reserve wanted them to do, implicit in it’s loose monetary policies. The banks who underwrote it; the brokerages that securitized it; the ratings agency that gave it the big thumbs up? Same answer. The problem is the Fed, but the responsible parties are those elected representatives of the people who allow this travesty to continue.

warmonger
Now I think it’s time for some straight talk.

Senator McCain. The closest thing I can find to criminal culpability is the corrupt political class who performs the bidding of the oligarchs; who feed their wealth from manipulation of monetary policies, and not from their own labors or ingenuity. I can’t blame the oligarchs alone – who wouldn’t take all of the material wealth that they can legally lay hand to? The criminal culpability, if such an animal exists in this situation, lies at the feet of our legislators who have abdicated their responsibility to control our monetary policy by farming the proverbial chicken coop out to the fox – and who haven’t even kept up with the responsibility of keeping an eye on the fox! The problem – my friend – is you, along with your peers who feign to represent the interest of us chickens. Quite frankly, us chickens is tired of you.


How’s that for straight talk, my friend?

After the deluge; Ron Paul

If you’re an average American – by that, I mean you get up and go to work everyday because you need to and pay your bills because no one else will – today is a very bad day for you.

cash

If you haven’t heard, the Federal Reserve slashed it’s ‘Fed Funds’ rate by three-quarters of a point this morning. Even if you have heard, you might not completely understand what that means.

 

The Fed has a few mechanisms for intervening in the credit markets. One is direct injection (or conversely, pulling out) of capital, which is accomplished by the Fed purchasing securities, thus adding ‘liquidity’ to the markets. This is done to influence the Fed Funds rate, the interest rates that banks charge one another for credit, usually on an overnight basis. Another tool is the discount window, where the Federal Reserve directly loans money to it’s members. The Fed Funds rate is what was lowered today.

 

You might be asking – why is this bad for me? Well, when the federal reserve devalues money (implicit in lowering the cost to obtain money), the value of any savings you have is immediately devalued. The purchasing power of your income is erroded. Every asset denominated in dollars will likely become more expensive, without some opposing market force at work. Loosening the availability of money and credit in the broader economy is one of the leading causes of inflation, the great decimator of the middle class.

 

So, if the Feds actions are so destructive to the wage earning members of our society, why on earth would they undertake such actions?

 

First of all, the Federal Reserve is a privately controlled corporation, who serves the interest of it’s member banks. It is part of it’s agreement with the congress that it must be constrained by striving for price stability, but there is no check that ensures that it actually pursues this goal, beyond Congresses ability to pull the charter should it see fit. Outside of that ne’er uttered threat, the Fed is autonomous, and acts solely in the interest of the biggest banks doing business in the US. Banks make trillions of dollars every year from a commodity – money – that they do not labor to produce and they do not create by special ingenuity. They make that money because they are a forced monopoly imposed by the Federal Government, with competition not allowed under penalty of law.

 

If it sounds nefarious, it’s because it is. The power to create currency – especially fiat urrency without intrinsic value – is the power to control. We have a system where we are forced to value our wealth in the Feds money, but they are allowed to manipulate the value of this commodity as they alone see fit. And that their ultimate interest lies in the continuation of this gravy train is apparent – when the question at hand is whether we devalue the savings and current earning power of the populace to bail out banks and financial institutions who made bad decisions, it is crystal clear where their heart is.

eye

 

All this, without discussing that the Fed is in fact responsible for the bad decisions made by the banks that are now in major trouble. Loose monetary policy is what created conditions where excess capital chases too few assets – and bubbles develop. The massive transfer of wealth happens because the excessive capital is piped in at the upper echelons of the system, to the big money banks and big-business interests who get their hands on the loot first, before it’s dillutorious effects are realizes and priced into the market. By the time the bubbles pop, those with first shot at the money have long since profitted, and in most cases moved the resulting wealth to a more stable and secure vehicle. Those who were late to the party – generally, the working stiffs – get hosesd with the bubble assets, and then get to pay increased taxes to underwrite the bailouts that eventually come from the Federal Government.

 

And as with every possible evil visited on us from Babylon on the Potomac, once the furor and bad taste has faded from the popular memory, we re-tool and repeat this process.

hurrah

Dr. Ron Paul knows about the evils inherent in forcing a monopoly over the nations money. He understands that to hand the ability to control the supply of money over to a private group is to trust our economic fortunes to their wisdom and good graces.

 

America has a tough road in the short term. The question is: do we just let them catch their breath and continue the plunder of our wealth by fiat, or do we elect a man who is, for the first in my lifetime, trying and bring free market sanity back to our nation?

 

I know what I’m gonna do…..

 

Here’s a short primer on the origins of the Federal Reserve System……..

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Here is another video that I have only previewed, but that purports to give a broader view of the purpose of money and the role the Fed plays in regulating our currency……

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video