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All About Money

5:51 pm in Uncategorized by Watt4Bob

Everybody now just has to make up their mind. Is money money or
isn’t money money. Everybody who earns it and spends it every day
in order to live knows that money is money, anybody who votes it
to be gathered in as taxes knows money is not money. That is what
makes everybody go crazy.

-Gertrude Stein – All About Money

As far as I can tell, about 1% of us believe that money is not money, and the rest of us believe that money is money.
Money
Most of us believe that money is money because as Gertrude Stein said:

Everybody who earns it and spends it every day in order to live knows that money is money…

So here’s the problem: the 1% of the people, the ones who believe that money is not money, are in charge of everything.

It’s not natural that so few people should be in charge of so much, and that they should be in charge of ‘everything’ is truly crazy. (Please excuse the slight digression)

The people who are in charge of everything believe that it’s right, proper, indeed ‘natural’ that they be in charge of everything because they believe that no one could do as good a job of being in charge of everything because they think they are smarter than everybody else.

The reason that the 1% of people believe they are smarter than everybody else is rooted largely in what they believe is their self-evident, superior understanding of money; that is to say, the understanding that money is not money.

The trouble is, the difference between the 1%’s understanding of money, and the common man’s understanding of money is not evidence of the 1%’s superior intellect, so much as of their lack of a moral compass and their ability to rationalize the depraved indifference they show to their fellow man.

You’ve all heard the old saw:

Money isn’t important, it’s just a way of keeping score.

Most of us understand that’s not true, money is very important; but for the 1% who believe that money is not money, it’s a rationalization that explains/excuses their psychopathic behavior, the manipulation, and control of the systems of finance and commerce exclusively to their own benefit, at the expense of, and to the detriment of, everybody else.

All the manipulations, and game playing, and ‘score-keeping’ done by the 1%, who do not believe that money is money, make the lives of the rest of us much more difficult and precarious because it distorts the worth of the money we trade for our labor, and the cost of the things we must pay for in order to maintain our well-being.

It’s time to talk about gambling.

People who believe that money is money tend to be careful when they gamble, they only wager what they can afford to lose. They never bet the rent-money for instance, rather, they save up some ‘mad-money’, so-called because it is intended to be spent in a ‘crazy’ manner, and its loss will not result in eviction.

OTOH, people who believe that money is not money tend to gamble with any funds that they can lay their hands on, including not only their own rent-money, but other people’s rent-money as well.

This fact is so well known, or at least it used to be, that our country enacted laws to keep those who do not believe that money is money from gambling with other people’s money.

This of course was back in the days when at least some of the people we sent to Washington still believed that money is money.

Anyway, I’m tired of going crazy, I think Gertrude Stein is right, it’s time for us to make up our minds: is money money, or is money not money?

If money is money, then there should be clawbacks of bailout funds on a grand scale, and there should be a lot of bankers going to jail; if money is not money, then a lot of us deserve mortgage modifications, and to get bailed-out of our credit-card and student loan debt.

For starters anyway.

It’s a very important choice, why aren’t we making it?

Or at least talking about it?
Read the rest of this entry →

Missing the Forest for the Trees

6:54 pm in Uncategorized by Watt4Bob

Let me explain what I’ve learned about the forest so that you might understand why I’m so disappointed in those folks who are busy pointing at trees.

It was December of 2010 when Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the late alleged Boston Bomber came to the attention of the FSB, Russia’s Federal Security Services. It was then that during interrogation, William Plotnikov, a Canadian citizen turned Islamist insurgent, detained in a raid in Dagestan disclosed he had contact with a man by that name who lived in the USA.

Plotnikov was later killed in a shoot-out with Russian defense forces in Dagestan.

In early 2011 the FSB told the FBI that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a dangerous guy and that he was probably on his way to Russia to cause trouble.

After the Boston bombing, the FBI initially denied any prior contact with Tamerlan Tsarnaev, but later came clean and admitted that they had interviewed him and his relatives before closing the case in the summer of 2011 because they didn’t find anything interesting.

The FSB recorded a phone conversation between Tsarnaev and his mother in 2011 during which he discussed jihad and they intercepted a text message in which his mother said he was ready to die for Islam.

In late 2011 the CIA put Tamerlan and his mom into their terrorist database.

So as of late 2011 the FSB, FBI and CIA are all watching Tsarnaev, they are evidently talking to each other about Tsarnaev, and they have him in their Data Base/s.

Evidently they weren’t watching him too closely, or maybe they were hoping that he would do something useful, or maybe they were watching him to see if he would lead them to something/someone who was more important?

It seems curious to me that any one of these intelligence agencies, FSB, FBI, or CIA would simply let Tsarnaev go, let alone all three of them?

All of these organizations are known for relentless pursuit of bad guys and clever manipulation of people they think can be ‘turned’ or otherwise made ‘useful’.

So what do you think the odds are that the FSB, FBI, and CIA all decided independently, that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was just not that interesting?

These are the most interesting questions regarding the Tsarnaev brothers, far more interesting than the fact that they were later labeled ‘cop-killers’ and as would be suspected, shot to pieces by police.

The Race-To-The-Bottom, Working for the Clampdown, and the Flat Spin.

1:17 pm in Uncategorized by Watt4Bob

As I observe our economy, my latest pre-occupation has been with the observation that “Everybody is doing the same thing”.

What I mean by this, and what I think is obvious, is that everywhere you look, in every work-place and every business, managers are attempting to restrain or roll-back the cost of labor by limiting or cutting wages, and/or reducing the number of workers employed.

All of these are normal features of the business environment but it has gotten to the point where the ‘normal’ functions of business are being negatively impacted, and I’m wondering why this hasn’t resulted in any obvious changes in the trend.

Let’s look at an example of what I’m talking about so there’s no doubt that we’re looking at the same situation.

You go to a department store, it doesn’t make any difference whether it’s Macy’s Nordstrom’s or JC Penneys, there are less salespeople on the floor and you have to work harder than ever to find a salesperson to help you.

Add to the story that these employers are paying the people on the floor less and less, and it means when you do find them, they aren’t in a great mood.

These employees who are making less and less per hour, and working less hours per week are attending more and more meetings where they are given instruction on how to treat customers, how to sell, how to reduce losses due to theft, and where they are threatened with being written up for failure to sign customers up for ‘loyalty accounts’, read credit cards.

Credit cards which, by the way reliably charge interest rates of 29%!

Some companies are making more from the finance charges associated with their credit cards than they are on profits due to sales.

All the while, the results are, ill-treated and demoralized employees creating ill-treated and disappointed customers, lower sales, and of course, rocketing losses due to theft from under-staffed stores.

There’s a version of this story going on in every part of the retail industry, employees who are barely scraping by, paid dwindling wages and facing a rising cost of living, trying to help customers who are in the same boat, themselves employed by managers who are attempting to implement the same cost savings in their own business in an effort to bolster bottom-lines or possibly just keep the doors open.

All of these managers are waiting for ‘things-to-get-better’, or ‘things-to-get-back-to-normal’.

What I want to know, is how are things going to get better, how are things going to get back to normal, if everyone, and by this I mean YOUR CUSTOMERS, are making less and less per hour, working less hours, and paying more, and more to live?

Now I know that what I’m describing has been noticed by a lot of people, because when I explain it, just as I’ve done so far here, they all say, “yeah, I know what you mean…”

I’m sure that even store managers know that there’s something wrong with the game-plan they’re being forced to run, but they have no real choice in the matter because there’s a corporate agenda to work from and with it comes a ‘plan’.

What I’m driving at, is that the ‘plan’ is faulty, it’s doomed to failure, and it’s the very definition of a Race-to-the Bottom.

What I further intend to point out, is that at some point this Race–to-the Bottom will become a Flat-Spin.

A flat spin is a term used in aviation to describe what, at one time was generally considered an unrecoverable spin which would only end with the airplane impacting the ground.

So what I’m talking about here, is a pervasive business strategy that far from improving business health, and bolstering bottom lines, has become a literal ‘race to the bottom’, which at some point threatens to become a virtual flat spin that will end only in business failures and bankruptcies.

What I’m pointing out to over-worked middle managers who I describe as ‘Working for the Clampdown’, to borrow a phrase from the punk-rock band, the Clash, is that in executing the strategy dictated by your corporate bosses, you are driving your businesses into the ground.

Working for the Clampdown, is racing to the bottom, is willfully entering a flat spin, which ends predictably with a crash.

What I’d like to point out, is that the fact that ‘everybody is doing the same thing’ looks suspiciously like there is a plan, and if there is a plan, it looks an awful lot like the same plan, you might even call it the ‘Central Plan’.

So why are those who supposedly worship ‘Free Markets’ involved in executing what looks to me, like the biggest example of ‘central planning’ ever attempted?

Why don’t they understand that when they succeed with their plan, we fail, and when we fail, they fail?

It’s because the ‘Plan’ is rooted in an ideology, an ideology that the MOTU find appealing, but the end results of which, they haven’t examined too closely.

All over the world, our corporate masters are busy executing a plan that I call the Clamp-Down, it’s a recipe for imposed austerity, and it has a predictable outcome that they don’t acknowledge.

This plan is driven by adherence to an ideology that leaves its proponents blind to the fact that the ground is coming up real fast.

We Can’t Handle The Truth

1:06 pm in Uncategorized by Watt4Bob

There is no such thing as cold.

When a person dies, freezes to death, let’s say. It is not because cold creeps into his or her body, it is because the heat necessary to sustain bodily functions creeps out.

Heat is a one-way street, heat flows in one direction, when we say something “cools down”, what is actually happening is the heat it contains is flowing out of it, and into something else.

Hot and cold are therefore not a true dichotomy, they are words used to describe relative values along a single continuum, that describing the presence of heat.

There is really no problem inherent in our use of a false dichotomy in everyday discussion of the weather, but there is a problem in our political discourse that flows directly from our clinging to a perspective based on another false dichotomy;

The problem as I see it, is that we, who find ourselves so deeply troubled by the results of our government’s activities, are stymied in our efforts to affect change by our own tacit agreement that that change might be affected by participation in the supposedly legitimate dialog between the ‘two political parties’.

We are encouraged at every turn to understand that our politics can be described as the engagement between two parties whose ideologies represent opposing sides in a legitimate argument over the proper role of government, each side holding opinions that reflect their legitimate understanding of the Truth; that is, the “way things really are” and the logical decisions that flow from those understandings.

What I’m saying is there is no real dialog of opposition happening in our politics.

It is not necessary to prove, and enumerate the lies and deceptions, is only necessary to face the Truth that by this time should be burned into our hearts by the fire of disappointment;

There is no party of ‘Family Values and Fiscal Responsibility’ just as there is no party of ‘Peace and Compassion for the Poor and Powerless’.

What we have witnessed, but do not fully comprehend, is the one-way flow of Truth, and that out-flow has resulted in an almost absolute deficit of Truth in our politic discourse.

The single most important illusion resulting from this deficit is the false understanding that our politics is held hostage by an ideological stalemate.

Contrary to this almost universally believed illusion, we are not engaged in a dialectic between two opposing ideologies so much as a one-way battle between those who would like to make political decisions based on Truth on the one hand, which I would describe as “the way things really are”, and those who insist that we also entertain all sorts of ideas completely unrelated to observable reality; that is, various fabricated opinions and arguments whose only purpose is thwart the natural political impulses of those whose decisions are based on Truth.

The very most important thing we must come to understand is that the people who agree with those of us who wish to make political decisions based on the Truth, are by and large excluded from the two-party system, the government and thus the political process, and that our politicians are by and large those who have agreed ahead of time to confine the political discourse to those arguments whose only purpose is thwart the natural political impulses of those who prefer decisions be based on Truth.

The only opposition that actually exists, is between we, the 99%, utterly excluded from the political decision making process, mainly because our world, and thus our political aspirations revolve around what is real and true, and the 1% whose absolute control of our political discourse, our government and the M$M has resulted in the conditions we find ourselves working so hard to endure.

Is Romney Hiding Windfall Related to GM bailout?

1:31 pm in Uncategorized by Watt4Bob

As many as half of America’s voters are seriously considering, hell they’re committed to voting for the guy who more than any other American can be considered the poster-boy for vulture capitalism.

Mitt Romney is travelling the country touting his business experience as proof that he is the best hope we have of righting our wayward economy.

So how exactly has the Mitt done in the past when it comes to ‘creating jobs’, and what sort of behavior can we expect from him should he be elected?

I’m one of those people who believe that the best way to judge a person is not by listening to their promises so much as examining past behavior.

With that in mind, this morning’s news is very interesting;

CREW and UAW have file a lawsuit alleging Mitt committed ethics violations related to hiding a massive investment windfall from the GM auto bailout.

“From the Nevada View”;

In 2009, Ann Romney partnered with her husband’s key donor, billionaire Paul Singer, who secretly bought a controlling interest in Delphi Auto, the former GM auto parts division.

Singer’s hedge fund, Elliott Management, threatened to cut off GM’s supply of steering columns unless GM and the government’s TARP auto bail-out fund provided Delphi with huge payments. While the US treasury complained this was “extortion,” the hedge funds received, ultimately, $12.9 billion in taxpayer subsidies.

As a result, the shares Singer and Romney bought for just 67 cents are today worth over $30, a 4,000% gain. Singer’s hedge fund made a profit of $1.27 billion and the Romney’s tens of millions.

The UAW complaint calls for Romney to reveal exactly how much he made off Delphi — and continues to make. The Singer syndicate, once in control of Delphi, eliminated every single UAW job –25,000– and moved almost all auto parts production to Mexico and China where Delphi now employs 25,000 auto parts workers.

Emphasis mine.

I am so looking forward to the Mittster’s answer to this one.

“From Greg Palast”

The Romney’s windfall was originally exposed in Nation Magazine, Mitt Romney’s Bail-out Bonanza after a worldwide investigation by our crew at The Guardian, the Nation Institute and the Palast Investigative Fund. [Ed. - The full story of Romney and his "vulture fund" partners is in Palast's New York Times bestseller, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits.]

Will Obama use the internet kill-switch to save Mitt and preserve ‘election integrity’?

H/T to Naked Capitalism

Do We Really Understand High Frequency Trading?

12:58 pm in Uncategorized by Watt4Bob

Two years have passed since the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago asked the SEC to look into the dangers of HFT (high frequency trading).

The SEC, so far appears to have been studiously avoiding the whole issue.

As is well known by now, the SEC has good reason to avoid looking too closely at the behavior of the W$ MOTU because they are invariably involved in doing things that if done by you or I are considered illegal.

In particular, the SEC expressly forbids front-running, trading on information that is not available to the public and thus Traders are forbidden to trade ahead of their un-informed customers.

In order to insure a fair market, traders are forbidden to trade on inside information, they are expected to trade on market information available to the public, which in practice would mean watching the news coming out of stock exchanges and making decisions on trades that have already been transacted, and are thus considered public knowledge.

Proponents of high frequency trading would have us believe that they are simply analyzing the news faster than the rest of us and that our only disadvantage in the market is our slower ability to understand what’s going on, and to react in such a way as to profit from that understanding.

They also encourage us to believe that the advantages of HFT mostly involve a very special species of programmed trading, whose essential features are complicated computer programs that analyze data from trading as it happens, and execute tactically advantageous, and complicated trading strategies based on that analysis.

This far from a complete picture, this is also far from the truth.

IOW, this is a lie.

Rather than analyze market data as completed transactions are reported, high frequency trading firms leverage their direct access to the exchanges OMSs (Order Management Systems) to analyze the whole stream of orders as they are coming in to the exchange, this is possible because exchanges allow certain investors access to a system called DMA (Direct Market Access) which gives them a ‘window’ into the OMS itself, which, coupled with the HFTs’ high-speed analysis and direct access to the execution desk, a sort of ‘fast track’, effectively allows them to front-run the market.

A slight digression;

Just so I don’t get deluged by remarks by my more informed readers, I have to add that because exchanges are more and more allowing HFT firms to co-locate their servers in extreme proximity to the servers that house the exchanges OMS, the HFT can achieve what they call ULLDMA (Ultra-Low-Latency Direct Market Access) which makes their communication so fast they can figuratively turn off the lights and be in bed before the room is dark.

Now some people are going to say that this sort of thing has always happened, and they would be correct, up to a point, but what HFT systems allow traders, is an almost absolute ability to front run the market by virtue of the fact that their computer systems have replaced the human relationships that underpin the traditional vectors of insider trading.

HFT technology creates the virtual effect of slowing down the stream of incoming customer trade instructions to the point where they can be analyzed wholesale, all of this before the ‘normal’, retail investors transactions are completed.

The effect, at street level, is that no matter what electronic platform that cute TV-baby investor subscribes to, and no matter how well informed he, and his friends are, he is trading blind and in slow-motion in comparison to HFT firms.

There are even more complicated systems imbedded in the HFTs bag of tricks, some of them are the ability to confirm the efficacy, and assess the risks of their system-generated trading strategies by automatically backtesting them just prior to executing their trades, against historical trading data housed within their systems’ data bases.

With the information gleaned from this analysis, they can make trading decisions, backtest, and execute them via their own direct access to the execution desk, all of this happening while the ‘retail’ customers orders are still awaiting execution back in the slower-moving OMS.

To help you see how all this works, I want you to understand a couple of very helpful analogies that illustrate the practical effects of the technologies involved in high-frequency trading.
The first analogy involves the way that computers communicate in order to make trading work, in particular how orders for stock trades are communicated from the customer to the exchange where the trades are actually executed.

1. The Railroad analogy;

Computer communication over the internet is accomplished by dividing the message you wish to send into IP packets, which can be thought of as individual rail cars which are then put together to form a train, the complete train being understood as the whole message you wish to send to another computer, say a computer at an exchange where you have an account that allows you to trade stocks.

One of the important details that you must understand, is that the IP packets that make up your trade request are not sent grouped together like the real train, they are split up by the function of the internet, and when they are all received at the other end, ‘the train’ is re-assembled and your message/ trade instructions are sent to the OMS server that executes the trade you requested.

I’m not going to go into the technical description of how the ‘train’ is disassembled when it leaves your computer and re-assembled when it arrives at the exchange other than to say this work is accomplished by thousands of routers, one at your end of the trip, on your network at home or at your employer, thousands in the fabric of the internet, and ultimately one or more on your broker’s network, where the OMS server lives that executes your trade request.

It is sufficient to say that each packet in your trade message contains the IP address it came from and the IP address it is being sent to and the routers get all the packets to the right place in any which way they can.

So when you send your trade instructions to your broker, it is in the form of a bunch of IP packets, analogous to a train whose cars are split up and ‘routed’ individually to your broker’s network where they are reassembled as they arrive, passed on to servers where your trade instruction ‘train’ enters the OMS to be executed.

Now we’re ready to consider the second analogy;

2. The Bullet Time effect;

We’re all familiar with the Bullet Time effect, it received its’ name because of its use in movies like The Matrix;

Our hero is attacked by gunmen who fire hundreds of bullets which suddenly slow down and remain seemingly motionless, floating in space leaving our hero unscathed.

Within this ‘reality’, our hero remains able to move normally, he could, for instance reach out and gather the bullets and examine them minutely, and toss them aside as harmless if he wanted.

We sometimes see the same sort of time-warping effect employed in hand-to-hand movie combat, where our hero finds himself attacked by numerous villains, whom he manages to defeat by supposedly warping time in such a way as to slow them all down to the point where he has the advantage.

Now I want you to consider the possibilities that this skill would present if it actually existed outside the movies.

What if a pick-pocket could stop all movement on the street long enough to pick everybody’s pockets for instance?

The HFT systems employed by trading houses allow them to create a virtual environment where they can leverage the speed differential between the OMS employed by the exchanges to control trading by retail investors, and the HFTs much faster systems, to slow down the ‘normally’ confusing light-speed flow of information in order to permit rather detailed analysis, and base their own trading upon that analysis rather than guesses born out of the relative confusion that passes for ‘news’.

Let’s put these analogies together so we can understand the reality surrounding HFT.

I’m going to show you a virtual rail yard that includes the exchanges’ routers, and OMS servers, where you can imagine all the incoming IP packets (rail cars), are coming into the exchange and being assembled into stock transaction requests, (trains) before being sent into the OMS server for execution.

It is at this point in the system, that the exchanges allow the HFTs (HFTraders) access to their OMS (Order Management System), via what is known as DMA (Direct Market Access) and the HFTs use their own super fast computers to create the Bullet-Time effect in their own virtual copy of the yard where the trains are pulled off the main line, and parked on side tracks.

The time-warp effect is employed by HFTs to allow inspection of all the trade instruction ‘trains’ contents minutely, that is, open up and analyze every trade request.

All of this happening while the ‘real’ transaction ‘train’ is virtually motionless back in the OMS of the exchange.

Now comes the good part.

The HFTs systems employ this ultra-highspeed analysis to generate trading strategies, that of course include passing all the trains it has ‘stopped’ with its’ time-warp machine, with its’ own transaction trains containing trade instructions based on the information it found in the transaction trains belonging to ‘retail’ investors.

The railroad analogy explains the basis of the technique that allows for high-speed analysis that HFT affords, and the Bullet Speed analogy explains the effect of the resulting time manipulation so the average person can grasp the obvious possibility of abuse.

It is the fact that the HFTs’ rail yard exists in virtual time, prior to the trains reaching their destination, that is; trade execution, that should make it illegal.

All of the retail investors’ orders are presumably based on information that is public knowledge, however, the trading done on the part of the HFTs who have analyzed the contents of all the exchanges’ retail investors trade instructions prior to execution is based on ‘inside information’ by definition.

The brokers encourage us to think that their HFT systems are based on news analysis, that is, after-the-fact analysis of trades already executed, whereas they are actually cheating us by analyzing trades that are not-yet-executed/reported.

They’ve created a time-warping machine, a virtual environment where they observe trading before it occurs to give themselves an incredible advantage. It’s as if they created a virtual world where they have ESP, and the rest of us are dull-witted, a world where they profit from fore-knowledge, and they think we’re too stupid to figure it out.

So, you might ask, how do I know this is true?

I know it’s true because the guys who design and build the systems’ software have explained its effect;

From Rueters;

Andrew Van Hise managing director at SEQA Capital that designs algorithmic trading programs for hedge funds has described the operation, and impact of these systems like this;

“By the time a standard retail or institutional order reaches an exchange, it’s been looked at in essence by a number of algorithms which have cherry picked it,” said Van Hise. “What finds its way to the traditional exchanges is viewed by market participants as exhaust.”

And, the guys at the SEC understand, but, as usual can’t be bothered to care;

Also from Rueters;

Gregg Berman, who is one of the SEC’s leading experts on stock market structure, said regulators found most of the complaints from the public and money managers about high-frequency trading to be anecdotal.

“I’ve heard many suggestions for how we might slow down the markets. But I think some ideas have ignored the fact that we have markets in which investors demand the ability to trade on an immediate and continuous basis, not at discrete intervals,” said Berman.

He continued: “It’s like saying ‘let’s use the rules of train travel, in which every train is on a specific track, to try to dictate how cars should behave, even though cars can drive between the lanes and on the shoulder.’

W4B;

Mr. Berman is telling us that as far as he knows, what the HFT firms are doing is not against the law.

Mr. Berman says it’s all just anecdotes, but his use of the train analogy suggests he understands more than he lets on.

There’s also a lot of evidence that retail investors agree with my analysis, they have withdrawn hundreds of $billions from the stock market since 2008, confirmation they think the game is rigged.

Now think about this;

By some estimates, 84% of all equity trading is the product of HFT;

From the Financial Times.

“The proportion of US trading activity represented by buy and sell orders from mutual funds, hedge funds, pensions and brokerages, referred to as “real money” or institutional investors, accounted for just 16 per cent of total market volume in the form of buying, and 13 per cent via selling in the final quarter of last year, according to analysis by Morgan Stanley’s Quantitative and Derivative Strategies group.”

Between the specters of flash-crashes rooted in botched programmed trading, and wholesale front-running rooted in HFT, we can start to understand why we have a market that behaves as if it was the exclusive domain of HFT houses and institutional investors.

So next time that baby in the TV add starts acting all superior and suggests you use his trading software, ask him how it feels to be such a rube?

This Is All So Confusing

2:27 pm in Uncategorized by Watt4Bob

As we continue our efforts to digest the meaning of recent attacks on our embassies in the Middle East, and the direction taken by leadership of the movements we have called the Arab Spring, I’m continually amazed at the feigned surprise on the part of American leaders that the people of the region not only have the nerve to complain about the nature of America’s influence in their countries, but apparently wish as much as ever to have us out of their lives completely, and as soon as possible.

All this phony consternation is coming into sharp focus surrounding the rage over a hateful movie that clearly serves no purpose other than inciting rage.

Our secretary of state, referring to the murder of our ambassador to Libya, tells the world she cannot understand how this sort of thing could happen in a country that ‘we’ helped liberate, and city ‘we’ helped save?

Her question is a textbook effort at obscuring the reality of our intent as concerns the ‘help’ we offer to the people fighting for freedom and justice in the region.

We have a long history of propping up repressive regimes in order to control the energy resources of the region, and it is fast becoming clear in the aftermath of uprisings in Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, and now Syria, that our efforts are focused not in authentic support of the aspirations of those fighting for freedom, justice and self-determination, but in maintaining control of the resources we’ve controlled for the past one hundred years by supporting the very oppressors they currently seek to overthrow.

To this end, it’s quite clear that we’ve worked to undermine real progress on the part of the newly elected leaders in Egypt, and encouraged the Egyptian military to hobble their new president and impose limits on his, and his party’s ability to lead.

Likewise in Libya, we have no intent of allowing local self-determination if any part of that determination is to re-think the relationship between multi-national oil companies and Libya’s energy resources.

It wasn’t even necessary for us to show our hand in Bahrain, our Saudi proxies were glad to supply the muscle to directly put down the uprising in that country while we stood by and watched brutal repression all the while wringing our hands and loudly proclaiming that not only do we not understand what is going on, but there was nothing we could do.

Syria now burns and endures slaughter because for the most part the mayhem is useful to our purpose, and our ‘interests’.

And here is where we come to my central reason for this analysis, that being the ‘big lie’ we are perpetrating in characterizing our involvement in Middle Eastern politics as having anything to do with “spreading democracy, and freedom”.

Our involvement in the Middle East is what is has always been; the hegemonic control of the region, and it’s energy resources, which are the underpinnings of the military might through which we control the world to the benefit of the 1%.

This ‘big lie’ is carefully crafted, not for the people of the Middle East, who perfectly understand their own history of exploitation at the hands of western oligarchs, but for the American public whose continuing ignorance of their country’s real place in the world is so necessary to maintaining those oligarch’s carefully crafted hegemony.

In short, our imperial leaders know that in order to maintain control abroad, they must hide the oppressive nature of their interference in Middle Eastern politics from the American people, behind feigned efforts to ‘spread democracy and freedom’.

To this end they do everything in their power to discredit, and trivialize the leadership of what we are calling the ‘Arab Spring’ by portraying them as not-yet-ready for democracy and freedom, as incapable of controlling the chaotic forces that have been set loose by their struggles, or as religious extremists seeking to impose a strange and barbarous control on their own people.

From this perspective, it should be easier to understand why American leaders are working so hard to maintain the seamless facade of make believe confusion as to why ‘those people’ could possibly be angry with Americans, who after all, have done so much to support their cause.

Amidst all this faux confusion, suddenly appears a truly disgusting movie clearly calculated to enrage the ‘Muslim Street’ and lo and behold, we have a torrent of that ‘inexplicable rage’ that our leaders find so useful in leading the American people to forget any compassion they might harbor for the people of the Muslim countries of the Middle East, and accept as fact the necessity of American support to yet another oppressive government probably led by a ‘strong leader’ because ‘those people’ are obviously incapable governing themselves in the same admirable manner that Americans do.

Forgotten in all this carefully crafted ‘confusion’ is a monumental disappointment that has been totally overlooked; that being the very real, but now lost opportunity that was present for a short while after President Obama took office, the opportunity that Barack Obama addressed in one of his three great speeches that could have had truly historic importance if only it had been coupled with a sincere determination to fulfill the promises it contained.

President Obama inspired the American people with a speech concerning our problem with racism. He sought to inspire the world with his speech accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, and he inspired the Muslim world to a new optimism in the ‘New Beginnings’ speech he delivered in Cairo Egypt.

The somnambulant Americans of course probably either never expect, or don’t care to be delivered from the weight of racism, and much of the world knows better than to pay attention to Nobel acceptance speeches, but the Cairo speech was delivered to a people who are truly thirsty, and ready for a change in plan, and who took the President at his word when he said he wanted a ‘New Beginning’.

They took him seriously when he called for peace between Israel and Palestinians. They hoped he was telling the truth, that America understood, and was ready to support their aspirations for peace, freedom, and self-determination.

I’m sure the leadership of the Middle East for the most part understood that Obama’s speech was just more empty posturing, but I can understand why the Arab Street might have higher expectations of America’s first Black President, and I understand their anger now, at finding themselves facing not the ‘New Beginning’ they were promised, but more of the same old shit they’ve been facing for a hundred years.

They face the same old imposition of repressive governments, propped up by American money and weapons, in direct opposition to their expectation of self-rule.

They face the same old theft of their natural resources, on one hand, and on the other, a continuing poverty rooted in large part in the unexplainable indifference on the part of those ‘Exceptional Americans’.

It isn’t our freedoms that enrage the Muslim world, and it isn’t religious hatred.

They are enraged at nearly a century of foreign exploitation and oppression.

They are enraged because our ‘rulers’ purposely seek to enrage them, and our ‘rulers’ do this in order to demonstrate to us, the American people, that the Muslim world is somehow not ready to join the ‘civilized’ world, and that they are unworthy of our compassion.

Our ‘rulers’ want us to think that the Muslim world deserves the suffering that they receive at our hands, because they are a cruel and murderous people who would kill the very people who are trying to help them.

I’m hoping here, that in understanding how our ‘leaders’ encourage us to be confused about the Muslim world in order to obscure their continuing exploitation, and oppression of Muslim peoples, we might wake up to the possibility that the same rapacious greed is responsible for our confusion as to the cause of our own economic hardships.

It’s not an accident that we’re just as confused about our own impending economic ruin, as we are about why ‘those people’ hate us.

The Tipping Point Is Now

12:18 am in Uncategorized by Watt4Bob

The answer to my most gnawing, constant question dawned on me just the other day;

Why don’t ‘they’ see that they’re driving our nation over the cliff?

Why don’t ‘they’ see that their rapacious greed is wrecking the very economy that made their own wealth possible?

Why don’t ‘they’ see that they’ve killed the goose that laid the golden egg?

Then it dawned on me that you can visualize our economy in a certain sense, as a wave, a wave that the PTB have been both shaping, and riding.

They’ve worked very hard to build this thing, and they really succeeded in getting a tremendous amount of momentum going here.

Our MOTU are a crazed gang of hoodlum surfers, and they’ve caught a monstrous wave.

It’s all a matter of hysterical momentum.

They are riding a mountainous wave of greed fueled hubris, and they see some sort of illusory finish line ahead where the rest of us see a very real chasm.

They cannot stop, they would never in a million years think of stopping.

As things are, there is virtually nothing standing in their way other than a terribly fragmented and uncoordinated public opinion, and that public has been so thoroughly convinced of it’s own helplessness that so far, it’s been mostly staring down the road in anticipation of the crash.

It is already too late, the tipping point is here.

It is no longer possible to make believe that we can turn the Democratic party around convince them to listen to our pleading.

I’ve had my doubts, but those doubts have disappeared, yes ‘they’ intend to take everything, and the Democrats as much as the Republicans are helping them carry it all away.

It’s no longer necessary to list their crimes, we all know what they are.

It’s no longer necessary to convince anyone of the uselessness of petitioning our politicians to come to our aid before it’s too late, everyone knows that.

There is one thing we might do, one thing they don’t expect, one thing that would at least make us feel less complicit in our own ruin.

Instead of sitting out this disgusting election season, instead of joining the ranks of the dispirited, we could get out and vote for Jill Stein, and the green party.

On election night we could turn off the TV, ignore the vote tally and get a good nights sleep secure in the knowledge that for once we haven’t been snookered into voting for the lesser evil.

If enough of us did this, we could show ‘them’ quite convincingly that the tipping point is now, and that we’ve had enough.

It won’t require torches and pitchforks.

Let’s proudly turn our backs on those who’ve sold us down the river, and vote for Jill Stein.

The tipping point is now.

Clint Eastwood the Great Communicator

1:14 pm in Uncategorized by Watt4Bob

It’s a well known fact that most people are not great listeners, but even given that fact, I’m appalled at the level of misunderstanding that is evidenced by the commentary I’ve read concerning the Clint Eastwood speech at the RNC.

I’m especially disappointed in those who saw/heard a speech they describe as “rambling” or even as possibly the result of “senility”.

I believe that many of us are blinded to the actual nature of the speech, and it’s message by a deeply felt impression that if someone is speaking to a wildly cheering mob of yahoos, it must follow that they are in agreement with, and sympathetic to the opinions of those yahoos.

What I heard, and I listened to the speech more than once, was remarkably like a speech given by a high school principal to a graduating class, a class of young, headstrong, and naïve people who sit restlessly, waiting to take by storm, a world they so far think is their oyster.

What I heard was a concise and pointed set of questions intended to highlight the shallow nature of our current crop of politicians and their brazen dishonesty in campaigning.

What went unsaid, but could be clearly heard between the lines was that Clint’s accusations were equally true of the men at the top of the republican ticket.

How do I know this?

How can I possibly say this when everybody knows the speech was the senile ramblings of a bitter old white man in support of a fantastically rich oligarch?

The answer is simple; I speak, and understand English as a first language.

Clint’s speech was quite clear, and every mention of the Republican ticket was preceded by a qualifier that if heard/read properly, was intended to communicate to an intelligent listener that Mr. Eastwood, though a conservative republican, had strong doubts that what Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and the Republicans were offering was going to be different than what Mr. Obama and his administration had so far delivered.

Clint introduced the virtual President Obama, and reminisces that about three-and-a-half
Years ago we were all lighting candles and crying about hope and change as we celebrated Obama’s election.

Clint;

“I haven’t cried that hard since I found out that there are twenty three million unemployed people in this country.”

And;

“We haven’t done enough, this administration hasn’t done enough to cure that, and whatever interest they have is not strong enough, and I think, possibly now it may be time for somebody else to come along and solve the problem.”

W4B;

I feel compelled to point out that he didn’t say he was crying over The Gays wanting to destroy the institution of marriage, or liberal sluts wanting free birth control, or Socialized Medicine being ‘forced down our throats’, all of which would have had the crowd on their feet, he went instead, right for the most singular, important problem facing us today.

Notice also that the first thing he says is “We didn’t do enough” Obama comes next, first off. let’s accept our collective guilt.

Clint goes on to ask the virtual Mr. Obama about the promises he made as a candidate;

The first question had to do with the closing of GITMO.

Clint’s second question was about the wars, he says of Afghanistan;

Clint;

“We didn’t check with the Russians to see how they did there for ten years, but we did it, and it’s something to be thought about.”

And Obama’s promise to set a date for withdrawal;

“Mr. Romney asked the only sensible question; Why don’t you just bring them out tomorrow morning?”

Clint then makes a few jokes about Obama inviting Mitt to perform an anatomically impossible maneuver and about Biden being a grin with nobody behind it, but he returns quickly to his message;

Clint;

“There’s lots to be done, Mr. Romney, and Mr. Ryan are two guys who can come along …”

W4B;

Do you read this as an enthusiastic, unambiguous endorsement?

Clint continues;

“… See I never thought that it was a good idea for attorneys to be president anyway.”

W4B;

Do you think Clint is unaware that Mitt is an attorney?

Clint continues;

“ I think it’s time, maybe time for a businessman, How about that?
A “stellar businessman” quote-unquote a “stellar businessman” . “

W4B;

In my experience, when someone puts quotes around a descriptive word or phrase, it’s an indication that those words or phrase should be examined closely to assess their actual veracity or meaning.

He invites Obama to step aside, and assures him he could still “use the plane”.

Clint so far has asked a few important questions and taken a stab at humor at the expense of a virtual Obama, but he wastes no time in getting back to a more universal theme.

Clint;

“I would just like to say something, ladies and gentlemen. Something that I think is very important.
it is that, you, we — we own this country

We — we own it.

It is not you owning it, and not politicians owning it.

Politicians are employees of ours. …

… they are just going to come around and beg for votes every few years. It is the same old deal.

But I just think it is important that you realize , that you’re the best in the world.

whether you are a Democrat or Republican or whether you’re libertarian or whatever,

you are the best.

and we should not ever forget that. And when somebody does not do the job, we got to let them go.

Okay, just remember that. And I’m speaking out for everybody out there.

It doesn’t hurt, we don’t have to be …

… we don’t have to be — what I’m saying, we do not have to be mental masochists and vote for somebody that we don’t really even want in office just because they seem to be nice guys or maybe not so nice guys, if you look at some of the recent ads going out there, I don’t know.”

W4B;

I know you didn’t ask, but if you had, I’d say Clint Eastwood bravely stood and spoke the truth in front of a crowd of yahoos that he knew could barely understand his message.

But Clint was also talking to the rest of us, and those of us who can deal with the subtlety of our language may have heard something between the lines that I think was important.

I believe that Clint Eastwood warned us that we’re being offered, once again, is the same old shit.

Sure Clint was derisive of the Obama administration, but so am I, and so are many progressive minded people, but Clint also damned the Republican ticket with faint praise;

Clint;

“But I just think that there is so much to be done, and I think that Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan are two guys that can come along. See, I never thought it was a good idea for attorneys to the president, anyway..”

W4B;

I believe that Clint Eastwood, an avowed conservative, delivered a brilliant non-partisan speech to a ultra-partisan crowd, in which he gave us all a lot to think about, even those of us who seem incapable of thinking.

The result, so far has been for most of us to take refuge from the truth in the spin that is being dealt up from every direction, that the man is old and senile, or that he is a bitter old white guy, representative of the crowd he was addressing.

Watch the video;

Now tell me that you just don’t understand the discomfort of the Republican candidates shifting in their seats.

Or listen to Clint talk about Gay Marriage;

Tell me you don’t feel uncomfortable yourself, as you contemplate voting once again for a man that has so miserably failed to deliver on the hope and change he promised us.

Tell me that you believe Clint is so old and out of touch that he doesn’t understand his audience is a bunch of “Hot dogging” yahoos.

(Clint earlier commented that ‘real’ conservatives don’t go around “hot-dogging it”)

I think Clint’s still firing on all eight cylinders, and his speech was a brilliant piece of guerilla theatre.

So far, I think it’s the best speech of this election cycle, and mostly, the only honesty in evidence at the RNC.

13% of what?

12:49 pm in Uncategorized by Watt4Bob

Mitt Romney has proudly declared that he has never paid less than 13% in taxes.

Which begs the question;

13% of what?

I have waited in vain for anyone in either the MSM, or the Blogosphere to ask this question.

In our tax system, all marginal tax rates are meaningless numbers when you consider the deductions/loop-holes that exist to minimize the amount of income which is being taxed.

The average person can be excused for misunderstanding this issue because most of those loop-holes do not effect W-2 wages.

Most people will never see income from capital gains, just as most will never be effected by the inheritence tax.

Most people cannot avoid counting income made in other countries, or take deductions for the expenses related to moving businesses they happen to own to other countries.

Here’s a link to a graphic that represents the history of our country’s top marginal tax rates, it clearly represents the results of forty odd years of the successful efforts on the part of rich and powerful people to minimize their tax contributions to the cost of government.

Over that forty years or so, the very rich, investors, and corporations have paid less and less of the cost of the government which we all rely on, as the people in the middle, and at the bottom have paid more and more.

OTOH, most working people understand their tax bill as being some percentage of the wages they earn as reported on their W-2 form.

The important part of that reality is that there is very little that the average wage earner can do to drive their taxable income below a certain number, so when a wage earner says that they pay a particular percentage of their income in taxes, it means something that their neighbors can probably understand, and relate to.

When Mitt Romney loudly proclaims he has always paid at least 13%, it probably means nothing remotely like what he intends us to believe.

In fact, I’d say that when Mitt Romney says he has always paid at least 13%, it means less than nothing, unless he also tells us 13% of what.