Tuesday, September 23, 2008

When the oil stops flowing

It will come as a shock to most Americans and the media, but as the election reaches a crescendo on the issue of preparedness and energy, neither presidential candidate - nor anyone in local, state or federal government - has developed a contingency plan in the event of a protracted oil cut-off. It is not even being discussed. Government has prepared for hurricanes, anthrax, terrorism and every other disaster, but not the one threatened daily - a protracted oil stoppage, whether caused by terrorism, intervention in the Persian Gulf or a natural disaster.

It is like seeing a hurricane developing without a disaster plan or evacuation route. Our allies have oil shortage interruption contingency plans, but America does not.

THE BEST experts predict that if we suffer as much as 10% for any period of time, let alone 20%, it will be a neighbor-against-neighbor "Mad Max" scenario as food shortages swell and a storm of economic collapse surges across the country. Indeed, experts have been warning about this looming calamity for years. But the government and presidential candidates refuse to even consider the possibility or develop a contingency plan.

Yet our allies have developed oil contingency legislation and other administrative plans that will permit their nations to survive a stoppage. These measures include severe vehicle traffic reductions, enabling fast alternative fuel production and mass vehicle retrofitting, as well as rush public transit enhancement, and mandated changes in driving habits. Unquestionably, for America to survive such a catastrophe will require a very painful, multilayered program of immediate-term, short-term, mid-term and long-term fixes that will change our society and transform it off oil. The nation has no real alternative fuel or retrofitting infrastructure. But every lawmaker, mayor, governor and every candidate must develop such a plan - and now.

When the oil stops flowing in the Jerusalem Post.

John McCain is Energy Illiterate

"John McCain is energy illiterate," Simmons is saying. "He's just witless about this stuff. As a lifelong Republican, I'm supporting Obama." A dozen oil and gas men sitting around a conference table in Lafayette, La., chuckle nervously as he continues. "McCain says, 'Oh, we're going to wean ourselves off foreign oil in four years and build 45 nuclear plants by 2030.' He doesn't have a clue."

McCain's midsummer move to begin campaigning on a platform of more offshore drilling has only hardened Simmons's position. "What a hypocrite," says Simmons, who supported McCain's rival Mitt Romney in the primary - no surprise given Simmons's history with the Romney family. "Here's a man who for at least the past 15 years has strenuously, I mean strenuously, opposed offshore drilling. And now it's 'drill, drill, drill.' And he doesn't have any idea that we don't have any drilling rigs. Or that we don't have any idea of exactly where to drill." (As for McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin, Simmons says: "She's a very colorful person, but I don't think there's a scrap of evidence that she knows anything about energy.") - Matt Simons in Fortune - Here comes $500 oil.

How You Got Here

Monday, September 22, 2008

Straight Banksta Mack....,

A kleptocratic class has taken over the economy to replace industrial capitalism. Franklin Roosevelt’s term “banksters” says it all in a nutshell. The economy has been captured – by an alien power, but not the usual suspects. Not socialism, workers or “big government,” nor by industrial monopolists or even by the great banking families. Certainly not by Freemasons and Illuminati. (It would be wonderful if there were indeed some group operating with centuries of wisdom behind them, so at least someone had a plan.) Rather, the banksters have made a compact with an alien power –not Communists, Russians, Asians or Arabs. Not humans at all. The group’s cadre is a new breed of machine. It may sound like the Terminator movies, but computerized Machines have indeed taken over the world – at least, the White House’s world.

Here is how they did it. America's Own Kleptocracy

BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China)

And what have we heard from the new centers of wealth and power — China, India, Brazil, Russia, the Gulf states — about America’s financial agony over the past week? Zilch.

Well, not quite. Asked about the crisis, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the Brazilian president, said: “What crisis? Go ask Bush.”

Thanks, Lula. Brazil is sitting on $208 billion of its own in reserves, so perhaps Lula would say his flippancy is justified. But I don’t think it is.[...]

The world has changed in the past decade. There’s been a steady transfer of wealth away from the United States in a shift most Americans have not yet grasped. But there has been no accompanying transfer of responsibility. New powers are free-riding as if it were still the American century.[...]

Let’s be clear: this is an American mess forged by the American genius for new-fangled financial instruments in an era where the mantra has been that government is dumb and the markets are smart and risk is non-existent. The responsibility for undoing the debacle is chiefly American, too.[...]

I know, you reap what you sow. Nobody’s itching to help the Bush administration. World central banks did inject billions in concerted action to help stabilize money markets. But the U.S. has essentially been on its own. Now foreign banks with U.S. affiliates will want a slice of the $700 billion bailout. That doesn’t make sense until the burden of this rescue starts reflecting a globalized world.

The Fleecing of America

Cash for Trash

The Potentially Restive Crowd....,

In Manassas Park and nearby communities in Prince William County, many people see the bailout as a violation of the basic rule that people and institutions must live within their means or face the consequences.

Kevin Newman, 42, knows how hard up people can get. He owns Ace Pawn, in a shopping center on Route 28 next to a newly vacant Checkers fast-food outlet. Newman spends his day lending money to people. He sees them at their most desperate. From a back room he pulls out a brand-new, sparkling Rickenbacker guitar that someone had gotten for his birthday and pawned just weeks later. His shop is filled with precious jewelry that people surrendered for cash. He had a customer -- he won't say who -- who pawned a Washington Redskins Super Bowl ring. A Sense of Resentment Amid the 'For Sale' Signs (hat tip to P6)

Wasilla Alaska 2015

Earth 2100 - In an unprecedented television and internet event, ABC News is asking you to help answer perhaps the most important question of our time — What could our world look like over the next one hundred years if we don’t act now to save our troubled planet?

The world’s brightest minds agree that the “perfect storm” of population growth, resource depletion and climate change could converge with catastrophic results.

We need you to bring this story to life — to use your imagination to create short videos about what it would be like to live through the next century if we stay on our current path. Using predictions from top experts, we will feed you detailed briefings from the years 2015, 2050 and 2100 — and you will report back about the dangers that are unfolding before your eyes.

Uncorrectable....,

Have you seen the photo of Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin brandishing a rifle while wearing a U.S. flag bikini? Have you read the e-mail saying Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama was sworn into the U.S. Senate with his hand placed on the Koran? Both are fabricated -- and are among the hottest pieces of misinformation in circulation.

As the presidential campaign heats up, intense efforts are underway to debunk rumors and misinformation. Nearly all these efforts rest on the assumption that good information is the antidote to misinformation.

But a series of new experiments show that misinformation can exercise a ghostly influence on people's minds after it has been debunked -- even among people who recognize it as misinformation. In some cases, correcting misinformation serves to increase the power of bad information.
The Power of Political Misinformation

Liberals and Conservatives

Psychologist Jonathan Haidt studies morality and emotion in the context of culture. He asks: Why did humans evolve to have morals -- and why did we all evolve to have such different morals, to the point that our moral differences may make us deadly enemies? It's a question with deep repercussions in war and peace -- and in modern politics, where reasoned discourse has been replaced by partisan anger and cries of "You just don't get it!"

Haidt asks, "Can't we all disagree more constructively?" He suggests we might build a more civil and productive discourse by understanding the moral psychology of those we disagree with, and committing to a more civil political process. He's also active in the study of positive psychology and human flourishing.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Leader Who Loves Us.......,

Americans have been treated with contempt for so long that we have become inured to our own society's suffering.
This is what I want for our country, more than anything. I want a leader who can love us. This is not what we usually say, or think of, when we are trying to choose a leader. People like to talk about "experience" and war and the economy, and making Americans look good again. I care about all these things. But when the lights are out and I'm left with just the stars in a super-dark sky, and I feel the new intense chill that seems to be the underbreath of even the hottest day, when I know that global warming may send our planet into a deep freeze even before my remaining years run out, then I think about what it is that truly matters to me. Not just as a human, but as an American.

I want a leader who can love us. And, truthfully, by our collective behaviour, we have made it hard to demand this. We are as we are, imperfect to the max, racist and sexist and greedy above all; still, I feel we deserve leaders who love us. We will not survive more of what we have had: leaders who love nothing, not even themselves. We know they don't love themselves because if they did they would feel compassion for us, so often lost, floundering, reeling from one bad thought, one horrid act to another. Killing, under order, folks we don't know; abusing children of whose existence we hadn't heard; maiming and murdering animals that have done us no harm.

The present administration and too many others before it have shown the most clear and unapologetic hatred for the American people. A contempt for our minds, our bodies and souls that is so breathtaking most Americans have numbed themselves not to feel it. How can they do this or that awful unthinkable thing, we ask ourselves and each other, knowing no one in power will ever bother to answer us. I'm sure we, the American people, are the butt of jokes by those in power. Our suffering not making a dent in their pursuit of goals that almost always bring more tragedy and degradation to our already fragile, disintegrating republic.
Alice Walker writing in the Guardian. You know how we role here. Better hug yourself, because Santa Claus WILL NOT BE coming to town.....,

The City's Greatest Lie

In May this year a score of private yachts anchored off Cap d'Antibes for a party during the Cannes Film Festival. Ranging in cost from $150m to $350m, the yachts were spread out in a pecking order, with entertainment mogul Barry Diller's huge and graceful sailing ship taking the position nearest the Eden Roc hotel, while those belonging to such people as Philip Green and George Lucas lay a little out to sea.

Watching these boats, their guests being ferried to and fro on high-powered tenders and the paparazzi assembled on a rocky shoreline like a colony of hungry cormorants, I considered an incredible figure that I had been told that evening. If you buy a $150m yacht, you can expect to spend roughly the same amount again in the first two years of operation, which when you know how little the yachts are actually used makes the whole business of owning one doubly incomprehensible.

I was not the only one to stare into that rainy evening and think: this cannot last; this must not last. The owners of these yachts are so rich that they may not even be touched by the banking crisis and ensuing slump, but this display of wealth, the pressure on the Earth's resources, the gross inequality that these craft represent in a world where 1.2 billion people live on less than a dollar a day is unsustainable economically and morally.

What has happened in the capital markets over the last few weeks is about more than the machinery going haywire and governments and institutions failing to regulate properly. We now understand - or soon will - that this particular era of capitalism penalised all but the super-rich and the super-greedy. It is a story about one tiny group of people amassing fortunes at the expense of a very large group of people, who stretch from the American Midwest to the eight million people said to be near starvation in the Ogadan region of Ethiopia.
Hypertigerish commentary in this morning's Observer.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Stunned and Clueless....,

Look at all the clowns on the bandwagon wanting to "do something" even though "No One Knows What to Do".

Clowns On The Bandwagon
  • President Bush via White House spokeswoman Dana Perino
  • Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd
  • Senator Charles Schumer
  • Representative Paul Kanjorski
  • Senator Richard Shelby
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
  • House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer
  • House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank
UPDATE - BUT THEY HAVE EXTENDED A $700 BILLION LINE OF CREDIT!!!!!!

Congressional Leaders Stunned by Warnings

It was a room full of people who rarely hold their tongues. But as the Fed chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, laid out the potentially devastating ramifications of the financial crisis before congressional leaders on Thursday night, there was a stunned silence at first.

Credit Crisis Out of Control- US Government Admission "No One Knows What to Do"

In the wake of Global Financial Seizures that has affected housing, the stock market, and bonds Reid Says `No One Knows What to Do' to Solve Crisis .

The U.S. Congress is unlikely to pass new legislation to overhaul financial regulations this year because "no one knows what to do,'' Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said today.

"We are in new territory, this is a different game," Reid said at a briefing in Washington. Neither Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke nor Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson "know what to do but they are trying to come up with ideas," Reid said.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said today that the administration is willing to consider a suggestion in Congress to have the U.S. buy distressed mortgages, akin to the role the Resolution Trust Corp. played in disposing of bad debts of from savings and loan associations in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd said the Federal Reserve has the authority to act as an "effective Resolution Trust Fund" to buy up and dispose of bad debt stemming from the subprime mortgage crisis.

"The Fed has the authority to move in this area," Dodd told reporters in Washington.

America’s self-inflicted societal collapse

American Perspectives

American Mainstream Perspective
The vast majority of our population, mainstream America, maintains the belief that we are on the road to the promise land—perpetual economic growth and prosperity enabled by unlimited natural resources. Moreover, they believe that our American way of life is a birthright, our destiny; “the American way of life is not negotiable”.

Concerned Citizen Perspective
A small but growing minority of concerned citizens, the informed few, understands that we are actually on the highway to hell—the road to societal collapse. They implore us to slow down—to “conserve natural resources”, to “reduce our impact on the environment”, to “balance our budgets”… But we dare not do anything “too drastic”; it wouldn’t be “socially acceptable”.

Reality
The reality is that we are running flat out on the highway to hell, and that societal collapse is imminent—possibly within 5 years, probably within 15 years, and almost certainly within 25 years. Our only rational course of action is to “get off” the highway—to transition quickly and beginning immediately to a sustainable lifestyle paradigm. The consequences associated with “getting off” will be very painful—significant reductions in our population level and material living standards—but they pale in comparison to the consequences associated with “staying on”.

Chris Clugeston writes an impressive and encompassing article at the Energy Bulletin - do check it out.

Brigade homeland tours start Oct. 1

The 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team has spent 35 of the last 60 months in Iraq patrolling in full battle rattle, helping restore essential services and escorting supply convoys.

Now they’re training for the same mission — with a twist — at home.

Beginning Oct. 1 for 12 months, the 1st BCT will be under the day-to-day control of U.S. Army North, the Army service component of Northern Command, as an on-call federal response force for natural or manmade emergencies and disasters, including terrorist attacks.

It is not the first time an active-duty unit has been tapped to help at home. In August 2005, for example, when Hurricane Katrina unleashed hell in Mississippi and Louisiana, several active-duty units were pulled from various posts and mobilized to those areas.

But this new mission marks the first time an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment to NorthCom, a joint command established in 2002 to provide command and control for federal homeland defense efforts and coordinate defense support of civil authorities.
Here's the moneyshot quote;
In the meantime, they’ll learn new skills, use some of the ones they acquired in the war zone and more than likely will not be shot at while doing any of it.

They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE, attack.

The 1st BCT’s soldiers also will learn how to use “the first ever nonlethal package that the Army has fielded,” 1st BCT commander Col. Roger Cloutier said, referring to crowd and traffic control equipment and nonlethal weapons designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals without killing them.

“It’s a new modular package of nonlethal capabilities that they’re fielding. They’ve been using pieces of it in Iraq, but this is the first time that these modules were consolidated and this package fielded, and because of this mission we’re undertaking we were the first to get it.”
ArmyTimes - Your online resource for everything Army

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Strange Case Of The Wallflower Wealthy

these days, ostentatious displays of wealth are out. Nobody is allowed to talk about how much money they are making; no one is even allowed to talk about how much money they have lost. No one dares to be seen lounging around a golf course, skydiving out of a private jet or booking passage on the space shuttle, not while the four horsemen of the apocalypse are ripping through town. Everyone is expected to stay at home moping and eating celery stalks. If people who don't have money are hurting, people who do have money are expected to act as if they are not. This defeats the whole purpose of having money.

It also flies in the face of everything Americans believe about themselves, and it brings down the mood of the country. Study after study shows that Americans without money do not resent the rich, because they fully expect to join their ranks some day. What's more, they find the exploits of the rich both exciting and inspirational.
Forbes cheerleads the top.

The Money Masters

THE MONEY MASTERS is a 3 1/2 hour non-fiction, historical documentary that traces the origins of the political power structure that rules our nation and the world today. The modern political power structure has its roots in the hidden manipulation and accumulation of gold and other forms of money. The development of fractional reserve banking practices in the 17th century brought to a cunning sophistication the secret techniques initially used by goldsmiths fraudulently to accumulate wealth. With the formation of the privately-owned Bank of England in 1694, the yoke of economic slavery to a privately-owned "central" bank was first forced upon the backs of an entire nation, not removed but only made heavier with the passing of the three centuries to our day. Nation after nation, including America, has fallen prey to this cabal of international central bankers.

The President Speaks To The Nation

FDR's Fireside Chat on Backing Up the Banking System

The failure of many banks, runs on banks, and a general climate of financial panic played an important role in the Great Depression. After taking office in early March 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt made a radio address (a "Fireside Chat") outlining federal strategy to reopen the banking system. The system had been closed as part of a "bank holiday" declared by president to halt panics and runs. Although many other aspects of New Deal policy often receive more attention, backing up the banking system at least prevented the Depression from worsening. Prevention of financial panics remains an important economic policy in the contemporary world. This is Part 1.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

More on AIG.....,

That interesting LATOC piece on AIG brought to our attention by Big Don was excerpted without attribution from a much more in-depth article published in 2001 by Michael Ruppert at From the Wilderness. The original article may be worth your perusal.
On the special value of reinsurance as a vehicle for intelligence gathering Fritz wrote:

"Such convoluted business dealings were traced largely through the work of Ernest Stiefel, a member of the intelligence unit who diagrammed the way insurance companies pooled their risks, invested in and insured each other and, as a result, willfully or witlessly shared data about nations at war. 'Stiefel mapped the entire system, said [Timothy] Naftali, a historian at the University of VirginiaÕs Miller Center of Public Affairs. "Each time I take a piece of your risk, youÕve got to give me information. I am not going to reinsure your company unless you give me all the documents. ThatÕs great intelligence informationÉ"

Later in the story Fritz confirmed the value of reinsurance as a vehicle for money laundering:

"With the Axis defeat imminent, U.S. intelligence officials focused greater attention on ways the Nazis would try to use insurance to hide and launder their assets so they could be used to rebuild the war machine..."

And how did Starr benefit from his service? Fritz writes:

"Starr sent insurance agents into Asia and Europe even before the bombs stopped falling and built what eventually became AIG, which today has its world headquarters in the same downtown New York building where the tiny OSS unit toiled in the deepest secrecy.

Starr died in 1968, but his empire endures. AIG is the biggest foreign insurance company in Japan. More than a third of its $40 billion in revenue last year came from the Far East theater that Starr helped carpet bomb and liberate.