Monday, June 27, 2016

Kunstler: "Death to All Zombies!"

Kunstler: Death to All Zombies!

Wait a minute. They’re already dead. Brexit just reveals that not everybody’s brains have been eaten. A viral contagion now threatens the zombified institutions of daily life, especially the workings of politics and finance. Just as zombies exist only in the collective imagination, so do these two principal activities of society operate mainly on trust, an ephemeral product of the hive-mind.

When things fall apart in stressed complex systems, they tend to fall apart fast. It’s called phase change. Too many things in 21st century life have depended on sheer trust that the people-in-charge know what they are doing. That trust has subsisted on the doling out of money-from-nothing: debt, reckless bond issuance. TARP, QEs, bailouts, bail-ins, Operation Twists, Ponzi schemes… the whole sad-ass armamentarium of banking necromancy. The politicians let it get out of hand. Things that can’t go on don’t, and now they won’t.

The politics of Great Britain are now falling apart landslide-style. Since just about everybody in or near power can be blamed for the national predicament, there’s nobody to turn to, at least not yet. The Labour party just acted out The Caine Mutiny, starring Jeremy Corbyn as Captain Queeg. The Tory Cameron gave three months notice without any plausible replacement in view. Now Cameron’s people are hinting in the media that they can just drag their feet on Brexit, that is, not do anything to enable it from actually happening for a while. Of course, that’s what the monkeyshines of banking and finance have done: postponed the inevitable reckoning with the realities of our time: growing resource scarcity, population overshoot, climate change, ecological holocaust, and the diminishing returns of technology.

Britain illustrates the problem nicely: how to produce “wealth” without producing wealth. It’s called “the City,” their name for the little district of London that is their Wall Street. In the absence of producing real things, the City became the driver of the UK’s economy, a ghastly parasitical organism that functioned as the central transfer station for the world’s swindles and frauds, churning the West’s dwindling residual capital into a slurry of fees, commissions, arbitrages, rigged casino bets, and rip-offs. In the process, it enabled the European Central Bank (ECB) to run the con-job that the European Union (EU) became, with the fatal distortions of credit that have put its members into a ditch and sent the private European banks off a cliff, Thelma and Louise style.

The next stage of this protean global melodrama is what happens when currencies and interest rates become completely unglued from their assigned roles as patsies in financial racketeering. Sooner or later we’ll know what’s going on in the vast shadowy gloaming of “derivatives,” especially the “innovative” arrangements that affect to be “insurance” against losses in currency and interest rate “positions” — bets made on the movements of these things. When currencies rise or fall quickly, these so-called “swaps” are “triggered,” and then some hapless institution is left holding a big bag of dog-shit. A zombie is a terrible thing to behold, but a zombie holding a bag of dog-shit is like unto the end of the world.

Once this contagion starts burning, the people-in-charge won’t be able to quell it the way they did last time: by drowning it in torrents of money-from-nowhere. At least not without inducing real-deal inflation, the kind that leads to epochal ruin and more intense political upheaval: the nation-changing kind. We’re about five minutes away from that in the USA already, with the loathsome duo of Hillary and Trump putting on a Punch and Judy show for a disgusted public. If nothing else, Hillary and Trump represent the withering of political trust in America. The parties that spawned them are also whirling around the drain of credibility. They won’t survive in the form we knew them.

Who knows what comes out of this vacuum, what rough beast slouches towards Washington.

A Movie I Saw Today



Speaking of which, this afternoon I went through the channels and landed on YouToo America. Three Days of the Condor was listed as playing. I've never seen it. I saw a young man enter a building, then he talked to a beefy older man behind a desk in the lobby. It didn't seem like a movie from the '70s. He met another man for a job interview. They arrived at his office, and on the desk was a bottle of hand sanitizer. And that confirmed for me it wasn't Three Days of the Condor. It turned out the young man, a nursing student, was hired as a doorman on Fifth Avenue. Nice movie.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Be Safe, Sacramento.

I hope to post my travelogue of Sacramento one of these days. Not only was it a trip, it was also a meeting of family. But seeing these headlines, I have to respond.

The Los Angeles Times: "At Least Five People Stabbed at Neo-Nazi Event Outside Capitol in Sacramento."

Update: CNN: "At Least 7 Injured--Some Stabbed--At California Rally, Authorities Say."

We went to the Capitol on a Sunday afternoon. The building itself was closed but we walked around the garden. Everything was lovely. Not today, apparently.

27 June update: KCRA [NBC Sacramento affiliate]: "10 People Injured During Protest Clash at State Capitol (Officials: 2 People Suffered Life-Threatening Stab Wounds)

Nothing so far at the SPLC Hatewatch blog. The SPLC Twitter has a few posts. But this SPLC article from 2013 describes a conflict between white nationalists and anti-fascists that has flared up sporadically for decades.

Sacramento reporter Frances Wang was covering the protest and got in the thick of it:







Blumenthal says this. Who attacked who first is the question.



CBS News: "Police Recordings Show Response to Violent Calif. 'Nazi Mega-Rally.'"

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Brexit Day

Hattie beat me to the punch.

Brexit wins. I can't believe they did this. If I were living in Britain I would be working on figuring out a way to leave. They just destroyed their future. It's clear to see that from the perspective of the U.S. I guess they were so propagandized with nativist resentment that they fell for this. These are a people who spread all over the earth. The sun never set on them. Now they have turned their back on the world.--Hattie's Web, "GB Loses Its Mind."

I've been following the news for about an hour now after coming home from the market. C-SPAN is airing ITV Referendum Vote Coverage, and the other cable news channels also are devoting time to Brexit and its projected victory. This is just the beginning.



Cameron resigns.







Jeremy Corbyn under fire.

26 June update: Brexit and the Energy Equation.

In the conversation about the rising revulsion against further integration, one factor is not being discussed: energy. With oil, natural gas and coal, the world's primary energy sources, all far below their high prices of the last decade, all would seem well on the energy front.

Britain, of course, had been reaping the benefits of oil and natural gas deposits in its sector of the North Sea since the 1970s. However, after 2005 the country ceased to be a net exporter of crude oil and natural gas liquids. Imports of natural gas have risen steeply with 2014 imports reaching 19 times what they were in 2000. Both these trends point to the decline of the North Sea fields and Britain's re-entry into the league of oil and gas importers, a sudden reversal of a previous long-term trend and a net negative for the British economy.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Rubio Will Run for Senate Again. Of course he will. It's up to Floridians if they want him as Senator.
















Tuesday, June 21, 2016

As always, so much to do. In some ways I'm ahead of schedule. For now, an interesting tweet:



Monday, June 20, 2016

Texit

Kunstler: Burnt Toast.

Kunstler: Burnt Toast.

At a most troubled moment in history, both major political parties appear set to nominate time-bomb candidates for president with a fair percentage chance of blowing up their own campaigns and the parties themselves.

We’ve been living in the era of anything goes and nothing matters — that is, the era of no consequences — but at some point between now and November 8 someone surely will press FBI chief James Comey as to why his agency issued neither a criminal referral nor an explanatory memorandum in the matter of Hillary Clinton’s private email server and its role in the money-gathering activities of the Clinton Foundation while she was Secretary of State.

Hapless Bernie Sanders blew his chance to call her on that months ago — “The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails!” — but it’s absolutely certain that Trump will jump up and down and shout woo-woo-woo about it during the general election campaign, if he manages to not get dumped at the GOP convention. Or his as-yet-hypothetical replacement will.

The email issue won’t go away because it entails serious issues of racketeering in public office, not just niceties of security procedure. One of the Secretary of State’s duties is to approve weapons sales to foreign countries. During her three years at State, Hillary signed off on $165 billion worth of sales by private commercial arms contractors to Clinton Foundation foreign donors. On top of that was an additional $151 billion of separate Pentagon-brokered deals for 16 of the countries that gave to the Clinton Foundation. It also happened that the weapons contractors themselves and companies connected financially to them made substantial donations to the Clinton foundation — and paid whopping speaking fees to Hillary’s husband ex-president Bill, during her years at State.

Salon Magazine has also reported that in contradiction of a 1995 directive signed by then-president Bill against arms sales to nations violating human rights, Hillary approved such weapons sales. Salon’s David Sirota writes:


As just one of many examples, in its 2011 Human Rights Report, Clinton’s State Department slammed Algeria’s government for imposing “restrictions on freedom of assembly and association,” tolerating “arbitrary killing,” “widespread corruption” and a “lack of judicial independence.

That year, the Algerian government donated $500,000 to the Clinton Foundation and the next year Clinton’s State Department approved a one-year 70 percent increase in military export authorizations to the country. The jump included authorizations for almost 50,000 items classified as “toxicological agents, including chemical agents, biological agents and associated equipment.” The State Department had not authorized the export of any of such items to Algeria the year before.

There’s no way that the shady doings of the Clinton Foundation will not become a campaign issue whether Trump emerges as the eventual GOP nominee or not, and of course the other noisome matter of exactly what Hillary told Too-Big-To-Fail banks in exchange for many quarter-million dollar “speaking fees” still lurks behind all that. Hillary’s partisans at the The New York Times and The WashPo have ignored these stories for months, but the telltale stench remains, like a dead body under the floorboards.. In contrast to her beaming victory lap after the California primary, all this stuff promises some serious frowny-face for Mz. It’s-My-Turn in the months ahead.

As for Trump, the hand-wringing and Maalox-gulping among GOP nabobs got a lot more intense since the Orlando Club massacre, and the (as usual) disjointed utterances by the presumptive Republican Party nominee. This guy is not just a loose artillery shell rolling around on the deck — he’s a dirty bomb wrapped in a smallpox blanket threatening to turn the Grand Old Party into a political Flying Dutchman. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan underscored his extremely conditional endorsement of Trump on the Sunday TV chat forums, hinting that even if Trump got where he is playing by the rules, the rules can be changed at the convention.

That would set the stage for a melee both inside and outside the GOP convention in Cleveland a month from now. The tragedy of a legitimately irate populace vested in such an obviously inept champion will lead to a political explosion when the party poobahs try to maneuver him off-stage. The only worse alternative is if they actually go ahead and nominate the ham-headed sonofabitch. Either way, the Republican Party comes out as burnt toast.

Remember, too, the Black Lives Matter movement and its affiliates promised months ago to bring a disruptive presence to both conventions. Imagine how they will get on with thousands of outraged Trumpsters moiling in the streets. Add a dash of Mexican hot sauce to this farrago and you’ve got a perfect recipe for mayhem.