Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Gaither Vocal Band, "Better Together."

From the album of the same title, nominated this year for the Best Roots Gospel Grammy Award.

Laurie Lewis & The Right Hands, The Hazel and Alice Sessions.

Nominated this year for the Best Bluegrass Album Grammy Award.
Laurie Lewis & The Right Hands

Fantastic Negrito, The Last Days of Oakland

Nominated this year for the Best Contemporary Blues Album Grammy Award.

"C'est L’amour Qui M’a Séduit le Coeur", Kelli Jones-Savoy and Megan Brown.

From the album I Wanna Sing Right: Rediscovering Lomax In The Evangeline Country (Valcour Records), nominated this year for the Best Regional Roots Music Album Grammy Award.

Anoushka Shankar, "Land of Gold."

From the album of the same title, nominated this year for the Best World Album Grammy Award.

The Box Angeles Podcast.


Solarpunk Wants to Save the World.

Solarpunk Wants to Save the World.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Ilind.net: Some Honolulu Restaurant History

On Canlis restaurant in Honolulu. I've never heard of this place until I read Ilind today.

Kunstler, Twice as Nice

On his Patreon page, Kunstler announces that his blog will now be published twice a week "with a nod to the increased liveliness of our national affairs. The second weekly blog will come out Friday mornings."

Sunday, January 29, 2017

He certainly doesn't mince words, does he? I'll try to gather more material about Tulsi's visit to Syria.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Joi Bangla Sound, "Taj Ma House."

DJ Cue Tips & MC Dashy-D, "Control."



End of Term Presidential Term 2016 project.

Sad News from Hattie's Web


Hattie has definitely lived, and she continues to live. My thoughts are with her.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

McCain and Sanders are actually very similar.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Kunstler: He Is Risen...But For How Long.

Excerpts from Kunstler's latest:

Kunstler: He Is Risen...But For How Long.

Trump was correct that the ruins of industry stand like tombstones on the landscape. The reality may be that an industrial economy is a one-shot deal. When it’s gone, it’s over. Even assuming the money exists to rebuild the factories of the 20th century, how would things be produced in them? By robotics or by brawny men paid $15-an-hour? If it’s robotics, who will the customers be? If it’s low-wage workers, how are they going to pay for the cars and washing machines? If the brawny men are paid $40 an hour, how would we sell our cars and washing machines in foreign markets that pay their workers the equivalent of $1.50 an hour. How can American industry stay afloat with no export market? If we don’t let foreign products into the US, how will Americans buy cars that are far more costly to make here than the products we’ve been getting? There’s no indication that Trump and his people have thought through any of this.

Trump can pull out the stops (literally, the regulations) to promote oil production, but he can’t alter the declining energy return on investment that is bringing down the curtain on industrial society. In fact, pumping more oil now at all costs will only hasten the decline of affordable oil. His oft-stated wish to simply “take” the oil from Middle Eastern countries would probably lead to sabotage of their oil infrastructure and the cruel death of millions. He would do better to prepare Americans for the project of de-suburbanizing the nation, but I doubt that the concept has ever entered his mind.

The problems with Obamacare, and so-called health care generally, are burdened with so many layers of arrant racketeering that the system may only be fixable if it is destroyed in its current form — the overgrown centralized hospitals, the overpaid insurance and hospital executives, the sore-beset physicians carrying six-figure college-and-med-school loans, the incomprehensible and extortionate pricing system for care, the cruel and insulting bureaucratic barriers to obtain care, the disgraceful behavior of the pharmaceutical companies, all add up to something no less than a colossal hostage racket, robbing and swindling people at their most vulnerable. So far, nobody has advanced a coherent plan for changing it. Loosing the Department of Justice to prosecute the medical racketeers directly would be a good start. Overcharging and defrauding sick people ought to be a criminal act. But don’t expect that to happen in a culture where anything goes and nothing matters. A financial crisis could be the trigger for ending the massive medical grift machine. Then what? Back to locally organized clinic-scale medicine… if we should be so lucky.


Do you suppose Trump is going to improve? That was the hope after the election: that he’d take on some POTUS polish. No, what you see is what you get. I can only imagine that what’s going on behind the scenes in various halls of power would make a Matt Damon Bourne movie look like a sensitivity training session — grave professional men and women on all fours with their hair on fire howling into the acoustical ceiling tiles.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

A Presidential Inauguration from 2000


Friday, January 20, 2017

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A brief discussion between Stephen Cohen and Stephen Sestanovich about Russia and the Crimea.

Barbara Weathers, "Some Things Are Worth the Wait."

From the 1995 album Seeing For the Very First Time.

The Akebono Project

Yesterday morning's fire that gutted the Akebono theater and Luquin's restaurant was a catastrophe. The Akebono was not burned to the ground so I'm hopeful at least part of it can be preserved. This project will compile articles and social media posts about the history, destruction, and potential restoration of the Akebono. The Akebono was opened in December 1917, making it the oldest extant theater in East Hawaii.

More to come.

18 January update: A Facebook video of the scene taken 16 January.

16 January 2017, Hawaii Tribune-Herald: "Update: Akebono Theater, Luquin’s Both Gutted by Fire."

17 January 2017, Damon Tucker. "Foul Play NOT SUSPECTED in Pahoa Fire – Police Seeking Witnesses."

28 January update: 28 January 2017, Hawaii Tribune-Herald:"Taking Back Pahoa: Fire Spurs Community to Improve Puna Town."

Monday, January 16, 2017

Kunstler: The Cheeto Cometh.

An excerpt from today's Kunstler column.

Kunstler: The Cheeto Cometh.

Perhaps it befits this particular Deep State to go down in the manner of an opéra bouffe. History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce, old Karl Marx observed. What does the Union stand for this time? The rights of former SEC employees to sell their services to CitiBank? The rights of competing pharma companies to jack the price of insulin up from $20 to $250 a vial? The rights of DIA subcontractors to sell Semtex plastic explosives to the “moderate” jihadis of the Middle East?

So the theme of the moment is that Donald Trump is a bigger crook than the servants and vassals of the Deep State. He ran for president so he could sell more steaks and whiskey under the Trump brand. He’s in violation of the emoluments clause in the constitution. Well, I’m not aware that George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, or Andrew Jackson put their slaves in a blind trust after they became president. Anyway, at this point in our history, nobody can beat the Deep State for financial turpitude, certainly not a single real estate and hotel magnate.

I guess the big question is whether the Deep State — and, yes, Virginia, the Deep State does exist, unlike Santa Claus — will tear the country apart in the attempt to defend all its ill-gotten perquisites and privileges. The public at large is restive, eager to get on with the job of deconstructing the matrix of racketeering that adds up to the immiserating culture we live in, a society where health insurance company presidents make $40 million a year while ordinary people lose their homes because a $5,000-deductible health insurance policy doesn’t cover the cost of treating a routine tonsillectomy.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Unrepentant to the End

Logging on just now, I saw this headline "Nazi war criminal Alois Brunner died in Syria basement in 2001."

Nazi war criminal Alois Brunner, who was responsible for the deaths of an estimated 130,000 Jews, died in 2001 at the age of 89, locked up in a squalid Damascus basement, a French magazine reported Wednesday.

He was unrepentant to the end.

In a short telephone interview in 1987 Brunner is alleged to have told the Chicago Sun-Times that he didn't regret his part in the Holocaust. "All of them deserved to die because they were the devil's agents and human garbage. I have no regrets and I would do it again."

"Le Nazi de Damas," from XXI magazine. (In French.)

As was Dylann [sic] Roof, now sentenced to death.

ABC News: "Charleston Victim's Mother Tells Dylann Roof: 'I Forgive You'."

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Kunstler's Forecast 2017: The Third Excerpt

This is the third and last excerpt of Kunstler's forecast column. It's the second part of "Vagrant Thoughts on Geopolitics" and deals mainly with the Middle East-North Africa region, but Kunstler also discusses Russia and China.

Kunstler's full column.

The reason the Middle East and North Africa are melting down most conspicuously is because they are geographically among the places least well endowed for supporting the swollen populations they acquired over the past two hundred years. Iraq, Syria, the whole Arabian peninsula. Egypt, Libya, et. al. are all deserts artificially supported by the perquisites of Modernity: cheap energy, fertilizers made from that, irrigation, money derived from it, and continuing life-support subsidies from even wealthier modern nations outside the region. In recent years that life-support has flipped into deadly violence imposed from both within and without, as homegrown Sunni ad Shiite vie for supremacy and their puppeteers in the First World rush in with bombers, rockets, and small arms to “help.”

Iraq and Libya were already goners in 2016. They’ll never be politically stable again in the modern sense. Egypt is still headed down the drain despite the grip of General al-Sisi and his army. In all these places the “youth bulge” has no prospects for earning a living or supporting a family. The young men, especially, put their energy into Jihad, revolution, and civil war because there’s nothing else to do. Making war may be thrilling, but it won’t lead to a better future because those benefits of Modernity are running out and there’s nothing to replace them.

Syria is the current goner-du-jour. Whatever it ends up being, either under Assad or someone else, it will not be stable the way it was. The USA ended up arming and funding the Sunni Salafist “bad guys” there because they opposed Shiite Iran and its regional proxy Hezbollah plus Assad. Russia eventually came in on that side on the theory that another failed state is not in the world’s interests. President Obama blinked after he drew his infamous “line in the sand” years ago and now America is too spooked to act directly. In fact, the Russians and Assad have the best chance of restoring a semblance of order, but America’s support for the “moderate” Salafists will necessarily keep undermining that. In the meantime, all this activity has sparked a demographic emergency as refugees flee the country for Europe and elsewhere, creating greater tensions where they land. Trump could stop the flow of US arms to our favored maniacs in Syria. He may see the practical benefit of letting Russia be the policeman on the beat there, and maybe he can sort out the underlying competing interest between the Russian-sponsored gas pipeline proposed to cross Syria and the American-sponsored one — a dynamic underlying all the mayhem there — and make some kind of “deal.” Or maybe he’ll just fuck it up even more.

The situation will grow increasingly acute in Saudi Arabia, where population growth outstrips the ability of oil production to pay for it. Their old “elephant” oil fields are aging out and they know quite well that they cannot depend on oil wealth many decades ahead. The trouble is, they have no realistic replacement for it, despite noises about creating other industries. The truth is, the country was cursed by its oil. It grew its population too much too fast in one of the most inhospitable corners of the globe, and it will take only a modest decline in oil income to destabilize the place altogether. To buffer that, Saudi leaders plan an IPO for shares in Saudi Aramaco — which was originally composed of American and western oil companies nationalized decades ago. That may get them a few hundred billion or so in walking-around money that won’t last very long considering that just about everybody in the nation is on the dole.

The big news in that corner of the world last year was the collapse of Yemen, which occupies a big slab on Saudi Arabia’s southern border. That poor-ass country is the latest Middle East basket-case and Saudi military operations there continue to date, using airplanes and weapons supplied by Uncle Sam — just another case of feeding Jihadist wrath.

Make no mistake — as our Presidents like to say — all these countries are heading back to the Middle Ages economically, maybe even further beyond. Their culture is still basically medieval. The main point is that Modernity inflated them and now Modernity is over and they’re either going to pop or deflate. One wild card for now is what effect climate change may have in ME/NA. If the trend is hotter, than that’s not good news for a region so poorly watered and so hot that air conditioning is mandatory for the pampered urban elites. Last one out, please turn off the lights.

Then there’s Turkey, for decades known as “the sick man of Europe.” Now, of course, it can’t even get into Europe, the EU, that is, and it’s probably too late to sweat that anyway. Back when it was “sick” it was quiet at least. You barely heard a peep from the fucker through the entire cold war and beyond. But now that the countries on its border are breaking down, things have understandably livened up in Turkey. It was, until World War One, the very seat of the Islamic Caliphate, and it controlled much of the territory now occupied by the nations creatively carved out of the Sykes-Picot Agreement. Turkey is still a power in the region, with a lot of well-watered, habitable territory and a GDP half the size of Italy’s, though shrinking. Its current president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has shown twinges of megalomania in recent years, no doubt in fear of the radical Islam epidemic so close at hand. Lately, Kurdish extremists have been planting bombs around the country, too. Turkey has a lot to be paranoid about and Erdogan wants to change the constitution so he can act the strongman without a wimpy, pain-in-the-ass parliament weighing him down. He endured a coup last summer and came out of with consolidated power. But he’s capable of making another bonehead move like shooting down a Russian jet (2015). Meanwhile, Turkey’s currency is collapsing. The population is over 80 million. In the event of serious political upheaval, how many of them will try to flee to Europe?

Russia? It’s apparently stable. We hear no end of complaints about “Putin the Thug,” but in this time of altered reality and disinformation fog, it’s honestly impossible to tell what the fuck the score is. Has he bumped off some journalists? So they say. But, not to get to baroque about it, consider the impressive trail of dead bodies said to be left in the wake of Bill and Hillary. That story was so toxic that Google squashed searches for it during the election campaign. Putin seems to me, at worst, a competent and capable Czar, in a country that likes to be ruled by them. That’s their prerogative. He’s hugely popular, anyway, and it’s one of the unsung miracles of recent times that Russia transitioned out of the fiasco of communism into a pretty much normal modern society, with shopping, movies, tourism travel, and everything. The Russian people may look back at these decades as a golden age. They’ve been punished by Western sanctions for a few years now, but it has prompted them to promote their own version of a SWIFT Code for international banking transactions, and their own counterpart to the EU, the Eurasian Customs Union, and to manufacture some products of their own (import replacement).

Personally, I think the meme of “Russian aggression” is not born out by actual recent geopolitical reality. They are castigated constantly for wanting to march back into the Baltic States, Ukraine, and other former Soviet territories. Ukraine was made a basket case with direct American assistance. (Remember Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland: “Fuck the EU!”) Ukraine was rendered an instant failed state. As far as I could tell, the last thing Russia wanted was to take on Ukraine as an economic dependent. Same for the Baltic States. They need to subsidize these places like they need a hole in the head. Russia’s 2015 annexation of the Crimea was a special case, since it had been part of Russia one way or another for most of the past 200 years, except for the period after Khrushchev gifted it to his homeboys in Ukraine around 1957. Anyway, the Crimea was the site of Russia’s only warm-water naval ports. They’d rented it from Ukraine before the US pranged the country. The Crimean inhabitants voted to join Russia (why do we assume that was not sincere?).

Finally, as renowned Russologist Stephen Cohen has said, wouldn’t it make sense for the US and Russia to drop all this antagonism nonsense and make common cause against the real threat of our time: Islamic Jihad? How many Westerners has Russia killed or harmed the past twenty years compared to the forces of Jihad? The tensions in Syria are admittedly complex, but why are we making them worse while Russia attempts to stabilize the joint? Perhaps The Donald can start there….

As I write, Mr. Putin just announced that his country would not take any reciprocal action against American diplomats in retribution for Mr. Obama’s fugue of punishments meted out last week for the still-unproven “Russia Hacks Election” story. Personally, I’m content to wait three weeks and see if relations improve after Mr. Obama departs the Oval Office.

Finally, there’s China. I’m among those who believe China is running the most farkakta banking system on God’s green earth. We should not be surprised if it implodes in 2017, and does so pretty badly, in a way that might shake the foundations of the entire banking system. On that note, I confess that I have run out of forecast mojo for the year, and anyway this bulletin is long enough. If you’ve gotten this far, I commend and admire you hugely for your remarkable patience. Have a happy 2017 everybody, and don’t let our Trumpadelic president get you down.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Kunstler's Forecast 2017: The Second Excerpt

So extensive is Kunstler's 2017 forecast that this is only the first part of the section "Vagrant Thoughts on Geopolitics."

Kunstler's full column.

Vagrant Thoughts on Geopolitics

As I write just before New Year’s Eve, President Obama is trying to start World War Three with Russia as a parting gift to the voting public. I’m among the skeptics who think that the “Russia Hacks Election story” is a ruse to divert the public’s attention from the stupendous failure of the Democratic Party to win, as expected. Rather, Wikileaks should get the Pulitzer Prize for revealing so much about the nefarious workings of the Clinton Foundation and the Democratic National Committee.

Regular readers know I didn’t vote for Trump, that I heaped considerable abuse on him in the campaign commentaries. But I didn’t take any comfort in the nostrum about being “better off with the Devil you know (Hillary) than the one you don’t know (Trump).” Both candidates were awful, and the condition of the country is pretty awful as we turn the corner onto 2017. Readers also know from these commentaries and from my books that I expect we will have to make big changes in our living arrangements up ahead as the techno-industrial fiesta winds down. I won’t reiterate the particulars here, but 2017 is the hinge year for that [Emphasis mine.--P.Z.]. The strains on global finance are so spectacular that something’s got give. President Trump is sure to be overwhelmed by epic dislocations in markets, currencies, debt, and misguided central bank efforts to hold back the tides of a necessary re-set — a re-set which will see a lot of wealth vanish and a lot of pain inflicted on the losers of wealth, including whole societies.

We have three major European elections to look forward to in 2017: The Netherlands and France in the Spring, and Germany in the fall. Geert Wilders (a member of the Trump Big Hair Club), is virulently against the “Islamisation” of his country. He has campaigned previously to leave the European Union and for the return to the old guilder currency. Should the right-wing Marine LePen win in France, the EU experiment will likely end — she has made express promises to take France out of the EU. Angela Merkel has made herself impressively unpopular by opening the gates to a flood of immigrants fleeing the breakdown zones of the Middle East and Africa. And then, because of the Schengen Agreement (free passage across EU borders), the immigrants were unleashed on the rest of Europe.

Those of us paying attention may have easily lost count of the terror atrocities carried out across Europe by Islamic fanatics. Charlie Hebdo, Bataclan, the Bastille Day truck attack in Nice, the Brussels airport, the Berlin Christmas Market were only the most recent and spectacular. For years, individuals have been stabbed, had their heads cut off, throats cut, been blown up, machine-gunned. Take a look at this comprehensive list going back to 2001. You may be astonished. In that light, it’s pretty hard to keep waving the “diversity” banner, and I sense that Europe has had enough of it. One big question is whether the new European right-wing leaders will actually move as far as mass deportations. I rather think they will.

The UK “Brexit” vote was surprise all right. (I hit a white-tailed deer on the Maine Turnpike at 70mph that June morning, uccchhh, and lived to tell about it.) Now there’s a fair chance that Parliament will find a way to wiggle out of Brexit. Noises are also emanating out of Brussels to the effect that the EU could loosen up some of their rules — e.g. the Schengen Agreement — to induce Britain to stay in the EU. But there are so many other fissures and fragilities in that system that the Brexit may not matter anymore. The European banking system is melting down and there is absolutely no way to rescue it on the macro EU scale. Italy was heading for a banking crackup before Christmas. Deutsche Bank has been whirling around the drain for a couple of years. When the US markets and banks shudder in 2017, Europe will get the vapors. Hence, I’ll forecast breakup of the EU by this time next year.

We’ve come to the pass where “all that is solid melts into air,” in the poetic phrase of old Karl Marx. Marx was referring to the “specter” of communism that loomed over burgeoning industrial society of the mid-19th century, and indeed it turned into quite a world struggle through the century that followed. But now communism is down for the count and we begin to see what is truly melting into air: Modernity itself, this colossal, hulking, grinding, machine of destruction that threatens the global eco-system, and all its sub-systems including the human realms of money and politics.

The idea that Modernity itself might go down is inconceivable to those in thrall to the Religion of Progress, which declares that the world (and life in it) only gets better and better every year. This would appear demonstrably untrue, just in the visible damage to the landscape and the living things that struggle to dwell there. The most obvious problem with Modernity has been human population overshoot. The truth is, we’re not going to do a darn thing about it. There won’t be any policy or protocol, despite the good intentions of the groups inveighing against it. It will just go on… until it can’t, to paraphrase the late Herb Stein. Of course, people still have sex under conditions of hardship, so the population may plateau for a while until we are well into the long emergency. But the usual suspects of starvation, disease, and war are all still out there, doing their thing, and will only ramp up their operations.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Kim Carnes, "Invitation to Dance."

One of the last things I watched New Year's Eve was That's Dancing on TCM. This played over the ending credits.

Monday, January 02, 2017

Kunstler: Forecast 2017: The Wheels Finally Come Off.

Kunstler's prediction column for 2017 is so lengthy I'll post only an excerpt or two here. It might take a few days to unpack this column. All emphases mine.

Kunstler: Forecast 2017: The Wheels Finally Come Off.

American Notes

Apart from all the ill-feeling about the election, one constant ‘out there’ since November 8 is the Ayn Randian rapture that infects the money scene. Wall Street and big business believe that the country has passed through a magic portal into a new age of heroic businessmen-warriors (Trump, Rex T, Mnuchin, Wilbur Ross, et. al.) who will go forth creating untold wealth from super-savvy deal-making that un-does all the self-defeating malarkey of the detested Deep State technocratic regulation regime of recent years. The main signs in the sky, they say, are the virile near-penetration of the Dow Jones 20,000-point maidenhead and the rocket ride of Ole King Dollar to supremacy of the global currency-space.

I hate to pound sleet on this manic parade, but, to put it gently, mob psychology is outrunning both experience and reality. Let’s offer a few hypotheses regarding this supposed coming Trumptopian nirvana.

The current narrative weaves an expectation that manufacturing industry will return to the USA complete with all the 1962-vintage societal benefits of great-paying blue collar jobs, plus an orgy of infrastructure-building. I think both ideas are flawed, even allowing for good intentions. For one thing, most of the factories are either standing in ruin or scraped off the landscape. So, it’s not like we’re going to reactivate some mothballed sleeping giant of productive capacity. New state-of-the-art factories would require an Everest of private capital investment that is simply impossible to manifest in a system that is already leveraged up to its eyeballs. Even if we tried to accomplish it via some kind of main force government central planning and financing — going full-Soviet — there is no conceivable way to raise (borrow) the “money” without altogether destroying the value of our money (inflation), and the banking system with it.

If by some magic any new industrial capacity were built, much of the work in it would be performed by robotics, not brawny men in blue shirts, and certainly not at the equivalent of the old United Auto Workers $35-an-hour assembly line wage. We have not faced the fact that the manufacturing fiesta based on fossil fuels was a one-time thing due to special historical circumstances and will not be repeated. The future of manufacturing in America is frighteningly modest. We’ll actually be lucky if we can make a few vital necessities by means of hydro-electric or direct water power, and that will be about the extent of it. Some of you may recognize this as the World Made By Hand scenario. I’ll stick by that.

Similarly for “infrastructure” spending touted by the forces of Trump as the coming panacea for economic malaise. I suspect most people assume this means a trillion-dollar stimulus spend on highways and their accessories. Well, that also assumes that we expect another fifty years of Happy Motoring and suburban living. Fuggeddabowdit. We’re in the twilight of motoring anyway you cut it, despite all the chatter about electric cars and “driverless” cars. We won’t have the electric capacity to switch over the Happy Motoring fleet from gasoline. The oil industry itself is already headed for collapse on its sinking energy-return-on-investment. And our problems with money and debt are so severe that the motoring paradigm is more prone to fail on the basis of car loan scarcity and unworthy borrowers before the fueling issues even kick in. Every year, fewer Americans can afford to buy any kind of car — the way they’re used to buying them, on installment loans. The industry has gone the limit to help them — seven-year loans for used cars! — but they have no more room to maneuver. The car financing system is broken. Bear in mind the original suburbanization of America back in the 20th century — along with its accessory automobiles — must be regarded as the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world. So, a rebuild of all this stuff would represent more and possibly even greater malinvestment. We could have applied our post-WW2 treasure to building beautiful walkable towns and cities with some capacity for adaptive re-use, but we blew it in order to enjoy life in a one-time demolition derby. Life is tragic. Societies make poor choices sometimes, and then there are consequences.

We also might have been in better shape now if, beginning twenty years ago, we began a major rebuild of our railway infrastructure. But we blew that off, too, and shortly it will be very difficult to get around this geographically large country by any mechanical means. It may be too late now to do anything about that for the financing reasons already touched on — and which I will elaborate on next. The bottom line is that President Donald Trump will be overwhelmed by a sea of financial troubles from the very get-go, and here’s why.

Designated Bag-Holder

The American people have been punked by their own government and their central bank, the Federal Reserve, for years and the jig is now up. In 2017 both will lose their authority and legitimacy, a very grave matter for the survival of this republic.

Insiders surely have seen this coming for a long time. The people running this so-called Deep State of overblown and overgrown institutions probably acted at first with the good intentions of keeping the national lifestyle afloat. But in the end (now approaching) they stooped to too much duplicity and deceit in the desperate attempt to not just preserve the system, but to protect their own reputations and personal perquisites. And now there ought to be some question with the election of 2016 that they have engineered all of this system fragility to blow up on Mr. Trump’s watch, so they can blame him for it. It was going to blow up anyway. But had Hillary Clinton won the election, at least the right gang would have had to take the blame — the people in charge for the past twenty years. Instead, Donald Trump has been elected Designated Bag-Holder.


The Oil Quandary

The reports of Peak Oil’s death are exaggerated, to borrow a gag from Mr. Twain. It’s just been playing out in ways that many of us didn’t quite anticipate and it is still at the heart of our economic predicament — which is that you can’t rationalize an annual debt growth rate of 8 percent if your actual economic growth rate is under 4 percent (paraphrasing Chris Martenson at Peak Prosperity.com).

We haven’t run out of oil, but we have run out of oil that is rationally economical to pull out of the ground. The so-called “shale oil miracle” extended the oil age a few years by debt-financed legerdemain. Yes, we drove US oil production way up, almost back up to the 1970 peak production level around 10 million barrels-a-day (b/d). The trouble was that the companies producing it didn’t make a red cent in the process. They just ran up a huge amount of debt to pursue the shale project. The pursuit was on wholeheartedly beginning around 2006, because 1) the Peak Oil story was scaring folks, including folks in the oil industry, and 2) the market price of crude oil soared after 2004 and shale looked like a possibly winning venture — especially since conventional exploration in recent years was turning up almost nothing of significance.