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   PastimesClown-Free Zone... sorry, no clowns allowed

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From: Thomas M.5/4/2024 7:04:29 PM
1 Recommendation   of 436144
Jared Bernstein was the chief economist and economic adviser to Vice President Joe Biden. Now he is President Joe Biden's Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers.


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To: Thomas M. who wrote (436134)5/6/2024 1:19:59 AM
From: Perspective
   of 436144

I could've explained the relationship between the government issuing bonds and the Fed printing money better than that when I was in ninth grade...

Meritocracy has been turned completely upside down...

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From: Broken_Clock5/8/2024 4:58:46 PM
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Welcome to the Warfare State
by Doug Casey

War is one of the few things that only the State can do. Indeed, as Randolph Bourne said, "War is the health of the State." Let’s briefly discuss the nature of the State to see why World War 3 is on the way.

The State is like any other living entity: its prime directive is to survive and grow. Bear in mind that the State—the government—is not at all the same thing as the country or society, even though it claims to be. It’s not "We the People"; it’s a distinct entity with its own discrete interests. And that’s actually too mild an assertion. While individuals and companies prosper by providing goods and services to others through voluntary exchange, the State specializes in coercion.

There’s nothing voluntary about the State. Its main products have always been pogroms, persecutions, confiscations, taxation, inflation, censorship, harassment, repression—and war. The State is not your friend.

Mass murder and wholesale destruction are bad enough in themselves. But in wartime, the State enables them with new taxes, new debt, draconian controls, and new bureaucracies. These things linger long after the war is over.

Worse yet, the State does these things with the sanction of the victim; the typical citizen has been taught that almost anything is justified by "national security." Anyone who would normally protest these depredations in peacetime soon learns to dummy-up when there’s a war for fear of being lynched for sympathizing with the invariably demonic enemy.

After the war—assuming a victory, of course—the State’s debt, taxes, regulations and general size never return to pre-war levels. They ratchet up to ever higher plateaus, requiring the State to do more of the same to justify its existence. Government programs, of whatever description, are almost never pulled out by their roots. At most, they’re trimmed, which has the same effect as pruning a plant, i.e., they’re encouraged to grow back bigger and stronger.

Why am I saying these scary things? Because we’re clearly heading towards a big war.

A Clear and Present DangerI want to make a point in this article that many will find unpalatable, perhaps even incredible: In today’s world, the US military is nearly useless in countering potential threats from abroad. It’s actually a positive danger. And it’s not ready for a real war.

If you’re looking for a comforting mainstream analysis, I don’t have much. Let’s start with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

NATO is a US government program that’s taken on a life of its own. Its original purpose was to defend against the Warsaw Pact. But although the Soviet Union and its allies ceased to exist as a military threat in the early 1990s, NATO has continued to grow. Despite agreements with Russia, it’s grown right to their border, even adding traditionally neutral states like Finland and Sweden.

Even if you assume that NATO doesn’t provoke WW3 over the Ukraine ( setting aside a discussion of who’s right or wrong and who really started it), the Chinese are likely next on the dance card. They can only see the allied Western states as pointing a gun in their direction. To them, NATO is a provocation to a cultural/racial war. NATO encourages them to make building their military a high priority.

So much for the "End of History." As long as nation-states exist, there will be violent conflict between them. But the way I see it, the nature of war, and even the nation-state itself, is going to change radically over the next 20 years. And, as has been the case throughout history, a prime mover is going to be technology.

Weaponry & StrategyIt’s an old saying: "Generals always fight the last war."

That’s not because they’re (necessarily) stupid. But by the time a man gets a bunch of stars on his epaulets, you’re only assured of a competent bureaucrat with good political skills, not someone with a great military mind. Bureaucrats are not daring innovators; they do things by the book. That gives them CYA excuses and plausible deniability if things go wrong.

Apart from simple inertia, fighting the last war makes sense. For one thing, it’s what they know. For another, the equipment and tactics in question have been tested. For another, the weapons exist, and when a war starts, you basically have to "run what you brought."

Whether they can get away with fighting the last war depends mainly on whether there has been a significant change in technology. Up to early industrial times, one change in a lifetime was a lot. After all, how often do major innovations like the stirrup or gunpowder come along? But since the advent of industrialized warfare with the American conflict of 1861-1865, changes have been very rapid, and the rate of change is accelerating at warp speed.

The military is not unaware of this; as I said, they’re not stupid. In fact, today’s officers are highly educated; almost all are college graduates, for what that’s worth. Most field grade officers have done graduate work as well. That’s one reason the US emphasizes high-tech weaponry.

The military is throwing ever greater amounts of money on larger, more complex, and vastly more expensive pieces of equipment. The idea is to stay technologically ahead of any potential enemies. Maybe the US can maintain its lead as long as it’s a simplistic scenario of our tanks, planes, and ships against theirs. But the chances of things staying that simple are close to zero. The whole paradigm is about to change.

This is true for several reasons: today’s "hi-tech" weapons (F-35 fighters, Abrams tanks, aircraft carriers) are already obsolete. They’re certainly a nightmare to maintain and keep personnel competent. New drones, missiles, and torpedoes are both superior to and vastly cheaper than conventional weapons. Biological and cyber weapons obviate them all. If they’re deployed in earnest, it’s "Game Over".

Projecting force worldwide with 800 bases, $100 million aircraft, and carrier fleets, is ruinously expensive, especially for a bankrupt government that’s "on tilt". But that’s the essence of American doctrine.

The concept of "defense" itself is obsolete for a nation-state. Let’s look at this in a bit more detail.

1. Today’s "Hi-Tech" Weapons Are ObsoleteStarting with a blank piece of paper, during World War II, the US developed one of the conflict’s finest fighters, the P-51 Mustang, in 117 days and produced it for $50,000 a copy—say about $500,000 in today’s dollars. It’s true that the F-35 is considerably more complex, but relative costs should have been dropping because of advances in materials, techniques, computers, robotics, and such, not escalating over 100-fold in real terms. A friend who knows about these things tells me that every hour of operating time on an M-1 Abrams requires 8 hours of maintenance. For a F-16, it’s 20 hours. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that only 30% of F-35’s are flyable at any given time.

Unsustainable runaway costs are apparent everywhere. When you’re paying upwards of 15 billion dollars for an aircraft carrier (without any aircraft or auxiliary ships), $500 million for a B-2, and $7 million for a tank, you can’t afford to buy very many of them. And you absolutely can’t afford to lose any. Apart from the costs, it takes many months or years to produce more.

On the other hand, despite sophisticated defense armaments, a swarm of cheap sea-skimming missiles might sink a carrier and its 5000-man crew—not to mention a single hypersonic missile. A hit with a cheap shoulder-fired missile can bring down any low-flying aircraft, and at $10,000 a copy, the battlefield can be peppered with them. Fire-and-forget missiles transform tanks into expensive iron coffins; ultra-cheap commercial drones can drop explosives anywhere. Cheap, accurate, small, and numerous missiles are the modern equivalent of Sam Colt’s six gun, which not only made the little guy equal to the big guy, but superior—because big guys are big targets. Drones the size of bumblebees will seek out highly trained and very expensive infantrymen.

Like a small person who knows he shouldn’t fight a giant on his own terms, US adversaries will use the military equivalent of Aikido, turning the opponent’s own might against him. The Houthis in Yemen recognize that it costs the Americans millions to blow up a mud hut, which is, in popular parlance, "unsustainable." In addition to creating more enemies. They see themselves as the under-gunned rebels in Star Wars when they destroy the Empire’s Death Star, substituting daring and cleverness for the enemy’s overwhelming physical capital.

2. Today’s Conventional Weapons Will Soon Be Totally ObsoleteThis whole discussion will be completely academic in a generation when nanotechnology becomes practical. The idea is the creation of machines and supercomputers atom by atom. The essence of the technology is making things larger from a molecular level rather than trying to miniaturize them.

It’s likely to be the most important event in human history, including the conquest of fire. It will change the very essence of life itself totally, irrevocably, and unrecognizably—including the nature of armed conflict. An excellent, albeit conservative, description of a nanotechnic future is offered by Neal Stephenson in Diamond Age, which I highly recommend. Nanotech weapons will be available to everyone after a delay, much as gunpowder was in the 15th century. That assumes, of course, that the cyber and bioweapons now available to everyone don’t obviate the whole question.

In the meantime, the trend to miniaturization will continue apace. Microchips and other computer components are commercially available everywhere, and they’re cheaper and more powerful every day. The next generation of weapons will be highly miniaturized robots, weighing at most a few pounds apiece, probably designed with running or flying insects as models. Construction will be facilitated by the use of off-the-shelf electronic products. That's in addition to full-size Terminator-style robots, AI-piloted and armored vehicles.

A $50 billion fleet can be devastated by a few score missiles; a formation of soldiers wouldn’t stand a chance against an attack by thousands of very cheap microbots. Just as a hundred tiny ants can easily overwhelm a scorpion, cheap and tiny machines will turn current military behemoths into useless artifacts. Any country will be able to have a truly formidable military for a fraction of today’s costs.

3. Overextension as a Formula for DisasterFighting a war next door is one thing; doing so on the other side of the world is something else again.

Fuel, materials, and troops are very costly to transport and maintain at the end of a 10,000 mile airlink. Doing so is likely to result in what has been called "imperial overstretch"; if you try to cover all the bases, you become overextended, vulnerable, and bankrupt. The US currently maintains a military presence of some description in about 100 countries, and almost all of those emplacements are an active provocation to somebody.

Question: If social spending cannot or will not be cut, with $1 trillion in interest that must be paid each year, debt growing at $2 trillion per annum, and money already being created by the trillions annually, what is going to give when times get tough? Will the government get involved in yet another serious foreign military adventure? Of course. They see it as a solution, not a problem.

A poor country can fight a war using human capital—like Korea in the 1950s or Vietnam in the 1960s. But a country like the US is almost forced to use financial and technological capital because human life has a high price tag for us. That makes for a problem when we don’t have the financial resources to maintain a military that’s both very expensive and ineffective.

Can the US afford to fight a continuous war in the alleged search for continuous peace? The experience of previous empires, from the Romans on, suggests the answer is no.

America’s best defense is a strong economy with lots of technological innovation, not an overweening military. If the US government, with its taxes, regulations, currency inflation, and welfare, were to disappear, the country would experience the greatest and most genuine boom in world history. In a decade, even China would appear as relatively insignificant as Nigeria today. It would be almost impossible to threaten a genuinely advanced America.

It’s equally important not to give any government or group a reason to launch an attack. People the world over love the idea of America; they love the culture, the cars, the food, the freedom, you-name-it. They like the good things American corporations used to make. They don't mind good-natured, free-spending American tourists.

What they don’t like is US boots on the ground or in their airspace, fomenting coups to install "democracy." If Washington DC ceased to exist, the other 96% of the planet’s population would have no more incentive to strike America than Costa Rica.

Of course, I may be anachronistic in that view. Over the last 50 years, while the US was building an arsenal to fight Russia and China, a different threat has been building. The Muslim world, which has been in what amounts to a Forever War with the West for 1400 years, is cyclically on the march again. They have two very important weapons.

One is firm and fanatical beliefs. The West, on the other hand, has lost all confidence; it’s flaccid and believes itself to be evil. As Napoleon said, in warfare, the psychological is to the physical as three is to one. The prognosis for America and Europe is not good. They’ll be conquered both psychologically and by migration. America’s bloated military will be useless.

Islam’s second weapon is many hundreds of millions of young Mohammedans. From a military viewpoint, they are infiltrating the demographic and political structure of the West and changing it. And if things ever go kinetic, scores of millions of young fighters are cheaper and more effective than expensive hi-tech hardware.

There’s much more to be said on the topic of the Forever War with Islam.

Where this is GoingAs a reader, I presume you agree with me on some of the above or are at least willing to listen to the argument with an open mind. I suspect that’s not the case with most Americans, however. They view the military as a national treasure or even an icon.

On one level, I can understand this atavistic attachment. As a kid I wanted to go to West Point—but was cured of the temptation by four years of military high school. In college, during the Vietnam War, I was signed up for the Marines PLC program (yes, I was a slow learner). But then I simultaneously drew 365 of 366 in the draft lottery (it was a leap year) and was medically rejected as 1-Y because I had broken my right leg in 17 different places only a year before.

At that point, I figured the cosmos was trying to send me a message like, "If you really want to go to Vietnam, do you really need the government to pay your way?"

American’s warm feelings toward the military are largely misplaced. And I speak as someone who likes soldiers. Whatever its star-spangled history, the US military no longer serves much of a useful purpose because of the ongoing evolution of technology. Worse, it’s become an active danger. What’s left of its esprit de corps is being eroded by DEI, LGBT, and anti-whiteism. Soldiers’ first loyalty is naturally to each other—although that’s been weakened by Wokism. Their next loyalty is to their employer, who they trust less and less. Their third loyalty is to those they supposedly protect and serve, but they have less and less in common with them.

Combine those problems with others I’ve listed, and it’s no wonder the militaries of Western countries are becoming less and less reliable and effective. Not good; at the very time their governments are provoking war with Russia, China, and smaller counties.

Let me sum things up.

US foreign policy is putting this country on a collision course with any number of other countries. The US military is in a position to fight the last war, but not the next one, because the weapons the US is loading up on are basically dinosaurs. And like dinosaurs, they’re unbelievably expensive to feed. The likely bankruptcy of the government during the next economic downturn will make feeding them near impossible.

When the next conflict occurs, it’s likely to do extensive damage in the US itself. It will be hard to insulate yourself from World War 3. It makes the Southern Hemisphere look better all the time.

Your first line of defense, of course, is common sense survivalist stuff. You know the drill: buy gold, silver, and get a survival retreat with a year’s supply of food, fuel, and ammunition. Keep gaining skills and knowledge. Try to become self-employed. Surround yourself with reliable, like-minded associates. Keep a low profile with the authorities. And, I might add, enjoy yourself; don’t take things too seriously. We’re dealing with the human condition.

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From: Broken_Clock5/9/2024 3:52:02 AM
1 Recommendation   of 436144

The Machinery of Fascism Revisited
By Jeffrey A. Tucker May 5, 2024 Economics, Government, History 9 minute read


Fascism became a swear word in the US and UK during the Second World War. It has been ever since, to the point that the content of the term has been drained away completely. It is not a system of political economy but an insult.

If we go back a decade before the war, you find a completely different situation. Read any writings from polite society from 1932 to 1940 or so, and you find a consensus that freedom and democracy, along with Enlightenment-style liberalism of the 18th century, were completely doomed. They should be replaced by some version of what was called the planned society, of which fascism was one option.

A book by that name appeared in 1937 as published by the prestigious Prentice-Hall, and it included contributions by top academics and high-profile influencers. It was highly praised by all respectable outlets at the time.

Everyone in the book was explaining how the future would be constructed by the finest minds who would manage whole economies and societies, the best and the brightest with full power. All housing should be provided by government, for example, and food too, but with the cooperation of private corporations. That seems to be the consensus in the book. Fascism was treated as a legitimate path. Even the word totalitarianism was invoked without opprobrium but rather with respect.

The book has been memory-holed of course.

You will notice that the section on economics includes contributions by Benito Mussolini and Joseph Stalin. Yes, their ideas and political rule were part of the prevailing conversation. It is in this essay, likely ghostwritten by Professor Giovanni Gentile, Minister of Public Education, in which Mussolini offered this concise statement: “Fascism is more appropriately called corporatism, for it is the perfect merge of State and corporate power.”

All of this became rather embarrassing after the war so it was largely forgotten. But the affection on the part of many sectors of the US ruling class had for fascism was still in place. It merely took on new names.

As a result, the lesson of the war, that the US should stand for freedom above all else while wholly rejecting fascism as a system, was largely buried. And generations have been taught to regard fascism as nothing but a quirky and failed system of the past, leaving the word as an insult to fling at in any way deemed reactionary or old-fashioned, which makes no sense.

There is valuable literature on the topic and it bears reading. One book that is particularly insightful is The Vampire Economy by Günter Reimann, a financier in Germany who chronicled the dramatic changes to industrial structures under the Nazis. In a few short years, from 1933 to 1939, a nation of enterprise and small shopkeepers was converted to a corporate-dominated machine that gutted the middle class and cartelized industry in preparation for war.

The book was published in 1939 before the invasion of Poland and the onset of Europe-wide war, and manages to convey the grim reality just before hell broke loose. On a personal note, I spoke to the author (real name: Hans Steinicke) briefly before he died, in order to gain permission to post the book, and he was astonished that anyone cared about it.

“The corruption in fascist countries arises inevitably from the reversal of the roles of the capitalist and the State as wielders of economic power,” wrote Reimann.

The Nazis were not hostile to business as a whole but only opposed traditional, independent, family-owned, small businesses that offered nothing for purposes of nation-building and war planning. The crucial tool to make this happen was establishing the Nazi Party as the central regulator of all enterprises. The large businesses had the resources to comply and the wherewithal to develop good relations with political masters whereas the undercapitalized small businesses were squeezed to the point of extinction. You could make bank under Nazi rules provided you put first things first: regime before customers.

“Most businessmen in a totalitarian economy feel safer if they have a protector in the State or Party bureaucracy,” Reimann writes. “They pay for their protection as did the helpless peasants of feudal days. It is inherent in the present lineup of forces, however, that the official is often sufficiently independent to take the money but fails to provide the protection.”

He wrote of “the decline and ruin of the genuinely independent businessman, who was the master of his enterprise, and exercised his property rights. This type of capitalist is disappearing but another type is prospering. He enriches himself through his Party ties; he himself is a Party member devoted to the Fuehrer, favored by the bureaucracy, entrenched because of family connections and political affiliations. In a number of cases, the wealth of these Party capitalists has been created through the Party’s exercise of naked power. It is to the advantage of these capitalists to strengthen the Party which has strengthened them. Incidentally, it sometimes happens that they become so strong that they constitute a danger to the system, upon which they are liquidated or purged.”

This was particularly true for independent publishers and distributors. Their gradual bankruptcy served to effectively nationalize all surviving media outlets who knew that it was in their interests to echo Nazi Party priorities.

Reimann wrote: “The logical outcome of a fascist system is that all newspapers, news services, and magazines become more or less direct organs of the fascist party and State. They are governmental institutions over which individual capitalists have no control and very little influence except as they are loyal supporters or members of the all-powerful party.”

“Under fascism or any totalitarian regime an editor no longer can act independently,” wrote Reimann. “Opinions are dangerous. He must be willing to print any ‘news’ issued by State propaganda agencies, even when he knows it to be completely at variance with the facts, and he must suppress real news which reflects upon the wisdom of the leader. His editorials can differ from another newspaper’s only in so far as he expresses the same idea in different language. He has no choice between truth and falsehood, for he is merely a State official for whom ‘truth’ and ‘honesty’ do not exist as a moral problem but are identical with the interests of the Party.”

A feature of the policy included aggressive price controls. They did not work to suppress inflation but they were politically useful in other ways. “Under such circumstances nearly every businessman necessarily becomes a potential criminal in the eyes of the Government,” wrote Reimann. “There is scarcely a manufacturer or shopkeeper who, intentionally or unintentionally, has not violated one of the price decrees. This has the effect of lowering the authority of the State; on the other hand, it also makes the State authorities more feared, for no businessman knows when he may be severely penalized.”

From there, Reimann tells many wonderful if chilling stories about, for example, the pig farmer who faced price ceilings on his product and got around them by selling a high-priced dog alongside a low-priced pig, after which the dog was returned. This kind of maneuvering became common.

I can only highly recommend this book as a brilliant inside look at how enterprise functions under a fascist-style regime. The German case was fascism with a racialist and anti-Jewish twist for purposes of political purges. In 1939, it was not entirely obvious how this would end in mass and targeted extermination on a gargantuan scale. The German system in those days bore much resemblance to the Italian case, which was fascism without the ambition of full ethnic cleansing. In that case, it bears examination as a model for how fascism can reveal itself in other contexts.

The best book I’ve seen on the Italian case is John T. Flynn’s 1944 classic As We Go Marching. Flynn was a widely respected journalist, historian, and scholar in the 1930s who was largely forgotten after the war due to his political activities. But his outstanding scholarship stands the test of time. His book deconstructs the history of fascist ideology in Italy from a half-century prior and explains the centralizing ethos of the system, both in politics and economics.

Following an erudite examination of the main theorists, along with Flynn provides a beautiful summary.

Fascism, Flynn writes, is a form of social organization:

1. In which the government acknowledges no restraint upon its powers—totalitarianism.

2. In which this unrestrained government is managed by a dictator—the leadership principle.

3. In which the government is organized to operate the capitalist system and enable it to function under an immense bureaucracy.

4. In which the economic society is organized on the syndicalist model; that is, by producing groups formed into craft and professional categories under supervision of the state.

5. In which the government and the syndicalist organizations operate the capitalist society on the planned, autarchical principle.

6. In which the government holds itself responsible for providing the nation with adequate purchasing power by public spending and borrowing.

7. In which militarism is used as a conscious mechanism of government spending.

8. In which imperialism is included as a policy inevitably flowing from militarism as well as other elements of fascism.

Each point bears longer commentary but let’s focus on number 5 in particular, with its focus on syndicalist organizations. In those days, they were large corporations run with an emphasis on union organization of the workforce. In our own times, these have been replaced by a managerial overclass in tech and pharma that have the ear of government and have developed close ties with the public sector, each depending on the other. Here is where we get the essential bones and meat of why this system is called corporatist.

In today’s polarized political environment, the left continues to worry about unbridled capitalism while the right is forever on the lookout for the enemy of full-blown socialism. Each side has reduced fascistic corporatism to a historical problem on the level of witch burning, fully conquered but useful as a historical reference to form a contemporary insult against the other side.

As a result, and armed with partisan bête noires that bear no resemblance to any really existing threat, hardly anyone who is politically engaged and active is fully aware that there is nothing particularly new about what is called the Great Reset. It is a corporatist model – a combination of the worst of capitalism and socialism without limits – of privileging the elite at the expense of the many, which is why these historical works by Reimann and Flynn seem so familiar to us today.

And yet, for some strange reason, the tactile reality of fascism in practice – not the insult but the historical system – is hardly known either in popular or academic culture. That makes it all the easier to reimplement such a system in our time.

Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
For reprints, please set the canonical link back to the original Brownstone Institute Article and Author.


  • Jeffrey A. Tucker
    Jeffrey Tucker is Founder, Author, and President at Brownstone Institute. He is also Senior Economics Columnist for Epoch Times, author of 10 books, including Life After Lockdown, and many thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press. He speaks widely on topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture.

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From: Broken_Clock5/13/2024 4:22:08 PM
1 Recommendation   of 436144

“About $52 billion, or 31%, of all office loans in commercial mortgage bonds were in trouble in March, according to KBRA Analytics.

“That share is up from 16% a year ago, according to the firm. Some cities have bigger headaches than others, with Chicago and Denver offices having 75% and 65% in jeopardy, respectively.”

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From: Broken_Clock5/17/2024 2:59:38 AM
1 Recommendation   of 436144
Authored by Donald Jeffries via I Protest,

There are only so many ways one can say that America is collapsing. That the Fat Lady is nearing the end of her song. That we’re running on fumes. If Yogi Berra were around, he’d say it’s over. We had a good run, as far as civilizations go. We were the light of the world for a long time. Maybe even Reagan’s shining city upon a hill.


Yesterday, Jason Whitlock reported on one Dexter Taylor, a software engineer who was just convicted and sentenced to ten years for constructing his own guns without a license. Shades of January 6. Taylor is Black, by the way, for those of you to whom that matters. I don’t expect to see former crack dealer turned FBI informant “Reverend” Al Sharpton leading a protest about this particular Black man being a victim of injustice. Our record-setting prisons are overflowing with people like Taylor, of all races. People who most decidedly don’t belong behind bars. Having watched enough of those Investigation Discovery shows, and cops gone wild videos, I often wonder just how many actual criminals are in prison. The system devotes so much effort to framing innocent people, that they may no longer be capable of convicting truly guilty ones.

I could have titled this Substack Whistling Past the American Graveyard. Maybe I should have. But America 2.0 isn’t literally dead yet. On life support? Yes. With an almost certain terminal prognosis? Yes. I used the train wreck analogy because everywhere we look, things are wrecked. A sad vestige of what they were even a decade ago. It’s fitting that we haven’t addressed our Third World infrastructure for over sixty years. What you see is what you get now. America is in critical condition, and it looks it. You can judge this book by its cover. Give me your obese, your tattooed, your weezing, chronically ill with oxygen tanks and walkers. Wretched refuse indeed. Your endless migrants, who don’t speak English and urinate and defecate in public. What’s not to love?

A society is reflected in its leaders. And what leaders America 2.0 has! Our political “representatives” are so dedicated to not representing us that every piece of legislation they pass is assumed to be yet another figurative drone strike to the population. I’ve been a political junkie for over fifty years, and I couldn’t tell you when the last law was passed that benefited the People in the slightest way. That’s why libertarianism, and now anarchy, has become popular. The best we can hope for with these beloved statesmen (and stateswomen, and soon to be statetransgenders), is that they do nothing. That we pay them their generous salaries, and give them the lucrative benefits very few of us get, to maybe rape an underage page, or be bribed by a special interest group. Just don’t pass any legislation. Pretty please.

As I wrote recently in depth about, Americans also have to contend with the occupying force of militarized police officers. They are the standing army Thomas Jefferson warned about. They serve no function other than to annoy, harass, and sometimes kill the befuddled citizens who pay them. They are never there when you need them, and are incapable of solving any real crime. They are good at beating people (as long as you are a vulnerable target who represents no danger to them), planting evidence, and lying on their police reports. But people love them. Jolly coppers on parade, as Randy Newman called them long ago. The best you can hope for is to completely avoid any interaction with them. They are upholding the systemic corruption. Doing the bidding of their masters. Guarding the train wreck.

Our government agencies are all worthless, providing no real services other than to begrudgingly pay us back the money they stole from us (Social Security, Medicare, and Unemployment Compensation), or provide the benefits they promised (military personnel). But, like savage beasts that are always hungry, they must be fed. Paid better than those who pay them, and with much better benefits. While conservatives bemoan “welfare,” which was altered significantly under Bill Clinton, so that fewer people receive less money, they fail to see the federal government itself for what it is: a gigantic, entitled welfare recipient. Think of Reagan’s mythical Welfare Queen. Living it up with house money. Taxpayer money.

To paraphrase Rodney Dangerfield, private industry is no winner, either. Much of it would welcome back child labor. They hate the minimum wage. If we raise it, your Big Mac will cost $50 and all that. They’ve been chipping away at the best legislation of the twentieth century, the 1938 act that created the forty hour work week, overtime, sick and vacation pay. They don’t like paying their lowly serfs time and a half. Remember, this law only came about because of the pressure Huey Long put on the Left, to pass a thirty hour work week, with a month’s paid vacation for all workers. The 1938 act was a watered down version of his ideas, a compromise that was still far better than what workers had before that. Which was basically nothing. I think that 1938 act may have been the last good law, passed eighteen years before I was born.

Corporate America used to represent the epitome of conservatism. Now, they are at least as “Woke” as every government agency is. Say that men can’t have babies at your own risk. Object to some mentally unbalanced co-worker complaining that you don’t respect his/her/its ridiculous new “pronouns,” and be immediately “cancelled.” Without passing “Go” or collecting $200. Say “All Lives Matter.” Wear a MAGA hat. You’ll find that your right to “free expression” is severely restricted. I could never make it in any work environment today. Virtually every word I uttered would be a fireable offense under the “new normal.” And sociable guys like me would be in hot water constantly. Just smiling and saying “hello” to the wrong Karen is no longer permitted. Unless you’re Black. Then be as loud and vulgar as you like. Except saying “9/11 was an inside job,” or talking about the Jews in a loud voice, that is.

Our dystopian downfall might be a bit more tolerable if it had a nice soundtrack. This one doesn’t, because new music has effectively stopped. I don’t consider rap and the American Idol-inspired wailing to be rock or pop music. It’s like the Titanic going down, and the band decides to be fronted by Snoop Dogg and Cardi B. That’s not quite the same as Nearer my God to Thee. And we can’t even watch any good movies or television shows that critique or satirize the madness. That’s because this train wreck can’t even be mentioned, let alone criticized. So we’re forced to watch old movies and television shows instead. It’s a form of therapy, like digitized valium. That’s how I wind down at night. Get lost in that black and white world, with attractive people, simple values, solid acting, writing, and production values.

And then there’s the populace. Sure, there are millions of people awake now, to varying degrees. But millions more are sound asleep. If you try to act as their alarm clock, they can quickly become violent. Against all reason, they appear to like the present situation. They seem to feel there is hope for the future. They recoil at our re-pilled and black-pilled proclamations like we were holding them up at intellectual gunpoint. As e.e. cummings once chided his fellow poet Ezra Pound, who was obsessed with Jews, the Federal Reserve, and unnecessary wars, and involuntarily committed to a mental health facility for a decade by the government, “You bastard- you’re trying to get them to think!” Most people desperately don’t want to think. It’s an ignorance is bliss thing, you wouldn’t understand.

A citizenry basically has two ways to try and reform things. To abolish bad laws and “mandates,” get rid of corrupt leaders, and enact better laws that ensure better leaders. One is by the voting process. As should be obvious by this point, that isn’t an option here. ‘Murricans reelect some 96 percent of the worst people on earth to “represent” them every election. Either this is because they are incurably stupid, or because the votes aren’t honestly counted. Either way, we’re screwed. The other way is by legal redress. Judicial Review, which everyone except Thomas Jefferson, and me, seems to think is the constitutional way to do it. Donald Trump’s and Alex Jones’s show trials alone demonstrate that the legal system is hopelessly compromised, by criminally biased judges, unethical prosecutors, and brainless juries.

The judge in Dexter Taylor’s trial proclaimed that the Second Amendment didn’t exist in her court. These lordly judges seem to think that the courtroom itself is their property, that it belongs to them. Instead of “get off my lawn,” they yell, “you’re in contempt!” So the Constitution she is supposed to be upholding, which includes the Second Amendment, is irrelevant to her. That statement alone would instantly assure her removal from office in an honest society. This obviously isn’t an honest society. And it follows on the heels of all those Trump and Jones’ judges who have decreed that the First Amendment can’t be cited as a defense in their courtroom. All rise! Here comes ‘da judge, as they used to say when you could lampoon such things.

Some allegedly famous “social media influencer” named Haley Kalil, who has some ten million followers on social media, recently scoffed at the unwashed masses by quoting Marie Antoinette’s iconic “Let them eat cake.” And to think, I can’t even get 5,000 followers on the platform formerly known as Twitter. Now, it’s highly unlikely that young Haley has even heard of Marie Antoinette. She certainly doesn’t have the mental acuity to realize how that sounds. What she is representing. But some other celebrities, as crazed as they are themselves, became incensed enough at the remark to announce that they were going to subject her to the digitine- the digitalized guillotine. I’m impressed that any young celebrity knows the connection between Marie Antoinette and the guillotine. So I guess that’s a positive development.

If present-day Americans had anything of the mindset of the eighteenth century French, or the American colonists, then they would have long ago started sharpening some real guillotines. I must stress that I am not supporting guillotining anyone. I oppose capital punishment. Period. Whatever the French monarchy was doing to the masses in the late 1700s certainly cannot compare to the tyranny we see in America today, or really everywhere around the world. Taxes on tea and stamps are laughable compared to the unfair and unjust monolithic establishment present-day Americans must contend with. Someone in an American courtroom faces the same cruel and unusual punishment which is forbidden under the Constitution, every day in this country. And we still have that whole “taxation without representation” thing.

RFK, Jr.’s recent inexplicable disclosure that he had suffered from a brain worm, which caused him to lose some cognitive function, really hammered home how tragically comic things are. We have Joe Biden, so obviously suffering from dementia that he wouldn’t be trusted by the average nursing home to lead a transgender story time hour, and Donald Trump, who if you accept him at face value (which I don’t), has the emotional maturity of a twelve year old. And now Bobby, Jr. With a worm in his head. Not exactly Jefferson vs. Adams. But many- perhaps millions- still believe the “White Hats” are just around the corner. Despite no evidence of any good people in power anywhere, some still trust that they will save us.

So all aboard the American train wreck. It’s not going anywhere, but you’ll need to give your ticket to the conductor anyway. You’re forced to watch (and finance) inaction in motion. Just don’t point out it’s not moving. There are a lot of fellow passengers that will want to punch you for that. To them, it’s the best ride they’ve ever been on. Maybe they can keep this facade up a bit longer. Look what they’re doing with the stock market. Even evil magicians can work wonders. This is still the greatest country in the world. Love it or leave it. Pull yourself up by the bootstraps. Those who don’t work don’t eat. Choose your pronouns wisely. And stay on this wreck. We’re number one! And we prosecute dissenters.

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From: Thomas M.6/3/2024 7:52:45 PM
2 Recommendations   of 436144
Unrealized losses in the US banking system are climbing once again.

In its latest Quarterly Banking Profile report, the FDIC notes that banks now face over half a trillion dollars in paper losses on their balance sheets, primarily due to their exposure to the residential real estate market. These unrealized losses, the gap between the purchase price of securities and their current market value, are becoming a significant burden.

The FDIC also highlighted a rise in the number of lenders on its Problem Bank List last quarter. These banks are teetering on the brink of insolvency due to various weaknesses.

“The number of banks on the Problem Bank List, those with a CAMELS composite rating of ‘4’ or ‘5’, rose from 52 in the fourth quarter of 2023 to 63 in the first quarter of 2024. This figure represents 1.4% of all banks, a range considered normal for non-crisis periods, typically between 1% and 2%. The total assets held by problem banks increased by $15.8 billion to $82.1 billion during the quarter,” the FDIC stated.


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From: Thomas M.6/6/2024 11:57:12 AM
   of 436144
Credit card delinquencies are rising fast.


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From: Broken_Clock6/11/2024 12:56:49 PM
1 Recommendation   of 436144
Crypto Just Got Exponentially More Dangerous: Meet Fairshake

Katie Porter, Target of Fairshake Attack Ads

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: June 11, 2024 ~

The first thing you need to know about crypto is that some of the smartest minds in investment and technology have studied crypto carefully and determined it’s a total sham.

In July 2019, NYU Professor and economist Nouriel Roubini summed up his findings like this:

“Crypto currencies are not even currencies. They’re a joke…The price of Bitcoin has fallen in a week by how much – 30 percent. It goes up 20 percent one day, collapses the next. It is not a means of payment, nobody, not even this blockchain conference, accepts Bitcoin for paying for conference fees cause you can do only five transactions per second with Bitcoin. With the Visa system you can do 25,000 transactions per second…Crypto’s nonsense. It’s a failure. Nobody’s using it for any transactions. It’s trading one sh*tcoin for another sh*tcoin. That’s the entire trading or currency in the space where’s there’s price manipulation, spoofing, wash trading, pump and dumping, frontrunning. It’s just a big criminal scam and nothing else.”

On June 1, 2022, more than 1,600 computer scientists, software engineers and technologists from around the world sent a letter to key members of the U.S. Congress and to the Chairs of the Senate Banking and House Financial Services Committees, disputing that crypto was a worthwhile financial innovation. Among the signatories to the letter were 45 experts who worked at Google; 19 from Microsoft; 11 from Apple; and Ph.Ds from the most prestigious universities in the world, including Oxford and MIT. These experts told Congress the following:

“We strongly disagree with the narrative — peddled by those with a financial stake in the crypto-asset industry— that these technologies represent a positive financial innovation and are in any way suited to solving the financial problems facing ordinary Americans…

“As software engineers and technologists with deep expertise in our fields, we dispute the claims made in recent years about the novelty and potential of blockchain technology. Blockchain technology cannot, and will not, have transaction reversal or data privacy mechanisms because they are antithetical to its base design. Financial technologies that serve the public must always have mechanisms for fraud mitigation and allow a human-in-the-loop to reverse transactions; blockchain permits neither.”

In February of last year, the Wall Street Journal gave the iconic investor, Charlie Munger, space for a 393-word OpEd on crypto. Munger, who died in November of last year at age 99, used the space to urge the U.S. to ban crypto, as China and numerous other countries have already done. Munger wrote this:

“…A cryptocurrency is not a currency, not a commodity, and not a security. Instead, it’s a gambling contract with a nearly 100% edge for the house, entered into in a country where gambling contracts are traditionally regulated only by states that compete in laxity. Obviously, the U.S. should now enact a new federal law that prevents this from happening.”

But even after the FTX crypto exchange and Sam Bankman-Fried and his colleagues perpetrated one of the largest financial frauds in U.S. history, billionaire investors in crypto companies are still getting their way with far too many members of the U.S. Congress in exchange for fat political contributions.

In February and March, the crypto billionaires became exponentially more dangerous. They decided they were going to knock Congresswoman Katie Porter out of the running for a U.S. Senate seat. What was Porter’s transgression against crypto? In January 2022, Porter had joined with Senator Elizabeth Warren and other Democrats in Congress in investigating the inherent dangers between crypto, energy usage and dangerous heating of the planet. A press statement summarized their concerns as follows:

“Bitcoin is the largest cryptocurrency by market cap, and the United States’ share of Bitcoin mining increased from 4% in August 2019 to 35% in July 2021. This share of mining is growing even more rapidly after China’s crackdown on cryptomining, which left 500,000 mining operations looking for new locations. This could push North America to represent over 40% of the total global computing power dedicated to mining Bitcoin. As more cryptomining operations proliferate in the United States, the extraordinary energy use raises alarms about massive carbon emissions and the impacts of this energy consumption on consumer energy prices. A recent study estimated that cryptomining in upstate New York raised annual electric bills by about $165 million for small businesses and $79 million for consumers.”

The famously outspoken Porter ( armed with her whiteboard and Harvard Law degree) could have posed a bigger problem in the Senate than she already does for crypto in the House. So a small group of crypto billionaires decided to simply take Porter out of contention for a Senate seat by spending an acknowledged $10,041,118.54 on grossly misleading attack ads against Porter, falsely claiming she was taking money from Big Oil, Big Pharma and Big Banks. Because Porter’s House term is up in January, she will no longer be a problem for crypto in either the Senate or House come next year.

The funding for the attack ads came from a Super Pac with the Orwellian, reverse-speak name of “Fairshake” – exactly what it did not want to give to Porter.

As of April 30, Fairshake has taken in $92.87 million in political contributions with the vast bulk of that coming from a handful of tightly-linked crypto interests related to the crypto exchange — Coinbase — according to records at the Federal Election Commission. Coinbase and its payments arm, Coinbase Commerce, contributed over $51.5 million — 55 percent of the total of all receipts at Fairshake thus far.

A major investor in Coinbase, Marc Andreessen, of the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz (a/k/a AH Capital Management), chipped in $9.5 million. His partner in AH Capital Management, Ben Horowitz, added another $9.5 million.

Not wanting to look like pikers – given the huge sum contributed from publicly-traded Coinbase – AH Capital Management itself chipped in $19 million.

The Chairman and CEO of Coinbase, Brian Armstrong, handed Fairshake a cool $1 million. The Lead Independent Director on the Board of Coinbase, Fred Wilson, gave Fairshake $1,047,540.

Coinbase-related contributions to Fairshake represent 98.5 percent of its total receipts thus far.

Unfortunately, knocking out Porter does not appear to be game-over for Fairshake. Two other Senators who are crypto skeptics are running for re-election: Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Chair of the powerful Senate Banking Committee, and Jon Tester (D-MT).

Fairshake has thus far spent just $40.6 million of its $92.87 million haul.

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To: Broken_Clock who wrote (436142)6/14/2024 4:30:18 AM
From: maceng2
   of 436144
Certainly some questions worth asking, no matter what side of the aisle you are on.

Cryptocurrency industry lobbying and political contributions skyrocketed in 2022 • OpenSecrets

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