Saturday, October 17, 2020

“Broke Americans Keep Spending; Real Estate Crash Imminent; Home Equity Loans Buy Time; Debt Kills”

Jeremiah Babe,
“Broke Americans Keep Spending; Real Estate Crash Imminent; 
Home Equity Loans Buy Time; Debt Kills”
"This is a nightmare. A nightmare on Constitution Avenue."

Musical Interlude: 2002, “Even Now”

2002, “Even Now”

"A Look to the Heavens"

“Point your telescope toward the high flying constellation Pegasus and you can find this expanse of Milky Way stars and distant galaxies. Centered on NGC 7814, the pretty field of view would almost be covered by a full moon. NGC 7814 is sometimes called the Little Sombrero for its resemblance to the brighter more famous M104, the Sombrero Galaxy. 

Both Sombrero and Little Sombrero are spiral galaxies seen edge-on, and both have extensive central bulges cut by a thinner disk with dust lanes in silhouette. In fact, NGC 7814 is some 40 million light-years away and an estimated 60,000 light-years across. That actually makes the Little Sombrero about the same physical size as its better known namesake, appearing to be smaller and fainter only because it is farther away. A very faint dwarf galaxy, potentially a satellite of NGC 7814, is revealed in the deep exposure just below the Little Sombrero.”



"Good Or Bad..."

"Good or bad, everything we do is our best choice at that moment."
- William Glasser

"I Reveal Myself..."

“At this point I reveal myself in my true colors, as a stick-in-the-mud. I hold a number of beliefs that have been repudiated by the liveliest intellects of our time. I believe order is better than chaos, creation better than destruction. I prefer gentleness to violence, forgiveness to vendetta. On the whole I think that knowledge is preferable to ignorance, and I am sure that human sympathy is more valuable than ideology. I believe that in spite of the recent triumphs of science, men haven’t changed much in the last two thousand years; and in consequence we must try to learn from history. History is ourselves.

I believe in courtesy, the ritual by which we avoid hurting other people’s feelings, by satisfying our own egos. And I think we should remember that we are all part of a great whole, which for convenience we call nature. All living things are our brothers and sisters.”
- Kenneth Clark, “Civilization”

The Daily "Near You?"

Warrenton, Virginia, USA. Thanks for stopping by!

The Poet: James Broughton, "Having Come This Far"

"Having Come This Far"

"I've been through what my through was to be,
I did what I could and couldn't.
I was never sure how I would get there.
I nourished an ardor for thresholds,
for stepping stones and for ladders,
I discovered detour and ditch.
I swam in the high tides of greed,
I built sandcastles to house my dreams.
I survived the sunburns of love.

No longer do I hunt for targets.
I've climbed all the summits I need to,
and I've eaten my share of lotus.
Now I give praise and thanks
for what could not be avoided,
and for every foolhardy choice.
I cherish my wounds and their cures,
and the sweet enervations of bliss.
My book is an open life.

I wave goodbye to the absolutes,
and send my regards to infinity.
I'd rather be blithe than correct.
Until something transcendent turns up,
I splash in my poetry puddle,
and try to keep God amused."

- James Broughton

"Whatever Your Fate Is..."

“Whatever your fate is, whatever the hell happens, you say, “This is what I need.” It may look like a wreck, but go at it as though it were an opportunity, a challenge. If you bring love to that moment- not discouragement- you will find the strength there. Any disaster you can survive is an improvement in your character, your stature, and your life. What a privilege! This is when the spontaneity of your own nature will have a chance to flow. Then, when looking back at your life, you will see that the moments which seemed to be great failures, followed by wreckage, were the incidents that shaped the life you have now. You’ll see this is really true. Nothing can happen to you that is not positive. Even though it looks and feels at the moment like a negative crisis, it is not. The crisis throws you back, and when you are required to exhibit strength, it comes.”
~ Joseph Campbell

“Are People Really Stupid?”

“Are People Really Stupid?”
by Fred Russell

“Five percent of the people think; 
ten percent of the people think they think; 
and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think.”
- Thomas Edison

“On the face of things – judging from the general level of knowledge and understanding, not to mention the intellectual pursuits, of most of the human race – one is tempted to say that the overwhelming majority of mankind lacks the intellectual capacity, the intelligence, to contribute to human progress. And it is in fact a very small elite that has carried us beyond Neanderthal Man, without whom, if the truth be told, we might still be living in caves. It is, in a word, appalling to contemplate the level at which ordinary people use their minds – what they read, if at all, what they watch on TV, the movies they go out and see, and the ease with which they are seduced and manipulated by the technicians of the psyche, namely, politicians and advertisers. 

The impression one gets when contemplating these tens and hundreds of millions of people glued to their TV screens for the reality shows and sitcoms or fiddling with their smartphones from morning till night is of complete empty-headedness. This is not to say that such people cannot be shrewd, resourceful, or, for that matter, simply decent. It is to say that at the average level of intelligence displayed by the human race, the great intellectual achievements of mankind seem to be beyond the scope of the vast majority of men and women. But are people really stupid? And if they aren’t, who or what has held them back?

Now one may be inclined to place all the blame for our ignorance on the television producers and gadget makers, but the truth is that by the time they get to us the damage has already been done. All they really succeed in doing is dragging us down a little further. The problem starts in childhood. It starts in the schools with all those empty cells waiting to be filled and no one, not entire educational systems, really knowing how to fill them. In fact, the opposite result is achieved. By the time the child finishes elementary school, unless he is destined to join the intellectual or scientific or economic or political elite and is self-motivated, as the saying goes, he will have developed an aversion to the learning process that will persist for the rest of his life.

It is not hard to understand why. School bores him, and oppresses him. Its premise, fostered in the West by the Church – the virtually exclusive supplier of teachers until fairly recent times, historically speaking – is that as a consequence of Original Sin all men are born evil and must therefore be coerced into doing what is good. The result has been rigidly structured frameworks where teachers hammer away at the captive child until his head is ready to explode. Within just a few years, the public school system thus destroys the natural curiosity of the child and dooms him to a life of total ignorance, dependent, for whatever sense of the world he does have, on second-rate journalists, who themselves lack the knowledge, understanding, discipline and integrity to be historians or even novelists and therefore shape his perception like the ignorant clerics of the Middle Ages, raining down on his head a disjointed and superficial body of information presented largely to produce effects, and even this is beyond his capacity to retain. The man in the street may thus be said to have a great many opinions but very little knowledge, mindlessly repeating the half-truths of “experts” and “analysts” who reflect his own biases and constructing out of them a “credo” of dogmatic views that remain embedded in his mind for an entire lifetime like bricks in a brick wall.

Does it matter? After all, we have all the scholars and scientists we need, and besides, a world where everyone became one would be a dull place indeed. It can even be argued that it is better for the race if progress is opposed, since, judging from its products, it mostly expresses itself materially and economically in an unholy alliance of greed and technology. However, progress of this kind cannot be fought if all that people have on their minds is to wire themselves into this technology, and that is what they will be doing until their minds are engaged in less frivolous pursuits. They are thus doubly victimized, first by the schools, whose methods are not attuned to the temperament and capacity of the average child, and then by the economic elites who control the technologies and consequently the flow of information and whose only interest in the man in the street is as a consumer of their products.

Unfortunately, there is very little hope that any of this will change. The wrong people control human society and will continue to do so, because they created the model and are the only ones who know how to operate it. The sad truth is that today’s man in the street is neither wiser nor more knowledgeable than a medieval peasant. Calling ourselves Homo sapiens, or even Homo sapiens sapiens, seemed like a good idea once but very few of us have lived up to the billing.”



"Life Within The Matrix Is Our Future"

"Life Within The Matrix Is Our Future"
by Paul Craig Roberts

"The question each of us needs to ask ourselves, and one another, is why do we get so much misinformation about Covid from public health authorities, political authorities, and press prostitutes? We get a lot of misinformation from health practitioners, because they get the bogus information from health authorities and from researchers associated with Big Pharma. But why do health authorities themselves lie to us?

Take the issue of masks. The masks being worn by the vast majority of the world population, including health care providers, cannot prevent the inhalation and exhalation of bacteria and viruses. If a person wearing one of these masks is sick with a cold, flu, or Covid, the mask can prevent the person from sneezing and coughing on others, countertops, and fresh produce. But the masks cannot prevent the wearer from breathing in and exhaling out Covid, which is airborn and aerosol spread. The only people who should be wearing one of these masks are people who are out in public areas coughing and sneezing among other people. To avoid the spread of the virus, infected people should stay at home.

If the masks people are wearing protected against bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens, there would be no point in N95 and higher rated masks. Medical authorities know this, so why are people told, indeed forced, to wear ineffectual masks?

This is an especially troubling question when experts unaffiliated with Big Pharma tell us that wearing a mask is dangerous as it reduces oxygen intake and increases CO 2 intake. This expert tells us that wearing a mask causes brain damage that cannot be reversed. Why do health authorities want to stunt children’s development and increase dementia among the elderly? This doctor tells us that mask wearing is increasing bacterial pneumonias.

Public health authorities know that the Covid death rate is greatly exaggerated. Hospitals are economically incentivized to report all deaths as Covid deaths. The CDC itself let the cat out of the bag when it reported that among the 200,000 US Covid deaths, only 9,000 were due to Covid alone. All others had in addition to Covid 2.6 fatal comorbidities. Deaths are concentrated in an elderly population with comorbidities, and those infected, if they were and it wasn’t a false positive, could as easily have died from seasonal flu.

Perhaps without meaning to, the World Health Organization (WHO) seems to have confirmed that Covid is no more dangerous than flu. So, why do public health authorities withhold this information from political authorities and the public, and why do reporters not ferret it out? The information exists. It just isn’t reported. Public heath authorities also know that the number of Covid cases is vastly overstated, because the PCR test produces more false positives than correct positives.

An international group of lawyers has concluded based on evidence provided in expert testimony that the Covid Pandemic is an orchestration that has served powerful interests at the expense of the public’s health. The doctors acknowledge that Covid itself is real, but the pandemic that has been built around it is not.

It is possible that the courts are as corrupted as the media and democratic institutions, and that nothing will come of the lawyers’ efforts. Nevertheless, neither Americans nor other peoples need to cling to their gullibility and behave as sheep programmed by “authorities” who are serving every interest but public health.

As I have reported in previous columns, Covid is being used to serve many interests. Among them, Covid is being used to complete the universal Police State by digitizing money. Once electronic money takes the place of currency, checks, and coins, your financial privacy and your control over your money and wealth will disappear. The government will know every payment you make and receive, and your access to your own income and wealth can be curtailed at the whim of the government and those who control the digitized monetary system. There will be no way that you can accumulate cash reserves as protection against your dispossession.

Private cryptocurrencies will be destroyed, and a black market fueled by gold and silver coins can be prevented by seizing gold and silver holdings. The Great Liberal Hero Franklin D. Roosevelt was able to take gold out of Americans’ hands with the technology of the 1930s. Today it would be a cinch.

Authorities have many Americans terrified of Covid infection. People scared out of their minds can’t wait for the unneeded and insufficiently tested vaccine. The HCQ/zinc cure works, but continues to be demonized by public health authorities in order to keep the market primed for a vaccine that contains elements we know not what.

Over the course of our history we Americans have been deceived about many things for the sake of political agendas. The length of the list depends on how far you want to go back. Let’s just start with the 20 years of the 21st century - September 11, 2001, Osama bin Laden and the Talliban, Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, the endless lies about Gadaffi and Libya, Russian invasion of Ukraine, Assad’s use of chemical weapons, Russiagate, Impeachgate, Russian bounties to the Taliban to kill American soldiers, the lies about China, Somalia, and now the Covid Deception.

Are Americans capable of learning? How many lies do they have to be told before they begin to wonder? It is not entirely their fault. The explanations given them are controlled and aligned with their innate biases. Super patriots, for example, love to have enemies to denounce, and you can hear rightwing talk radio denouncing China, Russia, and Iran daily. The left loves to hear confirmation of their belief in the evil that is America. The left has glorified in the rioting, looting, and destruction that resulted from press prostitutes withholding the fact that George Floyd died from an overdose of fentanyl.

The younger generations have never been taught how to think. Instead, they are taught what to think. You see the result in the majority white presence in Antifa and Black Lives Matter.

Throughout the Western world facts have given way to emotions. The concept of independent truth itself has been lost. Truth is whatever serves the agenda. You can see this in Assange’s trial underway in a British court. The Judge and prosecutor have no interest in any evidence, only in delivering the result demanded by the agenda.

Science itself is imperiled as there are only race and gender truths. Media serves money and ideologies. Universities and public schools are a great danger to the societies that host them.

Truth-tellers, at first ostracized and shoved aside are now being criminalized with the help of the media. The bought-and-paid-for Western media no longer expects to be free and will take no risk in behalf of the First Amendment. The Western media are helping to destroy the last Western journalist - Julian Assange. Without a media there is no accountable government and no democracy. Voting becomes impotent as in Stalinist Russia. Voting is used to give legitimacy to whatever government those who rule have decided upon.

Donald Trump will be the last American president who tried to put the people’s interest above those of the ruling elites. Henceforth, all presidential candidates will understand that their political success depends only on being the best puppet for the Establishment."

"How It Really Is"

"Covid-19 Pandemic Updates 10/17/20"


Oct 17, 2020, 1:37 PM ET:
The coronavirus pandemic has sickened more than 39,481,000 
people, according to official counts, including 8,122,865 Americans.

      Oct 17, 2020 1:37 PM ET: 
Coronavirus in the U.S.: Latest Map and Case Count
Updated 10/17/20, 10:24 AM ET
Click image for larger size.
A highly recommended "must read":

Free Download: Albert Camus, “The Plague”

“Everyone knows that plagues have a way of recurring throughout history, yet somehow we find it hard to believe in the ones that crash down on us out of the sky. There have always been plagues and wars, yet they always take us by surprise. When war breaks out people say it’s stupid and won’t last long. Stupidity has a knack of getting in the way, which we would see if not wrapped up in ourselves. In this our townsfolk were like everybody else – they did not believe in plagues.”
- Albert Camus, “The Plague”

Freely download “The Plague”, by Albert Camus, here:

"The 'Titanic' Analogy You Haven't Heard: Passively Accepting Oblivion"

"The 'Titanic' Analogy You Haven't Heard: 
Passively Accepting Oblivion"
by Charles Hugh Smith

You've undoubtedly heard rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic as an analogy for the futility of approving policy tweaks to address systemic crises. I've used the Titanic as an anology to explain the fragility of our financial system and the "glancing blow" of the pandemic:

But there's a powerful analogy you haven't heard before. To understand the analogy, we first need to recap the tragedy's basic set-up.

On April 14, 1912, the liner Titanic, considered unsinkable due to its watertight compartments, struck a glancing blow against a massive iceberg on that moonless, weirdly calm night. In the early hours of April 15, the great ship broke in half and sank, ending the lives of the majority of its passengers and crew. Of the 2,208 passengers and crew onboard, 1,503 perished and 705 survived. The lifeboats had a maximum capacity of 1,178, so some 475 people died unnecessarily. Passengers of the Titanic (Wikipedia)

The initial complacency of the passengers and crew after the collision is another source of analogies relating to humanity's near-infinite capacity for denial. The class structure of the era was enforced by the authorities - the ship's officers. As the situation grew visibly threatening, the First Class passengers were herded into the remaining lifeboats while the steerage/Third Class passengers - many of them immigrants - were mostly kept below decks. Officers were instructed to enforce this class hierarchy with their revolvers.

Two-thirds of all passengers died, but the losses were not evenly distributed: 39% of First Class passengers perished, 58% of Second Class passengers lost their lives and 76% of Third Class passengers did not survive.

Rudimentary calculations by the ship's designer, who was on board to oversee the maiden voyage, revealed the truth to the officers: the ship would sink and there was no way to stop it. The ship was designed to survive four watertight compartments being compromised, and could likely stay afloat if five were opened to the sea, but not if six compartments were flooded. Water would inevitably spill over into adjacent compartments in a domino-like fashion until the ship sank.

What did the authorities do with this knowledge? Stripped of niceties, they passively accepted oblivion as the outcome and devoted their resources to enforcing the class hierarchy and the era's gender chivalry: 80% of male passengers perished, 25% of female passengers lost their lives. The loading of passengers into lifeboats was so poorly managed that only 60% of the lifeboat capacity was filled.

What if the officers had boldly accepted the inevitability of the ship sinking early on and devised a plan to minimize the loss of life? It would not have takes any extraordinary leap of creativity to organize the crew and passenger volunteers to strip the ship of everything that floated - wooden deck chairs, etc. - and lash them together into rafts. Given the calm seas that night and the freezing water, just keeping people above water would have been enough.

Rather than promote the absurd charade that the ship was fine, just fine, when time was of the essence, the authorities could have rounded up the women and children and filled every seat on lifeboats. Of the 1,030 people who could not be placed in a lifeboat, 890 were crew members, including about 25 women. The crew members were almost all in the prime of life. If anyone could survive several hours on a partially-submerged raft, it would have been the crew. (The first rescue ship arrived about two hours after the Titanic sank.)

Would this hurried effort to save everyone on board have succeeded? At a minimum, it would have saved an additional 475 souls via a careful loading of the lifeboats to capacity, and if the makeshift rafts had offered any meaningful flotation at all, many more lives would have been saved. Rather than devote resources to maintaining the pretense of safety and order, what if the ship's leaders had focused their response around answering a simple question: what was needed for people to survive a freezing night once the lifeboats were filled and the ship sank?

I think you see the analogy to the present. Our leadership, such as it is, is devoting resources to maintaining the absurd pretense that everything will magically re-set to September 2019 if we just print enough money and bail out the financial Aristocracy.

Whether we realize it or not, we're responding with passive acceptance of oblivion. The economy and social order were precariously fragile before the pandemic, and now the fragilities are unraveling. We need to start thinking beyond pretense and PR."
Full screen mode recommended.

"Even This Was A Lie..."

“They couldn’t have known that even this was a lie – that we never really choose, not entirely. We are always being pushed and squeezed down one road or another. We have no choice but to step forward, and then step forward again, and then step forward again; suddenly we find ourselves on a road we haven’t chosen at all. But maybe happiness isn’t in the choosing. Maybe it’s in the fiction, in the pretending: that wherever we have ended up is where we intended to be all along.”
- Lauren Oliver

Greg Hunter, "Emails Reveal Bidens are Treasonous – Kevin Shipp"

"Emails Reveal Bidens are Treasonous – Kevin Shipp"
By Greg Hunter’s

"Former CIA Officer and counter-terrorism expert Kevin Shipp says new emails released about the business dealings of Hunter Biden show Vice President Joe Biden was personally involved in his son’s business dealings in China and Ukraine. For many months, Joe Biden said he does not know anything about Hunter’s business, but newly released emails say that is a lie and treasonous. Shipp explains, “They dealt with a Chinese espionage firm, and, yes, it is treasonous, I agree 100%. It has implicated that the Vice President of the United States was aware his son was meeting with top China communist officials both in the banks and in this private firm that was known for espionage. The Vice President was aware of his son’s business dealings with these companies. That is treasonous.”

On the failed coup of President Trump, new declassified documents prove that the so-called “Crossfire Hurricane” and the FISA spy warrants were an illegal operation by the Shadow Government and the Obama Administration that was totally made up. It was a scam and a witch hunt to remove President Trump from office, and, yet, Attorney General William Barr has done nothing. Shipp says, “It was a soft coup. There is no question about it. No one involved has been indicted or even told they were a subject of a criminal investigation. None of the main players involved has that happened to. That is extremely concerning. Trump is very upset with Barr, and he’s saying it publicly. He’s very upset, and his family has been put through this, and nothing has come out with the Barr/Durham investigation. The chances of Barr being fired with a Trump victory are pretty strong.”

Shipp, who wrote “From the Company of Shadows” in 2012, detailed a firsthand account about how the Shadow Government works for evil. Shipp says, “What these people have done is weaponized the existing Shadow Government. There is a difference between the Shadow Government and the Deep State. I am talking about the secret intelligence agencies. What these people did was weaponized the existing system that I have been blowing the whistle about since 2012. This is an unconstitutional system that they use to target people, and they get away with it.”

Shipp says, “Trump is going to win by a landslide, but people should expect significant violence in the streets. You should plan accordingly.”

In this 40 minute interview, Shipp talks about the possibility of a future war with China and its troubled economy. Shipp also gives his analysis about the U.S. economy and predicts that we are “heading for a serious crisis” too.

Join Greg Hunter as he goes One-on-One with former 
CIA Officer and counter-intelligence expert Kevin Shipp.

"All Earthly Empires Die"

"All Earthly Empires Die"
by Bill Bonner

"'Amor fati' was Nietzsche’s famous expression. It is a Latin phrase with connections to the Stoic writings of Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius. Literally translated, it means “love of fate.” It is a white shoe yearning for mud. It is a turkey looking forward to Thanksgiving. Or an investor stoically preparing for a bear market.

We use the term to describe the grace and courage you need to meet a complex, unknowable, and uncontrollable future. You don’t know whether the Earth is warming or cooling… whether it is good or bad… or whether you can do anything about it. You don’t know who’s doing “equal work.” You don’t know what equality is… how to measure it… or what to do about it. You don’t know who the bad guy is. It may even be you. It recognizes that we are all God’s fools, living in a world of ignorance, headed towards we don’t know where. Using our brains, we can make progress in our physical, material world. Technical thinking yields pyramids and Eiffel Towers.

Ignorance Everywhere: But there is another part of life, which has a mind of its own. It does not bend readily to our desires or yield to our intelligence. It is the part of life whose purposes are unknown. The first and most important Commandment, according to Jesus, was not to fight it, but to love it.

But ignorance can be a charm. You just have to take it seriously. And appreciate it. Recognizing your own ignorance will inform your newfound modesty. You will be aware of it. And fiercely proud. Nobody will be humbler than you are! And since you are so chummy with ignorance, you will see it everywhere – in every headline, every public announcement, every speech on the floor of the Senate… and every crackpot comment from every dummy voter in the empire.

In private affairs, you reduce uncertainty by getting as close to the subject as possible. That is, you avoid secondhand “news” and try to find out for yourself. The more you know about a company, for example, the more confident you can be about investing in it. That’s why the insiders always have the inside track, an advantage that is increased by the Securities and Exchange Commission’s phony “level playing field” propaganda. In public affairs – policy discussions, economics, politics – as you get closer, you become less cocksure. That is, the more you know, the more you know you don’t know.

In an interesting university study, people were asked to pick out Ukraine on a map… and whether they approved of military intervention in that country. Curiously, the further off they were on the geography (the average guess was 1,800 miles off), the more they favored forceful intervention. In public affairs, ignorance and confidence vary inversely.

Moral Certainty: When we first moved to Baltimore in the 1980s, we noticed this phenomenon in another context. Baltimore was a disaster. Crime, drugs, poverty, venereal disease, broken homes, unwed mothers, corruption – name a social problem; Baltimore had it. And while its leaders had been noticeably unable to solve any of these problems right in their own back yard, the city’s politically correct politicians were loud and clear on one issue: apartheid had to end… in South Africa. Had they ever visited South Africa? Could they find it on a map? Probably not. But they were sure they knew how to make it a better place.

“Moral certainty is always a sign of cultural inferiority,” wrote Baltimore’s own H.L. Mencken. “The more uncivilized the man, the surer he is that he knows precisely what is right and what is wrong. All human progress, even in morals, has been the work of men who have doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried to enforce them. The truly civilized man is always skeptical and tolerant, in this field as in all others. His culture is based on ‘I am not too sure.’”

“I am not too sure,” would eliminate many of the world’s myth-driven, self-inflicted ills – pointless wars, dumb arguments, pogroms, persecutions, and lynchings. And reckless spending of other people’s money.

Imagine a wise Hitler entertaining the idea of building Auschwitz as a “final solution” to the “Jewish problem.” “Hmmm… I’m not too sure that would solve it… In fact, I’m not too sure there is a problem!”

Imagine Simon de Montfort readying to attack the town of Albi to exterminate the “heretics.” When told that half the people in the town were good Catholics, de Montfort replied: “Kill them all. God will recognize His own.” Suppose he had thought twice… “Hmmm… Maybe this is not such a good idea… Maybe killing people is not what Christianity is all about… Maybe the heretics aren’t so bad… Maybe I’ll take the afternoon off.”

Unwarranted Confidence: The barroom blowhard… so sure he is right about everything… is generally the dumbest guy in the place. And the most dangerous. He’s the one who will stir up a mob… and get himself elected president. The whole system of modern public policy is built on false knowledge and unwarranted confidence. The elite claims to know what is best for you. That is how every politician can claim his proposals would “benefit the American people.” But the only program that would benefit the American people would be to let them decide for themselves what would benefit them. Give them back their money. Stop bossing them around. End the wars. Stop the empire. But who would suggest such a thing?

A book that appeared in 2018, "Psychology of a Superpower: Security and Dominance in U.S. Foreign Policy", by political scientist Christopher Fettweis, argued that power really does corrupt, and that when a nation or an empire gets too much power, its elite develops new opinions.

Rather than seeing itself as one of many nations that must get along with each other, its elites begin to see that they have a special role to play. They become the one, “indispensable” nation, as former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright put it. They are the world’s only hope in combatting evil, which they do, as then Secretary of State Mike Pompeo elaborated, with “the righteous knowledge that our cause is just, special, and built upon America’s core principles.”

Thus endowed with a special mission and special powers, and subject to the special rules of the only nation with a trillion-dollar-per-year military/empire budget, the elite develop, in Fettweis’s judgment, a fatal combination of unrestrained hubris, unrealistic paranoia, and unrepentant ignorance. They see danger everywhere, without undertaking any serious study (they assume knowledge comes automatically with raw power). And they think they have not only the right, but the means, to do something about it, even if the danger is largely fantasy.

Damned to Hell: But people always come to think what they need to think when they need to think it. “All earthly empires die,” wrote St. Augustine in 413, a few years before the Vandals destroyed his city and finally brought down the Roman Empire in the West.

The elite contribute, by taking up the myths that help it die. Certainty and ignorance vary proportionally, both on the individual and on a national level. The surer a nation is of its myths… its exceptionalism… its manifest destiny… its policies… and its position at the right hand of God… the more it is damned to Hell."
Related, highly recommended:

Friday, October 16, 2020

Musical Interlude: Mecano, "Hijo de la Luna"

Mecano, "Hijo de la Luna"

"The Collapse Is Confirmed: Job Losses Ramp Up Again As Millions Of Americans Slide Into Poverty"

"The Collapse Is Confirmed: Job Losses Ramp Up 
Again As Millions Of Americans Slide Into Poverty"
by Epic Economist

"A recent study has shown that over 8 million Americans have fallen into poverty this year. Meanwhile, the mainstream media insists that we're in the middle of a significant economic rebound, even though numbers have repeatedly proved the opposite. In fact, another 898,000 new unemployment claims were filed last week, the highest weekly spike since August. 

In this video, we question the mainstream media’s assessment about the misleading reviews of the economy collapse, and present a realistic interpretation of the latest studies that warn further millions could be pushed into the poverty line by the end of the year.

Since the lockdown started and business activities were shutdown pushing millions of workers out of their posts and leaving them reliant on the unemployment checks, the number of vulnerable households has exploded. Sadly, when the stimulus wore off and the benefits were interrupted, many of these families found themselves in desperate situations. They are now facing the threat of losing their homes and going through a difficult winter of acute food insecurity. 

According to the Columbia University study, approximately 8 million Americans have slid into poverty since May. The monthly poverty rate for September was higher than rates during April or May, and it also topped pre-crisis levels, due to the expiration of the CARES Act’s stimulus checks and $600 per week supplement to unemployment benefits. At the same time, the Labor Department announced a spike of nearly 900,000 new claims last week. Which means future poverty rates are expected to present even larger numbers. 

Amid a second round of lay-offs, a surge in infection cases, and deadlocked talks over new stimulus, a separate study by researchers at Notre Dame and the University of Chicago, discovered that 6 million people have slipped into poverty just in the last three months. 

The new data shows, Black people and Latinos are more than twice as likely as white people to be poor. Both minority groups disproportionately work in industries hardly damaged by the economic recession and have faced obstacles to receive federal aid. 

Studies have reported child poverty rates are fast expanding, with an additional 2.5 million children falling below the poverty line since May. Members of both research groups stressed the rising poverty underscores an urgent need for a new round of help. 

But, on the other hand, authorities seem unbothered about this situation. They are considering the 8% increase in poverty since January, a “modest amount”. Their strategy is to maneuver the real data so that next month's political events go as smoothly as possible.  For that reason, official government numbers have been rebranded to present a better outlook. Now, millions of workers are not even categorized as “unemployed". Instead, they have been relocated to a category called “not in the labor force”. 

According to the Axios group, the number of Americans who aren't considered employed but aren’t considered a part of the unemployed climbed to 103 million in April, which accounts for more than a quarter of the U.S. population. 

But Fed chair Jerome Powell has noted a broader measure would be around 11%. Needless to say that labor market conditions are still deteriorating in face of the most recent announcements that more companies let more workers go. Furthermore, the U.S. Census Bureau has reported that California has the hightest poverty rate in the country. With all that said, if that's what they call "economic recovery", we wonder how “bad times” would be."

"How to Avoid War With China"

"How to Avoid War With China"
by George Gilder

"Recent U.S. naval maneuvers in the South China Sea and the Taiwan straits raised the issue, “Should we risk war to keep China from subjugating Taiwan?” Ever since President Nixon’s trip to China, and UN action recognizing Taiwan as part of China, the U.S. has acknowledged the People’s Republic has ultimate sovereignty over Taiwan. But today, the U.S. seems to be presenting itself as a guarantor of Taiwan’s autonomy in a way that is provoking intense resentment on the mainland. But, as my editor and co-author Richard Vigilante suggests, better than a three-way military debacle is a path to a triple-win for all three countries. The American people can profit from the ascendancy of China together with its satellite industrial power, Taiwan. But first we must give up the fantasy of U.S. rule in the South China Seas.

“A Ship’s a Fool to Fight a Fort”: China is at least 20 times as powerful as it was when the U.S. began its series of mostly failed Asian wars. Admiral Nelson famously said “A ship’s a fool to fight a fort.” How about if the fort is defended by 1.4 billion people?

Though Washington does not know it yet, in many ways China’s technology is now superior to ours. Should we risk the destruction of our navy and final loss of our standing as super-power in a contest that would ultimately require an attack on the Chinese mainland? Do we imagine that once this conflict was joined, the PRC would be the first to back down? Could we believe that anything could convince them to let us win a war in the south China seas?

The Trump Administration seems to suppose that this is our last chance to force the issue of a free Taiwan; the last plausible moment when our military superiority might intimidate the Chinese communists into letting go. Trump may be right about it being the last moment, but this is not reassuring. Ten years from now Taiwan will still be 100 miles off the coast of China, and Chinese land-based missile technology will be able to sweep the U.S. Navy from China’s homeland seas almost effortlessly.

The Battle Over TSMC: The Administration seems to imagine that we can bully Taiwan into separating its fate from the world’s second - soon to be first - largest economy, a few hours away by sea. Thus, it hectors Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation and threatens it with being cut off from the U.S. market if it dares make chips for China. TSMC is the world’s most important microchip maker, the foundry that executes the designs of hundreds of U.S. semiconductor firms, producing tens of billions in value for the U.S.

The Chinese can’t be bullied into giving up leadership in Taiwanese microchip technology that is crucial to their prosperity and defense. Nor ultimately will it make sense for TSMC or even the Taiwanese government to side with the U.S. China is a bigger market and soon will be the overwhelmingly dominant regional power. Of Taiwan’s investment over the last decade, 60% has gone to the Mainland. Guns and money beat lawyers and liberals every time.

A Peaceful Resolution: What if instead of trying to grab Taiwan, we created a way to share it? Instead of making it a locus of conflict, we turned it into a premium for peace? This could be done relatively easily, in a way that would not even require a negotiation with China or raise Chinese hackles about the U.S. interfering in China’s “internal affairs.”

Make Taiwan a free trade zone for U.S. imports. Declare that any goods transiting Taiwan, even if made on the mainland, may enter the U.S. duty free. For those concerned - as only economic illiterates can be - about a flood of cheap goods from China, the U.S. could make clear that imported goods must be off-loaded and re-loaded in Taiwan. This would serve not only as a boost to the Taiwanese economy, but also as a modest tariff on mainland exports. This is a good thing for multiple reasons…

Maintaining the Status Quo: Overnight, this would create a huge incentive for China to amicably extend the status quo on Taiwan - as it has for 70 years its claim to sovereignty - while refraining from military action. Free passage for exports to the U.S. could be worth hundreds of billions to the Chinese. Even pre-Trump, U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports averaged about 3.5%, or $35 billion on traffic close to $500 billion. Under Trump tariffs on many goods are as high as 15% and in some cases higher, even 25%. In a duty-free environment, trade could reach into the trillions.

To avoid triggering nationalist resentments from the Chinese, the U.S. need never to state the obvious - that this deal is contingent on the Communists leaving Taiwan alone. Nor should we expect the Communists to cease fulminating about the island. Promises to retake Taiwan are a staple of Chinese politicking and so far, have been about as predictive of reality as most political promises. The Communists can fulminate forever, as long as they don’t launch an invasion.

In retrospect, this is what we should have done with Hong Kong in 1997 when the Brits ceded control to the PRC. The benefit to Chinese - businesses in the entrepreneurial regions around Hong Kong - the first to take advantage of Deng’s loosening of the economy would have given the U.S. great leverage to demand that China abide by the Fundamental Law, guaranteeing Hong Kong’s autonomy. It’s probably too late for Hong Kong. Declaring a free trade zone on the premise that Hong Kong will regain its autonomy would be too blatant an intervention for the Communists to swallow.

China Was an Underrated Ally During WWII: We have become accustomed to think of ourselves as a supreme military power. Yet, the United States has not been on the winning side of a war since 1945. Even when we have been militarily dominant, our democratic politics has not been willing to sustain the kind of brutal operations that are necessary for victory.

Even in World War II, our opponents were three nations without domestic supplies of oil, and in the case of Japan not even self-sufficient in coal. Modern Italy has never won a war against an enemy possessed of gunpowder.

On our side was the largest army on earth - the Soviet Union’s; up till then, the greatest navy on earth from Great Britain; and often forgotten, China, which held down at least a million Japanese soldiers during the war. Add a million Japanese soldiers to the fight for Pacific islands, and that flag might never have been raised over Iwo Jima. Shift Japanese resources from the Army, tied down in China, to the Navy preparing to take on the U.S., and there might have been 10 Japanese carriers at Midway. No tide would have been turned that day.

Win-Win: Nothing is as dangerous to us right now as the uncontested myth of our military supremacy in Asia, which is based on bloated spending and an unusably self-defeating nuclear capability. The U.S. has been in a war with China - in Korea - long before China became the world’s leading manufacturing power. The Chinese had no air force, no navy, and no true mechanized divisions. The Chinese invaded over the mountains of Korea with only the munitions they could carry on their backs. And we could not beat them. China’s rise is all but inevitable. Either we work out ways to rise together, or the U.S. will fall. Chinese and Taiwanese prosperity is crucial to the future of our country."

Gregory Mannarino, “Economic Collapse: US Budget Deficit Explodes, Poverty Level Skyrockets”

Gregory Mannarino,
“Economic Collapse: US Budget Deficit Explodes, Poverty Level Skyrockets”

Musical Interlude: 2002, "Even Now"

2002, "Even Now"

"A Look to the Heavens"

“Planetary nebula Abell 78 stands out in this colorful telescopic skyscape. In fact the colors of the spiky Milky Way stars depend on their surface temperatures, both cooler (yellowish) and hotter (bluish) than the Sun. But Abell 78 shines by the characteristic emission of ionized atoms in the tenuous shroud of material shrugged off from an intensely hot central star. The atoms are ionized, their electrons stripped away, by the central star's energetic but otherwise invisible ultraviolet light. 
The visible blue-green glow of loops and filaments in the nebula's central region corresponds to emission from doubly ionized oxygen atoms, surrounded by strong red emission from electrons recombining with hydrogen atoms. Some 5,000 light-years distant toward the constellation Cygnus, Abell 78 is about three light-years across. A planetary nebula like Abell 78 represents a very brief final phase in stellar evolution that our own Sun will experience... in about 5 billion years.”

Free Download: Jiddu Krishnamurti, “The Book of Life”

"You must understand the whole of life, not just one little part of it. 
That is why you must read, that is why you must look at the skies, 
that is why you must sing and dance, 
and write poems and suffer and understand, for all that is life."
- Jiddu Krishnamurti

Freely download “The Book of Life”, by Jiddu Krishnamurti: 

"A Long March..."

"The life of Man is a long march through the night, surrounded by invisible foes, tortured by weariness and pain, towards a goal that few can hope to reach, and where none may tarry long. One by one, as they march, our comrades vanish from our sight, seized by the silent orders of omnipotent Death. Very brief is the time in which we can help them, in which their happiness or misery is decided. Be it ours to shed sunshine on their path, to lighten their sorrows by the balm of sympathy, to give them the pure joy of a never-tiring affection, to strengthen failing courage, to instill faith in times of despair."
- Bertrand Russell

"Things We Don't Want to Do: Outside the Comfort Zone"

"Things We Don't Want to Do: Outside the Comfort Zone"
by Madisyn Taylor, The DailyOM

"Doing things we don't want to do, or that scare us, creates flow in our lives and allows us to grow. Most of us have had the experience of tackling some dreaded task only to come out the other side feeling invigorated, filled with a new sense of confidence and strength. The funny thing is, most of the time when we do them, we come out on the other side changed and often wondering what we were so worried about or why it took us so long. We may even begin to look for other tasks we've been avoiding so that we can feel that same heady mix of excitement and completion.

Whether we avoid something because it scares us or bores us, or because we think it will force a change we're not ready for, putting it off only creates obstacles for us. On the other hand, facing the task at hand, no matter how onerous, creates flow in our lives and allows us to grow. The relief is palpable when we stand on the other side knowing that we did something even though it was hard or we didn't want to do it. On the other hand, when we cling to our comfort zone, never addressing the things we don't want to face, we cut ourselves off from flow and growth.

We all have at least one thing in our life that never seems to get done. Bringing that task to the top of the list and promising ourselves that we will do it as soon as possible is an act that could liberate a tremendous amount of energy in our lives. Whatever it is, we can allow ourselves to be fueled by the promise of the feelings of exhilaration and confidence that will be the natural result of doing it.”
Of course, some have different perspectives...
Very strong language alert!
"All Swearengen", Ian McShane's character in “Deadwood”

The Daily "Near You?"

Machias, Maine, USA. Thanks for stopping by!

"Kicked in the Teeth by 'Stimulus'”

"Kicked in the Teeth by 'Stimulus'”
by Bill Bonner

"We like stimulus, we want stimulus. We think we should have stimulus."
– Donald Trump

SAN MARTIN, ARGENTINA – "As anticipated, the “recovery” is petering out. Here’s CNN: "Americans filed another 898,000 first-time jobless claims last week on a seasonally-adjusted basis, according to the Department of Labor. That’s more than economists had expected and up 53,000 from the prior week. Weekly claims have fallen a long way since peaking at 6.9 million in late March. But the improvements have slowed to a snail’s pace in recent weeks – and went into reverse last week. That means it could take a long time to get back to the pre-pandemic level of around 200,000 claims per week."

And here’s The New York Times: "8 Million Have Slipped Into Poverty Since May as Federal Aid Has Dried Up." "After an ambitious expansion of the safety net in the spring saved millions of people from poverty, the aid is now largely exhausted and poverty has returned to levels higher than before the coronavirus crisis, two new studies have found. The number of poor people has grown by eight million since May, according to researchers at Columbia University, after falling by four million at the pandemic’s start as a result of a $2 trillion emergency package known as the Cares Act."

Magic Elixir: And from colleague Dan Denning come further details… "Back-row America is getting kicked in the teeth… Check out the stats below from the Social Security Administration on wage earners.

• 32% of wage earners make less than $20k/year
• 44% make less than $30k
• 56% make less than $40k
• 66% make less than $50k
• The median wage for 2019, says Dan, was only $34,248.

And yet, these people – who can barely support themselves… and who have lost jobs and income in the COVID-19 lockdowns – are also expected to support 76 million retiring baby boomers. How’s that going to work?

Maybe more of the magic elixir – free money – is needed. Donald Trump certainly thinks so. On Fox Business yesterday: "President Trump called Thursday for even more stimulus spending than the $1.8 trillion proposed by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in his talks with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). “I would take more. I would go higher,” Trump said in an interview on Fox Business Network, repeating his directive from earlier in the week to “Go big or go home!” Trump said he’s communicated his views to Mnuchin. “I’ve told him. So far he hasn’t come home with the bacon.” Trump’s latest comments illustrate the fluid and disorganized state of affairs in the stimulus talks at a time when the economic recovery appears to be stalling.

Everything’s Fake: But the “recovery” is not stalling. It’s fake. And so is the stimulus that is supposed to help it. And the fakeness of it, like so many other things, is hidden by a mountain of phony numbers, fraudulent statistics, and fake money.

So far, it looks like the COVID-19 lockdowns have taken about 4.3% out of nominal GDP, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Last year’s GDP was $21.4 trillion. This year, U.S. GDP will clock in at around $20.5 trillion. But… and this is a big BUT… that’s after the feds pumped in beaucoup money. For the sake of round numbers, we’ll say the total input, in extra federal spending – including the Paycheck Protection Program, $1,200 checks, and unemployment boosters – was between $3 and $4 trillion.

But… and this is an even bigger BUT… that printing-press money is not the same as real GDP. You can’t really replace honest output – goods and services that people are willing to pay for – with pieces of paper or electronic notations. And yet, this printing-press money is included in the GDP figures, as if it were real. Take it away, and the real GDP falls. How much? Hard to say, maybe by $3 trillion… maybe less… maybe more.

The flimflam is further disguised by “average” numbers. As we pointed out yesterday, if a single billionaire’s wealth goes up by 10%, 99 million people could get poorer… but the average would still be positive. The whole slimy edifice is fraudulent. Fake money. Fake GDP. Fake stimulus. Fake growth. Fake opinions. And fake numbers.

Chaos and Confusion: The feds are already $27 trillion in the hole… with a deficit this year that would embarrass even sh*thole countries. And yet, both Trump and the Democrats are planning on making it worse. How? With more fake, printing-press money, of course. But all the phony money does is distort, mislead, and cheat. Like all counterfeit money, it can make some people richer… but only by making others poorer.

Ninety percent of the nation’s financial assets are held by 10% of the people. Want to make them richer? Just give more counterfeit money to Wall Street. But the general effect is to cause chaos, confusion, and envy. That’s why one of the techniques of modern warfare is to counterfeit an enemy’s currency… hoping to wreck his economy.

Complex Web: But while you can make some people richer, there’s no case in history where “stimulus” has made most people richer. Most people rely on the economy for their income – not the stock market. And an economy is a complex web of give and take. Favor the savers and you punish the borrowers. Favor the exporters and you pinch the importers. Privilege the rich and you give the poor a kick in the teeth. Or, if you try to stimulate the whole economy – by dumping money from helicopters – all you do is raise prices and cause misery and pandemonium for everyone.

So… What’s the alternative? What choice do Trump or Biden have? What choice do voters have? Stay tuned for a look at the upcoming election and what it really means…"