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Chris Maukonen

Chris Maukonen

Question raised by this Alternet article.

1. Who convened the mayors call?

Was it the White House ? Was it the FBI ? Homeland Security ?

2. Was there an attempt to control press coverage?

Why was it that ONLY certain NYC papers had any news ? And why was the coverage biased and blasphemous of OWS ?

3. What, if any, was the role of the White House?

Why no response from Obama and the White House ? Why no response from anyone to speak of, in congress. 

4. Was the Department of Homeland Security involved in the raids?

What part (if any) did they play in all of this ?

5. What, if any, was the role of the FBI?

There are rumors that the FBI had a lot to do with how the police responded. What was their part ?

6. Where are the libertarians?

Where are these constitution loving people who make such a big deal out of gun rights and states rights etc. ? And I have a question of my own.

Why does this whole situation remind me of Tiananmen Square or some Soviet Block country circa 1966 ?

Tuesday, 15 November 2011 07:39

Impacts !

I have been involved with electronics and radio for as long as I can remember. And in computer software and networking for about half that long. My first part time job was as a service technician at a local radio and TV sales and service shop. One of the many things one learns fairly early on is to see how each component relates to and effects each part of the circuit or how each piece of computer code effects the system as a whole. And to take that into consideration when diagnosing and effecting any repairs and.or modification.

Any minor change can have a profound effect on the entire system and sometimes in ways not initially anticipated.  This was especially true of solid state electronics where the shorting out of one transistor could cause a cascading failure up the line.

With this in mind I began to think about and analyze the short term and long term impacts of various progressive goals on the country and economy as a whole at this point in time.

Lets take a look at a couple of progressive ideals and see how they would impact the economy both in the long therm and the short term.

Monday, 14 November 2011 09:58

Where in OWS are they ? The missing.

"The real owners are the big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions. Forget the politicians, they're an irrelevancy. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don't. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They've long since bought and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the statehouses, the city halls. They've got the judges in their back pockets. And they own all the big media companies, so that they control just about all of the news and information you hear. They've got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying ­ lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want; they want more for themselves and less for everybody else." - George Carlin

As one lady put it on an episode of Bill Mahr "You cannot separate class from race in America.  The preponderance of black people in this country are disproportionately poor."  Not only that those in power - those with the money - do not care about those who are poor. And in fact they hate the very idea of those much less well of than them getting anything from the government IE taxes that they pay. Especially those who are minorities.  And it really does not matter one bit what they call themselves politically either.

But it's not just those who we refer to as the 1% who are responsible. They have lap dogs to do their bidding as well.  The so called professionals. The doctors and lawyers and executives and college professors and engineers and software house computer programmers etc. All very OK with the systems the way it is. All perfectly willing to support and kiss the rear ends of these 1%.

How many of them do we see at OWS ? What Ward Churchill called "Little Eichmanns" .  These people are just as responsible as their masters for the injustice and inequality since they are willing to support it for their own personal agendas.   To many call themselves liberal but are in name only.  All too willing to throw those who they feel are beneath them under the bus so long as their 401Ks do not take a hit and their corporate masters keep them on until retirement.  People are calling what we have an Oligarchy.  I prefer to call it tyranny of the rich.

When I see these people out there with the unemployed and homeless and poor, then I will see something really positive. Until such time, these corporate lap dogs are as much the enemy as their CEO bosses.



Friday, 11 November 2011 19:36

They simply cannot understand......

While is was catching up on some of the sites I like to go to from time to time, I came upon a post from Zero Hedge on why investors should be putting their money into precious metals. It was the usual stuff one would expect to find. Until I go to the end. This one was the text of an interview with one Turd Ferguson by Chris Martenson. This last bit really hit the nail on the head though.

The last thing I would add to that, Chris, and one that's challenging, and I'm sure you've seen this too in working with your subscribers is where we are headed is unlike anywhere where we've been, at least in recent memory. I mean, there may be some octogenarians out there that remember what it was like before the Great Depression and during the Great Depression and before World War II. But it's a world like that where we're headed to. All I've ever known, all my friends and family, even my parents really have ever known is this hegemonic United States that was the world power, and provided the world's reserve currency. And we could print as much as we wanted to, and then export the inflation to all the other poor staff that had to – took our dollar. And so we bought their cheap stuff. And those days are over, and it's a really hard concept. If you haven't had personal experience with something else, it's a really hard concept to get your arms around. That we're not always – that the United States isn't going to be this huge economic and military superpower.

This is the crux of it, I think. There are few people alive now who really know what it's like when nearly everybody was dirt poor. When living like what tambershell described in here diary Be silent [this post on FDL was removed for some reason] was what a lot of people lived like during the depression of the 1930s. We have generations now who know nothing except this world of anything goes capitalism and have no way of imagining anything different. What it's was like to go from being comfortably well off to living like an animal because it's the only way they could live. And the pity of it all is that even these people seem to believe that all they need to do is to horde gold and what not and they will be OK.

And this is the grave danger that we now face.

WWII not only saved us from the depression it most likely saved us from a bloody revolution as well. We have absolutely nothing to save us this time.

Wednesday, 09 November 2011 18:12

What's next for the Eurozone (and Euro) ?

With Greece still edging toward the financial abyss despite all the political maturations. Now Italy - as has been predicted - is now hurling toward the inevitable default. Even though Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's promise to step down. Now Barclays says Italy is finished as well. Courtesy of Zero Hedge.

Euphoria may have returned briefly courtesy of yet another promise for a resignation that will likely not be effectuated for weeks or months, if at all, and already someone has done the math on what the events in the past several days reveal for Italy. That someone is Barcalys, the math is not pretty, and the conclusion is that "Italy is now mathematically beyond point of no return."

Summary from Barclays Capital inst sales:

1 ) At this point, it seems Italy is now mathematically beyond point of no return
2 ) While reforms are necessary, in and of itself not be enough to prevent crisis
3 ) Reason? Simple math--growth and austerity not enough to offset cost of debt
4 ) On our ests, yields above 5.5% is inflection point where game is over
5 ) The danger:high rates reinforce stability concerns, leading to higher rates
6 ) and deeper conviction of a self sustaining credit event and eventual default
7 ) We think decisions at eurozone summit is step forward but EFSF not adequate
8 ) Time has run out--policy reforms not sufficient to break neg mkt dynamics
9 ) Investors do not have the patience to wait for austerity, growth to work
10 ) And rate of change in negatives not enuff to offset slow drip of positives
11 ) Conclusion: We think ECB needs to step up to the plate, print and buy bonds
12 ) At the moment ECB remains unwilling to be lender last resort on scale needed
13 ) But frankly will have hand forced by market given massive systemic risk

The whole report [PDF] is available here. And now Reuters is reporting that both France an Germany are talking (how seriously I don't know) about a break up of the Eurozone to contan only them and a few others who are still financially stable.

A hat tip to my cousin Brian for posting these links on Face book. Charles Hugh Smith did a two part series on the global financial system. First giving the reason why it is doomed to collapse under the weight of it's own fraudulent practices. And why this is actually a desirable outcome. And second why it's inherently unstable.

I was recently challenged by a contributor to write something positive, and so I decided to write about the single most positive outcome of the current financial crisis in Europe: the complete collapse of the corrupt, predatory, pathological global banking sector and its dealers, the central banks. Exploring why this is so reveals the insurmountable internal conflicts in our current financial system, and also illuminates the systemic political propaganda which is deployed daily to prop up a parasitic, corrupting, pathologically destructive financial system. Our first stop is modern finance itself. Modern financial "products" and "instruments" are often highly complex and abstract, but the entire edifice can be distilled down to this: the system is based on the assumption that all risk can be hedged, and the difference between the initial position's yield/gain (i..e. placement of capital at risk for a gain) and the cost of hedging the risk of the wager to zero can be skimmed from the system risk-free. That is the entire system in a nutshell, and we can immediately see the advantages of this system over traditional Capitalism, where risk can be hedged but never to zero, and the return is correlated to the risk taken on. In modern finance, high-risk "investments" (wagers) with high returns can be taken on without worry because any and all risk can be hedged to zero, even in super high-risk wagers.

Well it sounded good on the surface.

Benoit Mandelbrot dismantled the notion that risk can be reduced to zero in his prescient masterpiece, The (Mis)behavior of Markets. The founder of fractal geometry showed that markets are fractal in nature, and are thus intrinsically prone to unpredictable disruptions. Simply put, risk cannot be massaged away. Thus the fundamental premise of all modern finance is flat-out wrong, and this explains why systemic risk, rather than being eliminated, actually rises with every ratchet up in debt, leverage and counterparty hedging. The entire global financial system is thus based on the equivalent of a perpetual motion machine: money can be borrowed or leveraged into existence in essentially unlimited quantities, and then deployed in risk-free skimming operations to harvest unlimited wealth. What does this promise of using leveraged capital to skim risk-free fortunes do to the "real economy" of production and investment in plant and technology? It guts it. The risk of industrial Capitalism is real and cannot be hedged away; high-risk investments may blow up or they may return high yields. It literally makes no sense to risk real capital in productive Capitalism when a zero-risk skimming operation can be developed that essentially needs near-zero capital. Thus financial capital has come to completely dominate industrial or productive capital. The pernicious consequences of this dominance have poisoned the economy and culture on multiple levels.

In the second article he quotes from contributors to his site who describe it as a fraud and financial cancer.

Your essay The Collapse of Our Corrupt, Predatory, Pathological Financial System Is Necessary and Positive was entirely correct about risk. But let me come at this from a different angle - namely fraud. Finance skims a percentage off the real economy. Some part of the skim is legitimate reward for capital allocation - a necessary part of a capitalist system and part of what makes it more efficient than a command economy. But some part of the skim is fraud. Where are we now? Let's look at the sources of skim: First there are the more legitimate skim sources - interest payments, management fees, IPO fees, M&A fees, trade commissions. Then there are the less legitimate bank sources: penalty credit card interest rates, late fees, usage fees, over-the-limit fees, late payment fees, bounced check fees, low balance fees. And the capital markets sources - front-running, insider trading, account churning, manipulation of the news cycle, the captive analyst "ratings game", trading against your own client's order book, forex trades which are marked at the day high or low irrespective of when the trade took place, market manipulations at options expiration, stuffing your managed client accounts full of dubious IPOs and new issues that your organization is earning fees from originating. Bucket shops and ponzi schemes take it even a step further - no actual financial activity takes place. Its simply robbery. And now we add the new stuff: credit default swaps without margin, fraudulent loan origination, sliced & diced mortgages, mark to myth accounting, foreclosure halts to avoid realizing losses, extend & pretend, quote stuffing, HFT trading activity that boils down to denial of service attacks on exchange computers causing delays in pricing information, highly complex derivatives sold to unsuspecting but optimistic public servants, too big to fail status providing cheap backup in the event of trouble, and increased organizational size that facilitate cartel-like control over government and regulators. But if that's not enough, there is the structure itself: they aren't doing this with saved capital, but rather with freshly printed and/or borrowed capital. Its all done with 12:1 leverage at a minimum. So only 8.3% of the gambling (optimistically anyway) is actual capital - saved surplus. And if Basel II says it's risk-free, well there's no need for reserves at all. It is just manufactured money, which effectively mean each bet is diluting the actual savings of real people. And if the bet goes bad, the Fed will ride to the rescue with low-cost money. But usually the bet goes well, because ordinarily the number of sources of fraud today is so HUGE, its practically impossible not to succeed. Unless of course they get too greedy. Or the debt levels rise so high that large numbers of borrowers default. And guess where we are. The financial system is supposed to allocate capital and take a modest skim as reward for helping society to be efficient. When they are doing this, they provide a net benefit to society because it's a win-win proposition. They are making society more efficient, and they thus earn their percentage. However, and this is the key point: fraud provides no net benefit to society.

And its cancerous façade.

I think the risk "hedging" can be split into two parts, first using/inventing "hedging" instruments who won't live up to their name in a major event (CDS anyone?), and second hiding risks in existing allegedly time-tested limited risk systems/instruments. You mostly covered the first part in your article. Some more examples for the second variant, besides lowering the down payment on house mortgages, are: Gaming VaR models (so for a 1% VaR the risk in the 99 days remains the same, but the blowup in the 1-out-of-100 event becomes much much larger), or lowering of Fractional Reserve requirements, or Sweep accounts (deposits in checking accounts get sweeped into savings accounts, i.e. are put into money market funds where the risk is a [little] bit higher, but the owner of the capital [the depositor] doesn't receive higher premiums), or student loans becoming non-dischargeable. "So what happens when one counterparty (issuer of a hedge) somewhere in the chain runs into trouble? The entire chain collapses." Or the accounting rules are manipulated, so the entity next in line after the collapsed one is allowed to keep their risk valued at par on the books, even though their hedge just vanished (and they are not able to get replacement hedges at an acceptable price in the current market) and the ongoing collapse freezes in a state of suspended reality - but the trouble is not undone! The system has not blown up yet because there are still some pockets of unimpaired, really low-risk capital available to game and loot. In effect the financial system is still perfecting its ability to game and loot, just like a cancer which, due to non-self-restrained growth and fast mutation, continuously improves its ability to elude or withstand the immune system. Until the host cannot bear the strain anymore.

So just how did this come about ? Well I have some ideas. The current situation came with the The Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act which not only discharged the Glass-Steagall but also allowed for bank holding companies to own other financial corporation. IE banks in other states etc. But why this and why at that time. I think the main reason was that investors themselves had run out of ways to effect get rich quick schemes. There had just been the stock market crash of 1987 under Reagan and the tech bubble was about to implode. All those little high tech start ups - after the deregulation of the telcoms - where beginning to go sour. They had already raped what was left of the consumer electronics giants, the steel mills were closing faster than the doors on an inter urban train and the auto industry had long since run out of gas. The military bases, along with the contracts, were being closed as well. Like a gambling addict who finds his casinos closing one after the other. It was not only the greed of the institutions themselves but also (an I think primarily) the greed of the investors that brought about this situation. Just as it did in the late 1920s before the crash of 29. The use of Wall Street as a cash cow to become filthy rich has a long history. Now they know they can use governments too. But eventually this too will come to and end.

Monday, 07 November 2011 17:48

The Mind of A Conservative

We tend to throw around a lot of diatribe concerning conservatives these days. But lets us examine who or what we are actually dealing with. David Roberts in Grist does a pretty good break down in his current piece.

Yesterday I sketched the sort of personality type most likely to identify as conservative: those who prefer stability to change, order to complexity, familiarity to novelty, and conformity to creativity. This sort of personality type is drawn to clear lines separating in-groups from out-groups, highly aware of social hierarchies, suspicious of change, and strongly inclined toward system justification, i.e., seeing the prevailing socioeconomic regime as worthy and desirable I often think that the actions and rhetoric of today's conservative politicians are easier to make sense of at this level, the level of temperament and worldview, than at the level of stated principles and policy proposals. Seeing through this lens can help make sense of a lot of stuff that otherwise looks hypocritical or absurd. In particular, it can help make sense of the political fight over climate change and clean energy.

Now what sort of personality does the author attribute to today's conservative ?

Wednesday, 02 November 2011 17:53

Happy talk TV


When I was growing up there was no cable TV, no satellite and not even much - if any - on the spot reporting. But the news was that news. If there was any editorializing is was clearly identified as such. You had three networks and if you were lucky they were all available to you. Some places had only two stations and one would carry  two networks but only one of the network news programs.

This was pretty much the way of it up until sometime in the 1970s when the first cable/satellite only networks came on line.  Cable TV itself came into being around 1948 to bring distant broadcast stations to people who would not otherwise be able to receive them do to their location. Either to distant of in a valley or some such.  Cable TV only shows as we know them today began in the early 1980s.

The early days of TV news nearly all the reporters and/or anchors came from radio and/or print media with a great deal of reporting background. Quite a few had no journalism schooling as such.  It was not unusual to have hard hitting news broadcasts or series or documentaries by the likes of Edward R. Morrow or Walter Cronkite or Eric Sevareid or Howard K. Smith.  These were not always programs that were comfortable to watch.  Morrow's Set it Now programs delved in to subjects that nearly always question the common knowledge and political wisdom of the day. Such as the McCarthy hearings and the realities of the Korean War.

Eric Sevaried's reports on the CBS Reports series and Walter Kronkite's reports of the death of JFK and RFK and the moon landing and of course Watergate.

But then there were only three networks and little competition.

Cable TV change all of that. Because the broadcast networks now had to compete with not only each other but with and increasing number of other channels. Not just news but entertainment.

And make no mistake the news is competing with entertainment and the networks know this very well. Why should the public in general choose to watch some program that makes them feel uncomfortable even though it's giving necessary information or views when they can watch something that is nice and entertaining and makes them feel good.  Which means that even the cable news shows shoot to make a certain demographic entertained and feel good so as to compete with all the other feel good channels. And here in Cleveland on cable company has a total of 1500 channels to choose from. So in this market CBS news has 1499 competitors.

Happy Talk TV has taken over because it is more competitive.  So in case you might be to young to remember, here is a bit of what TV used to be like.

George Papandreou suggests holding a referendum on the latest proposal. From the Guardian:

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