Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Zimmerman Trial

The lynching trial of George Zimmerman has been underway with the first of the State's witnesses on the stand this week. Comprehensive commentary along with live streaming links are available at -- The Last Refuge in the sidebar. 

The folks at The Last Refuge have, as I do, a pro-Zimmerman basis.  Nobody knows exactly what happened that night except for the two principals involved, and one of them is dead.  The only factual narrative came from the man who pulled the trigger, George Zimmerman -- factual in terms of being the account of a witness to everything that happened in those last few minutes of Trayvon Martin's life.  That does not mean it is a true account. 

There is physical evidence to support Zimmerman's narrative in that he clearly suffered blows to the face and injury to the back of his head.  He appears to have had reason to fear for his life and, if so, was justified in shooting Martin. 

What we can never know for certain is who initiated the attack.  Most likely it was Martin, but I can't be absolutely sure.  I also don't know if Zimmerman did anything to provoke Martin. 

And neither does the prosecution. 

This is why Zimmerman should never have been indicted.  There is no evidence to suggest that he started the fight, that he pursued Martin, or that he was somehow the aggressor.  Not one single shred.  Despite what the media has poured out over the last year, despite Obama's interjection of race and the nationalization of the incident, not one single fact exists to contradict George Zimmerman's account of what took place. 

The witnesses for the prosecution, including the star witness, Rachel Jeantel who claims to have been on the phone with Martin, have done nothing to undermine Zimmerman's story, even corroborating it in some cases.  Ms. Jeantel testified yesterday and is back on the stand today under cross-examination by defense attorney Don West.  It appears that the State's main point is that Ms. Jeantel claims she heard someone, possibly Martin, shouting, "Get off!  Get off!", before the phone went dead.  She is also the source of the claim that Martin thought some "creepy ass cracka" was watching and following him.

However, her testimony seems to add credence to the idea that Zimmerman was, for some period of time, unaware of Martin's whereabouts, consistent with his statements to the police dispatcher.  Martin was in the "mail area" of the townhouse complex near his home, which he could have reached and entered without encountering Zimmerman.  It seems Martin may have chosen to turn back and approach Zimmerman.  Though Zimmerman was, by that time, on his way back to his vehicle after the dispatcher's suggestion that he need not attempt to locate or follow the suspicious person he had reported.

What it really comes down to is that we have a very weak case based not on facts or eyewitness testimony or circumstantial evidence but on the concept of justice for a dead black teenager who was shot by a man with a Latin American heritage and a European-sounding name.  It is "necessary" for George Zimmerman to be found guilty of murder.  The State's prosecutors know this; the court knows this.  It is possible that the jury of six women knows or will know this, and that they will find so, completely despite the absence of evidence.  George Zimmerman may spend the rest of his life in jail because he is unable to prove that he is not a racist looking for an opportunity to kill a boy who looked like Barack Obama's son might, and, frankly, even if he could prove it, I'm not sure it would make any difference.

As I often say, we have a legal system not a justice system.  Justice may prevail in this case, but, if I were Zimmerman, I would not count on it. 

Come to think of it, I am George Zimmerman. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Anxiety and Sleep Deprivation

Being sleep deprived correlates with anxiety, according to a UC Berkeley study summarized at EurekAlert.

People who tend to be more anxious are more susceptible to the anxiety-enhancing effects of sleep deprivation.  Worry can also keep us awake. 

A good night's sleep is really a blessing and has numerous health benefits, even helping in weight-control.  I often have to miss sleep because of work issues, and I have been doing this chronically for the last seventeen years.  I can tell the difference.  I used to be relatively worry-free, but I am much more susceptible to worry than I used to be.  I know what causes it -- this study is not really news to me, but I can't always do anything about it. 

Wisdom and wise behavior come a lot easier when we get all the sleep we need. 

Note on Ammunition

Things seem to be looking better. 

Midway, as of yesterday, had Winchester .40 S&W 165-grain FMJ practice ammunition for $39.95 per 100, limit one box.  The price is higher than a few months ago, but I wouldn't call it gouging.  I bought 500 rounds of Aguila Interceptor .22LR ammunition for $61-something -- which is $6.xx for a box of 50.  Interceptor is the functional equivalent of my favorite CCI Velocitor ammo, and that's roughly the same amount I paid for 500 rounds of Velocitor I bought a year or so ago -- most of which I still have.  But that's beside the point. 

Just the idea that I could "restock" makes me feel better. 

As I have said before, I am a long-time Midway customer.  They are good, knowledgeable people and strong supporters of the NRA and the Second Amendment.  I get no kickbacks, breaks, or freebies for saying nice things about them, and if they ever do me wrong or turn on us the way CTD and Dick's did, I will tell that, too.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Gas Giant

 So today the Littlest Dictator is going to take executive action to add regulations on new and existing power plants -- as opposed, I suppose, to the old non-existent ones:

The linchpin of Obama's plan involves new and existing power plants. Forty percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, and one-third of greenhouse gases overall, come from electric power plants, according to the federal Energy Information Administration.
Let's put aside for a moment the point that carbon dioxide is highly unlikely to be a heat-trapping gas when it comprises less than 1% of the atmosphere, as it currently does and as it has probably as long as there have been mammals on the planet.  Consider instead that forty percent of carbon dioxide emissions are the result of generating electricity. 

You want to do something about carbon dioxide?  Cut electric consumption.  I suggest we start by deporting all of the people in this country who have come across our borders illegally.  Not only would that reduce the demand for electric power, it would cut emissions from leaf-blowers by at least fifty percent. 

My second suggestion would be a ban on all plug-in electric vehicles.   The next time you have a conversation with a self-righteous driver of a plug-in, remind them that they are responsible for forty percent of all CO2.  They should also try to cut down on exhaling if they are really serious. 

Remember all those "clunkers" that the government gave away my money to get rid of?  The cars that replaced them were built with electricity.  I think it is time the government work on a little consistency.  The left hand of darkness needs to get a clue as to what the right hand is doing. 

Unfortunately, instead we will simply be forced to pay higher prices for electricity, and densely populated areas will likely suffer more rolling black-outs in the future as supply fails to meet demand.  Too bad they won't happen in D.C.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Will the Federal Reserve Embrace Deflation?

Gonzalo thinks not

My argument for inflation has always been that the U.S. government cannot afford higher bond rates and lacks the political will to make sufficient cuts to reduce the deficit.  So the Federal Reserve will continue trying to keep the bond prices up and the rates down. 

Rising rates will hamper government spending because debt service comes out before anything else.  The U.S. can get away with it better and longer than most countries, but the pressure will build. 

I keep hoping that somebody at the Federal Reserve will do the right thing.  Obama effectively fired Bernanke this week by stating that he had been in the job longer than he should have been or wanted to be.  His term ends in a few months, and, just possibly, Bernanke feels uneasy about continuing to devalue the dollar.  Perhaps Obama is signaling he plans to appoint an even more compliant chairman, possibly Janet Yellen.

As Japan is finding out, the whole global economy is growing more and more inelastic.  Seems to me that the same thing happens when you are blowing up a balloon.  Right before it pops. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

They Were Home

A little over two years ago, in a nice, quiet neighborhood in Springfield, Missouri, an older couple, Helen and Don Willingham, former Baptist missionaries, were stabbed to death in their home.  It was early in the day, and they were preparing breakfast when someone came in and killed Mr. Willingham.  His wife was alerted by his cries for help to call 911.  While she was on the phone, she was interrupted, saying, "Oh, no."  She also was found stabbed to death when the police arrived minutes later.

There were no suspects.  Nothing had been stolen.  It certainly wasn't gang or drug-related.  The Willinghams were retired but continued to serve as needed at Ridgecrest Baptist Church.  They had been givers all of their lives -- living only to serve the Lord and share the gospel with other people.  It was impossible to imagine them having enemies. 

Well, now we know who committed this crime:  Jose Huckleberry.  If this were a less tragic situation, I'd try to make a joke about the murderer's name.  Based on Huckleberry's confession to authorities, his motive was burglary. 

The officers said they were looking for a nice home to rob.  At the Willinghams' house just west of Springfield, they saw no lights and thought no one was at home, but, just to be sure, they made some noise.  When nobody seemed to stir inside, they broke in.

Inside, the pair encountered Don Willingham, and Huckleberry stabbed him.  When Willingham wouldn't stay still, he continued to stab him until he stopped moving.   Huckleberry then found Helen Willingham and killed her while she was on the phone calling 9-1-1.
Then Huckleberry and his accomplice fled the scene.

If the murderer had come to the door asking for something to eat or help, my guess is that he would have received whatever assistance the couple could give.  That's the way we are around here, and that is certainly the kind of people the Willinghams appeared to be. 

Huckleberry was, by the way, at the time of the murders, awaiting trial on a prior burglary.   He is, in other words, a two-bit career criminal.

There are a couple of things to note on this.  First, of course, anyone willing to break into a house, whether or not they believe it to be occupied, should be considered dangerous and a serious threat. 

Second, knives are deadly weapons and when wielded by a determined and reasonably active person can be used to kill someone very quickly.  This all took place within a matter of not more than fifteen minutes.  One minute you are scrambling eggs; the next minute you are bleeding out on the floor.  Strong, youthful criminals do not need firearms to commit murder, especially when the potential victims are older and less active. 

Third, odd events, strange noises, anything out of the ordinary should be cause for raising the alert level.  Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, it will be nothing.  The one time it is not nothing is all it takes. 

Fourth, if it had been me, I might not have fared any better than Mr. Willingham, but the cops could have followed the blood trail and picked the punk up at the ER.  There would have been, as Dad used to say, sign on him.  Make up your mind to resist -- I think it likely that Don Willingham put up a valiant struggle, for his wife's sake at the very least.  If she had understood a little better the situation in the kitchen, she might have had time to flee the house or act in some other way to save herself. 

As I get older and slower, I know I can't fight my way out of many situations empty-handed.  I make it a habit to have some kind of edged tool or something that can serve as an improvised weapon at a minimum.  Pop the Leatherman open and use it as a flail.  Think about what you have and practice with it, and have something.  All the time.  Even in the bathroom.  Neckknife.  Be prepared. 

Finally, I hope Huckleberry never sees the light of day again.  Somehow I doubt that the prosecution will seek the death penalty.  The perpetrator looks like a punk and is probably working on a swift plea bargain.  His victims will be at peace regardless of what is done to him.  I'm sure it would be their prayer that Huckleberry repent and give his life to Christ so he will be ready whenever and however the end comes, just as they were. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Ammo Shortage

In case you didn't see it in the sidebar, John Richardson of NLOGAM gives us some information on the ammunition choke-point.

It's brass.  When you think about it, that makes a lot of sense.  Shotgun shells -- mostly plastic, have not been a problem.  I was able to stock up on primers, powder, and bullets in the worst of it. 

Pistol ammunition seems to be coming back first in my area.

By the way, I never bought anything from Cheaper Than Dirt.  After this I never will.  They have boosted the price on .22LR/.22WMR eight to ten times the price it was before the first of the year.  I understand supply and demand.  I'm all for a free market and people being allowed to charge and pay whatever they will.  CTD can charge what they like, and more power to them if they get it.  They won't get it from me.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Another World War?

Steve Dennis thinks about the possibilities.

War is good business for some people, which reminds me of something I was thinking about with regard to the post-WWII United States economy and the idiotic foulness that is Keynesian economics.  Maybe later.

Anyway, the Fed is up against it.  The Japanese are flailing.  The euro is in danger.  A nice, prolonged war in the Middle East would certainly take the mass minds off the impending world-wide depression.  The problem in the region is the size of the single, non-Muslim state.  Israel has literally hours to exist if an enemy successfully breaches her borders.  There's a reason the Six Day War only lasted six days.  There just isn't enough land mass to accommodate the swift pace of modern warfare for a prolonged period of time.

You might recall that during the First Gulf War, the U.S. managed to keep Israel out of the conflict entirely.  What happens if either desperate rebels armed with U.S. weaponry, or a desperate Assad seeking to draw support from away from the rebels decides that an attack on Israel would be a good idea?  What if Israel is forced to attack U.S.-backed forces, or even NATO forces? 

In the link above, Steve Dennis brings up the idea of an alliance between Israel and Russia.  One commenter could not help thinking it was a typo.  But Russia is a long-time ally of Assad.  Israel does not want another Al Qaeda-linked enemy on another front.  It is not that far-fetched. 

Obama is a Muslim-sympathizer, if not a cultural Muslim himself.  He spent a good twenty years of his life immersed in the anti-Semitic Black Liberation theology of Jeremiah Wright, who is much closer to Louis Farrakan than to Billy Graham.  I don't see that Obama has Israel's best interests in mind at all. 

There are Christian prophecy experts who are getting all excited about the potential destruction of the ancient city of Damascus as a sign of the end-times.  While I disagree with their view, I do think a war around Israel could easily escalate well beyond anyone's expectations.  A direct conflict between the U.S. and Russia would not be pretty.  The war in Alas, Babylon started in the port city of Latakia, Syria.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Notes on a Late Garden

As was the case in other parts of the country, our weather here was cold very late into spring.  I ended up planting most of my garden at the end of April rather than the beginning with some seeds that prefer warmer soil being held until the beginning of May. 

First, the permaculture part of our setup is looking good.  I have already harvested several gallons of strawberries.  I'll probably end up with two or three more gallons this evening and Sunday.  They will probably start tapering off sometime next week, but I will have a lot of frozen strawberries when they are done.  Not long after the strawberries finish, I will begin the blackberry harvest.  We look to have a decent crop again this year.  The canes are already loaded with green berries and more forming. 

One thing I won't have this year is Santa Rosa plums.  My plum tree blossomed during a fairly cold interval, and the bees were not flying.  The apple trees, though, are in good shape with lots of fruit.  I may even get a pear or two off my still-developing pear tree.  I have thinned the fruit off it as it can't bear much of a load yet.  I also brutally thinned my nectarine tree.  It was shattered and severely "pruned" by high winds last summer but looks to survive and make a comeback. 

I added three new seedless grape vines this spring, but only one has survived.  Our established vines are promising a good crop, and I almost have my wife convinced to let me plant a full acre or so of grapes.  Of course, I have thought that before.

Finally, I planted asparagus last year, and my bed made it through the winter.  It looks healthy.  I will add some manure and look forward to some home-grown asparagus next year.  

This year, instead of planting Irish potatoes, we set out sweet potato plants -- substantially more expensive.  If I get a good enough crop, I may try to sprout and propagate my own sweet potatoes next year.  We'll see how that goes.  If, after harvest, sweet potatoes are cured, they develop a lot more sweetness and flavor, and they will keep well in a cellar-type environment through the winter, providing a relatively dense source of calories and nutrients. Plus they are native to the Americas and have the cool Thanksgiving factor. 

My wife has gone insane with regard to winter squash.  She picked up four or five heirloom varieties and wants to save the seeds.  This has created something of a logistical nightmare in laying out the garden.  At one point I considered adding a couple of plots in the field east of the pond, but she finally agreed to limit the planting to only four varieties plus one zucchini type, and I was able to separate those sufficiently -- I think -- in the existing space. 

Winter squash, like buttercup and vegetable spaghetti, do store pretty well and make an interesting side dish with lots of fiber, flavor, nutrients, and often well-received variation.

I have a lot of beans out, including some kidney beans for drying.  I'll plant black beans in some areas as stuff is harvested.  Then we have all the regular "summer" crops like cucumbers, cantaloupes, tomatoes, and peppers.  I have two varieties of watermelon planted.  The best success I've had with watermelon was from Chilean Blackseed, but my wife -- watermelon connoisseur that she is -- was not happy with those.  Perhaps we will have an assessment in a couple of months.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Ever Wonder Why Markets Make No Sense?

This Bloomberg article talks about rigging in FX (foreign-exchange currency) trades by the traders.

Got it via Denninger who breaks it down.

Greed and dishonesty are nothing new, of course.  The question is why have regulations to protect people if the regulations are not enforced, and there are no consequences?

For the last several years all the markets have moved in ways that seem detached from reality.  I suppose this is a "conspiracy theory," but it's not really a theory.  Insiders -- and the central banks are the ultimate insiders -- are manipulating the markets for the benefit of their tribe, to use a popular term.  Governments will do nothing about it because deficit spending makes them dependent on the central banks.  The finance ministers of all the developed nations are members of the same tribe as the central bankers.  You can safely ignore the label they wear, e.g., Tory, Socialist, Republican, Labour, Democrat, etc., their true loyalties lie elsewhere.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Politics and Civil Liberties

The thing is that one's political affiliations can trump one's view of what is constitutional, or even ethical.  I'm guilty of that.  I don't know John Ashcroft personally, but we have had mutual friends in the past and have been members of the same church. I did have the privilege of meeting his father, the late Dr. J. Robert Ashcroft, who had a tremendous impact on my life and my Christian faith.  I think John Ashcroft is a decent person, though not very intelligent -- probably about average for a lawyer and politician.  He's certainly a regression toward the mean from his father.  When Ashcroft was Attorney General under Bush, I did not like the Patriot Act, the Department of Homeland Security, the TSA, and all the other post-9/11 intrusions into privacy.  But, I was fairly confident that Ashcroft would not use those tools for partisan purposes. 

That doesn't change the nature of the tools.  Drug use is a bad thing; nevertheless, curbing drug use is no excuse for trashing the Constitution in terms of, for example, due process, as has been a common practice for nearly forty years.  A no-knock warrant served via SWAT ninjas may protect police officers and gather more evidence, but it is the tool of a police state and probably should not be used at all.  It certainly should require overwhelming proof that the accused (innocent until proven guilty, right?) is too dangerous to be picked up in a less dramatic fashion. 

It would have been one thing to implement some of the travel restrictions and anti-privacy practices of the Patriot Act on a very temporary basis for a few months as the nation got on a war footing.  Congress should have been required to vote on a formal declaration of war.  They should have been required to clearly define what constituted victory.  That was not done.  The Bush Administration, with a complicit Congress, took advantage of the state of fear present in the aftermath of 9/11 to greatly expand the scope of government without limit.  That was, perhaps, understandable, if ill-advised, in the short-term.  It never should have been allowed to become permanent. 

The question is not whether I trust Eric Holder more or less than I trust John Ashcroft.  The tools and the potential corruption and misuse of those tools is the issue.  Know this, if a tools can be misused, it will be misused by someone at some point.  That's human nature.  We hold individuals accountable for the way they use a chainsaw, a car, a knife, a firearm, or even a communication device.  We have to be able to hold our agents in government accountable as well.  Obama said in the last couple of days that if we can't trust the executive branch, the Congress, and the courts then we have a problem.  Of course, this is the same partisan hack who said Congress was lying about the gun control bill he wanted passed.  So maybe it's Obama who has a problem. 

The language being used in all the denials and attempts to assuage the ire of the public is typically evasive.  No, they are not listening to all conversations.  Their computer algorithms are scanning for key words.  Someone might say, "I was in terror the other day because I was attacked by a swarm of yellow jackets.  I bombed their nest with bug spray afterward, but I wrapped up like a Muslim beauty queen before I got close."  If that kicked out and was analyzed for content, and, though it would be unconstitutional, it might be somewhat excusable in light of imminent terror threats.  I wonder if it would also kick out something like:  "I just got back from the party.  They didn't have any diet soda, so I just drank some unsweetened tea.  I was about to die in the heat while talking to the PTA president.  She loved my blonde joke.  They just kill her.  We have everything arranged for the next meeting, and it will be a blast."  I'm pretty sure, though, that you can thwart all monitoring  by frequently dropping the word "kardashian".     

The media seems to be emphasizing the fact that it is metadata that is being logged.  Metadata is a lot more meaningful and powerful today than it was even ten years ago when far fewer people had cell phones, let alone smart phones, phones with built-in GPS and cameras, fakebook pages, twitter, tumblr and all the other social media stuff that is out there.  

I'm ambivalent about the status of Edward Snowden.  The left normally exalts these guys while the right eviscerates them.  I can't help thinking that Snowden is, if not exactly a hero, deserving of whistleblower status and protection from prosecution.  What the NSA is doing is probably, mostly technically legal, but it is not ethical, right or constitutional, and, as far as I'm concerned, it is not justifiable.  It needs to stop.   

Monday, June 10, 2013

Odds and Ends

Denninger recites the relative odds of dying in a terrorist attack

HINT:  A snake's belly.

The point is that people can be made to fear things and exaggerate the risks based on isolated, anecdotal incidents that get a lot of attention.  Every so often, the media will have their own version of "shark week" when they highlight the attacks by sharks on swimmers and surfers.  The thought of being eaten by a shark is pretty horrifying, and, if the media reports that "there has been an upsurge in attacks recently" -- either because it had been winter and now it's summer, or because last year there were five and this year there have been seven -- the audience tends to picture shark fins in the municipal swimming pool.

The same is true of serial killers, child abductions, tornadoes, or terror attacks.  Similarly, if something gets glossed over and not emphasized -- auto accidents involving teenagers, for example -- it drops from the attention of the masses.  Those who die or are severely injured from some unusual cause are just as damaged as from something more common.  Each incident is a heart-rending tragedy for the individuals involved.  We are right to feel bad for the victims and do what we can to help.  But the risks for 99% of us remain very low, and we should not allow ourselves to be frightened into shredding the Constitution and hiding under the couch. 

In my lifetime, I have been threatened by communism, anti-communism, Elvis, butter, marijuana, LSD, heroin, hippies, the Beatles, the Klan, the Black Panthers, Pintos, guns, demonic possession, the mafia, discos, homosexuals, the Vietnamese, sharks, fat, Chevy trucks, Saddam Hussein, witches, guns, TV evangelists, Seventh-Day Adventists, Iranians, militias, margarine, the year 2000, Catholic priests, guns, carbohydrates, homophobes, terrorists, boxcutters, shoes, more than four ounces of liquid, cash, Swiss Army knives, guns, and pressure cookers.            

Victorinox Swiss Army knife, photo taken in Sw...
In the name of keeping me "safe" and "free", my freedom has been taken.  I have lost much of the ability to defend myself, to move about, speak and assemble freely.  I can't deposit cash in my bank account because I might be laundering drug money.  I can't buy an antihistamine because I might be making meth.  I can't get anhydrous ammonia because I might be making a fertilizer bomb.  I have to have my name checked against a database to buy a gun because I might be a felon.  I can't carry a pocketknife into my own county courthouse because I might go nuts and trim somebody's fingernails.

Years ago I was watching some television program and some stupid actress, in attacking the right to keep and bear arms, shouted, "What about my right to be safe?"  Safety is not a right but a condition, a condition that, like many aspects of life, is relative.  Safety is a lot like hunger, or not-hunger.  Nobody has a "right" to have a full belly all the time, and even if some idiots amended the Constitution to forbid hunger, it would not change that reality.  Nor would being full all the time be good for a person.  A little hunger is healthy, so is a little danger.

When I'm out on my bike, I am not "safe".  I am prudent, alert and cautious, but if someone else on the road does something stupid, I can be dead in seconds.   A car gives more of a sense of safety, bigger cars feel safer than small cars, as well.  But those are relative conditions.  No one driving a vehicle at highway speeds is completely safe.  If the driver of an eighteen-wheeler nods off at the wrong time, a Hummer won't save you.  The extra, sensible vulnerability of riding a motorcycle actually makes me a better driver when I'm in a cage.

A realistic assessment of risk is helpful.  Fear of any kind only limits our freedom and makes us easier to control.  Thus, those who wish to control us keep coming up with new bogeymen to stir our fears.  Meanwhile the real bogeyman is the government, the regulatory agencies, the TSA, the ATF, the IRS, the politicians and bureaucrats who want to render us helpless and dependent for the sake of their own agendas. 
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Thursday, June 6, 2013

How Outraged Should You Be?

The National Journal's Brian Fung attempts to calculate the appropriate level of outrage for the NSA's grab of Verizon phone logs.

Read it if you like.

I'm not going to be outraged at all because it accomplishes nothing.

I will, however, repeatedly remind people that this is being done by the same government that wants to take away my guns because I can't be trusted -- the same government that uses the IRS to intimidate people and organizations who disagreed with their policies and exercised their rights to freedom of speech and assembly.  This is the same government that ran guns to Mexican drug cartels in an attempt to generate support for more restrictions on military-style rifles.  This is the same government that has lied about the cost and effect of legislation like Obamacare.  This is the same government that gave arms to Al Qaeda-affiliated militants in Libya yet refused to send even one gunship to fire on Muslim terrorists attacking the American mission in Benghazi.  This is the same government that lied for over two weeks about an obscure video being the cause of an attack on SEPTEMBER ELEVENTH, that ORDERED the military to stand-down, that refused to even call the attack an act of terror when they knew good and well what had happened because they had drones on the scene.   

This is not a partisan issue.  We can all agree -- or we should -- that a Bush administration demanding phone records with details about calls, locations, times, durations would be just as illegitimate and unethical as when it is done by Obama.

We don't have time to be outraged.  We don't need to be outraged.  Stop believing these people.  They lie.  They lie all the time about everything.  Nothing they tell you should be accepted.  That includes the complicit media.  You might call them institutional sociopaths.  The rules apply to us, not them.  Like sociopaths, they demand that we play by the rules while they -- being special -- get to use those rules against us without abiding by the same rules themselves.  It's not just one party or even just the government.  It runs through academia, the education system.  Science is infected with it.  Remember the East Anglia emails on climate change?  There's been a proliferation of of fraudulent research published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Walter Cronkite lied about the situation in Vietnam, the Tet Offensive, the fall of Saigon and who knows what else.  Dan Rather tried to get away with a bogus report on George Bush's time in the Texas Air National Guard.  The media has lied about George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin.  They still depict Martin as an 8th-grader, not a 6-foot 2-inch mixed-martial arts enthusiast.

Obama lied when he said he didn't hear Jeremiah Wright's anti-American, anti-Christian, Black Liberation theology sermons.  He lied about his relationship with Bill Ayers.  He is lying about prior knowledge and approval of IRS investigations of the TEA Party, about Fast and Furious, and about the DOJ targeting journalists.  Obama, Clinton, and Rice all lied repeatedly about Benghazi.

Do not believe them.  Any of them.  I'm not outraged, just dangerous.
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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Born Free

The Daily Caller highlights compelling testimony from the president of the Wetumpka, Alabama Tea Party

She should have quoted Skynyrd -- Down in Alabama, you can run but you shore cain't hide.

Not bad but not nearly as good as Ronnie's studio album version, which is one of my all-time favorite Skynyrd songs.  Apparently the original is copyright blocked by Warner Brothers or something.  This one is pretty good, though

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Chart of Market Exuberance

This is from a DailyFX article by Kristian Kerr:

 Central_Banks_are_Feeding_the_Next_Crisis_A_Bond_Bubble_body_Picture_5.png, Central Banks are Feeding the Next Crisis: A Bond Bubble

Interestingly, the chart above looks remarkably like the bubble real estate market created by Federal Reserve monetary policy between 2002 and 2007.  You can see that at the link.   

As I noted when I started this blog back in 2010, bonds are the current bubble, and all bubbles burst.  Please read the entirety of Kerr's analysis which covers the factors quite thoroughly.  Here is the conclusion -- emphasis added by me: 

A forced liquidation of assets in the wake of a confidence crisis would obviously have dramatic impact on all the markets we have mentioned in addition to a multitude of others. We have shown that capital concentrations tend to build slowly but unwind swiftly. As such it is not beyond the realm of possibility that all gains seen over past 4 years in the bond and stock markets could be unwound in a very short period of time. Going back to the idea of the web of capital, the lynchpin looks to be the currency markets and specifically the US Dollar. With the Federal Reserve immersed in aggressive balance sheet expansion through the use of quantitative easing the Greenback has become a form of funding especially within the emerging markets through various official and unofficial pegs. At the behest of the Fed through its forward guidance, investors have borrowed these cheap dollar assets to invest in higher yielding non-dollar ones. Looking at the difference between the growth in FX reserves and cumulative current account surpluses we can estimate the rough size of the short USD carry trade. According to the most recent data it is at least around $2 trillion based on this metric! The whole trade, however, is built on the notion that the Fed and other central banks will continue with this policy into perpetuity. For this reason even [the] slightest realistic hint that the Federal Reserve is set to move away from ZIRP has the potential to unravel the whole thing. All those who have borrowed dollar assets will be forced to buy back their dollars forcing the currency higher – some 2 trillion USD worth! This de facto policy tightening would have grave and dramatic knock on effects for emerging and developed markets alike. Pay close attention to the dollar. Prolonged strength in the currency could the unexpected tail that prompts the beginning of the end in the latest central bank induced asset bubble.

The yen, the euro, and the dollar are all playing the same games.  Despite the economic potential in the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, China), these are still relatively insignificant players on the financial side.  They are all dependent on the flow of currency from, especially, the US as well as Japan and Europe.  

I make no recommendations, but I will tell you my current status.  I am mostly in cash.  I even have a not insignificant deposit in the First Bank of BeautyRest.  I still have some money in the markets, but it is money I can "afford" to lose.  I fully expect to lose at least half of it.  I have invested in what I think is essential to provide for my family in terms of tools and equipment and supplies.    

It's hard to say what will happen with precious metals -- one would expect a price drop but it will be more severe in the "paper" versions than in the in-hand metal itself -- just as we saw earlier this year.  But China and Germany, for example, will probably support a strong base for gold.  Silver may take more of a hit because it is more of an industrial commodity.  It might be a good time to buy more.  Only the nominal, dollar-denominated value of these metals will decrease. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Capital Is Not Credit

So, I didn't pay any attention whatsoever to markets or currencies or anything like that for all of last week, and I don't seem to have missed a thing.  How can this be?

These things have become completely detached from reality.  That the IRS is the muscle for gangster government is news to no one who has a functional brain cell.  That the news media is essentially the information ministry of the financial oligarchs is hardly shocking.

But I did realize or at least manage to articulate to myself why I sometimes sound uncomfortably like some leftists and anti-corporation, union types.  The problem is not free markets or free enterprise, corporations that mine, manufacture, and otherwise produce goods and services.  Those work.

What doesn't work is the banking system which runs not on assets but on debt, generating speculative "wealth".  A bank should be able to loan only money that it actually has.  My local bank can theoretically and legally loan several times the amount of money in my accounts based on what I have deposited.  The multiplier should be 1.  As Denninger is fond of saying, you need that "one dollar of capital". 

The banks can hold money as actual cash deposits or in the form of titles on property or equipment that has been purchased with borrowed money, but there should have been money to borrow and the collateral should roughly translate back into that amount of cash if it is sold.  This is why lenders used to require down payments on mortgages and car notes -- to cover depreciation and other market loss factors.  But, shoot, if you are creating money out of thin air, who needs anything down?  It's all bogus so it might as well be thoroughly bogus.   

This has been going on for a hundred years, since the creation of the Federal Reserve System, and it has been getting progressively more distorted.  We had a slight and brief reset in the early '80s with very high interest rates when some debt was cleared from the system, but basically we have been living in bubble-land in a big way for the last forty years.  Credit is not capital.  You do not generate capital by making a loan.

Until we get back to a reality-based understanding of capital as money saved above expenditures rather than the amount of credit one is allowed, we are never going to have a sound and sustainable economic recovery.