Category Archives: climate change

Stay classy, USA.

Updated below.

Hurricane Irma is battering the north edge of Cuba as a category 5 hurricane as I write this.  The only comment I have heard on the news about Cuba vis a vis Irma has been relief expressing that by hitting Cuba first, some of the force may be drained off before she makes landfall in the US.

Here’s how the state of Florida is preparing for Irma: mandatory evacuations from cities along the projected path of the worst of the storm.  Repeated announcements that you are on your own to either heed the evacuation notices and get out, or to survive as best you can if you stay.  Repeated warnings to potential looters (note: the term “looters” only means desperate people looking for food or shoes or a free TV after their home just got blown away; it does not refer to the bankers, insurers, and real estate speculators who will rape and pillage the entire area for profit after the storm is over.  Those guys will not only be encouraged to loot wholesale, they will be given tax breaks for doing so.).  Warnings to those who may have criminal charges pending against them that if they seek safety in public shelters, they will be taken to jail because the ID check required as one enters the emergency shelters will expose their status.  The gas stations immediately ran out of gas and the roads north immediately filled with congested traffic.  The airlines jacked up their prices and started cancelling flights.  There were no emergency bus or train services offered, aside from the usual scanty routes already available, because we do not invest in public transportation in the US.  All those people heading north in their cars can only hope they don’t run out of gas along the way.  And where, exactly, they are going seems to be a mystery, as the hotels are completely booked for several states above Florida.  So much for trying to heed those evacuation orders.  After the hurricane, you might be able to get a loan to rebuild your house.  (Or maybe not.  See:

Congress has approved some emergency funding for the victims of both hurricanes (Harvey in Texas, and Irma in Florida), at the same time that the current administration is making sure the agencies charged with emergencies like these are defunded and understaffed.  This is the rugged individualism of the US.  You are on your own, although in a somewhat schizophrenic manner, you will be praised for helping your neighbors after the fact, and we all join in with the feel-good sentiment that in an emergency, we “all come together”.  If you haven’t noticed, what they mean is that we “come together” and “help one another out” by sharing our own meager scraps of what we have left after paying taxes and jacked-up exorbitant prices for necessities, while the government only considers “helping one another” to be some socialist plot.  It’s just kind of a shame that the politicians and the media don’t think that spending US taxpayer money on actual US taxpayers should happen except in the most dire of circumstances, and even then, it is done begrudgingly, and demands will be made that US’ians have to give up social spending elsewhere later to pay for it.  Probably not going to get much infrastructure spending in the next budget for the rest of the country, because Congress gave a little something-something to Texas and Florida now, and you may find that Medicare and Social Security get cut to pay for this, as well.  Note must be made here that the ‘infrastructure spending plan’, such as it is, is mostly a plan to give the common infrastructure over to private companies to run at a profit anyway, but now Congress may decide to do away with any public ownership or investment altogether.  When things are rebuilt in these two states, they will be built in the same way they were built before: defiant of the inexorable demands of nature.  If you pave over the swamps and bury hazardous materials under your homes, you get floods because the water has nowhere to go and you get lethal shit released into the air and water when a bad weather event occurs.  In Houston, it is estimated (this is an early estimate, sure to be calibrated upwards as the weeks go on) that two million pounds of hazardous chemicals had been released into the air during the flood.  Texas took care of the problem by turning off its air monitors in the Houston area during hurricane Harvey.  (Can’t worry about what you don’t know, is the theory behind this.)  30,000 gallons of crude oil flowed into the floodwaters that people were wading in when two oil tanks ruptured.  The current condition of all the Superfund sites in the flood zone is unknown.  [Superfund sites are locations polluted with hazardous and toxic materials that require long-term clean-up responses.]  In Florida, there are 54 Superfund sites at risk of flooding and leeching out of containment during heavy rains and storm surges; the EPA claims that all of them have been secured, although reporters found no-one working at any of them in the past week.  Nonetheless, no lessons will be learned and nothing will change, as we will insist that our way is the best because we are just that exceptional.   This brings to mind the “healthcare” debacle. The US politicians refuse to ask all those other countries how they set up their universal healthcare systems – which apparently work efficiently enough and save enough money that none of them ever want to give them up – and instead simply declare that universal healthcare is “not feasible”.  And when the insurance costs skyrocket this winter, as they will due to the shortfalls of the ACA combined with the deliberate efforts of Trump and the Republicans to sabotage the little bit that works, the public will be told it was inevitable and that they must accept something even worse.

In Cuba, as compared to the US emergency system, there has been a network in place for decades where each family, household or neighborhood is paired with one or more of the same on the opposite side of the island.  Evacuation transportation, by any and all available means, and emergency routes have been planned in advance to cover any contingency, as part of the networks.  Everyone therefore is able to be moved quickly and they already have a place to stay during the emergency.  Despite the fact that Cuba is hit fairly frequently with hurricanes, there is very little death toll thanks to this pre-planning based on the public good.  Of course, this is an example of Dread Socialism at work, so the media in the US simply doesn’t talk about how Cuba manages hurricane preparedness, nor do they talk about Cuba at all, except as I said above, to crow that by running over Cuba first, Irma will be less dangerous to the US.

To add insult to injury, because there is nothing the US likes more than jabbing sharp sticks in the eyes of small nations everywhere, last night at the same exact time that Irma was making landfall along the northern coast of Cuba, the Trump administration announced that the trade embargo against Cuba is going to be extended for another year, until Sept., 2018.  Trump’s presidential memo states that the embargo, which prevents American companies from importing goods from Cuba or exporting goods to the island nation, has been extended under the Trading with the Enemy Act “in the national interest of the United States.”

I guess this presidential memo stands in lieu of any statement of support for, or commonality with, Cuba during an event that is likely to harm both countries severely.

USA, always classy!

Update, 4:30 p.m. 9 Sept., 2018

Earlier today, the weather services announced that they think the track of Irma will run up the west coast of Florida rather than the east coast (which is what they had predicted a couple of days ago).  This led to newly-declared mandatory evacuations of some cities on the western side of Fla.  These places seem very unprepared, which seems rather odd, given that the hurricane is wider than the entire state. No matter which coast it runs up, the entire state will get hurricane force winds, both coasts will get storm surge, rain and possibly tornadoes.  One would think the entire state would have prepared emergency shelters.  Anyway, about two hours ago, I saw a bit on one of the news shows wherein the reporter was walking along a line of people who were waiting to be accepting into a stadium that had just been opened as an emergency shelter in one of the west-coast Fla. cities.  These were people who had not been under mandatory evacuation orders until around noon today.  In other words, they had just been told they had to leave and, gas no longer being available and the storm making landfall by tomorrow morning, they headed for the only place made ready for them as a shelter.  Thousands of them were lined up, some with babies in strollers and old people in wheelchairs, some carrying packages of bottled water, and little satchels of clothes.  The line wasn’t moving at all.  The stadium can hold about 6000 people (without their wheelchairs, strollers and suitcases).  Why is the line not moving?  As the reporter got to the front of the line, he mentioned that he couldn’t get any officials to talk to him.  However, you could see that behind him, the people at the front of the line were filling out multiple sheets of paper clasped on clipboards before they were allowed to present these papers to some official and be let into the stadium.  A stunningly bizarre insistence on some byzantine paperwork while moving people into emergency shelter.  There is no way in hell they are going to get all those people inside before dark.  It will be dark around 7 p.m. here on the east coast of the US, just a few hours from now, and the eye of the storm will make landfall around 8 tomorrow morning.  But the eye wall is rather irrelevant, since the outer bands are already over Fla, and the winds are picking up right now.  Get the people in and settled, assholes.  Asking for papers to be filled out right this minute is just arbitrary bureaucracy.

Something else: last night, in the wee hours, I caught a re-run of some Fox News segment which apparently aired earlier in the evening.  I don’t know the reporter’s name or the name of the show, and it’s Fox News, so who gives a fuck anyway?  The lady reporter was practically shrieking that the “fake news” outlets were trying to use a hurricane to sell the Fake Idea of fake climate change.  Under her angry twisted-up face, there was a banner which read, “Liberal news sites try to promote global warming.”  She and her co-hosts were appalled that a hurricane, of all things, was used as an example of climate change.  And, they pointed out, the projected path of Irma had been changed, like, a lot over the past week, by the incompetent weather people, all of whom, they insisted, work for the government, which is totally run by liberals and whackaloons, except for the parts run by Trump and the Republicans, but they aren’t the ones to blame for the liberal, fake weather people and their sinister global warming hoaxes, and the altered trajectory of the storm proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that climate change is bullshit.  Some people  – maybe a lot of people – watch this crap and believe it.  So let’s consider climate change for a moment, while we are talking about hurricanes and weather.  Imagine you are sitting on your porch on a breezy autumn day.  A leaf falls from a tree and gets caught in the wind.  It swirls and dances around the yard.  Where will it land, you might idly wonder as you watch it flutter about.  Thing is, no matter what you predict, you will probably be wrong; there are too many variables at work, from the air temperature to the ground temperature, to the strength of the breeze, to the air pressure, to obstacles in your yard.  Weather prediction is hard.  It is a science and it is currently enhanced by computers, but it is still hard.  The expected path of Irma changed a little within the past twelve hours because it went over Cuba’s landmass, because the temperature of the ocean below it may have changed a bit, because the prevailing winds shifted a tad, but it is still heading for Florida and it is still a huge storm.  To claim that this slight alteration means climate change as a whole is therefore false is just ignorant.

There are other theories about why we are having massive droughts some places, record-breaking rainfall in others, hurricanes, flooding and wildfires all over the planet aside from man-caused global warming.   You might believe that the weather is always changing and this is just part of a normal cycle of cooling and warming.  You might believe that the government is playing with the weather so as to force us to pay higher taxes to alleviate the bad weather they caused on purpose.  You might think the power companies are hyping a fake story so they can usher in carbon taxes, where they can collect a shit-ton of money from you on top of whatever they rip you off for in normal circumstances.  You might believe that reptile space aliens are screwing with weather patterns as part of their plan to take over the earth.  I’m not sure why Americans are so wedded to their simplistic belief systems that they can only believe in binary truths; everything has to be just one thing or it can only be the exact opposite thing.  We have no nuance in this country and no ability for complex thought.

I think it is proven that the climate is changing due to the burning of fossil fuels.  But it can also, simultaneously, be true that there are normal cycles of the weather in the long term, and the effects of these normal cycles are merely enhanced by our mistaken overuse of coal and oil.  It can also be true that politicians and energy companies want to abuse the science to foist financial misery on everyone for their own profit.  It can also be true that the US government plays with the weather  – hell, they were already doing it during the Vietnam war, and proud of it.  Probably the space alien thing isn’t true, though.  Point is, it doesn’t have to be all one or the other, and claiming the whole shebang is a hoax is dangerously simpleminded and keeps us from doing what we ought to ameliorate the worst of the effects of climate change.  The climate is changing.  And that is a fact.

Another fact is that the US military wants to, or already is, using the weather as a weapon against other countries.  Don’t take my word for it; read this white paper, written in 1996 as a precis for the Pentagon.  This is major fucked-up fuckery, right here:

Title: Weather as a Force Multiplier: Owning the Weather in 2025

Opening disclaimer: “2025 is a study designed to comply with a directive from the chief of staff of the Air Force to examine the concepts, capabilities, and technologies the United States will require to remain the dominant air and space force in the future. Presented on 17 June 1996, this report was produced in the Department of Defense school environment of academic freedom and in the interest of advancing concepts related to national defense. The views expressed in this report are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of the United States Air Force, Department of Defense, or the United States government.  This publication has been reviewed by security and policy review authorities, is unclassified, and is cleared for public release.”

[This is followed by over 40 pages of how the US can manipulate the weather to create adverse conditions for other countries, to use the weather as a weapon of mass destruction, and to weaponize space for the same purposes.]



You know the feeling you get when you are on a ferris wheel or a roller coaster and after hitting the peak, you start the descent?  Feels like your stomach has been left “up there” somewhere?  We’re there.  I get that feeling every day while I read the “news”.  Countries that are thriving and working on solutions do not behave this way:

– Hillary we-came-we-saw-he-died Clinton gleefully announces that her joint task force on counterintelligence (this is where the State Dept., now run by anti-diplomatic diplomats, teams up with a few college frat boys) has been able to pull a good one on al Qaeda.  They hacked into some overseas websites and changed the ads so they read as anti-al Qaeda.  Oh, psych!  Pwn’d ’em.  High five!

– The president has issued executive orders to sanction some foreign countries and persons – and in at least one case, sanctions Americans – without going to Congress.

and here:

and here:

– He also recently issued an executive order which allows him to take over all food production, roads, private companies, infrastructure, oil supplies, etc., and to conscript any American deemed fit into military service.  This can be implemented at his discretion, in both times of war or of peace.  The liberal blogs either ignored this one or brushed it off as unimportant because Clinton and Bush had the same executive orders in place.  He is just doing what presidents do now.  Duh.  No big deal, get a grip.  He could have, had he been so inclined, rescinded both the Clinton and the Bush orders.  He chose not to, instead strengthening the wording in theirs to issue his own kingly proclamation.

– The president gave a speech at a Joplin, Mo high school the other day.  Joplin had been flattened last year by one of the deadliest tornadoes on record.  In his speech – and I am looking at his actual words, not just depending on the fawning media to “interpret” them for me, I can read, for God’s sake – there is no mention of climate change as the causative agent of the violent tornado outbreaks across the country.  The devastation was just a blind attack from mother nature, no particular reason.  Hard luck.  I particularly like the part where he tells the students – I guess he was hit suddenly with the need to be honest – that their generation will have to figure out all by themselves how to make higher education affordable.  And rebuild the economy.  And make sure that everyone who is willing to put in the effort can find a job.  Oh, and drill here, drill now, Joplin.  None of these things are up to the president or Congress, who clearly have no intention of working on these issues on your behalf – you little slackers are on your own now.

“[…] And that’s the spirit that has allowed all of you to rebuild this city, and that’s the same spirit we need right now to help rebuild America. And you, Class of 2012, you’re going to help lead this effort. You’re the ones who will help build an economy where every child can count on a good education. (Applause.) You’re the one that’s going to make sure this country is a place where everybody who is willing to put in the effort can find a job that supports a family. (Applause.) You’re the ones that will make sure we’re a country that controls our own energy future, where we lead the world in science and technology and innovation. America only succeeds when we all pitch in and pull together, and I’m counting on you to be leaders in that effort, because you’re from Joplin and you’ve already defied the odds[….]”

– One of the “progressive” websites celebrates the latest “amazing” “scientific” “break-throughs” in an article sent out today.  Our best think-tanks and scientists have developed some great stuff.  Well, okay, they haven’t perfected the hydrogen engine, found a solution to peak fish, peak oil, fracking earthquakes, toxins in the waterways, the sixth great species die-off [see:] or anything, but by Jove, they have solved the problem of getting that last bit of catsup out of the bottle.  Yay!  Another high five!  And this is what a liberal website finds momentous.

– After letting the derivatives market grow to over one quadrillion dollars, our Congress is suggesting that they may be ready to enact regulation  end the bank bailouts  end the Fed  dismantle Wall Street altogether as a money-laundering scheme bailout the derivatives market.

The government has been bailing out the giant, insolvent banks for years. (Many of the bailed out banks are foreign.)
That is preventing the economy from recovering … like countries that have grabbed the bull by the horns.
The government has allowed the amount of derivatives to reach 1.2 quadrillion dollars.

That is feeding the parasite of casino gambling … which is preventing the real economy from recovering and is killing the host of actual productivity.

What is the government doing for an encore?  Bailing out the derivatives clearinghouses.
As the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday:

Little noticed is that on Tuesday Team Obama took its first formal steps toward putting taxpayers behind Wall Street derivatives trading — not behind banks that might make mistakes in derivatives markets, but behind the trading itself. Yes, the same crew that rails against the dangers of derivatives is quietly positioning these financial instruments directly above the taxpayer safety net.

The authority for this regulatory achievement was inserted into Congress’s pending financial reform bill by then-Senator Chris Dodd.

Specifically, the law authorizes the Federal Reserve to provide “discount and borrowing privileges” to clearinghouses in emergencies.

To get help, they only needed to be deemed “systemically important” by the new Financial Stability Oversight Council chaired by the Treasury Secretary.

Last year regulators finalized rules for how they would use this new power. On Tuesday, they began using it. The Financial Stability Oversight Council secretly voted to proceed toward inducting several derivatives clearinghouses into the too-big-to-fail club. After further review, regulators will make final designations, probably later this year, and will announce publicly the names of institutions deemed systemically important.

We’re told that the clearinghouses of Chicago’s CME Group and Atlanta-based Intercontinental Exchange were voted systemic this week, and rumor has it that the council may even designate London-based LCH.Clearnet as critical to the U.S. financial system.
U.S. taxpayers thinking that they couldn’t possibly be forced to stand behind overseas derivatives trading will not be comforted by remarks from Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman Gary Gensler. On Monday he emphasized his determination to extend Dodd-Frank derivatives regulation to overseas markets when subsidiaries of U.S. firms are involved.

If there’s one truth we’ve learned about government financial backstops, it’s that sooner or later they will be used. So eventually taxpayers will have to bail out one derivatives clearinghouse or another. It promises to be quite a mess.
Indeed, Nobel prize-winning economist George Akerlof demonstrated that if big companies aren’t held responsible for their actions, the government ends up bailing them out. So failure to prosecute directly leads to a bailout.  Bailing them out- in turn – creates incentives for more economic crimes and further destruction of the economy in the future.

As financial incentive expert William Black notes, we’ve known of this dynamic for “hundreds of years”.

Note: It’s not just banks.   The government has bailed out hedge funds and companies like McDonald’s and Harley-Davidson.  Indeed, drug dealers kept the banking system afloat during the depths of the 2008 financial crisis.  So are the biggest drug cartels “systemically important” and “too big to fail”?  Will the U.S. government backstop the Colombian drug lords?  Sure, their actions don’t help society, and instead harm a lot of people.  But so do those of the giant banks speculating in derivatives.

And there may be more overlap than admitted in polite company.

– Despite crashing the economy and receiving continuous bailouts which have totaled over 17 trillion (that we know about so far), despite the astonishing number of people hurt in the depression by losing their savings, jobs and homes, the big banks continue to rake in record profits quarter after quarter.  Nobody notices.  Nothing about this is considered weird or counterproductive or insane.  (What the president worries over, in fact, is that JPMorgan may have lost a little money in their latest gaming at the table; he suggested that we need more regulation to prevent such losses for the oligarchs in the future.)

US bank profits soar while lending drops
By Patrick Martin 
26 May 2012

US bank profits rose sharply during the first quarter of 2012, according to figures compiled by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the eleventh consecutive quarter in which net earnings were higher than the previous year.
Aggregate profits of all the banks and savings institutions insured by the FDIC rose to $35.3 billion in the January-March period, up from $28.7 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011 and the highest quarterly profit figure since 2007.

The five-year record profits come on top of bumper earnings in 2011, the most profitable year for banking since 2006. While jobs and wages for working people remain deeply depressed, the financial sector, which caused the economic slump, is doing better than ever.

This applies particularly to the financial giants. Two-thirds of all US financial institutions reported increased profits, but the vast bulk of these profits were concentrated in the largest banks, those with assets over $10 billion. While they make up only 1.4 percent of all banks, these institutions raked in 81 percent of the net earnings.

While profits rose 23 percent compared to a year earlier, net operating income revenue was up only five percent. This means most banks boosted their profits not from lending activities, but through bookkeeping operations, like reducing the amount they set aside to cover loan losses (down $6.6 billion compared to the same quarter in 2011).

Overall, banks cut their total lending by about one percent in the first quarter of 2012 compared to the previous quarter. This once again disproves the rationale for the Bush-Obama bank bailout: the claim that rescuing the banks would enable them to resume lending on a wider scale and thus fuel an economic recovery in the United States.

Consumer lending fell in most categories, with the biggest drop in credit card debt, $38.2 billion, a 5.6 percent decline typical of the post-Christmas quarter. Home mortgages fell by $19.2 billion and home equity lines of credit by $13.1 billion. Auto loans rose by $4.5 billion.[…]

Bernanke said that large companies and wealthy individuals could find credit easily, but admitted that for small business owners the conditions were “challenging,” a word that should be translated into ordinary English as “desperate.”

Bank loans to small businesses were still 15 percent below their 2008 peak at the end of last year, he said.[…]

– Congress just passed, and Obama signed, a new law which makes it easier for us to be ripped off by Wall Street.  This law further deregulates trading, I guess under the school of thought that if you are going to be raped anyway, why not lay back and try to enjoy it?  In an effort to disguise the reality of what they were doing, Congress named it the JOBS Act.  I’m sure they worked hard at coming up with words to make up that acronym.  These days, every bill must be given a name diametrically opposed to the real intent of the bill.  Hell, they spend more time on the names of the bills than on the bills themselves, which are all written by lobbyists anyway.

– The top-ranking Democrats in the House and Senate, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, are signalling their (continuing) willingness to go after Social Security and Medicare.  This is but one example of the Democrats switching over to the “Austerity for the Masses” theme park fun ride downwards in the USA.  We are operating under a one-party system.  In case you did not notice.

Obama is working out the details of a major international trade agreement in secret.  Like, without going to Congress or giving any notice to the unwashed public.  As was the case with his signature health-care “reform”, he is bargaining with the big corporations behind closed doors.  The trade agreement in question will be devastating to the US consumer.  That’s you and I, by the way.  We are not citizens, the public, or people any longer, we are just consumers.

– The House just passed a bill which eliminates most of the funding for the mortgage fraud investigation.  Remember when the States Attorney agreed to a settlement with the banks over mortgage fraud and assured the public that there would nonetheless be investigations into the fraud?  Yeah, that was such a long time ago, how could you possibly still remember?  Anyway, there are no offices or personnel for the fraud investigation team, and now there’s no money, either.  You know why?  Because, as with every other issue concerning the public weal in the past 12 years, when Congress made the promise that they would look after our best interests, they were just joshin’ our upper lip.

Of course, they wanted to take the money for the fraud investigation from the NASA budget, which is kind of an interesting idea in and of itself considering that our weather satellites are getting ready to discombobulate due to lack of funding and the ages of the satellites.  In regards to the loss of funding to NASA and NOA, one Republican in office remarked that if we wanted to hear about the weather, we could just watch the Weather Channel.  (Do I need to point out that without the weather satellites, the Weather Channel also loses its ability to track hurricanes and predict weather?)  Apparently all that weather prediction stuff is hocus-pocus and anti-biblical.  Nothing like a good old unexpected out-of-the-blue hurricane or tornado to get the blood racing, by golly.

– Congress approved the use of drones over US air space.  That is remarkable and unsettling enough, but now we are going to allow them to be weaponized.

We have a situation here, people.  You might say we are in a bit of a pickle, have hit a wee sticky wicket.  The president claims he can target and assassinate foreigners and Americans at his whim.  He has already done so.  Congress claims the right to capture anyone on the planet, even Americans, and detain them forever without charges or trial.  Congress threatens to start another war, this one with Iran, while at the same time they wage covert war in Syria, and overt war in 6 other countries.  The newspapers run with whatever oddball figures come out of some governmental office regarding employment, poverty, inflation, housing, and debt burden of the US, despite the ever changing methods of compiling the figures and the rank absurdity of the numbers.  Cops are confiscating cash as a routine part of traffic stops in several states.  Lawmakers are trying not only to make abortions illegal, but to disallow heath insurance companies from covering the cost of birth control.  Most of our states are selling off their infrastructure to foreign companies as fast as they can find buyers.  All of our money is going the banks, or to subsidize oil companies, pharma, and big agriculture, wage global war and produce weapons, while the society at large is being robbed and any remnant of safety net is shredded.  We are at peak oil, peak fish, and peak fresh water.  People are getting sick or dying from the massive amounts of toxins in the water, food, and air.  Anyone who attempts to let us know about these things is labeled crazy – or even thrown in jail and prosecuted by the current administration.  We are no longer entitled to the right of protest – we have to beg for permits and submit to the corral of “free speech zones”.   The list of crap that I posted above is just a small portion of the response we get to this situation from our leaders and media.

This is not the way a healthy country behaves.  This is the behaviour of a country on the way down to third world status.  It is going to get worse – by design.  You can ignore all the evidence and just hope the fools in charge suddenly get smart, that the grifters suddenly get morals, that the insane suddenly find reason, that our leaders once again find us irresistibly attractive enough to stop the divorce proceedings.  Let me clue you in, American Woman: your husband, the Political Body, is kicking you to the curb.  It’s not that you haven’t been a real good sport and all – you have.  You let him dumb down the schools and send the kids off to die in wars of choice.  You didn’t say a word when he brought home the bacon and it turned out to be crawling with e-coli, you just spiced it up as best you could with some corn syrup and served it to the family.  When he lied about where he’d been and came home reeking of the perfume from one of his concurrent mistresses, Greed, Money, and Crony Capitalism, you merely cast your eyes down and pretended not to notice.  You stood by him in earnest, steadfast solidarity when the neighbors pointed out that he’d been torturing a few of them and killing millions of them.  Well, okay, that one didn’t bother you all that much, but you were loyal dammit, is the point.  Now you sit in long-suffering silence as he takes the house, the car, and your job.  He is not going to be enticed back to your bedroom.  And he ain’t paying no stinking child support, either.  You are on your own for this ride, be-otch.

You can sit and watch all of it as we race at sickening speed on the down-side of the ride – but carry a barf bag, will ya?  There are people below you on the ferris wheel.


The 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance.

(updated below)

…You may ask yourself, “Am I right, am I wrong?”
You may say to yourself, “My God! What have I done?”
…Letting the days go by, water flowing underground
Into the blue again, after the money’s gone
…Same as it ever was, same as it ever was

-from “Once in a Lifetime” lyrics, by Talking Heads

On 5 Jan of this year, Obama spoke at the Pentagon.  This event was covered by reporters and they were tickled by his little joke about the Pentagon having such a “nice room” set aside for such speeches.  The meeting was reportedly about the upcoming “cuts” to the Pentagon budget, cuts which have led in some quarters to dire predictions of doom and an inability to protect The Homeland.  Even though Obama himself pointed out that the Pentagon budget will actually continue to grow, the story being bandied about is that there are calamitous cuts ahead for the military.

“… Over the next 10 years, the growth in the defense budget will slow, but the fact of the matter is this:  It will still grow, because we have global responsibilities that demand our leadership.  In fact, the defense budget will still be larger than it was toward the end of the Bush administration.  And I firmly believe, and I think the American people understand, that we can keep our military strong and our nation secure with a defense budget that continues to be larger than roughly the next 10 countries combined…” – President Obama, from opening remarks to Defense Strategic Guidance.

Leon Panetta then gave a little intro, in which he talked about the US having to face multiple enemies at a time.  (“…Our strategy review concluded that the United States must have the capability to fight several conflicts at the same time.  We are not confronting, obviously, the threats of the past; we are confronting the threats of the 21st century.  And that demands greater flexibility to shift and deploy forces to be able to fight and defeat any enemy anywhere.  How we defeat the enemy may very well vary across conflicts.  But make no mistake, we will have the capability to confront and defeat more than one adversary at a time…”)  While it is not clear who, exactly, these multiple enemies are, it is a simple enough exercise to produce one or several at will.  Especially given that we keep bombing multiple countries at a time; surely that will generate enough antagonism somewhere to roust up an enemy or two.

Reporters must have dozed off during the presentation of the Defense Strategic Guidance itself and declined to read it later, as there is scant coverage of the document in question.  It is not really about the Pentagon budget, per se, so much as a suggestive guideline for implementing the President’s goals.  There are no actual figures in it.  It does not read like a balance sheet or a profit and loss statement – I’m sure the assumption that it would be a boring accountant’s report is what kept journalists from perusing the thing.

A note about the papers put out by the Pentagon and the President is in order first.  The Pentagon or President produce several types of guideline documents regarding national security issues.  These are written and appear as the Pentagon or President sees fit, based on changing conditions, rather than on a defined and regular schedule.   The Joint Chiefs issue a plan called a Nat’l Defense Strategy.   (This was last updated in 2008.  It sets specific goals for the military.  For instance, the ’08 Nat’l Defense Strategy states that the military should be capable of pursuing a “two and a half war” strategy.  The ’06 Nat’l Defense Strategy contained specific plans for the utilization of Arctic zones for military advantage as the climate warmed.  Yes, the Pentagon believes in climate change and, rather than seeing it as a problem to be addressed or even admitted openly, intends to use it to our advantage, militarily speaking.  What happens to the planet’s overall livability is a moot point.)

The Defense Strategic Guidance, today’s topic, is a policy review produced by the Pentagon and the President together.   It sets the general guidelines for the military’s implementation of the President’s National Security Strategy.  Obama last updated his Nat’l Security Strategy in 2010.  This outlined Obama’s initiatives at the time: closing Guantanamo, engaging in diplomacy with Iran, and the rebuilding of the American economy.  (Hey, that was then, okay?)  His foreign policy as given in the Nat’l Security Strategy was very bellicose and sounded remarkably like that of Bush.  It talked of the military and economic domination of the world by the US and imposing the unilateral will of the US across the globe.  There was no end-date in sight for prosecuting the War on Terror mentioned in the document and to the surprise of the 15 people who read the thing, Obama openly talked about using the military on US soil.  “Strengthening National Capacity—A Whole of Government Approach,” is the title of one section which contains notes for further use of the military/security into civilian areas and this idea is brought forward again further later on in the document.  (…”We are improving the integration of skills and capabilities within our military and civilian institutions, so they complement each other and operate seamlessly.  Empowering Communities to Counter Radicalization: Several recent incidences of violent extremists in the United States who are committed to fighting here and abroad have underscored the threat to the United States and our interests posed by individuals radicalized at home. Our best defenses against this threat are well informed and equipped families, local communities, and institutions. The Federal Government will invest in intelligence to understand this threat and expand community engagement and development programs to empower local communities.”…)  To this end, Obama issued his Strategic Implementation Plan in Dec. ’11. This outlines the “Whole of Government Approach” thing, which I wrote about on 11 Dec., 2011.

The Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) is available here in html form:

…One of the opening lines reads, “The Obama Administration continues to prioritize and stress the critical importance of CVE [CVE = Countering Violent Extremism] in the Homeland.”  …

Does the Obama Administration really think we are likely to see a return to economic good times?  Well, no.  The SIP mentions that “While preventing violent extremism is an issue of national importance, it is one of many safety and security challenges facing our Nation. As we enter an era of increased fiscal constraints, we must ensure our approach is tailored to take advantage of current programs and leverages existing resources.”

The SIP reveals an inordinate, in my opinion, fear of the internet and repeatedly includes reminders to itself to work within the framework of the right to free speech amendments.  A secondary report specifically detailing what to do about the dreaded internet will be forthcoming at some future date.  By that time, Congress will no doubt have done away with the pesky free speech issues.  It also shows an extreme level of concentration on potential terrorists in the prison system.  That’s not surprising, given the likely increase in prison populations once any American citizen can be detained indefinitely without charges.

From the SIP, departments within the government involved in the Plan:

“The following departments and agencies were involved in the deliberations and approval process: the Departments of State (State), the Treasury, Defense (DOD), Justice (DOJ), Commerce, Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), Education (EDU), Veterans Affairs, and Homeland Security (DHS), as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC).”

Now that is a lot of agencies.  I wonder what the Treasury, Health and Human Services, Labor, Education, and Commerce departments have to do with terrorism.  ]


So many reports and swell ideas.  Back to the Defense Strategic Guidance (DSG), the latest of the defense papers and the one introduced on 5 Jan. this year.  This is the newest one, which is not really just about the Pentagon budget, as I’ve said.  The DSG does not sound quite as alarmist over the Global War on Terror as the NSS and suggests that the military needs to “monitor” the situation rather than using “relentless pressure” such as in the 2010 Obama Nat’l Security Strategy.

From the DSG:  “The demise of Osama bin Laden and the capturing or killing of many other senior al-Qa’ida leaders have rendered the group far less capable. However, al-Qa’ida and its affiliates remain active in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and elsewhere. More broadly, violent extremists will continue to threaten U.S. interests, allies, partners, and the homeland. The primary loci of these threats are South Asia and the Middle East. With the diffusion of destructive technology, these extremists have the potential to pose catastrophic threats that could directly affect our security and prosperity. For the foreseeable future, the United States will continue to take an active approach to countering these threats by monitoring the activities of non-state threats worldwide, working with allies and partners to establish control over ungoverned territories, and directly striking the most dangerous groups and individuals when necessary.”

In “working with allies and partners”, we can foresee more Libya-style NATO joint actions taken against the target countries.   While “South Asia” in the paragraph above might refer to the countries around Pakistan and Iran, the DSG also takes pains to include the Pacific Asian countries (China, Philippines, N and S Korea, Japan, etc.).  Surely Obama does not mean to imply that al Qaeda is active in the Pacific Asian countries, which would be a remarkably questionable statement.

In the next paragraph, the DSG states:

“Accordingly, while the U.S. military will continue to contribute to security globally, we will of necessity rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region.”  And later the DSG states that “the growth of China’s military power must be accompanied by greater clarity of its strategic intentions in order to avoid causing friction in the region.”

Now this is odd.  It seems that economics is the actually the primary justification given for swinging to the Pacific Asian countries and away from the Middle East in the search for the “terrorists”; the continual use of the word ‘terrorist’ must be window-dressing for the sake of keeping Americans alarmed, because certainly the fact that a country might be doing middling well financially does not suggest they are terrorists.   China apparently needs to explain to our satisfaction the fact that they seem to currently have expendable income (which is, by the way, declining yearly as they begin to face their own housing bubble).  China has had to decrease the level of military spending since 2010, and currently the US spends 10 times the amount that China does on its military.  Perhaps as the Asian countries have fared a bit better during this economic “downturn” than the US and Europe, we simply see that as the threat.  So we are simply inventing a threat of “terrorism”.  One might point out that the reason the Pacific countries have been doing well is that the US cleverly managed to ship millions of jobs to that part of the globe while crafting all those free-trade agreements.  It turns out that if your people have jobs, your economy does better.  Someone might want to clue in Congress, although we have reached the level of depravity in the US that we would rather steal wealth than create it, and Congress seems to have very little compunction toward changing this methodology now.  Notably, the Asian countries are not yet under the thumb of Goldman Banks-R-Us Sachs, as are the US and Europe.  Panetta was blunt about the Asian countries in his introduction – “These are the areas where we see the greatest challenges for the future.  The U.S. military will increase its institutional weight and focus on enhanced presence, power projection, and deterrence in Asia- Pacific.”  Apparently, we just have the right to project our power anywhere we see fit.

The DSG itself, as a matter of fact, lacks subtlety altogether.  It clearly states that the US has the right to force any other country in the world to submit to our military might in order that we might prosper.  We must “project power”.  Other nations do not have the right to challenge even our access to, or freedom to operate in, any area we want.

Project Power Despite Anti-Access/Area Denial Challenges. In order to credibly deter potential adversaries and to prevent them from achieving their objectives, the United States must maintain its ability to project power in areas in which our access and freedom to operate are challenged…States such as China and Iran will continue to pursue asymmetric means to counter our power projection capabilities, while the proliferation of sophisticated weapons and technology will extend to non-state actors as well. Accordingly, the U.S. military will invest as required to ensure its ability to operate effectively in anti-access and area denial (A2/AD) environments.

Furthermore, while the DSG makes it clear that while we kind of hope that nukes are not needed, we will continue to use them as a deterrent and if necessary we will deploy them.

Maintain a Safe, Secure, and Effective Nuclear Deterrent. As long as nuclear weapons remain in existence, the United States will maintain a safe, secure, and effective arsenal. We will field nuclear forces that can under any circumstances confront an adversary with the prospect of unacceptable damage, both to deter potential adversaries and to assure U.S. allies and other security partners that they can count on America ‘s security commitments.

The US added 200 new warheads to its nuclear arsenal in 2010 (so much for that non-proliferation treaty) and currently has a total of 9600 warheads. The US is also the only country on the planet that lends nuclear weapons to other countries.  We also have the largest stockpile of depleted uranium at 480,000 tonnes, part of which we dispose of by using it in “conventional” weaponry.  The US, Israel, and NATO countries have been the only countries to use depleted uranium in this way. We also supply 30% of the overall global arms trade by ourselves.  When other countries have finally had enough of our Power Projection and fight back, they will largely be doing so with weapons we sold them.

The DSG does eventually get into the Pentagon budget issue: real humans will largely be replaced by drones and cyber-war.  The budget cuts will largely come from military pay, retirement benefits, and medical care.

Fourth, the Department must continue to reduce the  “cost of doing business. ” This entails reducing the rate of growth of manpower costs, finding further efficiencies in overhead and headquarters, business practices, and other support activities before taking further risk in meeting the demands of the strategy. As DoD takes steps to reduce its manpower costs, to include reductions in the growth of compensation and health care costs, we will keep faith with those who serve.

And it even offers to help veterans find other jobs; this is no doubt gladsome news for the 100,000 soldiers who are about to get their pink slips.  Robotics is the wave of the future, however.  We currently have four agencies flying their own drones (that we know of): the  military, the Dept. of Homeland Security, the CIA, and the State Department.  The Pentagon by itself operates some 7000 drone aircraft.  We have 60 drone bases world-wide.  We are adding drone submarines and drone helicopters to the list of must-have items.  Showing little insight into how angry the civilian populations of the targeted countries become as thousands of unmanned drones fly overhead and kill innocents, we intend to rapidly and significantly increase the use of drone warfare.  Somewhere in the world, lots of people will be dying in our aggressive wars to Project Power, but not many Americans.  (We will just die of hunger and exposure as our wealth continues to be spent on new weaponry.)  The only real spending reductions are 487 billion over the next ten years – a reduction of less than 50 bb/year.  This is nothing compared to the annual military budget of 700 billion.  If you combine the entire globe’s defense budgets as one, the US portion alone is 43% of it.

The DSG is only one of President Obama’s documents which suggests the use of the military on American soil.  He has explicitly outlined this intent in other written papers (the National Security Strategy and the Strategic Implementation Plan being but two) and recently signed the National Defense Authorization Act, which allows the military to arrest and detain – indefinitely – American citizens at home.  The DSG even includes military use within the country in the title to one of its sections:

Defend the Homeland and Provide Support to Civil Authorities. U.S. forces will continue to defend U.S. territory from direct attack by state and non-state actors. We will also come to the assistance of domestic civil authorities in the event such defense fails or in case of natural disasters, potentially in response to a very significant or even catastrophic event. Homeland defense and support to civil authorities require strong, steady -state force readiness, to include a robust missile defense capability. Threats to the homeland may be highest when U.S. forces are engaged in conflict with an adversary abroad.

You may remember that in 2008, Hank Paulson used the threat of the military in the streets as a threat to get Congress to vote for the TARP bank bail-out.

Speaking on Tulsa Oklahoma’s 1170 KFAQ, when asked who was behind threats of martial law and civil unrest if the bailout bill failed, Senator James Inhofe named Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson as the source. “Somebody in D.C. was feeding you guys quite a story prior to the bailout, a story that if we didn’t do this we were going to see something on the scale of the depression, there were people talking about martial law being instituted, civil unrest… who was feeding you guys this stuff?,” asked host Pat Campbell.

“That’s Henry Paulson,” responded Inhofe. “We had a conference call early on, it was on a Friday I think – a week and half before the vote on Oct. 1. So it would have been the middle… what was it – the 19th of September, we had a conference call. In this conference call – and I guess there’s no reason for me not to repeat what he said, but he said – he painted this picture you just described. He said, ‘This is serious. This is the most serious thing that we faced.’”
Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA 27th District) reported the same threat on the Congressional floor:  “The only way they can pass this bill is by creating a panic atmosphere… Many of us were told that the sky would fall… A few of us were even told that there would be martial law in America if we voted no. That’s what I call fear-mongering, unjustified, proven wrong.”

It is ironic, to say the least, that President Obama, a Democrat and the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, can now explicitly and repeatedly state that he sees a need for military in the streets – not to mention his claim that he has the right to indefinitely detain Americans and has even assassinated Americans based on mere allegations of their “terrorist” intents – and no-one seems to be alarmed.  It appears that few have even noticed.

Where are our enemies?  Look around you.  Look at the potholes in the street, the crumbling bridges, the overcrowded classrooms, look at the buildings, toll roads, and parking meters sold to foreign investors, the nearly zero percent interest you earn on your savings account and the 25% you pay on your credit card.  Look at the foreclosed homes, with plenty more in the pipeline to “clear the market”.  Look at the big banks, bigger than ever with their continuing bailouts and 700 trillion dollars of derivatives.  Try to find the jobs.  (You can always apply to wait on foreign travelers by entering the “hospitality industry”, according to Obama.  Count your tips as your one and only benefit.)  Look at the national parks and wild areas being leased or sold outright to energy giants who will dig them up and leave a toxic wasteland and poisoned water in their stead.  Think about the almost 50 million Americans who do not have health insurance, more than when the famous “health-care bill” was passed, and ponder the rising profits of the insurance industry.  Consider the always-increasing profits of the largest companies and banks in the country.  Think about the fact that 50% of Americans now live at or below the poverty line, while CEO pay soars to heights never seen in this country before now; but taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals continually decrease.  Who is illegally eavesdropping on your phone calls and reading your e-mails?  Who is arresting people for merely speaking in the streets?   Iran, China, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan….those countries had nothing to do with any of this.  These are choices made by our legislators – both at the state and federal levels.  We voted them into office and they are giving the country away to Goldman, Sachs, Citigroup, Monsanto, and Exxon.  We are allowing these strange, psychopathic grifters to steal everything right out from under us; and all the while, they continue to tear down the rights and freedoms we have always counted on as ours and ratchet up the threats against us.  By voting for them and allowing this to continue without objection, we are our own enemy.  Of course they fear unrest in the streets; no doubt they are surprised we haven’t yet brought out the guillotines and stormed the Bastille.  Maybe we never will.  Maybe we will just quietly crumble into oblivion, our last dollar finally stolen by JP Morgan and the last acre of arable land finally poisoned beyond use.  Maybe the final cogent thought of the last American left will be, “Gosh, I wonder whatever happened to Nascar?”  No-one is threatening to invade us – we have invaded ourselves.

Update:  The Defense Strategic Guidance is not some top-secret document.  It is available to the public, as are all the documents I listed in this article.  I down-loaded the DSG from the Dept. of Defense public website; it may be read here in pdf form:


It’s a mad world

I watch the news and wonder: how can the news anchors READ this stuff and not break down?  Not make an aside comment about what they are reading?  Just read it and go on to the next thing?  How can they even come to work the next day?  Most of the news is business as usual.  Y’know, the house and senate will NOT vote for a sensible solution to any given problem; what they WILL do is vote to have a hearing on how the T.V.  Evangelical Christian church leaders spend their money.  (Sounds like an I.R.S. issue to me, dudes.)  Or the candidates are calling each other names again.  “You did drugs.”  “Yeah, well you belong to a religion that thinks Jesus and Satan are brothers.”  “Oh, yeah?  Well, THAT guy saw a UFO.”   “You boys need to stop that.  My 35 years of fictional experience tells me that you all don’t play nice, and if you don’t quit it right now, I’m taking my toys and going to the White House.”  This is normal news.  [They’re rioting in Africa, they’re starving in Spain, there’s hurricanes in Florida, and Texas needs rain.]

However, when the news is that towns in the South have to import water because of the drought, how do the news people read that and not wonder what’s going on?  They have to bring in trucks of potable water because there is no water running through the public water system.   Has that ever happened in the USA before?  A whole town has run out of water?  Towns with water are selling it to towns that have no water?  Towns have to legislate how much water will be allowed to continue downstream after it has passed through the local river?  In the mid-west, in normally dry states, the floods during the spring, summer, and fall have been sweeping homes away and killing people.  Last year, in the winter, in the WINTER, the mid-west was inundated with more lightening storms than ever before in recorded history.  Strange goings on.

Closer to (my) home, we have had in the past month two cases where a man has killed his entire family and then himself.  In the past year, we have had lots of these cases around the country; like school shootings, we almost don’t even notice any more.  On Monday, several teens at a local high school, being pissed off because of some puppy-love nonsense, took hydrochloric acid from the chem lab and put it in the food of three other teens.  The three poisoned ones got a free trip to the hospital and lived, luckily.  It was reportedly “a prank”.  The news anchor read that with a straight face.  “The three charged as juveniles with disorderly conduct said it was a prank.”  A prank is putting salt in the sugar bowl.  Disorderly conduct is peeing on the sidewalk.  Juveniles are too young to consider the consequences of their actions.  I would say more, but why?

I suppose I could skip the news.  But you have to know what is going on out there.  “There” is where you live.  “There” is where your children go to school.  “There” is where they make the laws that decide how you will be governed, and “there” is where the people in charge are doing things that affect your life.  You can’t turn off reality.

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Posted by on December 13, 2007 in climate change, environment, Uncategorized