Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mr. Cheney’s Victory Lap

Dick Cheney is taking a lap around all the talk shows, peddling his memoir while giving his reputation one final spit-shine before he dies and goes straight to hell.

Dick Cheney
Oh—so you actually doubt he’ll go to hell? With the shit he’s pulled? Cabrón, please . . .

It is remarkable that relatively few people seem outraged by Mr. Cheney. Here is the man who, as Vice-President of the United States, violated some of the most important rights, freedoms and liberties that America has defended for over two-hundred years. Not only did he commit what in other times would have been considered war crimes and crimes against humanity—he is proud of having done so!

He boasts about the torture he ordered, he defends the wars of aggression that he fomented, and he is silent about the sweetheart deals he gave his former employer, Halliburton, in the “reconstruction” of countries that he helped destroy.

In short, he violated every rule in the book—yet no one is throwing the book at him. There are no Congressional hearings into his violation of the Constitution. There are no prosecutors sharpening their chops, getting ready to indict him on charges of corruption.

Most of all, there is no public outrage at him.

Sure, some loony Lefties and some old-style hard-ass Conservatives such as myself bitch and moan about him—but no one is seriously arguing for his arrest, indictment and prosecution for the despicable things he did while in office. Or if they are advocating his arrest and prosecution—like me, and perhaps you—then they are on the extreme fringes of the political discourse—like me, and perhaps you: Marginal, and inconsequential.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

110

How easy would it be, to distill a point into 110 words or less? I got the idea from J.D. Considine’s blog, where he talks about his time as the reviews editor at Blender magazine: The rule was, any review had to be no more than 110 words. So far, I’m about halfway there—now.

The beauty of enforced brevity is that you have to focus your thinking on just the one thing. My particular situation—too many thoughts, coupled with limitless space, thanks to Blogger—means that my pieces have been too long and too digressive, yet also too infrequent.

So let’s see if the 110 word rule helps.

Monday, August 22, 2011

What Distinguishes the Rich from the Poor Today, Part I

In Part II of this series, I’ll be covering education. In Part III, I’ll be covering something I call “structural pliancy”. —GL

One of my brothers-in-law, C., is moving from Chile to America to take over a fairly large corporation. He is a highly educated, highly successful guy in his late-thirties—a big strapping guy of about 6’3”, a former rugby player, big on golf, with four small kids and a tall willowy wife who looks like a model.

[Originally a picture of a two-headed chicken.
I didn’t have the ©, so Blogger blocked it.]
Yeah, it has two heads—but it was
raised organically. So it’s safer 

than your lunchtime Chicken McNugget.
Though he’s been to the United States many times, for business and pleasure, he’s never actually lived there. So over a Sunday lunch, we talked about his first impressions about daily life in America—and what struck him was the food:

“It has no taste,” C. told me. “Or rather, supermarket food has no taste: Beef, fish, chicken—it all tastes bland and watery.”

He told me how vegetables too tasted oddly bland, and on top of that, he and his wife were worried about what is actually in the food.

The reason they’re worried about American food is because of the size of American children in his kids’ new schools:

“Our kids were among the tallest in their class in Chile—but they’re among the smaller kids in their U.S. classroom. On top of that, the girls in my older daughter’s class are starting to menstruate—and they are nine years-old! That’s not normal.”

C.’s conclusion: “It’s the industrially processed foods—God knows what they’re sticking in it. But we’ve got four children—and we want them to be healthy. So that’s why we started buying all our food at organic markets. The food bill is triple what it would be, but I don’t care, I can afford it: I want my family healthy.”

That—in a nutshell—is what will begin to distinguish rich people from poor people in the XXI century, as it has for millenia before: Diet.

But what kind of diet is the issue.

If in ages past, the diets of the wealthy had more calories, in this century and the future, the diets of the wealthy will have less chemicals and hormones.

And as in the past, we will see the difference in their children.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Letter to George Washington, Regarding Paul Krugman

I wrote a letter to George Washington, the pseudonym for a well-known finance and economics blogger, with regards to a blog post he wrote on August 15.  
The letter might sound a bit like score-settling—but there is a serious point to it, a point that applies to both the Left and the Right. So be patient. 
Here is my letter to him in full, with a few light editorial touch-ups:

Hi GW,

It’s been so long!

I’ve been skiing like a madman down here in Chile—but I did catch something you wrote, which I’d like to comment on, now that a blizzard has hit the slopes and I’m stuck inside with not much to do.

Paul Krugman
You wrote a post yesterday, picked up by Zero Hedge and others, pointing out that Paul Krugman is advocating war as a fiscal stimulus solution.

You pointed out that this position he holds is not only blatantly immoral, it is a position Krugman seems to have no problem openly pushing—your unspoken implication being that this is disastrous, considering how influential Krugman is in major policy circles.

With regards to K. pushing for war as the ultimate Keynesian economic solution: I hate to say “I told you so”—but in this case—

I told you so!

(Cheers, mate.)

I pointed out the exact same thing almost a year ago: That once you strip away all the B.S., it turns out that Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman, Keynesian par excellence and darling of the Wonk Left, is essentially pushing for war as the ultimate Keynesian stimulus solution.

For pointing this out, I got slimed by the Krugman Defense Industry (KDI).

Monday, August 15, 2011

“The Sequel”: How 2011 Is A Repeat of 2008—Only Bigger, Longer, and Uncut by Bailouts

I might have missed it, but I don’t think anyone has noticed this simple truism:

The structural causes that led to the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 are identical to the structural causes that are leading us to another systemic financial crisis in 2011.

You saw this one already?
The only difference is the kind of debt at the core of the looming crisis: Mortgage-backed securities in 2008, as opposed to European sovereign debt in 2011.

And of course, the debt hole in 2011 is bigger than in 2008—a lot bigger.

That’s why I am confident in predicting we are about to have another Global Financial Crisis—I’m calling it The Sequel: Same movie, same players, same story. Only this time around—like all good sequels—the financial crisis we are about to experience is going to be bigger, longer, and uncut by bailouts.

By the way, that is the key difference between 2008 and 2011: We’re not going to have a Hollywood Ending this time around. The governments of Europe and the United States, as well as their respective central banks, do not have any weapons to fight off this 2011 financial crisis, as they did in 2008, for the simple reason that they used them all up—they’re out of bullets, both monetarily and politically.

So when The Sequel hits the big screen, there won’t be a Big Daddy Government deus ex machina to come save the day in the third act twist. When The Sequel hits, we’re on our own.

Let’s discuss the structural similarities between the original and The Sequel:

In both 2008 and now 2011, you had unpayable debts at the center of a fragile financial system. In 2008, it was mortgage backed securities and collateralized debt obligations—the so-called “toxic assets”. I think we all know that story pretty well.

In 2011, we have European sovereign debt. And just like the toxic assets of 2008, the Euro-bonds might have been rated AAA, but they certainly aren’t blue-chip—they are more like brown-chip: That deep brown color peculiar to fast-sinking dog-turds.