Monday, March 31, 2008

The Tuesday Edition of Strike-The-Root

I guest edit the Tuesday edition of the market anarchist site Strike-The-Root each week (also linked to your right under "Sources.") The Tuesday edition is now up, and I hope you check it out.

I think you'll find yourself hitting it every day of the week.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Federal Reserve: "Can We Get A 'Sieg Heil!'?"

In addition to initiating two major wars and vastly expanding the warfare state, adding on a whole new program to the costly state socialist health insurance boondoggle, innovating new legal interpretations in order to permit torture of mere suspects (including their children), and subjecting increasing numbers of Americans to government surveillance, George W. Bush is about to pull off one more massive Federal power grab before he leaves office:

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration is proposing a sweeping overhaul of the way the government regulates the nation's financial services industry from banks and securities firms to mortgage brokers and insurance companies.

The plan would give major new powers to the Federal Reserve, according to a 22-page executive summary obtained by The Associated Press.

The Fed would be given broad authority to oversee financial market stability. That would include new powers to examine the books of any institution deemed to represent a potential threat to the proper functioning of the overall financial system.

Wow.

And triple-wow:

The proposal would allow the Fed, in its new role as "market stability regulator," to dispatch examiners to check the books not just of commercial banks but of all segments of the financial services industry.

The administration proposal would also consolidate the current scheme of bank regulation by shutting down the Office of Thrift Supervision and transferring its functions to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which regulates nationally chartered banks.

The plan recommends that the Securities and Exchange Commission, which regulates stock trading, be merged with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which regulates futures trades for oil, grains and various other commodities.

The plan would create a national regulator for the insurance industry, which is now largely governed by the states, and would create a Mortgage Origination Commission to try to address the abuses exposed in the current tidal wave of mortgage defaults.

The role Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and his colleagues have been playing to shore up the financial system would be formalized in the administration plan by giving Fed officials greater power to detect where threats might be lurking in the system.

The "role" that Bernanke's Fed has been playing to "shore up the financial system" has consisted of doing what the Fed has always done since its inception nearly an entire century ago, which is inflation of the currency all to hell---only more so. It would now appear that hyperinflation is about to be officially codified as standard operating procedure.

And not that it's exactly a huge surprise considering recent events, but it would appear that the Fed is about to stretch out its giant clawed appendages to just about every corner, nook and cranny of the entire financial system, in response to a crisis of said system that was largely created by the Fed's own policies in the first place.

As would be expected, the neo-"liberals" are goose-stepping right alongside the neo-"conservatives" on this one, though it would appear they would like to see the neo-conservatives goose-step harder and faster, please:

Many Democrats in Congress are already pushing tougher proposals that would impose much stricter regulation in an effort to crack down on abuses exposed by the current credit crisis.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said he believed [Treasury Secretary Henry] Paulson's plan offered some valid suggestions.

"In broad outlines, we agree with large parts of Secretary Paulson's plan," Schumer, chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, said in a statement. "He is on the money when he calls for a more unified regulatory structure, although we would prefer a single regulator to the three he proposes."

Other than their preference for a single jackboot rather than the three proposed by Paulson, the Democrats are right on board. No shocker there, considering the Democrats' ongoing opposition to the "free markets" we've never actually had, which the Republicans always pretend to uphold.

As usual, when the follies of central economic planning become all too apparent, what is the state's "solution" each and every time, without fail? More central planning.

And it is crystal clear who will benefit the most from this regulatory Great Leap Forward in the financial system:

The plan also seeks to address problems that have been brought to light in recent months since a severe credit crisis began roiling financial markets last August.

That crisis has already claimed as its biggest victim Bear Stearns, the nation's fifth-largest investment bank, which came to the brink of collapse before a government-arranged purchase by JP Morgan Chase & Co.

(Cross-posted at the Strike-The-Root Blog.)

Friday, March 28, 2008

BREAKING NEWS: There's A Corrupt Official In the White House

Read it here:
WASHINGTON - An aide to President Bush has resigned because of his alleged misuse of grant money from the U.S. Agency for International Development when he worked for a Cuban democracy organization.
Felipe Sixto was promoted on March 1 as a special assistant to the president for intergovernmental affairs and stepped forward on March 20 to reveal his alleged wrongdoing and to resign, White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said Friday. He said Sixto took that step after learning that his former employer, the Center for a Free Cuba, was prepared to bring legal action against him.
Stanzel said the alleged wrongdoing involved the misuse of money when Sixto was an official at the center.

The matter has been turned over to the Justice Department for investigation, Stanzel said. He said Bush was briefed on the case and felt that the appropriate action was being taken.
Of course, without a government, there wouldn't be any USAID funds to "misuse." The fact that such funds even exist is in and of itself a "misuse" of funds, since every single dollar given to USAID was forcibly expropriated from someone's productive labor in some form or other.

What exactly the "misuse" (by governmental definition) entailed is unclear so far. All that we know is that Sixto "allegedly had a conflict of interest with the use of USAID funds by his former employer." Well, that's certainly as crystal clear as mud. The "particulars" and the dollar amount were unknown to Mr. Stanzel.

As for whether or not the Center for a Free Cuba is really as "independent" and "non-partisan" as they claim, judge for yourself.

And isn't it interesting which government officials are pressured to resign over "conflicts of interest," and which are not?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Coming War With Iran

The coming attack on Iran may be right around the corner (boldface is my emphasis):

The Mahdi Army's seven-month-long cease-fire appears to have come undone.

Rockets fired from the capital's Shiite district of Sadr City slammed into the Green Zone Tuesday, the second time in three days, and firefights erupted around Baghdad pitting government and US forces against the militia allied to the influential Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

At the same time, the oil-export city of Basra became a battleground Tuesday as Iraqi forces, backed by US air power, launched a major crackdown on the Mahdi Army elements. British and US forces were guarding the border with Iran to intercept incoming weapons or fighters, according to a senior security official in Basra.

The US blames the latest attacks on rogue Mahdi Army elements tied to Iran, but analysts say the spike in fighting with Shiite militants potentially opens a second front in the war when the American military is still doing battle with the Sunni extremists of Al Qaeda in Iraq.

Scroll further down on the first page of the article and you'll find this:

After rockets hit the Green Zone Sunday, US commander in Iraq Gen. David Petraeus said the weapons had been provided by Iran.

The odds of our lunatic government of neo-crazies attacking Iran would appear to be greatly improved.

Best of luck to you in the new world that will come after.

Just a little reminder: There are three U.S. warships just off the coast of Lebanon, ready to spring into action at a moment's notice.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Counter-Economics and the Logic of Direct Action in Microcosm

Ah, youth...

Candy and assorted other junk foods have been legally banned from California's public school campuses, but that hasn't stopped children in Victorville, CA from indulging in their favorite sweets:
"With candy sales banned on school campuses, sugar pushers are the latest trend at local schools. Backpacks are filled with Snickers and Twinkees for all sweet tooths willing to pay the price.

“'It’s created a little underground economy, with businessmen selling everything from a pack of skittles to an energy drink', said Jim Nason, principal at Hook Junior High School in Victorville.

"This has become a lucrative business, Nason said, and those kids are walking around campus with upwards of $40 in their pockets and disrupting class to make a sale."

A "little underground economy," indeed. The state's fanatical food-Nazi ban "for the children" appears to have only heightened demand of the very thing it seeks to do away with, and the demand is being met by some rather ambitious, independently minded kids who are profiting from fulfilling said demand.

This is a little lesson in how the oppressive state is effectively circumvented. Not by going to the powers that be, hat in hand, begging and pleading for a bit more of your natural born rights to be handed back to you, but by direct action.

Might these kids be the freedom revolutionaries of the future? They very well could be, if they're never infected with the dreaded virus of electoral politics.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Antiwar Radio Interviews

Antiwar.com Radio has recently posted recordings of two great interviews conducted by Scott Horton of KAOS Radio in Austin, Texas:

Glenn Greenwald discusses John McCain's recent flub about Iranians allegedly training/supporting al-Qaeda (over which the media, as usual, neglected to call him out), as well as the recent expiration of the ridiculously titled "Protect America" Act, which the Bushistas wanted to use to give legal immunity to the telecom corporations that cooperated with U.S. government warrantless surveillance of Americans, among other things.

And University of Michigan history professor Juan Cole discusses the Bush Regime's ongoing web of lies relating to the Iraq War for the past five years, ranging from Donald Rumsfeld's blind denials of a developing anti-U.S. insurgency in Iraq back in '03, to the layers of propaganda disguising the reality of the so-called "surge."

Both are great interviews, not to be missed.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

U.S. Death Toll In Iraq Reaches 4,000

Yet another tragic milestone of the Iraq War has been reached:
BAGHDAD - A roadside bomb killed four U.S. soldiers in Baghdad on Sunday, the military said, pushing the overall American death toll in the five-year war to at least 4,000.

The grim milestone came on the same day that rockets and mortars pounded the U.S.-protected Green Zone, underscoring the fragile security situation and the resilience of both Sunni and Shiite extremist groups despite an overall lull in violence.

How anyone could possibly be convinced that things are somehow "improving" in Iraq is absolutely beyond my comprehension.

Little Sketch of Irony #1

Co-worker comes up to my cubicle.

HE: "Have you heard about all the credit card debt college kids are racking up these days? Un-be-freakin'-lievable! I just don't get it. What are these kids thinking? What are the credit card companies thinking? It's crazy."

ME: "It's the something-for-nothing culture, my friend. It would appear that fewer and fewer people understand that debt must be repaid, plus interest."

HE: "Yeah, well...What are people thinking? Where do they get this idea that you can just go deeper and deeper into debt without any consequences?"

(Pause.)

HE: "Hey, did you know that Bush wants to give, like, $25 billion to Africa by 2010? I had no idea. I mean, jeez, I have nothing against helping poor Africans or anything, but what about our own people here?"

(Pause.)

ME: "Um, getting back to the other thing. You know, you're right. I just can't imagine where people get the idea that you can have a mountain of debt and no adverse consequences."

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Please Pardon Our Dust...

This blog is currently under construction.

Some day, it will be up and running. I will be posting brilliant witticisms and then you'll see. You'll ALL see...

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!