Monday, March 20, 2017
So, it appears that The Big Joke (read our current non-president), has released a wish-list budget outline. In it are funding slashes for every government program that does any good, and an increase in only one government program - military spending. In his words, he wants to "rebuild our military."
Now, the U.S. already spends more on its military than the next 8 nations combined. China, the second-largest military, spends roughly one third of what America does, and Russia one sixth. If we want to improve our military, the solution is not additional spending, but rather cutting the waste of what we spend now.
Eisenhower warned us about the dangers of the Military Industrial Complex, and he was eerily prophetic. Congressmen who want to create jobs in their district have always blindly approved appropriations for government contracts to build more planes we don't need, more tanks we will never use, and more jarheads that we will never deploy. The problem with our military isn't the amount of money we're spending. It's that our military is a fat, bloated, inefficient sauropod. And what's worse, it's obsolete.
The old saying goes that generals spend decades preparing for the previous war, and that's true with America's military. The next war will not be fought with planes, bombs and aircraft carriers. These things have their place, but there's a new front which has opened up. The age of nuclear weapons has imposed an uneasy truce among all nations when it comes to conventional warfare. Instead, wars are reduced to third-world skirmishes and Islamic turf-wars. But there's a new kind of warfare now, and the next true war will be fought in this way. I am speaking, of course, of cyber warfare.
This past election might have been the first battle fought on that front. And guess what? We lost! Our asses got kicked by Russia, a nation with an economy roughly half the size of France. We are woefully unprepared to deal with the realities of a tech war, and we are vulnerable. Truly vulnerable!
It is useless to build more missiles when hackers could potentially turn those additional missiles against us! What our military needs now is not more nuts and bolts - we're just fine there! What it needs are more cyber warriors! It needs the best hackers and counter-hackers that are trainable! And it needs them to protect not just military assets, but civilian ones as well. There needs to be a fifth branch of the service launched. Perhaps we can call it the Cyber Corps. And its mission must be to protect our power grids, our data systems, even our elections from outside cyber attack. Right now. Because at the moment, if an enemy wants to attack us, that's where to do it. The soft underbelly of our nation lies in its over-dependence upon technology which it only barely knows how to use.
How do we achieve getting the best hackers? There is only one way: education, education, education! Because the best hackers are also the best programmers, and the best programmers are the best students in math and science. We need to not only have an entire branch of the military devoted to cyber warfare, we need the personnel to staff it. And we cannot get that by slashing education funding or farting around with voucher programs that have been proven not to work in the field.
The biggest threat to our national security is Betsy DeVos!
Besides, if we really want to increase military spending, we could better do so by supporting the veterans of the wars we've already fought. We could actually fund our military hospitals and hire more doctors and nurses to care for our soldiers. We could clear the backlog of veterans waiting for medical services. We could train them for new occupations after they get home so that they are not unemployed after they set the uniform aside.
So let's rally around this theme: Less hardware! More cyber personnel! Because this is one area of over-bloated government spending where we really could get a lot more done for a lot less cash!
Sunday, February 12, 2017
If you want to see where the insecurities are, follow the gold market.
Back when the Obama administration was in full swing, I would occasionally foray out into conservative media, just to hear what they were lying about lately. What I noticed wasn't so much what they were saying on their program as who was advertising on their shows. There were various fraudulent weight loss products and international star registry scams - things long since debunked on other media. (Where there are gullible people...) And gold. Lots and lots of advertisements for investing in gold.
Why gold? Because gold remains steady when other forms of currency fluctuate. And because conservatives were convinced that Obama would be a complete disaster, the gold market was hyped up to an irrational degree. Now, gold is a great hedge against inflation, don't get me wrong, but inflation was never a real threat during Obama's entire eight years in office. So the over-marketing of gold was all due to one thing: conservative media frenzy.
Between March of 2008 and August of 2011, the price of gold nearly doubled, fueled almost entirely by irrational Tea-Party fears of an Obama crash. At its peak, gold had gone from trading at $1000 per ounce to $1900 per ounce, and it didn't look to be coming down any time soon.
Then it all simmered down. Gradually, people began realizing that they were just fine. After Romney lost the 2012 election, and four more years of Obama were secured, the bubble finally burst. Between March of 2013 and June of 2013, gold prices crashed from $1600 per ounce all the way down to $1200 per ounce. It has remained roughly around that price ever since. Oh, it went up as high as $1380 per ounce during the 2016 election frenzy, and then sank down below $1200 per ounce again once it was all over.
Here is the official gold price chart.
Of course, I saw through all this. I saw how the conservative robber-barons had invested in gold beforehand, and were now artificially driving up the price in order to cash in. This is part of why the price fell so dramatically after 2012 - they divested and took their profits, leaving the middle-class with a loss in their investment portfolio in a few gold coins - perhaps kept hidden behind the family portrait. It was a cruel way to punish concerned citizens who just wanted to protect their family nest-egg.
But they'd been sold a bill of goods that said Obama was evil, and they bought it. Then they bought gold. And they were wrong both times. They lost out both times.
But now gold is ticking up again, trading at $1210 per ounce and climbing. Why? Because it's becoming obvious that Trump is ever bit the disaster we all feared he would be. Investors are again turning to the security of gold to protect themselves against a weakening dollar and the horrors of inflation, or worse, defaulting on the national debt - which Trump does not seem to care much about.
And where is gold advertising for investors? Why, on liberal media!
Thanks in large part to the brand-new WRRD radio station, 1510 in Milwaukee, we can easily listen to shows like the Thom Hartmann program. Sure enough, gold is advertising on that show like gangbusters!
It's not hard to see why. The conservatives think Trump will be great, so gold investors can't play off their fears. But they can certainly play off the fears of the liberals! And that's exactly what they're doing.
I'm not going to say that gold is a bad investment this time. It was before, but unlike back then, this time there's a real threat. Our back is against the wall with a national debt Republicans refused to let Obama do anything about, and now Trump is the one who has to pay that bill. But Trump sucks at paying what is owed. He prefers to simply ignore debt and default into bankruptcy.
And who will bail out the U.S.? The International Monetary Fund? Get real!
Gold may be a smart bet this time around. But not because people want to hedge against a falling dollar.
This time, they may want to divest themselves of gold later - and buy Yen, Yuen, Rubels, Pounds, or Euros - depending upon where they have to flee the Trump regime.
Friday, February 10, 2017
It's barely his third week in office, and Donald Trump has already fucked things up royally. What a surprise. In response to his sudden ban on all arrivals from key foreign countries - and by "key" I mean those whom Donald Trump does not have a business interest in, such as the biggest harbor of terrorism, Saudi Arabia - people are protesting at airports, just as they did in city streets the day of Trump's inauguration.
So far, it's been one long protest march.
As heartening as that is, I'm very tempted to tell many of the protest marchers to fuck off. Where the fuck were you all before the election? You know, when your passion counted? Was this your plan all along? Let Trump get into office, fuck up the Supreme Court, and then try to take advantage of the backlash? Do you really think that justifies deliberately fumbling the football on the 1 yard line? First you let Trump win, and now you're pissed at what he's doing now that he's won. And all for irrational hatred of Hillary. Fuck you.
But, on the other hand, better mobilized than not. Hillary would have had her backlash too. And if there's going to be a downfall of an entire political party, I would rather it be the Republican side. That's the positive part, and we can really benefit from it.
If Trump doesn't destroy it all first. Which is a very real possibility.
Barely his first month in office and he's already screwed things up so badly that he needed to move up the announcement of his Supreme Court nominee.
"Oh, look! A SCOTUS justice!"
There's only one rational position which can be taken regarding Trump's nomination of Neil Gorsuch. And that's one of equal measure. Republicans blocked any consideration of Merrick Garland for 11 months.
Now Republicans owe us 11 months of no hearings for Neil Gorsuch.
Fair's fair. You block Obama's nomination for 25% of his term, we get 25% of a presidential term back. The only even-handed course of action is eight Supreme Court justices for nearly two solid years! Eleven months! At least! Starting now!
Better yet, no votes for Gorsuch until we get one vote for Merrick Garland. Okay, so he'll fail the vote. But he will have been voted upon! Is that too much to ask? Apparently even that little bit is, according to today's politics of ultra-warfare.
Of course, I don't expect this will happen. I expect Republicans to exercise the nuclear option, do away with the filibuster and confirm him. But this will come back to bite them when it's our turn (just as it's biting us now because we did a nuclear option for cabinet appointees under Obama), and that may be only two years away when we (I'm certain) flip the House and Senate.
Which brings me again to the backlash. I wrote in this blog back on November 13th that we needed to focus on the electorate, and not just elections. I strongly recommended more liberal radio stations to counteract the conservative media blackout of rural and suburban America. Well, I'm glad to see that someone is doing that in the Milwaukee area. WRRD, AM 1510, is now on the air! How very awesome! I never thought I'd see the day when liberal radio would come to Milwaukee. But it's here! Almost as if someone actually listened to me for once.
Maybe I should bring back the Sacred Cow Wursthaus as a radio show.
Friday, January 20, 2017
Yes, I'm here. I haven't been arrested. I haven't fled the country.
I've been working, and that's a good thing. It's nice to have a day job again. But that means I can't spend hours in between resume postings writing things. It's a sad trade-off. Sooner or later I had to get back on the hamster wheel, and so here I am, wasting away eight hours a day just like the rest of you.
But on this, the inauguration day of Donald Trump, I felt it necessary to put my thoughts out there again. Because the world needs to hear them, and I need to say them.
You see, with the onset of the Giant Wheel of Cheese Administration will undoubtedly come opportunity. The backlash can and will be fierce, and we can save America on the rebound with a poisoning of the Republican brand the likes of which has never been seen before. Right-wingers who have been drunk with success will have one HELL of a hangover coming! It can and should be a two-to-four year presentation of "We told you so!" to all ears who can hear, followed by the defeat of trickle-down voodoo economics once and for all. We can take full advantage of this...
If America is not destroyed first.
No, I don't think I'm using hyperbole. My approach to the Trump Misadministration is to prepare as though a hurricane were approaching. Shutter up the windows, bolt down the doors, stock up the bunker, and hunker down for the worst. Yes, it may be necessary to evacuate from any storm, but I truly don't think any of us should flee the U.S. There's just too many of us out there, and we outnumber the Trumpets by a considerable margin. They can't control us all, and it's far more likely that certain States may break away from the Union before their citizens flee elsewhere. We could see the onset of the Republic of California, or New England actually becoming the Commonwealth of New England. Washington, Oregon and greater Vancouver could fulfill their dream of establishing "Cascadia." Southeast Wisconsin would almost certainly join Northeast Illinois and Northwest Indiana to forge a new breakaway republic. We could call it "Williana." But I digress.
Perhaps the storm analogy is not so accurate. I'd say it's more of a crucible - an internal fever that will burn the craziness out of our culture. On the other hand, the refining fire may also burn us to death. Just as a body could emerge from an illness stronger, the illness could also kill the body.
Which will it be? I don't know for certain. But I know this much: I'm going to fight to keep America going, and to make sure Trumpism goes down in flames and what passes for "conservatism" with it.
John F. Kennedy once said that the Chinese word for "crisis" was a combination of the characters for "danger" and "opportunity." This was factually wrong as far as Chinese is concerned, but danger and opportunity can often be the same thing.
That danger and opportunity is now here. Brace yourselves! It's gonna be a bumpy ride!