Thursday, August 27, 2015

(Irony Aside - Cheaper Bad Candidates Needed)   Hillary Peeved Because Other Than Wall St. Lives Matter?   (Cornel West Feels the Bern!)   Crash Rigged? Anyone Care?

Don't get all Carson McCullers on me. Just eat some catfish!

Eat the fish, bitch!

. . . You never know when somebody might need a kidney.

I'm not sure exactly why the movie "August:  Osage County" occurs so strongly in my memory after seeing the cartoon below, but it really seems to address our current national malady (in my mind anyway).

The reviews were terrible. It's a stunning Tracy Letts play but it could have been one of Sam Shepard's, who was the first casualty. (The gentle shutting of the screen door signifying his suicide just killed me.)

Somehow Meryl Streep's harridan performance disappointed her "fine acting" fans, and none of the other most unique of all actors available of our time, who seemed to be crowded around the dining room table higglety-pigglety, were deemed decently appointed enough by the criticis either.

And, yet. Upon watching it a third time I'm again overcome at its uncommon quality. Every single character is well presented and compelling - even the minor ones. Too bad we're far too moral (self-perceived) a nation to see ourselves as the failed fine creatures we are. Just above the apes.

And below the angels.

Great fiction.

(Meryl Streep deserved that Academy award no matter what they say.)

_ _ _ _ _ _ _




Not really funny though.

August 26, 2015

Satire: "Nation Needs Cheaper Way to Find Worst People"

"Nation Needs Cheaper Way to Find Worst People"

by Andy Borowitz
MINNEAPOLIS (The Borowitz Report)— "With U.S. Presidential elections now costing more than five billion dollars, there must be a cheaper way to find the worst people in the country, experts believe. According to Davis Logsdon, a political scientist at the University of Minnesota, the United States could use current technology to find the nation’s most reprehensible people at a fraction of the five-billion-dollar price tag. “Any search for the worst people in the country should logically begin one place: on Twitter,” said Logsdon, who recommends scouring the social network for users who consistently show signs of narcissistic-personality disorder, poor impulse control, and other traits common to odious people.

Once a comprehensive list of those Twitter users is compiled, Logsdon said, it could be cross-referenced with a database containing the names of people who have presided over spectacular business failures, have been the target of multiple ethics probes, or are currently under indictment for a broad array of criminal offenses. “After we crunch the numbers and find the twelve or so worst people in our database, we could then put them on television to demonstrate just how awful they are as people,” said Logsdon, who noted that that part of the current system “works very well.”

All in all, Logsdon believes that his method for finding the nation’s worst people would cost practically nothing, leaving five billion dollars left over to help rebuild the nation’s schools, roads, and other crumbling infrastructure. The political scientist expects to encounter significant resistance to his proposal, however. “It’s hard to imagine a new system finding worse people than our current one does,” he admitted.”
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

. . . until we, as a country, and then the person who’s in the seat that you seek, actually addresses the anti-blackness current that is America’s first drug – we’re in a meeting about drugs, right?
America’s first drug is free black labor and turning black bodies into profit, and the mass incarceration system mirrors an awful lot like the prison plantation system. It’s a similar thread, right? And until someone takes that message and speaks that truth to white people in this country, so that we can actually take on anti-blackness as a founding problem in this country, I don’t believe that there is going to be a solution ....

After I read the essay below, I felt like I had read brilliant science fiction for the first time in ages.

Because, therein, people are asking important and hitherto uncomfortable questions of those long in power - things that never happen (would be impossible occurrences) in real life.

Important questions that deal with what's happened in the past, bringing us to this perilous political moment.

(Compliments of the ubiquitousness of the internet news sources.)

"Reader Supported News" brings us a most nuanced essay on exactly what happened during this incredibly revealing interview.

Hillary Clinton:  'I Will Talk Only to White People ...'

By William Boardman, Reader Supported News

25 August 2015
Black Lives Matter activists push edges that need pushing
fter listening awhile, Hillary Clinton pettishly told a quintet of respectful Black Lives Matter activists that, “Yeah, well, respectfully, if that is your position, then I will talk only to white people about how we are going to deal with a very real problem.” More than being nonsensical, she was actually trying to avoid the reality that white violence against black people is an offense that only white people can stop. And she was also avoiding her own, very real role in promoting federal policies that have made black lives matter less and less over the past two decades.  

Hillary Clinton’s meeting with Daunasia Yancey, Julius Jones, and others of Black Lives Matter began well enough on August 11 in Keene, New Hampshire, after an early glitch. The Secret Service kept the activists out of the room where Clinton was speaking because the room was full (they heard her speak with others in an overflow room). But then the Clinton campaign arranged the after-event meeting at which cordiality and calm were the rule. 

This was in sharp contrast to the Social Security rally in Seattle on August 9, where Bernie Sanders was interrupted by other Black Lives Matter activists. There, two women took over the podium as the candidate began to speak. They waved their arms and shouted, silencing Sanders. Bernie held out his hand to shake one of theirs. Then came the tip-off: no one took his hand. As Sanders gave way, these Black Lives Matter women took over the event and shut it down. On their website they had posted a comment echoing Malcolm X in 1964, who had echoed Jean-Paul Sartre:

There is no business as usual while Black lives are lost.

We will ensure this by any means necessary
After the event, Sanders issued a statement expressing his disappointment “that two people disrupted a rally attended by thousands” in support of Social Security. He added that “on criminal justice reform and the need to fight racism, there is no other candidate who will fight harder than me.” The next day, Sanders published his detailed racial justice platform. 
The question for Hillary Clinton:  Have you changed
The echo of revolutionary rhetoric was absent from the 16-minute exchange with Hillary Clinton in Keene (the full videotape was released August 19). Both Yancey and Jones spoke quietly and coherently, but they were substantively much more militant than the sloganeers of Seattle. After a friendly-looking handshake and some shoulder-touching from the candidate, Daunasia Yancey of Black Lives Matter in Boston read from her iPhone as she asked about the difference, if any, between the Hillary Clinton of twenty years ago and the Hillary now:

… you and your family have been personally and politically responsible for policies that have caused health and human services disasters in impoverished communities of color through the domestic and international war on drugs that you championed as First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State. And so I just want to know how you feel about your role in that violence and how you plan to reverse it?
For the next fifteen minutes, Clinton ignored the question and refused to offer any plan to ameliorate the suffering caused by US drug policy, or any other policy. Her body language was stiff, leaning back, “listening hard” but appearing unreceptive. Everything she had to say was contained in her empty and opaque first sentence in irrelevant response:

Well, you know, I feel strongly, which is why I had this town hall today.
Clinton never came close to addressing her own actions. She filibustered, in effect, for a minute or so about “concern” and “re-thinking” and “different circumstances” and “looking at the world as it is today,” without actually saying anything specific or meaningful. She was talking down to her listener, almost lecturing, without content. Hillary Clinton seemed to be suggesting that the policy she and her husband supported in the 1990s was good then, but maybe, just maybe, it needed to be re-thought in some ways now.

Yancey replied politely, with Clinton interrupting:  “Yeah, and I would offer that it didn’t work then, either, and that those policies were actually extensions of white supremacist violence against communities of color. And so, I just think I want to hear a little bit about that, about the fact that actually while … those policies were being enacted, they were ripping apart families … and actually causing death. 
“Yeah, I’m not sure I agree with you,” Clinton replied. She’s not sure? She’s had twenty years to think about race in America and she’s not sure whether she helped or hurt? She running for president and she’s not sure what she thinks is real? Next she said, “I’m not sure I disagree that any kind of government action often has consequences,” which means nothing and is unresponsive. That was Clinton’s choice, to be unresponsive, rather than admit she’d been wrong twenty years ago, when “there was a very serious crime wave that was impacting primarily communities of color and poor people.”
Hillary argues:  all we’ve ever done is try to help you people
From there, Clinton slid into a meandering but empty defense of Clinton administration actions as a response to real community concerns. Doing so, she evaded the reality that the Clinton response was a top-down answer, that community involvement in solving its own problems was something to be tolerated as little as possible. She continued in the same vein in addressing the present, mentioning “systemic issues of race and justice that go deeper than any particular law” without particularity. Clinton seemed at a loss for anything to say until she seemed to stumble on the old pat-on-the-head, patronizing flattery for the critic who objects to cops killing black people:

What you’re doing, as activists and as people who are constantly raising these issues, is really important. So I applaud and thank you for that, I really do, because we can’t get change unless there’s constant pressure. But now the next step, so, you know – part of you need to keep the pressure on and part of you need to help figure out what do we do now, how are we gonna do it? [emphasis in original]

Slick moves. Praise the victims for objecting to their victimhood. Compliment them on their efforts to end victimization. Tell them it’s up to them to bring authority to heel, and to heal. And put the responsibility on the victims to figure out what the victimizers should do differently. And be extra careful not to come close to even implying that the president or the cops or anyone in between has any personal or institutional responsibility for victimizing people in the first place. Good job, Hillary Clinton.

Six minutes into the empty rhetoric, Clinton has answered no questions and offered no solutions, but bloviated “sympathetically” to get to this:

We need a whole comprehensive plan that I am more than happy to work with you guys on, to try to figure out, OK, we know black lives matter, we need to keep saying it so that people accept it, what do we do next?
Julius Jones tried to get Hillary Clinton to address specifics

As Clinton began to ramble on along this track, Julius Jones, founder of Black Lives Matter in Worcester, Massachusetts, gently, almost tentatively intervened to say how honored he was to have Hillary Clinton talking to him, and such, but mass incarceration hasn’t worked, like so much else:

The truth is that there’s an extremely long history of unfortunate government practices that don’t work, that particularly affect black people and black families. And until we, as a country, and then the person who’s in the seat that you seek, actually addresses the anti-blackness current that is America’s first drug – we’re in a meeting about drugs, right?
America’s first drug is free black labor and turning black bodies into profit, and the mass incarceration system mirrors an awful lot like the prison plantation system. It’s a similar thread, right? And until someone takes that message and speaks that truth to white people in this country, so that we can actually take on anti-blackness as a founding problem in this country, I don’t believe that there is going to be a solution....

Jones pointed out that there’s a lot of money in prisons, that the US spends more money on prisons than it spends on schools. Throughout, Clinton was keeping a sober face and going “Mmmm” as if agreeing to his points. She seemed to agree when he said that African-American people were suffering more than others. And Jones expressed the fear that the plantation evolving into the prison system would evolve into new horrors unless something changed. So he returned to Yancey’s original question in a different form:

You know, I genuinely want to know – you and your family have been, in no uncertain way, partially responsible for this, more than most, right? Now, there may have been unintended consequences. But now that you understand the consequences,  what in your heart has changed that’s going to change the direction in this country? Like, what in you – like, not your platform, not what you’re supposed to say – like, how do you actually feel that’s different than you did before? Like, what were the mistakes? And how can those mistakes that you made be lessons for all of America for a moment of reflection on how we treat black people in this country? [emphasis added]
How does Hillary Clinton “actually feel that’s different” from before?

This is a potentially devastating moment for candidate Clinton. Without missing a beat, a staff member interrupts, breaks the flow, and says something about keeping on schedule. Jones objected to the interruption and the staffer even said, “I’m not interrupting,” but he’d given the candidate another 20 seconds to frame her answer: “Well, obviously it’s a very thoughtful question that deserves a thoughtful answer.”

Then Clinton vamped on her “commitment” to make things better, going into a long riff on how she had spent much of her life trying to make things better for kids, all kinds of kids. She agreed that “there has to be a reckoning,” but also a “positive vision.” Once you face the truth of racial history, she said, then most people will say: so what am I supposed to do about it?

That’s what I’m trying to put together in a way that I can explain it and I can sell it ­– because in politics, you can’t explain it and you can’t sell it, it stays on the shelf.
Clinton then referred to other movements – civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights – and started a mini-lecture on how these movements had plans in place so that, once they had raised consciousness, they could get laws passed. Her spiel was self-servingly ahistorical, comparing the year-old Black Lives Matter to other movements that took decades to evolve. Her point was that Black Lives Matter needed a plan, which is undeniable. The point she didn’t make clear was that she had nothing to contribute. She covered that absence by saying:

Your analysis is totally fair. It’s historically fair. It’s psychologically fair. It’s economically fair. But you’re going to have to come together as a movement and say, “Here’s what we want done about it,” because you can get lip service from as many white people as you can pack into Yankee Stadium and a million more like it, who are going to say, “Oh, we get it. We get it. We’re going to be nicer.” OK? That’s not enough, at least in my book. That’s not how I see politics.

So, the consciousness raising, the advocacy, the passion, the youth of your movement is so critical. But now all I’m suggesting is, even for us sinners, find some common ground on agendas that can make a difference right here and now in people’s lives. And that’s what I would love to, you know, have your thoughts about, because that’s what I’m trying to figure out how to do….” [emphasis added]
If the “analysis is totally fair,” why is Clinton’s response so pallid?

Clinton spent another minute or so making the same point in another way, once again absolving herself of commitment to any particular goal, or strategy, and once more laying it on the victims to deal with their victimization by the white culture she represents and helped shape in its present form. They had been talking about 14 minutes by then and Hillary Clinton had answered no questions and had offered nothing. A staffer interrupted, saying it was time to go.

But Julius Jones quietly refused to accept the patronizing pat on the head with the implied promise of a bone to be tossed at some indefinite time in the future. With quiet patience he opened up the only meaningful dialogue of the encounter, as reported on Democracy NOW!:

JULIUS JONES: Respectfully, the piece that’s most important – and I stand here in your space, and I say this as respectfully as I can – but if you don’t tell black people what we need to do, then we won’t tell you all what you need to do. Right?

HILLARY CLINTON: I’m not telling you; I’m just telling you to tell me.

JULIUS JONES: What I mean to say is that this is, and has always been, a white problem of violence. It’s not– there’s not much that we can do to stop the violence against us. [emphasis added throughout]

That is the moment of truth. Blacks are almost powerless to stop white people from killing them. Blacks have always been almost powerless to stop white people from killing them. White people need to decide that killing black people is wrong and will no longer be allowed by the white power structure. Clinton must know this, it’s so obvious. She said, “I understand what you’re saying,” but she gave no evidence that she understands. And when Jones tried to pursue his argument, she cut him off, her voice rising peevishly, sarcastically echoing “respectfully” with no respect:

JULIUS JONES: And then, we are also, respectfully, respectfully —

HILLARY CLINTON: Yeah, well, respectfully, if that is your position, then I will talk only to white people about how we are going to deal with a very real problem.

JULIUS JONES: That’s not what I mean. That’s not what I mean. That’s not what I mean.


JULIUS JONES: But like, what I’m saying is you –what you just said was a form of victim blaming.Right? You were saying that what the Black Lives Matter movement … needs to do to change white hearts is to come up with a policy change.

HILLARY CLINTON: No, I’m not talking about — look, I don’t believe you change hearts. I believe you change laws, you change allocation of resources, you change the way systems operate. You’re not going to change every heart….

In the end, Clinton promised nothing – so you know what to expect

Clinton creates a straw man argument – Jones didn’t say “change every heart.” Then she uses that falsehood to say again what she’s been saying all along, to say what Jones said she said. Once again Clinton puts the responsibility for creating change on the people with the least power to create change. This is nothing but bad faith. (Even Bill Clinton has apologized, at the N.A.A.C.P. convention, for increasing the mass incarceration of black young men: “I signed a bill that made the problem worse.”)

Ironically, Hillary Clinton’s nasty suggestion that “I will talk only to white people” actually implies a more relevant tactic. She has no intention of doing anything like that, it seems. But it would be a start for Hillary Clinton to talk to her 1990s self and say, out loud, that mass incarceration for profit was a morally and economically corrupt idea and today I reject it. Then today’s Hillary Clinton might have more credibility when she expressed sympathy for people oppressed in part by her own past policies. (A sometimes hilarious pro-Hillary version of this event by Maggie Haberman appeared on page one of the August 20 "New York Times.")

What happened in Keene was that she concluded with her voice reaching an almost angry intensity, with her finger pointing at the black man’s chest, and with her message reiterated that, if America fails to change, it’s the victims’ fault.

So maybe she really is talking only to white people. Hillary Clinton has been in public life for decades. How can she possibly be so unaware of racial reality as she presents herself. How can she possibly know at least some of the things that need to be done to improve Black lives and all lives? Her message – or really, her lack of message – is certainly what a whole lot of white people want to hear.

In that respect, she’s little different from Scott Walker, who responded to a reporter asking him if he would meet with Black Lives Matter by calling the question “ridiculous.” Walker added: “I’m here to talk to voters in New Hampshire about things that matter.”

Does Black Lives Matter matter enough to enough people?

For Scott Walker, suggesting that Black Lives Matter is something that doesn’t matter is designed to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Or one could say that Walker continues the grand old tradition of marginalizing the marginalized. And no wonder, since Black Lives Matter is a conscious, conscientious threat to Walker and all his ilk. Black Lives Matter describes itself as:

… an ideological and political intervention; we are not controlled by the same political machine we are attempting to hold accountable. In the year leading up to the elections, we are committed to holding all candidates for Office accountable to the needs and dreams of Black people. We embrace a diversity of tactics. We are a decentralized network aiming to build the leadership and power of black people ….

Historically, all political parties have participated in the systematic disenfranchisement of Black people. Anti-black racism, especially that sanctioned by the state, has resulted in the loss of healthy and thriving Black life and well-being. Given that, we will continue to hold politicians and political parties accountable for their policies and platforms. We will also continue to demand the intentional dismantling of structural racism.

So far, Hillary Clinton only pretends to be interested in thinking about that. She has better rhetoric and a more flexible and subtle approach to racial issues than Walker and his fellow Republicans. She seems to offer more sympathy to victims of the American system, but it’s hard to see how she’s offering a presidency that would deliver very much better results than any of theirs.

The official position of the Sanders campaign on racial justice (9 pages) is unequivocal in principle:

We must pursue policies that transform this country into a nation that affirms the value of its people of color. That starts with addressing the four central types of violence waged against black and brown Americans: physical, political, legal and economic ….

It is an outrage that in these early years of the 21st century we are seeing intolerable acts of violence being perpetuated by police, and racist terrorism by white supremacists.

Hillary Clinton, face-to-face with Black Lives Matter people speaking truth to would-be power, offered nothing better than equivocation and victim blaming.

(William M. Boardman has over 40 years experience in theatre, radio, TV, print journalism, and non-fiction, including 20 years in the Vermont judiciary. He has received honors from Writers Guild of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Vermont Life magazine, and an Emmy Award nomination from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.)

# lorenbliss 2015-08-26 13:53

Though I'm again way late to the fair (as seems to be the norm these days), I emphatically agree with Radscal's "best analysis" judgment and will add another superlative as well.

Mr. Boardman's reporting is, by far, the best most accurately nuanced work of its kind I have yet seen in RSN. It achieves the rarely equaled informativeness that defined the late Jack Newfield's work in the real (pre-Murdoch) "Village Voice" and -- again like Newfield's keen-eyed reportage -- it looks beyond the (deliberately distracting) hurly-burly of USian politics and so reveals more troublesome truths that might otherwise have remained concealed.

Moreover, Mr. Boardman's work fills an emptiness so huge -- and so much a defining part of the media climate in today's United States -- many of us may not have hitherto been aware of what we lacked. But now after reading reports of such depth and diligence, surely we will hunger for more of the same.

Hence my most emphatic thanks to Mr. Boardman for this report and to Marc Ash and RSN for publishing his work.

# Dongi 2015-08-25 16:51

Hillary is an empty suit in search of a few good ideas that she can organize her campaign around. I think in a debate with Sanders she would be very vulnerable to some probing questions about her past as first lady and as Secretary of State. I can't wait to see how this plays out.

# Billsy 2015-08-26 11:35

I fully agree with you. I watched the entire exchange on "Democracy Now" and Clinton came across as patronizing and evasive. That "I will only talk to white people" comment struck me as downright testy and defensive. She basically left full responsibility with the Black Lives Matter movement as if to say she wouldn't do anything unless they kept constant pressure on her. Given this, her fealty to wall street (she's betrayed Sen. Warren on critical legislation) her demonization of Edward Snowden while she supports NSA overreach and her chicken-hawk support for disastrous regime change in the Ukraine, she's lost my vote in the primaries. I'm supporting the candidate whose record & policies are most in sync with progressives: Bernie Sanders.

# hoffhort 2015-08-25 18:35 

I thought the young activists were pretty rude to Hillary, and very long-winded. She listened patiently. I thought her answer in substance was good--it is true that policies and allocations of resources are what cause change, not rhetoric. I slso think it is highly unfair to hold a grudge against someone because of something that happened 21 years. In those days, "tough on crime" was a mantra that no politician could win office without reciting. Times are different now and policies can be different now. These activists also has to come to grips with the criminal behavior that poverty generates, and look inward a bit. I did not think Hillary was peevish, and I hate the underlying nastiness of this whole article. Very few people have what it takes to be president, so don't be so picky, people. AJust wait till the slime machine turns its attention to Bernie. Their aim will be to make him unelectable. Hillary is electable.

# Old4Poor 2015-08-26 00:04

As I prepare for a lot of thumbs down: More than one issue can be vital at the same time.

That our Black Citizens are being murdered en masse is very real and urgent.

As someone who is elderly and disabled, the security of Social Security is also vital to me. (Notice the word ALSO.) It is not a choice, both matter.

The powers that are running things do their best to keep us separated and at odds as to which issue deserves time and energy, when in truth so many do.

If I had managed to get to the Seattle rally to hear Bernie, which would be very difficult for me to do physically as I have serious mobility issues, I would have been ticked off when he was prevented from speaking by people who insist that only their one issues matters.

I suspect that most of the people in that audience also support the Black Lives Matter efforts and understand the issues involved, but why antagonize them assuming that anyone who is white does not understand and is against you?

I realize that life and death is very urgent and that we must do what we can to save our brothers and sisters from this brutality, but I need to live as well and without Social Security, my only income, I would be staving on the streets.

We need to stick together to make many changes in this country. 

# Old4Poor 2015-08-26 10:29

Thank you for these additional points.

Many issues in this culture are life or death to someone and Bernie is the best hope we have had in my lifetime (I am 72).

He has been a very active part of the Civil Rights Movement for as long a I can remember, as have I.

Cornel West has just spoken out about Bernie and endorsed him.

Why I Endorse Bernie Sanders

By Cornel West, Cornel West's Facebook Page

25 August 15

hy I Endorse Brother Bernie and Reject Brother Trump.

The American Empire is in decline. Our market-driven culture is in decay. The criminal justice system has failed us. And the political system is collapsing due to the weight of corrupt lobbyists and greedy capitalists. Only organized power of courageous and compassionate people can turn around these catastrophic realities. Social movements in the streets and jails over against the Establishment in both decrepit political parties are fundamental. And prophetic politicians -- always with their faults and blind spots -- who tell the truth about Wall Street, white supremacy, empire, patriarchy and homophobia, deserve our critical support. Yet even more important is the issue of integrity.

Brother Bernie and Brother Trump are authentic human beings in stark contrast to their donor-driven opponents. Yet only Bernie has authenticity and integrity, whereas Trump is for real but not for right. Trump's attacks on precious Mexican brothers and sisters are unconscionable -- even as his blessed mother was born in Scotland and grandfather (Mr. Drumpf) was born in Germany. His kind of nativistic hostility could have excluded them. And Trump's unpatriotic complicity with the plutocratic corruption of our political system for over 30 years calls into question his integrity, including his commitment to "make America great again."

My endorsement of Brother Bernie in the primaries is not an affirmation of the neo-liberal Democratic Party or a downplaying of the immorality of the ugly Israeli occupation of Palestinians. I do so because he is a long-distance runner with integrity in the struggle for justice for over 50 years. Now is the time for his prophetic voice to be heard across our crisis-ridden country, even as we push him with integrity toward a more comprehensive vision of freedom for all.

Dr. Cornel West

Teacher · 575,873 Likes

August 25, 2015

What If The "Crash" Is as Rigged as Everything Else?

Take your pick - here's three good reasons to engineer a "crash" that benefits the few at the expense of the many.

There is an almost touching faith that markets are rigged when they loft higher, but unrigged when they crash. Who's to say this crash isn't rigged? A few things about this "crash" (11% decline from all time highs now qualifies as a "crash") don't pass the sniff test.

Exhibit 1: VIX volatility Index soars to "the world is ending" levels when the S&P 500 drops a relatively modest 11%. The VIX above 50 is historically associated with declines of 20% or more--double the current drop.

When the VIX spiked above 50 in 2008, the market ended up down 57%. Now that's a crash. (Click on photos to view.)

Exhibit 2: The VIX soared and the market cratered at the end of options expiration week (OEX), maximizing pain for the majority of punters. Generally speaking, OEX weeks are up. The exceptions are out of the blue lightning bolts such as the collapse of a major investment bank.

Was a modest devaluation in China's yuan really that unexpected, given the yuan's peg to the U.S. dollar which has risen 20% in the past year? Sorry, that doesn't pass the sniff test.

Exhibit 3: When the VIX spiked above 30 in October 2014, signaling panic, the Federal Reserve unleashed the Bullard Put, i.e. the Fed's willingness to unleash stimulus in the form of QE 4. Markets reversed sharply and the VIX collapsed.

Now the VIX tops 50 and the Federal Reserve issues an absurd statement that it doesn't respond to equity markets. Well then what was the Bullard Put in October, 2014? Mere coincidence? Sorry, that doesn't pass the sniff test.

Why would "somebody" engineer a mini-crash and send volatility to "the world is ending" levels? There are a couple of possibilities.

1. The Shock Doctrine. Naomi Klein's landmark study of how manufactured crises are used to justify further consolidation of power, The Shock Doctrine:  The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, provides a blueprint for how financial crises set the stage for policies that extend the power of central and private banks and various state-private sector players.

A soaring VIX and sudden crash certainly softens up the system for the next policy squeeze.

2. A "crash" engineered to set up a buying opportunity for insiders. When easy gains get scarce, what better way to skim a quick 10% than engineer a "crash," scoop up shares dumped by panicked punters and momo-following HFT bots spooked by "the world is ending" VIX spike, and then reverse the "crash" with another round of happy talk?

3. Settling conflicts within the Deep State. I have covered the Deep State for years, in a variety of contexts--for example:

Is the Deep State Fracturing into Disunity? (March 14, 2014)

The Dollar and the Deep State (February 24, 2014)

Surplus Repression and the Self-Defeating Deep State (May 26, 2015)

Without going into details that deserve a separate essay, we can speculate that key power centers with the Deep State have profoundly different views about Imperial priorities.

One nexus of power engineers a trumped-up financial crisis (i.e. a convenient "crash") to force the hand of opposing power centers. As I have speculated here before, the rising U.S. dollar is anathema to Wall Street and its apparatchiks, while a rising USD is the cat's meow to those with a longer and more strategic view of dollar hegemony.


Beach Bum said...

"Cheaper way to find worst people"?

I find some humor in the idea that back in 2012 I didn't think the republicans could scrape the bottom of the proverbial barrel any worse than the candidates they had that election cycle. The ones this time are an utter nightmare and a laugh riot. I shutter to think the group the might collect for 2020.

Then again my second nightmare is that the democrats have a civil war and snatch defeat from the apparent jaws of victory given the republican clowns that are running for the nomination.

Cirze said...

Thanks for the comment, BB, but my horror is that we get everyone all excited (again) about real change for those who have suffered since the Bush Massacre in 2000 and receive as our reward eight more years of neolib financial madness with no gains in employment for those at the bottom, accompanied by more mass imprisonment, street violence by police, and more if not worse financial machinations giving the rest of the gains (as they already received more than 90% so far) to those awash in the prior largesse bestowed on those at the top of the pyramid by the banking shenanigans (which have continued at only a little more muted level of criminality by those who are allowed to pay fines for their billion-dollar scams) by those we've elected as "progressives."

Which seems to be the whole reason that our most-likely to be elected liberal candidate, Ms. Clinton, has not deigned to speak clearly (like Bernie does), refuses to address the past Clinton issues, and only deals in cant and happy talk in front of knowledgeable audiences, whom she knows can be had.

Or I could be dreaming.


But with the Repubs feeling like Klown Kar Kandidates are only what's needed at present (until their boy Jeb! is nominated by an exhausted audience by acclamation) and that a raspberry is sufficient for all rational voters, it's really become a looming nightmare.

And applications for visas are soaring.