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America is Being Looted

Tuesday, April 14, 2009, 9:20 AM

As cynical as I am, I just can’t keep up.

That sentence is a paraphrase of a quote by Lily Tomlin that reads, “No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up.”

I have long been a cynic of the bailouts, and, unfortunately, I cannot detect even the slightest sliver of daylight between the prior and current administrations. The reason, I fear, is captured by this quote from Simon Johnson, the former Chief Economist at the IMF and current professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management:

The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States. One of the most alarming, says a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is that the finance industry has effectively captured our government—a state of affairs that more typically describes emerging markets, and is at the center of many emerging-market crises. If the IMF’s staff could speak freely about the U.S., it would tell us what it tells all countries in this situation: recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform. And if we are to prevent a true depression, we’re running out of time.

The unfortunate conclusion here is that our system and processes are fully “captured” by a tangled web of interests that serve themselves over everything else. Your future, my future, and our future is being systematically ruined by a self-interested group of insiders that can no longer distinguish between their good and the common good.

Here’s the latest string of outrages from this week.

First, it is vitally important not just that conflict of interest be absent when big money is involved in policy decisions, but also that the appearance of conflict of interest be absent. Our system of money is based on confidence (after all it is a Ponzi scheme) and therefore it is vital that our checks and balances assure that the public good is not abused by a few at the expense of the many.

In order for the average person to pull hard on the yoke of life, straining to earn their daily wage, that wage has to be worth something. What is money “worth,” if some of us have to work to exhaustion to obtain it while a very small minority can literally conjure trillions out of thin air and distribute it amongst themselves?

Money is a social contract, especially fiat money, and abusing the trust inherent to making that money system work is the gravest of all possible errors.
I am not exaggerating here.

This week I found out that, even as Lawrence Summers, in his role as President of Harvard University, was excoriating professor Cornell West for shirking his professorial duties by making a spoken-word audio CD, he was himself moonlighting for a hedge fund and various Wall Street banks earning millions. Here’s Frank Rich in the NYT:

Lawrence Summers, the president’s chief economic adviser, made $5.2 million in 2008 from a hedge fund, D. E. Shaw, for a one-day-a-week job. He also earned $2.7 million in speaking fees from the likes of Citigroup and Goldman Sachs.

Those institutions are not merely the beneficiaries of taxpayers’ bailouts since the crash. They also benefited during the boom from government favors: the Wall Street deregulation that both Summers and Robert Rubin, his mentor and predecessor as Treasury secretary, championed in the Clinton administration.

This goes well beyond “the appearance of” a conflict of interest. If Summers were a judge, he’d have to recuse himself from the case. Nearly $8 million in a few years from Wall Street is a conflict of interest.  A massive one. 

However, if smoking guns are more your thing, then this next bit of information from the same article will be to your liking:

Summers had done consulting work for another hedge fund, Taconic Capital Advisors, from 2004 to 2006, while still president of Harvard. He tried — and, mercifully, failed — to install the co-founder of Taconic in the job of running the TARP bailouts.

Think of the judgment of a person, long in the public eye, who has apparently learned nothing from his past scrapes with public perception, who attempts to install a past patron in a plum post involving public money being distributed to private, already wealthy recipients.

Think of the character of a person who can rationalize the act of
publicly excoriating a professor for doing something that he is
secretly doing himself, but on a much grander scale.

That person is Lawrence Summers, the man chosen by the Obama team to coordinate the bailout efforts.

Rahm Emanuel, the current White House Chief of Staff, comes similarly burdened:

…the banking industry recently paid Rahm Emanuel $16 million for about two years of work. That investment was recently paid back when, as President Obama's chief of staff, Emanuel led the January campaign to release another $350 billion in bank bailout funds.

But it goes deeper than that. Rahm Emanuel also took what I consider to be a lot of money serving on the board of Freddie Mac, a company that is certain to cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars.

Before its portfolio of bad loans helped trigger the current housing crisis, mortgage giant Freddie Mac was the focus of a major accounting scandal that led to a management shake-up, huge fines and scalding condemnation of passive directors by a top federal regulator.

One of those allegedly asleep-at-the-switch board members was Chicago's Rahm Emanuel—now chief of staff to President Barack Obama—who made at least $320,000 for a 14-month stint at Freddie Mac that required little effort.

Before Timothy Geithner (“Turbo Tax Timmy,” as he’s called in some circles) was appointed to the Treasury position, his career and connections were explored in depth in an excellent article in Portfolio.com by Gary Weiss:

After the Bear deal, the Fed wound up with $30 billion in collateral, mostly in the form of subprime-mortgage securities. Even Paul Volcker, the former Fed chairman who served on the search committee that picked Geithner and who still holds him in high regard, has expressed queasiness about the way the deal was structured. In a speech to the Economic Club of New York, Volcker said the Fed took actions that “extend to the very edge of its lawful and implied powers, transcending certain long-embedded central-banking principles and practices.” Volcker later leavened this harsh assessment a bit, telling me that the Fed’s intervention “was a proper action, but it was extraordinary—something that’s never been done before, in terms of calling upon that emergency power. It tells you how seriously they took it.”

Still, misgivings about the deal are hard to ignore, no matter how catastrophic the consequences of not intervening might have been. It doesn’t help that the deal is teeming with connections that are sure to raise questions. Dimon is one of the three class-A directors of the board of the New York Fed, and its head is Stephen Friedman, a former Goldman Sachs chairman, who still sits on the investment bank’s board. The New York Fed’s board also includes Richard Fuld of Lehman Brothers, a firm that is another oft-rumored potential candidate for a bailout. Fuld is a class-B director, meaning that he is elected by member banks, astoundingly, to represent the public. (Friedman is also supposed to be looking out for you: He was “appointed by the board of governors to represent the public.”) Thus Geithner reports to a board that is composed of people who are not only under his purview but would also benefit from any potential bailouts. The structure of the New York Fed’s board bears more than a passing resemblance to that of the New York Stock Exchange in the bad old days, when member firms, regulated by the N.Y.S.E., were heavily represented on its board.

Even more intriguing is Geithner’s informal brain trust, loaded with Wall Street luminaries. Since coming to the Fed in November 2003—recruited by then-New York Fed chairman Pete Peterson, co-founder of the Blackstone Group—Geithner has learned the ways of the financial industry at the feet of some of its biggest legends. He was almost immediately taken under the wing of Gerald Corrigan, a gregarious former New York Fed chief who is now a managing director of Goldman Sachs. Corrigan describes his relationship with Geithner as close, and it has flourished since Geithner’s first days at the Fed. Another frequent adviser—“you don’t want those things to get too formal,” Corrigan notes—is also a preeminent banker, Merrill Lynch C.E.O. John Thain, a Goldman alumnus and former head of the N.Y.S.E.  Over the years, Thain has often talked to Geithner—“sometimes I talk to him multiple times a day,”

Given this extensive set of interconnections, you might think that he’d be careful to project the right image when stepping into the Treasury role - but instead he saw fit to place a Goldman Sachs insider in the position as his top aide last January (before anybody was paying too much attention to all this insider self-dealing):

WASHINGTON — Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner picked a former Goldman Sachs lobbyist as a top aide Tuesday, the same day he announced rules aimed at reducing the role of lobbyists in agency decisions.

Mark Patterson will serve as Geithner's chief of staff at Treasury, which oversees the government's $700 billion financial bailout program. Goldman Sachs received $10 billion of that money.

Just a few months later, in March, when questioned about the appearance of conflict of interest, Geithner bristled at the suggestion:

"I am just asking the questions," Waters said, "because the talk is...that this small group of decision makers at the center of it is Goldman Sachs and that's what's causing a lot of the distrust, because people are thinking or believing that Goldman Sachs, because of the connections, have had a lot to do with the decisions that are being made."

Geithner took umbrage.

"I think it's deeply unfair to the people who are part of these decisions to suggest that they were making judgments that in their view were not in the best interest of the American people," Geithner said.

Apparently Mr. Geithner found it completely confusing why anybody would see anything at all wrong with a regular revolving door between positions of extreme financial power over public money and the firms set to benefit from public money.

To me, that is a sure sign that someone is too deeply embedded, too deeply conflicted, too detached from reality to even know where to draw the line. Timothy apparently cannot distinguish between the “best interest of the American people” and Goldman Sachs raking in billions of undeserved public dollars. To him, those are one and the same thing and that's a major reason why I have grave doubts that the bailouts will succeed.

Now let’s cross into the surreal. One of the more grossly mismanaged companies on the face of the planet, the one that will cost taxpayers close to a trillion dollars when all is said and done, is Fannie Mae, the Government Sponsored Enterprise, or GSE. Last night (Monday, April 14th, 2009) this came across my newswire:

7:30 [FNM] Fannie Mae Chief Executive Herb Allison to run TARP: WSJ

So who is it, do you suppose, that picked the CEO of Fannie Mae to run TARP? Could it be Summers and Geithner and Emanuel?

You bet. That’s the vetting team.

As far as I am concerned, the CEO of Fannie Mae should be defending himself in court, not running a massive wealth redistribution program.

Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs reported strong earnings yesterday, much of them based on the fact that Goldman Sachs received full payout from side bets it had made with AIG, on which it should not have been paid a single dime. Goldman Sachs is a business run by grown-ups, who knew that making bets on the unregulated OTC derivatives market did not come with any public guarantee. Nonetheless, Goldman was immediately bailed out, in full, on these side-bets, by the Treasury Department.

The funny thing is, Goldman Sachs actually did the prudent thing and hedged their side bets with AIG (presumably by shorting AIG stock…that way, if AIG failed to pay off their side bets, the stock price of AIG would slide, thereby covering some of the losses for Goldman Sachs). So they were already "made whole" on these losses by their hedging activity.

So you might wonder how is it that a company that is not in danger of failing and has strong earnings and has prudently covered (or hedged) its bets comes to receive tens of billions of dollars of public money anyway?  How can this be?  More importantly, what does this tell us about the prospects for the bailout?

Here’s where we simply need to return to the opening quote:

The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States. One of the most alarming, says a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is that the finance industry has effectively captured our government—a state of affairs that more typically describes emerging markets, and is at the center of many emerging-market crises. If the IMF’s staff could speak freely about the U.S., it would tell us what it tells all countries in this situation: recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform. And if we are to prevent a true depression, we’re running out of time.

My cynicism stems from the fact that, as I string together the dots comprising this entire bailout fiasco, I can come to only one conclusion: Our “public policy” is not being conducted in the interests of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Public policy appears to be in the grip of a very powerful and self-interested cabal that seemingly has no concern for the future or the health of this country and does not even see the need to be cautious enough to mask its efforts.

The fact that the bailout trajectory did not waver in the slightest while passing from the Bush to the Obama administration indicates that the bailout is not a function of who’s in political power, it is a function of something else, of some other power.

I fear that Simon Johnson has nailed it: “[The] recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform.”

By continuing on our current path, using the same people who created the mess to clean up the mess, we are wasting time, we are wasting money, and we are wasting opportunity.  Worse, we are risking the very sort of public backlash that has been thankfully missing from our cultural landscape for a long, long time.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go jogging to see if I can catch up with my cynicism.

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163 Comments

nkdroth's picture
nkdroth
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Re: America is Being Looted

Chris,

 Is it just me or are others experiencing a feeling of helplessness.  Even as I take control and prepare

 my own little patch of the earth....It is not fun to stand by and watch my country being raped.

cat233's picture
cat233
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Re: America is Being Looted

Chris,

Thank you for your insights, no one explains what is going on better than you.

Cat

Speaking of cynical.... Recovery may be here.

From Briefing.com

Summary of Fed Chairman Bernanke's commentary at Morehouse College

"The current crisis has been one of the most difficult financial and economic episodes in modern history. Recently we have seen tentative signs that the sharp decline in economic activity may be slowing, for example, in data on home sales, homebuilding, and consumer spending, including sales of new motor vehicles. A leveling out of economic activity is the first step toward recovery. To be sure, we will not have a sustainable recovery without a stabilization of our financial system and credit markets. We are making progress on that front as well, and the Federal Reserve is committed to working to restore financial stability as a necessary step toward full economic recovery. I am fundamentally optimistic about our economy. Among its many intrinsic strengths are universities and colleges like Morehouse, which help talented students gain not only a command of a body of knowledge but also the capacity to think creatively and independently. Institutions like this one train the professionals, entrepreneurs, and leaders who will shape our economy in the future. Today's economic conditions are difficult, but the foundations of our economy are strong, and we face no problems that cannot be overcome with insight, patience, and persistence. The Federal Reserve will certainly do its part to help restore prosperity and opportunity to our economy."

Cloudfire's picture
Cloudfire
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Re: America is Being Looted

Excellent blog post, Chris.  Great to see that you are continuing the tradition of incisively calling a spade a spade. 

Goal Digger's picture
Goal Digger
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Amen

Chris, if I may call you by your first name,

Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  This post will be shared by me far and wide.  I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to succintly and cogently summarize the current state of affairs.  I'm still relatively young.  And, I believe, until about a year ago was more or less naive about how the world works.  Or, perhaps blissfully ignorant.  Now, I don't count myself as naive, or ignorant.  I have tried my best to spread the word as I've come to find it through you and others.  What's being done here is a tremendous public service that words alone cannot quantify.

As an aside, I was speaking with my father the other night about the current "state of affairs".  He's a Ford employee who is struggling to find peace of mind in a very uncertain manufacturing world.  He commented that never before in his life has he seen such an outright display by the real powers that be in this country and now the world.  He said that no matter what the crisis might have been through the years, it always appeared that the federal government was calling the shots.  Now, as we all now, not so much the case and there is apparently little or no effort to hide the "man behind the curtain".

I'm starting to believe that this outright arrogance displayed by the financial oligarchy coupled with the information age creating well-informed consumers, i.e. sites like www.PeakProsperity.com, and the impending desperation of the unemployed masses who will run out of government assistance, we just might . . . might . . . see an organized uprising in our country.  I'm very anxious to see how well the informed and angry citizenry turn out at the many tax day tea parties organized around the country.  I view tomorrow's organized events as one of the first baby steps towards a much larger movement.

Thanks again,

Randy

gregroberts's picture
gregroberts
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Re: America is Being Looted

Chris Martenson wrote,

"To him, those are one and the same thing and that's a major reason why I have grave doubts that the bailouts will succeed."

Did you ever think that bailing out failed companies would succeed?

"Public policy is in the grips of a very powerful and self-interested
cabal
that seemingly has no concern for the future or the health of
this country and does not even see the need to be cautious enough to
mask its efforts."

This is a very interesting sentence, what does this imply? They are not worried that they will be destroyed but they are hell bent on not only destroying this country but many others around the world. Why? So as not to highjack this thread go to the Definitive CT thread for a possible answer.

LogansRun's picture
LogansRun
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Re: America is Being Looted

I agree that the feeling of helplessness is enormous.  What can we do?  That's the real question.  Yes, we can prepare our own families and communities but in all reality we're preparing a small enclave surrounded and controlled by an evil oligarchy.  Our founding fathers had the balls to do something but is that realistic in todays environment?  There MUST be change but waiting for it to happen via protest and peaceful uprising won't do a damn thing.  If it could, the first bailout that over 90% of Americans were against AND voiced their protest wouldn't have happened.

So, what's the answer?  Anyone?

Quercus bicolor's picture
Quercus bicolor
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Re: America is Being Looted

cmartenson wrote:

7:30 [FNM] Fannie Mae Chief Executive Herb Allison to run TARP: WSJ

So who is it, do you suppose, that picked the CEO of Fannie Mae to run TARP? Could it be Summers and Geithner and Emanuel?

You bet. That’s the vetting team.

As far as I am concerned the CEO of Fannie Mae should be defending himself in court, not running a massive wealth redistribution program.

Chris, Herb Allison was appointed in September 2008 when the government took over Fannie Mae.  So he wasn't involved in any wrongdoing before then.  Has he done things since then that would justify prosecution?

Steve

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Re: America is Being Looted

as someone who has been on this site for well over a year ..................YAWN

i will look at this latest blog post thru the lens of the levels of awareness

denial..................no way is this really as bad as it seems i have most of my retirement intact i have plenty of pms (not the female affliction) this is really just a bump in the road. the economy according to the most brilliant minds in gov.  geithner, summers obama rohmer all say we are seeing glimmers of light. the majority of people on this site are doom and gloomers.

anger...............well golly they are screwing us again. if they dont quit it i will get really mad

bargaining ...............you know there is a way out if we just can get liquidity in the market we will be all right. and china needs us as much as we need them. they have to keep lending us money.i am fat dumb and happy and things will be better in the future ..........there will be lots of joy

depression............damn another one of the profs' depressing posts does he ever have any thing good to say about the economy. i am going to drown my  sorrow in a single malt neat

fear.................(not one of kubler ross' original but it is ok) i am going ot buy more guns and ammo and reread every post on the definitive firearms thread. i will call aaron to get the real skinny. i think the NWO folks might be on to something. you know i may be paranoid but that still doesnt mean they are not out to get me

acceptance................ah well you know not much i can do about it. might as well just get on with my life.

ok more hand wringing, more outrage, more denial, more of the same ol same ol.

so my question is what is the point? i am qutie serious what is the point?

anybody got a solution? 

The fact that the bailout trajectory did not waver in the slightest
while passing from the Bush to the Obama administrations indicates that
the bailout is not a function of who’s in political power, it is a
function of something else, of some other power.

some other power prof.? what other power might that be should we move this over to the ct thread now as greg suggests? or maybe the religion thread?

i gotta go now my community is waiting and i think i need to plant some more tomatoes.......things are gettin weird.

Quercus bicolor's picture
Quercus bicolor
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Re: America is Being Looted

titanic wrote:

I agree that the feeling of helplessness is enormous. What can we do? That's the real question. Yes, we can prepare our own families and communities but in all reality we're preparing a small enclave surrounded and controlled by an evil oligarchy. Our founding fathers had the balls to do something but is that realistic in todays environment? There MUST be change but waiting for it to happen via protest and peaceful uprising won't do a damn thing. If it could, the first bailout that over 90% of Americans were against AND voiced their protest wouldn't have happened.

So, what's the answer? Anyone?

For one, we could hope that the oligarchy is acting mostly from short-sighted self interest and fear, that they don't see the implications of what is coming down the pike and that all of their grubbing for money will leave them in the same position as us in the end as all of the oil-based infrastructure comes crashing down around us.

I don't think I would count on this, though.

Here's a good question: We've seen peaceful protests bring down governments as the government's credibility evaporates.  How do we ensure that something better takes it's place?  Ultimately, we're heading for a less centralized, more locally controlled society, but in the interim, some pretty nasty stuff could be perpetrated by an openly fascist regime or a brutal dictatorship.  Is it hopeless to expect the federal government is even capable of implementing an all-out "gentle landing" program to prepare for a simpler society, given what is transpiring now?

Maybe the best thing we can do is prepare ourselves and our communities.  The more of us that are less dependent on electricity, grocery stores, oil, and jobs to earn cash the more time and independence we will have so that we can influence the larger society in a positive way.

Steve

Quercus bicolor's picture
Quercus bicolor
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Re: America is Being Looted

joe2baba wrote:

as someone who has been on this site for well over a year ..................YAWN

i will look at this latest blog post thru the lens of the levels of awareness

denial..................

anger...............

bargaining ...............

depression............

fear.................

acceptance................

ok more hand wringing, more outrage, more denial, more of the same ol same ol.

so my question is what is the point? i am qutie serious what is the point?

anybody got a solution?

The fact that the bailout trajectory did not waver in the slightest
while passing from the Bush to the Obama administrations indicates that
the bailout is not a function of who’s in political power, it is a
function of something else, of some other power.

some other power prof.? what other power might that be should we move this over to the ct thread now as greg suggests? or maybe the religion thread?

i gotta go now my community is waiting and i think i need to plant some more tomatoes.......things are gettin weird.

Maybe the point is so we see through our own denial, anger, bargaining, depression, fear and acceptance so that we can get out there to our community and our planting.

Thanks for the insight.  I'm going to look at my last post to see what levels of awareness might be behind it.

Quercus bicolor's picture
Quercus bicolor
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Re: America is Being Looted

For one, we could hope that the oligarchy is acting mostly from short-sighted self interest and fear, that they don't see the implications of what is coming down the pike and that all of their grubbing for money will leave them in the same position as us in the end as all of the oil-based infrastructure comes crashing down around us.

There's bargaining or maybe denial

I don't think I would count on this, though.

OK, maybe I'm beyond that stage.

Here's a good question: We've seen peaceful protests bring down governments as the government's credibility evaporates. How do we ensure that something better takes it's place? Ultimately, we're heading for a less centralized, more locally controlled society, but in the interim, some pretty nasty stuff could be perpetrated by an openly fascist regime or a brutal dictatorship. Is it hopeless to expect the federal government is even capable of implementing an all-out "gentle landing" program to prepare for a simpler society, given what is transpiring now?

could there be acceptance there?

Maybe the best thing we can do is prepare ourselves and our communities. The more of us that are less dependent on electricity, grocery stores, oil, and jobs to earn cash the more time and independence we will have so that we can influence the larger society in a positive way.

Alright!, I'm taking action. But I think there's another stage here, maybe related to denial or bargaining. I'll call it distraction... spending too much time reading and posting and not enough acting to prepare myself and my family and build community. I'm definitely guilty of that one. Anyone else?

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LogansRun
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Re: America is Being Looted

Unfortunately, I think the only level of awareness that'll prevail to bring about change for the betterment of society outside of the Oligarchs is:  ANGER

Yes, it sometimes gets you nowhere or it'll cloud reasoning.  But the other levels of awareness could be  reasons we're in this predicament.  Instead of taking a stance and moving against the evil at the center, we've reasoned that the other levels of awareness are where we should be located.  I disagree.  Anger usually will create response either by yourself or others.  Anger is what WILL bring change whether they be good or bad.  One of my favorite lines from Risky Business/Tom Cruise:  Sometimes you just have to say "What the F, make your move" "WTF gives you freedom.  Freedom brings opportunity.  Opportunity makes your future."  Maybe we should be using this phrase a bit more and get angry.   

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Cloudfire
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Re: America is Being Looted

joe2baba wrote:
so my question is what is the point? i am qutie serious what is the point? anybody got a solution? 

Hi, Joe;

First, I think you did an excellent job of describing the various stages of grieving.  I think we've all seen at least a few hours of each of those, and many of us have carried out the precise impulses that you suggest.

I understand that you are a person of action, and I understand your impatience.  But I would suggest this:  that sometimes one of the best things one can do is to be aware, and work to make more people aware, and I think Chris is did a great job of that in this post.  Certainly, I can't see any definitive action that can be taken at this time, by the meager number of awakened folks, to alter the direction of this mess. 

I would, however, like to express my concern, to all, that our indignation should not manifested by senseless rioting, which will only offer the PTB the opportunity to impose martial law.  That would surely be a waste of resources, and might result in the confiscation of the tools that we have for self protection, in the event of chaos.  Surprised

But our numbers are growing as the crimes become more bold, and therefore more obvious.  Sometimes knowledge and awareness are all we have.  Indeed, knowledge is power, and the truth will set us free.

 

joe2baba's picture
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Re: America is Being Looted

[Ed. note:  Removed comment advocating violence]

Ready's picture
Ready
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Re: America is Being Looted

joe2baba wrote:

Edited by Ready to remove quote from flagged post. 

Wow, Joe.

I know you are trying to be funny, but I see this post got flagged too. That seems to be a trend for you.

You are a glutton for punishment, aren't you.

I have to say, it was a little funny, but I can also see why it got flagged. I'm guessing you don't.

 

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Re: America is Being Looted

gregroberts wrote:

This is a very interesting sentence, what does this imply? They are not worried that they will be destroyed but they are hell bent on not only destroying this country but many others around the world. Why? So as not to highjack this thread go to the Definitive CT thread for a possible answer.

Greg, I had that same weird reaction when I read this. I have resolved it without switching threads by thinking about the ownership of the Fed, which transcends political party, benefits the most from the bailouts, but is not in a position to be a NWO in my opinion, although they are doing a pretty good job of steering the US!

Rog

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Re: America is Being Looted

Like my late MIL said: lay down with dogs, wake up with flees. Obama already has a cabinet of flee infested mutts, why he got another dog is beyond me.

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Re: Amen

Goal Digger wrote:

I'm starting to believe that this outright arrogance displayed by the financial oligarchy coupled with the information age creating well-informed consumers, i.e. sites like www.PeakProsperity.com, and the impending desperation of the unemployed masses who will run out of government assistance, we just might . . . might . . . see an organized uprising in our country.  I'm very anxious to see how well the informed and angry citizenry turn out at the many tax day tea parties organized around the country.  I view tomorrow's organized events as one of the first baby steps towards a much larger movement.

One very strong suggestion to all readers in this site... Forward articles such as this to all military, police and national guard personnel that you know.

Knowledge is power.

Once the demonstrations start you'll definitely want to have the security forces understanding what's going on - Otherwise they'll blindly follow orders, and we all know where that will take us.

Chris, I had previously read most of what you put together in this article, but once again you displayed your true gift: Connecting the dots.

Thank you!

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Re: America is Being Looted

Davos wrote:
Like my late MIL said: lay down with dogs, wake up with flees. Obama already has a cabinet of flee infested mutts, why he got another dog is beyond me.

LOL.  With your permission, I'm going to steal that one, Davos.

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Re: America is Being Looted

Mr. Joe to the Baba,  I think the point is to help people spread the word.  You're right, one person going through the stages of anger doesn't accomplish a lot.  But when millions become aware and have gone through some grief, serious collective action can be taken. 

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Re: America is Being Looted

Hello c1oudfire: Enjoy. Take care

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Re: America is Being Looted

"Since coming to the Fed in November 2003—recruited by then-New York Fed chairman Pete Peterson, co-founder of the Blackstone Group—Geithner has learned the ways of the financial industry at the feet of some of its biggest legends."

This helps explain why Simon Johnson was so mealy-mouthed about Geithner when he (Johnson) was interviewed on On Point several days ago.  Johnson is associated with The Peterson Group and I am assuming that he draws a paycheck from them in addition to his MIT paycheck.

Johnson may see the oligarchy angle -- and kudos to him for pointing it out -- but does he understand that the world would be a better place without the IMF altogether? 

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Re: America is Being Looted

"America is Being Looted" and if you are reading this you are most likely a lootee.

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Re: America is Being Looted

brjohnson789,

What serious collective action would you propose?  It seems to me that the outpouring of negative response directed at our elected officials regarding the bailout last fall would be classified as a "serious collective action".  Result - nothing.  If it is that we can retake the government through the election process, I would call that naive.  So what actions are available?

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Re: America is Being Looted

Hi Mark,

 Unfortunately I think they only avenue left is in fact to retake the gov't via elections.  I think any sort of armed rebellion would be pretty easily handled.  The armed forces are just too advanced etc to be taken on by regular 'joes' with their hunting rifles.  Besides, most people are still 'asleep' in my opinion and would not welcome armed conflicts in their streets.  However once you get to the point where there are enough people awake then getting people elected who want to do something different than the status quo would not be impossible. 

I would like to think I have woken up a few people, but I do admit it is a big hurdle.  When our country only graduates half its kids from high school, asking these same people to have a different mind set than what is presented on TV is a pretty large leap for them. 

So I guess I would just advocate keep on making noise, because waking these folks up is the only hope we got.  When candidates from one party or the other, or a third party, start talking sense and actually end up getting elected to significant positions, we'll know we're on the right track.

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Re: America is Being Looted

I have my doubts about whether these "tea bag" protests can be considered serious collective resistance to anything.  They may or may not have started out as non-partisan, but now have been co-opted by the Republican right in the personages of Newt Gingrich and Phil Gramm. 

One of the demonstrations took place locally and the news media dashed right out to interview the protesters.  They weren't the most articulate lot, the knee jerk responses were along the lines of "They're all communists."

You can pick your politics, but you might want to think about who your name is likely to be associated with.

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Re: America is Being Looted

I'm certainly no expert on either the psychology, or the organisation of a movement.  However, I do believe and am pretty ceratin in saying that unless and until a group becomes informed it will not be motivated to organize, or take action.  What I personally have found here is the connection between many different sources information into a picture I find frightening.  We're now all sitting around saying to ourselves, well, what now?  We feel our country and the world are going down the wrong path, what do we do with the information?  I am sharing the information with people I believe otherwise would only know what major corporations tell them in their local newspapers and on the nightly news so that they too can become more informed citizens and consumers.  And, I'm making changes in my life that I believe will ultimately make a difference. 

While in some perverse way I really want there to be rioting, but on Wall Street instead of Main Street, I don't believe that violence is the answer. 

Instead, I believe that the people must impose their collective will upon "the system" in order to truly effect real change.  Whether its refusing to pay bills or taxes; unplugging from the energy grid; parking automobiles; growing a garden, or raising livestock; withdrawing monies from certain banks; bartering instead of trading fiat currencies; or any number of other ways of breaking the norm advocated by individuals here and elsewhere, we must ultimately break loose from the oligarchs who are imposing their will(s) upon us.

I keep hearing politicians saying that its a bad idea to "waste a crisis".  This is our greatest opportunity to share the message because we many never in our lifetimes have the receptive audience we have today.  Don't prey on the fear in the population like our government did post 9/11, rather, use the opportunity to connect the dots for people who otherwise would be driving around in the gas guzzling SUVs and running up their credit card balances.  They're sitting home collecting unemployment with nothing to do, but surf the web!!!  Take advantage of the opportunity.  Its not that hard for individuals to reach their own conclusions when the information is presented to them in the fashion that Chris Martenson did for us today.

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Re: America is Being Looted

Mark, BR, Goal, others,

I wish I had the link handy, but someone did the math recently and determined that in the current system we are in (Mob Rules) where a majority is required to pass legislation, an then an overwhelming majority to override the presidential veto, there is no way, even if all the the Ron Paul candidates existed and opposed the incumbents at the mid term election, that even then there would be enough in congress to change anything.

Let's assume there were, and every seat in the legislature and the oval office had a Ron Paul in it. What then? It is too late for any meaningful change for peak oil. The damage to the economy is already done, and we can only change the way we go about responding to the damage.

If we still had 10 years left, we might be in a position to effect real change to save billions of people. My challenge to the group is to ask, if you had the economic dream team, i.e. Chris Martenson as Sec Treas, the Fed Reserve was nearly disbanded, but became much smaller and was under the direct authority of Sec Treas, Ron Paul was pres, and the legislative will of the entire congress was 100% driven by the fundamentals of the crash course, what would you have them do? No back ups or do-overs allowed, we are here today and from here is where we must go.

What to do?

Perhaps this is too much. Let's just limit it to what to do about peak oil?

Rog

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Re: America is Being Looted

Ready wrote:
if you had the economic dream team, i.e. Chris Martenson as Sec Treas . . .

Now that sounds like an fun thread, on its own merit.  The Economic Dream Team . . . EDT . . . Who else would we want on it?

 

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Re: America is Being Looted

Terri Gross on Fresh Air interviewed Simon Johnson about the bank bailout back in March...very good listen. 

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=101360253

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Re: America is Being Looted

Unfortunately, I do not (personally) believe elections are going to do it... we just had that go 'round and 95% of the elected overlords who voted for the first bailout were returned to office!

Honestly... I don't see the change that America thought they were voting for, do you???

Having said that, here are a few things that most of us can do...

1. If you collect a paycheck, go into your employer tomorrow and increase your W-4 exemptions to 10 or 20... that'll start to choke the Federal Over-Spenders as tax receipts plunge!

2. If you control the payment of your property real estate taxes, don't pay them until you absolutely have to... in my neck of the woods it's two years before a Tax Sale... that'll start choking the Local Over-Spenders, forcing them to live within their means (Note: you'll likely pay a penalty if everything doesn't collapse, but it'll also be likely that you'll pay it with cheaper/ inflated dollars).

3. Consider choking the large banksters by defaulting on your credit cards (millions are already doing it)... think of it as getting some of your money back that the politicians have already advanced without our permission (Note: your credit score will suffer, but do you really need more credit? Besides, if you do need it in the future, you can repair your credit later... probably at 20 to 30 cents on the dollar).

Call it Civil Financial Disobedience. Note that none of the above are illegal in any way, but there could be some small financial consequences for making a stand against what you believe is flat out wrong... in the 1770s otherwise-loyal English citizens took a much firmer, forceful stand... surely we can at least do this!

It would take guts, but all lasting change starts from within... and certainly outside of DC!

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Re: America is Being Looted

"
So, what's the answer?  Anyone?"

STOP servicing your debts...... 

Mike 

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Re: America is Being Looted

Pat, Mike,

If we were able to get everyone to do this at the same time, it would certainly have an effect. I can't say how that helps us solve peak oil, but it would certainly create some sparks and action, although I am not sure what.

I guess this leads us back to gaining in numbers. If I am the only one that doesn't pay my taxes tomorrow, I get squashed, plain and simple. If 50% of the population doesn't, whew mama.

Rog

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Re: America is Being Looted

brjohnson789 and others,

Keep waking people up.  Things will change when the "awake" people reach critical mass.  I have very little faith in changing things through elections.  Not that I will stop trying, but we need change YESTERDAY, not over the next ten years.  So while I think the election "thing" needs to be pursued, I think other measures are necessary.  If you haven't become active in promoting candidates that reflect your views, I encourage you to do so.  However, the political machine (from the bottom up) that grooms these potential officeholders for either of the two main parties is amazing AND THEY DON"T WANT YOU ROCKING THEIR BOAT.  Been there, watched it happen.

I don't advocate armed conflict.  However, I don't think things will change until there are millions in the streets protesting.  One of my concerns is, that by the time that happens, many of those involved WILL be more open to violent forms of protest and I believe that dilutes the message to the "average" American.  It will keep people at home rather than encouraging them to come out. I think the tea bags are a start and are a good entry point for those maybe not as likely to become involved as others.  Hopefully many of these newfound rebels will take a "next step".

I think it is a great idea to promote information such as this blog from Chris to law enforcement friends.  We need these people to understand the real issues and be open to the actions of those that are truly concerned about the future of this country.

Great blog entry by Chris here.  However, my personal rage just grew a few clicks.  I know all the specifics of what is going on, but when I read articles that really tie things together my blood boils.  "They" really do take us for uninformed idiots.  I don't respond well to arrogance and elitist mindsets.

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Re: America is Being Looted

"So what actions are available?"

STOP servicing your debts....

What simpler form of revolution could there be?  No violence, and the authorities can do nothing about it, cannot send cops into every house for not paying their credit cards etc etc.....  and the banks would be on their knees in days begging for mercy.

Mike 

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Re: America is Being Looted

I'd cancel ALL debts.  Everything else is 'the detail'.

Mike 

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Re: America is Being Looted

 

"Public policy is in the grips of a very powerful and self-interested cabal that seemingly has no concern for the future or the health of this country and does not even see the need to be cautious enough to mask its efforts."

 search "The Illuminati"

might be a bit of a conspiracy theory but a lot of it is seeming quite real now

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Re: America is Being Looted

I'm seriously starting to believe Mike!

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Re: America is Being Looted

So cool to see Pat thinking like me.....  I was starting to think maybe I was crazy or something.

Ready, I see you are a Matrix fan too....  NOTHING can fix PO.  PO will cause us to have to simplify our lives tremendously, and I think the trick is to pre-empt this while we still have some oil available for cool stuff like solar and wind power.. 

Canceling debts immediately removes the burden of having to work, and I mean as in a paying job, for that folding fiat stuff.

I instigated a well followed thread here called "What if" last year...  you might like to search for it with the CM search engine.

Mike 

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Re: America is Being Looted

Ah Pat, I rarely smile these days, but this morning, I can't seem to stop!  Even my missus reckons I've turned into a grumpy old man....  she's gonna wonder what happened when she wakes up soon!

Mike 

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Re: America is Being Looted

Mike,

I'll do better than that and put a link to it here :-

What if......?

http://www.peakprosperity.com/forum/what-if/9651

I've been reading through everything that I hold dear to me about this site over the past few days; much of it back toward its beginings. I re-read this 2 days ago...

Much respect!!!

Now keep your smile up ya grumpy BLaughing!!

On another note, this video struck hard and deep :-

We The People Stimulus Package

...two and one half million people have viewed this film since March 16th!!! Get to a Tea Party!!!

Best,

Paul

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Re: America is Being Looted

I don't have debt so it's hard to not service. 

Spoke with some Brits as well as a couple of Germans on my travels this past week and they're as clueless as most of America.  Most were saying that they see a light at the end of the tunnel.....I told them that what they see is the Chunnel Train coming at them.  God Help Us.

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Re: America is Being Looted

Damnthematrix wrote:
I'd cancel ALL debts.  Everything else is 'the detail'. 

I realize I'm lonely in valuing this belief, but I think that the Old Testament practice of cancelling all debts in jubilee years was a precient idea.

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Re: America is Being Looted

This is my first post and this is well, quite a site. Mr. Martenson, you have built an incredible structure of education, honesty, courage and clarity.   

I stumbled backwards into this site researching peak oil, peak debt, and our whirlpool economy. I, uh, don't really have any answers here either but like others around me, I keep trying to slap myself out of this nightmare, and no matter what I do, the monsters keep getting bigger along with their appetites. 

In my imagination, I never thought things could come to this. I know that's sounds melodramatic, naive, and even immature but well, everytime I turn it around, that's how it feels. And after a couple of interesting misteps in my own life, I have learned that the worst possible thing a person can do, is to shut off their instincts. Now my instincts are screaming for action.

I, like some of the others, find myself, all at once, caught between a desire to organize at some large level, and a despearte fear driving me to keep it close and local, and prepare for my own, and my family's survival. But something tells me that if I don't also try to organize and move something politically, I will have let my children (and your children) down. Cause things are getting worse. And the players are getting desperate 

I am a former prosecutor by trade, still practice criminal law, and like many of you, I am floored by the   audacity, and destruction flowering from our broken government. I keep trying to compare this moment to any other chapter in history and I can't. The corruption sure, but peak oil, peak debt, peak resoruces, global warming?  What do you compare that to? I am so afraid that it will end in violence. So many things do.

So then, I try to rack my brain and look for a historical inspiration to build some kind of strategy. Maybe Ghandi. But would that many people follow the lead? Hell, would that many people face the fire? I keep thinking that the only leverage wielded by and on the corrupt is economic. How does one wield back? How do we organize it? DamntheMatrix may have a point here. But his suggestion seems to be calling out all the stops, pulling out all the cards at once. We may be there already who knows. But how could we build the pressure and keep that one as the final leverage? Maybe a Plastic Ghandi strategy? Maybe, at least at first, instead of ceasing to service our debt, we cease consuming. In some organized fashion? We divide into four? units and each unit makes absolutely no purchases for one week. And absoluteley no more credit card use. If you're in dire straights, at least no use for that week. Might be impossible but it might be good practice for a our bartered, battered and very local economic future. Would any of that have an impact? A good way to spread the sacrifice? Collectively, as time builds, would it wield any leverage? It's civil disobedience and..... it's legal. Maybe the more the powers that be keep screaming for us to buy and borrow, the more they keep showing us their heel? I don't know. But I have to do something for my children and I know I can not do it alone. I need brave, honest, intelligent people like you.

Again thanks for the site.

DCM

                

 

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Re: America is Being Looted

DCM,

May I be the first to welcome you to the forum. The first message is the very hardest. You'll find many, including myself, who feel very much the same as you within...

Best,

Paul

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Re: America is Being Looted

Yes,

 Good to hear from you, DCM; people from varied backgrounds contribute a lot on this iste.

SG

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Re: America is Being Looted

dcm wrote:
This is my first post and this is well, quite a site. Mr. Martenson, you have built an incredible structure of education, honesty, courage and clarity.    I stumbled backwards into this site researching peak oil, peak debt, and our whirlpool economy. I, uh, don't really have any answers here either but like others around me, I keep trying to slap myself out of this nightmare, and no matter what I do, the monsters keep getting bigger along with their appetites.  In my imagination, I never thought things could come to this. I know that's sounds melodramatic, naive, and even immature but well, everytime I turn it around, that's how it feels. And after a couple of interesting misteps in my own life, I have learned that the worst possible thing a person can do, is to shut off their instincts. Now my instincts are screaming for action. I, like some of the others, find myself, all at once, caught between a desire to organize at some large level, and a despearte fear driving me to keep it close and local, and prepare for my own, and my family's survival. But something tells me that if I don't also try to organize and move something politically, I will have let my children (and your children) down. Cause things are getting worse. And the players are getting desperate  I am a former prosecutor by trade, still practice criminal law, and like many of you, I am floored by the   audacity, and destruction flowering from our broken government. I keep trying to compare this moment to any other chapter in history and I can't. The corruption sure, but peak oil, peak debt, peak resoruces, global warming?  What do you compare that to? I am so afraid that it will end in violence. So many things do. So then, I try to rack my brain and look for a historical inspiration to build some kind of strategy. Maybe Ghandi. But would that many people follow the lead? Hell, would that many people face the fire? I keep thinking that the only leverage wielded by and on the corrupt is economic. How does one wield back? How do we organize it? DamntheMatrix may have a point here. But his suggestion seems to be calling out all the stops, pulling out all the cards at once. We may be there already who knows. But how could we build the pressure and keep that one as the final leverage? Maybe a Plastic Ghandi strategy? Maybe, at least at first, instead of ceasing to service our debt, we cease consuming. In some organized fashion? We divide into four? units and each unit makes absolutely no purchases for one week. And absoluteley no more credit card use. If you're in dire straights, at least no use for that week. Might be impossible but it might be good practice for a our bartered, battered and very local economic future. Would any of that have an impact? A good way to spread the sacrifice? Collectively, as time builds, would it wield any leverage? It's civil disobedience and..... it's legal. Maybe the more the powers that be keep screaming for us to buy and borrow, the more they keep showing us their heel? I don't know. But I have to do something for my children and I know I can not do it alone. I need brave, honest, intelligent people like you. Again thanks for the site.

Thanks for the post, DCM.  It really inspired me.  I agree that economic power is our main leverage, but we must remember that the ultimate power is the power over food.  Was it Ramses who brought the proud neighboring peoples under his power, and ultimately, into slavery, by controlling grain, by fortuitously being able to predict bounty, followed by famine? 

I believe that push coming to shove, food will be the lever, and to throw the beast off of our back, we must be willing to suffer much.  My heart breaks for you, as I know how much pain you must feel as you look at your children.  In the meantime, most of us are preparing as well as we can, with much guidance from this site.  As for me, I can't imagine facing this future without prayer. 

I wish you the very best, and I'll be looking forward to your posts.

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d
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Re: America is Being Looted

Chris -

Your quote -

One of the more grossly mismanaged companies on the face of the planet, the one that will cost taxpayers close to a trillion dollars when all is said and done, is Fannie Mae, the Government Sponsored Enterprise, or GSE. Last night (Monday, April 14th, 2009) this came across my newswire:

7:30 [FNM] Fannie Mae Chief Executive Herb Allison to run TARP: WSJ

So who is it, do you suppose, that picked the CEO of Fannie Mae to run TARP? Could it be Summers and Geithner and Emanuel?

You bet. That’s the vetting team.

As far as I am concerned, the CEO of Fannie Mae should be defending himself in court, not running a massive wealth redistribution program.

_______________________________________________

Facts:

1. Herb Allison was appointed by James Lockhart of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the conservator of Fannie Mae, on September 8, 2008 to attempt to clean up the mess at a salary of $1 per year

2. Dan Mudd was the previous CEO from Feb 2000 - Dec 2004; Franklin Raines was the CEO from Jan 1999 - Dec 2004

Opinion:

1. You owe Mr. Allison an apology...your comment regarding "defending himself in court" should have been directed towards Mudd & Raines.

2. As a new initiate to the Crash Course (and a believer of its precepts), your comments re. Allison diminish your credibility and cause me to question the diligence of your research on other topics.  The Allison facts were so easy to check...less than a 3 minute google search.

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Vanityfox451
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Re: Hunter S.Thompson - Fear And Loathing...

" Strange memories on this nervous night in Las Vegas. Has it been five years. Six. It seems like a lifetime. The kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle of the sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of, but no explanation. No mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive at that corner of time in the world, whatever it meant. There was madness in any direction at any hour. You could strike sparks anywhere. It was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing, it was right. That we were winning, and that I think was the handle. That sense of inevitable victory over the forces of old and evil; not in any mean or military sense; we didn't need that. Our energy would simply prevail. We had all the momentum. We were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look west. And with the right kind of eyes, you can almost see the high watermark. That place, where the wave finally broke, and rolled back. " - Hunter S.Thompson

...it's time to recreate the past inside the present and get it right this time around...

Best,

Paul

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Dogs_In_A_Pile
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Posts: 2484
Re: Hunter S.Thompson - Fear And Loathing...

Vanityfox451 wrote:

" Strange memories on this nervous night in Las Vegas. Has it been five years. Six. It seems like a lifetime. The kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle of the sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of, but no explanation. No mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive at that corner of time in the world, whatever it meant. There was madness in any direction at any hour. You could strike sparks anywhere. It was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing, it was right. That we were winning, and that I think was the handle. That sense of inevitable victory over the forces of old and evil; not in any mean or military sense; we didn't need that. Our energy would simply prevail. We had all the momentum. We were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look west. And with the right kind of eyes, you can almost see the high watermark. That place, where the wave finally broke, and rolled back. " - Hunter S.Thompson

...it's time to recreate the past inside the present and get it right this time around...

Best,

Paul

Hello Paul -

Been awhile since we swapped posts.

You triggered a major deja vu with you HST clip.  Plopped me smack into the middle of Kerouac's "On The Road".  Gotta go read that again now.

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