Jul 232017
 
 July 23, 2017  Posted by at 1:16 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  


Ford Madox Brown King Lear and Cordelia c1851

 

Mea culpa. Yesterday I wrote Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango?, and not long after publishing it, I figured I missed the target I was going for. Not 100%, and it’s not all bad, as people’s reactions have confirmed, but…

The thing is, Trump’s nomination of Anthony Scaramucci as White House Communications Director was not the main point of my piece. Tempting, because everybody knows the Queen song, but not the main one, and it certainly shouldn’t have been the title of the piece.

So, sorry for that, and let me try to correct. The much stronger point, in my ever so humble view, that I hit on yesterday is the connection between Donald Trump and William Shakespeare. In fact, I think that from now on we should all see Trump in that light. Simply because it fits so … fittingly.

Not because I would call Trump mad, that is far too easy a view. But because his story, both as it unfolds today and in its history, has so many classic Shakespearean elements. And when we look at our world through the glasses of the ‘Old Bard’, we will see it in a different light. As in: Trump could be a man in the process of going mad. Or he could not.

Not that it’s just about Trump. Richard Nixon looks, if anything, way more Shakespeare material than Da Donald. Though, admittedly, we can oversee Nixon’s entire history, while Trump’s is ongoing (he has promise), and Shakespeare is all about development, about what happens to people as they go through what happens to them.

Macbeth and King Lear describe the trappings -and much more- of power. How power corrupts, and not only absolute power. How sociopathic character traits make people seek power, and how it -often- destroys them. But also how outside forces influence them, in -just as often- highly destructive ways.

That’s not to say that Shakespeare, if he were alive today, would have written a play about Trump. I don’t know that, we don’t. I do think he would have found it hard to stay away from Nixon, but that’s just a guess, even if Tricky Dick seems to have all the required boxes ticked off.

The Bard of Avon might have opted for Hillary Clinton’s story instead of Trump’s. Hers has most if not all of his ingredients, power, corruption, murder, treason, trust -and the lack thereof-, madness -inborn, inbred and developing-, gossip, innuendo, conspiracies, scheming, backstabbing, the lot. That’s not trying to single out Hillary, it’s just saying that all these power-seeking tragedies have the same elements.

Shakespeare situated Macbeth in Scotland, Hamlet in Denmark and King Lear in Britain, while the latter play was highly influenced by Sophocles’ Oedipus (Rex), which is set in Greece. Location is for once not essential -sorry, real estate guys-, power corrupts everywhere, and in more or less the same ways and sequences.

Apart from the entire list of people in his camp, some of which get thrown out from time to time, the Trump narrative also relies to a great extent on all the outside people trying to bring him down. It’s hard to see how Shakespeare could not have loved that. Fair is foul and foul is fair, but now with the three witches in Macbeth’s opening part -the media, the commentators?!- having chosen sides from the beginning.

Hillary as Lady Macbeth? Again, tempting, but we’re not Shakespeare -or Sophocles-. Putting too much emphasis on any of the specific traits of characters from 400+ or 2000+ year-old plays doesn’t look like the way to go. For one thing, Shakespeare wouldn’t have wanted to repeat himself. It’s the overarching themes and characteristics that count. What the hunger for power did to people then, and what it does to them now.

If only we had someone to write today’s stories, today. But those writers, the ones that can gaze inside their own narratives, don’t come around very often. And when they do, they write about long-ago narratives and conspiracies. Good thing we can learn from them regardless because many things about our species never change. In a few words: what the ancient Greeks and Shakespeare and many others taught us is that Power equals Tragedy. And that’s eternal.

Moreover, since our media is failing us in unprecedented fashion, Shakespeare looks like our best bet if we want to understand what is happening in Washington. Or Brussels, Berlin, Beijing. Think entertainment value. What else are you going to do? The Bard’s original audiences reportedly threw eggs and tomatoes at the stage.

 

 

Feb 042016
 
 February 4, 2016  Posted by at 8:10 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  


Alexander Gardner Ruins of Gallego Mills after Great Fire, Richmond, VA 1865

The best way it was put came from a German newspaper, the Leipziger Volkszeitung, on Tuesday, in an article that describes 5 separate incidents in two days in which buildings occupied by asylum seekers are targeted with rocks and home-made explosives. The headline quotes Leipzig’s head of police as saying: A pogrom mood prevails (Es herrscht Pogromstimmung). The full line further down in the article says: “Across the whole country, a pogrom mood prevails that is gathering an explosive intensity.”

It is early February in Europe. 62,000 more refugees reached Greece in January. Over 360 drowned trying, or 12 every single day. At least a quarter of them were children. About 90% of these people came from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, and are therefore considered ‘real’ refugees, no matter how often you read the word ‘migrants’ instead. It’s funny that someone wrote on our Facebook page that the word ‘refugee’ is often abused, because so many are really ‘migrants’.

Funny, because it’s the other way around: the word migrant is the one that is used wrongly, and often for political purposes. Dutch uber assclown Frans Timmermans, right hand man to EC President Juncker, claimed in Dutch media recently that 60% of ‘arrivals’ were people from countries “where you can assume they have no reason to apply for refugee status”.

The UNHCR, and even Frontex, say the correct number is 10% are ‘migrants’. 39% Syrian, 24-25% each Iraqi and Afghani. And just like not all migrants are refugees, the group ‘migrants’ does not have a subset called ‘refugees’. Confusing the terms is derogatory. Timmermans is just plain lying.

Staying in that vein, EU border cops Frontex stated the other day that there were “more than 880,000 illegal border crossings detected” in Greece in 2015. That at once raises the question whether refugees are illegals. An interesting question, because according to the Geneva convention they are not: they have the right to seek asylum, and executing one’s rights cannot per definition be illegal. Frontex, like Timmermans, uses insinuations to create an atmosphere, a mood.

And before you know it that turns into a pogrom mood. But Europe’s politicians, overwhelmed as they are with the combination of the refugee influx and their own incompetence, have apparently decided that it may play into their hands to steer their people’s moods against refugees. At that point, the entire issue becomes a cattle trade, something we’ll see more of.

Back to Timmermans and his lie about 60% being ‘migrants’: that’s more than a little mistake. That’s false insinuation. Timmermans became very popular in Holland because of his handling of the MH-17 aftermath (he was -the Dutch equivalent of- secretary of state at the time). Which is also funny, because what he did was accuse Russia of shooting down the plane mere minutes after is was shot, and way before any evidence could possibly have been gathered.

And he never stopped. He held a tearjerker of a speech at the UN and kept on hammering on the guilt of the Russians, carried on the waves of the ‘objective’ western media.

Of course, the US did the same, and never substantiated a single word either. It has taken the Dutch a year and a half to question their government’s account of the event, but the anti-Russia sentiment is now firmly in place. Since most victims were Dutch, Holland leads the investigation into the disaster. It has not brought one shed of proof to light, only innuendo.

Lately, Dutch people and media have started asking (it’s a miracle!) how it’s possible that all of Ukraine’s groundradar systems happened to be switched off when the plane came down, and why it has taken so long to find this out. Switching off groundradar must be reported internationally -to Eurocontrol, in this case- for obvious (safety) reasons. This was not done. When will they begin to wonder if maybe it was Ukraine all along? That would mean letting go of the Putin as bogeyman meme, so it may take a while.

Meanwhile the Dutch government -minus Timmermans, whose Putin bashing gave him almost as good a Brussels job as Donald Tusk got for his as PM of Poland- is chairing the EU until July 1. With youthful fervor, they started out by suggesting a sort of ferry service that would take refugees straight back from Greece to Turkey.

At the same time, the Times in Britain wrote about an EU plan to make it illegal to help refugees at sea. See, now they’re flaunting Geneva, and they’re flaunting international maritime law too. The latter says it’s illegal to NOT help people in distress at sea, and the EU is a signatory -or at least its member states. The former says specifically that ‘push-back’ of refugees is not allowed. The European Commission itself warned Greece about this in 2013.

Back to the drawing board. Or perhaps not quite: at the same time the government in The Hague came with their nonsensical ferry plan, the Dutch parliament -a few doors down- voted to let Holland start bombing Syria. You know, to support one’s partners. So you bomb the crap out of them, and then send them back when they seek to flee your bombs. Holland’s been bombing Iraq for a long time.

And that kind of tomfoolery is why there are international agreements in place, meticulously articulated after earlier disasters and vowing to never make the same mistakes again. But you don’t have to know law to be a politician, or be smart, or have a conscience. The job’s basically open to anyone who can successfully sell a second-hand car.

Being an outright sociopath ticks off a few boxes too, but people will say I shouldn’t say that. Dutch PM Mark Rutte looks like such a decent guy, after all. But the shrewd observer’s already seen that he’s merely another body-double dummy sprouted from the same egg as Cameron and Osborne, Harper in Canada, Renzi, you name them, know the type, early 40’s ideal sons in law but with a bit too much ambition.

Works well in times of plenty, but has no idea what to do in case of a headwind. And then goes berserk without knowing what that is.

The two things that stood out for me when I was making notes were that German police chief talking about a pogrom, and our dear friend Wolfgang Schäuble, German FinMin, who of all people was the only one who made sense about 10 days ago when he said that what Syria would take was a Marshall Plan, and it would cost the world a whole lot more than anyone realized.

For once, he was right. Apparently, the people he was with when he said it, and Rutte was one, didn’t even react to what he said. “Cost? Is that going to cost me votes back home?” It was hilarious to see, today, that Gordon Brown -yeah, they let him out- was talking about a Marshall Plan for Syria -they let him read papers again, too- in connection with a high-level meeting on the issue that takes place in London -oh, wait, that’s how Gordon managed to sneak in-.

World leaders are going to promise away billions of dollars to ‘help’ the Syrian people. The problem here is obvious. These are the same leaders who have been responsible for bombing the region to smithereens. And now take the lead in doling out other people’s money -yours- to ‘help’ the people who survived, and have often fled thousands of miles from home.

That’s who I would like help from if I had lost half my family, seen a bunch of my kids drown, and get my few remaining possessions taken away from me by the ‘authorities’ of a country that tells me I should be really awfully grateful they’ll accomodate me. Grateful? You guys bombed my home to the ground! Grateful for what, exactly?

Oh, but the accomodation is only temporary. Says ‘poor’ Angela Merkel, she of short-lived Mother Teresa fame. When the war is over, they have to return. Right. Return to what? How about this?:

And when do you think the war will be over, Angela? What? It’s all Assad’s fault? Oh, Putin again. Yeah. Pray tell, what’s the combined take of the US, UK, France and Germany arms industries every day after day that this wholly psychopathic use of a formerly beautiful nation for target practice goes on? Yeah, right, you’re fighting that evil ISIS. Well, so is Assad. While some of ‘our’ friends, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, to name a few, are helping them out. And ‘we’ at least sort of gave birth to them.

It’s not that hard, is it? Syria=Libya=Iraq. 2003 is not the beginning, but it very much IS when this utter destruction really took off. 12 and a half years of target practice and rising defense expenditures, and ‘we’ are nowhere near done yet. But we’ll throw the poor dogs some scraps. We’ll promise $10 billion with wide sociopath smiles at the camera and aim for $3 or $4 max. While knowing it’ll cost a $trillion just to rebuild a few cities in Syria. But then we can pretend we have no such money.

So when will the war stop? Not a soul will address that issue in the London conference this weekend (“Supporting Syria – And The Region”, they have less than zero shame). They all profit from that war, while blaming its existence on others. What they will do is shove a few scraps off their rich tables to the subhumans whose drowned children they have never expressed nor felt any sympathy for.

Well, here come the refugees, Europe. 62,000 in January points to well over a million in 2016. And that’s lowballing it. An estimate in late 2015 said 3 million. A Bulgarian Red Cross leader went for 3 million just this spring.

Get ready. For the pogrom.

PS: Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned Erdogan, who makes money off of ISIS oil, and off EU refugee cattle trade money, and off ‘people smugglers’ taking off from Turkey for Greece. A $4 billion industry last year. Think he doesn’t demand his cut? Ideal son in law. Well, next time, then.

PS 2: Who wrote this?: “Nightsticks and Water Cannons, Tear Gas, Padlocks, Molotov Cocktails And Rocks, Behind Every Curtain.”

PS 3: I wrote a year ago that the only way to approach a crisis like this is to put the people first. How many children have been sacrificed on the Brussels altar since then? Grow a pair, Europe.

PS 4: There’ll be a huge amount of violence against refugees in Europe this year, It will get very ugly, and many people will die. And your ‘leaders’ are the ones who have instigated this. Again, grow a pair. Be someone. Someone real.

Jun 302015
 
 June 30, 2015  Posted by at 9:01 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  


Unknown Soldier group, Federal Army 1865

I have plenty to say on the topic of this essay. But the most important thing I think is that I know the EU is blowing up itself by trying to exert far too much influence on the very member nations that made its existence possible. Brussels is a blind city. To see it blowing itself to smithereens makes me very happy.

The flipside is that it will take a lot of pain, and probably even the very wars the EU was originally founded to prevent, to figuratively burn it to the ground. But that, if you’ll alow me, is for another day:

Loads of good words published today on EC President Jean-Claude Juncker and the Greeks, and the crop gets creamier, there’s fake Nobles winners and all joining in, but this is not a new issue, guys, and the lot of you are quite late to the game.

Moreover, y’all Krugmans and Stiglitzes fully missed something that happened while Juncker was ‘speaking’ yesterday: Jean-Claude changed the entire game in one brilliant move. The Greeks I was with, including in Syntagma Square, didn’t notice it either.

What changed is that after Juncker’s speech, the discussion is no longer about data or numbers or facts anymore (but who understands that?), because he never mentioned them.

It’s instead now about fear and fight and flight and various other base instincts, you name them. And that’s not a coincidence. The reason he, and the EU as a whole, resort to this ‘message’ (and no, these guys’ spin teams are not stupid) is to a substantial extent that it’s simply all they have left.

Whatever they had to present in the way of numbers, data etc. has already been rejected by the Greek government 100 times. Since their data have since the start been diametrically opposed to what Syriza stands for and was elected on, which they knew, that should be no surprise, and indeed never was for the Troika.

If you saw Juncker yesterday, and it doesn’t even matter whether he was inebriated or not (does he perhaps wake up drunk, like Yeltsin?), accusing Tsipras of lying -for which he offered no proof- while telling big fat obvious lies himself (“we never asked for pension cuts”) -for which ample proof to the contrary is available-, y’all should realize that a bit more scrutiny of the man is obviously warranted.

I’ve written this story a hundred different times before already: the EU is an organization led by people with, let’s define this subtly and carefully, sociopathic traits (Antisocial Personality Disorder), simply because the EU structure self-selects for such people. As do all other supra-national organizations, and quite a few national ones too, but let’s stick with Brussels for now.

That such people are selected is due in great part to the less than transparent democratic acts and procedures in Brussels. Which allow for ever larger numbers of the same ‘sort’ of people to accumulate. No coincidence there either.

Many of you will say that you can’t say that kind of thing, you can’t call Juncker a sociopath. But the fact is, I can. Who can not say it are Tsipras and Varoufakis, not in public. But I wouldn’t even want to guess at the number of times they’ve done so in private. And it’s high time we lift the veil on this. We are being governed by sociopaths, and that’s by no means just a European thing.

And besides, in general it’s not something that we should refrain from talking about. The reason we do is, I bet you, is because we don’t know how to recognize the traits and characteristics. But in fact, that’s not hard. Just plucked this off the interwebs in 2 seconds flat:


Profile of the Sociopath
• Glibness and Superficial Charm.
• Manipulative and Conning.
• Never recognize rights of others, see their self-serving behaviors as permissible. …
• Grandiose Sense of Self. …
• Pathological Lying. …
• Lack of Remorse, Shame or Guilt. …
• Shallow Emotions. …
• Incapacity for Love, Compassion
• Need for Stimulation.

Anyone want to tell me that does not describe Juncker? Still, the big problem with sociopaths -and do note how I subtly steer away from the term psychopath- is that you can not have an effective negotiation with them. Because once you’ve reached a conclusion -which’ll be hard fought and take forever-, they’ll just renege on it and come back with additional conditions. And then claim you are the one who did that.

Check Juncker. Check the 5 month history of Greece negotiations with the Troika. And note that that’s exactly what they accuse Syriza of. They claim Tsipras suffers from the very disorder they do. That too is typical. It’s a pattern, an MO, it’s how these minds function.

The main one for me is the lack on empathy, compassion. That got 1000s killed in Ukraine, and in the Mediterranean, and now in Greece. All deathly dramas Brussels could have prevented, and chose not to. In Brussels and Berlin, it’s more important that countries toe the line than that their citizens actually survive.

Europe has moved, at a very rapid clip, from a union of 28 different sovereign states, each with their own governments and political views and directions, to one where a top heavy bureaucratic structure, hand-puppeted on by a mere handful member states and systemic banks, dictate what each member state, both its politicians and its citizens, may do or not do. Or think. Electing a left wing government, for instance, equals asking for trouble.

There is no democracy left in Europe, people have no direct say anymore, there’s just a two-pronged dictatorship: there’s Merkel and Hollande, who in the Greek crisis have proven themselves to be mere tools to vested interests, and I’m being extremely kind now, and there’s Juncker and Tusk and Dieselflower, who are really just inconsequential sociopathic wankers that could at any moment be replaced by other hammers and screwdrivers.

In that light, it can only be a fitting irony that it was Juncker in his speech yesterday who said:

“Playing off one democracy against 18 others is not an attitude which is fitting for the great Greek nation.”.

He could have easily followed up with:

Because that’s what we in Brussels have a monopoly on.”

The EU is a club led by people with mental disorders, that panders to special interests. It’s not a union of sovereign nations that hold meetings on how to find common ground. That common ground is now supposedly a given, and no matter what any nation thinks about that matters one bit anymore. Unless it’s Germany or France, and even then. The EU has superseded the nations that formed it. And that can never have been the idea of the people of these nations. As I started writing a few hours earlier today:

It won’t be a surprise anymore that I am not a fan of the European Union. That is to say, I like the idea but not the execution of it, and certainly not the clowns who execute it. However, what happened yesterday is something that even I couldn’t foresee. The Troika volunteered to self-immolate, though the three-headed beast is undoubtedly too full of hubris to understand what it did. Good.

Still, I’m looking at this, thinking: really guys? You really think deliberately sparking chaos in an EU member state on the eve of a democratic referendum is something that will help your case in the long term? Have you thought this through at all? I’m guessing the overriding notion is that threatening and bullying as a model has worked for Brussels so far; but I’m also guessing that the approach has its limits.

Like with many things, there may well be a gaping hole between what can be considered legally justified and what morally justified. But be that as it may, you can’t rule over 28 different sovereign nations with no morals whatsoever. That’s coming back to bite you in the face.

For the ECB to freeze ELA for Greek banks is the biggest blunder it has ever made, and arguably the biggest one it is capable of making in its present mandate. For one thing, it’s a purely political move, and the ECB has no place in politics, or politics inside the ECB.

That the Eurogroup added to the insult a refusal to grant Greece a one-week extension so preparations for the referendum could be executed in peace, tells us loud and clear what it thinks about democracy: it’s a mere afterthought.

Bullying sovereign nations gets old, fast. What you guys are at the moment doing to Greece, you won’t be able to repeat against Italy or Spain. They’ll have you for breakfast.

The EU, which is made up of 28 democratic and sovereign nations, is being run like some absolute kingdom, ostensibly led by a 24/7 drunk. How long do you think that can last?

The very minimum the ECB should have done thi week is to issue an explicit guarantee for all Greek bank deposits up to and including the July 5th referendum. To make sure there would be no bank runs and line ups at ATMs leading up to the vote, which merely represents the purest form of democracy. That is hasn’t speaks volumes. And it can’t possibly have been a monetary deliberation; what happens now is far more costly for the bank, and for European taxpayers, than such a guarantee.

I love that the EU does this, and the Troika with it, because they ensure their own demise. What I don’t like is the people who will fall victim in the interim, starting with the ones here in Greece. If this is the best the EU can do on a human scale, it has no reason to exist. And everyone better get out while they can.

Europe can form a great union, peaceful and prosperous and happy. It has many many wise and smart people who can make that work. But those people are not in Brusssels, where the decisions are being taken. And there’s a reason for that.