Friday, August 29, 2014

State’s 1st bullet train to chase A&M’s Hwy. 6 ghosts

Fightin' Foobirds! Fish Class, Air Force Squadron 14, Texas A&M Corps of Cadets, '62-'63. Yours truly, corner, lower right, bewildered as ever. "Big Red," or Amos DeWitt, my fish old lady, is on top row beside tequila bottle, with white glove and fingers high. Crazy bunch. We really, really, really did know what Life was about then.

By Dan Bodine

The announcement this week Texas’ new bullet train expected to run within 10 years between Dallas and Houston will make just one stop  (just off Hwy. 6 at Aggieland in College Station) is proof once again either “any blind raccoon can find an acorn or two if it just keeps scratching around” or, doubly so, "ghosts don’t live forever."

Indeed, the train caps a splashy PR campaign to reverse the school’s negative image vis a vis "modern times" that started a half century ago.

And it sure ‘nuff shreds a “locked-in” location moniker that no doubt either kept or drove thousands away from the school, too. Highway 6, not interstates, is how you reach A&M. So plan on staying a while, it was. Especially in the old days.

It hasn’t been but 50 some-odd years, yes, since only gung-ho, idealistic Army or Air Force wannabes, or passing-down farmers or ranchers kids mostly, or naive idiots like my fellow blogger Jim Myers and I, dared to venture off to Aggieland for college – to forced ROTC life in the mean Corps of Cadets. A powerful 12th man!

After barbers shaved off all our hair from our heads and we were put in military uniforms to march for an hour or so under a hot Texas afternoon sun, we were put at “Parade, rest!” in front of our barracks/dorms.

Before being dismissed, a steel-jawed first-sergeant walked angrily before each one of us – his glowing-red eyeballs glued to our faces as he passed by, watching us for a sign of weakness, just a twitch – row after row, while shouting long-lived words like these:

“Texas A&M put more military officers in World War II than any other military school in this country! Be proud you’re here! You hear!!? If not, if you don’t like it, always remember – Highway 6 runs both ways!! Take one of ’em!!!”

Hee, hee. After that first year, that’s exactly what Jim and I did. Flew the coop to happier learning grounds.

Huge setback for both of us, of course. Starting off college by gittin’ outta Dodge City isn’t exactly a textbook case on how to begin a college education.

But Texas A&M didn’t exactly offer the textbook campus life Jim and I had envisioned growing up in Cleburne either.

Should’ve prepared ourselves better? Cram all of that to see in one weekend visit our senior year in high school? Not quite. Sure wish the internet had been around then with the com boxes to get into, though. Whoo!

But it was a valuable lesson in life for each of us, too, the long and short of it was.

“Put more glue on your hands. There might be times when you might want to hang around a while longer. Life has a way of changing.”

Change came, too, for the old school. ’62-’63 (our year) was the last year Texas A&M refused to admit female students, for instance. Hwy. 6 became a co-ed highway. Just behind that was lifting the 2-year Corps membership requirement.

Top athletes around the country started giving the campus a second look, in the years that followed. The focus on academics intensified. Research, always A&M’s core strength, grew more prominent as corporate growth funneled more funds into the institution.

To thousands and thousands of graduates and their families over the years, Aggieland always has been one of the best, if not the best, campus in the nation. What has evolved through the past half century is now more people know it.

Soon the only stop between Dallas and Houston, on the only bullet train in the State of Texas, will be at A&M.

Would I let my teenage daughter go to school there in a few years on an academic scholarship, if she became interested?

La-dee-da! The times they are a changin’, ain’t they?!!


Here's the link again on the Fort Worth Star Telegram train story.

–– 30 –-

Friday, August 15, 2014

Power: Some things history reveals about it.

I was working on a project today and came across a paper I filed away a few years ago about “power.” So, after cogitating on it for a little while, I decided to share some of the highlights with you. Understanding what power is and some time-tested truths about it is an essential step to more accurately understanding history, as well as changing things today.

What is power?

Power is the capacity of some persons to realize their wishes; to produce the effects they want to produce; and to produce intended and foreseen effects on others.

(1) Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. -- Whether it is kings, presidents, or CEOs, or petty tyrants around the community, they get so full of themselves that they cut corners, cheat, treat people badly, or make such gross displays of their status that they alienate their followers or stir up an opposition.

(2) The fact that power corrupts means that power congeals. -- People and organization try to hold on to power at all costs. Once there is a power structure, it is very hard to change it or dislodge it.

(3) The powerful always try to create an outside enemy, real or imagined, to bind the followers to the leaders. -- The human tendency to divide people into "us" and "them," which social psychology experiments suggest is readily triggered, makes this a very easy task to accomplish.

(4) Divide and conquer. -- If the followers are not faithfully bound to the leader by the dread of the outside enemy, then leaders can stay in power by favoring some followers and punishing others.

(5) Provide the followers with bread and circuses.  Capitalize on the fact that people's everyday life can be compelling for many reasons: a love of friends and family, pleasure in work or artistic or athletic skills, and a desire for routines. If everyday life is possible, then people are less likely to try to challenge a power structure.

(6) The powerful believe that the enemy of their enemy is their friend. -- Only by understanding this axiom is it possible to realize that there is a rationale to the constantly shifting alliances that occur in human power struggles at any level from the personal to the international. When the issue is power, principles usually go out the window.

Source: Basics of Studying Power by G. William Domhoff / April 2005 --

Thanks for join the cogitation emergence!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Why do we let them exploit us?

The French historian and progressive philosopher Fernand Braudel observed that throughout history there seemed to be a minority of people who:

(1) held power and wealth
(2) ruled society
(3) exploited the population to sustain their power and privilege

In America the “population” is called “citizens.” An interesting thing happens when we flip the list above and read it like this: There seems to be a minority of people who exploit (use selfishly for one's own ends) the citizens:

(1) to sustain their power & privilege
(2) to rule society
(3) to acquire their power & wealth

This raises the following questions:

(1) How do they exploit the citizens?
(2) How do they use the government to rule citizens?
(3) How do they hold their power & wealth?

When we know the answers to the above questions, we can then discover the names of:

(1) those who hold power & wealth
(2) those who do the acts of exploitation
(3) government officials who make it possible for the minority to rule citizens
(4) those who hold the minority’s wealth for them

Knowing who the predators are is an important & necessary component for solving many of the problems we face today. But, it isn't as important or as big of a challenge as the solving the primary problem: the ability for citizens to work together for a common purpose.

For this to happen each citizen have to come together as “members of the common purpose group” instead of “members of special interests groups” or the “crowd of complaining passive observers.” The minority who holds the power, wealth & privilege isn't worried – they know history is on their side – citizens rarely work together.

(1) What if citizens could come together because they agree on a common purpose?
(2) What if they worked together to achieve that common purpose?
(3) What if they chose leaders who were committed to the common purpose?
(4) What if professionals committed to the common purpose?

Real change begins with finding a common purpose and making a commitment to working with fellow citizens, neighbors, family members, friends, workers, network associates, and anyone else to make the common purpose the reality for the population. What do you think should be the common purpose? Cogitate on that!

The Country Cogitator

PS - If you think this is worth cogitating on please let me know by “Liking” my Facebook page – Click Here

Monday, August 4, 2014

Mean old “rulemakers” pick on “big old bank.”

Do you feel sorry for a company that just reported a $12.3 billion profit and whose chairman is complaining that things would have been better if it had not needed to “invest significant time and resources” in meeting the “heightened and evolving expectations of our regulators.” 

The problem is that rulemakers are putting “unprecedented” pressure on the bank and distracting its staff. It has 256,000 employees, but has “extremely limited space capacity” to deal with the “increasingly fragmented, often extra-territorial, still evolving” rules. 

  • Those mean old US rulemakers hit the bank with a $1.9 billion fine for breaking anti-money-laundering rules -- most notably managing transfers for Mexican drug cartels. 
  • It has paid $2.7 billion in restitution for more than one million mis-sold insurance policies in Britain. 
  • It is under investigation in just about every rate-rigging case out there, from Libor to foreign-exchange, gold, silver and other benchmarks.
  • It is sitting on $3.3 billion in provisions for unspecified future legal problems. 

What are those places called that are referred to as “extra-territorial” and "their rules?" They are called "sovereign nations" and their rules are called "laws." 

If you really want to be entertained, download the annual report from the link in the article below and go to page 259 and read its legal laundry list. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Economic Facts Instead of Political Propaganda

James Rickards, the author of The Death of Money: The Coming Collapse of the International Monetary System (a must read) has written a great article about the real economic conditions of America today. Below is a summary of important facts.

Listening to mainstream market commentary on television and reading the financial press leaves one with the impression that the economic recovery is gaining strength and that stock market indices, at or near all-time highs, will go higher still. But, the facts show that the fundamentals of the U.S. economy are awful and getting worse.

(1) It was reported that 288,000 jobs were created in June, but full-time jobs declined by 523,000 while part time jobs increased by about 800,000. Part-time jobs offer fewer hours, lower pay and few benefits.

(2) There are 7.5 million people working part-time on an involuntary basis compared to about 4.4 million doing so in 2007. Employers are aware of this and simply cut full-time jobs and replace them with part-timers to reduce costs.

(3) Much of the decline in the declining unemployment rate is attributable not to job creation but to the declining number of people looking for work. According to the “rigged standard” they use, once people stop looking for a job, they are no longer technically “unemployed” and no longer counted as “unemployed.” The unemployment rate would be zero if everyone stopped looking for work. Only 62.8% of Americans participate in the work force today.

(4) Productivity of those working is now in decline.

(5) Real wages are stagnant.

(6) Over 50 million on food stamps, 11 million on disability, and millions more on extended unemployment benefits.

(7) These are the real reasons for the shocking 2.9 percent decline in first quarter GDP. It was not the result of “cold weather.”

You should also be aware of the following:

(1) China is slowing precipitously and may be on the brink of a credit collapse.

(2) European growth is near zero.

(3) The mighty German economy is slowing partly because of weaker demand from Ukraine, Russia and China.

(4) U.S. financial markets appear to be growing bubbles. 

(5) US stock indices are at all-time highs while economic fundamentals fall apart.

(6) The structural reform that is required for a turnaround can only come from structural reform, which is the job of the White House and Congress, not the Federal Reserve. This looks unlikely because they are barely speaking.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Has Wall Street’s Day of Judgment Come? Powerful Corporations Sue Big Banks for $250 Billion.

For years, homeowners have been battling Wall Street in an attempt to recover some portion of their massive losses from the housing Ponzi scheme. But progress has been slow, as they have been outgunned and out-spent by the banking titans. In June, however, the banks may have met their match, as some equally powerful titans strode onto the stage. Investors led by BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, and PIMCO, the world’s largest bond-fund manager, have sued some of the world’s largest banks for breach of fiduciary duty as trustees of their investment funds.

The defendants are the so-called trust banks that oversee payments and enforce terms on more than $2 trillion in residential mortgage securities. They include units of Deutsche Bank AG, U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, HSBC Holdings PLC, and Bank of New York Mellon Corp. Six nearly identical complaints charge the trust banks with breach of their duty to force lenders and sponsors of the mortgage-backed securities to repurchase defective loans.

Beyond the legal issues are the implications for the solvency of the banking system itself. The world’s largest banks are considered “too big to fail” for a reason. The fractional reserve banking scheme is a form of shell game (click here for info about fractional reserve banking).

Theoretically, deposits under $250,000 are protected by FDIC deposit insurance. But the FDIC fund contains only about $47 billion – a mere 20% of the Black Rock/PIMCO damage claims. Before 2010, the FDIC could borrow from the Treasury if it ran short of money. But since the Dodd Frank Act eliminates government bailouts, the availability of Treasury funds for that purpose is now in doubt.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Do you really believe this media blitz is about the kids at the border?

More than 52,000 unaccompanied children have crossed the U.S. border since October 2013, a 92 percent increase from the same time period last year. [i]

I am sure you have noticed the media blast about the “kids crossing the border.” Do you believe that all of this attention is really about those kids? Pay close attention to what the spin doctors are cranking out about them:

(1) physical dangers to their lives
(2) hunger
(3) homelessness
(4) need of healthcare
(5) lack of opportunities

I do not want to imply that these kids should not be helped, but I have no doubt that the needs of children are why the media is being flooded with hours and hours of coverage every day – and most of it is coming from interviews with politicians.

What happened? All of the sudden did every politician become zealously consumed with meeting the needs of children? You might want to consider a few questions:

(1) Why now?
(2) Why just children coming across the southern border?
(3) Why are they silent about tens-of-millions American children with the same needs?

A history lesson that isn’t being taught in most schools and universities is that of the Committee on Public Information (CPI) and how it was used to intentionally manipulate the views of American citizens to enter World War I. It was so successful that it literally changed power dynamics in the world. Today, it is used not only by governments, but powerful individuals, corporations, organizations, etc.   

The story begins on April 13, 1917 when the Wilson White House created the most impressive propaganda bureau the world had ever seen -- the Committee on Public Information (CPI). Wilson named George Creel to head it and he was joined by one of the shrewdest propagandists in American history, Edward Bernays.  Benays brought with him intimate knowledge of a new branch of human psychology, which had not yet been translated into English. He was the exclusive literary agent in America for his uncle, the Austrian psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud.[ii] Bernays would describe his work as “the engineering of consent.” He acquired the title, “the father of spin,” -- the technique of manipulating the reality of the masses to produce his desired ends.

New breakthroughs in psychology and communications technology merged to create a power tool that could be used to persuade the masses. Bernays wrote two books – Crystallizing Public Opinion [iii] and Propaganda [iv] -- that reveal a great deal about his method. In the opening paragraph of Propaganda Bernays wrote:

The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. [v]

Bernays draws a stark contrast between the “intelligent few” and the “public mind:

It was of course the astonishing success of propaganda during the war that opened the eyes of the intelligent few . . . to the possibilities of regimenting the public mind. [vi]

Regimenting is defined as “to organize rigidly especially for the sake of regulation or control.” [vii]  Bernays continues:

The American government developed a technique which . . . was new . . . the manipulation of patriotic opinion made use of the mental clichés and the emotional habits of the public to produce mass reactions against the alleged atrocities, the terror, and the tyranny of the enemy. It was only natural, after the war ended, that intelligent persons should ask themselves whether it was possible to apply a similar technique to the problems of peace. [viii]

Take a close look at the things Bernays used to manipulate the masses. I think you will find that are still being used frequently & successfully today.

(1) patriotism
(2) mental clichés
(3) emotional habits
(4) alleged atrocities
(5) terror
(6) identifying an enemy

Who are the “intelligent few” that are working to control the minds of the American citizens? Bernays writes:

Who are the men who, without our realizing it, give us our ideas, tell us whom to admire and whom to despise, what to believe . . . There are invisible rulers who control the destinies of millions. It is not generally realized to what extent the words and actions of our most influential public men are dictated by shrewd persons operating behind the scenes.  Nor, what is still more important, the extent to which our thoughts and habits are modified by authorities. . . we are ruled by dictators exercising great power. . . The invisible government tends to be concentrated in the hands of the few because of the expense of manipulating the social machinery which controls the opinions and habits of the masses. . . . The leaders who lend their authority to any propaganda campaign will do so only if it can be made to touch their own interests. [ix] 

The “invisible few” are not the elected officials. They are the powerful wealthy elite who can afford to buy expertise, media access, and influence elected officials. This is not an organized conspiracy in which they all have the same agenda – even though they probably want the same outcomeswealth, power & control.

(1) Why do the “invisible few” want your attention focused on the southern border?
(2) What do they not want you to focus on?
(3) How do your values compare with their agendas?

Well, time-tested wisdom says – “follow the money if you want to know the truth!”

Add to it the new wisdom that says – “It’s all about positioning & polarizing.”

I forgot to tell you that the “invisible few” have persuaded our elected officials to pass laws that make it almost impossible to discover whose receiving their funds. They make it seem like they know they are guilty of doing something bad.

That’s my cogitations for the day.
JM - The Country Cogitator

[ii] The Gods of Money; p. 71.
[v] Ibid; p. 11.
[vi] The Gods of Money: Wall Street and the Death of the American Century By F. William Engdahl © 2009; published by edition.engdahl; Wiesbaden, Germany; p. 75.
[viii] The Gods of Money; p. 75
[ix] Ibid 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Some Cogitations for the Day

Citizens should have the right to determine the profits corporations make from goods & services citizens are required by law to purchase. (The Country Cogitator – follow on Twitter)

Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance. (George Bernard Shaw)

Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company. (George Washington)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Moaning, Groaning & Complaining

Don’t criticize unless you can do better – beginning with identifying the specific causes of a problem and offering specific ways to “fix” it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

US Constitution or Corporate Markets?

Which should be the highest authority?

● According to our political system it is the “state” governed by the rule of law for the benefit of citizens.

● According to multinational corporations it is “markets” governed by CEOs for the benefit of shareholders.

So, which should be America’s highest priority – the values established by the Founding Fathers or the highest profits CEOs can produce? What will the future of -- and life in -- America be if the authority system of multinational corporations governs the world?

Cogitate on that -- and share your wisdom with your elected representatives!

Friday, June 13, 2014

"Set aside sectarian differences" - Are You Kidding!!!

I love the term “set aside sectarian differences.” I just heard President Obama use it in an interview about what’s gone wrong in Iraq. Did the military advisors of Bush I & Bush II really think that the success of two military invasions would be accomplished because the leaders of the nations of the Middle East would really “set aside sectarian differences?” Did they believe that after foreign armies marched through their lands centuries of tribal hatred and a century of battles between oil corporations for the black gold would simply magically disappear?

Sectarian means “narrowly confined or devoted to a particular sect; narrowly confined or limited in interest, purpose, scope, etc.” What is a sect? It is any group, party, or faction united by a specific doctrine (belief) or under a doctrinal leader.

I have an idea. You know it’s always better to teach something by showing and demonstrating how it works than by simply describing it – for example, how to fly a jet plane. What if all it took to get a license to fly jets was to complete an online course -- but never get into the cockpit of a real jet plane? Would you take a ride with a pilot trained like that?

So here is my idea. How about our political leaders showing the leaders of the Middle East nations how to “setting aside sectarian differences” by “setting aside their sectarian (political) differences” and governing our nation -- guarding and protecting the people that elected them?

If our leaders did that – the shock might scare “the sectarianism” out of a lot of leaders around the world!

That’s my “cogitation” for the day!