Cognitive Dissonance



Tis the Season

Silly season is upon us. And I, for one, welcome my alien overlords. I speak, of course, of the national presidential election cycle already in progress. Every four years, in a sort of grotesque circadian rhythm, the so-called Presidential cicadas…err…candidates, pop up out of nowhere, noisy, pesky and ultimately irritating unless you happen to be mesmerized. Unfortunately, the life span of this particular species of political pest is not 14, or even 30 days, but more like 600.

For several decades now, I have referred to this political and social phenomenon as the silly season. And for good reason I might add. At no other point in our day to day lives, except possibly Christmas, are we piled so high with such ridiculousness as when the latest pack of jabbering jackals come calling for our vote. To describe the process as political pandering would be too kind, and incorrect to boot. Essentially we are told what we want to hear and promised the moon and stars, something which speaks far more about us than it does them.

Regardless of what ‘voting’ might have once represented in the hearts and minds of Americans (mostly conditioned reflex and leftover belief from more than a decade of primary school propaganda) today it is little more than an exercise in national self-deception. Of particular interest to me was how, out of 24 Democrats running for president and of the 21 invited to the Democrat debates, only one, Tulsi Gabbard, a combat veteran and military officer, had the stones to actually question the morality of the American Empire’s war mongering global rampage.

For this singular act of political bravery, she was promptly branded un-American. As if to say being a good and proud American means supporting bombing the shit out of second and third world countries. And why not? After all, we’re doing it for the children…right? A question naturally follows…which children are we speaking of, ours or theirs. Of course, you and I already know the answer to that.

Obviously, the military industrial complex will make sure Gabbard is quickly squashed like a fat bug under a tank’s tread. War is a racket and most definitely big business. Besides, you don’t fool with Mother Nature nor Father War. Always remember the golden rule. One may question, even complain, about the effects of the sociopathic socioeconomic system and its supporting status quo. But one must never question the basis or validity of the system itself or the sociopaths. What passes for ‘capitalism’ these days is actually socialism for the rich and in-your-face fascism for the poor and middle class.

I can’t wait for the national draft to fire up once again. Soon the war machine will need to fill many new sets of combat boots with expendable cannon fodder in order to fight the ongoing, as well as the next, profitable wars of global conquest and control. That singular event might actually wake up a few more sleeping heads.

Maybe! But probably not.



A Tip of the Hat

Mrs. Cog and I are just back from visiting our daughter in Richmond VA, who in August will be starting her fourth year of college. We wish her well. She is an amazing person, one who instills in me some faith the world actually has a viable future. Time will tell if I am correct about the future. Regardless, our daughter will be more than capable of surfing the choppy, shark infested waters dead ahead. After all, she is a budding critical thinker, a quality in short supply these days.

During our visit, we bed and breakfasted at a local cookie cutter hotel, a brand which will remain nameless simply because it served its purpose and provided passable hotel accommodations. As is my habit, in the morning I left a decent tip on the dresser for the chamber maid/house keeper in recognition of the clean quarters we found when we arrived the evening before.

When I can, when it is acceptable or just plain accessible, I tend to tip what might be described as the unseen workforce, those who toil behind the scene, but who are never actually seen and acknowledged by the consuming public. I suspect my practice of tipping those I do not see speaks more about me than about them. I feel empathy for them, having done time in their ranks when I was a young man.

On a philosophical level I understand my tips may actually perpetuate the practice of quasi-indentured servitude, where the ‘employee’ is paid below subsistence wages with the expectation the ‘consumer’ will make up the difference in the form of a gratuity. Direct engagement waitstaff, such as waitresses, waiters, bartenders and so on, are the more obvious recipient of consumer tips. But those who are never seen are sometimes also tipped, such as the previously mentioned hotel housekeepers.

Regardless of my point of view, philosophical or otherwise, I will continue to tip those who rely on my offering to help subsist another day. My practice of tipping is not going to change the present-day socioeconomic system in any measurable way. But to refuse to tip in the misguided, and quite frankly self-indulgent belief I am making a difference by standing against a socioeconomic wrong, only hurts those who are most vulnerable and need it the most.

I was once a slave to the indentured servitude racket and understand all too well the trap it presents to those firmly entrenched. A classic “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation where you need more compensation to escape, but more is rarely, if ever, forthcoming. This is exactly where many outside this particular trap wish those who are inside to remain inside, though we will never admit this in our out-loud voice. Cheap consumer products and services are what we want, since we all have our own socioeconomic traps to contend with.

Like it or not, we are all (to some degree or another) supported by those below us. And we, in turn, are supporting those above. This is the reality we live in on a daily basis. The silly season, as well as voting itself, is designed to maintain support for the entire teetering edifice that is the American Empire.

We are deluded, some might say conned, into believing ‘our’ system is better than others. The only thing ‘better’ about the so-called American Way is the superior level and sophistication of the underlying insidious propaganda and comforting narrative. Mind memes are a bitch, particularly when we are a slave to them.



Water, Water Everywhere

One of life’s advantages, which supposedly blossoms with age, is a perspective broadened with experience. Since this isn’t my first rodeo, but rather my 60+, I would like to believe wisdom comes with the territory. I suspect this to be mostly true, though it appears wisdom is not evenly distributed among the aging. In fact, I complain all the time to Mrs. Cog I’ve been short changed time and time again. Thank God she loves me and therefore spares me the ugly truth.

This is our seventh growing season up here on the mountain, having recently completed our sixth winter. And if nothing else, our time up here has reinforced the old saying about the only thing constant in life is change. A cool, initially wet, then dry, then wet again spring is now morphing into hot and humid. Summer has arrived, though please understand ‘hot’ is a relative term. Up here, hot is in the high 80’s and anywhere in the 90’s. Meanwhile, down mountain, 80’s and 90’s are just normal summer temperatures and the 100’s is when it actually begins to get hot.

That said, what’s going on in the Midwest with regard to the massive flooding and delayed crop planting (or no planting at all) should have everyone not just awake, but preparing. As in “Hey, food prices are headed higher, and we should really be laying in some basic supplies beyond our normal one- or two-week grocery shopping” preparing.

The mainstream media is not telling us the whole story, if they are telling us anything at all, about how disastrous the spring planting was nor how poorly many of the crops are faring since they were planted. Any hiccups from here until harvest, meaning more bad weather, early frost etc., could put the US in a very bad situation.

This is not an attempt to fear monger, though I am prone to say “he who panics first, panics best”. Hopefully things will work out for the best. But now that the USDA has declared the Midwest farmland flooding to be unprecedented and harvest shortfalls are no longer a question of if, but of how much, maybe we need to take this a bit more seriously. Contrary to popular belief, food doesn’t come from the supermarket, but from the farm.

There are plenty of articles and videos out there on how to long-term store basic foods and grains. Get to it, study up and begin the process NOW. Because once the rush begins, if it begins, it will be far too late for you or me to do much other than complain.



Moral Decay

My background as a stock broker and financial planner affords me a more detailed peak under the heavy cloaks used to cover the ugly truth about our so-called capitalist socioeconomic system. And what I see isn’t pretty.

The bottom line is simple to understand and explain. Private, corporate, student and institutional debt, as well as local, state and national government debt, has exploded over the last ten years. Clearly this suffocating debt condition is NOT sustainable. And it isn’t just the US that’s in trouble. Every developed nation in the world, and many under-developed nations as well, are in much worse shape that the US.

The Great Financial Crisis of 2008-09 was NOT fixed, but rather papered over with lots of free/cheap money injected into the upper echelons of the economic system to re-float nearly all the big boys’ underwater boats. The Federal Reserve, which contrary to popular belief and propaganda, is neither a Federal agency (it’s a private bank created by an act of Congress which has VERY LIMITED oversight over the Fed) nor does it have Reserves (the Federal Reserve creates ‘money’ out of thin air and then lends that money at interest to the US).

The Federal Reserve, both in name and deed, was, and remains, a scam designed to make you think it is something it never was and never will be.

Think about this for a second. The Fed creates electronic money out of thin air, then ‘lends’ this fake money to the government, which in turn uses this fake money to help purchase goods and services and to pay government worker’s salaries and benefits. Essentially this is legal counterfeiting, something that would land you or me in jail very quickly if we did the same.

Many of the severely damaged private, corporate or governmental boats (aka companies, corporations, mortgages, commercial real estate, private equity etc.) were never rebuilt, replaced or bankrupted. The powers that be simply installed larger bilge pumps to try and stay one step ahead of the leaks, knowing full well they could not keep this up indefinitely.

This was the ultimate kick-the-can-down-the-road socioeconomic experiment (aka a reverse Robin Hood caper where they steal from the poor and give to the rich) and it is all coming to an end soon enough. It is no longer a question of if, but when does the entire stinking edifice slowly sink beneath the waves.

During the last ten years in particular, corruption, theft and mismanagement has reigned supreme in the private, corporate and government sectors. When the cost of Federal Reserve electronic money is essentially zero, and the consequences for mismanagement and theft are nil, is it any wonder the rich got even richer, the poor became poorer and the middle class was gutted and hung out to dry?

The excuse given for the failure to prosecute the bad actors over the past ten years was that the financial system was too fragile to withstand the loss in confidence that would follow prosecutions at the highest levels, a convenient excuse to reward the rich while socializing the losses among the middle class and poor.

The social contract codified in the founding documents of our (former) republic was unilaterally broken by those in power decades ago, and only now are the consequences of that act of betrayal coming home to roost. To ignore, or worse, deny, this truth is nothing less than an act of self-immolation. These truths are self-evident. All we need to do is look.

Ignore all the hand waving, finger pointing and scapegoating by the equally corrupt mainstream media. At this point the rot has metastasized, and is traveling down from the ruling class head to infect the distressed and exhausted body of the general population. Because corruption breeds more corruption, nearly everyone to some degree or another wants their own piece of the fake fiat pie. Fear of missing the gravy train is now the prevailing mentality.

The proof is in the political pudding, with nearly every Democratic Presidential candidate singing the praises of more government, more social welfare programs, more regulation, more taxes, more handouts, ‘free’ healthcare and education, forgiven student loans, more subsidies, reparations for everyone and anyone who was yelled at as a child…the list is endless. Go ahead and spend like a drunken sailor, boys and girls, the Federal Reserve will just create more fake money. Thrift is dead, long live the electronic money printing press.

Who was it that said a government big enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take everything you have?

This isn’t a blind stab at Democrats in particular. The Republicans also want more of everything in a desperate attempt to hide their own filthy laundry and glaringly obvious corruption, not to mention feathering their own nest while greasing more constituent palms. After all, the very definition of a ‘good’ politician is one who brings home the most Federal bacon for the locals to fry up in a pan.

This is a bipartisan moral decay, extending all the way down to the average Jane and Joe in the street. And who can really blame Jane and Joe? Given the middle finger for decades, then raped and left for dead while the spoils were divided among the haves, why wouldn’t the have-nots finally demand restitution, or at least remuneration, before the carcass is plucked clean?

Who says you can’t squeeze more blood from the middle-class stone? I’ve got mine, with more coming, so who cares about you?

Always remember, when the barbarians finally stormed the gates of Rome, the gold faucets, silver spoons and marble statues had already been stripped clean. Rome had been looted from within long before the common man finally managed to break through the outer doors.

I do not expect a roaring collapse, just more diseased crumble buttressed by an ever-increasing police state. The haves will not let go of their unequal share and the have-nots will no longer be ignored. The dirty little secret is there’s only one major political party in America, deliberately divided into two similar factions separated only by a few hot button issues. Divide and control is the theme of the coming decade. Expect strife and discord to accelerate into the November, 2020 Presidential election. God only knows what comes after that, regardless of who wins or loses.

There is no magic bullet, no knight in shining armor, no one size fits all ‘fix’ to be rolled out at the last minute to save the day. Just an inexorable grinding of our bones to make their bread. Plan accordingly. Or not, as the case may be. Based upon my life experience, the vast majority of people will not seek even a smidgen of independence from the dependency promoted by the state to facilitate the capture of mind and body. Instead they will hunker down, cover their heads and hope the storm passes overhead. It will not…it will get worse before it gets even a little bit better.

I leave you with the following short verse, which I stumbled across some time back. In four short sentences it neatly sums up the present state of affairs, what’s just around the corner and how we will eventually pull ourselves out of this mess. For those who might not fully understand, we are only now just entering hard times, pushed relentlessly forward by ever weaker men and women.


Hard times create strong men

Strong men create good times

Good times create weak men

Weak men create hard times



Cognitive Dissonance


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