"The most significant threat to our national security is our debt," Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, August 27, 2010

Monday, July 28, 2014

“bread and circuses”

“… Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions — everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses”
--- Juvenal (late 1st – early 2nd century AD), Satire 10.77–81
“Juvenal here makes reference to the Roman practice of providing free wheat to Roman citizens as well as costly circus games and other forms of entertainment as a means of gaining political power. The Annona (grain dole) was begun under the instigation of the popularis politician Gaius Sempronius Gracchus in 123 B.C.; it remained an object of political contention until it was taken under the control of the autocratic Roman emperors.”
 “The term “bread and circuses” is a metonymy or a figure of speech in which a thing or concept is called not by its own name but rather by the name of something associated in meaning with that thing or concept.   For instance, "Wall Street" is often used metonymously to describe the U.S. financial and corporate sector, while "Hollywood" is used as a metonym for the U.S. film industry because of the fame and cultural identity of Hollywood, a district of the city of Los Angeles, California, as the historical center of film studios and film stars. The national capital is often used to represent the government or monarchy of a country, such as "Washington" for United States government or "Buckingham Palace" for the monarchy of the United Kingdom.”
Source:  Wikipedia
This concept of using a phrase or words to convey a connection between two concepts is now the dialect of the propagandist – mostly the American political propagandist.  We use the “bread and circuses” metonymy because of its applicability to the American  political process – most by the party in power – the Democrats.  We’d like to list a few contemporary versions of “bread and circuses”:
Comprehensive immigration – connect illegal immigrants with amnesty and the opportunity to attain citizenship and an implicit voting obligation to the Democrats.
Living wage – bridge low paying entry jobs with buying the votes of citizens who are unable to advance due to a lack of education, talent, skill, motivation or interest.
War on women –  faux war to rile up a large voting bloc with a series of trumped up charges against the opposition party for denying them equal wages and access to free contraceptives and abortions.
Debt – the easy answer to all life’s problems.  Damn the grandkids – live for today.
It’s all  “bread and circuses” and the ultimate goal – buy some votes and brief political power before the collapse.  Mr. Axelrod and friends did not invent it and the propaganda that goes along with it to buy votes – all they have done is copy it and with digitalization and mass media distribution get it out to a lot more people than the politicians did back in 123 B.C.!
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" – George Santayana (1863 – 1952).  No, that is not a metonymy; that is a fundamental.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Clinton Family, an American Embarrassment

Someone once said that politics is show business for unattractive and minimally talented people.  We think we know who they had in mind.

William Jefferson Clinton is akin to an inebriated  and very opinionated uncle or cousin or shirt tail relative who never becomes aware of the discomfort his presence and views bring to any occasion.  When he speaks, conversation stops.  Discussion fades.  Opposing opinions dry up.  Why? Because he is to much of America’s entertainment media what Oprah is to the troubled and underemployed; what Barack Obama is to the government worker/employee/bureaucrat and what almost any popular figure (think People magazine) is to the young and the restless but mostly just the unaccomplished – an elixir; a potion; a cure; a distraction from the discipline and hard work of becoming informed, accomplished and responsible.
When any person attains power and wealth and accomplishment there comes a time to leave the stage for the next person.  In most every aspect of normal life – people retire and leave behind their arena of attention.  They may miss it but so be it.  They accept that it is now time for someone new; someone with a very different behavior or focus or modus operandi to take over.  That successor does not need the predecessor commenting or suggesting or just drawing attention from the issues and methods now at hand.  And most certainly not when the predecessor is actually seeking something for himself or someone close to him in some way or another.
There are descriptive words for this disruptive situation – “nepotism” tops the list but other words also apply – “corruption” and “inbreeding” and “stupidity” also apply.
We don’t know why Bill Clinton can’t and won’t go away.  We don’t get why he needs to distribute his time and interviews promoting his wife and her causes.  Or his and her thinking.  We don’t know many men who can’t operate without the approval and constant reinforcement of their spouse but we do know that when we see it we recognize it and we sure do not want it offered as either healthy or something worth imitation.  This form of enabling codependence has no place in America.
If Hillary wishes to be president let her tell us why then we need to hear Bill’s views on so many topics.  Is she unable to see herself without him?  Figure out what to do without him?  Without his thinking?  His views?  His prejudices?  If so, then let them both run – let them both appear on the stage during debates – let them both buy TV time and make ads presenting their plans and commentaries – on the issues and their opponents.
Otherwise – we say this.  You are both an embarrassment.  We are not a country that honors a person unless that person has accomplishments and sacrifices that go way above and beyond the call of duty.  Our simple definition of such behavior is captured by these few words of the last sentence of our Declaration of Independence:
“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”
We see – can find no – evidence of you or any of your family giving up their life for America.  We see no evidence that you gave up your fortune for America (a bit more about this below) and we do not define honor as lying about sexual activities or false impoverishment or landing under fire in an imaginary warzone.
Bill, you were fortunate to be president during a period of technological and engineering change and growth. But, alas, those new industries and businesses – about which you understood little and contributed even less – are now mature companies, trying to survive in a vastly different competitive environment than you know; producing most of their products overseas and cutting back at home.  Neither you nor Hillary grasp this level of change – Hillary actually speaks about Bill’s time in office as if it were the same environment today.  Does Hillary not comprehend that many of today’s problems – some overwhelming – are the direct result of events, legislation, rulings and bureaucratic momentum from Bill’s eight years in office?
Immigration; financial industry deregulation; higher taxes; easy loans for home ownership and college; Wall street excesses; vastly expanded unionization of government employees; high pensions; trade policies that flood America with cheap, low quality goods while our manufacturers shutter their plants; high security encroachments on freedoms and rights – on and on – all on Bill’s watch.
One of the things neither of you talk about is the damage done to America by your meddling in the financial industry marketplace.  Is that because you don’t see it or because those banks and investment managers put so much money in your pocket every week that you conveniently forget?  You are owned by Wall street.  Even though you don’t grasp the damage you and they have done – you don’t need to – they have bought and paid for both of you as well as your family members.
Oh, one other thing – we heard Bill the other day comment upon one other old fool who cannot quietly go away – Dick Cheney.  Dick is and was never wrong – sound familiar?   Bill, regardless of your disingenuity in blaming him for the deterioration in Iraq, you forgot one little factoid – you and Hillary were in total and complete support of Dick and his friends ill fated Iraq adventures.  Convenience of memory is just one more source of your family’s embarrassment.
How many acts of shameful behavior are needed to fully earn the title of an American embarrassment?  Probably more than a couple but you two passed that hurdle decades ago – your list now overflows.
Take your money – and all your schemes and ideas and nonsense and disappear.  Someday you, Bill, will get a state funeral.  You can write you own obituary – make yourself a hero.  But it will ring less false if before that event occurs you get off the stage – you, the frau, the kid, the shirt tail relatives and low life aides and at least show the historians that you were not just a media mongrel but finally learned the value of silence.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A start

The old joke, a long time favorite of ours, goes like this – what do you call a busload of lawyers going over a cliff?

A start.
Well, a long, long time ago in a galaxy far away, some off-the-reservation essayist posting on this website suggested that perhaps it was time for the house of representatives, under the control of the opposition party; the minority party; the party out of power (POOP) known affectionately to most of as the republican party do the one and only thing they could do – stop passing spending bills and other authorizations that permitted the spenders in the majority party; the party in power (PIP) known to most of us as the democrat party to run up big deficits and accumulate record and unrepayable levels of national debt.
Remember we are committed to this fundamental:  deficits = debt = destruction.
Well, read this brief snippet from the Associated Press, July 15, 2014:
“The GOP-controlled House has voted to slash the budget for the Internal Revenue Service's tax enforcement division by $1.2 billion, a 25 percent cut that would mean fewer audits of taxpayers and make it more likely that people who cheat on their taxes will get away with it.
Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Mich., followed up with an amendment to cut $788 million more. The underlying bill already contained a $72 million cut from last year's $5 billion enforcement budget, bringing the total cut to $1.2 billion.
The Democratic floor leader on the funding bill, Rep. Jose Serrano of New York, opposed the amendments but opted against demanding a roll call vote.”
The only reason the PIP guy – this Jose fellow, did not require a roll call vote is it would put everyone of his gang – the minority power in the house, on the record voting for the IRS several months before the November election when all of them are up for voter approval.  Or more likely voting with the republicans to save their jobs.  Then what does the man in the white house do?  With his own party on record to cut the IRS?  Veto the bill?  And assure even bigger losses in November?
One thing no one will ever do is go overboard accusing the republicans of being strategists – or at least accomplished strategists.  But you can take this to the bank – there is no way Obama and his minions can spend the US into bankruptcy – or continue their destruction of the American economy – or fulfill their mission of taxing one half the country to pay for the bribes they offer the other half to vote for them over and over again – without the idiotic complicity of the republicans.
We will withhold judgment less if the republicans fold under the propaganda that will follow this action on their part.   In the meantime, we think it is safe to predict that the entertainment value of national politics in this country between now and November will continue to increase although nothing near what it costs those of us who do pay taxes.
But, it’s a start.



Monday, July 14, 2014

In His Own Words: Mort Zuckerman

Mr. Zuckerman is not much for propaganda – at least not when it comes to the topic of “is America working?”

Here is a brief and recent compilation of Mr. Zuckerman’s ability to see clearly in the fog of propaganda (lies) coming from the white house, the democrat party and the federal government on the most important issue of the day:

·         February 2013 – The Jobs Picture is Far Worse Than It Looks http://www.usnews.com/opinion/mzuckerman/articles/2013/02/28/mort-zuckerman-the-jobs-picture-is-far-worse-than-it-looks

·         July 2013 – The Wages of a Phony Recovery http://www.jewishworldreview.com/mort/zuckerman.php3#.U8PBWLsg_IU

·         Most recent – The Full-Time Scandal of Part-Time America http://online.wsj.com/articles/mortimer-zuckerman-the-full-time-scandal-of-part-time-america-1405291652

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Mother of all Bubbles or "searching for yield"

What can a capitalist do?  With her money that is?  Anyone, even a neighborhood capitalist, with just a few dollars saved faces the same problem the big capitalists face today – what can I do with my money to get a return?  A yield?

Ben Bernanke and his deluded predecessor, zee maestro, never talk about this very, very important outcome of their zero interest rate policies.   We never hear the little guy from the NYTimes talk about it – nor the recently departed (gotta get out before it’s too late) little Timmy.   Don’t hear the know it all oracle of Obama; ‘er, we mean Omaha, talk about it.
Here is what the highly regarded BIS annual report, just out a few days ago, said –
 Financial markets have been acutely sensitive to monetary policy, both actual and anticipated. Throughout the year, accommodative monetary conditions kept volatility low and fostered a search for yield. High valuations on equities, narrow credit spreads, low volatility and abundant corporate bond issuance all signalled a strong appetite for risk on the part of investors. At times during the past year, emerging market economies proved vulnerable to shifting global conditions; those economies with stronger fundamentals fared better, but they were not completely insulated from bouts of market turbulence. By mid-2014, investors again exhibited strong risk-taking in their search for yield: most emerging market economies stabilised, global equity markets reached new highs and credit spreads continued to narrow. Overall, it is hard to avoid the sense of a puzzling disconnect between the markets' buoyancy and underlying economic developments globally.
The acute sensitivity of financial markets to monetary policy was a hallmark of the period under review. Asset prices responded to shifts in the policy outlook of major advanced economies to an even greater extent than in previous years. Expectations regarding US monetary policy were central: the Federal Reserve's first steps towards normalising monetary policy ushered in a bond market sell-off in May-June 2013 that reverberated around the globe. Yet the bout of turbulence did little to undermine the longer-term trend of investors searching for yield in an environment of low volatility and low funding costs.
Highly accommodative monetary policies in the advanced economies played a key role in lifting the valuations of risk assets throughout 2013 and the first half of 2014. Low interest rates and subdued volatility encouraged market participants to take positions in the riskier part of the investment spectrum. Corporate and sovereign spreads in advanced economies drifted to post-crisis lows, even in countries mired in recession. Buoyant issuance of lower-rated debt met with strong demand, and equity markets reached new highs. Some asset valuations showed signs of decoupling from fundamentals, and volatility in many asset classes approached historical lows.”
Hmmnn.  Where or where did all the Keynesians go?  Gone to find yield we guess.
This is not too difficult for even the economically challenged casual observer such as ourselves to grasp.  “SOME ASSET VALUATIONS SHOWED SIGNS OF DECOUPLING FROM FUNDAMENTALS….”

Shucks, even the BIS must figure that there still are a few basics out there.  Well, we sure do hope you and yours have found a safe harbor – to protect yourself.  You see these geniuses who brought us the housing bubble and the bad mortgage debt situation, which they still are using as the excuse for all their monetary promiscuity, are not capitalists.  They are bureaucrats and politicians and public employee union bosses and the one sure thing you can count on – they are protected in this crazy situation they created.
How can the Clintons get a $100 million net worth?  When a financial crisis is underway?    Well think about it – they play a large role in creating the crisis; convinced most of the population that they understand it; heck, they even convince most of the population that they can deal with it; fix it; and then write books about it and make speeches about it and the groups that are either worried or, more likely – the Wall streeter's who are doing quite well in the mess, pay them outrageous fees to talk about it even though they say nothing when they talk because they know nothing except this one thing –
Most of us are ignorant enough to buy into their nonsense.
Ben Bernanke deemed us so stupid that he paid us empty peanut shells for our savings – while the politicians and the bureaucrats earn double or triple us regular folk; earn huge pensions; the rest of us chase yield and try to find good investments and now they tell us – watch out, equity markets have reached new highs and asset valuations are “decoupling from fundamentals.”

This BIS article is telling us all one thing – if you are doing well in the stock market today it has little to do with fundamentals – and much to do with the shenanigans of politicians and bureaucrats and mostly, central bankers.  Do you think this adventure will end well?  Here is an article worth reading on this topic:  http://origin-www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-07-03/bond-run-is-wall-streets-worst-case-scenario#r=rss

One closing comment - the BIS has been in the central banker to the worlds central banks since 1930.  Their comments are direct criticisms of their member banks and they are not being well received in the central banking community or the panderers thereto.  


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Trust – still has to be earned

Funny thing about these darn fundamentals – they just don’t want to go away.

Our basic fundamental is:  deficits = debt = destruction…
…but there are others; many others.
Mr. Obama is a man with few fundamentals – by the circumstance of birth, he found himself in an environment where the fundamentals most of us learn were set aside for this dream of something bigger, better, greater.  There is actually a fundamental about this form of dreaming – it has to do with the grass being greener and so on.  He didn’t learn that one either.  He had limited childhood experiences coupled with slacker friends that, combined with his intelligence, leads to laziness and, if one is really unlucky – dreams of grandiosity.
Feedback is an essential of learning – we get it all the time – it’s there in all sorts of ways.  For those of you who chose to trust Mr. Obama, with no reason other than his rhetoric you now get to make a decision – do I stay with him even though I know I shouldn’t  or do I send him feedback that he too needs to change – he is the problem, not the solution; most certainly not the change “we have been hoping for.”
Mr. Obama, the man who dreams of hope and change, is not open to change.  At least not when it comes to him; his posse; his policies; his past approach of always being right and always finding someone else to blame when he clearly is not.
So we come to our title – trust.
All of us have some form of trust radar – it is in our DNA – we need it to survive.   Some of us go overboard with it – we become too suspicious – too careful – too untrusting and then it turns out we are the problem.  Most of us are willing to give someone a chance – an opportunity – but we pay attention to what that someone does with the chance – with the opportunity.  We almost have to because we are wired that way by nature.
We are wired to measure and assess this simple situation  – can someone be trusted?
Earning trust is a fundamental and Mr. Obama now finds himself with only the trust of those who do not bother with measurement or assessment of results.  He is rapidly approaching that small group that says – we don’t care if it works; if it produces results; we don’t even care if it fails – we don’t trust anyone else so we trust Mr. Obama (they also don’t wish to admit they were wrong.)  In that way he is almost the perfect president for this group. He is the perfect leader for those who have rejected, for whatever reason(s), this intrinsic, natural need to assess trust.
Think about it. Mr. Obama is the opposite of Bill Clinton, who to this day, constantly needed the feedback and constantly changed course to get the feedback and trust even if it were not very real (Monica Lewinsky; Hillary; Mom – would you trust Bubba with your daughter or granddaughter?)  Mr. Obama is much closer to GWBush and Dick Cheney, than any of the three might like to think.  Strange how this trust thing works.   Bush has disappeared; possibly pondering his mistakes  – Cheney is still out there rattling on; he and Obama are two peas in a pod.  They didn’t learn this lesson – without trust all that is left is fear.  Fear now dominates the American government scene. 
We wish to close with two fundamentals:
truth = trust
propaganda = fear

Take your pick but remember – you have to earn trust.  Propaganda is the easy choice.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Independence days

930 days left and he goes; that’s the good news.  The bad news?  He doesn’t need all that time to finish his mission; doesn’t even need a third of it. 

His philosophy is – do it while we can – we may not get this chance for a long, long time to come.  
Mr. Obama has a remarkable talent for multi-tasking and he has captured the bureaucrats necessary to go way off the reservation in these areas:
1.    The imperial presidency – who will stop it?  The senate?  The house?  He cannot be removed from office – impeached yes; convicted no.  Will he be impeached? Unlikely but so what?  He will claim racism, crank up the propaganda machine and move forward…

2.    Immigration – anyone can come in – the laws will not be enforced – you will not be sent back – your criminality will be overlooked – one way or another we will make you citizens – there are no jobs so what is your job? – vote Democrat…

3.    Criminals – not your fault – you have been singled out by a white regime that unfairly convicted you – so, we give you a  “get out of jail card” – thank you very much – just remember, vote Democrat.  FBI, AFT, ICE, federally funded local cops?  All on board – they love the money, their contracts, pensions and attention – the silence of the lambs…

4.    Muslims – we love you – you are the religion of peace – America was the religion of war – we are going to make it up to you – be patient – I need to stay in the closet for the remaining 930 days – but the doors are open for you, wide – grab a firm toehold now (in Arabic موسليم - يحبّ نحن أنت - أنت الدين السلام - أمريكا كان الدين الحرب - نحن يذهب أن يجعل هو حتّى أنت - كنت صبور - أنا أحتاج أن يبقى في المقصورة ل 930 أيام - غير أنّ الأبواب مفتوحة ل أنت; تلقّفت عرضا - موطئ متينة الآن)

5.    CO2 offenders;  bye, bye – coal emission emitters; bye-bye – cheap gas gluttons – gone – developers; not a chance – pipeline supporters; good luck -  manufacturers/refiners/exporters  – the few of you left can pack up; my America does not need factories and mining and refining…

6.    Taxes.  Sky is the limit.  Up and up unless you join us; and vote for us; then pay little or nothing…

7.    Spending cuts.  Not a chance.  Sure we will pretend – toss around some rhetoric about limits and frugality – efficiency and productivity. But, to our friends in AFGE, SEIU, AFSCME, NEA, AFT and all others; don’t worry.  Read on…

8.    Government unions – you are our future.  The path to utopia.  As much as you have gained in the past six years; you have seen nothing yet.  Your members now control every major government funded activity – our federal, state and local bureaucracies are yours; our education outlets everywhere are yours – our health care operations are one-sixth of our economy and growing; they are yours.  Any government entity or company that takes federal money; you own.  The few holdouts – we’ll get ‘em thru open immigration.  Next target – our defense and security operations.  Read on…

9.    National security.  You rule.  No one can stop you.  You know everything – you capture everything – we can destroy any citizen or group of citizens by just revealing their emails; their internet browsing activities; their phone call records; their voices, thoughts, interests, dalliances and travels.  Think of it – no citizen privacy left – we know everything about everyone.  The Supreme Court?  Pussies – in love with that four month work year…

10. Military – we did not know if we could control them but they are the biggest pussies of all – all blather and bluster – holding on to their grade levels and pensions and VA health care.  We got rid of Mullen; the new guy, Dempsey, follows orders.  Surrounded him with fellow travelers – Alexander at NSA; Clapper at Intelligence; Panetta and then Hagel at DoD; Brennan at CIA.  We call it “consensus building” – we own them…
In Mr. Obama’s America, Federal Reserve money buys everything.   That debt no one pays attention to?  It is financing the disappearance of our independence.  That’s right – along the road to bankruptcy one also surrenders independence.  Our media?  Clueless.
Happy 4th of July!  Go ahead, celebrate – why not?  That’s exactly what they want you to do.  Keep pretending!  Pretend you are free and independent.