Celebrities

Does the data show Donald in the dumpster?

Midterm

This is a simple schematic of first term presidents and the results at the ballot box of their first mid term. Since 1910, the incumbent parties have invariably lost ground. More interestingly, Democrats had control of either/both House of Reps and Senate during Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Bush Sr – all Republicans. Republican Presidents Taft, Harding, Hoover, Eisenhower and Trump lost the House at the midterms. Truman, Clinton and Obama suffered the same fate for the Democrats.

Trump achieved the highest number of Senate seats taken by a first term Republican president for over 100 years. George W Bush achieved rising numbers for HoR/Senate  post 9/11 but only Democrats have achieved the feat – Woodrow Wilson, FDR and JFK. Perhaps the irrelevance of the outcomes in the mid-terms is that despite the floggings Wilson, Truman, Ike, Reagan, Clinton, Bush Jr and Obama all were comfortably reelected for a second term.

Given the headwinds Trump was facing from the mainstream media, his unorthodox outbursts, twitter tirades and so forth, the electorate didn’t grant the Democrats a huge gift  they were expecting. Even worse they gave Trump a bigger authority to appoint SC justices should an opportunity arise by bumping his numbers in the Senate. Not surprising given the shocking gutter level political theatre over Justice Kavanaugh, vindicated by  victims confessing they had lied.

The Democrats should still be concerned that the $70mn spent on Beto O’Rourke came to nothing.  Beyonce also endorsed Beto. Oprah endorsed Abrams in Georgia – who is likely to lose. Taylor Swift endorsed Bredesen – who also lost. All four candidates openly supported by Obama lost. So much for celebrity power swaying electorates. It probably had a counter effect.

Even worse, in Nevada a brothel owner and reality TV star won his race despite dying last month. It is hard to work out what is the bigger tragedy. Voting for someone dead or being the competing Democrat to lose to a dead person. A Republican is to be appointed to the seat by county officials.

We shouldn’t forget that the Republicans had the highest number of sitting member retirements at a first midterm in the House of Representatives for 88 years. 25 seats had a new face. Republicans won re-election as governors in New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and Maryland – three of them deep blue states. Where was the mainstream media on that?

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Turnout was good (for a mid term). 48.1% voted in 2018. In the last 100 years the average has been 41%. Only in 1966, did the first midterm of LBJ exceed this level at 48.7%. So much for either party causing a red or blue wave. Less than half of eligible voters showed up on November 6th 2018. More cared, but not enough.

Felons make for an interesting outlier subset. While it is hard to know their exact voting intentions, for the Gubernatorial in Georgia, would 219,431 felons have made a difference for Abrams? She trails Kemp by just under 100,000 votes. So if 55% of felons (the Georgia midterm turnout ratio) voted, 120,687 votes were up for grabs. Were it legal for Georgian state felons to vote, she would have been wise to campaign there.

Felons

Now that the Democrats have the lower house, one wonders why they have put Nancy Pelosi in charge of the House? This is possibly to be contested. Up to fifty Democrat congressmen might oppose her for Speaker. Trump couldn’t wish for a better adversary as her litany of gaffes will undoubtedly embarrass her party. Pelosi represents pretty much everything Americans have come to despise about the Democrats.

More worryingly, Maxine Waters is being put in charge of the Financial Services Committee. At a point in the cycle where financial acumen is probably most required, this is an embarrassment, made worse by her open calls for payback.

The Democrats need fresh faces. Ones that will look for bipartisan support. If the Democrats embark upon a cocktail of revenge politics and look to push for investigation after investigation in order to impeach Trump but end up with nothing they will be seen for what they are – a party completely self-absorbed with petty vendettas. The toxic Senate debacle should have given them warning enough that voters won’t tolerate more political roadkill like that going forward.  Yet Pelosi will likely use her subpoena powers to drag everything through the gutter instead of working to improve things for Americans. Failure here will only lead the electorate to conclude they wasted two years and gift wrap 2020 for Trump.

This mid-term election was anything but a slam dunk. Put aside personal hatred of Trump, look at the data and see that Americans did not write him off as many pundits predicted. It should be more scary to realise that he is probably more Teflon-Don than he was in 2016. Second biggest mid-term turnout in history, highest net gain of seats in the Senate in 100 years for a first term GOP president, record dollars thrown at Democrat candidates backed by Trump-hating billionaires. At the end of the day folks, this is just the data talking.

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The #IAmSoldierX mutiny

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In the last two weeks the #IAMSOLDIERX campaign against terrorism has caught on like a firestorm in the UK. Numerous squaddies have been placed under investigation by the MoD for taking a selfie with Tommy Robinson who just happened to be in the same highway service area. One has been discharged.

Now serving soldiers and veterans are posting 1,000s of their own pictures with the above hashtag to protest the MoD’s bending to political correctness. Around 200,000 have signed a petition on http://www.StandWithOurLads.com to show the MoD they are against limp wristed folding to complaints made by minority groups who just happen to abhor Robinson.

Putting any personal bias against Robinson to one side, we should ask ourselves why he has two best selling books (which point to a two tier police state) on Amazon UK? He is no saint and admits as much. Yet he questions the double standards. They are pretty blatant.

Ask why a bunch of squaddies wanted a selfie with him? Do we presume that the couple of dozen 17yos in the picture who joined the army to defend their country are alt-right by wanting a picture with a celebrity with a bad boy image? We’d be hard pressed to find any 17yo turn down an opportunity to get a selfie with the famous. A selfie with a David Beckham? He was red carded in a World Cup. Bad role model.

What if it was Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols? Would that infer squaddies were anarchists? Would they discharge troops for taking a selfie with Katie Price (aka Jordan) because a bunch of feminists complained that wanting a snap with a buxom former Page 3 girl was irrefutable grounds of inappropriate exploitation of women? Where do they draw a line?

How many times did we see UK armed forces appear on Top Gear? Jeremy Clarkson has said some pretty outrageous politically incorrect things in his time, even one which poked fun at terrorists. No repercussions…or is it Top Gear’s audience reach makes for such a great recruiting tool? The soldiers he promoted on the show loved the way he pushed their service.

Could it be the armed forces respect Robinson’s bravery (prison terms, death threats in/outside jail and kangaroo court trials) to call out gross injustices (e.g. grooming gangs) and government cover ups which turned a blind eye to 11-12yo girls being raped because they feared being thought of as racist?

CM read the entire 200 page Rotherham investigation. You can read the summarized  horror here. Robinson is not wrong in his fight over grooming gangs even if one questions his methods or dislikes his brutal delivery.

The BBC recently took up the exact same story which Robinson had spoken of for over a decade. He was pilloried for all that time as a far right wing racist for pointing out this black mark on the judiciary and constabulary. Only now does the mainstream media declare it safe ground after the event to report on it.

What of the 1000s of girls who have been permanently psychologically damaged because of political correctness? Are these girls a worthy sacrifice in defence of diversity? Labour MP Naz Shah tweeted that “these abused girls in Rotherham and elsewhere should shut their mouths. For the good of diversity.”

The Rotherham Inquiry showed evidence that the police deemed many of these underage girls unworthy of protection. The councils had known about it for decades yet chose silence for the sake of inclusion. It is all documented. It should make your blood boil. Arresting fathers for trespassing while trying to rescue their daughters from rape dens. It is absurd.

The majority of the grooming gangs in the UK have been Pakistani Muslim men. It is a fact.

Does it mean all Pakistani Muslims should be held under suspicion of being associated? Not at all. One could argue that the very political correctness which tries to protect them from being tied to such abhorrent behaviour makes it worse. The authorities would be far better placed to work with the affected communities to publicly out the perpetrators and show a united front that such behaviour won’t be tolerated under any circumstances.

Winning hearts and minds comes from collective purpose, not smoke and mirrors. Otherwise it becomes easy (rightly or wrongly) for people to jump to conclusions that sweeping it under the carpet is less hassle for law makers. Which is what is happening.

Others grooming gangs have been of Eastern European extraction. There have been white child sex traffickers too. It doesn’t matter who have perpetrated these acts – they should equally be dealt with under the law of the land. These squaddies would likely hold all of them with the same contempt. It is more than likely Robinson’s beliefs resonate against the soft approach to dealing with serious widespread problems. Failure to do so will lead to vigilantism which we saw with the Guardian Angels in New York in the 1980s.

There is a vigilante group in the UK operating since 2016 called Guardians of The North which lures online sexual predators and films them when making their scheduled encounter to engage in underage sex. 205 captured. 101 convictions. The videos are compelling. The excuses and denials are telling. We should applaud their dedication.

Why do they feel the need to operate? They claim the police are under budget and stretched so see a need to fill the void.

CM is not a vet and never served but the clear message from every person met that is or has been ‘behind the wire’ are all about the defence of freedom, be it speech, culture, religion or anything else. As long as laws are dispensed equally without fear or favour they’re content. If they see gross double standards or rigged application of justice they feel it betrays every reason they joined.

To have some young cadets face possible discharge for being in a photo is hardly a crime. Did the MoD teach these kids who they could and couldn’t take selfies with? There are rules and regulations over what is acceptable behaviour in the military. The photo doesn’t display them making Nazi salutes, holding offensive banners or anything remotely pushing hatred against any minority. .

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Does the MoD truly understand the morale of troops and veterans alike? There were 8 UK veteran suicides last week alone. There have been 42 this year alone in the UK. These Soldiers have also been posting pictures of the squalid conditions they live in, ones which prisoners would get immediate rectification were it discovered their basic amenities were in such disrepair. Many soldiers say morale in the UK forces is next to mix existent. This won’t help.

The whole saga is so sad. Who would have thought a bunch of squaddies would be slaughtered by selfie? Is this the way we treat our brave military souls? They deserve much better. The victims of sexual slavery deserve to have their story told to point out why diversity isn’t always as wonderful as the activists/apparatchiks would have us believe.

This movement seems to have momentum. How will the state react when so many that serve their country have had enough!?

Sayonara Japan

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Today CM leaves Japan after 20 years. This was the first time I’d actively seen passport control beg me to keep my permanent residency. For 5 minutes she painstakingly asked her senior colleagues and tried to reason with me. My comment to her was “don’t worry, I’m not drunk” after repeatedly checking whether I was sure about the decision. She asked what were the reasons. “Where do I start?”

First of all I want to thank the Japanese for their custom, politeness and privilege to stay in their country. It has been truly amazing and life changing.

Sure the honest service drives one batty with its inflexibility but to those who whine about it can always choose to live somewhere else. Respecting a culture is true of any land one visits. Note to Western civilizations. It’s up to others to fit in with the host, not the other way around. Japan has this nailed.

What was the lasting memory of Japan? Simple really. The earthquake, nuke explosion  and tsunami of 2011. What it allowed was a clear cut look at a society that is so well bonded. People didn’t loot. Nor did they greedily hoard essentials. People just took what they needed. Had this been HK or anywhere else it would have been pandemonium. Keep calm and carry on typified Japan.

The lasting photo memory was during a motorcycle trip to MinamiSanriku. This image of a tsunami darkened Minnie Mouse sent chills down my spine. Staring up at the trees on the hillside, the leaves had turned purple because of the sea water which had risen almost 20 metres high. Car wrecks ragdolled in the rip. Windows smashed out of all levels of a 5 storey apartment block. Mother Nature was angry.

When my kids begged to go to Hawaii, they protested about my suggestion to see the devastation first hand. To see with their own eyes. Video and pictures do no justice, I told them. It turns out they appreciated the experience. I gave my younger daughter – then 7 years old – my camera because I wanted to capture images through her eyes. Amazing results.

There is too much to write about with 20 years under the belt.

As the sun sets in the land of the rising sun for me personally journey it shines brightly 9,000km south.

The next stage was a no brainer. So much for dealing with alpha types in finance, many of who’d sell their grandmother given half a chance. I’m overwhelmed with excitement about the prospects of saving the lives of people who know sacrifice and have protected our freedoms. The small team I will work with are as dedicated, hungry and inspired as I am.

My life needed a reboot. Sometimes there is a touch of Tom Cruise in Risky Business in our lives where we must make hard decisions and simply say, “what the f”

Writing this novel about my grandfather’s experiences in WW2 has inspired me to think of living life to the full. How most of us have got it so easy even though some pretend we’ve never had it so bad.

I will always have a soft spot for Japan. Handing back a permanent residency might seem mad in the overall scheme of things but it was the right decision. You can’t make a new start holding onto the past.

Sayonara Japan.

Musk channels the Black Knight?

It has become apparent that the SEC & Musk had a deal which would see him removed from Tesla yet his lawyers have rejected it at the last minute because he’d rather fight the charges. One could argue in favour of his bravery to appeal against what looks to be a very open and shut case about breaching probably the most basic of errors in standard reporting to the exchange to ensure fairness.

Maybe he feels that he is only going to get a slap on the wrist? In the 63 odd charges laid out against individuals by the SEC for reporting violations in 2018, the average fine has been $75,000. Hardly a ripple to Musk’s net worth.

The bigger risk for Tesla shareholders if Musk loses in court against the SEC and is forced out (to be honest his board should demand it) will be losing a figurehead who at the very least has managed to make a company with no profits, monster debts and questionable actions worth more than Ford, FCA & GM combined. Betting against Musk has been a dangerous game. He may well be teflon coated but it remains questionable whether he can strap himself to his reusable rockets and escape the fraud charges.

Actions speak louder than laughs

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While the mainstream media has blown much hot air about the UN GA audience laughing at POTUS during his speech, where was the very same audience backing the poster boy of virtue signaling and globalist politics? Here is a picture of Canadian PM Trudeau addressing the UN General Assembly during the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit on Sep 24th. Worse, a whole section of them are on their mobile phones. As impolite as deleting/sending emails during the speech of any world leader (or anyone for that matter) is, at least being laughed at suggests the audience was paying attention to the content, as ridiculous as anyone may have made it out to be. As much as Trump’s boasting and glass jaw were on full display, it was standing room only, because love or hate him, his words have global ramifications.

While French President Macron might have sounded sensible castigating Trump’s America First view as fanning the flames of nationalism around the world, perhaps he might have reflected on the shift toward populist parties across Europe occurring well before either took office. Macron should remind himself that anti-EU leader of the far right Front National, Marine Le Pen, achieved twice the vote ever achieved by her party. 35%.

People may not have noticed but Sweden’s newly appointed PM Stefan Lofven has lost a no confidence motion yesterday. The right leaning Sweden Democrats achieved the fastest growth in the Sep 9 election, taking almost 18% of the vote from 12.9%, holding the balance of power despite the establishment is reluctant to wed . All the while,  3 weeks have passed and a no confidence motion has occurred.

Italy is now run by an anti-EU M5S & anti-immigrant League coalition. Austria voted in a EU-skeptic party led by a 32yo Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. The Brits voted for Brexit. The Dutch awarded the fastest growing share to platinum haired Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party. The Hungarians and Polish have openly told Juncker where to stick his views on forced migration. Even Chancellor Merkel had the worst showing of her party in 70 years as the anti-immigrant Alternative for Deutschland took 13% of the vote, achieving 94 seats in the Bundestag mostly at the expense of Merkel’s CDU & former European Parliament President Schulz’s SPD.

Poor old Justin Trudeau had a member of his own party, Leona Alleslev, defect to the Conservatives stating she was ‘concerned about the government’s handling of the economy.’ It is one thing for the opposition to berate the government for poor stewardship but it is deeply embarrassing to lose people from one’s own party due to a lack of confidence.

So yes, we can collectively laugh at Trump for his bluster, chest beating and itchy Twitter fingers, but one would hope the mockers at the UNGA would glance in the mirror and realise that their constituents are becoming ever more disillusioned with the establishment they represent. These are the same people that bashed the president for calling out their lack of commitment to NATO, with 23 nations well behind promises made of their own volition 12 years prior. Could it be that for however abhorrent they might find the current leader of the US, he is calling many out on their failure to hold up their end of the bargain?

At the end of the day, no matter what one’s personal feelings for Trump may be, we have to live with his decisions. He is far from perfect. Yet instead of the predictable constant drone of noise following his speech, perhaps countries would be better off putting aside personal differences. Rather than crossing fingers in hope he maybe impeached so they can go back to the status quo and live the very lies he has exposed in his almost 2 years in office. Now that type of hypocrisy is truly laughable. Indeed the very fact that out of touch politicians can mock in such a manner shows just how badly they stink at relaying the very messages they think resonate with the public.

Will financial planners bring out a Naomi Osaka ETF?

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Japanese investors can get star-struck with investments. In 2015, popular pop-idol band AKB-48 saw the stocks of companies it was sponsored by surge 136% relative to the market. Aggregate sales of those companies surged 46% and 30% over the following two years. Such is the ‘hayari‘ (boom) culture in Japan. Corporates know this.

Since the US Open win by tennis star Naomi Osaka, sponsors are lining up to sign her. Prior to the win, Nissin Foods, WOWOW & Yonex were already sponsors. Nissan has just signed her. Since the win, the Topix has risen a tad over 6% while Nissan, Nissan & WOWOW have risen 7.5% in aggregate. Yonex has jumped 12.2% Early days to be sure, but the likelihood is that if she is sponsored by some smaller less liquid stock names these stocks could well fly.

Forget fancy models and esoteric investment strategies. Find whatever Osaka will be sponsored by in Japan and outperform through popularity over underlying earnings performance.

Any financial firm that launched a Naomi Osaka basket would likely see massive inflows and be able to charge higher fees on the back of it. Will the marketing departments wake up?

Emmys – baloney without cajones

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When the content is so predictable it stands to reason that ratings drop. Neilsen noted the 2018 Emmys awards show pulled in 10.172 million viewers (-4%) and a 2.4 rating among adults 18-49, it’s lowest ever. The 2000 Emmys drew in 21.8mn by comparison. Some may talk to modern day luxuries of streaming which would boost these dreadful numbers but the reality is Hollywood’s obsession with shaming is the more likely culprit. The Oscars are down 40% on five years ago. It’s no surprise.

In recent years, self absorbed celebrities think the formula is hypocritically chastising their audiences. Whether the topic is climate change, #MeToo, white privilege, Republicans, Trump and now Christianity, the event is less about self appraised back slapping but almost entirely about identity based political grandstanding.

Such was the high level of comedy that one of the MCs stated, “The only white people that thank Jesus are Republicans and ex-crackheads.”  Here’s a challenge to Hollywood – would they dare say “The only black people that thank Mohammed are Democrats and ex-crackheads”? After all it’s just comedy, right? Of course they wouldn’t dare. They are the very racists they condemn.

At another event Anne Hathaway made her psychobabble statement about white privilege,  how transgender doesn’t circle around cisgender and other races don’t circle around whites to rapturous applause.

The irony is that behind all of the public self loathing, the same actors and actresses who cheered  happily collect their millions, live behind gates mansions with armed body guards, protest the NRA, turn a blind eye to sexual harassment but protest on the red carpet by wearing three fabric postage stamps held together with dental floss and tell us how out of touch we are. Really?

Their audience figures should tell them they are indeed the out of touch ones.

Cinema attendance in the domestic US market is back at 1993 levels. In the 1990s Hollywood made 400-500 films annually. It now pumps out more than 700. The average revenue per film continues to head south.

It is interesting that $100m box offices were a cert for an Oscar Best Picture award til 2004 after which it has been hit and miss since. 9 films in the last 13 Best Pictures have failed to breach $75mn. The 4 that didn’t miss were all about real life stories – Titanic, The King’s Speech, Argo and A Beautiful Mind. Funny that.

Instead of realizing that their interpretation of identity driven art isn’t sinking in with the public, Hollywood is now prepared to blot the history books – such as deleting the flag planting on the moon scene in ‘First Man’ – to destroy the very formula that seems to resonate with audiences.

No, in the fight for equality we must disparage innocent, hard working citizens by questioning their faith and mocking their intelligence. Hollywood can keep up the performances at these awards ceremonies. Doubling, tripling or quadrupling down on a formula that continues to fail only shows where the lack of insight lies. Too much time in rehab?

By all means many may be willing to listen to celebrities if they practiced what they preached. Say, where are all those celebrities that threatened to leave the country if Trump became president? That’s right 99% are still here. Let’s not forget Leo DiCaprio flying his eyebrow stylist half way around the world on a private jet whilst telling us climate change is the most pressing issue of our day. Actions not words. In today’s society virtue signaling on social media is deemed enough.