Crisis

Ocasio-Cortez’s DC dilemma

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One would hope that newly elected Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez would be quick on her feet when it comes to dazzling her colleagues. She is complaining she can’t afford a property in DC before her $172,500pa salary kicks in 3-4 months down the line.

She could do three things:

1) ask her multi million dollar gated mansion, rent-a-cop guarded Democratic colleagues to let her stay in one of the spare rooms. Obama has an $8.5mn 8-bedroom mansion in DC. Surely she won’t cramp them too much especially with Malia at college and Sasha likely to move out soon.

2) crowd fund for the 3 months which will likely win her millions  so she can buy a place of her own.

3) or in her own words to justify everything that costs money  – “you just pay for it”

How long will it take to learn from Chuck, Nancy, Maxine, Elizabeth and so on that some pigs are more equal than others? My guess isn’t very long. First world problems for someone with third world policies.

 

Banned documentary – Let There Be Light, 1946

In compiling the book of letters from the battlefields of WWII by Lt. Norman Peterson, researching PTSD in that era has unearthed some interesting facts. A documentary made by John Huston in 1946, which chronicled the treatment of troops suffering from neuro-psychiatric conditions, was banned by the Army from release to the public until 1981. The excuse made was that it was necessary to protect the identity of the patients, despite Huston having received signed waivers. It would seem the top brass did not want to have the extent of the problem acknowledged by the broader public.

The first published book related to what we now know as PTSD was the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of 1952. It listed the condition as “gross stress reaction.” It wasn’t until 1980 that PTSD was properly recognized as a psychological issue. After WWII, veterans were told to just tough it out.

WWII British Army veteran, Victor Gregg, wrote the following in The Telegraph newspaper article on 9th November 2015 with respect to PTSD like conditions.

“I remember one day during the Battle of Alamein when my friend Frankie Batt, a man I had enlisted with in 1937, was blown to pieces. I recall trying in vain to put the bits together, to somehow bring Frankie back to life. As I picked up what was left of him I could feel the hate burning inside me. For the next three or four weeks our section never brought in a single prisoner, in spite of the fact that the battle was nearly over and the enemy were surrendering in droves. So long as no officer was there to witness, we shot as many as we could until our anger died its own death…by the time I got home I had witnessed things that I had not thought possible, and my brain was filled with images of suffering that were to haunt me for the next forty years…When I was demobbed, people didn’t talk about what was going on in their minds. It just was not the done thing; you straightened your shoulders and got on with life. The men who did try to raise the subject were treated with scorn…It was only after many years that I realised how much heartache and misery my anger caused to those I loved. 

The Cambridge History of the First World War contains an article by Jay Winter, Professor of History at Yale University, where he suggested that shell shock in WWI comprised around 20% of all troops, not the 5% often reported. His contention was that the truth was deliberately suppressed otherwise sufferers would not have received a disability pension if not accompanied by physical wounds.

In 1993, MA Kidson, JC & BJ Holwill wrote in the Medical Journal of Australia a piece titled, ‘Post-traumatic stress disorder in Australian World War II veterans attending a psychiatric outpatient clinic’. Out of 108 veterans who participated in the study 45% were shown to carry symptoms of PTSD – as defined by DSM-III – 48 years after it had ended. The study claimed, The presence of PTSD was significantly associated with the taking of casualties (an indicator of severity of war stress as reported by the veterans themselves) and with combat stress as rated by their treating doctors.”

A 2007-08 study at the University Michigan looked at 78 WWII veterans being treated for depression and discovered that 38% of them had significant PTSD symptoms.

Dr. Helen Kales, principal investigator of the geriatric psychiatry section at the University of Michigan wrote,

World War II veterans come from a generation in which expressing psychological symptoms or distress was pretty stigmatized. So these cases may have gone untreated as the vets did not seek treatment and were able to somehow suppress their symptoms and function.

Reading into Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) reveals even more concerns about the problems we face dealing with returning soldiers.

While PTSD does not necessarily require physical damage to occur, TBI, in the military, tends to occur when exposed to blast-related injuries such as artillery, improvised explosive devices (IED), land mines and rock-propelled grenades (RPG).

TBI can be the result of occurrences where an object (bullet, bomb fragments) causes the scalp/skull to break or fracture. Sometimes it is a closed injury where the outside force impacts the head but no objects manage to penetrate. Even in the case of closed injuries, the brain can experience such considerable force that it can result in torn tissues, bleeding and other physical damage which can be irreversible in severe cases.

TBI was better recognized in Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) where 1.64 million served. 60% of blast injuries in those conflicts resulted in TBI. According to the US Veteran Affairs (VA), 59,000 (c.10%) Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who used the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) from 2009 to 2011 were diagnosed with TBI.

VA now records that 4.3mn receive disability benefits, up 2mn from 2000. The total budget for the VA in 2019 will total $198.6bn, up from $97.7bn in 2009. It was $43.6bn in 2000. The VA is asking for $212bn for 2020. The VA budget relative to the defense spending budget was 14% in 2000. It is now 30%. The cost of war is obscene. The cost of looking after veterans is hot on defence spending heels.

Climate DataGate – Audit reveals the shoddy data we allocate billions off

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What a joke. Jo Nova unpacks the first proper audit of the dataset our governments put faith in to fork out billions into mad green schemes. She writes,

There are cases of tropical islands recording a monthly average of zero degrees — this is the mean of the daily highs and lows for the month. A spot in Romania spent one whole month averaging minus 45 degrees. One site in Colombia recorded three months of over 80 degrees C. That is so incredibly hot that even the minimums there were probably hotter than the hottest day on Earth. In some cases boats on dry land seemingly recorded ocean temperatures from as far as 100km inland The only explanation that could make sense is that Fahrenheit temperatures were mistaken for Celsius, and for the next seventy years at the CRU no one noticed.”

 

Mid-terms will be a vote on what to do with the scab of division

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Every time we turn on the news we’re told America has never been so divided. If we listen to the narrative it would seemingly be all President Trump’s fault. The reality would point more towards his brash, vulgar and politically incorrect style catalyzing the removal of a scab covering a festering wound that has not healed for over a decade.

The upcoming midterms will be an interesting read on the underlying mood of the country. It is likely both sides will get out in force like few midterms before it. Normally midterms garner a 40% turnout. It should be much higher in Nov 2018. .

Never has been predicting a result in the midterms been so difficult. CM thinks it swings to the Republicans. Despite that being a total stab in the dark, the recent Kavanaugh confirmation debacle raised some interesting stats according to Rasmussen Reports.

In response to SCJ Brett Kavanaugh’s statement that “This confirmation process has become a national disgrace. The Constitution gives the Senate an important role in the confirmation process, but you have replaced advise and consent with search and destroy.” 

56% of Likely U.S. Voters agree with his statement. Unsurprisingly 77% of Republicans thought that way. 51% affiliated with neither party and even 40% of Democrats agree with Kavanaugh.

In what was probably the most ghastly political stunt since Attorney General Loretta Lynch met Bill Clinton on an airport tarmac to discuss grandkids and golf days ahead of a testimony surrounding Hillary Clinton’s emails, America saw two victims eviscerated for political capital.

What could have happened behind closed doors, became a spectator sport. Evidence was withheld until it became expedient to use it  Now that Ford doesn’t wish to push forward with any charges only makes the whole episode stink more. She has been left as road kill and Kavanaugh will bear the scars for many years to come.

CM copped a lot of criticism from late 2015 when he suggested Trump would beat Clinton. How people scoffed and laughed, throwing White House stats in the face on how great things were. CM’s argument when going through broader stats found that the disappearing middle class was only worsening post GFC. The simple argument was that those not living the dream portrayed by rosy econometrics know best. Calling them uneducated, stupid or deplorable was never going to change their minds. They saw the current system not working for them. Nothing to do with identity. All to do with prosperity (rather lack thereof) .

Those very people, if they feel their lot has improved on balance they’ll vote for who will keep that fortune going. It is no longer a question of GOP vs Democrat.

More than any bragging by Trump about his achievements, the mid terms will weigh and measure the reality. Truth be told his constant boasting about new highs on the stock market being down to his stewardship will only backfire if markets correct.

Whatever the media’s constant attacks on the “division” of a nation should be taken in context of the shock of Trump’s election win. Good Americans on both sides of the aisle do not agree with extremists kicking others out of restaurants, calling his daughter a “feckless c*nt” and they probably don’t think too highly of extra marital affairs.

Yet looking across the street in one’s own backyard middle Americans probably know a neighbour having an extra marital affair or embarking on a third marriage. It’s nothing remotely shocking in today’s society.

The question for America is not merely about enforcing the moral high ground (what’s left of it) but sustaining prosperity. Putting food on the table without having to work 3 jobs is more important to many than whether Trump paid a porn star. Apart from it being a matter for Melania, people will be exercising a mid-term vote on whether the Trump frag grenade was worth lobbing.

It is irrelevant whether you love or hate him, his rallies are as packed at the mid-terms as they were during his election campaign. Taking away the bias, listening to how he works up a crowd is worth paying attention to. Whether taking pot shots at Dr Ford, slamming the media at the back of the room for being ‘fake news’ and getting the crowd to chant “CNN sucks” shows he may not be as stupid as made out.

The Kavanaugh confirmation brought up the ugliness of the swamp. The calculated horrorshow of partisan politics was put on full display. There were no winners in that kangaroo court. The GOP May have achieved a Phyrric victory of sorts by getting their man on the Supreme Court but there was little grace.

So in November Americans can choose to leave the scab over the gangrenous wound and go back to the status quo or vote to yank it off and keep the experiment going. Only sunlight has a chance to cauterize this mess. Yet the Democrats are fighting hard to avoid seeing the doctor.

If Americans want to send a message to show that civil unrest and public demonstrations which seek to disrupt daily lives will likely see Republicans do better. People are aware of the issues. Having it force fed through one sided media didn’t work in 2016 and is less likely to work in 2018.

Musk flips the ‘bird’ at the SEC

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Tesla shareholders must wish Elon Musk would be as silent as his products. It seems the Tesla CEO has learnt nothing from his $20mn fine. Given that Tesla is still under investigation for other reporting  matters, it seems unprofessional to bait the SEC when shareholders want to see stability at the helm. Musk tweeted,

Just want to that the Shortseller Enrichment Commission is doing incredible work. And the name change is so on point!,”

Just further evidence this CEO has no wish to listen to his board or interact with them in a way that promotes best practice corporate governance. It’s still a one man band. The irony of the tweet is that the SEC’s leniency allowed him to stay at the top causing a 17% jump on the settlement.

Even worse Paragraph 13 of his settlement with the SEC requires him to seek board oversight of any public communications although has yet to be officially signed off by a judge.

In a twist or irony one shareholder tweeted back that he wasn’t just attacking the stock shorters  but the long only owners as well.

Tesla shares closed down 4.4% and indicated at $273 in the after market, a fitter 3% fall. At the start of the SEC decision last week the shares had traded as low as $267. In a sense Musk has been the Shortsellers Enrichment CEO not the SEC.

Musk’s $20mn fine covered if Tesla shares jump 59 cents

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$20mn sounds like a lot. It is a lot. The SEC has struck a deal with Tesla’s Elon Musk which demands he steps down as chairman and hires two independent directors. Musk owns 33.7mn shares. Technically he would only require a 59c share price rise to cover his fine. Make it a dollar to cover taxes and transaction costs plus legal fees. In any event the fine is peanuts in the grand scheme of things.

To be honest, Tesla disciples will breathe a sigh of relief that their king still remains in the company and more importantly as the figure head. The question remains is whether a new chairman (from outside?) will see to it that the company is not just a one man band which has been painfully obvious with so many senior level defections. Too often the board has seemed to be an onerous burden for Musk in that his intergalactic brilliance shouldn’t require checks and balances.

Will a new chairman demand a thorough audit into business practices to date? It is likely that the SEC will expect a new chairman to lift the standards of the board to make sure that shareholders interests are properly decided with all directors heard. An independent audit should be viewed as the bare minimum. What would that unearth?

Tesla shares should bounce on this news and in aftermarket trading it is up. The question is how a new structure changes dynamics which reveal the short cuts and internal processes which have created so many reporting inconsistencies.

A new low

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Today was a dark day for America. Despite both Ford & Kavanaugh putting forward seemingly credible cases, they were washed aside for the most sickening display of partisan politics. One could almost picture fiendish crowds awaiting the direction of the Roman Emperor’s thumb. How sad that the two people with the most to lose were treated as punching bags by despicable senators. Social media forums were nothing more than ferals chanting obscenities in a colosseum. Sick, sick, sick! No dignity on display.

The questions lobbed by both Democrats & Republicans for the main part were a clear display of making one’s mind up beforehand. What a farce. It was blood sport. It had little to do with seeking the “truth” rather trying to use reprehensible tactics to confirm or deny Kavanaugh. Ford & Kavanaugh may as well have been road kill. Neither side cared for the testimony of those that opposed their preformed views.

Sexual assault is a heinous crime. Period. True victims of it can suppress traumatic memories for decades. The statute of limitations may well be a convenient out clause for perpetrators in law, but sufferers shouldn’t need a deadline to reveal those inner demons. How many people have chosen to take their own life because they can’t deal with the shame?

Some basic questions.

Why would anyone be in the least bit surprised for Kavanaugh to fight his corner after being smeared with such serious defamatory accusations? Even if he is proven not guilty of those crimes his reputation has taken untold hits. If he is found to be guilty then he ought to be punished to the full extent of the law. However was his testimony any less believable? He asked for an investigation immediately after the news broke on Ford’s claim. Yet here were senators grilling him to demand one. Do they listen?

Ford too. She would be risking a great amount to go in front of a Senate Committee and lie. It is a punishable offence. Would she really seek to go into a viper pit and take the trouble to invite unsolicited attacks on her? Yet why is no one prepared to corroborate her evidence? Afraid of the repercussions?

However it struck me, as a victim of sexual assault myself at age 13, as to why Ford needed to read her story from a scripted page. I can unequivocally state every detail of what happened to me without notes. I could explain it repeatedly over and over again. Even years or decades apart, nothing would change. The face of the man that did it almost 35 years ago. Where. What time. What happened. The lot. I only came out with it several years ago but such would be the emotional pain that she shouldn’t have needed notes. Not accusing Ford of lying, just something that appeared strange to me. Real victims require no preparation. It’s burned in the memory. Was alcohol a factor? People may deal with trauma in different ways. That was the only thing that put a question mark against authenticity.

Why did Democrats not raise the other allegations against Kavanaugh with respect to indecent exposure and rape gangs until it was raised by their opposite numbers? Why did they drag Renate’s name through this hearing? A person not even party to the whole sordid affair gets her name blasted in front of millions. And discussing flatulence – could the question be so irrelevant?

The stink (no pun intended) of all of this is the timing of many allegations. As CM had written earlier, Feinstein seemed to pull this joker out of the pack to cause maximum damage to Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Had she been a true fighter for the rights of supposed rape victims, why wouldn’t she seek to immediately take it in closed session to protect confidentiality of Ford and do the right thing. No, the letter was leaked to the press and all of a sudden Ford was thrust into the boiling cauldron. There was plenty of time to act.

Yet Grassley and other senators rattling off the words of former Senator Joe Biden and his claim of the irrelevance of FBI investigations was a futile attempt to confirm their man. Once again, it had nothing to do with Kavanaugh or Ford. To be honest one had to feel for Kavanaugh at times in that he was not after platitudes from Republicans. He wants his name cleared and undoubtedly wants his reputation restored. I defy anyone accused of such horrible things not to feel upset.

CM, like most are none the wiser on guilt. So many had made up their minds well beforehand. The only thing absolutely for certain was the unbecoming behaviour of that rabble. It was utterly disgusting. Neither side could claim any victory, let alone Phyrric.

The only thing anyone should be praying for is to never witness something so appalling again. Justice should be served through the correct procedures. Yet politicians only proved today that they are utterly self serving and more evident was the wake up call for all Americans about those who supposedly represent them.