Mainstream media

Poles apart

Once again how the social media feeds lit up with the supposed snubbing of President Trump by the Polish First Lady. If people took five seconds to come out of the sandpit and  objectively analyze her actions they’d see without deliberate video editing she clearly shook his hand immediately after she shook FLOTUS’s hand. It is pretty easy to work out why so many click bait media organizations are floundering. There is no intelligence or effort to be objective. Sadly one is forced to doubt almost every meme of this kind. It makes tabloids look like professorial theses by comparison. Even the Polish PM came out tweeting it was “FAKE NEWS”

Earlier in the week media were trying to claim he got lost on the way to his limousine when he alighted Air Force 1 as if to claim he was suffering from a mental disease. No doubt trying to add some credibility to the Democrats trying to seek his removal for a lack of mental faculty.

He is without doubt unconventional, often unstatesmanlike, at times shows a lack grace/eloquence and narcissistic (his round table where cabinet members professed their love for him was pretty nauseating) but reading his speech (even if composed by his speech writer – which president doesn’t?) in Warsaw, Trump spoke of what many of today’s apologist leaders refuse to. He believes in the idea that it is totally acceptable to defend your own values and culture. That people shouldn’t be pilloried for feeling patriotic. This week we’ve seen Trudeau offer a state apology and $10.5mn compo payment to a convicted terrorist.  Several months ago Canadian Bill M-103 was passed in such a way that free speech is gagged toward a specific minority. Australia tinkers at the edges of the draconian 18C and still bothers to invest in the AHRC which has shown itself to be an absolute waste of time, resources and worst of all a wrecker of the reputations of innocents. Germany arrested a good samaratin that released a video showing migrant violence toward an innocent victim on grounds of breaching privacy laws and the women of Cologne were advised to wear less revealing clothing to avoid being pestered. We could go on for ages. Is this defending culture? Thinking we gain acceptance by denying our own identity? I applaud Trump for making valid points about pride in one’s nation, something the gritty Poles know all too well.

There are many things not to like superficially about POTUS but when it comes to asking harsh questions about a fair share of funding for NATO or the UN, citing legitimate reasons for ditching the Paris Climate Accord or poking China to start dealing with its geopolitical chess piece in North Korea, he is speaking truths his predecessor would never broach. Sure he has much work to do at home but the world can’t help but notice the new sheriff in town on the global stage and boy do we need strength in this department after eight hollow years where countries like China and Russia ran amuck.

Yet when all is said and told, the mainstream media remains too busy trying to create stories/scandals with concocted outcomes by editing out the facts to create ‘ gotcha’ scoops which achieves their goals of personal hatred. Fake news? That term is getting overused. The fake part may be right but the news part isn’t.

Is there any dignity at CNN?

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Is CNN channeling the Gestapo? Threatening to release the name of an individual who made fun of the network’s own self inflicted stupidity. While it seems ratings haven’t suffered so badly post the Russiagate saga, surely the “we reserve the right to publish his identity” is an unbridled threat. How does taking down a video that has gone viral and been shared eliminate the problem? All that trying to ban soemthing does is exacerbate the problem.

One has to wonder whether the person that posted the video lampooning the network is “truly remorseful” or whether he was intimidated under a spotlight, pumped full of sodium Pentothal while staring at CNN’s legal goons in tight leather gloves. Talk about drawing bad attention to itself.

Perhaps if CNN really wanted to avoid such ridicule, it might decide to focus on quality journalism not stir up a hornet’s nest of lies for ratings. Doesn’t the satisfaction of winning from hard work and dedication trump free riding? Like drug cheats in sport perhaps if one lies to oneself enough they are every bit the winner as those legitimate athletes.

There can be no sympathy for a network that gets pilloried for engaging in what amounts to doxxing individuals. The Trump video in its initial form has been around for ages yet no complaints were had because everyone knows WWF is stage cast. The majority of those that saw the CNN spoof version would see it for what it is – ridicule.

For CNN to turn it into a “inciting violence against journalists” is plain nonsense. Should Trump have sent it on Twitter? No. Was it presidential? No. Was CNN in the wrong for inventing stories to try to remove him? Yes. Are journalists’ lives in danger from the President when they line up at a White House press conference? No.

As the ancient Chinese proverb states, “before setting out on revenge, first dig two graves.”

It only takes one to prove me wrong

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“No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.” – Einstein

Einstein meant that all the consensus in the world won’t mean he’s correct. It only takes one person to prove him wrong. It wasn’t surprising to see social media share Stephen Hawking’s prognosis on Trump leaving the Paris Climate Accord. More tellingly most overlooked the zany assumptions made in Hawking’s comments (250 degrees C temps and climate like Venus) and focused on who he was attacking. Seriously do you honestly believe that the earth’s temperatures will reach that if you relied on your own logic on this planet?As the coldest temperature in 110 years was recorded in rural NSW Australia overnight no one said boo. Had it been the hottest temperature in 110 years the media would be spewing global warming stories all week.

Last week we had former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres warn that the next three years will be crucial to stopping the worst effects of global warming. Let’s not forget that climate change is so critical to Figueres that she thinks gender inequality should be tackled at the same time and she openly discussed discrimination against males when it came to hiring in her department. Still talking of the climate alarmist letter she co-signed warning of catastrophe why don’t they analyze the “ground breaking” Paris Climate Accord they all laud when those responsible for 75% of the world’s CO2 emissions aren’t taking urgent action? China won’t peak out on CO2 until 2030, India has dozens of coal fired power on the drawing board over coming decades and Russia’s 4-page commitment is worthless. “Ah yes but they are signatories!” I heard many chant in response to the Paris Climate Accord. They might as well have signed a whiteboard in a non marking pen for what it is truly worth.

The Paris Climate Accord is essentially a system which makes as much sense as you quitting smoking on my behalf. How do I benefit exactly? Paying for air I can’t breathe. The Paris Climate Accord is nothing but a mechanism for wealth distribution controlled by a bloated UN which wishes to add more to its ridiculous budget and offices despite claims it is slimming down!

“The latest U.N. regular budget, while superficially smaller than the previous budget, made no fundamental programmatic or structural adjustments—e.g., reducing permanent staff, freezing or reducing salaries and other benefits, and permanently eliminating a significant number of mandates, programs, or other activities—that would lower the baseline for future U.N. budget negotiations.[10] Despite the Secretary-General’s proposal to eliminate 44 permanent posts, the 2012–2013 budget actually increased the number of permanent posts by more than a score compared with the previous budget. The failure to arrest growth in U.N. employment, salaries, and benefits is especially problematic because personnel costs account for 74 percent of U.N. spending according to the U.N.’s Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ).[11] Without a significant reduction in the number of permanent U.N. posts or a significant reduction in staff compensation and related costs, real and lasting reductions in the U.N. regular budget will remain out of reach.”

However what did Hawking say that makes his words credible? That is like saying Fed Chair Janet Yellen should be believed for saying we won’t see another financial crisis in our lifetimes. Let’s just accept it because many don’t know better. I haven’t seen the most rabid climate alarmists make a 250 degree claim. 98% of climate models to date have drastically over-predicted the extent of warming. The UNIPCC has been embroiled in so many scandals, climb downs and corrections that it can’t be relied on as a credible body. Many of the lead authors in the UN Climate bible have little experience in their fields and an investigation showed that  gender and minority status were given priority over ability in the investigative teams on each chapter. This is openly admitted by the UNIPCC as Donna La Framboise’s Delinquent Teenager’ highlighted,

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So if an internal survey that has been written up by the IPCC itself criticizing the process how can anyone put any validity in the argument?

Ahh but NOAA has told us that warming is getting worse. How could NASA lie? Oh the same NOAA that was subpoenaed after refusing to turn over emails related to an internal whistleblower who claimed the data had been homogenized (aka manipulated).

As argued many times before, human consumption patterns do not reflect the fear. SUV sales continue to grow as a % of sales, air travel is predicted to double by 2030 and sales of Tesla’s in HK or Norway fall off a cliff if generous tax incentives aren’t given to the wealthy to subsidize their virtue signaling.  This isn’t to doubt Hawking’s intelligence but Yellen, Greenspan, Bernanke, Kuroda and Draghi aren’t dummies either but it doesn’t preclude them from making mistakes and being wrong.

Oh, and for those that believe Hawking’s claims of rising sea levels the price of beachfront properties in a Sydney is preposterously high and even in Mauritius homes prices are still buoyant. Actions not words. Then we can always believe the immortal words of Australia’s former Climate Commissioner Tim Flannery who warned us that the waves would lap the 8th story of apartment blocks on the coast. He lives in a waterfront property himself. Actions not words.

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Try being an agent of change not a victim of it

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It is hard to feel sympathy for these news organizations that forget the golden rules of commerce – if you stop adding value your audience will consume elsewhere, Someone told me the other week that NYT subscriptions had soared. If indeed that was the case then why is the paper looking to junk half its editorial staff? Running the idea that free media is hurting advertising revenues and that shame on the paper for having to make rational business decisions. Free media might be part of the equation but had the NY Times stopped congratulating its self appraised excellence in bus shelters and billboards  realized that its journalism was the problem perhaps they might be expanding the kind of readership its advertisers would pay up for. Has the NYT not realized that the exposure of media outlets like CNN droning endlessly on about Russia-gate being a total fabrication for ratings is why trust in mainstream media is lower that the President?

The actions of the NY Times staff smacks of the same stupidity of the Sydney Morning Herald which has had to take two massive rounds of lay-offs inside a year because the product isn’t reaching. The SMH staff took a vote to strike at their evil overlords who put profit ahead of people. Welcome to the free market. When one journalist at the SMH became a scab (because he admitted the problem) he was vilified by his fellow workers. Biased in and biased out. Think of Channel 10 in Australia which is now under administration. Could it be the product that is not reaching? Could it be a lack of creativity or diversity in content (as opposed to diversity of background).

The NY Times does deserve credit though for trying to introduce balance to its columns with the introduction of a ‘climate sceptic’ (Bret Stevens) whose first article created such ructions that social media lit up like a Christmas tree – calling for his sacking and how the NY Times betrayed its loyal readers. Instead of praising the NY Times for trying to bring balance and diversity of thought into the mix, the group thinkers could only try to shut him down. It is exactly that type of reaction that will precipitate the demise of the paper. To be honest, when you read articles, journals, books or watch TV don’t you wish to learn other perspectives. Or do you want to listen to the same noise reverberating inside your own echo chamber?

It is natural to feel fear in the face of difficult times but staging protests only has the reverse effect. It is doubtful that management relishes having to retrench so many. However these people should live in the knowledge that management’s failure to turn around this wayward ship will result in their bosses’ necks. Instead of solutions, proposals and most importantly recognition of a failing product, they’ve chosen to be victims not agents.  Ironically at the moment NYT’s shareholders are behind management with the stock price up 50% YTD.

From Sesame to Elm Street

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ETF markets continue to surge in popularity. With low fees and basic packaging of the ETF product even Big Bird can understand what The Count is going on about. No wonder investors are snapping up these products faster than the Cookie Monster. However there is something chilling about the ETF market. In the lead up to and eventual crash of Lehmans et al CDOs, CDSs and other synthetic products were seen as the root of all evil. They were so complex that even Fields Medal winners in mathematics couldn’t make head nor tail of them. The ETF became the opposite – being too simplistic – and with that the product has brought huge complacency. To that end Sesame Street could well switch to Elm Street.

Today assets invested in ETF/Ps comprise over $3 trillion globally. Put simply the new funds flowing into ETFs vs. traditional mutual funds is at a 100:1 ratio and in terms of AUM is on par with total hedge fund assets which have been in existence for 3 times as long.

However ETFs, despite increasing levels of sophistication, have brought about higher levels of market volatility. Studies have shown that a one standard deviation move of S&P500 ETF ownership carries 21% excess intraday volatility. Regulators are also realising that limit up/down rules are exacerbating risk pricing and are seeking to revise as early as October 2015. In less liquid markets excess volatility has proved to be 54% higher with ETFs than the actual underlying indices. A full report can be seen here.

With the continuation of asset bubbles in a TINA (there is no alternative) world, ETFs in my view will lead to massive disappointments down the line. Their downfall could well invite the revival of the research driven fund manager model again as robots show they’re not as infallible as first thought in managing the volatility. Don’t forget humans designed the algorithms.

There is also the added risk of whether some ETFs actually hold the physical of the indices or commodities they mimic. A gold ETF is a wonderfully good way to store wealth without resorting to one’s own bank vault but how many ETF owners have inspected the subterranean cage that supposedly holds the physical the ETF is backed by? Has it been lent out? Does it own a fraction of stated holdings? It could be any other commodity too. Of course the ETF providers bang on about the safety of the products but how many times have we gasped when fraud reared it’s ugly head right in front of us. Bernie Maddoff ring any bells?

Given the implied volatility on the downside we need to bear in mind the actions of central banks. The Bank of Japan (BoJ) is the proud owner of 60% of the ¥20 trillion+ domestic ETF market. While the BoJ says it isn’t finished expanding its world’s largest central bank balance sheet (now 100% of GDP), the US Fed is looking to reduce its balance sheet by over 40% in order to normalize. While one can applaud some level of common sense pervading sadly the consequences of defusing the timer on the bomb they created at a period when the US economy is showing signs of recession will only be an overhang on asset markets. Should the US market be put through the grinder, global markets will follow.

It is one thing for the Fed to be prudent. It is another for it to be trying to cover its tracks through higher interest rates in a market that looks optically pretty but hides serious life threatening illnesses. The Fed isn’t ahead of the curve at all. It is so far behind the 8-ball that its actions are more likely to accelerate rather than alleviate a crisis. Point to low unemployment or household asset appreciation as reasons to talk of a robust economy but things couldn’t be further from the truth. Wage growth is not the stuff of dreams and the faltering signs in auto, consumer and residential markets should give reason for concern.

Since GFC we have witnessed the worst global economic revival in history. The weakest growth despite record pump priming and balance sheet expansion. Money velocity is continually falling and the day Greenspan dispensed with M3 reporting one knew that things were bad and “nothing to see here” was the order of the day.

Record levels of debt (just shy of $220 trillion or 300% of GDP when adding private, corporate and government), slow growth, paltry interest rates and coordinated asset buying have not done anything other than blown more air into a bubble that should have been burst. GFC didn’t hit the reset button. Central banks just hit print to avoid the pain. We’ve doubled up on stupidity, forgot the idea of prudent and sensible growth through savings and just partied on. Ask any of your friends in finance what they “really” think and I can assure you that after a few drinks they’ll tell you they’re waiting for the exit trade. They know Armageddon is coming but just don’t know when

Whether we like it or not, the reset button will be hit. I often argue people should not worry about the return ON their money but the return OF it. Global markets can’t be bailed out again with massive cash infusion. That has been a recipe for disaster, only widening the gap between haves and have nots. Debt must be allowed to go bad, banks must be allowed to go bust and free markets must be freed from the shackles of state sponsored manipulation to set prices. It will be ugly but more of the same can kicking won’t work.

ETFs are a sign of the times. They represent the slapdash approach to life these days. Time saving apps if you will. However nothing beats hard nosed analysis to understand what awaits us. Poor old Big Bird will be the canary in the coal mine and Sesame Street will be renamed Elm Street as the Kruger’s move in to give us nightmares Janet Yellen assures us aren’t possible.

Perhaps that is the ultimate question. As you go to work each day do you honestly feel that things are peachy as the management town hall meetings would have you believe? Are your friends or colleagues all bulled up about the future? Perhaps that is easier to answer than an ETF.

Egyptian TV host defends the West’s attitudes toward Islamic terror

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Not many will have seen this video because the mainstream media is loathe to publish anything remotely balanced these days. Egyptian TV host Youssef Al-Husseini launched a scathing attack on Islamic terrorism post the Finsbury Park mosque attack and said “The terror attack that unfortunately took place [in London] was a vehicular attack. This time, it was near a mosque, if you follow the news. How can anyone decide to carry out a terror attack near a place of worship – near a mosque, a church, or any temple where God is worshipped? In all the previous vehicular attacks, at least in 2016 and 2017, the “heroes” were, unfortunately, Muslims. And then people wonder why they hate us. Why do they hate us?! If they didn’t, there would be something mentally wrong with them. [We] use weapons all the time, slaughter people all the time, flay people all the time, burn people alive all the time, run people over all the time, and plant explosive devices and car bombs all the time. Why do you still expect them to love you?”

As written on the day of the London mosque attack, it was an unquestionably despicable act. This tit-for-tat terrorism serves no purpose other than to trigger further escalation on both sides. No sooner had a white terrorist run down a group of worshippers outside a mosque than another depraved individual tried to detonate a suicide vest in Brussels’ Central Station supposedly yelling “Allahu Akbar“. The sad aspect of terrorism in the West today is that it is happening on such a regular basis that many people are becoming numbed to it.

However the mosque attack was the such a bad turning point. The UK government is ill equipped to deal with it now. Should they mobilize the full compliment of 80,000 British Army soldiers and 27,000 reservists to guard the 2,000-odd mosques in the UK? Is putting barricades on footpaths a real solution? Do Brits want to see tanks parked outside Westminster or Trafalgar Square? Should x-ray machines be installed at every train or bus station? Is that a sustainable solution to the problem giving birth to vigilantes? People want action, not politically correct hand-wringing. They are sick of being told to suck it up and embrace ‘stronger together’ and ‘diversity is our strength’ or ‘terrorism is a fact of any big city’ style pandering. The majority of people are tolerant but there is a tipping point of common sense where they stop believing we win acceptance from jihadis by denying our own identities. Governments prefer to take the soft approach which only offers a safe haven to the activities that end up devastating even more innocent lives.

The idea peddled by limp wristed governments that Muslims need special protection only makes it worse. ALL citizens of any denomination, race or background deserve to feel safe. Yes, everyone knows it is a radical minority that is causing the problems. There is a paramount need to work with the Muslim community to root out those that only bring more distrust. No, it isn’t a license to condone bigotry either. However unless they feel we are ‘truly’ standing behind them rather than virtue signaling from the safety of a smartphone nothing will get better. That is an absolute. The further governments repress  the freedom of people to openly express their feelings the worse it will get.

We are taught from the earliest age that two wrongs don’t make a right. The rise of vigilantism is a natural reaction to governments that stick to the politically correct dialogue and skirt around the issues by trying to gag people whether by law (Canada’s M-103) or threat. Politicians cannot win the will of the people by shutting them up. They have to listen. Because the government isn’t listening militia will spawn and do what they deem necessary for the public interest, The last thing government needs is the widespread growth of people taking the law into their own hands. There are two things that ran through the mind of truck attacker Darren Osborne – he’d either be killed or be locked up for a long time after committing his terror. That is a pretty big price to pay but one he obviously thought worth paying.

To quote Al-Husseini again,

What have the Muslims shown [the West] other than the bombing of their capital cities? What have the Muslims shown them other than vehicular attacks? What have the Muslims shown them other than shooting at them? What have the Muslims shown them other than burning them alive in cages? They burn other Muslims alive as well. They all claim to have a monopoly over Islam. What have the Muslims shown [the Westerners] to make them love them, and welcome them in their countries?…

…The Muslims are constantly whining, lamenting, and wailing: The West is conspiring against us. Fine, let’s assume that the West is conspiring against you and only sees your negative image. Where is your positive image? The Muslims of the Abbasid state presented a positive image. They exported scientific research through the so-called “Muslim” scholars, most of whom, by the way, were not from the Arabian Peninsula. None of them were from the Arabian Peninsula. They were all from North Africa, and from what are now called the former Soviet Islamic republics of central Asia…

…What have the Arab countries contributed to the world? Nothing. What have the Islamic countries contributed to the world? Nothing. What have they contributed in the field of scientific research? Two, three, four, or ten scientists in the course of 1,435 years? C’mon, man! Let’s forget about 435 years and keep just one millennium. Ten important scientists in 1,000 years?! Who invented the airplane? The missile? The space shuttle? Centrifuges? Quantum mechanics? The Theory of Relativity? Who? Where did the most important philosophers come from? Not from here. And you still expect them to love us?! And then you say: “Terror-sponsoring countries like Britain deserve…” Nonsense! People do not deserve to be killed, slaughtered, or run over by a car.”

Al-Husseini makes some very valid points yet why does the media not choose to highlight his stance? The irony of those who have seen his video clip is the social media comment section. Even those who take quite a strong stance on diversity and tolerance joked along the lines of  “is he still alive?” Doesn’t that sort of truly reveal the inner feelings of people rather than the public perception they seek to portray openly for fear of recrimination? We should applaud Al-Husseini’s bravery to speak out like this. His comments are exactly the type of bold response that throws the West’s constant rolling over into the dustbin. We can be sure Al-Husseini’s comments are heartfelt and a wish for all to climb out from behind the protection of identity politics and embrace ‘reality’.

Since Osborne’s truck attack, Tommy Robinson’s book ‘Enemy of the State’ is now the number one selling book on Kindle and paperback. So UK government, are you sure you understand the mood of the nation? They are more than likely to back Mr Al-Husseini’s views than yours.

Trump thump in 2018 Mid-terms?

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In what was largely seen as a referendum on the first months of Trump’s presidency, voters dispelled the myth that Democrats would make much easier work in coming elections due to his constant outbursts, tweets and negative media coverage. As the glum faces of the CNN panel show, the Democrats need to wake up to the fact that Trump’s poll ratings aren’t causing the desired effect at the voting booth as Republican Karen Handel won. Director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics Larry Sabato stated,

For Democrats, obviously, it’s pretty depressing. … I think, if Democrats learn a lesson from this election, it’s that the euphoria that they’ve felt for the last several months as Donald Trump has fallen in the polls and they began to believe that this would be — not easy, but doable to take over the House of Representatives and eventually replace Donald Trump, that euphoria is gone, and it’s replaced with reality. And the reality is, it’s going to be a long, twilight struggle, day in and day out, if they’re going to be able to re-take the House and eventually defeat Donald Trump. It won’t be easy. It may not be possible.”

Once again the mainstream media conveniently forgets its ‘trust’ rating is lower than the Donald’s. That’s not a badge of honour for either. Objectively his style is far from statesmanlike. Yet other world leaders do not exactly treat the leader of the world’s largest economy and military with the cordiality due. Two events spring to mind – Australian Prime Minister Turnbull’s Midwinter ball speech mocking a wounded ally and Macron’s snub at the G-7 followed by his arrogant invite for conditional US citizens to leave America for France. Of course such discourse was lapped up by the liberal mainstream media.

Instead of convincing Trump to come to reason, they kick him out of the geopolitical sandpit and then cry foul when he acts out in his own interest. Don’t expect all the 2018 mid-terms to be a complete pushover for the Democrats. The Hillary Clinton campaign imploded on this very strategy. Theresa May fell for the same negligent attitude which cost her so dearly two weeks ago. Voters want to be heard, not taken for mugs. Once again, celebrities who bent over backwards to help Democrat candidate Jon Ossoff, had the same effect on voters – NONE