29 September 2019

Bread And Circuses.

Panem et Circenses. Bread and Circuses.

Once again, the media is proving that shallow spectacle--"infotainment"--is all they have to offer. Rather than inform and facilitate sober and serious contemplation of the day's pressing issues, the legacy media offers only a steady diet of what is charitably described as "political porn"--click bait meant only to titillate.

President Trump's likely impeachment is the clown act du jour. Why is he being impeached? That is an excellent question. Apparently, Democrats are upset that he spoke on the telephone with the recently elected President of the Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, and are in high dudgeon that he requested the Ukrainian government look into possible corruption and malfeasance involving former Vice President (and current Democratic Presidential front-runner) Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

Predictably, Republicans are outraged that the Democrats are outraged. President Trump is outraged that the Democrats are outraged, and even more outraged that the legacy media is airing its sympathetic outrage over the Democratic outrage over President Trump's outrageousness.

Did you catch that important bit of news about people being outraged?  

Did you catch any other useful bit about the particulars of the incident and presumed offenses by Donald Trump? Probably not, because the facts only dribble out quite by accident.

Consider the latest breathless, pearl-clutching headlines over President Trump's phone call.

In "The Week That Everything Changed" the columnist assures us that the narrative has suddenly shifted, that the Democrats are finally on offense while the Republicans are finally on defense. She neglects, of course, to make mention of all the high dudgeon expended last summer over President Trump's seeming inability to properly berate Russian strongman Vladimir Putin in public over Russia's presumed meddling in the 2016 election--a narrative which I observed at the time was notable for the complete absence of factual support.

The author of "As Fox News goes, so goes Trump" earnestly assures us that the troglodytic commentators at the "conservative" Fox News are President Trump's only defense against the forces of Truth and Justice, but even Fox grasps the gravity of the situation, and thus is bolstering its array of talking heads with ex politicians who have a clear understanding of all that is at stake. The irony of looking to politicians to deliver clear and objective analyses of issues escapes him completely.

In "The Truth About Trump’s Insane Ukraine ‘Server’ Conspiracy", whose author is a "Senior National Security Correspondent", he pans Trump's request of President Zelensky and his mention of cybersecurity firm Crowdstrike, treating as ludicrous any notion that Crowdstrike might have erred in its forensic examination of the Democratic National Committee servers after the alleged Russian hack which purportedly resulted in volumes of DNC data being publicized via WikiLeaks. Unfortunately, this "Senior National Security Correspondent" manages to completely overlook the fact that Crowdstrike's assessment of the alleged hack, in particular the role of a pseudonymous hacker known as "Guccifer 2.0", was directly and categorically refuted in the only indictments issued over that hack, those being the indictments secured by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in July of 2018. While the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity is not a universally acknowledge body of intelligence expertise or forensic analysis, it is disingenuous for this "Senior National Security Correspondent" to gloss over the fact that VIPS made public their full analysis and the relevant source data. 

On the other side of the aisle, in "Anti-Trump media doing their best to get president impeached" we have dogged insistence that all the fracas is just a media conspiracy whose sole purpose is to get President Trump thrown out of office. President Trump, after all, is heaven sent to save America from itself. While I actually am inclined to agree with the charges of bias, having already commented at length about it with regards to the Russian Collusion Hoax and the fiasco known as the Mueller Investigation, the notion of the media being decidedly anti-Trump no longer qualifies as newsworthy. The aftermath of Robert Mueller's anti-climactic report establishing no collusion or conspiracy between President Trump's election campaign and Russian spies was littered with examples of the media promoting factually false narratives with complete disregard for facts very much in evidence at the time.

The reader will note that I do not mention these authors by name, nor do I highlight the publications from which these articles came. This is not an oversight. It is a protest of sorts--perhaps a silly one, unlikely to be an effective one, certainly a personal one. It is my way of saying "enough!" on this endless cycle of propaganda and Fake News. The articles in question I have archived on The Internet Archive's "Wayback Machine", a service which caches web content against future deletion and modification, in part to deny these sources the benefit of any more click-thrus.

The criticism I have is simple: people need facts in order to decide the truth of any matter. We need to know the Who, the What, the Where, and the When. We need to be able to puzzle out the How and the Why. In my "day job" in Information Technology, I constantly encourage my technical support staffs to focus on these basic interrogatory questions when gathering information about a problem. Gathering the data is the first and most essential step in any problem-solving paradigm.

The role of the media--be it the legacy media or the up and coming "alt-media"--is to gather and present those facts. Even a blog such as this, which focuses on presenting analyses of various issues, has a duty to itself to focus on facts. Facts are what have credibility, not the people presenting them; we gain our credibility by borrowing that of the facts--and if we are respectful of the facts, and guide our reasonings and logic in accordance with the facts, we may hope that some of the credibility enjoyed by the facts will permanently adhere to us.

The media has long since abandoned the task of presenting facts. Where Donald Trump is concerned, the media were openly scornful of even the pretense of objectivity as early as August of 2015, while he as just getting his Presidential election campaign started.

What is to be done? Gather the facts. Amazingly enough--and probably quite by accident--the facts are out there. Even the legacy media occasionally slips and manages to release verifiable factual information. Each person, each reader of this blog or of any information source, must take the time to gather facts, to question what others are saying, and the conclusions others are reaching.

As I have advised previously, "Do not trust. Verify instead." Do not accept a pronouncement merely because it comes from some presumed "expert" in the media, legacy or otherwise. Read. Think. Judge for yourself. Read my essays and decide for yourself if I am insightful or insane--and feel free to tell me which you think I am. Challenge prevailing wisdom. Take every comment made on all sides with a grain of salt.

Above all, be mindful of this one basic truth about what the legacy media especially offers: it is all just bread and circuses, a clown show designed to entertain and distract while generating ad revenue and mouse clicks. It cannot be stated too much that the media has no interest in informing you; they wish only to entertain you.

Do not trust. Verify instead.

16 September 2019

No Deal Brexit A Disaster? Currency Markets Cry "Bollocks!"

Since the Brexit Referendum was announced in 2016, the legacy media has been full of the dire prognostications of the many trials and tribulations that would befall the United Kingdom should they actually up and quit the EU.

Despite the best efforts of the naysayers of Project Fear, Brexit passed with a healthy margin.

And still the naysayers kept up their drumbeat of depressive doomsday declarations.

Theresa May turned what ostensibly were relatively straightforward "divorce" proceedings into the stuff of tabloids, and then the naysayers felt vindicated. As her Brexit deal was voted down an embarrassingly three times, the naysayers gloated.

Then Theresa May resigned as Prime Minister, and on July 24, 2019, Boris Johnson moved into 10 Downing Street. How the narrative has shifted!

During the first five days of August, the Brexit headlines were talking up the "inevitability" of Boris Johnson having to negotiate a proper Brexit Deal, despite all his chest-thumping rhetoric, as this random sampling of news sources demonstrates:
The conventional wisdom during those five days was quite definitely tilted towards there being a Brexit deal of some sort--either a revision to Theresa May's proposal, a Brexit delay followed by a deal, or Boris Johnson would whip up an entirely new deal at the eleventh hour to save the day and the country.

However, during the next five days, the tone of the news shifted. Slowly, perhaps even grudgingly, the legacy media conceded that Boris Johnson might not be bluffing after all, that he might actually push to crash the UK out of the EU in a "No Deal Brexit" on October 31st--the ultimate "Trick Or Treat" for All Hallows' Eve:

With yet more vindication in hand, surely the Brexit naysayers are gloating over the Brexiteers as the markets begin to punish Britain for the folly of separating itself from Europe.....right?


The chart at the top is the changes in currency valuation, the Euro vs the British Pound, over the last two months (from 17 July to 16 September).  Notice how the Euro peaked on August the 10, at £0.93927? Notice how the Euro has steadily declined against the British Pound since that date? Even before the potential "Black Swan" events of September 14-15 (the Iranian/Houthi attack on Saudi Arabia's oil production facilities and resultant loss of half of the Kingdom's production capacity), the currency markets were shifting away from the Euro and towards the British Pound. This is the exact opposite of the movement one would expect if the currency markets were betting against the British Pound.

Intriguingly, the Euro against the US Dollar shows a similar peak on August 10, followed by a persistent decline, although in the case of the Dollar the shift is more erratic and more pronounced. While there may have been the beginning of a Euro recovery against the dollar starting in September, the aforementioned "Black Swan" moment appears to have squelched that bounceback.

When comparing the US Dollar to the British Pound, the two currencies were more or less moving sideways during August, and then the dollar fell against the pound starting on September 3, and only beginning to regain ground on September 14--quite likely a "flight-to-safety" reaction to the Iranian/Houthi attack.

Full Disclosure: I am not a currency trader nor a financial analyst, and none of this is to be taken as investment advice or guidance.

In business especially, actions always speak louder than words. The words of the legacy media have been that Brexit, and particularly a "No Deal" Brexit, will be a disaster for the UK. The actions of the world's currency speculators, who are literally betting fortunes on the next economic ripple within the worlds leading economies, has been in the past month a somewhat derisive "Bollocks!" (apologies to any actual British folk if I am using the colloquial expletive incorrectly). Currency markets are steadily bidding up the British Pound and bidding down the Euro as the deadline for Brexit draws closer; it may lack a certain dramatic flair, but it is nevertheless a solid vote of confidence in Brexit, even in the "No Deal" Brexit.  The Euro would not be steadily losing ground to the Pound if the currency markets had any misgivings about Brexit.

When China let the bottom fall out of the yuan during the last few days of August, I noted that while much was made of the yuan's fall against the dollar, very few financial commentators even noticed a seemingly synchronous drop of the euro against the dollar, despite the absence of any negative EU news at the time. At the time, I offered up the following conclusion:
The one thing that seems certain about the legacy media's prognostications about the state of the world is that they have the narrative all wrong. With respect to China and Europe, they have it provably wrong, which only begs the question what else do the chattering class "experts" have completely wrong?
There will be no final answers until November 1, if then, but, if the current currency market trends hold through October, we quite possibly could add Brexit coverage to the list of things the chattering class "experts" within the legacy media have gotten very wrong.

Note: the currency graphs are courtesy of xe.com and were obtained using the following search parameters at the time of writing:
  • Euro to British Pound: https://www.xe.com/currencycharts/?from=EUR&to=GBP&view=1M
  • Euro to US Dollar: https://www.xe.com/currencycharts/?from=EUR&to=USD&view=1M
  • US Dollar to British Pound: https://www.xe.com/currencycharts/?from=USD&to=GBP&view=1M

These Are Not Democrats. These Are Fascists

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

In the third Democratic debate, candidate and former Congressman Robert Francis O' Rourke let the cat out of the bag on gun control: The Democrats intend to confiscate America's guns. This policy mandate comes even as Americans' enthusiasm for gun control is trending down--probably due to government abuses such as the recent demand of Apple for the names of all the people who've downloaded a gun-sighting app.

Yet this is not the most remarkable policy position that has been embraced by the Democratic 202 Presidential hopefuls. As former Vice-President Joe Biden has demonstrated, the basis for Democrats' domestic policy proposals (to the extent they have any) will be race; to a man, the Democratic Party is now the party of racism. They are also proposing to be a party that will think nothing of deciding how stock markets should behave.

At CNN's hours-long climate change "town hall", Senator Kamala Harris declared her willingness to rewrite the Senate's procedures by eliminating the filibuster:
This notion has been echoed by Senator Elizabeth Warren:
Beyond the Presidential candidates, Congress itself has undertaken to not only criticize Supreme Court rulings, but has expressed a desire to arrogate unto itself full legal authority to regulate voting:
The "boldness" the Democrats seek is more government intervention in the daily lives of Americans, more laws, more regulation, more centralized control over just about everything. They have said this, time and again, in different forums, different contexts, and with regards to different issues.

In response to all their seeming "boldness" and apparent legislative enthusiasm, however, comes the crucial question: Where in the Constitution is either the Congress or the President given authority to act along these lines?

Without a doubt, this question should be at the center of every political debate in this country. As I have observed previouslyif we desire good law, we must begin with the Constitution. If we wish to enact good laws, we must take care not to enact laws which contradict the Constitution and violate even one of its strictures. If we hope to design good law, we must ask ourselves the right questions about the law, and the Constitution. 

Is there authority in the Constitution for any of what the Democrats propose to do? With respect to gun control and gun confiscations, the answer is most assuredly "No!". The Second Amendment is quite categorical in its construction, and thus in its meaning:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
For Congress to have authority to regulate or confiscate firearms, the Constitution must have some other overriding clause. Alas for the Democrats, there is no such clause. The closest one gets to such authority is the Commerce Clause from Article 1, Section 8, but even the Supreme Court has acknowledged that the Commerce Clause is itself not without limits (United States v Lopez, 514 US 549 (1995)), one of those limits being restraint found elsewhere within the Constitution, such as the Second Amendment, a point further advanced in District of Columbia v. Heller (554 U.S. 570 (2008)).

Is there authority within the Constitution for the President of the United States to end the Senate filibuster? No, there is not. Each House of Congress sets up its own rules without outside input, and is explicitly empowered by Article 1 Section 5 to do so. The President cannot command the Senate to change its rules, and the filibuster is a Senate rule.

Does Congress have authority to regulate State and local elections? A plain reading of the Constitution does not permit this question to be answered in the affirmative. The main body of the Constitution itself is silent on whom may regulate elections, but the Tenth Amendment is quite clear that rights and powers not articulated within the Constitution belong to the states or to the People.

Note that these are not questions of propriety or even of efficacy, but of authority. One need not question whether the confiscation of a particular category of firearm would have an impact on violent crime, or if the elimination of the Senate filibuster would enable the passage of better legislation to acknowledge the reality that the President lacks the authority to do what the Democratic candidates are promising. One need not debate voter integrity laws to realize that Congress is not the body authorized to address elections, but the legislatures of the several states. In each example described above, the Constitution prohibits the Congress and the President from carrying out the legislative and executive order agendas promised by the Democrats.

Yet the Democrats as a party are unaware of this. They are oblivious to the patent unconstitutionality--which is to say, illegality--of what they promise. They are completely nonplussed that the very act of promoting these unconstitutional proposals flies in the face of the oath every Congressman and every Senator takes upon assuming their elected office, an oath that is mandated by law:
I, AB, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.
How can any politician or political party pride itself on the wholesale disregard of sworn duty? How can any politician seeking or holding high office in the United States fail to acknowledge the supremacy of the Constitution?

The only answer that presents itself is that said politician, said political party, cares nothing for the Constitution. The Democrats, as they have done since the days of Woodrow Wilson, view the Constitution not as a guiding light but as an inconvenience, a nuisance that is best ignored whenever possible. We know this because their promises and their deliberations flagrantly and even pridefully ignore the constraints upon government clearly laid out by a plain reading of the Constitution.

The Democrats are campaigning on a platform of dictatorship, of Constitutional abrogation, of the removal of fundamental rights and basic civil liberties. The Democrats are campaigning to end the rule of law in this country, and replace it with the rule of lawyers, of civil servants, of petty bureaucrats, unelected and unaccountable. They have said this directly and repeatedly. They have said this proudly.

The Democrats are not democrats. They are not adherents of democracy They care nothing for the fact that ours is a government by the people. They are dismissive of the Constitution's Preamble, beginning as it does with the emphatic declaration of popular sovereignty, "We The People...."

The Democrats are literal fascists. One need only look at the definition of fascism to see this to be true:
a political philosophy, movement, or regime (such as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition
Substitute "state" or "government" for "nation" in that definition and one gets the perfect summation of every Democratic talking point uttered in the past several years. This is not an exaggeration.

The United States is and has always been a representative democracy. As Alexander Hamilton said so famously, "here, sir, the people govern". "We The People" are the ones who are the final authority in this country. Not Congress, not government, and certainly not the Democratic Party.

Today's Democratic Party is campaigning on an agenda of stripping that all away. They are doing so openly. They are doing so proudly. And their supporters are cheering them on.

Be afraid, America. Be very afraid.