Archive for February, 2017

jon huntsman secretary of state

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

jon huntsman junior, the kinder, gentler, richer version of mitt romney, is being considered for the number 2 role in the US state department. is this a good thing or a bad thing? the billionaire, who was briefly considered for the secretary of state position,  has a completely uncontroversial resume–that is if you don’t consider the mormon church a cult. at the moment he sits on a number of boards for mostly uncontroversal companies. and given that he’s less charismatic than his partner in morman crime, mitt romney, he probably has no problem with signing a contract pledging to avoid lobbying the US government 5 years after termination (or resignation). which means that michael flynn will resurface in about 2022. we would say anything and anyone is better than john bolton. huntsman appointment might even help plug some leaks and partially mollify the deep state, which bill kristol from the weekly standard recently tweeted that he preferred to the trump state. but perhaps he actually meant trump steaks.

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marine le pen naive about the euro

Monday, February 27th, 2017

marine le pen –who  is the spitting image of her father, is the leader of the anti-immigrant right-wing populist party front nationale in france. le pen has spent the past few years hiding her father’s past anti-semitic statements in a kind of pandora’s box, one might say. we are hoping that the french people will leave this box under jean-marie le pen’s bed.

at the moment it looks like marine le pen could win the first round of france’s presidential election in april. as she leads emmanuel macron , who her followers have taken to calling le plexiglas (aka the empty suite), of the newly launched en marche party. she leads macron by 7 points. macron, the former economics minister in president francois hollande’s government, is also a former banker. le pen’s next closest rival,  francois fillion, of the republican party is weighed down by a nepotism scandal. but le pen is predicted to fail in the second round. we are not so sure. france has a lot of structural problems. the 1968 generation of hippies morphed into yuppies who when they took over the levers of power, ensured that they themselves would receive lifelong work contracts from their employers. the law of unintended consequences has resulted in their having metaphorically pulled the ladder up behind them.

young people (and by that we mean young in a european sense, meaning those under 50) suffer from job insecurity. france has seemingly permanately high unemployment. and young people are only offered temporary contracts. to his credit, francoise hollande shoved through labor market reforms in 2016 that were similar to the reforms germany made in 2003. it is one reason why hollande’s approval ratings are around 4% and he has declined to run for a second term. but these structural reforms are one of the reasons the employment rate has recently started to fall. hollande, who apparently pays someone 10,000 euros per month for a haircut and presumably colour,is the gerhard schroeder of 2017. he will leave the office in disgrace but in 10 years will be partially rehabilitated.

one could poise the question, why is it that populists want to metaphorically blow up their countries, destabilize them and push them back to either the pre-world war 2 period or even the dark ages? does marine le pen understand the consequences of holding a referrendum on france exiting the european union? maybe charles degaulle made a mistake back in the day by pushing for presidents to be directly elected.

marine le pen (aka the frontrunner) repeatedly tosses out misleading statements by comparing a possibly frexit to a brexit. not only is this is not a parallel argument. it is factually wrong. unlike france, the UK has its own currency, the pound, and therefore was not part of the eurozone. the eurozone currently has 19 countries, one of which is greece. a few years ago there was talk of a grexit, but any country leaving the monetary union will create as donald rumsfeld might say, a known unknown.

joseph stiglitz, who most likely wants to destroy the european union like le pen, has written a widely read book called The Euro about what could happen to The Euro. he argues that the intentions for creating the common currency were diplomatic but not pragmatic. which is arguably true as france sought to bound a re-unifying germany more to the european union. but stiglitz’s concept of what an exit could look like is completely naive and a bit like playing roulette with the world economic system. but we are not so impressed by his book because he has long sections where he acutally name drops referring to this economist and that banker as his good friend so-and-so in the book. it’s like a stream of conscious screed similar to dairies of andy warhol written by someone with early signs of dementia.

stilgitz’s other idea of dividing the euro into a northern euro and a southern euro, could sew divisions amongst its neighbors –and is ill advised as well considering that one of the countries that was weighing heavily on the euro and got bailed out by the EU was ireland, which is decidely in northern europe.

brexit for the european union has (and will be) relatively benign as the UK never joined the euro. it has been a minor disaster for the UK as the UK is more a service-oriented economy than france. france exiting the european union would take away all the subsidies to french farmers. anyone in the world would be able to label their sparkling white wines champagne. and more importanty, a frexit woudl destroy the euro currency thereby directly taking 18 countries down with it including germany and melania trump’s poor little slovenia.

but that is just the beginning. what about the rest of the world? the swiss central bank will look prescient at having depegged its currency from the euro a few years ago. but that seemingly small change caused turmoil that reverberated globally, triggering a mortgage panic and panic about loans priced in swiss francs. just think. one day you wake up and the mortgage payment on your house jumps 20%. that’s what chaos and inflation looks like.

 

 

great tuxes, bad dresses

Monday, February 27th, 2017

back in the day, people used to watch the pre-oscar show to catch all the beautiful evening gowns. one man after the other came in a bland generic black tux with a black tie. now that the feminization of the north american male is complete, we can happily say that in 2017 men such as captain america (we mean chris evans) and ryan gosling upstaged the women like meryl strep , scarlett johansson and that woman with the impossible name to pronouce who a few years ago directed that martin luther king junior move. but we will give kellyanne conway–we mean kelly mckinnon cudos for her dress.

dad of navy seal killed in yemen did not meet with trump and ivanka

Sunday, February 26th, 2017

last month, the mainstream media filled up our screens with images of trump and his daughter ivanka on their way to pay respects to the father of the navy seal killed in what john mccain described as a botched raid in yemen. at the time the mainstream media was obsessed with why ivanka and not melania trump accompanied president trump (aka the donald). well maybe because the dude declined to meet trump. in this article in the miami herald, the navy seal’s father is quoted as wanting to know what really happened in yemen.

trump and black history month

Sunday, February 26th, 2017

donald trump finally figures out that frederick douglass died a while back. in this video originally posted on the hill website, trump quotes boxer mohammand ali (whose son mohammand ali, jr was questioned at a florida airport about his religious affiliation) and shows all of the haters that he knows what’s what. given that he’s 70 and when he was in school in the US loads of non-white people did not appear in US history books with the exception of the ones that were ethnically cleansed, and in his lifetime african americans went from being negros, to coloreds, to blacks, to african-american, his delivery is pretty impressive.

flynn was a skater

Sunday, February 26th, 2017

michael flynn, a lifelong democrat, sacraficed his personal brand and credibility to back donald trump during the 2016 presidential campaign and all he got was a make america great again t-shirt. flynn, a 3 star general who devoted 33 years of his life (give or take a few) to serve the united states was definitely a patriot. unlike steve bannon, he was an american patriot not a nationalist. and this matters. as the former (patriotism) has positive connotations while the latter (nationalism) believes in a cultural superiority to others and led to multiple wars during the 20th century . arguably americans cannot be nationalists as cultural nationalism is tied to ethnicity and american nationality (being a citizen of a nation-state) is based on soil and not blood.

in this article from the new yorker magazine flynn is referred to as general chaos. given that most publications on the right coast of the US are (ironically) more lefty than anything else one cannot expect a glowing review of flynn’s background and history from this piece. but flynn, a lifelong democrat, sacraficed his career to back a dark horse republican (or dare we say trojan horse) during the republican primaries. maybe because he was marginalized and pushed out by the obama administration after president obama fired stanley mcchrystal for allegedly speaking illy about him and then vice president biden in front of a rollingstone reporter.

in this 24 – 48 hour newscycle world, many have already forgotten michael flynn. but flynn, who was widely panned by the mainstream media, endeared himself to the right during his firey speech during the republican national convention. he even signed a contract forbidding him from lobbying 5 years after leaving the trump administration. given that he is only 58 (which is relatively young given that the current US president is 70), we think the trump administration has a hot potato on its hand. given that he went from skater to hater in a 30 – 40 year period, it is highly likely skater flynn won’t surface again. we are secretly hoping he gets his own show on the clinton news network.

 

mnuchin in over his head?

Friday, February 24th, 2017

just because one can raise money to fund over-priced mad max films and legos movies, does not mean you can run the US treasury. we admit we have not paid enough attention to this appointment. so this weekend we are committed to watch the cspan hearings with both ears open this time. why? because we’re a bit concerned about mnuchin’s cnbc interview yesterday. he hesitated to call china a currency manipulator. –that is not why we are concerned. we are more concerned as to whether or not he knows the advantages and disadvantages between a strong dollar and a weak dollar. we know from this article in the washington post that trump has crude 19th century theories about ethnicity and ability. but the real question is does the US really want the producer of the film suicide squad to oversee its finance policies? we realize we’re about 2 weeks 2 late, he’s already been confirmed. but maybe he could always be pushed out?

watch the steven mnuchin confirmation hearing in front of the US senate on cpsan.org.

george michael is still dead

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

on christmas eve 2016 i caught myself humming wham’s last christmas. during the course of singing i realized that it was actually a bit of an anti-christmas tune. i won’t write the words here because the music lyric police will come after me. but you can watch the music video below courtesy of youtube. ultimately, the next day, george michael died. and as far as we can tell, he has had neither a funeral nor a burial. here’s the english language tabloid version that attempts to answer the question, when’s the funeral?

ken bone replaces milo at cpac?

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

now that milo has been bumped from cpac (conservative political action committee) and pushed from breitbart, ken bone will appear. bone as you might remember, achieved instant fame in 2016 during the donald trump – hillary clinton presidential debates. is there some sick twisted irony here? we will leave this to the readers to decide. you can read the rise-and-fall of milo here. arguably it was the free speech laws in the USA that helped root out and uncover who milo yiannopulous really is. so perhaps the demonstrators and rioters really did the american citizens a disservice by shutting down free speech. as milo’s twisted views on peds and child abuse would have been uncovered years ago, simon & schuster never would have offered him a book deal, breitbart never would have given him an editorship and the ghostbusters film would have been a huge success (well, not really).

trump and bannon clueless about EU

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

according to an article published today in reuters, steven bannon, who some refer to as trump’s in-house neo-nazi , but whose official title is chief strategist (who is also–for some inexplicable reason a member of trump’s national security council), had a conversation with a german diplomat and the conversation was not all peaches and cream. bannon, who we will now refer to as clueless bannon doesn’t like the european union (aka the EU–which for you americans is not the same as europe, although it is in europe).

in fact, bannon could give a rat’s ass why it exists. because he and trump don’t like large international organizations. according to the article bannon could give a shit that the EU is a conduit for peace. that after centuries and centuries of war and more than 20 million deaths in world war 2, the european union (previously known as the common market as well as by other names) was established to tie germany (which started 2 world wars within the space of 20 years give or take a few) to its neighbor (as well as its neighbors to each other) in a complicated web of relationships so that the country would no longer do this.

there are some who might be confused as to why americans decided to hand their future to a man with a combover and a perm-a-tan–who is like the landlord who refuses to repair or paint your rent controlled apartment. in 2016 the new york times ran a fascinating article about how trump’s world view is ruled by mercantilism. on the one hand trump might think a divided europe would be great for the US as he could make deals with 27 countries instead 1 large trading group. but how would this benefit american companies? it would actually cost american companies more money as they would have to have individual specialists in business affairs to devine the trade and tax policies of each individual country. and whenever one would try to export physical products or services across 27 different boarders one would have to continuously sort out the rules. the bureacracy would cost american businesses billions per year. but if trump is interested in providing more service jobs in the US, then that could be a good strategy. but at the same time, in the end, it might just also be a company killer as well.

anyway. we are of the opinion that donald trump cannot drive a wedge between the european union. george w. bush and his adventures in iraq tried a divide and conquer method by luring parts of scandinavia and eastern europe (which donald rumsfeld, his secretary of defense labeled new europe) into the quagmire that is the second iraq war. nigel farage tried this twice last year with brexit (which is not going very well) and by touting an austrian exit prior to austria’s presidential election last year which many in the EU believe drove the austrians safely into the hands of the pro-EU green candidate. yesterdy there was an article in the new york times (yes, we are mentioning that paper again) about how trump has been the best thing for strengthening the EU. as we know loads of northern europeans traditionally have adversely responded to chaos.