2016 Year In Review (Part 2)
- Background: The Author
- On Conspiracy Theorizing
- U.S. Economy
- Broken Markets
- Cash on the Sidelines
- Pharma Phuckups
- Real Estate
- The Bond Caldera
- ZIRP and NIRP
- War on Cash
- Banks and Bankers
- The Fed
- European Central Bankers
- Refugee Crisis
- References Part 1
- Putin and Russia
- South America
- Middle East
- Government Folly
- Human Achievement
- Human Folly
- Civil Liberties
- Campus Politics
- Rigged Primaries: RNC Division
- Rigged Primaries: DNC Division
- Hillary Clinton
- References Part 2
“Today, the danger of some sort of a nuclear catastrophe is greater than it was during the Cold War and most people are blissfully unaware of this danger.”
~William Perry, former secretary of defense
“You people . . . do not feel a sense of the impending danger. This is what worries me. How do you not understand that the world is being pulled in an irreversible direction? . . . I don’t know how to get through to you anymore.”
Russia is the huge topic ignored by most. A potential Russian/American conflict presents significant risk of a New Cold War and potentially a hot war. This markedly shaped my view of the U.S. elections, with eye toward Russian-American relations under Clinton and Trump. I viewed Trump’s agnosticism toward Putin—what the left might call cozying up to him—as a strong positive. When the Cold War archives were pried open after the collapse of the Soviet Union, we found that Russia was perennially responding to us, not provoking.319 History may be repeating. A media that is bought and paid for by the “deep state” is telling us the Ruskies are bad. I am deeply troubled by the relentless hawkish rhetoric coming from Washington.
Pat Buchanan describes Putin as “a nationalist who looks out for Russia first.”320 Putin also gets along with Netanyahu,321 which flies in the face of rhetoric about Putin’s pro-Arab stances. When asked by Fareed Zakaria whether there would be another cold war, Putin destroyed him in a must-watch video.322 A Putin interview with a panel of journalists left me similarly impressed that he understands risks in the Middle East that the American public hasn’t a clue about.323 George Friedman, however, thinks Putin has serious internal political problems:324 “I suspect that Putin will survive until the end of his elected term. But fear makes politics unpredictable, and geopolitical analysis doesn’t work on the thinking of worried men drinking vodka to calm their nerves.”
“We never poke our noses into others’ affairs, and we really don’t like it when people try to poke their nose into ours. The Americans need to get to the bottom of what these e-mails are themselves and find out what it’s all about.”
~Dmitry Peskov, Kremlin spokesman
We’ll probably never know what role Russian hackers played this year, but it is interesting that in midsummer they were rumored to have hacked the Democratic National Committee (DNC), 525 which promptly denied it. The eventual onslaught of WikiLeaks forced a change in tactics from denial to hang everything on Putin and his love child, Donald Trump.326 Stephen Cohen, Russian studies expert at Princeton, calls bullshit on CNN’s assertions that Russian hacking is about Putin wanting to start a new cold war in cahoots with Trump. I’m inclined to side with anybody who calls CNN a shill.
Hurling flaming balls of rhetoric at the Russians is dangerous, and the election didn’t help. James Clapper, director of national intelligence, was “somewhat taken aback by the hyperventilation” on the hacks and wasn’t even convinced the hackers were Russian.327 Impartial observers argued that Crimea became a political football for the Clintons with a U.S.-initiated overthrow of a democratically elected president in 2014.1 Crimean citizens voted to legally reunite with Russia on March 18.328
“We know perfectly well that candidates in the heat of a pre-election struggle say one thing, but that later, when under the weight of responsibility, their rhetoric becomes more balanced.”
“[G]rave accusations [are] . . . fabricated by those who are now serving an obvious political order in Washington, continuing to whip up unprecedented anti-Russian hysteria. . . . Unfortunately, we see less and less common sense in the actions of Washington and Paris.”
~Sergei Ryabkov, Russian deputy foreign minister, on hacking
Evidence of the New Cold War is everywhere. The news network RT got its accounts blocked in the UK,329 causing an RT spokesperson to declare on Twitter, “Long live freedom of speech!” The hot war is heating up, too. Russian jets have been buzzing U.S. naval ships.330 The U.S. and NATO conducted the “largest war games in Eastern Europe since the end of the Cold War” that included 31,000 troops (lots of Americans) and thousands of combat vehicles from 24 nations.331 Meanwhile, China and Russia are doing joint military exercises in the South China Sea.332
“We’re not concerned about the safety of U.S. vessels in the region as long as interactions with the Chinese remain safe and professional, which has been the case in most cases.”
~Josh Earnest, White House spokesman
We haven’t exactly been voices of reason. A cease-fire in Syria was broken by U.S. bombing, prompting Russia to call for a UN Security Council meeting.333 Obama considered an unprecedented cyberattack against Russia in retaliation for alleged Russian interference in the American presidential election.334 U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that Russia and Syria should face a war crimes investigation for their attacks on Syrian civilians.335 The hypocrisy is killing me (and them). There is even evidence that the Germans are preparing to go to war against Russia.336 Alexei Pushkov, head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Russian State Duma, tweeted “The decision of the German government declaring Russia to be an enemy shows Merkel’s subservience to the Obama administration.”337 Is the next war going to be brought to you on Twitter?
As I am putting this annual survey to bed, I am hearing shrill screams about all of our intelligence agencies now agreeing that the Russian hackers are a problem. I don’t believe them. It’s not about faith in the Russians but a lack of faith in U.S. propaganda with a decidedly domestic agenda.
“Thanks Hugo Chavez for showing that the poor matter and wealth can be shared. He made massive contributions to Venezuela and a very wide world.”
~Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn), leader of Britain’s Labor Party on 5/3/13
.@jeremycorbyn Thanks to Chavez we don’t have electricity, water, food, even toilet paper.
Guillermo Amador (@modulor)
What a difference three years and a brain stem make. Let’s do a quick trip south of the border to remind us we face first-world problems. Venezuela is in total collapse, suffering hyperinflation at 500% per annum and projected by the IMF to hit 1600% next year.338 Like clockwork (orange), there were food shortages (starvation) and even condom shortages (insert tasteless joke here.) People get grumpy when pushed to the edge; sexual deprivation and unwanted kids are past the edge. A Venezuelan mob beat and burned a $5 thief to death . . . although he might not have actually stolen anything.339 Venezuelan clocks were moved forward by 30 minutes to save power and alleviate an electricity crisis.340 That’s the solution? Daylight savings time? Ya also gotta wonder what role John Perkins-like jackals played in this one.
Argentina is the bond fiasco capital of the world. Singer and company are still trying to get paid for their Argentinian bonds,341 which are still being ring-fenced by whomever is tasked with ring fencing bonds. Meanwhile, a new Argentine bond issuance was announced.342 Private buyers should be subjected to mandatory head CT scans and, if necessary, euthanasia. (Bankers are exempted because they always get bailed out.) The demand for the $15 billion offering was strong. What is that definition of insanity again about repeating something over and over? Never mind.
Brazil has been hobbled by the energy crisis. Petrobras dropped 11,700 workers.343 Being South American, they are, almost by definition, hobbled by debt, too. As Bill Gross said, “No country over time can issue debt at 6–7% real interest rates with negative growth. It is a death sentence.” Brazil auto sales plummeted 31% in January. Another BRIC added to the Global Wall of Worry. And, of course, the Zika virus showed up. The effects on fetuses are horrendous, reminding me of the 1932 movie Freaks. This one is moving around the globe. I sweated bullets over Ebola, only to find out the secret is hydration and bed rest. I’ll do a wait-and-see.
Of course, Brazil was the site of the 2016 Summer Olympics. Any economist knows how much wealth is created for the host country: none. They are total money pits. I return to them below.
“We are in a down cycle that will end with crisis and calamity. China in today’s cycle is what U.S. housing was during the financial crisis in 2008.”
~Felix Zulauf, president of Zulauf Asset Management
China has enjoyed a half century of explosive growth, not unlike the U.S. from 1870–1930 and Japan from 1945–1989, but now it suffers from Osgood–Schlatter disease—its joints are beginning to ache—and it seems unlikely to be only economic growing pains. China’s imports have been dropping for 18 months.344 Its exports are dropping double digits as the debt-laden, stagnating global economy ceases to be a consumer of any resort. Richard Duncan provides stunning stats on China’s impending hard landing.345 Reduced consumption is crushing Ferrari sales (and they have leaves in their swimming pools). China is planning for 1.8 million unemployed workers, but that’s only 0.2% of the population. A serious downturn would involve many more. Its current economic model of development for the sake of employment—Potemkin Villages—is burning through its foreign reserves. China’s credit-fueled expansion was exemplified by a 27-story high-rise building completed in 2015 and demolished in 2016 because it was “left unused for too long.”346 Bastiat’s broken-window fallacy has been operating on a grand scale.
“We are at the atrophy level in China.”
~Kyle Bass, Hayman Capital
Of course, credit-based booms stress and eventually break banking systems, and it’s always entertaining to get Kyle Bass’s take on disasters before they occur. Kyle says the $3 trillion corporate bond market is “freezing up. . . . [W]e’re starting to see the beginning of the Chinese machine literally break down.” He estimates that a 10% loss in bank assets would cost China $3.5 trillion.347 Some fund managers predict a $500 billion bank bailout. Bass sees $10 trillion (and dead people). Money has been steadily laundered out of China. The China Banking Regulatory Commission is trying not to cut off troubled companies by “evergreening” bad loans—extending their duration to infinity, which is a long time.
“If I don’t issue more loans, then my salary isn’t enough to repay the mortgage and car loan. It’s not difficult to issue more loans, but lets say in a year’s time when the loan is due, if the borrower defaults, then I won’t just see a pay cut, I’ll be fired and still be responsible for loan recovery.”
~Chinese loan officer
Plunging commodity prices and highly levered corporations struggling to make interest payments are causing business failures and defaults.348 Nonperforming loans are up to 20%.349 Evergreening doesn’t stop this part. The housing bubble finally popped. China forex reserves (as noted last year) are depleting unsustainably.350 So much for forex superpower status. Contrary to popular opinion, high forex reserves correlate with crisis (U.S. in 1929 and Japan 1989). Additional risks include debt equaling 300% of GDP.351 Everything is big in China.
Equities (the SSE) are 40% off all-time highs aided by a feeble dead panda bounce. Its draconian 2015 measures—arresting sellers to arrest the selling—have worked for now,352 but bodies are starting to surface. A Madoff-like fraud in China caused angst.353 A 7% 30-minute flash crash-ette was saved by state-sponsored buyers. The sell-off was blamed on 胖手指, which loosely translates “fat fingers.”354 Andy Xie, fired from Morgan Stanley for his candor,355 sees a ’29-style crash in China’s future:356 “The government is allowing speculation by providing cheap financing . . . terrified of a crash. So it keeps pumping cash into the economy. It is difficult to see how China can avoid a crisis.” It took 50 years, but another emerging market has become an emergent market.
Geopolitical risks have been growing for years. China dumped low-cost steel, killing global steel industries.357 India cranked up production to protect debt-laden domestic steelmakers.358 The U.S. imposed a 256% tariff on Chinese steel imports, 522% on cold-rolled steel used in automobiles.359 Let the trade wars begin, but they often mutate into conventional wars. China is rumored to have hacked the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation: “Nothin’ here.”360 Team Obama had a diplomatic bar fight with Chinese officials on the tarmac in China. Team Obama got dissed, big time.361 Obama was then called a “son of a bitch” by the president of the Philippines362 and decided to grab his ball(s) and come home a little early.
I wish I understood “special drawing rights.” They appear to be supranational fiat currencies that are every bit as dubious as other fiat currencies, yet they pose risk to the dollar’s reserve currency status. China authorized a lender to issue a pile of these puppies. “Major financial institutions and other international institutions also intend to issue SDR-denominated bonds on the Chinese inter-bank market.” Why is this important? Simple: we bomb countries that try to dethrone King Dollar.
And if all that weren’t enough, there are potential range wars ahead owing to water rights.363 Asia’s 10 major rivers provide water to more than a fifth of the world’s population. The lack of clear rules to regulate shared water sources could cause problems.
“When central banks have bought up all the world’s stocks and bonds, and transferred all the wealth into the pockets of the 1%, the confusion will finally end.”
Japan is, for the second year in a row, not that interesting. Of course, I should care. As Bill Gross says, Japan is “the world’s largest aging demographic petri dish,” and demographics will drive markets and economies in coming decades. Japan’s labor participation rate is dropping just like ours but is more centered on an aging population.264 According to Tim Price, “Japan has been the dress rehearsal; the rest of the world will be the main event.” Japan is also at the vanguard of monetary policy, intervening in virtually all markets at unimaginable levels.
“Bank of Japan Risk: Running Out of Bonds to Buy”
~Wall Street Journal headline
BoJ redirected its focus from expanding the money supply to controlling interest rates, which smacks of desperation to some (and a crock to others). The effects of its interventions are breathtaking. The yields of 40-year government bonds reached 0.3% last I looked, and the 10-year bond went negative. BoJ underwrote government bonds and converted them into zero-coupon perpetual bonds in the secondary market.365 These are bonds that pay nothing and last forever. Gillian Tett reminded us that Japan tried this crap in the ‘30s. How’d that work out? Oh, right. The bear market ended badly in 1945.
There is hope. A Bloomberg headline suggested that the rates were “nearing levels too low for BoJ comfort.” Nobody told the head of BoJ, apparently:
“[A] reduction in the level of monetary policy accommodation . . . will not be considered. There aren’t any such things as a quantitative limit or anything, any numbers we can’t overcome.”
~Hiroki Kuroda, governor and head monopsonist at the Bank of Japan
Well what the hell are they gonna buy, ETFs? Exactly. Japan’s $1.1 trillion government pension fund is being used to push the Nikkei higher.366
“BoJ is nationalizing the stock market.”
~Nicholas Smith, CLSA’s Japan strategist
“The BoJ is basically declaring that Japan will need to fix its long-term problems by 2018, or risk becoming a failed nation.”
~Takuji Okubo, chief economist at Japan Macro Advisors
Yasuhide Yajima, chief economist at NLI Research Institute, suggests even greater boldness: “What’s certain is that Kuroda has to do something extreme or unthinkable if he wants to surprise.”367 Apparently, the crap they’ve been doing isn’t officially unthinkable or extreme. Ya had me at negative rates.
What does any of this have to do with rejuvenating an economy, and how is it working? Nothing and not well. Japan has been stagnant for 25 years and counting (Figure 19). Can you imagine your portfolio dropping for 25 years? Occasionally the Nikkei seems to show a pulse—the corpse twitches a bit—but then it falls back. I was watching the 15K line in the sand this year, waiting for it to break. Miraculously, the Wall of Money appeared at 15K to bump it back up. Go figure. It’s time to get bold, Kuroda-san. Do something really extreme.
Figure 19. Nikkei.
A little bookkeeping is in order before leaving the island. Fukushima is still a disaster. Mutations are starting to appear in flora and fauna.368 Massive storage tanks continue to be filled. It turns out the tanks were not up to spec to store radioactive water, so they’re decaying and leaking.369 Attempts to form an ice dam failed.370 Seemed harebrained anyway. The Tokyo aquifer is still at risk. The day I am typing this rough draft, the Ring of Fire is alive with earthquakes. Sounds like a sci-fi thriller to me. Armageddon 2.0.
“I think this is a very hard choice, but we think the price was worth it.”
~Madeleine Albright in 1996 on 500,000 dead children in the Iraq War371
It is possible that the authorities and private-sector intelligence gurus like George Friedman understand the Middle East. One Sunday morning I got an hour-long tutorial from Nassim Taleb. He seemed to understand it, but it flew right over my head like a drone. I asked a former Trident submarine captain with time in the Pentagon what was behind our Syrian policy, and he professed “not a clue.” Eight years ago, we elected a liberal democrat who won a Nobel Peace Prize prenatally. I was sure he would have a more humble Middle East policy than Bush Jr., but then he bombed the hell out of half the countries in the Middle East and caused what I think will prove to be a historically important refugee crisis in Europe. (Bombings, by the way, are now euphemistically called “kinetic scenarios.”) Maybe our current president will unify the whole region and call it Trumpistan. I just hope he lays low.
“We never saw a secular Arab regime that we didn’t want to overthrow.”
~Peter Ford, UK ambassador in Syria, 2003–2006
One could argue that the Middle East and the West will never share common values. At great risk of becoming a shot messenger, I offer the results of a global Pew Foundation poll—the gold standard of polls:372
Figure 20. Pew Foundation poll.
Those numbers prompted Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group, to tweet, “Islam has a problem.” The King of Jordan on 60 Minutes assured us that only 2% of the world’s Muslims are radical jihadists. Two percent of 1.8 billion is 36 million. I feel much better now. Leaving aside whose worldview is right, maybe we should stay in our respective regions until we find a little more common ground. That means we must leave them alone to fight among themselves. A study at Brown University (for what it’s worth) claims that our Middle East adventures since 9/11 have cost us $5 trillion,373 which accounts for a large percentage of our national debt accrued over that same period. The indirect costs are incalculable. Millions have died either directly or owing to the unrest and instability. I am compelled to look at a few low-water marks in this gigantic real and metaphorical desert.
“For us to control all the air space in Syria would require for us to go to war against Syria and Russia. That’s a pretty fundamental decision that certainly I’m not gonna make.”
~General Joseph Dunford, testifying to the Senate
I’ve written before about our 10-year effort to overthrow Assad.374 We have failed, producing a complete wasteland. Footage of Damascus and Aleppo (or, as Gary Johnson calls it, Whatsaleppo) shows mind-boggling carnage.375 Martha Raddatz, in a Republican presidential debate, had the temerity to ask, “What if Aleppo falls?” Martha: it’s a total pile of rubble; it’s gone (Figure 21). The absurdity of our foreign policy is exemplified by reports that “CIA-armed militias are shooting at Pentagon-armed ones in Syria.”376 Fifty State Department officials urged military strikes against Assad for persistent cease-fire violations.377 We are going to bomb them because we are in their country bombing them and they are fighting back? We should never forget, however, the massive casualties we’ve taken at the hands of the Syrians. Which ones? I’m still working on that.
Figure 21. Aleppo, Syria.
“It’s a bad strategy, it’s the wrong strategy, and maybe I would tell the president that he would be better served to find somebody who believes in it, whoever that idiot may be.”
~General Anthony Zinni and former head of U.S. Central Command on Obama’s ISIS policy
Turkey is a key borderland, the gateway between Europe and the Middle East. It got a little more exciting when the populace rose up against bad-boy Prime Minister Erdogan in a palace coup. But soon it started smelling of the CIA, and the Turkey coop quickly became the Bay of Goats. Erdogan was never at risk; he used this false flag (or at least pathetic effort)378 to scrub out the riffraff in his country (teachers).379 The tally could exceed a hundred thousand. When a German comic mocked Erdogan, the crazy Turk demanded retribution under a German law that prohibits “offending foreign heads of state or members of government.”380 The Germans complied,381 which immediately triggered a retaliatory “Erdogan Offensive Poetry Competition.”382
What is Erdogan’s leverage? Millions of Syrian refugees are camped at the Turkish border waiting for Erdogan to open the floodgates. He reiterated his threat in late November. He has the cowbell.
I suspect you can’t understand the U.S./Iran nuke deal without top security clearance. The White House got caught airlifting $1.7 billion—pallets of cold cash—to ensure the deal went through.383 They also got caught hitting the Buy-Now button on a couple of captives for $400 million (free shipping)—enough to ensure that more captives will be taken. Oddly enough, I think Iran is an interesting place to invest (when sanctions preventing it are dropped) owing to a >90% literacy rate.384 I sense that U.S. dollars—fully documented dollars—may be allowed into Iran soon. On the fateful Friday that everyone was grousing about Trump’s “grab the pussy” fiasco, Obama quietly eased sanctions on Iran.385
Saudi Arabia never changes (SNAFU). On New Year’s Day, they chopped the heads off 47 men, including a prominent Shia cleric.386 The Saudi head-slicers recently got a seat on the UN Human Rights Council. The Saudis also got three demerits for violating children’s rights—their right to live—in Yemen. A little retribution could “be headed” their way, as the Senate passed a bill and overrode the veto to release secret files showing Saudi involvement in 9/11.387 For years, there was no direct evidence of Saudi involvement . . . unless, of course, you include the fact that the friggin’ terrorists flying the planes were Saudis. The first lawsuit by a 9/11 widow was filed days later.388 The concern—a significant concern—is that millions of recipients of our wrath will sue us for killing people. That could keep folks at The Hague busy for a while.
Good news: Pakistan passed a law against honor killings after a famous Pakistani woman was killed by her brother for dishonoring her family.389 The bad news is that it was legal until this year.
“In a state where corruption abounds, laws must be very numerous.”
Some libertarians think any government is bad. Human beings have been offered the option of having governing bodies and appear to have chosen government every time. The issues pertain to the size and scope of government. An insider instrumental in the post-9/11 bailouts of insurance companies and airlines described in a Davy Crockett-esque way the dangers of publically funded compensations.390 Peter Dale Scott’s treatises on the deep state are worthy and scholarly descriptions of the notion that underneath the veneer of democracies lie forces that shape history but not always for the good.391 Mike Lofgren spoke about the deep state with Bill Moyers.392 Occasionally a window opens, and we get a glimpse of the deep state before it closes. Video footage from inside SOFEX, the world’s largest trade show for military gear, shows bad guys from bad places shopping for the firepower needed to become really lethal bad guys.393
In a year dominated by WikiLeaks and fiascos of a higher order, events occurred that seem minor in comparison but still make you sit up and say, “WTF?” Here are a few.
- The Obama administration told New Balance to shut up about the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement in return for lucrative shoe contracts . . . and then got stiffed.394 A New Balance spokesman suggested “the chances of the Department of Defense buying shoes that are made in the USA are slim to none.”
- An aide to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh withheld permits from organizers of a music festival to force them to use of union stagehands, which is a federal crime.395
- The supreme Allied commander in Europe gets $600K per year as “senior veteran’s advisor” to the company and penny stock Grilled Cheese Truck, Inc. (NASDAQ:GRLD).396 Its pulled-pork sandwich is popular.
- The CIA’s inspector general accidentally deleted the only copy of a 6,700-page classified Senate report on interrogation techniques.397 Stating the obvious, Eddie Snowden said, “when the CIA destroys something, it’s never a mistake.” I think he meant “by mistake.”
- Six billion dollars in cash—bundles of printed bills—have disappeared from the State Department in recent years.398 This is the best argument for a cashless society and why it may not happen.
- A congressman’s Yahoo screen viewed on TV showed his porn tabs. Critics decried, “nobody uses Yahoo.”399
- A congressman—I missed his name—on The O’Reilly’s Factor actually thought the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor. Graduated from Belushi–Trump University.
- Philadelphia lawmakers want to add a soda tax of 1.5 cents per ounce.400 Revenues will be used for projects that employ union laborers. Is that a federal crime, too?
- A person-to-person loan company called “Hard Lending Club” is backed by John Mack, Larry Summers, Mary Meeker, and others.401 This smells of government folly.
- A lawsuit alleges that Obama’s top aides quietly claimed the power to spend $178 billion over the next decade to reimburse health insurers and bribe them to participate in the Affordable Care Act.402 Not a problem: it will soon mutate into something unrecognizable called TrumpCare.
- The Obama administration and the UN announced a global police force to fight “extremism” in the U.S.403 They better up their budget if that becomes common knowledge.
- Obama snuck in his 300th round of golf as president long before he became a lame duck (hook) with free time.404 Appallingly, he’s still a duffer.
- An impoverished congresswoman built a multimillion-dollar nest egg from day-trading on insider information while serving her term, which is legal.405
- Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi’s husband made some serious money on the ramp-up of SunEdison, buying with impeccable timing before a big acquisition.406
- A federal court found that the IRS is still targeting tea partyers.407 I’m suspecting our new POTUS has some issues with the IRS.
- Recall the congressman suspected of killing Chandra Levy until police caught the real killer? The case fell apart.408
- Among 2,000 pages of new rules are minimum and maximum diameters of potatoes that are sold in Colorado.409 It’s creating angst among salt potato enthusiasts, which are great if you’re stoned.
- The NSA got hacked.410 Snowden thinks it’s a message from the Ruskies.411
- Reuters says the Army made $6.5 trillion in accounting adjustments in one year to balance its books.412 It couldn’t find receipts and invoices—billions of them.
- There are 10 million more workers in government than in manufacturing.413
- Boehner cashed in his chips, taking the revolving door to a lobbying firm.414
- The White House spent $1.5 billion for public relations.415
- I’ve noticed that radio is all public service announcements (seat belts, car seats, stroke detection, etc.) Who is paying?
- Thousands of price gouging complaints were made after Hurricane Matthew. The folly part of this story is that price gouging is a government construct anathema to free markets. If you want plywood (or flood insurance), buy it before the storm. It’s expensive to be shortsighted and stupid.416
- Obama warned us to prepare for emergencies.417 What do they know? One theory is that there is a coronal hole in the sun. I think he knew one of the two candidates would win the election.
And for some quotes that rock . . .
“When I saw corruption, I was forced to find truth on my own.”
“The duty of youth is to challenge corruption.”
“The government is so out of control. It is so bloated and infested with fraud and deceit and corruption and abuse of power.”
“A Key Similarity Between Snowden Leak and Panama Papers: Scandal Is What’s Been Legalized”
~Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept
Well before the pre-election deluge from WikiLeaks, we had the publication of the Panama Papers—Panamania.418 On April 3, somebody leaked 40 years of data from a Panamanian law firm, Mossack Fonseca, that specializes (specialized) in offshore bank accounts and money laundering.419 Some suspected the Ruskies, while others suspected the Americans.420 It is oddly coincidental that HSBC CEO Stuart Gulliver and Chairman Douglas Flint got grilled by Congress on Mossack Fonseca money laundering schemes a month before release of the Panama Papers.421 Hillary Clinton supported legislation in 2008 that fostered Panamanian money laundering.422 Why?
The papers showed hundreds of thousands of people, including plenty of politicians, stashing cash offshore.423 HSBC and Credit Suisse, two egregiously lawless banks, led mega-banks in hiding clients via Panama.424 The Clintons and the Trumps showed up on the guest list of 18,000 account holders domiciled at the same address.425 The prime minister of Iceland resigned the day the Panama Papers were released.426 Undoubtedly, more resignations went unnoted. The Naval War College’s Thomas Barnett once said (paraphrased), “I read stuff in the NY Times that I’ve known for five years.” Nothing should surprise us, not even the connection made between the Clintons and the Kremlin revealed by Panamania.427 And, of course, this sordid affair is already forgotten.
Every year, oddities capture my attention but don’t fit neatly into any category. Seems a shame to waste them. Before hitting the loopy stuff, let’s look at a few positives with a sports theme.
The high points of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil (from the Yankee perspective) were Michael Phelps winning his 300th Olympic medal (OK, 28th).428 The Baltimore Ravens stopped a preseason game so that fans and players could watch him race.429 The women’s gymnastic team was referred to by Slate as “the indomitable, world-destroying, medal-hoovering Team USA.”430 Speaking of hardened gymnasts, 41-year-old Oksana Chusovitina (nicknamed Grandma) deserves a solid-gold participation trophy.431 Britain’s Mo Farah fell in the 10,000 meter and still won gold (his second).432 Those Brits might sound like wusses, but that was true grit. Skeet shooter Kim Rhode became the first athlete to win a medal in six consecutive Summer Olympic Games.
The Cubs won the World Series after 108 years. Mohammad Ali threw his final punch, but not without us understanding the totality of his greatness both in and out of the ring. It took me a better part of my lifetime to comprehend this. And then there was the 12-year old kid who got to play in the inaugural round of a new golf course with Tiger Woods. The kid aced the first hole.433
Of course, the Olympics had its darker moments but far fewer than many expected in a bankrupt country. CNN never published a story about skeet shooter Rhode’s historic 6 contiguous olympics with medals. Reporters, however, hounded her that she “must deal with the reality of mass shooting.”434 What a bunch of dorks. A guy with a broken leg got dropped off the gurney for all to see. Everybody knows the diving pool turned green.435 It was said to be safe, despite the “smell of farts.”436 The chemical explanation finally agreed upon was, in my humble opinion, total nonsense. A kayaker was rumored to have hit a submerged sofa on the Olympic kayak course. It is also rumored to have been a rumor, but everybody bought it (or so they say).437 A judo bronze medalist was arrested after “losing a fight” with a receptionist at his hotel.438 She was a very tough receptionist. Of course, Ryan Lochte lost millions in endorsements by pretending to lose a fight (get robbed) and then later being shown to suffer from terminal douchebaggery.439
“Places where what can go wrong will go wrong, had gone wrong, and yet in the end, had delivered me in one piece with a deepening situational awareness (though not a perfect science) of available cautions within the design in chaos.”
~Sean Penn (or Thomas Friedman)
One of Hollywood’s brightest bulbs, Sean Penn, interviewed drug kingpin El Chapo, estimated to have murdered more than 100,000 people.440 The interview led to El Chapo’s arrest and a scramble to put Sean’s life insurance policy into a risk pool.
Now let’s look into the shallowest end of the gene pool, which is teeming with lower carbon-based life forms:
- A movie about Michael Jackson has cast Joseph Fiennes—a white guy.441
- Ernie Els seven-putted from 3 feet at the first hole of the Masters.442 Mickelson lost a ton betting he could make it in five.
- Mega drought continues to ravage California and the Southwest,443 leading some to speculate that high-density developments in deserts are ill-advised.
- Lake Mead hit its lowest level in history, dropping a dozen feet per year.444 Soon it will be renamed Lake Mud.
- For four hours during a debate, more people were searching online for info on our future leaders than for porn. USA! USA!445
- Anthony Weiner sexted a 15-year-old that he would “bust that tight pussy so hard and so often that you would be limp for a week.”446 With the help of Donald Trump, “pussy” is now common usage, leading some to speculate the “C-word” is not far behind.
- LinkNYC removed web browsing from Wi-Fi kiosks after an epidemic of porn and masturbation.447 Anthony Weiner declined comment.
- “Neighbors 2” hired consultants to ensure the plot would not offend women.448
- Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize in Literature.449 Hillary is rumored to be rigging the Grammy voting for best swan song.
- A gold dildo was sold for $15,000.450 The price reflected the high mileage.
- An app turns your smartphone into a vibrator.451 Careful: it sends your habits back to the company.
- Annaliese Nielsen berated a Lyft driver over a dashboard hula girl bobblehead as a “cultural appropriation” from the “continent of Hawaii.”452 It went viral, Annaliese turns out to be a madam, and she is now busted.453
- Joey Chestnut regained the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest title, downing 70 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes.454
- KFC introduced sunscreen that smells like fried chicken.455
- A mother waterboarded her 13-year old son.456 Apparently time-outs weren’t working.
- Antonin Scalia was discovered dead in bed with a pillow over his head and unwrinkled clothes.457 No autopsy was performed.
- Steve Harvey crowned the wrong Miss Universe.458 Awkward. Her forced smile won her an Academy Award.
- CBS News says Caitlyn Jenner is rumored to be considering de-transitioning.459 I resisted thinking it was a stunt.
- Liberals expressed outrage over a story that the Trump boys killed a triceratops.460
- Rage disorder has been linked to a parasite in cat feces.461 All these years we have been going catshit, not batshit.
- A Swedish soccer player was kicked out of a game for “provocatively farting.”462 The perpetrator who pulled his finger was fined with no admission of guilt.
- Measles brought in by an inmate at a federal immigration detention center is spreading through the anti-vaxxer community.463
- A U.S. man has publicly condemned the actions of his mother, who married his sister after a previous relationship with his brother was annulled.464
- A girl got investigated for counterfeiting because she used a $2 bill in the school cafeteria to buy lunch.465
- The Brits were allowed to pick the name for a new research vessel, but authorities ruled that Boaty McBoatface would not be used despite the landslide victory.466
- The Flint water supply became toxic because a municipal bean counter decided to save “$80 to $100 a day” on the treatment.467 A woman leading the drive to sue the Michigan government was shot and killed in her home (died of lead poisoning).468
NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick was brought behind the woodshed when he “took a knee” for the national anthem.469 The perfect alibi is that he is a vegan470 with a job that demands protein—lots of protein—and has some form of induced dementia. Despite predictable public outcry, some consequences were unforeseeable. Veterans began Tweeting his right to protest. I’m not sure his for-profit employer would agree. This public form of protest developed meme status. He won my heart with an explanation that the left-leaning media largely ignored:
“You have Hillary, who has called black teens or black kids super predators. You have Donald Trump, who is openly racist. We have a presidential candidate who has deleted e-mails and done things illegally. That doesn’t make sense to me. If that was any other person, you’d be in prison. So what is this country really standing for?”
~Colin Kaepernick, speaking truth
“Tyranny derives from the oligarchy’s mistrust of the people; hence they deprive them of arms, ill-treat the lower class, and keep them from residing in the capital. These are common to oligarchy and tyranny.”
“I am not for the death penalty. . . . Illegally shoot the son of a bitch.”
~Bob Beckel, liberal commentator, on Julian Assange
“WikiLeaks is Getting Scarier Than the NSA”
~Time magazine headline, missing the irony of why WikiLeaks exists
I got lit up on the civil liberties issue a few years ago watching a kid go to prison on what I believe was a fabricated he said/she said conviction. I tried to help, speaking with family members, the accused, and even a friend who is a prison counselor, but I achieved nothing in the end. I continue to speak out against breaches in civil rights out of a primal need. In this section, I look at the generic stuff and save the breaches stemming from politics and militant political correctness for later. It is my strongest conviction, however, that the heckler’s veto by small numbers, what Taleb calls “minority rule,” risks our civil liberties, as does the majority remaining cowardly silent.471 For the record, I am not a huge fan of guns, but I get the heebie-jeebies when constitutionally granted rights come under fire.
We begin with a stream-of-consciousness collection of random breaches of civil liberties. Some inspire disgust, whereas others just make you think:
- The United States Preventive Services Task Force wants mandatory depression screening for everybody to create a database.472 Why? To ensure anyone labeled “mentally ill” can’t own firearms.
- A teacher who desecrated the American flag inside a North Carolina classroom wants the student who photographed him to be punished.473
- A proposed Kentucky law demands users of Viagra and other wood-hardeners to get spousal permission and “make a sworn statement with his hand on a Bible that he will only use a prescription for erectile dysfunction when having sexual relations with his current spouse.”474
- The FBI used Cellebrite to hack an iPhone. It was hoping to force Apple to give up data to set precedent.475
- Criminals are now being paid not to commit crimes.476 Destitute taxpayers are being forced into lives of crime.
- The use of echo parentheses—(((echo)))—refers to Coincidence Detector, a Google Chrome extension that was being used by white supremacists to track Jews . . . until it turned into a meme on social media.477
- San Francisco requires all sign-based advertising of sugary drinks to warn people that drinking such beverages causes obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay.478 First they come for your Pepsi, and they will not stop until they reach for your pork rinds.
- Here is a list (by state) of where it is legal to record phone calls.479 My advice: apologize later.
- One million people petitioned to boot a judge who gave the Stanford swimmer/rapist a light sentence: right or wrong, is crowd-sourced sentencing where we are headed?480
- Trapped drivers and truckers in Charlotte, North Carolina, plead with 911 operators for help as mobs looted backs of trucks. Blogger Glenn Reynolds got serious grief from his university and Twitter for advising to “run them down.”481 That’s wrong, of course; you should leave the vehicle and give free hugs.
- A Bundy-Ranch-like militia standoff at an Oregon wildlife refuge got really weird when the matronly host of Democracy Now, Amy Goodman, was arrested and charged with inciting riots.482 Apparently, 20 years of airtime, a camera crew, and actually reporting on a story does not make you a journalist, according to local authorities.
- The Department of Justice’s Operation Chokepoint shuts off the bank accounts of businesses such as gun dealers and check cashers because they are deemed to be immoral.483 Our new POTUS may have an opinion on that, too.
- That same Department of Justice says firing immigrant workers with expired papers is discrimination (and immoral).484
- Social workers were called on a woman whose kids played in the backyard while she did dishes.485
- A woman got sent to court without pants, three days without hygiene products, and a 75-day sentence requested for a first-time shoplift. Judge was PO’d at her treatment.486
- According to Albany Chief of Police, kids under 16 should be supervised.487
If you follow a few of the legal beagles, you’ll find that the courts deliver up occasional surprises. I’m sure there are other sides to the stories, and some leave me ambivalent, but . . .
- Recording police on your camera is not a First Amendment right.488
- A judge ordered a defendant to be tased in court.489
- Bribery has been declared free speech (and, no, this is not about Hillary).490
- The Supreme Court ruled medical marijuana can stay illegal.491
- The First Amendment does not protect your job from dumb tweets.492 (Oh, shit: I’ll be right back!)
- The Supreme Court ruled that police can seize evidence from an unconstitutional search provided the suspect has one or more outstanding arrest warrants.493
- The Massachusetts attorneys general subpoenaed Alex Epstein, a climate change denier at the Center for Industrial Progress, prompting Epstein (likely not on the advice of counsel) to respond: “Fuck off, fascists.”494
- A federal ban on the sale of guns to medical marijuana cardholders does not violate the Second Amendment, prompting thousands to say, “Wait! What? Hold my goddamned beer.”495
Every year I take a serious swipe at the police for unnecessary violence against the populace. I continue to do so but have had a minor epiphany, however, realizing that they are (1) undertrained, and (2) put in unusually stressful situations far too often. I’ll get to that, but let’s look at the bad stuff first.
Civil asset forfeiture has been a hot topic for me;1 there are only a few things to say this year that have not been said already. The Atlantic Monthly reminded us that when your belongings, including your wallets, are entered as any kind of evidence, you are unlikely to see them again. They quote one lawyer who said, “If our clients were doing what the police are doing, it’d be called robbery.” The police now have wireless mechanisms to swipe cards in your wallet and retrieve assets ranging from Starbucks gift cards to bank debit cards.496 We learned that the government stole more assets from citizens than the property stolen by every thief and felon combined ($4.5 billion).497 Let’s say that again for the casual browsers:
“The government stole so much private property from its citizens that the total amount exceeded the value of all property stolen by every thief and felon in America combined.”
~Simon Black, blogger
Simon says (argh) the cops now watch for evidence of future travel deemed suspicious.498 Oh, come on: That’s Minority Report, starring Tom Cruise. California authorities opposed legalized pot because it will cut off federal support for the hapless war on drugs and cut way back on civil asset forfeitures.499 (Actually, the latter is incorrect because they don’t need to charge you with a crime to seize your assets . . . seriously . . . no snark.)500
“If you can prove that you have a legitimate reason to have that money, it will be given back to you. And we’ve done that in the past.”
~Oklahoma Highway Patrol Lieutenant John Vincent
We had the usual seemingly senseless cop-on-citizen violence. A therapist helping an autistic guy got surrounded by police, laid on the ground, put his hands up, explained he was an unarmed therapist, and then got shot.501 Police killed a couple on a date . . . while they slept in a car.502 A video showed a guy getting shot in his car for what appears to be no reason.503 The cop was obviously very jumpy (maybe a rookie).
It’s not just guys. Three years ago, a woman at the U.S. border got a total cavity search, including a vagina-sniffing dog (quite the rarity—I’ve got two), X-ray, and CT scan. All came up total goose egg.504 She refused to sign a retroactive permission slip and got billed $5,000 for her “exam.” The $475,000 settlement covered incidentals. A disabled woman was beaten bloody by federal agents—actually, TSA guys—during an airport security screening while on her way to undergo treatment for a debilitating and behavior-altering brain tumor.505 A drug-addled chemist—another rarity—admitted to being totally “baked” every day for eight years (including on acid) while processing forensic evidence for judicial authorities.506 Appeals are pending.
“Only in a police state is the job of a policeman easy.”
Now for the other side of the story. Cops in Dallas, Philadelphia, Fort Worth, Texas, and elsewhere were getting shot by snipers this year. I predicted it in previous reviews, but it is not good. The cops who died weren’t culpable for any of the sins of others. It’s worth a gander at what cops face on patrol. Korryn Gaines was pulled over and apparently ended up dead.507 The backstory is that she opposed the police’s repeated and quite civil overtures for a half hour. She died during a fatal standoff at her house. She was looking for a fight the whole way, and she got one. A Chicago officer was beaten nearly to death out of fear to use her gun.508 Riots broke out over the shooting of a Keith Lamoat Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina.509 Video shows he had a gun. Arrest records from the riot show that the instigators were 70% out-of-towners (shipped in by buses.)510
Alton Sterling was shot while in a tussle with cops on the ground. Video footage was unclear as to what happened.511 Public outcry and violence ensued. What did surface was a picture of Alton with his 8-year-old son (Figure 22). You’ve got to wonder if the cop brandishing his weapon knew Alton was dangerous. Here is some incredibly raw video showing the violence that cops face on a daily basis.512
Figure 22. Alton Sterling and son (unconfirmed by Snopes).513
A close friend of my family—a straight-A high school student with a drug problem—ended up in prison, which piqued my interest in the prison–industrial complex. One in four prisoners worldwide are housed in U.S. prisons.514 The prison population rose 1600% beginning in 1990.515 The female prison population has risen over 800%, of which more than 60% have juvenile children in the outside world (but not for long, perhaps).516 More than 50% of juvenile facilities are for-profit. I was a big fan of privatization movements, but when providers are private and the payers are the government, graft flourishes. Private probation companies have proliferated, too.517
When you get out of prison, you have paid your debt to society, but you have other debts to pay—legal financial obligations (LFOs)—including prison debts and pricey halfway houses.518 A substance-abusing Jersey man got 36 months in prison and racked up $35,000 in debt to the state.519 Meanwhile, his résumé isn’t a fast track to riches, especially since a driver’s license is out of the question. If you don’t pay, you go back to prison. Sounds all very Dickensian to me. There are horrific tales of traffic violations that turn into losing battles with the prison system.520 Curiously, private prisons are being phased out.521 It may turn into yet another lobbyist employment program. We shall see.
“It is your responsibility as educators to listen to student voices. We have spoken. We are speaking. Pay attention.”
~Yale student to an administrator
“We’ve sold them a bill of goods about how they should be treated.”
~Traevena Byrd, general counsel at Towson University
College is a period of werewolf-like changes. Students enter as teenagers and leave as adults. It is a period of great intellectual growth, questioning social norms, developing a sense of self, getting wasted, having sex, and having more sex. None of that is new. My generation grew our hair, gobbled drugs, protested the Vietnam War, and wore bell-bottoms. Every generation suffers from an epidemic of dead grandparents around exam time.522 That said, it seems to be getting just a little weird of late.
There is a small but increasingly vocal gaggle of activists that is raising holy hell on college campuses. The rules of behavior are in flux; free speech is anything but free. The risk of committing a pronoun faux pas is huge, and the punishment severe. Maybe this is just the same old craziness in new garb, but there are cringeworthy aspects. I see a much larger geopolitical power play, masterminded and fueled by the ultraleft (alt-left), that has commandeered the machinery of government. Obama’s Department of Education is at the vanguard, pushing their “Dear Colleague” letters (vide infra). Faculty political leanings have shifted severely left in recent years.523 The politcally are now completely muzzled. College presidents walk on eggshells;524 the lead activists—the social justice warriors (SJWs) to some and the more pejorative “snowflakes” to others—have been described as “addicted to indignation.”
“There is a kind of creeping totalitarianism in terms of what kind of ideas are acceptable and are debatable on college campuses. . . . I worry very much that if our leading academic institutions become places that prize comfort over truth. . . . a great deal will be lost.”
I highly recommend a lecture by Professor Jon Haidt describing how destructive victimhood is to its participants.525 For those pining for more basal entertainment, Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog at the University of New Hampshire may be more to your liking.526 Meanwhile, I take refuge in bulleted lists to convey the absurdities that many boomers will find largely unfamiliar to their own experiences in college but are actually the products of their own rearing practices. When everybody is a winner, nobody learns how to lose. Did boomers hurt their children by overprotecting them? I think so. Let’s see what has been wrought.
- Johns Hopkins students claim letter grades for freshman will cause a mental health crisis.527
- A CUNY professor was accused of sexual harassment because his syllabus contained a 10% effort grade, the assumption being that “effort” was code for sexual favors.528
- The Cornell student assembly pushed for race-based elections of representatives.529
- A transgender speaker at Brown University canceled a visit owing to opposition by a leftist group because she was invited by the Jewish students of Hillel.530
- An African-themed dinner at Cambridge brought on pestilence and plague because it was deemed to be “cultural appropriation.”531
- A white student drew ire for “appropriating” black culture by having dreadlocks.532
- Protesters at St. Catherine University—97% women—denounced its “toxic rape culture.”533
- Students at universities across the country complained about chalk messages supporting Trump, causing “chalkenings” to reach meme status.534
- Student activists at Brown University complained of emotional stress and poor grades after months of protesting and blame the school for insisting that they complete their coursework.535
- A peace vigil honoring the victims of the Orlando terror attack degenerated into a verbal brawl between mourners and Black Lives Matter activists at the University of Missouri.536
- Madeleine Albright was protested as a speaker at Scripps College because she’s a white feminist.537
- University of Oregon students demanded removal of the Martin Luther King Jr. quote, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character” because it wasn’t inclusive enough.538
- Students at University of Iowa viewed a controversial sculpture as a “threat,” apparently suffering from Ghostbuster Trauma Syndrome (GTS).539
- Tulane students filed a complaint against a fraternity that posted a sign that said “Make America Great.”540
- Lebanon Valley College students demanded the school change the name of “Lynch Memorial Hall.”541 Professor Richard Titball at University of Exeter had no comment.
- UC Berkeley wanted to rename Barrows Hall after Black Panther member Assata Shakur, who was convicted for the murder of a New Jersey state trooper and multiple other felonies.542 I think Boaty McBoatface Hall would be better.
- Amherst students called for a speech code that would have sanctioned students for making an “All Lives Matter” poster.543
- A Dartmouth fraternity tradition of holding a “Phiesta” on Cinco de Mayo was canceled because the made-up word was deemed “cultural appropriation” and “a seriously phucked up idea.”544
- Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF, bailed on a speech at Smith College owing to Facebook protests against her.543
- The N.Y. Federation of College Republicans revoked recognition of the Cornell chapter after it endorsed libertarian Gary Johnson.545 High ranking sources—I have them—say they were getting death threats because of Trump.
- Colorado college students claimed that teaching students about healthy lifestyles was tantamount to “body shaming” and “body privilege.”546 That’s phat!
- A poll showed that more than 50% of students nationwide support campus speech codes.547
- Activists want athletes to play for whichever team they identify with according to gender. Meanwhile, women on steroids get disqualified.548 Rumors of East German female athletes549 coming out of retirement are unconfirmed.
- Students at one school called for a police investigation over a Post-it with words “Get over it, pussies” inscribed on it. (I’m surprised Post-its, bearing several deeply embedded subliminal messages, are allowed on campus.)
- The Vagina Monologues, the legendary feminist monolog, was canceled at Mount Holyoke because it was deemed offensive to “women without vaginas.”550
- A student was kicked out of college for “lung-shaming a smoker.” OK. I lied. You get to piss all over smokers on college campuses.
- Young Harvardians expressed their outrage over the low return on their schools endowment…sowing the first seeds of mediocrity and evils of inbreeding.551
“Discriminatory policies of gender dichotomized bathrooms need to end. . . . [W]e wish to erode and subvert the gender binary.”
~Vassar activist on same-sex bathrooms
“Protest what is truly egregious, not what qualifies as simply real life.”
~John McWhorter, Columbia University professor
Students are raising hell, but that’s their job. What’s the problem? In short, the problem lies with adults: they are failing to bring voices of reason (as I see it, at least). Problems appear in many ways. At the lowest level, they are what one might call goofy stuff with little or no lasting effects, but some are oppressive. In many instances, adults needed to bring some judgment and gravitas but failed. You are entering the no-spine zone:
- The University of Houston’s student government vice president must undergo mandatory diversity training for tweeting “Forget #BlackLivesMatter; more like AllLivesMatter.”552
- More than half of America’s colleges and universities now have restrictive speech codes.553
- Springtime—the commencement-speech time of year—is now dubbed “disinvitation season.”554
- Students filing a sexual harassment grievance can now ask for extra time on tests because they are impaired. (I refuse to name the school.)
- Professors across the country gave students safe spaces after the trauma of the presidential elections. Cry-ins and coloring sessions are a few examples.555
- Schools across the country are providing rules for microaggressions, which include phrases like, “I love your shoes” that emphasize appearance over substance.556
- The president of Northwestern University says that anyone who opposes “trigger warnings” or dismisses those who oppose safe spaces an “idiot” and a “lunatic.”557 Excuse me, President Hypocrite, but aren’t those microaggressions?
- Three students at the University of Wisconsin–Platteville wearing “three blind mice” Halloween costumes were punished because the costumes were deemed offensive . . . to the blind . . . who can’t see them . . . and probably couldn’t care less.558
- Maryland University (Towson) had a lecture titled “White People are a Plague to the Planet.”559
- A professor at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee is calling for the complete “abolition of whiteness.”560
- Barry University banned its golf team from using a Trump golf course to practice.561
- The president of Emory University said students are scared and “in pain” after someone wrote “Trump 2016” in chalk on campus during the primaries.562
- Skidmore College banned the phrase “Make America Great Again.”563 (Problem solved.)
- Princeton published a guide to political correctness.564
- A recent Knight Foundation survey of students nationwide found that 63% favor schools banning costumes and half believe that news reporting on campus protests should be prohibited.565
- A University of Northern Colorado campaign, #LanguageMatters, warned students against offensive language like “crazy,” “poor college student,” and “hey, guys.”566 (I once was admonished by some rabid moms for using “ladies” and was told to use “guys.”)
- Administrators at the University of Northern Colorado post signs around campus warning against “offensive” speech and have a “bias response team” that takes swift action against transgressions.567
“It appears University of Northern Colorado leadership has decided that so-called tolerance and diversity is justification for intolerance and intimidation.”
~Senator John Cooke, University of North Carolina graduate and member of the Senate Judiciary Committee
“I’m hoping we’ll get a little respite while we get our act together about how we are going to handle this better in the future.”
~Kay Norton, president at the University of Northern Colorado
The student demands listed above suggest academic damage might be close behind. In some cases, the damage is real and careers destroyed because cowardly adults fail to say “no” or “stop” or even “go back to the library.”
- A DePaul president stepped down under pressure because he let Milo Yiannopoulos speak on campus.568
- The University of Iowa announced it will now offer a degree in social justice, which is fine provided nobody pays >$100,000 to get one.569
- Seattle University caved to student activists and put a dean on administrative leave because the liberal arts curriculum focused too much on classical Western history and philosophy.570
- The two Yale profs in the middle of the epic shitstorm over Halloween costumes resigned from their duties as live-in faculty in student housing.571 More video shows what happened.572
- An Asian female gender studies professor at Dartmouth was denied tenure, and protests ensued.573 Careful here, Dartmouth: you could cross the academic Rubicon and start crowd-sourcing your tenure decisions. (Point of interest: Dartmouth College was the first institution in the country to be declared by the Supreme Court to have constitutional rights normally granted only to citizens.574)
- SUNY Binghamton has a “StopWhitePeople2K16” course focusing on how to deal with white privilege.575
- Wayne State is swapping the math requirement with a diversity requirement.576
- Barnard College is replacing a language requirement with a course called How to Think (a guide to political correctness).577
- Pomona College’s faculty voted to change the criteria for tenure to specifically require candidates to be “attentive to diversity in the student body.”578
- Cal Tech will allow students to take either quantum mechanics or statistical thermodynamics to be more inclusive. (Sorry, I made that one up.)
“It’s a bizarre experience to watch a documentary that expects the viewer to root for a bunch of accused rapists.”
~Christina Cauterucci, Slate, on the Duke University lacrosse case about falsely accused rapists
Title IX, the brainchild of the Obama Department of Education, at the outset had the admirable goal of protecting students (mostly women) from violence on campuses.579 Colleges receive “Dear Colleague” letters, which are thinly veiled threats to ensure they are punishing misbehaving young men, and they scare the bejesus out of legal counsels and administrators alike.580 The activism is occurring with increasing zeal, demanding social norms and actions that have shaken administrations to their foundations. It seems to stem from a study reporting that 20% of women experience sexual assault.581 The Department of Justice says 0.6%.582 My math says that the disagreement is outside the error bars.
Misbehaving covers the gamut from sexual attacks worthy of leg irons to a much more gray area covering dubious actions. The legality of “Dear Colleague” letters is working through the courts,583 but for the time being, we find underqualified academics adjudicating cases with highly variable understandings of due process and what constitutes a punishable offense. Some college administrators reach deep to try to find the truth, whereas others bring social agendas or act out of fear of looking too timid. The mess-ups undermine the intent and occasionally destroy lives. Would you want Christina Cauterucci adjudicating your son’s case? Suicides of the accused are rumored to be nontrivial. I’ve written about it before; here are a few more low-water marks.
- An Auburn University student got cleared in court, but the school had already booted him.584
- A female student admitted to lying about an Auburn football player, but he got kicked off the team for good measure.585 When in doubt . . .
- A guy falsely accused of rape killed himself, then his mom killed herself.586
- A Yale student was expelled when his girlfriend’s roommate, a year later, asserted that their sex was not consensual. The putative victim and attacker both vehemently denied it. He got expelled.587
- An accused student who was suspended for sexual assault settled out of court when the accuser admitted she “may have stretched the truth” because she was “pissed off” when she realized he’s "just another douchey frat dude.”588 And what happened to her?
- A double amputee at Augustana University was accused of rape. The cops said no way within 24 hours. The school kicked him out.589 There must be something more to this story.
- Due process suits are piling up and settlements out of court are plummeting.590
- A Title IX official resigned after being accused of sexual assault, which could be both true and ironic.591
- A black Roanoke College student was acquitted of raping a white student by a jury in 25 minutes as well as by an on-campus tribunal, but activists demanded removal from campus.592
- UC San Diego was discovered to have routinely hidden the identity of witnesses from those accused of wrongdoing to render the defenses of the accused more challenging.593
- University of Texas guidelines on sexual assault cases were found to explicitly eliminate (rather than underscore or resolve) contradictions and inconsistencies.594
- A USC couple dated for months. A paper trail of text messages showed that she was going to falsely accuse him of rape. On a call that was not disconnected, the investigator and Title IX person were documented referring to the accused as a “motherfucker.”595
- And in the youth division, a dozen teenage girls charged a boy with sexual assault. Appears to be a case of “dog piling”.596 Text messages show they schemed to get him.597 What do you do with those dozen girls on a rocky road to what is probably a normal adulthood?
“America’s universities are in the grip of a dangerous presume-guilt-and-rush-to-judgment culture.”
~George Will, conservative columnist
“Some say government must be involved in this issue in order to ensure that private businesses do not violate individual rights. Those who make this claim are accepting the idea that rights are no more than a gift from the government that can be revoked at the will and whim of legislators and bureaucrats.”
Books about the epidemic of political correctness are being written as I type. Some might be, paradoxically, bestsellers and very unpopular. In the extreme, you have characters like Milo Yiannopoulos, a British gay provocateur with an odd mix of refined rhetorical skills and social graces that would make Trump blush.598 In the category of “way over the top,” one university president noted that “This is hard for you because you think of the students as cuddly bunnies, but you can’t. You just have to drown the bunnies . . . put a Glock to their heads.”599 I’m not sure he was cut out for that job anyway. Whereas some administrators display an odd mix of fear and bad judgment, others stand boldly for free speech. When students protested the Trump chalkening, Emory University President James Wagner chalked the words, “Emory stands for free expression!” The University of Chicago tells freshman not to expect safe spaces and trigger-free existences.600 A “Take Back Dartmouth” petition got 1,300 signatures in three days.601 We will find the requisite happy medium where the rights of everybody are protected.
“There is clearly an element of irrationality in political correctness. It is a form of censorship without a censor; we impose it on ourselves. Yet, it keeps us away from the reasoned discussion of social issues which everybody can see are important, consequential, and desperately in need of wide-ranging analysis.”
~Howard Schwartz, professor emeritus of Oakland University
This section wins the award for the most edgy. I comment further on this point in the conclusion.
We started this gigantic November Madness Bracket with 100–200 million eligible candidates for the presidency and, through a grueling process, whittled it down to just over a dozen truly uninspired choices. It was obvious to anybody with half a brain that it would become a rematch of the Battle of the Dynasties, Bush versus Clinton—that is, until the unexpected collapse of the House of Bush. Nonetheless, we managed to identify two candidates that unified the nation in the common belief that we could really be screwed. Of course, you could vote for Gary Johnson with his catchy “Feel the Johnson” slogan or Jill Stein hugging a spotted-owl-infested tree with one hand and fund-raising with the other, but that seemed pointless for most. We’re told that a vote for a third party is a vote for somebody who won’t win to justify voting for a loser.
“My advice to both candidates is basically the same, with different punctuation: 1) Don’t choke, Hillary; and 2) Don’t choke Hillary.”
Through a colossal waste of brain cells, millions of Americans sought the Holy Grail—identifying the lesser of two evils. The question seemed to boil down to how we define morality: is it about a candidate who seemed capable of repudiating all social norms (see Andrew Dice Clay) and a penchant for absurd behavior or is it about a particularly unlikeable one with a wanton disregard for the law? We all know the outcome, but the path was gruesome. With unusual reservations, I offer a few thoughts on the Electoral Borg that devoured 2016.
“And how many more of these stinking double-downer sideshows will we have to go through before we can get . . . a chance to vote for something, instead of always being faced with that old familiar choice between the lesser of two evils?”
~Hunter S. Thompson, 1972, who died without an answer
The next two sections consider the role of rigged primaries. Rigging is not quite the right term. We the People have this quaint notion that the primaries are part of the Great Democratic Experiment, but that is not even remotely true. The two parties are not-for-profit organizations—let’s just leave it at tax-exempt at least—playing a gigantic game of capture the flag. Primaries are about the parties handing us candidates of their choosing, unfettered by any constitutional mandate for fairness. As political pundit Samantha Bee said astutely, “They can pick a candidate with a Ouija board.” Even after a contentious Nevada Democratic primary, a judge ruled that Samantha Bee was right: the parties can do anything they damn well please.602 Their only restraint is to ensure that John Doe and Jane Roe believe that this professional wrestling match is real, a critical prerequisite to retaining wealth and power. Despite having a deep bench of players, the Republican National Committee (RNC) fielded a remarkably weak team. That’s a good place to start.
“Now it’s just an oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or to elect the president. And the same thing applies to governors, and U.S. senators and Congress members.”
~Former President Jimmy Carter, 2016
“Congratulations to the Republican party and its nomination process; it’s all going great. Keep it up.”
~President Barack Obama at the White House Correspondents Association dinner
The #neverTrump campaign was launched in the first primary debate when Megyn Kelly asked him what it would take to make him drop out. Seems a little off in retrospect. I return to that in the section on Trump. We also learned in the first debate that “excuse me” is debate speak for “shut the hell up because I am talking, and you are an insignificant twit.”
“His poll numbers tanked—that’s why he is on the end.”
~Donald Trump on John Kasich
Week after week, the media regaled one of the dozen right wingnuts as lurching into the lead—trial balloons that all burst. Trump knocked off Little Marco, Low Ebb Jeb (my name, actually), Ugly Carly, and the rest of the dirty dozen like it was a game of Whack-A-Mole. Ben Carson begged somebody to attack him in the debates. Ben: They thought you were dozing. It’s also hard to take a guy seriously whose answers included, “The fruit salad of their life is what I would look at.” Jeb was wobbling but went down for the count the day he was at a rally, delivered what should have been a punchy phrase, and felt compelled to say, “Please clap.” Jeb will not be back. Cruz and Kasich colluded to knock off Trump, a marriage of necessity that was annulled within 24 hours.603 Eventually the party and the media put all its eggs in the Cruz basket.
“As a moral question it is straightforward. The mission of any responsible Republican should be to block a Trump nomination and election.”
Cruz was by no means the perfect candidate. By all reckoning, nobody liked him. His college roommate wrote screeds about the wretch.604 He had a half dozen sex scandals, baffling all in light of his total lack of sex appeal.605 His stances were extreme: in opposition to the use of dildos (ironically), he noted that “There is no substantive due process right to stimulate one’s genitals for nonmedical purposes,” which prompted a campaign to legalize medical masturbation. He was rumored to have appeared on Maury in drag (and was rather ugly . . . not to face-shame him.)606 He was rumored to be Canadian,607 nearly causing an international incident. A poll showed that 38% of the population of Florida thought he was the Zodiac Killer.608 Trump was ruthless with him, however, noting that not one senator endorsed him because they didn’t like him. The Donald went on to say that “If I can’t beat [Hillary], you’re going to get killed.” It was probably right at this moment that the RNC wondered why it didn’t back Rand Paul.
Trump began the morning of the Kansas primary with a “double-digit lead” over Cruz according to a prominent polling group609 and then lost to Cruz by “double digits.” Huh? Trump was polling at a 12% lead heading into Oklahoma 610 and lost that one too. (His campaign spelling it Oaklahoma didn’t help,611 even though few noticed). Cruz threw an air ball in the Indiana Hoosier Dome by drawing attention to the height of the “basketball ring.”612 Tennessee started screwing around with the number of at-large delegates to help him.613 The Wall Street Journal noted that Cruz would end up with more delegates from Louisiana than Trump despite Trump’s win, prompting a few choice tweets.614 Colorado and Wyoming said “screw it,” cancelled the non-binding straw polls, and gave all their votes to Cruz, prompting a full-blown tweet storm.615 The State of Washington gave Cruz 40 of 41 delegates weeks after Cruz dropped out.616 Rick Santorum managed to win Iowa—forgot about him, didn’t ya—prompting the San Francisco Fed to tweet, “Rick Santorum didn’t win . . . anything that matters. Iowa is . . . Iowa,”617 which then prompted a quick deletion and an apology.
“Trump may be a rat, but I have no desire to copulate with him.”
None of this mattered. Trump took ’em down like a gangster. Cruz finally quit the same day Trump accused his father, Rafael Cruz, of assassinating JFK. Did Cruz quit by using the insanity defense? More on that below. After Trump won the nomination, one of my colleagues referred to his “incompetent tactics.” Um . . . didn’t he just win the nomination against insurmountable odds?
“Unpledged delegates exist really to make sure that party leaders and elected officials don’t have to be in a position where they are running against grassroots activists.”
~Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the DNC (at the time)618
The Democratic primary was produced by Quentin Tarantino and filmed using authentic Russian dash cams. Early in the game, a notoriously effective Latin American election rigger—the big leagues of election rigging—said he had signed with an undisclosed team.619 My money is on Team Clinton. Volumes have been and will continue to be written on the transparently crooked Democratic primaries. Anything and everything involving chicanery that seemed vaguely criminal at the time eventually was confirmed by WikiLeaks—a treasure trove documenting despicable behavior that became so voluminous we all stopped paying attention.
Let’s flesh out Debbie Whatshername Schultz’s quote with some additional clarification:
“The Democratic Party benefits from the current system of unpledged delegates to the National Convention by virtue of rules that allow members of the House and Senate to be seated as a delegate without the burdensome necessity of competing against constituents for the honor of representing the state during the nominating process. . . . We passed a resolution in our caucus that we would vehemently oppose any change in the superdelegate system because members of the CBC might want to participate in the Democratic convention as delegates, but if we would have to run for the delegate slot at the county level or state level or district level, we would be running against our constituents, and we’re not going to do that.”
~Debbie Wasserman Schultz, former chair of the DNC620
Leaked memos showed that Debbie rigged the primaries for Hillary. After getting booed off the stage at the Democratic National Convention,621 Debbie stepped down as the DNC chair. As a free agent, she was immediately picked up by Team Clinton, having already co-chaired Hillary’s 2008 campaign. Then she became a casualty of the collapse of the Clinton Dynasty. Fear not—Debbie is still a congresswoman from Florida and will be kept plenty busy crowdsourcing her retirement domestically using Wells Fargo and Panamanian banks. As we all know, Debbie was replaced by Donna Brazile, an A-team election rigging workhorse or, as Hillary called her, a “brain-dead buffalo” (vide infra).
The ruse began when Hillary took half the delegates from New Hampshire despite getting her ass kicked in the actual vote. The so-called “super delegates”—a collection of politicians, lobbyists, and big donors constituting 20% of the total—essentially all went to Hillary. The media stopped reporting on them because the ruse was becoming too transparent for comfort.622
Soros’s cronies were said to be deeply embedded in the Utah primaries.623 Hillary stole the Arizona primary using fairly standard tactics: (a) long lines favored Hillary because the early voters were older women supporting her; (b) limited polling access was provided in Hillary’s weaker districts; and (c) with lines around the block that, ironically, looked like a Trump rally, her media cronies announced victory based on 1% of the vote, which helped to shrink the lines.624 Michael Krieger summarized the shenanigans in the New York Democratic primary involving various forms of voter suppression.625 A video of the Nevada primary showed pandemonium as verbal votes were obviously going to Bernie and yet were declared to be going to Hillary.626 The chairwoman, dazed and confused, carried out her role with yeoman resolve.
“This was not supposed to be a democratic process.”
~Chris Wicker, vice chair of the Nevada convention
Hillary won six precincts in Iowa by six consecutive coin tosses.627 Leaving aside why a primary has coin tosses, what were the odds? One in 64: try to keep up. It just wasn’t Bernie’s day. One surreal video shows overcounting in an Iowa precinct when the vote counters repeatedly called out, “Are there any more Clinton voters?” and, miraculously, more hands would shoot up each time.628 Angry Bernie supporters were told to “take it up with the election commission.” Hillary declared Iowa a victory and escaped by helicopter under sniper fire.
The Big Rig was the California primary. It was clear that Hillary was well ahead of Bernie nationally, but California looked like it could be Bernie’s, which would cause a critical loss in momentum for the Clintonostra. The day before the primary, the Associated Press (AP) announced that Hillary had won the nomination.629 As DNC confetti flew and Wellesley College fired off an exceedingly well-produced and very well-presented speech from Hillary’s college days,630 the Sanders camp’s Feeling the Bern was really more akin to an STD. Even mainstream media outlets found the AP report to be astonishingly unprofessional. Only John Harwood defended it, noting that “the Associated Press is not rigged.” WikiLeaks showed that John was in on the rig.631
In my opinion, the story that got missed was that the premature announcement was not made to bias the primary the next day. It’s not even obvious which team would become more fired up to get to the polls. The announcement was a cover story to hide massive vote rigging. I was as positive as can be without a shred of data. I tweeted that day that the AP announcement was a decoy:
Of course, Hillary won by a landslide the next day, and nobody asked why an estimated 20–30% of Bernie voters simply disappeared.
“The DNC is rigged.”
~Donald Trump (@realDonaldTrump)
“Presenting your favorite conspiracy theorist . . . the Republican nominee for President.”
~Debbie Wasserman Shultz (@DWStweets), head DNC conspirator
“The democratic leadership used its power to prevent a fair and democratic process from taking place.”
~Bernie Sanders, nouveau conspiracy theorist
Eventually WikiLeaks showed the underbelly of the DNC. Mark Paustenbach, the DNC’s national press secretary, described in detail how they would use anti-Semitism to Do the Jew.632 There are nice compilations of damning DNC emails.633
“The Democratic Party got exactly the ending it deserved.”
~Glenn Greenwald, founder of The Intercept (@theintercept)
“We’ve got the bright new face of the Democratic Party, Bernie Sanders.”
~Barack Obama at the White House Correspondents Association dinner
A 75-year-old Brooklyn Jew—a self-professed socialist—proved to be the purest, most endearing candidate of the 2016 elections. He could have won it all running a clean campaign. Leaks showed that Bernie agreed to lay off Hillary’s bank speech transcripts634 and not mention her massive and completely disreputable wealth accumulation.635 But then he hit the Clinton Political Machine, run by folks with what Peggy Noonan referred to as “the soul of an East German border guard.” E-mail leaks told the story: Bernie was a team player, and Hillary and the DNC carried out a political execution. They overtly persecuted him without a sense of remorse or irony.
“Bernie Sanders, to me, is almost more stunning than some of what’s going on in the Republican side. How is that happening, why is that happening?”
~Steve Schwartzman, billionaire
Bernie was never supposed to win anything. He was a sparring partner, a prop for fake Democratic debates. The angry public, however, had different plans for Bernie. They wanted an outsider. Jill Stein offered for Bernie to take over her ticket to run as an independent,636 but Bernie played for the team. Insiders say his wife begged him not to endorse Hillary.637 I’m not sure it mattered; voters feeling the Bern may not have rallied behind Hillary after she finished ravaging his carcass. Your politics suck, Bernie, but you are an honest and heroic figure—a socialist people could like. I joined you as you teared up at the national convention. You became a rock star and you don’t have to be president. Mazel tov.
“And when you watch these Republican debates you know why we need to invest in mental health.”
“[S]he has lied so many times, about so many things, that most Americans no longer believe a word she says—even if she’s telling the truth.”
~Marc A. Thiessen, Washington Post
“You know that Donald Trump is an unstable imbecile. But this knowledge doesn’t oblige you to discover new qualities in the bottomlessly cynical, power-mad grifter Hillary Clinton.”
~Michael Brendan Dougherty, This Week
In the olden days, Supreme Court nominee Douglas Ginsberg was disqualified because he smoked pot in college.638 Gary Hart became unelectable because of a photograph showing a little monkey business with a blonde.639 Howard Dean yelled too loud at a rally.640 Edmund Muskie bailed after breaking down (weeping) from total exhaustion on the campaign trail.641 Dig long and hard enough and you eventually find the bottom of the barrel. The Clintons are a family of revenants, showing us that career-ending screw-ups are quaint notions.642 That said, the Clintons created a top-heavy edifice of fibs, lies, inconsistencies, and hypocrisies.643 The Clinton Bubble had to pop. They desperately tried to push the reckoning day past the elections, hoping for an Obama pardon if needed. Indeed, the bubble was popped not by the FBI, a vast right-wing conspiracy, the alt-right, Congressional investigators, election hackers, WikiLeakers, fake news, poor handlers, or a the beast with a bad comb-over. It was the Clintons themselves.
“Everything HRC touches she kind of screws up with hubris.”
~Colin Powell, leaked e-mail
I have an indigestible 62 single-spaced pages of notes, quotes, and links on the Clintons destined for recycling. The plotline can be followed through compilations of Clintonobilia focusing on Hillary’s lying, cackling, coughing, falling, fainting, hectoring, perjuring, deleting, stealing, pandering, dying, and even assassinating plastered across Youtube.644,645,646
“Americans of all political persuasions are coming to the sad realization that our first lady—a woman of undoubted talents who was a role model for many in her generation—is a congenital liar.”
~William Safire, 1996
Some voted for Hillary out of fear of Trump. I get that. Others desperately wanted to see a female president. I view that as misguided but still get it. (Did y’all support Sarah Palin for VP?) There are those, however, who think Hillary is a good person and great for the country. I can’t fathom that one. All year long the media played Marco Polo trying to find Hillary and get her in front of a microphone to answer a few questions. Some suspected the DNC was playing a Breakfast at Bernie’s scam on us, ironic title and all. Others started scanning milk cartons and post offices for her image. Even supporters were calling for a shot clock on press conferences. With the press AWOL and the Republicans ambivalent about whom to support, it took the likes of Guccifer, DCLeaks, Julian Assange, and, yes, maybe even the Russians to provide answers to pressing questions.
“We’ll have a press conference when we want to have a press conference.”
~Joel Benenson, senior Clinton strategist
I took my best shot at Hillary and her foundation last year,1 so the details emerging this year did not shock me and, on some level, are unworthy of repeating. The volume of the skeletons coming out of the closet, however, was so staggering that we were soon plunged into a vat of lidocaine. I can’t do more than a cursory overview of Hillary’s Wild Ride, but here goes. Buckle up.
“Hillary can change her issue positions as frequently and as totally as she changes her hairstyle. She can flip on the Keystone Pipeline and flop on the Trans-Pacific trade deal. But she cannot go back and delete her lies, evasions, half-truths, and distortions.”
~Dick Morris, former head strategist for Bill Clinton
Let’s start with a physical checkup. We’re all dying—nobody gets outta this one alive—but Hillary appeared to have a commanding lead.647,648 Over 70% of the surgeons in the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons surveyed called Hillary’s health problems “serious.”649 The coughing fits were frequent and protracted.650 The collapse at the 9/11 memorial service was clearly serious,651 and nobody bought the pneumonia story pitched by media cronies.651 The footage of her spitting phlegm into a glass of water was,653 in my opinion, spitting out a cough drop. She took a dive into an airplane that could easily have been just a stumble,654 but stairs were not her friends all year. My theory is that she needed a Kaine—vice-presidential nominee Tim Kaine, who was so oddly non-left wing (pro-life, for example)655 that the republicans could support him to defeat Trump if Hillary faltered physically.
Figure 22. Hillary helping Secret Service agents up stairs and without her goggles.
A putative seizure caught on film was said to be real by many doctors,656 but I’m dubious. That said, an undenied blood clot in her head attributed to a fall at home (but rumored to stem from a plane crash in Iran)657 was real. Neurologists identified the beer goggles with gratings as needed to solve that lazy eye problem.658 When Dr. Drew Pinsky was interviewed on talk radio to dismiss these concerns as conspiracy theory, he shocked everybody by saying she looked “brain damaged” and was getting barbaric treatment (medical, that is.)659 The next week, CNN canceled Dr. Pinsky’s weekly gig to allow him time to pursue other interests . . . like finding another gig.660 He was not the only CNN reporter released to the wild for breaking from the script.
The plotlines wouldn’t die when she gave a couple of post-collapse press conferences looking to be on horse tranquilizers in one661 and crystal meth in another.662 “Why aren’t I 50 points ahead?” she exclaimed with a crazed look in her eye (the good eye). Bill slipped up and admitted she spent months recovering from the clot.663 He seems to be doddering to me, prompting the alt-right to hurl epithets about late-stage syphilis (of which many have considerable experience).
Figure 23. Beer goggles with gratings.
“The Clinton Foundation is, by all accounts, a big force for good in the world.”
~Paul “Don’t Ever Change” Krugman
Sure, Paul. After signing a memorandum of understanding with the Obama administration promising not to rape and pillage the world with her foundation, Hillary welched on that promise almost immediately.664 Calling the Clinton Foundation a conflict of interest is like calling Jeffrey Dahmer a glutton. I see no evidence that legal actions against the foundation are off the table during the Trump administration, so we may learn a lot more before it’s over. Peter Schweizer delineated profound conflicts in Clinton Cash that are said to have been used as a road map by the FBI.665 Charles Ortel picked up the baton in a series of detailed reports.666,667 He claims the quoted numbers backing the foundation are low by multiple decimal points, running upwards of $100 billion.
“Do I have a problem when a sitting secretary of state and a foundation run by her husband collect many, many dollars from foreign governments—governments which are dictatorships? Yeah, I do have a problem with that. Yeah, I do.”
~Bernie Sanders on CNN
Here are just a handful of the problems that surfaced owing to a tsunami of leaks. Many of these were known, but they offer a glimpse of the foundation’s modus operandi.
- One hundred eighty-one Clinton Foundation donors simultaneously lobbied the State Department.668
- Hillary put a Wall Street trader on the federal board that regulates nuclear weapons because of a big donation to the Clinton Foundation.669
- The Crown Prince of Bahrain got access to the secretary of state after pledging $32 million to the Clinton Global Initiative.670
- The State Department showed favoritism to FOB (Friends of Bill) in its $10 billion Haiti fund.671
- Hillary supported a $29 billion military arms deal with Saudi Arabia but only after the Saudis donated $10 million to the Clinton Foundation. Boeing tossed in another $900K.672
- Australia and Norway ceased donations in the millions the week after Hillary lost the election. What about the children?673
- Bill Clinton was an honorary chairman of Laureate Education. The Clinton State Department provided $55.2 million in grants to Laureate; Bill collected $16.5 million in fees.674
There are hundreds of such examples. Critics argue there is no evidence of quid pro quo. Yeah? Money changed hands—proof enough.675 Intrepid reporters and investigators have a treasure trove of e-mails for building a case against the Clintons (but probably won’t) and Clinton Foundation (possibly will). I imagine many books will be written detailing the sordid plotlines. There is one e-mail, however, that is the Rosetta Stone to the corruption. After throwing a fit about Chelsea sticking her nose into foundation business where it shouldn’t oughtta be,676 Doug Band, president of consulting firm Teneo and foundation operative, wrote a 13-page screed describing how he redirected tens of millions of foundation donations to Bill’s personal coffers.677,678 Marcia Clark could win this prosecution.
E-mailgate was a total mess. The evidence that Hillary breached national security laws was overwhelming.679 The investigation started out looking authentic: 147 FBI agents chasing down leads.680 Head of the FBI, James Comey, seemed like a stand-up guy, having been confirmed with a 97:1 vote of confidence from the Senate. Who didn’t vote for him? Rand Paul.681 Maybe Rand remembered Comey’s background at Bridgewater Associates682 or that Comey was involved in the Clinton Whitewater investigation 20 years back that came up with nothing. In the theater of the absurd, Comey squared off against Clinton Whitewater lawyer Loretta Lynch.683 It was clear, however, that the public was only partially engaged, but Hillary was methodically digging a very deep hole with specious protestations.
The FBI was ready to make the call about prosecution that, ironically, was not theirs to make, when Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Bill Clinton by chance ran into each other on a tarmac, which was witnessed only by chance. They were just two old snakes on a plane chatting about grandchildren.684 Soon thereafter, Comey stood in front of the world and delineated Hillary’s transgressions in lurid detail.685 It was as though he had collected her disclaimers—I’m confident he did—and then nuked every single one of them. Hillary was toast. He gets to the climax and—convictus interruptus—a political dirty Sanchez. He announced there was nothing whatsoever to prosecute and scampered off the stage (under sniper fire). A couple days later, he testified to Congress confirming how much Hillary had lied, providing plenty of treasons to indict.
Here was my initial take on it. Comey took the bullet for Lynch. Lynch is required by law not to prosecute long shots. Is there anybody who thinks Lynch could get a 12:0 vote out of a jury against what would likely be a sitting president years later? They had to let her walk, but before doing so, Comey convicted her in the Court of Popular Opinion. In return, the Republicans attacked the decision but passed on every opportunity to attack Comey.
But then it got weird. Rumors of a coup d’état within the FBI rank and file came via leaks. They pointed to obstructionism by Comey and Lynch the whole way.686,687 The DoJ let key witness Cheryl Mills serve as Hillary’s lawyer, which allowed her to avoid being deposed.688 They allowed Team Clinton to destroy evidence.689 That sent Hillary on a frozen rope straight to Pennsylvania Avenue! Yeee-haawwww!
“How does it feel for a much younger, younger generation, you will be their first white president?”
~Zack Galifianakis to Hillary on “Between Two Ferns”
But then it got really weird. An altogether independent investigation of Anthony Weiner’s sex offense blew 650,000 of Huma Abedin’s e-mails into the public eye. I suspect that Huma backed them up on the horned toad’s computer as a life insurance policy; she knew how Clintons dealt with threats. Comey announced the Hunt for Hillary was back on. They finally had her. A week later, in yet another Roseanne Roseannadanna moment, Comey said, “Never mind.” Hillary was stumbling toward Pennsylvania Avenue with only two days before the election. At this point, Comey was probably planning quality time with his family.
I cannot skip the darkest part of the Clinton mystique—the Clinton body count. Rumors of dead enemies have dogged the Clintons for years. It’s not just Vince Foster.690 Almost 50 people are on an admittedly generous list of victims.691 (I’m guessing the Carter body count is less impressive.) I don’t know if any of the stories are true, but they are disturbing. At one point this year, five people who were explicitly dangerous to the Clinton campaign died in only six weeks.692 The most notable was Seth Rich, shot to death with no motive identified on the morning he was to testify against the Clintons.693 WikiLeaks confirmed he was a DNC insider who had turned.694 Assange offered a reward for more information on Seth’s death.695 Ironically, a cat burglar was chased off the Ecuadorian embassy in the wee hours.696 It’s not hard to imagine what (or whom) he was looking for.
What astonished me watching Hillary weave and bob to avoid problems of her own creation was the totality of her hypocrisy. Of course, the web has a long memory, so it didn’t take long to recall that Hillary was actively pushing the birther story in ’08697 as well as the Obama-in-a-turban photo.698 Few know that Bill and Hillary, to their credit, used the “Make America Great” slogan years before Trump.699 Her heroic efforts to summon federal aid for earthquake-ravaged Haiti was eventually shown to be a slovenly grab of lucrative contracts by friends of Bill and Hillary, who then proceeded to do almost nothing for the Haitians.700 The Clinton Foundation had boots on the ground in Haiti again after the hurricane, going door-to-door soliciting donations of any size (please laugh). The family’s speaking fees fetched them a cool $200 million net worth as civil servants in what was undeniably a pay-to-play scam of monumental proportions.
Hillary’s profound hypocrisy is most easily conveyed, however, by letting her speak for herself:
“A man with this much contempt and disrespect for women has no business becoming president.”
“Every survivor of sexual assault deserves to be heard, believed, and supported.”
“Go fuck yourself.”
~Hillary to her secret service agent in response to “Good morning.”
“What we have here is pretty much what I have been saying throughout this whole year, and that is that I never sent or received anything that was marked classified.”
“You stare at the wall like a brain-dead buffalo while letting fucking Lauer get away with this betrayal? Get the fuck to work janitoring this mess: do I make myself clear?”
~Hillary Clinton to Donna Brazile
“You wanted it, didn’t you?”
~Young Hillary Clinton to a now-sterile 12-year-old rape and beating victim on the witness stand (after exiting the coma)
“But if everybody’s watching, you know, all of the backroom discussions and the deals . . . you need both a public and a private position.”
~Hillary Clinton, on the Goldman tapes
“I have a lot of experience dealing with men who sometimes get off the reservation.”
“It is one of the most important challenges the next president is going to face.”
~Hillary Clinton on cybersecurity
“The real key to cybersecurity rests with you. Complying with department computing policies and being alert to potential threats will help protect all of us.”
~Hillary Clinton to her staff
“This is a man who says . . . women don’t deserve equal pay unless they do as good a job as men.”
~Hillary Clinton, first presidential debate
“I want the Iranians to know that, if I’m president, we will attack Iran.”
“I’ve been the most transparent public official in modern times.”
“I often feel like there’s the Hillary standard and then there’s the standard for everybody else.”
“We are going to write fairer rules for the middle class, and we are going to raise taxes for the middle class.”
~Hillary Clinton, probably just garbling her words owing to brain trauma
“Name one thing anybody has influenced me on.”
“The company you keep says a lot about you.”
“We did not lose a single American in that action.”
~ Hillary Clinton on Libya
“I do not believe that they did anything that they believed was in any way inappropriate.”
~Hillary Clinton, supporting those who sent e-mails to her insecure server
“There’s just a deep desire to believe that we can have free college. . . . I don’t want to overpromise. I don’t want to tell people things that I know we cannot do.”
~Hillary Clinton, on a Goldman Sachs video after publically promising free college
“As the FBI said, everything that I’ve said publicly has been consistent and truthful with what I’ve told them.”
“Can’t we just drone this guy?”
~Hillary Clinton on Julian Assange
“Anyone not willing to accept the result of an election is a danger to democracy.”
Besides what appears to me to be a lifetime of criminal behavior befitting that of a clinical sociopath, what were Hillary’s biggest mistakes? I view three as truly colossal screw-ups by an otherwise coldly calculating political veteran.
(1) Hillary called approximately 25% of the voters (half of Trump’s supporters) a “basket of deplorables.” You attack the candidate but never the voters. What was so egregious was that she turned them into nouns. They were not deplorable but rather deplorables. You could actually hear her minions after the fact trying to reverse that grammatical subtlety. The noun form was dehumanizing. Hillary was dehumanizing.
(2) Hillary feigned interest in the environment—her first loyalty remains to her—supporting green energy as preferable to coal. Her enormous mistake was that she told the most downtrodden working class in America—coal miners—that she was going to put them out of work. It revealed a lack of compassion—a monumental political blunder.
(3) She and her team rigged the polls and controlled the media. The control was absolute, because the media (even Fox News) had turned on Trump. The blunder was that she then believed the media reports and the polls showing she was winning. Team Clinton lied to itself on a grand scale. Meanwhile, she slowly but ever so steadily lost the millennials, the Bernie supporters, and even minorities in significant numbers. I return to the minority shift in the next section. It’s important.
Figure 24. Poll showing Clinton lead on November 7th.
Before closing, I must mention Huma and the Weiner, which refers not to a sitcom but to Huma Abedin and her sex-crazed husband and former politician Anthony Weiner. I am confident that Huma’s moral bar is at the wrong level.701 The scandals about her 10-year stint as the associate editor of the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs are innuendo but remain disquieting.702 Maybe JMMA is just the Saudi comeback to Cosmo, but maybe not. The e-mail leaks from the DNC and ultimately from the Weiner clearly showed that Huma played a key and dubious role in what I believe will prove to be the largest scandal
Figure 25. Caption contest.
of them all, the Clinton Foundation. The close affiliation with Hillary Clinton is condemning. But here is the impressive part: Huma’s role as Hillary’s chief of staff—a role that demanded dealing with unimaginable pressures daily—tells me that she must be working at the highest possible level of competence. Huma has gravitas. Somebody will hire her and get their money’s worth, even if there is a little interim time spent in public housing—orange is the new black—or in a witness protection program.
“This year represents a paroxysm in the political system that is rejecting the attempts to control the election from the halls of power. . . . They might find a way to take Trump down, but he’s not going down easy.”
~David Collum, BTFDtv, January 2016
The media and two parties beat Trump unceasingly. Even the Hillary-hating ultra-right power brokers Bill Kristol, George Will, and Mitt Romney supported Hillary. Ruth Bader Ginsberg, breaking federal law precluding a sitting Supreme Court justice from making political statements, noted, “I can’t imagine what the country would be with Donald Trump as our president. . . . He is a faker.” The Donald fired back, “Her mind is shot. She should resign.” They could both be correct. Conservative pundit Andrew Sullivan referred to a Trump presidency as an “extinction-level event.”703 Ex-CIA head Michael Hayden suggested the troops would not follow his orders, which sounds very Roman. Of course, Wall Street veterans like Buffett and Paulson hated him because he might not even be for sale, let alone have bargain-basement price tag of $200,000 and a Buy-Now button at Amazon.
“If trump wins the election I am moving out of the country goodbye America hello Hawaii”
We just witnessed a victory that was every bit as improbable as the 1980 U.S. hockey team winning the gold in Lake Placid (albeit lacking the universal appeal . . . except, ironically, from the Russians). How did this happen?
I’m not going to pile on. I am trying to avoid being one of the billions who underestimated the man. Admittedly, Trump has a huge error bar tattooed on his ass, and I could be doing some serious mea culpas in the future. Some may be irritated if not appalled that I am writing past his obvious flaws this year and looking at his achievements; next year there will be some serious hard data to work with. I am, however, optimistic that he is in this for real and that there is a chance—possibly a long shot, mind you—that he will be transformational. The single best source of upbeat analysis of Trump came from cartoonist Scott Adams of Dilbert fame. He opened with a snarky endorsement of Hillary noting, “I’ve decided to endorse Hillary Clinton for President, for my personal safety.”704 Later blogs, however, supported The Donald and dissected his tactics. While most heard Trump babbling simple, mind-numbing platitudes, Adams witnessed somebody using classic linguistic ploys to win—as you might expect from a guy who wrote The Art of the Deal and has been closing deals for his entire life. I was reminded of sections of the classic book Influence, in which Robert Cialdini describes how we are influenced by others.
“It turns out that Trump’s base personality is “winning.” Everything else he does is designed to get that result.”
~Scott Adams (@ScottAdamsSays)
At the outset, a meeting of the Clintons and Trump before he threw his hat in the ring convinced me Trump was a stalking horse for Hillary—a decoy to disrupt the Republican nominating process. National Review suggested he might be a “Manchurian candidate.”705 Maybe this was true, or maybe, just maybe, he was setting Hillary up for The Sting. No matter, soon he smelled blood like Bruce the Shark in Finding Nemo, and the hunt for the presidency was on.
Megyn Kelly opened the debates asking Trump what it would take to get him to drop out. Was he below the minimum standard that was obviously quite low, or had he already scared the establishment? My wild-ass theory is that he and Megyn choreographed a highly visible Battle Royale to advance both of their goals: The Kelly/Trump fight was staged. Cui bono? Both. Trump is now president and Megyn is looking at a $20 million annual salary. That would be classic Trump. From there, he proceeded to emasculate and then defeat a bevy of losers in the Republican debates. He then set his sights on Hillary.
Trump was so totally unconventional. He spent little on campaign ads, instead relentlessly baiting the media into reporting anything he said. He would tweet 140 characters, and the media would write volumes and talk about it incessantly. He called a press conference under a false pretense and then presented them with whatever he had on his mind. They called it getting “rickrolled,” and it got huge coverage.706 While Hillary was a mediaphobe, Trump was a mediaphile. While Hillary ducked press conferences, Trump held over a dozen, taking all questions and answering them with highly quotable zingers.707
His penchant for throwing out wild-eyed conspiracy theories had his opponents and the media apoplectic. The funny part is that despite protestations to the contrary, his exaggerated and hyperbolic assertions always had shards of truth. His accusation that Obama and Hillary played a role in creating ISIS is considered common knowledge by many.708 He accused a Mexican-American judge of bias. If you read the analyses, Trump was a nutty racist bigot. If you actually watch the video,709 however, you see a well-presented assertion (whether true or false) that his plan to build The Wall was compromising the judge’s impartiality. Ironically, several judges, including former Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, jumped to Trump’s defense.710 It was said that “Trump’s prediction of a ‘massive recession’ puzzles economists.”711 ‘Nuff said by me on that one.
“Just getting nasty with Hillary won’t work. You really have to get people to look hard at her character.”
~Trump (way before the first debate)
Trump resurrected the Vince Foster death as “very fishy,” which again brought the media into a frenzy over a long since “debunked” conspiracy theory.711 Vince’s death was indeed profoundly fishy,712 as was the Clintons’ behavior after his death. How about that loopy claim that Ted Cruz’s father, Rafael, assassinated JFK? The media declared that one beyond the pale. Curiously, that rumor has been working the back channels for years.713 Rafael was a politically active Cuban national at the right time and place. A video shows Oswald and another man handing out pamphlets.714 The other man is said to be Rafael. I can’t tell, but Trump’s claim was not completely out of thin air, and a frustrated Lyin’ Ted quit the day Trump made the accusation.
“That would be impossible.”
~George Bush Sr. on Trump’s offer to be his VP
Trump’s rallies were spectacles. There was serious violence. After getting pelted with eggs by anti-Trump forces,715 a blonde Trump fan suggested, “Maybe I egged them on.” This is a surprisingly witty comeback for a subhuman, alt-right Trump supporter.716 One rally was canceled owing to the violence.717 In others, cars were tipped over.718 Shockingly, this all got hung on Trump by the media, somehow not noticing that the Trump supporters were boisterous but largely nonviolent. Oh, right: it was his rhetoric.
“Figure out how to extract yourself and your car or truck from an angry mob before you confront the problem. Your options are limited, and time will be short.”
~Me channeling Reginald Denny
What was suspected and eventually confirmed by a combination of WikiLeaks and an undercover video by Project Veritas was that the violence was orchestrated and paid for by the DNC.719 The guy who admitted on camera to doing it, Robert Creamer, also happened to have visited the White House 340 times, including more than 40 trips to see President Obama.720 Robert may do some serious jail time before the next administration is done with him. The DNC, by contrast, came out unscathed, albeit totally discredited. Euthanasia seems appropriate to me. Give the egg lady a bat and 10 minutes with Creamer and you might get some justice.
The other noteworthy feature of the rallies was that they were huge. While Hillary was having fake rallies with hundreds, The Donald was filling arenas with lines stretching for blocks. The rallies were this era’s Woodstock. While the crowd chanted “lock her up” and “drain the swamp,” the master showman would use phrases like, “It’s just me up here. Just you and me.” He hammered foreigners, but he gave nothing but big hugs to Americans. It was declared racist, Islamophobic, xenophobic, and bigoted, but many Americans liked the general message.
“No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.”
~P. T. Barnum
Trump’s truly momentous scam was classic Trump and nobody noticed: he threw the first debate against Hillary. What? He threw the friggin’ debate? Pundits breathlessly reported on the day of the long-awaited political event that “insiders” were saying he “wasn’t ready.” Don’t be so gullible, dudes: real insiders tell you only what they want you to hear. In the debate, he looked terrible. Hillary landed body blow after body blow on his support for the Iraq war (which was oddly ambiguous721) and his tax returns, and he didn’t even throw a real punch. How did he let himself get caught on the ropes so badly? The media declared the election was over. Trump was incompetent and unpresidential. (The two are not the same.)
Here’s your homework assignment: List Hillary’s 15 biggest scandals—The Donald had them committed to memory—and then go back and watch Debate I. How many did Trump attack her on? None. Nada. Zero. There were some minor slip-ups, but he left those skeletons securely in the closet. Why? When I pointed that out to friends, they would declare he was simply that stupid.
Tweeter @JPCompson and I, in a series of private messages, saw it as a classic rope-a-dope. In round I, he took her best shots without returning her volley. He was saving himself for Debates II and III, because once you’ve attacked her, it becomes unusable old news. We were positive he would knock her out in Debate II. Unfortunately, “grab them by the pussy” appeared the week before this debate, so we’ll never know what his original plan was: now he had to knock her out. Meanwhile, Hillary thought she would spend the evening having her way with this ball-gagged, pussy-grabbing sexual predator. Indeed, Trump spent the first five minutes of Debate II defending his groin against an assault, looking for metaphorical and literal castration, and then he destroyed her. She was dazed and confused the remainder of the night. He even managed to play a seemingly losing hand on abortion by describing Hillary as a baby killer. He hung late-stage, third-trimester abortions around Hillary’s neck by the umbilical cords. You’d swear Hillary actually ran an abortion clinic. There was one exchange, however, that took top billing in the Debate Hall of Fame:
Hillary: “You know it is just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in this country.”
Trump: “Because you’d be in jail.”
But wait a minute there, Sparky. Didn’t the widely (universally) cited CNN poll show she won 51% to 39%. Yes, it did, but the polls were as fabricated as the election coverage, which was also ultimately outed by WikiLeaks. I knew Trump won big using my own lying eyes and by a simple survey. I searched “who won” on Twitter—a nonpartisan Boolean search covering the entire political spectrum without bias. In 27 spot polls, he destroyed her in many and, most important, he beat her in 25 of the 27 polls. Meanwhile, the voters kept getting told by all the major news outlets that Hillary won.
From the outset, Anne Coulter defiantly declared that Donald Trump would be the next president.722 People laughed at her like she was Peter Schiff declaring there was a huge real estate bubble. Right-wing pundit Sean Hannity stepped into the right-wing buzz saw to give him fair treatment. It was hard to find them, but Trump supporters in prominent places slowly crawled out of their safe spaces. Eventually Gingrich and Giuliani jumped into the fray. Wall Streeters Peter Thiel and Jeff Gundlach lent support. A month before the election, I sat at a table with a dozen highly educated, affluent friends from college and was shocked to discover 100% supporting Trump. This is inconsistent with the storyline about his base being wife-beating, alt-right sexual predators. Closet Trump supporters were coming out of their closets.
“No, I would not vote for Hillary Clinton . . . and Trump is not the typical detached, corrupt, greedy, globalist U.S. president we’ve become so accustomed to. This is precisely what his supporters are picking up on and why they love him.”
~Jim Webb, Democratic presidential hopeful
The weirdest subplot of them all is still off most radars and may never fully take form: minorities seemed to move toward Trump. Mind you, it was just a flicker, but The Donald courted them as the democrats lethargically assumed they would lose zero votes from the minority community from here to eternity. Trump, of course, had given plenty of reasons for Hispanics to dislike him, but black Americans were visibly showing support.723 Blacks for Trump rallies were appearing:724 I don’t remember Blacks for Mitt. Ice Cube articulated Trump’s appeal, falling short of endorsing him.725 Dave Chapelle, before his legendary post-election SNL appearance725 seemed intriqued with Trump.726 Shaquille O’Neal, Mike Tyson, 50 Cent, Sean Diddy Combs, and other prominent blacks openly supported Trump.727 Football legend Jim Brown said Trump “is going to be for all the people.”728 Malik Obama, Barack’s brother, supported Trump.729 Quanell X, the head of the New Black Panther Party, told us to ignore the package and listen to the message.730 Quanell X’s message was simple: we have given the Democrats our love for a half a century, and what do we have to show for it? The head of Blacks for Bernie, undoubtedly still smarting from the abuse Bernie took from Team Clinton, threw his support for Trump.731
Is it possible that, much the way Southern Democrats morphed into Southern Republicans (for admittedly different reasons), black Democrats are shifting their allegiance? Some of the post-election stats hint at this, but one can find many more stating the opposite. It would, however, be a sea change of unimaginable political consequence. A lot will depend on the next four years.
“You’re living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58 percent of your youth is unemployed. What the hell do you have to lose?”
~Donald Trump to African Americans
“The mainstream media bet the farm on Hillary Clinton, confident that their dismissal of every skeptical inquiry as a ‘conspiracy’ would guarantee her victory. It now appears they have lost their bet.”
~Charles Hugh Smith, OfTwoMinds
Let me be clear to the mainstream media as a collective: you guys suck. I’m talking really suck. A Gallup poll showing your credibility dropping to single digits—below the percentages who believe in Sasquatch—says I am not alone in my disdain.732 I know some great reporters; painting everybody with a big brush is not fair, but I would slather most of the news organizations with tar, throw some feathers on them, and wait for Chapter 7 liquidation. One side of my brain says, go ahead. Define your media niches. If it destroys your brands, that was a business decision. You will be replaced by an honest (digital) product that people demand. The other lobe worries that Big Money will just keep buying up or, if necessary, sabotaging new media. As fledgling outlets emerge (think Huffington Post), they get swallowed by the Borg Collective. Is this really free press? Are there analogues of Woodward and Bernstein? We desperately do not need whores and gigalos groping people in power simply to gain access. It’s showtime: risk your access or risk your role in a democratic society.
I’m sure this problem is bipartisan, but fear of Trump and agenda-driven support for Hillary caused a political lopsidedness. Emblematically, the winner of the election didn’t get a single endorsement—not a one—from the top 100 media outlets.733 Maybe Hillary should have batted 0 for 100 as well. WikiLeaks showed that hundreds of reporters were in cahoots—had their noses right up the butts of Team Clinton to a shocking degree.734
“We couldn’t help [Hillary] any more than we have.”
~ Chris Cuomo, CNN correspondent
First off, quit donating to campaigns and crime syndicates masquerading as nonprofit foundations. Time Inc. was a big Hillary donor.735 Politico reported—thank you, Politico—that NBC Universal, News Corporation, Turner Broadcasting, and Thomson Reuters are among the many media organizations that donated to the Clinton Foundation.736
The network that took the absolute worst beating this year was CNN—the Clinton News Network. Time Warner, owner of CNN, was Hillary’s seventh largest donor.737 At the microscopic level, you could see it. CNN reporters criticizing Hillary would be cut off mid-broadcast.738 You also should probably stop firing reporters for content that you find inconsistent with your endorsed candidate’s views.739 You let Team Clinton feed you questions for interviews,740 and you fed them questions for the debates:741 you rigged the debates.
Thank God for the wild free-speech zone offered by social media, where everything and anything can be said. In one 24-hour period, I chatted with the former president of Microsoft, countless journalists and hedgies, a vice president of the St. Louis Fed, and one of Bill Clinton’s rape victims. (Wouldn't want to skip the Oxford comma in that sentence.) I taught Juanita Broaddrick how to “pin” a Tweet, and she pinned a zinger:
There were some funny mishaps. Rumsfeld hit Twitter endorsing a flat tax, but it quickly turned into a war crime Tweet-A-Thon.742 TayTweets, an artificial intelligence (AI) program designed by Microsoft to interact with people on Twitter, was pulled when it began spewing anti-semitic hate speech and pro-Donald Trump campaign slogans.743 It has the AI guys and the AI debate on the DEFCON scale. As noted above, the NY Fed thought exposing itself to the Fever Swamp was a swell idea. Shoulda listened to Geraldo when he advised not to tweet late at night shirtless.
“[I]t takes a special kind of asshole to actually get banned from Twitter.”
~New York magazine
A decidedly unfunny covert war is being fought against the openness of it all. The major tech companies are beginning to sift through content and decide what is right or wrong. I reiterate, I support the right of these companies to destroy themselves, but I think something much more sinister is going on. Facebook, Google, and Twitter all showed a distinct bias against right-leaning content. Polarizing figures were getting banned and their content blocked.744 Facebook deleted highly popular pro-Trump pages in social media’s variant of the Night of the Long Knives.745 YouTube blocked some content providers at the cash register—prevented ad revenue—when the content didn’t fit its definition of what’s right and wrong.746 The techies profess to be saving us from being subjected to hurtful ideas. Although this year was anti-right-wing bias, I suspect it’s a less partisan content control bias. It’s wrapped in a protective cloak with an anti-terrorism or anti-hate-speech logo, but it’s about suppressing free speech.
A few random flesh wounds and head shots to and from the media are summarized as Bad Bullets:
- The New York Times dropped superdelegates from its tabulations to protect the DNC.747
- The AP announced Hillary’s victory in the Democratic primaries before it was hers and specifically timed the announcement to influence the impact of the California primary (vide supra).
- An Obama aide was hired and fired by NBC/MSNBC on the same day when it was discovered that she was helping him get his Supreme Court nominee through the system.748 Nice stick save.
- Chuck Johnson, right-wing investigative reporter, was the first to be banned from Twitter and warned Breitbart tech analyst Milo Yiannopolous he would be banned.749
- Milo Yiannopoulus was first unverified (which is just weird) and then banned from Twitter for what was clearly polarizing content that would be constitutionally protected in a public setting.750
- Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey claims Twitter censors nothing.751
- An ex-CIA guy who had been on Fox News for years turned out to be a total fake, getting him 33 months in prison.752 What happened to the other fakes?
- A former Zero Hedge employee outed marginally concealed Zero Hedge founders in Bloomberg and then discovered the hard way that he’d left a paper trail of his personal misdeeds a mile long.753
- CNN reported that 200 million people died from 65 million surgeries.754
- Michael Savage’s radio show got blacked out in a number of cities when he started talking about Hillary’s health.755
- Headline: Game Developer Mark Kern Banned On Twitter For Saying Radical Mosques Should Be Surveilled—even though they are being surveilled. We all are.756
- Scott Adams got “shadow banned” on Twitter, which meant that, unbeknownst to him, his tweets weren’t showing up.757
- Roger Ailes of Fox News got accused of “grabbing the pussy” of aspiring female journalists, generating a digital exam of his own genitalia.758
- Michael Isikoff unsuccessfully called for the unedited Juanita Broaddrick interview, including the deleted part wherein she hammered Hillary.759
- Christina Hoff Sommers was silenced on YouTube for anti-feminist views.760
- RBS shut down the banking functions of RT, backing down eventually but showing a totalitarian side.761 The irony is palpable.
- The Economist tweeted, “Donald Trump must be stopped before it’s too late,” showing that it’s not only their coverage of economics that is dubious.762
- When Trump pulled into the lead, Reuters changed its polling methods.763
- Lester Holt was so bad in the first debate he got nicknamed “The Third Debater.”764
- Martha Raddatz “lost her shit” and started arguing in a debate . . . and then cried when Hillary lost.765
- Searches for the “Clinton AP story” gave results limited to stories from left-wing publications discrediting the story.766 (I checked; it was true when reported.)
- Chris Wallace shined.
Pamela Geller, after some boots and bans owing to what was deemed anti-Islamic content, has filed a joint lawsuit against Attorney General Loretta Lynch and tech giants Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube for “unlawful discrimination based upon their religious and political beliefs and views.”767,768
“The Watts case involved a young man who claimed that if he was drafted and made to carry a rifle, then ‘the first man I want to get in my sights is L. B. J.’ The Court found seemingly violent ‘hyperbole’ is constitutionally protected.”
~Glenn Reynolds (@Instapundit), about a bygone era
And in a flash, it was over—the election, the year, a clockwork orange. Newsweek released the results in a commemorative issue just a wee bit too early. Time waited and got it right. The gravity and despair on the left was often captured by images of Hillary supporters crying, but the most poignant image might have been that of John Podesta walking into the arena the night of the election. He was to announce that the dreams of a Clinton presidency—of the first female president—were dashed and that their candidate would not be coming out that night. John’s burden is palpable. Despite my disdain for the Clinton political machine and even his role, I can feel his pain. Another oddly moving experience for me was listening to Kate McKinnon in her role as Hillary Clinton on Saturday Night Live singing “Hallelujah.”748
Trump was not a cause but rather an effect. For me the wildly uplifting nonpartisan message is that we threw the bums out. The voters took the wretched candidates offered by the two political parties and said, “No. We will be choosing our own president this time, warts and all.” The risk to the elites is that the movement is global. Britain and Italy voting to leave the EU is the same plot.749
“Trump’s election is going to be the biggest fuck you ever recorded in human history, and it will feel good.”
One might ask whether transformative change really required someone as extreme as Donald Trump? My answer is a resounding yes. No other candidate could challenge the system so profoundly and defeat it. To shake a rotten system to its foundations truly required an unprecedented performance. I encourage you to hold your doomsday prophecies for some data.
“You can’t always get what you want. But you just might find you get what you need.”
Amazingly, nobody can see past February. Even Trump supporters are watching quizzically. I am guardedly optimistic that Trump is more cunning and calculating than his political foes realize. The post-election press conference in which he denounced the press as liars and scoundrels was, like Trump, paradoxical. On the one hand, it was seriously ham-fisted. On the other, many are lying scoundrels. We have the right to a free press, which is slipping through our fingers because the press forgot to do the job that is so important in a functioning democracy. Without a strong First Amendment, the populace will naturally turn to its backup—the Second Amendment.
I am confident that Trump plays to win. Trump the candidate will not be the same competitor as President Trump because the task is different. The Carrier jobs move, calls to Taiwan, and Stinger missiles shot at Boeing are consistent with a simple message from the pre-POTUS: he is not going to take any guff. Of course, there will be some yuge missteps. Some say his political appointees are a disaster. I submit that they are not so nuts if his goal is to shrink the footprint of government.
I don’t worry about Trump as much as I worry about the abrogation of free speech. From my vantage point, the alt-left seems more dangerous than the alt-right because the former is charging at our right to free speech with venomous aggression. Recent moves to censor and eliminate “fake news” are not just political footballs. They are attacking the most fundamental right of our democracy—the right to free speech. Give that up and you give up everything. I can ignore Nazis, communists, cultists, and fringe elements of almost all kinds provided they come as a consequence of free speech. Aristotle said that an educated person—actually, he said educated man—can entertain an idea without endorsing it. We should be careful not to give up the right to entertain all ideas.
I have a solid record as a college professor. I get good teaching reviews in courses, have not been rejected on a federal grant since 1987, publish in the best journals, have served as the associate editor of a prominent scientific journal for 20 years, and have held administrative positions of some importance for 15 years. I have helped coach two sports at the collegiate level, advised a number of clubs, and fallen on my sword in more ways than I can say in public (including one right now). Nonetheless, writing this review poses unknowable risk. In the midst of a very left-leaning faculty discussion, I got a text from a high-ranking administrator that stated succinctly, “Dave: you need to speak up.” I did not say a word. That was a small moment of shame—a microshame.
I am reminded of the universal maxim “this too shall pass.” Randy Pausch’s wife once said that when you start obsessing just say to yourself, “this is not helping.” Mark Twain or Will Rogers suggested that “Worry is the interest you pay on a debt you may not owe.” And lest we forget, there are always more elections to worry about:
“Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren’t very new after all.”
Every year I attempt to attenuate the growth of my 35-page wish list on Amazon by reading a handful of books, but I am losing the fight. I choose carefully owing to limited bandwidth. The books end up being an eclectic mix with one unbroken theme: they all profess to be nonfiction. I am not spending good money without attaining personal growth loosely referred to as knowledge. Novels just don’t cut it for me. Here is my 2016 reading list for what it’s worth.
This book is the amazingly uplifting story of a humble, very sensitive, family-oriented guy who lived a very moral existence. The occasional mishaps hurt him deeply. He created wealth, not (just) inherited it. His loss in the second term stemmed, in part, from ambivalence about whether he really wanted it. You get some minor but telling views about his opinion of the Clintons and absolute respect and loyalty to Reagan. The book seemed a little too supportive of GW’s presidency (through the fuzzy eyes of a proud father.) Overall, I finished with a substantially amplified opinion of GHWB.
This book is an oddly imbalanced mix of the Kennedy men including Joe Sr., Joe Jr., John, Robert, and Teddy. The description of the kids in childhood was all about Joe Jr. and John. Bobby gets short shrift. That said, Bobby is depicted as a total hothead. Teddy is an afterthought. There is quite a bit on the womanizing but not so much that it risks being just salacious garbage. I enjoyed the book, but the imbalances and dubious organization made it less than it could have been.
Foer describes the odd world of memory experts—the guys who learn how to memorize vast quantities of often worthless information in very short order. (Homer is a great example of one of the original memory junkies.) What makes the story interesting is that Foer taught himself how to do it and excelled. I had seen Foer speak and was captivated by the idea. I gotta confess that (a) the book did not move along fast enough for my tastes, and (b) I didn’t finish it. It conveyed the ideas, but I was not getting to the question of how. It may just have been my impatience. The two-star reviews at Amazon (checked after writing this review) confirm that others had similar problems, although the overall rating is high.
Manning tells the transformational tale of Malcolm X. In some odd way, this book is a follow-up to the original Alex Haley version. In Marable’s version, Haley is actually part of the plot. It is a story of redemption. A young man—a caricature of sorts—heading to nowhere but a life of crime and prison becomes one of a transformational characters of the twentieth century. While Martin Luther King Jr. was rallying the rural South, Malcolm was more militantly rocking the cities. The role of Islam (the Nation of Islam) in his metamorphosis is profound and compelling. I would’ve loved to see what he’d have done had he lived his full life. The only downside is that the book, like so many historical treatises, is filled with characters that, despite some memorable ones (Mohammad Ali, Louis Farrakhan), are simply not of interest to the general readership. You can’t live with ‘em but ya can’t live without ‘em.
I’m a huge fan of The Teaching Company’s audio series: college-level, trimester-length courses on interesting subjects taught by talented lecturers. This course was exactly what I had hoped for—a historical rather than religious look at the role of the Catholic Church in society through the years. The origins and early history in the ancient era was the best part. The more modern periods were of far less interest to me. The course is not about God or Christ but rather about the institution we call the Church (capital C).
Jim is an occasional acquaintance and frequent e-quaintance with a common interest in gold as a means of wealth preservation. His book is an easy read that will be enjoyed by gold fans but is really more important for neophytes interested in wrapping their brains around gold. I have only one disagreement: I do not buy the notion that gold is money and that its price represents the price of the dollar denominated in gold. The prices of goods and services denominated in dollars are, in the short term, stable. By contrast, goods and services priced in gold vary daily with the price of gold. By this standard, gold is not yet money. It is, however, a store of wealth in the long term.
This book is one of many, many neuropsychology books on biases. It’s sort of Gladwellian. I’m not sure I can recall what was in it, nor can I recall why I read yet another. I remember it being enjoyable, but I can lip-synch this genre now.
As the former CEO and founder of Stratfor, George is on the front lines of the geopolitical world. He describes Europe as a series of regions (tribes) with long memories surrounded by “borderlands” that reminds one of the bar in Star Wars—huge opportunities for a brawl. The tribalism has lead to huge numbers of wars and will continue to do so. George doesn’t see a conflagration but would be even more shocked if we avoided a generic shitstorm. He does not spend a lot of time on the recent immigrants, but I bet he would have if the book had been written a year later.
Greg does a credible job of describing the ages old maxim that stability breeds instability in financial markets. He draws ample analogies to excessive risks that appear with overly aggressive fire prevention, financial intermediation, and car safety. There was some dry discussion of the financial crisis (blah, blah, blah . . . like I need more of that). Unfortunately, he gives the Fed a pass for the most part, ignoring its role and simply pointing out why it did what it did. I would recommend passing on this book.
This audiobook is another Teaching Company trimester-length collegiate course in audio. These courses are, almost without fail, exceptional. Harl does a great job of describing in a relatively chronological order the expansion of the Roman Empire and the various “barbarians” confronted along the way. I enjoyed it immensely.
I’ve always wondered how one would ever create a monumental body of work like the World Book Encyclopedia in this era . . . and along came WikiLeaks. You crowdsource it! But what about the past? The story of the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary with in excess of a million entries is actually quite similar: it was crowdsourced using thousands of people globally over a 70-year period. The great historical storyteller Simon Winchester describes the creation of the monumental, first-of-a-kind compilation of words and definitions. The plot within the plot is the specific role of a crazy bastard in a sanitarium. For 20 of those years, he contributed profoundly, yet nobody knew he was completely nuts. (He requested and received zinc-plated floors to keep demons from climbing up through the floorboards at night and having sex with him.) It’s an entertaining tale, although in a bit of irony, one could get the basic story by simply going to Wikipedia.
Gary Byrne was a Secret Service agent charged with protecting the Clintons for eight years. To the dismay of millions of alt-righters, he was very good at his job. Of course, if you hadn’t figured it out by now, I read this book simply because I find Hillary to be a deplorable human being with no socially redeeming qualities. Unfortunately, the book was disappointing. He hammers Hillary but very nondescriptly. At its release, I’d hoped Hillary would “feel the Byrne.” Little did I know that she would deflect much, much worse. Bill Clinton takes a beating as Gary describes relentless examples of bimbo-banging in the Oval Office and the icky cleanup after the fact. He describes testifying to Congress under oath, during which he was precluded from telling the truth (and we don’t get that part either). Monica comes off as a stalker-level groupie. It’s also disconnected, with a lot of chapters about the author’s life away from the Clintons.
I’ve watched most of Chris Martenson’s metamorphosis into town crier about disaster coming our way. I tuned into Crash Course when the sections were still incomplete. It was great. This book is about the transition from panic to relative tranquility that comes through preparing oneself for coming adversity. It’s about prepping, but it transcends the apocalyptic version and provides a more measured version in which you simply organize your life for a sustainable existence that is not reliant on fragile support systems that could give way to serious problems. (Only two days before my typing the first draft of this review, the Internet experienced a significant denial-of-service hack attack.)
Roger is best known for his description of the Long-Term Capital Management collapse in When Genius Failed. Presenting a polar opposite view of The Creature from Jekyll Island, Lowenstein describes the creation of the Federal Reserve in the most favorable light possible. It is absolutely clear that Roger is a big Fed fan and thinks its detractors are idiots or, even worse, conspiracy theorists. After the insults, I found the book to be an enlightening read in which the author convinced me of the problems of the fragmented banking industry of the nineteenth century and the merits of a collective approach (a cabal if you wish). If only the Fed could be a more humble institution unfettered by the Hayekian fatal conceit.
In yet another Teaching Company trimester-length course, Kenneth Harl describes a number of ancient civilizations. I love this stuff even though I have trouble remembering any of it for more than a few weeks after listening.
The authors describe the pandemonium that results when hot money chases overvalued assets driven by testosterone-infested money guys (KKR). The story dates to the 1980s—in the wake of disco, to place it in context. I found it interesting, but the magnitude seems quaint in light of the modern-day barbarians. Still, it was an enjoyable read, albeit non-technical.
“Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.”
~Henry David Thoreau
This manuscript sits on the shoulders of diligent individuals providing fresh content as well as invaluable sifting through extant content. We all crowdsource news now. There are individuals who make my personal pursuits to understand the world very special. Of course, Adam Taggart and Chris Martenson deserve hearty thanks for allowing me to provide content as well as giving a healthy dose of their own. Zero Hedge, supposedly one of the primary sources of “fake news” according to the alt-left and the elites, provides content that is remarkably useful given its putative total lack of authenticity. Guys I interacted with this year include some regulars as well as some newcomers. Although their exchanges are not always voluminous, they generously include me in their sphere. They include Stephen Roach, Nassim Taleb, Mark Gilbert, Grant Williams, Michael Krieger, Benn Steil, Steve Hanke, Sean Corrigan, Catherine Austin Fitts, Jack Barnes, Jim Kunstler, Dale Pinkert, Jacob Taylor, Dorsey Kindler, Sam Kitterman, John Rubino, Dorsey Kindler, Susan Lustick, David Einhorn, Tony Deden, Steve Ellis, and the boys at Zero Hedge. Twitter is an amazing source of anything you want. With great hesitation, I mention a few of the people I follow, recognizing that many will be left off. In many cases, the connection is almost illogically strong given that I’ve never met them and don’t always know their names or backgrounds:
@TheLimerickKing (Robert Frost?)
@dandolfa (David Andolfatto)
@nntaleb (Nassim Taleb)
@Scouseview (Mark Gilbert)
@RaoulGMI (Raoul Pal)
@CGrantWSJ (Charley Grant)
@cgarrett101 (Cynthia Garrett)
@stevesi (Steve Sinofsky)
@tkinder (Terry Kinder)
@iuubob (Bob Lehmann)
@TFMkts (Peter Tchir)
@rcwhalen (Chris Whalen)
@cabaum1 (Caroline Baum)
@azizonomics (John Aziz)
@Stevephenni (Steve Henningsen)
@credittrader (Tim Backshall)
@vexmark (Mark Constantine)
@JamesGRickards (Jim Rickards)
@PopescuCo (Dan Popescu)
@nanexllc (Eric Hunsader)
@addictiondocMD (Howard Wetsman)