Archive for politics

On the occasion of the Trump inauguration

(Update: Trump may well go down as the most divisive, two-faced president in our history. Praise then insult peppered with insult then praise. Not convincing. He actually smiled – a real smile – a few times during the day. He will stand in front of a mirror for a few more hours and fix that though. What have we done to ourselves? Not me, but the conned ones.)

It is now D-Day minus one. I feel that I must write this because I fear our country is in grave danger. Regardless of the party, having control of the oval office, both houses of Congress, soon the judiciary, and a majority of governorship’s is a disaster waiting to happen…and we won’t have to wait long.

Besides running an unconventional (to say the least), campaign that brought out the worst in America and raised the fears of the founding fathers. Is this finally when the ‘Great Experiment’ fails? For the sake of my children and especially my grandchildren I hope not.

What has happened to decency?…or as the song from Chicago goes: “whatever happened to class”. Sadly, having class today is measured by wealth…in the billions, not millions, ad it is arguable that despite all his bluster, Trump is only a billionaire on paper, not on TRUE NET WORTH. This could be a major reason he will not release his tax returns.

Congress was derelict in not demanding he do so by January 2nd. Not a peep from then, until the confirmation hearings began and then almost in whispers. Where are the leaders? Of the GOP: they are groveling before this mysoginistic, narcissist that is also a pathological liar (meaning never admitting when he is wrong…about anything…and WE let him get away with it).

My wife and I have travelled extensively in Europe the past couple of years and I can’t tell you the number of people who have stopped us – on the street, literally – to say how pleased they are that Obama had restored dignity to the presidency. This followed G.W. Bush’s senseless invasion of Iraq, failing to stop ISIS in its infancy (this according to two CIA analysts who were stopped in their tracks by Cheney), and creating unrest throughout the Middle East.

On Inauguration Day, let’s not forget the fake injury of Dick Cheney so he did not stand for the swearing in, or Mitch McConnell saying on the first day that their job was to make Obama a one-term president. Regarding the first, Cheney was being disrespectful of the office, not Obama and McConnell was showing a level of immaturity as a representative was to later do at a SOTU address when he yelled out ‘Liar’ to Obama. How dare they call themselves the “Party of Lincoln”, the are the farthest thing from it.

Obama was elected with a true mandate: both popular and electoral majorities. Trump only had the electoral vote, same as G.W. Bush in win over Al Gore. In both cases, the winners swept both houses of Congress too, and for the GOP this time, a majority of the state governorship’s.

A democracy is about balance. It is requisite. In Obama’s first term the electorate reversed it’s mandate (sic) two years later, and with the newly created Tea Party wing of the GOP, made gridlock the norm. That is why the people are angry and their actions were ignored leading to the election of the renegade Donald Trump.

Let me say that BOTH parties let us down – miserably. Clinton should never have been the Dem candidate and sadly the one who should have been, Joe Biden, was still distraught over the loss of his beloved son, Bo. He would have been a ‘walk-in’ and now we are going to pay for it.

I have often said that the internet was a Pandora’s Box and once opened would never be shut again. It has done some wonderful things but it has also empowered every individual that wants to speak their mind for better or worse.

Tom Friedman wrote in “The Earth Is Flat” of this empowerment and the problem is we begin to believe what we say is fact, and followers believe it too.

So the disgusting comments Trump tweets, and even says, have become part of the lexicon. This is not what I want for America. Nor do I want a nation of ‘Fake News’. What has happened when people don’t believe what they hear or read in the mainstream media, and instead, rely in the Internet and some unseen friend on Facebook…who is perhaps not a friend at all.

Then there is usurping powers of the president while still president-elect. Talking with foreign powers, thwarting policy and relations with our allies, this is ‘unpresidented’. Yet we let him get away with as we do with all of our politicians who stray from the trodden path. There is no political downside for anything they can do, even as they attempt to weaken ethics rules, and pave the way for their return to the private sector. Wait, whoever said they should make a career in the nation’s capitol? Certainly not the founding fathers.

The sad thing is that there are at least three fact-checking organizations on the Internet. The liars say they have a political agenda, either left or right wing. But all three have a different approach yet come up with the same results. Factcheck.org, Politifact.com, and Snopes.com. Is your country worth so little you that you believe in negative statements and emails without bothering to spend five minutes knowing the truth. Worse, to send it on to your contacts without checking it out. Out of decency, when I get one of these and find it to be false, I send the link back, but only to the sender rather than embarrass them by hitting ‘reply all’ – which as a good American I should do. The good news is that it has reduced the number of rubbish emails I get…but are they still sending them to others?

You may agree with me or not, that is your prerogative, but I am not going to even watch the inauguration tomorrow. It would make me sick and considering what Cheney, McConnell and other GOP leaders (sic) did to Obama on day one, I feel justified.

My  mind is now at ease as I have done what I believe is my duty as an American.

TB

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Trump the bully

Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.
– Samuel Johnson

…what if they have neither…only bluster and cunning?

I may not be able to do anything but it is better to try to do something than to see ones’ country torn apart. Here are a few of my concerns starting back during the campaign:

  • “Crooked Hillary” and “Send her to jail” – is that what responsible people do in an attempt…and it was successful..to win…but the country’s highest office???
  • “I know more about ISIS than any of the generals, I am the only one that can destroy them.” – That alone should have told you to run! Elect Mickey Mouse, anyone but…
  • “She has used her office to collect money for her foundation.” – patently false! Yes, contributions provided access but that is what every politician does – in any country! Add to that, her foundation even with its size has been shown to do good both nationally and internationally. What has Trump’s done…besides self-dealing? A sham! He is going to be fined for using foundation funds to pay HIS fines, purchase a portrait of himself (do I need to even comment on that one), is under investigation on the self-dealing which the foundation has admitted to. Contrast to the Clinton Foundation, because they are scrupulous about paying their taxes and not taking advantage of anything that could be questioned…with good reason.
  • “I will release my taxes at the proper time.” – well, Donald,it is long past that time and you should do it before the electoral college meets on Dec. 19th!
  • ‘nuf said about Trump Enterprises, letting his kids run it and saying that is sufficient. Not for a world leader…of the free world at any rate.
  • Challenging the credibility of our electoral system, which has been used as a model for countries around the world establishing democratic governments. It makes us look like hypocrites…which we are and always have been on democracy.
  • He, Rudy Giuliani, and Kellyanne Conway, all calling protestors ‘cry babies’ and not denouncing the protests quickly enough…include Obama on this. Cry babies who won in their states and feel they have been robbed.
  • Criticizing Jill Stein and the Clinton campaign for seeking recounts in at least three states: Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania…Florida could be next. Consider, Stein raised less than $4 million for her campaign but has received over $6 million for recounts. Trump is furious…as he so often is with that hair trigger brain of his. But wait…he was screaming widespread voter fraud and his ego, despite winning the electoral college (so far that is), cannot bear the fact that he lost the popular (sic) vote by more than 2 million votes! If that is the case, he should prove it, of course he has shown, and facts have shown there is miniscule if any, voter fraud. How could it be done on such a grand scale. Would 2 million people risk going to jail? Thus far there has only been one incident reported: a woman who voted twice…for Trump!
  • “I would have had more votes if I had campaigned in California and a few other states” – so? Clinton would have also had she used his strategy. What’s your point?

The people he has surrounded himself with before (two crime families, which somehow wasn’t picked up by the New Jersey Gaming Board, nor was he required to testify before the board as is required by law…but hey, it’s New Jersey, right Chris? Here are a few: Bannon, the chameleon Giuliani, using Hannity of FOX News as a foil, along with Kellyanne before she resigned to run his campaign (wait I thought it was the liberal media that was the problem…FOX with the worst credibility rating of any news (sic) network for mixing opinion with fact. Worse he had not denounced neo-Nazi’s, the KKK, or any fringe group out to destroy the fabric of our nation. A case in point, Richard Spencer, head of the ‘alt-right’ movement (translation: American Neo-Nazi Party), who held a victory rally  for Trump, using the phrase: “Hail Trump, Hail America” (white that is), giving a Nazi salute which many in the audience eagerly gave. Note his comb over, a replica of Hitler’s. We cannot let this stand!

There you have it, a few of the reasons we cannot allow Trump to be president. Keep on going, Donald, and the electoral college might just hand you a stunning defeat. It is critical with our checks and balances destroyed by the prevalence of the GOP control in the House, Senate, gubernatorial states, state legislators, and the equal weighted Supreme Court about to be turned heavily to the extreme right…and while extreme liberal is communism, the opposite is fascism. Hail Trump…or should it be ‘heil’? TB is ‘seeking’ an answer.

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2/15/16…You picked a fine time to leave us, Scalia…and to roil the markets further!

(UPDATE: My prediction yesterday that the stock market would tank due to the inability to get anything done with an even number of  Supreme Court justices half one way and half another…was in a word: WRONG!…does that mean that Wall Street is welcoming more gridlock? Could be…after all they have everything to gain.)

…with apologies to Kenny Rogers, and the late Justice Scalia. Of course, he had no way of knowing he was going to die…especially after two scathing dissents just last week. Was he upset enough about them that he endangered himself?
I mean no disrespect to this jurist, even though I disagreed with many of his rulings and his ‘strict constructionist’ approach to Constitutional Law. Sadly, the GOP saw it differently, even though he was on ‘their’ (read extreme conservative) side, the candidates and the unstoppable Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, just couldn’t help themselves.

It is for this reason that I believe the markets will suffer badly tomorrow (Tuesday), as it adds to the uncertainties that are already shaking its foundations. What about a bounce? We are in danger of going into a secular bear market following a secular bull market within a bear market. Despite the magnitude of the financial crisis, this is the fastest recovery eve…and that should concern you because it usually takes 7-10 years to do that and we started the recovery a year later! Think about it…we are on borrowed time.

Here are my objections:
1. First, McConnell opened his yap as soon as he heard of his death saying no nominee will be approved…or disapproved, meaning the old stalemate is still in play, in this term or until a new President is elected;
2. Unstoppable Senator and would-be presidential nominee, Ted Cruz, said that there is precedent for the President to not make an appointment in an election year, and if he did for the Senate to refuse to act…really? It has happened just ONCE before and that is not a precedent.
3. Senator Mark Rubio said that there is a ‘pattern’ of President’s not making appointments in their last ten months (is that a coincidence or did he just make it up); Rubio needs to read the Constitution on the rule of advise and consent.
It is insulting to use the death of a Supreme Court Justice for their own personal gain…and to say that ‘no matter’ who Obama nominates, there will be no up or down vote. Isn’t that like, I’m going to take my bike and go home? It is they who are denying the Constitutional right of the President to make appointments, but the key is in the language the GOP is using, and it is not good for America.
If the GOP has its way, and there is no reason they shouldn’t succeed, we will have a vacancy in the 2017 term for much of it, especially if a Democrat is in the Oval Office. A 4-4 decision is worthless, and think of all those extremists state governments (dare I say Texas?) that will pass all kinds of laws that won’t be able to be repealed until at least 2018! Well done, GOP, well done!
I, for one am frankly appalled at the near 40 attempts to destroy the ACA and the push by ALL GOP candidates for prohibiting ANY abortion. Of course, this will only apply to the poor who can’t afford another child (shades of the Catholic Church’s reasoning: to increase the number of Catholics…but at least they did some good). Rape or incest or anything else, including the health of the mother are not to be considered. But there is one thing…one major thing…these brilliant people who have no regard for science…have forgotten: you can make a woman have a baby…but you CANNOT make her take care of it. Therefore, it becomes the obligation of the government to do just that. So let’s do that and increase the number of people in poverty…already at least one in three children are living at the poverty level. Is this what you want for a legacy?
Think about this: we elect a president for four years…only in the first, and maybe the second (althought Obama didn’t even get that), they can get something done…as important as the ACA was, Obama used up all of his political capital on it and it is a flawed piece of legislation that could have been good and like many other countries if he hadn’t caved to the pHarma lobby for support and the GOP hadn’t insisted on preserving ‘states rights’ (sic) by insurers only being chartered by states. But even if flawed, don’t fall for the GOP trick of ‘repeal and replace’ because it will never get replaced…America loses.
This term for the Supreme Court has just about run out and now it is split 4-4, and if there is a swing vote it will be Chief Justice John Roberts, who Cruz admits he voted for but only to support his president? This man is sick and frankly reminds TB of ‘Tailgunner Joe’ McCarthy! He scares me almost as much as Trump. I say, almost as much because with Trump you don’t have a clue what he will do next: boots on the ground…banning Muslims from travel…perhaps banning the Muslim religion…telling lies and when confronted just keep repeating them till you wear them down. He still hasn’t backed down from his statement about Muslim’s cheering on 9/11. While I am not impressed with the Dems (I was a lifelong GOP’er until McCain chose Palin…and what did that get him?
The party likes to say that all are welcome to run as they have a ‘very wide tent.’ Really? Then why doesn’t anyone break ranks and give a damn about the American people they are sworn to serve.
Back to Cruz…he has played down that his wife is a Managing Director of Goldman Sachs…and has taken a leave to ‘help with his campaign’. He conveniently forgot two half million dollar loans, one from Goldman and the other from Morgan Stanley…a violation of campaign laws. But before we get too critical of him, what about Hillary’s $600,000 payment from Goldman for three speeches? First, she won’t release transcripts of the speeches (boring!), but more importantly she told Chuck Todd on MTP a week ago that while she has accepted donations from the big banks (after all they were in her state when she was a Senator and suffered terribly after 9/11,,,pullease!!!). She went on to say that “you have to be able to tell the good players from the bad players” – really??? Then how come you couldn’t even identify Goldman as a bad player….weren’t you there watching Sen. Carl Levin skewer Lloyd Blankfein (both graduated first in class at Harvard Law a year apart – but to watch Blankfein you had to wonder if he went to college anywhere?
Believe it or not, despite Bernie’s leftist views, he might be the best choice since some people who have been polled say they like EITHER Trump or Sanders??? But Bernie, unlike Obama, knows how to work his way around Congress…would he succeed? All I know is he is a true believer…
I have to admit a fondness of sorts for John Kasich…at least when he talks he makes sense…just wish he would stop with the theatrical gestures.
In closing, I will bring up a proposal I jumped on board with decades ago: a ONE TERM, SIX-YEAR PRESIDENCY…same as a Senator only no second chances and frankly that is what the founding fathers that the GOP loves to talk about wanted: Representatives who would come to Washington for two years and carry the message of their constituents, then go home and be back among them; and more importantly that six year term for Senators…staggered for continuity and thus no need for people to make a career in Washington. Would have loved to hear Justice Scalia tell me his views on this.

Don’t take any wooden nickles!

TB

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4/20/15…the future of America and how we got to this juncture…

This is a letter in response to a friends email to TB on Paul Volcker’s attempt to tighten regulation of  banks:

Thanks, I hadn’t seen that. It is tragic that Obama said that Volcker was his idol, yet acted on advice of his ‘trusted’ allies (Emanuel and Bill Daley – who came from Citi and got a $900k kiss from them). Volcker said he was too old to lead a committee but would have been glad (eager?) to have been kept in the loop.

The most disgusting and degrading act Congress did with Dodd-Frank was the ‘Volcker Rule’ which he should have threatened to sue them for defamation over!

Jamie Dimon, the ‘much-loved’ CEO of JPM led the charge, not only against the legislation but against Elizabeth Warren who has come back to be his worst nightmare. She is who should be the Dem nominee for President. I am disgusted with the media for all but handing the nomination to Hillary Clinton, a horrible choice as he proved in the Senate changing her stance on equal pay for women (as Warren made clear), to do the bidding of her Wall Street donors.

Sadly, I believe were are where the Venetian and Roman Senate were just before the downfall. We don’t even have an oligarchy, we have a handful of people owning the Congress and the President (the two biggest donors to Obama’s campaign were Goldman, and JPMorgan).

Next, we come to Jon Corzine who was effectively kicked out of Goldman, then spent millions to become governor and then a senator. He then had the backing of two exclusive clubs. He was asked to be CEO of MF-Global to find a buyer. Instead, he practiced the same risk-taking he did at Goldman, only they didn’t have the capital to do it, so, at his direction, they ‘borrowed’ money from customer accounts, yet he tried to blame it on an underling. It was investigated but before charges were filed it was dropped. Why? Answer is above.

More on MF-Global: I was at L.F. Rothschild when they were becoming a primary government dealer. We had to jump through hoops for this privilege. Only when MF went down did I learn that they were a primary dealer! How could this happen? The NY Fed said they are not responsible for the financial condition of its dealers! Really!!! Since when? This leads back to Volcker’s recommendations. One of the ‘evil’ things the banks did by diversifying was to come under the control of several regulators. They then chose the weakest one to supervise them. That should have been the Federal regulators for any financial organization operating in multiple states. This is also why the GOP is dead wrong on ‘states rights’ and why insurance companies should be able to be national. Had this happened AIG would not have gotten into the mess they were in (oddly it was the Texas regulators who blew the whistle, but AIG solved that by cleaning up their act in the Texas subsidiary, and putting it in other states who did not do their due diligence.

I got to know Bill Dudley when he was government economist at Goldman. Met and had lunch with him on two occasions at their SF institutional bond buyers conference (about 20 people at each!). So I wrote him as President of the NY Fed. I told him how saddened I was to see what had happened to the Fed and this only added fuel to the fire that Goldman controls the Fed (he was NOT a GS insider and did not fit the mold). The letter went unanswered, as I expected.

It is the banking lobby that is pushing to have the Fed brought under control of Congress – they have already proven in their grilling of Fed Chairman that that would be the worst thing they can do.

How did we get here? In the Reid interview by Bill Moyers (which thankfully you brought to my attention), he laid out exactly how Glass-Steagall was brought down: thanks to Rubin (who was later well-rewarded for his blessing), Summers (the academic dictator and fool), and Greenspan (the true believer in Ayn Rand – how in hell did we get a Fed Chairman that was anti-regulation?).

William Donaldson, SEC Chairman in 2000, at the time of the demise of Glass-Stegall, came up with a plan to monitor the big five banks, which were to be exempted from regulation, by performing ‘random audits’ on the banks to keep them in line. He was, however, replaced shortly thereafter by former GOP Congressman Christopher Cox, who abandoned the idea, which had to contribute to the problem, as well as naked shorts of financial institutions, which he saw as no problem.

Now back to the beloved Gipper, who did four things:
1. destroyed labor unions and federal unions while municipal unions became virtual dictators);
2. by bailing out Continental over the objection of my former boss, Don Regan, created TBTF;
3. deregulated the S&L industry causing two crises and allowing Keating to cause the biggest S&L debacle – with the help of FOUR congressional members – no one had ever controlled more than one before;
4. appointed Greenspan as Fed Chairman in 1987, by Reagan, then re-appointed by three successive presidents

This is the idol of the GOP, who, by the way is not conservative enough to get elected – or even nominated today.

Now that I have vented – have a nice day!

Trader Bill

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3/31/15 …is the GOP in self-destruct mode?

…or does it simply not care about anyone but its big-bucks supporters (a poor term since they are more the controllers of the party than supporting it and will only do so as long as the duly-elected people they pushed for do as they say)?

Look at what they have done since gaining the majority in both houses:

1. right after the election they acted the same way as the Dems did when they gained control: pure hubris. The leaders, Boehner and McConnell showed no willingness to work across the aisle – except for a ‘few’ things they agreed upon. For example: fixing the infrastructure…oh yes, they said we want to do that. Ah, then they are in favor of raising the gasoline tax. Both paused, then said they had no intention of doing that but would fix the infrastructure ‘as funds became available’.

2. Harry Reid may not have been the best Senate Majority Leader but he never showed the mean-spirited side of Mitch McConnell – the poster grumpy old man.

3. The House invited Netanyahu to address both house of Congress – while he was losing support and in the middle of an election, thus not only violating protocol, but assisting him in a re-election bid. This solidified his power and he was re-elected: just what we need…another example of the U.S. meddling in elections. Foul! But it gets worse: right after that the GOP sent a letter to Iranian President Rouhani saying he should not agree to the treaty as the U.S. would not have to abide by it. This act was atrocious as it is not a treaty and not subject to Congressional approval and goes along with Netanyahu’s desire to not have any agreement with them and make demands (which the GOP wants too) that have no chance of being implemented. A bad agreement is better than no agreement as the only solution then is to put boots on the ground alienating most Iranians. Something that the American people don’t want but gives the GOP a better argument to increase defense spending (which benefits the private contractors since our army is not of sufficient size to take on an enemy on yet another front). Remember, G.W. Bush & Co. cut taxes (mainly benefiting the wealthy), three times while fighting two wars – Iraq and Afghanistan – the latter a country we ‘entered” for the express purpose of getting Bin Laden with a promise that we would then leave: we didn’t and still are there in another expensive and fruitless action. It seems the GOP learned nothing from Lyndon Johnson’s ‘guns and butter’ Viet Nam war,or from the result which along with the current two (three if the Israeli’s and GOP have their way) wars, have been costly and detrimental to our image abroad. We seem to never learn, but hey, there’s big money in war.

4. Why do they support Netanyahu, who has declared there is no room for both Israel and Palestine? Because he is an American turned Israeli, and that is why Sheldon Adelson wants it and what Adelson wants, he gets…it is also likely that he was behind the Iran letter. Another force that even the GOP can’t control is the Koch brothers who do their own thing to push for what they want and don’t give a whit about the party…they just buy the candidates. Look at the examples of what this has done for us in the past. We supported: Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, Batista in Cuba, Nguen Thu in Viet Nam, to name a few. What has that done for the image of America?

5. The GOP is proud of the number of Republican governors, but should they be? Scott Walker is not all good; Texas has a history of bad decisions; and now Indiana Governor Mike Pence who just lowered himself to signing into law a bill that would make it legal to refuse service to gays and lesbians ‘on religious grounds’. A legislature can do stupid things but a governor is supposed to be the adult, a voice of reason. Now Indiana is paying for it…in spades. Several corporations have written that they will not do business in Indiana, and conferences are being cancelled. Think about this: isn’t this going back to the ‘white’s only’ signs in the South? The KKK must be licking their chops. Indiana will pay for this and hopefully its elected Republicans in the 2016 elections. TB would say the Supreme Court would overturn this but given the composition of the court…

Is TB anti-Republican? Pro-Democrat? None of these. He is an American who is disgusted with the path we are on: a downward spiral like the ones that have doomed previous great nations. The Roman Empire seems to be a ‘good’ example. Awww…what’s that got to do with us? Nothing…absolutely nothing. Got that?

Wake up, America…neither party gives a wit about you…only your vote…and if projections for the 2016 elections topping the $2 billion spent in the last election…estimate is FIVE billion…even your vote won’t count, because either candidate may have been (likely?) picked by a few wealthy people. Wall Street will contribute to both parties as they did when Obama was first elected (more to him then McCain), and again they will be in control. One has to blame Obama for not standing up to them. He had the support of Main Street, and had the chance to ‘make a difference’ as he said, the only thing he has to show for it is the ACA, which the GOP continues to bash despite having the approval of a majority of Americans (true, they don’t like parts of it, like having to pay and some young folks say it is more costly, BUT it is portable and your insurance can’t be cancelled, a truly important rule). If you think it is costly, try paying the COBRA from your former employer after you leave or are laid off or fired.

America is in a sad state, and the apathy of the people is truly shocking…perhaps they have PTS, from all of the freedom’s we have lost since 9/11. It’s time for us to wake up, and get involved.

Sincerely,

TB

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3/30/15…President Cruz…say it isn’t so…please!

(Before we begin, there is an issue in the Constitution which should be addressed, however with our Citizens-United-believing, 5-4 conservative SCOTUS, it won’t. First, those strict-constructionist members of the bench miss the point about the flexibility that the founding fathers deemed of utmost importance if the country was to survive. There was not even rail travel, let alone, airplane, and most people around the world never ventured more than fifty miles from their home towns. Yet if a foreign woman is visiting here and has a baby, her child is deemed an American citizen. Same goes for the illegals who have come here that upset Republicans so much. There is no way the founding fathers could have anticipated this, especially at a time when we needed people to come.

But a more troubling one is the issue that makes a Ted Cruz presidency a dangerous precedent: he was born in Canada but of an American woman, thus making him a citizen and eligible to be president – remember that Obama was only a junior Senator, elected president early in his first term! Let’s say a boy was born of a mother who had moved to Germany and supported Hitler, remained there and then her son returned to seek office as president…he would be eligible to run and what would he do as president? Worse, what if a woman was an Isis convert. That is precisely why the founding fathers wanted only naturally-born U.S. citizens eligible for the highest office. Think about it…

The GOP has run amok…they have lost interest in contributions except from major donors like Sheldon Adelson, whose beck and call is their raison d’etre. On another tack are the Koch brothers who now want to control elections in all states and even what is taught at colleges by contributions with strings to endowment funds. What has the American political system come to? These ‘true believers’ in Milton Friedman’s ‘free-market capitalism (which has been proven to be a myth in the recent financial crisis), as well as von Mises, while extrapolating the theories of Adam Smith (he would no doubt roll over in his grave, as would our founding fathers), are now serving the top 0.1% – or less – of America. But what about the growth of the black and latino vote? If you have no say on who the candidates are as they are predetermined by the money spent getting to the primaries, your vote is meaningless, which makes wonder why the GOP is so concerned over voter fraud and making it more difficult to vote – oh, forgot, the other party could get elected, but like Obama, neutralized by the contributions of the financial sector.

But first, what is happening in the Democratic Party? Which is to say, why won’t the media say anything about other possible candidates than Hillary? Especially when all of her baggage since Benghazi has piled up like the dock before a cruise ship departure. While the Benghazi claims have been defrayed…except on the ‘fact-filled’ Fox channel that caters to the old and senile with their fearless leader in search of truth, Bill O’Reilly (problem is he doesn’t search within for truth). The foreign contributions to the Clinton Foundation are problematic enough since they came in while she was secretary of state, but the destruction of those thousands of ‘personal’ emails will dog her all they way to the elections (you can’t disprove a negative, even assuming they truly were personal).

What about the most honest person in politics today, Elizabeth Warren? She has been given short-shrift by the media which is sad. Look at the attention on the GOP side to Scott Walker, and even the inelectable Mike Huckabee, and of course the subject of today’s blog: Senator Ted Cruz from the great State of Texas which brought us such luminaries as Senator Phil Gramm (and of course his lovely wife Wendy, who was a director and on the audit committee of Enron), Gov.Rick Perry, and current Governor Greg Abbott…will skip over G.W. Bush for you to evaluate.

Hillary is most likely not electable…ah, but Warren is an unknown…not exactly, and she has shown she had the guts to stand up to Jamie Dimon and the rest of the financial lobby, which cost her confirmation as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency, which was her creation. That of course came back to haunt Dimon when she ran for and was elected Senator from Massachusetts, where she has continued to fight valiantly for the people of Main Street over the robber barons of Wall Street.

All that said, isn’t it amazing that the first person to throw his hat in the ring for the GOP nomination for president is none other than first-term Senator Ted Cruz? He has all the markings of a narcissist, and made his rep on his 21 hour and 19 minute filibuster – the longest since the great ones of the Civil War era – over Obamacare, while reciting Dr. Seuss – how charming and how he proved he should not be POTUS!

No matter how much TB dislikes him he has to admit the man is brilliant, just not presidential material.  By all counts he is a brilliant and accomplished debater…he wears down his opponents by continually coming back at them. Is that a good trait in a president? (Note that one of his professors at Harvard Law, Alan Dershowitz, declared him to be “off the charts brilliant”

The comments from former friends are not all so favorable: controlling, pedantic, but he befriended one black student at a time of need and they remain close friends. Cruz’ father was a Cuban emigrant but despite that Felito – his given name, wants to seal the borders…the same old, please close the gate after I get in.

I feel there is little chance of him becoming the nominee, let alone president, but that has been said before…Harry Truman?

Decades ago someone wrote an article on who should be president. He said they don’t have to be smart (look at Wilson, Hoover, or Carter) to do well, and can be dumb and lucky (his example then was the man who became vice president, Dan Quayle), after all it is a matter of luck whether a president has problems unless they are self-induced. Think about it.

There is a tremendous grass roots drive to nominate Elizabeth Warren…is she the last hope for the Democrats? Otherwise, looking at the insane actions of the new majority GOP, and ask how this country can continue as a democracy or democratic republic. The power is now in such a small group that even oligarchy is not the correct term. We are heading for the death of the middle class. That is TB’s biggest fear and why he is bothering to resurrect this blog, only when he has something to say, not on any regular schedule.

As for Mr. Cruz’ ethics, he says he had a voice tell him to run for office, if you believe that. Could he be The Messiah? Also, he says he told his wife that they should sell all their liquid assets to finance his campaign and she agreed. Not her recollection: when he told me he was going to run for president I told him if he does he better find some wealthy donors. End of story.

Thank you for reading,

TB

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2/19/15…should the Fed be audited… or Congress?

TB’s Quote of the Day: “Congress wants to audit the Fed…why? When it is Congress that needs an audit…and a shrink! TB

Bloomberg Quote of the Day: “I think a hero is any person really intent on making this a better place for all people.” – Maya Angelou

Overnight Global Markets:

Global equity markets higher ex-UK for a 2nd day: UK -0.1% vs -0.3% vs +0.5% vs +0.6% vs +0.1%; France +0.5% vs +0.7% vs +0.3% vs +0.7% vs +1.1%; Germany +0.1% vs +0.4% vs -0.1% vs +0.6% vs +1.6%! Japan +0.4% vs +1.2% vs -0.1% vs -0.4% vs +1.9%! Hang Seng closed vs +0.2% vs +0.2% vs +1.1%! vs +0.4%; Korea closed for 2nd day vs +0.2% vs +0.8% vs -0.2%; India +0.5% vs +0.6% vs closed vs +1% vs +1%. U.S. equity futures mixed: DOW -33 (range 75); SPX -4.60 (10) NDQ +2.50 (16).

Global Money Markets: Libor: 0.257% 3 mos; 0.382%; 6 mos – watch…but still not far off their recent record lows! The Fed Funds rate has averaged 0.09% and is now 0.12-0.14% – 0.14% is the 9-month high! T-Bills: 0.01%, 1 mo; 0.01%, 3 mos; 0.06% 6 mos; 0.20% 1-yr – 0.25% is the 12-month high!

U.S. Treasury Bonds are oscillating within a narrow range: 10’s 2.07% +1/16; 30’s 2.70% +3/16; Long TIP: 0.84% -3/8. Let us (continue to) pray!

European Bond yields mixed; Greece unchanged – not THAT’S news! Germany 0.39% +1; UK 1.84% -1; France 0.71% +2; Italy 1.58% -3; Spain 1.53% -4; Portugal 2.21% -8!; Greece 9.66% — This after trading at 10.98%, a new high, on 1/30!?! Volatile!!! How can anyone trade it??? Why would they??? Guess they feel lucky! Recent range is: 7.03% to 10.98%!!! – cycle low: 5.42%; Crisis high: 12.57%. Japan: 0.38% -2; low is 0.19%!

Dollar Index slightly higher overnight, currently 94.42 +.22. Recent low is 93.25 on 2/3. 1/26’s 95.527 was highest since 9/30/03! Euro slightly weaker at 1.1368 -.0030. 1/26’s 1.1098 – an 11-year low!!! Sterling 1.5411 –.0003. Friday’s high was 1.5440. Bottomed out 1/26 at $1.4952, with critical support at $1.48, a double-bottom from 3/29-31/2013! Yen remains weak at 119.13 +0.24, after trading to 120.48 on 2/12! 1/15’s 115.86 was best since 12/17/14’s 115.57 – weak since peak Oct. ’14: 105.23; recent best 2/4/14 @ 100.76!!! Record: 12/30/11: 75.35!!!

Commodities: Gold has arisen from the dead zone and is now $1215.00 +$14.80, session high $1222.90! with support at $1203. Wednesday’s low was $11.97.80! The 50 day ($1230) is now first resistance. Silver $16.63 +.37. Wednesday’s low was $16.23. Crude feeling pain again and is now $49.99 -$2.15, session low $49.73, with res at the 40 day $50.03. 2/11’s low was $47.36, lowest since 2/5.

Wednesday’s Market Summary:

NOTE: Minutes of last FOMC meeting were released today…they are going to go slow, especially now that Europe is in a ‘deflationary’ glidepath. Now Congress wants to audit the Fed – the only thing related to the government that did its job and performed admirably…although one can question the QE’s. Congress and two Administrations did nothing to help Main Street and continues to drag its GOP feet on everything. It is Congress that needs to be audited! Makes you wonder what the 2016 elections will be like. Might not be as pretty for the GOP. Key for the Dems is running Warren instead of Hillary Clinton…can it be done? Can she be elected? Who cares, she is HONEST!

Stock market was mixed with minimal changes except for Dow Utilities which surged 2.2%; Dow Transports were the only other one to write home about, +0.4%. The rest were from -0.1% (Dow 30), to +0.2% (Russell 2000). A/D’s and Breadth were nearly equal and of no possible interest if you want a rally or a selloff. The S&P VIX traded in a tight range of 15.44-16.74 only slightly wider than Tuesday. New 52 week highs continued to fall – another bad sign – while new lows barely climbed to a weak 45.

The ytd scoreboard remains volatile (can’t recall ever seeing this before): Dow 30 +1.2%; Dow Transports -0.6%; Dow Utilities -1.8%; S&P 500 +2%; Nasdaq Comp +3.6%; NDQ 100 +3.7%; Russell 2000 +1.7%. NYSE Financials -0.3%: KBW Banks -3.2%; Nasdaq Banks -2.7%. Philly Gold/Silver +11.2%.

Total NYSE Volume continued to slipslide to a weak 3.34B shares vs 3.35B vs 3.52B vs 3.78B vs 3.57B – ytd low is 2.7B on Jan. 2; while 12/24’s 1.4B shares is the 12-month low. Shares traded on the NYSE floor dropped to 730M shares (but with 145M on the close!) vs 780m vs 760M vs 803M vs 750M – 1.22B on 1/30 is highest since 8/8/11!!! – 646M is the ytd low while 12/24’s 349M is the 12-month low…average is 745M shares! Since 1/5 the average is 846M shares and steadily declining! The Dec. average peaked at 979M shares on Dec. 22nd.

Advance/Declines were boring! NYSE: +1.2x vs -1.3x vs +1.7x vs +3.3x! vs -1.2x; Nasdaq +1.1x vs +1.3x vs +1.8x vs +2.4x vs -1.2x vs +1.6x. Breadth was similar: NYSE +1:1 vs +1.3x vs +1.9x vs +5x!!! vs -1.3x; Nasdaq +1.1x vs +2x vs +2x vs +2.7x vs +1.3x vs +2.8x. New 52 Week Highs were lower again at 238 vs 297 vs 346 vs 325 vs 186 vs 148 vs 108 – their range for the last 12 mos. is 39-612!!! New Lows stable at a WEAK 45 vs 39 vs 41 vs 37 vs 83 – 2015 high is 386 (12/16’s high was 712!!!) The 12-month range is 24-1043!!! S&P VIX slightly lower at 15.45 -.35, from Monday’s 1owest since 12/26, and back above the 200 day (14.65). Range: 15.44-16.74. The recent high is 12/16’s 25.20, second only to 10/17’s (31.06!) – highest since 11/2/11!!! Average of the past 12 months is 14.63, with a low of 10.28!…high close was 26.25 on 10/15/14!

U.S. Bond Market came back a bit after the FOMC minutes came out. That followed 8 straight weak sessions since setting new low yields on 2/4 on Greece: 10’s 2.09% +1/2 (1.64% low yield); 30’s 2.71% +1/4 (2.22% low); Long TIP 0.83% +13/16 (0.49% low!).

Gold took s header to $1197.80, lowest since 1/5 before coming back to close weak at $1200.20 -$8.40. It peaked at $1307.80 on 1/22. $1130.40 is the current 12-month low! 7/17’s session high was $1346.60, highest since March 19th!!! RESISTANCE is the 50 day, $1230, the 40 day $1235, then the 200 day at $1251. The 12-month high is $1392.60 on 3/17/14, highest high since 9/4/13. Silver also put in a slight new low of $16.23. It closed at $16.47 +.09. The 200 day ($18.32) is resistance with res at the 50 day, $16.80, and the 40 day, $16.87. $14.12 is the recent low (12/1/14), first time in more than five years!

Crude gave up the ghost sliding into the close at $52.14 -$1.39. This after plummeting to $47.36 last Wednesday, lowest since 2/5, negating the Greece rally. 1/28’s low was $44.08, lowest since 3/09. $50-52 is again resistance. 12/17’s high was $58.98. Consider: 10/25/14’s high was $84.83. There have been 64!!! handles since peaking at $107.73 on June 13th, highest since 9/19/13, and it is off 59% since then! The record high of $147.27 was on 9/30/08. Support is the 50 day ($51.90), then the 40 day ($50.03), with res at the 200 day ($83.08). The range is $43.58-$112.24 since 3/1/12. Note that following the financial crisis it traded down to $32.40 on 12/31/08 from a high of $147.27 just three months earlier (-78%!!!). Recall TB’s prediction of a bounce at $43.83? WILL it test that $32.40 March ’09 low?…by the way, the decline from the 9/20/08 high to the low took EXACTLY 6 months – we are now in the 9th month of decline!!!

Have a great day and beware of Greeks bearing gifts. Options expiration tomorrow!!

TB

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