Thursday, July 31, 2014

Strange Fact: Romney Won 19 and 20 Year Olds? Maybe Obama just Let Them Down

It seems that big government failures and Obama had soured them on liberalism.

In fact, there may be more than one Millennial generation: an older cohort that came of age during the George W. Bush years and identifies strongly with Obama’s progressive agenda, and a more skeptical younger cohort, whose political awareness has been shaped by Obama’s first term. Research by George Washington University’s John Sides and UCLA’s Lynn Vavreck shows that younger Millennials went heavily for Mitt Romney in the 2012 election. The GOP nominee won 59 percent of 19-year-olds and 54 percent of 20-year-olds. “Only among ‘the oldest of the youngest’—21-year-olds, whose political memories would have been forged during Obama’s first year in office and perhaps during his first presidential campaign—did Obama win a clear majority (75 percent),” Sides wrote

Obama's second term we had the White House scandal outbreak (IRS, VA, Bergdahl, Bengazi, NSA. Fast and Furious, etc.) the government not being able to build a web site in 3 years after billions were spent, and 4 different hot wars all going on at once.

A new generation of post-Millennials could be emerging now. They’ve seen the yawning gap between what big government promises and what it can deliver. They don’t trust Washington to protect their privacy any more than they trust Silicon Valley not to exploit their personal information. They’ve witnessed the chaos that results when the world’s most powerful nation leads from behind in world affairs. They were born into a world of on-demand options and personalized services and can’t understand why they only get two choices when it comes to politics.  

I too cannot understand why we have only two choices when it comes to politics. There should be a moderate party as a home for fiscally conservative Democrats and Republicans who don't agree with the Tea Party assholes or the Commies on the far left.

There should be a far left environmental party that is all about solving global warming and helping the environment. Maybe a socially conservative party that doesn't care about fiscal matters and only care about stopping abortion and such. There can even be a technocrat party that talks about more visas for coders, net neutrality and would push back against the NSA when it comes to privacy.

A coalition government would need to form who will be forced to compromise on things to get the support of the various factions. I mean it cannot be any worse than what we have now where compromise is a dirty word and Ted Cruz pretty much runs the entire 234 member House of Representatives with some pizza.

Hezbollah Fighting in Iraq? What?

I guess the Syrian civil war is moving to a new theater of operations.

Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed Shi'ite Islamist group, has not previously announced any role in the conflict in Iraq, which escalated last month when radical Sunni militants seized large areas of territory from the Shi'ite-led government in Baghdad.

Four sources in Lebanon named the Hezbollah commander as Ibrahim al-Haj, a technical specialist involved in training. They said he was "martyred" in a battle near Mosul, a city in northern Iraq seized from government control last month by an al Qaeda offshoot known as the Islamic State.

ISIS vs Hezbollah? I wonder who gets martyred when they use suicide bombers against one another?

Tea Party Assholes Torpedo Immigrant Aid Bill

Well we have to hand it to the obstructionist/stupidity wing of the GOP again.

But even significant concessions by leadership weren't enough to secure support from a small band of tea party lawmakers reluctant to give money to President Barack Obama without taking steps to rein in his executive authority on immigration.

Those lawmakers were goaded on by firebrand Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who summoned them for pizza Wednesday evening to strategize against the bill.

Faced with weak conservative support for the $659 million border bill, GOP leaders agreed late Wednesday to schedule a second vote on legislation to block Obama from extending deportation relief to more immigrants here illegally, beyond the 500,000 that have already benefited from a program he created.

So "Batboy Cruz" had the gall to come down to the House so that they will do nothing on a bill to appropriate emergency money? Even that paltry amount could not be appropriated from the "do-nothing" House. Now they go on a 5-week vacation so they can raise money to go back.What a joke.

Paul Ryan Believes in Climate Change: Well He Believes that the Climate is Changing

I think his stance is similar to mine.

"Climate change occurs no matter what," Ryan said Wednesday, as quoted by CNN. "The question is, can and should the federal government do something about it?"

"And I would argue the federal government, with all its tax and regulatory schemes, can't. And all it will do is end up hurting our country, our people and especially low-income individuals," he added.

The Climate might be changing but what we do about it is the rub. Do we damage our economy and put a "carbon burden" on poor people just to *maybe* slow down warming? This is especially bad if we have to lead by example. The Red Chinese wouldn't mind if we put burdens on our economy to maybe reduce warming by 2 degrees over a 100 years. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Apple Eyes New Revenue Stream: Turning your IPhone into a Credit Card

I think this idea might have the potential to be quite lucrative depending on how they implement it.

The tech giant is reportedly looking at getting into the mobile payment business. According to published reports, Apple is said to be in talks with credit card companies to create a service that would allow users to pay for items with the iPhones acting as credit cards.

With Apple now trading near its split-adjusted all-time highs, what will such a service mean for its stock? Gina Sanchez, founder of Chantico Global, believes this would be a potentially big deal for the company.

“Everybody is waiting for the next big thing because that’s what Apple is known for,” said Sanchez, a CNBC contributor. She noted that mobile payments are estimated to grow to $90 billion in 2017, from $12.8 billion in 2012, according to Forrester Research.
If they can take a cut of each transaction this could build up pretty quickly. It is high margin business as well. If I bought an iPhone6 I would certainly set it up to pay with my debit card instead of having to reach into my pocket.

Sarah Palin Looks Dumb Again: Couldn't name the 12 Democrats it Would take to Impeach Obama

Why is she still in the public eye?

Palin, a Fox News contributor who is launching her own online subscription news channel, responded to this request for specificity, in part, like this: “Who are these Democrats? You gotta know that there are still Reagan Democrats and Blue Dog Democrats, those who will stiffen their spines and do the right thing because both sides of the aisle, both political parties have so many problems that a lot of Americans maybe were registered in a party, we believe in the planks in one or the other party, but we’re independent. And I believe that there are elected, independent Democrats who will do the right thing.”

Okay. “But who are they?” Medved asked, noting that he could think of one potential Democrat — Joe Manchin of West Virginia. When Medved mentioned him, Palin responded, “Yeah, he’s good.”

Okay you have one Democrat. What is more he would probably be thrown out of the caucus if he would be stupid enough to go along with Palin. What is so very funny is that an impeachment vote would take like a year or more to wind its way through the House and Senate. Obama is impeached automatically by term limits just one year later. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Wait Antarctica's Ice Sheet Expansion is Due to an error that is 23 Years Old?

This is one of the reasons why people have trouble trusting climate science.

But a new study by scientists from NASA and Scripps Institution of Oceanography found that a processing error originating from a recalibration made to satellite readings made in 1991 resulted in an artificial jump in Antarctic sea ice extent that was not apparent until the data was reprocessed in 2007.

This means that Antarctic sea ice coverage may have not been accelerating as fast as was previously thought, according to the study’s authors.

“Here, we show that much of the increase in the reported trend occurred due to the previously undocumented effect of a change in the way the satellite sea ice observations are processed for the widely used Bootstrap algorithm data set, rather than a physical increase in the rate of ice advance,” writes lead author Ian Eisenman, a climate researcher at Scripps Institute of Oceanography, and others.

So this error is 23 years old and was only discovered after this algorithm was used for 18 years? In other words the Antarctic sea ice calculation has been wrong for two decades? This is case-in-point why people have such trouble believing climate science. This begs the question what other decades old errors are in the models that we are supposed to base tens-of-billions of dollars of spending on? Climate science so so complicated that these kind of errors really raise a bunch of doubt on the extent of climate change.   

Satanists Seek Hobby Lobby Exemption

I guess this is what you call the slippery slope.

If Christian business owners cannot be compelled to violate their faith, why should the same protection not apply to Satanists? That's the argument the Satanic Temple is making to claim that, in the wake of the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling, women who share their beliefs should not be forced to follow some of the more restrictive state-level abortion laws to crop up in recent years.

Specifically, the Satanic Temple wants women to be exempt from having to view legally mandated "informational" materials — which it calls "biased" and "medically invalid" — prior to having an abortion. Dozens of states require women to attend counseling before receiving an abortion, while 10 mandate that they receive written materials before undergoing the procedure, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

I'm not sure what this has to do with Obamacare but I guess they can give it a try.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Paul Ryan Unvails new Anti-Poverty Plan: Mixes in some Liberal Ideas

Hmm, could this be a plank in a 2016 Presidential run?

I didn't expect him to tackle criminal-justice reform, for example, but his plan calls for softening mandatory-minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenders. 

I didn't expect the plan to include higher-education reform, but it has several worthy ideas, from reforming the accreditation process so more innovative schools can emerge to simplifying financial-aid forms.

Getting rid of mandatory minimum's for non-violent drug offenses have always seemed like a liberal red-meat issue. The law-and-order GOP would not dream of letting people incarcerated for like 1 ounce of marijuana off of the hook. It would certainly get quite a few people out of jail and on to productive lives if Ryan had a chance to implement it.

The second thing might take care of the drop-out factory colleges out there preying on poor kids who just go into debt and receive nothing at all for their trouble. The financial aid form simplification would also help quite a few kids as well. This part might not pass muster with Dems though:

Ryan's most attention-getting proposal would consolidate a range of federal anti-poverty programs into a block grant distributed to the states. The federal government would merely set a few conditions. Perhaps most important, able-bodied aid recipients would have to work or participate in work-related activities (such as looking for a job). I'm skeptical about how innovative state governments would really be with federal money, but it's a good idea to streamline these programs and add work requirements.

I think states understand how to deal with their poverty problems in a better way than with the Federal Government. Like using the money to fix schools and provide meals instead of some Washington bureaucrat trying to figure out a one-size-fits-all solution.

Standing With the IDF Facebook page has women with pro-IDF messages on their bodies? Sounds good to me

Some of these girls are very, very good looking.

Submissions are pouring in from all over the world on the Standing With IDF Facebook page, with women are inscribing pro-IDF messages on their body before snapping pictures. After just two days, the page has received more than 16,000 likes on Facebook.

I wonder if a "Standing with Hamas" Facebook page would have women with I love Hamas written on parts of their bodies. Their bodies would be covered by a burka so you couldn't see the message. So it is basically a number of women in burkas standing around.

Middle Kingdom Set to Catapult Apple Sales?

So far China Mobile has done well for Apple for the most part.

"China, honestly, was surprising to us ... we thought it would be strong, but it went well past what we thought. The unit growth was really off the charts across the board," CEO Tim Cook told analysts on Tuesday.

China Mobile Ltd's <0941 .hk=""> 4G customer growth has been accelerating after a tepid start in February. The number of 4G subscribers rose to nearly 14 million in June, up from just 1.3 million at the end of February. 

"A lot of China Mobile customers have been holding on to old phones, so when the high-speed 4G came out they naturally switched to a 5S or 5C and upgraded. This trend will only become more apparent with the iPhone 6's release," said C.K. Lu, an analyst at Gartner.

It seems that many Chinese consumers are waiting to pull the trigger on a 4G phone until Apple comes out with the iPhone 6. Then they might be off to the races in terms of Chinese sales. From what I have been reading the iPhone 6 might be one of Apples most popular launches in its history. You have excitement from the US and then you have the Red Chinese waiting to upgrade their phones as well. Then you add the iWatch to this mix and that 13.87 forward P/E ratio looks really cheap. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Darth Vader Wins the 2016 Presidential Race? I'll Vote for Lex Luthor Myself

At least Lex Luthor ran a successful business (Lexcorp.) Darth Vader is pretty much just a mouth-piece and thuggish muscle for the Emperor. Fear does not lower my taxes Mr. Emperor. However, Vader could always choke out Putin and solve the Ukrainian mess. I'm sure many people will prefer the non-denominational Stormtroopers over the ISIS Islamic thugs any day.

In any case it seems that Vader is beating the field going into the 2016 Presidential Horse Race.

The results of a comparison of the net favorability ratings of Star Wars characters and U.S. political figures, published in The Washington Post, suggest Americans would choose a fictional evil villain as president over Hillary Clinton, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Emperor Palpatine, Paul Ryan, Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, Barack Obama, Elizabeth Warren, Andrew Cuomo, Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, Chris Christie, Martin O’Malley, Jeb Bush, Joe Biden, Rick Santorum, John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell and, of course, Congress — in that order.

Obama Embarks on his West-Coast Money Swing

It seems that no scandal or crisis can deter the President from his sworn duty to raise cash from rich people.

On Wednesday Obama was attending a Democratic National Committee event for about 450 donors at the Beverly Hills home of Shonda Rhimes, the producer of the Washington-set ABC drama "Scandal." Kerry Washington, who plays the lead role on the show, is among the hosts. Tickets start at $1,000.

Earlier Wednesday, Obama was attending events for the House Majority PAC, a committee that can raise unlimited funds for House candidates, and another for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The House Majority PAC event was closed to the press. Obama had once criticized those types of organizations for creating an end-run around political contribution limits, but Democrats have now embraced the system and Obama has agreed to appear before group events but not to solicit funds.

Donations to the DCCC event at the Los Altos, Calif., home of Real estate developer George Marcus range from $10,000 per person to $32,400 per couple.

I guess that is Obama's plan to tackle income inequality one $10,000 to $32,400 donation at a time.

Whats Up with the Ennui? Americans Seem Discontent in the Summer of 2014

I recently read this article about Dicks Sporting Goods firing 200 golf pros because golf is hitting that companies bottom line hard.

Yesterday Dicks Sporting Goods (DKS) announced it would be cutting more than 400 PGA professionals in its stores. Dicks has been candid about the downturn in its golf business before, in its last conference call CEO Ed Stack said the downturn in golf was responsible for the vast majority of the company's earnings shortfall and added that he saw no bottom in sight for the business. Still it's a significant concession to fire these pros. After all, Dicks first expanded heavily into golf in 2007. Golf survived the Great Recession but can't hack the sense of ennui of 2014.

I also saw on ESPN that golf and NASCAR are seriously hurting for viewers and are trying everything to get people to watch and to show up. It also seems that Americans are barely going to the movies.

It's not just weather-related things like golf. Americans aren't even going to the movies anymore either. July box office is off 30% compared to last year. It's the worst year for American cinema since 2011. Hell, it's almost August and we don't even have a song of the summer yet.

Well the movies in July have been fairly substandard so that might be part of it. Last year we had Wolverine, the Conjuring, Pacific Rim and Despicable Me 2. While this year we have Earth to Echo (bombed,) Tammy (Melissa Mccarthy looking gross and sloppy,) Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (the first one didn't do much for me,) Sex Tape (which looks like a bomb,) and Hurcules (I'm going to see it but it is the Rock with fake looking hair fighting CGI monsters.) So the slate is very bare and a 30% drop off was not a huge shock.

But there does seem to be a palpable sense of ennui in the country. I think part of it is people are tired of Obama and the scandal/crisis parade. I need a spreadsheet to keep track of the scandals and there is a sense that he has just checked out on America. We have four crisis all going on at the same time. Israel is attacking Hamas in Gaza, ISIS has taken over western Iraq and part of Syria, Ukrainian rebels shoot down a Malaysian jetliner, and 50,000 unaccompanied kids entered the country illegally from Mexico. All of those things are going on and the President plays golf, tries to go on Jimmy Kimmel, and jets off to $30K a plate rubber chicken dinners. If he doesn't seem to care about what is happening why should anyone else?

We couple that with the fact that there is no real happy craze in the country to unite us. The World Cup was popular but most Americans kind of ignored it after we were eliminated. The iPhone and the iPad are long in the tooth and won't be refreshed until fall. There are "disruptive companies" like Uber and Wealthfront and such but most Americans who aren't millennials or really tech savvy don't know what those are. Plus some people see the companies as some 20-something kids getting rich off of venture capital money while eliminating cab drivers jobs. There is no beanie babies or Gangnam Style or anything to keep peoples minds off of things even for just a little while.

There is also a sense that the old world of video stores, book stores, computer stores, cab drivers, travel agents, etc is being replaced by a shiny new one on your tablet or smart phone. The ritual of going to the mall to rent a DVD or buy a new summertime best seller has been replaced by a few swipes on your tablet on the Amazon app and scrolling through Netflix. There are so many entertainment choices at your fingertips you are bored of them already. So people stay in their sweltering homes staring at their tiny screens all weekend. Or go to the seashore and stare at their tiny screens while sitting in the sun.

Then we have wages stagnant and the FED punishing savers with terrible interest rates. There was a recession and a housing blow-up and no one went to jail or were punished or anything. Those same banks and insurance companies that were bailed out are raking in the money again. We have just about everyone calling for a correction or a crash. Most Americans seemed to have been gun-shy and missed almost the entire massive stock market move since 2008. So they missed the huge run-up and now that they get a little breathing room and want to get back into the market we get calls for a crash just around the corner. I can see why the American people are just as checked out as the President.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Interesting Article on Why You Should *Not* Go to an Ivy

This is a very thought provoking article on how the Ivy League is not all its cracked up to be when it comes to creating well-rounded adults.

The major reason for the trend is clear. Not increasing tuition, though that is a factor, but the ever-growing cost of manufacturing children who are fit to compete in the college admissions game. The more hurdles there are, the more expensive it is to catapult your kid across them. Wealthy families start buying their children’s way into elite colleges almost from the moment they are born: music lessons, sports equipment, foreign travel (“enrichment” programs, to use the all-too-perfect term)most important, of course, private-school tuition or the costs of living in a place with top-tier public schools. The SAT is supposed to measure aptitude, but what it actually measures is parental income, which it tracks quite closely. Today, fewer than half of high-scoring students from low-income families even enroll at four-year schools.

This creates quite a few people that are really smart, with awesome work ethic, but you end up with this:

Look beneath the façade of seamless well-adjustment, and what you often find are toxic levels of fear, anxiety, and depression, of emptiness and aimlessness and isolation. A large-scale survey of college freshmen recently found that self-reports of emotional well-being have fallen to their lowest level in the study’s 25-year history.

You have scared kids that think they are a failure if they fail at becoming a partner at a prestigious law firm or a CEO. What is interesting is that these kids will keep the privilege going from one generation to the next regardless of race.

The truth is that the meritocracy was never more than partial. Visit any elite campus across our great nation, and you can thrill to the heart-warming spectacle of the children of white businesspeople and professionals studying and playing alongside the children of black, Asian, and Latino businesspeople and professionals. Kids at schools like Stanford think that their environment is diverse if one comes from Missouri and another from Pakistan, or if one plays the cello and the other lacrosse. Never mind that all of their parents are doctors or bankers.

So there is no real economic or class diversity. You end up with clueless people that have no idea about the life of the regular working-class person or worse people that look down on them. Case in point is Congress and Wall Street. Many of them are Ivy Leaguers who have no idea what it was like to wait tables or live paycheck to paycheck. They lived in the bubble of privilege and move their kids onto the same treadmill of success that they went down. Also this article has concrete steps to change things.

The education system has to act to mitigate the class system, not reproduce it. Affirmative action should be based on class instead of race, a change that many have been advocating for years. Preferences for legacies and athletes ought to be discarded. SAT scores should be weighted to account for socioeconomic factors. Colleges should put an end to résumé-stuffing by imposing a limit on the number of extracurriculars that kids can list on their applications. They ought to place more value on the kind of service jobs that lower-income students often take in high school and that high achievers almost never do. They should refuse to be impressed by any opportunity that was enabled by parental wealth. Of course, they have to stop cooperating with U.S. News.

You might get more kids that work hard but who's parents are Latino immigrants that could barely speak English. That might improve the compassion that this potential "Ivy League leader" will have toward his fellow man going forward.

Obama Might be Buying a $4.25 million House in Rancho Mirage's Thunderbird Heights

It is all speculative at this point but who knows?

The main house has 4 bedrooms, 4.5 baths and a "master retreat with gym, tanning and spa rooms" in 6,100 square feet, according to the listing. There's also a 2,000-square-foot "casita" -- perfect for the Secret Service, perhaps? -- with 3 bedrooms and 3 baths. Elevators ease travel at the compound. 

The grounds' 3 acres also include a putting green with a sand trap, a 20-foot waterfall, a "rock-formed lagoon," a pool and two spas, and more. 

Because the property is on a hilltop abutting a bighorn sheep preserve, it's exceptionally private and secure, the listing says.

Sounds like an ideal Presidential compound for when he is out of the Oval Office. Rancho Mirage has like 7 Golf Courses in a few minutes drive according to Google maps. Also that privacy allows him to host some nice dinner parties with the literati and powerful elite that Obama will eventually hold court with. I'm sure nearly every Los Angeles based movie star, writer, economist, artist and such will make that pilgrimage to kiss his ring. Kind of the pseudo-intellectual version of the Playboy Mansion where you replace sex with bloviating.

Apple Beats on Earnings but Falls Short of Revenue: Why I Think IBM will Be Awesome for Them

It seems Apple is making more money and selling iPhones like crazy but they fell short of what the analysts were forecasting.

Apple posted its second straight quarter of double-digit percentage growth in iPhone sales. The company also reported net income of $7.7 billion, slightly more than the $7.49 billion that analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected, on revenue of $37.4 billion, just under the $37.98 billion the analysts had expected. Per-share profit came in at $1.28, compared with the expected  $1.23, a number adjusted for Apple’s recent 7-for-1 stock split.

What was really interesting is that they increased gross margin from 39.4% from 36.9% from a year ago. Even though there phones are ready for a refresh they were still able to keep prices the same and people paid them in record numbers. 

I really think the IBM deal will bring in an influx of business from the corporate end. If you want a tablet for your business then Android is just not ready for prime time. You have to buy these third party apps that connect with your corporate email. You have no idea if they are being made by the NSA or hackers or what. The iPad just works and now IBM could tightly integrate themselves with the iMac and that cubicle machine might go from a Dell to an Apple PC after the next refresh cycle. The consumer market is big and robust but the business market is massive as well. 

Ackman Lays an Egg in Herbalife "Deathblow"

I guess it was just too good to be true because if you were short Herbalife you got pounded.

Shares of Herbalife rose steadily in the morning after Ackman started giving his talk on Herbalife’s nutritional clubs, increasing by 8% to $58.40 in the first hour of the presentation. Two hours into the talk the stock had risen by 11% to $60. That’s a little higher than the shares were changing hands for on Monday before Ackman drove down the stock by 11%, saying he would be delivering “the most important presentation that I have made in my career.” Ackman had promised in a CNBC interview on Monday that “we won’t disappoint.” Ackman’s presentation was still going on at 1:07 p.m., with the stock up by 15% to $62.22. During the presentation, Ackman suggested that Herbalife had been repurchasing shares in a material way on Tuesday. Shares of Herbalife continued to rise after the three-hour presentation ended, closing at $67.77, up 25% for the day.

I guess it would be up to the FBI and the FDA to look into the claims and release their rulings. In any case the stock is about the same price it was before the "deathblow" was being attempted. I guess if you believe the company is a scam it would be a good place to go short. If not there is a triple bottom in the stock and it will probably go up for a while now. 

Looks like the Soviets err the Russians Weren't Directly Involved with Shooting Down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17

It was all a mix-up it seems.

They say the passenger jet was likely felled by an SA-11 surface-to-air missile fired by Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine and that Russia "created the conditions" for the downing by arming the separatists.

They said they did not know if any Russians were present at the missile launch, and they wouldn't say that the missile crew was trained in Russia.

A senior official said the most likely explanation was the plane was shot down by mistake.

I guess the Ukrainian separatists shot down the wrong plane thinking it was a troop transport instead of a passenger jet. So slapped-wrists all around, and some "condemn with the strongest possible terms" and play on.   

I'm sure Obama was afraid that his luncheon with Jay-Z or whomever was going to get pushed back. Now he can be on Jimmy Kimmel and crack some jokes next week after things go back to normal.

Netflix Goes into Content Overdrive

It seems like Netflix is slowly becoming a major studio in its own right.

“In the coming weeks, we will premiere the all new 4th and final season of The Killing and a new adult animated comedy BoJack Horseman. Also in August, we will release Mission Blue from the Oscar winning director of The Cove, Fisher Stevens.

“Reflecting the increasingly global nature of the Netflix service, we now have original series in production around the world, involving some of the best storytellers working in television and film today. Marco Polo, a historical adventure from Executive Producer Harvey Weinstein, is shooting in Kazakhstan and Malaysia. In New York there is Marvel’s Daredevil, the first of our original series from Marvel Television, as well as the already eagerly anticipated third season of Orange is the New Black; while in Baltimore, production is underway on the third season of House of Cards. In the Florida Keys, the creators of Damages (Glenn Kessler, Daniel Zelman, and Todd Kessler) are shooting a dark family thriller with an ensemble cast led by Kyle Chandler, Sissy Spacek, Sam Shepard, Linda Cardellini, Ben Mendelsohn, and Norbert Leo Butz.

“Sense8, a mind-bending series from the Wachowskis (The Matrix trilogy, Cloud Atlas) and J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5), began production in San Francisco last month, is now in Chicago, and will shoot in many international locations this year. In August, production begins in Los Angeles on Grace and Frankie, a comedy led by Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston; and in Colombia, Brazilian director José Padilha (Elite Squad, Robocop) will begin filming Narcos with an all-star international cast led by Wagner Moura.

I would be watching Marco Polo for sure because I love the time period. Daredevil if it is good and cleaves to the Frank Miller version of Daredevil and not the horrid Ben Affleck version. I will check out Sense8 as long as it isn't anything like Cloud Atlas which was awful in the extreme. Finally, Narcos might be good if it has lots of action and doesn't pull any punches.

Obamacare Dealt Blow by Appeals Court: I guess they should have read it before they passed it

It seems that someone flubbed the wording in part of the bill and now it is probably going to the Supreme Court again.

The plaintiffs in the case argue the way the law was written does not allow for subsidies to be provided by the federal government, pointing to a statute that says subsidies should be issued to plans purchased  "through an Exchange established by the State under Section 1311"  of the Affordable Care Act. Section 1311 establishes the state-run exchanges. But plaintiffs say the law does not permit subsidies in federal exchanges, according to Section 1321 of the law.

All they needed was to cut the "by the State" part of that sentence and they would have been in the clear. Instead they might get a major part of the bill thrown out.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Herbalife's Last Stand: Ackman to Present "Pyramid Scheme" Presentation

Depending on how the Federal Trade Commission takes his investigation you might not have Herbalife to kick around anymore.

Hedge fund manager Bill Ackman said on CNBC today that he would give the "most important" presentation of his career on Tuesday when he unveils an investigation into Herbalife's nutrition clubs. 

It's Ackman's contention that the company operates as a "pyramid scheme" that targets lower-income individuals. He believes that regulators, specifically the Federal Trade Commission, will be persuaded to shut it down. Back in March the FTC launched an investigation in the company.

Too bad I didn't get short this thing when it was in the mid 60s. I have a feeling if this investigation is a "bomb-shell" as some people think we might get a trading halt tomorrow.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Pricing In Geopolitical Uncertainty

This article makes quite a bit of sense when it comes to things like the downing of the Malaysian Airlines jet and the invasion of Gaza by the Israelis.

In a repricing of risk scenario, we start to see good news ignored and people less willing to pay a higher multiple for stocks – even when they’ve announced results or initiatives that would clearly deserve it. Our inability to become excited by great news or fresh developments becomes evident in this way only over time. The inner monologue goes something like this: “Wow, I’m really impressed that Chipotle just shocked The Street with double-digit same store comps this month…but, my god, 300 passengers on a civilian airline were just shot out of the sky over Eastern Europe!” That extra lot of shares simply doesn’t get bought. People become resigned to hold what exposure they already have until “all that uncertainty dies down.” Obviously, the media plays a major role in this phenomenon, feeding it around the clock on screens everywhere. Don’t be mad, it’s kind of their job.

I have seen this repricing risk scenario over and over when it comes to things that are not as shattering as 9/11. People freak out due to "uncertainty" and stop buying on good news but sell momentum stocks on bad news. The only think concrete that might hurt the American consumer would be higher gas prices due to sanctions. Most airlines will now avoid the Ukraine and may need to use more fuel but nothing that would hurt them long-term. You would figure that the vast majority of companies as well as American and European consumers will not be affected materially.

However the fear factor caused by the event which is compounded by the 24 hour news cycle (as this article points out) usually casts a pall over the markets until something wakes it up. So if and when we get a cease-fire between the Ukraine and Russia we will see the market go back to normal. For whatever reason the market rallied today so maybe even that bit of wisdom is off the mark.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

4 Star Marine General Blasts Obama on Iraq

I guess he can finally speak his mind now that he is about to retire later this year.

Speaking at the Brookings Institute Tuesday, Amos said the Obama administration paved the way for the emergence of the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS) by completely withdrawing American troops in 2011.

“I have a hard time believing that had we been there, and worked with the government, and worked with parliament, and worked with the minister of defense, the minister of interior, I don't think we'd be in the same shape we're in today,” Amos said.

That is pretty much an affirmative. If you cut and run you have no say in what happens going forward. Instead we get to go back in with the odds stacked against us. What is sad is that Iran will probably pull the strings and fill the gap we gave up. Maybe that is Obama's plan all along.

Fish Oil Might Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease?

It seems fish oil is like a wonder drug according to this.

Fish oil is touted as a magical potion that boosts fertility, heart health, and weight loss and promotes a clear complexion, while lessening the effects of depression, ulcers, diabetes and many more conditions. But there’s another benefit to these glossy little capsules: They may prevent Alzheimer’s disease. 

A new study of 819 people published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia found that taking fish oil supplements on a daily basis is associated with a significant decrease in cognitive decline (as measured by the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale and the Mini Mental State Exam) and brain atrophy — important findings in light of statistics that show that one person per minute is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

I know certain biotechs are using concentrated fish oil for various purposes. Hmm might be time to invest in some and see what it does.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Is ISIS vs. the Iraqi Government going to the First Shots in a 30 Years War of Islam?

So this thing is degenerating into a Shiite vs. Sunni war that could easily turn into a massive region-wide conflagration. Recently ISIS said they were going to destroy Mecca.

"By Allah's leave our sheikh al-Baghdadi led Mecca stone for those who worship (pilgrims) will kill you and God ' I will tear down the Ka'ba, the place of worship,” the alleged ISIS militant said on the social media site, according to reports from Turkish media adding that those of the Islamic faith should not be worshipping 'stones.'"

I'm sure the Saudis will do everything they can to end the threat to the place that they are supposed to guard with everything they have. What I have been thinking is that this might be the first shots fired in what could be The 30 Years War of Islam. This book on the 30 Years War is what got me thinking.

The 30 Years War started in 1617 and was basically a number of Catholic powers fighting against a number of Protestant powers. It was the last major all-out war of the Reformation basically because it was terribly destructive and resulted in hideous tortures. Some states in what is now Germany and Czech Republic were nearly wiped out and others suffering 30-40% losses. Some sources say that 50% of all the men in the German states were killed. It strikes me that an all-out war between the Sunni ISIS and the Shiite Iranians, Saudis protecting their holy sites and the Iraqis might be a similar conflict.

In fact we have may of the the parts already in place. We have bloodthirsty zealots on one side and an army that can give no quarter on the other. All we need are foreign mercenaries (gulp, maybe that is the USA?) to come in and start fighting to have us back in 1617 again.

During the 30 years war we start with battles in Bohemia (Syria) then Spain intervened (that might be Sunni zealot part of the Middle East.) Then we have the Danish come in on the side of the Protestants (that might be the Saudis protecting their holy sites) Then the Swedes come in on the side of the Protestants (this would be Iran.) Finally France came in at the end (that would probably be Turkey since the French were mostly fighting the Hapsburgs and not the Catholics as a group.) We might even see the birth of the Dutch Republic (that would be Kurdistan.)

I'm sure if the Iranians enter the war in any numbers they might be able to sweep the field of ISIS but not before we might see some serious bad things happen. ISIS now has some uranium so a dirty bomb can be cooked up and used on Baghdad or perhaps Tehran. That would seriously push Iran and Iraq closer together. Also if I was Iran in "the Great Game" I would conclude a status of forces agreement to garrison troops in Iraq so an ISIS can never form up again. What would be really bad for Islam is an ISIS suicide bomber could blow up something in Mecca. So many pilgrims pack into places like the Ka'aba or Mina that a bomber could easily kill 10,000 people or more from an explosion followed by a stampede.

In any case history doesn't usually repeat itself but every now and then it sure rhymes.

What a Meteroric Rise and Fall: Axelle Despiegelaere Dropped From L'Oreal After Wanting to Hunt Americans

She went from pretty face cheering on Belgium at the World Cup to L'Oreal model to threatening to hunt Americans in about a week.

But fans were outraged after Axelle recently posted  a photo of herself to Facebook in which she is holding a rifle, proudly sitting behind what appears to be a dead gazelle she shot while hunting.

The caption, in reference to the World Cup match, read: "Hunting is not a matter of life or death. It's much more important than that..this was about 1 year ago...ready to hunt Americans today haha."
After feeling the heat from fans, Axelle apologized in the comments section of her post, saying "i didn't mean to offend was a joke."

Haha, hunting people is a funny joke. She may have a job working for ISIS, the Taliban or some other "Death to America" Islamist group. In any case that is fame and infamy in the Facebook era.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

German Newspaperman Accuses Obama of Being European: Yeah I have to Agree

Truer words have never been spoken.

In an op-ed in The New York Times, Clemens Wergin, the foreign editor of the newspaper group Die Welt, suggested that Obama’s international policies more closely align with those of moralizing yet passive German politicians.

“At the height of the Syria conflict and just after yet another of Barack Obama’s speeches, I suddenly understood the problem with this American president and his foreign policy. He sounded just like a German politician: all moral outrage, but little else to help end one of the most devastating civil wars of our age,” Wergin wrote. “President Obama, I thought with a sigh, has become European.”

Yup lots of words signifying nothing is Obama's MO. First Syria and his red lines and now ISIS is killing people and forming a Caliphate in Iraq and Syria and only Putin is delivering warplanes to the Iraqis. Sounds like quite a few European politicians of the past. Thunder about something and then do absolutely nothing as a follow-up.
op-ed in The New York Times, Clemens Wergin, the foreign editor of the newspaper group Die Welt, suggested that Obama’s international policies more closely align with those of moralizing yet passive German politicians.
“At the height of the Syria conflict and just after yet another of Barack Obama’s speeches, I suddenly understood the problem with this American president and his foreign policy. He sounded just like a German politician: all moral outrage, but little else to help end one of the most devastating civil wars of our age,” Wergin wrote. “President Obama, I thought with a sigh, has become European.”
- See more at:

Retail Sales Up 5.5% but Are Pretty Lumpy; Home Despot Hurting

It seems that some retailers are doing great while others are getting hammered.

Most retailers reporting monthly fared well in June. Warehouse club and typical top retail performer Costco reported a solid 6% rise in June same-store sales, aided in part by higher fuel prices. It beat views for a 5% gain, says Perkins. Core U.S. same-store sales were also up 6%, topping forecasts for a 5.3% increase.

Giant drugstore operator Walgreen reported a 7.5% rise in June same-store sales on July 3, beating forecasts for a 6.8% increase. That same day rival Rite Aid posted a same-store sales increase of 3.9% in June, besting views for a 2.6% gain.

Action sports retailer Zumiez posted a 3.1% gain in June same-store sales late Wednesday, well ahead of views for a 2.3% gain.

So we have Costco and Walgreen doing great. Costco might be a better bellweather than Walmart when it comes to the US retail picture. I remember going to Costco the Thursday before 4th of July and it was a madhouse. Every parking space was full with people buying giant piles of soda, hotdogs, strawberries, etc. Some people were even buying big screen TVs as well. Maybe to watch the World Cup?
I'm not sure why Zumiez is doing so much better than other teen retailers though. Maybe it is just more foot traffic going into the store. I mean the dark and freaky look of Abercrombie with its shirt less dudes and booming music is finally wearing out its welcome. 
However it seems that Home Despot and Lumber Liquidators is dropping like a stone.

The report didn't bode well for the home goods sector: "Our reduced customer traffic has coincided with certain weak macroeconomic trends related to residential remodeling, including existing home sales, which have generally been lower in 2014 than the corresponding periods in 2013," said CEO Robert Lynch in a press release. "We now believe the prolonged purchase cycle associated with our customers' discretionary, large-ticket home improvement projects is likely to be delayed for some customers into the fall flooring season, and for others, into spring of 2015."

People just aren't fixing up their homes at such a high clip anymore. Maybe they are looking at it as less of an investment and more of a place they will stay in for a long time. So the need for hard-wood floors or granite counter-tops or whatever that look good to a home flipper aren't as important as other factors to someone that will live in that home for years. 
Or maybe people are saving more money and don't want to drop $1000s for something that merely looks good and is not very functional. That money could be better saved for a rainy day especially if it was years since that person was last employed. Even if a consumer just heard of someone that was unemployed for years it might put them in a mindset that it is better to bank that money. It is better to have a margin of safety instead of really nice wooden flooring.

6 More Dumb Republicans that Want Obama Impeached: Um, Wait Two Years and Term Limits Does it For You

I am so tired of impeachment talk from the far right idiots that are in the GOP.

Has President Obama’s use of the “pen and phone” to circumvent Congress gotten out of hand?
Some members of the GOP seem to think so.
Even as the embattled president fights criticism over the escalating humanitarian crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border, the release of Arm. Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in return for five prisoners from Guantanamo Bay, and the botched rollout of the Affordable Care Act, a mounting chorus of Republicans are calling for impeachment. 

If the GOP wins the Senate it will be a de facto impeachment because Obama really cannot do anything very drastic that can't be backed out in 2016. Instead we have Sarah Palin talking impeachment and it is such a waste of time. Work to get the Senate instead of wasting time on this sort of thing.

Wal-Mart's Stagnant Sales: Maybe People Just Don't Want More Crap from Foreign Countries?

It seems that employment is doing better but Wal-Mart is not seeing the results.

Wal-Mart U.S. CEO Bill Simon has remarked in interviews that the discount retailer isn’t seeing the gains in employment trickling down to the chain’s cash registers. Simon said to CNBC:

“I think the economic numbers – the unemployment numbers in particular – have been difficult to read with the number of people dropping out of the workforce. And I think it’s going to take a while – six months or more – for the numbers to balance out…. Hopefully after six years, we're starting to gain a little bit of traction and that traction is coming at the top end. I think the middle and down is still pretty challenged.”

I think it might be people are just tired of buying more and more crappy stuff for cheap from Wal-Mart. In fact I am hoping it is priorities changing among people in the US. Maybe they won't just go out and buy a ton of crap that sits in a room somewhere unused. Maybe the Great Recession is getting people to get more use out of the things they have.

I think one factor is if you walk around Wal-Mart you just see better options at other retailers. If you want clothes you can get something for a similar price at H&M, Old Navy, or American Apparel. If you want food you can get a better deal at Costco. If you need cold medicines and drugs Wal-Greens and CVS has deals all the time. Finally, if you need housewares or electronics then Amazon can give you all that for cheap.Wal-Mart is left in the middle where people just don't need 12 more wash cloths for $2.99 when they already have a brace of them.

At my local Wal-Mart there was a huge rack of 100s of bales of washcloths that almost no one is going to buy. All of them were probably made in Bangladesh or somewhere and are indicative of the quantity over everything maxim of Wal-Mart. I was like they can never sell all of these washcloths in a million years. I hoping the paradigm changes where Americans would rather have a few good washcloths or maybe just use some of them they bought a few years ago instead of simply buying that huge bale every few months.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Is it "The Era of Malaise" That is Causing all the Stock Market Bubble Talk?

I have to hand it to Minyanville because I think they hit the nail on the head with this article.

So why is everything grinding onward and upward, making everyone feel as if things are overdone and sliding imminently toward the abyss? My belief is that it is a continuation of the politically driven emotions I dubbed "The Malaise" in one of these notes penned back in August of 2010. Politics and the divisive emotions surrounding politics have continued to grow more volatile, further away from consensus; and with the death of truly "fair and balanced" media outlets (at least any that are widely read or heard), public opinion continues toward the negative on both sides.

This is can explain quite a lot about peoples thoughts on the market as it grinds higher into record territory. America is firmly entrenched into two warring camps. Each side has party organs and an echo chamber for them to reinforce their ideas. Fox News and Talk Radio fills conservatives with the idea that "the socialists are destroying this country and their way of life." While MSNBC, Hollywood and the rest of the media fills liberals with the idea that "the Koch brothers, Christians, and evil White guys are destroying this country and are literally killing people with global warming, fatty food, pollution, guns, racism, income inequality etc."
This thinking infects the idea of a stock market bubble at many levels. So we have the GOP wanting a crash because it will hurt Obama and economic pain will usher them to victory. They say the jobs numbers are wrong and cheer when our GDP growth is terrible like in the first quarter of this year. The GOP used to be pro-growth but they don't want to give Obama credit for anything. They even call the Import/Export bank "crony capitalism" and the stock market gains a sham created by Obama's point woman Janet Yellen. Hell, they want to abolish the FED and shut down the government if they don't get their way.
The Dems want a crash because it will hurt the Fat-cat bankers and take care of some income inequality by making the rich suffer. The only reason the stock market is up is because of a bubble caused by funny money that should be going into social programs, and not into the pocket of rich white guys. They want to either see those rich white guys suffer with 90% taxation or a huge crash that wipes them out.

The worse part is all a 0-sum gain to these people. The above-mentioned article points out that a 60% win is equal to a 100% loss in this "era of Malaise." I would love to see corporate taxes lowered but the Tea Party says it is "corporate welfare that we cannot afford," the mainstream GOPers fear the Tea Party, and the Dems can't back it because they think corporate tax rates are actually too low. Even cutting middle class taxes will probably not happen because a win for the GOP would be a loss for the Dems and vice versa.

So we have every political side rooting against the stock market because it will hurt the other guy. Then we have a Caliphate forming in Iraq and Syria, the Kurds succeeding, Israelis and Palestinians shooting rockets at each other again. The Ukraine fighting against Russian separatists and North Korea firing its own missiles every now and again. That is a wall of worry if I ever seen one. So I think stocks grind higher with people getting more and more pissed off that it is happening. I have to finally agree with this assessment:

The recent rebalancing to bring our core portfolios back in line with the target allocations, and also raise a little bit of cash, certainly feels like the right move. Again, our opinion is and always will be, that investing for the long term should be thought of as operating a rheostat and not a light switch. It's not "risk on / risk off" -- it's turning up the wick and backing it down at times, but the flame continues to burn.
I have been doing this for the most part by selling off winners and holding cash looking for a place to put it to work. If the market corrects it will be time to jump in with both feet.

Sarah Palin Plays the Idiot Card: Calls for Obama's Impeachment. You Know He is Gone in 2016 Right?

Why can't she just disappear into the dustbin of history?

The former Alaska governor and Fox News contributor launched her attack yesterday on the conservative Breitbart News website, and she came out swinging:

“Enough is enough of the years of abuse from this president. His unsecured border crisis is the last straw that makes the battered wife say, ‘no mas.’…

“It’s time to impeach; and on behalf of American workers and legal immigrants of all backgrounds, we should vehemently oppose any politician on the left or right who would hesitate in voting for articles of impeachment.”

You know he gets "impeached" by term limits in 2 short years right? In any case I guess Fox just loves putting megaphones in front of her so we have to endure her for years.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Germany's Toni Kroos Inadvertently Rubs it In Against Brazil after Whipping Them

I have a feeling that Kroos might have given this sound-bite in a language other than German.

"Of course," said Germany midfielder Toni Kroos, the Man of the Match, when asked if he felt pity for the Brazilians.

"Normally the difference is not that big as it was today. They have great players and they had the higher pressure on their shoulders. We didn't allow them to become dangerous. We took all the balls from them."

Wow took all the balls from them? Double meaning much?

Monday, July 07, 2014

Al Gore Forgets the Gloom and Doom: Cites Solar as the Remedy to Climate Change

You add this to natural gas and we will have emissions down considerably in a decade or so.

Now a new report gives reasons for Gore’s optimism. Research firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicts renewable energy will account for 49 percent of the world’s power by 2030, with another 6 percent coming from carbon-free nuclear power plants. Solar, wind, and other emissions-free sources will account for 60 percent of the 5,579 gigawatts of new energy capacity expected to be installed between now and 2030, representing 65 percent of $7.7 trillion that will be invested.

Also solar energy will get more and more efficient as the next generation of panels get more and more advanced. I would love to see the climate science industry go the way of the guys that read head bumps back in the day. I mean if we can get emissions down to pre-"pick the time period" levels then it will be capitalism that comes along and "saves the day."

One thing that is interesting about solar power is that once you buy the panels and the generators and such you really don't have to worry about a supply of raw materials. So the Red Chinese don't have to worry about importing US natural gas for instance. They can make the solar cells themselves and have a completely closed system of generating new power. That is a big advantage of solar over coal since UN sanctions won't cut off your electricity lifeline.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Global Warming Causes Sea Ice to Grow: Wait, what?

This is exactly why Global Warming scientists have such a hard time and have to "hide the decline" so much to get people to believe them.

Antarctica’s sea ice set another record this week, reaching 815,448 square miles above normal, breaking a record set this past weekend of 800,776 square miles above normal ice coverage.
These two records set within a week of one another shattered the previous ice extent record of 710,428 square miles above average that was set back on December 20, 2007.

But record-breaking ice coverage still worries scientists who argue that it’s being caused by global warming.

“The primary reason for this is the nature of the circulation of the Southern Ocean — water heated in high southern latitudes is carried equatorward, to be replaced by colder waters upwelling from below, which inhibits ice loss,” Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, told author Harold Ambler in an email.

I thought there would be no sea ice at all in 2012 and we would have 12 foot higher oceans or something. Now we have a record amount of sea ice? This is why the public with a cursory knowledge of climate change can be so skeptical about it. We get told two conflicting things and since the science is settled we have to believe them and pour billions into the UN or whomever so they can save us.