CNBC — Clowns, Nothing But Clowns

Big Red Car here on a nice sunny ATX day with a bit of a chill in the air. 52F but headed to 80F this afternoon. Ahh, on Earth as it is in the ATX.

So, did you watch the beclowning of the Republican debate last night?

It is difficult to imagine that anyone could have done a more ham handed, amateurish, biased, transparent mash up of what CNBC did last night.

The Clown Network

They are, in fact, a bunch of clowns.

Henceforth, they will be known as the Clown Network and CNBC shall be known as “Clowns, Nothing But Clowns.”

It was an embarrassment to democracy and to minimal political intelligence. The candidates did a good job of calling bullshit on them. Why not?

When a fat guy from New Jersey calls out the commentators for being “rude” — draw you own conclusions.

But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car. Be kind to someone today. Even a clown.

  • sigmaalgebra

    A relatively good way to steal is one where the theft, what has been stolen, what has been lost, is not noticed for a while, maybe years.

    There are a lot of ways to do that: One of the old ones was to confuse earnings and depreciation. So, just ignore that the machinery is wearing out and the plant roof is starting to leak, don’t depreciate the plant on the balance sheet and, instead, continue to record its asset value as before (I’m rusty on accounting details), and, then, count the funds to fix the roof and repair the machinery as earnings. Maybe the company CEO gets a big bonus for the increased earnings and, then, retires just before the rotten roof falls in.

    Another way for us is to import a lot of consumer electronics, cars, etc. at cheap prices from foreign countries and ignore the costs of US workers being laid off, families destroyed, and increased safety net expenditures. Standard consequences are domestic violence, alcoholism, drug addiction, infant mortality, clinical depression, violent crime, and suicide, e.g., Detroit. So, the importer, e.g., Wal-Mart, makes money while the total of the real costs, e.g., to fund the safety net, are ignored for decades.

    For more, the value of that US TV plant, car factory, etc. suddenly gets written off, the one million square foot plant gets sold for $1 a square foot with the machinery sold for scrap, $1 a ton or some such.

    But there’s more lost: Building a company, with training, selling, HR, purchasing, marketing, brand name, etc. takes a lot of time, money, and effort, and for the TV, car, whatever plant, all that company building gets written off, also. Biggie loss. So, right, it appeared that at one point some US Foggy Bottom types rushed to help Pukistan get into the business of making textiles and exporting them to the US. So, big benefit, Pukistan gets development and becomes a grateful ally of the US, and consumers get cheaper terry cloth towels. But, what about the US Carolina textile industry companies, plants, equipment, and workers that get written off? This an example of theft that is not noticed, for decades until, finally, much of the US middle class is destroyed. Bummer.

    So far, can steal from the US and don’t have to hide the theft very well and can get by with the theft for decades.

    Sure, I’ve heard the argument: “If the peasants in Pukistan want to work for peanuts, then let them. Then the US labor can work for Microsoft and write software to sell back to Pukistan at big margins.” But this argument ignores the costs written off in, say, Carolina, and the costs of building the new businesses, say, Redmond, which commonly didn’t get built.

    There are lots of ways to steal like this.

    But the result is still theft — we have been ripped off.

    I know: When my Sony DVD burner quit, I got one from Samsung for $21. Darned cheap. So, if we put a tariff on imports from South Korea and build DVD burners in the US, then I may have to pay $100 for a DVD burner. So, we stand to have inflation.

    Another way to look at it is: Some third world countries are just desperate to make exports and are perfectly willing basically to enslave their workers to this end. Then, in the US, either (A) our workers also get enslaved to compete or (B) we have some import tariffs, more US businesses, and higher US prices.

    That is, the US can be quite self sufficient at a quite high standard of living without enslaving the US workers due to some sad situations half way around the world. In simple terms, the US could do just fine even if all of Asia just didn’t exist. Net, we should not let strange situations, billions of people ready to work as slaves, in Asia destroy the US middle class.

    Rather than just blocking all imports from Asia, maybe there is a better middle ground: When the US is back to full employment, sometimes sell to Asia at high prices and buy from Asia at low prices. But now we’ve overdone that and have massive unemployment. In effect, that $21 DVD burner stole from some US worker and will cause my taxes for the safety net to rise. So, we have another case of stealing where the theft is not noticed for years. That is, due to poor accounting, when I paid $21 for that DVD burner, I didn’t pay the full price.

    Here’s another case: We import cheap labor for specific jobs, but, due to better technology, those jobs promise not to last very long so that the US economy, then, has to provide safety net expenditures for that worker and their family for decades.

    And there’s another loss: Most of those imported workers never took a US civics class or otherwise became assimilated and devoted as real US citizens. As workers, they are not good candidates for training. As citizens, they are not good candidates for voting. Net, they weaken the average strength of the US. So, the money saved from having some cheap labor gets stolen from the rest of the strength of the US. Bluntly, way back, say, at least as far back as Jefferson, we tried imported, cheap labor. We fought a very bloody war over the issue. And for the last 50 years or so we have paid a very, very big price, not accounted for in the time of Jefferson and stolen from the strength of the rest of the US.

    We have to stop such hidden stealing from the US or our country will be like a car on a long trip with no gas stations but a leaky gas tank.

    This argument is superficial, from 100,000 feet up, and likely has some serious problems. In one form or another, the problem is old, say, back to Gandhi who asked where the cloth that peasants in India wore was woven, in India or in England, or, more generally, to mercantilism. While maybe deeper consideration is needed, the problem for unemployed US workers and destroyed US families and workers is fully real.

  • CBNC has been out of touch when it comes to business news for a long time. When was the last time they broke a story or gave you content that was actionable? For business news, there is Twitter, Stocktwits, and Benzinga. For research, Ycharts.com, for actionable content, Tastytrade.com and Dough.com.

    • JLM

      .
      I have met Kudlow in the past and I very much like him. He is a steady politically astute economically sophisticated commentator.

      BRC
      http://www.themusingsofthebigredcar.com

      • Kudlow lost his show on CNBC…..If it would have been him, Santelli and Liesman the questions would have been a lot better. Liesman leans left and is a pro-Keynesian but that’s okay. Good debate to have.

  • I didn’t watch the debate only because I don’t have a subscription to cable tv and there was no live stream. I’d even pay to access a live stream but none was available that I knew of. Looking forward to hearing what people have to say today. Thanks for the post!

    • Twitter!!

      • I did monitor twitter but still not the same as watching yourself. Instead, I went out for a drink with a friend who is in town.

    • sigmaalgebra

      Same here, where my “drink” was a glass of red wine with dinner while watching the latest Trump piece on C-SPAN’s Web site, but I don’t think we missed much. Some of the text summaries or just the transcript would likely be enough. It looks like no one said anything at all significant for the race. Some or all of it may be on C-SPAN and/or YouTube.

  • More than sad for all of us. But the Republican Party is so lost and has devolved in something that is very concerning. Ike and TR would not be Republicans today.

    • JLM

      .
      You will get no argument from me that the Republicans have no central organizing authority and are more defined by what they are against rather than by what they are for. On this we agree.

      They are, also, not particularly effective in doing anything about what they are against.

      The current Congressional leadership — McConnell & Boehner — might as well have offices in the White House. The could not possibly be more supportive of Pres Obama initiatives if they were blood relatives.

      What is also true is that the 2014 elections were a huge Republican victory and that that mojo is still swirling about in the ether and will be there come November 2016. The Republicans get one more chance to use that juju and then it is all over.

      The Republicans were given the Senate, in addition to the House, to repeal Obamacare and to reduce spending. Their most recent budget and debt ceiling actions dump on the sequester agreement and increases spending with the current projection being infinite deficits as far as the Hubble telescope can see.

      BRC
      http://www.themusingsofthebigredcar.com

      • The 2004 election win was a 90 day get out of jail card. Somehow Bush saw it as a mandate.

        • JLM

          .
          For what?

          The “mandate” — for both parties — is all a bunch of bullshit. Governing is way too complex to be able to translate election returns into policy guidance.

          BRC
          http://www.themusingsofthebigredcar.com

          • sigmaalgebra

            I used to want from POTUS candidates a lot of detailed policy and position papers. Carter had a lot of those; they sounded good.

            I still want some such paper if only to know that the guy and write and is not a total wacko.

            Otherwise I’m concluding that there are criteria more important than such papers. With Carter, I didn’t consider those criteria. So, the guy let some rag head in Iran push him and us around.

            I didn’t think much of Reagan’s policy papers and work with details, but he got the hostages back right away — maybe he made the chief rag head “an offer he couldn’t refuse”. Maybe in some cases international relations comes down to Godfather movie wisdom, “no guts, no blue chips”, “cowards die a thousand deaths, heroes but one”, “you don’t get what you deserve; you get what you negotiate”, and “negotiate from strength”.

            So, I’m concluding that, in picking a POTUS, we have to pick someone we trust to do the right things with whatever issues come up in the next four years. With most of the more important of those issues, we can’t have any policy papers before hand so have to use other criteria.

            So, my take on “trust” is that what Trump is doing in his rallies is trying to get people to know and trust him. So, he’s being conversational, letting people get to know him enough to start to trust him — trust his abilities, energy, determination, judgment, overall outlook, stability, ability to build a consensus, ability to work with others, all around the world, e.g., hold a beauty contest in Moscow, etc. Apparently soon he wants to put his family out there so we can see that he has been a good family man, good father, etc.

            E.g., on Romney, I had a super tough time understanding why he lost. But recently I saw

            http://static5.businessinsider.com/image/562a76909dd7cc14008c4634-2343-1757/rtr3a3ks.jpg

            and looking at that facial expression I conclude that something is wrong. Looks maybe like Sylvester the kitty cat just ate Tweety Bird and wants to hide it. Maybe millions of voters had some such sense, and that’s one reason Romney lost.

            Sure, lots of politicians have good images of their being a good family man. The Donald’s is also good but different:

    • I’m an independent who has voted for both republican and democratic candidates in the past. I completely agree that the republican party has completely devolved. I think this is due to there not being a united vision. Here in the Northeast (a far cry from Big Red Car Texas) many of the republicans I know are appalled by their own party.

      • JLM

        .
        They are not true to even their own rhetoric. They go to DC and become Democrat Lite in six months. They are just as big liars as the Democrats.

        The current crop of Republicans were given control of Congress in 2014 and have delivered to Obama everything he has asked for. They are spineless and terrified.

        BRC
        http://www.themusingsofthebigredcar.com

        • sigmaalgebra

          On that, there’s a lot I don’t understand:

          (1) The Navy’s going for a new SSBN.

          (2) The USAF is going for a B-3.

          (3) The Army’s going for a Humvee Senior.

          (4) NASA is going for a Mars rocket, with a little more thrust than the Saturn V moon rocket.

          There’s work with drones, hypersonic ram jets, replacing some of the nuke missiles, and more.

          So, Obama has seemed to be willing to let the DoD spend some $. I was surprised.

          Obama is having a destroyer go wander around in the South China Sea near some of the little islands China has been building. I was surprised.

          On budget deals, I’m not sure there’s much to deal about: We’re at risk of deflation and recession and, thus, according to Keynes, could use some fiscal stimulus, that is, spend money and, likely, borrow it from the Fed — that is, print the money, to get the “party” going, pour some good stuff into the “punch bowl”.

          On immigration, it appears that the big shots in both parties want the current situation on immigration, the Democrats want immigrants who vote but don’t work, and the Republicans want them to work but not vote. Trump and maybe Senator Sessions, and maybe that’s about all, want to stop illegal immigration, and apparently Trump wants eVerify to encourage illegals to leave. For criminal illegals, give them one-way passage to the border and shove them over.

          On Syria, if enough people scream loudly enough, then Obama will respond to the headlines, “lead from behind”, and do something, not very much, likely not very effective, but something, enough to respond to the headlines long enough for there to be different headlines and the last ones forgotten. So, now Obama is going to let the DoD do something, more than recently, about ISIS. Here I’m not sure the Republicans have a big disagreement. So, the Republicans see that Obama doesn’t want to do much about ISIS and, if ISIS gets worse, can blame Obama and the Democrats.

          I would think that AIPAC would be very concerned about the Iran nuke treaty and what’s happening in Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, etc. But my guess is that AIPAC has long been mostly for the Democrats so, now, has no one to care or listen in the White House but is not ready to be for the Republicans.

          So, net, where are the differences between the Democrats and Republicans now? Right: I remember, on that reallybiggie issue, the funding of Planned Parenthood along with Common Core and what Hillary did with her e-mail and on the night of Benghazi, right, about that “insulting” movie. Gee, the person who cooked up the movie excuse, they get the National Medal of Freedom?

          “Where’s the beef?”

      • It’s pretty sad that they have collapsed into mindless gibberish

    • And JFK would probably not be a Democrat! I love the fight the Republicans are having right now. It needs to happen. The Orrin Hatch’s of the party need to be shown the door. More Rand Paul individual liberty, giving people freedom of choice types please. We need to break the cycle of elected Reps becoming lobbyists for corporations and then setting policy in the agencies.

      • JLM

        .
        Whether the Republicans take a short path to their nominee or the long way what is useful is allowing ideas to wrestle and to arrive at better ideas as a result.

        That is the useful element of the debates though it is long past time to thin the herd.

        Adios — Fat Man, Jindhal, Gilmore, Graham, Paul, Huck, Santorum, Pataki, Jeb. Thin the herd!

        Of course, the problem is then — do any of these ideas become a reality?

        BRC
        http://www.themusingsofthebigredcar.com

      • It would help if Paul knew that the Fed does have outside auditors and that we are fighting deflation not inflation

        • JLM

          .
          In fact, the Fed and its member banks are audited by independent auditors — only to the extent of their financial statements. They do use independent auditors.

          What is not audited is internal policies, procedures, and processes. Not saying they should but it is not the same in depth audit that a public company would undergo.

          When I hear the call “audit the Fed” I always hear that there is some suspicion of something amiss but I can never get a straight answer as to what someone suspects is amiss.

          It is clear that the “audit the Fed” crowd wants to hear the internal deliberations of the various committees but that is not a financial audit.

          BRC
          http://www.themusingsofthebigredcar.com

          • what they want is political control, God help us. Reading now http://www.amazon.com/Americas-Bank-Struggle-Federal-Reserve/dp/1594205493
            we were a lot worse off without a central bank. Hamilton knew that

          • JLM

            .
            No disagreement. They want political control. No doubt about it.

            I just got Bernanke’s book.

            BRC
            http://www.themusingsofthebigredcar.com

          • sigmaalgebra

            To paraphrase, “Central bank? We don’t need no stink’n central bank.” We’ve got J. P. Morgan to bail us out, or once we did!

          • sigmaalgebra

            When I hear the call “audit the Fed” I always hear that there is some
            suspicion of something amiss but I can never get a straight answer as to
            what someone suspects is amiss.

            How about they don’t like the idea of central banking and want to return to the gold standard, feudalism, cuneiform on clay tablets, counting amphora, arranged marriages, bartering sheep and goats for wives, etc.?

    • sigmaalgebra

      The Republican party has some apparently quite influential far right wing people who want true conservative principles and to have universal military service, want to abolish Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, ObamaCare, the Department of Education, Sarbanes-Oxley, the SEC, the FAA, FDIC, CFTC, INS, DEA, OHSA, EPA, NRC, FTC, FCC, ICC, NIH, FDA, IRS, minimum wage, Roe v Wade, have a fair tax, a balanced budget amendment, the rule of the jungle, dog eat dog and may the Devil take the hindmost, etc. Soon they’d have us in a second great depression, riots in the streets, a violent revolution. and a global nuclear WWIII.

      These rock hard, rock ribbed, conservative principles Republicans are totally disconnected from reality.

      I do agree about the Department of Education, Sarbanes-Oxley, and ObamaCare.

      We need to let the INS do its job, and we need better oversight of the NSA, CIA, FBI, DHS, DEA, EPA, and likely more.

      Just why, after seven years of 0.25% interest rates, the economy is still threatening deflation and recession, I don’t know. Maybe part of the problem is Sarbanes-Oxley and the end of community banking. Whatever, right now, with no other changes, a balanced budget and/or higher interest rates would likely throw us into a big recession, lower tax receipts, and bigger deficits.

      • JLM

        .
        I probably have as keen an insight into the Republican Party as one would like to have and I must say that you grossly overstate the case.

        No doubt, there is a Republican who has said all that you suggest but there is no support for anything near the nihilistic approach it suggests.

        Personally, I have long subscribed to and advocated the “pinch of spice” approach to regulation. Finding the right size pinch is the issue.

        The world is not currently doing a credible job of defining what a conservative is. That would have been a good question for last night.

        BRC
        http://www.themusingsofthebigredcar.com

        • sigmaalgebra

          Listening to some of the Republicans, they keep claiming that Trump is not a “conservative”, “true conservative”, believer in “true conservative principles”, or some such. Since I want nothing to do with the party of Hillary or Obama and, thus, do want the Republicans to do well, I’m torqued at the conservative stuff — it’s lowering the chances of getting us decent government.

          Children have a tough time seeing gray, and now that I can I don’t want to return to just black/white and don’t want some “true conservative principles” that can’t see gray yet.

          For what I wrote, “nihilistic” is right on target.

          > there is no support

          Rand Paul?

          > “pinch of spice”

          Right.

          > you grossly overstate the case.

          Yup. I’m torqued, at Hillary and Obama and, thus, also at the Republicans who keep talking nonsense. E.g., a balanced budget now could take us into a great depression, lower tax revenues, due to a balanced budget still less government spending, a great depression, riots in the streets, world wide depression, violent revolutions, and nuclear WWIII — no joke. It happened before, and it’s come too close to happening again. It might take only a small event for it to happen again now.

          So, I’m also torqued at the Republicans for having the ball in their hands and, then, fumbling with the ball, dropping the ball, tripping over the ball, falling on the ball, losing the ball, ending up face down in the mud, talking about, what the heck, Roe v Wade! Demented.

          Our country is running, what, 20 candidates for POTUS. It should be the case in both parties and between the parties that the candidates are so good we have to struggle to find the best and are confident we found someone really good. Instead, we have at most one candidate any good at all, and all the rest are so bad we’d have to struggle to find the worst. What is it, running for POTUS has become a popular pastime in the funny farm? E.g., Jeb needs some good medical attention from head to toe. It’s awful. Sick-o. Dangerous.

          What the heck is this? Some clever Soviets/Russians found some really clever ways to sucker the US voters into ruining their own country? “Ah, Americans are spoiled, both physically and intellectually lazy. They want a life of sitting on a satin pillow eating peaches, sugar, and heavy cream while losing weight. They can be suckered into having nearly all their wives, with by wife margins the nicest lives in all of history, into believing that they have terrible lives due to a “problem with no name” and ruining a major fraction of all US families. They want the world to be totally correct, politically correct, for Pollyanna and Dorothy in a shining city on a hill so that for anything else they can be suckered into some wacko earth-worship hysterical anxiety shutting down their usage of coal and oil, by acclimation appointing a genuine ditsy bimbo de facto Secretary of Energy at Large to shut down nuclear power, wasting their blood and treasure on absurd foreign adventures, and otherwise throwing away their unique inheritance.” or some such.

          Did I mention I’m torqued? So, I confess, I exaggerated. Sometimes it’s necessary to pound the table and scream just to be heard at all.

          I like Trump, more the more I see of him. And I’m nearly certain he will win. And, if he doesn’t trip over something, he is in line to be one of the best POTUS ever. But he does have some faults, hopefully just cosmetic, maybe actually good in some ways, and not serious. Mostly it’s darned scary to have at most one candidate who promises something better than just a disaster in the White House.

          In the end, in total, it appears that we are in close agreement.

          • JLM

            .
            Torqued — me too.

            Torqued.

            We cannot trust either party to be adults.

            BRC
            http://www.themusingsofthebigredcar.com

          • JLM

            .
            One of the problems with labels is the “test of purity” as in how much of a specific agenda does one have to embrace to be one — either a conservative or a progressive.

            As an example, I am fiscally conservative and, yet, I am intrigued by the notion of universal free education at state universities. Not poets.

            The idea exists in my brain but must be qualified by how it is to be implemented.

            I went to undergrad on an Army scholarship and grad school on the GI bill. It was a good deal for both of us.

            BRC
            http://www.themusingsofthebigredcar.com

          • sigmaalgebra

            > I am fiscally conservative

            I have no desire to be selfish or to gain from the suffering of others. But I do know that government can be wildly inefficient, intrusive, and even destructive, and, say, higher taxes can result in so much economic waste and over active government that the extra tax money is just harmful.

            I know that government never wastes money it doesn’t spend — a too simplistic argument since sometimes not spending wastes some fantastic ROI.

            I know that just now, the richest part of the country is not Silicon Valley or Manhattan or southern Connecticut but within 100 miles of the Washington Monument. In general, the Federal Government is spending, and wasting, too darned much. I started my career around DC and thought that it was wasteful then — apparently the waste is much worse now.

            For just now, apparently we have to keep up government spending or cause a recession, maybe a depression.

            I suspect that Trump will in part borrow from Reagan, lower tax rates, increase some government spending, e.g., on military equipment, the VA, roads and bridges, airports, health care, run bigger deficits, “prime the pump”, get the economy going, get people back to work, and get higher tax revenues. Risk of inflation? None now. Then, as the economy improves, he will be able to trim back Federal spending — which will help avoid inflation. If he keeps the economy going, then with the higher tax revenues he will be able to run balanced budgets with stable prices. Then, long term, the less money we send to DC, the more we have for family prosperity.

            Some government spending is essential and some is quite good, if only in the sense of excellent ROI for our country. The education you mentioned is one example. My ugrad physics department was basically paid for by the USAF and their interests in the infrared. All of my graduate school was paid for for essentially US national security — maybe I will yield good ROI. Other examples are DARPA, NIH, and NSF. Ike’s interstate highway system, to him for military logistics, has been terrific. R&D on nuclear energy — terrific. The NIH funding is pounding hard on cracking the secrets of cancer, and small but amazing progress keeps coming. It seems quite likely that we will indeed solve that problem — then we will all say it was very much worth it.

            All that said, I see the point of good government. For conservative by itself, that sounds like a case of excusing bad government.

            For conservative principles, that sounds like saying that can drive straight down a straight road just by welding the steering in the straight ahead position. Nope: There are too may exogenous random effects and, thus, need continual control. The Soviets tried a lot of principles, and they were a disaster.

            I hate waste and want good government, sometimes with good ROI. For how to do that, have to work at it 24 x 7. For good a priori principles, I’m not very impressed that there are any. Indeed, what you said about no good definition is correct.

            As we have heard,

            Practical men, who believe
            themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are
            usually the slaves of some defunct economist.

            I don’t want to be either a slave or an economist — I want us to be successful.

      • In part, it’s the long tail of the 08 crash. It will be with us for a generation. But look at the rest of the world