Wednesday, August 29, 2012

NBC News Airbrushes Out Black Republicans & Other Ongoing Liberal Racism

The ultraliberal media continues to smear Republicans with the race card, which apparently is just about all they can think of to do at this point -- their policies in the Obama years have utterly failed and they have no new ideas.  Their basic pitch -- soak the rich, give people like us more control, and all Republicans are rapacious racist, sexist, violent homophobes.  Since ideology is everything to them, their further corrosion of what little standard of decency remains is of no matter to them -- they've already shredded it down to gauze.  And oh yes, I know they'll say both sides do it, but when one side is responsible for 98.6% of the gross incivility, the canard becomes just an evasion and a character-revealing quarter-truth.

From the liberal website Politico (link):
Yahoo News has fired Washington bureau chief David Chalian [JMG: formerly of ABC News] after he was caught on a hot-mic during an online video broadcast saying that Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann, had no problem with African Americans suffering as a result of Hurricane Isaac....  "They're not concerned at all. They're happy to have a party with black people drowning," Chalian said over a break during the ABC News/Yahoo News webcast, in reference to the fact that the GOP convention in Tampa is taking place as Hurricane Isaac makes landfall on the north Gulf coast.
Think Chalian is some minor hack?  Think again.  He defines the mainstream liberal media.  He is on the faculty of the Georgetown U. School of Continuing Studies Journalism Program (link); his bio there states: "He previously served as the political editor for PBS NewsHour, managing the editorial content from the NewsHour's congressional, White House, and Supreme Court beats...   Prior to [that], Chalian was the political director for ABC News. In this role, he helped oversee the editorial content of all political news...."  Think any of his vicious views biased any of his work?

One reader commenting at National Review Online:  "Yahoo hired Chalian after he produced the Charlie Gibson interview of Palin. How does his comment about the Romneys deviate in any way from his work there?".  Yahoo may have fired him just for being stupid enough to get caught on an open mic.

Meanwhile, NBC News is airbrushing any coverage of the two black politicians who spoke yesterday at the Republican National Convention.  From National Review Online (link):
The NBC News page for “Tuesday Night’s RNC Speeches” does not include Mia Love or Artur Davis. Apparently remarks by a former Democratic congressman who seconded Barack Obama’s nomination at the 2008 Democratic Convention is not among the “notable” speeches from last night. It’s enough to make Glenn Reynolds ask: “Is NBC racist? Looks that way. I mean, they’re airbrushing out the black people!”  Then again, MSNBC didn’t air the Love or Davis speeches either, nor that of Senate candidate Ted Cruz [JMG: who is Hispanic].
The ultraliberal and deceptive NBC News is desperate to preserve the media lie that there are no "genuine" blacks and Hispanics in the Republican Party.  And when they show up quite publicly, and quite inconveniently for NBC, they must be airbrushed away, just as Stalin would airbrush out of old photos people with whom he fell out.  For NBC News, it's as if they never existed, and all that's left is the lie.

John M Greco

Monday, August 27, 2012

Obama is Narcissist-in-Chief

Is there any limit to this man's narcissism?

From Drudge Today:

Here's the picture of Obama as the Obama tribute (link) to Neil Armstrong; the Daily Caller asserts that "This is not a Photoshop. This was actually posted on Obama’s official Tumblr page:"

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Romney-Ryan versus Obama on Saving Medicare

I’m happy about Romney’s pick of Paul Ryan as his running mate, thinking his knowledge, earnestness, and experience (7 term Congressman), particularly on budget issues (current chair of the House Budget Committee), will help the ticket’s chances in November.  My only concern about Ryan on the ticket has been the willingness he and Romney would show to proactively and aggressively rebut the Democrat smear that his thoughtful approach to Medicare reform amounts to “pushing granny off the cliff”.  I have thought that Romney and Ryan can win the argument on Medicare reform, but only if they are willing to confront the issue head-on and not be reactive to Democrat smears and distortions.
Happily, Romney and Ryan are doing just that – taking the argument to voters and getting favorable responses (link).  The simple reality is that the current Medicare program is financially unsustainable and that the Ryan reform plan only affects people now under 55.  Obamacare, on the other hand, already law, takes a huge chunk of money out of the current Medicare program, affecting seniors right now on Medicare – a chunk estimated by the government at about $450 billion when the law was first enacted and now pegged by the Congressional Budget Office at over $700 billion (link).  That’s it -- Obamacare takes out over $700 billion from the Medicare program seniors are currently on.  On top of that, throw in Obamacare’s new rationing board and the current law, enacted entirely by Democrats with no Republican support, dramatically affects seniors right now.  Once these facts sink in to more people it’s Obama who will be rightly seen as pushing granny off the cliff.
The Democrat response to this unpleasant reality – more smears and lies.  Yuval Levin at National Review Online (link): 

Last week I spoke with a journalist who covers health care who was marveling at the trouble the Democrats had allowed themselves to get into on Medicare — thanks to Obamacare on the one hand and the Romney-Ryan plan on the other, it’s suddenly Democrats who would cut the program for current seniors but would fail to save it from collapse and Republicans who would leave current seniors protected and stand a real chance of saving Medicare (and the federal budget) in the long run.  In their attempt to run away from this new reality, the Democrats have found themselves pushed into a series of increasingly implausible and unserious defenses and seemed to be losing ground on Medicare, which they had hoped might be their strongest issue this year.  

“So what will they do?” I asked him. He didn’t hesitate: “They’ll just lie.” He thought they would revert to the same story they have told for years — Republicans will increase seniors’ costs and destroy Medicare and Democrats won’t — and assume that people will just believe it.  That certainly made sense, and we now know he was right. On Saturday, the Obama campaign released this ad attacking the Romney Medicare proposal. The ad doesn’t walk some sort of narrow line between misleading and deceiving, it’s just simply a pack of lies from top to bottom.... 

....Those are all the claims in the ad, and they are all false. At least as striking, though, is what the ad doesn’t mention. It doesn’t mention that the Romney Medicare proposal would leave current seniors entirely unaffected or that it would provide a guaranteed comprehensive benefit to future seniors through a premium-support system. It doesn’t mention that the Democrats cut $716 billion from Medicare in this decade to spend on Obamacare, and did so largely through increased price controls, which are the most counterproductive way to reduce short-term costs since they tend to drive up long-term costs and undermine efficiency, quality, and access. It doesn’t say that Obamacare subjects Medicare to a board of 15 rationers who will decide which benefits are worthwhile and which are not — for both current and future seniors.  In other words, the [Democrat] ad pretends Obamacare does not exist, ignores the reality of the Romney Medicare proposal, and presents a series of flatly untrue claims in its place.

Now, people can debate the Ryan proposal and whether it would ultimately save Medicare or not, or suggest (implausibly) that in the long run it will take as much out of Medicare as Obamacare now does, but one cannot deny that Obamacare is taking $700+ billion out of Medicare as we speak.  Florida will be the laboratory this election on whether Obama, Slow Joe Biden, and the other Democrats can piss on seniors and convince them that it’s a sun shower with a rainbow at the end. 

John M Greco

Friday, August 24, 2012

Real Liberal “Chicago Values” in Action = “19 People Shot in Overnight Shootings Across Chicago”

Monday, August 13, 2012

After Ryan Pick, By Agreeing to Ultra-Liberal Debate Questioners Romney Rejoins the Stupid Party

After a courageous choice of Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate, which will test the electorate's ability to think like responsible adults, Mitt Romney got very stupid very fast.  He agreed to a series of three debates with ultra-liberal questioners (link).  Obama will get asked questions like "Are you surprised how difficult it has been to get needed reforms past racist, homophobic, sexist, stupid, selfish, and evil Republicans?", while Romney will get asked questions like "Have you stopped beating your wife yet?" 

He could have insisted on two questioners for each debate, one picked from each side, or insisted on a predetermined set of questions that eliminated the questioner all together.  Or he could have insisted that at least one of the three questioners be a conservative.  But no.  He agrees to all ultra-liberal interrogators.  My guess is that that stupidity will cost him one to two points in swing states.   

Roger L Simon writes (link):
I was appalled, although not surprised, to read the just announced list of moderators for the forthcoming presidential debates....  All liberals from liberal news organizations.....  I don’t have any idea why the tradition of allowing a biased media to run these events continues. It is a testament to the passivity of the Republican Party. We saw how it worked during the primary season. Now we are going to get a rerun during the main event, with more subtlety and ultimately more subversion.
Unbelievable.  After all the debate history obvious to all, this is Simply Unbelievable. 

John M Greco

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Investing Solo – Leveraged Closed End Funds Still Appeal

I thought I would update my investment approach, since my last post on this was about a year ago.  Then, I thought the time was a sweet one for Closed End Funds (CEFs), and a year later I think that’s still true, maybe even a bit more than before.

My approach is one of investing in light of the intermediate-term market and economic macro picture.  I don’t think of this as market timing, as I don’t trade for short-term profit.  I think of my approach as one of strategic asset allocation.  Right now I think the intermediate-term macro picture is one of (1) substantial deleveraging at the state and individual level, and (2) the boomer reach for yield in the face of a long-disappointing stock market and growing skepticism of the “stocks for the long run” approach, as the lead edge of that demographic is now reaching retirement age. 

I think that consumer and government financial retrenchment combined with less demand for stocks as investments will lead to continued economic and stock market weakness for years to come, which in turn will result in low interest rates (as seen in Japan for the last 15 years or so) and reasonable demand for quality debt (“fixed income”) assets for many years.   One can only invest consistent with some assessment of market prospects, and that’s mine.  Whether the US economy is technically in a recession versus being in a very low growth state seems immaterial, other than for its potential psychological effects on investors and the possible government actions it provokes.      

As a result, I have gradually moved my portfolio even stronger into leveraged CEFs, which borrow at short-term interest rates and use those extra dollars to invest in more securities to generate higher returns.  The leverage is modest by financial wheeler-dealer standards – at most, one borrowed dollar for every one of investor equity, so that the maximum leverage as a percent of total assets cannot be greater than 50%, and usually is between 20 to 40%.  In this environment, as Bill Gross has said and written, why not act like a banker and borrow at low rates and lend at higher ones?

For me right now, the risk of a carefully-selected leveraged CEF that yields 6% to 9% is acceptable in this environment.  I don’t want to sit by earning 2% to 5% on a fully investment grade vehicle with inflation running, let’s say, 2%.  I’m willing to study my CEF options and take the risks, which I ameliorate somewhat, beyond ongoing due diligence, through diversification across types of funds and sponsors.  CEF portfolio managers have tools available (derivatives) that they can employ to cushion the effect of rising short-term interest rates, when that eventually begins to happen.

I now have a majority of my portfolio dollars in leveraged debt CEFs, earning a much higher return than I would without them.  Some of my largest holdings include: PFN and PKO (both Pimco) with diversified debt; KTF (DWS) and NEV (Nuveen) with tax-free muni bonds; TLI (Legg Mason) and JRF (Nuveen) with floating rate senior secured bank loans; FFC (Flaherty & Crumrine) and JPS (Nuveen) with preferreds/exchange-traded debt; DMO (Legg) with mortgages; and GBAB (Guggenheim) with taxable Build America muni bonds. 

The only CEFs I hold with equity are in the midstream energy/MLP space (i.e., pipelines and storage).  My largest positions are KYN and KMF (both Kayne Anderson) and NTG (Tortoise).         

A caveat: I thought these CEFs were good buys when I accumulated shares, and I still like them here at least as holds.  In recent months, CEF prices, and those of other debt instruments, have been bid up in the reach for yield, and as such most of my funds are trading at modest to moderate premiums right now.  Whether they are good buys right now, or at any time, and particularly relative to other CEF choices, is up to each investor to assess. 

Outside of CEFs, in light of my macro picture, I have by now exited all my floating-rate preferred securities, such as MET-A and MS-A, that I had begun accumulating in 2010 and early 2011.  Non-midstream energy MLP-related equities are now less than 10% of my total portfolio. 

Mike Parenti

Monday, August 6, 2012

Longmire on TV

I’ve been enjoying A&E’s new crime drama TV series Longmire, about the trials and tribulations of a Wyoming county sheriff.  Like so many such series, and movies as well for that matter, a big part of the appeal is the stimulant to the imagination, about life is such a place at such a time.  Sometimes the story lines can be secondary to what’s running through one’s mind eye.   

The writing and acting are generally pretty good, and I’m glad I took a flyer although I should say that I abandoned one episode (I later relented) because of head-shaking remarkable coincidences and excessive intertwining of the lives of the small number of major characters that so often fill TV series.   

For my tastes, it’s hard to find a good series, with historical or geographic or scientific interest, that strikes an acceptable balance, for me, between main plot versus character backstories and subplots – I prefer when the latter is kept in check.  Sometimes a good series deteriorates into mostly character stories, like CSI (which I stopped watching a few years ago) and the third season of Deadwood.  Even American Restoration, an interesting reality TV show about a Las Vegas restorer of artifacts, antiques, and old objects, has been reducing the technical restoration-related content in favor of the personal inter-relationships among the characters; not a good development.

John M Greco

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

UChicago's Milton Friedman at 100

My dilapidated copy, purchased 1/11/1971
Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize-winning long-time Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, would have been 100 years old yesterday.

His ideas and I were first introduced in a freshman Common Core Economics course at the University of Chicago, taught by a colleague.  One of the key book assignments was, of course, Capitalism & Freedom, which has influenced my thinking ever since. 

Fellow Nobelist and UChicago Economics Professor Gary Becker called Friedman "the most important economist of the 20th century.”  Friedman was a leader of the "Chicago School" of Economics, the principles of which he discussed in addressing the University's Board of Trustees in 1974 (link):
“In discussions of economic policy, ‘Chicago’ stands for belief in the efficacy of the free market as a means of organizing resources, for skepticism about government intervention into economic affairs, and for emphasis on the quantity of money as a key factor in producing inflation.  
“In discussions of economic science,” he continued, “‘Chicago’ stands for an approach that takes seriously the use of economic theory as a tool for analyzing a startlingly wide range of concrete problems, rather than as an abstract mathematical structure of great beauty but little power; for an approach that insists on the empirical testing of theoretical generalizations and that rejects alike facts without theory and theory without facts.”
From the UChicago Magazine (link) at the time of Friedman's death about 6 years ago:
That his ideas often met with criticism didn’t faze him. “Mr. Friedman loved to argue,” [Chicago] Graduate School of Business professor Austan Goolsbee wrote in the November 17 New York Times. “They say he was the greatest debater in all of economics.” In a 2000 PBS interview former Secretary of State George P. Schultz, a former Chicago colleague, recalled: “[T]here was a saying: Everybody loves to argue with Milton. Particularly when he isn’t there.”
Last I heard, the Becker-Friedman Economics Institute (link) at the University will be taking over the buildings long occupied by the Chicago Theological Seminary, across 58th Street from the Oriental Institute and kiddie-corner from the new Business School complex.  In this time of ominous growing government control over our economy and our private lives, his legacy is as important now as it has ever been.

Richard Balsamo

Related Posts:
Re: The "Stimulus": Economics As the Dismal Science -- Keynesians Say 1+1=3, Milton Friedman & Common Sense Say No Way

Democrat “Values”, Gays, Islam, Marriage, & Chick-fil-A

Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel and Boston Mayor Tom Menino, both Democrats, today jointly announced that they are instituting a Democrat “Party Loyalty” card, which they advise holders to carry with them at all times.  They stated that this development stems from their growing concern as mayors that many residents of their cities do not hold the proper “values”.  Holders of the wallet cards will also receive Party Loyalty car and window stickers, all of which, say the mayors, will help police and other city officials to better appreciate the civic loyalty of any residents who are stopped for violations or who need city services.  Eligibility will be determined by such factors as an individual’s record in requesting Democrat ballots in primary elections and Democrat Party ward committeeman recommendations.  The mayors stressed that Democrat Party Loyalty cards are certainly not mandatory.      

Veteran political observers say this move reflects these mayors’ growing desire to increase resident awareness of their declared city “Values,” which recently was evidenced in the Chick-fil-A flap, involving reaction to a company official’s personal view in support of the traditional definition of marriage.  Meanwhile, a smiling Boston mayor Menino, taking a short break from another ribbon-cutting ceremony at another new Boston mosque (link), told reporters that the mosque’s imam’s personal view that all homosexuals should be immediately stoned to death is part of the rich cultural heritage of Islam, which, as President Obama has recently said, has always been a part of the fabric of America.   

John M Greco