Stock Market News and Thoughts
You can’t really tell from this video, but when I made it I was thinking about some guy that has been attacking me in posts on some message board. He never subscribed my list or bought a product, but listed me in with a bunch of other financial guys saying basically, “why should anyone subscribe to a financial newsletter or website. If these guys are so smart then why are they charging people for their work? If their advice was worth anything then they would already be millionaires and don’t need the money. They must be scammers.”
Well I can’t speak for the other people, but I can speak for myself. The reason why I initially started the site was in fact due to financial reasons.
I visited a good friend of mine in Los Angeles a few months ago. He runs a financial website in which he interviews people, has an investment advisory business, has run hedge funds, and has great success over the years. I enjoy sharing ideas with him on the phone about the market. He has a big account and still charges people for his site and has customers he advises and manages. I believe he lives off that income and not from the capital gains he makes.
He told me that he most of the people he knew who got in the market and made a lot of money ended up blowing up, because they didn’t save the money or build off of their gains. They got a big score and expanded their lifestyle and then needed to make more big scores to maintain it. Those pressures ended up wiping them out in the market.
When I started the website I was already making money in the stock market. But I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to live off of the stock market, pay taxes, and survive and grow my account at the same time with those resources that I had. My account wasn’t big enough for that at the time .
I also knew that I wasn’t going to be able to work a regular nine to five job and spend the five or six hours a day necessary to study the market and find opportunities to profit. So I decided to start this site to create an income stream and to provide people value. They don’t have to spend the time I do looking at the market, because I do it for them. It was rewarding to know that you are helping people. Making money isn’t the only thing rewarding.
I’ve made mistakes along the way, but now both the site and the money I have in the stock market have grown. By leaps and bounds I could only have imagined when I started, but I have tried to only rarely take money out of my account and then it has been mainly been used to pay my taxes or to invest in another businesses. My goal for my investments right now is to build wealth. Maybe one day in the future that may change, but I think it will be a long-time from now.
As for the website not only does it help me sustain my living – and I’m a fairly frugal person – but it also has helped my own trading by disciplining me to write and think about the market – and has brought me into contact with lots of other traders and people. Who would want to do nothing but sit in a room by themselves all of the time? I share an office with Andy, have made many friends as a result of the website, and have people I communicate with all over the world through my writings. You can’t beat that.
It’s fun to be able to talk to the world and share your thoughts. It’s fun.
There are people on the site making big money.
But anyway, I don’t need to justify myself. This is enough of a rant. People who see the video on youtube can’t tell what spurred me on to make it and what I say in it is spot on. It might actually help someone out there who just made a big lick in the market and might now make a mistake.
One of the most interesting stock sectors right now are shipping stocks. They crashed in 2011 and spent 2012 forming a long stage-one base. Towards the end of last year they rallied up to the resistance area of that base and have been pausing there for the past few weeks.
Check out the shipping stock ETF SEA for example:
SEA has been consolidating for the past few weeks with resistance at around $17.50 and support at $16.60. If looks like it is getting ready to break resistance - once it does it will clear its stage one base and enter a new bull run.
The shipping stocks caught my eye the other week and I bought VLCCF. It has resistance at about $7.20 and pays a 10.50% dividend. That's a juicy income for just holding a stock. If it breaks out though I think it can double from here over a year.
Another one I'm watching is NM:
NM appears to be breaking out right now. It is paying a 6.30% dividend.
Oh and I also bought good old ESEA - Euroseas is a $45 million market cap Greek shipping company that pays a 6.00% dividend. For every share it has 74 cents in cash and has a book value over $4.00.
Shipping stocks tend to move with global markets and commodities. They crashed when both went into bear markets in 2011 and should do well the rest of this year. Its hard to beat owning a stock that pays a big dividend and rises in a bull market.
After Senator Paul Rand's filibuster yesterday the Obama administration backed down on the use of drone attacks on American citizens inside of the United States.
This was the situation yesterday. It was completely crazy:
Today Obama's Attorney General Eric Holder sent a letter to Rand Paul that reads:
" Dear Senator Paul:
It has come to my attention that you have now asked an additional question: "Does the President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?" The answer to that question is no.
It took a filibuster for hours on end that created national press coverage to get the President of the United States and his Attorney General to answer a simple question that has been asked of them for weeks.
An epic debate about the creation and preservation of wealth featuring Rick Rule, Peter Schiff, John Mauldin and Grant Williams. The highlight is a classic faceoff between Peter Schiff and John Mauldin that takes place around 7:30 in and goes on for several minutes and really heats up at 9:30.
The debate took place February 24, 2013 at Cambridge House's California Resource Investment Conference in Palm Springs.
Is Facebook getting boring? Statistics suggest that users are getting bored with Facebook and the company is one again going to try to make some changes to make its site more engaging and to make more more money off of its users.
Since its stock has gone public last year its shares have gone nowhere. People who bought Facebook stock on IPO day are still losing money almost a year later while the DOW and everything else just about has gone up.
At the same time statistics suggest that users are simply getting bored with the site.
According the the New York Times, "earlier this year came worrying news that 61 percent of users had taken a sabbatical from the social network, sometimes for months at a time; boredom was one of the reasons cited in the survey by the Pew Research Center. Even worse, 20 percent had deactivated their account entirely."
Personally I use Facebook less and less and sometimes think about just deleting my account. If it weren't for my WallStreetWindow "fan page" I would. But there are people who use it to know when I post something on my website.
I'm getting bored with Facebook though.
There are two problems. Facebook is a media. It's a media that we all can post on and contribute to. Unlike TV we don't just sit and passively consume the content. The problem is most people do just that. It seems that most people are simply too timid to post their opinions on Facebook or say anything that is really important. They are probably afraid that someone won't like what they have to say - and Americans as a whole are most sheepish and timid people on the planet. As a result most people use Facebook by remaining silent, terrified that someone will disagree with them. Americans are the most passive and obedient people in the world, so that's how they behave on Facebook.
However, as a way of communicating with people it isn't that easy to do either. Facebook doesn't give you much space to say anything. I can't type a long passage like I can on my own website. All you have is a few lines of space to use in a Facebook post. Maybe a paragraph or two. That simply isn't enough room to say much of anything meaningful. I'd like to communicate with people more on Facebook, but Facebook makes it hard to do.
When you are reduced to just a few lines then if you want to make a statement about something you are pretty much reduced to the equivalent of shouting a slogan.
And that's what people do on Facebook. It's like grunting. So it's boring.
Another thing that is boring about Facebook is all of the ads that are now flying across it when you load up your Facebook account. There has been a big increase in them since the IPO, because the company needs to grow earnings to appease stock investors.
Facebook now asks me to pay to promote my WallStreetWindow "fan" page so people will see more of the posts. I'm not going to do that. As a business person there is nothing exciting about that. I'll gladly pay Facebook if it wants to help me grow my business or website, but just asking for money for nothing is a boring idea.
And I'm not the only one getting bored. In Facebook's last quarterly earnings report it stated that "we believe that some of our users have reduced their engagement with Facebook in favor of increased engagement with other products and services such as Instagram." The company said last month in the "risk factors" of its annual 10-K filing. "In the event that our users increasingly engage with other products and services, we may experience a decline in user engagement and our business could be harmed."
For the youth Instagram, where they post a photo and grunt is now the cool thing. People are going to pineinterest and twitter. Here is what Facebook stock has done:
The company is now struggling to find new ways to generate revenue. It has filed a patent to allow users to pay to turn off ads.
“The user may select one or more social networking objects to replace advertisements or other elements that are normally displayed to visitors of the user’s profile page that are otherwise controlled by the social networking system," the patent states. "In particular embodiments, the user may edit elements on their profile page that are otherwise automatically generated and controlled in design and content by the social networking system. In particular embodiments, the user is billed on a recurring basis for profile personalization.”
Today Facebook is holding a press conference in which it will reveal planned changes to its "news feed" to try to engage users. They will include bigger photos, more videos, and ads more closely linked to user interests. Does that excite you? Sounds like another boring Facebook idea.
When Facebook went public it was hyped up for a week on CNBC and I made several posts telling people to stay away from its stock. I still wouldn't invest in this thing. It's just a fad.
Today after weeks of falling gold stocks finally rallied strongly as the HUI gold stock index went up 3.95%.
Ironically last week marked the biggest one week outflow of money out of gold and commodity funds ever recorded.
According to Bloomberg, "Money managers removed a record $4.23 billion from commodity funds in the week ended Feb. 27, including $4.03 billion from gold and precious-metals funds, said Cameron Brandt, the director of research for Cambridge, Massachusetts-based researcher EPFR Global, which tracks money flows. That's the highest of data going back to 2000."
In the futures market hedge funds liquidated their long positions by 16% that week too.
This represents a huge liquidation of funds out of gold on the part of money managers.
If you are bullish on gold you should be encouraged by this news!
You see this move reminds me of what happened last summer in European markets. The problem is that hedge funds and fast money professionals chase performance and they have to give out monthly and quarterly reports to their investors. This makes them want to be in things going up and scared to be in markets that have moved down for a period of time.
If a market falls for too long then they simply feel they can no longer be seen owning it. They know that if they send a report to their investors showing they own something that has been falling they might get yelled at - or worse their investors might take their money and give it to someone that is riding the hot market.
When markets decline the pro's panic.
Panic comes at market bottoms. Look if the hedge funds sell all they can sell then a market has nowhere to go but up. Remember last year when I was buying GREK and it didn't even have $10 million in it!
This is an interesting chart today:
Finally! A BIG up day! I am very curious to see what this does next.
Yesterday the S&P 500 and the DOW made a new high for the year. This surprised me a bit as I thought going into this week we might see the market correction continue. I still think we'll see more of a correction in the markets at some point in the coming weeks - but I have never doubted that this cyclical bull market was over or that any of the others around the world that started towards the end of last year had ended either.
One thing you can take from this is that the budget cuts don't matter to the market. The news means nothing.
Another thing you can take from this though is that you should never sell everything and try to perfectly time the market and buy back in at a lower level when you are in a bull market.
I know when the market pulls back for a week - or even a few days - it can be tempting to smack yourself in the head and think I should have sold. I could have got out at the top and be buying now or buy at a lower price.
The second you try to do that the market goes up without you and that can lead to compounding mistakes.
It is simply too tough to time the short-term gyrations in the market. In bull markets you need to hold some core positions and then work around them. How big that position should be and how many positions it should be invested in is really an individual decision. What makes one person feel comfortable may not be right for someone else.
The real secret in the long run to making money in the market is finding the way to manage your money that works best for you. Too many people want to jump all in and all out of the market an end up making a mess. Anyone successful in the stock market game knows all of the mistakes from experience and has learned and adjusted. You are always learning.
My plan is still the same - hold a core position and then looked to add on - probably in mining and commodity stocks at some point this year. I'm about 83% invested.
This week's Investors Intelligence survey showed another drop in the bulls for the past week. They are now down to 44.2% from 46.3% and off of their high of 54.50% set just four weeks ago on February 5.
This is really interesting action, because its a pretty quick drop without the market actually dropping. It seems to suggest that people are actually now skeptical of the market with the market going up. From a contrarian standpoint that is a positive for the stock market.
You might be wondering what is going on with this site if you look at the last few posts I just put up. These were posts I made on another site I started a few months ago - www.writermichaelswanson.com. I set this other site up with the intention of posting things not related to the stock market on it, but decided that it probably will end up being confusing to be posting on two sites and to phase out this writing site and just post what I have to say on this wallstreetwindow.com website. If that sounds confusing that is because it was - lol.
So going forward you will see occasionally see posts from me having more to do with history, culture, and philosophical ideas than just trading - but in the end markets and this stuff are all linked together. I feel we live in interesting times and are in all of this together, and we have to think together about what is happening in the markets and the world at large. It's all connected.
I also am working on a new theme/look for the site that might be done shortly too. It will rearrange a few things and change the color scheme, but we are going to also have an option for you to be able to keep things the way they are for yourself if you choose to. So it will be up to you whether you want to engage in this new look one we have it going or just stay with the way things are.
Next upcoming posts will have more to do with the markets, I just wanted to move over some posts from the other site to this one. So that's what's been happening if you were curious. Once the theme is finished I plan on making more frequent posts on the site.
This fragment comes from the Roman historian Tacitus and his book of Annals of Roman History. In this book he describes how the second emperor of Rome, Tiberius, ascended into power after the death of Augustus Caesar:
The first crime of the new reign was the murder of Postumus Agrippa. Though he was surprised and unarmed, a centurion of the firmest resolution despatched him with difficulty. Tiberius gave no explanation of the matter to the Senate; he pretended that there were directions from his father ordering the tribune in charge of the prisoner not to delay the slaughter of Agrippa, whenever he should himself have breathed his last. Beyond a doubt, Augustus had often complained of the young man's character, and had thus succeeded in obtaining the sanction of a decree of the Senate for his banishment. But he never was hard-hearted enough to destroy any of his kinsfolk, nor was it credible that death was to be the sentence of the grandson in order that the stepson might feel secure. It was more probable that Tiberius and Livia, the one from fear, the other from a stepmother's enmity, hurried on the destruction of a youth whom they suspected and hated. When the centurion reported, according to military custom, that he had executed the command, Tiberius replied that he had not given the command, and that the act must be justified to the Senate.
As soon as Sallustius Crispus who shared the secret (he had, in fact, sent the written order to the tribune) knew this, fearing that the charge would be shifted on himself, and that his peril would be the same whether he uttered fiction or truth, he advised Livia not to divulge the secrets of her house or the counsels of friends, or any services performed by the soldiers, nor to let Tiberius weaken the strength of imperial power by referring everything to the Senate, for "the condition," he said, "of holding empire is that an account cannot be balanced unless it be rendered to one person."
Meanwhile at Rome people plunged into slavery- consuls, senators, knights. The higher a man's rank, the more eager his hypocrisy, and his looks the more carefully studied, so as neither to betray joy at the decease of one emperor nor sorrow at the rise of another, while he mingled delight and lamentations with his flattery. Sextus Pompeius and Sextus Apuleius, the consuls, were the first to swear allegiance to Tiberius Caesar, and in their presence the oath was taken by Seius Strabo and Caius Turranius, respectively the commander of the praetorian cohorts and the superintendent of the corn supplies. Then the Senate, the soldiers and the people did the same. For Tiberius would inaugurate everything with the consuls, as though the ancient constitution remained, and he hesitated about being emperor. Even the proclamation by which he summoned the senators to their chamber, he issued merely with the title of Tribune, which he had received under Augustus. The wording of the proclamation was brief, and in a very modest tone. "He would," it said, "provide for the honours due to his father, and not leave the lifeless body, and this was the only public duty he now claimed."
In the original Latin Tacitus uses the phrase "Arcana imperii" to explain what is happening in these passages. Renaissance political philosophers were captivated by it. In English it means empire/power as a hidden thing.
Professor Evan Horn writes, "the arcana tradition elaborates the crucial point of secrecy: its potential, but also its profound ambivalence. Secrecy opens up a discretionary space of action exempt from the rule of law, and, according to Carl Schmitt, ignores the law so as to allow it to become effective. Secrecy serves to protect and stabilize the state, but at the same time it opens a space of exception from the rule of law that breeds violence, corruption and oppression. Instead of seeing secrecy as the opposite of a political culture of transparency, it is more productive to regard secrecy as transparency's complement – a counterpart, however, that is marked by the profound paradox of being both a consolidation of and a threat to democracy."
This is an interview with professor James Scott about his book The Art of Not Being Governed. Scott studied the hundred million or so people who live on the planet today outside of any government jurisdiction. They are not taxed, not involved in wars, and live in peace.
By the end of this century these people will disappear if governments seize their land and destroy their cultures and societies. Through their life though they deny the very philosophical basis of state power. As one Amazon reviewer put it "far from people moving from a state of nature to the Leviathan state, many people want to flee the state to return to nature."
Almost everyone - including me and you - take state power for granted. We think its right and natural to live in a state and depend on it. People identify with their government - no matter where they live. We all think states are necessary to maintain order and to live. But these 100 million non-state people prove that's not true and these feelings we have of dependence and worship of the state are just functions of our life experience as being born as a member of a state.
Now I don't want to live in the woods, but maybe if I was born where these people were I would think like them.
RFK Children Reveal Their Father Believed President Kennedy Was Killed in a Conspiracy - Mike Swanson (01/13/13)
Robert Kennedy Jr. told a crowd in Dallas this weekend, that his father had doubts that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and that RFK Sr. considered the Warren Commission's report on the shooting to be "a shoddy piece of craftsmanship.”
According to an AP wire story today:
Robert Kennedy Jr. said that his father "publicly supported the Warren Commission report but privately he was dismissive of it."
He said his father had investigators do research into the assassination and found that phone records of Oswald and nightclub owner Jack Ruby, who killed Oswald two days after the president's assassination, "were like an inventory" of mafia leaders the government had been investigating.
He said his father, later elected U.S. senator in New York, was "fairly convinced" that others were involved.
The Dallas Morning News reports:
The president’s widow, Jacqueline Kennedy, spent much of the five years after his 1963 assassination outside the United States because she was shocked at the level of violence here.
The attorney general read books extensively during that period, his children said.
“He read the Greeks,” Robert Kennedy Jr. said. “He read the Catholic scholars, and he read the poets, Emerson and Keats, trying to figure out why a just God would allow injustice of this magnitude.”
ABC news has this report on this story:Unfortunately your browser does not support IFrames. Watch More News Videos at ABC
Amusingly the CBS report makes the claim that no historians believe in a conspiracy and then shows a talking head historian saying this as proof. The claim is false. Many historians think it was a conspiracy and so do many people in government at the time and people close to the Kennedy family. As usual on this subject the TV news media makes errors and spouts propaganda with distorted reporting of its own. One can go buy and listen to a copy of Lyndon Johnson's taped phone conversations after the assassination and hear him talk about a possible conspiracy with the director of the FBI J. Edgar Hoover.
For example, here is a taped conversation between Lyndon Johnson and Richard Russell a member of the Warren Commission in which he agrees with Senator Richard Russell that the Warren Commission theory about a single "magic bullet" couldn't have happened. Without the single bullet theory there would have had to have been two shooters in the assassination, hence the need for the theory.
Two days after the assassination law professor Eugene Rostow called LBJ aid Bill Moyers and made the recommendation to form a commission to reassure the American people about the assassination because people "weren't believing anything." He was the first person to come up with the idea. His brother Walter served in the national security council and was one of the main architects of the Vietnam war. He got promoted to the position of National Security Advisor to LBJ after Bill Moyers suggested to Johnson that he promote him because he would be "as loyal as a dog" to him. After Johnson left the White House he got Walter Rostow a position at the University of Texas in Austin, because he had become so reviled by the Vietnam war that no one else would hire him at the time.
Here is a taped conversation in the days after the assassination in which Hoover and Johnson talk about the formation of the Warren Commission as a way to block the Congress from initiating their own investigation that they would not be able to control.
LBJ then started to recruit people for the Warren Commission. Senator Richard Russell didn't want to be on it, but LBJ used arm twisting, threats, and hints of corruption, to get him to do it as you can hear in this tape. He told Russell that as a Warren Commission member he wouldn't have to do anything but put his name on it - "all your going to do is evaluate a Hoover report that he's already made". This tape also gives you a hint of why people went along with covering up the assassination and thought it was best for the country. LBJ told Russell that "there is a good many more ramifications than are on the surface" and we need to "prevent a war that can kill 38 million Americans in an hour."
In the morning after the assassination Hoover called Lyndon Johnson and gave him information that demonstrated that there was a conspiracy involving Oswald. He told him that a man impersonating Oswald before the assassination went to the Soviet embassy in Mexico City and pretended to be him. He demanded to see a KGB agent there that the CIA knew was involved in terror and assassination plots. Whoever was pretending to be Oswald was trying to paint him as being part of a Soviet plot.
They are expensive, but I have a set of them. I can listen to the track of this conversation and listen to an archivist explain that this tape has been erased, as you can hear for yourself here:
I have a copy of the volume of transcripts and can open it up to read J. Edgar Hoover tell Lyndon Johnson on the morning of the day after the assassination this:
"We have up here the tape and the photograph of the main who was at the Soviet Embassy using Oswald's name. That picture and tape do not correspond to this man's voice, nor to his appearance. In other words, it appears that there is a second person who was at the Soviet Embassy down there." He then says, "the case as it stands now isn't strong enough to be able to get a conviction. Then there is [unclear] angle. I think we have a very, very close plan. Now if we can identify this man who is at the Mexican Embassy - at.. the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City, the embassy in Mexico City. This man Oswald denied everything. He doesn't know anything about anything. But the gun thing, is a definite trend."
The police found a gun in the Texas School Book Depository and the FBI linked its ownership to Oswald. Hoover stopped any investigation into leads of conspiracy and put all of his resources into proving that Oswald and only Oswald was involved in the assassination despite evidence he himself had to the otherwise.
Here is an interview of a researcher who looked into the erasure of this conversation and shows how difficult it is to get any information on the assassination out into the mainstream media.
Perhaps Robert Dallek in the CBS interview listened to the tape and didn't read the transcript and that's why he doesn't know that the director of the FBI told LBJ 24 hours after the assassination that someone had impersonated Oswald. Not being fully informed or being willing to say anything to be on TV makes him the perfect talking head historian for the "History Channel" and TV news programs to affirm the Warren Commission.
A few years ago a prize winning book on the Cuban Missile Crisis using records from both the Soviet Union and the United States titled "One Hell of a Gamble" documented in its final chapter that RFK engaged in a personal investigation into the assassination and then sent a friend of the Kennedy family to the Soviet Union to tell them that he knew they had nothing to do with it and told them of the forces he suspected were actually behind the assassination. The KGB had information within hours of the assassination that made them conclude that Oswald was part of a large plot. They had immediate suspicions because of the "Oswald" who contacted the Soviet Embassy requesting to see a KGB agent.
The fact that someone went to this embassy weeks before the assassination and pretended to be Oswald is evidence of a conspiracy in the assassination. The Soviets immediately feared that someone was trying to falsely link them to the assassination.
This isn't news. It is information that has been around for decades. In fact in the 1970's the CIA released this photograph of the man who impersonated Oswald. CIA agents had cameras across the street from the embassy taking pictures of the people going in and out of it.
We do not know who this man is and many of the CIA files remained declassified and some destroyed. The government has never tried to figure out who he was. The mainstream media has never run a story about it.
Now the information about RFK's man's trip to Russia and what he told the Soviets on behalf of RFK is sitting in the Kennedy library archives. These specific files are closed to the general public for reasons of national security, but a few scholars have been granted access to them and some of the info is recounted in the "One Hell of a Gamble" book. Much about the assassination remains hidden and kept secret from the American people.
I listened to the Jackie Kennedy tapes that came out last year and in one short segment of it you get the impression that RFK received letters from his emissary about this trip and what he said and gave them to her and the historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. as a way of telling them what he thought or found out about the assassination.
The "One Hell of a Gamble" book is the best book to come out about the Cuban Missile Crisis in the past twenty years and any scholar of the Kennedy administration or Cold War worth his salt knows about it. Its been reviewed in the American Historical Review and even the Council for Foreign Relations journal Foreign Affairs. So the idea that historians don't know of any evidence of a conspiracy or should be surprised by the comments this weekend is nonsense. And that's just one work on the subject - not written by "theorists" but serious historians.
What is news is that members of the Kennedy family have voiced public their belief in a conspiracy. They have tended to remain silent about the event so that is news.
According to a Dallas reporter, When asked at this event who he thought was involved in the assassination RFK. JR said "rogue CIA." The reporter writes:
Kennedy said the media basically accepted the Warren Report, because they were ready to move on. And even the Church Commission’s review of CIA and mob ties in the 1970s, and its criticism of the Warren report, didn’t re-ignite wide interest.
In recent years, as documents have been declassified, new information dribbling out has “fortified” doubts about the Warren report. But, Kennedy said, it has come out only incrementally and hasn’t focused public attention. Speaking of assassination researchers who have delved more deeply into new information, Kennedy said, “The knee-jerk reaction by the news media has been to marginalize or dismiss those people.”
Then came a 2008 book by pacifist and Catholic theologian James Douglass, JFK and the Unspeakable.
“What Douglass has done is distill all that stuff, put it in a very well-documented book, and come to his own conclusions,” Kennedy said. “I don’t know if it’s right or not, but a lot of the evidence, at this point, anyway, is very convincing, there was not a lone gunman.”
Another reporter writes that RFK Jr. told the audience that ""We're becoming a national security state!"
November 22, 2013 will be the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination and there will be many tall tales and lies told by both some of the conspiracy theorists and the mainstream media about it this year.
I understand why a mainstream historian or someone in academia would be very reluctant to study the Kennedy assassination, write about it, or even hint that they think there could be a conspiracy involved - to do so risks being labeled a cook by the media, having publishers drop you, and risk losing grant money. It is also a difficult subject to talk write about anyway as it is a bit of a sinkhole. I can sympathize with them, but to say there is no evidence of one or that no one that is a historian thinks there could be one as Dallek did for the TV news opens one up to well deserved attack.
The AP story has more details on the RFK children's comments:
Rory Kennedy, a documentary filmmaker whose recent film "Ethel" looks at the life of her mother, also focused on the happier memories. She said she and her siblings grew up in a culture where it was important to give back.
"In all of the tragedy and challenge, when you try to make sense of it and understand it, it's very difficult to fully make sense of it," she said. "But I do feel that in everything that I've experienced that has been difficult and that has been hard and that has been loss, that I've gained something in it."
"We were kind of lucky because we lost our members of our family when they were involved in a great endeavor," her brother added. "And that endeavor is to make this country live up to her ideals."
I read a few of Ray Bradbury's books when I was younger. He died this past June. I saw this video shortly after his death. It is one of the best videos I watched this year. It is about writing, creativity, and his life. This is the best video or talk I've ever seen about how to be a writer.
After my post the other day about how American mass shooters tend to dress up as movie characters when they commit their acts I decided to watch the news carefully for a story about a TV news inspired crime. It only took three days for me to see such a story.
A 52 year old truck driver in Indiana saw a Muslim mosque and decided to burn it down. His reasoning is that since it was a Muslim mosque it had to be full of terrorists and anti-Americans that posed a danger to him and the rest of his community - maybe even the whole country. To work himself up for the crime he drank 45 beers in 6 hours.
He got arrested and plead guilty in court in a deal.
In the court room he explained how he felt like he had to act. “Muslims are killing Americans and trying to blow stuff up,” the man told the judge. “Most Muslims are terrorists and don’t believe in Jesus Christ.”
"Do you know any Muslims or do you know what Islam is?," the judge asked him.
He said, ‘No, I only know what I hear on Fox News and what I hear on radio.’”
The police testified that when they arrested this man he said, "F*** those Muslims… They would kill us if they got the chance.”
In his demented mind he was trying to protect his community.
He's obviously crazy, but what would it be like if all you knew was what you saw on television? When it comes to trying to make money in the stock market if all you knew was what you saw on TV you would have a difficult time making money, because you would end up jumping in and out on a dime and chasing stupid recommendations made by analysts with their own vested interests.
Now if all you knew about what was happening in the United States was what you saw on TV news you would probably be too scared to even come out of your house. You would think crime was everywhere and shootings and murders were commonplace. You would think schools were dangerous places to send kids and if you are white than you would think that most minorities are on drugs and ready to mug you or kill you. You would be terrified. You would probably get a gun and wear it everywhere you go so you could be armed all of the time for anything.
Now if all you new about the world is what you saw on TV you would think wars were going on everywhere and terrorists were infiltrating the country. You would probably be terrified too if you then drove down the road and saw the construction of a mosque in your community. Imagine if you just knew that they were terrorists that might kill kids or kill you. You might try to call the police to see if they would stop them. But they would do nothing. Then you might feel you had to take action yourself and be a hero.
That's how powerful TV news is - and how it presents a distorted version of reality. Of course you know more than just what you see on TV. But it's something worth thinking about just the same.
Americans are trained to be scared, really scared by their television sets and the TV news shows them a stream of crime and mayhem because it is what gets ratings. This is a clip from the movie The Parallax View.
Right now many Americans are scared of guns. They are worrying now about "assault weapons" even though machine guns and automatic weapons are illegal and haven't been used in any of this years shooting crimes.
Here is an interesting fact - six times as many people that are killed in an assault or violent attack are killed by a knife or a blunt instrument than a gun. Very few people are killed by guns in crimes and practically zero are killed by automatic weapons. If the few automatic weapons that exist in this country were to disappear tomorrow it would have zero effect on crime.
I hadn't been to a movie in several months so two weeks ago I decided to go watch the new James Bond movie Skyfall. One thing I've been thinking about lately is how we experience or learn from different forms of media - in particular the difference between reading something and watching something. I'm going to start a few posts on movies and TV. Interestingly on the Internet on a web page we can both read and watch at the same time.
As humans we are also animals. We react to things without thinking of them. We get hungry so we eat. The images on the screen have an effect on us too. Movies and television productions are designed in a way to get us to react to them and to keep our attention.
Take a cat and throw a string in front of it. The cat will be mesmerized by the string and if you move it the cat will try to swat it with its paws to take control of it. The cat acts as if the string is a living thing that it must catch.
When we watch a movie our bodies and unconscious minds act as if the images are more than just something on a screen. A sexual porno can arouse someone. A love story can make you cry. And a display of violence can put you on the edge of your seat.
At the most base level think of pornography. A normal red-blooded teenager who sees a porno can't take his eyes off of it.
The typical blockbuster action movie isn't much different. Instead of sex, and some have a little bit of it, they hold your attention through repeated displays of ultra-violence. Is it much different than pornography?
Consider this clip from the Skyfall movie:
All you need to know about the movie is contained in this 42 second clip. The story has no redeeming moral or cultural value. You don't even need to see the movie to know what will happen in the end. When I watched it after half way into it I got a little bored and disappointed. Reviewers were saying it was the best Bond movie in years.
But I didn't walk out of the theater, because by the time I started to get bored the violence picked up to hold my attention.
As Americans we have all grown up watching this stuff. In fact our culture glorifies violence. Of course the movies we watch portray "heroes" as people who engage in ultra-violence against people who are portrayed as being evil misfits. But our politicians also like to talk tough and glorify wars. They tell us that we are pure good and people who oppose the policies of our government are pure evil and many people like to hear this sort of thing, because it puts them in a position of thinking that they are righteous. No better example of the President as action hero was there than George Bush.
The truth is what is going on in the world is much more complicated than a battle of pure good versus pure evil, but such an easy explanation sells. That's why Obama peddles it too, even if it makes no sense when applied to places like Syria and Libya - where in both places we supported and still support rebel groups of which people who fought against the United States in Iraq joined up with!
We live in a mass society were everyone wants attention. It is human nature to want to be loved and to know you are ok by getting affirmation from others. The normal person fulfills those needs through loved ones and friends and can do it in seconds by posting a picture on facebook and getting some likes.
Obviously these weirdos who engage in school shooting seem to lack friends and loved ones. Or at least they don't think they are cared for. We can't get into the heads of these people and really know what motivates them, but it does seem that they crave attention. It should be no shock to see someone once in awhile in our society try to get attention by engaging in ultra-violence. They know the TV news will report all about it. From their dress though it does seem like they try to turn themselves into movie ultra-violence killers. Many of the recent shooters have dressed up for the part. Reports are that the one last week did. The killer at the movie theater this past summer did. The American soldier in Afghanistan who left his barracks and killed 16 people put on a cape before he started his killings. Through this change in clothes had made clear that he was leaving his identity as an American soldier behind and turning himself into some sort of bizarre movie character. And the moron at Virginia Tech dressed up too.
These weirdos are mirroring the pornographic ultra-violent images that they have seen all of their lives on TV and trying to become "heroes" or "villains" by living them out through murder and mayhem. They have fallen into a moral abyss.
Right now as it seems to happen every time one of these things occurs there is a cry for more gun control - as if guns are the cause of the violence. But there are many societies with guns and no violence of this sort takes place in them. Heck there are regions of the world that are total war zones and people do not dress up and engage in this type of behavior. If you look at Afghanistan there is no report of any Afghan there doing anything like this, but there was an American soldier who went on a wild killing spree on his own massacring a dozen or so civilians.
In fact when it comes to guns here is a story you won't hear much of about last Tuesday's shooting at a mall.
It is easy to say that these shootings are senseless - because they are - but they have a twisted logic for those that engage in them.
The point is that these shooters are trying to mirror images of ultra-violence that are glorified in our movies, media, and even by our politicians. They aren't copying the images completely - they are killing the wrong people - but they are mirroring the behavior of ultra-violence to try to become something if even for a few moments.
It doesn't happen as much in other countries - and the reason isn't guns- but our culture of violence. As long as our nation glorifies violence we will see someone every once in awhile to try engage in an orgy of ultra-violence to go out in a blaze of what he thinks is glory.
There are lots of Christian groups on the right and feminist groups on the left that fight against pornography, but very few people criticize the violent images that saturate our culture. People are right to argue that pornography has harmful effects on people and the way they treat each other - but it is time to consider the violent images as pornography too. That doesn't mean I believe violence should be taken off the TV or outlawed in movies, but that we should have a serious discussion about what these images are all about and why we are so drawn to them.
This is a topic that I have never seen seriously discussed anywhere. The only thing I can remember are people making links to violent images on TV and crime - that they probably really couldn't prove. What I think would be meaningful are some reflections not on what watching violence on TV may or may not do to someone - but why were are drawn to it in the first place - and why our American culture glorifies it.
If you turn on the TV now you'll see images of Friday's school shootings. You'll get upset. You feel bad about the victims. You may feel angry. But why is it so often that violent images simply excite us and can even make us cheer?
I'm curious about what your thoughts are on this?
I rarely watch the news on TV and I read the news on the Internet all of the time. For the past few months though I’ve watched more TV than I normally do because of the Presidential election and developments and coming and going of the Euro crisis - I was buying investments in Europe while the TV was in a panic.
What I have come to realize now more than ever is that the news is becoming increasingly useless. There is almost no meaningful analysis in the news and it’s getting worse.
I just read a fantastic book called Trust Me I’m Lying by Ryan Holliday about the rise of what he calls “page view journalism” and how it dominates the Internet - which now pretty much has become the main source for even newspaper and TV news.
It’s a great book that has provided me with a lot of food for thought. If you look at the history of news reporting in the United States it has gone through several phases. Back during the time of George Washington and the founding fathers most newspapers were political newspapers. Then by the time of the Civil War and in the decades that followed so called “yellow press” newspapers dominated the United States.
These were city-wide newspapers sold mostly on street corners and newsstands. These papers weren’t delivered to homes or sold on a subscription basis. So to get readers they blasted out crazy headlines and appealed to the least common denominator. They ran stories about sex crimes, Wall Street conspiracies, made racist appeals, and engaged in war mongering. They ran lies about atrocities in Cuba to get people pumped up in support of going to war against Spain. Remember the Maine?
Then at the turn of the century newspapers turned to a subscription model. They began to try to actually inform readers and search for the truth. Real investigative journalism began with the “muckrakers” and their exposure of the Rockefeller dynasty, poor working conditions, and a host of other issues. Reporters thought by exposing problems they could bring reform. This sort of spirit continued in the first decade of television with reporters like Edward Murrow. The idea of honesty and trust continued to be important with the rise of network TV anchors.
Then in the 1980’s and 1990’s with the rise of cable TV more news channels came into being and with FOX News and now MSNBC they started to appeal to a more narrow audience of their own with more partisanship. It’s to the point where the idea of getting real news information from watching the TV is laughable. It’s mostly just opinion and ranting designed to make you angry and to keep watching.
Investigative reporting is dead in the mainstream media. Newspapers are dying out and as far as the TV goes it’ just garbage. Take a simple issue like the economy right now or the financial crisis of 1998. There was almost no explanation of what caused it on TV news. Besides blaming Bush President Obama has given no explanation for the reasons behind the slow economy right now and all Romney did was blame Obama. Neither said a word against the Federal Reserve’s money printing debt operations or linked it to the control of Wall Street interests over the Fed and Treasury Department. Without a real look at the causes of the crisis there can be no meaningful change or reform that will get us out of the crisis. As a result inflation is going to explode in the next few years.
If someone would lay out the real problems that face this country than something could really be done to fix them. It isn’t merely the two parties fault. The mainstream news media has also failed.
Now there is truth being told. There is investigative journalism being done, but it doesn’t reach a national audience or appear in newspapers. It appears in documentaries, books, and a few blogs. So again take the financial crisis. The truth is there for anyone to find in dozens of books about it such as The Big Short to name the one that became the most popular and in documentaries like Inside Job. But the facts and ideas in these books never reached the TV - and incredibly the Internet as a whole has failed too. That’s what the Trust Me I’m Lying Book is about.
People think the problem with the press is that it is too partisan. Really I think the problem is the rise of what Holliday calls in his book “page view journalism.”
Internet websites - and I know because I own a successful financial website - make money by attracting page views and these TV channels make money by attracting viewers by provoking them emotionally through appeals to fear, anger, and hate. Internet sites get page views by creating articles with attention grabbing headlines. In many cases they don’t care if the articles are true or not. If they aren’t then they think they’ll just make another one correcting what they reported.
Holliday worked as a PR agent and talks about in his book how he would literally make up stories, pass them on to leading blogs, and then have TV news use the blogs as sources in their news reports. His book tells you how you can manipulate the news and why much of what you see on the Internet is just hyped up junk.
Let me give you a few examples. I have followed the Drudereport now for over a decade. I like the site and I look at it at least once a day. It has links to interesting articles and often reports on rumors of its own.
During the Presidential election at one point it claimed that Condeleeza Rice could become Romney’s Vice-Presidential running mate. Well anyone who has known anyone involved in the Washington beltway national-security-war-state knows that his story was laughable.
Well this story became the story of the day for 24 hours at one point. Several talk radio shows and TV news programs ran with it. It was most likely completely made up.
Then a few weeks later the Drudgereport did the same thing again by saying General Petraeus was being considered as a Vice-Presidential candidate. More nonsense. The Drudgereport didn’t care if these stories were true or not, all it cared about was getting more pageviews.
Most internet sites make money by getting traffic and will do anything to do it. There are financial sites that do nothing but create junk articles to attract traffic from Google. It is how they make money.
I know, because I took a dip into doing this sort of thing for a few months and then stopped. I was paying a few people to write articles for my site. Each article would attract anywhere from 100 to 1,000 visitors. At will I could put up an article with a headline and get visitors.
The Internet is designed so that if you want to make a lot of money by getting lots of traffic you need to produce as much content as quickly as possible and/or hype people up as much as possible. There is no real money advantage to reporting the truth, because mass traffic visitors come and go and don’t come back as a repeat visitor.
Well a few months ago I looked at the site and these articles I was paying for and decided I didn’t want them on my site anymore and decided that from now on I just want to post my own stuff and my own thoughts. I decided not to care about mass traffic, but to instead focus on creating a hard core loyal audience by providing the best information that I can.
I’m not trying to attract a mass audience. Just a good one. The masses are too brainwashed and dominated by the mass media and TV news to contemplate investing in Europe or commodities or making wise investment decisions. They just respond to hype and are always scared. So who even wants to be around people like that? This has been in the back of my head for the past few months since I decided to stop engaging in a “pageview journalism” of my own. I also have decided to become a real journalist or writer of my own by focusing on writing books. I’m working on one right now.
Now this “pageview journalism” is becoming a huge problem when it comes to the news. I’ve been fooled by it myself. For example look at the Euro debt crisis and Greece. This past summer every single day a story appeared on the Internet with a hyped up headline about it that linked to a mainstream newspaper. One day this newspaper would report that the Euro was going to collapse and the next day it would have a headline about how it would be saved. All of the news stories were doing nothing but reporting rumors and crazy stories that only got your attention and provided almost no real information.
These stories are got passed on and reported as fact on CNBC. For example I’m sure you remember in July when everyone was making a big deal about how the head of the ECB was saying that he would do all it takes to save the Euro. CNBC took that story and speculated that this meant the ECB was going to cut rates or take action at their July meeting. Well the meeting came and nothing happened.
Well before the meeting I went and found the entire speech that the ECB chief gave in which he made this comment. The comment was a one sentence line that had been taken out of context and blown entirely out of proportion in a speech that was about an hour long .
Blogs took that line and hyped it up. CNBC then followed. They did the same thing with the Fed in July too. Before the FOMC meeting they treated blog rumors that the Fed would start a new immediate QE program as if they were real.
This is what reporting has become in the mainstream media. It isn’t about doing the work of investigative journalism and trying to find anything that is real, but it’s about passing on rumors and hype to mesmerize viewers. And the newspapers do the same thing. All they are doing is passing on the “pageview journalism” that is the Internet.
To give one final example of this after I read the Holliday book I asked myself how long would it take for me to find a story that wasn’t true on the Internet. I loaded up a news website that I know that is one of the top 1,000 websites on the Internet in regards to traffic and saw a headline that said that Iran Wants Israel to Bomb It. That is a scary and emotional headline.
I clicked it and read the story. It’s source was a blog owned by someone claiming to be a Middle East expert and selling a religious end of times newsletter. The new site was treating this as if it was real.
Did you know that according to the Central Intelligence Agency and the latest official statements by the US National Security spokesman that Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapons program? That doesn’t make for scary headlines and attract hyperlink clickers. Did you know that even the Israeli Mossad officially says Iran has no nuclear weapons program too?
It doesn’t exist, but most Americans believe it does, because that is what they see on the Internet. If you don’t believe me do some Google search research for ten minutes and see for yourself. Now there are geopolitical reasons why pressure is being put on Iran, but that’s another story. There is also a war party in this country that is hungry for more violence and more defense spending. It wants a constant state of tension throughout the world at all times, because it benefits from it and it wants you scared to death too. So do the politicians, because a frightened people is an obedient people.
The point to all of this is that it takes a lot of work to get to the reality of situations in today’s day and age and to learn things like what has really caused the current economic recession and what is really happening in regards to international affairs. It takes reading books, and doing real homework of your own, because relying on today’s “pageview journalism” that shows up on TV and all over the Internet is useless hype designed not to inform you, but to mesmerize you by playing on your emotions.
The same goes for the stock market. Focusing on the stock market news will just get you all emotionally worked up and either too scared to do something or so hyped up you buy stuff at stupid prices. It will get you to do things like buy Facebook when it first opens up for trading and then lose half of your money as it collapses. It won’t tell you that gold is starting a new bull market. It will scare you from even considering investing outside of the United States and buying into stock markets priced with cyclically adjusted P/E ratios less than 7 that are poised to start new bull markets.
Investing is simple. Invest in value. Invest in stocks and markets priced right with good growth potential. Invest not at the end of bull markets, but when they start. You just focus on the big trends. And right now gold and commodities have broken into new bull markets and European markets are likely to follow, maybe even before the end of this new month. It is by investing in places like Greece and Ireland that money will be made next year.
Big trends don’t make good news stories though, because they happen slowly overtime. They don’t generate daily events or daily rumors. They are simply visible on charts and in valuation ratios. So no one talks about them. At least not in the financial press. You just focus on what’s important and the money follows. I’ll be talking to you more about investing in these big trends this month. All you need to do though is buy some gold stocks now, close your eyes, and look back a year from now to make money.
Well if you thought there was a housing bubble in the United States - and there was - you haven't seen anything yet. Take a look at this 60 Minutes segment on China's ghost cities.
As EconomicPolicyJournal.com puts it, "the Chinese economy is a combination of free markets and bizarre central planning. These ghost cities are heavily financed by local governments and the money that investors use to buy the properties is pumped about by China's central bank, The People's Bank of China. So much money has been pumped out by the PBOC that price inflation is starting to cause civil unrest. The PBOC and the government of China are trapped, the only way they can prop up the bubble is by more money printing, but that will cause price inflation to accelerate even more. If they stop printing, the real estate market and stock market will crash. It is possible it will it could result in the greatest crash in economic history."
One day people will look back at the madness of our times and look at wonderment at what is the disaster of centralized decision making. It is the centralized decision making at the Federal Reserve that helped drive our economy into a bubble bust.
Here is another even more alarming video report:
Dennis Rodman went to North Korea and apparently spent two days with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. According to press reports he is the first American to meet with him since he has taken power. One thing interesting is how the media is playing the story.
North Korea is an enemy of the United States so TV news throws any rational discussion out the window and emphasizes danger and threats. It also smears Rodman for meeting with him and flashes pictures on the screen when it does the story to make him look crazy. The big shot reporter even calls him a "notorious" basketball player.
There is zero analysis of why this guy met with Rodman in the first. There is zero context of the history of North Korea and the United States and why they are enemies, all you know from watching this is they kill their people and put them in prisons. Most TV sound byte reporting is just slogans and propaganda slanted not to actually inform you, but to get you worked up and emotional and it works because people like it. This isn't a defense of North Korea, I just want you see this report to see how emotionally charged its delivered. This is the perfect story for TV "news" and a chance for a liberal like George Stephanopoulos to talk tough, wrap themselves in the flag, and look like a war hawk.
Rodman actually was paid to go to North Korea by Vice magazine and HBO as part of a television series that will début in April. That might be why he is wearing a suit of dollars during this TV interview. Yes it's a joke. And so is almost every segment of so called "news" shown on TV. If this was a real news show they would at least explain why Rodman went to North Korea. Without doing that it makes it sound as if Rodman is a traitor, loves North Korea, or has some other sinister motives. At least this story is weird enough to be entertaining. And if you don't like him for going to North Korea, I don't like North Korea either, but people really should be free to go wherever they want to go, and TV news reports should be more than just hype. Sometimes they are, but most of the time not.
This is a video that has gone viral on Youtube. In my view this is partly a function of the growth of industries tied to the government that operate outside of the free market that other businesses and everyone else has to live in. These are industries that are dependent on government spending and cost+plus contracts such as the military-industrial complex and industries that are handed money in bailouts and Fed money printing such as the entire financial industry.Topics: US Economy
I am doing a little selling in a few positions today. I bought them the other week, but I now think the correction in the market is going to last a little longer than I was thinking when I bought them. At the time if the market had gone lower last week I had thought the correction would end. But the move up in the middle of the week makes it more likely that it will now last for another 3-6 weeks. So I think I bought these positions a little early. This increases my cash position a little bit and I plan on using it when I think the broad market correction is finally over as explained in this weekend's monthly newsletter.
200 BTU @ 20.531
140 WLT @ 30.00
150 CNX @ 30.301
You can see a list of my transactions and current positions by going here.Topics: Open PortfolioWSW Articles: Stock Market Commentary
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