By: Roger Aronoff | Accuracy in Media
It is becoming increasingly clear that the often oppositional mainstream media will only promote stories which contain an angle designed to make President Donald Trump look bad. That this is the opposite of how President Barack Obama was treated by the media only exposes reporters’ ongoing double standard.
One press narrative is that Trump intends to weaken NATO and will, therefore, place American security and interests—as well as those of our allies—in jeopardy by undermining our international alliances. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, in his February 20 show “Wolf,” repeatedly attempted to bait the secretary general of NATO into criticizing Trump for his promise to insist that NATO allies must pay their fair share of the “common defense.”
“You were with the vice president when he said that the U.S. commitment to NATO is firm,” said Blitzer, referring to Vice President Mike Pence’s speech in Munich last weekend. “Were you reassured by those words?” Refusing to follow Blitzer’s narrative, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that he was reassured.
“Absolutely, because it is a very consistent message,” Stoltenberg said.
In other words, the secretary general was saying that there is no contradiction between Trump’s campaign promises and his actions now. The Trump administration seeks to strengthen NATO, not undermine it.
Stoltenberg continued, “I have heard from President Trump in two phone calls, from the vice president today in Brussels, but also in Munich on Saturday and in meetings with Secretary Mattis, Secretary Kelly, and phone calls with Secretary Tillerson. And the message from all of them is that the United States is strongly committed to the trans-Atlantic alliance, to NATO, and will continue to support us not only in words but also in deeds. Because we see that the United States is now increasing their military presence in Europe in new forces and more equipment.”
Wedded to his media narrative, Blitzer then aired a segment featuring Trump saying, “The countries we are defending must pay for the cost of this defense. And if not, the U.S. must be prepared to let these countries defend themselves.”
“As a candidate for office, President Trump actually called attention repeatedly to the fact that for too long, many of our NATO allies have not been sharing the financial burden,” said White House press secretary Sean Spicer at a February 21 press briefing. “The President looks forward to working closely with NATO to advance our shared objectives. A strong NATO means a safer world.”
In other words, the Trump administration understands the value of NATO, but wants the countries involved to pay their fair share.
But journalists like Blitzer prefer to fearmonger about this administration, and air segments that emphasize the risks of Trump’s actions, rather than the potential rewards of holding other countries accountable. In a related story, The New York Times wrote that “It is a time of great anxiety in Europe, in no small part because of the rise of Mr. Trump, who has brushed aside long-held tenets of American foreign policy.”
It is ironic that the media continually air Trump’s past statements in order to pressure him to either break those promises or recommit to them. Yet Obama was allowed to break his Obamacare promises, most notably his lie that Americans could keep their doctor if they wanted to, and that their costs would decrease for an average family by $2,500 per year.
“But what happens—what happens if they don’t [increase expenditures]?” Blitzer asked Stoltenberg. “You heard the vice president, Mike Pence, say the patience of the American people will not endure forever. What happens, for example, if rich countries, like France, Germany, Italy, Canada, if those countries don’t step up and meet that two percent threshold?”
Stoltenberg replied that his focus “is on ‘what can we do to make sure that we succeed,’” not prepare for the worst. “And we are—it is quite encouraging to see that defense spending has started to increase,” he said. “The picture is still mixed but it’s much better than it was just a year ago.”
After Stoltenberg’s strong performance, Blitzer admitted that NATO countries committing less than two percent of their gross domestic product is “a problem.”
Blitzer appeared stunned and forlorn at these answers. They were clearly not the answers he was expecting to hear. What Blitzer didn’t mention—but Stoltenberg did—is that the 28 member states of NATO committed to spend two percent of their GDP on this alliance back in 2014. So Trump’s policy is to merely hold these countries to the promises that they have already made.
Stoltenberg told CNBC that there had been a four percent increase in European and Canadian spending in 2016. “Meeting the target will take longer for some countries than others, he admitted,” reports CNBC, “and said he was confident all allies will meet the benchmark within a decade, as promised.”
The Cato Institute’s Christopher Preble argues that Trump’s campaign statements may have rattled the NATO members and caused them to “hedge their bets.” In other words, Trump’s tough stance may actually motivate allies to allocate more of their defense budgets to funding NATO—an improvement that would ultimately enhance world security.
Blitzer’s interview with Secretary General Stoltenberg was just another attempt to elicit a soundbite which could be used to embarrass the administration. Members of the media, as they attempt to tarnish Trump’s reputation, fail to consider the ramifications of their bias, and how it might—just as much as Trump’s own potential missteps—harm America’s standing in the world.
Hat Tip: Jeff Bayard
By: Kent Engelke | Capitol Securities
In my view, the Minutes from the February 1 FOMC meeting were largely a nonevent. The Committee “expressed confidence” that they can raise interest rates gradually while a hike “fairly soon” might be appropriate to avoid the risk of an overheated economy.
The Minutes revealed a tension between participants who are worried about foot dragging at a time when economic reports report solid versus those who want more clarity and still have some concerns about downside risks.
Perhaps the only certainty is today is different than yesterday, the result of the election, an uncertainty that is weighing upon monetary policy. If rising confidence and reduced regulations/tax reform increases monetary velocity, I reiterate the odds of greater than expected growth increases exponentially.
The corollary is if Trump’s proposals do not become policy, further economic atrophy may occur.
Markets were little changed on the release.
What will happen today?
Last night the foreign markets were down. London was down 0.03%, Paris up 0.19% and Frankfurt down 0.19%. China was down 0.30%, Japan down 0.04% and Hang Sang down 0.36%.
The Dow should open flat. The 10-year is up 5/32 to yield 2.40%.
By: Cliff Kincaid | America’s Survival
WARNING: occasional graphic language. Dr. Paul Church speaks about the power of the LGBT lobby and “unprecedented censorship” in the medical profession and scientific establishment. He was fired for objecting to hospitals glorifying the male homosexual lifestyle through “gay pride” events. Not even Fox News would have him on the air to talk about his ordeal at the hands of the LGBT movement and its supporters. Dr. Church also discusses the safety of the blood supply.
By: Terresa Monroe-Hamilton | Right Wing News
Just as I thought, it is very, very probable that millions of illegal aliens did indeed register to vote this last election and illegally cast their votes… most likely for Hillary Clinton. This was something that was driven by Obama and Clinton and they knew full well it was going on. President Trump has now mandated a task force to look into voter fraud and has put Vice President Mike Pence in charge of it. This is long overdue and a very good thing. And frankly, I don’t care which side of the political line the voter fraud falls on, it needs to be stopped. Especially from those voting illegally in this country.
As many as 2.1 million illegal aliens are thought to have possibly voted in this last election. That is a huge breach of voting security and it bolsters President Trump’s claim that it did indeed happen. The results pointing towards all this come from the National Hispanic Survey and then they were applied to US Census data. “It has to do with the registration,” Trump told Bill O’Reilly. “And when you look at the registration and you see dead people that have voted, when you see people that are registered in two states, that have voted in two states, when you see other things, when you see illegals, people that are not citizens and they are on the registration rolls. Look, Bill, we can be babies, but you take a look at the registration, you have illegals, you have dead people, you have this, it’s really a bad situation, it’s really bad.”
From the Conservative Tribune:
Evidence of voter registration among illegals has existed for years, and things may be getting worse. The staggering number of illegal immigrants who may have voted in this past year’s election is too big to dismiss.
The National Hispanic Survey, a study in 2013 conducted by McLaughlin and Associates showed that 13 percent of illegal immigrants claimed they were registered to vote, according to The Washington Times.
According to The Times, the independent data analysis group Just Facts reportedly examined the results from the National Hispanic Survey and applied them to U.S. Census data, concluding that as many as 2.1 million aliens could have been illegally registered this past fall.
“Contrary to the claims of many media outlets and so-called fact-checkers, this nationally representative scientific poll confirms that a sizable number of non-citizens in the U.S. are registered to vote,” Agresti said.
Non-citizens voting in elections in the United States is completely illegal. Add that to the recent development of possible voter fraud by citizens being bused into New Hampshire from other states to vote in the swing state, and we have two very probable instances of voter fraud.
In his interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly that aired on Super Bowl Sunday, President Donald Trump said a task force studying illegal voting in the United States will focus on just the kind of illegal voter registration the National Hispanic Survey found. Vice President Mike Pence will lead the group.
Had the shoe been on the other foot and the left suspected massive voter fraud like this, they would have screamed bloody murder and demanded an investigation and probably legal action. But since it was the left doing it, they try and paint anyone even hinting at voter fraud as a crazed conspiracy nut. But that doesn’t make it any less true. Voter fraud has always been a huge problem and it is long past time we confronted it and cleaned up the system.
The popular vote isn’t popular when it’s illegal. The voter rolls should be cleaned up state by state and voter registration verified. Voter ID should be required and there should be unbiased voting monitors, redundant backups to verify results and video of everything taking place at voting locations. Pence has a big job in front of him. This is why I said long ago that illegal aliens could keep Marxists in control in America indefinitely if allowed in and were permitted to vote. It almost worked, but not quite.
By: Roger Aronoff | Accuracy in Media
While President Barack Obama was in office, the media’s official “fact-checkers” rarely checked Obama administration policies and narratives for truthfulness or accuracy. In fact, they often published stories based almost entirely on administration talking points or press releases, and disregarded obvious evidence that contradicted the administration’s narratives. But now that President Donald Trump has gained office, the media’s fact-checkers have whipped themselves into a frenzy, reporting on each and every minor misstep that our new President might make during his press conferences, rallies, or in his tweets.
For example, Trump recently tweeted that “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!” The press was quick to point out that Trump had gone too far in his statement, even suggesting that he was inciting violence.
“And every time that Donald Trump uses this kind of language,” said Game Change co-author John Heilemann on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, “I always worry that it’s an incitement to elements of our country that might go ahead and do something when the President of the United States calls the press the enemy of the people, that they might take that seriously.”
In response to Heilemann’s comments, Joe Scarborough said that “this is very, very dangerous” because there are unbalanced people on the left and the right. In other words, Trump could be blamed for future violence.
But, as Accuracy in Media’s (AIM) chairman Don Irvine notes, Trump is not the first to say that the media are the enemy of the American people. Democratic pollster Pat Caddell made similar comments during our ObamaNation—A Day of Truth conference in 2012: “When they [the media] desert those ramparts and they go to serve—to decide that they will now become active participants—when they decide that their job is not simply to tell you who you may vote for, and who you may not, but, worse—and this is the danger of the last two weeks—what truth that you may know, as an American, and what truth you are not allowed to know, they have, then, made themselves a fundamental threat to the democracy, and, in my opinion, made themselves the enemy of the American people.”
The two weeks Caddell was referring to were those after the attacks in Benghazi, when it was already obvious that the Obama administration was lying about the cause of the attacks, and the media were rolling over so as not to damage Obama’s chances at re-election a few weeks later.
Trump was not referring to the institution of the free press as an enemy, but rather to how biased and one-sided our mainstream media are when it comes to politics and issues of national importance. AIM’s Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi confirmed that, and much more, regarding Benghazi.
The February 20 MSNBC segment also sought to fact check Trump’s quote of Thomas Jefferson about the press, pointing to Post reporting which argued that Trump took Jefferson out of context.
“Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, and Abraham Lincoln: many of our greatest Presidents fought with the media, and called them out, often-times, on their lies,” said Trump on February 18 at a rally in Melbourne, Florida. “In fact, Thomas Jefferson said: ‘Nothing can be believed which is seen in a newspaper.’”
The UK Daily Mail ran with the headline that “Trump takes Thomas Jefferson quote out of context to bash the media…” Similarly, the Post’s Fact-Checker, Glenn Kessler, wrote that “Trump selectively quotes from Jefferson here, who, for most of his life, was a fierce defender of the need for a free press.” Jefferson was, at the time he made those comments, Kessler writes, “embittered” about reports of him having relations with his slave. Politifact piled on with “That quote checks out. But it’s not the whole story on Jefferson.” By the way, AIM has fact-checked the stories of Jefferson’s supposed relations with Sally Hemings, and found them to be baseless.
That Trump had taken Jefferson out of context has become an article of faith for the media, as they dig for as many misstatements of Trump’s that they can find. But is Trump really taking Jefferson out of context if he cites a quote that Jefferson actually made? Trump is hardly going to explain the entire history of Jefferson’s thoughts on the media while making a stump speech. This appears to be the media playing little more than a “gotcha” game with the President.
“And, in any event, Jefferson’s saying something different on another occasion does not render Trump’s quotation ‘out of context,’ misleading, or in any way inappropriate,” writes John Hinderaker for Powerlineblog.
The media continue to fact check and mock many of President Trump’s statements. They should fact-check him, and he should make a greater effort to be more precise in his choice of words. If these media outlets had applied the same standard to President Obama, then there might have been some accountability for his administration. But it is clear that it is of no benefit for Trump to lie to the press or to his supporters, for that works against his ability to advance his agenda.
Whether the Trump presidency succeeds will depend on his ability to deliver on his campaign promises regarding border security, jobs, trade deals and Obamacare, to name a few. As long as he keeps those promises, many in the public will likely continue to support him.
By focusing on the trivial, the media undermine their own legitimacy. Take, for example, Politifact’s takedown of Trump’s statement that “Look at what’s happening to every poll when it comes to optimism in our country…It’s sweeping across the country.” Politifact counters with polls on America’s low favorability of our “standing in the world” and Trump’s low approval rating. Polls can be used to show many things. This week, Trump’s approval rating is up two points in the Gallup Poll, to 42 percent, and Rasmussen has Trump down two points to 51 percent approval.
Another example is fact checking Trump’s claim that Meryl Streep is overrated as an actress. That clearly falls into the category of opinion, and is one of four examples cited by Mollie Hemingway of The Federalist in an excellent analysis of the sorry state of media “fact checks.”
We have often pointed out that fact-checking shouldn’t be the domain of a particular columnist in a newspaper, but should be part of every article published. The subjective choices of which comments should or shouldn’t be fact-checked, and what criteria to use, usually end up demonstrating the political bias of the publication or the journalist doing the fact checking.
The media, and fact-checkers, are grasping at straws in their attempts to contradict President Trump and reduce his influence. They tried it all throughout the presidential campaign, and obviously did not succeed. But it may be that the support for Trump will continue to swell: he has momentum, and may just surprise the pollsters again in 2020.
By: Kent Engelke | Capitol Securities
The Minutes from the February 1 FOMC meeting are released today. Will the monetary timetable be changed yet again? Currently the market is suggesting a 38% chance of an interest rate increase in March. Are these odds understated?
Historically, the Fed’s target for short term interest rates is nominally lower than the trend growth in nominal GDP (real GDP plus inflation). Real GDP is about 3.5%, thus suggesting the overnight rate is considerably lower than historical norms.
Recently, the “animal spirits” are stirring because of the potential of less burdensome financial regulations, tax reform and infrastructure spending.
The yield curve between the overnight rate and the 10-year Treasury is around 180 basis points versus the historical average of 106 bps since the 1950s.
The yield curve between the 10 and 30 year Treasury has been holding consistent, believing the Fed will keep long term inflation and inflationary expectations “well contained.”
Is the market correct, defined as benign inflationary pressures even as rates are very accommodative based upon historical norms? What happens to assumptions if monetary velocity accelerates, which it appears that such an acceleration is now occurring as evidenced by nascent increase in M2?
I cannot underestimate the potential risk at hand if the Fed remains too accommodative too long. Excess bank reserves are around $2 trillion versus the historical norm of $1 billion thus suggesting considerable liquidity for inflationary growth.
The national debt is about $20 trillion, yet the debt service requirements — the amount of money needed to service principle and interest — are around 1996 levels when the national debt was 25% of today’s size. If interest rates rose to “historical norms/relationships,” debt service would increase to around $1 trillion versus today’s level of $325 billion or about 30% of the budget.
Wow! How will this impact government spending and interest rates?
The only constants in life are change and reversion to the mean. Confidences levels — same as animal spirits — have increased by amounts not experienced since 1980.
One of the stated goals of the FOMC, via very accommodative monetary policy and QE, is to force all further out on the risk curve, a policy that may have created tomorrow’s crisis.
Will tomorrow’s headlines be of greater than expected growth that has “unanchored” inflationary expectations because of the loss of confidence in the Fed’s ability to provide price stability?
How will this impact stock valuations and bond prices?
It is against this backdrop I would prefer the Fed to err on the side of caution, defined as increasing rates now in an attempt to prevent tomorrow’s future crisis.
As indicated, the odds are only 38%, perhaps the result of seven years of missed Fed policy and horrific fiscal policy and regulations that killed the “animal spirits,” animal spirits that are now awakening.
Commenting upon yesterday’s market action, equities ended higher on global economic optimism and further gains in oil. Treasuries were essentially unchanged.
Last night, the foreign markets were up. London was up 0.12%, Paris up 0.11% and Frankfurt up 0.18%. China was up 0.24%, Japan down 0.01% and Hang Sang up 0.99%.
The Dow should open nominally lower as all are questioning the sustainability of the advance, an advance that was partially the result of the collapse of the cross correlated trades, perhaps the result of the Trump election which may have completely changed the rules. The 10-year is up 3/32 to yield 2.42%.
By: Kent Engelke | Capitol Securities
Bloomberg writes the Dow has had its largest advance under a new president since LBJ. Many are suggesting the market is priced to perfection and if Trump stumbles, so will the markets. I ask however, based upon many press accounts, Trump is already stumbling badly with the worst approval ratings of any early presidency.
Perhaps there is a different reason, one alluded to Friday and one that is perhaps difficult to quantify or give attribution. Last week the WSJ reported the cross correlated trade that has worked for the last 8-10 years has collapsed. There is attribution for this view, thus this statement should not be viewed as rhetoric or conjecture.
The question that cannot be definitively answered is why it has collapsed. Consensus declaratively stated a Trump victory would be horrific to the markets. I vividly recall futures plunging over 10% late in the evening of November 8th when it was all but assured Clinton lost.
Many times I have commented about the impact of algorithmic and cross correlated trading which represents about 90% of the volume according to the SEC. I also referenced an SEC study that stated 96% of all orders entered were never executed. I further stated there are about 10-12 electronic firms that have replaced the hundreds of “specialist firms,” electronic firms that use the same rules of the hundreds of former specialist firms to maintain market order.
Specialist firms are permitted to take naked short positions to maintain market integrity. Twenty years ago it would be close to impossible for one firm to dominate the market. Today there are 10-12 trading firms, replacing the hundreds of specialist firms, that can take naked short positions, thus suggesting the market “can be prone to market manipulation and imbalances,” quoting a late 2015 SEC study.
Can I suggest the reason for such a strong advance in the face of “accepted turmoil” of the Trump administration is that these naked shorts are now being covered because of economic necessity? Is this the reason why cross correlated trading strategy that has worked almost flawlessly for the past 8-10 years has completely collapsed?
Perhaps. About 14 months ago, I referenced a Federal Reserve report that contained a question that is now asked by regulators about the loan portfolios of the largest money center banks. Does your institution lend money to algorithmic or electronic trading firms?
It was against this backdrop last January that Barclays Bank wrote perhaps one of the greatest risks to the markets is a potential “melt up” because of unreported naked shorts that creates a liquidity crisis for a mega-sized financial firm.
I will readily acknowledge this is very Michael Moorish, perhaps stretching for a reason to explain why “the fail-safe” cross correlated trade has collapsed and to explain the strongest equity advance since LBJ as the Establishment has declared the Administration is operating in total chaos. Uncertainty and chaos normally creates negative market volatility.
Returning back to information that is quantifiable to explain the advance, data that I have already discussed at length, both business and consumer confidence is surging, optimism on earnings calls is high, growth proxies are humming, all of which has already caused a jump in retail sales and rising inflationary expectations.
In my view there is no question the political environment comes up in every discussion and to ignore such is equivalent to ignoring the impact of interest rates to valuation formulas.
What will happen this week?
Last night the foreign markets were mixed. London was down 0.18%, Paris up 0.36% and Frankfurt up 0.62%. China was up 0.41%, Japan up 0.68% and Hang Sang down 0.76%.
The Dow should open nominally higher on economic optimism as the economic activity in the euro area unexpectedly rose to an almost six-year high. The 10-year is down 10/32 to yield 2.46%.
By: Trevor Loudon | New Zeal
According to the Congressional Record:
HON. KAREN BASS OF CALIFORNIA IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, Monday, January 30, 2017;
Ms. BASS. Mr. Speaker, I would like to honor the life and memory of my friend and mentor, Oneil COneil Marion Cannon]], who passed away on January 20, days before his 100th birthday….
“Oneil was instrumental in supporting my own work as a community organizer early in my life, and without his help my life would have taken a very different path…
I would like to salute Oneil Cannon for his longstanding commitment to serving and uplifting others, and for a century of fighting to make the world a better place.”
The late Oneil Cannon in question was a fixture of the Los Angeles left.
According to the Peoples World:
As a member of the Communist Party, he became the education director in the Southern California District, and a member of the Party’s Southern California and National Central Committees…
Cannon campaigned for Barack Obama in 2008, and wept with joy along with millions of others when he was elected. He died peacefully, wearing one of his Obama T-shirts.
With decades of communist activity under her belt, Karen Bass would fail an FBI background check to work as a realtor or a school bus driver.
But that’s okay, there are no security checks to serve on any Congressional Committee: not the Armed Services, not Homeland Security, not even the Intelligence Committee.
If American voters understood how bad the infiltration is they would be horrified. There are many, many more like Karen Bass, trashing your Constitution every day.
To really understand how bad the problem is, check out my movie The Enemies Within.