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Obama tells La Raza he is "tempted" to bypass Congress

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http://www.glennbeck.com/2011/07/26/obama-...-be-a-dictator/

Obama says it’s ‘tempting’ to be a dictator

Tuesday, Jul 26, 2011 at 2:17 PM EDT

President Obama gave a speech to La Raza the other day and admitted that “the idea of doing things on my own is very tempting” when it came to dealing with Congress over the debt deal. And while he added the caveat that our democracy doesn’t work like that – the crowd was cheering the possibility of Obama side stepping Congress and doing things his own way. The whole scenario reminded Glenn and Pat of (nerd alert) the scene in the Star Wars prequel where Palpatine grants himself emergency powers – effectively making him The Emperor – as the Senate cheers on. Pat even played audio from the scene where Natalie Portman’s character says, “This is how liberty dies, with thunderous applause.”

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Obama told us when he was running for President that he wanted to "transform America". He is simply creating the groundwork for such transformation when some future dictator comes along who will take such action. Or, perhaps not so far into the future, such action will be taken by him if he's elected to a second term.

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Obama told us when he was running for President that he wanted to "transform America". He is simply creating the groundwork for such transformation when some future dictator comes along who will take such action. Or, perhaps not so far into the future, such action will be taken by him if he's elected to a second term.

There is still a lot that has to be done by the Left before the first dictator arises in the U.S., if ever. The populace is not sufficiently disarmed (guns), and there's still way too much freedom of speech (talk radio and the internet).

If the Left wish to drastically accelerate the statist process, they need foreign agents - such as the Islamists - to accomplish that. If the Islamists make a serious nuclear strike, then a "state of emergency" could be established, and freedom of speech and gun ownership banned. The only possible domestic case I can imagine is the emergence of a "right-wing" (the Left will call it that) terrorist or separatist group, which will be used to establish a "state of emergency." (Trudeau imposed one in the wake of the FLQ separatists, but Canada was not yet ripe for absolute dictatorship.)

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I've received several emails arguing that constitutionally he is perfectly entitled to ignore Congress in order to prevent the loss of trust in the credit of the USA. Of course, politically it would be a disaster, and one can argue that the demonstration of a broken government that cannot agree would be pretty bad for the credit of the USA, but he would not need extra powers to be granted a la Star Wars.

This is definitely a fun time to be trading. Markets are acting in completely irrational ways. Everybody is on the sidelines, waiting for the politicians to say something else stupid. There are two basket cases across either side of the Atlantic and the question will be which to be invested in as the other crashes first...

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I've received several emails arguing that constitutionally he is perfectly entitled to ignore Congress in order to prevent the loss of trust in the credit of the USA. Of course, politically it would be a disaster, and one can argue that the demonstration of a broken government that cannot agree would be pretty bad for the credit of the USA, but he would not need extra powers to be granted a la Star Wars.

The President does not have the Constitutional authority to ignore Congress in the name of "loss of trust". But with Constitutional limitations on government limping along in tatters by shear momentum under over a century of "reinterpretations", the situation is very unstable.

Worse than "lack of agreement" is continuing over the abyss with more taxes, borrowing and government spending through agreement on statism in all but secondary issues.

This is definitely a fun time to be trading. Markets are acting in completely irrational ways. Everybody is on the sidelines, waiting for the politicians to say something else stupid. There are two basket cases across either side of the Atlantic and the question will be which to be invested in as the other crashes first...

How can you regard this as "fun"? With people worried about their lives and livelihoods it doesn't help for them to be told that "trading" to exploit their problems is "fun".

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There is still a lot that has to be done by the Left before the first dictator arises in the U.S., if ever. The populace is not sufficiently disarmed (guns), and there's still way too much freedom of speech (talk radio and the internet).

If the Left wish to drastically accelerate the statist process, they need foreign agents - such as the Islamists - to accomplish that. If the Islamists make a serious nuclear strike, then a "state of emergency" could be established, and freedom of speech and gun ownership banned. The only possible domestic case I can imagine is the emergence of a "right-wing" (the Left will call it that) terrorist or separatist group, which will be used to establish a "state of emergency."...

Any emergency, including economic failures, serves as a rationalization for "wider powers", and the "community organizer" leftist agitators are experts at deliberately creating chaos. The views of the populace in the US are now too split to count on to stop a major power grab in the name of the "pragmatic" and endorsed by the middle class.

The left has been counting on the mass influx of illegal immigrants who understand nothing about the American system of individualism, but they are not alone. Large numbers of them are probably a convenient exacerbation but not now the deciding factor. There are plenty of 'foreign agents' among them, but they have plenty of company in creating chaos for political purposes. It is too late for potential immigrants like Mercury to be of much help.

It the trend is not reversed, the only questions are whether there will be dictatorship or civil war (followed by dictatorship), and when, as Ayn Rand predicted decades ago. Freedom of speech on the internet and radio presupposes civilization, and privately held 'guns' do not stop a bureaucracy from pushing people into poverty with no freedom.

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Obama told us when he was running for President that he wanted to "transform America". He is simply creating the groundwork for such transformation when some future dictator comes along who will take such action. Or, perhaps not so far into the future, such action will be taken by him if he's elected to a second term.

There is still a lot that has to be done by the Left before the first dictator arises in the U.S., if ever. The populace is not sufficiently disarmed (guns), and there's still way too much freedom of speech (talk radio and the internet).

If the Left wish to drastically accelerate the statist process, they need foreign agents - such as the Islamists - to accomplish that. If the Islamists make a serious nuclear strike, then a "state of emergency" could be established, and freedom of speech and gun ownership banned. The only possible domestic case I can imagine is the emergence of a "right-wing" (the Left will call it that) terrorist or separatist group, which will be used to establish a "state of emergency." (Trudeau imposed one in the wake of the FLQ separatists, but Canada was not yet ripe for absolute dictatorship.)

I could imagine a popular movement to repeal the 22nd Amendment limiting presidential terms. Both Clinton and Obama would love to have had more time. One does not need to be a dictator in the classical term when the morality of altruism is so thoroughly ingrained in political positions. We are already ruled by Agencies and regulations that were never enacted into law. All an American dictator would need is assent by both political parties that only the president could solve certain problems. I don't think it would take very much for Congress to concede its power to another authority.

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Obama told us when he was running for President that he wanted to "transform America". He is simply creating the groundwork for such transformation when some future dictator comes along who will take such action. Or, perhaps not so far into the future, such action will be taken by him if he's elected to a second term.

There is still a lot that has to be done by the Left before the first dictator arises in the U.S., if ever. The populace is not sufficiently disarmed (guns), -------

Guns won't be of much use if one can not afford to buy bullets because one's IRA is taxed to the max and inflation hits us.

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I could imagine a popular movement to repeal the 22nd Amendment limiting presidential terms. Both Clinton and Obama would love to have had more time. One does not need to be a dictator in the classical term when the morality of altruism is so thoroughly ingrained in political positions. We are already ruled by Agencies and regulations that were never enacted into law. All an American dictator would need is assent by both political parties that only the president could solve certain problems. I don't think it would take very much for Congress to concede its power to another authority.

It doesn't matter who is in power after 8 years of this if it is another statist claiming to contend with "emergencies". We already have rule by bureaucracy in the Executive branch with enormous discretionary powers operating under rules made up by the agencies themselves under ambiguous laws passed by Congress to cede legislative power. Most of that bureaucratic power is exercised at a detailed level the president is not involved with at all. Obama or anyone remotely like him will add more, just as Bush did. Reagan repealed thousands of pages of regulations but by the time he was through the government was still bigger than ever. Dictatorship with meaningless elections is still dictatorship, only the rate of descent changes.

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I've received several emails arguing that constitutionally he is perfectly entitled to ignore Congress in order to prevent the loss of trust in the credit of the USA. Of course, politically it would be a disaster, and one can argue that the demonstration of a broken government that cannot agree would be pretty bad for the credit of the USA, but he would not need extra powers to be granted a la Star Wars.

The President does not have the Constitutional authority to ignore Congress in the name of "loss of trust". But with Constitutional limitations on government limping along in tatters by shear momentum under over a century of "reinterpretations", the situation is very unstable.

I agree with you (the reinterpretation is not in the spirit of the Constitution). This is the bit they would use:

Section 4, 14th Amendment:

‘The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.’

For me, indefinitely increasing the debt burden based on the United States' excellent credit rating and an assumption you can sell off the entire country and just tax its inhabitants more to fund unsustainable "social" programmes designed to destroy your population's ability to be productive are not going to improve the perception of United States credit.

This is definitely a fun time to be trading. Markets are acting in completely irrational ways. Everybody is on the sidelines, waiting for the politicians to say something else stupid. There are two basket cases across either side of the Atlantic and the question will be which to be invested in as the other crashes first...

How can you regard this as "fun"? With people worried about their lives and livelihoods it doesn't help for them to be told that "trading" to exploit their problems is "fun".

I do not. It's common in Britain to adopt a cynical tone when talking about tragic events.

I would not have a job or at least not doing what I do if governments hadn't started meddling in economics. The global macro trading profession was born on August 15, 1971. Before then, investors merely contented themselves with transfering capital to the most competent entrepreneur. Nowadays, there is a large component of transfering capital where it won't get destroyed by the errors of the political class as it attempts to fund its population bribes that got it elected. At least we take solace in knowing we make it much harder for bad governments to get away with it. It is hard for Greece to ask for more money when its CDS is trading in the thousands (implying a very high probability of default within a couple of years) and its debt is yielding in the high double digits (implying it is backed by nothing and therefore mostly worthless).

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I agree with you (the reinterpretation is not in the spirit of the Constitution). This is the bit they would use:
Section 4, 14th Amendment:

‘The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.’

The 14th Amendment as a rationalization for Obama to do what he wants regardless of Congress is a scam that has been circulated and refuted for quite a while now. What it tells you the most is the nature of the mentality and the goals of those who use it.

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I agree with you (the reinterpretation is not in the spirit of the Constitution). This is the bit they would use:
Section 4, 14th Amendment:

‘The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.’

The 14th Amendment as a rationalization for Obama to do what he wants regardless of Congress is a scam that has been circulated and refuted for quite a while now. What it tells you the most is the nature of the mentality and the goals of those who use it.

Would you mind please letting us know more about the refutation? I'm interested in reading it as I am a total legal layperson.

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I agree with you (the reinterpretation is not in the spirit of the Constitution). This is the bit they would use:
Section 4, 14th Amendment:

‘The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.’

The 14th Amendment as a rationalization for Obama to do what he wants regardless of Congress is a scam that has been circulated and refuted for quite a while now. What it tells you the most is the nature of the mentality and the goals of those who use it.

Would you mind please letting us know more about the refutation? I'm interested in reading it as I am a total legal layperson.

How does acknowledging the "validity of the public debt... authorized by law" give Obama the power to ignore Congress? Their argument is the mentality that says there are no limits in the Constitution on what government officials do and how they do it because it is implied that they can do whatever they need to do to act on behalf of their interpretation of broad government functions.

More detailed legal arguments and history of the 14th Amendment have been given by Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin. Maybe you can find it in on their websites rather than download all the shows and plowing through them to search.

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How can you regard this as "fun"? With people worried about their lives and livelihoods it doesn't help for them to be told that "trading" to exploit their problems is "fun".

After further thought I will not apologise for my industry. Midas didn't care that that fellow who "wanted a job" needed capital or would be on the street. His only concern was the allocation of capital where it would grow or (in our case) not be destroyed.

I do not have any emotion or thought for the consequence of my capital allocation when I trade. My only aim is to make money, legally whilst respecting individual rights (avoiding fraud, etc.). If I can make 10 million USD out of shorting American stocks or helping the US dollar on its way down I will do so. If I can make money from the consequences of the terrible actions of politicians elected by a population you are asking me to now care about, I will do so. If your government chooses to devalue its currency until it is worth not even a quarter of what it used to be, I will shift out of it and into another currency, that of a country fiscally and monetarily more prudent. We made close to a billion out of the cotton spike. We made close to another on the food spike. I do not apologise on behalf of my firm for having had the foresight to spot that capital leaving farming to go to a government-created housing bubble, coupled with the insane idea of starving half the world by shoving perfectly edible corn into fuel, would create one of the most massive commodities rallies in history (the only time cotton was higher was during the Civil War, creating the Egyptian cotton industry). Even if this rally triggered several revolutions and impoverished millions. We celebrated our good year. If one must be altruistic about it, we helped feed hundreds of millions by having had the foresight to stock large amounts of grain and buy forward many times more insuring supply at a crucially tight moment. Of course, with hindsight and to the idiot who didn't, it looks like we "cornered" the market because we ended up being one of a few who had the stuff, and we funded those few farmers who had the foresight to realize where the market was heading (we own and develop large farms in several countries now as do dozens of hedge funds). This is like those who complain that hedge funds have an "unfair" information edge. What the hell is the job about? What do we spend 20 hours a day doing? That's right, gaining that information edge. That's hard work. Nobody is "entitled" to crucially important information just because they are a small guy. As Livermore always said, why is the guy who is so prudent and hard working during his life, patiently accumulating capital, so willing to gamble it away without any of the hard work it took him to achieve his wealth? Why sue a fund who had the instinct to place an analyst outside a firm's factory to count the trucks calling it "insider trading"?

Emotional considerations NEVER play in trading. You have capital. It must grow. It must not be destroyed. That's the game. Making money is always fun, when it is made fairly in a deep and liquid market. We have no connections in the Fed or governments. We have a bunch of screens, brains, and data. We run through the lot and think outside the box to make money.

Would I prefer living in the quieter, pre-fiat money era of stable economic growth, free markets and hard working Americans? Sure I would, and in that world I would probably not be a trader (stock picking requires a very different set of skills). But I am good at exploiting market inefficiencies, and the world is heading in a direction that profits people with this kind of skillset. And when the game changes, it gets more "fun". It has changed. The old guys have to reinvent themselves. It's fun. Hate me for it if you will, you won't be the first for sure. My own government hates my guts and is dreaming of ways to tax me whilst I work abroad, whilst trying to peg me as the scapegoat for a crisis its equivalent in the USA helped create (at least Americans are sufficiently market-savvy not to be fooled by similar tricks, even if the vague "bankers" are now held responsible for every ill).

Independently of the process of being right and making money, I am appalled at what politicians are doing with formerly productive, formerly astonishing countries, running them directly into the ground, even if I never forget that those politicians were elected, and that somewhere down the line, those victims chose their fate, like the drug addict picking robbery for heroin over waiting out the cold turkey and building a new life (as at least one Member of this Forum has done). But this is independent of the process of being right and making money, which is satisfying in itself. A doctor finally discovering what rare disease is afflicting his patient will similarly rejoice.

Without traders, you would live in the Soviet Union. The efficient allocation of capital is the very core of capitalism. Without Midas and his gold, nothing can function. If that makes me a cold ruthless bastard so be it. Without us, without the CDS market screaming the truth to the face of politicians, without yields and rates telling a very different story from the honeyed poison of the well combed idiots on TV, where would the United States of America be?

I respect people like you who are fighting against the trend and helping move things back towards prosperity. But please don't give me that "aren't you ashamed of making money from people's misery" stuff. Because you are then in the company of Barack Obama, FDR, and several other "luminaries" who we all know and love on this Forum. If even Objectivists start seeing capital markets as evil, where can the world possibly go...

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I did not say you should be ashamed of what you do. You have a right to try to survive and do the best you can despite the declining economy caused by others, and there is nothing illegal or dishonest about what you describe that you do as you transfer investing abilities to the current context. But to the extent that you profit financially, not by investing in what remaining successful enterprises are left, but by "shorting" an endless supply of chronic failures in a dying economy, you are not producing anything, not in the sense of a Hank Rearden or a Midas Mulligan. Doing it to survive in legitimate self interest is one thing, but it is not something I would enjoy as a career, let alone find to be fun as the world falls apart. There isn't anything fun about this situation. This has nothing to do with opposing "capital markets" or "traders" or their legitimate function with a role in a normal economy (arbitrage, etc.).

To the extent that a certain brand of trading is perceived as not productive, but exploiting other people's misery -- even though you don't cause that -- there is bound to be a resentful reaction against it from discouraged, hard working people ready to throw their hands up in a dying economy like this one. To rub it in with the provacative equivalent of 'screw you, you're government caused it' isn't going to help, especially to people with mixed premises in ethical outlook. It's no way to explain to people what rational self interest is supposed to mean as a normal way of life.

It's also dangerous because even a lot of people who are productive and hard-working don't understand political freedom are easily swayed into supporting punitive government actions against anyone who is still successful by appeals which package-deal producers with shady manipulators, or for that matter anyone making money off a crashing economy. We already see that all around us. The fascists in banking who helped the government to bring down the economy are routinely held up as 'piñatas' for capitalism and used to fan resentment against every "corporation" or relatively successful individual without regard to honesty or productiveness. As resentment builds, the thugs in government who are trying to find a way to tax you more will find themselves in a social context in which the niceties of legality matter even less than they do now to rogue bureaucrats and politicians. Your replying that 'this is all you've left me able to do in finance' isn't going to help with that mentality.

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But that belies a profound misunderstanding of how modern capital markets function. The service provided is still the same as has always been provided - liquidity from the part of the speculators allowing the price of capital to be driven down to its "fair" level for a set level of risk - whilst pricing in and mitigating the effects of bad governance from the point of view of corporates. Put it another way, Midas as a monopoly banker presumably charged the entrepreneurs of the Gulch far too much for their capital; had there been another 4-5 Midases, the rates he would have charged would presumably have been substantially lower.

Let's take a few examples. The simplest is the good old commodity future. Traded on an exchange, there are several kinds of investors in that product. The first - and the reason for the product's creation - is the farmer or merchant locking in his margin. However, if everybody is offering and nobody is bidding, futures prices will tend to be too low and farmers will be penalized. This creates an opportunity for speculators (as noted by Keynes who commented on the shape of the futures curve) who will be drawn into the market bidding until prices are fair. Nowadays, speculators tend to take a hit, because there is more bid than offer as investment firms diversify their holdings away from just equities and fixed income into commodities as an asset class. This is translated via index funds as well as outright speculative funds who actively switch positions. Good for the entrepreneur, good for the few speculators who swing properly (not so good for those who don't know what they are doing and transfer capital to the first two).

What about a variance swap? Now that's something else altogether. A variance swap allows you to bet directly on volatility. In simple terms, you exchange a fixed payoff based on a set volatility vs. a "floating" payoff based on realised volatility. Implied volatility, especially now, can often be much higher than realised volatility, and this creates opportunities for speculators to short volatility. This prices options lower (as banks hedge their exposure, amongst other things) whilst allowing certain firms to hedge their volatility exposure, which is good for the entrepreneur. As options markets become deeper and more useful, they allow corporates to increase the sophistication of their Treasury, smoothing their credit exposure and lowering their borrowing costs. Pension funds meanwhile are able to take profits in uncertain markets via covered calls, or at least hedge their equity market exposure.

The CDS market, infamously known for netting John Paulson a 4.8bn USD bonus in the face of millions of Americans going unemployed, losing most of their home equity, etc. help markets price sovereign capital. I have a plane to catch, so have to end there but my point is that we are far from "shorting anything that moves" as a profitable strategy. For example, the strategy to follow during QE2 was to shift from fixed income and USD into hard assets whether equities or gold, whose value increased in nominal terms when facing a USD devaluation as the Fed monetized US debt. This is what the Chinese did, of course, prompting a massive rally in commodity prices which was to an extent also justified on fundamental terms (hence prices remaining high) but accelerated by USD devaluation.

In short, it is speculators who allow entrepreneurs to continue building and investing and working despite an increasingly dysfunctional economy and politicians hell bent on destroying value for political credit. We can't, unfortunately, help with increased regulation and direct taxation; but we sure can help mitigate the effects of governments trying to transfer value stealthily from investors and entrepreneurs and savers towards their own Treasury. And we enjoy the process for sure. I do not know many global macro traders who are not freedom-loving, George Soros the exception proving the rule.

Bankers get a bad rep. For sure they benefited from an implicit backstop by the Federal Government. But at the end of the day they did not force people to take up subprime mortgages, nor did they force investors (more appropriately described as "yield pigs" by Seth Klarman in the early 1990s) from loading up on risky derivatives they did not understand. There was enormous fraud which went unpunished (Countrywide executives ought to be in jail) but by and large the ABS desks who got decimated and serve as a scapegoat for everything these days were nothing more than intermediaries.

I noted that several Members of this Forum predicted the credit crisis and took action appropriately (see the various house prices related threads in 2005-2007). They were not proprietary traders on a GS exotics desk (that I know of). It is not difficult to think outside the box and ahead of the herd. Investing is a hard game which should be played prudently and there are no excuses for making bad decisions by choosing to ignore basic economics. Capital is an incredibly precious commodity and one should be very careful with it.

Lastly, shorting is always attacked because everybody supposedly benefits from the long side and does not from the short side. But it is short sellers who "discover" the true price for assets and help bring reality faster. Statist politicians such as Michel Barnier of France argue for less transparency in accounting in order to thwart short sellers, as they would prefer to extend control over the economy and not be accountable for their actions. Short sellers provide a service by destroying examples of frauds and pricing government intervention accordingly. Two examples from recent times:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Einhorn...Lehman_Brothers

http://cache.dealbreaker.com/uploads/2011/...Letter-2011.pdf

http://www.scribd.com/doc/36565473/Third-P...Investor-Letter (stating in effect "I shorted anything which was receiving more government intervention and made money on every trade")

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You had written:

This is definitely a fun time to be trading. Markets are acting in completely irrational ways. Everybody is on the sidelines, waiting for the politicians to say something else stupid. There are two basket cases across either side of the Atlantic and the question will be which to be invested in as the other crashes first...

I don't find anything fun in irrational markets and politicians making it worse as people run for the sidelines of basket cases. I hope you're at least getting personal satisfaction out of the challenge of being able to continue functioning despite them, but it still isn't clear how your trading is obstructing the politicians financially that wouldn't happen anyway to their manipulations and interventions as the whole system goes down the drain politically and economically, making normal productivity impossible for most of us. For me, trying to get real enjoyment out of the kind of trading you describe as the whole system dives into political irrationality would take an enormous dropping of context. The only sideline that would be worth heading for, if it existed, would be the side of the mountains around the Valley.

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There is still a lot that has to be done by the Left before the first dictator arises in the U.S., if ever. The populace is not sufficiently disarmed (guns), and there's still way too much freedom of speech (talk radio and the internet).

If the Left wish to drastically accelerate the statist process, they need foreign agents - such as the Islamists - to accomplish that. If the Islamists make a serious nuclear strike, then a "state of emergency" could be established, and freedom of speech and gun ownership banned. The only possible domestic case I can imagine is the emergence of a "right-wing" (the Left will call it that) terrorist or separatist group, which will be used to establish a "state of emergency."...

Any emergency, including economic failures, serves as a rationalization for "wider powers", and the "community organizer" leftist agitators are experts at deliberately creating chaos. The views of the populace in the US are now too split to count on to stop a major power grab in the name of the "pragmatic" and endorsed by the middle class.

I agree that things do look really bad, but my ultimate gauge is the American sense of life, a phenomenon that is non-existent anywhere else on Earth. Even countries with the general prosperity of the U.S. do not have this spirit, no matter what some of the people living in those countries may claim.

Even if Obama gets all he's asking for, the worst he can do, in economic terms, is turn the U.S. into Canada. So long as some Americans are resistant -- and the Tea Party is proof of a concerted pushback - there is still hope. Even if America dies (and God forbid), it is still Americans [and I use that term to mean anyone who truly understands and believes in freedom] who will initiate and populate whatever country may replace her.

Another real danger of Obama, beyond economic and military ruin of the U.S., is permanent damage to the country's sense-of-life. His aim seems to be to impoverish and demoralize the citizens, and thereby break their will to fight tyranny at home and abroad.

The left has been counting on the mass influx of illegal immigrants who understand nothing about the American system of individualism, but they are not alone. Large numbers of them are probably a convenient exacerbation but not now the deciding factor. There are plenty of 'foreign agents' among them, but they have plenty of company in creating chaos for political purposes. It is too late for potential immigrants like Mercury to be of much help.

We've been over this too many times, but let me briefly reiterate in the most relaxed way I can. The mass of illegal immigrants are only a threat in the same way some U.S. citizens are: putty in the hands of the U.S. intellectual elite. There is no point making bogeymen out of the Mexicans or Hondurans who are trying to make a better life. I do not deny that there are some - even many - welfare cases, but I think it would be difficult to argue that immigrants to the U.S. in the late 19th century would have behaved much differently had there been a welfare state in place. No one can reasonably expect an uneducated immigrant to know about individual rights in a world where many professors actively evade the principle. Having said that, I agree that the Left are using them.

There are reports of Islamist agents taking position in Mexico and South America, and I can easily see the border chaos (caused mainly by the Drug War and immigration restrictions, fueled by Leftists, and abetted by clueless Republicans) being exploited by the Islamists working hand-in-hand with the murderous cartels and street gangs whose powers grow daily.

In any case, the kind of "failure" the "regular" illegal immigrants can cause pales in significance to the sudden catastrophe of a serious biological or nuclear strike.

On a personal level, I do not think - and cannot allow myself to think - that it's too late. Some of us have no other purpose but as "fighters." That is our curse, if you like. We do not seek to "help" but to actualize our potential as Americans. And by "as Americans," I do not necessarily mean being in the U.S. and/or swearing the oath of citizenship. Americans do not hold a monopoly on the term, at least not morally or spiritually.

It the trend is not reversed, the only questions are whether there will be dictatorship or civil war (followed by dictatorship), and when, as Ayn Rand predicted decades ago. Freedom of speech on the internet and radio presupposes civilization, and privately held 'guns' do not stop a bureaucracy from pushing people into poverty with no freedom.

The trend has begun reversing (see Reagan, Tea Party, rise of Objectivism, rise of India, etc.), but the question now is whether we'll be able to make enough headway before the Left make their final push for total and (possibly) irreversible domination.

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You had written:
This is definitely a fun time to be trading. Markets are acting in completely irrational ways. Everybody is on the sidelines, waiting for the politicians to say something else stupid. There are two basket cases across either side of the Atlantic and the question will be which to be invested in as the other crashes first...

I don't find anything fun in irrational markets and politicians making it worse as people run for the sidelines of basket cases. I hope you're at least getting personal satisfaction out of the challenge of being able to continue functioning despite them, but it still isn't clear how your trading is obstructing the politicians financially that wouldn't happen anyway to their manipulations and interventions as the whole system goes down the drain politically and economically, making normal productivity impossible for most of us. For me, trying to get real enjoyment out of the kind of trading you describe as the whole system dives into political irrationality would take an enormous dropping of context. The only sideline that would be worth heading for, if it existed, would be the side of the mountains around the Valley.

We enjoy being right. It's always fun.

What's the difference between removing access to capital from bad politicians and from bad businessmen?

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This is definitely a fun time to be trading. Markets are acting in completely irrational ways. Everybody is on the sidelines, waiting for the politicians to say something else stupid. There are two basket cases across either side of the Atlantic and the question will be which to be invested in as the other crashes first...

I don't find anything fun in irrational markets and politicians making it worse as people run for the sidelines of basket cases. I hope you're at least getting personal satisfaction out of the challenge of being able to continue functioning despite them, but it still isn't clear how your trading is obstructing the politicians financially that wouldn't happen anyway to their manipulations and interventions as the whole system goes down the drain politically and economically, making normal productivity impossible for most of us. For me, trying to get real enjoyment out of the kind of trading you describe as the whole system dives into political irrationality would take an enormous dropping of context. The only sideline that would be worth heading for, if it existed, would be the side of the mountains around the Valley.

We enjoy being right. It's always fun.

Trying to be right and relying on it is a way of life, but depending on what you discover it's not necessarily fun -- As Ayn Rand once said, she didn't like saying "I told you so" because it means it's too late.

hat's the difference between removing access to capital from bad politicians and from bad businessmen?

It's more important, but I don't understand how you are doing something to them that isn't happening anyway as a consequence of their own policies. It seems that the effect you are having in that respect is secondary in the context of all that is happening as "Obama's change".

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Any emergency, including economic failures, serves as a rationalization for "wider powers", and the "community organizer" leftist agitators are experts at deliberately creating chaos. The views of the populace in the US are now too split to count on to stop a major power grab in the name of the "pragmatic" and endorsed by the middle class.

I agree that things do look really bad, but my ultimate gauge is the American sense of life, a phenomenon that is non-existent anywhere else on Earth. Even countries with the general prosperity of the U.S. do not have this spirit, no matter what some of the people living in those countries may claim.

You overrate its presence and effectiveness. It exists but so does the opposite amongst an increasingly wide portion of the population, dominating most of politics. The failing education system has taken its toll, which has been spreading. Ayn Rand wrote about a sense of life serving to prevent dictatorship only for a limited time, buying time until better ideas were more explicit. She knew that sense of life would not by itself be enough and would dissipate without the better ideas. It has been 40 years since then.

Even if Obama gets all he's asking for, the worst he can do, in economic terms, is turn the U.S. into Canada. So long as some Americans are resistant -- and the Tea Party is proof of a concerted pushback - there is still hope. Even if America dies (and God forbid), it is still Americans [and I use that term to mean anyone who truly understands and believes in freedom] who will initiate and populate whatever country may replace her.

Obama -- and his cohorts in Congress, government agencies and the media -- can do a lot worse than Canada. "Canada" is not their goal, nor is there a bottom to the kind of destruction they cause. An advanced state of civilization is not the "default" result of human action; it took centuries of radical new ideas to reach it. "Canada" isn't a default stop-gap, either, and need not be a stop on the way down under unstable conditions. It's not enough to say "at least we still have this" at each stage on the way down.

Another real danger of Obama, beyond economic and military ruin of the U.S., is permanent damage to the country's sense-of-life. His aim seems to be to impoverish and demoralize the citizens, and thereby break their will to fight tyranny at home and abroad.

The damage to the sense of life comes from the destructive results of his (and the rest of their) policies as better people become more and more discouraged, with no way to combat it. The better 'sense of life' now seems to be manifested more and more as the best quitting or cutting back rather than submitting, as opposed to continuing to try to be productive in the economy. Obama's taunting, mocking and scapegoating of his victims only adds insult to the injury. Accepting better ideas, not quitting motivated by sense of life is needed to reverse the trend.

Combating this will take better ideas than people liking Atlas Shrugged because they are surprised that Ayn Rand mysteriously "predicted" what is happening and thinking that "Going Galt" means only going on strike, with no understanding of the theme of Atlas Shrugged, let alone the philosophy that made the mysterious predictions possible (see Glenn Beck, for example).

The left has been counting on the mass influx of illegal immigrants who understand nothing about the American system of individualism, but they are not alone. Large numbers of them are probably a convenient exacerbation but not now the deciding factor. There are plenty of 'foreign agents' among them, but they have plenty of company in creating chaos for political purposes. It is too late for potential immigrants like Mercury to be of much help.

We've been over this too many times, but let me briefly reiterate in the most relaxed way I can. The mass of illegal immigrants are only a threat in the same way some U.S. citizens are: putty in the hands of the U.S. intellectual elite. There is no point making bogeymen out of the Mexicans or Hondurans who are trying to make a better life. I do not deny that there are some - even many - welfare cases, but I think it would be difficult to argue that immigrants to the U.S. in the late 19th century would have behaved much differently had there been a welfare state in place. No one can reasonably expect an uneducated immigrant to know about individual rights in a world where many professors actively evade the principle. Having said that, I agree that the Left are using them.

There are reports of Islamist agents taking position in Mexico and South America, and I can easily see the border chaos (caused mainly by the Drug War and immigration restrictions, fueled by Leftists, and abetted by clueless Republicans) being exploited by the Islamists working hand-in-hand with the murderous cartels and street gangs whose powers grow daily.

In any case, the kind of "failure" the "regular" illegal immigrants can cause pales in significance to the sudden catastrophe of a serious biological or nuclear strike.

People coming here for a "better life" versus deliberate destruction in a false alternative. Aside from the threat of political radicals like La Raza and murderous gangs that are concentrated in some areas, most of them in other areas in my experience are in fact looking for a "better life", but for most of them that means working hard at low-paying jobs and simultaneously expecting government benefits at our expense as part of their "better life". They have no concept of American individualism and don't know the difference in droves. That makes it easier for the left to exploit and encourage. It's bad enough here without that and we don't need it pushing us over the edge faster in addition to the welfarism drain on our resources that we cannot afford. It is allowing an alien, anti-American culture to take over the country both from within and without just as surely as if there had been an invasion.

(As for Islamist agents with mass murder weapons reportedly congregating in Latin America, there is nothing in current border policies to prevent them from already being here.)

On a personal level, I do not think - and cannot allow myself to think - that it's too late. Some of us have no other purpose but as "fighters." That is our curse, if you like. We do not seek to "help" but to actualize our potential as Americans. And by "as Americans," I do not necessarily mean being in the U.S. and/or swearing the oath of citizenship. Americans do not hold a monopoly on the term, at least not morally or spiritually.

Everyone has his limits and you will find yours. You will never give in but may have to give up when a "fight" becomes impossible in some realms, with no means to carry it out. When time runs out, it runs out. In the meantime you do what you can.

It the trend is not reversed, the only questions are whether there will be dictatorship or civil war (followed by dictatorship), and when, as Ayn Rand predicted decades ago. Freedom of speech on the internet and radio presupposes civilization, and privately held 'guns' do not stop a bureaucracy from pushing people into poverty with no freedom.

The trend has begun reversing (see Reagan, Tea Party, rise of Objectivism, rise of India, etc.), but the question now is whether we'll be able to make enough headway before the Left make their final push for total and (possibly) irreversible domination.

No, the trend has not reversed, it is still becoming worse. Backlashes have not reversed the trend. It has been at best a zigzagging in a general downward spiral.

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There is still a lot that has to be done by the Left before the first dictator arises in the U.S., if ever. The populace is not sufficiently disarmed (guns), and there's still way too much freedom of speech (talk radio and the internet).

If the Left wish to drastically accelerate the statist process, they need foreign agents - such as the Islamists - to accomplish that. If the Islamists make a serious nuclear strike, then a "state of emergency" could be established, and freedom of speech and gun ownership banned. The only possible domestic case I can imagine is the emergence of a "right-wing" (the Left will call it that) terrorist or separatist group, which will be used to establish a "state of emergency."...

Any emergency, including economic failures, serves as a rationalization for "wider powers", and the "community organizer" leftist agitators are experts at deliberately creating chaos. The views of the populace in the US are now too split to count on to stop a major power grab in the name of the "pragmatic" and endorsed by the middle class.

...but my ultimate gauge is the American sense of life, a phenomenon that is non-existent anywhere else on Earth. Even countries with the general prosperity of the U.S. do not have this spirit, no matter what some of the people living in those countries may claim.

I agree with this a lot. My fiance is a foreigner and it has been continually astounding to learn about the gulf in sense of life that exists between Americans and people of other Western countries.

Another real danger of Obama, beyond economic and military ruin of the U.S., is permanent damage to the country's sense-of-life. His aim seems to be to impoverish and demoralize the citizens, and thereby break their will to fight tyranny at home and abroad.
I think Obama has awakened a rage in Americans that hopefully will change this country for the better.

On a positive related note, regardless of whoever won the debt-debate (Republicans or Democrats), Obama has lost it. The whole process has revealed how lacking in strength he is, and how his own persona is just a giant puff of hot air, a gas-bag full of warm fuzzy words that yields under the slightest pressure. Even some pundits of MSNBC (which is essentially an arm of the DNC) are starting to turn on him. Responses of "well drugs should be legalized" are useless, because we know that's not going to happen for some time.

The left has been counting on the mass influx of illegal immigrants who understand nothing about the American system of individualism, but they are not alone. Large numbers of them are probably a convenient exacerbation but not now the deciding factor. There are plenty of 'foreign agents' among them, but they have plenty of company in creating chaos for political purposes. It is too late for potential immigrants like Mercury to be of much help.

We've been over this too many times, but let me briefly reiterate in the most relaxed way I can. The mass of illegal immigrants are only a threat in the same way some U.S. citizens are: putty in the hands of the U.S. intellectual elite. There is no point making bogeymen out of the Mexicans or Hondurans who are trying to make a better life. I do not deny that there are some - even many - welfare cases, but I think it would be difficult to argue that immigrants to the U.S. in the late 19th century would have behaved much differently had there been a welfare state in place. No one can reasonably expect an uneducated immigrant to know about individual rights in a world where many professors actively evade the principle. Having said that, I agree that the Left are using them.

For the people of the south the fear is much more direct than that. It would at least help if the border wasn't a border in name only, so that things like this, and this, and this, and this (and the Zetas are starting to move into the US as well) , and I could do this all day.

It's difficult to determine how serious of a problem this is because the Make-Believe-Media won't touch it, and anyone warning about these reactions is instantly branded a "racist" by media pundits. It's a lot easier to condemn this problem when you don't live in it.

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I'm at work so I wrote that too quickly and a sentence wandered into the incorrect paragraph. Should have been:

For the people of the south the fear is much more direct than that. Responses of "well drugs should be legalized" are useless, because we know that's not going to happen for some time. It would at least help if the border wasn't a border in name only, so that things like this, and this, and this, and this (and the Zetas are starting to move into the US as well) , and I could do this all day.

It's difficult to determine how serious of a problem this is because the Make-Believe-Media won't touch it, and anyone warning about these reactions is instantly branded a "racist" by media pundits. It's a lot easier to condemn this problem when you don't live in it.

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How can you regard this as "fun"? With people worried about their lives and livelihoods it doesn't help for them to be told that "trading" to exploit their problems is "fun".

After further thought I will not apologise for my industry. Midas didn't care that that fellow who "wanted a job" needed capital or would be on the street. His only concern was the allocation of capital where it would grow or (in our case) not be destroyed.

I do not have any emotion or thought for the consequence of my capital allocation when I trade. My only aim is to make money, legally whilst respecting individual rights (avoiding fraud, etc.). If I can make 10 million USD out of shorting American stocks or helping the US dollar on its way down I will do so. If I can make money from the consequences of the terrible actions of politicians elected by a population you are asking me to now care about, I will do so. If your government chooses to devalue its currency until it is worth not even a quarter of what it used to be, I will shift out of it and into another currency, that of a country fiscally and monetarily more prudent. We made close to a billion out of the cotton spike. We made close to another on the food spike. I do not apologise on behalf of my firm for having had the foresight to spot that capital leaving farming to go to a government-created housing bubble, coupled with the insane idea of starving half the world by shoving perfectly edible corn into fuel, would create one of the most massive commodities rallies in history (the only time cotton was higher was during the Civil War, creating the Egyptian cotton industry). Even if this rally triggered several revolutions and impoverished millions. We celebrated our good year. If one must be altruistic about it, we helped feed hundreds of millions by having had the foresight to stock large amounts of grain and buy forward many times more insuring supply at a crucially tight moment. Of course, with hindsight and to the idiot who didn't, it looks like we "cornered" the market because we ended up being one of a few who had the stuff, and we funded those few farmers who had the foresight to realize where the market was heading (we own and develop large farms in several countries now as do dozens of hedge funds). This is like those who complain that hedge funds have an "unfair" information edge. What the hell is the job about? What do we spend 20 hours a day doing? That's right, gaining that information edge. That's hard work. Nobody is "entitled" to crucially important information just because they are a small guy. As Livermore always said, why is the guy who is so prudent and hard working during his life, patiently accumulating capital, so willing to gamble it away without any of the hard work it took him to achieve his wealth? Why sue a fund who had the instinct to place an analyst outside a firm's factory to count the trucks calling it "insider trading"?

Emotional considerations NEVER play in trading. You have capital. It must grow. It must not be destroyed. That's the game. Making money is always fun, when it is made fairly in a deep and liquid market. We have no connections in the Fed or governments. We have a bunch of screens, brains, and data. We run through the lot and think outside the box to make money.

Would I prefer living in the quieter, pre-fiat money era of stable economic growth, free markets and hard working Americans? Sure I would, and in that world I would probably not be a trader (stock picking requires a very different set of skills). But I am good at exploiting market inefficiencies, and the world is heading in a direction that profits people with this kind of skillset. And when the game changes, it gets more "fun". It has changed. The old guys have to reinvent themselves. It's fun. Hate me for it if you will, you won't be the first for sure. My own government hates my guts and is dreaming of ways to tax me whilst I work abroad, whilst trying to peg me as the scapegoat for a crisis its equivalent in the USA helped create (at least Americans are sufficiently market-savvy not to be fooled by similar tricks, even if the vague "bankers" are now held responsible for every ill).

Independently of the process of being right and making money, I am appalled at what politicians are doing with formerly productive, formerly astonishing countries, running them directly into the ground, even if I never forget that those politicians were elected, and that somewhere down the line, those victims chose their fate, like the drug addict picking robbery for heroin over waiting out the cold turkey and building a new life (as at least one Member of this Forum has done). But this is independent of the process of being right and making money, which is satisfying in itself. A doctor finally discovering what rare disease is afflicting his patient will similarly rejoice.

Without traders, you would live in the Soviet Union. The efficient allocation of capital is the very core of capitalism. Without Midas and his gold, nothing can function. If that makes me a cold ruthless bastard so be it. Without us, without the CDS market screaming the truth to the face of politicians, without yields and rates telling a very different story from the honeyed poison of the well combed idiots on TV, where would the United States of America be?

I respect people like you who are fighting against the trend and helping move things back towards prosperity. But please don't give me that "aren't you ashamed of making money from people's misery" stuff. Because you are then in the company of Barack Obama, FDR, and several other "luminaries" who we all know and love on this Forum. If even Objectivists start seeing capital markets as evil, where can the world possibly go...

Thank you for saying these things.

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