From 2/1/13

The Senate judicial committee started its hearing regarding the solutions to the gun violence. The panel invited by the chairman of the committee (Senator Leahy—a democrat) was…surprise, surprise—made of gun control advocates from the law enforcement side, the cannon fodder in the form of Wayne LaPierre from the NRA (see Stupidity), and the “surprise” appearance by former congresswoman Gabby Gifford.

I have a lot of sympathy for the terrible ordeal that Gabby Gifford has and is going through. I have more sympathy for parents of children who lost their lives in Newtown. However, being a victim of gun violence does not make you an expert on gun control or violence, just like being a victim of a vehicular accident does not make you a mechanic.

Yet the media, of course, focused on her appearance and very little else. All these hearings are always masks of hypocrisy. Why was there no law enforcement pro-gun person there? Why only those against guns? Do we want to get to the bottom of the issue or is this just a show?

In the same hearing, the aforementioned NRA VP Wayne LaPierre was yet again exposed to be a bad spokesperson for the NRA and the gun lobby in general. It is not clear to me why the NRA chose him to be their main spokesperson. He looks like a crook, and when he speaks freely, not from pre-prepared statements, he does not show any ability to think on his feet. Honestly, he does not even show a reasonable level of intelligence.

Senator Durbin asked him a loaded question if he agrees and supports the views of NRA members, that, according to Durbin, are saying that guns are needed to protect from the tyranny of government and law enforcement. Mr. LaPierre, rather than running away from this clear trap, answered stupidly by stating that yes the Constitution clearly envisaged that the second amendment was there to protect from the tyranny of government. One could hear the trap closing as he was speaking and Durbin, without hesitation, immediately asked the chief of police who was there what he thinks of NRA members having guns in order to attack the police. You can hear the entire exchange here. (Go to 1.54.00 hour.) How stupid can one be?

Here is what a sensible NRA spokesperson could have and should have responded to this loaded question:

Senator, you clearly are a much more knowledgeable person than I am on Constitutional matters. After all, you have been here for decades so you should know the Constitution. I am an expert on gun safety. I can only tell you that it is my understanding that in authoring the whole of the Constitution, the Framers wanted to make sure that what we will have is government by the people, for the people, and that the first, second, and other amendments are all safeguards to ensure that. The measure of the Framers’ success is in the fact that today 99.9999% of government and law enforcement action is legitimate and in line with government for the people, by the people. Therefore, I do not think that guns are necessary today in order to protect ourselves against law enforcement, but that is only because the Constitution does such a good job of doing that already. Chipping away at the Constitution is exactly what we are here trying to prevent.

Now that is a sensible response. Unfortunately Wayne LaPierre’s was simply stupid.

I did not watch the confirmation hearing of Senator Kerry as Secretary of State. From the news excerpts that I saw, he was professional, competent, and articulate. All to be expected. There was one line of his that shocked me. (I did not have the time to watch the nearly four-hour hearing, but it can be found here.) The quote that I heard on the news broadcast says, “So much of what we aspired to achieve and what we need to do globally, what we need to do in the Maghreb and South Asia, South Central Asia, throughout the Gulf—all of this is tied to what can or doesn’t happen with respect to Israel and Palestine.” (Emphasis is mine.)

I just cannot believe he said that. If he really means it, then he is both naïve and ignorant. If he is just recycling and amplifying old mantras, he should not be the Secretary of State. This postulation in its original form (limited to Middle East issues only) used to be common in the ’90s. It was laid bear on 9/11/2001. After that, EVERYONE understood that the Israeli Palestinian issue is so small, so insignificant, that this mantra was not used anymore by officials. Pundits still use it to promote this point of view or another, but the people who know, know that this is nonsense. Now we find the US Secretary of State stating it AND enhancing it to include world problems and how the world’s problems lie on the shoulders of Israel. How ridiculous, naïve, and even dangerous. Yet no one in the Senate, nor any pundit, found it necessary to take him to task on it. Shocking.

The GDP report for the fourth quarter shocked pundits and experts by showing a small, tiny, contraction, but contraction nevertheless. What is shocking to me is that no one, not one person, referred to the fact that the contraction is a clear and INTENDED result of the expansion in the third quarter. The contraction was due entirely to a huge reduction in defense spending by the government. Does anyone even remember that the third quarter GDP, only three MONTHS ago, was 2% and was well above estimates due to…? Role the drums—heavy defense procurement spending.

Now please tell me that having heavy and unexpected defense procurement spending expedited to the third quarter has NOTHING to do with the fact that the last GDP report before the elections was the 3rd quarter? And yes, I have a bridge to sell you too! What is shocking again is that no one, not one of the pundits, is making this connection or even referencing it. Is their memory so short? Are they so naïve?

I will go further and predict that the 1st quarter GDP will be well below expectations and I will NOT be surprised if it will be another small contraction.

The labor report for the month of January was just published. All the “usual suspects” went on CNBC to voice their views and opinions. The consensus was that this, on balance, is a good report, especially given the revision of the prior months. But it signifies a slow growth economy at about 2% of GDP and not a fast enough growth of employment, thus leaving the economy stuck at about 8% unemployment for some time to come.

The amazing point is that none of these “experts,” be it those who are clearly Keynesians (most of those appearing on CNBC), or those who try to retain their belief in the free markets, not even ONE of them made the connection to the unsustainable deluge of monetary and fiscal support for the economy. The Fed is printing money to the tune of nearly One Trillion $ a year. The government is running a deficit of over One Trillion $ a year. That alone is worth 6% of GDP. Yet we are growing only at 2% of GDP. Neither the Fed nor the government can continue this level of support for the economy for much longer.

What will happen to the economy then? If it is growing now at 2% given this phenomenal and unprecedented support, what will it do when this support will be withdrawn, as it must soon be done?

Are you telling me that these experts do not understand that? Is not worth mentioning it? Shouldn’t the so-called experienced anchors of CNBC raise this at least as a question?

What were they all thinking—that after One Trillion plus of fiscal and monetary deluge, the economy will not grow at all, and the employment will go down? The shocking thing is that it is still ONLY 2% growth, and unemployment is still at 8%!