WASHINGTON, January 15, 2013 –On this Ides of January, as the nation continues to wallow in Great Depression II, the uncertainties surrounding Obamacare are making it nearly impossible for businesses to gauge future employment levels.
Meanwhile, the executive and legislative branches of the Federal government continue to act like high school adolescents instead of the rational adults most voters seem to have thought they elected last November. But none of these players could possibly do worse on the governing front than the Nation’s Bully-in-Chief, Barack Obama.
The President warmed up for his second term yesterday by holding a presser where he delivered his standard, ad hominem, stump-speech denunciation of House Republicans, apparently desirous of relegating them in advance to the convenient punching-bag role once served so admirably by the ghost of George W. Bush throughout Obama I.
Today’s press reports promise that Round Two of the President’s latest charm offensive will commence tomorrow. On Wednesday, according to some accounts, Obama plans to eviscerate the Second Amendment with nineteen—count ‘em—executive orders geared toward relieving an annoying populace of its constitutional right to bear arms. Or at least getting this off to a running start. This morning, Drudge headlined the event “Gun Control Wednesday.”
Clearly, this president has wasted no time in deploying the Full Alinsky at the outset of his second term. Like the massive robot Gort in the 1951 classic film “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” he stands today unmoved and unmovable at the heart of the Nation’s capital poised to train his death ray on any and all who would oppose him, due largely to his decisive 50.8% victory “mandate.”
Worse, no one in the city seems willing to step up to Obama and utter the famous phrase that will make him stop his deadly onslaught before it starts: “Klaatu barada nikto.” Left untranslated by the filmmakers, the alien command would seem to mean something like, “So cut it out already, you knucklehead.”
Actually, existential despair might not be necessary in this case. At least not yet. Depending on the actual content of this latest executive order cannonade, Representative Steve Stockman (R-TX) and former Reagan Attorney General Ed Meese are threatening to impeach the President in the event he oversteps his Constitutional bounds.
According to Fox News, Stockman “called Obama’s plans to skirt Congress and implement some controls administratively ‘an unconstitutional and unconscionable attack on the very founding principles of this republic.’ He also threatened to defund the White House.
“’I will seek to thwart this action by any means necessary, including but not limited to eliminating funding for implementation, defunding the White House, and even filing articles of impeachment,’” quotes Stockman as saying.
In truth, it’s likely that a goodly number of these executive orders will simply reaffirm or beef up regulations that are already on the books, creating a sense that the Administration is “doing something” while it’s actually not doing much. That’s a time honored trick, a political sleight-of-hand that presidents of both parties have often enjoyed.
What Stockman, Meese, and others will be looking at, however, will be attempts to restore the assault weapon ban that lapsed in 2004—which would require an act of Congress—and/or the far more devious idea of limiting the number of bullets a gun’s magazine could carry to a maximum lower than the current standard which could create a huge area of legal limbo. Such a law is in effect in the District of Columbia, while New York seems to be on the verge of enacting a similar backdoor ban.
In any event, both of these areas are likely Congressional prerogatives, and proclaiming them by executive fiat could prompt Stockman and others in Congress to act accordingly. The late Charleton Heston provides continuing inspiration for this attitude in the his famous Y2K speech, excerpted in the clip below:
Most of this may seem to have little if anything to do with the economy, the budget, and, ultimately, the stock market. But it actually does. It’s clear to all who will look and listen that this President is a firm believer in the Marxist concept of the dialectic.
That is, in addition to stoking class struggle, revolutionaries can gain more power by keeping a divided nation in constant turmoil, out of which the New Order will eventually arise. This is the only explanation for this President’s constant emphasis on issues that are bound to keep the populace agitated and businesses in a constant state of uncertainty, which limits their independence.
The President has, in fact, been spectacularly successful in keeping the national pot at a full boil, and the market—and American business–have begun to reflect this, making it harder and harder to make decisions and move ahead. From increasing employee numbers to choosing where to invest, the average American company or individual is deathly afraid of making a mistake that will be compounded by a capricious government ruling. And it is this that keeps the entire economy effectively in stasis.
The key role of any president is to inspire and to lead. This President prefers to divide, conquer, and rule unopposed. Accomplishing this would certainly lead to a more “efficient” government. But the entire Constitution was constructed to prevent precisely this. Yet Obama has been largely successful in incrementally thwarting the Constitution, making increasing numbers of citizens and businesses unwilling to commit to practically anything for fear of disastrously negative consequences.
This observation is perhaps too subtle by half. But it is, at least in major part, what will be causing increasing volatility in the markets for at least the next several weeks. It is a treacherous environment for all, but this adolescent President and his adolescent party don’t really seem to care.
We’re later than usual with today’s column because so much has been going on, all of which has been difficult to parse. The Dow is down roughly eight points at 2:15 p.m. EST, while the S&P is off roughly 2.4. All market areas are relatively mediocre today, while money seems to be continuing its move out of bonds and into higher-yielding ETFs, some utilities, and some REITs and MLPs.
We’ll have some more ideas for you in these areas during the rest of this week—a week that will be made even more difficult by a continuing parade of corporate earnings reports as well as the week-ending expiration of January options which tends to cause increased volatility.
But the key thought we’d like to emphasize today is this: neither this President nor his party nor indeed most members of Congress care very much for their annoying constituents any more. Keeping their own power intact and keeping their wealthy corporate patrons happy and rich is first and foremost in all their minds. They are no longer protecting investors, savers, and taxpayers. We’re all on our own, and the ground shifts daily.
Again, this, we must conclude, is the present reality. And we’ll do our best here in coming columns, to provide ideas that, while they may not lead to prosperity, will at least help keep most of our heads above water until the situation gets bad enough to trigger some real hope and change.
Disclaimer: The author of this column maintains several active trading and investment portfolios and owns residential and investment real estate.
Any positions mentioned above describe this author’s own investment decisions and should not be construed as either buy or sell recommendations. The current market is highly treacherous and all investors travel at their own risk, so caution should be exercised at all times.
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References to other reporters, analysts, pundits, or commentators are illustrative only and do not necessarily represent an endorsement of such individuals’ points of view. If specific investment vehicles are mentioned in any article under this column heading, the author will always fully disclose any active or contemplated investments in said vehicles.
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