Group Think

Banks & Insurers lecture customers on morals

Baseball legend Curt Schilling has claimed that insurance company, AIG, has cancelled his policy over tweets he made about the recent events on the Capitol.

Schilling stated he had a AAA rating and no claims for 17 years.

Aren’t insurance companies supposed to assess risk? Did Schilling have a major endorsement contract with AIG? If so, we’d understand. If not, isn’t he an anonymous customer among millions?

What relevance does an insurance policy have to do with a customer expressing first amendment rights? Has AIG gone through the Twitter accounts of all of its policy holders to check they have not said anything similar to Schilling? If not, would be highly discriminatory, no? Should he sue?

Wasn’t AIG found guilty of entering into sham transactions in order to inflate the reserves and to conceal losses in 2005? Didn’t Schilling, a taxpayer, indirectly bail out AIG post the GFC?

Deutsche Bank has also moved to end its association with Donald Trump. Ironic, that a bank which has been fined repeatedly for unethical behavior such as money laundering thinks it has an opportunity to save its skin by signaling it has repented. Will a flood of customers open accounts as a sign of appreciation? Probably not.

Fascinating that – bank worth 8% of its peak value, is lecturing customers about morals when it has a self-documented history of being a bank for the Third Reich, including the provision of funds to build the Auschwitz extermination camp.

Since when did corporates self-appoint themselves as moral arbiters of their customers individual constitutionally enshrined liberties? Will customer social media profiles now form part of the loan application documents? “Sorry sir, your credit rating is outstanding but the application has been rejected for something you posted when 13 years old.” Got it?

More corporate cowardice masquerading as courage. This is nothing more than companies showing they are going out of their way to make public sacrifices on the altar of the Marxist fringe mobs in the hope they become the last to be cancelled. What a joke.

We never thought it imaginable but today, corporate PR departments have less spine than internal compliance officers.

Stuff your outrage Libs

MRCTV’s Britt Hughes highlights the left’s outrage over the storming of Capitol Hill. Never mind the celebratory mood they’ve shown for the last 3 years over violence perpetrated by their own.

America’s cultural revolution and the long march back to equality

Within 48 hours of the confirmation of the electoral votes, unelected tech giants displayed once again how they can dictate terms to the democratically elected leader of the free world and his followers.

The First Amendment might as well have been written in invisible ink.

Now other platforms are following suit, laying the groundwork to ensure directly/indirectly there will be little effort to help unite the country by restricting/cancelling access to conservative sites.

Who is inciting who exactly?

Three quotes to reflect on before we begin:

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it

The one who does not remember history is bound to live through it again,”

and

History is written by victors.

The left is in raptures over Trump’s expulsion from Twitter. Of course they have no issues with cancelling those who don’t share their ideological views. Yet if you question their rights to free speech, hell hath no fury. After all everything that parses their fingertips is good, clean and wholesome. If you say otherwise you’ll be cancelled. Got it?

Yes, the argument will be made that privately run social media companies have the right to police those who may damage site integrity and promote the collective safety of subscribers. Have they been asleep at the wheel for the last 4 years? Even terrorists have been allowed to tweet without sanction.

The problem is that the unelected and unqualified overseers making those determinations to suspend others have shown time and time again they back the side not the principle. OJ Simpson on justice anyone?

A great example is Twitter’s Head of Site Integrity, Yoel Roth (@yoyoel), an avid anti-Trumper. Several days after the 2016 election he proudly tweeted, “I’m just saying, we fly over those states that voted for a racist tangerine for a reason.” We should sleep soundly at night that he also referred to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as “a personality-free bag of farts.” Surely there is no risk of conservative bias with the integrity team at Twitter…sleep soundly!

Black conservative Candace Owens proved just how biased Twitter is when she was suspended for replacing the word ‘white’ with ‘black’ and ‘Jewish.’ She proved the point with respect to the incendiary tweets made by the NYT’s then latest recruit, Sarah Jeong. Never let racism get in the way of the decision making process!

Facebook recently threatened to de-platform conservative comedian JP Sears for satire.

Now, Google has decided to remove conservative forum, Parler, from its Android store presumably just because Trump has endorsed it. So will every single thing that he has supported be shutdown or targeted? Watch out Goya!

Will Apple join the cultural revolution? Are all Parler users foaming at the mouth Trump cultists? Or do some simply like to entertain a wider spectrum of opinions?

Is this merely targeted anti-competitive behaviour? A secondary boycott? Has Parler actually committed any crime? Has Google been unethically marshaling the content and traffic of another private company to form the determination that it needs to be publicly sacrificed? Would it help to appoint a Google overseer to sit on the board of Parler, like Chinese corporates are now forced to accommodate? Will Rumble be the next conservative site to be axed from Android?

Can’t the free market determine whether Parler has a right to exist rather than a select few politburo officials from Google?

We can be sure that if Parler wasn’t experiencing the explosive growth it has had to date, Google would not have seen a need to expunge the threat. Alas too many wanted to seek an alternative platform to exchange ideas. It’s day one, year zero. Black is white. War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Got it?

One has to question the legal basis for allowing a hateful and venomous platform like Twitter to function on Google Android but an upstart alternative – which couldn’t hold a flame to the incumbent – needs to be taken out?

Is this the type of healing we’ve been promised by the incoming administration? Restore unity by sitting idly by and allowing the media to silence those that disagree with them?

What better way for Biden to stamp his leadership credentials on uniting a fractured nation than stating how important the 1st Amendment is for all Americans.

But why bother? The tech giants are firmly on his side. After the last 4 years, it is high time to make sure that a monster of their own creation never upsets the political apple cart ever again. We await the glowing support of the climate change agenda, Paris, WHO, discrimination-driven racial equity and the benefits of allowing a path to citizenship or 11 million illegal immigrants.

It does not matter that Trump recently tweeted a video to his followers to go home peacefully and respect law and order. That was deemed incendiary and subsequently blocked. Don’t believe your lying eyes because we will be told what we can and can’t consume. Obviously we aren’t capable of thinking for ourselves.

Clearly to Jack Dorsey’s mob, it was imperative to prevent any sensible commentary by Trump from seeing the light of day. We wouldn’t want anything to challenge the narrative. The tech giant had to ensure that he was portrayed in the worst possible light before cancellation. No right of reply. Voltaire would be rolling in his grave.

We don’t deny Trump has said many silly things over his term but compared to some of the bile that has never faced sanction, it is laughable.

We fear that such moves will only fan the flames of division.

It seems these platforms want to proactively create an atmosphere that allows for the incoming administration to clamp down even harder on supposed enemies of the state. What better way than to douse their opponents in high octane fuel while carelessly playing with matches?

We are always amazed that more haven’t seen the TED talk by a black musician, Daryl Davis, who befriended the KKK by simply ‘listening‘ to them. That was all it took to get so many to hand in their robes.

Note the word “listen.”

Sadly, social media platforms have long drowned out reasoned debate well before the commissars found the need to jail dissidents with sanctimonious edicts.

This is a dangerous precedent being set. By muzzling a country that is built on a constitution that enshrines free speech, it is playing with fire. We ain’t seen nothing yet. America will be decisively cut in two.

In closing we’ve long argued that Trump pulled the scab off the festering wound of deep seated division. He was the catalyst. Not the cause. With the incoming administration, failure to address the growing power of big tech will lead to more people taking the law into their own hands.

We don’t condone unlawful behaviour but will be the least bit surprised if those who feel the most marginalized think they’ve nothing to lose.

If we thought 2020 was a horrible year, 2021 could well destroy that myth but thanks to social media you’ll only be able to view the world through the rose tinted glasses of willfully dishonest propagandists.

The social media giants will do well to remember that “before setting out on revenge, first dig two graves.”

Hunting cowards and hypocrites on Capitol Hill

Violence of any kind is reprehensible, regardless of who commits it. That goes without saying. Today’s actions by Trump supporters inside the halls of Congress in DC were an utter disgrace. Unforgivable. Period.

Those Trump supporters who overestimated their personal agency and organizational ability by storming Capitol Hill should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law should it be proven they individually committed actual crimes.

They don’t represent the majority of 74m Trump voters anymore than BLM/Antifa protestors are cookie cutter role models for the 80m+ who cast their ballots for Biden. Let’s be real here.

The optics today were perfect for the mainstream media. Forget objectivity. Derangement syndrome turbocharged.

They relished the opportunity to put another coat of varnish on the anti-Trump narrative, labeling the relatively small group of violent perpetrators as a percentage of the total assembled as ‘white supremacists’. Not all Trump supporters in DC had any intention of creating mayhem. Still that was the media message.

How ironic that the media took a completely different view over the plethora of assaults, harassment, widespread looting, arson, destruction of private/public property and murder as “mostly peaceful” protests. Why didn’t the media properly report on the raft of activism displayed by local CAs and DAs pushing their ideology instead of the law when prosecuting police acting within the rules? Crickets. The hypocrisy is astounding.

Where were the media outlets calling out Speaker Pelosi for dismissing the BLM violence as “people will do what they do!” as government buildings across multiple cities were defaced and torched? How quaint that after months of Democrats calling to defund the police are among their most ardent backers. The same jack-booted National Guard thugs have also become heroes of the left all of a sudden. Who knew?

None of Trump’s tweets today were incendiary to the point of creating a national security issue. Still, we never knew that Jack Dorsey had become the self-appointed guardian of American democracy and public safety?!

Despite Trump publicly calling for calm, the media has linked the violence to his consistent calls that he (and his base) were robbed of victory, despite the legal processes rejecting almost all of the claims made. If we learnt anything from the past four years, multiple ‘independent’ agencies like the FBI have proven that they too have deep political biases. After all, what former FBI director doesn’t wear a Biden-Harris t-shirt and thrust a mug with the same slogan on a Zoom call?

Admittedly Trump’s words were unhelpful to say the least. He tweeted, “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!

After VP Pence said he was not going to upset the constitution today, Trump was quick to criticize his confidant. A ridiculous notion to suggest he would have done otherwise. Stupid Trump, although not surprising.

Alas Trump’s glass jaw has always been his fatal weak point. His actions since the 2020 election have pretty much given the media all the ammo they need to ensure none of the positives of his 4 years – peace deals, pushing NATO to meet commitments, leaving the Paris Accord, record low unemployment for minorities and women, highest % growth in net assets for the Bottom 50% in decades, energy independence, 12,500 new factories returning from abroad, manufacturing jobs etc – will be remembered. His temperament on Twitter has been an own-goal of sorts.

Still, what strikes us are actions of the completely spineless social media firms like Twitter. Pre-election they held back on attacking Trump too far for fear he might look to rip up Section 230 which currently grants them immunity. Despite the growing ‘editorial’ control these platforms illegally exert over free speech they disagree with, they have decided to go full attack mode on Trump looking for any excuse to ban his account because they now know there will be no consequences for doing so. The left is cheering the opportunity to muzzle him for good. The social media giants are still cowards. Alas, more powerful and even more sinister. 

We have said for years that the media could have stopped their deranged 24-7 free coverage of Trump at any time. They could have removed his primetime exposure and deprived him of what he craved most – attention. Yet they chose to attack him on a daily basis and run fabricated stories on a loop because it was good for their ratings. Now he’s two weeks from being kicked out of office, they are doing what they can to sink the boot in. Be damned about accurately reporting what is going on.

If the MSM can further fan the flames through their biased coverage by focusing on a handful of mindless fools lashing out, they can meet the prime objective of creating even more division to allow President-elect Joe Biden to be painted as the great uniter and healer after he is inaugurated. Pfffft. What a joke.

Do they honestly believe a four year relentless attack on the legitimacy of his presidency will be forgiven by continuing to rub the noses of his supporters in more sensationalist media feces? Trump supporters aren’t a monolith. 

What transpired today was ugly. No doubt about it.

Let’s not forget why we are here. As much as he has been maligned for being the great divider in chief, the fact is that Trump merely pulled the scab off what had been festering for decades under career politicians on both sides of the political divide. Those who brazenly robbed their constituents blind through cozying up to lobbyists and billionaire elites. He was the man the little battler hoped would put a stop to it. His lack of political correctness was a breath of fresh air. The incumbents hated it.

Unfortunately as talented a mud wrestler as Trump was, he never possessed the sinister political abilities to outmanoeuvre his rivals and keep control. Now the forgotten ones fear the worst. They truly believe – rightly or wrongly – they’ll be left behind again. Never mind the ructions created by COVID. All they need to do is listen to the radical agenda which has been proposed by the hard left of the party. They don’t want to increasingly rely on government. They want opportunity. An even playing field. 

The political class gave birth to Trump, not the other way around. Now that they are back under control in all three areas – House of Reps, Senate and White House – don’t be surprised to see the unrest continue.

We pray for a peaceful outcome from all of this unnecessary violence but don’t bet on it when the media platforms are hell bent on creating even more chaos to ensure that he and his followers are humiliated beyond recognition. Still Trump could help stem the misleading reports if he stopped treating his final days like a reality TV show.

That doesn’t condone bad behaviour or absolve anyone of personal responsibility/accountability but at the very least the media could be doing way more to quell the tension. But why, paraphrasing Hillary Clinton, would they let a good crisis go to waste? Best stick to the age old motto – “if it bleeds, it leads!”

Forget unity. The division is now a fait accompli. With globalists back in charge, Joe Sixpack has nothing to lose. It will never excuse violence but we fear civil unrest is where we are headed. Amplify that trouble should the incoming administration seek to prosecute Trump. That would be a bridge too far. However, should he be guilty of any crimes, the law should always come first on principle. Same applies to any supporter who thinks the rules don’t apply to them.

Making hay while the rain falls?

We were surprised to see Dymocks bookstore put former Australian Climate Change Commissioner Tim Flannery’s latest book in the science section.

Amazon’s review notes, “Tim Flannery takes aim at those responsible for the campaign of obfuscation and denial that has already cost so many Australian lives and held back action on climate change.” Really?

Exactly how many lives has climate change claimed in Australia? The Australian Bureau of Statistics record the accumulated deaths from ‘Environmental-pollution-related-condition (Y97)‘ over the last decade at ZERO!!!!  Strange that climate related deaths have plunged over 80% in the last 4 decades. 

Many of Flannery’s climate predictions have also failed to eventuate.

In 2007, Flannery said, “So even the rain that falls isn’t actually going to fill our dams and our river systems…” Today, Sydney’s main water supply at Warragamba Dam is currently at 97.8% capacity.

In 2015, he claimed that “Sadly we’re more likely to see them [cyclones] more frequently in the future” when referring to a cyclone that hit Vanuatu. Global data shows no such trends. The UNIPCC’s extreme weather report updated in 2018 stated on page 8, “There is low confidence in any observed long-term (i.e., 40 years or more) increases in tropical cyclone activity (i.e., intensity, frequency, duration), after accounting for past changes in observing capabilities.”

We thought the nonsense peddled on the bushfires by The Climate Council, which Flannery chairs, spoke volumes. Our data concluded that one of its authors, who led the former fire chiefs’ crusade to blame the devastating bushfires on climate change, didn’t mention the topic when he ran one of the fire services. That is to say it that the severity of climate change to bushfire activity in these Magnus opera were conspicuous by their absence.

We think the upcoming 2020 annual reports from fire services across Australia will be dripping in climate change related topics which will only end up highlighting how it has become nothing more than a CYA convenient excuse to mask years of poor fire management.  Take this example of the commitment to mitigating the inherent risks of busfires in the 2018/19 FRNSW Annual Report:

“Where practicable, FRNSW crews were encouraged to turn off all non-essential lights on 30 March 2019 from 8:30pm until 9:30pm, joining millions of people worldwide in showing their commitment to tackling climate change and inspiring all generations to support environmental initiatives and sustainable climate policy.”

A study of how fire service budgets were allocated in recent years further highlights the alarming problem behind the bureaucratic mismanagement. 

What has become even less surprising than the lack of science peddled before us surrounding COVID-19 in recent months, is the convenient segue of supposed conventional wisdom – The Great Reset – pointing back to the fantastic opportunity to push the climate change agenda to solve for poverty, racial inequity and all other economic ills. After all, US Treasury Secretary-elect Janet Yellen has assured us her department will take care of it. Who knew?

Apart from climate change having zero correlation to COVID-19, despite Prince Harry ‘s best efforts to conflate the link, Tim Flannery has seen a great opportunity to make a quid off the theme. No harm in making hay while the rain pours. 

Still we question why so many climate alarmists believe that replacing fossil fuels with renewables will solve for saving the planet and put an end to poverty?

We are not sure how that works?

When one of the leading renewables-driven developed nations, Germany, has such high levels of energy poverty, how can this be?  In 2019, 4.75 million households received warnings that their electricity would be shut off (289,000 actually got disconnected), according to the German Federal Networks Agency (Bundesnetzagentur). All this because of a doubling of energy prices (despite studies that predicted a fall at the time of policy conception) which are a direct result of disastrous green energy diktats which started two decades ago.

The flip side is India, a developing nation. Its electricity generation policies,  according to the World Bank, lifted 271 million people out of energy poverty between 2007 and 2017 largely thanks to low priced coal-fired power. So before all the ‘Stop Adani’ climate emergency extinction rebellion crowd start pontificating that we must go carbon neutral, perhaps they might go and survey the 271mn locals as to whether they demand change??

Michael Shellenberger’s latest book, ‘Apocalypse Never‘, takes a realistic view of how to achieve optimal outcomes for the climate, renewables not being part of the equation.

Still, the best way to truly evaluate the seriousness of climate change is by watching the consumption habits of those who peddle it.

We always found it strange that Obama moved to the shores of Martha’s Vineyard last year despite the risk of rising sea levels. Former Aussie PM Kevin Rudd has also bought waterfront property recently despite climate change being the “moral challenge of our times.

Looking at 1,500 private jets clogging airports at a World Economic Forum summit takes some beating too, not to mention the 25,000 pilgrims that fly halfway across the world to attend COP summits and then tell mothers who drop their kids off at soccer practice in a 2nd-hand SUV that they are the problem. No excuses anymore. They can Zoom. 25,000 group thinkers on a screen…their individual relevance in direct proportion to the size of their microscopic avatar.

Finding a correlation between Trump voters and opioid use

The left-leaning taxpayer funded US media network, NPR, published a sensationalist piece titled, ‘Analysis Finds Geographic Overlap In Opioid Use And Trump Support In 2016

The article opened as follows:

The fact that rural, economically disadvantaged parts of the country broke heavily for the Republican candidate in the 2016 election is well known. But Medicare data indicate that voters in areas that went for Trump weren’t just hurting economically — many of them were receiving prescriptions for opioid painkillers.

Is that what the two charts reveal? The first chart records 2016 voting strength for Trump by county. The second, prescription opioid use by each county.

What the NPR article failed to note is that the r-squared figures for each study were stuck in the 40% range meaning there was incredibly low correlation and what statisticians would call “statistically insignificant.

Perhaps NPR might have admitted that drug overdose deaths under Trump went down for the first time in almost 30 years, claims backed up by the CDC. We wrote a piece on the problem back in 2017.

Best just run an article implying that Trump voters in 2016 were poor dumb hicks in rural areas hallucinating from all of the opioids they had taken.

At least we give some credit to NPR for actually reporting (towards the end of the article) the study’s lead author who said,

We were not implying causality, that the Trump vote caused opioids or that opioids caused the Trump vote…We’re talking about associations.”

So why bother with the article in the first place other than to take a pot shot at a portion of the very people who hold different political views but still fund NPR?

Perhaps, NPR might have thought how bad things had become over the long run under the incumbent political class that it gave birth to Trump. Not the other way around.

Media worth consuming – a recap of December 2020

My good mate Jonathan Rochford of Narrow Road Capital has compiled a brilliant summary of the recent madness in markets, politics and economics. One could be forgiven for thinking it is a lot like satire. Link here.

Identifying misinformation without facts

You have to hand it to government funded media networks. Just like Australia’s ABC, America’s NPR will peddle its belief system and tell you what is misinformation and what is not.

Here are some of the responses to an NPR poll listed under “incorrect statements”:

“Humans do not play a significant role in climate change

It scored a 69% false rating. Does NPR have facts to support that misinformation?

Have they read the amount of climb downs made by the UN IPCC with respect to have very low confidence that extreme climate events are in any way linked to global warming? Obviously not. The 2018 study compiled by the IPCC just reinforced the findings of the 2013 paper by an even greater degree.

Or the hilarious article in a climate alarmist newspaper that pointed to putting faith in the very investment bankers who they wanted burnt at the stake in 2008. As long as they sing the correct tune in their endeavors of crony capitalism.

Or perhaps the EU Parliament commitment to a climate emergency bill which voted on the following proposed amendment 95 (for), 563 (against), 9 (abstain) by MEPs:

Recalls that climate change is one of the many challenges facing humanity and that
all states and stakeholders worldwide must do their utmost to measure it
scientifically so that policy, and especially spending, is based on observable facts and not on apocalyptic fearmongering or unreliable models; emphasises that there is no scientific consensus on what percentage of climate change is anthropogenic and
what percentage is natural

Wouldn’t want pesky facts to get in the way of doubling commitments to the green climate fund. Openly vote to show evidence is irrelevant.

Of the 1,115 people polled to give a true/false answer on the statement “a group of Satan-worshipping elites who run a child sex ring are trying to control our politics and media” it returned a false rating of 47%.

Perhaps the 53% that returned a true/unsure vote merely thought elements of the statement were true. After all it wouldn’t be a stretch to suggest that elites are trying to control politics and media in a coronavirus lockdown world. Just look at the politicians breaking the very rules we must abide by. If we step out of our homes we risk instant infection from a disease with a 99.9% recovery rate.

With an ever complicit social and mainstream media peddling fear and checking their own facts by shutting down alternative viewpoints (aka free speech), what is so hard to fathom?

The Red Face

Adam Anderson, CEO of Innovex, an oil & gas company, wanted to get his staff The North Face (TNF) down jackets with the company logo emblazoned on it for Christmas.

Unfortunately, the apparel maker rejected the request on the basis that fossil fuel companies, like Innovex, didn’t reflect TNF’s core values – the same standard it applies to porn and tobacco companies.

So Anderson returned fire in a 4 page letter here:

“The recreational activities they encourage are all ones that require hydrocarbons to make the products, to provide the means to get to whatever activity folks want to perform…It’s just so intertwined with everything that we do…

…The irony in this statement is your jackets are made from the oil and gas products the hardworking men and women of our industry produce. I think this stance by your company is counterproductive virtue signaling, and I would appreciate you re-considering this stance. We should be celebrating the benefits of what oil and gas do to enable the outdoors lifestyle your brands embrace. Without Oil and Gas there would be no market for nor ability to create the products your company sells…

…“Low-cost, reliable energy is critical to enable humans to flourish. Oil and natural gas are the two primary resources humanity can use to create low-cost and reliable energy. The work of my company and our industry more broadly enables humans to have a quality of life and life expectancy that were unfathomable only a century ago.”

The ultimate irony with all this woke corporate virtue signaling is that these social justice warriors often get shown up for a complete lack of understanding about the very subject the publicly protest about.

We met a staffer from an Aussie bank the other week who proudly boasted it was stopping lending to companies that haven’t committed to reduce emissions by a certain amount. The argument was that shareholders are demanding it. We retorted that a small select number of activist industry funds who often don’t meet the very requirements they try to enforce on others, are trying to promote the sale of SRI/ESG funds because of the higher fees they can get by appealing to investors who think they’re making a difference when in reality they aren’t.

We did a more conclusive study during a business school lecture. Three funds with three different results were presented in a chart over 10 years. The students didn’t know which fund was what but all selected the one with the highest returns. Naturally.

Before the different funds were revealed we asked whether people would invest in a socially responsible investment fund to feel better about themselves? When it was revealed the SRI fund had the worst performance and the best performing fund rejected such virtue signaling, all still wanted the highest return in retirement. Who knew?

Hilarious parody – “Bravery” by JP Sears

JP Sears takes another dig at coronavirus restrictions in a Hollywood-esque cringe style video.