Wry & Dry

The dogs bark, but... Bankers weave. US debt balloons.

Wry & Dry readers might have spent the week enthralled by the antics of boguns or of bankers.

The juvenile antics of nine booze-filled Australian idiotic-adults in Malaysia hit not only the tabloid media but also the broadsheets.  Mustabeen a slow week.

But the nine got off scot free [1].  Which was, more-or-less, the fate of the CEOs of the four banks, each of whom who fronted the House Economics Committee.

What should have been a Bankers' Barbecue filled with gotcha moments (no apologies for the mixed metaphor) turned out to be a damp squib.  See later how the politicians bowled up half-volleys and long-hops to experienced and well rehearsed players.   

Indeed, of the banks...the dogs may bark.  But the caravan moves on [2].

Speaking of the caravan moving on, W&D brings to the attention of readers the news that Tsar Vlad has presented a list of demands to the incoming US President.  

Seriously, he announced that he wanted the US to:

  • Roll back North Atlantic Treaty Organization infrastructure and reduce NATO personnel to September 2000 levels
  • Repeal the sanctions on Russian officials involved in human rights violations
  • Repeal all U.S. sanctions against Russian individuals and businesses
  • Compensate Russians for damages incurred by U.S. sanctions and by Russia’s “forced countersanctions” 
  • Present a “clear plan of irreversible destruction” of U.S. surplus plutonium

He might well have asked for Alaska back [3].  W&D suggests that instead the US offers up Sarah Palin [4].

But Tsar Vlad is ahead of the curve, with the US still barking about Syria...  


... whilst the Russian caravan determinedly moves on.  

Obama's failure to meet his self-determined benchmark of action in Syria [5] gave Tsar Vlad the signal of Obama's spinelessness that he needed.  And now it will be up to either Clinton or Trump to do an Obama make-up and man-up.  W&D suggests that Clinton is more readily equipped to do this, even without further investigation.  Although a Melbourne graffiti-artist made a strong visual attempt some weeks ago, but the thought police caused the inoffensive depiction to be removed.  

Speaking of things being withdrawn, Walt Disney and Alphabet (Google's holding company) have each said that they will not pursue a takeover of Twitter, the social-media company that seems to be the replacement for journalistic research.  Apple has also said that it will not bid.

Twitter has yet to make a profit.  Its shares, once as high as $73.31 closed at $20.66 last night.

Oh dear.

W&D will not bother watching the next US Presidential Debate, scheduled for Sunday night (Monday, AEST).  Although it promises to be more exciting than debate #1: it will be more of a town hall meeting, with audience questions.  This should suit Mrs Clinton, as this is what she's been doing since she became a US Senator.  Mr Trump, on the other hand, prefers rallies that resemble a hybrid (there's that word, again) of a Rolling Stones' concert and a Nuremberg rally.  Attendees at each event exit on a high.  

There is a difference between the two highs.

Those leaving a Rolling Stones' concert move from the hysteria of a musically-induced high to one induced by chemical substances.  

Those leaving a Nuremberg rally move from the hysteria of fear-laden let's-circle-the-wagons and "beat-to-quarters" [6] to one of, well, a fear-laden hysteria of let's-circle-the-wagons and beat up (metaphorically) Mexicans, blacks, Muslims, Jews, etc.  

But in neither case does the after-effect wear off.  Each is addictive: Drug addiction and xenophobia don't wear-off.  

And later in this W&D: it's the quiet cancer of increasing US government debt; one US bank's 'sales culture' puts Australia's banks' shocking culture to shame; and with effortless ease, Australian bank CEOs swat away the hapless politicians.

Elsewhere, Follow The Money updates the odds on the US presidential race.  And the Trumpster is in more trouble than a one-armed paper-hanger in a gale.

And, of course, Miscellany, to soothe your troubled mind.

[1] That is, to avoid punishment.  It is tempting to assume that this is a reference to the Scots of, obviously, Scotland.   Nuh.  Scot, in this sense, means 'tax'.  It is from Middle English with reference to various types of taxes, dues, and payments.  'Scot-free' arose in the 16th century as an alteration of the earlier term shot-free.  It originated in the sense ‘not required to pay a scot (tax or fee)’ or ‘free of charge’, as in this example from 1792: ‘Scot-free the Poets drank and ate; They paid no taxes to the State!’ (John Wolcot, Odes of Condolence). 

W&D is tempted to muse that the Scots' well known parsimony is somehow because of this.  Or perhaps not: more possibly the influence over the generations of the Presbyterian Church.  But that doesn't explain their fondness for Scotch...  Oh, never mind.  

[2] An old Arabic proverb.  In layman's terms: people may make a fuss, but it won't change the situation.

[3] The Alaska Purchase was the United States' acquisition of Alaska from the Russian Empire on March 30, 1867.  Russia was in a difficult financial position and feared losing 'Russian America' without compensation in some future conflict.

Therefore, the Russian emperor, Alexander II, decided to sell the territory. Perhaps in the hope of starting a bidding war, both the British and the Americans were approached.  However, the British expressed little interest in buying Alaska.

After an all-night negotiation session the treaty between the US and Russia was signed at 04:00 on March 30, 1867, with the purchase price set at $7.2 million ($122 million today), or about 2 cents per acre ($4.74/km2).

[4] Former beauty queen, governor of Alaska and Vice-Presidential candidate (running with John McCain).

[5]President Barack Obama infamously drew a “red line” with the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria only to back away from it.  He said on 20-Aug-12 that his red line with the Assad regime would be the use of chemical weapons.  Exactly 12 months later, on 20-Aug-13, Assad’s forces killed nearly 1,500 people in a chemical-weapons attack at Ghouta.  Obama did nothing. He said, "I didn't set a red line...." 

[6] "Beat to quarters" was the order for the drummer to beat a drum, calling the crew of a sailing man-of-war to be ready for impending battle. Some readers will recall the movie Master and Commander.