Wry & Dry

Wrexit. We shall remember them... only if it's not raining. Strong economy?

Wrexit?

Readers who are students of history will know of shy French Emperor and General Napoleon's withdrawal from Moscow in 1812 ('Frexit').  The Grande Armée left France with an army of some 500,000 men.  Only 10,000 returned.  It wasn't a happy Frexit.

cartoon brexit arc de triomphe

Which brings W&D to what's going on in London.  As exclusively forecast in late October, it looks as though a Brexit deal has been struck with the mandarins in the EU.  And if Readers listen to the naysayers, this will be more costly than Napoleon's Frexit.  Not only in political lives, but also GBP.

But it could be worse. Work with W&D on this.  

UK Prime Minister May is a thick-skinned pragmatist.  Not an ideologue like the whingeing Boris Johnson or the delightfully named but ambitious Jacob Rees-Mogg.

The parameters that May had were three fold:

1.  Respect the Brexit referendum outcome

2.  Keep in place the border arrangement between Ireland and Northern Ireland (i.e. effectively no border, which sort-of guarantees peace between some people with a weird view of history in each country)

3.  Get the best economic deal possible

Thus the Brits have three choices: (a) May's Brexit; (b) a hard Brexit; or (c) no Brexit.

No-one wants to have another referendum, because another Brexit vote would mean back to square one.  So (c) is out.

No-one, except W&D, wants a hard Brexit.  It means a hard border between the two Irelands.  And it's economically stupid in the short-term.  So (b) is out.

Which leaves May's Brexit.  It's a poor deal.  But it's arguably better than no deal.

For all their shouting, whingeing and grandstanding Boris Johnson and Rees-Mogg have not added a scintilla of alternatives.  Only populist, colourful but ultimately irrelevant phrases such as "Britain will become a vassal state." 

The reality is that eventually, the EU will become a vassal state to Deutsche-La France. 

cartoon brexit third time lucky

Most Brits don't speak German.  And don't speak French.

A bit of a W&D editorial: It doesn't feel like a strong economy

W&D has put his shakey finger on it. 

Exhibit #1: It's a strong economy: growth rate >3%, unemployment = 5%, real wages growth, budget in surplus next year, etc.

But...

Exhibit #2: the mood of we-the-people doesn't have the buoyancy normally expected with a strong economy.

cartoon australia truck of manure

What's going on?

Well, W&D suggests that it is an intersection of five themes.  Each, by itself, not contagious. But brought together by vacuous social media and a headline-driven big media, the themes dampen the spirit of life's joys.

Theme one: Australian politics.  For the last decade, we have seen arguably the worst possible political leadership since the betrayal, bloodletting and ambition of the last days of Roman Empire.  The Government sinking in a mire of personalities and wishful thinking.  The Opposition led by a man with more ambition than Caesar.  A Senate composed of one-third genuine servants of the people; one-third fanatical ideologues and one-third absolute nutters.   The barbarians are at the gate.  Time for less government?

Theme two:  Australian big business ethics.  The esteem with which Australia's financial institutions (some 40% of the market) were one held has been shattered in a few short months.  Greed, corruption and self-serving behaviour has destroyed confidence.  Time for smaller big companies?

Theme three:  Sporting ethics.  The ramifications of Cricket Australia's and some Test cricketers' bungling, corruption and cheating has struck at the heart of the folklore of Australian sport.  And the cultural ethos of fair competition.  Time to get back to local sports?

Theme four: The rise of the autocracies: Tsar Putin, Emperor Xi Jinping and Tarzan Trump and bureaucracies: the European Union and state governments. 

cartoon government ants

Time for more Australian self-reliance?

Theme five: Want of public safety.  It's a comfortable fact that a rising number of people see good in every person.  And cannot bring themselves to consider other possibilities.  So for too long political leaders have cowed to the pressure of both quiet and noisy elites.  Time to recognise the problems, the causes of the problems and to change gears and act? 

So, we have a strong economy, but we don't feel the joy.  Sigh.

But W&D is not depressed, just pondering what he sees and feels.  He remains optimistic.      

Kim Jong-un sold to a salesman 

Readers will recall that TT came happily swinging in from his summit meeting in Singapore with Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea.  The agreement guaranteed the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.  Or so TT said. 

But W&D knows as Readers suspect, that the agreement said nothing of the sort.  And that's the way it's turning out.

Talks between the Yoo Ess Aye and North Korea have stalled.  The North Koreans won't dismantle any nuclear toys unless the US lifts sanctions.  And the US won't lift sanctions unless the nuclear toys are dismantled.

And the latest spy satellite photos, exclusively obtained by W&D, show that in fact, North Korea is advancing its missile and nuclear capabilities.  And just this morning, Kim Jong-un guided the test of a newly-developed high-tech strategic weapon, and the test was successful. 

Kim clearly knows what any negotiator knows.  And that is the easiest person to sell to is a salesman.   TT: come on down!  

W&D Readers heard it here first

Readers will be aware that the US and Iran just don't like each other.  Iranians are still grumpy about the US-CIA sponsored coup in the 1950s that overthrew a democratically elected leader (Mohammed Mosaddeq) and replaced him with the Shah (who was the incumbent sort of Head of State), Reza Pahlavi.  Iran then became an absolute monarchy. The Shah was overthrown in the Iranian Revolution of 1979.  

And Americans are still grumpy that Iran allowed its embassy in Tehran to be taken over by students in the aforesaid Iranian Revolution and 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days [2].  Iran speedily went from an absolute monarchy to absolute chaos, then, slowly to a theocracy.

Things then get complicated.  There's the war with Iraq, allegations of nuclear weapons, financing of terrorism, etc.  But essentially, nowadays, TT believes that Iran has breached the agreement it had with the US, UK, France and Germany to cease nuclear weapons development and has reimposed some harsh economic sanctions, especially oil exports, shipping and banking.  The sanctions commenced two weeks ago.

The reality is that TT wants to squeeze Iran out of supporting terror groups in the Middle East (e.g. Hezbollah and now Hamas), threatening Saudia Arabia, undertaking ballistic missile tests and other nasty stuff.   

Iran oil production 

The problem for Iran is that its theocracy isn't much liked by the man/ woman in the street.  And these sanctions will hurt. 

Expect things in Iran to get messy.  And end in tears. 

Snippets from all over 

1.  Wishful thinking

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi has urged eurozone governments to pay down their national debts and strengthen the currency bloc amid concerns over Italy's budget and shocks such as Brexit.

W&D comments:  What planet is he on? To pay down debt a country must run a budget surplus.  For example, Italy has not run a budget surplus since before the Second World War.   

2.  Amazon chooses HQ2. And HQ3.

As exclusively forecast by the Washington Post, Amazon has selected New York's Long Island City and Northern Virginia's Crystal City as the sites for its second and third headquarters, 

cartoon the other mouth of the amazon

W&D comments: The Washington Post is owned by Jeff Bezos.  Bezos is the CEO of Amazon.

3.  Meanwhile, back at the Forum

Italy has ignored an ultimatum (that expired at midnight on Tuesday) to rewrite its budget to be in accordance with EU rules. "We won't change," said Deputy Prime Minister Luigi di Maio.

cartoon italian government being taken over by germany

W&D comments:  Is this the fiscal equivalent of "to die on your feet is better than to live on your knees"?  Readers are referred back to item 1 of Snippets.

4.  Germany's economy goes into reverse

Germany's GDP fell 0.2% in the September quarter.

W&D comments:  It's not catastrophic.  But Readers should wait for the December quarter data before writing letters to the Editor.

5.  We the people ...

... don't want a republic.  Well, that's what the latest Newspoll found.  Only 40% of Australians do.  

W&D comments:  Get the most earthy royal, marry him to an interesting/ well known attractive woman and send them on a Cook's Tour of the Antipodes.  Bob Hawke has missed his chance.

Tool of the Week 

Podium finish goes to ... Tarzan Trump.  TT failed to show up at the scheduled service for American war dead at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial in France last weekend.  Because of, err, rain.  

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.

But only if it's not raining. [1]

The service TT missed was one of many at the 100th year anniversary of the signing of the Armistice.  The lame excuse from the White House was it was "due to scheduling and logistical difficulties caused by the weather."

No-one over the age of nine believes this.  Because there is always a Plan B for the US President.  But TT had a Plan C: stay in bed, because he didn't want raindrops to fall upon his undetectable hairpiece.

But wait there's more.

On Monday, although it was the US' Veterans' Day holiday, Trump bucked tradition and opted not to make the three-kilometre trip to Arlington National Cemetery in northern Virginia to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  Presidents since at least John F. Kennedy have so done.

What's going on?  Have the worms finally taken control of TT's mind?

Deepak, W&D's Uber driver ...

... didn't turn up this morning.  So he (W&D) was forced to take a Melbourne tram to the Collins Street Salt Mine.

Should W&D be worried about Deepak?

And, to soothe your troubled mind...  

Miscellany 

Last words...

"Safety is always our number one priority and we recently introduced a suggestion that onion be placed underneath sausages to help prevent the onion from falling out and creating a slip hazard," 

 -  Deborah Poole, Chief Operating Officer of Bunnings, announcing a new policy for community groups that run fund-raising barbecues outside its stores.   

This is a brilliant safety measure.  Think of how many lives will be saved.  W&D is amazed that Chairman Dan's Work Place Health and Safety Stasi hadn't proactively legislated this.

cartoon bunnings and onions

First Samuel client events calendar

CHIEF INVESTMENT Officer Dinners 2018

FY-18 was a Year of Harvest and Sowing Seeds for the Next Five Years

Places are now only available if there is a cancellation.

Please contact Jess if you wish to be wait-listed.

Some lightly salted absurdities from all over ...

At the extreme left-hand end of the Bell Curve

Matthew X, of Detroit, USA, purchased (with stolen credit cards) an assault rifle, a binary trigger to make the AR fire more quickly, 4 handguns, and seven 40-round, high capacity magazines.  All legally.  The FBI arrested him for credit card fraud, at that stage the only way to get him in jail.  When the FBI raided his home, they found on his laptop photos of the Virginia Tech killer and the Columbine killer.  His social media posts lauded the Oklahoma City bomber and the Las Vegas shooter. 

The court psychiatrist determined that "the defendant (Matthew) was mentally ill" and diagnosed the defendant with "acute homicidality." 

On the charge of credit card fraud, the judge could only sentence Matthew to time already served in jail.  And he could only release Matthew on probation.  Aside from credit card fraud, he had not committed a crime.    

(Clickondetroit)

The reality is that everything Matthew did was legal and even if considered together did not constitute criminal activity.  Even aside from the purchase of the weapons, everything else that Matthew did would be in breach of Victoria's Terrorism (Community Protection) Act 2003. 

Guess what happened next?

Darrin Dewayne Touchonou wants to kill his wife's new lover.  What did he do?

a.  Shoot him;

b.  Stab him;

c.  Blow him up; or

d.  Plough his own new Nissan Altima into his own bedroom.       

Close.  But no cigar.  d. is correct.  He thought his wife and her lover were in the bedroom.    

(Actionnewsjax.com)

The lovers had just left the bedroom and avoided being run down by a metre. Two counts of attempted homicide, three counts of aggravated assault and, worst of all, driving whilst on a suspended licence.  And his home was wrecked.  Not that he is worried.  He'll be getting at least 10 years bed and breakfast arrangements at the St Johns County jail. By which time, happily, his licence suspension would have expired.     

Ingenious Russians 

The wheels on the bus...

 Have a Wry & Dry weekend. 

Cheers!

Anthony

[1]  The actual lines are taken from 'Ode of Remembrance' is the 4th verse of Laurence Binyon's poem 'For the Fallen'.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.

[2]  Six Americans escaped.  Their amazing story is told in the amazing film, Argo.