Today's Takes: Thursday, August 19

Today's Takes: Thursday, August 19

Vol. I, No. 71 • A Journal of Freedom • Political Tech • Money Moves • Inflation • Lodge Cast Iron Skillets • Much More!


The full breadth of the US government's incompetency has been on full display this entire week. The gaffe-machine, Joe Biden, was in action last night dismissing the failed withdrawal from Afghanistan as "four or five days ago". Presumably, he was tending toward the old aphorism that time heals all wounds, but fell a bit short.

Additionally, Biden decreed yesterday that everyone will need to get a "booster shot" eight months after your "first second shot". It makes one wonder when the blame will shift from the unvaccinated to the recently vaccinated. It appears that the regime got the strength to leave Afghanistan only after discovering a more profitable product than bombs: leaky vaccines that they passively mandate. This is great news for Pfizer and Moderna stock.

Headlines

📰 Today's Front Pages

  • Reuters: Several killed in flag-waving protests against Taliban in Afghanistan (Read)
  • New York Times: Afghanistan Live Updates: Protests Spread to Kabul as Taliban Struggle to Govern (Read)
  • Wall Street Journal: Thousands Still Trying to Flee Taliban in Kabul as Biden Says U.S. Troops Will Stay as Long as Needed (Read)
  • Washington Post: Afghanistan to be ruled under sharia law, Taliban commander confirms (Read)
  • Fox News: Biden gives number of how many American citizens may still be in Afghanistan while vowing to get them (Read)
  • CNN: Biden's presidency is under scrutiny as never before over Afghan chaos (Read)
  • NPR: One Of These Men Is Likely Afghanistan's Next Ruler (Read)
  • Bloomberg: These Are the Shadowy Taliban Leaders Now Running Afghanistan (Read)
  • Politico: GOP governors embrace Covid cocktails over masks as cases surge (Read)
  • Breitbart: Stubborn Joe Biden Snaps, Falls Apart in Interview as Afghanistan Crisis Worsens (Read)
  • HuffPost: Incoming ‘Jeopardy!’ Host Mike Richards Apologizes For Sexist Remarks (Read)

💸 Money Moves

  • U.S. Freezes Nearly $9.5 Billion Afghanistan Central Bank Assets (Bloomberg)
  • Bitcoin and its ‘funny business’ should be regulated globally, says European Central Bank chief (MarketWatch)
  • People Now Spend More at Amazon Than at Walmart (NY Times)
    • Over the past twelve months, consumers spent $610 billion on Amazon and $566 billion on Wal-Mart
  • No bus driver? Schools are paying parents to drive their own kids as economic disruptions hit classrooms. (WaPo)
    • "Bus drivers are in such short supply that EastSide Charter School in Wilmington, Del., is offering parents $700 to drop off and pick up their children for the school year."
    • "Pittsburgh Public Schools, which needs more than 400 drivers, is delaying the return to classrooms by two weeks."
    • Schools also deal with increased gas prices: "The price of diesel has gone up about 35 percent in the past year. The change amounts to an extra $100,000 in costs for the school year."

🗺 News from the Frontier

  • Memory of Migrant Crisis Haunts Europe as First Afghan Refugees Land (NY Times)
  • Little Tony Blinken, the Secratary of State of the most powerful country in the world, had a cute tweet: "Together with our international partners, we call on those in positions of power and authority across Afghanistan to guarantee the protection of women and girls and their rights. We will monitor closely how any future government ensures their rights and freedoms." (Twitter)
    • Rest assured, fellow citizens. Our leaders are very smart.

‼️ Can't Believe It's Not _____

  • Pete and Chasten Buttigieg say they have become parents (WaPo)
    • They didn't 'have a child' they 'became parents'. Sounds expensive.
  • LGBTQ groups across the US consider a new flag meant to be more inclusive of the transgender community and people of color (CNN)
    • As white is the combination of all colors in the visible light spectrum, it would make the most sense for the flag to just be white.
  • The Shortlist of New Names for the Washington Football Team is Out, And They’re Just as Awful as You Thought They’d Be (YouTube)
    • Armada, Brigade, Commanders, Defenders, Presidents, RedHogs, RedWolves

🍯 From the Land of Milk & Honey

  • Gov. Newsom says mandatory statewide water restrictions for California may be on the way (Mercury News)
    • He definitely will not enact any restrictions before the recall election. Don't politicize the water there, bud.
  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom Sells Marin County Mansion for $5.9M (Realtor)
  • Is San Francisco the most childless city in the country? Here's a look at the data on kid (SF Chronicle)
    • "The city remains dead last in its share of youths under 18 among the top 100 most populous cities in the U.S. Children made up 13.4% of San Francisco’s population in 2010, and now they make up just 13%."

Inflation is just getting started

📉 Tom Landstreet chimes in concerning inflation (Read)

Inflation is just getting started. At some point, the Fed is going to have to slam on the brakes - not tap the brakes - slam on the brakes. And that will pop this historic asset bubble but only until the Fed steps in even BIGGER - which they will. If I'm right, 70's-style inflation is guaranteed. When I worked for Arthur Laffer, we did a deep dive into the root causes of 70's inflation. I think Milton Friedman's equation for inflation: "too much money chasing too few goods" is exactly what we have currently in the world economy.

Please read and think about today's Producer Price Index (PPI) number. The chart above reveals how margins are taking a hit from the difference between producer prices (raw materials) and end prices (for the consumer).

Obviously, a high and rising PPI is bad for corporate margins so I would expect companies to continue raising prices which will push the CPI much higher - OR - risk degradation of their margins (which have been reported as high as you know).

My theory on why corporate margins are so high is that the laggards, commodity producers, with traditionally low margins, are enjoying high commodity prices so their margins are high (bringing up the rear). Also, tech firms are growing their share of the economy and their margins are high - both skewing the margin picture higher for now. In the middle are cyclicals, especially consumer products companies.

Either way, CPI is going to be pushed higher from underneath as rising PPI forces companies to raise prices even more than they are already. This inflation thing is not transitory.

Original Essays

🗺  Total Recall: California’s September election offers a path forward from identity politics by Jerod Hollyfield (Read)

In case you missed it

  • Anthony Bourdain and Documentary Artifice (Read)
  • Losing Christopher Hitchens by Jerod Hollyfield (Read)
  • Entourage's Last Stand by Jerod Hollyfield (Read)
  • 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington' and the Evergreen Ills of American Politics by Jerod Hollyfield (Read)

Nashville Politics

  • Recall petition claims Gov. Lee is "unfit for office in this time of crisis" (WSMV)
  • Ascendant GOP, rump Democrats: Read the Almanac of American Politics’ Tennessee profile (TNJ)
  • Mask mandate resolution fails in Metro Council (WSMV)
    • Councilmember Joy Styles filed a resolution for a county-wide mask mandate before last night's Metro Council meeting. It was quickly struck down.
  • Nashville’s Council Revives License Plate Reader Debate With Updated Proposals (WPLN)
    • The discussion is expected to pick up on September 7th.
    • Debate centers around two, competing ordinances (you know what they say, the lesser of two evils...):
      • Councilmember Dave Rosenberg’s proposal allows license plate readers in police cars but wouldn’t allow the city to use them on streets.
      • Councilmember Courtney Johnston's proposal allows for the additional use of them to monitor traffic and parking violations.

Nashville News

  • Introducing the Inc. 5000 Fastest-Growing Private Companies in America (Inc.)
    • 70 companies from Nashville made the list
  • Ray Charles Inducted Into Country Music Hall of Fame (Pitchfork)

Nashville Development

  • Red Seal Homes Continues Activation Of Trinity Lane With New Development (NowNext)
  • AI. Neyer Closes On Industrial Property Near Amazon Fulfillment Center in Murfreesboro. (NowNext)
  • Nashville has third highest bidding-war rate in the nation, according to Redfin (Biz Journal)
  • Nike store set for downtown Nashville’s Fifth + Broadway development (Biz Journal)
  • East Nashville site eyed for project sells for $6.8M+ (Post)
  • West Nashville building briefly home to BBQ eatery sells for $1.7M (Post)
  • Amazon confirms $100M distribution hub in Clarksville, totaling 1 million square feet (Biz Journal)
  • South Nashville intersection eyed for mixed-use building (Post)
  • Mixed-use building planned for East Nashville (Post)
  • Hall Emery sells Music Row office building sells for $78.5M (Biz Journal)

Nashville Life

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📅 Check out our suggestions for things to do this week (Info)

🎡 The Tennessee State Fair runs until Saturday in Lebanon (Info)

🎞 Three great movies play at the Belcourt all week long:
1) Without Getting Killed or Caught: The Life and Music of Guy Clark (See)
2) Roadrunner: A Film about Anthony Bourdain (See)
3) The Green Knight (See)

Tonight
📽 NightLight 615 presents: Clueless @ Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, 7:30p, $10 (Inf0)
🎶 That 90's Show plus 8 Track Band @ 3rd & Lindsley, 7:30p, $12 (Info)

Headlines

  • Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival To Enforce COVID-19 Entry Protocols (Music Row)

COVID Gutter

🦠 The COVID-19 Case Count must end.

If you've paid attention, you'll notice how the recent COVID hysteria has rotated from "hospitals are full" to "children's hospitals are full". If you read the journalism of guys like Bret Kelman at the Tennessean, it feels a bit like peering into the brain of a confused child.

His assessment of the "threat level" in a recent piece begins by stating that "while a majority of Tennessee adults have elected to remain unvaccinated, most children are too young to be eligible and are therefore made vulnerable to the virus by the choices of others." This statement implies that the unvaccinated are at fault here. Children are getting infected either because parents do not want to vaccinate them (which makes sense because only 1 in 1 million children die of COVID) or don't want to get vaccinated themselves. Fair. At least we know this where the target is.

But, then, two paragraphs later, Kelman quotes Dr. Stephen Sharp who says, “Viruses find the hosts available for reproduction, and if more and more adults have either been infected and have some level of immunity or have been vaccinated, that the vulnerable population becomes the kids.” This implies the immunity of the adult population—whether from vaccination or previous infection—leave kids more susceptible which completely undoes his previous very serious declaration that adults who refuse to vaccinate themselves or their kids are to blame. Sharp's statement actually implies that the vaccinated and previously infected are to blame for the increased infections among children if one can place personal blame on anyone for the behavior of a pathogen.

Kelman goes on to throw "scary" numbers at us. "Think of the children," he begs readers. Be very afraid. Is there context to these numbers? Of course not. It's just a brute number meant to frighten you into believing the situation is dire because it drives clicks. Cynical? Yes.

Compared to earlier in the pandemic, children are getting sick more because they were sequestered in their homes and unable to interface with the world to build natural immunity in the manner that every prior generation has. In this regard, COVID is no different. Acquired immunity has proven to outperform a vaccine. In children under the age of 12, this is the only option at present. Thus, when the lockdowns ended, it was natural that the virus quickly ran through those without acquired immunity (e.g., children) along with any of the other ritual viral infections that couldn't circulate due to lockdowns.

How did hospitalizations look in 2018? How about 2019? There is no historical data indicating occupancy rates for children's hospitals, Kelman states. The data can't even offer a precise measure of how many children are hospitalized with COVID and how many have RSV, a virus that typically fills up children's hospitals in the Fall and Winter, but emerged this Summer because children have not been around each other.

So, is COVID to blame for the full children's hospitals, or are government-mandated masks and lockdowns which deprive children of the standard immune system strengthening through exposure to germs? To properly approach such a question, you have to start by realizing that COVID-19 poses close to no threat to children and that masks, which don't even work for adults and function mostly as a courtesy, work even less for children who get them dirty, fidget with them, and tend to touch their nose and mouth regardless of whether they have a mask on. If we can't admit these two facts, then health policy is destined to become political instead of healthy.

The best course of action is to generally ignore hysteria parrots like Bret Kelman (this advice actually goes for the entirety of the Tennessean) and other local panic parrots like Phil Williams at News Channel 5 who post screenshots of the Tennessee case count as if he's taking on the Axis Powers. A virus is going to virus no matter how much fear and virtue signaling you throw at it.

For children, three things remain clear:
1) Masks do not prevent infection
2) Children are at close to zero risk from COVID
3) Masks impair the physical and psychological development of children

It's ultimately a choice of whether you want to use children as a virtue-signaling prop or actually protect them. The science simply does not justify the hysteria.

Headlines

  • Biden orders Education Department to take action against governors who ban school mask mandates (MSN)
  • 🎥 Will Cain's 5 COVID Truths (Twitter)
  • 🎥 A thrilling speech from a San Diego woman at one those infamous community meetings (Instagram)
  • Covid-19 Booster Shot to Be Offered to People Fully Vaccinated With Pfizer, Moderna (WSJ)
    • When will the blame shift from the unvaccinated to the recently vaccinated. Do you see how this works now?
  • TSA extends mask mandate for transportation through Jan. 18 (CNBC)
  • NIH Director Admits School Mask Mandates Are Not Based on Data of COVID-19’s Effect on Children (Epoch)
  • Los Angeles to require masks at large outdoor sporting, music events (Reuters)
  • Biden Administration to Extend Transportation Mask Mandate Through January 18 (National Review)
  • Florida School Mask Mandates Draw Sanctions From State Board of Education (WSJ)
  • 'Let them die,' Washington state middle school teacher says of the unvaccinated (Post Millenial)
    • "If we're lucky we can cut out 30 percent of the population that votes the wrong way," Jeanine Kolkemo of Wy'East Middle School said. "Let the hunger games begin."
  • Carrie Underwood Blasted for Liking Anti-Mask Tweet (Yahoo)
    • ...from new Nashville resident Matt Walsh of the Daily Wire
  • Israel, Once the Model for Beating Covid, Faces New Surge of Infections (NYT)
  • University in Connecticut to Fine, Block Internet Access to Unvaccinated Students (Epoch)

Around the Web

🏢 A great Twitter thread on the wonders of our most underrated building material, concrete (Read)

🍃 Electric cars and batteries: how will the world produce enough? (Read)

Stat of the Day

🏈 The first month of earnings for college athletes after they gained the ability to earn money from their name, image, and likeness (NIL). Here are some stats (Read):

  • 88% of NIL transactions involved social media posts
  • 46% of NIL money was made from social media posts & 29% from using a player's likeness in ads
  • One athlete earned $210,000 in total NIL compensation in July, but the average was $471
  • 79% of the NIL market revenue went to football players

Something to Watch

🍳 A visit to the Lodge factory in Tennessee to see how cast iron pans are made (Watch)

Have a great Thursday