Despite All Its Problems, America Continues To Bless Colin Kaepernick

Despite All Its Problems, America Continues To Bless Colin Kaepernick

It’s hard to imagine now, but at the beginning of the current decade, Colin Kaepernick was primarily known for being a promising young quarterback.  Even then, he seemed to relish an image as something of an antihero, emerging from the ignorant noise of his loudmouth, no-nothing detractors.  This goes back at least as far as his first commercial, when a younger, much shorter-haired Kaepernick starred in a three-minute (!) spot for headphones, of all things. (Just imagine him trying to put those things on now.)  We see Kaepernick getting off a bus, as thousands of feral-like fans try to viciously shout him down.  Kaepernick, with a sense of cool not seen since The Fonz, ignores them all, stoically listening to a song titled, “I’m The Man.”  Of COURSE you are, Colin.

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Before causing trouble with his social justice crusading, Colin Kaepernick just liked to cause trouble.

At the time, this was a curious ad. Who in the ACTUAL world hated Colin Kaepernick? He was an emerging star, helping to lead his 49ers to the Superbowl in a rookie season- very marketable, and hardly the polarizing figure that this ad portrayed. Perhaps disappointed by his LACK of notoriety as his star began to fade in 2013, Kaepernick was spotted in public wearing a Miami Dolphins hat- something kind of weird for a quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers to do. Though somewhat obnoxious, it was far from the stuff of full-blown outrage. Still, there were a few 49ers diehards that took the bait, complaining about Kaepernick’s disloyalty- and, in an act of foreshadowing of much bigger things to come, disrespect. Finally, Kaepernick had his real life targets to ridicule, and ridicule them he did, posting a very sarcastic looking picture of himself holding up a Dolphins hat. Making less headlines on the field, Kaepernick seemed to relish the notoriety off the field.

103250-780x550Fast forward another three years to 2016.  Barely on the public radar by this point, Kaepernick grew his hair out, generating his off-field persona as a social justice warrior for a community that, quite honestly, he was never part of.  That’s not to say he doesn’t actually care about this community, as only he knows his true intentions- and to be fair, he has donated lots of money to causes he advocates.  (This is something ALL successful pro-athletes, entertainers, and multi-millionaires in general should do, but that’s for another discussion.)  But regardless of his intentions, the methods Kaepernick used were not exactly constructive towards advancing his newly adopted cause(s).  Rather than bring people together to try working on practical solutions, Kaepernick deliberately stirred the pot, preaching to the choir of people who already believed what he was saying, while deeply alienating those who didn’t, with an incendiary press statement about the United States.  While there are certainly plenty of issues to discuss regarding this country, including that of the troubling relationships between the police and the inner-city communities which they serve, Kaepernick’s initial statement- and this is for those who say Kaepernick’s protest is “only” about police brutality- was a far more sweeping condemnation about the country that made him a rich man, stating that he refused to “show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”  (I suppose it’s also too oppressive for him to vote, as he skipped the 2016 election altogether.)  And while we’ve all spent WAY too much time already “debating” (actually, screaming at each other) about the merits and liabilities of kneeling, how about the fact that Kaepernick actually started his protest by sitting on the bench throughout the anthem?!  (It wasn’t enough for him that he’d spend the next three hours doing that?) It was only after realizing it would be better PR for him to kneel, and the rest is history.

And what about the socks controversy? Before becoming the world’s most famous shoe salesman, Kaepernick sported some rather nifty socks, showing pigs wearing police hats. Kaepernick responded with his usual eloquence- seriously, he’s a smart man- along with his typical faux indignation, lamenting this distraction from “the real issues”.  But come on- does someone as intelligent as Colin Kaepernick really not know that these socks would generate a “distraction”? It seems like a reasonable assumption that he went out of his way to purchase these statement-making socks- it’s not like they sell them at Walmart!

And hey, speaking of big, heartless corporations, enter Nike into the picture. Not afraid of exploiting controversies any more than they’re afraid to exploit third world workers- this is a company that once cynically used Tiger Woods’ infidelity to sell their products– they recruited Kaepernick to be the new face of their marketing campaign, under one of the most ironic marketing slogans in American history, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” For the sake of argument, let’s assume that everything Kaepernick stands for is pure and just, as are his motives. What exactly is he sacrificing? Already worth more than he’ll ever be able to spend in his life, Kaepernick’s unremarkable talent was simply not enough to justify the PR headache that any NFL owner surely would have had to deal with, had they signed him. Instead, he was signed by Nike, making far more than he ever would have as an (AT BEST) run-of-the-mill quarterback. And for this, he’s being compared to Muhammed Ali refusing to serve in Vietnam- or even ROSA PARKS?! Only in today’s America can this be done with a straight face, just as only in today’s America can this be consider “sacrificing everything”.

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The American flag in the background is a nice touch.

But give credit where it’s due- Colin Kaepernick has achieved the outlaw, antihero status he longed for, probably beyond his wildest dreams, while Nike’s sales have spiked upwards. By hitching itself to his wagon, Nike made a bold but savvy move- alienating Trump’s MAGA crowd, but becoming the hero of the left- a group normally associated with being AGAINST big corporations.  Any boycott Nike will see from this PR stunt will likely be far outweighed by the sales they will generate, as early indicators seem to suggest. At the end of it all, the only “sacrifice” made will be of the Nike products that are being burned to a crisp by the misguided counter-protesters, thinking they’re making some sort of statement besides, “We’re not very intelligent.”  They’d have been far better served donating those clothes to charity, and simply stating that they’re never buying Nike again.  But that’s just not how things are done these days, in a highly politicized environment filled with venom, rancor, and silliness.

As for “The Man” Colin Kaepernick, we’ll likely never see him take another snap in the NFL again.  That’s too bad, because had he done so, he’d likely remind us of the REAL primary reason why he’s not in the NFL anymore- quite simply, he’s just not all that good.  Instead, he gets to be the martyr for a cause that he didn’t even expand beyond the base of people who already agreed with him in the first place.  No matter.  This whole thing is making Colin Kaepernick a rich(er) man, to the point where even HE will have to say, “God Bless America.”

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The Kobe Bubble – Market Insanity Merges With NBA Legend

The Kobe Bubble – Market Insanity Merges With NBA Legend

Nothing else worth saying here, as a picture is worth a thousand words.

I’d also highly recommend this podcast, featuring legendary permabear* Bill Fleckenstein- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-NCBtqzFk4.

*In the interest of full disclosure, I use the label of “permabear” a compliment.

Humbled but undeterred- a reminder of the exceptionally dangerous current financial environment

Humbled but undeterred- a reminder of the exceptionally dangerous current financial environment

Since 2009, I’ve been so very, very wrong about how the markets would play out.  (I was wrong for about 6 years before THAT, until I wasn’t.  But being right didn’t last.  Anyways…)  But in the same way that we need to worry about climate change, even though many near and even intermediate term forecasts have been so off- and make no mistake, they have been- the core reasons why I jumped up and down about the markets all those years has only gotten worse, and that’s not even counting what’s going on with our current President.  Maybe it will, somehow, someway, keep going up for a while longer.  I honestly don’t know, and I came to terms with that a few years back.  But my beliefs that trouble is ahead at SOME point have never been stronger.
You don’t have to take my word for it, though, because I’m not alone.  There are still TWO of us roaming the earth!  Doug Noland is a guy I used to read regularly, back at the turn of the century.  He’s one of the few so-called “permabears” remaining.  He is an even rarer breed among those who can acknowledge that things haven’t played out the way that was expected, and yet still hold onto his beliefs.  I hadn’t read him in years, but I checked out his webpage, just to see what he had to say.  His posts are REALLY long, so I cut and pasted the most relevant part.  If you want to read the whole thing, the link is included below.

Happy trading, and check your 401K before they wreck your 401K.  Be careful out there….

“When I began posting the CBB almost twenty years ago, my focus was on “money,” Credit and the U.S. boom. I didn’t anticipate geopolitical developments would some day play a role in my analysis. But I also never contemplated a global Bubble of today’s dimensions and characteristics.

I never imagined how an explosion of government debt and central bank Credit would be used so recklessly to inflate intertwined Bubbles spanning the globe. Never did I contemplate how this new age global “system” (already highly unstable two decades ago) would be nurtured, backstopped and resuscitated into today’s monstrosity. I never could have envisioned how the U.S. would run huge Current Account Deficits for another 20 years and still maintain such command over a dollar-based global financial apparatus. Who would have believed a global financial arms race was even possible – especially amidst such escalating animosity and hostility?

This is a strange period. It’s strange here at home – in society, in politics and in the markets. It is strange globally. The unprecedented nature of what we see at home, abroad and in the markets provides a lot of leeway with interpretation and analysis. Somehow, there’s a dominant contingent that believes the U.S. is on the right course – that the economic boom will accelerate, markets will, as they always do, continue to rise. The future is bright, all the polarization and social angst notwithstanding. Markets offer unassailable confirmation.

It would be great if the optimists were right. But this was a week that corroborated a much darker interpretation of developments. A decade of unrelenting easy “money” and booming finance has masked a metastasis of festering issues – financial, economic, social and geopolitical. And we’re now only a more general bursting of the global financial Bubble away from having to simultaneously face a bevy of very serious issues. As they tend to do, developments can seem to move at glacial pace – and then, rather suddenly, they can be more akin to lava.

As I have posited repeatedly and expounded in more detail last week, the global Bubble has been pierced at the “periphery.” I also believe the backdrop is now conducive to contagion at the “periphery” (finally) gravitating toward the “core.” The Turkey-induced risk aversion that erupted this week in European equities (bank shares!) is an important escalation in “Periphery to Core Crisis Dynamics.” “Risk off” is gaining a firm foothold, and global financial conditions now tighten by the week. Market pundits expect cooler heads in Ankara and Washington to prevail over the weekend. If not, it could intensify what was already a particularly long and hot summer. ”