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AMUSING...NOT - By Charles Payne

Aug. 15, 2012 9:52 AM ET
Please Note: Blog posts are not selected, edited or screened by Seeking Alpha editors.

By all the things you say that you'll do.
Though much concerned but not involved
With decisions that are made by you

-Stevie Wonder

I figured that I better get on the McKayla "I'm not amused" bandwagon before it jumps the shark (if I'm talking about pop culture, even five days late, you can bet I'm late). Knowing that her slip cost her a gold medal, McKayla Maroney gave us the smirk of the year and became a sensation.

The picture has been photoshopped in every way imaginable, mostly for giggles, although there have been no limits. So, I figured I'd take a shot at it myself.

"We are not amused."
Queen Victoria

Back in the day, Queen Victoria found a joke told by a groom-in-waiting to a German visitor to be too vulgar for her court, especially the ladies, and she made it known. (there are other versions of the story). These days, it seems popular amusement is so much more vulgar than anything the Queen could have imagined. The common denominator involves ignorance, stupidity, and base conflict. But, reality television mostly mirrors the nation rather than dictates its direction. There are more dangerous influences.

Joe Biden, I'm not amused, but comments that Republicans are "gonna put y'all back in chains," is the most insidious possible by an elected official. When your economic record is trash, you start a race war. Sadly, people are eating it up in this new America where everyone is a victim.

I'm not amused with Hollywood, which gets to have all the cake and eat it too. Anne Hathaway gets to blast the 1% in character, but heads their ranks in real life. Of course, the music industry is even more hypocritical, with Russell Simmons pushing a debit card on the poorest Americans after making millions selling music that more often than not promotes anything but civilized behavior, yet championing Occupy Wall Street.

It's not amusing, although a reason America is great is that almost half the entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley were born outside this nation. I don't begrudge them; on the contrary, they should be applauded. But, where are the homegrown visionaries? It's not a high tech phenomenon either. From local delis (bodegas) to nail salons, America is still the land of milk and honey and endless possibilities for financial freedom.

The millions still living in their own personal economic hell can't be amused when economists gushed over a retail sales number that beat consensus. If we have one good number for every three awful numbers and still pop the champagne, then there is a new paradigm in economics.

I pointed out at the start of the market rebound that professionals found a place to celebrate mediocrity. The economy isn't dead, but I'm not amused by all the hype when we should expect and demand more from all aspects of the economy.

Despite the fact we've plummeted into the pits of hell on the Queen Victoria risqué scale, and mediocrity is cheered from the rafters, the country is still holding up enough to resume its great run. We should be as upset with a silver medal as McKayla, but we are being pitched the idea we can live in a land where we all get awards, like those little tiny trophies handed out in pee-wee league, whether earned or not. Those trophies are to be made from the gold taken from successful people that did the right thing. But, the great news for so many folks would be no chains.

As much as I love Stevie Wonder for his music and his efforts towards humanity, he doesn't hold President Obama to the same scrutiny as the lyrics in "You haven't Done Nothing" and that is not only not amusing, but the great threat to the nation. Some rich people get a free pass and others are greedy. Some politicians get a free pass while others are incompetent. Organizations that spend every nickel taken in and often have nothing to show for the effort are angelic while those that hire thousands of people and try to earn a profit are evil.

Anyone looking to preserve America's greatness will have to do more than scowl, smirk and cry. Like McKayla, I don't want to settle for silver or less.

Today's Session

The inability to hold rally attempts this week is the big story. The stealth rally has found a very public resistance point, which speaks to the need for news to catapult stocks higher. The consensus is shifting to the notion of a world without more Fed stimulus because things are so great otherwise. The consensus game is a doubled-edge sword where bad news can be seen as good news and that's great except when you are rooting for bad news to be bad news. There were disappointments this morning including earnings from Deere (DE) and Staples (SPLS), both victims of weakness in Europe.

Empire State Survey

I guess by now most people have heard the Robert Deniro narrated commercial for New York that proclaims the state is back. What's odd is all the great stuff mentioned about the state happened between 100 to 200 years ago, which belies the notion the state is back. The notion was more than belied this morning; it was crushed with the release of the Empire State Manufacturing data for August. Headlines within the report say it all:

"Input prices accelerate"
"Optimism continues to wane"
"Business conditions deteriorate"

Of those surveyed, 22% say conditions improved while 28% say conditions have worsened. New orders continue to slide while employment edges higher, but only modestly. In the meantime prices paid spiked to reading of 16.47 from 7.41 in July.

This is a regional Federal Reserve report that read like a Wall Street trader begging for help from the Federal Reserve.


But we are sick and tired of hearing your song
Tellin' how you are gonna change right from wrong
'Cause if you really want to hear our views:
"You haven't done nothin'"

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