Ad Hoc Commentary – corrupting America’s ‘Praetorian Guard’?

“…The Praetorian Guard wasn’t the only elite unit to protect Roman rulers. Early emperors also relied on the Imperial German Bodyguard, a special corps of Germanic tribesmen native to the Rhine River region. Emperors such as Nero and Caligula prized the Germans for their skill in battle, and may have even trusted them over the Praetorians because their outsider status ensured they were less likely to be corrupted by Roman politics and power struggles…”


The Secret Service is America’s version of the Praetorian Guard of Ancient Rome. As history notes, the Praetorian Guard can be corrupted by Roman politics and power struggles. With this insight, let us look at the circumstances surrounding the recent resignation of Julia Pierson, the Secret Service chief. As Fox News reports, the media was instrumental in pushing her out:

“…The sound [of the media] grows so deafening that [Secret Service] agency chief [Julia Pierson] is essentially forced out, simply to allow the administration to change the subject…”

“…Thus, you had White House spokesman Josh Earnest expressing full confidence in Pierson in the morning, and explaining in the afternoon why President Obama had called her to thank her for her service…”


It is probably too early to see if America’s Praetorian Guards will be corrupted by politics and power struggles. But you might want to note that:

“…U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California said he did not think the Secret Service could adequately investigate its own failures…”

“…In a hearing most unusual for the House panel, the criticism of the Secret Service was bipartisan, with both Republican and Democrat lawmakers condemning the agency’s failure with words such as inadequate, shocking, disgraceful and outrageous…”


We remember this is the same Darrell Issa that the NY Times dubbed the Annoyer-in-Chief back in 2010:

“…Republican Emerges as Obama’s Annoyer-in-Chief. Representative Darrell Issa says he revels in his role…”


The president’s Annoyer-in-Chief requesting for far greater and more independent probe of the president’s bodyguards? You make your own conclusions but yours truly is not optimistic. Since yours truly believes that Syria is the balance between peace and war in our time, we note that Obama moved into Syria less than a week after the Sep 19 White House security breach:

“…After keeping his promise to avoid American involvement in extended wars for nearly six years, President Obama on Monday began a military engagement [in Syria] that he acknowledged is likely to far outlive his time in office…”

“…The launch of airstrikes in Syria and expanded U.S. action in Iraq, at the head of a dozens-strong coalition of nations, is by far the biggest commitment of U.S. might Obama has made, far beyond 2011’s limited air action in Libya or the operation that killed Osama bin Laden…”

“…Barely a month ago, there wasn’t even a plan…”

“…For a president who is sometimes criticized for drawn-out decision-making and a reluctance to act, the swiftness of the move from “no strategy” to a massive, extended air assault was stunning…”


We remember that this is the same Commander-In-Chief that had tried very hard to stay out of Syria:

“…No American President has tried harder to stay out of a civil war than Barack Obama in respect of Syria. Back in 2012, he rejected the advice of his entire national security team to arm the non-Islamist rebels. Last year [2013], he managed to avoid launching air strikes in Syria even after the regime had gassed thousands of innocents…”

“…In the early hours of Tuesday [23 Sep 2014], however, everything changed. Mr Obama, the leader who was elected to end wars, began a new campaign in the very country which he had always vowed to avoid. On his orders, 47 Tomahawk cruise missiles and two waves of air strikes pounded Isil targets across Syria…”


We will perhaps never know if the decision to violate of Damascus’s sovereignty was made with a clear mind or with a mind that was recently shaken by the fear of the safety of their loved ones. It probably doesn’t matter anymore since the Tomahawk missiles cannot be undone.


Since war is good for equities in the long run, we should be watching the S&P500 closely. The S&P500 is coming to levels that are moderately interesting to tired bulls now. As usual, this is the month of October, the month where bears comes out of hibernation and scream that the sky is falling. This year their story is NYSE investor net margin debt. Someone obviously forgot to tell the bears that this is 2014, not 2001. Margin debt is a story for the dot com boom where in nearly every wedding dinner you have people talking about equities. Today, if you went to a wedding dinner, you probably hear more about real estate than equities. The retail money is not in equities yet. In any case, yours truly is looking for re-entry levels. It looks exciting here but we probably are better off at the next support level which some bears say is around 1900. Perhaps we should buy some at 1905.


Good luck in the markets.