Why Does Karl Denninger Lie Like That?

The only real value of this post is to point out that the actions of the subject thingy motivated Tim Steele to put together some excellent information on sodium, potassium, and the balance thereof, vis-a-vis The Potato Diet. Otherwise, it’s just a damn chore that I ought just ignore.

Here’s Tim’s post: Mr. Potatohacker: Thank You! Feel completely free to read it and never mind about the rest of this (though I have included some interesting stuff on how potatoes spurred massive population growth toward the end, including a cool, free 57-page paper). I wasn’t about to cast pearls before swine in any meaningful way and was ready just to let this drop, but Tim had the grace to lemonade the thing, and now we have yet another reference in answer to another irrational, baseless fear. So, this post became important to do on that basis alone.

Regarding the backstory—since curious minds have to know—It’s in response to this load of ignorant drivel by some kinda Karl Denninger of The Market Ticker, a blog whose design was ahead of its time in 2001: Mr. Potatohead: Fork You. Denninger fancies himself some sort of low-carbohydrate dietary expert. He also appears to be somewhat of a financial, market, economic, etc. contrarian—but perhaps I’m wrong about that. Didn’t have the interest to bother to look much, and unlike him, I admit shit like that. Having traded options derivatives full time, I’m familiar with the general ways of both cheerleaders and jeerleaders.

It got started when someone who reads the both of us pointed Denninger to this potato post via Twitter and copied me. It got this reply:

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Chuck then tells him he clearly hadn’t read it, because, very near the top of the post:

…it has to be addressed preliminarily so that you clearly understand what it is, what it isn’t, and don’t feel hustled…because that’s what’s typically in play with those sorts of extraordinary claims.

Let’s get this out of the way, right away: It was way mostly water. I’d guess probably 11 pounds of water and 2 pounds of fat…

Now, what an honest man does at this point is any number of things that could include actually reading it, saying “oops,” or otherwise righting himself. But we’re dealing with a contrarian, perhaps one in it for the pure sake of just being contrary until like a stopped clock, he’s right and can point out how much smarter he is than everyone else. So, he doubles down on his dishonesty.

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So unless the laws of logic don’t apply to some kinda Denninger, he just explicitly implicated himself in a boldfaced lie with hubris on top. Either he’s lying about having read it, or his first tweet is an outright lie since he explicitly says he “read all of it in fact,” without any qualification about perhaps missing some crucial element, like the very thing he picked out. There isn’t a logical alternative. It’s one lie or the other. Pick the one you like best.

Really, one need go no further. The man is a liar. He will lie right to your face and when called, double down. And people read him for insights on the market? Of what possible objective value could there be if you can’t trust the guy to consider seriously things that challenge his ideas or conclusions—and especially if he’s going to be publishing on it? Such a lack of any concern for his own proper integrity ought to be quite problematic, given what he does.

He didn’t stop there; once I called him out as a liar myself.

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Amusing. While materially he’s correct, I haven’t read a thing, he uses that (correct) assumption to essentially conclude by clear implication that since I haven’t read his dozen or so posts I could find by searching various keywords on his 2001-era state-of-the-art blog, that I can’t possibly have anything studied to say…on “this,” whatever he means by “this.” And I won’t even bother to set the record straight here at any level, from the number of posts, years writing them, or any of the other things that constitute my extensive long & strong ties to the paleo and LC communities.

Incidentally, that tweet is another bold faced lie right to my face. He’s explicitly contradicting (“Baloney”) that I was explicit about the water weight and explained the mechanism behind it.

Nonetheless, he then proceeds to attempt to extricate himself, but not in an honest, manly way, but by being a little pussy-weasel-wanker.

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So he boldface lies right to my face again, in an attempt to weasel out of the previous lie. What I said was:

…I’d guess probably 11 pounds of water and 2 pounds of fat… [emphasis added]


I estimate 2 pounds because sustained weight loss from commenters in the past seemed to average 1/2 pound daily. [emphasis added]

Seriously, after this many times right out in the open, Denninger is simply a pathological liar. It’s tough to attempt even to characterize what or any level of moral integrity he might possess. Where’s the evidence for any? All we see is proof that character does not apply.

And after all of that straight up lying, purposeful misrepresentation, and then hubris when it’s pointed out to him, he has to go and write a long, useless, potassium-killz-u screed packed with misinformation…that’s falsified before he even begins by the extraordinary number of populations in tough times all over Northern Europe who survived mainly on potatoes, without a known case of hyperkalemia.

…Not to mention this relatively recent 57 page paper in the Quarterly Journal of Economics that mentions potassium one single time (the benefit of): THE POTATO’S CONTRIBUTION TO POPULATION AND URBANIZATION (2011).

Between 1000 and 1900, world population grew from under 300 million to 1.6 billion, and the share of population living in urban areas more than quadrupled, increasing from two to over nine percent. As shown in Figure I, the increase accelerated dramatically over time and occurred almost entirely towards the end of the period. The determinants of these phenomena have been of much interest to economists, demographers, and historians alike.1 This study uses country-level historical data on population and urbanization to empirically investigate the extent to which this historical increase is due to the introduction of potatoes from the New World to the Old World, by which we mean the entire Eastern Hemisphere.

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Potatoes provide more calories, vitamins, and nutrients per area of land sown than other staple crops. The potato’s role in increasing population and promoting economic development has been a subject of much discussion amongst scholars across a variety of disciplines (e.g., Langer 1963; McNeill 1948, 1999; Salaman 1949). For example, historian William Langer (1963, p. 14) argues that within Europe, “the spread of the potato culture everywhere corresponded with the rapid increase of population.” Potatoes dramatically improved agricultural productivity and provided more calories and nutrients relative to preexisting Old World staples. In The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith extols the advantages of potatoes over preexisting staples in Europe, writing that “the food produced by a field of potatoes is… much superior to what is produced by a field of wheat. . . . No food can afford a more decisive proof of its nourishing quality, or of its being peculiarly suitable to the health of the human constitution” (Smith 1776, pp. 67–68).2

Similar observations have been made outside of Europe. A particularly interesting example comes from anthropologist Christoph von Fürer-Haimendorf (1964), who argues that the introduction of the potato into Nepal significantly increased food production and agricultural surplus. He writes that “the population of Khumbu was a fraction of its present size until the middle of the nineteenth century and there can be no doubt that the great increase of the last hundred years coincided with the introduction and spread of the potato” (pp. 9–10).3 Another example is from the famous Japanese scholar Takano Chôei, who wrote of the benefits of the potato in his 1836 treatise Ni butsu kô. He argued that extensive cultivation of potatoes would cure many social ills of the empire by alleviating food demands from a growing population (Laufer 1938, p. 83).

  1. For studies in the growth literature that have focused on the link between population increase and factors such as per capita incomes, see Galor and Weil (2000), Jones (2003), and Voigtländer and Voth (2006). For micro-level studies of the determinants of increased life expectancy, see the literature review provided by Cutler, Deaton, and Lleras-Muney (2006).
  2. Other historians have attributed even greater significance to the potato. McNeill (1999, p. 67), in an article titled “How the Potato Changed World History,” argues that “potatoes, by feeding rapidly growing populations, permitted a handful of European nations to assert domination over most of the world between 1750 and 1950.” He continues, writing that “an essential—but by no means the only—factor explaining the surprising rise of the west . . . was the extra food that potato fields made available to the peoples of northern Europe. It is certain that without potatoes, Germany could not have become the leading industrial and military power of Europe after 1848, and no less certain that Russia could not have loomed so threateningly on Germany’s eastern border after 1891” (p. 82).
  3. Von Fürer-Haimendorf also argues that the increase in agricultural surplus from the potato was responsible for the sophisticated Buddhist civilization that developed in the Sherpa Khumbu region of Eastern Nepal (von Fürer- Haimendorf 1964, pp. 10–11).

Can it get more amusing than this? Perhaps. You decide.

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Alright, enough of this nonsense. Plus, I just found that paper, and now I’m far more interested in reading the other 55 pages than in further wasting time on the likes of some kinda Karl Denninger.

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  1. Mycroft Jones on March 1, 2016 at 00:02

    One more bit on potassium. I read some accounts of a 400 pound man who fasted for a year to get rid of his excess fat. The doctors monitored him closely. After three months they gave him a bit of brewers yeast, because his potassium levels dipped and he needed some vitamin B. So, body can preserve potassium, but people generally get way too little of it.

    Potassium and boron are highly alkaline. In all my life I never had alkaline urine until I started taking boron and potassium. So much for all those overpriced Kangan water machines!

    I think soil and veterinary science have a lot to teach us about trace minerals. For every mineral deficiency, it is well studied in multiple forms of livestock. And for each deficiency, there are symptoms that match up with human disorders.

  2. Mycroft Jones on March 1, 2016 at 00:08

    Here is the story:

    Back in June of 1965, a Scotsman weighing 207 kilograms, described as “grossly obese” and hereafter known only as Mr A B, turned up at the Department of Medicine at the Royal Infirmary in Dundee.

    He was sick of being fat and wanted to lose weight by eating nothing and living off his body fat. He told the hospital staff he was going to fast flat out, whatever they said, so they may as well monitor him along the way.

    He ended up fasting for one year and 17 days — that’s right, he ate no food at all for over a year. He lived entirely off his copious body fat, in the end losing about 125 kilograms of weight.

    In the case of our big Scotsman, Mr A B, the staff in the medical school at the University of Dundee kept a close eye on him. He did not eat any food, but the staff gave him yeast for the first 10 months and multi-vitamins every day. Potassium is essential for the proper working of the heart, and when his potassium levels got a little low around the 100-day mark, he was given potassium tablets for about 70 days. He defaecated infrequently, roughly every 40 to 50 days.

    Blood samples were taken every fortnight, and his carbohydrate metabolism was checked on nine occasions during the 382 days of his fast. Surprisingly, for the last eight months of his fast, his blood glucose levels were consistently very low. They were around two millimoles, which is about half of the bottom end of the normal range. Even so, he did not suffer clinically from this abnormally low blood glucose level.

    His weight dropped from 207 kilograms to 82 kilograms. Some five years later, he had regained only 7 kilograms.


    And why bring up potassium again? It ties in with something Gemma noticed. Dandelion root is high in potassium. Recently, the university of Manitoba confirmed old folklore; dandelion root actually can kick ass on a lot of different types of cancer (but not brain cancer). The mechanism isn’t the potassium; but a lot of people are pushing high alkalinity (which potassium provides in spades) to deal with cancer. I think they were groping for SOMETHING that was really there.


    “We scientifically validated that dandelion root extract has very potent anti-cancer activity,” said Dr. Siryaram Pandey, professor of biochemistry at the University of Windsor, According to Pandey, the tea is being developed as a therapeutic agent, not a nutritional supplement.


    • Gemma on March 1, 2016 at 09:48

      @Mycroft Jones

      Dandelion “tea” – great find! As if the old herbalists didn’t know…

      Here’s the patent application (basically freeze dry the dandelion root, grind and make alcohol tincture):
      Medicament Containing Taraxacum Plant Root Extract for Treatment or Prevention of Cancer, and Method for Preparing Same

      • Mycroft Jones on March 1, 2016 at 11:36

        I don’t know Wilbur. But when I read about it last fall, I dug up as many dandelion roots as I could, let them dry on the kitchen table, and they have lasted amazingly well. I just take a root, put a cup of water in the blender, and blend it up. First I snap the dandelion root into the smallest possible pieces that I can by hand, with my fingers.

        I came up with my method after reading George Cairns explanations, via this article:


        More info:


        Canadian Researchers Discover Dandelion’s Potential In The Lab

        Researchers at the University of Windsor, Canada, were given the go-ahead for clinically testing the effectiveness of dandelion root extract for treating cancer in 30 patients.

        The move into the human trial phase comes after lab tests and animal tests found that dandelion root extract was effective in inducing apoptosis, or cell suicide, in tumor cells, while leaving healthy cells alone.

      • Wilbur on March 1, 2016 at 10:26

        Is there a difference in effectiveness of ground dandelion powder vs extract, assuming roughly equal quantities of root are used? I use about a Tablespoon in my fiber drink, albeit it’s more for the inulin.

      • Mycroft Jones on March 1, 2016 at 11:36

        Wouldn’t that be hilarious if the cure for cancer was in our front yards all this time.

      • Wilbur on March 1, 2016 at 11:50


        “Wouldn’t that be hilarious if the cure for cancer was in our front yards all this time.”

        Or wouldn’t it be ironic if a major cause of cancer is the stuff we used to kill the stuff that cures it?

        (My county banned cosmetic pesticides. We’ll see how this works!)

      • Mycroft Jones on March 1, 2016 at 12:37

        Wilbur: yes. One of my favorite books on that topic is “Weeds, Guardians of the Soil” http://journeytoforever.org/farm_library/weeds/WeedsToC.html

      • Mycroft Jones on March 1, 2016 at 21:06

        Wilbur, speaking more of potassium, and “what if the pesticides/herbicides were causing the cancer…” Just found out a link today between honeybees and potassium. They don’t like it. What is a major fertilizer? Potassium phosphate. Areas that use fertilizer are hard on honeybees. Permaculture areas like described in One Straw Revolution, have no such problem. Mulch is a great way to rebuild mineral balance, after an initial application to fix the missing things.

  3. cremes on March 1, 2016 at 05:03

    Oh, the butthurt shall flow.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 1, 2016 at 07:45

      And what exactly do you mean by that?

      • cremes on March 1, 2016 at 08:59

        Karl’s butthurt shall flow.

        He’ll either be disciplined and ignore this post (probable) or he’ll murder a shitload of straw men in response with plenty of bold and italic so we know what’s important (possible).

        And now that is exactly what I mean, neither more or less.

  4. king of the one eyed people on March 1, 2016 at 05:14

    Nasty old man potty mouth is not so good for your blog.
    Good day sir.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 1, 2016 at 07:24

      That’s what you think.

      • king of the one eyed people on March 1, 2016 at 15:15

        I hope you are right.

  5. laFrite on March 1, 2016 at 05:45

    Who is this ? Why should one care about his mouth farts ?

    • Richard Nikoley on March 1, 2016 at 07:23

      He’s reasonably well known in financial market circles. Wouldn’t have touched it except that obviously, his LC bias is driving this.

      Same old shit. And the trash needs taking out. As I said, you didn’t have to read it, so not sure why you find need of repeating me.

  6. Tim M. on March 1, 2016 at 06:36


    I agree with Karl Denninger when he says that what one really needs is a new lifestyle of eating and not some kind of fad diet, otherwise you’ll never make any progress. But what is better, the no-carb lifestyle or the “Perfect Health Diet” that you have long recommended. He also goes on about how his Low carb regimen has saved many from the awful effects of diabetes but never mentions any negative things that many low-carbers experience.

    I find it interesting that he makes a comment on his blog post of what happens when you happen to cheat just a little bit and get out of the “purple zone”.

    “Well, for one thing, your sleep will get ****ed up.

    You will immediately get thirsty, as your body will go back into requiring the larger water amount for carbohydrate consumption. If you do the cheating just before going to bed, expect to wake up and want water — maybe more than once. Step on the scale and you’ll confirm that too; easy +2 lbs, maybe 3 depending on how bad your cheated. It’s not fat, it’s water.

    I get a pretty-nasty brain fog and sometimes a headache to go with it. Kinda like the fun you experience when you stop drinking coffee, but not quite as bad. Nonetheless, it’s unpleasant; sort of like a mild hangover.

    And if you go attempt heavy physical exertion you may get a surprise of the unpleasant sort. My lactate threshold performance maximum will drop quite materially; the threshold heart rate doesn’t change in a day or three (obviously) but what DOES change is the speed you can maintain over time without violating that. It’s good for a solid 15 seconds/mile, and I feel like **** too.

    Oh, and there’s the back door aspect of it too which can be quite ugly if you go for a run….. playing hell with the digestive system may be the worst of it, frankly.

    If I manage to knock myself completely out of burning fats I know about without having to whiz on a strip. If I really want to confirm it I can, but it’s not necessary — it’s obvious.

    It takes me a couple of days, sometimes three, for things to go back to normal — and they’re not good days.”

    Does that sound like a great lifestyle? Always worrying about staying in the ketone zone so you don’t suffer days of discomfort? Does that sound like a natural way to be?

    I’ve never seen him write one word of the possible negative effects of going low carb for long term. Many of the low-carb zealots say that there is no such thing as having a carbohydrate deficiency. Your body can make all of the glucose it needs from fat.

    But here are four articles by Paul Jaminet where he brings up some important facts that one should really know before deciding to go on a long term low-carb lifestyle. Nothing you haven’t covered before but I want to link it here so that any low-carbers who come here can’t say they weren’t warned.





    Here is a recent talk that Paul Jaminet did at a conference. It summarizes his Perfect Health Diet very well. It’s well worth the one hour to watch. The big take home to me is to just look how Paul Jaminet looks up there on stage. He just looks much healthier than many of these Low-carb zealots. Compare Jaminet to Denninger, Al Sharpton, Judge Napolitano and the others who look like they just got out of a Nazi concentration camp.


  7. Bob on March 1, 2016 at 06:56

    Dear Karl: Do the math!


    Although drastic weight cuts are anything but uncommon in MMA, UFC welterweight Mike Rhodes may have taken things to a whole new level for his octagon debut in January.

    Rhodes accepted a short-notice bout against George Sullivan at UFC on FOX 10 and had just 11 days to tip the scale at the 171-pound welterweight limit. Even though he initially tipped the scale at more 200 pounds when he agreed to the contest, Rhodes did everything possible to make the cut and was ultimately successful.

    But it came at a cost.

    “I cut 36 pounds in 11 days,” Rhodes, who returns Saturday at UFC Fight Night 43, told MMAjunkie. “It was very mentally draining. I had to pretend to everyone that I was OK. I was trying to tell myself that I was OK by telling other people that. I was trying to make myself believe it, but it’s something I hope I never have to do again, but you can’t say no to the UFC.”

    • Richard Nikoley on March 1, 2016 at 07:33

      Tim Ferriss has a great post on exactly how to do something like that. What was surprising to me is that to really get the flush going initially on the hydration and not food side (that part is obvious…big cal restriction and not necessarily LC, can be HC too, but cal restriction is the big factor in spite of what LCers erroneously believe) you initially over hydrate big time and when you stop and resrict fluid, your body just keeps on dumping.

      • hap on March 2, 2016 at 09:26

        All I can say, is that when I engage in an intermittent fast, even if no more than 24 hours, I pee a load.

  8. Alex on March 1, 2016 at 08:06

    Dear Karl, perhaps you can also enlighten us on the unquestionable wisdom of your wonderful Blackberry trades? Still a “buy”?

    Any other stocks you are buying? Whole trading communities have made coin on those recommendations! Fade-the-f-ing-Dong…

    Dong even ticked the top for LC when he bandwagoned. Such talent.

    TLDR: taking the opposite position from Karl “Da Dong” Denninger is a very safe thing to do.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 1, 2016 at 08:13

      “TLDR: taking the opposite position from Karl “Da Dong” Denninger is a very safe thing to do.”

      Ha, isn’t that the truth. Lots of market timer guys like that. The smart money is always the agnostic money but some folks are very reliable at being wrong.

  9. The Colonel on March 1, 2016 at 21:19

    Hey all.

    Very long time lurker. Anyone get chill on the spud hack? I’m usually a twitching bag of nerves (caffeine induced I suspect) but after a stuffing cold spuds in my mouth the past few days I’ve noticed I feel very calm and centered and cheerful approx half hour after eating 500g of spuds. A cure for anxiety?

    Was wondering if anyone else experienced similar?

    • Richard Nikoley on March 1, 2016 at 22:12

      Yes and it’s quite ridiculous. I find it difficult to get outraged about anything much and outrage is something I’m pretty familiar with.

      Christ, I’m losing my edge.

      I even told Bea I was really happy a few times the last few days. How fucking pathetic is that?

      • The Colonel on March 1, 2016 at 23:54


        Even more reason to continue. I could do with more happiness that’s for sure. How can the humble spud do such cool things?

        I’ve been doing a spud/watermelon diet. The two go together great. Watermelon is very filling and low in cals. Just thought I’d share.

        Keep up the great work. Such an interesting blog. Thank you.

      • Ed R. on March 5, 2016 at 17:46

        I don’t remember whose blog I read it on, but there was a post “potatoes, not Prozac” Again don’t remember the details. I think it had something to do with serotonin.

  10. Jesse on March 2, 2016 at 17:36

    He’s been calling the “crash” for the past 5+ years. His catch phrase is “here it comes”. Only thing that comes is… well, another post on something else.

    Dude pumped BlackBerry, bought in, swore by it and is looking more and more like the blow-hard TV nut-job analyst, Cramer. the only thing he nails are the charts from the Fed and reports they release. fade the rest.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2016 at 19:34

      When and if it does crash, watch him play stopped clock.

      No prediction is worth a crap unless it comes with timing.

  11. Woodchuck Pirate on March 7, 2016 at 14:24

    Hello Richard,

    I’m enjoying a rare occasion away from the farm where I have no internet, and I was surprised to see you mention Karl Denninger. I visit Karl’s blog every day that I am able. I should make no personal criticism of him, however observations are plenty to trim what utility I can absorb from his fixations.

    Karl’s vision of the criminal medical monopoly, federal deficit spending since 1980, and the law of exponents regarding socialism security promises are enough incentive for me to sift through his posts for evidence of any tremors arising in his static state of cognitive dissonance and pragmatism (aversion to principle).

    Karl has taken visible steps to withdraw consent and participation from generating tax revenue but he appears to expend an equal amount of energy throwing up mental fences between himself and anarchy. He knows statism is truly dead, but he wants it patched up, not buried to rot in hell where it belongs. As he knows he’s not about to receive the “gift” of either he busies himself with consulting his ovaries about how neat his car or cell phone is, and often posts his weight loss pics. I’ve not seen him reveal any experience of resistant starch, gut biome, anarcho-capitalism, or the difference between sophistry and philosophy. He’s not up to it and I’ve long since learned to avoid his diet/political posts but for the obvious facts. I can not feign respect for leaps of faith.

    Karl is constantly posting outrage over some perpetual aggression/fraud he’s discovered on his daily trip to the poison well of the mixed economy model (socialism not capitalism). Yet his outrage is always postured as “well why don’t you people stand up and put a stop to this outrageous shit?” Well, for fucks sake Karl, yer the patriot, statist, obedient, dependent, blowhard pontificating on right versus wrong while rejecting individual responsibility and accountability of adherence to the non-aggression principle. Who’s waiting on who?

    Karl yields a threatening “ban” hammer against members whom dare post rhetoric that does not yield individual exemption of accountability for anyone in military uniform while he strokes his ego safely within the imaginary walls of system slavery. That slavery he intends obligatory for one and all. Every statist does.

    Karl does not want real freedom, he wants socialism. Every sophist does. Karl is comfortable where he is, patting himself on the back for mediocre body toning and that’s alright with me as long as he doesn’t get in the way of my axe while I’m splitting locust trees. Some men got real work to do, disinterested in the shameful nonsense of cubicle livestock wasting time wearing out sneakers running nowhere.

    Having said all that I very much like Karl although I’ve never met him. I recognize that it’s irrational for me to seek the conversion of others. I’ll continue to practice focused misanthropy when Karl takes pen in hand to sing the praises of cell phone culture while his aversion to principle facilitates target marketing of product toward blood sucking statists and the military industrial complex employees that Karl has no cultural or genetic courage to confront. I extend the same charity to Ted Nugent as he screams for “freedom baby” and then endorses the likes of Mitt Romney whom banned weapons as state governor.

    There may be some real cowboys left in america, but there are very few real men. I say leave the manchildren to their cubicles, cell phones, and idiocracy. The nukes are scheduled for launch and none but 0.01% want anything better than what they are about to receive. Meanwhile I prefer to study 7 words from Amebix, : “Rejoice, the great god fear is dead.”

    Thank you Richard for setting fire to complacency.


    Between the beast and man we die. Here comes the wolf.


    Woodchuck Pirate
    aka Raymond J Raupers Jr USA

    • Richard Nikoley on March 7, 2016 at 15:52

      “I extend the same charity to Ted Nugent as he screams for “freedom baby” and then endorses the likes of Mitt Romney whom banned weapons as state governor.”

      Yep, I know exactly what you mean by that. So many. Any this is why I extend far more dispensation to those generally on the right, than I do to those on the left.

  12. Matt on January 23, 2020 at 16:56

    He used to post about some interesting financial topics circa 10 years ago but he’s now suffering a serious case of boomer-disease and most posts are illucid political rants pandering to his primary audience of scared 75 year olds. none of these people do anything but complain.

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