Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fiscal Crisis, Part III: Who's to Blame for Mortgage Mess?

Short answer: Surprise! The Democrats.

I've written here before about one or more very quiet initiatives during the Clinton Administration that were undertaken by the White House to beef up Democrat-friendly voter roles, particularly in California, by rapidly processing Hispanic immigrants into citizenship and, en route, registering them as Democrats. Illegal activities abounded here, but of course were never reported because the media, all socialists, had no interest in letting people know about the demographic bomb that was happening. I've discussed this in HaZzZmat before, and will follow up at some future point when I have time to look up the links to back this up. Suffice to say, the state that gave us Ronald Reagan and predictable conservative electors (53 of 'em) for many years is now overwhelmed with new Democrats who've taken the state pretty much permanently out of the GOP column.

Fast forward just a bit. Another swell way to make sure new immigrants stay in your party's pocket is to give them really nice goodies. In the Second Clinton Administration, the Clintonistas put pressure on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac--those "quasi governmental" creations so much in the news of late and creatures of the Roosevelt and Johnson administrations BTW--to buy essentially substandard mortgages that they normally wouldn't buy because they weren't safe. This had the effect of bringing rates down for individuals with less money to purchase homes. I.e., the new immigrants the Dems were assiduously courting in order to eventually strip southwestern states off forever from the Republicans.

This, too, was a success. And it snowballed in the early 2000s, as Clinton left the White House--remember, Bush didn't occupy it until 2001--as Fannie and Freddie pressured banks and other institutions to originate these bad loans. The lending institutions for their part, after some initial skepticism, were happy to join the party as the spreads involved in substandard loans made them rich beyond avarice. The ultimate result is the current disaster.

Lest you imagine that Bush and the Repubs were asleep at the switch and ignoring the increasing danger of the enormous number of risky loans, don't forget (although the media wants you to) that Bush and the Repubs tried to ram through a 2005 bill to get this mess under control. The Dems ganged up and rejected it. Fun fact: the bill's co-sponsor was John McCain.

And while we're at it, the two Clintonistas who ran Fannie Mae while this mess was being cooked up--Jim Johnson and Frank Raines--profited handsomely from it before their outrageous behavior caused their eventual ouster. They are now Barack Obama's fiscal advisors.

More to come.

Fiscal Crisis, Part II: The Ongoing Disaster

Since I was able to muster my last post on this topic on September 17, obviously, a lot has happened including our latest Black Monday wherein the Dow Jones Industrial Average tanked 777 points the last time I was able to look. I've spent a good deal of time since the 17th trying to stem the red ink in my portfolio which, frankly, has begun to eliminate a fairly large percentage of the capital sitting in my various IRA rollovers which are now under my control due to the layoff I experienced in July, detailed in earlier posts.

As a former professional investor, I'm not going to cry about this. I should've sold off more positions when I had the chance, and now I have to ride the barrel over the falls and try to enjoy the thrill of a seemingly endless drop with unknown consequences below.

Problem is, I'm not the only one experiencing this unwelcome ride, as the first wave of Baby Boomers watches as the Wall Street and Congressional booboisie eliminate a lifetime of savings and any chance of recovering a retirement fund before death, so great is the damage becoming.

I indicated in an earlier post that systematic rampaging short selling of the financials by large investors, particularly hedge funds--and very possibly aided and abetted by other sinister forces that could range anywhere from the now largely-silent George Soros (who, lest we forget, badly damaged the British pound singlehandedly in the early 1990s) to foreign governments who wish us ill--has resulted in the ongoing and apparently systematic destruction of the American banking and credit system. And it's happening like Chinese water torture, too, with each weakened financial institution being slammed down by the short sellers, and then taken out back and shot with the complicity of the Federal government which rightly fears a run on the financial system by the public, a la the 1930s.

The SEC thought they solved the problem at least temporarily by re-imposing their "temporary" ban on short selling in the financials. Well, that worked for about a day. A better idea would be reinstituting the uptick rule they abandoned last summer, an amazingly stupid move for which we continue to pay. Eliminating the rule, which dates from the 1930s, has allowed large institutions to short targeted stocks into oblivion before the average investor even knows what's happened. You used to have to short a stock after an "uptick." I.e., a buy transaction. This has the effect of slowing the motion of a gang of shorts rather considerably, allowing time for cooler heads to prevail and allowing appropriate responses from responsible parties if things get too intense.

Without this traditional circuit breaker, large institutions are back to what they used to do before the rule existed, with one firm shorting a boatload of stock A and then effectively passing the baton to a second firm, and then a third, all forming a sort of "short club" that eventually leaves the rich Harvard econ grads even richer, having profited by little guys who believe in the market but don't watch it every minute.

But the crisis we're in has been becoming more complex than merely having to deal with the shorts. So many bad things have happened so quickly that it's tough to follow them. What I'd like to do is slice and dice some of this stuff into bite sized pieces you might be able to understand if you're not a pro.

The only person currently doing this kind of stuff is Jim Cramer, a former professional hedge fund trader himself. Today's "professionals," the ones who've helped get us into this mess, like to deride Cramer as a clown, but he's been telling it straight, save for his latest jabs at the Republicans for allegedly having caused all this. While an awful lot of inarticulate Republicans have been behaving like boobs on this issue, it's actually the Dems who created the condition for the current problems as we'll explain.

The story actually began, as many bad things do, not with the election of George W. Bush, but with more sneaky little tricks from the actual villains of the current mess, Bill Clinton and the Clintonistas who actually started the subprime mess in an attempt to buy votes and provice cushy jobs in the financial world for loyal Democrat pols. I'll discuss this history briefly in my next post, then move quickly on to the currently unfolding Act in this play, which could very well bring us 1929 redux. And maybe it's already started.

And you'll surprised to find out that very little, if any of it, is Bush's fault. Who knew?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Shorts Feeling a Little Tight? Part I: Dumping the Banking System into Oblivion

I hope so. I'm referring, of course, to the nefarious short sellers who are singlehandedly destroying what's left of the banking system, not your tighty whities. Although your knickers might very well be in a knot after the series of mad-slasher horror films we've been seeing unfold live on Wall Street this week in a series of events that's coming very close to the cataclysm of 1929. And the sad thing is, it's kind of an instant replay of that horrific economic event. Except, since they don't teach history in schools anymore, there's almost nobody left to explain a major part of what really happened then and is happening now.

For those who aren't market aficionados, you generally imagine that investing in the stock market means that, say, you buy a stock at $10, and hopefully, within a reasonable amount of time, it goes to $15, giving you a $5 profit less commissions, which are pretty low these days compared to the days when I was in the biz. Your average Joe knows this and that's probably enough. In the trade, it's called going long, or being long a stock. Or having a long position.

I used to teach investment classes in community college years ago. And the toughest thing I had to teach was the concept of the short sale, going short, or having a short position. Quite simply, it's the opposite of what I just described, going long or buying a stock. When you buy that $10 stock, establishing that long position, if the stock goes up over $10 you make money. If it goes below $10, you lose money.

Long positions are established when investors think the company is doing a good job, think other investors will agree, and want to join all of them in riding the stock up when more and more people want to buy it and bid it up. But what can you do if you see a $10 stock out there that's lousy and may very well sink to $5? You probably wouldn't want to get involved because you'd lose money, right?

Well, not necessarily. You can go out and actually borrow that $10 stock, sell it to someone else, and pocket the change for awhile. Then if you're right, and, say, the stock does sink to $5, well, you take half of the $10 ($5) you took in for selling the borrowed stock, buy it back, give it back to the person you borrowed it from, and pocket $5. I.e., you've actually made 5 bucks when the stock went down. How cool is that?

Most of the neophyte investors in my classes needed this explained two, sometimes three times and it still made them uncomfortable. It just seemed so, well, perverse, making money when, presumably, other people were losing their shirts. But in fact, it's good economics. The stock market is in the end an auction market and you always need to match buyers and sellers to have an orderly market. Short sellers pick up the slack in their part of the universe by selling, where as your normal average investor provides the long side.

Up to this point, my explanation is almost ridiculously oversimplified. I haven't talked about margin, about where you find the stock to borrow for a short sale, etc., etc. And you're probably still a little baffled about why the short side of trading is a good thing. But don't worry about that. Because in the market, as anywhere else, too much of a good thing can become a very bad thing.

When we have too many people on the long side bidding up investments at a too-rapid pace--as in the 1999-2000 dot.bomb, the $500,000 house you bought in 2005 that's now worth $250,000, and oil that was $147 a barrel in July and is under $100 at least as of this evening?--when this happens, we get a bubble and it bursts and people who climbed into the investments after, say, the half-way point gets killed when the bubble collapses. In this case, we had too many buyers chasing too few goods.

Well, the opposite thing can happen too. If too many people start dumping (shorting) a stock or other investment too fast and/or with too much fervor, they can actually succeed in crashing it and wiping out the investment. If you wipe out too many investments, well, you shake faith in the markets and can start wiping out the very mechanisms that enabled you to make money both long and short in the first place, which, like a bubble, is no good for anyone.

But no matter. In 1929, and again today in 2008, there are a certain number of predatory investors--many of them involved in hedge funds, but also rich guys (Soros anyone?) and perhaps even foreign governments--predatory investors who have gone so far overboard that their blatant and in many instances almost certainly illegal activities are on the verge of wiping out the entire American banking system. And worse, spreading systemic risk to the entire world banking system. All the economic systems have been slow to act and react, compounding the problem, and the SEC in particular has been asleep at the switch.

Hence, today's latest market catastrophe, the morning after the U.S. government effectively nationalized a huge insurance conglomerate, AIG, in order to "save" it, no less. After a bloody day like today, they didn't get much bang for out $85B bucks, did they?

It's their own fault, it's Wall Street's fault. But in some ways it's our fault too for starting the whole housing-oil-hedge fund-bubble-bust cycle by actually believing that house prices never go down; that it's okay to pay no money down on real estate; and that the 3% mortgage we got two years ago would be no problem when it went up to 8% because the housing appreciation would take care of the jump.

The result of this vicious cycle is now nearing its inevitable crash landing scenario. How bad it is, we should know in a couple of days or a couple of weeks. The sun will come out tomorrow, but I hope that when it does, you and I aren't standing on opposite street corners trying to sell Granny Smith apples starting at a dime and then trying to gain market share by dropping the price on each other until we make no money at all. It's that bad.

Rather than make this post lengthier, I'll finish up in 2 or 3 more posts. It's late now and I have some biz to attend to in the morning, then have to look at what's left of my portfolio. If I haven't jumped out of a building at that point, I'll take you back to 1929 to describe how "short clubs" worked; explain to you today how they're working again, courtesy of your asleep at the switch (or co-opted) SEC; and offer my opinion as to whether, due to some belated actions today by the SEC, we have any chance of regaining trust in the current banking system before you hear that giant FLUSHing sound signifying the end of our portfolios, the death of our retirement funds before our own demise, and the end of Wall Street as we know it.

Have a good evening. If you can.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Obama = Alinsky = Gramsci = Marx

I've been a bit delayed on the posts I promised due to the almost unbelievable Wall Street mess currently unfolding for any of our readers who pay attention to this stuff. I'm an active investor and, like others, I have been getting creamed by the nonsense in the fiscal realm that threatens to throttle what's left of the current economy. Oddly, however, focusing on this has also served to help me develop some random thoughts that are fast congealing into the kind of "unified political and cultural theory" I've been working on. So it's time for this preliminary post providing some theoretical background. And then several more developing political and cultural ramifications that we can readily derive from this one.

The header above is my (hopefully) provocative way of steering you to a portion of a post I found on Little Green Footballs last week, but only now have time to address. I was startled with its clarity in connecting stealth Marxist candidate Barack Obama to the great Commie chain of being via the theories of Antonio Gramsci, whose nefarious work I've detailed here in HazZzMat many times before.

Gramsci, as you may (or may not) know was the Italian Marxist theorist who evolved what we in America knew as the "Popular Front" approach to Marxist revolution--burrowing within organizations rather than attacking capitalism head on--and evolving it into a fine art of infiltration and cultural destruction. The end result: to completely alter the political message to one defending capitalism, religion, the middle class, family, and Western cultural traditions--including government, academia, media, and jurisprudence--to a new message that dwelt upon the evils of tradition, the oppressiveness of the West, etc. Gramsci believed that by changing the cultural message--for current usage, substitute the word "narrative"--to one espousing socialism and class struggle, you could eviscerate Western culture from within.

And now the posted lengthy excerpt from Little Green Footballs that connects some dots from Gramsci to his witting operatives in the U.S., a brilliant model of concision that I wish I could follow a little better myself:
In her game-changing convention speech, Sarah Palin took a swipe at Obama for having been nothing more in his life than a ‘community organiser’.

This prompted the Obama campaign to issue a pained defence of community organisation as a way of promoting social change ‘from the bottom up’. The impression is that community organising is a worthy if woolly and ultimately ineffectual grassroots activity. This is to miss something of the greatest importance: that in the world of Barack Obama, community organisers are a key strategy in a different game altogether; and the name of that game is revolutionary Marxism.

The seditious role of the community organiser was developed by an extreme left intellectual called Saul Alinsky. He was a radical Chicago activist who, by the time he died in 1972, had had a profound influence on the highest levels of the Democratic party. Alinsky was a ‘transformational Marxist’ in the mould of Antonio Gramsci, who promoted the strategy of a ‘long march through the institutions’ by capturing the culture and turning it inside out as the most effective means of overturning western society. In similar vein, Alinsky condemned the New Left for alienating the general public by its demonstrations and outlandish appearance. The revolution had to be carried out through stealth and deception. Its proponents had to cultivate an image of centrism and pragmatism. A master of infiltration, Alinsky wooed Chicago mobsters and Wall Street financiers alike. And successive Democratic politicians fell under his spell.

His creed was set out in his book ‘Rules for Radicals’ – a book he dedicated to Lucifer, whom he called the ‘first radical’. It was Alinsky for whom ‘change’ was his mantra. And by ‘change’, he meant a Marxist revolution achieved by slow, incremental, Machiavellian means which turned society inside out. This had to be done through systematic deception, winning the trust of the naively idealistic middle class by using the language of morality to conceal an agenda designed to destroy it. And the way to do this, he said, was through ‘people’s organisations’.

Following the link to its source in the (U.K) Spectator, you can read the entire article which was penned by the highly astute Melanie Phillips.

I should note that Hillary Clinton, another Chigagoan, has read from the same Alinsky playbook, although Obama's Gramsci-Alinsky connection is far more obvious if anyone would ever take a look.

Phillips' piece goes on to point out what I've been attempting to outline here for a couple of years now from time to time. Namely that, since the initial false start of the "Popular Front" in the 1930s, and with a brief intermission for the Second World War, either the CPUSA or the numerous Communist front organizations that budded from the initial organism in the '50s, '60s, 70s, and '80s have steadily yet stealthily taken over academia (entirely), government (mostly, and largely through infiltrating government unions like AFSCME), the judiciary (50-70%), culture and the arts (nearly 100%), the mainstream media (nearly 100%), much of the legal profession (particularly via the trial lawyers), the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association (which provides Freudian excuses for the innocence of violent criminals and deviant behaviors), and lately, the once-objective science community as evidenced by the now quasi-religious dogma of "global warming."

Phillips sums it up this way at the conclusion of her article:

Alinsky was a radical straight out of the Gramsci playbook. In both America and Britain, Gramsci’s acolytes have been conducting a decades-long march through the institutions. In Britain, they have substantially achieved their aim of subverting western morality and changing the face of British society. No political party stands against this. In the US, they have made huge inroads but haven’t yet won. With Palin on one side and Obama on the other, it is now clear that this US presidential election has taken the culture war to the gates of the White House itself.

"March through the institutions." That pretty well describes what's been going on and I couldn't agree more.

In succeeding posts, I'll try to relate this to the ferocious Democrat assault on Sarah Palin; to its relation to the now-re-heating culture wars; to the current economic melt-down whose flames are being stoked by the most astonishing, Gramsci-inspired fiscal disinformation campaign I've ever seen. All three of these threads need to be exposed and defeated prior to the November elections, or 1929 will soon look like a huckleberry party.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Postings This Weekend and Other Stuff

I've taken a short hiatus once again to help Mrs. Wonker get ready for yet another trip to Cleveland to deal with the last remaining parental unit between the two of us--her 95-year old dad who's becoming quite frail.

I lost my mother in late 2006 after her amazingly long battle with MS and lost dad this past February probably due to a heart attack following his decline from Alzheimers.

Mrs. W lost her mother--who'd been suffering complications from multiple myeloma--on August 15, 2008. Last month. This occurred just a week after the reprehensible association for which she worked gave Mrs. W the axe after her nearly 12 years of outstanding service. Not even a thank you. Wonk, as you may recall, got whacked by HIS employer in mid-July, although this bit of unpleasantry was more undersztandable, largely due to the company's chronic inability to grow in a poor economy.

While it's been a really bad 2008 for the Wonkers, who are relatively early Boomers, this kind of trajectory is becoming par for the course for a lot of fellow Boomers. It points toward an odd kind of progress in 21st century human relations and expectations. First of all, the parental units, on average, are living WAY longer than the actuarial tables said they would. So it becomes a real challenge for the Boomers to take care of them even as many of them--who had children late in life--are still putting the kids thru college. It's sorta like being torn apart by wild, fiscally irresponsible horses, if you don't mind the slightly twisted metaphor.

This negative income tag-team phenomenon is going to force many Boomers to remain in the workplace long, long after they'd figured on retiring, as the fiscal stretch is sapping their ability to prepare for their own old age. Meanwhile, Social Security is eventually going to break because the Boomers will have to rely on it more than they thought it would. Which will force the government to tax the Boomers' kids into oblivion, since neither the Dems nor the Repubs have any intention of dealing with this issue seriously, figuring that real honesty on the subject will lose them their seats and country club memberships.

Meanwhile, as they try to stretch those work years, Boomers start getting a little more expensive, pay-wise. So, every time their 9-5 employers' CEOs and CFOs sense that their golf games and stock options are in some danger, a bunch of them get sacked or bought out. They are either not replaced, or they're replaced with kids who are a lot cheaper but lack any corporate memory. The stretched Boomers, now cash-strapped, unemployed, and beleagured by having to support the generations in front of them and behind them, try to get back into the workforce. But, since they're "expensive," they find they can't get their old salaries back for the same job elsewhere. Or can't find a parallel move at all and end up stocking shelves at Home Depot. What a world.

It can seem kinda depressing. But frankly, Mrs. Wonker and I have been prepping for just such a trajectory for many years and are now working on re-establishing income from investments in the market and real estate. Both are presently a thankless task in this economic environment, but we're holding our own. And as I promised, I'll keep ya posted.

Meanwhile, now that I'm a "bachelor" for about a week, I figure I'll get around to making up for lost posting time. Between the Sarah Palin phenomenon, the 7th anniversary of 9/11 just past, and the recent arrival of Hurricane Ike (whose naming simply HAS to be a nefarious plot by the Obama-maniacs to smear the Republicans, right?), there's lotsa stuff to blather about.

And if that's not enough, the Palin nomination has once again stirred up the once-cooling embers of the culture wars, and I'll be doing a number of posts on that. Because, left-benchers to the contrary, I'd never bought the argument (largely from the left) that the culture wars were dead at all. Stay tuned.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Democrats = Appearances = Pharisees

This interesting comment in response to an online Wall Street Journal article today on Sarah Palin:
The reason Dems spend so much time attacking appearances, is that they are the ones always trying to keep them up. It is the only way they know to look at things. Everything is smoke and mirrors with to cover their manipulations.
I am constantly reminded these days of the New Testament parable of the Pharisee and the publican. You know, the one where the rich, socially important dude stands in front of the synagogue and thanks God for the fact that he (the Pharisee) is a rich, righteous dude who's really important. While the publican (tax collector) stands in the back of the building asking God to have mercy on him because he's a sinner. The Pharisee, naturally, also thanks God that he's not like the guy in the back who is also, most probably, not a Harvard graduate, poor bastard.

These days, I rarely see a Republican automobile festooned with pro-Repub bumper stickers. Part of this is due to the fact that it's a good way to get your car's finish "keyed" by the young Stalinist lunatics who claim to be free-speech loving Democrats. But the relative rarity of Republican bumper stickers is also because the average Republican voter feels that whatever virtues he or she may possess should be self-evident to all and don't need to be proclaimed.

Many Democrat cars are laden with not one but many bumper stickers proclaiming various virtues they don't actually practice on a regular basis. In my experience, people who loudly proclaim their alleged virtues to the skies, like the Pharisee, generally don't really embody them. Smug, self-satisfied, and extreme in their false righteousness, they actually don't have a clue as to the extent of their hypocrisy. The commentator above thus has it exactly right, and actually describes the language "smoke and mirrors" we've discussed in our previous posts.

Latest Zogby Poll: Shading the Truth

Just in, the latest Zogby Poll shows a distinct McCain bounce after the Republican convention. But let the Zogby website posting (Sept. 6, 2008) tell it their way:

Zogby Poll: Republicans Hold Small Post-Convention Edge

But the race is tight, as both campaigns consolidate support

UTICA, New York - Republicans John McCain and Sarah Palin left St. Paul, Minnesota, with a smallish bounce overall and some energy in key demographic groups, as the race for the presidency enters a key stage and voters begin to tune in to the contest, the latest Zogby Interactive poll finds.

Reading the tables below this verbiage tells us that as of this latest sampling, McCain-Palin now has a 4 percentage point lead over Obama-Biden.

You need to watch the language in this kind of story. First, Zogby is a Democrat and his polls tend to skew Democrat. Rasmussen, like him or not, tends to be the most accurate pollster and his post-convention numbers aren't in yet. (Update: Now they are. Based on a rolling average, which now takes in the day after Palin's speech, Rasmussen has the two tickets tied at 46%. Results following McCain's own speech are not yet in.)

Zogby and his people, probably surprised and disturbed by the McCain bounce's substance (remember--McCain's announcement of Sarah Palin as his running mate did succeed in limiting Obama's post-coronation bounce), diminishes it verbally in the head and sub-head by minimizing the bounce as a "small post convention edge" in a "tight" race.

Were the 4 point lead Obama's, the headline would have been something like "Obama Opens Big Lead," or "Obama's Post-Convention Lead Substantial." Again, for the same numbers.

Look for this again and again in polling coverage. No matter what kind of lead the Repubs might gain, it will always be denigrated or minimized in the verbiage. On the contrary, if the lead belongs to the Dems, it will be touted as the Second Coming.

Why is this done? Once again, it's the Socialist control of the narrative. The Republicans will simply be giving failing grades and zero points for any success. The usual way this is done is via headlines that inaccurately describe or slant the numerical facts. This has been done to Bush constantly and particularly during that past two years where polls describe Bush's "historically low" approval ratings (similar, however, to Harry Truman's) while failing to recognize that the Democrat-controlled Congress' ratings are SUBSTANTIALLY BELOW THAT.

The average newspaper reader (a dwindling breed), when pressed for time, grabs just the headlines and rarely reads further as the day winds on. Thus, headlines that inaccurately describe true poll findings are an easy way to lead readers right past the truth and right in to the usual Democrat talking points. It's clever, but dishonest, and is another reason why the MSM is losing its grip as more and more readers figure this stuff out and cancel their subscriptions.

Did You Know Dept.: Sarah Didn't Write Her Acceptance Speech!

Okay, that was old news last Wednesday, but we thought you'd like to know the general story behind this "proof" that Governor Palin is so inexperienced that she can't write her own speeches. The mythology of America's Socialist Party and their MSM enablers is pretty easy to expose here. The game is called "emphasize an innocent truth so the perceived reality sounds really bad."

Governor Palin's acceptance speech was notable for the high quality of its content as well as for the Governor's superb delivery. But both were immediately under attack by the Dems and their MSM friends.

The primary point of attack was the Democrats' stunning revelation that Palin didn't actually write her speech--it was written for her. Imagine that!!

Problem is, no matter who the candidate, whatever speech is delivered is ALMOST ALWAYS WRITTEN BY A SPEECHWRITER. I oughta know, because I used to do this sort of thing as well in addition to writing science policy documents for two administrations. No modern politician has the time to write speeches. (Reagan was, at times, a notable exception.) What you do is bring in a professional speechwriter who sits down and interviews the speaker to find out the length requirements for the speech as well as the key points the speech is to address. The speechwriter then runs of to his or her cubbyhole, draws up an outline, does some quick research on the salient points, and comes up with a reasonably good draft, sending it to the speaker and/or his or her staffers for comment and markup.

In short order, the draft is Christmas-treed with red pen marks and the writer goes at it again. The review process happens again and there's usually a lot less red stuff at this point. Second revision is written and, in the best of all possible worlds, it's gone over again with the speaker before being finalized. Really conscientious speakers usually interpolate some favorite personal anecdotes, jokes, or policy points at this point.

In the end, the finalized speech is a product of many hands. The idea is for the speechwriter and staffers to do most of the work, freeing the speaker up for meet and greet and other political tasks. Speechwriting, like most writing, is tedious and incredibly time-consuming even for writers on tight deadlines. You can't take phone calls when you're in the middle of these things as it breaks your train of thought, and the average political speaker can't afford to closet him or herself for long periods of time. So others do the work. But a conscientious speaker will indeed provided plenty of input and won't sign off on the final product if it doesn't accurately articulate the ideas or policies the speaker's trying to push.

The above info applies almost universally whether the candidate is Republican or Democrat. Politicians are basically the public heads of largely invisible organizations united in their desire to push ideas, policies, or agendas. This is a fact of life and there's nothing wrong with this. One man or woman--particularly in the Office of the President--simply does not have the time to do everything that needs to be done. Even though a President of either party is always happy to get credit for all the good stuff. Indeed, the President HAS to get credit as his or her organization's public face. If not, the President likely won't win re-election and the entire team will be out of a job.

In short, criticizing Palin for "not writing her own speech" is bogus. Obama doesn't write his either. (Note: we're talking about formal speeches, not the extemp stuff for which the candidate must memorize crucial, carefully scripted talking points before speaking "off the cuff.") To criticize a politician for not writing his or her own speeches is, therefore, entirely bogus. I'm happy to criticize Obama, for example, on practically anything except for not writing his own speeches. He doesn't. And criticizing him for it would be just as bogus as criticizing Palin for the same thing. The Democrats who criticize Palin for having her speech written by another pointedly avoid mentioning that Obama does the same thing, thus creating for the unwary the notion that Palin is a lightweight. Again, this is an example of telling the truth but eliminating the whole truth (i.e., Obama does it too), thus rendering the partial truth into a lie that implies Palin is a lightweight.

Two other aspects of the Democrat-MSM criticism of Palin's speech are less important but also worthy of note. First of all, having out-ed Palin for having a speechwriter, Dem critics also emphasize that the speechwriter was a BUSH SPEECHWRITER. You will notice during the remainder of this campaign that the Dems will always insert the name "Bush" into any criticism they have of the Republican candidates. Their ideological assumption is that everyone hates Bush (decidedly not true and never true). So if they tirelessly connect the McCain-Palin ticket to Bush, Bush-hatred will doom their candidacy, making the Dems' hoped-for clean sweep all the more likely. Again, this tactic is going to backfire, largely because the Dems have become so promiscuous in its use that the electorate has already tuned it out. Nonetheless, look for "Bush this" and "Bush that" to be relentlessly flogged in the coming weeks by the Dems whether or not there's any connection with McCain or not.

Finally, note that the content of Palin's speech was universally condemned by the Dems, the pundits, and pretty much all the MSM lackeys as "sarcastic," "nasty," and, of course, "mean-spirited." Any objective listener to Palin's speech, even if a Democrat or Independent (who are mostly Democrats, BTW), would clearly have perceived Palin's criticisms as light, irreverent, or funny. Right down to her cute little nose-scrunching when she delievered her punch lines. Palin's zingers were telling. They were the truth. And they were indeed funny, unless you are a devoted Obama worshiper. But, sports fans, politics is a contact sport. If you can't whack your opponent for his point of view and for his policies, then there's really no way you can distinguish on politician from another

Key here is that Palin's "sarcastic" attacks were not the kind of ad hominem attacks regularly used by Dems to describe Republican candidates personally. They were attacks on experience ("community organizer"--what's that?) and on the good old boys' club of the MSM, which, by their very lack of objectivity has made them a collective object of scorn and laughter nearly everywhere in the country except LA, NYC, DC, and in this case, Chicago Land.

Palin's zingers were delivered with sly wit, irreverence, and a disarming smile. They were very effective, frankly, which immediately alarmed the Dems and their MSM allies. Since the criticisms were valid, both the Dems and the media resorted in the end to their usual Stalinist trick--discredit the speaker. You'll note that Palin's criticisms were never rebutted. They were rarely mentioned. Instead, Palin herself was attacked. The Stalinist idea is to get away from an opponent's message entirely. Rather, drive the opponent's person into the ground. At which point, after drumming this in to the electorate loud enough and long enough, it becomes the perceived truth and no one any longer listens to the discredited politician's message.

This tactic is a sneaky way of repressing free speech, another topic for another day. But just like every other anti-Palin tactic hasn't worked, this one will backfire as well. Because Sarah Barracuda has proven she can fight back effectively. And America's Socialist Combine hadn't counted on this.

Palin-tology; or, Busting the Media Language Code

Well, that's an obtuse headline to be sure. But not really. One of the reasons Luther and I founded HazZzMat a few seasons back was to expose cultural, social, and political hypocrisy and lies as often supported by the clever manipulation of language. Though we've often gone far afield, this is still, at base, the general purpose of this blog. We're tired of the Democrats' seemingly effortless ability, as America's Socialist Party, to structure the contemporary political and cultural narrative to support their socialist views. And we aim to expose how they do it. Some of the examples we explicate should be fairly obvious, while some are not.

The Sarah Palin brouhaha over the past week or so has been a terrific case in point. The moment John McCain announced the genuinely conservative Alaska governor as his running mate, the media was all over her and her family as well. An intriguing contrast, for sure, with the complete coverup, say, of John Edwards' tawdry affair while he was still in the thick of his presidential candidacy earlier this year. As I've often told people, if you're going to run for any office as a Republican, you're going to have to have the resume of St. Francis of Assisi or you and your family will be plowed into the gutter in short order.

Palin and her faily appear to have emerged from the MSM's initial attempt at a burning, fiery furnace intact. But Socialists are, if anything, adaptable. As Palin emerged as America's new favorite right after her acceptance speech at the Republican convention last week, alarmed Obama-ites were quick on the counterattack with the usual language tricks. We're going to explore a few of these in successive posts, so read upwards as we go through 'em.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

More on Sarah Palin from the British Press

BTW, in our previous post, we cited the Sun, a British tabloid, for our soundbite from the oleaginous Paul Begala. Hat tip to Drudge and Hugh Hewitt for the link.

The whole piece is worth a gander if you didn't bother to link to it. In a fresh, breezy manner, this nicely researched people piece tells you more about Sarah Palin that the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the TV network blowdries and booboisie have told you collectively over the past week.

Fun facts include the following:
Regarding the Governor's dad, Chuck: Today Chuck’s pick-up truck has a bumper sticker reading “Vegetarian — Old Indian Word For Bad Hunter”.

Palin may be conservative but she doesn’t seem prudish. Studying journalism at the University of Idaho, a photo has emerged of her in a T-shirt with a slogan across her chest reading: “I may be broke but I’m not flat busted.”
Read the rest here. This is a lady all of America will want to meet. And they can do so tonight on TV, up close and personal, before the MSM blowdries start attacking her again.

Begala vs. Palin: Logic Loses in Landslide

Duly noted: this succulent bit of political erudition from rabidly partisan former Clintonista attack dog Paul Begala, re: Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's alleged unfitness as would-be Veep:
...Democrats point out McCain met Palin just once before deciding to appoint her. He is 72 and a cancer survivor, and the cliché about vice-presidents being a heartbeat away from the presidency remains as true as ever.

The Vice President becomes the new President of the US upon the death, resignation, or removal of the president and serves out the remainder of that presidential term.

Paul Begala, the architect of Bill Clinton’s victory in 1992, said: “It’s irresponsible.

“McCain is 72 years old and has had cancer four times and he wants to put a woman he met once a heartbeat away from the presidency.

“Eight of our 43 presidents have died in office.”

The Dem-MSM meme of the week, of course, is that they're all aghast at Palin's "lack of experience" which allegedly disqualifies her as a candidate for Veep. They are horrified that someone with so little "experience" could be elevated to the office of President were McCain to be elected and somehow die in office.

To state the obvious--if you buy this amazing snippet of illogic, you'd have to figure that the Democrats are even WORSE than the Republicans. While the Repubs are offering as Veep a candidate with "no experience" (except of course nearly 2 decades as a public servant at the local and state levels of course), the Dems are offering a candidate with "no experience" as their PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE. In other words, while Palin could be elevated to the Presidency under extraordinary circumstances, the almost entirely inexperienced Barack Hussein Obama is actually RUNNING FOR THE PRESIDENCY ITSELF.

Like most professional Dems and pundits, Begala is so full of his brilliance that he fails to notice that his actual stupidity is on full display here. Or at least I'd like to think so. In point of fact, it might be even worse. Dem party hacks like Begala also are predisposed to sneer and condescend whenever a discussion involves someone who lives more than a few miles inland from either coast or more than 20 miles outside of Chicago or Detroit. Problem for them is that now, most of the denizens of flyover country are figuring this out. And voting for Sarah Palin via the McCain-Palin ticket is the way they're going to send a message in November.

Monday, September 01, 2008

More on the Palin Pregnancy "Scandal"

This story, at least momentarily, is actually displacing the hurricane coverage frenzy this afternoon. To recap, over the last 48 hours or so, on thin visual evidence, Stalinists in the left-wing blogosphere promoted the smear that Republican Veep nominee Sarah Palin's teenage daughter had actually born the governor's latest child, a "fact" that was being hushed up. (See our earlier post and followup here.)

Now we discover that the young woman IS in fact pregnant, will deliver (not abort) the baby and marry the baby's dad. Gosh, what a scandal. The whole thing should have been off-limits to the press (and would have been if the daughter had been named Chelsea), but such discreet behavior is only undertaken when dealing with Democrat candidates.

Hugh Hewitt has just put up a post discreetly exploring this topic, and his thoughts are certainly worthy of note as they always are. However, I was struck by the the following commentator's story which followed Hugh's post:
When I, myself, became pregnant in college, my soon-to-be mother in law (a hard-core liberal Democrat who had openly encouraged me to have un-married sex with her son) expressed her “disappointment” in both of us – and immediately pushed for an abortion. My own mother (a sex-before-marriage-is-sin Catholic) immediately comforted me, affirmed her love for me and said, “There’s always room in our family for another baby.” My husband and I have been JOYFULLY married 21 years and have 4 amazing kids…. What an beautiful gift of love my mother gave me that day!

Babies...Punishment vs. Love. I think I’ll take love.

As indicated in our earlier post, Mr. and Mrs. Wonk embarked on married life in similar fashion 37 years ago--not the recommended route for marital success but one that can work with patience, hard work, and lots of love.

Though I'd like to comment further on the topic, nothing I could think of would be as elegant as this brief commentary on Hugh's site which explains, succinctly and without irony, the key virtue that is always missing in the hearts and minds of the hard left. It's why they won't close the sale this November.

Gustav: No Katrina Killer

Hyped for a solid week by the MSM, Hurricane Gustav, currently making landfall in SW Louisiana en route to blowing itself out on the Louisiana-Texas border, will not:
  • destroy the remainder of New Orleans
  • destroy America's oil refining capacity not to mention all its ill-advised oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico
  • prove even more ineptitude on the part of the outgoing Bushitler Regime
  • make Bobby Jindal (R-LA) Louisiana's latest one-term governor
  • completely obliterate the Republican Convention in Minneapolis
  • assure the Democrats' complete dominance of Washington next January 20
To be sure, there's going to be some damage near the storm's landfall and probably considerable collateral damage whereever its path takes it next. But we predict minimal refinery disruption, minimal oil platform destruction, and minimal economic consequences when compared to the Katrina disaster. So the Dems will be hard-pressed to push their usual anti-Bush narrative lines, and oil will continue to fall further in price, as characterized by the current $4 per barrel drop in today's futures trading which is still open even though it's a Federal holiday. (Other markets are open across the globe.)

We took some contrarian bets last week in the market and are looking forward to collecting on them Tuesday morning when trading resumes, Wednesday at the latest just in case the Bears (the stock market ones) return en masse from the Hamptons tomorrow morning to resume their illegal short raids on anything (like the financials) that they need to go down.

Am a weather genius or something? Nope. I just know that when I see 100% media hype of a "developing story" (It's Gustav! We're all going to die!!), it's time to place your bets at the precise opposite end of the Party Line.

Again, sure, there'll be damage, and maybe a little more than I think right now. But disruptions will be minimal and the sun will come out tomorrow. Or the next day. And it will shine on Republicans like Bobby Jindal who took every precaution. And the McCain-Palin ticket which had the good sense to effectively suspend their coming out party in deference to the plight of a lot of people they hope to represent next January. Contrarianism, coupled with common sense, still takes you pretty far these days.

Remember that the next time the media hypes a tired narrative that has little if any truth in it.

Where've We Been?

The summer of Wonker's discontent, explained earlier, has continued apace, leading to a series of lengthy and unintended hiatuses (is that the correct plural??) from HaZzZmat.

To recap: I got sacked by my military contracting employer in mid-July due to the company's declining business portfolio. Superficially, I guess, this makes me an official "victim" of Bushonomics. But, as I mentioned in an earlier post, I decided to use the opportunity to go it alone this time around and seek my own damn fortune, dealing with resources I've been shoring up for the last several years.

Well, surprise. When it rains, it pours. After taking late July-early August off for a holiday with some old high school chums and their spouses, Mrs. Wonk and I returned to Northern Virginia only to have Mrs. W sacked as well, the very day she returned. After 12 years serving the same nonprofit loyally--to the point of helping them outsource portions of their business due to declining revenue--the organization expressed its loyalty by showing her the door immediately, without even the two-weeks' notice Wonk got from his former employer.

To make matters even more enjoyable, Mrs. Wonk got the news, not 5 days later, that her mom was probably not going to survive much longer. And indeed, she didn't, passing away on August 15 even as we sped along trying to get up to Cleveland before that happened.

So, here we are this festive labor day, having lost 3 of 4 parental units (both of Wonk's are now gone) and two fulltime jobs in the space of slightly over a year. How's that for victimhood, eh? Where's our Federal funds?

But, as I mentioned earlier, I'm going to give you periodic updates on our situation to show you how you can get out of a mess without whining and without any help from condescending Democrats.

Even in the midst of this ongoing crisis, we've been continuing to marshall resources to plug the gap, and we're not doing too badly. Like W, Mrs. W, after a few days of being righteously pissed, has also concluded that her 9-5 days are over. As our ideas evolve over the next few weeks, we'll let you know how the Wonker Tag Team will effect its own economic recovery with little or no help from their friends in the Federal government. Stay tuned.

Hint: there are lots of bargains out there if you tune out the MSM gloom and doom pronouncements which are only meant, after all, to defeat the Republican ticket this fall to make room for more Socialism. We'll take a pass.

Kos Kids' Hurricane of Stupidity

We returned to blogging 2 days ago after yet another hiatus (to be explained shortly) and celebrated John McCain's new running mate, the down-to-earth, conservative and, yes, attractive Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Wonker had actually been hoping for this inspired and inspiring choice, but the McCain-ites kept their cards close to the vest and the announcement pretty much surprised everyone, myself included.

Of course, it didn't take the Stalinists on the left, centered as usual at the despicable Daily Kos site to immediately push the rumor that the Palin's latest family addition, carried to term with a known birth defect and bravely NOT aborted, was not the Governor's child. Nope, the new arrival, according to the Kos Kids, was secretly the illegitimate child of the Governor's 16-year old daughter. All this based on a random family photograph which provides no medical evidence for anything.

Not only has this despicable rumor absolutely zero basis in fact. But it illustrates the true Stalinist core of the hard left in this country for which an absolute lie is no lie at all if it smears and discredits its opponents. Ann Althouse, for one, is enraged, and vents, with good links and revealing blog commentaries here. Oblivious to his own increasing madness, the once respectable Andrew Sullivan picks up the baseless rumor and runs with it here. By their friends you shall know them. This is a pretty low blow (if you'll forgive the expression), even for Andrew.

It also lays to rest all the pious bleating that Democrat family members, ranging at various times from Chelsea Clinton to Michelle Obama are somehow "off-limits" to this kind of MSM and blog smearing and slander since they are not the ones running for public office. How quickly that noble rule changes when the innocent family member is the offspring of a Republican candidate.

When you examine this kind of behavior, you can readily connect the dots, noting that this kind of blatant and downright evil disregard for the truth is not far removed from Valery Putin's recent "rescue" of the South Ossetians from the nefarious (read democratic) Georgians. Is this a stretch? I think not.

This favored leftist tactic, again, for those who don't read us regularly: lie loud enough and long enough and the lie becomes the perceived truth. Putin's likely to get away with his Georgian lie because no one's really paying attention or, alternatively, because they're afraid to "arouse" the already obviously aroused Russian Bear once again.

Fortunately, the left's outrageous smear of the Palin family on this side of the Atlantic is not going to stick. It's going to backfire on the left-wing fascists who are promoting it. Voters are sick of this kind of behavior. And their response will be showing up at the ballot box this fall in a way that will seriously gob-smack the left and its mindless media cheerleaders who are complicit in promoting this sickening stuff.

UPDATE: Surprising Turn. Just up on the web and apparently confirmed is a story that Governor Palin's teenage daughter IS pregnant but will carry the child to term and marry the dad. While this will now lead to revised smearing and snarking on Stalinist websites like Kos, and while this is hardly a optimal development, it does nonetheless put the uglier earlier rumor to rest. It's unfortunate that Miss Palin's no longer secret secret will subject her now to the kind of ugliness that she could never have imagined. But again, if this stuff goes over the top, which it will, it will again redound upon the attackers.

According to Fox's version of AP material,

The Palins asked the media to respect their family’s privacy.

“Bristol and the young man she will marry are going to realize very quickly the difficulties of raising a child, which is why they will have the love and support of our entire family. We ask the media to respect our daughter and Levi’s privacy as has always been the tradition of children of candidates.”

Word is that the McCainites knew this was coming and nominated Palin anyway. We think that's just fine. The family is doing the honorable thing, unlike many. And they have no illusions about how tough this will be for the young couple. Frankly, in a somewhat different way, this is how Mr. and Mrs. Wonker started out their long running partnership over 37 years ago, putting a relationship together amidst circumstances that were not the best. It's not the best way to get started in life, but it doesn't have to be a game-ender either.

Note to media: now leave this family the hell alone.