Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Journolist List

Been away from blogging for a bit, but have been edified and amused by the Chinese Water Torture leak of the Journolist-gate scam--you know, the secret listserv area where a select cadre of Marxist and faux-Marxist reporters conspired to collectively elect Barack Obama by smearing his opponents while covering up their favored candidate's glaring inadequacies. Particularly his relationship with the odiously racist "Rev." Wright?

Breitbart and Tucker Carlson have been doing fantastic work on reporting this ongoing scandal, openly deploying the kind of effective, Alinsky-style tactics consistently used by Party hacks disguised as respectable journalists--except that Breitbart et. al. are actually publishing the truth and exposing the villainy that helped throw the last election. All this and more following on the heels of ClimateGate and the apparently multiplying alleged Algore sex scandals. (Must tamp down the overwhelming urge to to indulge in schadenfreude.)

I noticed today that the entire Journolist list--the journalist Hall of Shame in my book--has been posted on Mark Levin's Facebook page and elsewhere. Levin, Carlson, Breitbart and others (like Dan Riehl) get the credit for this ongoing good work. But as a public service, to help out in case you haven't caught the references, I'm replicating Levin's Journolist roster (credited in turn to the Freepers) here.

A passage from the New Testament comes to mind here as I ponder the unprincipled work of these Journolist swine:

15 ¶ Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes or thorns, or figs of thistles?

Like one of my old Merchant Marine sailing buddies said to me many years ago, "Truer words was never spoke." Anyhow, here's the list, prefaced by a brief introductory explanation:
A Free Republic poster has compiled the list of known members to date of the left-wing now-defunct JournoList listserv. Spread the word.

1. Ezra Klein
2. Dave Weigel
3. Matthew Yglesias
4. David Dayen
5. Spencer Ackerman
6. Jeffrey Toobin
7. Eric Alterman
8. Paul Krugman
9. John Judis
10. Eve Fairbanks
11. Mike Allen
12. Ben Smith
13. Lisa Lerer
14. Joe Klein
15. Brad DeLong
16. Chris Hayes
17. Matt Duss
18. Jonathan Chait
19. Jesse Singal
20. Michael Cohen
21. Isaac Chotiner
22. Katha Pollitt
23. Alyssa Rosenberg
24. Rick Perlstein
25. Alex Rossmiller
26. Ed Kilgore
27. Walter Shapiro
28. Noam Scheiber
29. Michael Tomasky
30. Rich Yesels
31. Tim Fernholz
32. Dana Goldstein
33. Jonathan Cohn
34. Scott Winship
35. David Roberts
36. Luke Mitchell
37. John Blevins
38. Moira Whelan
39. Henry Farrell
40. Josh Bearman
41. Alec McGillis
42. Greg Anrig
43. Adele Stan
44. Steven Teles
45. Harold Pollack
46. Adam Serwer
47. Ryan Donmoyer
48. Seth Michaels
49. Kate Steadman
50. Matt Duss
51. Laura Rozen
52. Jesse Taylor
53. Michael Hirsh
54. Daniel Davies
55. Jonathan Zasloff
56. Richard Kim
57. Thomas Schaller
58. Jared Bernstein
59. Holly Yeager
60. Joe Conason
61. David Greenberg
62. Todd Gitlin
63. Mark Schmitt
64. Kevin Drum
65. Sarah Spitz

Monday, July 05, 2010

Wall Street's War of the Machines

Happy July 5, the nation's official "commercial" Independence Day holiday. Making things even more festive today, Washington DC's traditionally oppressive heat and humidity aside, is the fact that Wall Street is on holiday as well. Sadly, unless there's a nice surprise, it's likely to resume its current Long March down to new lows tomorrow when trading opens at 9:30am.

We've opined many times before on two items that are massively contributing to this mess, aside from the Obama Administration's systematic destruction of capitalism as we know it. The first, which we'll again visit in detail soon, is the ongoing nonsolution to relentless short-selling: the socalled Uptick Rule which was scuttled in the waning months of the Bush Administration--just in time to ensure that certain already stressed banking institutions had no alternative other than being flushed down the toilet bowl of history. There's a sort of "fix" in for this in terms of circuit breakers. But it won't be at all effective during the next flush downward which we'll see probably sooner rather than later.

We have to keep in mind, though, that the absence of the original uptick rule isn't exactly what CAUSED the current Wall Street mess. It merely aided and abetted it. My reasoning in arguing for its return intact is that there's no reason for anyone to help profiteering mischief makers transform a very bad situation into a worse one.

What is currently proving far more damaging however, are the existence in the investment community of so-called "dark pools"--private stock transactions of considerable size that are not reported on the tape and thus hidden from the average investor and, arguably, many mutual fund managers; and socalled "flash trading" or "high speed trading" wherein computer programs, linked to market movements, trade mass quantities of many, many stocks, often within milleseconds, generating massive profits via tiny, incremental moves.

None of this stuff, from dark pools, to short sales, to high speed trading, has been addressed in the currently pending "FinReg" legislation. Presumably, they will be addressed by rulemaking bodies after this amazingly flawed legislation is passed.

Problem in the first place is that regulators, who are never really responsible to voters, are bureaucrats at heart. It will take a long time to get them appointed, installed, and working, and a longer time to start creating, considering, and implementing rules.

Problem is in the second place that we can't count on them to create rules to shelter the average investor--only the wealthy high-speed traders who've turned investing into the stock market into the kind of game better suited for playing on your kid's Wii or Xbox.

Problem is in the third place is that it's actually decision time not for the Government but for Wall Street. The Street and its various exchanges are at an important crossroads. Currently, the average investor, whether running his or her own portfolio or participating via mutual funds or retirement accounts (like 401ks), has largely dropped out of the market entirely, preferring to stay in cash.

The reason why is simple: it's now abundantly clear that the system, always game-able, has become fatally so for any investor who doesn't have supercomputing power doing the trading for him. The 30-somethings and their machines now control 70% of daily trading on Wall Street (Wall Street Journal figures, can't link due to subscription wall). Since no one else, statistically speaking, is trading besides hedge funds (a bunch of which are probably using these same whiz kids and their algorithms), the exchanges love these traders and are now depending almost entirely on them for business. Were any rules put in place to either ban or restrain high speed trading, Wall Street exchanges and trading firms for that matter would lose a huge chunk of their business and profitability with no guarantee that the little guy would come back to the market to make up for the difference.

We are at a crossroads here. Follow me on this. Social Security is now well-known to be a slow-speed train wreck. The current administration and Congress are on a path to destroy what's left of the national budget and our healthcare infrastructure to boot. Meanwhile, Defined Benefit pension plans have pretty much gone by the boards, replaced by often self-directed 401(k) programs, most of which went in the tank in 2008, were briefly revived last year, and are now gurgling down the toilet once again.

In other words, the whole socalled social safety net is not just frayed, it's broken. The current solutions, stated or quietly undeclared, are to let retirees drift into poverty like they used to, force anyone over, say, 55 to join them (since, once laid off, they will never be hired in any great numbers again), and let them die, sooner rather than later, when the government determines they're no longer cost effective.

Hey, guys and gals, this ain't what we signed up for, saved in our 401(k)s for, and got docked 5-ish percent every year for FICA taxes for, is it?

We don't have much time to get this fixed. But a good way to begin is for the Feds and for Wall Street to get serious for once and for all and decide on their business model going forward. To wit: Do we just put a painful end to the myth of investible 401(k)s, declare an end to personal investing, and turn Wall Street into an elaborate video game for bored, overpaid young oligarchs from good families and Ivy League schools? Or do we put these punks out of business, make them do real work in a steel mill for a change, and get Wall Street back to its original game of raising capital for business and maintaining capital markets for businesses and investors to grow and prosper. In other words, is Wall Street so addicted to its high commission structures that it no longer cares that it's abandoned its primary purpose, ceding it to the video gamers? Or is Wall Street going to get serious and get America back on the road to prosperity.

Washington is currently getting an F in this regard. If Wall Street caves in permanently to the video-gamers and their automated trading machines, capitalism is dead and gone, leaving us to start over again with no capital, no hope, and no future since there won't be anything left to manufacture or buy.

I'm not trying to be silly or alarmist here. But the Street--and ultimately, the boneheads in Washington as well--are at a Decision Point. And I'm no longer sure they have the knowledge, the intellect, or the gumption to do the right thing, since I'm also no longer sure they have any active gray matter at all.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Is the Goracle Fallible??

Seems like it was only a couple of weeks ago we learned that the Al-Tipper Gore "Love Story" made in heaven was reaching terminal status. Nary a word as to why.

Over the last 10 days or so, however, a story has surfaced via the ever-notorious Enquirer but also virally on the right-wing web, viz., that a hapless Portland, Oregon massage therapist (a real one, not the call-girl variant) was dispatched to the hotel room of Al Gore. The ex-Veep, Nobel Prize winner, global warming genius, and propagandist film maker apparently did more than just repeatedly proposition the therapist who allegedly freaked out and managed to exit the uncomfortable situation.

After a few years, the story has finally surfaced. Allegedly (once again), according to the alleged victim, she failed to press charges due to pressure from her liberal friends not to derail the Exalted Mission of the Greatest of All Global Warming Prophets. There's real feminist solidarity for you.

"DC Trawler" comments:
If this woman really has a sample of Al Gore’s DNA, can’t we use it to make some clones? What’s going to happen on the day when, Gaia forbid, Al’s not flying around the planet anymore telling people not to fly around the planet? The fate of the Earth is too important. We should make an entire army of Al Gores. The Green Lamenter Corps!
Writes a bathetic Melinda Henningberger:
The Gores weren't just a solid couple for Washington; they were solid, period. And if they couldn't stay together after 40 years, four kids, almost losing their son to a terrible accident, her depression, his schedule, their winning and losing and worse -- and then coming back together from what must have been hell after the recount -- well, what, if anything, does that mean for the rest of us?

Gee, I don't know, Melinda, Mrs. W and I have only been married 39 years. Guess we've still got to learn.

Melinda's not quite done, however, as she blathers into a faux conclusion: a silly rhetorical question based on a ridiculous fictional premise:
Sad as it is, it takes bravery to make a decision this hard at this point, when most people would just do whatever it took to make the broken bearable. Would Oliver and Jenny Barrett have ended up divorcing after 40 years, too, had the heroine of Erich Segal's Love Story lived that long?

So much for the myth of the liberal intellect.

Re: Gore once again. I'd engage in a good bit of snarky schadenfreude here (actually, I already sort of did) if I could do it in good conscience. To me, there's hardly a less-appealing individual in the universe than the waddling, pompous, condescending dope that used to be our Vice-president, and I'd dearly love to see this clown taken down a peg or two. But, sadly, I'm not seeing concrete proof of his transgressions here, and the case gets even more tenuous as the Democrats' shadow hit squad starts pushing out info on the alleged victim with the intention to discredit her charges and smear her character.

No, my real irritation here is at the MSM. Just as they sat on the John Edwards sex scandal during the 2008 presidential primaries and for pretty much an entire YEAR thereafter, they surely knew about the Gore stuff for years but never put it out there. Probably for the same reason the alleged victim declined to press charges. No point in besmirching the Saint of Global Warming. You might damage the "movement"--the one we all know now was a hoax from the get-go.

Happily, even if our socalled journos are largely missing in action in this story, we can leave it to non-Americans to find the humor in all this. As in this clever if rather vulgar Japanese video-cartoon also posted by DC Trawler. There's not a word of English in it, but it doesn't need operatic surtitles. You'll get the drift:

Go Gamecocks! Happy Fourth of July!

We're a day late and a dollar short on this news item. But I'm happy to report that the University of South Carolina's baseball Gamecocks won the national college World Series this past Tuesday in Omaha, Nebraska by whomping the powerful UCLA Bruins 2-1 in 11 innings. It's the University's first national men's championship in men's sports and was certainly a long time coming. Congrats, dudes!

Here's the champs, after their triumphant return home and victory parade this past Friday in Columbia, SC. (Double click for larger images):

Why the interest here? Although I grabbed my first two college degrees at Georgetown in DC, I taught English down at South Carolina while I was earning my doctorate, and co-founded the department's original Writing Lab (it now goes under another name). Although I experienced some of the usual professorial sturm und drang while down there, teaching and studying in Columbia, SC was an extraordinarily positive experience on balance. And the university, as well as the town, turned out to be a surprisingly tranquil and positive atmosphere for scholarly activities. Although I didn't have much money at the time, the city was an inexpensive place to live, and I still remember the graciousness of my elderly neighbors when we lived in a little duplex off the Five Points area of the city.

Sports, of course, was a big deal down there--still is, as it usually is at large state colleges. The school never copped big championships while I was there, although its basketball team did quite well at the time, even after the school left the ACC. In any event, it's nice to see a national championship finally residing at my final alma mater.

Columbia, the state capitol, BTW, is the home of the state's fabled Capitol Dome, the one that caused controversy for years by flying the Stars & Bars below the Stars & Stripes on its flag mast. The given reason, a valid one at least on the surface, was that South Carolina was where the first shots of the Civil War were fired and the rebel flag was part of the state's heritage. Black South Carolinians, for obvious reasons, weren't buying it, so the Stars & Bars were eventually retired from the mast to reside inauspiciously elsewhere I am told.

Someone just sent me a picture of the Dome this week. It's now flying the Fighting Gamecock flag, festooned with an image South Carolina's oddly-chosen mascot. (It's the bottom flag, below the US and State flags.)

Here's a closer look:

Looks good, eh? We're sure this is one additional flag that all South Carolinians can be proud of. What a great way to celebrate this 4th of July!

(Except maybe for Clemson Tigers.)

Get your championship T-shirt here.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Still Diverted by Diverticulitis

Boy, I keep promising to post, but I've had a bout with diverticulitis like you wouldn't believe. I've been a sour enough mood already, given the latest stock market swoon and Obama's pathological lack of concern with BP's runaway Gulf oilwell--which would be getting a LOT more attention from the MSM if his name were Bush.

So then I come down with an attack of the big D. Even though I'm pretty adept at Latin, I have a hard time spitting that word out. Suffice it to say that it's a not-uncommon intestinal issue that can put you in the morgue if you don't pay attention to it.

Fortunately I did, but I've been wobbly (not in the Margaret Thatcher sense) for the better part of two weeks.

As I attempt to start blogging again, the only thing I can see that's worse than my health is the health of this economy. The perfect storm has finally arrived. The country is now being run by a cadre of academic Marxists who have no clue as to how to jump-start a near comotose economy. They've never held a real job and regard the whole thing as an academic exercise, or at least it would seem.

All we can hope is that the American voters--most of whom now realize they were nearly completely bamboozled by the media in 2008--start rectifying the horrendous error they made that year when they go to the polls again this November.