Thursday, November 20, 2008

Merry Christmas, Shit-for-Brains

I don't know if either of these amount to sayings for anyone else, but most people I know and read have long since taken it as a given that the following two statements about The Wall Street Journal are true:
Its news section is usually right about business.
Its editorial section is usually right of Goebbels.
Today's latest offering from the America's proudest tower of Fuck You for Being So Incompetent and Poor comes from deputy editor Daniel Henninger, a man who's got a friend in Jesus and who's doing his level best to counteract all the goodwill 30 Rock has tried to engender for The Cleve. His insightful thesis?—the War on Christmas is actually what ruined the economy.

In honor of the sad passing of my favorite blog, FireJoeMorgan, I'm just going to bold-quote and fire away in the style of FJM contributor Ken Tremendous (a.k.a. Michael Schur, staff writer for The Office and occasional screen sensation as Dwight Schrute's bizarre cousin Mose).

And so it will come to pass once again that many people will spend four weeks biting on tongues lest they say "Merry Christmas" and perchance, give offense. Christmas, the holiday that dare not speak its name.
I know! I fucking hate that. People say "Merry Christmas" to me at work or walking in the neighborhood, and I don't just say "Merry Christmas" back to them like it's a reflex. I actually stop and try to eat my own skin by chewing on my mouth first and working my way inward toward the tongue, thinking, "What's some sort of celebratory corollary I can offer here? Arbor Day? No! That was months ago! Don't you remember giving the Tree Sign to all those hippies??? THINK, you asshole. Ramadan? No, that's not it either. How could you already forget about those three islams you saw walking out of that middle-eastern restaurant Tuesday? You called in and reported them to DHS. If it was Ramadan, they'd have burst into flames for not being in their coffins during daylight. Shit! Now this guy's starting to stare, just SAY something!" Uh, Kwazy Kwanzaa!

This year we celebrate the desacralized "holidays"
No shit, man. I hate how we can't even call it "Christmas" anymore and now it's all PC and wussy liberal and "Holidays." Look, I can try telling people till I'm blue in the face, but they don't realize Christmas is the only religious holiday this time of year. And good luck explaining to people that those Jews went back in time 200 years before Christ was born to totally make up that Hannukah story about their castle being attacked and them still having enough fire to win the war just to make the rest of us have to use sarcastic air quotes when saying "Holidays" out loud. First they murdered Jesus; now they've killed the ad copy celebrating his birth and only his birth every winter. And don't even get me started about how we don't celebrate Him at Easter anymore. All I'm saying is that goddamn bunny has a biiiiiig nose. You know what I'm talking about.

amid what is for many unprecedented economic ruin -- fortunes halved, jobs lost, homes foreclosed. People wonder, What happened? One man's theory: A nation whose people can't say "Merry Christmas" is a nation capable of ruining its own economy.
I just said "Merry Christmas" and my wallet exploded with 20s. Now, I'm not saying this will happen to you, but I'm pretty sure if it doesn't it's because you're not believing in Christ hard enough.

Brb. I'm going to go lie down naked and say "Michelle Wild" really sincerely for about an hour.

How the financial markets fell so far so fast will occupy economic seers for years. The path to 50% wealth reductions and the death of Wall Street was paved with good intentions, notably the notion that all should own a house
Fucking-A right, bro. I don't know what Jesus some of these people grew up listening to, but MY Christ didn't say a mothershitting thing about equality and the blessedness of anything. Maybe some of these people are those Gideon assholes. I don't know about you, but whenever I'm stuck in a hotel room, I like to go through the New Testament with a red pen and mark out whoever this "Mary" bitch is and write in her REAL name: Ayn Rand.

This good intention set off history's largest chain of moral hazard.
You heard it here first from The Wall Street Journal: good intentions and the idea that all should own a house = MORAL HAZARD.

Stay tuned next week for: People Should Not Die from Poverty = CULTURE ANNIHILATION.

The great unraveling
Hahahahahaha. Yes, I too like to like to employ the name of a book by a Nobel Prize-winning economist — who, for the last eight years, has devoted his weekly New York Times column to describing this current administration as the economically most irresponsible and catastrophic in American history — to somehow explain that the economically most irresponsible and catastrophic administration in American history was less culpable for the looming Second Great Depression than black people who insist we take Kwanzaa seriously and Jewish people who like to remind us their sacred rites pre-date ours by centuries and are calendrically proximal.

began sometime between 2005 and 2007, when borrowers, lenders and securitizer shamans all found themselves operating in a zero-gravity environment, aloft on moral hazard.
Once again: the idea that people have a right to ownership and security and should be aided in achieving both DESTROYED AMERICA.

His narrative runs through borrowers making misrepresentations on loan applications (fraud), the collapse of Bear Stearns's hedge funds, revised ratings-agency methodologies that led to "unprecedented" mass downgrades, causing a contagion that spread from subprime to prime home-equity loans, and a warning from the president of the IndyMac S&L that "the private secondary market is not functioning." This in turn precipitates a "torrent of deleveraging." Here's the best part: Mr. England's chapter-and-verse article appeared in October -- of 2007, one year before the current mass panic.
Note the total absence of the biggest precipitating factor in this crisis: people who understood what bad loans were/are/will be CHOSE to make bad loans to people they knew stood little chance of paying them back because it temporarily created new debts that could be sold at a profit. But nope, let's not mention that. Let's instead list, first, how the selfsame poor people who were too stupid to understand the punitive loan terms they just agreed to somehow defrauded the banking industry. Let's make sure that one is right up front and center. Let's make sure the first issue of blame is laid at the people on the bottom end of the chain of profit extending from predatory lending. Let's make sure that when the sins are finally tallied, those who risked losing their homes and livelihoods and not those risking a depreciated profit margin for billion-dollar conglomerates are condemned before all others.

This is like trading the developmentally disabled kid in class a button you found in exchange for his Snickers bar, accidentally getting food poisoning from it and claiming he masterminded bacterially sabotaging you. Then suing his family and watching his father stage his own "murder" so his family could get the life insurance money to live on. Then calling the dad a "liar" and a "quitter."

A more recent, widely emailed article for by Michael Lewis of "Liar's Poker" fame describes a skeptical hedge-fund manager and his associates walking through the wild world of mortgage-backed securities like stunned characters in "Mad Max," in effect asking bankers, borrowers and ratings-agency executives one question: Why? Why do you think all of you can get rich, all at the same time, forever?
Maybe — instead of indulging in a cheap, flawed and intellectually dishonest exercise that attempts to tie the far right wingnut fabrication of The War on Christmas to masterfully conniving poor people who bilked the finance industry out of profit on credit default swaps — you could answer his fucking question.

(For anyone still reading this: Michael Lewis also wrote Moneyballand the amazing article "Commie Ball: Journey to the End of a Revolution" and basically completely and utterly rules.)

Little or nothing that has occurred through this crisis discredits the system of free-market capitalism.
I take absolutely no real, human satisfaction in the economic dislocation of the country, the ejection of people from homes they thought they'd have forever and the loss of jobs that had barely anchored family members in the distant tidewater of the American Dream. But, if that has to happen — if it is an irrevocable horror with which we all must cope — then certainly watching The Wall Street Journal defend free market capitalism like a chainsmoking doctor explaining, in the 1990s, how Chesterfield Cigarettes not only couldn't hurt you but also cleared up your T-Zone will go a long way toward making this plunging death-ride a lot more hilarious.

Across several centuries of rising world incomes and social gains, the system has proved its worth.
Shhh, nobody tell Daniel Henninger that at no point in the history of the west has a truly free market ever existed.

Also, don't tell him about the 19th century.

In this instance, the system has been badly used -- by mere people.
Look, we have to be honest, here. A system didn't fail. People failed. The system just involves people and tries to predict their behavior and is dependent on the actions of people and can't actually exist without people. But if you take them out of it, it's fucking flawless, okay? It's like a Fabergé egg wrapped inside the Shroud of Turin inside a Camaro made out of steak that can drive in space. It's all things that are rad. There's no reason to start taking apart the system now. That's, like, WAY out there.

Look, I'm sorry. I'm a little cranky because I slept funny on my air-scrubber tube. What's that?—oh, I wear a Level-5 Decon suit in my house. Yeah, I know, it's a nice two-story colonial with really great wood floors, and it's designed for people to live in it and use it. But I cleaned it this one time, y'see, and if I actually go inside it, it'll get dirty.

Amid all these downward-pushing pressures, occurring in plain sight, hardly anyone or anything stepped up to brake the fall. What happened?
I know, it's almost like the most laissez faire administration in American history since the Gilded Age not only slashed Wall Street regulations but also let the inmates run the asylum by staffing the SEC with exactly the sort of people whose former companies would most benefit by seeing the SEC turn into a toothless, gutless, narcoleptic, senile and terminally ill regulatory agency.

The answer echoing through the marble hallways of Congress and Europe's ministries is: regulation failed.

In short, throw plaster at cracked walls. Trusting the public sector to protect us from financial catastrophe is a bad idea.
Oh, wait, my bad. You meant how the almost complete absence of regulation actually created a crisis by actively forcing people to do things by its not being there. The crisis predicated on the most laissez faire treatment of financial markets since 1933 was actually caused by being not laissez faire enough! Reading The Wall Street Journal explain how unrestricted capitalism failed by not being itself enough is like reading Soviet-apologist historians explain that the USSR failed because its adherence to Marxism-Leninism became insufficiently orthodox.

When the Social Security and Medicare meltdowns arrive, as precisely foretold by their trustees, will we ask again: What were they thinking?
Okay, look at these oranges rotting on the ground in Mr. Tannen's yard, here. You see how this is exactly like these apples I stored on top of the radiator for the last ten days???

What really went missing through the subprime mortgage years were the three Rs: responsibility, restraint and remorse.
I know, it's like people could do whatever they wanted to make more money, so they did it. We sort of let them do it.

They are the ballast that stabilizes two better-known Rs from the world of free markets: risk and reward.
Either you're talking about something totally imaginary, or you screwed up your free market description when you forgot to add "your" to the former and "my" to the latter.

Responsibility and restraint are moral sentiments. Remorse is a product of conscience. None of these grow on trees. Each must be learned, taught, passed down. And so we come back to the disappearance of "Merry Christmas."
Seriously, people. What are societies going to do about compassion without Jesus? Do you think that all of them are somehow going to, aheheheh, magically discover "compassion" and "community" and "prudence" and "responsibility" on their own??? The 4,004 years this planet existed before the Lord weren't a stygian shithole of robbery, betrayal, exploitation and poverty by accident. It's because we hadn't heard the Good News. Thankfully now we have none of those.

At all.


It has been my view that the steady secularizing and insistent effort at dereligioning America has been dangerous.
I just read a book by Richard Dawkins and fired a gun into a crowd. I saw this one lady talking about the Buddha, and she drove into traffic on the left side of the road. I watched this Dirty Harry movie where Callahan quoted John 3:16 at some scumbag, and the guy actually turned into a kiosk that sold flowers. I also support Israeli violence against Palestinians and American military support against Israel's enemies because the absence of a viable Jewish state means that Jesus cannot return to earth and convert or murder them to usher in His Kingdom.

That danger flashed red in the fall into subprime personal behavior by borrowers and bankers, who after all are just people. Northerners and atheists who vilify Southern evangelicals are throwing out nurturers of useful virtue with the bathwater of obnoxious political opinions.
The old joke, "How do you explain the invisible hand of the market? Well, Jesus does it," couldn't be more apt. The slavishly orthodox Wall Street Journal editorial page has been a happy purveyor of this pabulum for years now, but it's rare that you see such a naked expression of their "a wizard did it" philosophy on display. How did the free market err? It was regulated too much — perhaps by forces from Opposite Land — and interfered with the invisible hand of the free market Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Who can restore the integrity of the free market and save the country? Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. How can we make that happen? All y'all poor citizens who was fraudin' them banks and all y'all banks lookin' for a profit need to be ditchin' that credit failure and get y'all a Savior. How does it work?—MAGIC!

Also, apparently Daniel Henninger has access to a database of imaginary loans and loan purchases where people apparently filled out a form that required you to check a box labeled, "I'm a Believer" or "JUCK FESUS."

The point for a healthy society of commerce and politics is not that religion saves, but that it keeps most of the players inside the chalk lines. We are erasing the chalk lines.
Just FYI: the current administration that deregulated the banking industry is the most unabashedly evangelically Christian in nearly a century. Oh, look: facts. Your one weakness.

Feel free: Banish Merry Christmas. Get ready for Mad Max.
Daniel Henninger: I hope you get ass cancer.

Merry Christmas.