Sunday, January 22, 2012

South Carolina and Beyond

What a Hoot to Watch Newt Boot Mitt

For the political junkies, the South Carolina GOP primary was better than a trip to the circus and the zoo in the same day.

Newt, what a hoot!

I do expect Mitt Romney, eventually, will get the nomination, but it won’t be easy.

I also will be astounded if Newt’s blatancy and in--your-face aggressive style--much of it trying to cover his shortcomings—can fool a majority of GOP voters in future primaries or, if I am wrong, the American public in November.

As a citizen, I was ready for the angry theatrics and the gouge their eyes/kick them in the groin Republican politics to end. I wanted the GOP to finally settle on Mitch Romney, allowing for a more serious discussion to unfold between Romney and President Obama.

However, as a partisan, I wanted Newt to win in SC, Paul and Santorum to do well and the GOP bloodletting to continue as long as the candidates and their campaigns keep dishing it out.

As noted, I believe Romney will prevail over Gingrich, because the Republican Party establishment can’t be that whacko or harbor a political death wish.

They might beat President Obama with Romney but never with Newt. There are manifold reasons why so many seasoned GOP soldiers are Gingrich-negative.

If/when Romney does win the nomination, hopefully, a bullheaded Newt, Ron Paul, or Rick Santorum stays in the race as a “conservative option to Romney.” That draining scenario provides the Democrats with food for a presidential win and possibly even enough juice to hold onto the Senate.

Ron Paul should just fold his tent and walk away, but he is my candidate to figure out a way to stay active and pursue the Republican Holy Grail long after he’s mathematically “defeated.”

As a final comment, for real, I want to thank the senior Catholic officials who publicly called on their “fellow churchmen,” Gingrich and Santorum, to end their not so subtle race-baiting and efforts to demean the poor and needy. I wish others, in and out of the GOP, had the same principles.

That Lee Atwater “Willie Horton” garbage appeals to our citizens’ meanest and lowest instincts and it isn’t mindful of the human carnage the bad economic times have generated for lots of American families. Someone has to remind these guys—and anyone else who engages in it--they are running to be President of all of the American people.

I don’t think Gingrich’s pit bull personality--once he goes down--will allow him to do anything but throw grenades at Romney (and Obama) from the sidelines or wherever he chooses to stand.

Newt is an engaging scoundrel and, likely, a serial adulterer, who has the stones to go after the media for discussing those facts.

At least Newt didn't claim Romney's family harbored a "thespian," a line he's probably saving for Florida, West Virginia, or Alabama!

Parlez Vous Francais, Newt?

One of the funnier incidents to come out the GOP SC battle concerned Newt telling an audience—in a put down Romney effort—that the former Massachusetts Governor speaks French, “just like John Kerry.” (Translation: Here Mittens, let me stick in that “effete, Massachusetts, he’s not like you and me” knife one more time!)

I don’t know if Romney or John Kerry speaks French, Evangaline Morphos strongly believes that Newt Gingrich did 40 years ago and may still.

Ms. Morphos’s father taught French literature at Tulane University in the 1970’s when Newt Gingrich earned his Ph. D. in history. That Professor Morphos had been Chairman of Tulane’s Romance Language Department

In a column last week in Politico, Ms. Morphos points out that Tulane required their Ph. D. candidates to be conversant in one, if not, two foreign languages. Newt’s dissertation--the “Belgian Education Policy in the Congo: 1945-1960”--dealt with learning tenets in a French speaking country and had more than 100 footnotes citing French language sources.

According to Ms. Morphos—who is on the faculty at Columbia University--the Tulane Language Department would not have blessed the dissertation topic if Newt couldn’t speak French (which is the language of the Congo) and which his work strongly suggested that he did.

Did Newt ever speak French--which would put his Ph. D. on very shaky ground, if he didn’t--or does his indictment of Romney represent a type of acting, which one might see a thespian perform?

The Financial Commentator and Me

There is a prominent financial writer who buys into the Wallison/Pinto/AEI line that Fannie Mae bought tons of bad loans in the 1990’s long before the public came to learn about Wall Street’s shoddy private label subprime securities (PLS). Recently the newsman and I have engaged in a series of emails trying to convince the other that he is wrong.

My last communication to him suggested—with so many distorted definitions of prime, subprime, good/ bad loans (see Wallison/Pinto/AEI)--that an easier way to decide if a loan was well underwritten or not is to look at whether the mortgage failed or stayed current.

No matter the terms and the underwriting, if the borrower stayed in the home and made the monthly mortgage payments, that was a good loan. If the borrower failed to do so—absent his or her death or serious compromise to the family income source (sustained unemployment, divorce, or major illness)—that likely was a bad loan.

In the 1990’s, when Jim Johnson was Fannie’s CEO, and early into the following decade, when Frank Raines was Fannie’s CEO through 2004, the mortgage loans Fannie acquired or securitized overwhelmingly were good loans which performed well.

Borrowers didn’t default, faithfully made their monthly payments, and Fannie Mae’s losses on its mortgage portfolio were de minimis and multiple federal reports—filed with the SEC, HUD, OFHEO--make those points clear.

That should be end of story regarding the Johnson and Raines years, no matter how the AEI and others twist definitions and “their findings.”

People can and should--as I have done—criticize Fannie Mae’s major acquisitions of subprime and Alt A mortgages beginning in 2005 and beyond. Those private label Wall Street originated loans are what bled the company and which continue to lose money.

However, conflating the eras allow the Fannie haters--and their media and think tank allies--to generate limited and simplistic Fannie Mae stories which are inaccurate and fail to illuminate.

Conference NFL Playoffs

I’ll take the “dogs” (those not favored) in today’s games, eventually hoping to see a Ravens and Giants Super Bowl. If my Steelers can’t win, I want to see Baltimore beat New England and the Giants prevail over San Francisco.

At least one half of actress Rooney Mara’s extended family--the Rooney’s own the Steelers and the Mara’s own the Giants--needs to get to the SB. (Ms. Mara is the female lead in “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.”)

Maloni, 1-22-12

1 comment:

Bill Maloni said...

FYI--From Today's News

Zandi Says Fannie, Freddie Not To Blame For Housing Bubble.
Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, writes in a Washington Post (1/24) op-ed, "There is plenty of blame to go around for the US housing bubble, but not much of it belongs to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac." The GSEs "made many mistakes over the decades, some of them real whoppers, but causing house prices to soar and then crater during the last decade weren't among them." According to Zandi, "The biggest culprits in the housing fiasco came from the private sector, and more specifically from a mortgage industry that was out of control."

Similarly, CNNMoney (1/24, Isidore) reports, "The one thing Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich seem to agree on about Freddie Mac is that it played a significant role in the housing bubble -- and the subsequent financial meltdown that followed when it burst." Yet, "many experts in the field question that view, saying Freddie Mac and fellow mortgage finance company Fannie Mae were relatively small players in the rapid growth of subprime and other risky home loans while the housing bubble inflated -- and were relatively late to the game at that." Guy Cecala, CEO of Inside Mortgage Finance, said, "An easy way to sum it all up is if Fannie and Freddie never existed we still would have had the housing bubble, the subprime crisis and the collapse of the housing market." Nevertheless, he noted that the GSEs did play a role in the crisis.