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Liberals Cry Foul - Your Chance To Sound Off

FORECASTS & TRENDS E-LETTER
Gary D. Halbert
October 9, 2007

IN THIS ISSUE:

1.   Liberals Are Offended By My Hillary Remarks

2.   Is The Political Landscape Changing?

3.   A Vote For Hillary Is A Vote For…

4.   Why I Write About Politics

5.   The 2007 Reader Survey

6.   A Special Bonus Gift For Those Who Complete The Survey

Introduction

My recent E-Letter criticizing Hillary Clinton ruffled more than a few feathers among my liberal readers.  The story has always been that Hillary is a polarizing figure – that people either love her or hate her.  As a result of this recent E-Letter, I heard from a number of readers that are definitely in the “love her” camp.

As I have often said in these pages, I do appreciate all of the comments I receive from readers, as long as they are not profane or threatening (which is rare, except in this most recent case).  While I do not belong to any political party, I do find myself lined up with the Republicans on most issues because I am a conservative that believes in limited government, fiscal restraint, lower taxes, etc., etc.

Even so, I appreciate hearing the reasoned arguments of readers who disagree with my views.  If you listen to only those that agree with your ideas, you will soon get a distorted view of the world.  I fully recognize that liberals have good arguments on some issues, and that the Republican Congress, once in control, acted no differently than the Democrats when it came to  spending.

In this week’s E-Letter, I’m going to continue my discussion of a potential Hillary Clinton presidency.  For those of you who love Hillary, you may find this one more to your liking, at least some parts of it.  For you who are conservatives, I hope to give you a wake-up call so that we don’t allow the media’s mantra about the inevitability of another Clinton presidency to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Later on in the E-Letter, I’ll also give you the opportunity to contribute your two-cents’ worth via my second Reader Survey.  I first conducted a survey of this E-Letter audience in 2005 and learned a lot from it regarding your likes and dislikes.  This time, I have added a few more questions, but it still should take no more than a few brief minutes of your time to complete the entire survey.  For those who complete the survey, I have a special bonus supplied by my friends at Stratfor.com, so be sure to let me know what you think.

Liberal Readers Cry Foul For Criticizing Hillary

My September 18 E-Letter, entitled “Now Two Actors Are Running For President,” certainly got under the skin of some of my more liberal readers.  Responses to that particular E-Letter, which revisited some (but not nearly all) of Hillary’s past actions, were more than usual.  And many of these responses were negative and critical of ME!

My reaction?  Good!  I’d hate to think that liberals agreed with me or I with them.

Seriously, while many responses came from my conservative readers who cheered me on, a little more than half were from disgruntled readers who did not appreciate me blasting Hillary for attacking the credibility of General Petraeus, for pointing out her improper or illegal fundraising problems, and for reminding all of us about Hillary’s sordid past.  Never mind that everything I wrote is true and has been reported widely, including in the mainstream press over the years. 

Unfortunately, only a few of these negative responses were the kind of well-reasoned, opposing views that I would both value and expect from my critics.  Instead, I’d have to put these most recent opposing views in the following general categories:

           1.  Profane – Some readers are obviously vocabulary-challenged and must express their displeasure with my writing in vulgar terms.  And I thought liberals were supposed to be the compassionate intellectuals!

           2.  Absurd – Yes, there are still plenty of conspiracy theorists out there, as well as a number of other arguments or comments that made no sense whatsoever.

           3.  Just Go Away – Other readers obviously think the best way to win an argument is to shut off access to any opposing thought (i.e., unsubscribe).  Hmmm… it seems like that’s what all the liberal intellectuals are always trying to accuse conservatives of doing.

           4.  Memory-Challenged – While not taking the time to attempt to show me where any of what I had written was incorrect, I was accused of “slander.”  Do these readers not remember what happened during the Clinton years?  Or, do they just prefer not to remember, and assail anyone who tries to bring these things up?

            Also, some of these comments asked why I never criticize Bush.  What???  I have repeatedly criticized President Bush in these pages for not being the conservative he said he was, for supporting legislation like the farm bill, steel tariffs and the education bill that would make any liberal proud, and for refusing to use his veto power.  Anyone who says I don’t criticize Bush just hasn’t been paying attention.

           5.  Relativists – A number of the negative responses from self-proclaimed Democrats acknowledged that Hillary had problems (one actually likened her to a “snake”), but that Bush was worse, so I guess that makes everything she does OK.

Also intertwined in all of the various negative comments was a common theme – that I should stick to writing about investments and not include political analysis in my E-Letter.  While I’ll discuss why I write about politics in more detail later on, the short answer to this criticism is that I feel politics affects the investment world, so to fully understand one, you need to understand the other.

Is The Political Landscape Changing?

I’ll have to be honest here and admit that when I first saw how many negative responses we received, I wondered whether the political landscape is now dramatically changing.  Is being conservative now out of vogue?  Are independent “swing” voters and even some Republicans now going to vote for Hillary in 2008?  It would certainly seem so if you listen to CNN or any of the other mainstream press outlets.

While I don’t think things are that dire for conservatives, what I do think is that many conservatives may decide to stay home on election day, possibly because they have been alienated by the Bush administration and six years of Republican control that showed it could spend and inflate government with the best of them.  If so, this will be bad for the GOP and good for Hillary or whoever is the Dem’s nominee.

Of course the press is chiming in with stories claiming Hillary is “invincible,” though some liberal outlets do seem to be holding out some hope for Obama.  However, once Hillary gets the nomination, you can bet the mainstream media will act as if Hillary is such a slam-dunk that there’s almost no need to have an election. 

Add to that the fact that the GOP bench doesn’t have anyone that the Republican base can embrace (though Thompson may eventually get there), and I can’t help but feel that Hillary has a good chance of being the next president. 

That is, until I read some of the favorable responses to my “Two Actors” E-Letter.  I was impressed by how many said they were going to forward the e-mail on to their friends and relatives.  This shows me that there is still an active conservative base that is using the Internet to keep on keeping on.

Perhaps the most promising of the responses was from a reader who said that I should not worry about the fundraising lead that Hillary enjoys, because once the Republican candidate is known, the floodgates of campaign funds will be opened (legally, by the way).  I sure hope that reader is correct in his assessment, because the recent news about Hillary’s fund raising efforts (reportedly $72 million so far this year) means that whoever the Republicans nominate will need some huge financial backing – fast!

A Vote For Hillary Is A Vote For…

While it’s easy to infer from the news media, talk shows, etc. that Hillary will be coronated president in January 2009, there are still a number of issues that thinking conservatives and independent voters should consider before staying home, or worse, casting a vote for Hillary.  Because we were able to observe her as First Lady for eight years while Bill was president, we have an idea of where her agenda may take her.

For example, I hope that everyone who is planning to vote for Hillary (or staying at home and not voting against her) understands that they are likely voting for:

1.  A significant income tax hike for most of us who are successful;

2.  A withdrawal from and defeat in Iraq, with Iran eventually taking over;

3.  Some form of nationalized health care, worse than the current system;

4.  A worsening illegal immigration crisis – Democrats love immigration; &

5.  Bill Clinton to be back in the White House for 4-8 more years.

There are plenty of other negatives that will likely result from a Hillary presidency, but the five noted above are the killers for me.  Clearly, the liberals out there are well aware of this, and are perfectly fine with the five realities above.  In fact, many liberals would love nothing more than having Bill back in the White House.

Swing voters may, or may not, understand the first four likely realities noted above, and many may not care if Bill is back in the White House.

But for those of you who may have voted Republican in the past, and are now so disgusted with President Bush that you’re considering voting for Hillary (or whoever is the Dem’s nominee), I hope you realize what you will be voting for.  Please read the list above again and think about it.

Our Work Is Cut Out For Us

While I’m not ready to throw in the towel on the 2008 elections, I am also not going to stick my head in the sand and ignore the major obstacles standing in the way of the Republican candidates.  If a Republican is to be elected president in 2008, we conservatives have our work cut out for us.  Let me explain why.

Based on the latest polling data, the Electoral College math favors Hillary in a big, big way.  Let’s assume that she would win in the Northeast, the Great Lakes, the West Coast and Hawaii, all of which are historical Democrat strongholds, and where she currently leads in the polls.  Those regions include the following states: CA, CT, DE, DC, HI, IL, ME, MA, MD, MI, MN, NH, NJ, NY, OR, PA, RI, VT, WA, WI.  These 20 states produce 252 Electoral votes toward the 270 required to win.

Now let’s assume that Bill can deliver Arkansas, with six Electoral votes, for Hillary - not a big stretch.  That would give her a near mortal lock on 258 of the 270 Electoral votes needed to win.

In that case, all Hillary would need to do is flip either Ohio (20 votes) or Florida (27 votes).  As you might remember, Ohio was extremely close in the 2004 election, and voters there have ousted their Republican governor and a Republican senator in favor of Democrats since the 2004 presidential election.  The demographics of Florida make it very susceptible to Hillary’s universal health care scheme, and that may be just enough to tip that state over to her side.

Winning one or both of these states is entirely possible for Hillary, especially with Bill on the stump for her, as he promised he would on recent Sunday talk shows and elsewhere.  I would say it’s a very safe bet that Hillary will have Bill camped out in both Ohio and Florida as the election nears. 

And finally, the analysis above assumes that Bill delivers no other southern states than Arkansas, which is not a safe assumption.  It is possible that he could pick up one or two more.  While I wouldn’t go so far as to conclude that Hillary is invincible, at this point it looks as though the election is hers to lose.  But let’s not forget, she’s not nearly as politically savvy as her husband, so she could still make some fatal mistakes.

Why Write About Politics At All?

As I noted earlier, several of those who criticized me in the last couple of weeks suggested that I cease writing anything political and stick only to issues relating to investing, the economy, etc.  I have been writing my Forecasts & Trends newsletter since 1976, over 30 years, and I have always written about politics from time to time – through Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush 41, Bill Clinton and George Bush 43.

I write about politics for two reasons.  The first is, I believe that politics affect the economy, for better or worse.  The economy, in turn, affects the investment markets.  Politics definitely affect income tax rates, which in turn affects all of the above.  Politics can also affect the value of our currency and the rate of inflation.  I could go on and on, but you either agree or disagree.

The other reason I write about politics is simply because I enjoy it.  For all these years, I have been very honest in that I am a conservative on most issues, even though I am not a member of any political party.  Most clients and readers who are conservatives enjoy my periodic political columns, as evidenced by their direct feedback and survey responses.

So, the bottom line is, I tend to write about whatever is most interesting to me each week, as my clients and many of you suggested that I do in prior surveys.

Clients and readers who are politically liberal generally say they just “put up with me.”  One long-time client who is very liberal told me some years ago that he appreciates my political commentaries as they give him a good take on “contemporary conservatism.”  Others, including many of you who responded to my September 18 political piece on Hillary, were not so appreciative.

As noted earlier, I do appreciate all of your feedback whether positive or negative, so I encourage all readers to feel free to let me know your thoughts. We do know that readers are quicker to let me know what they do not like than they are to respond to things they do like.  But for me, it is equally important to know both sides.

Your Responses To Topics Tell Us A Lot

We can get a pretty good idea of which topics you like to read based on the number of e-mail responses we get each week.  Based on that, we can see if you like the investment columns the best, the economic columns the best, the world events columns the best, the geopolitical or domestic political articles the best, or others.

I’m an investment guy, as you know.  So you would assume that my articles related to investing would be the most popular by far, wouldn’t you?  I certainly would, given the sophistication of this audience.  And especially given that my investment articles tend to focus on “alternative strategies” for making money.

But in fact, we tend to get more responses (both positive and negative) from readers to my political articles than we do to my investment and economic related columns.  Part of this is due to the fact that political topics, by their very nature, tend to illicit more reader emotion, as compared to an investment or economic article.

With that in mind, I would like to ask you for a quick favor.

Reader Survey

Please take just a few minutes of your time to complete a brief survey that will greatly help me to know what your favorite topics are.  This is your chance to give me your valuable input.  For example, if you think I write too much about politics (or any other subject), this is your opportunity to let me know. 

Plus, I have a great BONUS for everyone who agrees to take our short survey:

I have made an arrangement with my friends at Stratfor.com to allow you to get a free 24-hour guest pass to their premium site once you have completed the survey.  You will also have access to their Fourth Quarter Economic Forecast, even beyond your 24-hour guest pass time limit.

I have often written about George Friedman and the Stratfor organization, and how it is one of the most respected geopolitical intelligence services in the world.  Subscribers ranging from international corporations to government and military leaders rely on Stratfor’s geopolitical analysis, reports and forecasts to keep them “in the know.”  I have been a Stratfor subscriber for many years, and find their information to be indispensable to my activities as an investment manager and writer.

After completing our survey, you will be given a link to this very enlightening forecast, which is usually reserved only for Stratfor’s subscribers.  If you like what you see, you’ll also be able to purchase an annual subscription to Stratfor’s services at a substantially discounted price. 

Please take a few minutes of your valuable time to complete the survey and let me know what’s on your mind.  There are no questions that ask for any personal information, and any input you provide is completely confidential and anonymous.  We cannot trace your responses back to your name or your e-mail address, nor would we want to.

Confidentiality is assured through the use of an independent website that administers anonymous surveys for third parties.  So, unless you use one of the comment sections to ask a question and provide your e-mail address, we’ll have no way to identify respondents.

Please click on the link below and complete the survey:


Thank you in advance for your input, comments and/or suggestions!  Also, please note that if you choose to take advantage of Stratfor’s discounted subscription rate, my firm does not receive any share of the subscription price or any other compensation.

Attention New Readers – The “Other” Gary Halbert

One last thing.  Over the years, I have periodically written about the “other” Gary Halbert on the Internet.  His name is Gary C. Halbert.  I am Gary D. Halbert.  We are not related, and I never even met Gary C. Halbert.  Even though Gary C. Halbert is now deceased, he still has a prominent presence on the Internet.  As a former advertising copywriter, his materials are still the object of Internet discussions, and are even offered for sale in e-Bay auctions.

Since new subscribers come onboard this E-Letter frequently, it is important to let you know that if you do a Google search for “Gary Halbert,” you do not find a direct link to me until the second page of search results.  The first page-and-half of links refer to Gary C. Halbert, not me, even though Gary C. Halbert is no longer with us.

Why is this important?  It’s because some of the links discuss and refer to a rather checkered past of the “other” Gary Halbert.  Some discuss his past legal problems and time in jail, while others suggest that some of his work was “borderline illegal.”  While I am not in a position to judge the merits of any of these comments about Gary C. Halbert, I do think it’s important that my readers know that these comments do not relate to me.

So, if you do an Internet search for “Gary Halbert,” you will see a LOT about the “other” Gary C. Halbert, and nothing about me, Gary D. Halbert, until you get a couple of pages deep in most search engines.  Just keep that in mind.

As in the past, I do not endorse or recommend any of the services offered by the late Gary C. Halbert or those who may now be promoting those services.

Finally, if you search for “Gary D. Halbert” on Google, you will find me at the top followed by pages and pages of links to things I have written in the past. 

Please Complete The READER SURVEY

That’s all for this week – Please complete the Reader Survey as I very much want to get a lot of input and suggestions from you.  Remember, if you complete the brief survey, I will give you access to Stratfor’s Fourth Quarter Forecast, a must-read for anyone with an eye on the US economy and world events.

Please click on the link below and complete the survey.  This is your chance to influence what I write about each week in these pages.


Thanks in advance for completing the survey!

Very best regards,

Gary D. Halbert


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Forecasts & Trends E-Letter is published by Halbert Wealth Management, Inc. Gary D. Halbert is the president and CEO of Halbert Wealth Management, Inc. and is the editor of this publication. Information contained herein is taken from sources believed to be reliable but cannot be guaranteed as to its accuracy. Opinions and recommendations herein generally reflect the judgement of Gary D. Halbert (or another named author) and may change at any time without written notice. Market opinions contained herein are intended as general observations and are not intended as specific investment advice. Readers are urged to check with their investment counselors before making any investment decisions. This electronic newsletter does not constitute an offer of sale of any securities. Gary D. Halbert, Halbert Wealth Management, Inc., and its affiliated companies, its officers, directors and/or employees may or may not have investments in markets or programs mentioned herein. Past results are not necessarily indicative of future results. Reprinting for family or friends is allowed with proper credit. However, republishing (written or electronically) in its entirety or through the use of extensive quotes is prohibited without prior written consent.

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