Journos on the Dark Side

You know, Jane Mayer looks sweet and all, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to believe that hokey story she’s concocted about how the reason why civil liberties have taken a pummeling under the Bush regime is because Cheney et al were “calm, commanding” yet understandably paranoid after 9/11 and Daschle’s anthrax scare.

Why won’t I believe this seemingly innocuous proposition?

I have known Young Republicans and I have studied Republicans and the history of the conservative movement in the US. It’s not just that that Republicans indulge in secretive doomsday leadership play-acting, and that’s why they’re so “calm” and “commanding” when “staring into the abyss.” (Wow, what a shitload of flattering bullshit.)

It’s that they’re always up to some secretive, antidemocratic machinations because they’re capitalist elitists and they know who their enemy is and it is us. If you can manufacture a story that somehow reflects this reality, then I might bite. As it is, I think Mayer is a propagandist and her premise for explaining antidemocratic actions is a distraction. It is not improbable that it is a calculated distraction. It smells cooked up.

(And what moron would trust the NPR blather any more than Fox, after the Republicans took it over and filled it up with shrill, defensive, preening Colombia School of Journalism “communications professionals”? )

Let’s establish reality again. The neoclasssical economists, the neoliberals and the neocons are by ideology anti-democrats. Capitalist elitists. They’re not interested in enlightenment projects; they find them inconvenient. We the demos are fodder to them–we’re nothing more than expendable, indentured servants who owe our soul to the company store, and soldiers. This position is not something they stumbled upon in a fit of paranoia that hit in 2001. It’s an ideological position–conservatism– with massive historical roots and plenty of material incentive. (For crissake, as a response to the New Deal, the American Legion, the duPonts and other capitalists tried to get US military leaders to overthrow FDR and establish a fascist dictatorship in the US. How many times and ways do we have to learn that capital only wants our blood, sweat, tears, environment and cash, not the development of our humanity?) There’s your parsimonious theory about why the Bush regime frenetically continues to dismantle the hard-won civil and human rights that the late 20th century US Executives began to dismantle.

(Setting aside for a moment the usual suspects, look at the other lead ups to this. Look at Clinton’s record in this regard. It wasn’t pretty, propaganda budgets and killing social citizenship rights, and soforth. Carter funding whatever secret state terrorism Brzezinski recommended. These people ran the country like those genial, folksy Colonel Sanders leaders have been running the Southern states since Jim Crow only ruled the South. Oh, they know how to talk to the undereducated common folk, the Grange, and the Chambers of Commerce types, all right. They put on a heartwarming show.)

It’s all coming down to an elite blueprint for how you save the important part of the uneven Anglo-American model so that capitalists can comfortably move on just as they did when the British empire collapsed. What does the Anglo-American model come down to? Say it out loud and proud:

First, last and always, Privatize accumulation / Socialize risk and costs.

Let the French memorialize Jeffersonian democracy at their leisure.

(This explanatory theory I’m using is so incisive in fact that it can also handily explain why everybody who once claimed to be against “state intervention”, when that meant sponsoring social citizenship rights and regulating business, is now embracing state intervention, when it comes to pork-barrel war spending and bailing out capitalists as the economy crumbles. I mention this because I listened to NPR earlier today and understand that this distinction is blowing the collective hive mind of communications professionals, who apparently take some authoritative discourses at face value, surprisingly, given their profession.)

Mayer’s is a fun old story, full of Agamemnon and Achilles. But there are no heroes in this. There’s no White Hope. My friends, we’re talking about democracy here, and democracy aint coming back on the wings of a butterfly with a JD from Georgetown. You know there has to be blood on the streets, and Pinkerton Detectives, cops, dogs, judges, National Guards, the FBI and the CIA at our throats. It’s the only way up to the high road, and it’s very, very painful.


Dealing with Mortgage Cos

Many of the deals that his firm has arranged have initial interest rates in the 3 percent range.

Using what is known as a qualified written request under Section 6 of Respa, LoanSafe also asks the servicers whose loans it is examining to detail the amounts owed by a borrower as well as asking it to justify all fees.

“Magically, when we do that, we will get an offer of a modification and those fees often go away,” Mr. Bedard says.

Because servicers must answer such requests within 60 days, Mr. Bedard suggests that all borrowers make them. (A sample letter is on the Web site of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, at

Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac

Excerpt from Krugman, Paul. 2008. “Fannie, Freddie, and You.” New York Times, July 14.

In which Mr. Krugman explains that while “profits are privatized” and “losses are socialized” (the defining feature of American capitalism) in the federally-sponsored private mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, in this particular case, and by the fluke of good timing, the government actually briefly REGULATED these companies, reducing the threat of capitalist irresponsibility.

“The case against Fannie and Freddie begins with their peculiar status: although they’re private companies with stockholders and profits, they’re “government-sponsored enterprises” established by federal law, which means that they receive special privileges.

The most important of these privileges is implicit: it’s the belief of investors that if Fannie and Freddie are threatened with failure, the federal government will come to their rescue.

This implicit guarantee means that profits are privatized but losses are socialized. If Fannie and Freddie do well, their stockholders reap the benefits, but if things go badly, Washington picks up the tab. Heads they win, tails we lose.

Such one-way bets can encourage the taking of bad risks, because the downside is someone else’s problem. The classic example of how this can happen is the savings-and-loan crisis of the 1980s: S.& L. owners offered high interest rates to attract lots of federally insured deposits, then essentially gambled with the money. When many of their bets went bad, the feds ended up holding the bag. The eventual cleanup cost taxpayers more than $100 billion.

But here’s the thing: Fannie and Freddie had nothing to do with the explosion of high-risk lending a few years ago, an explosion that dwarfed the S.& L. fiasco. In fact, Fannie and Freddie, after growing rapidly in the 1990s, largely faded from the scene during the height of the housing bubble.

Partly that’s because regulators, responding to accounting scandals at the companies, placed temporary restraints on both Fannie and Freddie that curtailed their lending just as housing prices were really taking off. Also, they didn’t do any subprime lending, because they can’t: the definition of a subprime loan is precisely a loan that doesn’t meet the requirement, imposed by law, that Fannie and Freddie buy only mortgages issued to borrowers who made substantial down payments and carefully documented their income.”

Republicans’ voting base

The Party of Sam’s Club
Isn’t it time the Republicans did something for their voters?
by Ross Douthat & Reihan Salam
11/14/2005, Volume 011, Issue 09

“In May, the Pew Research Center released the 2005 edition of its Political Typology, a survey that slices the American electorate into nine discrete groups. Unsurprisingly, the core of the GOP’s support turns out to be drawn from “Enterprisers,” affluent, optimistic, and staunchly conservative on economic and social issues alike. But the so-called Enterprisers represent just 11 percent of registered voters–and apart from them, the most reliable GOP voters are Social Conservatives (13 percent of registered voters) and Pro-Government Conservatives (10 percent of voters). Both groups are predominantly female (Enterprisers are overwhelmingly male); both are critical of big business; and both advocate more government involvement to alleviate the economic risks faced by a growing number of families. They tend to be hostile to expanding free trade, Social Security reform, and guest-worker proposals–which is to say the Bush second term agenda.”