August 23, 2010

Liberal HAMP-Smokers Kicking the Habit?


I’m always glad to see liberals waking from their slumbers, however belatedly. Who knows, maybe some of them might turn into real activists in the struggle ahead.
So this time the revelatory catalyst was Steve Waldman’s report from last week’s econoblogger conclave at Treasury. Here’s the critical quote:

On HAMP, officials were surprisingly candid. The program has gotten a lot of bad press in terms of its Kafka-esque qualification process and its limited success in generating mortgage modifications under which families become able and willing to pay their debt. Officials pointed out that what may have been an agonizing process for individuals was a useful palliative for the system as a whole. Even if most HAMP applicants ultimately default, the program prevented an outbreak of foreclosures exactly when the system could have handled it least. There were murmurs among the bloggers of “extend and pretend”, but I don’t think that’s quite right. This was extend-and-don’t-even-bother-to-pretend. The program was successful in the sense that it kept the patient alive until it had begun to heal. And the patient of this metaphor was not a struggling homeowner, but the financial system, a.k.a. the banks. Policymakers openly judged HAMP to be a qualified success because it helped banks muddle through what might have been a fatal shock. I believe these policymakers conflate, in full sincerity, incumbent financial institutions with “the system”, “the economy”, and “ordinary Americans”. Treasury officials are not cruel people. I’m sure they would have preferred if the program had worked out better for homeowners as well. But they have larger concerns, and from their perspective, HAMP has helped to address those.

(BTW, in the post Waldman continues with his rather disgusting teenybopper fawning over those who are nothing but wretched scumbags. His tone after the first such meeting last year was the same. I really can’t fathom why anyone would admire these bureaucratic thugs or find them humanly attractive in any way. In a comment today Yves Smith tries to explain it in terms of human nature, but I’d say it’s more likely endemic to those who are or in the past have been insiders of a particular system. I’d bet if true outsiders ever had such a meeting, we’d be coldly polite at best, and in our minds just plain cold. At least Waldman admits that it’s discreditable of him, and rues it.)
So there followed a chorus of outraged liberals: “We’ve been had!” I won’t bother analyzing any in detail. Here’s one example, and another, and another.
Now, those of us who maintain an open mind (and read the econoblogs) knew this a long time ago. If I may toot my own horn for a moment, here’s me calling the HAMP a scam on exactly these grounds last December. There were plenty of others too. As with everything else, none of this is ever a secret nor does it ever require any special genius to figure out. It just requires paying attention and not maintaining stupid faith like faith in Obama and the Democrats (let alone faith in the banks; unbelievably, many still do).
Nor were our sources exactly obscure: To give two, McClatchy is a mainstream outlet, while The Nation is a liberal publication.
So why didn’t our liberals learn about the HAMP from The Nation back in December? I think the best answer is that Waldman is quoting Treasury cadres themselves affirming that the HAMP was a scam. A liberal, being a type of Right Wing Authoritarian Follower* and elitist suck-up, is congenitally unlikely to believe non-official sources on things (he’ll believe an anti-Republican allegation when a Democrat leads with it), and needless to say he won’t think things out for himself. So he wasn’t previously willing to believe housing activists or some unusual examples of real reporting, and of course he won’t believe econobloggers or radical bloggers.
But now that an official from the Treasury Department itself admitted the scam, it suddenly becomes a real scam, for at least some of the liberals.
Well, like I said I’m glad when we seem to see some progress in the education of our liberals. Of course I won’t believe anything from anyone until he takes an explicit stance renouncing the Democrats and the system once and for all.
[*Altemeyer himself recently came out as an RWA Follower, an Obama cultist, Bailout-believer, war-monger and what have you. Kind of ironic, if you’re familiar with his work. Who knew he was talking about himself all along? (Well, at least I didn’t. Maybe others did.)] 


  1. Haha, great subject line. Gave me a good chuckle.

    Comment by jimmy james — August 23, 2010 @ 2:10 pm

    • Thanks. Where possible I try to come up with a good title which is visible to search engines. (I can’t always, which is why I often end up sticking names in parentheses at the end.)

      Comment by Russ — August 23, 2010 @ 2:50 pm

  2. Your anti-“liberal” screed here is off-target. You’ve obviously swallowed the Kool-Aid that the folks you are talking about are actually liberals. They are not. (Neither is Obama; why else the Gibbs babble-rant about the “professional left”?) No one on the real Left ever thought HAMP was anything more than corporate welfare (Obama’s forté, and detested by real Liberals), and the only amazing thing here for us on the Left is that these jerks actually came out and admitted it.

    Anyways, you might be interested in adding this to your write-ups on this topic: http://seekingalpha.com/article/221249-further-thoughts-on-my-treasury-meeting It’s from another attendee of this pseudo kiss fest. Some of the other articles by attendees omit or whitewash the HAMP comments, but this one is vanilla plain: They threw these folks under the bus, and called it good.

    And if you’re looking for some better words (from a real Liberal) to describe this, drop the word “scam”, and use “criminal conspiracy to commit fraud” instead. (Got a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?)

    P.S. You might also want to check this out (from the Left) for the current status of HAMP. That half million throw-out figure in the above link looks right on target: http://wonkroom.thinkprogress.org/2010/08/23/half-hamp/ Reason (from the Right) also chimes in: http://reason.com/blog/2010/08/23/we-were-just-kidding-treasury Wonderful title!!!

    Comment by Benedict@Large — August 24, 2010 @ 6:30 pm

    • Hi Benedict,

      If you read around here you’ll see I use the terms “criminal” and “fraud” all the time.

      LOL on your accusing me of “Kool-Aid” drinking, even though you’re the one who seems unaware of the entire history of liberals.

      Even the “real liberals” all have their breaking point where their cowardice and treachery takes over. I’ve started calling that “the Obama Line”: the line where even a liberal who’s rejected Obama nevertheless flips over and sides with the corporate tyranny, and starts acting like Obama. (I haven’t written up a post on it yet.)

      For example, even among the “best” liberals we’ve seen some visceral hatred of Assange and Wikileaks. Evidently the Obama Line for some, where they flip and side with the Pentagon, is that they simply blanch at the proposition that the elite have no call for and therefore no rights to any secrets.

      Here’s myself proposing precisely that:



      Even the “best” liberals are at their core elitists and authoritarians. (That’s what makes them liberals. If they weren’t they’d be socialists or anarchists.) So faced with the specter of Wikileaks some are forced to even side with history’s worst mass murderers, like in this vile pack of lies:



      which simply blames victims of torture, rape, and massacre for ever having the temerity to fight back. “If you fight back in unapproved ways, then you provoke whatever the killers do to you and it’s you own fault. Assange’s tactics are unapproved, and therefore whatever the Pentagon does following upon them is his fault.” But this liberal does stipulate that the official establishment media should be reporting this stuff! So it would be OK if it came from them, just not from an outsider unaccountable to the elites.

      (I like the way this liar is caught out in the comments to the former link having quoted Cockburn out of context in the latter; Cockburn doesn’t really support what Payne’s arguing, but the opposite.)

      It’s all lies, of course; just as you can never appease such killers, you can’t provoke them to worse extremes. Whatever they intend to do, they will do. The Rape Of Belgium was not provoked by the Belgians. The Germans started shooting civilians on the very first day. But some liberals are saying the Belgians got what they had coming.

      That’s the loathesome depths of their elitism and hatred of bottom-up resistance. And these are the “better” liberals who don’t like Obama!

      Every other liberal will have a similar line which goes too far and which he refuses to cross.

      In the case of Wikileaks, it’s simply: “Well, of course the elites have to be able to keep secrets. It’s wrong and evil to challenge that. We may dislike this particular kind of secret. But we support secretiveness in principle. Wikileaks is an enemy.”

      So just as most liberals never had a problem with Bush policy but only that it was Republicans doing it, so even among those who reject Obama we see how many still don’t object to corporate elitism as such, but just don’t like the way Bush/Obama have been carrying it out.

      The measure of “the real Left” would be to reject elitism and corporatism as such. That would mean, if one embraces an existing “-ism” at all, to become a socialist or anarchist.

      But to still support some level of elite heirarchy and economic concentration is simply the definition of liberalism. The only question is degree.

      I’m not really interested in Left-Right. I say citizen vs. consumer, citizen vs. criminal, public interest vs. elitism, public interest vs. corporatism, and similar permutations. These describe the real dividing line.

      Here’s the fundamental question which defines anyone: Do you demand producer control and distribution of all the wealth they produce? Or do you support the existing system where unproductive elites collect the wealth, steal most of it, and “allow” those who produced it to have some restored to them?

      By definition a liberal supports some version of the latter, while if one truly rejects the latter and seeks the former, he’s not a liberal.

      Comment by Russ — August 25, 2010 @ 2:57 am

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

%d bloggers like this: