The other day I was listening to the exasperating Howie Carr’s talk show. Carr is a Boston-based populist Republican who purports to be an Independent. Like all Republican talk-show hosts, he’s an asshole. However, he does have his good points. For one thing, he took on the corrupt and dangerous Bulger brothers, risking his life to do so (Whitey Bulger is the model for the Jack Nicholson character in The Departed). For another, Carr, who is Catholic, took on the Catholic Church over the child rape scandal and helped drive Cardinal Law from our shores. And finally, he is relentless in exposing corruption and hypocrisy among Democrats in office, especially those in state or city offfices. In a corrupt one-party state like Massachusetts, this is a valuable service.
But he’s basically a Republican shill, and his commentary on the Big Shitpile crisis has been horrible. Last week he was going on and on about how the problem was that so many mortgages had been written for poor people in innner cities (Black people, that is, by obvious implication) who got in over their heads and defaulted, so now banks were failing and Wall Street could collapse, taking our whole way of life with it. And all because of the Negroes! And the Libruls, of course, who forced the banks to make these loans by way of “anti-redlining” laws promoted by Joe Kennedy and his ilk.
And I heard similar stuff on National Public Radio yesterday.
On “All Things Considered” last night I heard a national correspondent, I forget which one, say that under Bush/Cheney’s bailout plan, the government would buy the bad “subprime” mortgages from their holders on Wall Street.
Here’s what I hate about this talk:
1) Nobody on Wall Street holds any of these mortgages. I guaran-damn-tee you that there is not one homeowner in all the land who makes his mortgage check out to Lehman Brothers every month. What Lehman Brothers and all its kindred companies do own are “collateralized debt instruments” and “mortgage backed derivatives” and all kinds of fancy shit that neither you nor I nor they even understand what the fuck they even are. They are pieces of paper that supposedly represent bundles of safe mortgages and risky mortgages, and against which bogus security Lehman Brothers went out and borrowed a jillion more dollars. But they are mere hypothetical constructs. They are shit. They were invented by the fancy people with the fancy MBAs and advanced degrees in econometrics and mathematics and game theory. Poor people trying to buy their first homes did not invent these “debt instruments”. Wall Street did.
This is important because homeowners are starting to resist foreclosure on the grounds that the entity foreclosing them cannot even prove that they have any legal claim to the property. They cannot produce proof that they own the mortgage.
2) Bush wants three quarters of a trillion dollars to remedy this mess. The Negroes of America did not borrow three quarters of a trillion dollars. All kinds of people were given all kinds of mortgages and loans, many of them, obviously, were given to speculators who bought not their first home of their own in which to live, but multiple houses, condominiums, etc, as investments.
3) Nobody made Lehman Brothers or anybody else buy any mortgages that they thought were too risky. The Libruls did not force Lehman Brothers to lend to the (stupid, profligate, etc,) Negroes. Neither Joe Kennedy nor anti-redlining laws nor any other liberal boogeyman have anything to do with this mess.
4) etc, etc, etc.
You kind of expect Howie Carr to go after the easy target (although, to his credit, he has also had some pretty severe thing to say about the senior management of Lehmans and other); but one would hope that in reporting on the most significant USian news story since the Iraq War, and the biggest financial story since 1930, that NPR would get some of the basics right.