Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Alas and Alack! Woe is We!!!

Who, Dear Gentle Reader(s), is minding the store?

Hie thee to The Washington Post’s website for insight regarding oversight and hindsight.

The article is titled “Regulator Let IndyMac Bank Falsify Report,” and subtitled “Agency Didn't Enforce Its Rules, Inquiry Finds.”  In it you will find, DGR(s), the amazing journey of one Darrel Dochowa, federal regulator, who

“…approved a plan by IndyMac Bank to exaggerate its financial health in a May federal filing, allowing the California company to avoid regulatory restrictions only two months before it collapsed, a federal inquiry has found.”

and who has been disciplined prior to this current “scandal”

It is the second time Dochow has been removed from a position as a senior thrift regulator. He was demoted in the early 1990s after federal investigators found that he had delayed and impeded proper regulation of Charles Keating's failed Lincoln Savings and Loan.

and who

…has been reassigned to work in Washington on "special projects" and as head of human resources, pending completion of the inquiry, according to a memo sent to OTS [Office of Thrift Supervision] staff yesterday.

So, we find, to force another metaphor, a guy who some 15 years ago was demoted for inadequate oversight, worked his way back into uppermanagement’s good graces, and screwed the pooch again—not to mention contributing to the world wide pooch screwing—and is reassigned to D.C.:

Dochow has been reassigned to work in Washington on "special projects" and as head of human resources, pending completion of the inquiry, according to a memo sent to OTS staff yesterday.

The question one asks is “Why?”  Then the question becomes “Why is this guy still on the public payroll?” Finally one wonders “Who’s in charge?”  Followed hard upon by “Why is that person still in charge?”

(BTW, the “Keating” brouhaha is linked to the Savings and Loan mess of the Bush I administration.  This has been going on for a long time.)

Alas, Dear Gentle Reader(s), it’s becoming more and more difficult to

Trust, let alone verify.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

The Munie and Joe Show

Folk heroes, Dear Gentle Reader(s), arise in the most unexpected places, but, in afterthought, in the most predictable times.

Take, for instance, Joe the Plumber and Muntader al-Zaidi.

In retrospect, Good Ol’ Joe’s rise to folk hero (albeit amongst a minority of American voters) was predictable.  All that was needed was a candidate answering  a serious question seriously and at some length.  Then the video of the exchange is “managed” in such a way that what was said is edited to seem to say something actually not said (following me?).  Pass this on to a national audience via a Presidential Debate, and Voila!, a hero is born.

Munie’s rise is quite similar:  television crews, question and answers unscripted (it is hoped), a person of some controversy, a person with some distaste for the questionee and with some gumption, and Viola!, the Arab world has its own version of Joe.

There, perhaps, end the similarities.  Joe has pretty much faded from the news cycles, his 15 minutes well used up.  Munie might last a bit longer.  His constituency is larger than Joe’s; Joe only had the base of the Republican Party, but Munie seems to have the population of the Arab speaking world behind him.

Messers. Bush an Maliki should have taken that wise advice from The Gipper regarding their audience at that news conference:

Trust, W, but verify.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

When does Private become Public?

Steve Lopez, Dear Gentle Reader(s), is an excellent columnist for the Los Angeles Times, and today he deals with the ramifications of Prop 8 as felt by a woman caught in the moral conundrum du jour.

It seems Margie Christoffersen, at the behest of her Mormon church, donated $100 to support Proposition 8, which is an attempt to remove the right to marry for “same-sex” couples from the state constitution.  In the aftermath of the passage of the proposition, Christoffersen’s donation became public knowledge.

Mayhem ensued at her workplace, a very popular restaurant within the gay community of L.A.

Christoffersen is distraught.  Business is down.

One of her gay employees defends her on the basis that the check was a personal one and that the restaurant shouldn’t be targeted.  “You can express yourself as a citizen.  Not everyone has to believe the same things.”


On the other hand, Christoffersen has been working at the restaurant for over twenty years; it was founded by her mother.  Money flows into Christoffersen’s checkbook directly from the restaurant, which has a large gay clientele.

Is it then to be understood that we gays must willingly contribute to a checkbook which will, in turn, be used to support policies which discriminate against us? 

No thanks.

Christoffersen’s “private” donation became public knowledge.  She should’ve had the foresight to anticipate that her donation might come back to cause just as much discomfort to herself as it might to her loyal customers.

Christoffersen sheep-like followed the dictates of her religious leaders; no thought, just obedience. 

Perhaps it’s time she did a little soul searching and questioning of certain practices of the Mormon church. 

Perhaps it’s time she thought about the wisdom of learning to

Trust, but verify.

(By the way, when “The Soloist” opens in the spring, remember that the movie was inspired by columns written by Steve Lopez.)

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Not Much of a Shift

Breaking News from the White House!!!!!

The New York Times, Dear Gentle Reader(s), has sent out an email alert telling us that the White House is considering using TARP funds for the auto industry bailout:

TARP is the Troubled Assets Relief Program, the official name of the Treasury’s financial rescue program, originally intended to assist banks. Referring to the carmakers, the White House statement said, “A precipitous collapse of this industry would have a severe impact on our economy,” and added, “It would be irresponsible to further weaken and destabilize our economy at this time.”

Yeah.  Right.

Of course, the White House (aka Pres Bush) has resisted using TARP for Detroit.  Resisted until, that is, the Republican Senators voted to refuse a separate, relatively cheap ($15 billion v $700 billion) auto bailout after their attempt to bust the United Auto Workers union clout.

Faced with the bankruptcy of General Motors in the final weeks of his administration, Mr. Bush suddenly took the high ground. 

Desperately saving face had more to do with the White House’s decision than did allowing the Republican Senators’ effort to “further weaken and destabilize our economy at this time.”

Doing the right thing for the wrong reason is OK by the auto workers.  And the rest of the economy.

Trust, but verify.

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A Teensy Hopeful Sign, but Still a Sign

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Dear Gentle Reader(s), the occupation of Iraq continues.  The bombings continue.  The misery continues.  There is, mirabile dictu, another indication that the Iraqis are one more step closer to bidding our forces adieu.

The newsletter for the United States Central Command reports that, on December 3, 2008, “The Iraqi Air Force conducted its first rotary-wing night mission since 2003 in the skies over Baghdad.”

Iraqi pilots have been in training for months. 

Let’s get their forces trained and our forces out.

Check it out, DGR(s).  And sign up for the Command’s email distribution.

Trust, but verify.

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Monday, December 8, 2008

At last—some Muslim protests!

Last week, Dear Gentle Reader(s), the question was where are the Muslim protests against the murderous thugs acting in the name of Islam.  Today there are reports available of some mass protests in India.


There needs to be more.

Let’s hear it from the Shi’a and Sunni scholars en masse.

Otherwise…they do their religion a disservice bordering on blasphemy.

Trust, but verify.

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Saturday, December 6, 2008

At last, the reason for W’s doggedness (or at least it should be)

President Bush, Dear Gentle Reader(s), has been making the rounds lately giving speeches and “exit interviews.”  A salient point made by many who opine on the content of these outings has been his nimble footwork in avoiding any semblance of responsibility, or irresponsibility, for the Iraqi invasion of 2003.

One might wonder at the president’s steadfastness in his own defense; an answer might be found in the psychological depths of a video which has just come to this writer’s attention.  It can be found at Andrew Sullivan’s The Daily Dish.  It’s titled “The GOP’s ‘Yes We Can.’”  It was made during the recent presidential campaign, although it wasn’t widely distributed.

In it a young man who states he is an Iraqi veteran takes issue with Mr. Obama’s use of the word “mistake” when referring to the invasion and subsequent occupation.

Basically the speaker holds that there was no mistake made because the Iraqi people are better off now than they were pre-invasion.  The Iraqis are regular folks who want the same things as American citizens, so it was not a mistake to take steps to give them the qualities of life enjoyed by other people.  The dead and the wounded were not victims of a mistake.

It’s powerful, if not cynically exploitive.

The narrator cannot deal with his dead buddies and war injuries having been the product of a mistake.  His personal stake in the war and its aftermath and its costs is so great that he must believe there was no mistake.

And that “personal stake” which is held by so many veterans and families of veterans is probably the single most substantive reason Mr. Bush cannot, will not, and for the sake of his political devotees should not admit to a mistake.  He cannot ever say he and his Administration made a mistake which cost so very much in blood and treasure.

While others might comment on his misadventure, Mr. Bush can do no less than put up a brave front.  Just as in the face of such testimonials those who opposed and oppose still the revisionist rationale for this war can do no less than to point out the fact that this war had no basis.  It was a mistake of the most heinous proportions.

Trust, but verify.

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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Again, cui bono? Update

One looks at the news reports, Dear Gentle Reader(s), of protests against the actions of the Islamic fundamental militants in Mombai and sees throngs of Indian citizens marching in the streets. One sees the organization suspected of sending out these murderers from Pakistan, Lashkar-e-Toiba, deny involvement. (And that disclaimer is roundly rejected by experts on Islamic militants.)

What one doesn’t see is a picture of thousands of Muslims world-wide taking to the streets in protest against murderous thugs who are killing randomly in the name of their religion. What one doesn’t see is a report of a Muslim religious leader using the Friday prayers to preach against this kind of murder, against this kind of blasphemy.

One can read of a Muslim religious leader who preaches to incite the Lashkar-e-Toiba—his name is Hafiz Mohammed Saeed.

If the Muslim umma is unhappy with the way the “west” seems to regard their religion, perhaps it’s time for their non-violent leaders to take to the pulpit (or whatever it’s called) and denounce in no uncertain terms that their religion does not promise Paradise for murderers, not even for suicidal murderers. Perhaps it’s time for the societies to spread the word that they will not tolerate murder as part of their religious heritage.

Who profits from the silence of these holy men and the millions of silent adherents?

So far, only murderers.

Trust, but verify.

Update 9:42 a.m.

There is some reaction from Mumbai Muslims. Here is a video link available from Al Jazeera English: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4n_CLsozSDw&eurl=http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2008/12/2008123440767485.html&feature=player_embedded

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