June 18, 2011

Who is more moderate?

Here's David Brooks's column, "Who Is James Johnson," in the New York Times on Gretchen Morgenson's new book on the mortgage meltdown, Reckless Endangerment.

And here's my VDARE column from 12 days ago on the same book. 

My question is: Who is more even-handed, non-partisan, reasonable, and just plain moderate on this crucial topic: David Brooks or me?


Anonymous said...

I think Brooks has a point with his idea that our companies and institutions have generally moved beyond our government's ability to control them. But that's really way too easy and as Steve is always saying it ignores some pretty big and obvious problems.

It's hard to say exactly how much diversity-worship caused the crisis, but it is certainly a lot higher than 0%. It's a shame that nobody in power seems all that interested in figuring out exactly how much, why and how to stop it from happening again.

It looks like Steve's journalistic niche is safe for at least one more issue of the NYT!

Assistant Village Idiot said...

But you knew this...

"Moderate," when used about politically controversial events, does not mean anything objective. It's code. It is a primitive, tribal word that people use to say that the ideas are only slightly uncomfortable to them. It is a statement about the speaker, not the object.

Possible meanings you can detect when the word "moderate" is used:

A) The blaming of we Right People is sharply limited, or even only hinted at.

B) I want you to think I am open-minded, so I tolerate mild disagreement.

C) This person is from my tribe and says your tribe is wrong, but he's not really, really nasty about it and admits that we might be 1% at fault, so you should listen to him.

D) I don't want you to be right, so you should back off from being so insistent about the truth. That's extremist.

And in the mouth of an extremist, or apologist for same, "moderate" has yet another set of meanings, none of which follow the denotative meaning of the word.

rightsaidfred said...

Steve, your article was far more comprehensive.

Washington is beyond being a swamp of corruption, it is a veritable ocean of corruption.

Anonymous said...

I have no respect for Brooks, and I am at a loss as to why you (seem to) take him seriously.

Anonymous said...

the chattering class is still looking for someone to blame for the crisis. the idea that the entire power structure of america was in on the gig would validate what otherwise sounds like a conspiracy theory, and americans don't believe in conspiracies. the govt tried to prosecute goldman sachs - didn't go so well. I think the next target is the ratings agencies - not quite as cool or smart as goldman sachs, so they might take the fall.

Kylie said...

No, Steve, Dave's article does not make your writing look fat.

Lucius Vorenus said...

It's hard to say exactly how much diversity-worship caused the crisis, but it is certainly a lot higher than 0%.

All of us crimethinkers in the HBD-o-sphere are aware that only vanishingly small percentages of NAMs have sufficiently high IQs to earn enough money to afford the monthly payments on a $500,000 mortgage.

However, even many crimethinkers might not be aware that the absolute number of young folk with sufficiently high IQs [to earn enough money to afford the monthly payments on a $500,000 mortgage] has fallen off the edge of a demographic cliff:

2010 Statistical Abstract of the United States
Section 1, Population
Table 9. Resident Population by Race, Hispanic Origin, and Age: 2000 and 2008

Not Hispanic White alone, 2008

45 to 49 years: 15,964K
40 to 44 years: 14,085K
35 to 39 years: 12,981K
30 to 34 years: 11,456K
25 to 29 years: 12,740K
20 to 24 years: 12,949K
15 to 19 years: 12,903K
10 to 14 years: 11,660K
05 to 09 years: 11,222K
00 to 04 years: 11,065K


Washington is beyond being a swamp of corruption, it is a veritable ocean of corruption.

I think that it is "beyond" even corruption - I think [WARNING: Glenn Beck tinfoil hat alert] that there are more than a few nihilists in DC who are actively working to destroy this nation.

Pat Shuff said...

From the vdare article--

"In general, Morgenson and Rosner’s perspective is quite similar to the one I’ve been offering since 2007-2008."

True. Reckless Endangerment places Franniestein front and center in the credit debacle, a refreshing dispelling of all the squid ink that has gushed forth discounting the role of the GSEs and housing policy.

Don't expect this effort by two recognized and respected authors to gain any more traction, attention or utility in policy initiatives than Stevil's original and superior sleuthing of the roots of the crisis. Do expect this inferior rendering of endemic, systemic venality to be sans the name-calling attacks.

Anonymous said...

But you're not supposed to be 'moderate' toward 'racist' ideas. Extremism in the defense of PC is justified.

Nanonymous said...

I haven't read you piece, not being interested in the book and knowing full well you position. So can't compare. Brooks' piece is pretty good - short and to the point. Of course, he only hints at but can't quite bring himself to mention the role NAMs played in all this.

But it's easy to be smart in hindsight. What matters a lot more is ability to diagnose and forecast. I don't think Brooks was among those who in 2004 told of the dangers that Fannie poses. Were you?

Anonymous said...

Fannie was a follower of the investment banks into the subprime market, and got in late trying to recapture market share. The real culprits are the bailed-out bankers, and Brooks is trying to deflect blame. From a Moody's assessment is 2006:

"Freddie Mac has long played a central role (shared with Fannie Mae) in the secondary mortgage market. In recent years, both housing GSEs have been losing share within the overall market due to the shifting nature of consumer preferences towards adjustable-rate loans and other hybrid products. For the first half of 2006, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac captured about 44 percent of total origination volume -- up from a 41 percent share in 2005, but down from a 59 percent share in 2003. Moody’s would be concerned if Freddie Mac’s market share (i.e., mortgage portfolio plus securities as a percentage of conforming and non-conforming origination), which ranged between 18 and 23 percent between 1999 and the first half of 2006, declined below 15 percent. To buttress its market share, Freddie Mac has increased its purchases of private label securities."

The private banks got everything they wanted from government, but the least intellectuals should be doing is letting everyone know that there's no talent or innovation there, only welfare queens.

Thripshaw said...

But isn't that your writing style? I mean cool detachment as you offer unique observations and insights sometimes combined with humor. Whiskey called it "Sailerian insouciance" which is a pretty good description.

Your "just the facts ma'am" approach to most topics is a study in moderation. It's just that the facts you bring to light are very stubborn things, and unwelcome in the Pravda media.

Anonymous said...

Almost identically moderate.

Mercer said...

Your piece was also far more reasonable then what Professor Mead wrote here:


Anonymous said...

I tried reading his book SOCIAL ANIMAL and nearly gagged.

But Brooks' satire of Buckley in the University of Chicago student newspaper was classic.


Anonymous said...

I saw Morgenson of Reckless Endangerment on the Charlie Rose PBS program. When she, Morgenson, attempted to point out the huge number of minorities in foreclosure or headed there, good old Charlie cut her off so she had to try to talk over him. Charlie also couldn’t seem to believe that Johnson was a bad actor in all of this because as Charlie noted, Johnson is a big time establishment player. Charlie Rose is a good old Southern boy, a throw back to all those knee jerk Solid South Democratic voters.

Irving Kristol’s Ghost

Simon in London said...

A good - and rather brave - article from Brooks, and not something I'd normally expect to see in the NYT, which I thought was pretty much the paper of the Establishment Brooks excoriates.

lb100 said...


It is true that banks and other private entities issued most of the mortgages and mortgage-backed securities in 2005-07. However, as Peter Wallison has shown, without Freddie and Fannie's "commitment to purchase the AAA tranches of these securitizations, it is unlikely the [MBS] pools could have been formed and marketed around the world." See Andrew Redleaf's excellent book "Panic," at 140.

Wallison (and Redleaf) have also chronicled how various federal agencies imposed increasingly ambitious affordable housing objectives on lenders that were wholly inconsistent with traditional 20 percent, fixed rate mortgages. And, it was the holders of these "innovative" prime and subprime mortgages who accounted for the vast majority of the defaults that began in 2006.