Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Russians: Kourva and Goniff

My mother’s side of my family (the largest because she had 7 sisters and a brother, while my dad was sib less) constantly preached, “Don’t ever trust the Russians, because they all are kourva (e) and goniff,” which translates to “whores and thieves” for you whose Yiddish is rusty.

My many aunts and uncles also offered other ethnic advice, too, but Russia—unlike any other country--seems to have provided ample government and civilian evidence for their concerns.

Today Russia bans preaching and certain religious practices; displays great reluctance to support the US with Iran, and empowers the Iranian atomic program. The regime in Moscow continues to display Israeli antagonism, throwing gasoline on Middle Eastern fires; and its repeated actions in the UN Security Council frequently appear anti-American. Its military material seems to wind up in every international hotspot and that’s just the short list.

Ironically, my relatives were not religious bigots, applying their dicta only to non-Jewish Russians. They were an equal opportunity crew, expressing their same feelings when large numbers of Russian Jews arrived in the United States when Gorbachev opened the Soviet Union’s doors to easier emigration.

Following the destruction of the Berlin Wall and the atomization of parts of the Soviet Union, western sources accused the Russian government still of talking up democracy but maintaining most of the old central controls and spying on its citizens. Various Russian leaders propped up a weird economy and an even stranger justice system, which favored friends and imprisons its enemies.

Bang, Bang, You’re Dead

Russian domestic regime opponents seemed to die with great regularly, after several bullets were pumped into their bodies. The Russian government always seemed to position itself in opposition to US interests, save when they were given economic concessions. The Russian society seemed to grow more haves and have knots, with the former being millionaire/billionaires who took advantage of Russian’s mammoth supply of oil and natural gas.

The family warnings seemed aimed at a country and civilization which produced pogroms, widespread governmental and commercial espionage, lawlessness, corruption, alcoholism, sloth, infrequent use of deodorant, and all sorts of anti-social national behaviors.

Sure my relatives’ words were stereotypical and scapegoating, but the quick emergence Russian criminal gangs —shortly following the new Russian immigrants coming to the US in the late 80’s— underscored the warning, “Don’t ever trust the Russians”

So—bringing this little diatribe on home--what does former Bush Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson reveal in his new book, “On the Brink?” Hank tells us that the Russians tried, in 2008, to enlist the Chinese to join them in a scheme to dump Fannie and Freddie bonds and force a US government takeover of the GSEs.
Paulson (presumably horrified) says he learned of this plot when he visited China for the Olympics, in August of that year, and promptly informed President Bush.

But what did the party of Lincoln do just three months later, with tons of GOP supporters in the House and Senate and some D’s, exactly what Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin desired. The Bush Treasury took over Fannie and Freddie, putting them into federal conservatorship?

“So, what you are saying Mulder….?”

One way to look at this, whether they knew it or not, is to say that all of those Senators and Congressmen who supported Bush and Paulson were working hand-in-glove with the “Thug-Mafia, Pinko Russian government.”

Take those “(Commie) apples” Senator Shelby (R-Ala), Rep. Hensarling (R-Tex) and the rest of you southern Republicans and run on that record back home.
GSE policy served up in Moscow and the GOP dug in for extra helpings
(Memo Menedez/Van Hollen: Get those campaign signs ready!)

Where is J. Edgar when we need him? (Who said, “Likely trying on dresses in Hell?”)

My Fun’s Over

Alright, I am having a little fun at the expense of the Bush/Paulson supporters who loved what the Bush Administration did to Fannie and Freddie.

There is no evidence that Paulson actions had anything to do with the Russian machinations which he unveiled in his book. Reportedly, the Russians sold almost $70 Billion in GSE securities before Paulson moved on the GSEs.

The suggestion that the Bushies were manipulated by the Russians is as silly as some of the stuff circulated by the Fannie haters. Yet, we do have Paulson’s book to document my family's old admonitions!”

My 88 year old “Aunt Goldie,” the only surviving member of my Mom’s family, thinks the Russians hoodwinked Paulson and the US and got what they wanted and still hold GSE debt through surrogates.

But now we know--as she knows--“Never trust the Russians, because they all are ‘kourva and goniff!’ ”

So, the next time you see a Senator or House Member—who serves on their chamber’s Banking Committee—and that person is wearing a red tie or dress, and their gait drifts a little to the left, think about Paulson’s disclosure!!

Some More GSE Stuff

Over the weekend, I read a Boston Globe article which suggested that House Banking Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass) had suddenly turned against Fannie and Freddie, after years of supporting them, and now wants to “abolish” the two as part of a grander plan to create a new mortgage finance system.

We all know about the “abolish” part, since the Chairman uttered that phrase more than a week ago, however I have no idea what may be his motives. I don’t know if he dislikes GSEs or not. I know he’s pragmatic and will try and do whatever makes sense politically.

In my last blog, I pointed out my opinion of why legislatively re-designing the nation’s mortgage finance system will be difficult for the Congress this year. The BG writer suggested a new model of banks and Wall Street firms doing the securitization of mortgages and providing the financial guarantees on same necessary for them to be bought and sold by investors.

Hey, great idea! But doesn’t that sound familiar?

It sure does, it was exactly the “main street to Wall Street, avoid the GSEs mortgage execution" which brought us the hundreds of billions of dollars in subprime slop that Wall Street, after having its mortgage broker work force generate the bad loans, securitized and sold throughout the world (probably to some of those Russian and Chinese mentioned up top).

That experience is less than five years old. Did we forget so quickly? I don’t think that plan will work nor should it.

All the GSEs critics, who the public again soon will encounter, should remember that Fannie and Freddie didn’t create their own charters; Fannie and Freddie didn’t build into the charters the profit motive deemed necessary to avoid having another HUD; and Fannie and Freddie didn’t cheer on when Congress and various Administration kept ratcheting up, ultimately to 55%, the amount of their overall business volumes which had to support low moderate and middle income families.

Maybe Chairman Frank can bring some light and logic to this mortgage system exercise, if can just stop these GOP Members of Congress—and a few on the D side of the aisle--from listening to the Russian mobsters masquerading as international business people or Russian public officials, because—as we know and as Aunt Goldie knows—“Never trust the Russians, they all are kourva and goniff!”

Maloni 2-2-2010


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