Did I say HELP? I didn’t mean help. I meant OFFER to HELP. Or talk about helping. It depends on your definition of HELP.


Help me, dear Lord.

Neil Barofsky, the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, in a report issued yesterday, says the Obama administration is… well, absolutely full of you-know-what as related to the administration’s Making Home Affordable program.  He says the administration has established “meaningless” goals for its “flagship mortgage assistance program”.  (His words, not mine.  If HAMP is a flagship, it’s the Titanic for damn sure.)

When Obama introduced the program in the latter part of February of 2009, he claimed that the program would help 3-4 million homeowners, but as it turns out, the program has at best helped… and I use that term very loosely… about 170,000 homeowners to-date.

Assuming the plan’s goal was to create foreclosures, it’s doing fairly well.  Only 170,000 loan mods have slipped through.  As to how many of those 170,000 loan mods are worth a darn, and how many are saving $20 a month for the next couple of years… I don’t even want to know.  You heard me right… please no one study that.  I don’t think I could stand the program being shown to be any stupider than it already clearly is.

And as far the program’s cost, let’s not talk about that either.  After all, keep it in perspective: $375 BILLION is only a couple years bonuses at Goldman Sachs.

The administration’s response to Barofsky’s report was something to behold, however.  Keep in mind that I voted for Mr. Obama and at least some of the reason for my voting the way I did was that his administration was to be nothing if not “SMART”.  Annoyingly smart.  Harvard all the way, right?  Okay, so that being said…

The administration’s response to Barofsky’s report emphasized that:


The obvious distinction being… not to actually provide help, but merely offer to help.  Send them a letter of encouragement, perhaps.  Maybe a wink and a nod… chin up… pip pip… that sort of thing?  And I suppose on the Offer-to-Help Scale, the administration thinks they’re doing swimmingly?

Barofsky responded to the administration’s embarrassingly inane blathering by saying that the Obama administration is measuring the performance of the program by a QUESTIONABLE STANDARD.

WELL… SHUT THE FRONT DOOR.  You are one badass diplomat, Neil.

But, seriously Neil… I’m here to help, and I want to help.  What questions are you struggling to answer here?  A questionable standard?  Funny stuff, Neil.  Very funny stuff.  John Stewart are you following this guy?

Neil was also quoted by the AP as writing the following in response to the Obama administration:

“Defining success by how many offers are given can reasonably be perceived as essentially meaningless,” Instead, the program’s goal “must relate to how many people are helped to avoid foreclosure.”

I’m thinking that Neil may just be onto something here, but I’m not a Harvard grad, so I hesitate to even weigh in here.

Assistant Treasury Secretary Herbert Allison, responding to the report in a letter, said that statements about the plan’s goals “have not always been precise.”  But he argued that “offers of help” is a meaningful measurement because some borrowers who don’t qualify for the government program will still be able to avoid foreclosure.

Okay, nobody make any fast movements, and please no loud noises.  I’m really trying to hold it together over here, and it’s no easy job, as I’m sure you’d readily agree.  Easy big fella’.  Let me get some water… okay, better now.

One more time… Herb Allison said that statements about the plan’s goals “have not always been precise.”  But he argued that “offers of help” is a meaningful measurement because some borrowers who don’t qualify for the government program will still be able to avoid foreclosure.

That’s what Herbie said, and if you have any idea what he means… well… my best advice would be to kill yourself.

Here’s what is says about Mr. Herbert Allison in Wikipedia:


Herbert M. Allison, Jr. (born 1943) is currently serving as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Financial Stability of the United States.  He was confirmed by the Senate on June 19, 2009.  As such, he develops as well as coordinates United States Department of the Treasury policies concerning financial stability. As part of his duties he also oversees the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), the $700 billion fund to purchase assets and equity from financial institutions in order to strengthen the financial sector of the economy.

His previous position was as President and CEO of Fannie Mae, a post to which he was appointed in September 2008. Prior to that, Mr. Allison was Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of TIAA-CREF from 2002 until his retirement in 2008.

Mr. Allison began his career at Merrill Lynch as an associate in investment banking and served variously as Treasurer, Director of Human Resources, Chief Financial Officer, Executive Vice President, President, Chief Operating Officer and as a member of the Board during his 28 years there.  After leaving Merrill Lynch in mid-1999, he served as National Finance Chair for U.S. Senator John McCain’s first Presidential Campaign.

From 2000 to 2002, Mr. Allison was President and Chief Executive Officer of the Alliance for Lifelong Learning, Inc., which offers online, college-level courses to adults.

Allison currently is a member of several boards and advisory councils including Time Warner Inc., Yale School of Management, Stanford Graduate School of Business, and the International Advisory Committee of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.  From 2003 to 2005 he was a director of the New York Stock Exchange.

Allison, the son of an FBI agent, earned a B.A. in philosophy from Yale University. Following four years as an officer in the U.S. Navy, including one year in Vietnam, he received an M.B.A. from Stanford University.

So, let’s just run a quick tape here and see what nets out.  Herb had a cup of coffee at the helm of Fannie Mae in 2008, so crackerjack work there.  From 2002 to 2008, some very tough years those for the financial services industry, he was the shiz at TIAA-CREF… so nicely done there.

He spent 28 years at Merrill Lynch, including a stint as Director of Human Resources, so thanks for explaining the company’s health plan to a bunch of financial advisors who’s advice cost me pretty much all of my savings.  He was National Finance Chair for John McCain’s first failed presidential campaign; bang-up job there.  And from 2003-2005, he was director of the New York Stock Exchange, so nice job phoning it in for two years there Herbie.

Oh, and let’s not forget a B.A. in philosophy from Yale University… oh come on.  That’s a gag line isn’t it?  Does Yale even teach philosophy, other than perhaps the philosophy of money and how to inherit it?  And an MBA from Stanford?  Big deal.  I did my MBA at Pepperdine and I can barely balance my checkbook.

Look… I was promised SMART people in this administration.  And in lieu of smart, how about you just deliver people who can utter sentences that make some amount of sense and are remotely responsive to the question at hand.  No?  You can’t even deliver that?  Well, then shut up Herbie… you’re a dolt and you’re embarrassing yourself by opening your mouth.

Barofsky also said in his scathing report that an unnamed Treasury official estimated that 1.5 million to 2 million homeowners would complete the program by the end of 2012.

An unnamed Treasury official?  Is that right?  An unnamed Treasury official?  Well, then I’d say everything’s looking just fine then.  Why didn’t they just say that to begin with and I wouldn’t have gotten so upset.  Never-frigging-mind.

Barofsky’s response to Mr. Unnamed Treasury Official was to say: “That may only be a small fraction of the foreclosures that will occur in that period.”  And while that’s unquestionably true, it’s a whole lot more than any unnamed Treasury wonk deserves in the way of response after making such an absurd and baseless claim.

Barofsky’s report also lambastes the government in other areas, including saying that numerous changes to government guidelines “caused confusion and delay” and that the government did not do enough to advertise the program.

Herb Allison, who apparently just cannot stop from adding insult to injury, also noted that:

“The program is the largest, most complex mortgage modification program of its kind and there was little precedent for how to design such an endeavor.”

Oh, isn’t that just absolutely perfect?  Kind of makes you feel all warm and fuzzy about the just passed “largest and most complex health care reform program of its kind,” doesn’t it?

Sop it.  We’re talking loan modifications here.  I’m sure they got health care reform right.  Health care’s a lot easier than loan modifications.

Meanwhile… in an inexplicably unrelated story…

Any for-profit company, law firm, or individual attorney that offered to represent a homeowner for a fee, and worked to obtain a loan modification agreement for that homeowner, regardless of how many loan modifications were successfully obtained… is clearly a scammer no matter what.

Morons… morons everywhere.

Ergo bibamus, guys… ergo friggin’ bibamus.

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