Daily Office:


Matins: Wouldn’t it be nice if Arianna Huffington’s wish comes true, and the Madoff Affair puts an end to the faux-cluelessness of modern management?

Tierce: Today’s verse of the Madoff chapter: New York’s commercial real estate developers. This mess begins to look like one of Stanley Milgram’s disturbing behavioral experiments. While there’s no doubt that the SEC blew this one, it’s hard to feel sorry for investors who overrode commonsense basics in the stampede to “invest.” Especially when Mr Madoff appears to have mirrored their own way of doing business.

The outsize impact on the industry may have resulted largely because Mr. Madoff (pronounced MAY-doff) managed his funds much the way that real estate leaders have operated successfully for decades: He provided little information and demanded a lot of trust.

Nones: Thailand seems to have turned a corner, as defectors from the People’s Power Party in support of a coalition government headed by Abhisit Vejjajiva.  

Vespers: In 1618, the Defenestration of Prague launched the Thirty Years’ War. (Catholics threw some Protestants out the window.) In 2008, the ? of Baghdad ended the American Misadventure in Iraq. (Wouldn’t that be nice!)

Compline: Something I’d written myself: Lee Stranahan’s plea for large-mindedness from folks unhappy with President-Elect Obama’s invitation to Rick Warren to deliver the invocation on 20 January.


§ Matins. The funniest part of the piece is the roast that Ms Huffington makes of Alan Greenspan’s claim that the complexity of events was beyond the range of human intelligence!

Then there is Alan Greenspan, who, looking back in October of this year on the makings of the financial crisis he helped create (I mean, that just happened to come out of nowhere) delivered this “Who Could Have Known?” classic: “If all those extraordinarily capable people were unable to foresee the development of this critical problem…we have to ask ourselves: Why is that? And the answer is that we’re not smart enough as people. We just cannot see events that far in advance.”

The only problem is, many people did see events that far in advance.

Unlike Greenspan, I don’t believe the problem is that we are “not smart enough as people.” As we’ve seen time after time, smart enough people are all too willing to ignore facts they don’t like. Or, even worse, they construct oversight systems designed to be ineffective — and unable to provide to those in power information they don’t really want to know.

Alan Greenspan, of all people! Ayn Rand’s libertarian boy-toy! Too dim to see what he’d done!

§ Tierce. We also begin to hear from the lucky ones who were not chosen:

Some members of the real estate industry are receiving the news with a mix of schadenfreude and sadness for their peers. Jeffrey R. Gural, chairman of Newmark Knight Frank, the brokerage firm, said Mr. Madoff had turned his family down as investors about eight years ago because they would not invest at least $20 million. For years, he said, colleagues introduced to Mr. Madoff through relatives or country club friends had sung his praises.

“People used to brag how they were getting these great returns when everybody else was struggling,” he said. “They thought Bernie Madoff was a genius, and anybody who didn’t give them their money was a fool.”

§ Nones. The cheering part is the new government’s willingness to learn from the success of ousted PPP mastermind Thaksin Shinawatra:

Mr. Thaksin had presented himself as a can-do chief executive, a prime minister who would run Thailand like a top-down business.

His main political innovation was to win the support of the rural poor, who form an electoral majority, by providing them with low-interest loans, cash and inexpensive medical care.

It is a strategy that Mr. Abhisit, the new prime minister, and the Democrats say they will now pursue as well, challenging Mr. Thaksin’s franchise in the countryside.

§ Vespers. Reports that Muntadhar al-Zeidi now seeks a pardon for his “ugly act” raise the likelihood that he has been tortured or blackmailed. (via JMG)

§ Compline. Here is a fantastic opportunity to rise to the occasion — something that’s magical only because it’s never obligatory. Rick Warren happens to speak for most Americans on the subject of gay marriage — however lamentable that might be. Right now, that is. There’s something out of proportion about raising a squabble about a detail of what ought to be an accentuation of the positive. One day only!

3 Responses to “Daily Office:

  1. Fossil Darling says:

    Has anyone mentioned ” fraudulent conveyance” ????

  2. Nom de Plume says:

    Huffington columnist Stranahan notes: “Attacking is what we’re used to doing.” I’ll be patient in waiting for Obama’s “tactics” to be seized as real opportunities for dialogue instead of diatribe. It’s already happening, even if we’re unprepared to notice and acknowledge it.

  3. Quiana says:

    At last, somnoee who knows where to find the beef