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Sunday, October 31, 2010

More signs from the Rally for Sanity/Fear

411 of them to be exact.

One of my favorites

Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie

This isn't only the land of Sarah Palin's 'Real Americans'. We are all Americans (at least American citizeon who are readers of the blog). We've got two days to help stem the tide. Do whatever you can. Call a friend, urge them to vote, make sure you cast your vote or go to the Organizing for America website hereand give a few hours of your time and help GOTV (get out the vote). Help drive people to the polls on Tuesday.

Read Paul Krugman's op-ed in the NY Times.

This is going to be terrible. In fact, future historians will probably look back at the 2010 election as a catastrophe for America, one that condemned the nation to years of political chaos and economic weakness.

Yes, the Republicans are going to win seats but in the end could come down to a couple of hundred votes in one Congressional seat to determine whether the House of Representatives will be headed by Nancy Pelosi or John Boehner, Wall Street and corporate Amerca's best friend who chose to spend this weekend campaigning for a Tea Party candidate in Ohio who used to spend his weekends playing World War II games dressed in a Nazi SS uniform and who still believes the Nazis were fighting for freedom.

Keep fighting ignorance and apathy.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Tea Party: useful foot soldiers for same old corporate loving GOP

The usefully naive idiots of the Tea Party may have given the Republicnas a leg up in next week's elections b ut their dreams and ideas will be swept aside by the establishment GOP who's only interest is cutting taxes and deregulating business. Frank Rich lays it out in his perceptive NY Times op-ed.
But whatever Tuesday’s results, this much is certain: The Tea Party’s hopes for actually affecting change in Washington will start being dashed the morning after. The ordinary Americans in this movement lack the numbers and financial clout to muscle their way into the back rooms of Republican power no matter how well their candidates perform.

What the Tea Party ostensibly wants most — less government spending and smaller federal deficits — is not remotely happening on the country club G.O.P.’s watch. The elites have no serious plans to cut anything except taxes and regulation of their favored industries.

But those Americans, like all the others on the short end of the 2008 crash, have reason to be mad as hell. And their numbers will surely grow once the Republican establishment’s panacea of tax cuts proves as ineffectual at creating jobs, saving homes and cutting deficits as the half-measures of the Obama White House and the Democratic Congress. The tempest, however, will not be contained within the tiny Tea Party but will instead overrun the Republican Party itself, where Palin, with Murdoch and Beck at her back, waits in the wings to “take back America” not just from Obama but from the G.O.P. country club elites now mocking her. By then — after another two years of political gridlock and economic sclerosis — the equally disillusioned right and left may have a showdown that makes this election year look as benign as Woodstock.

The Rally to Restore Sanity, or Fear

About 250,000 sane people were at Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert's rally in Washington today. It's a sad day when the media is comical and comedians are serious.
A few pictures from the rally.

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young - 'Down by the river'

Dumping disabled kids at homeless shelters, the new American way,

Budget cutting is all the rage, as long as it doesn't affect the powerful and their allies. Dept. of Agriculture subsidies are exempt because a number of Republican politicians and candidates like Michelle Bachmann are beneficiaries of the subsidies. Poor victimized large corporations and their tax rebates are also exempt thanks to their hard working lobbyists. The poor, education and local services benefiting all have borne the brunt of the budget cuts.

Mitch Daniels, the current governor of Indiana and a possible future GOP Presidential candidate has been particularly effective wielding the budget axe. Cuts in state Medicare waivers to help parents pay for caring for disabled children has left parents not being able to pay for the expense of caring for their children.

This has led employees at the state Bureau of Developmental Disabilities Services
suggesting to parents that the only way they can get the needed help is to drop their disabled children at homeless shelters.

There is currently a waiting list of about 20,000 families for the waiver in Indiana and the wait has just got longer as 2,000 slots were recently eliminated because of budget cuts.

A society is judged by how they treat their neediest citizens. Mitch Daniels and Indiana barely deserve an 'F' for their concern for the needy.

Paul Volcker, Reagan's Chairman of the Fed is too much of a socialist for Today's GOP

One of the key provisions of the recent Finance Reform bill passed by Congress is 'The Volcker Rule' which would prohibit banks from proprietary trading with their funds that are guaranteed by the government such as customer deposits that are insured by the FDIC. The details of the restrictions have been left up to regulators to define the limits of the law.

Volcker, who was obviously good enough for the Godfather of modern conservatism Ronald Reagan, insisted on tighter rules than is in the final bill. One of the concessions made to get enough conservative Democrats to vote for the bill was to pass the details on to banking regulators, much to Volcker's displeasure.

The objective is to prevent the irrationally risky and callous behavior that led to the investment banks taking crappy mortgage portfolios and leveraging them at a 30-1 ratio to make a bad situation so much worse. We still have no idea just how much bad debt is being helf by the investment banks.

The Devil, as always, is in the details. The law could end up with enough teeth to prevent the sort of risky behavior to prevent another meltdown or it could be so narrowly defined that it becomes little more than window dressing.

The banks would love to be able to head back to the casino with a new pile of chips and an almost unlimited tab from the house. The Republicans, in their anti-regulation fervor would rather repeal the entire bill, or at least minimize the restrictions. The GOP's echo chamber of anti regulatory fervor has them believing that the financial meltdown wasn't the result of risk and avarice gone wild but too much regulation that forced Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to give home loans to lazy poor people who can't even hold down job for more than a year even when times are good.

That puts Volcker, who has a number of allies in the Obama administration far to the left of current Republican thought. In their lexicon, he must therefore be an anti-American socialist.

It's a sad reflection on current affairs that even a measured voice of rational conservatism is not sufficiently extreme for Republicans.

Friday, October 29, 2010

It pays to be a right wing fraud

Andrew Breitbart originally gained fame for featuring a doctored video toape that purported to show a second grade class; largely made up of African American kids praying to "Obama". The right wing blogosphere exploded with accusations that liberals were trying to create a 'cult of Obama'. It turned out the kids were saying "Oh God" not Obama but few if any corrected their initial reports so the story is still in wide circulation.

Next was the famous Acorn tapes where Breitbart's protege James O'Keefe and his sidekick dressed up as a pimp and 'ho' to cajole some Acorn employees into giving advice that appeared to be aiding and abetting a child prostitution ring. Acorn, whose main role was protecting minority rights in housing issues was defunded and forced to shut down. It turned out the pimp and 'ho' outfits were used only for the video and O'Keefe and associate were dressed normally when they secretly taped the Acorn employees. It turned out that the tapes had been carefully edited to make it appear as though the Acorn emplpoyees were breaking the law but when judges in New York and New Jersey saw the unedited tapes, all charges against Acorn were thrown out.

Next came the carefully edited Shirley Sherrod tape in a speech to the NAACP which purported to show an African American employee of the Dept. of Agriculture making racist comments, In a hysterical overreaction Sherrod was immediately fired. The full context of the tape proved just the opposite, that Shirley Sherrod had actually helped a white couple in Georgia save their farm. The couple came to Sherrod's defence but by then, the damage was done. Breitbart refused to apoligize, claiming both she and the NAACP were racists because a few people in the audience laughed.

His protege O'Keefe was then arrested for illegaly entering the office of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D - Louisiana) posing as a telephone repair man, to tinker with her phone system. We never found out what he intended to do as he pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to community service and probation.

You would think someone with a track record like Breitbart's would be shunned by everyone except those who think the Rand Paul supporter who stomped on a woman's head while she was pinned to the ground was the real victim in that incident.

You would be wrong. ABC News, part of the vast liberal media conspiracy out to turn Americans into terrorist loving socialists, will be using Breitbart's wisdom and integrity to analyze the election results on Tuesday night.

Damn this integrity thing. It's obviously not doing my career as a political commentator any good.

BP oil spill.: the damage lingers on

The election and other matters have pushed news from the disastrous Deep Horizon oil spill from the front page but the effects linger on and the news is anything but good.

The leak was capped and everyone concerned gave themselves a pat on the back and moved on.

A couple of days ago the Commission investigating the spill found that the Halliburton cement used to seal the bottom of BP's wild Gulf well in April was unstable and was used despite multiple failed tests in the weeks leading up to the massive well blowout.

The devastation lingers on. Here are some recent reports in the media that have been largely ignored as have the possible health hazards created by the toxic dispersants used by BP. Most of these reports quoted below are from foreign news sources where they actually do more reporting than the brain dead U.S. media

In Florida, state officials deemed lab tests on open harvesting areas “a waste of money and resources,” [Alan Peirce, bureau chief at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' Division of Aquaculture] said

The following excerpts culled from a variety of news reports is obviously not enough for the authorities to worry about.

Two-year-old Gavin Tillman of Pass Christian, Mississippi, has been diagnosed with severe upper respiratory, sinus, and viral infections. His temperature has reached more than 102 degrees since September 15, yet his sicknesses continue to worsen.

His parents, some doctors, and environmental consultants believe the child's ailments are linked to exposure to chemicals spilt by BP during its Gulf of Mexico oil disaster.

BP has admitted to using at least 1.9 million gallons of widely banned toxic dispersants (one that has been banned in the UK), which according to chemist Bob Naman, create an even more toxic substance when mixed with crude oil. And dispersed, weathered oil continues to flow ashore daily.

Dr. Riki Ott, a toxicologist, marine biologist, and Exxon Valdez survivor: People are already dying from this… I’m dealing with three autopsy’s right now. I don’t think we’ll have to wait years to see the effects like we did in Alaska, people are dropping dead now. I know two people who are down to 4.75 per cent of their lung capacity, their heart has enlarged to make up for that, and their esophagus is disintegrating, and one of them is a 16-year-old boy who went swimming in the Gulf.”

Thursday, October 28, 2010

U.S. Chamber wants to make it easier for U.S. Corps to bribe foreign states

Under George Bush prosecution of U.S. companies for foreign bribery virtually disappeared. The Obama administration is being a little more proactive and has collected $1.2 billion in fines in the first two months of 2010. By contrast, in 2007, the Bush administration collected $87 million in the entire year.

Either corruption has blossomed under Obama or the Bush administration turned a blind eye, as they did to so many things.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is campaigning to loosen the definitions of 'foreign official' and to exempt subsidiaries of U.S. Corporations. A couple of million goes a long way when corporations donate to the Chamber, the one that Glenn Beck says helps the "average American" and also accepts foreign funds for political campaigns in the U.S. even though they deny it vehemently.

More here.

Midnight Oil - Dreamworld

The sad truth about the current state of affairs

I finally got around to posting this editorial by Frank Rich of the New York Times published on Sunday.

The real tragedy here, though, is not whatever happens in midterm elections. It’s the long-term prognosis for America. The obscene income inequality bequeathed by the three-decade rise of the financial industry has societal consequences graver than even the fundamental economic unfairness. When we reward financial engineers infinitely more than actual engineers, we “lure our most talented graduates to the largely unproductive chase” for Wall Street riches, as the economist Robert H. Frank wrote in The Times last weekend. Worse, Frank added, the continued squeeze on the middle class leads to a wholesale decline in the quality of American life — from more bankruptcy filings and divorces to a collapse in public services, whether road repair or education, that taxpayers will no longer support.

Even as the G.O.P. benefits from unlimited corporate campaign money, it’s pulling off the remarkable feat of persuading a large swath of anxious voters that it will lead a populist charge against the rulers of our economic pyramid — the banks, energy companies, insurance giants and other special interests underwriting its own candidates. Should those forces prevail, an America that still hasn’t remotely recovered from the worst hard times in 70 years will end up handing over even more power to those who greased the skids.

Americans should be enraged, not Tea Party rage, but anger at a system that has allowed corporate America, and more specifically Wall Street to use the economic well being of the country as a casino with little or no repercussions. The Tea Party rage, despite it's apparent grass roots is being financed and co-ordinated by those who have the most to lose with the current status quo. It's the US Chamber of Commerce's wet dream, a misdirected populist anger directed at reform that threatens the power of Wall Street and the Health Care Industry.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dumb and dumber.

No doubt, loyal Fox News viewers

Keith Olbermann's special comment on the Tea Party

Ignorance is rampant, facts are irrelevant and hypocrisy is pervasive. You can't reason with the Christine O'Donnells, Sharron Angles and Rand Pauls of this world but you can vote on Tuesday.

Democrats support Veterans, Repubicans do not

Republican are quite happy to send American soldiers off to war. When they return, to put bluntly, Republicans don't give a shit.

The IAVA (Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America) recently rated members of Congress on their support of veterans based on votes regarding veteran issues. 154 members of Congress received a 'D' or 'F' rating from the group. Of those 142 were Republicans and 12 were Democrats. Conversely, 94 members received an 'A' or an 'A+'. 91 are Democrats and 3 are Republicans. Even John McCain, although not included in this survey as it excluded the Senate has constantly received a 'D' rating despite having made his career based on being a POW in the Vietnam war.

Republicans, not surprisingly have claimed that the survey has been politicized. That's the new Republican Party. You can apply the same results to the issue of abortion, love the fetus, ignore the baby.

Kentucky stomper demands an apology from victim

The last we heard Tim Profitt, the Kentucky stomper blamed his actions on back pain. Now he's demanding an apology. He said,

"I don't think it's that big of a deal. I would like for her to apologize to me to be honest with you."

"She's a professional at what she does,and I think when all the facts come out, I think people will see that she was the one that initiated the whole thing."

There was a time when Republicans claimed to stand for individual responsibility. Today's Republican are anything but that. They whine and they complain about how the whole world is against them and it's always someone else's fault. What a pathetic bunch, out of touch with reality, out of touch with care and compassion. The only thing they have perfected is victimhood and a vision of the world so clouded by ignorance and fed by propoganda that they are totally clueless to the fact that they are voting for people who don't give a shit about the issues that should get people like Tim Profitt angry.

My back pain made me stomp on the Move On supporters head.

You've probably all heard about the head stomping episode outside the Rand Paul - Jack Conway debate a couple of nights ago A group of Rand supporters threw a person wearing s 'Move-on' badge to the ground while one of the Paul supporters stomprf on her head.

The alleged stomper, Tim Ptofitt, A Rand campaign worker exolained that a bad back left him no option but to stomp on her head once thje Move On victim placed her his in the downward path of his foot. That excuse should give Profitt immediate access to the foot stomping Hall of fame.

GOP - George Soros wants to buy the election

In their little world of closeted ideology, Republicans believe that the well-to-do are automatically their constituents. Under that same umbrella are people of 'faith', as long as it isn't Islam, as well as people who cherish freedom and individualism. Democrats, on the other hand are poor, not because of circumstance but because they are lazy and are collecting unemployment, or as the Wall Street Journal editorial once callded them, those 'lucky duckies' who don't have to work. Government workers are also Democrats because the barel work so the can get a big fat pension when the retire.

Rich people have all the qualities that the 'luck duckies, lack so when a billionaire like George Soros supports liberal causes, it can only mean there is some sinister plot afoot. Firstl he has a foreign accent which immediatel places him under suspicion. Google 'George Soros Communist' and you get about 400,000 hits, almost all from right wing blogs or doctrinaire publications.

Despite the obvious contradiction of a billionaire communist, Soros is accused of being behind virtuall every liberal blog or political campaign. Raising the stakes, the GOP are now claiming that Soros is tring to buy the election. This is coming from the part that has channeled $75 million in antonymous donations to the Chamber of Commerce and hwho has a Gubernatorial candidate, e-Meg Whitman who has sunk well over 4100 million into her big to become Governor of California. Unluck for her, there is no 'bu it now' option on the election.

The GOP' allegations about Soros trying to steal/buy the election are long on hysterics and short on facts other than the vague accusation of trying to have elections run by hyper-partisan liberal election officials. The accusation is long on hysterics but completely lacking in any proof.

It's not just Soros though. The GOP are trotting out its usual pre-election hysteria about Democratuc 'ACORN' stle fraud. Here is just a samplong of the leads on talking Points Memo today,

"West Virginia GOP launches anti Voter fraud effort"
"Voter Fraud Allegations In Yuma County Turn Out Baseless"
"Angle campaign to base, 'Harry Reid wants to steal the election"

Despite offering rewards for information leading to a conviction for voter fraud in the past few elections, no Democrat/Acorn/Soros backed person or entity has ever been charged nevermind convicted of election fraud.v

For those interest in the arcane rules of election fraud, submitting false or erraneous voter registration applications is not a violation of the law. Having participated in registration drives I know that the opposite i true. By law all completed applications have to be turned in to the relevant local authorities who will then verify or reject the application. Acorn did that, but then Republicans have also been accused of the same tactics. The individual collecting the applications can mark an application as suspicious but is still obligated to turn the application in within a specified time of receiving the applicayion.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

One more from Gregory Isaacs - Cool down the pace

Light up a spliff, kick back and remember one of the greats.

Gregory Isaacs - Mr Cop

RIP Gregory Isaacs.

How Bush and Blair 'fixed the facts' on the war in Iraq

A release of previously secret records by both the Americans and the British sheds a lot more light on the inevitable march to war. It's a lot worse than even the sceptics, like myself believed.

Here is one little nugget that explains a lot.

Administration determination to exploit the perceived propaganda value of intercepted aluminum tubes – falsely identified as nuclear related – before completion of even a preliminary determination of their end use.

I recall watching a 60 Minutes piece on the aluminum tubes. While the Bush administration was insisting the tubes were designed for nuclear centrifuges, the DOE (Department of Energy) experts at Oak Ridge in Tennessee insisted on 60 Minutes that they could not be used for anything other than short range rockets.

You cah read the entire analysis of the documents in this three part article.

The deficit is more a revenue problem than a spending problem.

Felix Salmon explains.

In my no-financial-crisis, no-bailout, no-recession, no-stimulus scenario, spending kept growing at 6.22% a year, and revenue kept growing at 3.45%. You can see from the difference between the two numbers that this was an unsustainable path. But it clearly could have been sustained for a few more years.

Where would it have left us in fiscal 2010? With $2.843 trillion in federal revenue and $3.270 trillion in spending, leaving a deficit of $427 billion. The actual revenue and spending totals for 2010 were $2.162 trillion and $3.456 trillion. So spending was $186 billion higher than if we'd stuck to the trend, and revenue was $681 billion lower. In other words, the giant deficit is mainly the result of the collapse in tax receipts brought on by the recession, not the increase in spending. Nice to know, huh?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Republican's # 1 goal - to make Obama a one-term President.

Jobs, the deficit, health care, national security, immigration and anything else that might concern the average U.S. citizen will have to take a back seat for the next two years.

Mitch McConnell, the minority speaker of the Senate said,

"The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president."

As if a Sarah Palin or some other Republican president will suddenly make all our problems disappear. In the meantime the mainstream Washington press will continue to tut-tut about the lack of bipartisanship in the capital. The Republicans have made it abundantly clear. There will be no bi=partisanship. There will be investigations and all out war while the country stagnates.

Gregory Isaacs, the 'Cool Ruler' pased away today at 59

The 'Cool Ruler' had a voice like pure silk. He fought addiction through most of his career, especially crack cocaine and had numerous run-ins with the law. He succumbed to lung cancer in London today.

His voice and his memory live on. He was and will always remain one of the greats of reggae. More videos later,

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The religious right's war against women

In Utah a woman can now be charged with attempted murder for inducing an illegal abortion or for 'reckless' behavior that lead to a miscarriage. Thus a woman who drank alcohol and subsequently suffered a miscarriage can be criminally charged even though there might be no evidence that the alcohol led directly to the miscarriage.
In Morman domninated Utah, a jury could find a woman guilty of 'reckless' behavior for doing almost anything other than what a Mormon mother is supported o do which is stay at home and bake pies.

This story from Iowa is equally disturbing.

Last month, after an upsetting phone conversation with her estranged husband, Ms. Taylor became light-headed and fell down a flight of stairs in her home. Paramedics rushed to the scene and ultimately declared her healthy. However, since she was pregnant with her third child at the time, Taylor thought it would be best to be seen at the local ER to make sure her fetus was unharmed.

After Taylor was treated by a nurse at the private hospital and deemed fine, she confided to the nurse that she was upset and scared and wasn't sure she wanted to continue the pregnancy. Her husband recently left her after she told him she was pregnant with their third child:

"I never said I didn't want my baby, but I admitted that I had been considering adoption or abortion," she said. "I admit that I said I wasn't sure I wanted to continue the pregnancy. My husband sends me money, but money doesn't make a parent. I don't have anybody else to turn to."

Although Taylor was in the first part of her second trimester, the nurse noted on her chart that she was in the first week of her third trimester - the time when, under Iowa's fetal homicide law, a violent act perpetrated against a pregnant woman could be considered criminal. The nurse called over the doctor who then called the police - which is when Christine Taylor found herself arrested and sent to jail for admitting uncertainty about her pregnancy and fear about raising three children on her own.

A pregnant woman does nothing more that talk about the option of an abortion and the nurse makes a mistake on the chart and enters the wrong trimester on the chart and the result is that a single mother with two children ends up in jail.

We laught when the right exresses a real fear that Sharia Law will be imposed on America. This is as close as an any current or proposed law gets to equalling some of the irrational and often viscous features of Sharia law.

Republican lies about health care reform

The NY Times calls them on their bullshit.

Republican candidates and deep-pocketed special interests are spreading so many distortions and outright lies about health care reform that it is little wonder if voters are anxious and confused.

PURE NONSENSE: John Raese, the Republican candidate for the Senate in West Virginia, is claiming that the law will require patients to go through a bureaucrat or panel to reach a doctor. That is flat out untrue. You will still choose your own doctor or insurance plan without interference. Nor, despite other claims, will the law provide subsidized insurance to illegal immigrants. They are precluded from using even their own money to buy policies on new exchanges.

The Obama administration will not be compiling a federal health record on all citizens, including each individual’s body mass index, as Ann Marie Buerkle, a Republican running for a House seat in upstate New York, has claimed on her Web site. The administration is offering incentives to doctors to record various vital statistics in electronic medical records and report the data in the aggregate, to help understand national health trends.

Elvis Presley - Hound Dog = live from 1956

Carl Perkins - Matchbox from 1956

Doonesbury on Republican fiscal hypocrisy,

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Robert Fisk: The Shaming of America

As usual, the Arabs knew. They knew all about the mass torture, the promiscuous shooting of civilians, the outrageous use of air power against family homes, the vicious American and British mercenaries, the cemeteries of the innocent dead. All of Iraq knew. Because they were the victims.

Only we could pretend we did not know. Only we in the West could counter every claim, every allegation against the Americans or British with some worthy general – the ghastly US military spokesman Mark Kimmitt and the awful chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Peter Pace, come to mind – to ring-fence us with lies. Find a man who'd been tortured and you'd be told it was terrorist propaganda; discover a house full of children killed by an American air strike and that, too, would be terrorist propaganda, or "collateral damage", or a simple phrase: "We have nothing on that."

Wikileaks realesed over 390,000 documents detaing torture, murder and rape, mostly by Iraqi force but some by Americans as well as many by private security forces. From the documents, it's obvious the Americans knew all of it but chose to ignore all but a few of teh most egregious cases.

George W. Bush's biggest disappoinment as President?

It wasn't that he left office in the midst of the biggest financial crisis in America since the Depression. It wasn't that he failed tov capture Bin Laden or that we fought a useless disaster of a war for phantom reasons. It wasn't the failed responseb to Katrina or 9/11. It wasn't that his administration alone accounted for 40% of all Federal Debt incurred since World War II.

None of the above seem to bother him much. His biggest disappointment was his failure to privatize Social Security.

This past week the Chief Actuary of Social Security reported that the three Republican plans presented for privatization would result in long term benefit cuts of between 10% and 50% depending on the relative strengths of the markets. The beneficiaries would be Wall Street which would receive a brand new source of funds to play with at the casino.

Darryl Issa - ''We won't impeach Obama'

If the GOP wins the House, Issa, the Congressman from California will head the House Government Reform Committee. Today he said that Republicans won't impeach Obama.
He will probably do everything he can short of impeachment to mount multiple investigations into the Obama administration.

How bipartisan of Issa.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Obama punts on the foreclosure mess.

Letting the banks off the hook again.

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan said Wednesday that the Obama administration will attempt to protect homeowners and police the kind of paperwork fraud that led the nation's largest banks to temporarily halt foreclosures this month, but added that the administration had yet to find anything fundamentally flawed in how large banks securitized home loans or how they foreclosed on them.

He added, however, that the administration is focused on ensuring future compliance, rather than on looking back to make sure homeowners and investors weren't harmed during the reckless boom years. The administration is "committed to forcing institutions to change the way that they conduct business," Obama's top housing official said, "to make sure these problems don't happen again."

More and more evidence that there has been systemic fraud throughout the foreclosure process. The rule of law, proper legal procedures and adherence to the laws covering roperty rights don't mean much anymore.

Atrios on the Eschaton blog said it best.

We're really at the point where no sane person should get a mortgage given the kind of fraud and theft that's out there... Once we came to a point where servicers could make more money by foreclosing than not foreclosing, the game was over.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Palin, O'Donnell voters 'Embracing ignorance as a virtue'

Roy Sekoff of the Huffington Post sums it up perfectly and sadly, the Republicans have figured out that it's tough to campaign against ignorance.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

We have a winner in the GOP hypocrisy stakes for government handouts

A number of Republican incumbents and candidates have or still benefit from Government Agricultural Subsidies despite wanting to shrink government and spending far lower than is either reasonable or possible. Michelle Bachmann racked up $250,000 in subsidies. The clear winner in the GOP hypocrisy race (personal financial gain division) GOP House candidate in Missouri Vicky Hartzler has received $774,345 in the past 10 years.

On a conservative radio show she said "We just want the government to leave us alone here in Missouri’s 4th." She hasn't exempted herself from her 'no Federal government' promise but I am sure she will do the right thing if elected.

A preview of things to come

Poll watchers in Harris County, Texas -- where a Tea Party group launched an aggressive anti-voter fraud effort -- were accused of "hovering over" voters, "getting into election workers' faces" and blocking or disrupting lines of voters who were waiting to cast their ballots as early voting got underway yesterday.

Full article here.

Things are going to get a lot uglier over the next two weeks and it's all Acorn's fault.

Lower down in the article is an interesting nugget. Guess which side the City Attorney's on?

Former Voting Section Chief John Tanner, who resigned from the Justice Department in 2008 after he commented that voter identification laws were an imposition on white people because "minorities die first," is representing the county attorney's office.

The turtles - It Aint Me Babe

Republicans want to screw senior citizens and reward Wall Street

Privatization rules.

Today, three new studies were released examining the impact of Republican Social Security privatization plans. All three reports find privatizing Social Security and turning it over to the whims of Wall Street, would cut Social Security benefits for seniors.

According to the Chief Actuary of Social Security in a report for Congressman Earl Pomeroy (D-ND), Chairman of the Ways & Means Social Security Subcommittee, Republican proposals—including those by Budget Committee Ranking Member Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH)—would result in Social Security benefits cuts ranging from 10% to as high as 50%, with workers losing nearly 30% of their Social Security benefits on average. Read the report»

No surprise there. The big winners will be Wall Street. And the baying masses of 'real murkins' AKA the Tea Party dutifully send donations, at the best of Glenn Beck, to the US Chamber of Commerce which already has untold millions to spend on advocating for very policy that will utterly screw them in their retirement.

Words fail me. I have never seen such rampant mass stupidity since Jim Jones got his followers to drink the Coo-Aid and commit mass suicide.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

9 issues the press is largely ignoring.

From liars' loans to liars' liens, the financial and foreclosure crisis has been one big story of banks defrauding their customers -- a vast criminal enterprise. You wouldn't know it from a lot of the media coverage, though. Regulatory hero and criminologist William K. Black helps connect the dots.

The full list here.

Rachel Maddow must view video

With clarity and proof she lays out how the beltway media has co-opted the GOP message in their analysis of the upcoming elections.

Tales from the looney side

As we get closer to the election things are getting stranger.

The candidate lost in a time capsule

Jon Runyan, a former pro football player (the American version) is running for a GOP house seat in Philadelphia. In a debate last night, his opponent, incumbent John Adler asked Runyon if there is a Supreme Court decision he disagreed with in the past 10-15 years. Runyon, who obviously hadn't done his homework, answered, "Dred Scott". The Dred Scott case was decided in 1857. The Supreme Court decided by a 7-2 margin ruled that no person of black ancestry, slave or not, could be a citizen or have any standing in court.

Even though he was about 150 years off, Runyan agreed that it was the wrong decision. That's not always a given in today's Tea Party climate.

"I swear I meant to hit the 'delete' button"

Virginia Beach Republican Party chair Dave Bartholomew forwarded a racist email comparing African Americans to dogs and has resigned as a result. His excuse was that he was just 'getting familiar with the Internet'. Prominent local Repulbicans rushed to his defense, claiming Bartholomew is "not a racist". I'm also sure that some of his best friends are black. I'll let the jury decide on his racism but there is no doubt he is a complete idiot.

Glenn Beck, scientist crushes Darwin

His 'logic defies logic. Yesterday he said that he has never seen a "half monkey, half human" ergo evolution doesn't exist. He did give himself some wiggle room though, "If I get to the other side and God's like, 'You know what, yep, you were a monkey once,' I'll be shocked, but I'll be cool with it." Beck has obviously never scanned the more ridiculous tabloids waiting in the checkout line at his local supermarket.

I pity the poor fools how have signed up and paid good money for Beck's on-line University. Yes, it does actually exist.

Mumford and Sons - Little Lion Man

Joe MIller, Tea Party Senate candidate for Alaska is a thug and a liar

A reporter was handcuffed by Joe Miller's personal bodyguards during a public appearance at a rally in a school building. The reporter did nothing other that try to ask Miller some questions in a hallway.

Miller,a lawyer has refused to answer any questions about a disciplinary action taken against him a few years ago for using government computers for political campaigning which is a no-no. A question about just that instigated the handcuffing of the reporter.

In the ensuing fallout, Miller claimed that he was required by the school to bring a security team. The meeting was in the evening so no students were around. The school said that was not true. It also turns out that at least two of the security guards were active duty members of the military moonlighting without permission.

Yesterday Miller suggested we police the borders just the way the East Germans did it.

I think we are getting a clear picture of Joe Miller, who could very possibly be in the Senate thinks and acts.

A political ad from Coloradio

Nothing to say, just watch it.

Robert Reich must read, "The Perfect Storm"

We're in deep shit.

There's plenty of money to help stranded Americans, just not the political will to raise it. And at the rate secret money is flooding our political system, even less political will in the future.

The perfect storm: An unprecedented concentration of income and wealth at the top; a record amount of secret money flooding our democracy; and a public becoming increasingly angry and cynical about a government that's raising its taxes, reducing its services, and unable to get it back to work.

We're losing our democracy to a different system. It's called plutocracy.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Chrstine O'Donnell is lucky she was born in America

From last night's Senate election debate in Delaware.

"You're telling me that's in the First Amendment?" she asked, when Chris Coons brought up the fact that the very First Amendment to the Constitution "bars Congress from making laws respecting the establishment of religion."

Republicans want to privatize everything: maybe not such a good idea

The Abu Dhabi government now controls all the parking meters in Chicago and the citizens are getting screwed.

US Chamber of Commerce helping Chinese companies to outsource jobs

They are vehemently denying that they accept foreign money for campaign ads as they spend $75 million on campaign ads that, thanks to the Supreme Court, don't need to state the source of the money.

Glenn Beck has been shilling for them lately, begging listeners to donate some of their own money to an organization that doesn't give a flying fuck about small businesses, nevermind the average American. They only care for and only serve large U.S. corporations.

Turns out they are hosting seminars with Chinese government officials to teach American corporations how to outsource American jobs to China.

Beck should be ashamed of himself but that would be impossible as he has no shame.

The Gaslight Anthem - The '59 Sound

Nothing more than a few 'technical glitches'

TAMPA — Some employees of Florida's largest "foreclosure mill" were given jewelry, cars and houses from the firm, in exchange for altering and forging key documents used to obtain foreclosures, according to a statement released today by the Florida Attorney General's Office.

Can anyone please tell me why no one has been arrested yet?

America slips to 49th in life expectancy

The United States currently ranks 49th in the world in overall life expectancy, according to a study published in the academic journal Health Affairs, slipping dramatically during the last decade. A decade ago the U.S. was ranked 24th.

We're still far and away #1 in health care costs more than double any other country. The U.S. is also the only industrialized country in the world that doesn't have universal health care. The report goes on to describe the health system in America as "uniquely inefficient."

At this rate countries like Albania, Kuwait, Cuba, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and Panama will overtake us in the next 5 years.

Those who want to repeal Health Care Reform still think we have the best healthcare system in the world.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Republicans don't care about mortgage fraud

All 50 states' Attorney Generals have pledged a coordinated investigation into bank's foreclosure procedures. In Florida, foreclosure central at least 20% of foreclosures lacked the proper paperwork. That makes them fraudulent, there is no other way to describe them.

As the Washington Post wrote this weekend, “virtually everyone involved – loan servicers, law firms, document processing companies and others – made more money as they evicted more borrowers from their homes, creating a system that was vulnerable to error and difficult for homeowners to challenge.”

Many Democrats have called for a moratorium on foreclosures until this mess is sorted out. The Republicans have remained silent other than the occasional comment about people (ie homeowners) living up to their responsibilities. The legal requirements for banks and the people servicing the loans and processing the paperwork, not even worth mentioning it is so trivial, "a technicality" at best as they and Wall Street have described the problems.

Now that the GOP is looking at possibly controlling the House, the have announced their intentions. The banks will get a pass from them but government involvement in sponsoring home loans for poor people will definitely be in their cross hairs.

Thev US Chamber of Commerce are certainly going to get their money's worth from the Republicans and the banks will get even more latitude to screw everyone.

Banks and Hedge Funds - the new tax collectors

Banks and Hedge Funds have quietly been buying the rights to collect property taxes from cash strapped local governments. In some cases they also have the rights to go after delinquencies for water, sewer and sidewalk repair costs. In some states they are allowed to charge 18% as well as tack on escalating legal fees, often foreclosing within as little as six months if the bills aren't paid. One assumes they are also applying the same careful due diligence they have with foreclosures.

The banks and hedge funds have created new companies with PO Box addresses to hide their Wall Street connections. Some of the banks have started bundling these liens and selling them as securities (here we go again).

One company, Aeon Financial LLC adds $7,000 in legal fees and 18% in interest charges on liens as small as a few hundred dollars. The Washington D.C. Attorney General has described the Chicago based company's practices as 'deceptive at best and potentially fraudulent at worst.".

Most of the banks funding these comanpanies received billions in bailout money. The homeowners who are in danger of losing their homes over a few hundred dollars or more received squat.

The full story is here.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Heard this band on the radio tonight. Impressive.

Foreclosure hell and lying banks

The banks are saying the current foreclosure mess is a 'technical' issue which they can soon fix. Wall Streeters have arrogantly claimed no-one in foreclosure or who have been foreclosed on should not have lost their home.

"Talk about a financial scandal," a Wall Street Journal editorial this weekend joked. "A consumer borrows money to buy a house, doesn't make the mortgage payments and then loses the house in foreclosure—only to learn that the wrong guy at the bank signed the foreclosure paperwork. Can you imagine?". In another editorial, the WSJ wrote, "We're not aware of a single case so far of a substantive error,out of tens of thousands of potentially affected borrowers, we're still waiting for the first victim claiming that he was current on his mortgage when the bank seized the home." They are 100% wrong. There have been many documented cases.

Here are a few from the Cleveland area.

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Michael and Pamella Negrea have never been late on a mortgage payment in the 15 years they've owned their home in Eastlake. But they've been foreclosed on three times.

Martin and Kirsten Davis, meanwhile, lost their home in Cleveland to foreclosure two years ago. The reason: a mess that started when they accidentally paid 14 cents too little on their monthly payment.

And Michael Rendes of Berea had his mortgage sold last year to Bank of America. The bank foreclosed on him in November, after insisting for months that it didn't hold his loan and wouldn't accept his payments.

Republican hypocrisy - begging for stimulus money while opposing its passage

Many of the most outspoken critics of the stimulus package wrote letters requesting funds while voting against it. Among them are Pete Sessions of Texas, Michelle Bachmann, Mike Pense, Ron Paul as well as Senators John MCain, Scott Brown and Mitch McConnell.

Many others have reto-actively also taken credit for stimulus money or projects after the fact.

Former US allies in Iraq now joining Al Qaeda

It looks more and more like Nouri Al Maliki the pro-Iranian tough guy and Moqtadar Al Sadr, pro Iranian Islamic extremist will form the core of the new government in Iraq. With the Sunnis left out in the cold, many members of The Awakening Councils who helped end the insurgency have now quit or been dismissed and are joining Al Qaeda in droves. joining Al Qaeda in droves.

Although there are no firm figures, security and political officials say hundreds of the well-disciplined fighters — many of whom have gained extensive knowledge about the American military — appear to have rejoined Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. Beyond that, officials say that even many of the Awakening fighters still on the Iraqi government payroll, possibly thousands of them, covertly aid the insurgency.

The defections have been driven in part by frustration with the Shiite-led government, which Awakening members say is intent on destroying them, as well as by pressure from Al Qaeda. The exodus has accelerated since Iraq’s inconclusive parliamentary elections in March, which have left Sunnis uncertain of retaining what little political influence they have and which appear to have provided Al Qaeda new opportunities to lure back fighters.
Almost a trillion dollars spent, over 4,000 American soldiers killed, thousands more debilitated by traumatic brain damage and a country split between a pro Iranian Islamic government and s new safe haven for Al Qaeda.

Now voters in the U.S. seem to want the idiots who brought this all about to govern again. Maybe the United States of Amnesia is a more appropriate name.

Carly Fiorina just another clueless Republican

Credit Chris Wallace for not letting her off the hook She waffles and waffles but wants us to trust her because she ran a large corporation. She ran it into the ground but she doesn't mention that part of the story.

Femme Fatale - Velvet Underground and Nico

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Eric Cantor heavily invested in mortgage companies that he still defends.

While 40 States' Attorney Generals are investigating the illegal procedures used by Banks and others to streamline foreclosures Cantor, the GOP House minority whip continues to defend them.

He opposes any foreclosure moratorium and said last week, “Now, come on, people have to take responsibility for themselves, We don’t need government intervening in every step of every aspect of this economy.”

Many of Cantor's top contributors are banks, mortgage companies and their lobbyists. His wife is managing director at one of the top three banks with the highest foreclosure rates. He also owns a a stake worth $250-$500,000 in TrustMor mortgage, a company he funded in 1996 and still receives an income from the company.

Cantor believes that people need to take responsibility for their actions which is fine, except that he doesn't seem to aply the same standards to corporations, especially those that support him or in which he has a financial stake.

I guess the sanctity of the Rule of Law and property rights to not apply equally in his distorted world.

Tea Party candidates - when it comes to facts ignorance rules

In the distorted worldview of Tea Party leaders and their followers, facts are fungible. Facts are whatever narrative suits them in the moment. Encased in their information cocoon they can hold signs saying "Government hands off my Medicare" without a trace of irony.

As the mid term elections draw closer it only seems to get worse. In the past couple of days, three Tea Party Senatorial candidates have made up 'facts' that bear no relation to the real world. Needless to say, they are rarely challenged on any of it.

Start with Sharron Angle in her debate with Harry Reid a couple of nights ago. At one point she claimed 11 foreign states have joined the government in their lawsuit against Arizona's immigration laws. The reality is that foreign states have no standing to bringing or even being part of a lawsuit in the U.S. What they can do is file a brief in a lawsuit which some foreign countries have done although that isn't what Angle claimed. Her claim is that the U.S. together with 11 foreign nations filed the lawsuit. The right wing blogs are all agog with this, showing that a lie that suits their narrative soon becomes the truth.

Next is Rand Paul who seems to make a habit of denying he said something even when the video evidence proves otherwise. He said that the Dept. of Education should be abolished so that schoolkids don't have to learn that having two mommies is okay. The school curriculum is set on the local level, the Dept. of Eduction has no control or say over it. Rand has made a habit of saying something and then denying he ever said it. The original statement becomes the truth.

Lastly Pat Toomey, a Rick Santorum clone who looks like he could win the Seante seat in Pennsylvania had this to say.

TOOMEY: But they’re doing some serious damage. If you think of what we’ve witnessed in just the last 18 months or so, serial bailouts of failing companies, nationalizing whole industries, spending money on a scale we’ve never seen before, deficits and debts that are completely unsustainable, you add in cap and trade, card check, government-run health care, is it any wonder we haven’t had an economic recovery? Is it any wonder we don’t have job growth? How hard is this to figure out?

Let's set aside the crap about 'nationalizing whole industries' and look at cap and trade, card check and health care as being part of the cause of the current economy. Other than Health Care Reform which has passed but has not gone into effect yet, neither cap and trade nor card check bills have been passed. Cap and trade was passed by the house but died in the Senate and card check which would allow a trade union to be formed if 50% of workers at a particular factory or company agree hasn't even been voted on and probably never will, in the current climate.

Toomey might pause to reflect that the current economic mess was caused by banking deregulation, supported by his entire party who then turned a blind eye to the rampant fraud throughout the process and as we have seen lately, is still going on,

Friday, October 15, 2010

Paul Krugman sums up the mortgage mess perfectly

Now an awful truth is becoming apparent: In many cases, the documentation doesn’t exist. In the frenzy of the bubble, much home lending was undertaken by fly-by-night companies trying to generate as much volume as possible. These loans were sold off to mortgage “trusts,” which, in turn, sliced and diced them into mortgage-backed securities. The trusts were legally required to obtain and hold the mortgage notes that specified the borrowers’ obligations. But it’s now apparent that such niceties were frequently neglected. And this means that many of the foreclosures now taking place are, in fact, illegal.

This is very, very bad. For one thing, it’s a near certainty that significant numbers of borrowers are being defrauded — charged fees they don’t actually owe, declared in default when, by the terms of their loan agreements, they aren’t.

More here.

Rampant fraud at every step and Wall Street shrugs it off

Those evil homeowners made us do it. They forced us to sell them those sub-price mortgages they couldn't afford. They forced us to throw all underwriting standards out the window. They forced us to tell them not to worry, to tell them that by the time their mortgage payments reset and tripled their house would be worth 25% more so they could refinance or sell it for a profit and buy an even bigger house.

They forced us to sell the mortgages and then forced the investment banks to create derivatites abd leverage them 30 times. Then they forced us to hide just how crappy the investment were so that we wouldn't be stuck with them. No one could have predicted what would happen and now that there houses are less than their mortgages and they can't make their payments they're forcing us to cut corners and abandon the legal process so we can get their houses back.

It's tough being a banker, nobody likes us and we're being blamed for this whole mess. All we have is our bonuses. Those delinquent homeowners should learn a thing ot two about personal responsibility and stop whining and blaming us. Personal responsibility is for other people. We were just doing what bankers do....making money.

If that sounds a little over the top read this...the Wall Street shrug.

"The first thing that needs to happen, I think, is to get these people out of their homes," a man wearing a bespoke blue-striped shirt, a Herm├ęs tie patterned with elephants and Ferragamo loafers said recently. "Correct! I'll explain," the veteran member of a bank restructuring and advisory team said.

But Wall Street does not sympathize. "You had people putting zero down to get massive houses they couldn't afford to be in," he said Monday morning, "but now they want to stay. And the government wants to let them stay, because they're voters." A few hours later, the Goldman Sachs arm Litton Loan Servicing said it had suspended certain foreclosure proceedings, too. "Talk about a financial scandal," a Wall Street Journal editorial this weekend joked. "A consumer borrows money to buy a house, doesn't make the mortgage payments and then loses the house in foreclosure—only to learn that the wrong guy at the bank signed the foreclosure paperwork. Can you imagine?"

The banks and mortgage companies committed fraud every step of the way most of them have yet to pay the price. That might all be changing as the layers of the onion are slowly peeled away.

Watch Elliot Spitzer on the new smoking gun, 'How Wall Street shafted Main Street." on CNN. I wrote about it earlier here.

Overwhelming support for transparency in campaign spending

The beltway establishment, politicians and the media believe that the issue of campaign spending is too esoteric and nuanced for the public to either understand or care about. This, in response to the Democrats attacks on the Chamber of Commerce for accepting foreign money and for not disclosing their donors for their political ads.

A survey shows just how full of shit the politicians and media are. 66% of respondents are aware that outside groups are funding ads and an overwhelming 845 believe the public should know who is bankrolling the ads.

Thank you, Supreme Court.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

"Populist" Glenn Beck urges viewers to donate to corporate America.

Beck is urging his viewers to donate to the Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber purports to support small businesses but the reality is they shill and are supported financially by the largest corporations. With a war chest of $75 million for the mid-term elections alone they are not lacking in funds. The fact that the Chamber is under attack from the left is enough to to convince Beck's followers that the Chamber is working to protect the interests of the sverage American.

From Media Matter;

Now, the Chamber of Commerce is not simply an advocacy organization pursing an ideological agenda, like the National Rifle Association or the National Right to Life Committee. It is a trade association representing some of the largest corporations you can think of. Its board of directors counts among its members executives from Pfizer, Lockheed Martin, AT&T, US Airways, JPMorgan Chase & Co., IBM, and Verizon. It is The Establishment incarnate.

And Glenn Beck is calling on his hardworking listeners to donate money to the Chamber. He is literally asking American workers to give their hard-earned wages back to their employers, so their employers can use that money to advocate a public policy agenda that benefits the rich at the (again: literal) expense of everyone else. It’s incredible. It’s such a twisted scheme that it’s easier to believe as a piece of performance art meant to mock right-wing pseudo-populism. Though if it was art, it would be dismissed as overly broad and heavy-handed.

The Chamber opposes consumer protections for in financial reform, they oppose regulations to ensure food safety, they oppose workplace safety regulations, they support outsourcing jobs to other countries, they support allowing large corporations to avoid taxes through offshore shell comanies and Beck has convinced them that they should part with some of their hard earned money to support this agenda.

O'Reilly - "Only left wing loons believe Fox News favors Republicans"

With the emergence of the Tea Party and the rantings of Glen Beck, Bill O'Reilly has faded as heaadline fodder. From the above quote it looks like he might be trying to make a comeback.

Sleaziest political ad ever - From Sen. David Vitter the master of sleaze

Sen. David Vitter gained fame as the frequent client of the "D.C. Madam". He was also known for frequenting more than one house of ill repute in New Orleans on occasion. Although never verified, Vitter has some unusual tastes in this area and was apparently known as "Vitter the (rhymes with his last name)" in certain New Orleans circles.

After a suitable level of contrition and praying to Jesus for salvation he was forgiven by his both wife and fellow Republicans. Apparently Republican sinners have a special hotline to Jesus for forgiveness that is denied to the rest of us.

Republicans don't like property rights

A slew of Democrats have called for a mortgage moratorium in the wake of news that most foreclosures have and are not being handled with the legal due diligence required.

The banks call it a mere 'technical issue' which is their euphemism for breaking the law.

Eric Cantor, GOP minority House whip agrees with the banks. "You're going to shut down the housing industry. People have to take responsibility for themselves,"

How about the banks taking responsibility and making sure the legal requirements are followed before foreclosing on someones home. I thought Republicans respected the rule of law and property rights.

Libertarian quote of the day

“The family should be left to resolve it on their own,” Biondolillo said. “Or private enterprise – private companies can contact the family and say, ‘We heard you were hitting your kids. Can you stop that?’ “

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

One huge pile of steaming shit

It seems everywhere you look in the mortgage mess there's a new pile of shit and evidence, not just of abysmal stupidity but outright fraud.

It started with "liars loans" where mortgages were knowingly written despite a complete lack of due diligence. Banks did that because they knew the mortgage was going to sold within weeks and bundled up by an investment bank who would then sell it off to the next person.

We already know that the rating agencies gave them all AAA ratings without bothering to do their due diligence We know that the investment banks bet against their mortgage derivatives while they were still selling them. We're now finding out that foreclosures were processed by the thousands without following proper procedures, more often than not, without possession of the original mortgage or with proper notarization. The banks are calling this a mere 'technical' issue, althoough the correct word is fraud.

Now a new wrinkle has emerged which will undoubtedly create a slew of huge lawsuits against the banks. This excellent article by Felix Salmon is devastating.

You thought the foreclosure mess was bad? You’re right about that. But it gets so much worse once you start adding in a whole bunch of parallel messes in the world of mortgage bonds. For instance, as Tracy Alloway says, mortgage-bond documentation generally says that if more than a minuscule proportion of notes in a mortgage pool weren’t properly transferred, then the trustee for the bondholders can force the investment bank who put the deal together to repurchase the mortgages. And it’s looking very much as though none of the notes were properly transferred.

But that’s not even the biggest potential problem facing the investment banks who put these deals together. It also turns out that there’s a pretty strong case that they lied to the investors in many if not most of these deals.

Banks would put in bids for a pool of mortgages. The bank with the winning bid would them submit a sample of the mortgages in the pool to a third party to examine the quality of the mortgages in that sample. Most were done by Clayton, a company that controls 70% of that market. The article cites 1,280 mortgages owned by Citibank. Of those, 582 or 45% were rejected as not meeting underwriting standards. Citibank could then send all or most of those mortgages back to the originator.

Bear in mind the pool still contained a significant amount of bad mortgages that weren't examined by Clayton. In normal times any sane bank would walk away from a sample that bad but not in those times. The bank would then renegotiate a lower rice for rhe pool of mortgages. The bank, in this case Citibank, didn't mind the fact that the pool contained a huge pe4rcentage of bad loans because they were ging to sell the pool anyway, and armed with a triple A rating the buyer would be none the wiser.

In fact, the nanks were more than happy to do this vecause they could make more money at the renegotiated lower price.

The article goes on to explaion the end game.

In any case, it’s clear that the banks had price-sensitive information on the quality of the loan pool which they failed to pass on to investors in that pool. That’s a lie of omission, and if I was one of the investors in one of these pools, I’d be inclined to sue for my money back. Prosecutors, too, are reportedly looking at these deals, and I can’t imagine they’ll like what they find.

The bank I talked to didn’t even attempt to excuse its behavior. It just said that Clayton’s taste-testing was being done by the bank — the buyer of the loan portfolio — rather than being done on behalf of bond investors. Well, yes. That’s the whole problem. The bank was essentially trading on inside information about the loan pool: buying it low (negotiating for a discount from the originator) and then selling it high to people who didn’t have that crucial information.

These mortgage bonds were then sold to pension funds, to city and state governments both domestic and foreign among others. The big question is will the investment banks ever be made to pay for these fraudulent transactions. Most of us are paying for this in one way or another but the banks seem to b e doing just fine.

Christine O'Donnell - we have to finish the job against the Soviets

Calling her a blithering idiot is an insult to idiots.

This says all you need to know about the Tea Party - sucking on oxygen

Scanning the thousands of hopped-up faces in the crowd, I am immediately struck by two things. One is that there isn’t a single black person here. The other is the truly awesome quantity of medical hardware: Seemingly every third person in the place is sucking oxygen from a tank or propping their giant atrophied glutes on motorized wheelchair-scooters. As Palin launches into her Ronald Reagan impression — “Government’s not the solution! Government’s the problem!” — the person sitting next to me leans over and explains.
“The scooters are because of Medicare,” he whispers helpfully. “They have these commercials down here: ‘You won’t even have to pay for your scooter! Medicare will pay!’ Practically everyone in Kentucky has one.”
A hall full of elderly white people in Medicare-paid scooters, railing against government spending and imagining themselves revolutionaries as they cheer on the vice-presidential puppet hand-picked by the GOP establishment. If there exists a better snapshot of everything the Tea Party represents, I can’t imagine it.

Matt Taibbi in Rollong Stone describing a Tea Party rally in Kentucky riding around in their Medicare provided wheelchair-scooters railing against government spending. Taibbi, brilliant as usual.

John Raese - 1,000 laser beams in space is our most urgent priority

Raese, the GOP Senate candidate for West Virginia, who wants to return labor laws to the way they were 100 years ago is much more forward looking when it comes to defense. 

He wants to put 1,000 laser beams into space to shoot down any missiles coming at the U.S.   He said, "We are sitting with the only technology in the world that works and it's laser technology. We need 1,000 laser systems put in the sky and we need it right now. That is [of] paramount importance."

Other than the fact that the research is in it's infancy and a large number of international treaties would have to be renegotiated it's the perfect solution to all our problems.  On the upside it might create a few jobs.  

Solomon Burke - the king of soul RIP

He was larger than life in more ways than one, playing the role of the 'King of Soul' to the hilt, sitting on a throne while performing later in life, to both perpetuate his tiltle, 'The King of Soul' as well as to rest his large frame.  He began preaching in a church in Philadelphia at age 7.  His roots were gospel but he became a legend with his first hit, 'Cry to Me.'

He was trained as a mortician and owned a mortuary in Los Angeles.  Listening to an interview on NPR after his passing with Joe Henry who produced his comeback album, "Don't Give Up on Me" in 2002, Henry said he was always busy, if not with music it was his businesses.  He described Burke as a 'hustler' in the good sense of the word and related an account of Burke frying chicken near the stage during a show at the Apollo and then selling the pieces to other performers backstage. 

His music lives on. 

This could be our next President - the most powerful leader in the world

"And –You know- again, we have the media here tonight, and it’s never smart to pick up-I guess- the fight with those who buy ink by the barrelful but what-the-heck. When the Lamestream Media just doesn’t get it and when they don’t believe what-perhaps- your message is, so they want to belittle you and mock you and treat you with much disdain- you know, I think-oh-they can do it to me-that’s fine-because I know truth and I am fine with political shots that they take and what, I have said about this recently at Glenn Beck rally on steps of Lincoln Memorial, I said you know what - You can say whatever you want to about to say about me but I raised a combat vet and you can’t take that away from me."

From a speech October 9th.   No prizes for guessing who said the above.   Makes George W. Bush seem eloquent by comparison. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Rush Limbaugh is one sick person

Here is what he said yesterday:

"Mammograms are the covenant, the sacred covenant of feminazism"

So mammograms are now a socialist feminazi plot, not a health issue.

Combine that with a lot of Tea Party candidates who believe that abortion should be banned in all circumstances including incest and rape such as Sharron Angle and you get the picture.

Nobel Prize winner not good enough for Republicans

Peter Diamond was nominated by President Obama to the Federal Reserve Board six months ago. He is still awaiting confirmation because Richard Shelby the GOP Senator from Alabama thinks he isn't qualified because he doesn't have a sufficiently broad macro-economic background. Only two of the five current Fed Governors have that kind of experience which suggests the problem is no qualifications but political.

Yesterday Peter Diamond was awarded the Nobel prize for Economics. Will that make a difference to Shelby? Probably not; Isn't the Nobel Prize some sort of socialist conspiracy that gave Obama some sort of award?

Jon Stewart on Rich Iott and others - they make it too easy to ridicule

Indecision 2010 - Unforced Errors Edition
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

Rich Iott - you're a complete idiot

Eric Cantor, GOP House Minority Whip, threw Rich Iott, GOP/Waffen SS House candidate in Ohio under the bus for his Nazi war enactment weekend games on Fox News Sunday. Iott, who should apply for a name change to add the "id" before his last name is pissed. Apparently some things are beyond the pale, even for Republicans.

I don't care what you excuse is, running around on weekends in an SS uniform is unacceptable no matter how benign you might think it is.

"I think that Representative Cantor did what so many career politicians do," Iott said. "He reacted before he had all the facts. He didn't know the whole story. He didn't understand what historical reenacting is all about, or the education side of it. And he just made a decision without all the facts. My opponent here is cut out of the same cloth. Those are the people who passed the health care bill before they knew what was in it. The same folks who passed the stimulus bill..."

In Iott's tiny little mind I image he equates Health Care reform "death panels" with the Holocaust. He went on to dig himself deeper into a hole. "...participating in historical reenactments, living history, is a much better way to get the message across...It's a great outreach to the public."

Eric Cantor is Jewish, so am I and we tend to get more than a little upset at seeing people in this day and age parading around in an SS uniform, no matter how benign you think it might be.

On his SS Wiking playacting website it said, We salute these idealists; no matter how unsavory the Nazi government was, the front-line soldiers of the Waffen-SS (in particular the foreign volunteers) gave their lives for their loved ones and a basic desire to be free.

"Unsavory", I have friend I might even consider 'unsavory'. Calling the SS "Idealists (with a)...basic desire to be free" is abhorrent. The only thing they wanted to be free of was "subhuman" non-Aryans.

Iott should be on his knees begging for forgiveness, not trying to blame Cantor and justify his actions. Instead of trying to educate people about the SS by getting dressed up as one go to the Holocaust Museum and start off by educating yourself. it was really grand of him to apologize to veterans after the shit hit the fan. How about an apology to the Jews and others who suffered under the Nazis.

Next Iott will say some of his best friends are Jewish. Oh, he's already done that.

Update I When you're in a hole, stop digging. Iott's latest defense is "I don't think we can sit here and judge that today. We weren't there the time they made those decisions,"

Update II The Wiking Waffen SS division that Iott and his gang played were recruited from non-German volunteers. They weren't people forced to fight for Germany but people who wanted to.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Happy Columbus Day

GOPers hate the minimum wage - not that they know how much it even is.

The current minimum wage is about $8.55 nationally. Republicans hate the idea of a minimum wage because they think it kills jobs. It would if you could hire two people at $4,25 an hour. The problem with that is no-one can survive on that wage in today's world unless you work about 120 hours a week, or 12 hours a day every day of the week. That will solve the problem because a person working that many hours wouldn't have time to do anything but eat or sleep. It used to be that way 100 years ago but we've become a little more civilized since then.

Statistics show that the minimum wage has enabled people working a 40 hour a week at the minimium to at least survive and with a bit of luck, stay out of poverty. The problem is that most Republicans have no idea what the minimum wage even is.

Here are five prime examples.

Michael Steele RNC Chairman had no idea what it was in an interview on MSNBC. He added that it was "irrelevant" to this election. For Steele, it's all about elections, not what is right.

Linda McMahon, GOP Senate candidate and WWE CEO didn't know what it is but still suggested it was too high and was too much of burden on businesses.

Joe Miller, Tea Party Senate candidate for Alaska thinks it's unconstitutional. He added that if you like big government, move to Massachusetts.

John Raese, Senate candidate for West Virginia is proud of his wealth which he said he earned the traditional way by inheriting it thinks it should be abolished. He would prefer to go back to the days when there were no workplace safety rules, no unemployment and you were paid in scrip and had to buy everyting from the company store.

Dino Rossi, Senate Candidate for Washington. He opposed raising the minimum wage in Washington from $8.07 to $8.55 and instead wanted to lower it.

More here. plus video evidence.

An eminently sensible idea

WASHINGTON – President Obama will join mayors, governors and current and former transportation secretaries on Monday to argue for a major initiative to repair and modernize the nation’s roads, rails and air systems, just weeks before an election that is all but certain to expand the size of his Republican opposition in Congress.

A new report from economists at the Treasury and Mr. Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers concludes that this is the “optimal time” to invest in public infrastructure because of high unemployment and lower prices in the construction industry, which has been hit harder than any other sector by the puncturing of the bubble in housing and commercial real estate.

As with many issues, paying for any initiative is the major divide between the parties. While Mr. Obama in September proposed a long-term solution to create a national infrastructure bank, which would seek private and public partnerships to invest in projects selected on merit, he seeks $50 billion in federal aid up front and he would offset that spending by closing an array of tax breaks for the oil and gas industry.

It will create jobs, it will help our crumbling infrastructure and it's paid for with cuts elsewhere. The Republicans will rail against it because it's taking money from the poor victimized oil and gas companies instead of from education, child nutrition, unemployment, housing or anything that might be helping people who right now need a helping hand.

The full article here.

GOP fiscal hypocrisy on the Defence budget.

As the great economist Adam Smith put it, Ch.3, Of Public Debts, “Were the expense of war to be defrayed always by revenue raised within the year … wars would in general be more speedily concluded, and less wantonly undertaken.”

Bruce Bartlett, a key member of George W. Bush's Treasury and a Republican no longer in good standing skewers current Republican demands for budget cuts without touching Defence spending. The U.S. currently spends 54% of worldwide defense spending. The res of the world spends 46%.

They are obviously not smart enough to learn from history. The Roman Empire eventually collapsed for a number of reasons. Two prominent ones were the cost of maintaining an Empire through military force while simultaneously lowering the taxes for the wealthiest Romans. Sounds familiar.

Read the article here.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Right go apeshit again over a an error of one thousandth of a percent

Last year the government mailed out 52 million stimulus for $250 each. About 72,000 of those 52 million had died recently or where in prison but still received the checks. The majority of those checks were returned uncashed to the government.

That's about one thousandth of a percent. Most of them had died in the preceding couple of months. I remember that fter my father passed away, he received a couple of social security checks before the paperwork was caught up.

For the Wingnuts this is further evidence of total government incompetence. How can they be trusted to run anything when they screw up by a thousandth of a percent. The private sector can do it so much better. Hey, only one BP deep sea oil rig blew up. So what if Wall Street didn't figure out there might be a housing bubble. So what if Merck got a little confused and misplaced the research that said Vioxx could cause heart attacks.

Shit happens, but if you elect Republicans we will prove to you just how incompetent goverment really is.

Democrats fight back

Saturday, October 9, 2010

John Lennon would have been 70 years old today.

His influence on me was profound. He inspired me to write, to live and to believe. His death, so senseless, so against everything he believed, stunned and saddened me more than anyone other than those I personally knew. He is missed.

The Venerable Washington Post - not so venerable any more

A while ago I posted about Dinesh D;Souza's ridciulous Forbes Magazine cover story about how President Obama has a dangerous "Kenyan anti-colonial" mindset. Other than Newt Gingrich the article was trashed by all and sundry. Other than the title of his book "Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance" which he wrote right after graduating from Law School it was apparent D'Souza had put no thought or research in his article and had certainly not read the book.

Bear in mind, Obama's father, who was Kenyon, abandoned him and his mother when he was three.

This past week the Washington Post gave D'Souza the opportunity to rehash the same nonsense in a shorter form on their editorial pages. The Post has every right to publish editorials from all sides of the political spectrum but to give voice to complete drivel, and lazy drivel at that is says something about the papers current status.

The explanation offered by Fred Hiatt, the editor, only makes things worse.

I approved publication of this Op-Eed. D'Souza's theory has sparked a great deal of commentary, from potential presidential candidates as well as from commentators on our own pages.

Just because it 'sparked a great deal of commentary" does not make it worthy of publication, especially when all the commentary other than the Gingriches of the world who will endorse any anti-Obama piece, no matter how moronic, condembed the piece as utterly stupid.

The Washington Monthly has a good piece on it here.