Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Last Call

Thanks again, Supreme Court!

“While Obama and the DNC were wasting money producing false ads to run on DC television, we have been working with like-minded groups to launch a $50 million House Surge that strikes far beyond their 40-seat firewall, expanding the battlefield and forcing them to thin out the resources dedicated to vulnerable members,” American Crossroads spokesman Jonathan Collegio wrote in an e-mail to reporters Wednesday morning.

The effort was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

The ad blitz is set to begin this week, with the groups reportedly planning to target Colorado Rep. Ed Perlmutter and Indiana Rep. Joe Donnelly.

The alliance is part of an ever growing list of conservative groups, including Americans for Job Security, the Club for Growth, the 60 Plus Association, and American Future Fund, pouring millions of dollars into House races. On Tuesday, POLITICO reported that the Center for Individual Freedom, another conservative group, was planning on spending $2 million in 10 House races.

Great to have tens of millions in anonymous donations spent to buy up midterm elections in the last 30 days, because that's clearly what our founding fathers meant by the preservation of free speech.  Meanwhile, who's spending money to buy those seats?  We'll never know.  You'd think even the Tea Party would feel uncomfortable about that, as they vow to never give a dime to the NRCC and all, but...they don't matter, folks.

Big money talks now, not teabags, not voters, not you and me.  And keeping those anonymous donors in money to donate is all that our political system exists to do now.

The Proper Thing And The Right Thing Aren't Always The Same

Case in point:  The Obama administration filing an appeal for DADT

The Obama administration is expected to appeal as soon as Wednesday a federal judge's ruling that halted the Defense Department from enforcing its policy that bars openly gay people from military service, according to senior administration officials familiar with the government's plans.

U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Philips issued an injunction Tuesday that bans enforcement of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy throughout the military services.

While the government has up to 60 days to file an appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court in San Francisco, California, officials familiar with the case said that could happen in the next day or two.

Awesome.  Hey, ask for a stay on that injunction from a higher court and let's ruin everybody's day, eh?  I understand the need to try doing this, but doing so before the election seems, I dunno, overly eager to maintain a law that the President has vowed to see gone, you know?


Zandar's Thought Of The Day


Job programs?  Too expensive.

Unemployment extensions for the worst economy in 80 years?  Too expensive.

Workfare programs that dozens of states are using directly?  Too expensive.

Orbital missile defense lasers?  West Virginia Republican Senate hopeful Joe Raese will take 1000 or so.

Prioritize, people.

And In The Movie Version, Helicopter Ben Is Played By...

...Paul Giamatti, ladies and gentlemen.  William Hurt is Hammerin' Hank Paulson, James Woods as doomed Lehman Brothers CEO Dick Fuld, and Timmy the Invisible Boy is played by Billy Crudup...

And that totally works, too.

HBO's movie "Too Big To Fail" will be out next year, based on Andrew Ross Sorkin's book (which is a good read.)

Turn On The Lights, Watch The Roaches Scatter, Part 19

Things fall apart, the center cannot hold.  Two potentially huge developments today in Foreclosuregate.  First, as expected every state other than Alabama is joining the state Attorneys General probe into this mess (Alabama?  Really?  Hey Matt Osborne, what's the deal with that?)

The 49 state attorneys general are investigating allegations some banks used shoddy paperwork to kick struggling borrowers out of their homes during a foreclosure crisis that is one of the most visible wounds of the 2007-2009 recession. 
"We are in the fourth year of a housing and economic crisis that was brought on by lax practices of the mortgage lending industry," Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson said in a statement. "The latest allegations of corner cutting and slipshod paperwork are troubling, but perhaps not surprising."
The attorneys general will be looking at the practice by banks and companies that collect monthly mortgage payments of using "robo-signers" -- people who sign hundreds of affidavits a day. It is alleged they did not properly review the documents they were signing.
The use of robo-signers "may constitute a deceptive act and/or an unfair practice or otherwise violate state laws," the attorneys general said in their joint statement.
Alabama was the only one of the 50 states not to join the investigation and it was not immediately clear why.

Ever wanted to pick up a red war phone and tell the person on the other side to "start the music"?  Effectively, the housing market has just taken a semi-permanent vacation until further notice.  There's not an insurance underwriter in the country who will touch a housing loan right now.  The housing market just got carpet bombed.

And that brings us to major development number two, via Zero Hedge:  JP Morgan Chase just threw MERS under the bus.  What's MERS, you ask?  It's "Robo-Signers R Us", the virtual reality that the mortgage banks created in order to play their shell game.

JPMorgan Chase's CEO says the bank has stopped using the electronic mortgage tracking system used by major financial institutions.
Lawyers have argued in court proceedings that the system is unable to accurately prove ownership of mortgages.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. and other banks have suspended some foreclosures following allegations of paperwork problems in thousands of cases.

JPMorgan's CEO, Jamie Dimon, made the announcement in a conference call Wednesday to discuss the bank's quarterly earnings.

The Mortgage Electronic Registration System, or MERS, acts as a trading house for millions of mortgages. Lawyers for homeowners say the system lacks the required paper trail to prove mortgage ownership in foreclosure proceedings.

MERS is the entity that's supposed to keep track of all the mortgage loans over the last five years.  Right now, the validity of every single 1 and 0 in their systems is now 100% suspect.  If JP Morgan Chase is walking away from MERS, then all the banks will.  And suddenly, nobody knows who has the note for which mortgage anymore, because gosh, how can we make sure the computers are telling the truth?

Please don your peril-sensitive sunglasses at this time, folks.  Your October Surprise is a-coming.  And as Felix Salmon reminds us, the banks' investors are going to want their pound of flesh too when they figure out foreclosures are just the tip of the iceberg.

So when you see the Village try to blame the American people for this mess because they "defaulted on their mortgages" remember...the banks don't know who owned those mortgages in the first place, so this would have blown up sooner or later anyway.

Now, whose fault is that?

The Adulation For Application Of Triangulation

Peter Baker's piece in the NY Times Mag on President Obama shows he has basically learned nothing about the Republicans and Washington in his first two years.

While proud of his record, Obama has already begun thinking about what went wrong — and what he needs to do to change course for the next two years. He has spent what one aide called “a lot of time talking about Obama 2.0” with his new interim chief of staff, Pete Rouse, and his deputy chief of staff, Jim Messina. During our hour together, Obama told me he had no regrets about the broad direction of his presidency. But he did identify what he called “tactical lessons.” He let himself look too much like “the same old tax-and-spend liberal Democrat.” He realized too late that “there’s no such thing as shovel-ready projects” when it comes to public works. Perhaps he should not have proposed tax breaks as part of his stimulus and instead “let the Republicans insist on the tax cuts” so it could be seen as a bipartisan compromise.

Most of all, he has learned that, for all his anti-Washington rhetoric, he has to play by Washington rules if he wants to win in Washington. It is not enough to be supremely sure that he is right if no one else agrees with him. “Given how much stuff was coming at us,” Obama told me, “we probably spent much more time trying to get the policy right than trying to get the politics right. There is probably a perverse pride in my administration — and I take responsibility for this; this was blowing from the top — that we were going to do the right thing, even if short-term it was unpopular. And I think anybody who’s occupied this office has to remember that success is determined by an intersection in policy and politics and that you can’t be neglecting of marketing and P.R. and public opinion.” 

Translation:  "Expect me to continually capitulate even more to the Republicans in a good faith effort to address their concerns and to tell anyone to the left of Ben Nelson to go straight to hell, right up until my impeachment for the crime of not giving the GOP 100% of what their Tea Party fanatics demand."

The Village will eat this up.  The Republicans will still impeach him anyway.  The Democratic base will of course, continue not to do much of anything.

Amazing to see Obama basically throw in the towel three weeks before the election in order to...what, exactly?  Convince independents that they should come back to him because he's not everything evil that the Republicans accuse him of?  Does he not get that the Republicans blame him for making them attack him on race, religion, ideology, policy, and everything else?

Good luck with that.  Jesus wept.

Unimpeachable Character, Part 2

Jon Chait:

Hear me now and believe me later: If Republicans win and maintain control of the House of Representatives, they are going to impeach President Obama. They won’t do it right away. And they won’t succeed in removing Obama. (You need 67 Senate votes.) But if Obama wins a second term, the House will vote to impeach him before he leaves office.

I would argue that if they win control of both the House and Senate now, this will happen in 2011.  The Tea Party will absolutely demand it, and they are going to have a real hard time saying "we have to put up with another two years of Obama at let voters decide".

The more seats the GOP wins in the House and Senate, the more likely impeachment in the President's first term will be.  However, Chait is correct:  if Obama wins re-election in 2012 and the GOP maintains control of the House, impeachment is a 99.999% probability.

Doom Patrol

The Hill's Shane D'Aprile and Emily Goodin open up with this breathless lede this morning:

Republicans are winning eight out of 10 competitive open House seats surveyed in a groundbreaking new poll by The Hill.

Taken on top of 11 GOP leads out of 12 freshman Democratic districts polled last week, The Hill 2010 Midterm Election Poll points toward 19 Republican victories out of 22 races, while Democrats win only two and one is tied.

The Democrats are DOOOOOOOOOOOOOO...wait a minute...(reads down a few paragraphs:)

Many races are tight — 12 of the 22 fall within the margin of error — but the margins, though slim, preponderantly favor the GOP.

The Oct. 2-7 poll examined 10 competitive open House seats; Republicans hold two of the districts and Democrats control all the others. Republicans are winning in eight of those races, while Democrats are leading in two. Six races fell within the poll’s margin of error.

Oh. reality, nearly all these races are actually effectively tied, and this being a midterm year the key will be turnout on actual voting, as well as people increasingly using early voting, and how many of those votes have been locked in, which we have no polling on.

In other words, it's still anyone's ball game.  Gosh, thanks for being clear about that, guys.

Working The (Early) Graveyard Shift

This set of statistics about the American worker is staggering.  We work longer, harder, more productively, and for fewer benefits and wages than any other Western country.   Here's a couple truly shocking facts:

  • According to the Center for American Progress on the topic of work and family life balance, “in 1960, only 20 percent of mothers worked. Today, 70 percent of American children live in households where all adults are employed.” I don’t care who stays home and who works in terms of gender (work opportunity equality for all – it’s a family choice). Either way, when all adults are working (single or with a partner), that’s a huge hit to the American family and free-time in the American household.
  • The U.S. is the ONLY country in the Americas without a national paid parental leave benefit. The average is over 12 weeks of paid leave anywhere other than Europe and over 20 weeks in Europe.
  • Zero industrialized nations are without a mandatory option for new parents to take parental leave. That is, except for the United States.

Ahh, but it gets worse.

  • Using data by the U.S. BLS, the average productivity per American worker has increased 400% since 1950. One way to look at that is that it should only take one-quarter the work hours, or 11 hours per week, to afford the same standard of living as a worker in 1950 (or our standard of living should be 4 times higher). Is that the case? Obviously not. Someone is profiting, it’s just not the average American worker.

Meanwhle, CEO salaries continue to skyrocket.  And there's this:

American paid vacations

Even in Japan, you get two weeks of paid vacation no matter what you do for a living.  And yet here, some 40% of American workers aren't even offered vacation or holidays off.  We put in three weeks more work than even Japan does every year on average.

And yet many of us feel lucky just to have a job at all, and that if we say anything, we'll lose it.

How's that working out for you, America?

Turn On The Lights, Watch The Roaches Scatter, Part 18

How much trouble are the banks in right now?

This much.

In an effort to rush through thousands of home foreclosures since 2007, financial institutions and their mortgage servicing departments hired hair stylists, Walmart floor workers and people who had worked on assembly lines and installed them in "foreclosure expert" jobs with no formal training, a Florida lawyer says.

In depositions released Tuesday, many of those workers testified that they barely knew what a mortgage was. Some couldn't define the word "affidavit." Others didn't know what a complaint was, or even what was meant by personal property. Most troubling, several said they knew they were lying when they signed the foreclosure affidavits and that they agreed with the defense lawyers' accusations about document fraud.

"The mortgage servicers hired people who would never question authority," said Peter Ticktin, a Deerfield Beach, Fla., lawyer who is defending 3,000 homeowners in foreclosure cases. As part of his work, Ticktin gathered 150 depositions from bank employees who say they signed foreclosure affidavits without reviewing the documents or ever laying eyes on them — earning them the name "robo-signers."

The deposed employees worked for the mortgage service divisions of banks such as Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase, as well as for mortgage servicers like Litton Loan Servicing, a division of Goldman Sachs.

Ticktin said he would make the testimony available to state and federal agencies that are investigating financial institutions for allegations of possible mortgage fraud. This comes on the eve of an expected announcement Wednesday from 40 state attorneys general that they will launch a collective probe into the mortgage industry.

When I say these banks were running foreclosure mills, the robo-signing epidemic that was rampant across the industry is the reason why.  Banks just wanted a signature that the paperwork was correct, signed by people who simply needed a job and often had no qualifications to be looking at the paperwork for one mortgage foreclosure, let alone thousands upon thousands.

But the banks didn't care.  They needed to keep the shell game moving to stay in the game.  And now that game has caught up to them in a huge way.

It's the rest of us who will of course have to pay for it.


Related Posts with Thumbnails