Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Last Call

Meanwhile, Tea Party Wingnuts who spend hours talking of freedom and liberty are planning in 14 states to directly challenge the 14th Amendment and take citizenship rights away from children born here who have undocumented parents.

Lawmakers in at least 14 states are collaborating on proposed legislation to deny U.S. citizenship to children of illegal immigrants, according to lawmakers, including the sponsor of Arizona's 2010 law targeting illegal immigration.

"We're taking a leadership role on things that need to be fixed in America. We can't get Congress to do it," Republican state Sen. Russell Pearce, of Mesa, said Tuesday. "It's a national work group so that we have model legislation that we know will be successful, that meets the constitutional criteria."

The efforts by the state legislators come amid calls to change the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment, which grants automatic citizenship to U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants. Supporters cite costs to taxpayers for services provided to illegal immigrants and their children.

Pennsylvania state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, the founder of a national group of legislators critical of illegal immigration, said the 14th Amendment "greatly incentives foreign invaders to violate our border and our laws." He had a news conference Tuesday in Harrisburg, Pa., on the multistate endeavor.

The effort could run afoul of the language in the 14th Amendment and lead to a court battle over the constitutionality of the law. But Metcalfe said providing birthright citizenship to children of illegal immigrants is an "ongoing distortion and twisting" of the amendment.

Metcalfe's office said lawmakers in at least 12 other states besides Arizona and Pennsylvania said they were making their own announcements about working on the citizenship legislation. Those other states: Alabama, Delaware, Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah. Legislators from a total of 41 states are involved in a Metcalfe-founded group concerned with immigration issues.

Liberty and freedom!  Only if you have the right parents, that is.  Otherwise, out you go.  I love how the Constitution only applies in ways the Wingers want that will benefit them politically, and not in any sort of objective, legal framework based on precedent and law.  Courts don't interpret the Constitution, the Tea-ranny of the Majority does.

If there's any unifying theme to these nutjobs, it's a desire to edit out the parts of the Constitution and the US Code and state laws that they don't like through threats of the angry mob in an effort to deny as much as possible to groups they don't like.  These guys really do want to go back to 1789.  And let's not disguise what this is:  an effort to rid the country of "undesirables".  We have a long and unfortunate history of that here in America.  These are the new Jim Crow laws.

Like I saw today, "They want to take their country back.  I want to take our country forward."  An angry mob is not a legitimate method for governance.

Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Do Sign Up For Your Country

Uncle Sam indeed wants you to join the Armed Forces, and as of today the Pentagon has instructed military recruiters of all branches to accept gay and lesbian recruits.

The Department of Defense announced today that it is instructing military recruiters to accept enlistees who identify themselves as gay in order to comply with a court order to stop enforcing Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
According to a spokeswoman, recruiters have been told to begin processing gay recruits, even if they acknowledge their sexual identity.

But they're also being told to warn recruits that, if they say they're gay, they could still face discharge if the order ending DADT is stayed, or a judge's ruling that the policy is unconstitutional is overturned.

Recruiters, and military personnel in general, are also still not allowed to ask about the sexual orientation of a recruit or servicemember.

The Pentagon has also cautioned members against changing their behavior, should DADT be reinstated. 

Lt. Dan Choi, the Army West Point grad who announced he was gay on the Rachel Maddow show as a direct challenge to DADT, (and who was here speaking at Northern Kentucky University earlier this month) went to the Army Recruiter at Times Square this afternoon to rejoin after his discharge.

This is definitely a step in the right direction, and with the judge in the case refusing to stay her decision, the Obama administration will have to ask for a stay from the full 9th Circuit, and if that doesn't happen, Justice Kennedy of the Supreme Court can either hear the case himself or let the full Supreme Court decide.

It's still up in the air, but we'll see what happens.

Epic O'Donnell Takes A Constitutional Fail

Via Maddowblog, Christine O'Donnell actually discovers what those clumps of letters in the US Constitution are:  words that denote meaning and stuff.

The exchange came in a debate before an audience of legal scholars and law students at Widener University Law School, as O'Donnell criticized Democratic nominee Chris Coons' position that teaching creationism in public school would violate the First Amendment by promoting religious doctrine.

Coons said private and parochial schools are free to teach creationism but that "religious doctrine doesn't belong in our public schools."

"Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?" O'Donnell asked him.

When Coons responded that the First Amendment bars Congress from making laws respecting the establishment of religion, O'Donnell asked: "You're telling me that's in the First Amendment?"

Her comments, in a debate aired on radio station WDEL, generated a buzz in the audience.

"You actually audibly heard the crowd gasp," Widener University political scientist Wesley Leckrone said after the debate, adding that it raised questions about O'Donnell's grasp of the Constitution.

Noooooo. Really? Somebody actually would question Christine O'Donnell grasp of the Constitution? You're kidding me.

Look, Delaware. If you haven't figured out this nutjob is a national embarrassment yet, think about her making laws for the entire country, and what the other 49 states will think about you. I'm used to it, I had to explain through college why not everyone in North Carolina was an ignorant, racist, homophobic assclown because of Jesse Helms.

But honestly, if you think a working knowledge of the US Constitution is only for elitist arugula-eating snobs like Democrats, you've got bigger problems than Christine O'Donnell.

EPIC FAIL. (Also, read the damn thing, woman.)

Also, speaking of Maddowblog, Rachel was brilliant last night as she connected the Village conventional wisdom dots to the Tea Party propaganda dots and discovered that they are the same. Do watch this.

Turn On The Lights, Watch The Roaches Scatter, Part 27

Yesterday Bank of America said "Foreclosuregate problem?  What problem?" and decided to proceed apace with foreclosures in 23 states.  We now see why they were so eager to get this behind them, because the Big Hedge Funds just delivered a dead fish wrapped in securitized mortgage cole slaw to BoA's front door and wants their action plus the vig.  Or else.

Pacific Investment Management Co., BlackRock Inc. and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York are seeking to force Bank of America Corp. to repurchase soured mortgages packaged into $47 billion of bonds by its Countrywide Financial Corp. unit, people familiar with the matter said.

A bondholder group wrote to Bank of America and Bank of New York Mellon Corp., the debt’s trustee, citing alleged failures by Countrywide to service the loans properly, their lawyer said yesterday in a statement that didn’t name the firms.

Investors are stepping up efforts to recoup losses on mortgage bonds, which plummeted in value amid the worst slump in home prices since the 1930s. Last month, BNY Mellon declined to investigate mortgage files in response to a demand from the bondholder group, which has since expanded. Countrywide’s servicing failures, including insufficient record keeping, may open the door for investors to seek repurchases by bypassing the trustee, said Kathy Patrick, their lawyer at Gibbs & Bruns LLP.

We now are in a position where we have to start a clock ticking,” Patrick, who is based in Houston, said today in a telephone interview. 

Blackrock, Pimco, and the NY Fed are not going to eat $47 billion in cole slaw, folks...and that's the low end.  And you don't want to be the banks when this alarm clock goes off.  Keep in mind BoA is just one megabank, with some of the loans.  There's hundreds of billions more out there in cole slaw to pay up on, and you can bet that BoA isn't the only bank getting pieces of deceased Pisces in the mail.

Tim Geithner's phone is ringing off the hook right about now.  The game is now fully on, with the trillion dollar hedge funds on one side and the trillion dollar banks on the other.  One of them is going to get their money.  The other one will want TARPinator 2:  Judgment Day.  Guess who the losers will be?

Hang on, kids.  We just blew through a whole bunch of "BRIDGE OUT" signs and orange road barrels.

In A Van Down By The Ohio River

The big political story here in Cincy today is Republican Hamilton County Auditor candidate Tom Brinkman's lawsuit against Cincinnati Public Schools for what he's calling "voter fraud".

The suit alleges three van loads of Hughes High students arrived at the Downtown Board of Elections offices at 1 p.m. Wednesday, supervised by a school employee. School lets out at 3:15 p.m.

When they got out of the vans, the students, the suit alleges, also were accompanied by adults who appeared to be campaign workers or supporters for U.S. Rep. Steve Driehaus, D-West Price Hill, the congressman being challenged this fall by Steve Chabot. When the students got out of the vans, the suit alleges they were given sample ballots containing only Democratic candidates.

“We want these kids to vote,” Finney said. “I’m not sure them being bussed during the school day is a good thing, but that’s not the thrust of the suit.

“If they had fair sample ballots or no sample ballots it would be different.”

The suit alleges those actions violated a 2002 agreement between CPS and COAST where the school agreed it wouldn’t allow school property or employees to be used for “advocating the election or defeat of candidates for public office.”

On Monday, Finney asked Common Pleas Court Judge Beth Myers to hear his request for a temporary restraining order that was put on hold after the attorneys for the two sides met in court briefly, talked and then left.

Finney said if the issue isn’t resolved, he’ll go back to court.

Hmm. Well, let's see.  Hughes is Cincy's new STEM magnet school (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) in Clifton and these would be the kind of 18 year-olds who should want to and be encouraged to vote.  These kids are taking advantage of Ohio's early voting program, good for them.

It's the "Democratic Sample Ballots" that appear to be the problem.  So, what information do we have about those ballots?

Pretty much nothing at this point.  No ballots have been produced, and the CPS has denied the allegations.  What about Tom Brinkman however? Well, we know plenty about him.

We know Brinkman's in the Cincy Tea Party, apparently a fan of Hugh Hefner's work, and was instrumental in suing the state of Ohio over a law preventing state employees from getting a lobbyist job for at least one year after leaving office.  The law was thrown out as unconstitutional.  Brinkman and his buddies from COAST got the state to pay his attorney's fees, some $134 grand.

He's run afoul of Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner for his involvement in a web site that supported Ohio's casino initiative...a website sponsored by unknown sources.  That one involved former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell.

And he got term-limited out of the Ohio House in 2008, and decided to run for Hamilton County Auditor as his latest move.

And now he's suing the city over kids voting because of sample ballots?  I'm not sure what the deal is here, these are magnet school kids, they're pretty bright.  If the CPS gave them sample ballots with just Democrats checked off, let's see it then, because that is a definite problem.

I'm just saying that Brinkman may have a slight credibility issue, is all.

Turn On The Lights, Watch The Roaches Scatter, Part 26

While Bank of America is acting like this is nothing more than a small paperwork problem, the reality of the Foreclosure Mess is that banks committed institutionalized fraud across the board on thousands, if not millions of mortgages.  The paperwork was "lost" because the loans were bogus, and nobody was asking because the banks were taken at their word.  When it was discovered that subprime mortgages were built on lies and worth squat, our economy unraveled.

Now what's left is threatening to collapse totally.  A whisteblower over at Zero Hedge explains the legerdemain of the ledger domain:

Then, we worked with underwriters of the deal to perform due diligence.  That is where this process breaks down.  They use sampling to verify the makeup of the pools.  There is a lot of pressure to get the deals done in a timely manner so they don’t have time to check every asset.  The most I’ve ever checked on a deal is 30%.   We’ve done some pools that came back very different from what the trader originally told us.  I’ll give a personal example and show how  it relates to the foreclosure crisis. 

I put together a large subprime deal where we said that the percentage of Stated income assets was 10%.  Out of a pool of over 500 assets, we ran our due diligence and pulled a sample of 50 assets, we had over 25% of the assets come back as stated income.  Well, we got another 50 assets and still came back with 22% stated.  It was obvious to me and the underwriter that the stated income levels were higher than originally reported. 

How did we handle this issue?  We threw all the stated income assets out of the deal.  In this case we threw out 22 assets and packaged the deal as 10%.  In fact that is how we would typically handle issues where we had discrepancies.  I told my boss on several occasions that it was a real fishy way of doing things, but as everyone was also doing it, my coworkers, the guys from Goldman, the agencies, I just kind of went along with it.  

We securitized that deal and put 10% stated on the dealbook.  S&P put their name on the package.  Goldman underwrote that deal and sent it out to hedge funds and pension funds.  What the hell? 

That deal was one of the worse deals that we did.  Many other deals did come in as reported. Some might have been only 15%, or 12%  instead of 10% stated.  In most of those cases, we might have only thrown out a couple of assets.  And, it may have mathematically worked out assuming that the sample is representative of the population, but it still leads me to my big problem, that there were far too many instances of incorrectly labelled loans, incorrect documentation such that the pool information which went on the dealbook could be very different from the actual makeup of the pool. 

Everyone else was doing it, nobody was going to check, just sign off on the bucket of fresh mortgage cole slaw and sell it to the hedge fund, and shut up about it.  The mortgage mills made money on the sale, the investment banks that approved the cole slaw made money, the hedge funds bet against the cole slaw and made money, the insurance underwriters got paid off and made money, the investor class who put money on the banks and hedge funds made money, the institutional investors who ran with the hedge funds made money, and everyone was happy.

You know, except the poor saps who lost their homes and the rest of the economy going belly up due to widespread unemployment and plummeting home prices.

Oops.  And now, because two years ago we refused to nationalize the banks and clean out the toxic sludge then, well now it's all caught up to us a second time.  And this time the damage could be catastrophic, like hitting an already weakened heart attack victim with a Humvee.

But it's just a paperwork problem, the banks say.

Sure it is.  Remember that when the banks are blaming you for this. After all, they have a hell of a lot to lose when people start asking if the cole slaw process was even legal in the first place.

Jacking Up Rand, Part 5

It's worth reading the Louisville Courier-Journal's take on Jack Conway's Aqua Buddha ad...and Rand Paul's overreaction to it.

Political analysts said Monday that Jack Conway’s television ad about Rand Paul’s involvement with a secret society while in college — an ad that prompted angry exchanges during a debate Sunday — indicates Conway believes he is still behind and must use unconventional attacks to catch up.

The ad, which has suddenly become the central issue in Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race, prompted Paul to say Monday that he may not participate in the campaign’s final debate next Monday on Kentucky Educational Television.

Asked to respond to the analysts’ comments, Conway said, “I’ll let the experts talk about polls. Our message is resonating … this race is a dead heat, it has been a dead heat”

The 30-second spot questions why Paul, as a student at Baylor University, a Baptist school, joined a group that had been thrown off campus for being sacrilegious.

It also says he forced a woman to worship an idol called “Aqua Buddha” — a claim first made anonymously in GQ Magazine and The Washington Post — and opposes funding for faith-based programs as well as the income tax exemption for religious donations.

“You can tell he’s behind,” Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, said of Conway. “You don’t run an ad like that unless you’re behind.”

Said Stuart Rothenberg, editor and publisher of the Rothenberg Political Report: “Is it desperate? I don’t want to say that. But it’s dramatic, and it attempts to be a game changer.”

He termed the ad “a thermo-nuclear bomb” because it could destroy either of the campaigns.

The real news is near the end of the article, however:  Rand Paul's continuing petulance over this.

Paul, a Republican, said he may skip next Monday’s KET debate because he doesn’t want to be on the same stage with Conway, a Democrat.

“We haven’t fully decided, but I’m not sure I’ll appear in public with someone who is going to question my religion,” he said after a Lexington press conference with a group of veterans who endorsed him.

Conway spokesman John Collins said in a statement Monday afternoon that Paul “ought to have the guts to keep his commitments to KET and explain his actions to the people of Kentucky.”

Diedre Clark, a producer for KET, said Monday that Paul has not told the network he plans to withdraw. If he does, Clark said, Conway will be allowed to appear on the “Kentucky Tonight” program alone.

Rand Paul is basically spending the last two weeks of the campaign playing the victim here and refusing to do anything else, like talk about the issues that matter to Kentucky voters like myself.   that's because when he talks about the issues, he loses.  Funny how Republicans do this when they're in trouble.

In Palin America, Moose Hunts You

Sarah Palin lays down the law to the GOP:  non-Tea Party Republicans are no longer welcome.

In an interview with CNN, Sarah Palin said she doesn't think the Tea Party will split the Republican Party but noted the GOP would be "through" if it strays from its core values.

"I think the machine within the GOP will realize the 'we the people' within message is rising and is resonating throughout with independents, with moderates, with hard core conservatives because it's so full of common sense," Sarah Palin said, adding: "And time tested truths that could put the economy back on track that heaven forbid the GOP machine strays from this message if so, the GOP is through."

Yeah, that's not a "join me or else" threat by somebody who believes she is the anointed one in 2012 or anything.  To all the moderates out there who think the GOP will become more centrist when put back into power, Sarah Palin has just declared war on you (if you haven't figured this out already by the number of moderates stripped out of the party in the last year.)

We're in a two party system:  Democrats and Teabaggers.  Might want to keep that in mind this election.

Watching Reruns Of Barmy Miller, Part 2

You figure Joe Miller could stay out of the news with his quasi-fascism fetish for at least, oh, I dunno, 24 hours or something.  Sadly, you would be wrong, because he did it again at the same town hall meeting, this time saying America had a few things to learn about border security from the bad old days of Communist East Germany.

During that time, he said, "East Germany was very, very able to reduce the flow" from one side of the border to the other. "Now, obviously, other things there were involved. We have the capacity to, as a great nation, obviously to secure our border. If East Germany could, we could."

Yeah.  We need walls, checkpoints, spotlights, machine gun towers all manned by rough men in the night.  That's the world Joe Miller thinks we need, after we spent decades trying to get rid of totalitarianism foolishness like that in Europe, we need to simply import it into America.  And what is it with Republicans finding tons of things to admire in the bad old days of German history, anyway?

Amazing.  Of course, there are far worse Republican approaches to border security than big scary walls and concertina wire, and that's a shoot to kill policy.

Georgia's Republican State Rep. John Yates has a position on immigration that almost nobody would agree with: he wants US border agents empowered to "shoot to kill."

Asked to justify his position, Yates recently told a reporter in Atlanta that illegal immigrants are enemies of America who must be dealt with severely.

"Stopping Hitler was worth the price," the 89-year-old lawmaker said.

But remember, you should be afraid of those secretly fascist Democrats (instead of the openly fascist Republicans, presumably because they tell you up front whom they are going to persecute, those "other guys".  Dems?  You don't know...it might be you!  Be afraid!)

The Big Nada

Via BooMan this morning comes Josh Marshall's report on an outfit calling itself "Latinos For Reform".  Sure, there are a lot of political advocacy groups out there trying to influence the elections.  But how many advocacy groups out there can you honestly say are running ads telling Latinos not to vote at all?

BooMan calls this the "ultimate cynicism", Josh Marshall believes it's minority voter suppression, and both are right. I personally can't recall political ads ever being run to tell people not to vote at all, that seems like political nihilism to me. Naturally, that means conservatives must be involved.

The president of Latinos for Reform, Robert Desposada, is a conservative political consultant and political analyst for Univision, but he said the ad is a sincere effort to express Hispanic frustration with the Democrats failure to deliver on immigration reform.

""We're saying what a lot of people are feeling. "It's the only way for Hispanics to stand up and demand some attention," Desposada said, adding that he also couldn't ask voters to support Sharon Angle.

"I can't ask people to support a Republican canddiate who has taken a completely irreponsible and bordering on racist position on immigration," he said.

"Don't vote this November. This is the only way to send them a clear message," says the ad's narrator of Democrats. "You can no longer take us for granted."

Which of course is completely the opposite: by not voting at all, Latinos would be completely taken for granted and would concentrate even more political power in other voters, particularly white ones. If there's anything that the civil rights movement has taught, it's that those without the power to vote have no power in anything else.

It's a bald-faced move to take Latinos out of the political fight. "Give up, surrender." Look, not just Latinos are frustrated with the lack of Democratic progress on immigration, but that still has to be better than the backwards progression that the Republicans guarantee. But no matter what and no matter who you are, if you take the right to vote away from yourself like this, then you have nobody but yourself to blame when things don't improve.

The Republicans backing this effort know this. And they're counting on it.

[UPDATE]  Given the increasingly bad press on this, Univision will not be running this ad.


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