Friday, October 29, 2010

Last Call

So, we stopped another potential terror attack, this time with packages containing toner cartridges filled with explosive compounds.
Two suspicious packages found abroad that were bound for Jewish organizations in the United States contained a massive amount of explosive material that -- had the suspected terror plot not been thwarted -- would have triggered a powerful blast, a source close to the investigation said Friday.

U.S. officials believe that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, commonly referred to as AQAP, is behind the plot.

President Barack Obama confirmed that the packages -- intercepted in the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates -- originated in Yemen, the stronghold of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

"We also know that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula ... continues to plan attacks against our homeland, our citizens, and our friends and allies," he said during a press briefing on the incident.

As Steve M. points out, the right's reaction is either that Obama responsible for this (which is their reaction 99% of the time to any quantifiable event, real or imagined) or that AQ is trying to drive away the Teabagger Tsunami that's supposed to wipe out the Dems, or both.  This is the ultimate New Black Panther Party intimidation attack, and AQ is Obamaseekitmuslim's billy club.

You know, because AQ was so clearly afraid of Bush and the Republicans in 2001 and never would have laid a finger on us when they were in charge.

Or maybe, AQ thinks because elections are the key to a democracy, they are trying to disrupt everybody for maximum terror effect, because they are in the terror business.

Hypocritical Mass

School board member Clint McCance told CNN he would resign after writing on his Facebook page that he thought gay youths should kill themselves. While he does offer a half-assed apology, he is quick to point out that he has suffered, too.

"I'm reaping what I've sown," he said. "I've had a lot of hate speech thrown at me and my family on every level." They have temporarily left the state to "escape the harassment" that has ensued. One taste of what gays suffer daily has this guy whining, and he still doesn't see the contrast between well-deserved backlash for public stupidity and full out discrimination against the innocent. He isn't sorry about what he said, he just wants people to forgive him and shut up and forget about it already. Considering the remarks from parents and concerned citizens, I don't think we have to worry about that.

And of course, in case you read it wrong, he clarifies his stance to Anderson Cooper. "I would never support suicide for any kids," McCance said. "I don't support bullying of any kids." Of course. Gotcha. That's why you wrote that you also enjoy the fact that they give each other AIDS and die. I can see how that could be misconstrued. When faced with his actions, Clint McCance gave a slick and unimpressive apology.

It's scary that this man is on a school board. It's scary that he was elected to his position. I will lose sleep pondering how one could say "The only way I'm wearin it for them is if they all commit suicide", and then turn right around and sell the load that he would never support suicides for any kids. He isn't even trying. There are people like this everywhere. This is the face of the ignorance we fight, and it's ugly in the light.

There should be an alarm going off right now, and it's a loud social call to action. We do not have the right to force other people to live how we think they should. No matter what we believe, it is not our right to take out our negativity on children. A grown man going after children is the bully that never grew up. It reeks of the worst of what people can be. We need to see that for what it is and promise to do better and while we're at it show some compassion to kids caught in the middle.

Kids deserve support and love and the right to choose who they will be. Period. Anyone who believes any less than that should not be in McCance's position. Most alarming of all is that this guy may run again. However, instead of insulting gay kids on Facebook, he can play it safe and just stomp on their head.

Bon The Geek

Gotta Get Them While They're Young And Impressionable

Remember the sturm und drang last year when President Obama addressed the nation's schoolchildren?

The Education Department is encouraging teachers to create lesson plans around the speech, using materials provided on the department website that urge students to learn about Obama and other presidents.

"He will also call for a shared responsibility and commitment on the part of students, parents and educators to ensure that every child in every school receives the best education possible so they can compete in the global economy for good jobs and live rewarding and productive lives as American citizens," [Education Secretary] Duncan said in a press release.

But already, some conservatives are crying foul. The chairman of the Florida Republican Party is condemning Obama's speech as an attempt to "indoctrinate America's children to his socialist agenda."

Yes, we have to stop politicians from abusing their positions of power to indoctrinate young schoolchildren with political propaganda like "stay in school" and "study hard"!

Meanwhile, Republicans are totally cool with things like this.

Parents of Cincinnati elementary school students are upset over remarks made by U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt. She reportedly brought up the abortion issue in front of children as young as 6.

The Catholic school asked not to be identified because it doesn't want to be drawn into political controversy.

The school's principal told WLWT that the congresswoman was invited to be a guest speaker at an assembly in which students from first through eighth grade were present, and that most of Schmidt's remarks were not political.The school's principal sent a letter home to parents on that same day informing them that the topic of abortion came up during Schmidt’s appearance. An excerpt of the letter read:

"Unexpectedly, towards the end of her address, Congresswoman Schmidt brought up the topic of abortion, and I am writing you to make you aware of this. Your children may come home with questions, especially if this is a topic that has not been broached in your home. I do not recall the exact words she used, but she paused towards the end of her speech and stated that this would be the only time when she would be ‘political’ in her address. She defined abortion as the taking of a child’s life in the mother’s womb. She indicated that abortion involves the killing of a child before it is born. She was not graphic or any more detailed in this regard. Later, when a child asked about it, she indicated that an abortion is something that a doctor does when a mother requests this. It was not a particularly long segment of her address (1½ minutes or so), and these words may not match the exact words she used, but this description does, I believe, express what your child heard. Her point was to address the increase of governmental activity in the abortion issue and her political resolve to fight against this."

Boy it's a good thing conservative Republicans would never abuse their positions of power to indoctrinate our children with political propaganda.  The nerve of that Obama...

Oh, and Nate Silver has Jean Schmidt winning by 25 points in OH-2.  No matter how you feel about abortion personally, do you think it's appropriate to have a politician discuss it with your six year old?

Didn't think so.

(h/t Kay at Balloon Juice)

Super Size Your GOP Electioneering

A McDonald's franchise in Canton, Ohio is a few fries short of a Happy Meal.  Here's what employees got with their most recent paycheck:

All Ohio Republicans. That's illegal in the Buckeye State, by the way:

No employer or his agent or a corporation shall print or authorize to be printed upon any pay envelopes any statements intended or calculated to influence the political action of his or its employees; or post or exhibit in the establishment or anywhere in or about the establishment any posters, placards, or hand bills containing any threat, notice, or information that if any particular candidate is elected or defeated work in the establishment will cease in whole or in part, or other threats expressed or implied, intended to influence the political opinions or votes of his or its employees.

But of course, the real problem with intimidating voters in America must be those two black guys hanging out near a polling place, not people's employers threatening on company letterhead that raises and benefits will be cut if the wrong people win on Tuesday.

FOX would be covering it if it was true, right?

Adam Serwer notes the franchisee, Paul Sigfried of Sigfried Enterprises, apologized when he was busted cold for this...but didn't take back his original statement that Democrats were going to cost his employees benefits and raises. 

Meanwhile, the I'm sure that the Justice Department is very very interested in this case.

I'm Going To Get Ginormous Usage Out Of That Centrist Daleks Tag

At least as long as David Brooks is employed, that is.  Allow me to run this week's barbaric yawp through my universal translator.

President Obama is likely to suffer a pummeling defeat on Tuesday. But the road map for his recovery is pretty straightforward. 

I didn't know Obama was running, but okay.

First, the president is going to have to win back independents. Liberals are now criticizing him for being too timid. But the fact is that Obama will win 99.9 percent of the liberal vote in 2012, and in a presidential year, liberal turnout will surely be high. On the other hand, he cannot survive the defection of the independents. In 2008, independent voters preferred Democrats by 8 percentage points. Now they prefer Republicans by 20 points, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. Unless Obama wins back these moderate, suburban indies, there will be a Republican president in 2013. 

"Dear Jane Hamsher, Glenn Greenwald, and anyone who thinks Obama wasn't bold enough in the last two years with his agenda and/or is disappointed with him:  screw you.  You don't matter and never will, only the center matters, love Bobo."

Second, Obama needs to redefine his identity. Bill Clinton gave himself a New Democrat label. Obama has never categorized himself so clearly. This ambiguity was useful in 2008 when people could project whatever they wanted onto him. But it has been harmful since. Obama came to be defined by his emergency responses to the fiscal crisis — by the things he had to do, not by the things he wanted to do. Then he got defined as an orthodox, big government liberal who lacks deep roots in American culture.


Over the next two years, Obama will have to show that he is a traditionalist on social matters and a center-left pragmatist on political ones. Culturally, he will have to demonstrate that even though he comes from an unusual background, he is a fervent believer in the old-fashioned bourgeois virtues: order, self-discipline, punctuality and personal responsibility. Politically, he will have to demonstrate that he is data-driven — that even though he has more faith in government than most Americans, he will relentlessly oppose programs when the evidence shows they don’t work. 

"Screw the gays, screw the Latinos, screw the Krugman Keynesians, screw the Democratic base and especially screw the liberals. We must have a Republican President in 2011 or we will have a Republican President in 2013."

Third, Obama will need to respond to the nation’s fear of decline. The current sour mood is not just caused by high unemployment. It emerges from the fear that America’s best days are behind it. The public’s real anxiety is about values, not economics: the gnawing sense that Americans have become debt-addicted and self-indulgent; the sense that government undermines individual responsibility; the observation that people who work hard get shafted while people who play influence games get the gravy. Obama will have to propose policies that re-establish the link between effort and reward.  

"Kill spending on social programs and privatize everything else.  Your liberal base will go along to prevent President Palin. You don't have a choice.  Time to make the little folks suffer for being debt-ridden consumption addicts through puritan guilt, because I'm not giving up a damn thing."

Fourth, Obama has to build an institutional structure to support a more moderate approach. Presidents come into office thinking that they will be able to go ahead and enact policies. Then they realize that they can only succeed if there is a vast phalanx of institutions laboring alongside them.

Liberals already have institutions. To be a center-left leader, Obama will have to mobilize independent institutions as well. These don’t exist in Washington, but they do around the nation. Civic organizations, local business groups and municipal leagues run from Orlando to Kansas City to Seattle. These groups are filled with local leaders who lobby for balanced budgets, infrastructure plans and other worthy causes. If Obama can mobilize these groups, he would not only build coalitions, but he would help heal the venomous rift between the White House and business, which is a cancer on his presidency. 

"Give big business everything they want.  Everything.  Or they will buy a President who will.  Got it?  Now get to work."

Eighty Billion In Our Intel Budget And We Can't Even Murder One Albino Hacker

With today's news that our 2010 intelligence budget was over $80 billion, Jonah Goldberg wants to know why we can't go all Rainbow Six Vegas on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and arrange a closed-casket affair.

I’d like to ask a simple question: Why isn’t Julian Assange dead?

No really, that is the opening sentence of his column, verbatim.

In case you didn’t know, Assange is the Australian computer programmer behind WikiLeaks, a massive — and massively successful — effort to disclose secret or classified information. In a series of recent dumps, he unveiled thousands upon thousands of classified documents from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Military and other government officials insist that WikiLeaks is doing serious damage to American national security and is going to get people killed, including brave Iraqis and Afghans who’ve risked their lives and the lives of their families to help us.

Even Assange agrees. He told the New Yorker earlier this year that he fully understands innocent people might die as a result of the “collateral damage” of his work and that WikiLeaks may have “blood on our hands.” WikiLeaks is easily among the most significant and well-publicized breaches of American national security since the Rosenbergs gave the Soviets the bomb.

So again, I ask: Why wasn’t Assange garroted in his hotel room years ago?

It’s a serious question.

Because that's how a serious SOCOM operator like Jonah Goldberg rolls.  Anyone who has pesky facts about the very real war Cheney's fake intel operation drummed up needs to be rubbed out, says the guy in the cushy office chair.

The far more bloody and treasonous act of getting us into a war with Iraq?  Totally justified.  Serious questions from a hard, hard man.

And by "hard", I mean his cogitator is filled with cement.  Flying Spaghetti Monster save us from these idiots.  The country is on the verge of implosion.  We don't have time for this crap right now.  Just put on your black hoodie and sneak around outside Assange's hotel whistling your ninja theme song there Jonah, and take care of the problem yourself, huh?

Turn On The Lights, Watch The Roaches Scatter, Part 33

Today's Foreclosuregate story comes from big Barry Ritholtz's place.  Like a dam about to break, the flood of foreclosed homes waiting behind the Foreclosuregate logjam will drop home prices like a rock by inundating the market.  So even if the banks get their way and resume foreclosures, the sheer number of them will still drive home prices down like a 20-pound sledgehammer on an eggshell.  This "shadow inventory" of foreclosures measures in the millions, folks.

It is very important to understand that this enormous shadow inventory of distressed properties that will eventually be thrown onto the resale market is heavily concentrated in a limited number of metros.  According to data provided by Lender Processing Services, 52% of the nationwide 90 day delinquencies and 58% of the defaults are concentrated in 25 major metros.  The following table shows this concentration.


If you look carefully at the distressed property figures for the top four metros, you’ll see that the number of residences which will be pouring onto their housing markets in the next 1-2 years is enormous.  Anyone who thinks that prices have bottomed in the Miami, New York, Los Angeles or Chicago metro areas had better take a good, hard look at these statistics.

That number is nearly a million properties in just New York, Miami, LA and Chicago.   There's another million and change in other metro areas.  There's close to 600,000 just in Florida's major cities of Miami, Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville, and that's not including other cities in the state.

Oh but it gets worse folks.  Much much worse.  How many shadow inventory foreclosures are coming in 2011 and 2012?

An incredible 14% of the nearly 54 million first liens in the country are now either delinquent or in default.  This chart from the Calculated Risk blog shows the steady growth since 2005.


To come up with a total for the shadow inventory, let’s first add the total number of loans in default to those delinquent 90 days or more since we know that these loans are headed for foreclosure or a short sale.  That comes to 4.5 million properties.  Based on the cure rate for loans delinquent at least 60 days, we will add 95% of those 60-day delinquencies.  That is an additional 723,000 residences.  For the same reason, we will add 70% of those delinquent for at least 30 days – 1.25 million properties.

And, of course, let’s not forget the REOs that have not yet been placed on MLS listings by the bank servicers.  We’ll be conservative and estimate them at 500,000.

Adding all of these together, we come up with a total of roughly 6.97 million residences which are almost certainly going to be thrown onto the resale market as distressed properties at some point in the not-too-distant future.  This massive number of homes will put enormous downward pressure on sale prices.  To believe that prices are firming now is to completely ignore this shadow inventory.  Ignore it at your own risk.

Seven million foreclosures yet to be worked through on the other side of that Foreclosuregate mess, folks.  Seven.  Million.  We're nowhere near the bottom of the housing market.  Nowhere close.  We've got a long way to fall still...and that's going to create even more foreclosures down the road as more homeowners end up underwater.

And that's if the whole thing doesn't blow due to Foreclosuregate.  Or hell, both may happen.

Have a nice day.

The Kroog Versus The Dark Times Ahead

Paul Krugman drops one final warning about the GOP's real goals should they take the House.

In the late-1990s, Republicans and Democrats were able to work together on some issues. President Obama seems to believe that the same thing can happen again today. In a recent interview with National Journal, he sounded a conciliatory note, saying that Democrats need to have an “appropriate sense of humility,” and that he would “spend more time building consensus.” Good luck with that.

After all, that era of partial cooperation in the 1990s came only after Republicans had tried all-out confrontation, actually shutting down the federal government in an effort to force President Bill Clinton to give in to their demands for big cuts in Medicare.

Now, the government shutdown ended up hurting Republicans politically, and some observers seem to assume that memories of that experience will deter the G.O.P. from being too confrontational this time around. But the lesson current Republicans seem to have drawn from 1995 isn’t that they were too confrontational, it’s that they weren’t confrontational enough.

Another recent interview by National Journal, this one with Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, has received a lot of attention thanks to a headline-grabbing quote: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

If you read the full interview, what Mr. McConnell was saying was that, in 1995, Republicans erred by focusing too much on their policy agenda and not enough on destroying the president: “We suffered from some degree of hubris and acted as if the president was irrelevant and we would roll over him. By the summer of 1995, he was already on the way to being re-elected, and we were hanging on for our lives.” So this time around, he implied, they’ll stay focused on bringing down Mr. Obama. 

Throw in a refusal to do anything about the economy other than cut taxes for the rich (and say they don't need spending cuts to offset them) and you have a recipe for complete disaster ahead.  All I have to say America is if two years isn't enough time for Obama to fix the economy and you want to give the Republicans a shot, when the Republicans actually make things far worse you might want to reconsider in 2012.

Meanwhile, don't say you weren't warned.

Fumigating For Roaches

One of the lawyers leading the foreclosure fight is is from my old neck of the woods in Western NC:  O. Max Gardner III.  Max has been running boot camps for lawyers to beat foreclosures because the banks don't have the proper paperwork, and he's been running them for years.

Now his graduates are about to rip the banks to pieces.  Show me the note!

"He's Atticus Finch," said April Charney, an attorney with Jacksonville Legal Aid in Florida, referring to the lawyer in the novel "To Kill a Mockingbird" who is seen as a model for lawyers protecting the disadvantaged.
Charney attended one of Gardner's boot camps in 2007, and she has known him since 2004.

Gardner has been thrust in the limelight recently thanks to what his techniques have uncovered: banks have been taking shortcuts in their efforts to foreclose on homes quickly.

Banks and their lawyers have been cranking out paperwork faster than anyone could properly review it, and they are often making mistakes.

"He's been on top of this from the beginning. He's on the bleeding edge," said David Treywick, a Mount Pleasant, South Carolina-bankruptcy attorney who views Gardner as a leader in the field.

Lawyers representing borrowers have started demanding that banks show all their paperwork to move forward with foreclosures.

To Gardner's critics, that's exactly what's wrong with the North Carolina lawyer: he is keeping insolvent borrowers in their homes for longer than they ought to be living there.

Counsel opposing Gardner often view him as an agitator who gums up the bankruptcy process, said Joseph Greer III, a corporate bankruptcy lawyer in North Carolina who often works with creditors.

"Max has never been afraid to go his own way, and isn't one that needs to fit into a crowd," Greer said.

But he wins.  And he wins because "Show me the note!" works.  Now his version of Dumbledore's Army is taking on the megabanks all over the country.  And Max and his students are about to roll some big, big people.

Have you asked YOUR mortgage holder to "Show me the note!" yet?

Disuni-Tea Party

Folks, not every Republican out there is voting for the Tea Party, and the more extreme the candidate, the more moderate Republican voters are realizing they have to pitch in for the Dems.

For lifelong Republican Joe Errigo, deciding to cross party lines and support a liberal Democrat for New York governor wasn't nearly as difficult as one might expect.

Republican candidate Carl Paladino -- backed by the conservative Tea Party movement -- raised such political hackles he spawned a "Republicans for Cuomo" movement supporting Democrat Andrew Cuomo.
Similar groups can be found in heated races elsewhere nationwide, often those featuring Tea Party-endorsed candidates, attacked by Democrats and some moderate Republicans as extreme.

"When I saw his website, I said nobody could be that dumb," said Errigo, an upstate New York Assemblyman, of Paladino, a Buffalo developer and political newcomer.

"He has alienated every group that I could think of," said Errigo. "He should write a book on how to lose an election."

In Delaware, where Christine O'Donnell has Tea Party support, Republicans backing Democrat Chris Coons include a former state judge and former U.S. Congressman. A "Republicans for Coons" Facebook site reads: "Because we just can't support Christine O'Donnell."

In Arizona, "Republicans for Giffords" are backing Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords over conservative Iraq War veteran Jesse Kelly.

In Nevada, incumbent Democrat Sen. Harry Reid, who faces Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle, counts among his Republican supporters an array of influential gaming and casino executives.

"Mainstream Republicans are refusing to support the latest crop of insurgent candidates in the Republican Party because of their extremist beliefs," said Deirdre Murphy, spokeswoman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in Washington.

Not everyone on the red side wants two years of gridlock, chaos, and nothing getting done in Washington.  There's a big difference between 1994 and 2010:  in 1994, voters liked Republicans.  In 2010, they still hate the GOP and they hate them more than they hate the Dems, and as bad as the Dem approval ratings are in Congress, the Republicans in Congress have been consistently polling worse all year.

It's starting to pull a lot of Republican voters around.
There are Republicans in some races who will hold their nose and vote for the Donk just to keep the nutbars out.

And at this point, the Dems need all the help they can get.

And The Meek Shall Inherit...Nothing? Part 3

In Florida's Senate race, Kendrick Meek is denying yesterday's story that Bill Clinton tried to talk him out of the race.  Rather, Meek says it was Charlie Crist who asked him to drop out.

"He never asked me to get out of the race. I never told him I was getting out of the race," Meek said, referring to Clinton. "Governor Crist talked to me about getting out of the race. I recommend to the governor that he should consider getting out of the race."

The allegations bubbled up Thursday when Crist, the Republican-turned-independent Senate candidate, said he spoke with Meek and "several people" at the White House about having Meek step out of the race.
Crist, who appeared on Fox News, would not specify to whom he spoke to at the White House, but said he spoke to Meek about the possible shift and that Meek was "considering it."

Crist said that he spoke with Doug Band, a counselor to Clinton, who Crist said acted as an intermediary, relaying information about whether or not Meek would end his Senate bid.

Meek denied any intent to exit the three-way race among Rubio, Crist and himself.

"Any rumor or any statement that I decided to get out of this race is inaccurate at best," Meek said at a Thursday night news conference.

Meek's clearly not going anywhere, but if he's right about Crist going to the White House to get Meek out and using the Big Dog's pull in Florida to do it, I've got to say this is going to haunt both President Obama and the Big Dog for some time.  All this does is hand the race to Marco Rubio, and he's having a huge laugh about this.

The Meek situation was handled with total incompetence by the White House from Day One when they made it known they'd rather work with Crist than their own man.  And now it's all coming back on them.


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