Friday, September 2, 2011

Last Call

August 2011 was our best month yet here at ZVTS, 14k+ visits and just shy of 20k page views.  Honestly when I started this blog, I was happy to get 1,000 a views a month.  I want to thank Bon The Geek and all of you for being here, and we'll keep up the place heading into 2012.

You guys kick ass.

Eye Of The Hurri-Cantor, Part 2

You know those shiny foil emergency blankets that have the thickness of like .01 microns?  Still more resilient to potential damage than Eric Cantor's ego.

Progressive groups organizing a rally at the same Richmond-area hotel where House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) was holding an event Wednesday were abruptly kicked out of the hotel and told by hotel management to remain off of its property during Cantor’s event.

Cantor held an Advisory Council gathering, closed to the media but open to constituents who registered ahead of time, at the Holiday Inn Koger Center in Richmond. A coalition of progressive Virginia organizing groups — Progress Virginia, OurDC, and Virginia Organizing — had booked rooms and a separate ballroom in the hotel to hold a “jobs rally” countering Cantor’s event. According to organizers, the groups planned to invite Cantor to attend their rally after his own event, in the hope that he would listen to their concerns regarding job creation and unemployment.

But just hours before the events were set to begin, the Holiday Inn canceled the groups’ ballroom and room reservations and ordered the groups to remain off of hotel property during Cantor’s meeting. According to organizers, hotel management falsely accused them of smoking in their rooms and used that as justification to cancel their reservations. A representative of Holiday Inn who only agreed speak on the condition of anonymity, however, said the hotel was seeking to avoid confrontation between the progressive groups and those attending the Cantor event. He would not comment on whether the hotel had any communications with Cantor or his staff regarding the progressive groups. 

To recap, Eric Cantor cannot be approached by American voters who A) disagree with him respectfully, B) are exercising their right to assemble peacefully, guaranteed by the Constitution, and C) actually want to hear what the Republican jobs plan is.  He has them run off and claims plausible deniability.

People like that get thrown out for daring to question the guy.  Meanwhile, angry Republicans go up to President Obama, and he actually answers their questions.  Not only does he do this because he is President of all America, not just the people who voted for him, but he presented the facts to counter her supposition.

Which one is a real leader in American politics?

Turn On The Lights, Watch The Roaches Scatter Part 78

The Obama administration is finally dropping the hammer on the big mortgage banks.

The federal agency that oversees the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is set to file suits against more than a dozen big banks, accusing them of misrepresenting the quality of mortgage securities they assembled and sold at the height of the housing bubble, and seeking billions of dollars in compensation.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency suits, which are expected to be filed in the coming days in federal court, are aimed at Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank, among others, according to three individuals briefed on the matter.

The suits stem from subpoenas the finance agency issued to banks a year ago. If the case is not filed Friday, they said, it will come Tuesday, shortly before a deadline expires for the housing agency to file claims.

The suits will argue the banks, which assembled the mortgages and marketed them as securities to investors, failed to perform the due diligence required under securities law and missed evidence that borrowers’ incomes were inflated or falsified. When many borrowers were unable to pay their mortgages, the securities backed by the mortgages quickly lost value.

Fannie and Freddie lost more than $30 billion, in part as a result of the deals, losses that were borne mostly by taxpayers.

So yeah, this is pretty much a nuclear missile right at Wall Street.  The question is what's in the payload, serious legal material or a dud.  If the Obama administration is serious about suing the big banks to the point of then forcing a massive settlement that absolves the banks of any more legal indemnity for a mere pennies on the dollar, then we're absolutely in for another financial crisis.

On the other hand, stockholders are going to ream the big banks over these lawsuits, and the banks themselves are going to certainly need something of another bailout.  Maybe an orderly Plan N is in the works to break the banks up.  Or maybe it's the final piece of the puzzle to unleash TARP 2/QE 3.

It'll depend on the lawsuit, but bank stocks are probably not going to be doing very well come, say Wednesday.

[UPDATE] The hammer, she is large and is heavy like one hundred billion dollars.

The agency said in its filings that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bought $6 billion in mortgage-backed securities from Bank of America; $24.8 billion from Merrill Lynch, which Bank of America took over in 2008; $3.5 billion from Citigroup; $11.1 billion from Goldman Sachs and $4.9 billion from Barclays. The suits also cover $2 billion in securities from Nomura, $33 billion from JPMorgan, $883 million from First Horizon, $14.2 billion from Deutsche Bank, $14.1 billion from Credit Suisse, $1.3 billion from Societe Generale (GLE) and $6.2 billion from HSBC.

The government would like that money back, please. Now. Thanks.  Not in that list, Wells Fargo, which may actually be the only megabank left in America after the smoke clears.

This Week's WTH: Felony Lunch Money Theft

DEXTER, Mo. (AP) — Authorities in the southeast Missouri town of Dexter are investigating after hackers were able to access Dexter School District money through a bank account and steal some of those funds.

The Dexter Daily Statesman ( ) reports that the school district's database did not appear to be corrupted, so officials believe the breach was "within the banking industry."

Nice fast move blaming it on the banks. It may be right, but it sure sounds like a scramble to place blame to me. Meanwhile, we'd better hope this was a child or the nature of crime could mean a whole lot of time.

Seagal Claims No Puppy Harmed

In response to claims that he killed a family dog while filming his reality show, Steven Seagal has contacted a lawyer.  TMZ ran this update:

Steven Seagal claims NO PUPPY was murdered during the Arizona raid he participated in earlier this year ... and says he's "outraged" by the false allegation.

Seagal just released a statement saying, "I’ve been called a lot of things in my career, some of them not so kind. But to be labeled an animal abuser is beyond the pale and that is simply a role I will not accept."

TMZ broke the story ... Jesus Llovera has taken legal action against Seagal over the March incident -- alleging the actor crashed a tank into his property ... and someone involved in the raid shot his 11-month old puppy. Llovera was suspected of running a cockfighting farm on his property ... allegations which he has denied.

Seagal disputes the puppy charges... but doesn't deny anything else.  Not sure what to think about that.  If it comes out he did, at this point that could be the PR stinker that sinks his floundering career.

Dressed To The Nines

The White House is now freely admitting 9% plus unemployment will remain well into 2012, which, well, anybody paying attention could have told you.

Obama's budget office initially calculated its economic forecast based upon data available through June. Even that data presaged an 8.8 percent average unemployment rate in 2011 and an 8.3 percent average rate next year. But the mid-session review got delayed, and when the Office of Management and Budget revised it to incorporate the data through the end of August, the picture became much gloomier. Unemployment will average 9.1 percent this year, and 9.0 percent next year, OMB concluded, and won't dip below 7 percent until 2015 at the earliest.

The revised figures "reflect the substantial amount of economic turbulence over the past two months," OMB says, triggered by the European debt crisis, the earthquake in Japan, congressional brinkmanship over the debt ceiling among others. They also take into account the fact that GDP growth in the first half of fiscal year 2011 turned out to be significantly lower than originally thought.

Despite these and other setbacks, "we are not forecasting a double-dip recession," Katharine Abraham, a member of Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, told reporters Thursday.

The report does not incorporate the impact of Obama's yet-to-be-unveiled jobs plan which, if enacted, would likely alter near-term unemployment and fiscal figures

So yes, look for Republicans to do everything they can to block a jobs program.  Republicans want 9% unemployment and they want voters to blame President Obama, period.  That's kind of the other no-brainer in this report, that the GOP believes they have nothing to gain from any assistance to the economy.

Well, until the next Republican President, that is.

Liberating Libya, Part 3

The Qaddafi Radio Resistance Hour keeps playing in Tripoli, but nobody seems to know where the show is being broadcast from.

Muammar Gaddafi, driven into hiding by his foes, on Thursday urged his supporters to fight on, even as Libya's new interim rulers met world leaders to discuss reshaping a nation torn by 42 years of one-man rule and six months of war.

"Let it be a long battle. We will fight from place to place, from town to town, from valley to valley, from mountain to mountain," Gaddafi said in his message.

"If Libya goes up in flames, who will be able to govern it? Let it burn. They don't want to rule Libya. They cannot rule it as long as we are armed. We are still armed. We will fight in every valley, in every street, in every oasis, and every town."

He added: "How can we give ourselves up again? Are we women surrendering ourselves to our husbands or what?"

He gave no indication of where he was in his audio remarks.

It's occurred to me that Qaddafi is literally phoning it in at this point, which would be funny if people weren't dying in Libya still and Tripoli wasn't turning into a humanitarian disaster zone with pro-Qaddafi forces cutting off water in the city.

I'm wondering what it's going to take to get some help into there.

Giving Them The Business End

We keep hearing from Republicans that "Obama regulations and high taxes are destroying America's small businesses and jobs!" and repeat it as a mantra, which largely goes unchallenged by the "liberal" media.  When asked for proof, Republicans usually just go SHUT UP CUT TAXES NOW and cover their ears.  McClatchy finally got around to asking small business owners if regulations and taxes were putting them out of business.

They said "no."

McClatchy reached out to owners of small businesses, many of them mom-and-pop operations, to find out whether they indeed were being choked by regulation, whether uncertainty over taxes affected their hiring plans and whether the health care overhaul was helping or hurting their business.

Their response was surprising.

None of the business owners complained about regulation in their particular industries, and most seemed to welcome it. Some pointed to the lack of regulation in mortgage lending as a principal cause of the financial crisis that brought about the Great Recession of 2007-09 and its grim aftermath.

Hey wait a minute, it's like there's another cause out there or something.

Then there's Rip Daniels. He owns four businesses in Gulfport, Miss.: real estate ventures, a radio station and a boutique hotel/bistro. He said his problem wasn't regulation.

"Absolutely, positively not. What is choking my business is insurance. What's choking all business is insurance. You cannot go into business, any business — small business or large business — unless you can afford insurance," he told Biloxi's Sun Herald.

Since 2008, Daniels has opened one business and expanded another, hiring as many as 15 people thanks to lower labor costs and an abundance of overqualified job candidates. He credits the federal stimulus effort with helping to keep some smaller firms afloat.

"It allowed those folks to spend and have money and pay for the essentials," said Daniels, whose business pays corporate taxes. He grudgingly supports closing some business tax deductions to reduce the federal budget deficit.

"Who wants to pay more? I certainly don't. I want to pay my fair share, and I do," Daniels said, adding that he wouldn't resist loophole closures to cut deficits.

Gosh, don't free market businesses provide insurance?  And here's a guy saying yes, Obama's "failed" stimulus saved businesses.  On top of that, he wants to close business tax loopholes.  And he's saying that because right now it's an employer's market:  he's got a number of highly qualified candidates to choose from.

It's like President Obama knew what he was doing with the stimulus plan, and that small business owners really do want to hire.  It's craaaaaaaaazy.


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