Saturday, October 27, 2007
It's a lovely program. It's fine.
My view of the Huckabee hype is fairly simple: Reporters have run out of things to say about Hillary, Barack, Rudy, Mitt and the gang. Every conceivable story has been written, from cleavage to laughter to multiple marriages, and it's only October. We need a dark horse to shake up the race. Reporters like Huckabee. So he becomes the flavor du jour.
What White wants is a sort of national version of the "Eleventh Commandment, Speak No Evil of Another Republican" that California Republican chairman Gaylord Parkinson imposed in his state this year and which contributed heavily to the ultimate success of Ronald Reagan's campaign for Governor.
And Time, May 1966, dubbed it "Parkinson's Law":
In hopes of damping down the perennial feud between California's Republican moderates and conservatives—and thus lessening Democratic Governor Pat Brown's third-term prospects—State G.O.P. Chairman Gaylord Parkinson last fall handed the troops an Eleventh Commandment. "Thou shall not speak ill of any Republican," he ruled, and to everyone's surprise, Parkinson's law became holy writ.
Sadly, Nexis TV trancripts aren't quite as fleshed out as they are now, with mostly just descriptions of shows rather than actual transcripts. I liked these two.
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Forrest City. Convicted rapist was released from prison today by parole.
Visual - file footage of Wayne Dumond. He was castrated during his trial. Will live with his mother.
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Wayne Dumond Rapist Wayne Dumond released from AR jail on parole, castrated while in jail by prisoners.
Visual - inmate.
Neither is even what Dumond claimed. Earlier news reports talk about exonerating DNA evidence. Which didn't exist. I hope Mancow is haunted by the ghost of the woman Dumond killed after leaving prison.
Mancow in the Morning
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The Truth. Rant about man Wayne Dumond (sp) accused of raping Clinton's cousin, man was innocent but was sentenced, two masked men burst into home and castrated Dumond before serving sentence.
EventheliberalVillage Voice made it an issue. Wonder where Ward Harkavy is now.
Mickey Kaus wants you to think the "journalism" he and other reporters have practiced in recent weeks is the same as that conducted by Bernstein and Woodward. It isn't. While the Post reporters relied on multiple sources, named and unnamed, in order to report weighty allegations about contemporaneous (or very recent) incidents, Kaus and others not only reported, but repeated as fact, the claims of a single unnamed source about an alleged 14-year-old incident.
Worse, Kaus and his peers aren't even relying on their own source: They are relying on, and treating as uncontested fact, the purported claims of someone else's source. They do not know the source's identity, nor have they had the opportunity to question the source to determine his or her credibility. Indeed, they have no reason to believe the source even exists, save the word of two reporters who have already been caught making false claims about Clinton and about their own book.
Friday, October 26, 2007
...and some more happy thoughts.
More than $23.6 billion in California housing wealth will evaporate if real estate prices continue to decline and foreclosures on subprime home loans soar, according to a new congressional report that indicates the fallout from the national mortgage crisis is worsening.
In addition, over the next two years, the state will lose nearly $111 million in tax revenue from the forecast repossession of 191,000 homes and the spillover effect on neighboring property values, said the study, released Thursday by the Senate Joint Economic Committee.
Mr. President, for six years, this President has demonstrated time and time again that he doesn’t respect the role of Congress nor does he respect the rule of law.
Every six years as United States Senators we take the oath office to uphold the Constitution. Our colleagues on the House side take that oath every two years. That is important.
For six years this President has used scare tactics to prevent the Congress from reining in his abuse of authority. A case and point is the current direction this body appears to be headed as we prepare to reform and extend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Many of the unprecedented rollbacks to the rule of law by this Administration have been made in the name of national security.
The Bush Administration has relentlessly focused our nation’s resources and manpower on a war of choice in Iraq. That ill conceived war has broken our military, squandered resources and emboldened our enemies.
The President’s wholesale disregard of the rule of law has compounded the damage done in Iraq and has made our nation less secure and as a direct consequence of these acts, we are less secure, more vulnerable and more isolated in the world.
Consider the scandal at Abu Ghraib – where Iraqi prisoners were subjected to inhumane and humiliating acts by U.S. personnel charged with guarding them.
Consider Guantanamo Bay. Rather than helping to protect the nation, the prisons at Guantanamo Bay have instead become the very symbol for our weakened moral standing in the world.
Consider the secret prisons run by the CIA and the practice of extraordinary rendition that allows them to evade U.S. law regarding torture.
Consider the shameful actions of our outgoing Attorney General who politicized prosecutions – who was more committed to serving the President who appointed him than the laws he had sworn to uphold.
And consider, of course, the Military Commissions Act – a law that allows evidence obtained through torture to be admitted into evidence.
It denies individuals the right to counsel.
It denies them the right to invoke the Geneva Conventions.
And it denies them the single most important and effective safeguard of liberty man has known – the right of habeas corpus, permitting prisoners to be brought before a court to determine whether their detainment is lawful.
Warrantless wiretapping, torture – the list goes on.
Whoever you support, rewarding good behavior is always wise.
But for some reason when Republicans face primary challengers from the Right there's barely a whisper. At least Ron Brownstein is going to mention it.
This ideological inquisition among Republicans isn't confined to the presidential race. The two House Republicans most critical of the Iraq war (Walter Jones of North Carolina and Wayne Gilchrest of Maryland) have drawn serious primary challengers from the right. So had Nebraska's Chuck Hagel, the Senate Republican most critical of the war, before he announced his retirement last month. Virginia Republicans recently decided to choose their next Senate nominee by convention rather than primary -- a move that favors conservative former Gov. Jim Gilmore over moderate Rep. Tom Davis.
What's rather frustrating in the health care debate is that there's a universally understood but rarely mentioned fact that insurance companies wield disproportionate power on the Hill, that their
In a controversial vote, the Board of Revision of Taxes yesterday decided to put off until next year the reassessment of state Sen. Vincent Fumo's Green Street home, now on the market for nearly $7 million but on which the board has placed a market value of $250,000.
The 4-to-3 vote came on a motion from longtime board member Robert N.C. Nix III, who asked the board to reconsider that market value in light of the hefty offering price on the 27-room, four-story manse near 22nd Street.
Land and property owners in many places in this city are paying a pittance for property taxes, which tends to lead to un- and underdeveloped properties. Lots of empty undeveloped lots near me in part because it's cheap for the landowners to just sit on them.
FEMA has truly learned the lessons of Katrina. Even its handling of the media has improved dramatically. For example, as the California wildfires raged Tuesday, Vice Adm. Harvey E. Johnson, the deputy administrator, had a 1 p.m. news briefing.
Reporters were given only 15 minutes' notice of the briefing, making it unlikely many could show up at FEMA's Southwest D.C. offices. They were given an 800 number to call in, though it was a "listen only" line, the notice said -- no questions. Parts of the briefing were carried live on Fox News, MSNBC and other outlets.
He was apparently quite familiar with the reporters -- in one case, he appears to say "Mike" and points to a reporter -- and was asked an oddly in-house question about "what it means to have an emergency declaration as opposed to a major disaster declaration" signed by the president. He once again explained smoothly.
"And so I think what you're really seeing here is the benefit of experience, the benefit of good leadership and the benefit of good partnership," Johnson said, "none of which were present in Katrina." (Wasn't Michael Chertoff DHS chief then?) Very smooth, very professional. But something didn't seem right. The reporters were lobbing too many softballs. No one asked about trailers with formaldehyde for those made homeless by the fires. And the media seemed to be giving Johnson all day to wax on and on about FEMA's greatness.
Of course, that could be because the questions were asked by FEMA staffers playing reporters. We're told the questions were asked by Cindy Taylor, FEMA's deputy director of external affairs, and by "Mike" Widomski, the deputy director of public affairs. Director of External Affairs John "Pat" Philbin asked a question, and another came, we understand, from someone who sounds like press aide Ali Kirin.
Oct. 26 (Bloomberg) -- Countrywide Financial Corp., the biggest U.S. mortgage lender, predicted a return to profit in the fourth quarter and for 2008 after its first quarterly loss in 25 years. The shares jumped more than 20 percent.
The loss of $1.2 billion, or $2.12 a share, compared with net income of $647.6 million, or $1.03 a share, a year earlier, the Calabasas, California-based company said in a statement today. The per-share figure excludes the effects of convertible preferred stock issued in the quarter. Loss estimates by analysts ranged as high as $3.47 a share by Morgan Stanley's Kenneth Posner.
President David Sambol called the third-quarter loss ``an earnings trough'' and said ``prospects for the U.S. housing and mortgage markets, as well as for Countrywide, remain very attractive.''
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Senator Webb will be on television this evening to discuss the administration’s escalating rhetoric and unilateral sanctions against Iran—and how both underscore the need for his Iran bill, which prohibits the use of funds for military operations in Iran without the explicit consent of the Congress.
Hardball with Chris Matthews, MSNBC: 5:10pm
PBS Newshour: 6:30pm
NBC Nightly News: time TBD
There is a need. Any of his colleagues listening?
So, yes, 60s was time of important change. Political battles had profound impact on many individuals then. I understand all that.
But whether it's conservatives trying to relive the "glory days" of the cold war, real liberals expecting that political activism in the 21st century should look 60s era activism, or fake liberals like Joe Klein desperately battling the dirty fucking hippies who apparently live under his bed, I just don't get it. Move on. Times have changed. And, yes, of course, lessons to be learned from the past, blah blah blah, but we don't live in the past.
The way to deal with this is get out and front and explain that giving immunity to AT&T does not, in fact, have anything to do with the safety of your children.
I recognize part of the problem is that there are lots of bad Democrats who think giving immunity to AT&T is the just and right thing to do. So it's time for the leadership to punish them.
WASHINGTON - Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House oversight committee, said Thursday that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has issued an order requiring his approval of any corruption investigations of himself or senior ministry officials.
Waxman, D-Calif., said the order essentially grants immunity to al-Maliki and his ministry at a time when fraud and abuse is rampant and hurting reconstruction efforts.
"These are not unfounded allegations," Waxman said. "This is Nouri al-Maliki's edict that no one will be referred to court unless he approves it."
The Commerce Department reported Thursday that sales of new homes rose by 4.8 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 770,000 units. That level of activity was still 23.3 percent below a year ago, indicating that housing remains in a steep downturn.
Analysts had been expecting sales would fall by 2.5 percent last month from an August sales pace that had originally been reported as 795,000 homes. However, that figure was revised sharply lower in the new report to show a sales rate of just 735,000 in August, the slowest sales pace in 11 years.
In other words, last month new home sales were reported at 795,000, an 8.3% decline from the previous month's 867,000. Last month's number has been revised down by another 8% or so, meaning that last month's decline was actually 18%. So, yes, relative to the adjusted numbers this month's number is up, but it's still lower than what was originally reported. Until it's revised next month.
...shorter me: the number is awful, and the only reason they can call it a "rebound" is because last month's number was much more awful than they originally reported.
George Bush says "Give me everything I want, including retroactive immunity for telecom companies for breaking the law or I'll veto it."
Democrats then have a choice. They can send him more reasonable legislation, at which point he vetoes it and says the Democrats are going to let Al Qaeda eat your babies. Subsequently, they can either point out that George Bush vetoed the anti-Al Qaeda baby cannibalism bill or they can scamper like cowards and give him everything he wants.
Or they can just give him everything he wants right away.
This isn't about sensible FISA adjustments, this is about whether George Bush gets the power to do whatever the hell he wants because the Democrats in Congress think the best way to be strong is cave into the bullying of Mr. 24%.
The governor's comments followed a Daily News report that the Parking Authority payroll had doubled since Republicans took over six years ago, in a political coup engineered by House Republican leader John Perzel.
At least 20 Parking Authority employees are now drawing six-figure salaries, led by Vincent J. Fenerty Jr., a longtime Republican ward leader who makes $194,500 as the authority's executive director.
That's bigger than anyone on the city payroll. It's $50,000 more than Mayor Street makes and $30,000 higher than Rendell's salary.
"The Philadelphia Parking Authority has become a bloated political-patronage machine where employees feel compelled to contribute time and money to candidates to keep their jobs," McGeehan said in a memo to other House members.
Meanwhile, the authority has become "a quasi-law-enforcement agency" by taking over police functions including towing, impoundment and the new red-light-camera program, McGeehan said.
"No agency anywhere in the state with such broad law-enforcement authority permits any form of partisan political activity, and rightly so," McGeehan said.
And durable orders are down again, with the previous figure revised downwards as well.
New home sales data at 10AM. That could be exciting!!
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
For the ones who actually hold office I've been much more interested in what they do as officeholders than what they do as candidates. They all say they're great leaders, but some of them currently have the office, stature, and especially for Clinton and Obama, the hefty soapbox from which they can actually ... lead. They have the power to take something which is an issue right now and run with it, instead of thinking about all the wonderfully yummy things they'll do... if they win... 15 months from now.
Let's get right to it and talk about how we stop retroactive telecommunications immunity from becoming law.
The way I see it, there are three ways to get this provision stripped from the final bill:
1.) The first step would be to make sure the idea doesn't make it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee -- where it will be considered shortly.
If we can get it stripped there, it will have to be offered as an amendment to the overall bill where it will be a lot easier to get 41 votes against retroactive immunity than 41 to sustain my filibuster if necessary.
Take a moment and call up members of the committee, let me know what they said, and join others in tracking our progress in stopping the provision right there.
The other two ways:
2.) If retroactive immunity does make it out of committee, Senate leadership can honor the hold I've placed on any legislation that includes retroactive immunity.
3.) If leadership does not honor my hold, I remain committed to filibustering, and working to get the 41 votes necessary to maintain it.
This has the potential to be a long fight -- so let's build a solid foundation for our effort today by asking members of the Judiciary Committee to vote against any FISA bill that includes retroactive amnesty.
I'd like to see a little more spine, frankly, on these issues. People tell us they want to lead, but a little leadership right now would certainly be welcomed on these questions.
I don't want to, but I'm not afraid to do this alone.
During the course of Defendant BILL O'REILLY's sexual rant, it became clear that he was using a vibrator upon himself, and that he ejaculated.
Such the provocateur.
NEW YORK A press conference will be held at 1:30 this afternoon at the Philadelphia Inquirer to announced that it has added former Sen. Rick Santorum to its stable of columnists.
The story in the paper today, which does not hint at his new role of columnist, includes: "Talking about the threat of Islamic terrorism is now Santorum's main occupation, though the Republican sounds laid-back these days. He is pitching a movie idea to Hollywood and laughed off speculation about a political comeback in Pennsylvania.
A large group of “Blue Dog” Democrats has refused to give money to the party’s campaign committee so far this cycle, underscoring simmering tension inside the Caucus and concerns about the caustic language of at least one anti-war Democrat.
According to a review of Federal Election Commission records, 15 Blue Dogs have given no money to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee as of Sept. 30, despite heavy pressure from party leaders.
Rep. Sanford D. Bishop Jr. (D-Ga.), one of the 15, said he had donated on Oct. 1, but his staff would not say how much the congressman gave to the DCCC.
An additional 16 Blue Dogs have not given any cash but were exempt from party-mandated contributions because they are top GOP targets for defeat in 2008, party officials said.
But there is also lingering concern among the Blue Dogs — and resentment, in some cases — over comments made by Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) to leaders of the anti-war movement.
In a late-August conference call, Woolsey encouraged the anti-war groups to field primary challengers to any Democrat who does not vote to end the war. While she later moved to repudiate the remarks, saying they were misunderstood, Woolsey’s statement angered many Blue Dogs and led some to withhold their DCCC dues.
Note that Woolsey has no official position in the DCCC (other than being a member like the rest of them), so it isn't as if her comments had anything to do with the committee itself.
Still one Democrat dared suggest that some of these bad Democrats who are helping to further the death and destruction in Iraq should have primary challengers and they clutched their pearls and fainted dead away at the horror of it all.
What big babies we have representing us.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Sales of existing homes plunged by a record amount in September as turmoil in mortgage markets added more problems to a housing industry in its worst slump in 16 years.
The National Association of Realtors reported Wednesday that sales of existing homes fell 8 percent in September, the largest decline to show up in records dating to 1999. The seasonally adjusted annual sales rate of 5.04 million existing homes was also the slowest pace on record.
The weakness in sales translated into further pressure on prices. The median price -- the point at which half the homes sold for more and half for less -- fell to $211,700 in September, down by 4.2 percent from the sales price a year ago. It marked the 13th time out of the past 14 months that the year-over-year sales price has decreased.
The 8 percent decline in sales was bigger than the 4.5 percent decline that had been expected.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Merrill Lynch & Co., the world's biggest brokerage, on Wednesday said the summer's credit crisis triggered a bigger-than-expected $7.9 billion writedown during the third quarter.
Bad bets on mortgage securities and leveraged loans used for corporate takeovers caused the brokerage's first loss in six years. Merrill Lynch's quarterly performance was the worst by far of the Wall Street firms, all of which were slammed by the market turmoil.
Merrill reported a loss after paying preferred dividends of $2.31 billion, or $2.82 per share, compared to a profit of $3 billion, or $3.50 per share, a year earlier. Revenue, after factoring in some of its losses, fell 94 percent to $577 million from $9.83 billion a year earlier.
Obama said only that "if the bill comes to the Senate floor in its current form, he would support a filibuster of it" -- a transparent hedge given that it is virtually certain that the bill (being marked up this week by the Senate Judiciary Committee) will not come to the floor in its "current form." That makes Obama's statement virtually worthless, filled -- as intended -- with plenty of room for him to vote for amnesty if and when the Senate votes on it.
Clinton's statement was just incoherent -- claiming first that she hasn't seen the bill (which has been available for many days now) and thus "can't express an opinion about it," then vowing (so inspirationally) that she is "going to study it very hard," and then surrounding her "support" for a filibuster with multiple conditions: "As matters stand now, I could not support it and I would support a filibuster absent additional information coming forward that would convince me differently."
These statements are just manipulative and woefully insufficient. Leadership is about standing and galvanizing support for fundamental principles. And there just is no more fundamental issue than the rule of law principles and basic constitutional guaranteees that will be eviscerated -- still further -- if telecoms are granted retroactive amnesty and relieved of all obligations from having broken the law for years.
Stealing from Glenn again, here's the simple question to which there's a simple answer:
Will you support a filibuster of any bill that grants retroactive immunity to telecoms for enabling the Bush administration to spy illegally on Americans?
Call the Clinton and Obama offices/campaign and try to get an answer:
* Clinton Presidential: (703) 469-2008
* Clinton Senate: (202) 224-4451
* Obama Presidential: (866) 675-2008
* Obama Senate: (202) 224-2854
Even Joe Biden, who has been in the Senate since he was 30 and is not exactly known for his lack of verbosity, could give a simple answer to this one.
There's no reason for the United States Congress to sanction lawbreaking by the telecom companies and, by extension, the Bush administration. No one looking for the Democratic nomination should communicate ambiguity on this subject.
For reasons only known to himself and the demonic entity he sold his soul to, Easterbrook gets paid by several prominent publications to write about a wide variety of topics — including science, national energy policy, statistical analysis, movies and football — despite the fact that he’s really, really goddamn stupid and is wrong about everything.
I've always thought Easterbrook's NFL column is just an avenue for him to regurgitate all of his asinine thoughts in one spot while simultaneously leering at NFL Cheerleaders.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
The uncertainty among money market fund investors centers on what would happen if the SIVs couldn't repay their debts because their assets lost value. Some money market fund investors are, in turn, worried about losing money.
But that's unlikely, says Bruce Bent, who invented the money market fund in 1970. His firm, The Reserve, has about $83 billion in assets and doesn't hold investments in SIVs.
"In the history of the money funds, you've had a number of situations where the management companies have bailed out the funds," he said.
He thinks it's unlikely the companies running money market funds would allow them to "break the buck," as it's known in Wall Street parlance even if the funds lost money on SIV-related investments. The draw of money market funds, of course, is that an investor putting in $1 get $1 back plus interest. If a fund were to, say, give back only 90 cents for every dollar, investors would be outraged.
Still, it's important to remember that money market funds, though considered safe investments, aren't FDIC insured.
Some money market funds got involved in SIVs by lending them money. Now, though, as it has become more difficult for the SIV wheel to keep spinning some money market fund managers have grown concerned that SIVs are less likely to repay the money they borrowed.
John Atkins, a corporate bond analyst at IDEAglobal, thinks the market's pain could be widespread, though he cautions no one can know far the losses will spread or whether they will extend to money market funds.
And then it all went wrong...
Countrywide plans to offer new mortgages to 52,000 subprime borrowers with $10 billion of home loans. It also plans to modify $4 billion of loans for 20,000 prime and subprime borrowers who cannot refinance, and $2.2 billion of mortgages for 10,000 subprime borrowers who are already delinquent.
"Unprecedented times call for unprecedented remedies," Chief Operating Officer David Sambol said in a statement. "We are determined to assist borrowers who have the willingness and wherewithal to remain in their homes, but need a little help."
Obviously the details matter and I haven't seen them yet, but this could be one of those win win things. Or it could be one last chance for Countrywide to screw people. We'll see.
DALLAS -- The U.S. Justice Department suffered a major setback in another high-profile terrorist prosecution Monday when its criminal case against five former officials of a now-defunct Islamic charity collapsed into a tangle of legal confusion.
President Bush announced in December 2001 that the Texas-based charity's assets were being seized, and in a Rose Garden news conference accused the organization of financing terrorism. Monday's outcome, however, raised serious questions about those allegations as well.
"I think it is a huge defeat for the government," said David Cole, a Georgetown University law professor specializing in 1st Amendment cases and terrorism prosecutions.
"They spent almost 15 years investigating this group, seized all their records and had extensive wiretapping and yet could not obtain a single conviction on charges of supporting a terrorist organization."
Juror William Neal, 33, who said his father worked in military intelligence, said that the government's case had "so many gaps" that he regarded the prosecution as "a waste of time."
Additionally, he said, the case should raise questions about the administrative process that enabled the government to shut down Holy Land almost six years ago, long before criminal charges were brought.
"That was a summary process that involved no trial, permitted the government to rely on secret evidence and barred the defendants from ever introducing their own evidence in court. Now we see when they are required to put their evidence on the table, the government is not able to prove a single charge," Cole said.
The mistrial was declared in part due to confusion about jury polling, but there wasn't a unanimous guilty verdict anywhere.
Option ARMS are are adjustable rate mortgages with different payment options, including interest only and negative amortization payments during the initial periods. In other words you wake up a few years later with a higher interest rate and owing more than you did when you first bought the place.
Monday, October 22, 2007
*You have to be a moron like Beck to not understand that these parts of California are more likely to contain members of his political tribe, not mine.
It reminds me a lot of the situation during the impeachment crisis in '98-99. I was reporting on it at the time for the American Prospect and Salon.com. So I watched the dynamic pretty close up. And it was very, very similar -- even, perhaps, especially in the ways the numbers lined up. I went into the story with visions of Tom Delay as The Hammer, crucifying Republican moderates to push them to vote for the impeachment most of them obviously didn't have much stomach for. But the truth of it was a little different. He didn't need to break a lot of arms. It was actually a pretty calm and straightforward presentation -- focused largely on polls. Sure, most of the country was against impeachment. But for the core of people who got these reps and senators elected every two or six years, it was an absolute live or die issue. Go against them on this issue and the breach with a lot of these voters would never be repaired.
The flip side of the argument was that by November 2000 most people who opposed impeachment would have moved on to other issues. And the folks for whom it was a live or die issue on the other side were never going to vote for these Republicans anyway.
It was a convincing argument for virtually any Republican in Congress. And in terms of the predicted fade of interest in impeachment among middle of the road voters, it was on the mark.
The difference here, of course, is that I very much doubt Iraq is going to be a fading issue by November 2008. And even among independents, support for the war barely gets out of the teens. So a lot of these folks are looking at pretty bleak encounters with the electorate in a little over twelve months.
Impeachment faded because Democrats ran from it instead of running on it. There were literally no mainstream voices reflecting what most of the country thought about the issue.
Iraq is strangely similar. A huge majority wants out, and the Villagers to stay in. The disconnect between what the people want and what the Villagers know is what's best for them is stark, as it was during the great blow job crisis.
Iraq the issue won't fade, but Iraq the political issue might because the Villagers will do their best to make it fade.
For all the pain in the mortgage market, investors who hold bonds backed by risky home loans have continued to receive their monthly interest payments — until now.
Collateralized debt obligations — made up of bonds backed by thousands of subprime home loans — are starting to shut off cash payments to investors in lower-rated bonds as credit-rating agencies downgrade the securities they own, according to analysts and industry executives.
Cutting off the cash flow, which is governed by rules and mathematical formulas that vary by security, is expected to accelerate in the months ahead.
The article doesn't mention it, but many "risk-free" money market funds are invested in some of this stuff.
SINGAPORE, Oct. 22 — Renewed concerns about the health of the American economy sent Asian stocks sharply lower today, and European stocks also registered declines in early trading.
Following a dramatic decline by stock prices in the United States on Friday — the 20th anniversary of the 1987 “Black Monday” stock market crash — investors in Asia sold off stocks on worries that the United States mortgage crisis would crimp demand among American consumers for Asia’s exports.
Hong Kong’s benchmark index of share prices fell by almost 3.3 percent, while in Japan the benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average dropped by more than 2.2 percent. South Korean stocks fell by 3.25 percent. Asia’s smaller markets were also hard hit: stocks in the Philippines slid by roughly 4 percent.
In Europe during early trading, London’s FTSE 100 was down 88 points, or 1.4 percent, but was trading off its lows. The German DAX stock market index was down 1.3 percent, and the Paris market had fallen by around 1.8 percent.
Fortunately my exurban McMansion futures will only go up up up up!
Sunday, October 21, 2007
WASHINGTON -- The FBI is quietly reconstructing the cases against Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and 14 other accused Al Qaeda leaders being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, spurred in part by U.S. concerns that years of CIA interrogation have yielded evidence that is inadmissible or too controversial to present at their upcoming war crimes tribunals, government officials familiar with the probes said.
The process is an embarrassment for the Bush administration, which for years held the men incommunicado overseas and allowed the CIA to use coercive means to extract information from them that would not be admissible in a U.S. court of law -- and might not be allowed in their military commissions, some former officials and legal experts said. Even if the information from the CIA interrogations is allowed, they said, it would probably risk focusing the trials on the actions of the agency and not the accused.
But the CIA moved aggressively to take over the interrogations of Mohammed and other senior Al Qaeda detainees, beginning with suspected training camp coordinator Abu Zubeida, who was captured in Pakistan in 2002. Some current and former FBI officials said the spy agency began using coercive techniques such as waterboarding, or simulated drowning, in an effort to get the detainees to talk immediately about the terrorist network's plans.
CIA officials told The Times that the FBI wasn't getting crucial information about pending attacks out of Zubeida that they knew he possessed, and that their "enhanced" techniques ultimately worked better and faster. Current and former FBI officials said those CIA techniques resulted in false confessions that were obtained illegally.
By mid-2002, several former agents and senior bureau officials said, they had begun complaining that the CIA-run interrogation program amounted to torture and was going to create significant problems down the road -- particularly if the Bush administration was ever forced to allow the Al Qaeda suspects to face their accusers in court.
"Those guys were using techniques that we didn't even want to be in the room for," one senior federal law enforcement official said. "The CIA determined they were going to torture people, and we made the decision not to be involved."
A senior FBI official who since has retired said he also complained about the lack of usable evidence and admissible statements being gathered. "We knew there were going to be problems back then. But nobody was listening," he said. "Now they have to live with the policy that they have adopted. I don't know if anyone thought of the consequences."
KRISTOL: They’re playing — they’re leap-frogging each other in the degrees of irresponsibility they’re willing to advocate. And I really think people are being too sort of complacent and forgiving almost of the Democrats. ‘Oh, it’s politics, of course. One of them has a non-binding resolution. The other has a cap.’ It’s all totally irresponsible. It’s just unbelievable. The president is sending over a new commander, he’s sending over troops, and the Democratic Congress, in a pseudo-binding way or non-binding way, is saying, ‘It won’t work. Forget it. You troops, you’re going over there in a pointless mission. Iraqis who might side with us, forget it, we’re going to pull the plug.’ It’s so irresponsible that they can’t be quiet for six or nine months and say the president has made a decision, we’re not going to change that decision, we’re not going to cut off funds and insist on the troops coming back, so let’s give it a chance to work. You really wonder, do they want it to work or not? I really wonder that. I hate to say this about the Democrats. They’re people I know personally and I respect some of them. Do they want it to succeed or not?
The local results: In the six months ending July 1 of this year alone, more than $1 billion in mortgages defaulted in Palm Beach County and along the Treasure Coast. Not every borrower, though, was seeking shelter. And not everyone was duped into an onerous deal.
"I had a guy who called me who owns 70 homes," says Stuart broker Michael Morgan. "I know a lady who owns 16. It's the room of 1,000 doughnuts. How many can you eat? Two? Three? Well, how many houses can you live in?"
At the top of the market, though, home sales were all about cash flow. In 2005, a Point Manalapan home sold for $1.52 million in April, $1.82''million in June and was back on the block in August for $2.25 million.
Dozens of local borrowers now in default loaded up on risk by taking out two mortgages simultaneously: one for 80 percent of the home price and another for the remaining 20 percent. Fifty-eight of those piggy-back loans imploded within four months.
"People do need to take personal responsibility," says Ellen Schloemer, executive vice president of the Washington-based Center for Responsible Lending, a consumer advocacy group. "But I think people relied on their mortgage professionals to get them through it, when they probably should have thought of them as a used-car salesman."
In fact, brokers are targets for some of the fiercest criticism - even from other brokers.
This is how scale change happens. When the Big Apple becomes the Green Apple, and 40 million tourists come through every year and take at least one hybrid cab ride, they’ll go back home and ask their leaders, “Why don’t we have hybrid cabs?”
Most people in the US don't live in a world of cabs and cab drivers, they're exotic devices as odd as the Disney monorail.
In this case, he is visualizing a radically different kind of medical marketplace, in which families armed with specific information about the treatment success and prices of hospitals and doctors can shop at will for the best quality and most affordable care.
We pay doctors to make these decisions for us because most of us haven't been to medical school. I know this point is simple and obvious and everyone makes it, but as I said before our elite discourse is so fucking stupid.
ABC’s “This Week” — Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del.
CBS’ “Face the Nation” — Former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass.
NBC’s “Meet the Press” — Comedian Stephen Colbert; Doris Kearns Goodwin, presidential historian; Sally Bedell Smith, author of “For Love of Politics: Bill and Hillary Clinton: The White House Years.”
CNN’s “Late Edition” — Reps. Jane Harman, D-Calif., and Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich.; World Bank President Robert Zoellick; Walid Jumblatt, Lebanese parliamentarian; Ali al-Dabbagh, Iraqi government spokesman; Garry Kasparov, Russian presidential candidate.
“Fox News Sunday” — Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark.