Saturday, October 23, 2010

Late Night Thread

Evening Thread


Via Digby (Who Else?)

Eight False Things the Public "Knows" Prior to Election Day. It's a handy guide.

Run From Yourselves

The run against the Democratic party thing didn't work so well in 1994 and to the extent that it's being used now (not nearly as much from what I see) it probably won't work either. It's something that can work for individual politicians, but if too much of the party is doing it then it's completely self-destructive. We had a decade or more when a significant portion of the party could have been called Democrats against Democrats.

Rocket Docket

I'm not as optimistic that judges will be all that concerned about whether banks actually have standing to foreclose. People in those homes are bad and owe somebody money and deserve to be chucked out. It doesn't really matter who they owe the money to.

Morning Thread

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday Cat Blogging

Friday Evening Thread

Dinner and new Álex de la Iglesia movie for me.

Binge Eating

FDIC gobbles 3 banks in Florida: Gordon Bank, Progress Bank, and First Bank of Jacksonville

Dropping Money From Helicopters

I actually don't even know the legality of the helicopter drop, or of more realistic options which are essentially the same thing, but to me it is the only Fed action which is likely to be of much help.

Running Out

I gather there's some optimism in DC that things like this can be fixed in a lame duck session.

I am not so optimistic.

Maybe I'll Think It Over Just A Little Bit Longer

Governor Christie still playing hard to get.


And I'm the only one in the country who seems to remember all that anthrax stuff.

My Critics Sure Seem Unfair

Of course I don't know if Juan Williams is deliberately lying. Maybe he's recounting what he thought he said, hell maybe it's even what he meant to say, but it isn't, in fact, what he said.

Work With Us

I expect the Republicans will succeed in making "Do Exactly What We Say" the "compromise" position between "Doing Nothing" and "Doing What Obama Wants."


My one big fear about urban gentrification is that poor people get priced out of neighborhoods that have access to mass transit.

Right Of Revolution

Wingnuts push this crap every time a Dem is president.

(ht reader l)


I don't really have an opinion about whether Williams should have been fired for his particular comments, though the important point is that he wasn't just fired for those comments. I'm glad he's gone mostly because he really wasn't any good at his job, as those of us who remember his TOTN days especially can attest. And everyone in the media should really think about why he was so often, and not just on Fox, assigned the "liberal" slot when he's, you know, not very liberal.


I'm sure people disagree with me on this one, but one thing which frustrates me is the degree to which we want any green spaces to be devoid of things that humans basically need to get through the day (food, drink, bathrooms, benches). I'm not saying we should cover the National Mall in TGI Fridays, but we should recognize that humans need things and strike an appropriate balance.
Then we start our two mile trek through the Cemetery, with a grand finale at the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Water fountains are available, but limited and often not working. Experienced groups plan ahead and have bottled water for their students, ideally one for the walk and one to replenish afterwards.

I don't mean to just pick on Arlington, which clearly has bigger management problems right now than fixing their water fountains. Visiting the Memorials, the Capitol, even the Smithsonians, require a lot of walking with limited bathroom and water facilities. The National Mall is a virtual desert. Having a place to regroup, get hydrated, pick up or drop off a rain jacket, and so on isn't really a luxury when you are responsible for forty to fifty children.

Austerity Madness

There are places where it can be argued that austerity is bad but the only available option. It is not the case in Britain right now. Good luck with that.
Indeed, there has been a noticeable change in the rhetoric of the government of Prime Minister David Cameron over the past few weeks — a shift from hope to fear. In his speech announcing the budget plan, George Osborne, the chancellor of the Exchequer, seemed to have given up on the confidence fairy — that is, on claims that the plan would have positive effects on employment and growth.

Instead, it was all about the apocalypse looming if Britain failed to go down this route. Never mind that British debt as a percentage of national income is actually below its historical average; never mind that British interest rates stayed low even as the nation’s budget deficit soared, reflecting the belief of investors that the country can and will get its finances under control. Britain, declared Mr. Osborne, was on the “brink of bankruptcy.”

What happens now? Maybe Britain will get lucky, and something will come along to rescue the economy. But the best guess is that Britain in 2011 will look like Britain in 1931, or the United States in 1937, or Japan in 1997. That is, premature fiscal austerity will lead to a renewed economic slump. As always, those who refuse to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.

Morning Thread

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tom Friedman's Cab Drivers Are Plausible Because They Have Financial Incentive To Please Their Customers

On the other hand...

Even More Thread

And another sporting competition.

Evening Thread


Trolling My Own Blog

Really don't think the whole electric car thing is going to end up working very well.

We're All Shirley Sherrod Now

Or, you know, not.


Our system worked reasonably well as long as it was really really not in the financial interest of banks to foreclose on residential real estate. Now that the incentives are screwed up, their asymmetric power is going to screw all of us.

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Michael and Pamella Negrea have never been late on a mortgage payment in the 15 years they've owned their home in Eastlake. But they've been foreclosed on three times.

Martin and Kirsten Davis, meanwhile, lost their home in Cleveland to foreclosure two years ago. The reason: a mess that started when they accidentally paid 14 cents too little on their monthly payment.

And Michael Rendes of Berea had his mortgage sold last year to Bank of America. The bank foreclosed on him in November, after insisting for months that it didn't hold his loan and wouldn't accept his payments.

No Tunnel For You

Chris Christie is still saying no tunnel.

One thing that's maddening is that while this argument isn't universally valid, it's certainly the case that in this situation the only possible relief for drivers both into and in Manhattan is improved mass transit. So even if you just love your cars, you should be a big supporter.


There shouldn't be anything wrong with people being honest about their unconscious prejudices. We aren't all Stephen Colbert, and honest discussion about such things should be encouraged and not discouraged. But as Adam says, Williams wasn't admitting to something he was not proud of, he was justifying it.

We're Laughing At You

When the drooling hordes started writing stuff on the internets, I think one of the early reactions was the horror of establishment media figures at realizing that people didn't take them or their system as seriously as they did.

Future Compliance

We're really at the point where no sane person should get a mortgage given the kind of fraud and theft that's out there.
Despite my best efforts to answer all of Mr. Whelan’s questions, the article contains a number of misstatements. First, Mr. and Mrs. Jackson did not face a foreclosure hearing after simply stopping payment – they paid the entire amount due per a statement sent to them by GMAC, and paid by certified check. GMAC mistakenly refused the check, alleging it was an NSF payment (not possible with certified funds), then placed the couple in foreclosure. I was simply trying to track the facts of the payment by deposing a witness who had sworn in court documents that she had reviewed the entire file and was familiar with the payment history, when, as it turned out, she was not only not familiar with the payment history, but the substance of her entire affidavit was false, including the allegation that the affidavit was sworn to in front of a notary. These were substantive questions I needed answers to – not an excuse for a delay. Further, the judge did not “throw out the case” – it is still pending, with GMAC still suing the Jacksons, years later.

I, and most of my fellow consumer attorneys who are members of the National Association of Consumer Advocates, do not raise these issues for delay – we raise them because we all have cases (this is the bulk of my foreclosure defense practice) where all or part of the foreclosure is purely the fault of the servicer or mill law firm – from homeowners whose payments were misrouted by the servicer, to servicers who simply changed the address of the property and then force-placed flood insurance, to servicers who ignore insurance plans the borrowers paid for (all examples from my cases) to servicers who refuse to even accept HAMP-type loan modification documents – all are substantive, real problems that were not the fault of the borrowers. The deposition was, in the Jackson case, merely an effort to get at the truth of the reversed payment – instead, GMAC admitted to wholesale manufacture of court documents, then promised to fix the practice, then continued that practice unabated for 4 more years.

Once we came to a point where servicers could make more money by foreclosing than not foreclosing, the game was over.

Future Compliance

Banksters get yet another mulligan.

They always will.

Thursday Is New Jobless Day

452K new lucky duckies.

Still high.

Turning Lemons into a Lemon Party

Hard to believe, but David Broder has managed to finagle another gig with a bunch of Republicans. Tolkein and Lovecraft stories are more connected to reality than David Broder's perception of actual reality.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Bye Juan:
NPR has terminated its contract with Juan Williams, one of its senior news analysts, after he made comments about Muslims on the Fox News Channel.

NPR said in a statement that it gave Mr. Williams notice of his termination on Wednesday night.

The move came after Mr. Williams, who is also a Fox News political analyst, appeared on the “The O’Reilly Factor” on Monday. On the show, the host, Bill O’Reilly, asked him to respond to the notion that the United States was facing a “Muslim dilemma.” Mr. O’Reilly said, “The cold truth is that in the world today jihad, aided and abetted by some Muslim nations, is the biggest threat on the planet.”

Mr. Williams said he concurred with Mr. O’Reilly.

He continued: “I mean, look, Bill, I’m not a bigot. You know the kind of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.”

Late Night Thread

Rock on

Whole Lotta Nutty

...hmm..embedding not working, try here.

Evening Thread



Stupid or lying, who knows.

Funner and Funner

This will never end.

In a complaint filed this month in Washington, D.C. federal court, Bank of America said the FDIC has wrongly denied claims by Ocala noteholders to recover from Colonial Bank and an Illinois lender also in receivership, Platinum Community Bank.

Bank of America accused executives at Taylor Bean, Colonial and Platinum of having fraudulently schemed to "double- and triple-pledge mortgages and steal assets" to hide their faltering conditions as the housing market declined.

So how widespread was this double-pledging of mortgages? How many people have homes that multiple entities think they are entitled to foreclose on? How screwed up is all the paperwork that nobody has any clue?


No, not the Mayan Apocalypse, though close. It's the triumphant return of streetcars to DC.


After years of conservatives falsely claiming that Media Matters was Soros funded, Media Matters is finally Soros funded.

It Won't Happen

But there is a sound policy case for some sort of conditional lowering of the minimum SS/Medicare eligibility age, perhaps for people who have run out of unemployment benefits. I mean, if I ran the zoo I'd just lower the age, but we just don't do simple policy anymore.

An Economy Built On Fraud

Aside from any concept of justice or retribution, the problem with making the banksters whole and leaving them in place is that they'll just continue to do what they've been doing. Fraud is what they know, it's their vision of how to do business. There's no reason to expect anything to change.

It's Their World

We just live in it.

In a notice recently released by the CFTC, Painter said Judge Bruce Levine, his longtime colleague, had a secret agreement with a former Republican chairwoman of the agency to stand in the way of investors filing complaints with the agency.

"On Judge Levine's first week on the job, nearly twenty years ago, he came into my office and stated that he had promised Wendy Gramm, then Chairwoman of the Commission, that we would never rule in a complainant's favor," Painter wrote. "A review of his rulings will confirm that he fulfilled his vow," Painter wrote.

Fresh Thread

Busy with something.

Good Luck With That

Britain planning to starve its way to prosperity.

He said that 490,000 public sector jobs would be lost over the four-year savings program and the size of government departments in London would be cut by one third. Public spending would be cut by a total 83 billion pounds, or around $130 billion, by 2015.

Morning and Stuff

It seems O'Donnell is having problems gathering supporters for her rallies. Not only is she going out of state to find volunteers, she's offering to pay as well. Very grass rooty.

Link to Politico

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Rock on.

Evening Thread


Same As They Always Have Been

It's quite fascinating pundits still haven't figured out that the tea partiers are still the same racist authoritarian pro-big-business social conservative desperately afraid that the "wrong" people might be getting some of their tax money lunatics that have always been with us.


I was a wee bit worried the military would ignore the judge.

On twitter Dan Choi said he was going to enlist in the marines.

Even More Funner


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.

This is the same as what I linked earlier, with added info of who the players are. Pimco, BlackRock, and the NY Fed are BFDs.

Selling America

When I was a resident of Pvovidence, Vo Dilun, the city did a deal which sold off its parking meter/tickets operations to a private company. Unsurprisingly, it was a disaster and the city realized that super insane aggressive ticketing was actually not good city policy. Fortunately, they wisely included a "cancel at any time for any reason" clause and soon canceled the contract.

Chicago is not so lucky.

Congress Has Long Been Full Of The Crazy

I had a conversation with someone about this recently, whether all the crazy Senate candidates are some new phenomenon. I argued that, no, there are plenty of crazies already in the Senate (and House), just that maybe the new crop are just giving the raw version instead of dressing it up in coded language so the press can pretend to not notice.

Some Things Are Too Crazy To Contemplate

I've been mulling this one over since yesterday, finding it somewhat difficult to believe. Maybe if someone sells Fred Hiatt's mortgage to several entities he'll have more respect for quaint property rights notions.

Shovel Ready

It is true that spending money on infrastructure projects isn't always as quick and easy as we might like, but it really isn't true that it's extremely difficult. Give some money to my city. There are plenty of useful things to spend it on here.

Ghost Towns

Not the only country with a housing bubble.

Getting Funner

Sadly I doubt anything will help the real victims, but at least we'll have a bit of fun watching the fight.
HOUSTON, Oct. 18 /PRNewswire/ --Today, the holders of over 25% of the Voting Rights in more than $47 billion of Countrywide-issued RMBS sent a Notice of Non-Performance (Notice) to Countrywide Home Loan Servicing, as Master Servicer ("Countrywide Servicing"), and to Bank of New York, as Trustee, identifying specific covenants in 115 Pooling and Servicing Agreements (PSAs) that the Holders allege Countrywide Servicing has failed to perform.

The Holders' Notice alleges that each of these failures has materially affected the rights of the Certificateholders under the relevant PSAs. Under Section 7.01 of the PSAs, if any of the cited failures "continues unremedied for a period of 60 days after the date on which written notice of such failure has been given ... to the Master Servicer and the Trustee by the Holders of Certificates evidencing not less than 25% of the Voting Rights evidenced by the Certificates," that failure constitutes an Event of Default under the PSAs.


Mike Lux:

Ohio Senate. Everyone wrote Lee Fisher off months ago in this race, and just today a public poll showed him 22 points down. But I have seen two other polls in the last 4 days that show the race in single digits, and I have also seen polling numbers that show 30% of Portman's voters have the potential to go bye-bye if they know about his role as Bush's trade rep shipping jobs overseas.

Whatever the merits either way, one thing I've noticed is that "free trade"* is one of those issues about which anyone who works in DC politics quickly internalizes the Very Serious Person position, which is that, politics be damned, anything labeled "free trade" is inherently good and only very silly dirty fucking hippies oppose it. In truth, of course, basically everybody in the country hates everything called "free trade" and politicians left and right would benefit from running against it.

*"Free trade" is in quotes because many things having nothing to do with actual free trade are given that label.

Incredibly Expensive Things We Couldn't Possibly Afford

LA subway extension would cost less than one MIA (months in Afghanistan).

Where Are We Going

I think Herbert basically gets it right. Obviously most of this is about reality, about the fact that the economy truly sucks and people are getting thrown out of their homes. But some of it is about a failure to present an alternative message. We're Not Republicans might work, but it isn't awesome.

Currency Gibberish

We want China's currency value to rise, but WE WILL NEVER DEVALUE THE MIGHTY DOLLAR.

Anyone else notice the mixed message?


Of course Newt's scams are aided and abetted by all the free promotion that the disgraced former Speakers gets on every news outlet.

Morning Thread

Monday, October 18, 2010

Evening Thread


Any Arrests Yet?


TAMPA — Some employees of Florida's largest "foreclosure mill" were given jewelry, cars and houses from the firm, in exchange for altering and forging key documents used to obtain foreclosures, according to a statement released today by the Florida Attorney General's Office.

The office released transcripts of two interviews it conducted for its investigation into the law offices of David J. Stern. The sworn statements were from Kelly Scott, a former employee of Stern's and Mary R. Cordova, a former employee of G&Z, a process server used by Stern's office. The women's testimonies appear to back up that of former Stern's employee Tammie Lou Kapusta, whose statement was released last week. The three statements paint a picture of a secret system designed to speed up the foreclosure process. Attorneys and staff members forged signatures, changed dates, passed around notary stamps, the women say in interviews with attorney general's staff.

Stealing America

That's what the banksters think their job is.

Building Height Restrictions Lead to More Tall Buildings

I think an underappreciated impact of DC's building height restriction is that instead of a downtown district with some very tall buildings, and then not-so-tall buildings elsewhere, you have an evolution towards a city of uniform 12ish story buildings. These aren't skyscraper tall, but it obviously pushes anything resembling single family dwellings (attached or not) way way way outside of the downtown area. Contra a commenter there, I think the preservation of 2-3 story residential buildings in much of Philadelphia has a lot to do with zoning in that while we allow tall buildings some places we don't actually allow them everywhere. But it is also the case that if our skyscrapers were smaller then medium rise buildings would spread farther than they have. That isn't necessarily bad thing, but the point is that restricting skyscrapers creates more medium rises at the expense of more human scale buildings.

The Great Depression Lasted A Long Time

Obviously what we're dealing with right now isn't nearly as severe, but there really isn't any reason to expect that the great animal spirits will turn things around. On the fiscal side I don't think we can expect to see anything other than maybe bandaids, and I'm not optimistic that enough will be done on the monetary side either. Don't think Helicopter Ben will earn his nickname.

Nothing To See Here

The AP (no link yet) informs me that Bank of America is going to resubmit paperwork in 102,000 foreclosure cases.

Afternoon Thread


Spoonfeeding The Stupid

Every now and then the press starts running with something so transparently stupid that you know they're just doing the obligatory "both sides do it" article to keep Republicans happy. This is similar to the lies peddled about how Democrats got lots of Abramoff money too.

How Many Years In

I imagine decades of no job growth could pass and we'll still be mocking Japan for all their policy mistakes and their lack of "tolerance for creative destruction." You know, how they engaged in policies designed to prop up their bankrupt banking sector at the expense of the rest of the economy.

Just A Paperwork Problem

The narrative that one set of banksters is pushing is that this is all just a paperwork problem, that ultimately we have debtors who owe money to creditors who aren't paying and even if all the paperwork wasn't handled quite correctly that is still the case. But of course if you decide that the legal framework that was set up can be ignored, you're going to invite extreme fraud into the system. If banksters can just steal homes on their say so, they, you know, will, as will others.

The Banksters Destroyed Everything

As always seems to be the case, the people in charge seem to be clueless about what is really happening.

Enthusiasm Gap

I'd be a lot more enthusiastic if I wasn't worried about a lame duck attack on Social Security. Which, you know, isn't popular.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


My local sports franchise won their sporting competition.

Evening Thread

Our media, not theirs

You've seen their bobbleheads, now listen to ours at Virtually Speaking Sundays, where tonight's guests are nyceve and Stuart Zechman.

Not Atrios

Afternoon Thread


Let's You And Him Fight

At first people in the elite business press wrongly seemed to think this was banksters versus homeowners, so of course the banksters should win. In reality it's bankster vs. bankster. Homeowners are just caught in the crossfire.

Foreclosure Hell

Maybe somebody should have done something.
Their loan originally was with subprime lender Argent Mortgage, then LaSalle Bank, then Wilkshire Financial. The loan was sold to Bank of America in September 2009, although the couple said they weren't initially notified. They made their September and October payments to Wilkshire.

"I had no clue. I just made my payment," Michael Rendes said. "I knew I had a mortgage." Wilkshire then told him the loan had been sold. He called Bank of America many times, but bank employees couldn't find the couple in the system. They tried using names, Social Security numbers, the parcel number, dates of birth, everything.

Their two payments were cashed but apparently not forwarded to Bank of America, or at least not posted to the couple's account. In November, they received a letter that they were in default.

The couple had the money to get caught up, but they said Bank of America wouldn't take it.

Sunday Bobbleheads

Face the Nation has Howard Dean, Liz Cheney, and Lindsey Graham.

This Week has Coons, O'Donnell, and Maria Shriver.

Meet the Press has Gibbs, Michael Bennet, and Ken Buck.

Document the atrocities!

Morning Thread