Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Archive for October 2010

Analyzing California Propositions

A few days are left until the November elections, where Republicans and Democrats will compete – as they have done for more than a century – for the votes of the American people. In the state of California, however, something more will happen. Californians will be voting on a series of propositions which will directly influence the state’s policy (the famed and much-criticized proposition system).

Propositions can be confusing – sometimes intentionally so. Thus I have compiled a series of posts analyzing what each proposition means for the state of California. These posts are followed by a newspaper-style editorial; whether to vote “yes” or “no” on each proposition.

And now for something completely indifferent…

In the midst of all this impending Tea Party Triumphalism, I popped over to the old D for some nostalgia and comic relief.  If you think that Jack Landsman jumped that place over a few hundred sharks as a frontpager, he’s got nothing on changeagain2012.

The Untouchables

Back during Prohibition federal agents were used to break up the crime syndicate of Chicago’s Al Capone, using federal law, because local law enforcement was unwilling or unable to do so.  Unsuccessful bribery attempts by the syndicate were widely publicised, hence their nickname.

Now the situation seems reversed, with state attorneys general taking virtually the only steps to investigate allegations of fraud, in this case state law governing evidence submitted by plaintiffs, which have arisen from foreclosures nationwide:

Ever since the financial crisis began two years ago, the federal overseers of the banking industry have been consistently unwilling to take the rod to the institutions they regulate.  The robo-signing scandal – and it is, unquestionably, a scandal – hasn’t changed that attitude one iota.

The Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve have made it clear that they are more concerned about keeping the foreclosure mill going full speed than they are about determining whether the banks broke the law.  Somehow throwing people out of their homes quickly is supposed to help the economy.

Joe Nocera – The States Take on Foreclosures NYT 29 Oct 10

On 13 October forty-nine states, now joined by Alabama, announced a joint investigation into allegations of fraud and perjury resulting from submissions by mortgage servicers and their agents in foreclosure cases:

“This is not simply about a glitch in paperwork,” said Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, who is leading the probe. “It’s also about some companies violating the law and many people losing their homes.”  […]

“What we have seen are not mere technicalities,” said Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray. “This is about the private property rights of homeowners facing foreclosure and the integrity of our court system, which cannot enter judgements based on fraudulent evidence.”

Alan Zibel – Officials in 49 states launch foreclosure probe AP via MSNBC 13 Oct 10

While there was initially some doubt that this probe would produce significant results there are signs the states’ attorneys general are increasingly concerned with their findings and may take an aggressive role in asserting state law, tightening requirements in their court procedures and establishing evidence which may eventually lead to criminal prosecutions.

GOT-muthaeffin-V! An Open Thread!

Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to present six minutes and eleven seconds of pure, solid gold ‘awesome’:

It’s funny ’cause it’s true! It’s also scary, because as you well know, there are Teahadist candidates all over the damned map in the election to be held just four short days from now, and they are salivating at the possibility of political power. Here’s the deal: I don’t give an ounce of shit how disappointed you are with the President, this or that Democrat, this policy or the other, or anything else. These knuckleheads need to be stopped.  Blunted.  Averted. After everything else, it really is that simple.  

Selling Fear and Ignorance – GOTV.

I admit I am out of the loop and as such this diary won’t include clever analysis or biting arguments. Real-life obligations and exhaustion are my excuse. I don’t know the intricacies of the upcoming midterm elections or other particulars.

Here’s what I do know: This is one of the most important elections of my lifetime. Here’s Rob Reiner on Real Time with Bill Maher with the first fitting Godwin I have ever seen.

Previewing Senate Elections: California, Section 2

This is the last part of a series of posts analyzing competitive Senate  elections in blue states. It is the second section of two posts focusing on the greatest state in the union (otherwise known as California). The first part of the series can be found here.

Previewing Senate Elections: California,Section 1

Suburban SoCal

Southern California (SoCal, in short) is where the battle for California will be won or lost. Ms. Fiorina must accomplish two tasks in the region.

First, she must clean the clock in the suburban counties outside Los Angeles.

More below.

The Curious Case of HR 3808

Back in April the House of Representatives passed a bill known as HR 3808, the Interstate Recognition of Notarizations Act of 2010 and sent it to the Senate where it languished in the Judiciary Committee until late September.  The circumstances of the passage of this bill in the Senate are curious, to say the least.  It was discharged from committee and passed by unanimous consent, with no debate, just as the 111th session of Congress was coming to a close.

The bill is relatively simple:

Each Federal court shall recognize any lawful notarization made by a notary public licensed or commissioned under the laws of a State other than the State where the Federal court is located if –

(1) such notarization occurs in or affects interstate commerce; and

(2) (A) a seal of office, as symbol of the notary public’s authority, is used in the notarization; or (B) in the case of an electronic record, the seal information is securely attached to, or logically associated with, the electronic record so as to render the record tamper-resistant.

Superintendent of Documents – H. R. 3808 GPO 111th Congress

Seems pretty innocuous, really, but in the context of emerging reports of foreclosure fraud at the time it qualified for notorious distinction as the ‘silver bullet’ which banks were hoping would solve their documentation problems and earned itself a presidential veto.

A WTF Open Thread?

From PPP’s Arizona Governor poll today, which has Jan “Deer in the headlights” Brewer 8 points up on Attorney General Terry Goddard who was kicking her ass before she signs the Driving While Latino bill.

37 percent of Latinos say they’re voting for Brewer

If anything else, it’s entertaining to see the professional left tie themselves in knots explaining this after telling us the immigration law would be an EPIC WIN for Democrats.

One week till doomsday, what are you up to?

The Socialisation of Risk

The Federal Reserve has bought a ‘staggering’ $1.2 trillion of bad debt since the beginning of the sub-prime mortgage and credit crisis of 2008.  There is considerable evidence that this bad debt was a direct consequence of faulty, if not outright fraudulent, processes which pervaded the securitisation of this debt during the housing boom:

Faulty underwriting appears to be prevalent across the board, with originators complicit in overvaluing both the lender and the collateral at the point of underwriting – and doing so systematically.

Julian Fisher – How the mortgage mess could spread beyond sub-prime Reuters 22 Oct 10

Under the circumstances, with the failure of Lehman Brothers and the imminent collapse of credit threatening major financial institutions, an injection of public capital seemed prudent, perhaps even inevitable.  Yet although these systemic problems were widely suspected there have been virtually no regulatory penalties or criminal prosecutions.  In fact the government has simply absorbed the losses on our behalf:

The U.S. government and the Fed had a stark choice: either impose the rule of law and indict and convict hundreds, if not thousands, of people who perpetrated and profited from the systemic fraud and embezzlement at the heart of the mortgage and mortgage-securities industries, or socialize the corrupted, poisoned markets and use taxpayer funds to prop up the wizened shell of a stripmined market and reward the criminals with freedom.

They chose to reward the criminals and prop up a simulacrum market with only one buyer: the Federal Reserve. You can go to the the Fed’s balance sheet and see the $1.2 trillion in mortgage-backed securities it owns.

Charles Hugh Smith – U.S. Financial Markets: The Well Has Been Poisoned Of Two Minds 23 Oct 10

From Karl Denninger’s chart you can see the debt is still there but it is now the taxpayers’ liability.  The profits, however, have been retained by the financial institutions with the hope that their solvency will be the first step towards our economic recovery.  But what are the consequences for consumers, homeowners and taxpayers?

Previewing Senate Elections: California, Section 1

This is the third part of a series of posts analyzing competitive Senate elections in blue states. It will focus on California. Because California is such a big and complicated state, it will have two sections – of which this is the first. The second part can be found here.

California, Section 1

In the greatest state of the union, a fierce senatorial battle is brewing. Former HP executive Carly Fiorina is mounting a tough challenge to incumbent Democrat Barbara Boxer. In an anti-Democratic national environment, polls show the race close and competitive. This post will examine the obstacles Ms. Fiorina will face as she seeks to overcome California’s formidable Democratic geography.

CA 2008

As America’s most populous state, California contains a number of distinct regions. This post, and the one following, will examine each.

More below.