Archive for the ‘political’ Category

Why TPM sucks slightly less than the New York Times

April 18, 2012

Republicans Give Up The Game: It Was Never About Deficits | TPMDC

Republicans are still running on deficit reduction, but as the election nears, their governing agenda reveals something that close observers recognized all along: Deficit reduction was never the point.

The front-page headline on this story is “How Republicans Threw In The Towel On Deficit Reduction.” Only in the third or fourth graf do you get the fact that the GOP never had any allegiance to deficit reduction, and was only using it as cover for cutting spending they didn’t like. None of the GOP numbers on spending (much less taxes) have ever made any sense this cycle, but “Republican Lies on Deficit Reduction Become More Transparent” is not the kind of headline you’re going to see on a publication that wants to become mainstream, and that does much of its business covering Washington.

Which is sort of sad, if predictable. Insofar as enterprises like TPM grow, they need a continuing flow of stories, and if you’re covering politics that means a continuing practice of not calling bullsh*t on your sources too loudly.

What’s missing from this story

February 7, 2012

Banks Paying Cash to Homeowners to Avoid Foreclosures (via eschaton)

Losses for lenders are about 15 percent lower on the sales than on foreclosures, which can take years to complete while taxes and legal, maintenance and other costs accumulate, according to Moody’s. The deals accounted for 33 percent of financially distressed transactions in November, up from 24 percent a year earlier, said CoreLogic Inc., a Santa Ana, California-based real estate information company.

Nowhere does anyone appear to mention the time value of money. As long as the real estate market is stagnant (or even falling) and the value of a house depends on things like maintenance and decorating, it makes enormous sense for a bank to take the money from a short sale now — and maybe even invest it in something that doesn’t go belly-up — rather than gamble that they will get a better price from a foreclosure sale a few years from now, or that the stones that are underwater householders will suddenly start bleeding green.

Say, for example, that the bank gets $200K out of a house now rather than the same $200K out of it in 18 months. That’s about $15K in profits that they could make (or $15K less interest they could pay whoever they’re borrowing from) even before the extra cost of the lawyers for foreclosure, the chance that the homeowner might walk away or even trash the place out, dropping the bank’s realized price substantially, or that the might fight the foreclosure and win because the bank doesn’t even properly hold the paper.

As long as the bank makes more money by getting a sale through now, it makes business sense for them to share that increment with the homeowner. So why haven’t banks been doing this all along? Some of them have — the article is reporting an increase in short sales from a quarter to a third of distressed transactions. But the answer, I think, is that the amount of money a bank is willing to offer a homeowner depends crucially on the power imbalances among the parties to the transaction. In previous years, at least according to reports, the power was mostly in the hands of mortgage-servicing companies, which made much more money by stringing out a loan and stringing out foreclosure. But servicers aren’t doing so hot, what with the criminal and civil liability for all those missing and falsified documents, so now the issue may be much more directly between the homeowner and the holder of the note.

Another possibility is that the economy is looking up enough that banks would like to have extra cash or borrowing capacity available on their balance sheets. That would be nice. But then again the bankers might be anticipating that prices will plummet further, and hoping to get out while they can…

Poor Colonized Ezra

April 15, 2011

Paul Ryan is not pro-competition, and his critics are not anti-competition – Ezra Klein – The Washington Post

Ryan, Brooks says, believes that “health care costs will not be brought under control until consumers take responsibility for their decisions and providers have market-based incentives to reduce prices.” It’s true that Ryan does believe that. But it’s not true that that’s what’s worrying so many about his budget proposal.

[italics added]

If Ryan actually did believe that old rightwing canard, wouldn’t he, you know, introduce a proposal that made it possible for medical consumers and to actually control their costs, and for effective lower-cost providers to gain share. But unless he’s a complete drooling moron, Ryan knows that’s not what his proposal does, hence he doesn’t really believe the canard (or doesn’t care about his beliefs) and has been pretty much feeding Ezra and all the other young village wonks a charming access-laced line of bullsh*t.

And this comes right after a sentence gently chiding Brook for giving Ryan too much credence.

Unclear on the concept

December 6, 2010

Queens Woman Nearly Loses Home Over Bank Error – NYTimes.com

Because she had a dogged lawyer, who had the wit to get a New York Times columnist interested in her case, a terrible mistake was uncovered. As a result, an unjustified foreclosure may well be reversed.

In the column that contains these lines, Nocera documents repeated acceptance of payments under false information, repeated court filing of falsified documents, knowing dissemination of false information in financial transactions (oh, yeah, and the usual failure to perform proper service of documents in a lawsuit). This is a mistake?

Ever bleeping convicted bad-check signer and con artist in the country would be walking around with a clean record if they could just say “oops, my bad” the way Bank of America gets to do.

Atrios makes a funny

April 14, 2010

Eschaton

While Benen is correct about the odd discrepancy between the Post’s coverage of Ensign and Massa, there is one reasonable explanation for some of that discrepancy. The Massa story is more of a “local” story, in that it’s about the lives and experiences of Capitol Hill staffers.

Uh. Ensign was bonking one of his staffers, and paying off her husband, another one of his staffers, to keep him from blowing the whistle. Of course, both of them have since left washington, so maybe that doesn’t count.

I think what the shorthand really meant is “the lives and experiences of capitol hill staffers who are willing to have drinks or otherwise spend time schmoozing with Washington Post reporters”. In other words, the stories are because the people at the Post are lazy, and the government employees they like to hang out with are inveterate gossips. Coverage of the village, for the village, by the village

So does this mean a management shakeup?

October 26, 2009

Delaware Diocese Files for Bankruptcy in Wake of Abuse Suits – NYTimes.com

The Chapter 11 filing, which freezes all pending litigation against the diocese, came as the first of some eight lawsuits was scheduled to go to trial in Kent County Superior Court.

Lawyers for the diocese and the plaintiffs spent much of the weekend in an effort to negotiate a settlement. The breakdown of those negotiations makes the diocese the first on the East Coast to file for bankruptcy, joining six other dioceses that have sought protection in bankruptcy under the weight of claims of sexual abuse.

Bishop Malooly added, “Our hope is that Chapter 11 proceedings will enable us to fairly compensate all victims through a single process established by the Bankruptcy Court.”

But Thomas S. Neuberger, a lawyer representing 88 people who have accused diocesan priests of sexual abuse, called the bankruptcy filing an “outrage.”

According to court documents, the diocese and certain parish churches are defendants in 131 sexual-abuse cases.

The diocese has assets of as much as $100 million and liabilities of as much as $500 million, the court papers say.

So what happens if the creditors (who include the plaintiffs) can’t agree on a reorganization plan? Does this convert to Chapter 13, with all the assets getting sold at auction? (And I guess the Mother Church has some kind of holding-company status that exempts its assets from being at risk — nice foresight.)

The AP is a bunch of wimps

October 26, 2009

Yearning for Zion Ranch case gears up

Attorneys on Monday will begin culling the largest jury pool ever called in Eldorado to try to find 14 people in a county of 2,800 who can set aside what they’ve heard about a polygamist sect whose alleged marriages involving underage girls triggered a police raid last year that swept more than 400 children into state custody.

At least that’s the charitable explanation. A middle-aged or older man “marrying” an underaged girl is known in most parts of the country as “rape”, either statutory, forcible or both. The part where someone has a religious ceremony first is mostly irrelevant, and would be completely irrelevant if not for the size of the cult involved.

So using “underaged marriage” throughout the article shows that someone has bought a huge pile of spin.

I’ve got a better idea

September 23, 2009

thanks, Atrios

Bank of America Misses Congressional Deadline – DealBook Blog – NYTimes.com

The committee’s chairman, Representative Edolphus Towns of New York, is deciding whether to issue a subpoena to force compliance, but first he plans to meet with the bank’s chief strategy and marketing officer, Anne Finucane, on Tuesday.

Mr. Towns indicated that he planned to tell Ms. Finucane that the bank must comply with the request, and if it does not, a subpoena may be forthcoming.

How about just calling in the sergeant at arms and a backup of capitol police and telling the — wait, chief strategy and marketing officer?!? not the general counsel or the CEO or someone who actually has power to turn over the papers in question? — that the little anteroom over there is going to have a cot in it until the documents are turned over?

It was bad enough when the executive branch treated congressional requests having the force of law with contempt, but this is a bank that the federal government already owns. We the people could send the entire executive suite out on the street with the stroke of a pen. And they still couldn’t care less.

Let’s encourage the others.

Mike Ross is, amazingly, not the stupidest person in america.

August 16, 2009

CNN Political Ticker

“I will not force government-run health care on anyone; if there ever is government-run health care, the first ones to sign up should be the president and every member of Congress, including myself”

Uh, Mike? There is. You did. We employ you. You get your health care through the federal goverment. Too bad you don’t want any of your constituents to get the same deal you do.

Just in case you were wondering whether we live in a theocracy

August 9, 2009

Gov. Culver: Atheist bus ad is offensive | Des Moines Register Staff Blogs

Gov. Chet Culver weighed in on the controversial Des Moines bus ad that has been yanked after multiple complaints.

“I was disturbed, personally, by the advertisement and I can understand why other Iowans were also disturbed by the message that it sent,” Culver said.
[…]
Culver also declined to answer if he would also have gotten off the bus had he been a rider, but noted that he would have been offended by the ad’s message.

The Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority, better known, as DART, began running the ad on the side of some buses this week. It read, “Don’t believe in God? You are not alone,” and was sponsored by the Iowa Atheists & Freethinkers group.

It’s offensive to point out that more than one person in the US doesn’t believe in a singular deity? So offensive that people would be unwilling to ride a bus that had an ad to that effect on it? Words fail me.

The only reason Thomas Jefferson isn’t spinning any faster is that the atoms of his ill-defined surface have reached the speed of light.