Small Boats Sunset wallpaper – The Attack of The Serious People (via The Long Goodbye)

This is a thorough analysis of the debt ceiling crisis. I enjoyed it. I hope you do too.

James Pilant

Small Boats Sunset wallpaper - The Attack of The Serious People Small Boats Sunset wallpaper   For better or worse the debt ceiling debate has turned into a horse race story. The closer any political event can be framed into a horse race context the better most of the media likes it … Boehner has a plan, talks break down, Reid has a compromise, tea toddler Republicans pull back. So ABC's report of a tentative debt ceiling compromise might mean something for the next few hours and then disappear into th … Read More

via The Long Goodbye

Five Reasons the House GOP Is to Blame (via James Fallows from The Atlantic)

James Fallows continues his comments on the current debt ceiling crisis. –

Here’s a comparison: Suppose, by similar quirk, there was an arbitrary ceiling on the amount of ammunition the U.S. military could buy each year. Or the amount of fuel for drones, bombers, and Humvees. Like overall national debt, these purchases are foreseeable consequences of previous political decisions — in this case, about the wars the country decides to fight. But suppose that when the “ammo ceiling” came due for its routine extension, a group of legislators said they would refuse. No more bullets or jet fuel after August 2, and for good measure no more food for the troops, unless demands for radical change in future foreign policy were met in full. That would rightly be seen as blackmail, and as a reckless willingness to damage the nation for partisan ends. A similar reckless exercise in blackmail is underway now, with the difference that the consequences can be longer-lasting and worse.

Blackmail- that’s exactly how I see it. I am happy to observe that I am not the only one.

There is not much to be done now. The Republicans cannot generate a bill that will get a majority of their own caucus’ vote. Without that, there is no chance of a congressional action ending the crisis. The only ball park left is for the President to declare that based on a Constitutional provision, the United States will continue to pay its debts.

I doubt if he has the will or the courage. Of course, even mice pushed into a corner will on occasion bite.

James Pilant

The U.S. as ‘Lethal Laughing Stock’ (via James Fallows from the Atlantic)

This is from James Fallows –

Yesterday I mentioned that governmental paralysis over the debt ceiling — a wholly artificial construct* being addressed with mainly incoherent arguments** — was already turning the strongest, richest country in the world into an international laughing stock, whether or not we reach the final disaster of a default.

Yes, that’s about right.

It’s easy to blame the ideology driven House or Representatives but the real villain is the President. Obama has established a reputation as a negotiator ever ready to cave under every imaginable circumstance, always willing to appear as the “adult in the room” no matter what has to be given up to maintain that image. But if that isn’t enough, we have a President celebrated for his eloquence who is constantly unable to rally the American people behind any major policy whatever. His speech this week should have laid out the shady blackmail being played out by the House, instead it’s a wimp suggestion to “call your congressman.”

I would like to explain something to Mr. Obama. My congressman is one of those people who are blackmailing him to do what they want on the budget. There is no threat I can imagine including physical violence that will change his mind. He could not care less what I think and probably even less what the President thinks.

I am a constituent of this person only in the most technical sense. In reality I am meaningless to him. His real constituency is Fox news, Rush Limbaugh, the Tea Party and talk radio. The President’s call for phone call activism is a waste of his and my time.

So, the train wreck approaches. Will the President cave? Of course – that’s almost his profession.

But that is not enough any more to stop default. There are too many competing plans and the Republicans Congress is split – unable to generate a majority for any one plan. Even if they can get it together in these last few days. any bill put together by these petty blackmailers, is dead on arrival in the Senate.

So, disaster is coming, kinds of a 2012 apocalypse on an early schedule.

James Pilant


An Economic Wake Up Call (via Here’s What Nancy Thinks)

Income inequality in the developed nations is almost exclusively an American phenomenon. As you can see from the graph, we are more equivalent to African nations with limited economic development in terms of income

Another interesting article is the graph on the origins of our budget problems. Please pay attention to the enormous role played by the Bush tax cuts in destroying revenue.

James Pilant

An Economic Wake Up Call I don't want a "share the wealth" society in the sense that Republicans like to threaten the people with… You have to admit, though, that there used to be a time when money made it to the top, the top would keep a little and spend the rest to grow their business by hiring new people and so forth. When the money trickled down, there was more money to trickle back up. Now, the mighty dollar is harder to come by because the money makes it to the t … Read More

via Here's What Nancy Thinks

John Ensign Ethics Report: Hot Off the Press (via NotionsCapital)

You should probably read the report and get your fill of the seamy side of capital hill. The combination of power and sexual access is intoxicating. It is hard to do the right thing when there is just so much money and so much temptation. That, of course, is not an excuse.

James Pilant

Special thanks to NotionsCaptital.

John Ensign Ethics Report: Hot Off the Press Adulterous Nevada Republican John Ensign resigned his U.S. Senate seat before the Senate Ethics Committee issued a report that would have led to his expulsion. The last time the U.S. Senate expelled a member: 1862. The Ensign ethics report is out, so add it to your summer reading list. Some may think it’s not a romance novel, but Mr. Ensign’s web of deceit involved a long-term affair with His Neighbor’s Wife (an employee and spouse of an employee … Read More

via NotionsCapital

Nothing Personal (via The Local Crank)

Apparently being Un-American is not a matter of disagreeing with an energy company. A major corporation, Conoco Phillips, has discovered what makes an American and what does not.

Their conclusion runs as follows – If you oppose government subsidies for oil companies you are Un-American.

Conoco Phillips under intense questioning before Congress refuses to retract or apologize for this statement which by the way is in one of their press releases.

I would imagine it only makes sense to the company. They apparently consider the well-being of the company, profitability, to be an American value.

I believe that large multinational corporations believe that the United States serves to advance their interests and has no other purpose worth noting. Their adamant refusal to pay taxes, their attacks on public expenditures, their desire to speculate rather than creating value, their contempt and hatred for American workers and their unceasing efforts to turn the government into a subsidiary all point to a certain state of mind.

A bystander might consider a company that preaches free enterprise at every opportunity and yet makes a considerable portion of its profit from government subsidies might be at the least considered hypocritical or at the most, Un- American.

James Pilant

Nothing Personal ConocoPhillips thinks people who criticize their continued consumption of tax subsidies in the face of record profits are “un-American,” but they don’t think you should take it “personally.”  That’s fine, because I happen to think ConocoPhillips CEO Jim Mulva is an ignorant pissant who runs on all fours, lusts after little boys, howls at the moon and pisses in the corner.  But don’t take it personally, Jimbo. … Read More

via The Local Crank

Satellite Tour of America’s Foreclosures (via Short Sale and Foreclosure Blog)

The foreclosure crisis continues. This is a nice piece of writing highlighted by intelligent illustration. The author has my admiration.

Often, when we have been dealing with a crisis for a long time, we want it to end, to find closure. I promise you my delight in another days’ fukushima crisis is very small. I want that thing to be fixed and stop hurting people every single day. I want to write about other stuff but the nuclear industry has conspired to create a disaster that will run at least ten years. So, I continue writing about it.

I am more than a little afraid this one, the foreclosure crisis, may come to a sudden end. Let me tell you why. There is talk of a settlement of 20 billion dollars by the states attorney generals. Many of our more loathsome congressman are complaining that this is too punitive. It takes a very comfortable distance from the situation and the facts to find compassion for the financial industry. They have in many cases either directly committed crimes, assisted in illegal activity or parsed the law so closely as to send shivers up the spine of the most casual moralist.

Well, these financial industry zealots are likely to ride like some debauched cavalry to the assistance of these banks. They intend to cut the amount and it is quite likely they will gut any proposals to rein in the illegal practices of foreclosure industry. The reform they will aim at with great intensity will be the one ending the abuses of foreclosing without a proper title. Allowing the banks to foreclose with a paper trail will greatly cheapen their costs and make it extremely difficult to police the industry.

So, I want stretched out court battles to reveal to millions of Americans how cruel and unfair this process has been. I want charges filed for false affidavits, penalties assessed for failing to pay state and county fees, and I want justice for those who have suffered fraud during the housing bubble.

James Pilant

Satellite Tour of America's Foreclosures A Frightening Satellite Tour Of America’s Foreclosure Wastelands From Business Insider Gus Lubin | Jan. 30, 2011, 3:42 PM | 693,239 RealtyTrac is out with the total foreclosure numbers for 2010. On the whole things are getting worse. 72 percent of major metro areas saw an increase in foreclosure volume. Although some of the worst hit areas in Nevada, California and Florida improved from 2009, the foreclosure rate in these areas remains shockingly … Read More

via Short Sale and Foreclosure Blog

BOA: BAD BANK, BAD BANK, WORSE BANK (via Livinglies’s Weblog)


This is how I feel as well. It’s a good read. Be warned, he’s really upset. But so am I when I’m dealing with this issue.

Here is my writing on the same subject. You can see that I get passionate about foreclosures too.

Robo-Signing Foreclosure Freeze Update (via Foreclosureblues)

Lots of Links on the Foreclosure Fraud Crisis (via Rortybomb)

“We Can Either Have a Rational Resolution to the Foreclosure Crisis or We Can Preserve the Capital Structure of the Banks. We Can’t Do Both” (via Foreclosureblues)

Sheldon Whitehouse Weighs In On The Foreclosure Crisis

Third Way Comments on Foreclosure Fraud Policy in the Post-Ibanez Landscape (via Rortybomb)

Foreclosure Speed Made Loan Modifications Impossible

The Vast Majority Of Foreclosures Were Done Correctly?

In total, I have 46 posts about the mortgage crisis.

James Pilant

BOA: BAD BANK, BAD BANK, WORSE BANK COMBO Title and Securitization Search, Report, Documents, Analysis & Commentary Bank of America to Create Troubled Loans Unit BANK STILL ATTEMPTING TO KEEP FORECLOSURES A POLITICAL ISSUE AS LEGAL OPTIONS RUN OUT EDITOR’S NOTE: As for what this means for homeowners, it is obvious that BOA is trying to come up with some formula that will be politically acceptable the final result of which will still be that they will get hundreds of thousands o … Read More

via Livinglies’s Weblog

China Takes American Jobs

From The Ethics Sage, Steven Mintz – The article is called, Offshoring in the Phillipines and China.

Here’s an excerpt.

In an effort to foster growth in its outsourcing industry, China  announced that the government will not be levying operating taxes on offshore service outsourcing business in 21 cities until 2013. The policy covers firms specializing in IT outsourcing, business process outsourcing and knowledge process outsourcing. The initiative is expected to boost China’s already robust growth in the industry, where the country enjoyed a 21 percent year-on-year increase to $23.6 billion in 2009.


So, the Chinese are pursuing a deliberate national policy of moving jobs to their country, jobs from the United States.

Don’t we have legislators and a government? Oh, I forgot, out sourcing is good for the financial industry. There is no concern for the rapidly dwindling middle class. It’s as if we had a government for and devoted to observing the flight of jobs in a thoroughly disinterested manner like a scientist examing microbes under a microscope. The middle class microbes have to be watched. They could interfere with profits.

James Pilant

A thought?

Banks Suffer Major Setback

When foreclosing on mortgages the banks have been skipping the rule of law. They have not followed the rules for the transfer of property preferring to pretend that their electronic records are a viable substitute. I never believed the courts would go along with that and the Massachusetts court did not. Here’s the story from that excellent blog, Rortybomb.

From RortybombBig Week in Foreclosure News

The biggest news is the decision in Massachusetts’ “Ibanez case”, where the Massachusetts Supreme Court voided the seizures of two homes by Wells Fargo and US Bank based on their inability to show that they owned the mortgages at the time of foreclosure. Tracy Alloway walks you through the case, David Dayen has more including the PDF of the decision, and analysis from Yves Smith and Felix Salmon.

From the opinion: “Where, as here, mortgage loans are pooled together in a trust and converted into mortgage-backed securities, the underlying promissory notes serve as financial instruments generating a potential income stream for investors, but the mortgages securing these notes are still legal title to someone’s home or farm and must be treated as such.”

They ruled through Massachusetts law instead of New York law, so no answers on looming New York trust law. Bank stocks are down. This is likely to have major implications down the road. We’ll have more on this opinion later.

I do not believe the ruling will stand. Congress will ride to the rescue of the banks legalizing their reckless disregard for state law and afflicting the suffering homeowners with even more pain. Congress will enact it. Obama will sign it. He will then explain it as a major legislative victory. Everything he does merits a press release and a couple of morning show appearances demonstrating his successful legislative record.

I wish there was someone somewhere who was as concerned with the rights and privileges of the American middle class and less concerned with the welfare of the banks.

James Pilant