Month: February 2008

How to Fix the Economy

You know the drill. Credit Crises, housing crash, dollar at all time low.

Then we have Sam Zell, media mogul and drooling moron, saying that the reason that the exonomy is tanking is because Obama and Clinton are talking it down in their campaigns (H/t Will Bunch of Attytood).

Zell has it wrong. The savior of our economy is politics. With Clinton raising $35 million in February, and Obama having raised even more money, campaign spending is the only stimulus package out there.

If we have a contested convention, between the money spent on pundits, feting super-delegates, and advertisements, we should have full employment.

(please note snark tag)

Economics Update: Housing Edition

There is a lot of news, so this one is just housing.

Mortgage rates are climbing, despite the Fed rate cuts. As I’ve said before, with the expectation of inflation and greater risk of defaults, there is nothing that the Fed can do to keep the rates down.

It does not help that Standard & Poors is looking at cutting ratings on new tranches of mortgage backed securities, this time Alt-A, to the tune of 1,887 classes, which are supposed to be higher quality than subprime.

In the San Diego area home prices are in free fall, having fallen 3% last month, and 9.14% in the last three months.

Finally, we are beginning to see foreclosure self help websites. The link is “You Walk Away” dot com.

Austan Goolsbee Fingered as NAFTA Contact In Obama Campaign

So reprots CTV News.

There are three possibilities.

The first is that these discussions never happened, in which case both Obama and Goolsbee deserve an apology.

The second is that Goolsbee did talk to the ambassador with the approval of the campaign, in which case everyone in the campaign deserves a dope slap and a severance notice.

This would be unnecessary and stupid, and I do not think that the members of Obama campaign are that stupid. (If they are, then they deserve to lose)

The third possibility is that Goolsbee decided to do this unofficially on his own.

If that’s the case, he needs to be dropped in an ostentatiously public manner, because you can’t afford to have someone freelancing like this on policy or diplomacy.

I do know that Mr. Goolsbee has occasionally read my blog, so if he wants to make a statement, I will post it unedited.

Economics Update

We have bad news on income and spending. If you go to the link it says that they are both up slightly, 0.3% and 0.4% respectively, but this is less than inflation, which means that it is a real drop.

We also have oil at or near all time highs, and the dollar at or near all time lows.

We have a new estimate of total losses among financial firms from the meltdown, $600 billion. I think that they are off by at least one zero.

Insurance is continuing to unwind in a most unpleasant manner.

MBIA is not doing much in the way of business, because bond issuers don’t trust them to be solvent in the future.

Perhaps of more concern is that this is beginning to effect the reinsurance market, with Swiss Reinsurance Company posting an 87% drop in profits.

If this market goes south, it takes most of the insurance market with it.

Of course, we have the Fed shoveling out more money to the investors. It will auction off another $60 billion in March.

I don’t even want to think what the money supply is doing right now.

The credit crunch is also interfering with things like reorganizations, with Delphi unable to find the loans necessary for it to reorg under bankruptcy.

Finally, earnings fell across the market, with the S&P 500 companies’ earnings falling 4.2%, as opposed to the 10% increase forcast at the beginning of 2007.

Pelosi Refers Contempt Citation to Mukasey

How quaint, she expects the Attorney General of the United States of America to enforce laws when they are inconvenient for his boss.

To quote a scion of the Bush Crime Family, “Not gonna happen.”

Perhaps she should send the House Sargent at Arms, or whatever it is called, out with a pair of handcuffs.

February 28, 2008

The Honorable Michael B. Mukasey
The Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W
Washington, D.C. 20530-0001

Dear Mr. Attorney General:

In accordance with 2 U.S.C. § 194 and the attached House Resolution 979 (adopted on February 14, 2008), I have today sent a certification to the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, Jeffrey Taylor, advising him of the failure of former White House Counsel, Harriet Miers, to appear, testify and produce documents in compliance with a duly issued subpoena of a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee and of the failure of Joshua Bolten, White House Chief of Staff and custodian of White House documents, to produce documents in his custody as required by a duly issued subpoena of the House Judiciary Committee.

Under section 194, Mr. Taylor is now required “to bring the matter before the grand jury for its action.” The appropriate grand jury action is a criminal charge for violation of 2 U.S.C. § 192, which provides: “Every person who having been summoned as a witness by the authority of either House of Congress to give testimony or to produce papers . . . willfully makes default . . . shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor” and shall be subject to a fine and “imprisonment in a common jail for not less than one month nor more than twelve months.”

According to the testimony of your predecessor, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and your recent testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, the Justice Department intends to prevent Mr. Taylor from complying with the statute and enforcing the contempt citations against Ms. Miers and Mr. Bolten. You claimed that “enforcement by way of contempt of a congressional subpoena is not permitted when the President directs a direct adviser of his… not to appear or when he directs any member of the executive not to produce documents.” Hearing on Oversight of the Dep’t of Justice Before the H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 110th Cong. 87-88 (Feb. 7, 2008). You purported to base your view on a “long line of authority,” but cited no court decision that supports this proposition.

There is no authority by which persons may wholly ignore a subpoena and fail to appear as directed because a President unilaterally instructs them to do so. Even if a subpoenaed witness intends to assert a privilege in response to questions, the witness is not at liberty to disregard the subpoena and fail to appear at the required time and place. Surely, your Department would not tolerate that type of action if the witness were subpoenaed to a federal grand jury. Short of a formal assertion of executive privilege, which cannot be made in this case, there is no authority that permits a President to advise anyone to ignore a duly issued congressional subpoena for documents.

Your press spokesman has stated that you will “act promptly” to review this matter and reach a final decision. We will appreciate your acting with appropriate dispatch on this important matter. I strongly urge you to reconsider your position and to ensure that our nation is operating under the rule of law and not at presidential whim. If, however, you intend to persist in preventing Mr. Taylor from carrying out his statutory obligation to present this matter to the grand jury in the District of Columbia, we respectfully request that you inform us of that decision within one week from today, so that the House may proceed with a civil enforcement suit in federal district court.

Thank your for your prompt consideration and attention to this matter.

best regards,

Speaker of the House


February 28, 2008

The Honorable Jeffrey A. Taylor
United States Attorney
District of Columbia

The undersigned, The Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States, pursuant to the attached House Resolution 979, One Hundred Tenth Congress, hereby certifies to you the failure and refusal of Harriet Miers, former White House Counsel, to appear, testify, and furnish certain documents in compliance with a subpoena before a duly constituted subcommittee of the House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary. The undersigned further certifies to you the failure and refusal of Joshua Bolten, White House Chief of Staff, to furnish certain documents in the custody of the White House in compliance with a subpoena before said committee. These failures and refusals are fully shown by the certified copy of the House Report 110-423 of said committee which is also hereto attached.

Witness my hand and seal of the House of Representatives of the United States, at the City of Washington, District of Columbia, this twenty-eighth day of February, 2008.

Speaker of the House of Representatives


Clerk of the House of Representatives

The Bigots Are Going After Each Other Now

It appears that Bill Donohue, President of the “Catholic League” and all around bigot is upset because Texas Evangelical leader John Hagee, another bigot, has endorsed John McCain.

It seems that Hagee hates Catholics too, you see.

But Catholic League President Bill Donohue said in a statement today that Hagee has written extensively in negative ways about the Catholic Church, “calling it ‘The Great Whore,’ an ‘apostate church,’ the ‘anti-Christ,’ and a ‘false cult system.'”

“Senator Obama has repudiated the endorsement of Louis Farrakhan, another bigot. McCain should follow suit and retract his embrace of Hagee,” Donohue said.

I appreciate McCain’s conundrum. If he disavowed bigotry, he’d lose at least 3/4 of the Republican party.

Pass the popcorn.

Bush Holds Press Conference, Desparately Tries to Convince Congress to Cover His Law_Breaking

Yes, in addition to other matters, Bush is going full fear factor to sell the telco immunity.

I hope it won’t work. My sense is that the House stood up to him, and when they went home for the recess, they had constituents high-fiving them.

If they have any sense at all, they will tell Mr. 19% to pound sand.

They tried to collect all the phone records, and all the internet traffic, and they started in February 2001, 7 months before 9/11, and Bush is terrified that he’ll have to pay for his law breaking.

Let him twist in the wind.

Massachusetts Judges Rules Some Mortgages “Structurally Unfair” Under State Consumer Protection Law

This is interesting. The judgehas basically ruled that this business model is fradulent and illegal:

A Suffolk Superior Court judge has issued a potential landmark order slowing down thousands of Massachusetts foreclosures and declaring whole classes of subprime mortgages “structurally unfair” under state law.

“It is both imprudent and unfair to approve mortgage loans that the borrowers cannot reasonably be expected to repay if housing prices were to fall,” Judge Ralph Gants wrote in a preliminary injunction against notorious subprime mortgage lender Fremont Investment and Loan. “Just because we as a society failed earlier to recognize that (many subprime loans) were generally unfair does not mean that we should ignore their tragic consequences and fail now to recognize that unfairness.”

My guess is that it will either be overturned on appeal, or the foreclosures will resume after 90 days, or both.