Friday Morning ReadsPosted: September 2, 2011
Well, it looks like I’m in a tropical storm warning right now. I’m just hoping the electricity stays on as TD 13 becomes TS Lee when it drifts around and comes on shore some time on Saturday. I’m also hoping Hurricane Katia stays a fish storm but that’s looking less likely at the moment. Lot’s of us may get flooded yet again. I’m just hoping we can go get NJ Governor Chris Christie to go beat up Eric Cantor in the interim. Poor Vermont looks like it needs a lot of help right now! We’re expected to get rain that may fall at 2-3 inches an hour. I’m not sure if our pumps can handle that; especially the crappy ones the Corps bought from Jeb Bush that have been problematic since they were installed.
So, it’s nice to see that the FED has decided that Goldman Sachs is now under its jurisdiction and is ordering it to review its foreclosure practices of a former subsidiary. So many heads should roll over the subprime mortgage market mess and so few have to date. The Fed’s a pretty aggressive regulator when it feels some institution is in its charter. It’s good to see the charter is extending beyond commercial banks and thrifts now that the cheap lending has been extended to other financial institutions too. They take the truth-in-lending laws very seriously.
The Federal Reserve ordered Goldman Sachs Group Inc to hire a consultant to review practices of a former mortgage subsidiary on Thursday and said it plans to assess a monetary penalty for wrongful foreclosures.
The Fed’s crackdown sent Goldman shares down 3.5 percent on Thursday, even as the bank announced that it had completed the sale of Litton Loan Servicing LP, the mortgage-servicing business at the heart of its foreclosure problems.
Litton’s regulatory troubles stem largely from the practice of “robosigning,” in which bank employees signed foreclosure documents without reviewing case files as required by law.
Many large banks, including Bank of America Corp, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Wells Fargo & Co and Citigroup Inc, have been targets of probes by state and federal regulators over the same issue, in the clean-up after a world financial crisis triggered in large part by bad mortgages in the United States and bonds backed by those loans.
The Fed cited “a pattern of misconduct and negligence” at Litton in announcing its enforcement action against Goldman.
The Economist has been having a reader debate on the necessity of Fiscal stimulus for the US. The Hell, Yes! vote appears to have it. The comments are about as interesting as the two economists debating the motion.
The American economy has remained extremely weak since officially leaving recession in mid-2009. The unemployment rate has barely fallen. Recent figures suggest GDP grew at less than a 1% annualised rate through the first half of the year and the odds of a return to recession have risen. The headwinds facing the economy are considerable: the private sector is still trying to reduce the burden of debt it is carrying from the pre-crisis boom years. House prices are still in the doldrums and mortgage credit is hard to get. State and local governments, which are required to balance their budgets, have been forced to cut spending, workers and hours to cope with falling tax collections. Many argue that in such a situation, the federal government is the only entity left that can provide a boost to overall demand and keep the economy from slipping back into recession or prolonged stagnation. At present, however, federal fiscal policy is scheduled to do the opposite: at the end of this year, a temporary payroll tax cut and enhanced jobless benefits expire.
George Stephanopoulos writes about James Carville who told him that the White House was “out of bounds” when it asked for time to speak to Congress at nearly the same time NBC broadcasts a Republican Presidential Candidate Debate.
“I do think this is a really big debate and I think the White House was out of bounds…in trying to schedule a speech during a debate,” Carville said on “GMA.”
This will be Gov. Rick Perry’s first debate, and as Carville said this morning the stakes are high.
“Given a choice between watching a debate and the speech I would have watched the debate and I’m not even a Republican or even close to being a Republican,” he said, adding it will be a “barn burner.”
The administration agreed to move the speech to Thursday- possibly competing with the kick off of the NFL season instead. The White House has been touting this jobs plan telling ABC News that he will propose tax relief, infrastructure investment and assistance for the long term unemployed.
Obama has received advice from both sides with some arguing for an ambitious proposal and others recommending finding middle ground.
Carville, an ABC News consultant, told me it doesn’t matter what Obama proposes, it won’t get through Congress.
For the first time this year, Texas Governor Rick Perry leads President Obama in a national Election 2012 survey. Other Republican candidates trail the president by single digits.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows Perry picking up 44% of the vote while the president earns support from 41%. Given the margin of sampling error (+/- 3 percentage points) and the fact that the election is more than a year away, the race between the two men is effectively a toss-up. Just over a week ago, the president held a three-point advantage over Perry. (To see question wording, click here.)
Perry leads by nine among men but trails by five among women. Among voters under 30, the president leads while Perry has the edge among those over 30. The president leads Perry by 16 percentage points among union members while Perry leads among those who do not belong to a union.
I’d vote for a dead dog before I’d vote for Rick Perry, just in case you’re wondering where I stand. A Quinnipiac University poll also shows the President’s approval on handling of unemployment and the economy is still bleak.
President Barack Obama’s overall job approval rating has sunk to an all-time low, as American voters disapprove 52 – 42 percent, compared to 47 – 46 percent approval in July, and among whites and men his approval has dropped into the 30s, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Congressional leaders rate even lower in the public eye. Voters nationwide are more pessimistic about the economy, saying 49 – 11 percent that it is getting worse rather than improving, a precipitous drop from a July 14 survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University, in which voters said 32 – 23 percent the economy was worsening and January 18, when voters said 36 – 20 percent it was improving. The economy is in a recession, 76 percent of voters say, and is not beginning to recover, voters say 68 – 28 percent. Voters trust Obama more than congressional Republicans to handle the economy 44 – 41 percent, but they say 46 – 42 percent that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney would do a better job than Obama. They are split 43 – 41 percent on whether Obama or GOP candidate Rick Perry would be better on the economy.
This should be an interesting political season. My guess is that it’s going to get very ugly.
There’s some good news from NPR about the Obama Justice Department. It seems they have made a priority of keeping abortion providers and women seeking abortions safe from violence and protestor harassment.
The Obama Justice Department has been taking a more aggressive approach against people who block access to abortion clinics, using a 1994 law to bring cases in greater numbers than its predecessor.
The numbers are most stark when it comes to civil lawsuits, which seek to create buffer zones around clinic entrances for people who have blocked access in the past. Under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, or FACE Act, the Justice Department’s civil rights division has filed eight civil cases since the start of the Obama administration. That’s a big increase over the George W. Bush years, when one case was filed in eight years.
“There’s been a substantial difference between this administration and the one immediately prior,” says Ellen Gertzog, director of security for Planned Parenthood. “From where we sit, there’s currently much greater willingness to carefully assess incidents when they occur and to proceed with legal action when appropriate.”
Over the past two years, the Justice Department and FBI have been meeting with abortion-rights groups and medical providers all over the country to explain their work and talk about a federal task force designed to prevent violence against doctors and women seeking abortions.
The National Abortion Federation, which tracks violent incidents, says major violence is down since the 2009 murder of abortion doctor George Tiller. The man who killed Tiller has been convicted, and a federal grand jury is investigating the conduct of his alleged accomplices.
But Sharon Levin, a vice president at the National Abortion Federation, says there are still some signs of trouble, including two incidents this summer involving Molotov cocktails and the arrest of a man who told police he wanted to shoot two abortion doctors in Wisconsin.
So I admit to being totally fascinated by Stonehenge. I wanted to share this Tomb find in the place where the famous stones were most likely quarried.
The tomb for the original builders of Stonehenge could have been unearthed by an excavation at a site in Wales.
The Carn Menyn site in the Preseli Hills is where the bluestones used to construct the first stone phase of the henge were quarried in 2300BC.
Organic material from the site will be radiocarbon dated, but it is thought any remains have already been removed.
Archaeologists believe this could prove a conclusive link between the site and Stonehenge.
The remains of a ceremonial monument were found with a bank that appears to have a pair of standing stones embedded in it.
The bluestones at the earliest phase of Stonehenge – also set in pairs – give a direct architectural link from the iconic site to this newly discovered henge-like monument in Wales.The central site had already been disturbed so archaeologists chose to excavate around the edges
The tomb, which is a passage cairn – a style typical of Neolithic burial monument – was placed over this henge.
How cool is that?
So, that’s my contribution for the day. Hopefully, I’ll be on line through the weekend but if you don’t see me, you’ll know what happened!
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?