Iraq, Better?

It is possible, just possible,that things have gotten just a little bit better in Iraq. If so, this is a good thing, for all concerned. Let’s just hope it is true. Maybe with a bit of breathing room the world can start to find a way out of the terrible, terrible mess that Bush and the Republicans have created for the entire region.
American and Iraqi casualties are down a bit: U.S. forces welcome least deadly month of Iraq push
Of course, the people still live in terrible fear, neighborhoods are experiencing “ethnic cleansing,” millions of refugees have fled, death squads act with near-impunity, and the Iraqi Parliament responds, Bush-style, by leaving on vacation.
But maybe, just maybe, things are a bit better than they were. Let’s hope so.

Justice Dept. Corruption: Stevens Tipped Before Search

You may have heard that the FBI searched Republican Senator Stevens’ house yesterday.Senator Stevens. But you may not have heard that the Republican Justice Department gave him a warning and time to clear out any evidence.
Is That Legal?: Justice Department Tips Off Senator Stevens Before Searching His Home!,

Stevens said in a statement that his attorneys were advised of the impending search yesterday morning.

I spent nearly 9 years as a federal prosecutor. I’m not aware of a single instance when any prosecutor or agent told anyone outside the Justice Department that a search warrant was going to be executed later in the day.

Impeachment Question

I think on principle impeachment is important. We have never seen lawlessness and defiance of the Constitution like this. It is important to make the statement that leaders cannot do this,
But a question: What happens if the House impeaches and enough Republicans in the Senate block conviction. Wouldn’t that mean that Bush is excused and is free to continue on as he pleases? Does it set a very dangerous precedent?

Today’s Voting Machines Story -Not Just Counting Ballots

The other day I wrote that it doesn’t matter how well we fix the voting machines because there is no reason for people to trust the results unless there is a paper ballot printed out and checked by the voter. These ballots can be checked against whatever the machine reports and can be used to PROVE that the results are accurate or not.
That is, of course, not the whole solution to our voting problems. Remember the long lines in Democratic-majority precincts in Ohio, etc… You can only count the ballots of those people fortunate enough to make it past the obstacles put in place to keep them from voting.
I received a letter about this:

The problem with the [voting machine hacking] reports and your reply is that they may be barking up the wrong tree.
As we have seen in OH, it the insiders, not the outside hackers, that are the biggest threat. These reports seem to be missing that. All the procedures and rules don’t mean a thing if the folks that have implemented the rules, and know exactly how to circumvent them, are themselves untrustworthy.
The only solution I have come up with is to greatly increase election transparency. It takes the peoples’ eyes to assure that elections are run fairly. But I’m sure you know that.

YearlyKos

I will be leaving Wednesday for Chicago to attend YearlyKos.
Thursday at 8am I am moderating a session titled Connecting Major Donors to the Netroots. The panelists are:
Chris Bowers
Lisa Seitz Gruwell
Michael Lux
Rob Stein of Democracy Alliance, who will give his famous (in certain circles) presentation on the right’s infrastructure and funding.
At 9:30 I am moderating a session titled Creating a Culture of Grassroots Giving. The panelists are:
Joe Rospars, now of the Obama for America campaign
Joe Trippi, now of the Edwards for President campaign
Shai Sachs of MyDD
I am also a panelist at the following sessions:
Reaching the Public
Think Tank Resources for Bloggers
Smoking Politics

Today’s Housing Bubble Post – Woes Spreading; Coming Soon’ Is Now ‘Price Reduced’

Early in June I wrote about a house down the street marked as ‘Coming Soon’. I just thought I would mention that the house now has a “Price Reduced” sign on it.
And in other housing-bubble news, Signs of contagion in the U.S. housing downturn

By the end of last week, any lingering hope that the housing downturn in the United States would be contained had vanished. As this week begins, signs of contagion seem to be everywhere.
Unnerved by mounting losses in mortgage-related investments, investors have started to shun tens of billions of dollars in corporate debt offers as well – and seem likely to go on doing so for months to come. That would stanch the flow of easy money that has fueled the leveraged buyout boom, which would, in turn, expose the extent to which stocks have also come to depend on cheap credit.
Stocks took a dive last week because debt-driven buyouts had long boosted the share prices of targeted companies. Stocks have also benefited directly from easy money because public companies have borrowed heavily to buy back their own stock, a ploy to drive up earnings per share.

American Home Mortgage tumbles on liquidity issues,

American Home Mortgage Investment Corp shares fell sharply Monday after the company delayed its quarterly dividend, announced “major” write-downs, and said lenders were demanding it put up more cash.
… American Home specializes in prime and near-prime loans. It has, however, made many loans that allow borrowers to produce little documentation of income or assets. American Home, organized as a real estate investment trust, recently commanded a roughly 2.5 percent share of the U.S. mortgage market.
“Bankruptcy is not out of the question,” said Matt Howlett, an analyst at Fox-Pitt Kelton Inc. in New York. “It needs to find a partner with alternative funding and hope the market turns around. It’s going to be tough.”
He added, “It’s clear now we’re in a liquidity crisis. Any loans that aren’t pure prime are falling in value.”

Continues…

Continue reading

Today’s Voting Machines Post – Prove It

The California Secretary of State ordered tests on all the voting machines. They flunked. Most vote machines lose test to hackers,

State-sanctioned teams of computer hackers were able to break through the security of virtually every model of California’s voting machines and change results or take control of some of the systems’ electronic functions, according to a University of California study released Friday.
The researchers “were able to bypass physical and software security in every machine they tested,” said Secretary of State Debra Bowen, who authorized the “top to bottom review” of every voting system certified by the state.

Suppose they fix these “vulnerabilities? But o matter how much testing you do and bugs or vulnerabilities you fix there are going to be more – the ones we don’t know about. That is how it is with computers.
Here’s a simple test for election systems: “Prove it.” What do I mean? Suppose you have a perfect voting machine and every possible security problem that anyone can think of is accounted for. The machine’s code is carefully inspected. The hardware is working. So I go in and cast a vote, and they say, “Your vote was recorded accurately.” I say, “Prove it.”
They can’t. So I’m not happy.
Or, imagine this test: You ask them to let you cast the only vote and then they count the votes. You cast a vote for ‘A’ but tell them that you cast a vote for ‘B’. There is no way they can PROVE you did that. So no one has a reason to trust the “election” results.
Here is the answer – the only answer. After you cast your vote, a paper record of your vote is printed, you look at it, and you put it into a separate box. Now there is a way to PROVE how people voted. You open the box, you count the ballots. You prove it.
The only solution to the voting machines problem is to print a paper ballot that the voter examines. If you have that system in place then it doesn’t matter if the machine was hacked, or broken, or you made a mistake. With that piece of paper you have a way to double-check what the machine did. Without that piece of paper it doesn’t matter how secure the machine is – because you can’t prove it.

Today’s Housing Bubble Post (II) – Mortgage-Backed Chaos

Following today’s terrible stock market, more mortgage-backed news:
Bear Sterns seizes assets of its High-Grade hedge fund,

Bear Stearns Cos. said late Thursday that it seized assets from its High-Grade Structured Credit Strategies Fund after the hedge fund suffered huge losses in mortgage-backed securities and structured-finance markets.

UPDATE 2-Wells Fargo shuts subprime mortgage unit,cuts jobs|Funds News|Reuters.com

Wells Fargo & Co., the second-largest U.S. mortgage lender, said on Thursday it will close its subprime wholesale lending business, which processes and funds loans for third-party brokers, citing turmoil in the market for riskier home loans.
The company will shut operations in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, causing a loss of 170 jobs, and in Des Moines, Iowa, where it will seek other jobs for 67 workers. Wells Fargo also cut 444 subprime jobs last winter.

Foreclosure rates could soar,

The already poor performance of many mortgage loans will worsen substantially through the rest of the year, according to an analysis released Thursday by Moody’s Economy.com.
The company predicts that 2.5 million first mortgages will default this year, with little chance for improvement soon – Economy.com expects delinquencies to peak in the summer of 2008 at 3.6 percent of all outstanding mortgage debt, up from 2.9 percent during the first three months of 2007.

Analysts Say Mortgage Woes May Worsen

The next and biggest wave of problem loans could come as monthly payments soar for both prime and subprime borrowers who took out adjustable-rate loans with little or no documentation, or who used so-called piggyback loans on top of their first mortgages to make up for small down payments, analysts said.

Become A Fox Attacker

m4s0n501


Become a Fox Attacker. Help identify FOX News advertisers (national and local) for the database. Then let advertisers know what is being said on FOX News. This is not a boycott, it is letting advertisers know what is being done with their advertising dollars.

Fight back! Become a Fox Attacker.
Fox is not a legitimate news channel. They consistently misrepresent facts, manufacture terror, and slander progressives.
We’re fighting back by identifying and calling all of FOX’s advertisers. All of them. Particularly local advertisers who probably have no idea the kind of hatred their money is supporting.
We’re fighting back by identifying and calling all of FOX’s advertisers. All of them. Particularly local advertisers who probably have no idea the kind of hatred their money is supporting.
This is not a boycott. We are simply calling advertisers and informing them about FOX. And making Bill O’Reilly’s life a living hell.

Thanks to Brave New Films.
More at Crooks and Liars, and Rick Perlstein at Common Sense Blog,

I’ve just become a proud “FOX Attacker”. Now you can too. It’s not a boycott. It’s simply calling advertisers and informing them what FOX says. FOX can’t survive that. Have a blog? Then help spread the word.