Nothing seems to deter the administration from housing and banking policies that simply whitewash massive problems with banks:

Federal banking regulators are trumpeting an $8.5 billion settlement this week with 10 banks as quick justice for aggrieved homeowners, but the deal is actually a way to quietly paper over a deeply flawed review of foreclosed loans across America, according to current and former regulators and consultants.

To avoid criticism as the review stalled and consultants collected more than $1 billion in fees, the regulators, led by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, abandoned the effort after examining a sliver of nearly four million loans in foreclosure, the regulators and consultants said.

Because they have no idea how many borrowers were harmed, the regulators are spreading the cash payments over all 3.8 million borrowers — whether there was evidence of harm or not. As a result, many victims of foreclosure abuses like bungled loan modifications, deficient paperwork, excessive fees and wrongful evictions will most likely get less money.

“It’s absurd that this money will be distributed with such little regard to who was actually harmed,” said Bruce Marks, the chief executive of the nonprofit Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America.

While the comptroller’s office acknowledged flaws in the review, Bryan Hubbard, a spokesman for the agency, said the “settlement results in $3.3 billion being paid to consumers and that is the largest total cash payout of any settlement involving borrowers affected by foreclosures to date.”

The examination was plagued by problems from its start in November 2011, according to interviews with more than 25 people who reviewed foreclosures, 15 current and former regulators and 6 bank officials, who insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly or feared retribution.

Several former employees of a consulting firm doing reviews said that their managers showed bias toward the bank that hired them. Other reviewers said that the test questions used to evaluate each loan were indecipherable and in some cases the process failed to catch serious harm. Many borrowers said they had never heard of the review or were so baffled by the process that they gave up or dismissed it as just another empty promise.

How stupid can you get?


No common sense, some people:

Two men walked the streets of Portland armed with assault weapons earlier this week because they said they wanted to “educate” residents, who reacted by fleeing and calling police.

Warren Drouin and Steven Boyce told KPTV that they were forced to take drastic measure to make sure people were aware of their Second Amendment rights after 20 children in Connecticut were massacred with same type of AR-15 rifles they were carrying.

“We’re not threatening anyone,” Drouin explained. “We don’t have that type of criminal behavior.”

“This happens to open that line of communication, to let people know that you can defend yourself in a time of crisis or any time that you want to,” Boyce added.

But KPTV’s Kaitlyn Bolduc reported that the demonstration created a “state of panic” in Portland’s Sellwood neighborhood.

“Employees inside of E Hair Studio hid in the back of the salon and locked there doors, while other ran for help for fear the two were really there to cause harm,” Bolduc said.


Via Avedon, a piece from Paul Rosenberg on whether Obama is a transformative president:

Everyone has an ideology, whether they know it or not. But when your ideology has you – that’s when you’re an ideologue. It’s not a matter of “extremism” but of rigidity and blindness – detachment from reality. Which is why Barack Obama is one of the most ideological presidents we’ve ever had. And being imprisoned in his “pragmatist” ideology is key to his numerous pragmatic train wrecks, as well his less-noted failures to even take on several really big, really significant problems.

It’s not a matter of intelligence. Barack Obama is clearly one of the smartest men to ever occupy the Oval Office. President of the Harvard Law Review, four years from state senator to President of the United States. First black president. These are not the accomplishments of a stupid, or even just a reasonably competent man.

Unfortunately, however, smart people can often be quite dumb – not just do dumb things, but do them over and over and over again. And while Obama’s rapid rise to power was a tale that highlighted his intelligence, his time in office – now at its half-way point – has been a tale that highlights the limits of that intelligence. Those limits are deeply implicated in his ideology – a fanatical belief in compromise, no matter what – that has served him admirably on a personal level in his rapid climb to power, but that fundamentally cripples him in the exercise of that power once it is in his hands.

Go read, let me know what you think.

Squirrel hunt

So the wildlife trappers are here, banging their ladders against the roof as they install the one-way traps on the eaves openings. It will be so nice not to hear squirrels chewing away at my living room ceiling. (Bastards.)

The hookers and the Secret Service

I don’t even know what to say about this!

Remember back in April, when the Secret Service got in trouble because it was not only hiring hookers, but refusing to pay them? They were not even being scrupulous about their unscrupulous deeds!

A bunch of people got fired, and everybody forgot and moved onto the next national security crisis, and then Benghazi, probably, and the election, and then still Benghazi, and… oh, nevermind. Anyway, turns out that CIA Secret hooker? She was hired by the DEA. I KNOW.

That’s right — the Drug Enforcement Agency hired a Colombian hooker for President Obama’s advance team. The same agency that brought you the revelation of heroin being just as bad as weed is now bringing ladies of the night to the Secret Service, for secret services!

From NBC:

Two U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents “facilitated a sexual encounter” between a prostitute and a U.S. Secret Service agent days before President Barack Obama visited Colombia for a summit meeting in April 2012, according to a Justice Department investigation obtained exclusively by NBC News.


If it actually works:

The United States Food and Drug Administration approved a helmet that treats depression using — wait for it — magnets. It might sound like weird science, but doctors are hailing it as a non-invasive and effective alternative to antidepressants.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (or TMS), involves wearing a helmet filled with electromagnetic coils that sends magnetic pulses to “rewire” specific neural pathways in the brain. Brainsway, a publicly traded Israeli company, has an exclusive license for the technology.

While TMS bears some resemblance to electroconvulsive therapy, doctors say it works quite differently. Traditional shock therapy induces seizures to release neurotransmitters, the goal for TMS is to energize nerve tracks in the brain by making them fire more frequently. The magnetic field impulses of TMS are far gentler, the same strength as those used in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines.

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