Day: August 10, 2012

Justice Dept. Ends Investigation Into Goldman Sachs Mortgage Abuses Without Pressing Charges

 

 

After four years of investigating Goldman Sachs’ blatant mortgage abuses, the crooks go free.

What the heck does this say to the next round of crooks coming out of Wall Street with their derivatives and toxic debris.

People go to jail for stealing a loaf of bread while others stay free after stealing from the entire global finance system and simply walk away unscathed.

This is one of the few things I don’t like about this administration.  Some people say they are beholden to the Banks for helping to get Obama elected in 2008.  I tend to believe that, but wonder why Obama is still in the tank with Goldman Sachs, et al.   Now, they refuse to endorse or support Obama’s bid for a second term…

Think Progress

After a year-long investigation into Goldman Sachs, the bank singled out by a Senate investigative committee for its abusive mortgage practices in the run-up to the financial crisis, the Justice Department announced Friday that it would not press charges against the bank. Goldman Sachs became of the face of widespread mortgage fraud and abuse that led to the subprime mortgage crisis when evidence that it had made trades described by its own bankers as “shitty deals” came to light during a Senate investigation in 2011.

The Department of Justice, however, concluded that it did not have enough evidence to meet the “burden of proof” required for charges, the Wall Street Journal reports:

“Based on the law and evidence as they exist at this time, there is not a viable basis to bring a criminal prosecution with respect to Goldman Sachs or its employees in regard to the allegations set forth in the report,” the statement read. [...]

In a statement Thursday, Goldman said: “We are pleased that this matter is behind us.”

DOJ’s investigation began after an April 2011 report from the Senate Permanent Committee on Investigations revealed that Goldman Sachs had pushed its clients to make trades on risky mortgage-backed securities and credit default swaps even as the bank was betting the same securities would lose value. Though Goldman Sachs was “doing God’s work,” according to chief executive Lloyd Blankfein, other bankers described pushing “shitty deals” on customers. In March of this year, a Goldman Sachs trader lambasted the bank’s “toxic and destructive” culture in a scathing resignation editorial in the New York Times; a former Goldman partner followed up the next week by admitting that the bank’s “commercial animals” had duped customers and peddled “junk” to its clients.

The Securities and Exchange Commission also declined to press charges related to the bank’s role in a $1.3 billion sale of mortgage-backed securities, a reversal from last month when it indicated that it would recommend criminal prosecution. In July, Goldman settled a civil suit with the SEC for $550 million, and it faced sanctions from the Federal Reserve in September.

DOJ reserved the right to re-open the case and press charges should new evidence emerges, but for now, the case seems the latest in a string of them in which the biggest purveyors of the toxic assets that led to the financial crisis walk away with minimal penalties and, in many cases, no penalty at all.

 

Obama Leads Romney By 7 Points As Negative Ads Take Toll

Barack Obama

I’m not counting chickens before they hatch, but I’m just sayin’.   Hopefully this trend will stay steady for the next three months…

The Huffington Post

President Barack Obama is leading Mitt Romney by 7 points among registered voters — 52 percent to 45 percent — in a just-released CNN/ORC International poll.

The margin echoes those of other polls released in recent days, and suggests that the barrage of tough advertisements against the presumptive Republican nominee has taken a toll. As CNN notes:

While Romney’s favorable rating has remained steady (47% now compared to 48% in July), his unfavorable rating has jumped from 42% last month to 48% now … Among independents, the poll indicates Romney’s image has taken a beating. In May, only 40% of independents had an unfavorable view of Romney. Now, 52% of independents have a negative view of him.

These polls are, of course, just snapshots in time. But they underscore the problem that Romney’s campaign now has on its hands. His image among the public has been largely defined by his opponent. And while Romney has plenty of cash to run ads of his own, time is running out for him to reverse this trend.

Take, for example, the following findings within the poll:

Sixty-four percent of all Americans, and 68% of independents, think Romney favors the rich over the middle class. And 63% of the public thinks Romney should release more tax returns than he has already made public, a figure which rises to 67% among independents.

UPDATE: 6:15 p.m. — The recent trend of generally good news for the president continued on Thursday afternoon, with the release of a new poll by Fox News that showed Obama besting Romney by a 49 to 40 percent margin among registered voters. His lead has increased since last month’s poll, when he enjoyed a 45 to 41 percent margin.

As with the CNN poll, the primary factor appears to be the barrage of negative ads directed Romney’s way.

The Obama campaign has spent heavily on advertising attacking Romney’s time at Bain Capital and his tax returns. And it appears to be working. Romney’s favorable rating dropped six percentage points since last month and now sits at 46 percent, down from 52 percent in mid-July. At the same time his unfavorable rating went up five points. Romney’s favorable rating has held steady among his party faithful, but it’s down eight percentage points among independents and seven points among Democrats.

Analysis: Most of Romney’s new Twitter followers are fake

Romney, Maria Dryfhout : Shutterstock.com

Is there even a fiber of moral decency in this man?

The Raw Story

Most of Mitt Romney‘s newest Twitter followers are fake, according to an investigation of bogus social media accounts.

A pay-for-follower service most likely drove the presumptive Republican nominee’s recent and dramatic spike in online followers, concluded Baccardua Labs, a digital security company.

The widely reported surge in tens of thousands of new followers for@mittromney from 21 July – which provoked commentary and suspicion – appeared to have been purchased from a dealer, it said: “We believe most of these recent followers of Romney are not from a general Twitter population but most likely from a paid Twitter follower service.”

The analysis, part of a wider investigation into what the report called the underground Twitter economy, found telltale signals that about a quarter of the new followers were less than three weeks old and had not tweeted. Some 80% were less than three-months-old.

The report’s author, Jason Ding, said there was no way of identifying whether it was the work of the Romney campaign, a Romney supporter or an opponent out to discredit him.

“Romney’s newest followers could have been paid for by himself, his associates or by his opponents. So far, there is not a feasible way to confirm who is responsible.”

Authentication was not required when buying Twitter followers from eBay or other websites, he said, and anyone could buy followers for other Twitter users.

mitt romney twitterAs of Wednesday, Romney had nearly 800,000 followers.

Zac Moffat, the Romney campaign digital director, denied that his side was responsible. “The Romney campaign does not buy Twitter followers,” he told CNET. “We have reached out to Twitter to find out additional information regarding the rapid growth.”

By Wednesday afternoon @mittromney had more than 792,800 followers. He gained 116,922 in a single day, 21 July. Around a tenth have since been suspended by Twitter.

Barracuda said this fit a wider pattern of clandestine Twitter trading which it began studying in May. “Our team set up three Twitter accounts and purchased between 20,000 and 70,000 Twitter followers for each of them from eBay and another website searched from Google.”

It identified “dealers” who charge an average of $18 for 1,000 followers. A dealer can earn up to $800 a day for 7 weeks of selling followings if they can control 20,000 fake accounts, it said. They can earn extra revenue by selling tweets and re-tweets.

The report defined dealers’ clients as “abusers”, with the average abuser boasting 48,885 followers. The phenomenon of fake accounts is not new. The oldest was said to be @krails, created on 15 January 2007. Dealers controlled the following speed and total following number of fake accounts to avoid being suspended by Twitter. “Dealers can apply obscure techniques to make them hard to detect, eg randomly following some famous and some average people, or posting tweets grabbed from the Twitter stream, etc.”

Prices for 1,000 followers ranged widely from $2 to $55 depending on how “real” they seemed. “This underground Twitter business is just blooming,” the report said.

GOP California Lawmaker Opposes Texting And Driving Fine Because It’s Not What ‘The Founders Intended’

 

George Washington, who probably didn’t have much of an opinion at all about cell phones

It’s past ‘silly season’ on the current political calendar but a lot of GOP politicians didn’t get the memo.  I’m now wondering if these people even know that what they’re saying is hilarious?

Think Progress

A California state legislator railed against a proposed $10 “texting and driving” fine increase in an appropriations committee hearing Wednesday, arguing that “policing ourselves” is “what the founders intended.” If passed, the bill wouldincrease the base fine for texting and driving from $20 to $30, with the $10 increase to be used for a public awareness program. Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R-59), however, warned that such an increase would cause George Washington to roll over in his grave:

DONNELLY: And I think the fact that you might cause a death, someone else’s death or your own, is such a powerful prohibiter of that, that we really don’t need to be increasing the fine. And I don’t think we need to have the cops pulling people over and giving them texting tickets. I see the cops driving down the street texting. So when a cop is driving down the street texting, and then he’s going to give me a ticket for texting, I think it’s wrong. And I think ultimately, there’s a great consequence to that kind of behavior. And as intelligent, rational human beings who live in a free society, is it too much to ask that we just police ourselves? It just seems that’s what the founders intended. And I feel like this is just more of a nanny state government that costs us a lot of money, and ultimately abridges more and more liberties to the point that – is the government going to tell me where I can go next? Or how many miles I can drive?

Watch it:

For the record, drivers distracted by their cellphones killed an estimated 16,000 people from 2001 to 2007. So this law has nothing to do with some kind of “nanny state” effort to protect people from themselves, and everything to do with eliminating a dangerous activity that kills thousands of innocents every year.

Donnelly is right in one respect, however. There can be no doubt that the founders did not foresee liberty-squashing texting and driving laws, for the same reason their vision of American government says nothing about the Internet, space shuttles, automatic dishwashers, the Industrial Revolution, iPads or the short-lived professional baseball career of Michael Jordan.

Assemblyman Donnelly, for his part, has not yet explained how he thinks Thomas Jefferson would have regulated the nuclear power industry.