Thursday, July 10, 2014

When the Going Gets Tough....


Tread Lightly or Risk Nation Damaging


I know that readers don’t turn to this blog seeking just my political babblings, they want my opinion on mortgage finance and F&F stuff. That’s the blog’s mission, although when there is little fresh mortgage finance material around (I’ll get to some later), it behooves us all to think about matters which are important and clearly related.


Hating Obama at a Great Common Cost

After supporting Hillary in the 2008 primary—who then might not have beaten John McCain—I twice voted for Barack Obama.

Candidate Obama in 2008 seemed to be fresh and invigorating, but in hindsight he didn’t have the seasoning for the job nor backbone, at least beyond the struggle of anyone who is black and quickly becomes politically prominent.  

He wasn’t an alley fighter in a town which demands and respects the same. As engaging as he is/was, President Obama wasn’t as embracing (the fabulous Bill Clinton skill), meaning he had trouble reaching out to R’s and D’s. That hurt him.


In his second term, Obama's accumulated shortcomings have wounded him. Better to be a wolf than a sheep, but he’s never measured up to being a true predator no matter what the Right claims are his dictatorship aspirations. 

Barack Obama has been abused more that Jimmy Carter or George W. Bush on their worst days. Sure, there is a racial component there, which his vilest antagonists swear isn’t the case, showing me that it is. It also suggests that it will be a long time before we, as a people, are race neutral. 

Every generation thinks their challenges are greater and different than the previous generations, but the domestic and overseas threats and challenges we face are  worrisome and gut wrenching. 

With Middle East chaos, China throwing its weight around Asia, Russia meddling in the Ukraine, and major domestic unhappiness, we could be on the brink of a downward spiral that benefits few US interests. 

Nobody should curtail their freedom of speech, but thinking about consequences of comments and actions should be the primary responsibility of each of every American and those who would be citizens. 

Obama’s GOP opponents continue the “Beat up Barack” assaults with no let up, thinking it’s the best way to win the Senate this year and maybe the White House in 2016. That noise is taken up by their foot soldiers who turn it into personal, racial, and familial slurs. 

They don’t even pretend civility, which may have worked in the 1940’s when we could be “Fortress America.” But, as 9-11 proved and many lesser setbacks since then, we retreat to our own borders and dare anyone to come after us at our own peril. 

What ever happened to “My President, right or wrong, he’s still my President,” which accommodates situational disagreement but still supports the office and the nation’s elected leader. 

That obligation doesn’t cease with, “Well, I didn’t vote for Obama.” 

Remember when we would pound our younger brothers, but if anyone else in neighborhood dare touch them we would be defend and pulverize the transgressor. 

As a nation, we are better speaking with a single voice and safer engaging the “enemy,” united, where the enemy lives and works, which near term seems to be much of the Muslim world, Russia, China, North Korea, etc. 

Each of those nations is more aggressive in their anti-American actions because of the President’s weaknesses, for which he and we all share some responsibility. 

For the next two years, President Obama will be demonized and worse. If a Democrat does win the presidency in 2016, Obama’s name and legacy just will fall into the epithet category. 

We belittle this president and his allies—and his supporters do the reverse—at our own jeopardy imperiling our status as a legitimate world leader, the country strong enough to take in “the yearning masses,” appreciate differences, and be a big tent nation. 

Most of us feel a loss of US world leadership in that regard and to underestimate the new and old bullies on the block—who seek to exploit our divisions-- is foolhardy. 

Right now our “big tent” is leaking and sits on top of squabbling and contentious partisans, who respect little and that’s a huge mistake. 

Some stalwarts (are there any?) on the Right and Left should assume the adult responsibility that Richard George Kopf, the Nebraska federal judge—appointed by George W, Bush—did this week, when—bravely--he called out the five Catholic male justices who control the Supreme Court to “STFU” and consider the damage their judicial decision bias are causing the nation. 

We need more bipartisan “adults,” like Judge Kopf, offering Americans better models for accepting and accommodating our divisions and diversity rather than using them as bludgeons. 

No matter how some may yearn for it, demo-graphically the United States isn’t getting any whiter, just more brown and black. But that doesn’t mean it will be weaker or that our ideals are not worth preserving or angrily should be jettisoned. 

So, like previous American generations, build on our differences and employ them for a better tomorrow for everyone.

Senate Approves Castro for HUD  

The Senate has approved President Obama’s nomination of Raul Castro to be the next Secretary of Housing and Urban development (HUD), generally a backwater job in any administration. 

The charismatic Castro, former San Antonio Mayor-- whose identical twin brother, Joaquin--is a sitting Texas Congressman, is reportedly a possible VP candidate for the 2016 D ticket.
In his nomination hearing, Castro wisely stayed but he suggested that the F&F status quo  wasn’t acceptable.
Here’s a reader comment I posted to the Politico story, which reported the Senate vote and the issues Castro may encounter as HUD Secretary including a reference to Fannie and Freddie.

With regard to Fannie and Freddie (and his political aspirations), I hope Secretary Castro stays out of Director Mel Watt's way. He's making a mistake if he thinks that diminishing Fannie and Freddie is any sort of political winner, since the big banks don't want the job unless heavily subsidized by taxpayers. This soup doesn't need a second chef stirring the pot.


Bill Issac and Fannie and Freddie

Former FDIC Chairman Bill Issac never was a fan or supporter of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. So, I found it a little surprising that he took such a strong op ed stand in the Hill newspaper “Roll Call” suggesting how F&F have been—and their investors—abused by the Obama Administration Treasury and its regulators.

Not uncommon for a former GOP regulator to criticize Democrats but—unless he’s drawing a pay check from one of the “takings” plaintiffs—I thought Issac’s position quite helpful to their cause.


3 House D’s Team Up; F&F 2.0

Reps. John K. Delaney, D-Md., John Carney, D-Del., and Jim Himes, D-Conn, all members of the House Financial services Committee announced they will reintroduce a bill they’ve been working on since January, which seeks to bridge the ground between the GOP Hensarling (R-Tex.) “Path Act” and the CWJC, Corker (R-Tenn.) Warner (D-Va.) Johnson (D-SD) and Crapo (R-Idaho), both of which barely got reported by their respective chamber banking committees and now languish. 

The new House bill would keep F&F alive, but not in full form, and would hold open the hope for some payoff for investors.


Commentary on Peter Wallison

The AEI’s Peter Wallison, a week or so ago, penned a repeat of his allegations that Fannie and Freddie were the cause of the 2008 financial meltdown, ignoring, once again, the role of the major financial institutions who went outside the F&F systems to create and sell worldwide more than $2 Trillion of worthless private label mortgage backed securities (PLS), which their broker network created. 

A friend offered this pithy description of Wallison‘s work (aided by Ed Pinto’s equally vapid research). 

“Wallison is housing policy's version of a Creationist: ignoring mountains of hard evidence that refute his ideological convictions, while positing a mythologized story that falls flat without a willful suspension of disbelief.  Yet, like Creationists, he has a ready audience for his material.”


Frank Raines Lives and Builds


There's life after the mortgage wars.

Frank Raines, who has long predicted there would be no swift resolution of the future of Fannie and Freddie, moved into venture capital investing nine years ago. 
This week the latest firm he co-founded, Xappmedia ( held a party celebrating the launch of their interactive audio ad service at the headquarters of its launch partner National Public Radio.   

This continues Raines’ interest Raines in technology enabled business since his days at Fannie.  

After reducing Fannie’s own approval time—and therefore that for primary market lenders market--Raines observed that, “It’s sad that it once again takes a month or more to approve a mortgage after we worked for many years to make that process more effective and efficient.”   

His new company creates audio ads that allow people to respond to the ads with their voice.  So a Geico ad might say “if you want to talk to an agent, after the beep, say ‘call now.' ”  

The technology would recognize what you said and then place the call for you.  No more trying to remember 800 numbers.
Good luck, FDR!


Maloni, 7-10-2014 

(The 21 days of “Camp Maloni 2014” soon will end as three west coast Maloni’s return to their home and three east coast Maloni’s retreat to theirs. Three weeks of: swimming, bike riding, Folk Life Festival, Imagination Theater, multiple fireworks events, berry picking, baking pies and making ice cream, road trips to other cousins in Pittsburgh, fishing and catching bass, creek hunting for crayfish,  tent camping and bear/deer sightings, days at Rehoboth, tie-dying, library visits, boxes of popsicles, one call to 911 for lost bike hikers (canceled shortly after they were found by a helpful elderly neighbor), July Fourth face painting and parades, crab and shrimp feasts,  toys and games, sleeping together, fighting, hassling, chasing “Cat,” our dog, and lots of fun which makes families stronger, are behind us for another year. Thanks to Grammy Heidi for being the linchpin that made everything work. Everyone is tired, especially Grammy.)


LePage said...

Once again, a breezy, informative read for this new fan.

Bill Maloni said...

Thanks for reading and thanks for the accolade.