TBR News January 31, 2012

Jan 30 2012


The Voice of the White House

            Washington, D.C., January 30, 2012: “I see that Obama is now doing all kinds of useless double-talk about the terrible, pending, mortgage problems in this country. He can do nothing about this looming catastrophe without infuriating either the American banks or rich foreign investors whose countries sit on top of oil fields, but he will wave his arms and talk, and talk hoping to blanket the issue until after the November elections. He has done nothing about the unemployment but wave his arms and talk and unemployment is growing, not shrinking. The dollar is slipping against almost all the world’s currency but nothing is being done about it. On the other side, the lunatic Republicans want to do shut down the unions, drain all the extant pension funds, shut off social security and medicade and invite Jesus to come and live at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave instead of the corporate offices of Goldman Sachs. The more restive the public becomes, the more aggressive the law enforcement muscle of the administration flexes. Soon, small children of eight or nine will be arrested for overdue library books and jaywalkers will get life sentences in Pelican Bay prison. Eventually, the public will have had enough and then we will see a real boom in air travel as legions of government officials and law enforcement agents leap onto flights to Antiqua or Brazil to avoid long sentences in Leavenworth or Atlanta. Don’t bet against this, sweethearts, because you’d lose big.”


The Knuckledraggers Revenge


‘I’m going to destroy America and dig up Marilyn Monroe’: British pair arrested in U.S. on terror charges over Twitter jokes


January 30, 2012

by Richard Hartley-parkinson

Daily Mail UK

Two British tourists were barred from entering America after joking on Twitter that they were going to ‘destroy America’ and ‘dig up Marilyn Monroe’.

Leigh Van Bryan, 26, was handcuffed and kept under armed guard in a cell with Mexican drug dealers for 12 hours after landing in Los Angeles with pal Emily Bunting.

The Department of Homeland Security flagged him as a potential threat when he posted an excited tweet to his pals about his forthcoming trip to Hollywood which read: ‘Free this week, for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America?’

After making their way through passport control at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) last Monday afternoon the pair were detained by armed guards.

Despite telling officials the term ‘destroy’ was British slang for ‘party’, they were held on suspicion of planning to ‘commit crimes’ and had their passports confiscated.

            Leigh was also quizzed about another tweet which quoted hit US comedy Family Guy which read: ‘3 weeks today, we’re totally in LA p****** people off on Hollywood Blvd and diggin’ Marilyn Monroe up!
            Federal agents even searched his suitcase looking for spades and shovels, claiming Emily was planning to act as Leigh’s ‘look out’ while he raided Marilyn’s tomb.

Bar manager Leigh, from Coventry, and Emily, 24, from Birmingham, were then quizzed for five hours at LAX before they were handcuffed and put into a van with illegal immigrants and locked up overnight.

They spent 12 hours in separate holding cells before being driven back to the airport where they were put on a plane home via Paris.

Leigh, an Irish national, and Emily arrived at Birmingham Airport last Wednesday afternoon.

Emily said: ‘The officials told us we were not allowed in to the country because of Leigh’s tweet. They wanted to know what we were going to do.

‘They asked why we wanted to destroy America and we tried to explain it meant to get trashed and party.

‘I almost burst out laughing when they asked me if I was going to be Leigh’s lookout while he dug up Marilyn Monroe.

‘I couldn’t believe it because it was a quote from the comedy Family Guy which is an American show.

‘It got even more ridiculous because the officials searched our suitcases and said they were looking for spades and shovels. They did a full body search on me too.

‘We just wanted to have a good time on holiday. That was all Leigh meant in his tweet. He would not hurt anyone.’

Leigh posted the tweet on January 16 before the pair flew to LA last Monday.

Leigh said: ‘It’s just so ridiculous it’s almost funny but at the time it was really scary. The Homeland Security agents were treating me like some kind of terrorist.

‘I kept saying to them they had got the wrong meaning from my tweet but they just told me “you’ve really f***** up with that tweet boy”.

‘When I was in the van I was handcuffed and put in a cage. I had a panic attack but the worse was yet to come.

‘When we arrived at the prison I was shoved in a cell on my own but after an hour two huge Mexican men covered in tattoos came in and started asking me who I was.

‘They told me they’d been arrested for taking cocaine over the border.

‘When the food arrived on the tray they took it all and just left me with a carton of apple juice.’

After 12 hours in custody they returned to the airport where they were handed documents which stated they had been refused entry to the US.

Emily’s charge sheet stated: ‘It is believed that you are travelling with Leigh-Van Bryan who possibly has the intentions of coming to the United States to commit crimes.’

Leigh’s charge sheet, alongside a police mug shot and finger print, added: ‘He had posted on his Tweeter website account that he was coming to the United States to dig up the grave of Marilyn Monroe.

‘Also on his tweeter account Mr Bryan posted that he was coming to destroy America.’

Leigh and Emily have now been told they must apply for visas from the US Embassy in London before flying to the US again.

Special report: Mormonism besieged by the modern age


January 30, 2012

by Peter Henderson and Kristina Cooke


            SALT LAKE CITY, Utah  A religious studies class late last year at Utah State University in Logan, Utah, was unusual for two reasons. The small group of students, faculty and faithful there to hear Mormon Elder Marlin Jensen were openly troubled about the future of their church, asking hard questions. And Jensen was uncharacteristically frank in acknowledging their concerns.

            Did the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints know that members are “leaving in droves?” a woman asked.

“We are aware,” said Jensen, according to a tape recording of his unscripted remarks. “And I’m speaking of the 15 men that are above me in the hierarchy of the church. They really do know and they really care,” he said.

“My own daughter,” he then added, “has come to me and said, ‘Dad, why didn’t you ever tell me that Joseph Smith was a polygamist?'” For the younger generation, Jensen acknowledged, “Everything’s out there for them to consume if they want to Google it.” The manuals used to teach the young church doctrine, meanwhile, are “severely outdated.”

These are tumultuous times for the faith founded by Joseph Smith in 1830, and the rumbling began even before church member Mitt Romney’s presidential bid put the Latter-Day Saints in the spotlight.

Jensen, the church’s official historian, would not provide any figures on the rate of defections, but he told Reuters that attrition has accelerated in the last five or 10 years, reflecting greater secularization of society. Many religions have been suffering similarly, he noted, arguing that Mormonism has never been more vibrant.

“I think we are at a time of challenge, but it isn’t apocalyptic,” he said.
The LDS church claims 14 million members worldwide — optimistically including nearly every person baptized. But census data from some foreign countries targeted by clean-cut young missionaries show that the retention rate for their converts is as low as 25 percent. In the U.S., only about half of Mormons are active members of the church, said Washington State University emeritus sociologist Armand Mauss, a leading researcher on Mormons.

Sociologists estimate there are as few as 5 million active members worldwide.

In Africa and Latin America, however, Jensen said that interest in the LDS was so strong that the church has cut back baptisms in order to better care for new members.


With defections rising, the church has launched a program to staunch its losses. The head of the church, President Thomas Monson, who is considered a living prophet, has called the campaign “The Rescue” and made it his signature initiative, according to Jensen. The effort includes a new package of materials for pastors and for teaching Mormon youth that address some of the more sensitive aspects of church doctrine. “If they are not revolutionary, they are at least going to be a breath of fresh air across the church,” Jensen told the Utah class.

All this comes as the public profile of America’s Mormons had been raised by two pop-culture hits: the recent TV series “Big Love” and the current Broadway hit, “The Book of Mormon.” The attention, says church spokesman Michael Purdy, is a “double-edged sword.”

It has been an opportunity to educate the public about Mormonism and fight misconceptions. For example, the “I am a Mormon” ad campaign, which features stereotype-busting Mormons who are black or single parents, helped boost chat sessions on the church’s website to more than a million in the last 12 months.

The curious find a family-focused church with socially conservative values that teaches Christian principles and believes Christ appeared to founder Joseph Smith in America, where Smith established the new religion.

Church members are satisfied with their lives, content with their communities, strongly see themselves as Christian and believe acceptance of Mormons is increasing, a recent Pew Research poll of people who describe themselves as Mormon found.

But on Broadway, the church’s gospel and missionary zeal are mocked. And the Web has intensified debate over the truth of the history the church teaches.

Not since a famous troublespot in Mormon history, the 1837 failure of a church bank in Kirtland, Ohio, have so many left the church, Jensen said.

“Maybe since Kirtland, we’ve never had a period of – I’ll call it apostasy, like we’re having now,” he told the group in Logan.

Then he outlined how the church was using the technologies that had loosened its grip on the flock to reverse this trend.

“The church has a very progressive research and information division, with tremendous public opinion surveyors,” he said. Among other steps, it has hired an expert in search-engine optimization to raise the profile of the church’s own views in a web search.

Researchers note a rising tide of questions from church members about the gospel according to Joseph Smith’s The Book of Mormon, the best known of the Latter-day Saints’ scriptures. Over the years, church literature has largely glossed over some of the more controversial aspects of its history, such as the polygamy practiced by Smith and Brigham Young, who lead the Mormons to Utah.

The church denied the higher priesthood to blacks until 1978 and still bars sexually active homosexuals from its temples. The church’s active role in promoting California’s Proposition 8, which outlawed gay marriage, drove away some its more liberal members.

Moreover, church leaders have taught that the Book of Mormon is a historical document — not a parable — so the faithful are startled to find articles on the internet using science to contradict it.

For example, the book describes Israelites moving in 600 BC to the Americas, where they had horses and other domesticated animals. But Spaniards introduced horses to the New World many centuries later, and extensive DNA studies have failed to find any genetic link between Israelites and Native Americans, suggesting instead that North America’s indigenous population came across the Bering Strait from Asia many thousands of years ago.

“I think you can find scientific studies coming down on both sides, but the Book of Mormon doesn’t live or die on scientific evidence,” Jensen said.

But Christian Anderson, 41, a non-practicing Mormon in Columbia, South Carolina, for years filed away on a mental “shelf” concerns about the historical veracity of the religion’s central text and its socially conservative views. “It came to a point where the shelf was too heavy,” he said. He quit attending service, telling himself, “Ok, I’m done.”

That’s a common story to PhD student John Dehlin, who conducts conferences nationally for “unorthodox Mormons” wrestling with doubts and has a podcast, mormonstories.org.

“I think this is an epidemic for the church,” said Dehlin. “Most of the people we cater to have been life-long members.”

The church is particularly concerned, however, about its younger members — the ones who are asked to dedicate two years of their life to spreading the Mormon gospel.

“It’s a different generation,” Elder Jensen told the group in Logan. “There’s no sense kidding ourselves, we just need to be very upfront with them and tell them what we know and give answers to what we have and call on their faith like we all do for things we don’t understand.”


Certainly the church can change, as it did a generation ago in admitting blacks to the higher priesthood. And it has now reached out, quietly, to the gay community.

LDS support of Prop 8 became a lightning rod both inside and outside the Church. There were demonstrations in Salt Lake City, which is home to the Mormon tabernacle but was also just named the “the gayest city in America” by the Advocate magazine, crediting its numerous gay-friendly bars, book stores and neighborhoods. In the wake of the Prop 8 battle, Brandie Balken, executive director of gay rights group Equality Utah, was one of five gay advocates who met with three LDS officials to ease tensions.

What was supposed to be a half hour or hour meeting stretched to two hours. Participants took turns describing their background. Balken talked about her love of gardening — and the pain infusing the family of her wife, who was the only gay child in a big LDS family.

Most of the church members present said they weren’t aware of anyone they knew being gay, but they had heard from parents whose gay children were no longer speaking to them and who felt caught between their religion and their family.

There was no immediate agreement. But the Church did in 2009 support a job and housing anti-discrimination measure in Salt Lake City, saying that opposing discrimination was a separate issue from same-sex marriage. Now Utah Democratic Senator Ben McAdams and Republican Representative Derek Brown are proposing a similar statewide bill, and the Church’s position on that will be significant.

I have never ever been associated with an organization that changes as fast as the Mormon church,” said former church researcher Ray Briscoe, 79, whose investigations helped spur movement on issues such as the treatment of blacks.

“I don’t think God was ever against blacks in the priesthood. We just had to grow up enough to accept it,” he said. As for gays — “it will get there, in my judgment.”


This crisis of faith in the LDS church remains largely offstage in the race for the presidency. Mitt Romney’s religion has been less of a prominent issue on the campaign trail this time around than in 2008.

Still, in heavily evangelical South Carolina, Romney won only one-tenth of the vote among those who said a candidate’s religious beliefs mattered to them a great deal.

Many evangelicals say they do not consider the LDS church to be Christian.

And to some voters, Mormonism remains a complete enigma. During the South Carolina primary, one Mormon woman there said an acquaintance was surprised to see her driving a car, confusing Mormons with the Amish.

Individual Mormons are encouraged to participate in public life, including running for office and supporting candidates, but the church officially stays out of electoral politics. It won’t allow its property to be used for polling, unlike many other churches, and has been careful not to run the “I am a Mormon” ads in early primary states.

But that’s not to say church leadership isn’t watching Romney’s campaign with interest.

“There have been discussions at LDS church headquarters about both the positive and negative aspects of Romney’s presidential bid,” a person briefed on the talks said. “One concern is that Romney’s campaign could further energize evangelical antipathy toward the church. Another concern is that he could take positions that would complicate the church’s missionary efforts in the U.S. or other countries such as in Central and South America.”

But on the positive side, the person said, “having a Mormon president could raise the church’s profile and legitimize it in other countries.”

(Reporting By Peter Henderson and Kristina Cooke, editing by Lee Aitken)

Obama: The most polarizing president. Ever.

January 30, 2012

by Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake

Washington Post 

President Obama ran — and won — in 2008 on the idea of uniting the country. But each of his first three years in office has marked historic highs in political polarization, with Democrats largely approving of him and Republicans deeply disapproving.

            For 2011, Obama’s third year in office, an average of 80 percent of Democrats approved of the job he was doing in Gallup tracking polls, as compared to 12 percent of Republicans who felt the same way. That’s a 68-point partisan gap, the highest for any president’s third year in office — ever. (The previous high was George W. Bush in 2007, when he had a 59 percent difference in job approval ratings.)

In 2010, the  

What do those numbers tell us? Put simply: that the country is hardening along more and more strict partisan lines.

While it’s easy to look at the numbers cited above and conclude that Obama has failed at his mission of bringing the country together, a deeper dig into the numbers in the Gallup poll suggests that the idea of erasing the partisan gap is simply impossible, as political polarization is rising rapidly.

Out of the ten most partisan years in terms of presidential job approval in Gallup data, seven — yes, seven — have come since 2004. Bush had a run between 2004 and 2007 in which the partisan disparity of his job approval was at 70 points or higher.

“Obama’s ratings have been consistently among the most polarized for a president in the last 60 years,” concludes Gallup’s Jeffrey Jones in a memo summing up the results. “That may not be a reflection on Obama himself as much as on the current political environment in the United States, because Obama’s immediate predecessor, Bush, had similarly polarized ratings, particularly in the latter stages of his presidency after the rally in support from the 9/11 terror attacks faded.”

Our guess is that Jones’ latter hypothesis is the right one — that we are simply living in an era in which Democrats dislike a Republican president (and Republicans dislike a Democratic one) even before the commander in chief has taken a single official action.

The realization of that hyper-partisan reality has been slow in coming for Obama. But in recent months, he seems to have turned a rhetorical corner — taking the fight to Republicans (and Republicans in Congress, particularly) and all but daring them to call his bluff.

Democrats will point out that Republicans in Congress have played a significant part in the polarization; the congressional GOP has stood resolutely against almost all of Obama’s top priorities. And Obama’s still-high popularity among the Democratic base also exacerbates the gap.

For believers in bipartisanship, the next nine months are going to be tough sledding, as the already-gaping partisan divide between the two parties will only grow as the 2012 election draws nearer. And, if the last decade of Gallup numbers are any indication, there’s little turnaround in sight.

For a rebuttal of our analysis of the Gallup data, make sure to c

Romney says Gingrich has hurt himself: Trying a new tack in Florida, Mitt Romney said Newt Gingrich’s fall in the polls is

“The people of Florida have watched the debates and listened to the speaker and listened to the other candidates and said, ‘You know what? Mitt Romney is the guy we’re going to support,’” Romney said at a rally in Naples.

“I think each of us, if we fail somewhere, if we fail in a debate, if we fail to get the support of people, it’s time to look in the mirror,” Romney said.

Gingrich has complained over the last week about an applause ban at a debate, has accused Romney of lying about his record, and has lashed out at the GOP “establishment,” which he says is out to get him.

NBC asks Romney to pull Brokaw ad: A new Romney ad in Florida uses extensive footage of former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw reporting on Gingrich’s 1997 ethics reprimand, and

“I am extremely uncomfortable with the extended use of my personal image in this political ad,” Brokaw said in a statement. “I do not want my role as a journalist compromised for political gain by any campaign.”

The report describes Gingrich’s reprimand by the U.S. House in 1997 for using tax-exempt money for political purposes and giving the House Ethics Committee false information.

Kerrey buying property in Nebraska: Former senator Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.) tells The Fix that he is buying property in his former home state of Nebraska, but that it doesn’t mean he will seek a return to the Senate in the Cornhusker State.

Kerrey left Nebraska after retiring from the Senate and at one point flirted with the idea of running for mayor of his new home, New York City, where he headed up the New School university.. That’s something Republicans are likely to use against him if he opts to run for retiring Sen. Ben Nelson’s (D-Neb.) seat.

But if he does run, Kerrey will have a Nebraska address from which to do it. A senator must live in the state he or she represents.

In response to The Fix’s inquiry, Kerrey confirmed he was buying a place in Nebraska: “Yes, but it really isn’t a signal that we have decided to re- enter politics.”

“Almost all my family is in Nebraska so we need a place to gather when I am back,” he added.

Kerrey is considered the Democrats’ best hope of holding what is arguably their toughest Senate seat to defend.

Gingrich broaches brokered convention: Despite his troubles in Florida, Gingrich says the GOP presidential contest will continue for months and that Romney may not get enough delegates to win outright at the convention.

“When you add the two conservatives together we clearly beat Romney,” Gingrich said,

As our great

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) has already aimed to stay in the race for the long haul and build up delegates, but a third candidate would likely need to stay in the race and amass delegates to prevent Romney from getting a majority.

We’ve written before about how

Santorum leaves trail with daughter hospitalized: Rick Santorum left the campaign trail after his his 3-year-old daughter, Bella, was hospitalized this weekend with pneumonia.

Santorum skipped an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press and campaign events Sunday to tend to Bella, who has a rare genetic disorder and has undergone frequent treatment and multiple surgeries.

In Santorum’s stead, his 20-year-old daughter Elizabeth and the Duggar family, from TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting,” have been traveling around Florida, and Santorum held two teleconferenced events Sunday evening.

Late Sunday, Santorum said Bella had experienced a “


A new  

Some market analysts say Romney losing the primary

Donald Trump update: He’s still

A little more than a week after endorsing the American people, Herman Cain switches his endorsement


Former congressman Pete Hoekstra leads the Michigan GOP Senate primary 40 percent to 3 percent over businessman Clark Durant, according to a new

Rep. William Keating (D-Mass.)


Freddie Mac Bets Against American Homeowners

January 30, 2012.

by Jesse Eisinger, ProPublica and Chris Arnold, NPR News

Freddie Mac, the taxpayer-owned mortgage giant, has placed multibillion-dollar bets that pay off if homeowners stay trapped in expensive mortgages with interest rates well above current rates.

Freddie began increasing these bets dramatically in late 2010, the same time that the company was making it harder for homeowners to get out of such high-interest mortgages.

No evidence has emerged that these decisions were coordinated. The company is a key gatekeeper for home loans but says its traders are “walled off” from the officials who have restricted homeowners from taking advantage of historically low interest rates by imposing higher fees and new rules.

Freddie’s charter calls for the company to make home loans more accessible. Its chief executive, Charles Haldeman Jr., recently told Congress that his company is “helping financially strapped families reduce their mortgage costs through refinancing their mortgages.”

But the trades, uncovered for the first time in an investigation by ProPublica and NPR, give Freddie a powerful incentive to do the opposite, highlighting a conflict of interest at the heart of the company. In addition to being an instrument of government policy dedicated to making home loans more accessible, Freddie also has giant investment portfolios and could lose substantial amounts of money if too many borrowers refinance.

“We were actually shocked they did this,” says Scott Simon, who as the head of the giant bond fund PIMCO’s mortgage-backed securities team is one of the world’s biggest mortgage bond traders. “It seemed so out of line with their mission.”

The trades “put them squarely against the homeowner,” he says.

Those homeowners have a lot at stake, too. Many of them could cut their interest payments by thousands of dollars a year.

Freddie Mac, along with its cousin Fannie Mae, was bailed out in 2008 and is now owned by taxpayers. The companies play a pivotal role in the mortgage business because they insure most home loans in the United States, making banks likelier to lend. The companies’ rules determine whether homeowners can get loans and on what terms.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency effectively serves as Freddie’s board of directors and is ultimately responsible for Freddie’s decisions. It is run by acting director Edward DeMarco, who cannot be fired by the president except in extraordinary circumstances.

Freddie and the FHFA repeatedly declined to comment on the specific transactions.

Freddie’s moves to limit refinancing affect not only individual homeowners but the entire economy. An expansive refinancing program could help millions of homeowners, some economists say. Such an effort would “help the economy and put tens of billions of dollars back in consumers’ pockets, the equivalent of a very long-term tax cut,” says real-estate economist Christopher Mayer of the Columbia Business School. “It also is likely to reduce foreclosures and benefit the U.S. government” because Freddie and Fannie, which guarantee most mortgages in the country, would have lower losses over the long run.

Freddie Mac’s trades, while perfectly legal, came during a period when the company was supposed to be reducing its investment portfolio, according to the terms of its government takeover agreement. But these trades escalate the risk of its portfolio, because the securities Freddie has purchased are volatile and hard to sell, mortgage securities experts say.

The financial crisis in 2008 was made worse when Wall Street traders made bets against their customers and the American public. Now, some see similar behavior, only this time by traders at a government-owned company who are using leverage, which increases the potential profits but also the risk of big losses, and other Wall Street stratagems. “More than three years into the government takeover, we have Freddie Mac pursuing highly levered, complicated transactions seemingly with the purpose of trading against homeowners,” says Mayer. “These are the kinds of things that got us into trouble in the first place.”

‘We’re in financial jail’

Freddie Mac is betting against, among others, Jay and Bonnie Silverstein. The Silversteins live in an unfinished development of cul-de-sacs and yellow stucco houses about 20 miles north of Philadelphia, in a house decorated with Bonnie’s orchids and their Rose Bowl parade pin collection. The developer went bankrupt, leaving orange plastic construction fencing around some empty lots. The community clubhouse isn’t complete.

The Silversteins have a 30-year fixed mortgage with an interest rate of 6.875 percent, much higher than the going rate of less than 4 percent.  They have borrowed from family members and are living paycheck to paycheck. If they could refinance, they would save about $500 a month. He says the extra money would help them pay back some of their family members and visit their grandchildren more often.

But brokers have told the Silversteins that they cannot refinance, thanks to a Freddie Mac rule.

The Silversteins used to live in a larger house 15 minutes from their current place, in a more upscale development. They had always planned to downsize as they approached retirement. In 2005, they made the mistake of buying their new house before selling the larger one. As the housing market plummeted, they couldn’t sell their old house, so they carried two mortgages for 2½ years, wiping out their savings and 401(k). “It just drained us,” Jay Silverstein says.

Finally, they were advised to try a short sale, in which the house is sold for less than the value of the underlying mortgage. They stopped making payments on the big house for it to go through. The sale was finally completed in 2009.

Such debacles hurt a borrower’s credit rating. But Bonnie has a solid job at a doctor’s office, and Jay has a pension from working for more than two decades for Johnson & Johnson. They say they haven’t missed a payment on their current mortgage.

But the Silversteins haven’t been able to get their refi. Freddie Mac won’t insure a new loan for people who had a short sale in the last two to four years, depending on their financial condition. While the company’s previous rules prohibited some short sales, in October 2010 the company changed its criteria to include all short sales. It is unclear whether the Silverstein mortgage would have been barred from a short sale under the previous Freddie rules.

Short-term, Freddie’s trades benefit from the high-interest mortgage in which the Silversteins are trapped. But in the long run, Freddie could benefit if the Silversteins refinanced to a more affordable loan. Freddie guarantees the Silversteins’ mortgage, so if the couple defaults, Freddie — and the taxpayers who own the company — are on the hook. Getting the Silversteins into a more affordable mortgage would make a default less likely.

If millions of homeowners like the Silversteins default, the economy would be harmed. But if they switch to loans with lower interest rates, they would have more money to spend, which could boost the economy.

“We’re in financial jail,” says Jay, “and we’ve never been there before.”

How Freddie’s investments work

Here’s how Freddie Mac’s trades profit from the Silversteins staying in “financial jail.” The couple’s mortgage is sitting in a big pile of other mortgages, most of which are also guaranteed by Freddie and have high interest rates. Those mortgages underpin securities that get divided into two basic categories.

Anatomy of a Deal

One portion is backed mainly by principal, pays a low return, and was sold to investors who wanted a safe place to park their money. The other part, the inverse floater, is backed mainly by the interest payments on the mortgages, such as the high rate that the Silversteins pay. So this portion of the security can pay a much higher return, and this is what Freddie retained.

In 2010 and ’11, Freddie purchased $3.4 billion worth of inverse floater portions — their value based mostly on interest payments on $19.5 billion in mortgage-backed securities, according to prospectuses for the deals. They covered tens of thousands of homeowners. Most of the mortgages backing these transactions have high rates of about 6.5 percent to 7 percent, according to the deal documents.

Between late 2010 and early 2011, Freddie Mac’s purchases of inverse floater securities rose dramatically. Freddie purchased inverse floater portions of 29 deals in 2010 and 2011, with 26 bought between October 2010 and April 2011. That compares with seven for all of 2009 and five in 2008.

In these transactions, Freddie has sold off most of the principal, but it hasn’t reduced its risk.

First, if borrowers default, Freddie pays the entire value of the mortgages underpinning the securities, because it insures the loans.

It’s also a big problem if people like the Silversteins refinance their mortgages. That’s because a refi is a new loan; the borrower pays off the first loan early, stopping the interest payments. Since the security Freddie owns is backed mainly by those interest payments, Freddie loses.

And these inverse floaters burden Freddie with entirely new risks. With these deals, Freddie has taken mortgage-backed securities that are easy to sell and traded them for ones that are harder and possibly more expensive to offload, according to mortgage market experts.

The inverse floaters carry another risk. Freddie gets paid the difference between the high mortgages rates, such as the Silversteins are paying, and a key global interest rate that right now is very low. If that rate rises, Freddie’s profits will fall.

It is unclear what kinds of hedging, if any, Freddie has done to offset its risks.

At the end of 2011, Freddie’s portfolio of mortgages was just over $663 billion, down more than 6 percent from the previous year. But that $43 billion drop in the portfolio overstates the risk reduction, because the company retained risk through the inverse floaters. The company is well below the cap of $729 billion required by its government takeover agreement.

How Freddie tightened credit

Restricting credit for people who have done short sales isn’t the only way that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have tightened their lending criteria in the wake of the financial crisis, making it harder for borrowers to get housing loans.

Some tightening is justified because, in the years leading up to the financial crisis, Freddie and Fannie were too willing to insure mortgages taken out by people who couldn’t afford them.

In a statement, Freddie contends it is “actively supporting efforts for borrowers to realize the benefits of refinancing their mortgages to lower rates.”

The company said in a statement: “During the first three quarters of 2011, we refinanced more than $170 billion in mortgages, helping nearly 835,000 borrowers save an average of $2,500 in interest payments during the next year.” As part of that effort, the company is participating in an Obama administration plan, called the Home Affordable Refinance Program, or HARP. But critics say HARP could be reaching millions more people if Fannie and Freddie implemented the program more effectively.

Indeed, just as it was escalating its inverse floater deals, it was also introducing new fees on borrowers, including those wanting to refinance. During Thanksgiving week in 2010, Freddie quietly announced that it was raising charges, called post-settlement delivery fees.

In a recent white paper on remedies for the stalled housing market, the Federal Reserve criticized Fannie and Freddie for the fees they have charged for refinancing. Such fees are “another possible reason for low rates of refinancing” and are “difficult to justify,” the Fed wrote.

A former Freddie employee, who spoke on condition he not be named, was even blunter: “Generally, it makes no sense whatsoever” for Freddie “to restrict refinancing” from expensive loans to ones borrowers can more easily pay, since the company remains on the hook if homeowners default.

In November, the FHFA announced that Fannie and Freddie were eliminating or reducing some fees. The Fed, however, said that “more might be done.”

The regulator as owner

The trades raise questions about the FHFA’s oversight of Fannie and Freddie. But the FHFA is not just a regulator. With the two companies in government conservatorship, the FHFA now plays the role of their board of directors and shareholders, responsible for the companies’ major decisions.

Under acting director DeMarco, the FHFA has emphasized that its main goal is to limit taxpayer losses by managing the two companies’ giant investment portfolios to make profits. To cover their previous losses and ongoing operations, Fannie and Freddie already had received $169 billion from taxpayers through the third quarter of last year.

The FHFA has frustrated the administration because the agency has made preserving the value of the companies’ investment portfolios a priority over helping homeowners in expensive mortgages. In 2010, President Barack Obama nominated a permanent replacement for acting director DeMarco, but Republicans in Congress blocked him. Obama has not nominated anyone else to replace DeMarco.

Even though Freddie is a ward of the state, top executives are highly compensated. Peter Federico, who’s in charge of the company’s investment portfolio, made $2.5 million in 2010, and he had target compensation of $2.6 million for last year, when most of these leveraged investments were made.

One of Federico’s responsibilities — tied to his bonuses —  is to “support and provide liquidity and stability in the mortgage market,” according to Freddie’s annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Mortgage experts contend that the inverse floater trades don’t further that goal.

ProPublica and NPR made numerous attempts to reach Federico. A woman who answered his home phone said he declined to comment.

The FHFA knew about the trades before ProPublica and NPR approached the regulatory agency about them, according to an FHFA official. The FHFA has the power to approve and disapprove trades, though it doesn’t involve itself in day-to-day decisions. The official declined to comment on whether the FHFA knew about them as Freddie was conducting them or whether the FHFA had explicitly approved them.

Liz Day of ProPublica contributed to this story.


State Dept: Americans take refuge at Cairo embassy


January 30 2012

AP foreign,


CAIRO (AP) — A U.S. State Department spokeswoman says a number of Americans whom Egyptian authorities have been barred from leaving the country have sought refuge at the American Embassy in Cairo.

Kate Starr told reporters in Washington Monday that a “handful” of Americans are at the embassy waiting for permission to leave Egypt.

Egyptian authorities banned at least 10 foreigners, including six Americans, from leaving the country during a criminal investigation into the work of their U.S.-funded organizations. Those banned included Sam LaHood, son of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, but it’s not clear if he’s among the Americans at the embassy.

The move has heightened tensions between Cairo and Washington and called more than a billion dollars in U.S. aid to Egypt into question.

Conversations with the Crow

            When the CIA discovered that their former Deputy Director of Clandestine Affairs, Robert T. Crowley, had been talking with author Gregory Douglas, they became fearful (because of what Crowley knew) and outraged (because they knew Douglas would publish eventually) and made many efforts to silence Crowley, mostly by having dozens of FBI agents call or visit him at his Washington home and try to convince him to stop talking to Douglas, whom they considered to be an evil, loose cannon.          

Crowley did not listen to them (no one else ever does, either) and Douglas made through shorthand notes of each and every one of their many conversation. TBR News published most of these (some of the really vile ones were left out of the book but will be included on this site as a later addendum ) and the entire collection was later produced as an Ebook.

 Now, we reliably learn, various Washington alphabet agencies are trying to find a way to block the circulation of this highly negative, entertaining and dangerous work, so to show our solidarity with our beloved leaders and protectors, and our sincere appreciation for their corrupt and coercive actions, we are going to reprint the entire work, chapter by chapter. (The complete book can be obtained by going to:


Conversation No. 113

Date: Wednesday, December 1,1997

Commenced: 11:22 AM CST

Concluded: 11:55 AM PST

RTC: Good morning to you, Gregory. I wanted to have a little talk with you about your books and other matters. Do you have some time now?
GD: Oh, certainly.

RTC: Some people I know of are getting very unhappy with you and your books. The books about Mueller and us. I don’t tell you about some of this but over the past six-eight months I have been contacted, both in person and on the phone, concerning you and your activities. First of all, your detractors have advised me that you are a criminal, a crook, a convict, a dope addict, a mental case, a spy for some foreign country and many other sins of commission. Naturally, I have taken notes and, even more important, I have taken down names and such other information as telephone numbers and, when I can find them, home addresses. And poor Emily has been spoken to about my contacts with you. She has no idea what we talk about and, as is usual with CIA wives, she knows very little about my activities when I was with the Company. Oh yes, a female FBI agent, so sympathetic, came and talked with her about what a thoroughly evil and crazy person you were and warning her to try and keep me away from you. Of course Emily told me all about it and gave me the woman’s card. And two days ago, another wonderful person got in touch with my son, Greg, and told him the same things. The new theme is that old Crowley is getting nuts and perhaps he might be institutionalized for his own good. Greg was horrified because he has mailed boxes of sensitive documents to you in Wisconsin and Greg tends to be somewhat conventional. I think they want to find some nice, discreet way to shut me up. They have given up on you, of course. Kimmel told Bill that you were arrogant, self-important and very dangerous and has warned him to keep away from you.

GD: Yes, well Bill told me my son could get a job with the CIA as you know….

RTC: Of course. And that would be to have him fill in a ten page questionnaire that would let them al know more about you. According to Kimmel, you have used more aliases than the Manhattan phone book. You have at least a dozen passports and have lived in Europe where, they darkly hint, you have somehow fallen into the clutches of the KGB…

GD: Actually, the SVR. Same organization but a different name. A rose by any other name Robert.

RTC: Yes. A thoroughly sinister person. They are so concerned about me that they constantly warn my son and my wife about your evil ways and beg both of them to not only report anything they hear to the really sympathetic agents or former co workers or their wives. And if that fails, perhaps I will fall down the back stairs or on my rare appearances outside this place, be run over by a drunken cab driver while walking in a large shopping mall.

GD: (Laughter) Or how about a dead elephant falling on your head after accidentally being chucked out of an Air America cargo plane on its way to deliver three tons of raw opium to Manhattan drug refiners?  That might happen. I would keep away from doctors, Robert, unless you are really sick and then try to get them to make house calls.

RTC: Yes, I am aware of all of that. Used to do it.

GD: I think something ought to be done about all of this. What about doing the book on Kennedy?
RTC: I’ve thought about that, Gregory, and I ought to warn you about some of the pitfalls. I’ve told you before that we have a wonderful and very effective disinformation branch and they are even now gearing up to try to convince people not to listen to you or read your books. Of course they have to be careful because you have the reputation for savage personal attacks on people who get in your way so right now, they are after the Mueller material but if you get into Kennedy, then you will have a hornet’s nest come down around your ears. Why? Because in order to keep the sheep from getting curious about the wrong things, we set up a wonderful disinformation machine, complete with retired local policemen, librarians of all kinds, professors of philosophy from jerkwater community colleges and former Marine Corps Master Sergeants who were in the quartermaster section and never heard a shot fired in anger.

GD: And don’t forget Wolfe

RTC: Do spare me, Gregory. I just had lunch and reptiles so soon after feeding make me ill. Yes, Wolfe. Typical. A nobody in a nothing position but he can say he is an employee of the National Archives. Sounds impressive but he has nothing to say and can’t access any records you couldn’t get by just going there. He and hundreds of his kind are right in our pocket. That one gets a pat on the head and a pen set but a few others, key information peddlers, get a check on some unknown charity from time to time and perhaps a job for their airhead daughter or son. That’s how it works. We really don’t have to lay out much money on these fools because they come, panting, to us, begging for that pat on the pointy head and the nice pen set. The CIA  buys them by the gross and I think they’re made in China in a slave-labor factory.

GD: (Laughter) Napoleon once said, concerning the Legion of Honor, ‘With such baubles, men are led.’

RTC: It seems to work. Believe me, we have armies of these people on tap and most of them are pathetic creeps, desperate to be recognized for the brilliant thinkers they are not and never could be. But anyway, Gregory, they are now after you and your writing but I have the feeling I ought to have pity on them. As I said, if and when you get into the Kennedy business, you will kick over a hornet’s nest of vicious, stupid and fanatical idiots. And while some of them are ours and part of our disinformation program, the rest are crazies, entirely on their own. But if you, or anyone else, dare to express opinions different from their very own precious ones, they will screech like banshees and gang up on you. One fat old crazy up in Minnesota who teaches philosophy has decided that some powerful organization used sabot shells on Kennedy. They had real used bullets, but them into a case and shot Jack in the melon and the case fell off.

GD: The Germans had sabot artillery shells but I doubt if anyone used these on a 6.5 piece. Did you put him up to such shit?
RTC: No. His uncle is a retired Company man and he is looking for instant fame and fortune.

GD: The uncle? I thought you people were supposed to keep quiet.

RTC: Sorry, the nephew. Whatever. At any rate, beware the questioned cultist and believe me, the Kennedy business has turned into a cult. My God, reading over their psychotic trash gives me acid stomach. Still, they serve a purpose. They sprouted so much underbrush that the real facts will probably never come out. And if you publish even a portion of what I sent you, the howling will begin.

GD: I know how to deal with them, Robert. Make fun of them. Most of them are laughable, pathetic creeps and if you take them seriously, you empower them so the best course is to hold them up to public ridicule. You know, I have a really neat method of dealing with the official creeps and the unofficial ones.

RTC: And…?

GD: Oh yes. And you publish something really awful and then, in the foreword, you praise the slob for all his help with your work. Or, even better, publish something deadly and say they wrote it. I’ll bet this does real wonders for their careers, not to mention their small but vicious circle of friends or family. Imagine some assistant AG writing a piece for some gay newspaper claiming he has come out of the closet and is so proud of it. Or something in defense of pedophilia. Or one fellow I dealt a deadly blow to was supposed to have some awful pictures of Lyndon Larouche in a nut house and was writing a book about it. I got his letterhead, copied it on the notice of the new book and also printed up an envelope. Looked so real, Robert, And when I wrote up the advert, I personally addressed it to about a thousand people, including major newspapers and so on and actually flew to his hometown and mailed the things. For the correct postmark of course.

RTC: (Laughter) And what happened?
GD: Actually? His car was set on fire. Someone broke all the big windows in his store. Someone sent him boxes of decaying and smelly animal insides. His business collapsed, his wife left him and he eventually checked into a cheap motel and offed himself with a bottle of sleeping pills. Now the shit is up with Jesus, playing gin rummy with the angels.

RTC: Do you really believe that?
GD: Oh, I know he’s dead but about the angels, no, I don’t believe there are such entities. Once the lights go out, I don’t think there is an upwards path you take, bathed in glorious light and at the top stand your entire long-dead family, waving and smiling at you.  I wonder how they might look, Robert. Clothed in shining glory? Rotting flesh dripping from grinning skulls? Looking like they never did alive  with bigger tits, a smaller nose, really clear skin instead of looking like someone put out a fire on their face with an icepick, and not walking on their hands and knees?

RTC: Have you ever discussed such negative sentiments with a priest?
GD: Robert, of course not. I’m hedging my bets. No, I know about the congregation of Kennedy nuts and it might be fun to plant my number ten shoe in their number one size scrotum. But the women are worse than the men…that is if there is much of a gender difference. You people have so many nutless wonders working for you.  The women have hairy bowed legs, bad teeth, sagging breasts and hate everyone but their pet Budgie, Mr. Tweety. They get rabid over the stupidest things and shriek with rage if you make fun of their sacred and supportive icons. And the men are mostly prissy busybodies who are laboring under the total misapprehension that are really somebody in particular. Which, of course, they aren’t. Probably a lot of vegetarians represented there with a few dozen Scientologists, Christian Scientists and Jesus freaks thrown in the mix to offset the thick of neck and tiny of brain. And in the men, the brain isn’t the only tiny thing. Jesus, if it weren’t for the common turkey baster, half these shrimp dicks could never father pinhead children. And don’t  knock pinhead children, either. You can give them haircuts in a pencil sharpener and save so much money. And when they get older and housebroken, why your people can recruit them. Put them in charge of the Havana office. Or was that the Sterling Chemical people? I think so.

RTC: Now, it isn’t that bad, Gregory. You know that.

GD: I don’t. Actually, it’s worse. I started out in life, Robert, trusting people and believing everyone was a gentleman or a lady. Of course I had the opportunity of growing up in the second richest community in the country. The children of senators, heads of business empires and the like were my school friends. I was taught manners as a child and always used them. But then, as I got out into the world, I discovered, to my horror, that Jonathan Swift was right and the Yahoos ruled. Oh yes, read ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ and discover the world. You take care of the weak and persecuted and destroy the vicious and predatory. Physically or by other means. I detest pedophiles because they ruin the lives of relatively innocent little children and creeps who do that should be publicly castrated with those dull scissors we got in kindergarten and then burned alive. No, you would have never recognized me as a child. I was a very well-behaved, educated person and nice to know, at least reading over my childhood school reports. Ah, but now, I am known as Lord Satan by the boobery, the idiots and the syphilitic cretins that infest this otherwise pleasant planet. And mark this, Robert. Too many people, too little food. And the water will run out and the ice of the world will melt, the oceans rise and Boston will be nothing but a wet dream. I really do hope, Robert, that these catastrophes happen in my life so I can have something to enjoy besides my books and music. There are intelligent, decent people here but they are lost in the jungle of knuckle-draggers.

RTC: Something awful must have happened to you at some point in your life to have given you such a really ugly view of the world.

GD: I think that goes without saying. I told Heini Mueller once that I always pay back my enemies and the flip side of that is that if people leave me alone, why let them go their shambling way to the knackers without any assistance or encouragement from me. Mueller was a good man, Robert, and you knew him. Not many people like that around and probably never were. You see, they outnumber us by a ratio of about a thousand to one. Is that why you like to talk to me, Lord Satan, chief evildoer and disrespecter of vested authority?

RTC: Yes, there aren’t too many like you around, Gregory. Some would say Thank God, like Kimmel, but I enjoy your attitudes and I must say I agree with them, at least mostly.

GD: And I have a perverse sense of humor, Robert. Very perverse. A live-in girlfriend used to pilfer my shampoo and put the empty bottle back on the shelf. I then, angry because when I wanted shampoo, there was only an empty bottle, I filled it with hair remover and she later used it and had to wear a wig for months and when she wasn’t, her short hair made her look like a bull dyke.

RTC: (Laughter) An object of terror.

GD: An object of shame and derision, Robert. Did I ever tell you about the great fake fingerprint game?

RTC: Perhaps you might have, Gregory, but my memory is not what it used to be.

GD: I was at a gun show once and someone had a sheaf of old FBI fingerprint cards from the ‘30s. Bank robbers, car thieves and the rest. I bought about twenty of them for a dollar apiece. Then I had zincs made for me by my print shop…

RTC: Zincs?

GD: Well a reverse negative that is etched in zinc and you use it for rubber stamps. Anyway, I had a number of zincs of the fingerprints of terrible anti-social people so I went to a shop that dealt in theatrical things and bought a bottle of liquid latex and some spirit gum. I painted the latex into the zinc and hey! Presto! I had a perfect copy of the felonious fingerprint. Take a pair of rubber surgeon’s gloves, cut out the new print, use the spirit gum to put it down onto the glove in the right place and then you have the makings of a huge joke. Imagine, if you will, doing something very anti-social and even downright evil and wearing these gloves. Touch every surface in sight. Ah, later the prints are lifted and sent off to the FBI for identification. Wonderful. Some technician screams ‘a fifteen pointer…”

RTC: A what?
GD: Fifteen points are fifteen points of identification, Robert. Can’t go any higher unless the perp’s severed hand was found in the woman’s snatch. Anyway, they run these wonderfully clear prints through the system. Amazement, two weeks later, to discover they belonged to Ronald Mung, convicted bank robber and serial flasher. No question at all. One problem. Herr Mung has been dead since the second Roosevelt administration . Confusion rampant. I never hear about this but I have a good imagination. Are they going out to Holy Cross boneyard and dig Mung up and charge him with aggravated mopery? Serial bicycle-seat sniffing? What? Issue a warrant for a very dead man?

RTC: Of  course not. The Bureau would never talk about it and tell the local cops that they could not make any kind of identification but they would keep the prints on record. Phoebe never makes mistakes. Tell me, Gregory, did you ever tell Kimmel about this?
GD: Of course. I like my fun.

RTC: I can imagine his response.

GD: Yes, it doesn’t take a Republican to figure that one out. Just another example of my anti-social and mentally disturbed behavior. These people have absolutely no sense of humor and when they get an idea in their heads, that is if, they cling to it like a mama monkey with a dead baby. No imagination, Robert, no sense of humor. And if it isn’t in the little book, it can’t have happened.

RTC: (Laughter) I can just hear the stink when the prints of a long dead car thief show up in some unexpected place. They would never know what to do.

GD: No, if it isn’t in your book, the little book they all carry for guidance and instruction, it can’t exist and if it can’t exist, it doesn’t.

RTC: Did you really do that business with the fingerprints?
GD: Oh, a number of times, Robert, but we don’t need to burden you with useless details.

(Concluded at 11:55 AM PST) 


Dramatis personae:

                        James Jesus Angleton: Once head of the CIA’s Counterintelligence division, later fired because of his obsessive and illegal behavior, tapping the phones of many important government officials in search of elusive Soviet spies. A good friend of Robert Crowley and a co-conspirator with him in the assassination of President Kennedy

            James P. Atwood: (April 16, 1930-April 20, 1997) A CIA employee, located in Berlin, Atwood had a most interesting career. He worked for any other intelligence agency, domestic or foreign, that would pay him, was involved in selling surplus Russian atomic artillery shells to the Pakistan government and was also most successful in the manufacturing of counterfeit German dress daggers. Too talkative, Atwood eventually had a sudden, and fatal, “seizure” while lunching with CIA associates.

            William Corson: A Marine Corps Colonel and President Carter’s representative to the CIA. A friend of Crowley and Kimmel, Corson was an intelligent man whose main failing was a frantic desire to be seen as an important person. This led to his making fictional or highly exaggerated claims.

            John Costello: A British historian who was popular with revisionist circles. Died of AIDS on a trans-Atlantic flight to the United States.

            James Critchfield: Former U.S. Army Colonel who worked for the CIA and organizaed the Cehlen Org. at Pullach, Germany. This organization was filled to the Plimsoll line with former Gestapo and SD personnel, many of whom were wanted for various purported crimes. He hired Heinrich Müller in 1948 and went on to represent the CIA in the Persian Gulf.

            Robert T. Crowley: Once the deputy director of Clandestine Operations and head of the group that interacted with corporate America. A former West Point football player who was one of the founders of the original CIA. Crowley was involved at a very high level with many of the machinations of the CIA.

            Gregory Douglas: A retired newspaperman, onetime friend of Heinrich Müller and latterly, of Robert Crowley. Inherited stacks of files from the former (along with many interesting works of art acquired during the war and even more papers from Robert Crowley.) Lives comfortably in a nice house overlooking the Mediterranean.

            Reinhard Gehlen: A retired German general who had once been in charge of the intelligence for the German high command on Russian military activities. Fired by Hitler for incompetence, he was therefore naturally hired by first, the U.S. Army and then, as his level of incompetence rose, with the CIA. His Nazi-stuffed organization eventually became the current German Bundes Nachrichten Dienst.

            Thomas K. Kimmel, Jr: A grandson of Admiral Husband Kimmel, Naval commander at Pearl Harbor who was scapegoated after the Japanese attack. Kimmel was a senior FBI official who knew both Gregory Douglas and Robert Crowley and made a number of attempts to discourage Crowley from talking with Douglas. He was singularly unsuccessful. Kimmel subsequently retired, lives in Florida, and works for the CIA as an “advisor.”

            Willi Krichbaum: A Senior Colonel (Oberführer) in the SS, head of the wartime Secret Field Police of the German Army and Heinrich Müller’s standing deputy in the Gestapo. After the war, Krichbaum went to work for the Critchfield organization and was their chief recruiter and hired many of his former SS friends. Krichbaum put Critchfield in touch with Müller in 1948.

            Heinrich Müller: A former military pilot in the Bavarian Army in WWI, Müller  became a political police officer in Munich and was later made the head of the Secret State Police or Gestapo. After the war, Müller escaped to Switzerland where he worked for Swiss intelligence as a specialist on Communist espionage and was hired by James Critchfield, head of the Gehlen Organization, in 1948. Müller subsequently was moved to Washington where he worked for the CIA until he retired.

            Joseph Trento: A writer on intelligence subjects, Trento and his wife “assisted” both Crowley and Corson in writing a book on the Russian KGB. Trento believed that he would inherit all of Crowley’s extensive files but after Crowley’s death, he discovered that the files had been gutted and the most important, and sensitive, ones given to Gregory Douglas. Trento was not happy about this. Neither were his employers.

            Frank Wisner: A Founding Father of the CIA who promised much to the Hungarians and then failed them. First, a raging lunatic who was removed from Langley, screaming, in a strait jacket and later, blowing off the top of his head with a shotgun.           

            Robert Wolfe: A retired librarian from the National Archives who worked closely with the CIA on covering up embarrassing historical material in the files of the Archives. A strong supporter of holocaust writers specializing in creative writing. Although he prefers to be called ‘Dr,’ in reality he has no PhD

could face trouble

 in his redrawn congressional district, including a potential rematch of his close 2010 primary.


. The winner gets Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.).

focuses on Maine

, whose caucuses will be held in early February.

to Gingrich

. So is he still supporting the American people?

threatening to run


would hurt the stock market


NBC/Marist College poll

 confirms Romney has taken a big lead in Florida — 15 points, to be specific. And a

miraculous turnaround

,” and that he will return to the campaign trail as long as her progress continues. He did not say whether he would return to Florida, where he has struggled to compete with Romney and Gingrich.

this is unlikely


delegate tracker

 shows, a candidate needs more than half of the 2,286 available delegates to win the nomination. If no candidate gets that number, the GOP would go to its convention later this year without a defined nominee.

according to the Wall Street Journal

. “I think Romney’s got a very real challenge trying to get a majority at the convention.”

Brokaw and NBC aren’t happy about it


his own fault


heck out this post

written by longtime Democratic Senate staffer Jim Manley.

Vote:  Is Obama the Nation’s Most Polarizing President of All Time?

partisan gap between how Obama was viewed by Democrats versus Republicans stood at 68 percent

; in 2009, it was

Miami Herald/El Nuevo Herald/Tampa Bay Times poll

 confirms the double-digit lead.

65 percent

. Both were the highest marks ever for a president’s second and first years in office, respectively.

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