Thursday Night Videos

Ginats lost tonight, with their best pitcher, Smokin’ Timmy Lincecum, on the mound.  Ugh.  Good news is that they only need to win one more game, and have two pretty good pitchers in Sanchez and Cain going.  Will console myself with this very pretty yet melancholy song.

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Conservatards Are Weird

Via TPM, master right-wing troll Jonah Goldberg facilitates a weird conversation between two conservatives who apparently once were fuckbuddies and who now hate each other’s guts.  Hard to say what the hell is going on here, other than that both of these people are horrible human beings whose views should be disregarded by normal human beings:

Jonah’s weird nervous giggling in the background may be the creepiest thing about the video.

UPDATE:  Creepy, dweeby Republican dude doubles down on the weirdness.  You know, I knew a lot of guys like him in college – they tended to be the ones who wanted to debate you about philosophy or politics on a Saturday night, when all you wanted to do was get wasted – but they tended to stay out of the spotlight.  Now they’re everywhere in the media, and they’re getting way too much notoriety.  Go back to your caves and leave us normal people alone, please.

Posted in Conservatives Are Always Wrong, Douchebags on Parade, Doughbob Loadpants Cuts Another One | Leave a comment

Up Against the Wall, Motherfuckers

Throughout the stories I’ve read about the foreclosure fraud mishegas, the common thread has been that it’s all just a problem of improper paperwork, and that people losing their homes are just deadbeats anyway so who cares, really, as shown in this quote by Jamie Dimon of J.P. Morgan:

“We’re not evicting people who deserve to stay in their house,” James Dimon, J.P. Morgan chief executive, told analysts Wednesday.

Of course, Dimon is full of shit, as we have seen here and here.  The Banksters will tell you that these stories are just examples of isolated incidents, to be expected when so many people are having problems making their monthly payments.  But the Banksters have found a new way of screwing people out of their homes, and it has nothing to do with missed mortgage payments and faulty paperwork:

Nearly a dozen major banks and hedge funds, anticipating quick profits from homeowners who fall behind on property taxes, are quietly plowing hundreds of millions of dollars into businesses that collect the debts, tack on escalating fees and threaten to foreclose on the homes of those who fail to pay.

The Wall Street investors, which include Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase & Co., have purchased from local governments the right to collect delinquent taxes on several hundred thousand properties, many in distressed housing markets, the Huffington Post Investigative Fund has found.

In many cases, the banks and hedge funds created new companies to do their bidding. They gave the companies obscure, even whimsical names and used post office boxes as their addresses, masking Wall Street’s dominant new role as a surrogate tax collector.

In exchange for paying overdue real estate taxes, the investors gain legal powers from local governments to collect the debt and levy fees. At first, property owners may owe little more than a few hundred dollars, only to find their bills soaring into the thousands. In some jurisdictions, the new Wall Street tax collectors also chase debtors over other small bills, such as for water, sewer and sidewalk repair.

Some states allow the investors to tack on as much as 18 percent interest and a passel of legal fees and other charges. When property owners fail to make full payment, the investors can sue to foreclose – in some states within as little as six months.


Yes, Mr. Dimon, your company is in the business of fucking people out of their homes for unpaid water bills.  You and you fellow Banksters are the worst kind of predators, preying on people who are struggling to keep up with their monthly payments, and taking advantage of the economic calamity faced by so many municipalities by assuming duties usually intended only for governments.  Worse, many of the companies doing this are the same ones that were bailed out by taxpayer money after their greed threatened to take down the U.S. economic system:

Five big banks involved in the industry, known as tax lien investing, collected a total of more than $106 billion in bailout money through the government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program, known as TARP.

Over the last year, Bank of America, which received $45 billion in these taxpayer funds in 2008 and 2009, has bought liens on properties in scores of municipalities in at least a dozen states. Bank of America repaid the government in 2009.

Still, noted Cox: “There’s no bailout for people struggling to pay their taxes.”

No, there isn’t, is there?  The little people who can’t pay their bills because they’ve lost their jobs or are having to deal with astronomical health care costs have to suck it up and pay the consequences for being powerless, since anything else would be transferring “moral hazard” from the Banksters to the people actually affected by the Banksters’ shenanigans:

Jamie Dimon and the other mega-bankers who derailed the economy have a new PR campaign to sell you. They’re saying that families who can’t pay their mortgages must bear the blame — all the blame — for the foreclosure crisis. That means the public should just ignore banks’ widespread lawbreaking in the registering and transfer of property titles. For the bankers who would appoint themselves the nation’s moral arbiters, It’s always somebody else’s fault.

Not that we should be surprised. After all, the Mortgage Bankers Association, which calls itself “the voice of the real estate finance industry,” did a short sale on its Washington DC headquarters which left CEO John Courson uncharacteristically speechless. It seems he didn’t want to talk about how he walked away from the loans he took out to buy that building. But before the cat got his tongue, Courson managed to lecture homeowners on their “legal obligation” and the terrible “message they would send” by walking away from their mortgages.

Morality and law for thee, but none for me…

The bankers have benefited from a stacked deck, or what’s known as “moral hazard.” That’s the term for what happens when people don’t bother protecting themselves from risk because they know somebody else will take care of it for them. The banks are saying they’ve been reasonable business partners, giving their borrowers all the information they need to make good decisions while asking no special favors for themselves. Does that sound right? We created the “Home Loan Blame Game Scorecard,” which is at the end of this post, to find out.

As CEO of JPMorgan Chase, you’d think that Jamie Dimon might hesitate before saying “We’re not evicting people who deserve to stay in their house.” His argument rests on the idea that homeowners bear sole responsibility for taking out loans they couldn’t repay. He might be shocked, shocked, to learn that his own employees have relentlessly been trying to push these loans on people…

The “blame homeowners” argument is hypocritical, but it’s been effective. It helped bankers get themselves massive bailouts, pay themselves huge bonuses, and walk away with the profits they made by selling and trading these mortgages at inflated prices. And it’s helped them avoid having to write down their books to reflect the actual, reduced value of the assets they’re holding. That means millions of homeowners are propping them up by paying mortgages at property values that the banks themselves artificially inflated.

Now they want to use the same argument to get around the fact that they’ve been breaking property laws on a massive scale for years. It’s just “paperwork,” they say. But any homeowner who filed false affidavits – a crime that’s legally equivalent to perjury – would be looking at jail time. Remember: Law and morality for thee …

Again, none of these people are in jail; in most cases, none of them have been fired, and they’re all making really good money in spite of their malfeasance, and are expecting even more.  I’m still waiting for Republicans, the Tea Partiers, or anyone for that matter, to start focusing their anger on these bloodsucking leeches.  But then, why should they, when deadbeat homeowners, welfare queens, and lazy unemployed layabouts like me are far easier, and powerless, targets.

Come the revolution, people like Jamie Dimon are going to be the first up against the wall.

Posted in Invisible Hand-Job, Torches and Pitchforks | 2 Comments

The Church Likes The Dark

Pope Ratzi threw Australian Catholics a bone by canonizing the first Australian saint, Mary MacKillop.  Oddly enough, MacKillop was once excommunicated because of her involvement in a coverup of church-sanctioned pedophilia:

As a young nun, MacKillop – who will be canonized as Australia’s first saint Sunday at the Vatican – was briefly dismissed from the Roman Catholic Church in a clash with high clergy in 1871.

One of the catalysts for the censure strikes a note familiar to the present-day church: her order of nuns had exposed a pedophile priest.

The scandal, downplayed in church history, came to the forefront last week in a documentary about her by the Australian Broadcasting Corp. MacKillop was not the one who reported the abuse, but as a co-founder of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart, she was the scapegoat, the Rev. Paul Gardiner told the country’s public broadcaster.

Priests were “annoyed that somebody had uncovered it … and being so angry, the destruction of the Josephites was decided on,” said Gardiner, the chaplain of the Mary MacKillop Penola Center, a state-run historic site.

The exposure of the priest was just one of many factors – including bitter rivalries among priests – that led to MacKillop’s excommunication, the Sisters of St. Joseph said in a statement.

She and 47 other nuns were thrown onto the streets of Adelaide, relying on the charity of friends to survive.

Some things never change, do they?  What makes this story even more interesting is this account, which molly brought to my attention, of a single mother-to-be dealing with the sweet embrace of Holy Mother Church:

All the media in Oz about the canonisation of Australia’s first saint, Mary Mackillop, a josephite nun is really triggering for me.

In 1974 when I was twenty, single and  9 months pregnant I told a social worker at the royal women’s hospital in Carlton I needed a safe place to stay until my baby was delivered.  She directed me to the St Josephs Recieving home across the road from the hospital.  How lucky was I was my thought as I got a parking spot right out the front.

As a little nun in full habit directed me into the front office I noticed two young pregnant women scrubbing the spotless floors. She asked me about my plans and in complete honesty (she was a nun afterall and I was brought up to be respectful to my elders) told her I had money saved and a few choices of a place to stay and felt I was well prepared and looking foreward to becoming a mother.  When I mentioned I had a car parked out the front and asked where I might park,  I noticed her demeanor altered.  She insisted on getting some help for me.  Despite my protestations to the contrary she asked/ordered me to remain seated while she got some help for me.  When she shut the door I heard her stand there and rattle some keys before I heard her footsteps fade.  I looked around me at the catholic paraphernalia and felt a surge of gratitude that my mother whom had relinquished me to adoption had said “don’t put her in a catholic family”  My instinct surged within me and urged me to run.  Thankfully I acted quickly and as I opened the door, sighing with relief that it wasn’t locked I looked down a long corridor past the stairs I saw her coming around the corner with two big burly men dressed in white heading my way quickly.  I bolted and just made it in time to the lock the doors of my car and as I was pulling away they were pounding on the windows and one of them was in front of my car trying to prevent me from driving away.  Sobbing and shaking I just pulled out into the traffic.

I know now if I hadn’t obeyed my instincts I would have been one of the quarter of a million single mothers who had their children stolen from them for adoption during the BABY SCOOP ERA.

My daughter is a fine and succesfull woman today and the mother of my two grandaughters.

I believe one of the luckiest things that happened to me in my life was missing the catholic experience. Sadly my siblings, not adopted weren’t so lucky and on reconnection I listened to their heart breaking stories of their  childhoods and the terrible abuse they recieved at the hands of  the catholics.

What was the “Baby Scoop Era,” you’re probably wondering, as I did?  Pretty much what it sounds like – mothers who had given birth to illegitimate children had those children forcibly removed from them, as the women were considered to have “psychological defects” and were unfit to raise their own offspring.  This was not limited to Australia, but was pretty much a world-wide phenomenon.  Interestingly, though, in the U.S. it was limited to white women:

“Black single mothers were expected to keep their babies as most unwed mothers, black and white, had done throughout American history. Unmarried white mothers, for the first time in American history, were expected to put their babies up for adoption…”

“For white girls and women illegitimately pregnant in the pre-Roe era, the main chance for attaining home and marriage… rested on the aspect of their rehabilitation that required relinquishment… More than 80 percent of white unwed mothers in maternity homes came to this decision… acting in effect as breeders for white, adoptive parents, for whom they supplied up to nearly 90 percent of all nonrelative infants by the mid-1960s… Unwed mothers were defined by psychological theory as not-mothers… As long as these females had no control over their reproductive lives, they were subject to the will and the ideology of those who watched over them. And the will, veiled though it often was, called for unwed mothers to acknowledge their shame and guilt, repent, and rededicate themselves…”

From 1960-70, 27 percent of all births to married women between the ages of 15 and 29 were conceived premaritally. Yet the etiology of single, white, middle-class women’s conceptions had shifted again and were now perceived as symptoms of female neurosis … the majority (85-95 percent) of single, white, middle-class women, who either could not or would not procure an illegal or therapeutic abortion, were encouraged, and at times coerced, to adopt-away their child.

It’s not surprising that organizations like the Catholic Church were instrumental in this type of activity; as this blogger notes, “The Central theme in the BSE, is the use of shame, lies, and outright fraud used by most religious or charitable maternity homes of Post War America.”  Catholic Charities, which has gotten out of the adoption business in many areas, due to the fact that they just can’t bear to let gay people adopt, had no problem rushing into Haiti after the earthquake hit to get their hands on as many “orphans” as quickly as possible, even before the dust had settled.  It’s a lucrative business, what with all the infertile couples desperate to pay any price to have a baby they can call their own.

It’s no surprise that Catholic Charities and other adoption agencies oppose the opening of adoption records:

Heather Kmetz of Catholic Charities, a Portland adoption agency, says adoption agencies would be likely to support the initiative if it affected only today’s adoptions. But this proposed law is retroactive, meaning it would reveal the names of women who relinquished their children when the state law promised confidentiality. According to Kmetz, the women who came to her agency signed a contract guaranteeing their privacy. If the initiative becomes law, Kmetz predicts, agencies like hers will use their collective powers to fight it in court.

Gotta keep the deep, dark secrets of those sinful women buried, along with the names and current whereabouts of child-diddling priests.  It’s all of a piece, and as with the sacred mysteries of the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection, and the transformation of Christ’s body and blood into stale crackers and Manischevitz, the less light shed, the better.

UPDATE:  More on Mary MacKillop’s contretemps with the Church here.  “Patron Saint of Whisteblowers?”  Not as far as the boy’s club is concerned:

Some are already calling MacKillop the church’s “Patron Saint of Whistleblowers,” but it doesn’t seem that church authorities are eager to make her an icon of the era of abuse.

Portraying MacKillop as the protector of abuse victims would “reduce the extraordinary richness of her work to a very marginal episode in her life,” Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told RNS.

“The merits of Mother Mary MacKillop, her commitment to children, to the poor, to indigenous peoples, to the dignity of all human persons, were much more extensive than the fact that she denounced an abuser,” Lombardi said.

And Father Gardiner, the champion of her cause for sainthood, preferred to characterize the episode as “a nasty footnote to a heroic story, and I don’t think media people should take it as though it’s the main story, particularly since they’ve got a lot of closer, modern scandals occurring in the Catholic Church to concentrate on.”

“Why tarnish the occasion of Mary’s canonization with this miserable bit of scandal?” he said.

Just a marginal episode, a nasty footnote, a bit of scandal.  Nothing to see here.

Posted in Adoption: The Last Great Civil Rights Issue, Why Religion Sucks | 2 Comments

A Tale of Two Journals

For Christmas 2008, my right-wing dad-in-law got me a subscription to the Wall Street Journal.  I guess he figured that since I had been laid off, I could benefit from the wisdom of the Masters of The Universe to help me get back on my feet again.  After ignoring the paper for a few months and sticking it into my recycling bin every day, unread, I decided to start actually reading it every morning, for shits and giggles if nothing else.

As I expected, the editorial and op-ed sections did nothing but piss me off more than I already was at the rich and super-rich assholes who had caused people like me to lose my livelihood, while continuing to pad their own bank accounts.  For a while, Thomas Frank had a regular weekly column, but more often than not you had to step through the steer droppings left by the likes of Karl Rove, Peggy Noonan, Daniel Henninger (“capitalism saved the Chilean miners!“) and Kimberley Strassel when you ventured into those pages.

But the Journal, even under the ownership of Australian megalomaniac and conservative power broker Rupert Murdoch, has maintained a high standard in their news reporting, and their other sections often contain interesting and thought-provoking articles.

So it was amusing to read the Journal on Saturday and see two articles that utterly contradicted each other.  First, this article on the expanding mortgage fraud debacle, which notes the “technical problems and legal challenges” that are causing bank stocks to slide, but still places the blame squarely where it belongs – on the people who had the audacity to take out the loans in the first place:

In essence, fast-paced modern finance is colliding with the much slower machinery of the U.S. legal system. While finance aims for efficiency and maximized profits, the courts demand due process. And that’s becoming a growing issue as lenders come under attack for taking short cuts to oust homeowners who haven’t mailed in a mortgage check for months…

Industry executives note that few, if any, borrowers in the foreclosure process dispute the fact that they’re not paying their mortgages. “We’re not evicting people who deserve to stay in their house,” James Dimon, J.P. Morgan chief executive, told analysts Wednesday.

Then there is this article, which indicates that perhaps the problems lay with the loan sharks themselves:

Even before the mortgage meltdown, the servicing industry “was plagued with problems,” such as servicers charging unauthorized or excessive fees and making false or unsubstantiated statements about how much borrowers owed, says David Vladeck, head of the bureau of consumer protection at the Federal Trade Commission, which has brought several recent cases against servicers. Mr. Vladeck said the FTC is now trying to “drill down” to make sure the servicers it regulates have the proper procedures in place to make sure underlying documentation is sufficient and accurate…

The consequences are causing a nightmare for the loan-servicing business and borrowers. For example, Fabiane Correa and her husband Luiz got a notice in September from Bank of America Corp. that the mortgage on their Stamford, Conn., house was in default. The couple also was told that $6,638 was past due.

Earlier this year, Mr. and Mrs. Correa got a loan modification from the Charlotte, N.C., bank as part of the Obama administration’s foreclosure-prevention program. She says they have made their required loan payments since then.

“It’s very emotional and frustrating,” Mrs. Correa says. The couple drove to Dedham, Mass., a 360-mile round trip, to meet with a Bank of America representative in an unsuccessful effort to resolve the problem. A BofA spokeswoman says the bank is looking into the matter.

And wouldn’t you love to be a “BofA spokeswoman” right now?  I know I would!

Josh Ritz, who lives in Kent City, Mich., pulled $4,400 out of his retirement plan last year after Bank of America said he needed to pay that amount to catch up on his mortgage payments. He kept making his monthly payments until April, when a BofA employee said the bank didn’t want his money because the loan was past due, according to a court filing in Kent County, Mich., where Mr. Ritz is trying to block foreclosure.

Mr. Ritz and his wife “tried to do the right thing, and they came out worse,” says Karen Tjapkes, the couple’s lawyer. She adds that it took BofA about six months to apply the $4,400 payment to their mortgage account.

A BofA spokeswoman declined to comment, citing pending litigation, but said the company “will research his concerns and address them directly with Mr. Ritz and his counsel.”

Some bankruptcy-court judges have recently criticized loan-servicing operations for sloppy recordkeeping and dehumanizing customer service. Earlier this month, in a longstanding case U.S. Chief Bankruptcy Judge for the Western District of Pennsylvania Thomas Agresti said in a memorandum opinion and order that Countrywide Financial Corp. acted with “reckless disregard” in its treatment of a borrower who had successfully completed her bankruptcy and paid off all her debts.

The borrower, Sharon Diane Hill, was current on her mortgage, Yet Countrywide threatened to foreclose on her home if she didn’t pay thousands of dollars in additional fees, according to court filings. Ms. Hill “did everything right” but was still “put through a grinding process by Countrywide,” the judge wrote in his order. The mortgage industry should “take to heart just how devastating” its mistakes can be for borrowers, he added…

The industry’s problems have been complicated by the transfer of loans from one firm to another as part of the securitization process and the demise of hundreds of mortgage companies during the financial crisis.

So, depending on which page of the WSJ you read, the problem is either deadbeats not paying their mortgages, and who deserve to be kicked out of their homes, or an unaccountable system of mortgage brokers and servicers slicing and dicing mortgages and obfuscating who the actual owners are, to the point where people who are current on their payments are being thrown out of their homes.

They report; you decide.

UPDATE:  Via Atrios, more stories of people making their payments on time and still getting fucked over.  I guess it was their fault for not renting.

Posted in Invisible Hand-Job, Masters of the Universe On Crack | Leave a comment

Saturday Night Videos

Let’s change the name of this to “Orange,” just ’cause…

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Friday Night Videos

I tried hard to have a father
But instead I had a dad…

UPDATE:  Friday comes before Saturday.  I knew that.

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Beisbol Been Berry Berry Good to Me

The San Francisco baseball Giants are about to play the formidable Philadelphia Phillies for the championship of the National League.  I am a Giants fan.  This has caused me some not inconsiderable consternation, if not downright despair, in the past, especially in 2002, 1993, and 1988.


My friend Susan has written a very nice piece about being a Giants fan on her blog, and I thought I would share it here in full, unbeknownst to her.  Hope she doesn’t mind.

Let’s go Giants, or why an otherwise sane person cares so much about a professional sports team

I was out of the baseball loop for quite a while and, truth be told, I was only a middlin’ fan in the years before I had two time-consuming children. We attended some games during the Bonds era, but it was sort of like attending the circus. It was something to see, but hard to really care about what I was seeing.

Two summers ago the baseball stars aligned for me, and I not only re-entered the world of baseball, I became a much better fan. I’d always appreciated the obvious things that make baseball different from other professional sports: the way a game isn’t really over until the last pitch (witness Game 3 of the Giants/Braves NLDS series this year, with the Giants one pitch away from losing the game, coming back for a win), the slow pace (what other American sport incorporates fans singing a song in the middle of the game?), and the “day at the ballpark” vibe. But since 2009, I’ve started to do something with my team that looks a lot like falling in love.

I was asked recently by my perplexed non-fan sister why anyone would choose to follow a team that loses a lot. And Nancy, my recovered Giants-fan friend, reminds me almost daily during this playoff season that my heart WILL be broken (and I’m pretty sure she’s right). Both are reasonable things to say when someone falls in love with a regular, flawed person, too. Why not pick the handsome, successful guy? Why pick the guy you know is going to lose, eventually? Or why, indeed, fall in love at all?

And the answer: because it feels so right. This time, my fan experience is personal. I’d like the team to win, but mostly I like “just being with them.” The Giants are a clubhouse full of interesting and amusing guys, under the leadership of Bruce Bochy, Mr. Humble. The SF Chronicle carried a story this morning (not available online) about how Bochy was so excited to be flashed on the TV screen while attending a Detroit Pistons game that he called his adult son to tell him to turn on the tube. “I’m on TV!”

“Dad,” son Greg said, “I see you on TV almost every night.” Oh, right, he forgot about that.

There’s Tim Lincecum, two-time Cy Young (that’s a pitching award, a big deal) winner, affectionately called “The Freak.” He’s young, probably crazy, got popped for marijuana possession last year and is flat-out amazing on the mound. There’s young Buster Posey, a Georgia boy, already married at 23 (newspapers keep noting that she’s his high school sweetheart, as if he’d had time to find someone else), a brilliant catcher just out of short pants. There are the cast-offs from other teams who are now having banner seasons, Pat Burrell, Cody Ross. And Pablo “Panda” Sandoval, who was an epic hero at the bat last year, but is struggling this year, still supported by his team and his manager. Then there are guys who just keep making great plays, like Juan Uribe, who despite his increased size and years can snatch a tough ball out of the infield and get it to first before we hear the crack of the bat.

And then there’s Aubrey Huff. Huff Daddy. I live for his at-bats. His average? Oh, it’s OK – currently .283 lifetime. 225 home runs in his 12 year career (that’s pretty good, for the non-fans). But that’s not why I watch. I spent a lot of time on YouTube trying to find a clip that shows why I watch. Apparently I’m alone in my fascination with his batting rituals. Too bad. He’s awesome. It goes like this: long stride up to plate.  Touch plate ever so carefully with bat. Slowly take stance. Take first pitch. No matter what the call, raise eyebrows, look at ump. Step back, look at bat as if seeing it for first time. Look it up, down. Check it with left hand, then right. Step back to plate, repeat.

Swinging strikes are the best: eyebrows shoot up, recover from swing, step across plate, twirl bat in the air, catch, take a breath, and repeat above. Or if it’s a third strike, grimace (using every facial muscle possible) and walk determinedly to dugout.

It’s both comforting and exciting to watch him do the same dance with the pitcher every time. Can you tell? I’m pretty much head over heels for this guy. And when he does connect, (which is not infrequent, with the above stats) it looks like this. Plus, c’mon. And you want a backstory, a little personal drama? You got it.

And he’s just as expressive and interesting to watch on defense, as here.

The San Francisco Giants, having won their division title and battled halfway through the National League playoffs, are up against the scary Phillies, beginning Saturday. Should they get through that, they will likely face the New York Yankees, at team that fans of teams like the Giants adore hating. The Yankees are the captain of the high school football team who drives a Lexus Dad bought for him because he made varsity. Pretty, sure, but substance? Values? Talking until all hours of the night about the things you have in common? It’s just not there. Give me the guy with the funny-looking mug, who wears a red thong for luck, and swears on camera. He’ll still break my heart, eventually. But it feels so right.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

You Fucked It Up, cont’d.

Following up on my post from yesterday, I noticed that Digby at Hullabaloo posted a great answer to the rhetorical question, “Why the fuck aren’t any of those motherfuckers in jail?”

So I’m listening to Andrea Mitchell and Jim Cramer explain the Foreclosure Fraud Crisis as they wail and rend their garments about how terrible it will be for just everyone if these poor banks are held responsible for this problem because the whole economy will implode.

That’s nonsense. People should go to directly jail at this point, do not pass go. The real estate market is still officially fucked and while everyone wants it to “find its bottom” coddling the big financial institutions and their crooked subsidiaries and contractors has not worked all that well for average Americans at any point in this ongoing crisis (or for Democrats for that matter.) The only people who are benefiting from the capitulation to the Big Money Boyz’s threats and hoary predictions on this one are the Big Money Boyz and the GOP. The economy still sucks and will continue to suck until the incentives for this criminal behavior and self-destructive malfeasance are stopped.

I keep waiting for someone, anyone to bring up the issue of taking personal responsibility for destroying the lives of millions of innocent people.  Republicans love to talk about responsibility when it comes to welfare queens, or public service unions, or just about anybody other than the greedy, manipulative motherfuckers who control the financial institutions and brokerage houses.  As we know, people like Megan McArdle are quick to blame (poor) individuals for their bad actions, but loath to condemn rich-ass corporations:  “But financial meltdowns don’t offer villains, for the simple reason that no one person or even one group is powerful enough to take down a whole system.”  As Barry Ritholtz responds:

Um, Megan, I am going to have to beg to differ with you. There were many, many identifiable villains who through their own action and inaction, helped create the crisis. There were people who remained slavishly  devoted to an outmoded and disproven ideology, which led them to decisions that were indefendable. Some people engaged in utter recklessness when it came to risk management, or such gross irresponsibility that they are not merely morally culpable, but legally also. Then there are those regulators who gave the corporate interests they supervised pretty much everything they asked for.  And of course, the people simply trying to grab a free lunch contributed mightily to the collapse.

I have 322 well researched pages that shows as much.

Goldman Sachs was but one of the 5 biggest investment banks that requested from the SEC, and received, an exemption from the net cap rules. This allowed their leverage to balloon from 12-to-1 to as much as 40-to-1.

As a nation, we need to stop pretending this is “too complicated” and start holding the responsible parties accountable . . .

Why is this such a hard concept to grasp?  Where are the morality tales told by conservatives about evil bankers, like the ones they tell about overpaid bus drivers, or Presidents who stick cigars where they shouldn’t, or lazy unemployed bums who won’t get off their asses to look for work because of the bi-monthly unemployment checks that the government keeps extending, or welfare cheats with big-screen TVs and Lotto habits?  Why can’t they be bothered to condemn immoral, illegal activity when it’s done by the captains of industry and the masters of the universe?

Then I see articles like this:

“The first thing that needs to happen, I think, is to get these people out of their homes,” a man wearing a bespoke blue-striped shirt, a Hermés tie patterned with elephants and Ferragamo loafers said recently. “Correct! I’ll explain,” the veteran member of a bank restructuring and advisory team said.

Amid evidence of sham documents and widespread paperwork gaffes, if not systemic fraud that increasingly looks like it may be terrifically deep, Bank of America recently halted all foreclosure proceedings around the country. That followed similar announcements from the home-loan giants JPMorgan Chase and GMAC.

But Wall Street does not sympathize. “You had people putting zero down to get massive houses they couldn’t afford to be in,” he said Monday morning, “but now they want to stay. And the government wants to let them stay, because they’re voters.” A few hours later, the Goldman Sachs arm Litton Loan Servicing said it had suspended certain foreclosure proceedings, too. “Talk about a financial scandal,” a Wall Street Journal editorial this weekend joked. “A consumer borrows money to buy a house, doesn’t make the mortgage payments and then loses the house in foreclosure—only to learn that the wrong guy at the bank signed the foreclosure paperwork. Can you imagine?”

“The problem is they don’t deserve to be in that place. They probably deserve to be there less than they used to,” the source continued, referring to incomes lower now than they’d been when the loans were made in the first place. “You do need to foreclose, and you need to go back to people living in houses that are consistent with their income levels.”

Or like this:

But some fear that it may be difficult to do any foreclosures for a while. The risk is that foreclosure flaws are so widespread, or the political furor so heated, that the entire process grinds to a halt, as Citigroup analyst Joshua Levin said in a conference call this week.

In some cases, that would choke off much of the cash flow used to pay mortgage bondholders.

In other words, the only people to blame are the ones who were sold a bill of goods, and who were told that their ridiculous mortgages would not be a problem because home prices always go up – they made bad choices, so they need to be held responsible.

Also, not being able to kick people out of their homes quickly enough, even if they’re being kicked out through fraudulent means, is a bad thing, because certain investors may suffer as a result.

I see.


While I calm down, back to Digby:

As I wrote yesterday, these banks are once again holding the country hostage with their threats that if anything should be done about their criminality they’ll blow up the whole damned place. Well, they already are —- in slow motion. If we want to find a “bottom” to this market, they need to institute a serious cram-down program to help real people work out these messed up mortgages instead of allowing the banks fix their balance sheets through fraud and the market to stabilize by throwing people into the streets. It’s not working.

And everybody needs to stop worrying about the moral hazard of letting average people off the hook for their mortgages and worry a little bit more about the moral hazard of continually allowing these huge financial institutions to get away with murder.

UPDATE:  I got so pissed off reading that article above, especially the glib Hermes-tie-wearing guy saying that people didn’t “deserve” to be in their overpriced homes any more, since their incomes were lower than before, that I forget to mention something:  how exactly did those incomes get lowered, anyway?  How did all those people paying for all those height-of-the-market mortgages suddenly become unemployed, and unable to pay those mortgages?  What happened, exactly, to send this country’s economy into a tailspin that it still hasn’t recovered from?  Could it have something to do with economic policies that favored greed over the common good?  That loosened regulations to the point that they were basically non-existent?  That created the largest gap between rich and poor in this country’s history?  Nah.  Shorter Hermes-tie-wearing guy, and shorter the rest of the masters of the universe:  Everyone’s fault but mine.

UPDATE #2: One more excerpt form the New York Observer article, which is noted without comment:

ON TUESDAY, CITIGROUP announced it would stop providing foreclosure work to the huge Florida law firm run by David J. Stern, which the state attorney general has been investigating. In addition to a deposition from an ex-employee who described rampant fraud, Mr. Stern himself has been accused of sexual harassment, and is the target of a class-action case accusing him of racketeering. He is said to have a jet-propelled yacht called Misunderstood.

UPDATE #3: Via Atrios – they just really didn’t give a fuck.

Posted in Eat the Rich, Invisible Hand-Job, Masters of the Universe On Crack, Megan McArdle is Always Wrong | 5 Comments

You Fucked It Up

Worries over fast-tracked foreclosures send bank stocks plummeting

Stocks of major banks declined sharply Thursday amid concern that widespread corner-cutting in the foreclosure process could saddle the financial system with a costly and paralyzing mess.

The sell-off was one of the most vivid indications yet that the foreclosure problems could take a toll on banks that had been recovering from the financial crisis of recent years.

You fucked it up
You should’ve quit
‘Til circumstances
Had changed a bit

In early afternoon trading, share prices declined by 3.3 percent for J.P. Morgan, 4.5 percent for Citigroup, 4.9 percent for Wells Fargo, 5.6 percent for Bank of America and 6.1 percent for SunTrust Banks.

In contrast, the Dow Jones industrial average was down by 0.34 percent, and the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index, a broader market gauge, was down by 0.62 percent.

You fucked it up
You jumped the gun
I swore you off but
You climbed back on

Some major lending institutions have frozen foreclosures in response to evidence that employees in what were essentially foreclosure mills signed the paperwork to seize homes without properly vetting it.

A similar but potentially broader concern has cast an additional cloud over the system.

And when you said
Of course you know
Could I be blamed
If I’d wished it so
I don’t think so

Some analysts are concerned that huge pools of mortgages that are bought and sold like stocks might be defective. Court documents show that in many cases the paperwork transferring legal ownership over those loans to the pools was lost, ignored or even forged.

The mortgage securities were traded around the world and widely held by investors, including mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which are wards of the government.

You fucked it up
Or was it you
‘Cause when you said it
I said it too
What of it

It is not yet clear what the consequences would be if large quantities of mortgage-backed securities turn out to be defective – or how the trouble could be solved.

“If the basic principles of property law have been violated here . . . it may be extremely difficult to fix,” said a source involved in government oversight of financial institutions, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the uncertainties involved. “There is a chain of questions that no one seems to know the answer to.”

And all that stuff
I knew before
Just turned into
Please love me more
Please love me

Posted in Eat the Rich, Invisible Hand-Job, It's the Stupid Economy, You Assholes, Masters of the Universe On Crack | 3 Comments