February 15, 2012 archive

Feb 15

Cartnoon

Porky’s Romance

Feb 15

We don’t live in storm drains, do we?

Less than zero: Revised, sharply downward.

Any number you can think of, revised.

Sustainable growth rates.  Competent bankers.

Net terrorist attacks against us.

Fraud, fraud, fraud, fraud, fraud.

Fraudy, fraudy, fraudy, fraudy, fraudulent.

Bull. Shit.  Shit is fucked up and.

I prefer the dawn chorus to ads

For erectile dysfunction.  The chirping,

Chittering, whirring of the dinosaurian.

The dawn breaking, bringing.  Light.

Full spectrum light.  Not Full

Spectrum Domination of Nature.

Wait: we have storm drains to live in?

Feb 15

“America’s Lawless Empire: The Constitutional Crimes of Bush and Obama,”

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Constitutional lawyer Bruce Fein and former presidential candidate and consumer advocate, Ralph Nader visited Harvard Law School to  discuss the constitutional crimes of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack H.Obama It is well worth the hour to watch if you love this country and respect the Constitution and our laws.

February 10, 2012

Ralph Nader ’58 and Bruce Fein ’72 visited Harvard Law School for a talk sponsored by the HLS Forum and the Harvard Law Record. At the event, “America’s Lawless Empire: The Constitutional Crimes of Bush and Obama,” both men discussed what they called lawless, violent practices by the White House and its agencies that have become institutionalized by both political parties. [..]

Both men took issue with the National Defense Authorization Act, which sets the budget and policies of the Department of Defense and generally expands the power of the government to fight the war on terror. The Act permits, among other practices, the indefinite detention of terrorism suspects without trial. Fein encouraged those in attendance to contact their members of congress about repealing it.

Bruce Fein has been my “hero” since he called for the simultaneous impeachment of both Bush and Cheney as a requirement of congress mandated by the Constitution and then drafted articles of impeachment of Barack Obama for the same reasons. The Constitution and its enforcement is not a spectator sport.

Feb 15

The Mortgage Settlement: They All Lied

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Yes, they all lied, the the government and the state attorneys general, Schneiderman, too. The 49 state mortgage settlement that is  not written but was reached is not the narrow settlement that these actors would have you believe. In the Mortgage Settlement Executive Summary Section VII states:

   The proposed Release contains a broad release of the banks’ conduct related to mortgage loan servicing, foreclosure preparation, and mortgage loan origination services. Claims based on these areas of past conduct by the banks cannot be brought by state attorneys general or banking regulators.

   The Release applies only to the named bank parties. It does not extend to third parties who may have provided default or foreclosure services for the banks. Notably, claims against MERSCORP, Inc. or Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS) are not released.

What does that mean? According to Yves Smith at naked capitalism it translates to a complete get out of jail free card

This is sufficiently general so that it is hard to be certain, but It certainly reads as if it waives chain of title issues and liability related to the use of MERS. That seems to be confirmed by the fact that made by local recorders for fees are explicitly preserved (one would not think they would need to be preserved unless they might otherwise be assumed to be waived). This is exactly the sort of release we feared would be given in a worst case scenario. The banks have gotten a huge “get out of jail free” card of bupkis.

Yves also quotes Frederick Leatherman who for a recap:

In one of his articles yesterday at Firedoglake, David Dayen mentioned that the settlement agreement has not been reduced to writing.

That is astonishing.

Let me repeat. That. Is. Astonishing.

The biggest problem with settlement agreements in particular, and all agreements in general, is reaching a so-called ‘meeting of the minds’ regarding the details and ‘chiseling them into stone’ by reducing them to writing. As I used to warn my clients when I was practicing law, we do not have an agreement until it has been reduced to writing, thoroughly reviewed, and signed by each of the parties. That has obviously not happened in this case.

Experience has taught us that humans dealing in good faith make mistakes, no matter how careful they are, and the potential for mistakes, misunderstandings and subsequent disagreements about the terms of an agreement cannot be overestimated. That potential becomes a certainty when one or more parties to an agreement is dealing in bad faith.

That, my friends, is why we have a law called the Statute of Frauds, which requires that certain types of agreements be in writing or they are invalid and unenforceable.

Yves take on Schneiderman and Biden’s involvement:

While the full terms have not been agreed upon, this seems to call into question the claim that Schneiderman got a carve-out for his MERS suit (and Biden had separately insisted that he had wanted to be able to add banks to his case against MERS).

But even with all these caveats, it’s hard to read the executive summary, which no doubt was vetted by the bank, Administration and AG sides, as meaning other than what it intends to mean: that the banks have been released of the meteor-wiping-out-the-dinosaurs-and-the-MBS-market liability they were most afraid of, that of the monstrous mess they made in their failure to convey notes as stipulated in their own contracts, and with their failure to use MERS as a mere registry, rather than a substitute for local recording offices. That in turns means that various cheerleaders for this deal, such as Mike “Settlement Release Looks Tight” Lux and Bob Kuttner have badly misled readers in their assertions that the release was narrow and the deal is good for homeowners.

The Obama administration and its advocates would have us believe that this agreement is going to help underwater homeowners and those who have been victims of foreclosure fraud. I’m not going to be delicate about this, it’s a bold faced lie. To make matters even worse Pimco’s analysis points out how this will damage pensions:

The government’s deal with banks over their foreclosure practices after 16 months of investigations is cheap for the loan servicers while costly for bond investors including pension funds, according to Pacific Investment Management Co.’s Scott Simon.

In what the U.S. called the largest federal-state civil settlement in the nation’s history, five banks including Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. yesterday committed $20 billion in various forms of mortgage relief plus payments of $5 billion to state and federal governments.

“This was a relatively cheap resolution for the banks,” said Simon, the mortgage head at Pimco, which runs the world’s largest bond fund. “A lot of the principal reductions would have happened on their loans anyway, and they’re using other people’s money to pay for a ton of this. Pension funds, 401(k)s and mutual funds are going to pick up a lot of the load.”

If anyone expects that that new panel with New York’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is going to ease the housing crisis and hold the banks accountable, I have some really cheap bridges for sale in California and New York.

Feb 15

On This Day In History February 15

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

February 15 is the 46th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 319 days remaining until the end of the year (320 in leap years).

On this day in 1903, toy store owner and inventor Morris Michtom places two stuffed bears in his shop window, advertising them as Teddy bears. Michtom had earlier petitioned President Theodore Roosevelt for permission to use his nickname, Teddy. The president agreed and, before long, other toy manufacturers began turning out copies of Michtom’s stuffed bears, which soon became a national childhood institution.

The name Teddy Bear comes from former United States President Theodore Roosevelt, whose nickname was “Teddy”. The name originated from an incident on a bear-hunting trip in Mississippi in November 1902, to which Roosevelt was invited by Mississippi Governor Andrew H. Longino. There were several other hunters competing, and most of them had already killed an animal. A suite of Roosevelt’s attendants, led by Holt Collier, cornered, clubbed, and tied an American Black Bear to a willow tree after a long exhausting chase with hounds. They called Roosevelt to the site and suggested that he should shoot it. He refused to shoot the bear himself, deeming this unsportsmanlike, but instructed that the bear be killed to put it out of its misery, and it became the topic of a political cartoon by Clifford Berryman in The Washington Post on November 16, 1902. While the initial cartoon of an adult black bear lassoed by a white handler and a disgusted Roosevelt had symbolic overtones, later issues of that and other Berryman cartoons made the bear smaller and cuter.

Morris Michtom saw the drawing of Roosevelt and the bear cub and was inspired to create a new toy. He created a little stuffed bear cub and put it in his shop window with a sign that read “Teddy’s bear,” after sending a bear to Roosevelt and receiving permission to use his name. The toys were an immediate success and Michtom founded the Ideal Novelty and Toy Co.

At the same time in Germany, the Steiff firm, unaware of Michtom’s bear, produced a stuffed bear from Richard Steiff‘s designs. They exhibited the toy at the Leipzig Toy Fair in March 1903 and exported 3,000 to the United States.

By 1906 manufacturers other than Michtom and Steiff had joined in and the craze for “Roosevelt Bears” was such that ladies carried them everywhere, children were photographed with them, and Roosevelt used one as a mascot in his bid for re-election.

American educator Seymour Eaton wrote the children’s book series The Roosevelt Bears, while composer John Bratton wrote “The Teddy Bear Two Step” which, with the addition of Jimmy Kennedy‘s lyrics, became the song “The Teddy Bears’ Picnic”.

Early teddy bears were made to look like real bears, with extended snouts and beady eyes. Today’s teddy bears tend to have larger eyes and foreheads and smaller noses, babylike features that make them more attractive to buyers because they enhance the toy’s cuteness, and may even be pre-dressed.

Feb 15

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