Friday, October 29, 2010

Grifting Nation: MegaBanks Stepped on Land Mine - "They Thought They Had Enough Money To Pay Off Any Legislator Or Judge" BoA Sleight of Hand?

Ashley witcheroos for the kids at the still-public library. (Click to enlarge for full effect - sorry about the bad lighting!)

Why No One Will Be Jumping From Windows (Or Committing Suicide) This Time Still wondering why the Bush/Cheney money tree will always go back to oil and energy sources? And how this deep-pocket connection and their subsequent ability to work their political will on the U.S. population has led to the end of the American Middle Class? You'll also begin to understand why Mayor Daley's sale (giveaway) of many of Chicago's public assets to Middle East firms wasn't even a tough deal for him to make to guarantee that Chicago wouldn't go out of business until he was safely out of office. I want to make a quip right here about continuing to elect those xtian Rethug Governors, but there are plenty of Dims in that putrid pie too. Anyone ready to run some people out of the country on a rail yet? I know I am. Matt Taibbi strikes at the core of the corruption again and tears them a new one. (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)

Matt Taibbi's unsparing and authoritative reporting on the financial crisis has produced a series of memorable Rolling Stone features. He showed us how Goldman Sachs, that "great vampire squid", played a central role in creating not only the housing bubble but four other big speculative booms that filled its coffers while wrecking the American economy. He explained how Wall Street banks cooked up schemes that helped decimate municipal budgets and cost countless jobs, and how Wall Street lobbying led to a financial reform bill that won't prevent another meltdown.

Taibbi builds on that eye-opening work in his new book, Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That is Breaking America, due out from Spiegel & Grau on November 2. In this exclusive excerpt, he describes how our cash-strapped country is auctioning off its highways, ports and even parking meters at fire sale prices — and finding eager buyers in the unregulated sovereign wealth funds of oil-rich Middle Eastern countries. In the summer of 2009 I got a call from an acquaintance who worked in the Middle East. He was a young American who worked for something called a sovereign wealth fund, a giant state-owned pile of money that swims around the world in search of things to buy.

Sovereign wealth funds, or SWFs, are huge in the Middle East. Most of the bigger oil-producing states have massive SWFs that act as cash repositories (with holdings often kept in dollars )for the revenues generated by, for instance, state-owned oil companies.

Unlike the central banks of most Western countries, whose main function is to accumulate reserves in an attempt to stabilize the domestic currency, most SWFs have a mission to invest aggressively and generate huge long-term returns. Imagine the biggest and most aggressive hedge fund on Wall Street, then imagine that that same fund is fifty or sixty times bigger and outside the reach of the SEC or any other major regulatory authority, and you've got a pretty good idea of what an SWF is.

My buddy was a young guy who'd come up working on the derivatives desk of one of the more dastardly American investment banks. After a few years of that he decided to take a step up morally and flee to the Middle East to go to work advising a bunch of sheiks on how to spend their oil billions.

Aside from the hot weather, it wasn't such a bad gig. But on one of his trips home, we met in a restaurant and he mentioned that the work had gotten a little, well, weird.

"I was in a meeting where a bunch of American investment bankers were trying to sell us the Pennsylvania Turnpike," he said. "They even had a slide show. They were showing these Arabs what a nice highway we had for sale, what the toll booths looked like . . ."

I dropped my fork. "The Pennsylvania Turnpike is for sale?"

He nodded.

"Yeah," he said. "We didn't do the deal, though. But, you know, there are some other deals that have gotten done. Or didn't you know about this?"

As it turns out, the Pennsylvania Turnpike deal almost went through, only to be killed by the state legislature, but there were others just like it that did go through, most notably the sale of all the parking meters in Chicago to a consortium that included the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, from the United Arab Emirates.

There were others: A toll highway in Indiana. The Chicago Skyway. A stretch of highway in Florida. Parking meters in Nashville, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, and other cities. A port in Virginia. And a whole bevy of Californian public infrastructure projects, all either already leased or set to be leased for fifty or seventy-five years or more in exchange for one-off lump sum payments of a few billion bucks at best, usually just to help patch a hole or two in a single budget year.

America is quite literally for sale, at rock-bottom prices, and the buyers increasingly are the very people who scored big in the oil bubble. Thanks to Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley and the other investment banks that artificially jacked up the price of gasoline over the course of the last decade, Americans delivered a lot of their excess cash into the coffers of sovereign wealth funds like the Qatar Investment Authority, the Libyan Investment Authority, Saudi Arabia's SAMA Foreign Holdings, and the UAE's Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.

Here's yet another diabolic cycle for ordinary Americans, engineered by the grifter class. A Pennsylvanian like Robert Lukens sees his business decline thanks to soaring oil prices that have been jacked up by a handful of banks that paid off a few politicians to hand them the right to manipulate the market. Lukens has no say in this; he pays what he has to pay. Some of that money of his goes into the pockets of the banks that disenfranchise him politically, and the rest of it goes increasingly into the pockets of Middle Eastern oil companies.

And since he's making less money now, Lukens is paying less in taxes to the state of Pennsylvania, leaving the state in a budget shortfall. Next thing you know, Governor Ed Rendell is traveling to the Middle East, trying to sell the Pennsylvania Turnpike to the same oil states who've been pocketing Bob Lukens's gas dollars.

It's an almost frictionless machine for stripping wealth out of the heart of the country, one that perfectly encapsulates where we are as a nation.

When you're trying to sell a highway that was once considered one of your nation's great engineering marvels — 532 miles of hard-built road that required tons of dynamite, wood, and steel and the labor of thousands to bore seven mighty tunnels through the Allegheny Mountains — when you're offering that up to petro-despots just so you can fight off a single-year budget shortfall, just so you can keep the lights on in the state house into the next fiscal year, you've entered a new stage in your societal development.

You know how you used to have a job, and a house, and a car, and a wife and a family, and there was food in the fridge — and now you're six months into a drug habit and you're carrying toasters and TVs out the front door every morning just to raise the cash to make it through that day? That's where we are. While a lot of this book is about how American banks used bubble schemes to strip the last meat off the bones of America's postwar golden years, the cruelest joke is that American banks now don't even have the buying power needed to finish the job of stripping the country completely clean.

For that last stage we have to look overseas, to more cash-rich countries we now literally have to beg to take our national monuments off our hands at huge discounts, just so that our states don't fall one by one in a domino rush of defaults and bankruptcies.

In other words, we're being colonized — of course it's happening in a clever way, with very careful paperwork, so we have the option of pretending that it's not actually happening, right up until the bitter end.

I dare you to read it all. In self defense. So you'll know what you're up against in the future USA that is right in front of us all. And if you really want to read about the "clever" thinking of the pirates (criminals) who stole/are still stealing your country, be sure to read "Why The Paperwork Appears 'Sloppy'." Right. It was not accidental. It was on purpose. And it was low-class theft. Protected by high-class citizen thieves (who have moved most of your money out of the country already so you can't get it back). From LivingLies (emphasis marks and some editing was inserted - Ed.):

The essential component of every loan that was never revealed to either the lenders (investors) nor the borrowers (homeowner/investors) was the addition of co-obligors and terms that neither the investor nor the borrower knew anything about.

The “insurance” and other enhancements were actually cover for the intermediaries who had no money at risk in the loans, but for the potential liability for having defrauded the lenders and borrowers. After centuries of lending money and preparing loan documents it seems that the least likely suspect for screwing up the paperwork on tens of millions of “loans” would be the Banks themselves. Yet that is what occurred. The purpose of this article is to show that it was not sloppy, it was intentional. And I will tell you why it was intentional.

The much expected announcement that after a thorough review they have determined the paperwork is in order is a last-ditch desperate effort to block inquiries into the mortgage creation process and the sale of “mortgage bonds” to investors. They attempted to emulate the government’s PR stunt last year with the “stress test” forgetting that they are private companies in litigation subject to discovery. They have now opened the door to discovery, which is the last thing they wanted.

Litigants can now question who was involved in this “review”, what they did, from they received information and assurances, and what documents they looked at. They can ask what was the basis upon which they concluded that they could proceed with foreclosures?

The documents were not sloppy and they were not processed sloppily. They were created and treated exactly as planned. They did it because they thought they could get away with it. They had enough money to buy off any legislator or Judge, or so they thought.

But it isn’t working out that way. It’s not the first time these mega-banks have stepped on a land mine and it won’t be the last, as long as we allow them to grow into such behemoths such that that ascribe to themselves the qualities of government or God.

The game was to move money under a scheme of deceit and fraud. First sell the bonds and collect the money into a pool. Second take your fees, third take what’s left and get it committed into “loans” (which were in actuality securities) sold to homeowners under the same false pretenses as the bonds were sold to investors.

By controlling the flow of funds and documentation, the middlemen were able to sell, pledge and otherwise trade off the flow of receivables several times over — a necessary complexity not only for the profit it generated, but to make it far more difficult for anyone to track the footprints in the sand. If the loans had actually been securitized, the issue would not arise. They were not securitized. This was a mass illusion or hallucination induced by Wall Street spiking the punch bowl.

The gap (second tier yield spread premium) created between the amount of money funded by investors and the amount of money actually deployed into “loans” was so large that it could not be justified as fees. It was profit on sale from the aggregator to the “trust” (special purpose vehicle).

It was undisclosed, deceitful and fraudulent.

Thus the “credit enhancement” scenario with tranches, credit default swaps and insurance had to be created so that it appeared that the gap was covered. But that could only work if the parties to those contracts claimed to have the loans.

And since multiple parties were making the same claim in these side contracts and guarantees, counter-party agreements etc. the actual documents could not be allowed to appear nor even be created unless and until it was the end of the road in an evidential hearing in court.

They used when necessary “copies” that were in fact fabricated (counterfeited) as needed to suit the occasion. You end up with lawyers arriving in court with the “original” note signed in blue (for the desired effect on the Judge) when it was signed in black — but the lawyer didn’t know that. The actual original is either destroyed (see Katherine Porter’s 2007 study) or “lost.”

In this case “lost” doesn’t mean really lost. It means that if they really must come up with something they will call an original they will do so.

So the reason why the paperwork is all out of order is that there was no paperwork.

There only entries on databases and spreadsheets. The loans were not in actuality assigned to any one particular trust or any one particular bond or any one particular individual or group of investors. They were “allocated” as receivables multiple times to multiple parties usually to an extent in excess of the nominal receivable itself. This is why the servicers keep paying on loans that are being declared in default.

The essential component of every loan that was never revealed to either the lenders (investors) nor the borrowers homeowner/investors) was the addition of co-obligors and terms that neither the investor nor the borrower knew anything about.

The “insurance” and other enhancements were actually cover for the intermediaries who had no money at risk in the loans, but for the potential liability for defrauding the lenders and borrowers.

The result, as anyone can plainly see, is that the typical Ponzi outcome heads I win, tails you lose. With that, Wall Street was allowed to suck trillions out of an economy that could not afford it. That $5 trillion surplus left when Clinton was in office was just too darn tempting for Wall Street. They just had to have it.

And they got it.

So the paperwork was carefully created and crafted to cover the tracks of theft.

Most of the securitization paperwork remains buried such that it takes search services to reach any of them. The documents that were needed to record title and encumbrances was finessed so that they could keep their options open when someone made demand for actual proof. The documents were not messed up and neither was the processing. They were just keeping their options open, so like the salad oil scandal, they could fill the tank that someone wanted to look into.

The Obama administration is making a giant error in relying on the existing finance infrastructure to fix itself. This fraud runs so deep that practically everyone at their kitchen table feels it. The loss should fall on those who created it and the victims should be made whole, not because it is a reward but because that is what we do in a nation laws — take people who were victims of wrong behavior and get as much restitution as can be reasonably accomplished.

Quantitative easing is only going to encourage Wall Street, creating yet another pool of cash that they will not be able to resist.

Then what?

As if we didn't already know.

Shredding the Dream: The latest sleight of hand from the Bank of America (to be rapidly adopted if successful by all the others) from our friends at Crooks and Liars by way of Bloomberg? (Emphasis marks and some editing inserted - Ed.)

Bank of America, the nation’s largest lender, has resorted to tough tactics in resisting repurchases of bad loans. Facing pressure from Freddie Mac, one of the two government-controlled mortgage financing companies, to buy back money-losing home loans with problems like inflated appraisals, overstated borrower income, or inadequate documentation, Bank of America issued a blunt threat, according to two people with direct knowledge of the incident.

If Freddie Mac did not back off its demands for the buybacks, Bank of America officials said, the bank would take more of the new, more profitable mortgages it is originating these days to rival Fannie Mae, these people said. Freddie and Fannie, known as GSEs (government-sponsored entities), need a steady supply of healthy new loans to climb out of their financial hole.

The claimed threat from Bank of America, which was not put into writing, according to one of these people, was taken seriously enough that it has been discussed at several Freddie Mac board meetings, including one in mid-October. Some officials have urged the Federal Housing Finance Agency — the government conservator that has controlled Fannie and Freddie since they were bailed out in 2008 — to confront Bank of America and prevent it from trying to play one against the other, which may be infuriating but is not illegal.

“If the tactic worked, I’d be shocked and appalled,” said Thomas Lawler, a former portfolio manager at Fannie Mae and now an economic consultant. “The GSEs are supposed to be run now to minimize losses to the taxpayers. Freddie ought to ignore the threat.”

[...] Wall Street’s unspoken strategy has been to kick mortgage losses down the road until an economic recovery reinflates the housing market. The faulty-foreclosure crisis has forced the issue back into the present tense, triggering a fight over who will bear the brunt of those losses.

The combatants — all of whom are trying to minimize their share of the damage — include homeowners, lenders and mortgage brokers, loan servicers and the underwriters of mortgage-backed securities, the buyers of those securities, title insurers, rating firms, and the federally controlled mortgage buyers Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac (FRD).

And Wikileaks tells us in detail what we knew all along, but allowed the powers-that-be to obscure until they could get out of Dodge (or die (to escape prison) and go to Abu Dhabi or Dubai). One of our best sources on the Iraq War chicanery practiced by the Cheney/Bush junta, Tom Burghardt, reports on "The WikiLeaks Release: U.S. Complicity and Cover-Up of Iraq Torture Exposed."

Don't miss his succinct take. Never forget for a moment that this started with the Cheney/Bush whiz-kid installation of Paul Bremer and his neoCon clones in Iraq after the illegal occupation and decimation of its population. And keep thinking about the American soldiers who are committing suicide daily (emphasis marks added - Ed.).

On October 22nd, the whistleblowing web site WikiLeaks released nearly 400,000 classified Iraq war documents, the largest leak of secret information in U.S. history.

Explosive revelations contained in the Iraq War Logs provided further evidence of the Pentagon's role in the systematic torture of Iraqi citizens by the U.S.-installed post-Saddam regime.

Indeed, multiple files document how U.S. officials failed to investigate thousands of cases of abuse, torture, rape and murder. Even innocent victims who were targets of kidnapping gangs, tortured for ransom by Iraqi police and soldiers operating out of the Interior Ministry, were "investigated" in a perfunctory manner that was little more than a cover-up.

Never mind that the Pentagon was fully cognizant of the nightmare playing out in Iraqi jails and prisons.

Never mind the beatings with rifle butts and steel cables, the electrocutions, the flesh sliced with razors, the limbs hacked-off with chainsaws, the acid and chemical burns on battered corpses found along the roads, the eyes gouged out or the bones lacerated by the killers' tool of choice: the power drill.

Never mind that the death squads stood-up by American forces when the imperial adventure went wildly off the rails, were modeled on counterinsurgency methods pioneered in Vietnam (Operation Phoenix) and in South- and Central American during the 1970s and 1980s (Operation Condor) and that a "Salvador Option" was in play.

Never mind that the former commander of the U.S. Military Advisory Group in El Salvador, Col. James Steele, was the U.S. Embassy's point-man for setting up the Wolf Brigade or the Iraqi Interior Ministry's Special Police Commandos, notorious death squads that spread havoc and fear across Iraq's cities, towns and villages.

The killings and atrocities carried out by American and British clients were not simply random acts of mayhem initiated by sectarian gangs. On the contrary, though sectarianism and inter-ethnic hatred played a role in the slaughter, from a strategic and tactical point of view these were carefully calibrated acts designed to instill terror in a population utterly devastated by the U.S. invasion.

. . . WikiLeaks release prompted the UN's chief investigator on torture, Manfred Nowak, to demand that the Obama administration "order a full investigation of US forces' involvement in human rights abuses in Iraq," The Guardian reported.

Nowak said that if the files demonstrate clear violations of the UN Convention Against Torture then "the Obama administration had an obligation to investigate them."

A failure to investigate these serious charges "would be a failure of the Obama government to recognise its obligations under international law."

There's little chance of that happening under our "forward looking" president.

On the contrary, as The Washington Post reported Sunday, that former CIA general counsel Jeffrey H. Smith, a current adviser to America's top spook Leon Panetta, wants to hang the messenger.

Smith said, "'without question' he thought that [WikiLeaks founder Julian] Assange could be prosecuted under the Espionage Act for possessing and sharing without authorization classified military information."

The Post informed us that Obama's Justice Department "is assisting the Defense Department in its investigation into the leaks to WikiLeaks. Though Smith said he did not know whether efforts were underway to gain custody [of Assange], he said, 'My supposition is that the Justice Department and Department of Defense are working very hard to see if they can get jurisdiction over him'."

As I discussed in late 2009, perhaps the Pentagon is working feverishly to do just that, deploying a Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) "Manhunting team" to run Assange and his organization to ground.

In Manhunting: Counter-Network Organization for Irregular Warfare, retired Lt. Col. George A. Crawford wrote in a 2009 monograph published by Joint Special Operations University, that "Manhunting - the deliberate concentration of national power to find, influence, capture, or when necessary kill an individual to disrupt a human network - has emerged as a key component of operations to counter irregular warfare adversaries in lieu of traditional state-on-state conflict measures."

And with an administration that asserts the right to kill anyone on the planet, including American citizens deemed "terrorists," it isn't a stretch to imagine the Pentagon resorting to a little "wet work" to silence Assange, thereby disrupting "a human network" viewed as deleterious impediment to Washington's imperial project.

After all, in Crawford's view, "Why drop a bomb when effects operations or a knife might do?"

And on a more local note ~

From the good guys at the Institute for Southern Studies we learn the following inside dope about exactly who is allied (and trust me, they are undoubtedly active in your state as well) in what is probably the old never-going-away Jesse Helms network in North Carolina with the infamous Koch Brothers in their rightwingnutter permanent-sellout-of-the-country pursuit of power (emphasis marks added - Ed.):

Art Pope, North Carolina's leading conservative benefactor, has worked closely with the Koch oil barons and spent millions of his own discount retail fortune to sow doubt about the scientific consensus on global warming. Now he's hoping to reap the political benefits.

. . . The Kochs have landed in the public spotlight lately thanks to a New Yorker profile that detailed their efforts to sow doubt about global warming as well as reports by the New York Times and Think Progress about the brothers' efforts to coordinate conservative political initiatives, including an assault on what they call "climate change alarmism."

. . . Pope has close ties to the Kochs as one of four national directors of the Koch-founded political advocacy group Americans for Prosperity; he is also the second-largest institutional funder of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation.

In addition, Pope is a director and board chair of a family foundation that has steered millions to conservative thinks tanks in North Carolina and nationally that have worked closely with the Koch network to manufacture doubt about global warming.

In North Carolina, the climate skeptics that benefit from Pope's fortune haven't gained much traction in the state legislature. But that could change if Pope's strategy pays off this election year: He has begun funneling money to ostensibly nonpartisan nonprofits that use it to run attack ads, and among the targeted politicians are two long-time legislative leaders who've played a key role in addressing climate change in the state.

. . . For over a decade, the Koch brothers have spent a considerable chunk of their $21.5 billion fortunes financing doubt about climate science.

A report released earlier this year by Greenpeace documented how the Kochs have contributed more than $48.5 million from 1997 to 2008 toward funding what the environmental group refers to as the "climate denial machine" - a network of several dozen think tanks dedicated to sowing doubt about global warming. The Kochs' money has flowed largely through the brothers' charitable family foundations: the Charles G. Koch Foundation, the David H. Koch Foundation and the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation.

. . . The largest chunk of money that Pope contributed to the climate denial network went to the John Locke Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit think tank based in Raleigh, N.C. that was created in 1990 to promote the idea of limited government. Not only does Pope provide 80 percent of the organization's funding - a striking $16.9 million from 1997 to 2008 alone - he also sits on its board of directors, which gives him considerable power in managing the organization's operations and policies.

The John Locke Foundation, in turn, has been one of the most outspoken voices of climate denial in North Carolina - working in concert with other groups funded by Koch and Pope to creation the illusion of disagreement about the fundamentals of climate science:

* In 2005, shortly after legislation addressing climate change was first introduced at the General Assembly, the foundation released a public policy statement titled "Global Warming Policy: NC Should Do Nothing," which claimed that climate science remains "unsettled."

* That same year, the Locke Foundation distributed to all members of the state legislature the Michael Crichton novel "State of Fear," a work of fiction that promoted the views of Dr. S. Fred Singer, a prominent climate skeptic. Singer has held positions with the Cato Institute, which was co-founded in 1977 by Charles Koch and is generously funded by the Kochs, and with other Koch-financed outfits including the American Council on Science and Health, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Frontiers of Freedom, Heritage Foundation, Institute for Humane Studies and the National Center for Policy Analysis.

* In 2007, as North Carolina began working on ways to reduce the state's greenhouse gas emissions, it turned for technical assistance to the Center for Climate Strategies, a nonprofit group of scientists, engineers, business strategists and policy experts that has worked with governments in the U.S., Mexico and Canada on tackling climate change issues.

In response, the Locke Foundation launched a series of attacks on the Center, charging that it was founded by an "environmental advocacy group known to take alarmist positions on global warming" - when in truth it was founded by the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, a business-friendly group whose directors have included representatives of Reliant Energy, Dow, and the Academy of Natural Sciences.

At one point Locke teamed up with the Heartland Institute - a climate-skeptic group that's been financed by the Kochs - to hold a conference call during which Locke's research director accused the Center of peddling false assumptions like the idea that "CO2 emission reduction is the solution to global warming."

* Also in 2007, the Locke Foundation released a policy report titled "A North Carolina Citizen's Guide to Global Warming," assuring readers that the "alarming view" of global warming does not represent the scientific consensus. It went on to assert that "[m]ost of the greenhouse effect is natural and is due to water vapor naturally in the atmosphere, as well as natural levels of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, and a few other greenhouse gases."

The report was written by Joel Schwartz, who at the time was a visiting scholar at the Koch-funded American Enterprise Institute.

* In addition, Locke has questioned mainstream climate science through a series in the Carolina Journal, the foundation's monthly newspaper, and opinion pieces published by its staff in other outlets, like the 2006 American Spectator article in which Locke editor Paul Chesser accused Christian climate activists of "Biblical illiteracy" and warned that "God has some serious global warming of His own planned."

It's also spread its message of doubt through speaking engagements by climate science skeptic Pat Michaels, a climatologist who left the University of Virginia under a cloud of controversy over his industry funding and contrarian views to become a fellow at the Koch-founded and funded Cato Institute, as well as through its Carolina Journal radio show, which has discussed topics like "the biases that help convince global warming alarmists that their cause deserves so much attention."

The John Locke Foundation's misrepresentations of climate science continue today. Earlier this month, for example, one of the organization's half-dozen blogs featured a post that declared global warming a "pseudoscientific fraud" that has been "terribly discredited."

Yes, the fraudulent John Locke Foundation has nothing to do with John Locke at all (and I have to admit that after seeing them in action for years here, I've wondered on more than one occasion if any of these pretenders have even read any of John Locke's, whom I studied in Political Theory at UNC, prose).

Out of nowhere a loud laugh emerges from the general direction of my long-lost sense of humor (from my girl on the theater spot, M(alignant) Bouffant):

One could assume that E.E. Smith is vastly more qualified than I to pass judgement on a performance of this type. On the basis of the performance, anyway. (That assumption turns out to be wrong. Whatever a senior editor does at the largest publisher of trade theater books in these United Snakes doesn't have much to do w/ theater. Especially when one can become a "senior" editor w/in a yr. of graduating w/ a B.A. in horseshit-philosophy.)

Click on the link above and read it. It's hilarious and good for what ails you. Speaking of what's good for you and what's good for the banksters (from A Tiny Revolution) - and try to keep a proper level of respect when Bank of America increases your banking fees for no particular reason:
10,000 Ways for Banks to Say Fuck You

This is buried in a New York Times story about the government's legal settlement with Angelo Mozilo of Countrywide (now owned by Bank of America):

Bank of America is paying Mr. Mozilo’s legal bills. Countrywide is paying $5 million toward Mr. Sambol’s repayment to investors and $20 million of Mr. Mozilo’s reparations.

So for all of 2009 before Bank of America repaid their TARP money, we owned them and were paying for Mozilo's defense. And of course we essentially still own Bank of America in less formal ways, and so continue to get to pay his legal team and part of his settlement. Sweet.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the exact amount Mozilo took home from 2003 - 2008 while he was destroying the world economy was $470,686,861. His legal settlement with the government required him to pay $67.5 million in penalties and reparations to investors. But since Countrywide covered that $20 million, he's only coming up with $47.5 million personally - or just over 10%. Like a bad tip.

Did I hear someone on Fox say he was sorry yet?


For what?

From Doug at Balloon Juice (Yes, Everybody Is Exactly As Guilty!):

What I’ve learned over the past few days is that both sides do it. Whether it’s a left-leaning writer using the phrase “curb-stomping” or an angry mob of conservatives actually performing a curb-stomping, whether it’s a liberal drawing a Hitler mustache on George W. Bush or a right-wing militia member blowing up a federal building, whether it’s two black guys in berets standing outside a polling station or a hundred years of Jim Crow laws. It’s all the same stuff and we should just admit it.

Imagine the type of upbringing/education these rightwingnuts must have had to actually believe this is in any way true. Or that their incessant repeating of such convinces any of us.

I can't.

Suzan _______________


mommapolitico said...

Wow - so much I agree with here...where to start??? :) How about here:
"It's an almost frictionless machine for stripping wealth out of the heart of the country, one that perfectly encapsulates where we are as a nation."

And the mechanisms by which this is being done are being pushed by Rethugs - look at Citizens United. My grandfather used to say that this nation would one day be owned by foreign sources. He would be amazed if he knew how close to the truth his comments truly are. Great post, friend.

Suzan said...

Wow back!

And thanks so much for your comments and dropping by.

You have picked out one of my favorite quotes.

"Frictionless machine for stripping wealth out of the heart of the country!"

If only we could get every candidate to say this out loud until Tuesday about the agenda of the heartless Rethugs.

If only!

(I've really enjoyed reading your blog also, sister.)

We've gotta have courage now, and according to Paul Krugman, be very afraid of what they will do if they triumph at this election.