Wednesday, March 9, 2011

"Heil Savior!" America Not Broke! They're Getting Away With It (Pissed Off At "Libruls?" From a Liberal/Progressive, So Am I (Need New Group))

“A NATION OF SHEEP WILL BEGET A GOVERNMENT OF WOLVES” Edward R. Murrow
I'm certainly more than ready to toss the group known as "libruls" under the bus of the new liberal/progressive politics. Except for the fact that they are several quantum degrees at least better than the Rethugs (not the Blue Dogs, however). Wonder why Carl Icahn gave back $1.6B? He's heading for the hills. The f*ckwads are getting away with murder (all the money). And our guys aren't even breathing hard. From Living Lies:

EDITOR'S COMMENT: The unfortunate moral of the story is that crime actually DOES pay even if you are caught. That 7 million homes were yanked out from under homeowners and millions more are on the butcher block doesn't seem to matter. Stern made something like $100 million doing what he was told to do. The mega banks rented his license, used "his" office and started the foreclosure mill just like they did for dozens of other lucky lawyers. Sure their reputations will take a hit. Maybe he'll lose his law license. Who cares?

How else would they ever have been in the position of living the good life of yachts and jets, and multiple homes all over the world. Conscience? Well everything has its price. I guess money might not buy happiness but it sure let's you suffer in comfort. Somehow I doubt any of them are suffering, and the absence of criminal prosecutions shows the extent to which our government has been acquired by the banks. Is this the end of the story? Not for me.

Nor for me. And this is only one of the many who are now scurrying away from the tragedy they were instrumental in causing for millions of innocents.
A Lawyer Under Investigation Shuts Down His Foreclosure Practice NY Times David J. Stern, one of the country’s best-known beneficiaries of the foreclosure boom, who pocketed millions from evictions processed by his Florida law firm, told regulators on Monday that he was shutting down his foreclosure practice. Mr. Stern’s law firm in Plantation, Fla., will end its involvement in all pending foreclosures at the end of the month, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. A lawyer who enjoyed a lifestyle of mansions and flashy sports cars and owned a yacht called Misunderstood, Mr. Stern and his law firm have been at the center of an investigation by the Florida attorney general’s office into whether numerous law firms falsified documents to speed up foreclosures. Mr. Stern’s lawyer, Jeffrey Tew, said he would not comment beyond what was in the S.E.C. filing. At its peak in 2009, the Stern law firm handled 70,000 foreclosures, or about 20 percent of such actions in the state, bringing in $260 million in revenue. But after the announcement of the investigations, Mr. Stern’s law firm lost its biggest clients, including Citibank and the mortgage lending giant Fannie Mae. Its executives left, and the company laid off most employees. The law firm’s primary client was DJSP Enterprises, a publicly traded company that acquired the back-office operations of the David J. Stern law firm in early 2010. The plan was to replicate the law firm’s foreclosure business model in several states as millions of people across the country continued to lose their homes. The public offering netted Mr. Stern $60 million, but it appears to have been a money loser for other investors. Shares of DJSP Enterprises, which traded as high as $14 last summer, traded at 14 cents Monday on Nasdaq.
And for the entrée:

EDITOR’S NOTE: In 1983 the nominal value of credit derivatives was zero. Today it is over $600 TRILLION.

None of this would have been possible without the active complicity of credit rating companies who as quasi public agencies “assured” the quality of securities sold to both sophisticated and unsophisticated investors. People forget that in most cases behind every “sophisticated” investor are millions of unsophisticated investors who entrusted their money to these venerable institutions to manage their savings and pensions.

A full 1/4 of the $600 TRILLION in derivatives is related in some exotic way to the housing market. When appraisal companies put profit before their reputations, you would have thought that the world would have come crashing down around them. When appraisers of real property were given instructions on what value they had to come back with to make the deal work (or else they would never be hired again), you would have thought that licensing boards would have revoked their licenses and criminal investigations would have led to prosecutions.

The whole grand hallucination referred to as securitization of debt instruments, was achieved by deceit, cheating and outright theft. But the guards at the gate not only let the barbarians in, they are letting them out too. I’m probably too old to see the eventual outcome of having a country governed by banks. But our children and grandchildren will see it in living color, and as food prices and other commodities start to rise and as the value of money falls, they will feel the pain of our folly and our failure to correct a situation that still is correctable. The founding fathers of our country gave us the right the and the means to do it.

If you like what you see, and you think that things are all going in the right direction, then you don’t need to do anything. You are probably a banker or financier with tens of millions of even tens of billions of wealth stashed away, with provisions for every eventuality. The rest of us don’t have that luxury. We were steered into an economy of excess by people who made sure that we had the money in our hands to spend — but only if we spent it, leaving ourselves and our economy and our future in tatters. If you don’t like that picture and the picture painted by hundreds of economists around the world, with our noble experiment becoming a banana republic, then maybe you should do something about it.

Innovation has been the hallmark of American success. Innovation is what it will take to bring about the changes that are necessary to have a country that is governed, with consent of the governed, by people who value human rights for all more than intense concentrations of wealth for a few.

Millions of Americans have fought and died and been injured or maimed fighting for our rights as set forth in the constitutions. We treat our returning vets as expendable, and we treat their predecessors as part of some dry historical landscape without meaning. If we are truly patriotic, then we will end the tyranny of wealth, and return to a society where wealth is possible, where hope springs eternal and where our expectations are virtually guaranteed, that our children will live better than we did.

Think back and remember. IF you can’t remember then research. We did it before. Let’s do it again.

"This is a recipe for disaster."

Hey, S.E.C., That Escape Hatch Is Still Open

By GRETCHEN MORGENSON

IT’S hard to say what’s more exasperating: the woeful performance of the credit ratings agencies during the recent mortgage securities boom or the failure to hold them accountable in the bust that followed. Not that Congress hasn’t tried, mind you. The Dodd-Frank financial reform law, enacted last year, imposed the same legal liabilities on Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s and other credit raters that have long applied to legal and accounting firms that attest to statements made in securities prospectuses. Investors cheered the legislation, which subjected the ratings agencies to what is known as expert liability under the securities laws. But since Dodd-Frank passed, Congress’s noble attempt to protect investors from misconduct by ratings agencies has been thwarted by, of all things, the Securities & Exchange Commission. The S.E.C., which calls itself “the investor’s advocate,” is quietly allowing the raters to escape this accountability. When Dodd-Frank became law last July, it required that ratings agencies assigning grades to asset-backed securities be subject to expert liability from that moment on. This opened the agencies to lawsuits from investors, a policing mechanism that law firms and accountants have contended with for years. The agencies responded by refusing to allow their ratings to be disclosed in asset-backed securities deals. As a result, the market for these instruments froze on July 22. The S.E.C. quickly issued a “no action” letter, indicating that it would not bring enforcement actions against issuers that did not disclose ratings in prospectuses. This removed the expert-liability threat for the ratings agencies, and the market began operating again. At the time, the S.E.C. said its action was intended to give issuers time to adapt to the Dodd-Frank rules and would stay in place for only six months. But on Jan. 24, the S.E.C. extended its nonenforcement stance indefinitely. Issuers are selling asset-backed securities without the ratings disclosures required under S.E.C. rules, and rating agencies are not subject to expert liability. MARTHA COAKLEY, the attorney general of Massachusetts, has brought significant mortgage securities cases against Wall Street firms — and she is disturbed by the S.E.C.’s position. Last week, she sent a letter to Mary Schapiro, the chairwoman of the S.E.C., asking why the commission was refusing to enforce its rules and was thereby defeating Congressional intent where ratings agencies’ liability is concerned. “We wanted to make clear that we see this as a problem and important enough that we would like an answer,” Ms. Coakley said in an interview last week. “They are either going to enforce this or say why they are not. As a state regulator, we don’t enforce Dodd-Frank, but we certainly deal with the fallout when it is not enforced.” An S.E.C. spokesman, John Nester, said that the agency would respond to Ms. Coakley. Meredith Cross, director of the S.E.C.’s division of corporation finance, explained the agency’s decision to stand down on the issue: “If we didn’t provide the no-action relief to issuers, then they would do their transactions in the unregistered market,” she said. “You would impede investor protection. We thought, notwithstanding the grief we would take, that it would be better to have these securities done in the registered market.” Unfortunately, the S.E.C.’s actions appear to continue the decades of special treatment bestowed upon the credit raters. Among the perquisites enjoyed by established credit raters is protection from competition, since regulators were required to approve new entrants to the business. Regulators have also sanctioned the agencies’ ratings by embedding them into the investment process: financial institutions post less capital against securities rated at or above a certain level, for example, and investment managers at insurance companies and mutual funds are allowed to buy only securities receiving certain grades. This is a recipe for disaster. Given that ratings were required and the firms had limited competition, they had little incentive to assess securities aggressively or properly. Their assessments of mortgage securities were singularly off-base, causing hundreds of billions in losses among investors who had relied on ratings. That the S.E.C.’s move strengthens the ratings agencies’ protection from investor lawsuits, which runs counter to the intention of Dodd-Frank, is also disturbing. Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s have argued successfully for years that their grades are opinions and subject to the same First Amendment protections that journalists receive. This position has made lawsuits against the raters exceedingly difficult to mount, a problem that Dodd-Frank was supposed to fix. I asked Representative Barney Frank, the Massachusetts Democrat whose name is on the 2010 financial reform legislation, if he was concerned that the S.E.C.’s inaction was enabling ratings agencies to evade liability. Mr. Frank said he believed the S.E.C.’s move was part of a longer-term strategy to eliminate investor reliance on ratings and remove, at long last, all references to credit ratings agencies in government statutes. Indeed, the S.E.C. proposed a new rule last week that would eliminate the requirement that money market funds buy only securities with high credit ratings. If the rule goes through, fund boards would have to make their own determinations that the instruments they buy are of superior credit quality. Still, Mr. Frank said, the commission could do a better job of explaining that its nonenforcement stance is part of an effort to reduce reliance on ratings. “The message should not be lax enforcement by the S.E.C.; it should be a lack of confidence in the ratings,” he said. The problem is that it could take years to rid the investment arena of all references to ratings. In the meantime, the S.E.C. is letting the ratings agencies escape accountability once again. Moreover, investors are right to fear that the S.E.C. may be capitulating to threats by the ratings agencies to boycott the securitization market as long as they are subject to expert liability. After all, Moody’s and S.& P. have succeeded before in derailing attempts by legislators to bring accountability to asset-backed securities. Back in 2003, for example, Georgia’s legislature enacted one of the toughest predatory-lending laws in the nation. Part of the law allowed issuers of and investors in mortgage pools to be held liable if the loans were found to be abusive. Shortly after that law went into effect, the ratings agencies refused to rate mortgage securities containing Georgia loans because of this potential liability. The law was soon rewritten to eliminate the liability, allowing predatory lending to flourish. IT is certainly important that the S.E.C. work to eliminate references to ratings in the investment arena, and to reduce investor reliance on them. But Congress couldn’t have been clearer in its intent of holding the agencies accountable. That the S.E.C. is undermining that goal is absurd in the extreme.

In desperation I've thought about joining a group of real reformers like Russ Feingold's, but it begins to seem like so massive a task to even get people to want to start the reform of the intelligence systems that I'm pretty much in deep despair. It's just self defense really as I can't move (at all - anywhere).

But, on the other hand (as we open-minded people like to say from time to time), I'm reminded of the wisdom of Russ Baker's essay long ago on what Obama and the Dems (not Blue Dogs) have been up against from the first (and before, undoubtedly). And none of this past history (of the last two years anyway) has been surprising at all. Just upsetting.

The internal battles between American presidents and their national security establishments are not much reported. But if it is an invisible game, it is also a devious and even deadly one. Our civilian leaders end up mirroring the chronically nervous chiefs of state of the fragile democracies to our south.

Those who do not kowtow to the spies and generals have had a bumpy ride. FDR and Truman both faced insubordination. Dwight Eisenhower, who had served as chief of staff of the US Army, left the White House warning darkly about the “military industrial complex.” (He of all presidents had reasons to know.)

John Kennedy was repeatedly countermanded and double-crossed by his own supposed subordinates. The Joint Chiefs baited him; Allen Dulles despised him (more so after JFK fired him over the Bay of Pigs fiasco), and Henry Cabot Lodge, his ambassador to South Vietnam, deliberately undermined Kennedy’s agenda. Kennedy called the trigger-happy generals “mad” and spoke angrily to aides of “scattering the CIA to the wind.” The evidence is growing that he suffered the consequences.

In the 1950s, the late Col. L. Fletcher Prouty, a high-ranking Pentagon official, was assigned by CIA Director Allen Dulles to help place Dulles’s officers under military cover throughout the federal government. As a result, Dulles not only knew what was happening before the president did, but had essentially infiltrated every corner of the president’s domain.

One Nixon-era Republican Party official told me that in the early 1970s, there were intelligence officers everywhere, including the White House. Nixon was unaware of the true background of many of his trusted aides, particularly those who helped drive him from office. Remember Alexander Butterfield, the so-called “military liaison,” who told Congress about the White House taping system? Years later, Butterfield admitted to CIA connections.

In December 1971, Nixon learned of a military spy ring, the so-called Moorer-Radford operation, that was piping White House documents back to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Chiefs were wary of secret negotiations the president and Henry Kissinger were conducting with America’s enemies, including North Vietnam, China and the USSR, and decided to keep tabs on this intrusion upon their domain.

Jimmy Carter came into office as revelations of CIA abuses made headlines. He tried to dismantle the agency’s dirty tricks office, but wound up instead a victim of it — and a one-term president.

Those who avoided problems — Johnson, Reagan, Bush Sr. and Jr. — were chief executives that made no problems for the Pentagon and intelligence chiefs. All embraced military and covert operations, expanded wars or launched their own. The agile Bill Clinton was a special case — no babe in the woods, he focused on domestic gains and pretty much steered clear of the hornets’ nest.

As for the Bushes, their ascension represented a seizure of power by the national security state itself. Their family had profited from arms manufacturing for decades. The patriarch, Prescott Bush, monitored US assassination plots against foreign leaders as a senator; and records indicate that the elder George Bush had been a secret agency operative for decades before he became CIA director — and then, 12 years later, president.

Obama seems to understand his narrow range of movement, and to be carefully picking his fights. He retained many of Bush’s top military brass, and even Bush’s Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who himself had served as a CIA director for Bush’s father. He has trod very carefully with the spy agency and has declined to aggressively investigate Bush administration wrongdoing on torture and wiretapping.

Obama’s campaign rhetoric about disengaging from Iraq seems a long time ago, and the war in Afghanistan is taking on the hues of permanency.

The old boys’ network is very much in place, and it is hard at work to force Obama’s hand, a la Vietnam. Witness the leaking of Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s supposedly “confidential report” calling for escalation in Afghanistan. The leak was, not surprisingly, to the reliable Bob Woodward. The reporter was himself in Naval Intelligence shortly before he went to work at the Washington Post, where he soon built a career around leaks from the military and spy establishment.

The White House was furious at the McChrystal release. But what could it do? Presidents come and go, and the security folks have ways to hasten the latter.

Covert alliances and payments to corrupt foreign allies continue, making creative diplomacy more difficult. In late October came a front-page story that the brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, suspected of being a major figure in that country’s opium trade, has been on the CIA’s payroll for eight years. Anyone who finds this shocking should go back and read about the CIA and the drug trade in Southeast Asia.

Throughout its six-decade history, the CIA has resisted accountability, with even some of its own nonspook directors kept in the dark about the agency’s most troubling activities. As for the public’s elected representatives, Nancy Pelosi is the most recent in a long line of legislators to accuse the CIA of deliberately misleading Congressional overseers.

None of this is likely to change soon, and not without a huge fight.

Half a century after Ike’s famous admonition, conflict and intrigue remain the engine of our economy, and everyone from private equity firms to missile makers to car and truck manufacturers count on that to continue. The homeland security industry, the most recent head to grow on this hydra, is now seeking permanency.

So Barack Obama is boxed in. But so are the American people, and so, really, is democracy itself. Bringing this inconvenient truth out in the open is the essential first step toward taking back control of our government — and our future. For all the reasons laid out here, Obama will need help. He may, in the rote formulation, hold “the most powerful office in the world.” However, the extent to which he controls the government he heads, is another matter.

Help? Hell, he needs a miracle. __________________________

3 comments:

RealityZone said...

Angelo Mozillo walks and retires on his golden toilet.
I get foreclosed upon.
We lose our business, all thanks to these criminal banksters.
O applauds, caters, rewards, bows, to them.
EFF this system, and everything that it stands for.

The Ex-Wiz said...

Jeez.

Foreclosed on?

I'm just starting to run all the essays on that piece of nonsense.

Have you gone to LivingLies' site?

He's helped many track down the fraudsters.

Most of those foreclosures are based on fraudulent chains of ownership, but you've got to get all the paperwork to prove it.

Don't let them walk away with your property unless they can prove actual transfers not linked to MERS, which has been exposed as a total scam (no ownership papers were ever notarized because no actual ownership ever changed in order to avoid the local property taxes, etc.)

Hope you've researched everything.

Good luck!

Love you.

S

RealityZone said...

I get updates from Propublica.

I live in Az.
Google Arizona SB 1259