A Gentleman's view.

The dirty game of politics played by gangsters with degrees cloaked in Brooks Brothers proper!

Archive for February 10th, 2012

Screwed Again?

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A bad deal

Wall Street banks fraudulently and illegally foreclose on your house. You get $2,000. The bank gets let off the hook. We’d call that a bad deal.

And yet yesterday, at the urging of the White House, federal regulators along with 49 state attorneys general announced a settlement deal for mortgage servicer abuse that does essentially that. It lets banks off the hook for widespread foreclosure fraud.

Press releases have trumpeted a $26 billion deal which may sound like a lot, but it’s a paltry sum when you break down the numbers.

With an average mortgage of $180,000, and loan instruments executed illegally, a family that lost their home will get a check for just over 1% of the value of the mortgage.1 That is not a victory. The amount of money this deal makes available to help homeowners is an order of magnitude too small and incommensurate with the harm done by the banks.

The estimated $10-$20 billion in the deal for principal reduction would reduce only about 2% of the $700 billion in equity destroyed during the financial crisis. And the banks themselves will only pay $5 billion out of their own pocket. By far the lion’s share of the cost will be borne by investors and taxpayers, who had no part in the robo-signing scandal. 2

No doubt the deal is far better than the deal that was offered months ago. And this most certainly is a result of activism from members of CREDO and many of our allies in the progressive movement who worked with progressive attorneys general like New York’s Eric Schneiderman, California’s Kamala Harris, Delaware’s Beau Biden, Massachusetts’ Martha Coakley and Nevada’s Catherine Cortez Masto to fight a bad deal.

But the final deal, while better, still can’t be characterized as a good deal or even as a good first step towards real accountability for Wall Street banks.

The reported $26 billion settlement will not come close to inflicting any real pain on the banks all of which have already reserved the full amounts required from them under the deal. As Robert Reich said, the “$26 billion settlement with banks over mortgage fraud is far short of what they should pay and distressed home owners deserve.”3

One in five Americans with mortgages owe the banks more than their homes are worth, and these home owners are underwater by an average of $50,000 each. This is a collective negative equity of nearly $700 billion.4

Consider the $700 billion bailout of Wall Street paid for by U.S. taxpayers5 and the more than $1.2 trillion in loans6 provided by the Federal Reserve to Wall Street banks. Or another way to put the deal in perspective is to compare it to the tobacco industry settlement in 1998 – the largest previous multi-state agreement. That deal was worth $350 billion in today’s dollars — more than ten times the size of the mortgage deal.7

And that’s not even all that’s wrong with this deal. The federal government’s track record for enforcing settlement terms with Wall Street banks is abysmal. Furthermore, even if the banks follow the terms of the deal, it’s quite possible than when all is said and done, not only will the banks have suffered no pain, they may actually come out having profited from their illegal schemes to rip off homeowners.

All of which adds up to a scenario in which this settlement does literally nothing to deter the banks from engaging in the same fraudulent behavior in the future.

Senator Dick Durbin famously said the Wall Street banks own the politicians in Washington, DC. Today, this could not be more clearly true as we closely examine the deal that the Obama administration cut with Wall Street and pressured state attorneys general to sign.

There has yet to be a full investigation of the robo-signing scandal despite what Reuters called “copious evidence” of “widespread forgery, perjury, obstruction of justice, and illegal foreclosures….” 8

By establishing settlement terms before there has been any meaningful investigation, the deal whitewashes the widespread lawlessness of the banks and virtually ensures that no bankers will be held criminally responsible for their part in the robo-signing scandal and foreclosure fraud.

Thought the exact terms of the settlement have not been disclosed, we understand that it will not cut off other important avenues to hold the banks accountable. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is co-chairing a federal task force that if fully resourced and left to operate unhindered by the White House could achieve hundreds of billions in reduced principal for underwater homeowners and criminal indictments for bankers who broke the law and helped drive our economy off a cliff. And other state attorneys general can continue investigating Wall Street’s role in causing the housing crisis to ensure that the banks that caused the crisis are held accountable for their wrongdoing.

This is the biggest case of fraud in our history. Homeowners deserve justice for crimes committed against them by Wall Street banks that in many cases literally stole their homes from underneath them. Unfortunately, yesterday’s settlement doesn’t even provide anything close to a down payment on justice.

As the election season heats up, we must be insistent about real accountability for Wall Street crooks. Pressure from activists like us will be even more important in the days to come if we are to achieve any real measure of accountability for Wall Street bankers who profited from their crimes and left the 99% to pay to the price for their reckless disregard.

Becky Bond, Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets

© 2012, agentleman.

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Written by agentleman

February 10th, 2012 at 1:22 pm

Middle East? We Have Our Own Issues, Thank You!

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Right-Wing Continues To Deny Right-Wing Terrorism

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To hear Fox News, AM radio and the GOP speak of it, you would not think there is a problem with domestic terrorism in this country. Rather, you would be convinced that all terrorism is Islamic in nature and targeted only at our FREEDOM. This is a far cry from reality, however, as there have been numerous counts of domestic terrorism both successful and thwarted in just the last 20 years. Almost all of it based on Right Wing rhetoric and politics.

But “numerous” really doesn’t capture the essence of just how much violence emanates from the Right. The Southern Poverty Law Center has compiled a handy list of incidents. It is quite long so I will just post the dates. Feel free to read the descriptions if you have a free hour or two.

Attempted or successful acts of Right Wing extremism during Clinton (missing the first two and a half years of his administration):

  1. July 28, 1995
  2. October 9, 1995
  3. November 9, 1995
  4. December 18, 1995
  5. January 18, 1996
  6. April 12, 1996
  7. April 26, 1996
  8. July 1, 1996
  9. July 27, 1996
  10. July 29, 1996
  11. October 8, 1996
  12. October 11, 1996
  13. January 16, 1997
  14. January 22, 1997
  15. March 26, 1997
  16. April 22, 1997
  17. April 23, 1997
  18. April 27, 1997
  19. May 3, 1997
  20. July 4, 1997
  21. December 12, 1997
  22. January 29, 1998
  23. February 23, 1998
  24. March 18, 1998
  25. May 29, 1998
  26. July 1, 1998
  27. July 30, 1998
  28. October 23, 1998
  29. June 10, 1999
  30. July 1, 1999
  31. July 2, 1999
  32. August 10, 1999
  33. November 5, 1999
  34. December 5, 1999
  35. December 8, 1999

During Bush:

  1. March 9, 2000
  2. April 28, 2000
  3. March 1, 2001
  4. April 19, 2001
  5. October 14, 2001
  6. December 5, 2001
  7. December 11, 2001
  8. January 4, 2002
  9. February 8, 2002
  10. July 19, 2002
  11. August 22, 2002
  12. October 3, 2002
  13. January 8, 2003
  14. January 18, 2003
  15. February 13, 2003
  16. April 3, 2003
  17. April 10, 2003
  18. June 4, 2003
  19. October 10, 2003
  20. April 1, 2004
  21. May 24, 2004
  22. October 13, 2004
  23. October 25, 2004
  24. May 20, 2005
  25. June 10, 2005
  26. March 19, 2006
  27. April 26, 2007
  28. June 8, 2008
  29. August 24, 2008
  30. October 24, 2008
  31. December 9, 2008
  32. December 16, 2008
During Obama (just the first three years):
  1. January 21, 2009
  2. April 4, 2009
  3. April 25, 2009
  4. May 31, 2009
  5. June 10, 2009
  6. June 12, 2009
  7. June 25, 2009
  8. Oct. 28, 2009
  9. Feb. 18, 2010
  10. March 25, 2010
  11. March 27-28, 2010
  12. April 15, 2010
  13. April 30, 2010
  14. May 10, 2010
  15. May 20, 2010
  16. June 8, 2010
  17. July 18, 2010
  18. July 21, 2010
  19. Sept. 2, 2010
  20. Sept. 7, 2010
  21. Sept. 19, 2010
  22. Jan. 14, 2011
  23. Jan. 17, 2011
  24. March 10, 2011
  25. May 14, 2011
  26. May 25, 2011
  27. August 24, 2011
  28. October 5, 2011
  29. November 1, 2011

Now with all of this as precedent, it is not hard to see why Homeland Security has taken to keeping a close eye on Right Wing militias and their affiliates. A few years ago, DHS released a report detailing that veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan might be prime targets for this kind of groups to recruit.

Anti-immigration: “Rightwing extremist groups’ frustration over a perceived lack of government action on illegal immigration has the potential to incite individuals or small groups toward violence. If such violence were to occur, it likely would be isolated, small-scale, and directed at specific immigration-related targets.”

Recruiting returning vets: “Rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to exploit their skills and knowledge derived from military training and combat.”

Gun-related violence: “Heightened interest in legislation for tighter firearms…may be invigorating rightwing extremist activity, specifically the white supremacist and militia movements.”

The reaction? The Right went insane and demanded an apology and resignations and inquiries and human sacrifices. Not a single second was spent on looking in the mirror and saying, “Hmmmm…there might be a problem here on our part.”

Skip ahead to now and the Right looks to be gearing up for another round of outraged disbelief at how DHS defines certain kinds of domestic terrorists:

(U//FOUO) Groups or individuals who facilitate or engage in acts of violence directed at federal, state, or local government officials or infrastructure in response to their belief that the government deliberately is stripping Americans of their freedoms and is attempting to establish a totalitarian regime. These individuals consequently oppose many federal and state authorities’ laws and regulations, (particularly those related to firearms ownership), and often belong to armed paramilitary groups. They often conduct paramilitary training designed to violently resist perceived government oppression or to violently overthrow the US Government.

And the Right is again deliberately misinterpreting it as an unjustified attack on their rhetoric:

So what drives militia extremism according to DHS now is “belief that the government deliberately is stripping Americans of their freedoms.” It is demonstrated by opposing “many federal and state authorities’ laws and regulations, (particularly those related to firearms ownership).” Would writing about those topics (as I am now) fall under “facilitation”? On its face, it’s hard to see how it could be excluded under DHS’s broad definition.

Well, at least they’re honest enough to admit that their fear mongering can, and does, lead to real world violence. So that’s progress of a sort. But, really, the Right will deny with its last breath that nothing they say could possibly convince people to violently lash out at the government. Even when they’ve convinced a disturbingly large percentage of the population that President Obama is a foreign born Muslim usurper that is going to take their guns away and enslave them. But how could they be held responsible for the actions of a few LONE WOLVES in completely ISOLATED INCIDENTS?

The clarion call for “personal responsibility” apparently ends with real world consequences.

© 2012, agentleman.

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Written by agentleman

February 10th, 2012 at 7:57 am

GOP: We Hate And We Get Together To Hate

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Ah, CPAC. That place where conservatives gather every year to hate on liberals and share their agenda to destroy the country. Can’t you just feel the hate, sexism, and ignorance? On Thursday, After being shown a clip of Maddow criticizing the Republican crusade against contraceptives, Thomas made the following remarks:

“I’m glad that you played the Rachel Maddow clip because I think she is the best argument in favor of her parents using contraception. I would be all for that. And all of the rest of the crowd at MSNBC, too, for that matter.”

Thomas is admitting what we all already know. Republicans are all about “saving” fetuses – but if they turn out to be gay or Democratic, they suddenly wish birth control had been used. This is hate speech at its finest and Thomas obviously knew what he was doing when he made these remarks. These reprehensible words underscore the GOP war against women, homosexuals, birth control, liberals, and the free press. They also remind us why a Republican must not be allowed to become President in 2012.

© 2012, agentleman.

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SORRY; But, We’re Not Sorry Anymore We Were Sorry…

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Vatican TAKES BACK 10-year-old Apology to Sexual Abuse Victims of Catholic Priests

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Cardinal Edward Egan probably shouldn’t have brought a sex toy to an interview about Catholic sex crimes, but to each their own…

The former Archbishop of New York, now Cardinal Edward M. Egan is one of the highest ranking members of the Catholic Church in America, and as such operates as a spokesperson for the Vatican when called upon.

Like say, in 2002 after thousands of victims of sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic priests began to shed their decades of institutionalized shame and tell the world about the crimes that had been committed against them as children.

Egan offered an apology on behalf of the Catholic Church at that time, saying, ““It is clear that today we have a much better understanding of this problem,” he wrote. “If in hindsight we also discover that mistakes may have been made as regards prompt removal of priests and assistance to victims, I am deeply sorry.”

But what a difference ten years can make. Yesterday Cardinal Egan announced that he was taking back his apology to the victims of pedophile priests. He’s no longer sorry, and he no longer believes that the priests who molested, beat, raped, and ruined all of those children’s lives even did anything wrong.

Egan evens goes so far as to say, “They can talk about sex abuse or talk about their concern about finance—that’s alright. I believe the sex abuse thing was incredibly good.”

*Brain explodes*

NYT reports:

In a interview with Connecticut magazine published on the magazine’s Web site last week, a surprisingly frank Cardinal Egan said of the apology, “I never should have said that,” and added, “I don’t think we did anything wrong.” 

He said many more things in the interview, some of them seemingly at odds with the facts. He repeatedly denied that any sex abuse had occurred on his watch in Bridgeport. He said that even now, the church in Connecticut had no obligation to report sexual abuse accusations to the authorities. (A law on the books since the 1970s says otherwise.) And he described the Bridgeport diocese’s handling of sex-abuse cases as “incredibly good.”

The entire interview is straight up required reading. Get your butt over to Connecticutmag.com right this second and read the entire twisted thing.

How…why…we just…

How about, ON WHAT PLANET IS IT ACCEPTABLE TO TAKE BACK YOUR APOLOGY FOR RAPING CHILDREN?

© 2012, agentleman.

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Written by agentleman

February 10th, 2012 at 7:13 am

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