Daily Archive: 01/31/2012

Jan 31 2012

The End of the Rule of Law

Title Law goes back over 5000 years and is literally the foundation of Law and the concept of Property and Ownership itself.  It’s highly ironic that Banksters and their excuse making apologists are so willing to dispense with it, otherwise how do you assert any privilege over those Communist Occupier types?

I mean, if anyone can forge a scrap of paper and foreclose on you…

Robosigning = Smoking Gun

By: Cynthia Kouril, Firedog Lake

Tuesday January 31, 2012 9:53 am

There are a few voices emerging suggesting that the current iteration of the %) AG settlement is somehow wonderful, or at least OK, because it only immunizes robosigning. “Only”, as if robosigning was some benign peccadillo, instead of a massive conspiracy to commit forgery and perjury that is systematically driving our population into homelessness AND continuing to drive down the value of our homes.

Peter Henning writing for NYTimes Dealbook thinks… that most of the bad guys will get off for lack of evidence.



(T)here certainly is a smoking gun, thousands of them, actually. They are the robo signed documents forged after the fact to try to create the false impression that the mortgages and notes were transferred to MERS and into REMICs in a timely fashion. Add to that the formation documents for MERS and the Pooling and Servicing agreements for the REMICs and you have a case that is VERY easy for a judge and jury to understand.

Even the normally laser visioned Matt Taibbi doesn’t get it. He thinks that robosigning immunization will only hurt the homeowners trying to stave off foreclosure from an entity that has no standing to foreclose, as if that wasn’t enough all by itself.



What both Henning and Taibbi are missing is that the easiest way for the pension funds and the hedge funds to win in court is to have a narrative that the jury can understand. Critical to that narrative is that the robosigned documents are of no legal effect; just like a forged dollar bill is of no legal effect and has no value once you realize that it’s counterfeit.

If this horrendous settlement is allowed to go through and sprinkle magic pixie dust on these forgeries and perjuries and by some alchemy that eludes me turn them into documents that can be used to “prove” what’s contained in them (thereby turning everything I ever knew about the rules of evidence inside out) then the pension funds and other purchasers of MBS will not be able to prove the truth, namely, that the REMICs they bought were empty or largely empty and that they are entitle to rescind that purchase.

If robosigning is immunized you screw millions of homeowners, but you also screw the very banks and hedge funds and pension plans that the 1% are so interested in protecting.

The deal sabotages everything because the robosigning is the smoking gun. No one resorts to creating fabricated documents unless they are desperate and know they have no other hope of winning. It’s the legal strategy equivalent of a Hail Mary Pass. Had the robosigning never been exposed, they might have gotten away with winning through perjury, but now that it is exposed, the idea of immunizing it is preposterous.

Each and every robo signed document is a crime.  A FORGERY!  There is no need to investigate, the document is right there in front of you.

Any Sort of Robo Signing Immunity Is a National Tragedy

By: Cynthia Kouril, Firedog Lake

Tuesday January 31, 2012 3:21 am

I am a HUGE fan of Matt Taibbi’s. HUGE. So it pains me to write this:

WTF is he calling giving a pass to massive -and easy to prove- fraud like robosiging a/k/a FORGERY, a “Victory” for the public? I think the man has lost his mind.

Look, the securitization frauds are important, no doubt about it. However, the entities harmed by the securitizations, other banks, big pension funds, etc. all have armies of very competent lawyers to protect them in civil suits. In contrast, homeowners trying to stop a bank that doesn’t even have the paper work to show it has a right to throw them out of their houses have very few resources with which to fight.  They also often face state court judges who are disinclined to believe the homeowners. Without both civil AND CRIMINAL cases proving the robo signing, they will continue to be swindled out of their homes.

It’s not like robo signing is a thing of the past, it’s still going on. I’ve seen examples of robo signing executed within the last few months. The document mills have not closed down; what do you think all those people do all day long?

If Schneiderman signs on to this then the question of who rolled whom with this second mortgage task force is answered and all Americans will know that the last roadblock to banksters getting away with the biggest heist in history has been removed. We will also know that foreclosures will take off at breakneck speed and more homeowners than you can imagine, and their children, will be homeless.

That’s not my idea of a victory for anyone, except the 1%. No, Matt, immunity for robosigning will be a Tragedy For The Public.

Not even for the 1% Cynthia.  That’s my Rolex motherfucker.  Hand it over.

Jan 31 2012

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Maira Sutton and Parker Higgins: We Have Every Right to Be Furious About ACTA

If there’s one thing that encapsulates what’s wrong with the way government functions today, ACTA is it. You wouldn’t know it from the name, but the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement is a plurilateral agreement designed to broaden and extend existing intellectual property (IP) enforcement laws to the Internet. While it was only negotiated between a few countries,1 it has global consequences. First because it will create new rules for the Internet, and second, because its standards will be applied to other countries through the U.S.’s annual Special 301 process. Negotiated in secret, ACTA bypassed checks and balances of existing international IP norm-setting bodies, without any meaningful input from national parliaments, policymakers, or their citizens. Worse still, the agreement creates a new global institution, an “ACTA Committee” to oversee its implementation and interpretation that will be made up of unelected members with no legal obligation to be transparent in their proceedings. Both in substance and in process, ACTA embodies an outdated top-down, arbitrary approach to government that is out of step with modern notions of participatory democracy.

The EU and 22 of its 27 member states signed ACTA yesterday in Tokyo. This news is neither momentous nor surprising. This is but the latest step in more than three years of non-transparent negotiations. In December, the Council of the European Union-one of the European Union’s two legislative bodies, composed of executives from the 27 EU member states-adopted ACTA during a completely unrelated meeting on agriculture and fisheries. Of course, this is not the end of the story in the EU. For ACTA to be adopted as EU law, the European Parliament has to vote on whether to accept or reject it.

Jim Hightower: Buying Our Future

Sheldon Adelson, a Las Vegas-based global casino baron who has long been a major funder of far-right-wing causes, is Newt Gingrich’s very special political pal.

Already, four of the top GOP presidential contenders have dropped out. Michele Bachmann went first, because she was too wacky, followed by Jon Huntsman, because he was too sane. Herman Cain gave up because he was too exposed, and Rick Perry because he was too dim-witted.

But the greatest surprise is the sudden surge of the Adelson campaign. Little-known until now, Adelson was the big winner in South Carolina, has made his mark in Florida, and looks to have the political kick needed to go the distance.

Never heard of the Adelson campaign? It’s the married duo of Sheldon and Miriam, neither of whom is actually on the ballot. Rather, they are running on the cash ticket.

Dean Baker: A Competitive Dollar: The Missing Link in President Obama’s Manufacturing Agenda

In his State of the Union Address last week, President Obama announced a renewed commitment to manufacturing in the United States. While the commitment to rebuilding the country’s manufacturing base is welcome – manufacturing has historically been a source of good-paying jobs for workers without college degrees – he unfortunately left the most important item on the list off the agenda.

President Obama failed to commit himself to restoring the competitiveness of the dollar as part of his agenda for bringing back manufacturing jobs. The value of the dollar really has to be front and central in any effort to restore US competitiveness since it is by far the most important factor determining the relative cost of US goods compared with goods produced elsewhere.

Gary Younge: US Elections: No Matter Who You Vote For, Money Always Wins

Dollars play a decisive role in US politics. And more so since the supreme court allowed unlimited campaign contributions

Republican presidential debates are not for the faint-hearted. Last week in Jacksonville, Florida, Rick Santorum warned of the “threat of radical Islam growing” in Central and South America. Newt Gingrich advocated sending up to seven flights a day to the moon, where private industry might set up a colony, and reaffirmed his claim that Palestinians were invented in the late 70s. Mitt Romney argued that if you make things tough enough for undocumented people, they will “self-deport”.

Given the general state of the Republican party, such comments now attract precious little attention. Truth and facts are but two options among many. The party’s base, overrun by birthers, climate change deniers and creationists, floats its warped theories and every now and then one makes it to the top and bobs out into the airwaves.

Bill Moyers and Michael Winship: The Party People of Wall Street

A week or so ago, we read in The New York Times about what in the Gilded Age of the Roman Empire was known as a bacchanal – a big blowout at which the imperial swells got together and whooped it up. [..]

This year, the butt of many a joke were the protesters of Occupy Wall Street. In one of the sketches, the bond specialist James Lebenthal scolded a demonstrator with a face tattoo, “Go home, wash that off your face and get back to work.” And in another, a member — dressed like a protester – was told, “You’re pathetic, you liberal. You need a bath!”

Pretty hilarious stuff. The whole affair’s reminiscent of the wingdings the robber barons used to throw during America’s own Gilded Age a century and a half ago, when great wealth amassed at the top, far from the squalor and misery of working stiffs. Guests would arrive in the glittering mansions for costume balls that rivaled Versailles, reinforcing the sense of superiority and the virtue of a ruling class that depended on the toil and sweat of working people.

Eugene Robinson: The GOP’s Anti-Gingrich Campaign

MIAMI-When the empire strikes back, it hits hard. The Republican establishment is deploying every weapon and every soldier-even Bob Dole-in an increasingly desperate attempt to pulverize the Newt Gingrich rebellion. Eventually, the shock-and-awe campaign may work.

But then what? In the establishment’s best-case scenario, the party is left with Mitt Romney, a candidate whose core message, as far as I can tell, seems to be: “Yes, I made a ton of money. You got a problem with that?” really believe in him.

Jan 31 2012

ACTA:The Backdoor to SOPA

As Wikipedia noted on its website after SOPA and PIPA were taken off the table, “we’re not done yet”. Guess what, they were right, we aren’t done yet and it’s even worse. While we turned our backs on this transparent president was busy working on a “trade” agreement that is even worse than both those bill. It has been in the works since before 2008 and is designed to bypass the constitutional requirement of Senate ratification by calling it an “executive agreement.” Negotiations were held in secret and kept form the public and congress under the guise of “national security.”

What is this “agreement”?

It is called ACTA, Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement is a multi-country trade agreement that, according to Wikipedia:

{} is for the purpose of establishing international standards for intellectual property rights enforcement. The agreement aims to establish an international legal framework for targeting counterfeit goods, generic medicines and copyright infringement on the Internet, and would create a new governing body outside existing forums, such as the World Trade Organization, the World Intellectual Property Organization, or the United Nations.

The agreement was signed on 1 October 2011 by Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the United States. In January 2012, the European Union and 22 of its member states signed as well, bringing the total number of signatories to 31. After ratification by 6 states, the convention will come into force.

Supporting and negotiating countries have heralded the agreement as a response to “the increase in global trade of counterfeit goods and pirated copyright protected works”, while opponents have lambasted it for its potentially adverse effects on fundamental civil and digital rights, including freedom of expression and communication privacy. Others, such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, have derided the exclusion of civil society groups, developing countries and the general public from the agreement’s negotiation process and have described it as policy laundering. The signature of the EU and many of its member states resulted in the resignation in protest of the European Parliament’s appointed rapporteur, as well as widespread protests across Poland.

The negotiations for the ACTA treaty were conducted behind closed doors until a series of leaked documents relating to the negotiations emerged.

On 22 May 2008, a discussion paper about the proposed agreement was uploaded to Wikileaks. According to the discussion paper a clause in the draft agreement would allow governments to shut down websites associated with non-commercial copyright infringement, which was termed “the Pirate Bay killer” in the media. According to the leaked discussion paper the draft agreement would also set up an international agency that could force Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to provide information about subscribers suspected of copyright infringers without a warrant.

(emphasis mine)

The United States already signed ACTA on October 1 in 2011, just before SOPA and PIPA started to get attention. On January 26, 2012, the European Union and 22 of its member states signed as well. After ratification by six member states, the convention will come into force.

As reported by TechDirt, the Obama’s “US Trade Representative (USTR) has made it clear that it has no intention of allowing Congress to ratify ACTA, but instead believes it can sign it unilaterally”

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), for a long time the sole opponent of PIPA, sent a letter to President Obama in October expressing his objections:

Although the USTR insists that current U.S. law, and its application, conform to these standards, there are concerns that the agreement may work to restrain the U.S. from changing such rules and practices. As you know, the executive branch lacks constitutional authority to enter binding international agreements on matters under Congress’s plenary powers, including the Article I powers to regulate foreign commerce and protect intellectual property. Yet, through ACTA and without your clarification, the USTR looks to be claiming the authority to do just that. [..]

The statement by the USTR confuses the issue by conflating two separate stages of the process required for binding the U.S. to international agreements: entry and implementation. It may be possible for the U.S. to implement ACTA or any other trade agreement, once validly entered, without legislation if the agreement requires no change in U.S. law. But, regardless of whether the agreement requires changes in U.S. law, a point that is contested with respect to ACTA, the executive branch lacks constitutional authority to enter a binding international agreement covering issues delegated by the Constitution to Congress’ authority, absent congressional approval.

At the conclusion of the letter, Sen. Wyden requested that the President formerly declare that ACTA is not binding on the US. Somehow, that may not happen.

On the bright side, apparently, President Obama has found an issue where there is bipartisan agreement as Republican Congressman Darrell Issa (CA) called ACTA even more dangerous than SOPA:

As a member of Congress, it’s more dangerous than SOPA. It’s not coming to me for a vote. It purports that it does not change existing laws. But once implemented, it creates a whole new enforcement system and will virtually tie the hands of Congress to undo it.

This video from Inf0rmNati0n expalins how ACTA will effect us as individuals.

So what can we do to stop this? Get out your keyboards and man your cell phones. Call and email the White House and your elected representatives and tell them “Don’t Mess With The Internet.

Here are two petitions to sign

Please Submit ACTA to the Senate for Ratification as Required by the Constitution for Trade Agreements

End ACTA and Protect our right to privacy on the Internet

Jan 31 2012

On this Day In History January 31

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.

January 31 is the 31st day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 334 days remaining until the end of the year (335 in leap years).

On this day in 1865, The United States Congress passes the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, abolishing slavery, submitting it to the states for ratification.

The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution officially abolished and continues to prohibit slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. It was passed by the Senate on April 8, 1864, passed by the House on January 31, 1865, and adopted on December 6, 1865. On December 18, Secretary of State William H. Seward, in a proclamation, declared it to have been adopted. It was the first of the Reconstruction Amendments.

President Lincoln was concerned that the Emancipation Proclamation, which outlawed slavery in the ten Confederate states still in rebellion in 1863, would be seen as a temporary war measure, since it was based on his war powers and did not abolish slavery in the border states.

Text

Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation

History

The first twelve amendments were adopted within fifteen years of the Constitution’s adoption. The first ten (the Bill of Rights) were adopted in 1791, the Eleventh Amendment in 1795 and the Twelfth Amendment in 1804. When the Thirteenth Amendment was proposed there had been no new amendments adopted in more than sixty years.

During the secession crisis, but prior to the outbreak of the Civil War, the majority of slavery-related bills had protected slavery. The United States had ceased slave importation and intervened militarily against the Atlantic slave trade, but had made few proposals to abolish domestic slavery, and only a small number to abolish the domestic slave trade. Representative John Quincy Adams had made a proposal in 1839, but there were no new proposals until December 14, 1863, when a bill to support an amendment to abolish slavery throughout the entire United States was introduced by Representative James Mitchell Ashley (Republican, Ohio). This was soon followed by a similar proposal made by Representative James F. Wilson(Republican, Iowa).

Eventually the Congress and the public began to take notice and a number of additional legislative proposals were brought forward. On January 11, 1864, Senator John B. Henderson of Missouri submitted a joint resolution for a constitutional amendment abolishing slavery. The abolition of slavery had historically been associated with Republicans, but Henderson was one of the War Democrats. The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Lyman Trumbull (Republican, Illinois), became involved in merging different proposals for an amendment. On February 8 of that year, another Republican, Senator Charles Sumner (Radical Republican, Massachusetts), submitted a constitutional amendment to abolish slavery as well as guarantee equality. As the number of proposals and the extent of their scope began to grow, the Senate Judiciary Committee presented the Senate with an amendment proposal combining the drafts of Ashley, Wilson and Henderson.

Originally the amendment was co-authored and sponsored by Representatives James Mitchell Ashley (Republican, Ohio) and James F. Wilson (Republican, Iowa) and Senator John B. Henderson (Democrat, Missouri).

While the Senate did pass the amendment on April 8, 1864, by a vote of 38 to 6, the House declined to do so. After it was reintroduced by Representative James Mitchell Ashley, President Lincoln took an active role in working for its passage through the House by ensuring the amendment was added to the Republican Party platform for the upcoming Presidential elections. His efforts came to fruition when the House passed the bill on January 31, 1865, by a vote of 119 to 56. The Thirteenth Amendment’s archival copy bears an apparent Presidential signature, under the usual ones of the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate, after the words “Approved February 1, 1865”.

The Thirteenth Amendment completed the abolition of slavery, which had begun with the Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863.

Shortly after the amendment’s adoption, selective enforcement of certain laws, such as laws against vagrancy, allowed blacks to continue to be subjected to involuntary servitude in some cases. See also Black Codes.

The Thirteenth Amendment was followed by the Fourteenth Amendment (civil rights in the states), in 1868, and the Fifteenth Amendment (which bans racial voting restrictions), in 1870.

Jan 31 2012

Outside the Veal Pen

Heh.  National Occupy Leaders?

There aren’t any.

Quan says she’ll call national Occupy leaders

Will Kane,Henry K. Lee, Chronicle Staff Writers, San Francisco Chronicle

January 30, 2012 01:55 PM

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said today that she is going to call national leaders of the Occupy Wall Street movement and implore them to disown Oakland’s protest movement.

“I plan to call some of the national leadership of Occupy this week to say that the Oakland group is not nonviolent and has not agreed to be nonviolent,” Quan said in an interview on KCBS. “The national Occupy movement has said they are nonviolent.”



Rachel Lederman, a civil rights lawyer based in San Francisco who is working with the Occupy movement, said police have overreacted and have used excessive force, creating “an increasing level of confrontation with Occupy Oakland over the past several months” and that officers on Saturday had boxed in peaceful protesters.

She said some protesters had carried shields with them because “these young people have felt the need to protect themselves when they’re likely to be shot with so-called less-than-lethal projectiles.”



“What they are doing against the city economically is not nonviolent either,” she (Quan) continued on KCBS. “Every Saturday they are doing demonstrations and in my city that is my night of highest police need. They are taking away resources from my city and creating a situation that is making it more difficult for me to keep the city safer.”



“Well you guys used tear gas and batons too,” Quan said, referring to San Francisco. “I think it is a different time, I think it is how the media plays it. There is also probably a little misogyny and a little racism, when I looked at what happened in terms of how the national media portrayed it, and how Occupy’s internal media portrayed it.”