Daily Archive: 06/20/2012

Jun 20 2012

Whips and Scourges

Paul Solmon is an ignoramus who never studied Samuelson.

Jun 20 2012

What Jane Said

There was a recent kerfluffle at FDL that in the light of presidential election, Jane Hamsher, FDL’s founder, felt it necessary to restate and clarify the site policy regarding diaries and commenting. I agree with what Jane said:

In the contentious 2008 Democratic Presidential primary, there were many members of the FDL community who passionately supported one candidate over another.  We chose as a blog not to endorse either candidate because we did not want to alienate either significant sector of our community.

Moreover, we firmly believe that elections are the time when candidates are the most responsive to the needs of the constituents whose votes they hope to woo. [..]

We believe that the Presidential election should be a time for healthy discussion among those who have different and often passionately held points of view. [..]

Individual writers on FDL may take different positions.  It does not mean that as a blog we endorse any of them.  Our goal is to make a fair home for all sides of this discussion, and not shut it down. [..]

The one thing we have no interest in being is a mind-reading site.   “You just want Obama to win” or “you just want Romney to win” or “you just don’t care about X” furthers no conversation.  Its only intent is to poison the discussion and launch a pie fight. [..]

Our only goal is to foster a vigorous and open debate on FDL in the ensuing months.  The fact that we will not be playing the role of arbiter is not a reflection of any hidden agenda, but rather a continuation of what we have historically sought to be during times when our community is intensely divided:  a town square where a fair discussion of the merits of all sides can take place.

That is what our goal is here at The Stars Hollow Gazette and Docudharma

Thank you, Jane, for all you do.

Jun 20 2012

Slave Food

To make a long story short I once got assigned to cater a volunteer party out of the otherwise discardable leftovers from the rentier crowd.

Once that was done I swore I’d never eat slave food again.

Jun 20 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”.

Wednesday is Ladies’ Day.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Kaura Flanders: ‘Jamie Dimon, You’re No Good. The People Need a Robin Hood’

Tuesday June 19th, saw the formal launch of an NNU-led national campaign for the Robin Hood Tax. Not just in DC, but all over the country, nurses and their allies showed up at branches and offices of JP Morgan Chase summoning the spirit of the 13th century British bandit.

As National Nurses United President Rose Ann deMoro explains:  “It’s time to pay up for the damage you have done to our communities and our nation.”

It’s an idea whose time has long since come, they say, and there’s no better time to be talking about it than this moment. The Robin Hood tax, or financial transaction tax (also known as the Tobin tax after the US economist who first proposed a version of it,) would impose a levy on financial transactions, like sales of stocks, bonds and derivatives. It would take from the rich and generate revenues for poor public services, and stymie reckless speculation — like the gamble that lost JP Morgan that missing $2 billion —  in the process.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Progressive action can move the candidates

After a rough few weeks, filled with disappointing economic news and distracting political gaffes, President Obama finally had a rare throw-down-the-mike moment. In a highly anticipated campaign speech in Ohio last Thursday, he clearly and unequivocally framed the November election as a choice, not simply “between two candidates or two political parties, but between two paths for our country.”

The choice is indeed a stark one: a return to the failed Bush policies of unregulated markets and antitax fundamentalism that served the 1 percent as they failed the country; or concerted government action to rebuild the middle class as the foundation for sustained economic growth. As Obama said, “this is not another trivial Washington argument.”

Allison Kilkenny: Activists Protest G20 While US Media Talk Trivialities

Protests continue in Los Cabos, Mexico, during the G20 summit of world leaders, though learning of these demonstrations-especially if one lives within the United States-is quite a difficult task for consumers of the establishment media.

On Monday, activists unfurled a giant “one trillion dollar” bill to represent the money given in fossil fuel subsidies every year, and the group Avaaz.org says it collected more than 750,000 signatures for a petition calling for a shift to renewable energy.

But rather than discussing environmental policies or austerity measures, NBC’s Chuck Todd obsessed endlessly over the body language between Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Obama.

Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto: Obama Boxes in Republicans on Immigration

What do the Republican Party of Texas and the president have in common? Not much of anything, except their support of an immigrant guest worker program. Just over a week before President Obama issued his executive order establishing a work authorization program for undocumented youth, the Texas GOP approved a platform calling on the federal government to implement a guest worker program. While the president did what the Lone Star Republicans asked, I doubt they’ll be sending a “thank you” card anytime soon (they also advocate for the repeal of birthright citizenship for people whose parents are not American citizens).

Republicans now find themselves in a tricky position. Up until last week they could say that they opposed the president on immigration because his reforms came with pathways to citizenship. Amnesty, or a pathway to citizenship, has been the greatest point of contention between Republicans and Democrats. Republicans believe that to give citizenship to those who came to this country illegally as children would reward those who broke the law, even if it was through no fault of their own. And what the president did last week was concede this non-negotiable.

Katha Politt: What’s the Matter With Creationism?

Do you know what the worst thing about the recent Gallup poll on evolution is? It isn’t that 46 percent of respondents are creationists (“God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last ten thousand years or so”). Or that 32 percent believe in “theistic evolution” (“Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process”). Or that only 15 percent said humans evolved and “God had no part in this process.” It isn’t even that the percentage of Americans with creationist views has barely budged since 1982, when it was 44 percent, with a small rise in the no-God vote (up from 9 percent) coming at the expense of the divine-help position (down from 38 percent). Or that 58 percent of Republicans are creationists, although that does explain a lot.

It’s that the proportion of college graduates who are creationists is exactly the same as for the general public. That’s right: 46 percent of Americans with sixteen long years of education under their belt believe the story of Adam and Eve is literally true. Even 25 percent of Americans with graduate degrees believe dinosaurs and humans romped together before Noah’s flood. Needless to say, this remarkable demonstration of educational failure attracts little attention from those who call for improving our schools.

Alice Slater: The Folly of Mindless Science

In 2000, I traveled to India, invited to speak at the organizing meeting of the Indian Coalition for Nuclear and Disarmament and Peace. About 600 organizations, including some 80 from Pakistan gathered in New Delhi to strategize for nuclear disarmament. India had quietly acquired the bomb and performed one nuclear test at Pokhran in 1974 but it was in 1998 that all hell broke out, with India exploding five underground tests, swiftly followed by six in Pakistan.

The trigger for this outbreak of nuclear testing in Asia was the refusal of the US Clinton Administration, under the pressure of the US nuclear weapons scientists, to negotiate a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty that precluded laboratory testing and “sub-critical” tests, where plutonium could be blown up underground with chemicals without causing a chain reaction-hence defined as a non-nuclear test by the US and the nuclear club. India warned the nuclear powers at the Commission on Disarmament (CD) where the CTBT was being negotiated, that it opposed the CTBT because it contained discriminatory “loopholes … exploited by some countries to continue their testing activity, using more sophisticated and advanced techniques”, and it would never agree to consensus on the treaty unless the ability to continue high-tech laboratory testing and computer-driven nuclear experiments was foreclosed.

Jun 20 2012

On This Day In History June 20

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.

Click on images to enlarge.

June 20 is the 171st day of the year (172nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 194 days remaining until the end of the year.

On leap years, this day usually marks the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere and the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere.

On this day in 1789, Third Estate makes Tennis Court Oath.

In Versailles, France, the deputies of the Third Estate, which represent commoners and the lower clergy, meet on the Jeu de Paume, an indoor tennis court, in defiance of King Louis XVI’s order to disperse. In these modest surroundings, they took a historic oath not to disband until a new French constitution had been adopted.

Louis XVI, who ascended the French throne in 1774, proved unsuited to deal with the severe financial problems he had inherited from his grandfather, King Louis XV. In 1789, in a desperate attempt to address France’s economic crisis, Louis XVI assembled the Estates-General, a national assembly that represented the three “estates” of the French people–the nobles, the clergy, and the commons. The Estates-General had not been assembled since 1614, and its deputies drew up long lists of grievances and called for sweeping political and social reforms.

The Tennis Court Oath (French: serment du jeu de paume) was a pivotal event during the first days of the French Revolution. The Oath was a pledge signed by 576 of the 577 members from the Third Estate who were locked out of a meeting of the Estates-General on 20 June 1789 so they made a makeshift conference room inside a tennis court.

In 17 June 1789 this group, led by Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, began to call themselves the National Assembly. On the morning of 20 June, the deputies were shocked to discover that the chamber door was locked and guarded by soldiers. Immediately fearing the worst and anxious that a royal attack by King Louis XVI was imminent, the deputies congregated in a nearby indoor real tennis court where they took a solemn collective oath “not to separate, and to reassemble wherever circumstances require, until the constitution of the kingdom is established” It later transpired that the most probable reason why the hall was closed was that the royal household was still in mourning the death of the Dauphin (the king’s oldest son) two weeks earlier; ordinarily, political matters could not be conducted until the King had emerged from mourning. The oath is therefore a contentious point in French political history, since pro-monarchists then and now characterize it as a duplicitous and hysterical over-reaction which deliberately made capital out of a private tragedy in the royal family. Other historians have argued that given political tensions in France at that time, the deputies’ fears, even if wrong, were reasonable and that the importance of the oath goes above and beyond its context.

The deputies pledged to continue to meet until a constitution had been written, despite the royal prohibition. The oath was both a revolutionary act, and an assertion that political authority derived from the people and their representatives rather than from the monarch himself. Their solidarity forced Louis XVI to order the clergy and the nobility to join with the Third Estate in the National Assembly.

The only deputy recorded as not taking the oath was Joseph Martin-Dauch from Castelnaudary. He can be seen on the right of David’s sketch, seated with his arms crossed and his head bowed.

Jun 20 2012

Allonge Of Alabamy

Now remember, when things look bad and it looks like you’re not gonna make it, then you gotta get mean. I mean plumb, mad-dog mean. ‘Cause if you lose your head and you give up then you neither live nor win. That’s just the way it is.

Alabama Appeals Court Reverses Decision on Chain of Title Case, Ruling Hinges on Question of Bogus Allonges

Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism

Friday, June 8, 2012

We’d flagged this case as important because to our knowledge, it was the first to argue what we call the New York trust theory, namely, that the election to use New York law in the overwhelming majority of mortgage securitizations meant that the parties to the securitization could operate only as stipulated in the pooling and servicing agreement that created that particular deal. Over 100 years of precedents in New York have produced well settled case law that deems actions outside what the trustee is specifically authorized to do as “void acts” having no legal force. The rigidity of New York trust has serious implications for mortgage securitizations.



It’s difficult to know when the breakdown occurred, but it appears that well before 2004-2005, many subprime originators quit bothering with the nerdy task of endorsing notes and completing assignments as the PSAs required; they seemed to take the position they could do that right before foreclosure. Indeed, that’s kosher if the note has not been securitized, but as indicated above, it is a no-go with a New York trust. There is no legal way to remedy the problem after the fact.

The solution in the Congress case appears to have been a practice that has since become troublingly become common: a fabricated allonge. An allonge is an attachment to a note that is so firmly affixed that it can’t travel separately. The fact that a note was submitted to the court in the Congress case and an allonge that fixed all the problems appeared magically, on the eve of trial, looked highly sus(pect). The allonge also contained signatures that looked less than legitimate: they were digitized (remember, signatures as supposed to be wet ink) and some were shrunk to fit signature lines.



The court found that the judge put an improperly high burden of proof on Congress, applying a “clear and convincing evidence” standard. The court said that was a misapplication of precedent based on cases dealing with recorded deeds. The document under dispute was an allonge to an unrecorded note. The appeals court found the evidentiary hurdle should instead be that of a preponderance of evidence. In addition, the court also found that the lower court incorrectly focused on the issue of the validity of the signatures. The appeals court found that even though Congress seemed to be contesting the validity of the signatures (the appeals court notes the argument at points seemed to be a bit confused), her real bone of contention was that the allonge was bogus (emphasis original):

Congress appears to be arguing not that signatures on the allonge are forged or otherwise invalid to prevent enforcement of the note, but that the allonge was fabricated or, essentially, created after the first trial in order to remedy the apparent defect in the chain of indorsements.

Keep in mind that Alabama is hardly a consumer friendly jurisdiction; it’s former status as one of the preferred states for launching class action suits, thanks to favorable state statutes and easily riled juries, has led to a concerted effort to elect and place business friendly judges on the bench (Alabama has far and away the most costly Supreme Court elections in the entire nation). The fact that a higher court has finally decided to place the question of the legitimacy of suddenly-appearing allonges at the heart of a ruling is a welcome development.

Jun 20 2012

Summer Solstice 2012

We are halfway through the year and are ready to celebrate the first harvest amidst climate disruption, natural disasters compounded by man’s foolish idea that he could harness the devil. I spent some time this morning weeding my herb garden, snipping the flower buds from the huge pot of sweet basil so the energy goes to the flavorful leaves and a short walk on the beach. Tomorrow morning I will watch the sun rise for the last few hours of Spring and later watch it set on the first few hours of Summer which ushers in at 7:09 PM EDT as the Earth tilts towards the sun at its Northern maximum, the Tropic of Cancer. It is a but a moment in time significant for so many cultures, religions and countries. Here in the US there are many cities that will light huge fires in public places to celebrate the longest day of the year, Midsummer. The fires will be lit in the stone fire pit in my yard. We’ll eat some of the newly harvested vegetable that are available at the local markets and eat food cooked with the herbs from my garden.

A Solstice Approaches, Unnoticed By James Caroll

ONCE, HUMANS were intimate with the cycles of nature, and never more than on the summer solstice. Vestiges of such awareness survive in White Nights and Midnight Sun festivals in far northern climes, and in neo-pagan adaptations of Midsummer celebrations, but contemporary people take little notice of the sun reaching its far point on the horizon. Tomorrow is the longest day of the year, the official start of the summer season, the fullest of light – yet we are apt to miss this phenomenon of Earth’s axial tilt, as we miss so much of what the natural world does in our surrounds.

In recent months, catastrophic weather events have dominated headlines as rarely before – earthquakes and tsunami in Asia; volcanic cloud in Europe; massive ice melts at the poles; tornadoes, floods, and fires in America. “Records are not just broken,” an atmospheric scientist said last week, “they are smashed.” Without getting into questions of causality, and without anthropomorphizing nature, we can still take these events as nature’s cri de coeur – as the degraded environment’s grabbing of human lapels to say, “Pay attention!”