Daily Archive: 12/03/2014

Dec 03 2014

Dispatches From Hellpeckersville- Dreaming

On Black Friday my head was killing me. I had promised Cleetus and Baboo that I would tackle making stromboli at home, just as soon as my dough thawed, which was still several hours away, so I laid on the sofa and before I knew it, I was dreaming. This was odd because I don’t dream anymore, or I most likely do, I just don’t remember them, probably due to the medications I take.

Dec 03 2014

Again No Indictment

A Staten Island grand jury returned a no bill of indictment against New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo, in the strangle hold death of Eric Gardner, an African American, during a struggle with police when they attempted to arrest him for what was essentially a misdemeanor.

Only 17 July, police stopped the heavy-set father of six on Staten Island under suspicion of peddling untaxed “loose” cigarettes. Garner had been arrested previously for selling untaxed cigarettes, marijuana possession and false impersonation.

A video shot by an bystander shows Garner resisting arrest as a plainclothes officer attempts to to handcuff him. Backing away from the office, Garner tells him: “This stops today,” which has become a rallying cry for protesters in New York.

A struggle ensues. Eight-year NYPD veteran Daniel Pantaleo responds by putting his arm around Garner’s neck in a chokehold – banned under police policy – and wrestling the asthmatic man to the ground with the aid of several officers. Garner gasps “I can’t breathe” until his 350lb body goes limp. He was later pronounced dead at a hospital. [..]

The NYPD outlawed chokeholds over two decades ago, exactly because they can be deadly if administered inappropriately or carelessly. Still, between January 2009 and June 2014, the city’s Civilian Complaint Review Board, an independent agency that investigates police misconduct, received 1,128 civilian complaints involving chokehold allegations. Of these, only a small fraction of the cases are ever substantiated, just ten over the five and a half year window.

In the days after Garner’s death, Bratton said all 35,000 officers would be retrained on the department’s use of force policy.

The family has sued the city and the police department, as well as several officers involved in the incident.

Unlike the shooting of Michael Brown, the struggle that resulted in Mr. Garner’s death was caught on video that went viral.

This just another instance of the failure of prosecutors around the country to hold police accountable for the deaths of mostly black and mentally ill civilians. This needs to end.

Dec 03 2014

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.

Wednesday is Ladies’ Day.

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

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Net neutrality essential to our democracy

In May, HBO comedian John Oliver opened his segment on net neutrality by saying, “The cable companies have figured out the great truth of America: If you want to do something evil, put it inside something boring.” He then delivered an incisive thirteen-minute monologue that was anything but boring, drawing more than 7 million views on YouTube. Indeed, as Oliver demonstrated so effectively, while net neutrality may seem like a dull subject, protecting it is essential to not only the future of the Internet but also the future of our democracy.

Net neutrality is, simply put, the fundamental principle that all Internet traffic should be treated equally. There are very few level playing fields in American life, but in a nation plagued by inequality, the Internet has remained open, free and fair-a powerful equalizing force that has allowed good ideas to flourish whether they came from a corporate board room or a college dorm room. This equality of opportunity is at the core of net neutrality. And it is under relentless attack by major telecommunications companies seeking yet another advantage to tighten their grip on the market.

This year, for example, Verizon challenged the regulations governing net neutrality in court – and won. In response, the FCC proposed an approach that would allow Internet service providers such as Comcast to charge websites a fee to deliver their content at higher speeds. The new rules would essentially create a two-tiered Internet-a “fast lane” for the rich, and a slow lane for everyone else.

Sophie Khan: Swapping guns for Tasers won’t stop cops who kill black people. What can?

Would Michael Brown still be alive if cops were trained to reach for their stun gun, rather than their gun-guns?

Maybe, in the case of Michael Brown.

But, as evidenced by the recent deaths of Israel Hernandez in Miami Beach, Florida, and Dominique Franklin Jr in Sauk Village, Illinois, stun guns are no guarantee that the overreaction of a law enforcement officer won’t result in the death of an innocent civilian.

On Friday, a report on the United States by the UN Committee against Torture offered clear evidence that Tasers are as lethal as firearms. In the cases of Hernandez and Franklin, both men were unarmed and tasered in circumstances where there was no real or immediate threat to the life of – or risk of serious injury to – the officer. The committee’s evaluation of the use by US law enforcement officials of stun guns – commonly referred to by the brand name Taser – calls on the authorities to “revise the regulations governing the use of such weapons with a view to establishing a high threshold for their use … and subject to the principles of necessity and proportionality.”

In other words, the reputed non-lethality of stun guns is absolutely no reason for them to be drawn under vastly different circumstances than an officer would draw his gun.

Amanda Marcotte: Instapundit trying to pass off “men’s rights” BS as if it were political thought again

Glenn Reynolds, aka “Instapundit”, is one of the biggest voices out there trying to integrate “men’s rights activism” with mainstream conservatism. Not that mainstream conservatives have any love for feminism, of course, but the MRA hyper-focus on blaming all the world’s ills on the fact that women won’t meekly submit to male authority as MRAs want them to is a bit much even for some of the biggest anti-choice misogynists on the Republican side of the aisle. But Reynolds keeps pushing and his latest entry, for USA Today, is about accusing feminists, in collusion with Obama, of stealing good jobs from working class men. [..]

The entire piece is a breathtaking work of bad faith, but this might be the worst of it. If anyone in this equation was against government spending to create jobs, it wasn’t the feminists. It was conservatives like Reynolds. Reynolds hates the stimulus package he pretends to defend against the evil, man-hating, job-stealing feminists. But he will pretend to support it in order to attack feminists for mounting a basic criticism of it.

Lindsay Abrams: U.N. climate talks open with a terrifying reminder: We’ve already blown through two-thirds of our carbon budget

As global climate talks kicked off Monday in Lima, Peru, Rajendra Pachauri, the chair of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, stepped forward to remind delegates of just how much is at stake in the negotiations. The world, Pachauri warned, has already used nearly two-thirds, or 65 percent, of its carbon budget, the approximate amount of greenhouse gases we can emit into the atmosphere if we want to maintain a reasonable chance of remaining below 2 degrees Celsius of warming.

We don’t have much left to work with. And crucially, given the way we’re growing, we’re running short on time: [..]

But it’s worth remembering, now more than ever, that it’s going to take “substantial and sustained” reductions in emissions, on a global level, to keep things from getting much hotter – and to lessen our odds of climate catastrophe:

Falguni A. Sheth: White supremacy lives on: Ferguson decision confirms absence of legal and moral justice

With “no indictment” announced against Darren Wilson, a perverted natural order of things was affirmed. Here’s why

For days, large swaths of the U.S. and the globe waited to hear whether the grand jury would indict Office Darren Wilson. For a week, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon had declared a state of emergency, calling out the National Guard to “maintain peace and protect those exercising their right to free speech.” Today, he repeated the same message.

“Together we are all focused to make sure that the necessary resources are at hand to protect lives, to protect business and to protect free speech.” [..]

The natural order, for Gov. Nixon, is one in which police violence will continue to be seen as “stopping criminals,” and preserving “freedom” for the whites of Ferguson. In the meantime, the black citizens of Ferguson and their supporters across the globe will ascribe an enormous, though rather different, symbolism to the verdict: No indictment confirms the continued absence of legal and, indeed, moral justice.

Yet, it is hard to imagine that even had the grand jury indicted, that their decision would have much of an effect on the institutional, deeply embedded problem of state-endorsed, police-led racial violence in Ferguson, St. Louis or anywhere else in the U.S.

Jessica Valenti: If tech companies wanted to end online harassment, they could do it tomorrow

If someone posted a death threat to your Facebook page, you’d likely be afraid. If the person posting was your husband – a man you had a restraining order against, a man who wrote that he was “not going to rest until [your] body [was] a mess, soaked in blood and dying from all the little cuts” – then you’d be terrified. It’s hard to imagine any other reasonable reaction.

Yet that’s just what Anthony Elonis wants you to believe: That his violent Facebook posts – including one about masturbating on his dead wife’s body – were not meant as threats. So on Monday, in Elonis v United States, the US supreme court will start to hear arguments in a case that will determine whether threats on social media will be considered protected speech.

If the court rules for Elonis, those who are harassed and threatened online every day – women, people of color, rape victims and young bullied teens – will have even less protection than they do now. Which is to say: not damn much.

Dec 03 2014

Abusive Cop Co-Chairs Obama’s Reform Commission

By appointing a police chief with a history of overseeing an abusive police force, President Barack Obama has crested another farce of a commission much like his Cat Food Commission that was chaired by a corporate shill and a right wing curmudgeon.

Philadelphia Police Chief Charles Ramsey, one of two co-chairs apppointed by President Obama to head a commission on ways to demilitarize local police, is known for leading repeated bloody and abusive crackdowns on protesters when he was Washington, D.C.’s chief a decade ago, according to a civil rights attorney who won millions in damages for 100s of citizens attacked by D.C. police.  

“If the president’s idea of reforming policing practices includes mass false arrests, brutality, and the eviscerating of civil rights, then Ramsey’s his man. That’s Charles Ramsey’s legacy in D.C.,” said Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, Executive Director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF), speaking of the ex-D.C. chief and current Philadelphia Police Commissioner. “Obama should immediately rescind his appointment of Commissioner Ramsey, who is a mass violator of civil rights and civil liberties.”  [..]

More than a decade ago, when Ramsey was the D.C. police chief, he lead numerous crackdowns and mass arrests of protesters-starting in 2000. His most high-profile assault was in September 2002 at Pershing Park, where demonstrators protested World Bank and International Monetary Fund meetings. The police locked down the park and arrested everyone there-400 people-including journalists, legal observers and bystanders.

The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund sued and won millions for protesters. The April 2000 protest settlements totalled $13.7 million and Pershing Park/2002 settlement was $8.25 million. Verheyden-Hilliard said the settlements highlight a larger and especially bloody pattern of police crackdowns on protesters ordered by Ramsey. She listed the following six events in an e-mail that “are demonstrative of his leadership and the force under his command.” The first example is an earlier three-day World Bank/IMF protest from spring 2000 in downtown Washington.

If this is Obama’s idea finding credible and transparent solutions to the militarization of civilian police forces, his thinking is warped, sick joke and a slap in the face to the Americans who expect the police to serve and protect not violate their civil rights.

Dec 03 2014

TBC: Morning Musing 12.3.2014

I have 3 articles for you loosely related to Ferguson via racism, protest, and police murders.

The first is a law I think all states should have, in addition to police having to wear cameras that are on when they are on duty.

What I Did After Police Killed My Son

It took six years to get our wrongful death lawsuit settled, and my family received $1.75 million. But I wasn’t satisfied by a long shot. I used my entire portion of that money and much more of my own to continue a campaign for more police accountability. I wanted to change things for everyone else, so no one else would ever have to go through what I did. We did our research: In 129 years since police and fire commissions were created in the state of Wisconsin, we could not find a single ruling by a police department, an inquest or a police commission that a shooting was unjustified. There was one shooting we found, in 2005,  that was ruled justified by the department and an inquest, but additional evidence provided by citizens caused the DA to charge the officer. The city of Milwaukee settled with a confidentiality agreement and the facts of that sealed. The officer involved committed suicide.


Dec 03 2014

On This Day In History December 3

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.

December 3 is the 337th day of the year (338th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 28 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1947,A Streetcar Named Desire opened on Broadway.

Marlon Brando‘s famous cry of “STELLA!” first booms across a Broadway stage, electrifying the audience at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre during the first-ever performance of Tennessee Williams‘ play A Streetcar Named Desire.

The 23-year-old Brando played the rough, working-class Polish-American Stanley Kowalski, whose violent clash with Blanche DuBois (played on Broadway by Jessica Tandy), a Southern belle with a dark past, is at the center of Williams’ famous drama. Blanche comes to stay with her sister Stella (Kim Hunter), Stanley’s wife, at their home in the French Quarter of New Orleans; she and Stanley immediately despise each other. In the climactic scene, Stanley rapes Blanche, causing her to lose her fragile grip on sanity; the play ends with her being led away in a straitjacket.

Widely considered a landmark play, A Streetcar Named Desire deals with a culture clash between two iconic characters, Blanche DuBois, a fading relic of the Old South, and Stanley Kowalski, a rising member of the industrial, urban working class.

The play presents Blanche DuBois, a fading but still-attractive Southern belle whose pretensions to virtue and culture only thinly mask alcoholism and delusions of grandeur. Her poise is an illusion she presents to shield others (but most of all, herself) from her reality, and an attempt to make herself still attractive to new male suitors. Blanche arrives at the apartment of her sister Stella Kowalski in the French Quarter of New Orleans, on Elysian Fields Avenue; the local transportation she takes to arrive there includes a streetcar route named “Desire.” The steamy, urban ambiance is a shock to Blanche’s nerves. Blanche is welcomed with some trepidation by Stella, who fears the reaction of her husband Stanley. As Blanche explains that their ancestral southern plantation, Belle Reve in Laurel, Mississippi, has been “lost” due to the “epic fornications” of their ancestors, her veneer of self-possession begins to slip drastically. Here “epic fornications” may be interpreted as the debauchery of her ancestors which in turn caused them financial losses. Blanche tells Stella that her supervisor allowed her to take time off from her job as an English teacher because of her upset nerves, when in fact, she has been fired for having an affair with a 17-year-old student. This turns out not to be the only seduction she has engaged in-and, along with other problems, has led her to escape Laurel. A brief marriage marred by the discovery that her spouse, Allan Grey, was having a homosexual affair and his subsequent suicide has led Blanche to withdraw into a world in which fantasies and illusions blend seamlessly with reality.

In contrast to both the self-effacing and deferential Stella and the pretentious refinement of Blanche, Stella’s husband, Stanley Kowalski, is a force of nature: primal, rough-hewn, brutish and sensual. He dominates Stella in every way and is physically and emotionally abusive. Stella tolerates his primal behaviour as this is part of what attracted her in the first place; their love and relationship are heavily based on powerful-even animalistic-sexual chemistry, something that Blanche finds impossible to understand.

The arrival of Blanche upsets her sister and brother-in-law’s system of mutual dependence. Stella’s concern for her sister’s well-being emboldens Blanche to hold court in the Kowalski apartment, infuriating Stanley and leading to conflict in his relationship with his wife. Blanche and Stanley are on a collision course, and Stanley’s friend and Blanche’s would-be suitor Mitch, will get trampled in their path. Stanley discovers Blanche’s past through a co-worker who travels to Laurel frequently, and he confronts her with the things she has been trying to put behind her, partly out of concern that her character flaws may be damaging to the lives of those in her new home, just as they were in Laurel, and partly out of a distaste for pretense in general. However, his attempts to “unmask” her are predictably cruel and violent. In their final confrontation, Stanley rapes Blanche, which results in her nervous breakdown. Stanley has her committed to a mental institution, and in the closing moments, Blanche utters her signature line to the kindly doctor who leads her away: “Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”

Dec 03 2014

Chuckles the Toddler

I think we’ve clearly seen enough of the new Meet the Press host to make most of us wish that Jon Stewart had taken NBC’s offer.

Chuck Todd: “I wish we didn’t focus on the individual personalities of journalists”

Scott Porch, Salon

Saturday, Nov 29, 2014 02:00 PM EST

Isn’t it a little icky that corporate media companies are polling on how much viewers like you?

Let me say this: I don’t like it when journalists become part of a story. We have a culture in social media that wants to make journalists as big a part of the story as politicians themselves. That’s not good. People say, “Oh, you’re trying to insert yourself into a story.” I’m not. I’m trying to be a conduit, to be a challenge or a devil’s advocate for the public. I wish there wasn’t as much focus on the individual personalities of journalists. The people we cover should be the focus.

The journalists shouldn’t be the focal point. Whenever I have moderated a debate, it’s just like a football game. If people are talking about the officiating at the end of a game, that’s not good. You want people to talk about the game. The moderator shouldn’t be the story; the candidate should be the story.

There are at least two things wrong with this picture, first- politics is not a game and the incestuous Versailles Villager culture that looks at it that way and casts themselves in the role of Football Referees is exactly what’s wrong with the Media that can no longer be called news.  It has all the gravity of Professional Wrestling with less entertainment value.

Secondly, if you want to be taken “seriously” you need to stop peddling crap like this-

Chuck Todd Pretends David Brooks Is An Expert On Race Relations

By LeftOfCenter, Crooks & Liars

November 30, 2014 12:42 pm

This is an uncomfortable conversation, Chuck and Brooks both admit. I suppose it’s because two white guys, with absolutely no idea what it’s like to live with the institutionalized racism that plagues our society, are offering their assessment of a situation they don’t really care to discuss.

Naughty social problems? I didn’t know that discussing race issues is naughty and unpleasant. I suppose he feels it doesn’t matter what color people are, as if society has no institutionalized racial-disadvantages and racial discrimination is a figment of all of our imaginations. Chuck later asks Brooks, the new race guru,

How does this conversation continue next week?

So it’s not a threat Chuck? It’s a promise, we’ll have more David Brooks next week?

Thanks David Brooks, for reminding us of everything that is wrong with the GOP when it comes to helping our children. They have no use for early childhood education (or any education that they don’t profit from), they cut funding for poor minority youth programs and scholarships for disadvantaged youth. The GOP is the worst offender when it comes to financing the very same programs that Mike Brown wasn’t privileged enough to enjoy. They ignore the simple unpleasant truth that the Republican party has destroyed education funding, across the board, since Nixon.

It is run by very, very bad people who firmly adhere to a “Rule or Ruin” view of America, and have a long and ridiculously well-documented history of playing to the lowest and ugliest instincts of its angry, paranoid base as their truest path to prosperity and power.

Of course, if Mr. Brooks was being interviewed by, say, a journalist on, say, a news show, this subject might have been pursued further. But as luck would have it he was, instead, interviewed by Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press”.

Unfortunately this is one time the tired old trope is true- both sides do it.  It’s not so much about Brooks being a Republican as it is he’s shilling 30 years of proven Neoliberal failure that is the D.C. consensus.

Dec 03 2014

Dispatches from a Culture of Corruption

Andrew Ross Sorkin on Wall Street Paying to Get Regulators

Dean Baker, Center for Economic and Policy Research

Tuesday, 02 December 2014 04:00

Andrew Ross Sorkin used his column today to complain about the AFL-CIO and others making an issue over Wall Street banks paying unearned deferred compensation to employees who take positions in government. He argues that the people leaving Wall Street for top level government positions are victims of a “populist shakedown.”

In the housing bubble years the Wall Street folks made themselves incredibly wealthy packaging and selling bad mortgage backed securities. When this practice threatened to put them all into bankruptcy, the Treasury and Fed stepped in with a bottomless pile of below market interest rate loans and loan guarantees to keep them afloat.

This was explicit policy as former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner makes very clear in his autobiography. He commented repeatedly that there would be “no more Lehmans,” and he ridiculed the “old testament” types who thought that somehow the banks should be made to pay for their incompetence and left to the mercy of the market.

The result is that the Wall Street banks are bigger and more powerful than ever. By contrast, more than 10 million homeowners are still underwater, the cohort of middle income baby boomers are hitting retirement with virtually nothing but their Social Security and Medicare to support them, and most of the workforce is likely to go a decade without seeing wage growth. And Geithner is now making a fortune at a private equity company and gives every indication in his book of thinking that he had done a great job.

This state of affairs would probably not exist if the Treasury had been full of people without Wall Street connections. If we had more academics, union officials, and people with business backgrounds other than finance, it is likely that all the solutions to the economic crisis created by Wall Street would not have involved saving Wall Street as a first priority.

Bankers Who Commit Fraud, Like Murderers, Are Supposed to Go to Jail

Dean Baker, Center for Economic and Policy Research

Tuesday, 02 December 2014 09:45

Wow, some things are really hard for elite media types to understand. In his column in the Washington Post, Richard Cohen struggles with how we should punish bankers who commit crimes like manipulating foreign exchange rates (or Libor rates, or pass on fraudulent mortgages in mortgage backed securities, or don’t follow the law in foreclosing on homes etc.).

Cohen calmly tells readers that criminal prosecutions of public companies are not the answer.

Cohen’s understanding of economics is a bit weak (most of these people quickly found other jobs), but more importantly he is utterly clueless about the issue at hand.

Individuals are profiting by breaking the law. The point is make sure that these individuals pay a steep personal price. This is especially important for this sort of white collar crime because it is so difficult to detect and prosecute. For every case of price manipulation that gets exposed, there are almost certainly dozens that go undetected.

This means that when you get the goods on a perp, you go for the gold — or the jail cell. We want bankers to know that if they break the law to make themselves even richer than they would otherwise be, they will spend lots of time behind bars if they get caught. This would be a real deterrent, unlike the risk that their employer might face some sort of penalty.

Why is it so hard for elite types to understand putting bankers in jail?

The Wall Street Journal Still Refuses to Grasp Accounting Control Fraud via Appraisal Fraud

By William K. Black, New Economic Perspectives

December 2, 2014

Even moderately-sized lenders have vastly greater power to successfully extort appraisers than does any residential borrower. It may be true that “many” borrowers tried to “pressure” appraisers to increase the appraisal, but the overwhelming source of such pressure was from lenders and their agents and virtually all of the successful pressure came from lenders and their agents.

Then New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s investigation confirmed that the largest mortgage lenders were leading the extortion of the appraisers to inflate appraised values.

These … findings allow us to understand a great deal about the appraisal fraud epidemic.

  • Appraisal fraud was endemic
  • Appraisal fraud was led by the controlling officers of lenders and their agents
  • No honest lender would ever coerce, or permit, the inflation of the appraised value because the home’s true value provides a critical protection to the lender
  • The lenders’ controlling officers were deliberately creating a “Gresham’s” dynamic in which bad ethics drives good ethics out of the appraisal profession
  • Honest lenders’ controlling officers could easily block such a Gresham’s dynamic by creating desirable financial incentives and internal controls that will block inflated appraisals
  • Appraisal fraud optimizes accounting control fraud by lenders (and loan purchasers)

We now have well documented experience with two epidemics of appraisal fraud – the savings and loan debacle and the current crisis plus the developing epidemic. It should be very hard to get appraisal fraud wrong given these painful experiences and the appraisers’ astounding petition that made it inescapably clear no later than the year 2000 that there was an epidemic of appraisal fraud led by the lenders’ controlling officers. Unfortunately, the Wall Street Journal is up to the task of getting it horrendously wrong.

The WSJ’s title for its article on appraisal fraud makes obvious that it has learned nothing from two fraud epidemics in two crises a quarter-century apart. “Dodgy Home Appraisals are Making a Comeback: Industry Executives See Parallels With Pre-Crisis Valuations, Regulators are Wary.” Every aspect of the title is disingenuous. The bank “executives see parallels” because they have run the same appraisal fraud scheme twice only a few years apart. That is one of the immense social costs of failing to prosecute the banksters that led the fraud epidemics that drove the financial crisis. “Dodgy” is a misleading euphemism for “fraud.” The article uses the word “fraud” only once. Even then, it uses the word “fraud” only to describe civil investigations of appraisal fraud by Freddie Mac.

The WSJ’s key sources for the article – “Industry Executives” – are the “perps” leading the frauds. The WSJ article, however, never even considers the possibility that they are (again) leading the effort to extort appraisers to inflate the appraised value.

The obvious question, except to the WSJ, is why the banks’ controlling officers continue to design perverse compensation systems for loan officers. The loan officers don’t design their own compensation systems. Everyone saw in the most recent crisis that the compensation systems designed and implemented by the banks’ controlling officers were exceptionally criminogenic and had the inevitable effect of creating the three fraud epidemics that drove the financial crisis. We have known for over a century that if you pay loan officers on the basis of loan origination volume you will produce endemic fraud. No bank CEO can claim with a straight face to be “shocked, shocked” that when he creates perverse compensation incentives the result is endemic fraud.

The WSJ, however, tries to make it appear that the ever-so-honest managers are paragons of virtue who first create compensation systems that create overwhelming incentives that produce endemic loan origination fraud by loan officers – and then strive mightily to limit the resultant endemic fraud that they caused.

(It) claims that “banks” were hiring AMCs in an effort to try to prevent the bank’s corrupt loan officers from extorting appraisers to inflate appraisals. “Banks,” of course, are incapable of having any true intent. The article actually means to claim that the banks are run by honest CEOs who are making strident efforts to ensure that their corrupt loan officers do not extort appraisers to engage in appraisal fraud. Given that premise, the obvious question is the one I raised above – why do those same CEOs create the perverse incentives that corrupt the loan officers and create their overwhelming incentive to extort appraisers to commit appraisal fraud if the CEO is dedicated to preventing appraisal fraud? There is also an obvious way for bank CEOs to end promptly the coercion of appraisers by the bank’s corrupt loan officers – fire the corrupt loan officers and the appraisers who succumb to their extortion.

(T)he AMCs are now extorting appraisers to inflate appraisals. The article reports that “some” claim that the reason that the AMCs are extorting appraisers to inflate the appraisals is that the AMC’s are being extorted by the “lenders.” This should, of course, lead the author to explain what that word refers to. In context, it seems to admit the truth – that the extortion is led by the officers that control corporate policy, i.e., the bank CEOs. So much for the WSJ’s claim that the banks’ controlling officers are the good guys betrayed by the fraud mice.

The funniest line in the title is “Regulators are Wary.” The Clinton and Bush administration anti-regulators were the recipients of the appraisers’ petition. They took no meaningful action to block the Gresham’s dynamic and the resultant epidemic of appraisal fraud. The Obama administration anti-regulators and anti-prosecutors have not prosecuted or sanctioned any senior banker for his role in leading the epidemic of appraisal fraud. The anti-regulators are so far from “wary,” and have been for so many years, that picturing them as vigilant rather than oblivious is very funny. An extremely careful reader of the article would realize that the article does not report that the supposedly “wary” regulators actually did anything that would be effective in stopping endemic appraisal fraud.

No bank officer was sanctioned administratively by the regulators, sued by them, or prosecuted. No enforcement action is described as being taken by the OCC against any bank. The OCC is not described as adopting any rule. The OCC is not described as having made a single criminal referral. If this is what the WSJ thinks describes a “wary” regulator’s response to a fraud epidemic then they are delusional. I have explained in prior articles that the head of the OCC is an anti-regulator who has expressly refused to make ending control frauds led by bank CEOs a regulatory priority. Note that the OCC not only failed to use the word “fraud” to describe appraisal fraud, it also attributed the endemic appraisal fraud to preposterous explanations such as insufficient staff “training” and “oversight.”

Dec 03 2014

TDS/TCR (Cheek To Cheek)


Isolated Incidents

Ramming Speed

The real news, Jon’s web exclusive 2 part extended interview with Andrew Napolitano (ugh), and this week’s guests below.