The onslaught of information is like a tidal wave that just keeps rolling in; seemingly endless. It’s hard to balance between having a “starfish” moment and being misdirected by false “cause du jours.”
“The Left will implode,” cry those who have to feel like they are doing some actual good, “if we attack those trying to make a difference!” They seem to feel that expanding our “consciousness” about the plight of children in areas like War-torn Uganda is worth repeating lies told by agencies like Kony 2012. Kony is no longer even IN that country. He was certainly the lesser of the two evils in that country when he was there, by a thousand-fold to the killings and child soldiers of its President.
The right-wing think tanks know the Left’s Achilles heel. Its human rights and the abatement of suffering. With tears in our eyes, a lump in our throats, and heart beating wildly, we will champion a cause; give our 5 or 10 dollars. We will text, retweet, facebook share and viralize instantly whatever comes our way. We will unquestioningly support it, even under evidence that it is a disinformation campaign, funded by those right-wing think tanks in order to get US boots on the ground. We will say, “Well, it might be about the oil there, but still? Think of the babies!”
I understand the starfish moments. I try and live that way. But in the REAL way. I do fundraisers for ACTUAL people. I’ve had dozens live with me short-term until they get on their feet. I take dinner to people in a bad way, or have them over for some. I let kids with troubled parents practically live here.
So, what of the larger causes, both real and imagined?
Go to ten people on the street – go to ten people on Wall Street – and ask them if securities laws created the economic crisis, and only their abolition can bring America back to prominence and prosperity. And before you curse the damn Republicans for selling out to the finance lobby again, consider that only a couple dozen Democrats voted against the JOBS Act in the House, that Chuck Schumer is pushing this bill along in the Senate, it was initially a Democratic bill written by Rep. Jim Himes, and that the White House supports it.
Remember that the Administration also trumpeted that enforcement would be tough, even as Abigail Field has shown that idea to be a joke. For instance, the servicing standards allow for the astonishing concept of an acceptable error rate. Banks aren’t permitted to make errors with your checking account and ding you an accidental $10,000 and get away with it. But with people’s most important asset, their homes, servicers are allowed a certain level of reportable errors, and many of them can be serious as far as borrowers are concerned.[..]
She also points out that wrongful foreclosures at a 1% rate are acceptable. Procedures around real estate are deliberate because any error of this magnitude has devastating consequences. But this new provision means that 1%, or over 33,000 erroneous foreclosures since 2008 would be perfectly OK as far as the authorities are concerned.
Field also points out in a separate post that this deal is in no way done. Key points remain to be resolved, in particular, how the Monitor will supervise the pact. That’s a huge item, and leaving it unresolved shifts the power to the banks (if you don’t believe me, I refer you to what is happening to Dodd Frank).
I hate the term Too Big To Fail because it’s a loaded premise presented as fact. But looking at the weasel parentheticals, maybe we should start asking if the banks as too big to be competent. I mean, why do the banks need a ‘hey, we tried but didn’t have enough time to stop the sale’ exemption? If the B.O.Bs (bailed out bankers) want their lawyer or trustee to call off a foreclosure sale, all they need is two things: a) to contact their agent and b) have a competent agent.
What does “took appropriate steps to stop the sale” mean, anyway? Does it mean that someone at the bank left a message or two with foreclosure counsel? If the B.O.B.s made a real effort to stop the sale but their agents did it anyway, why isn’t that the B.O.B’s fault for having incompetent agents? Doesn’t giving the B.O.B. a pass remove any incentive to have competent (and thus more expensive) agents?
Wrongfully selling someone’s home should be a strict liability issue. Strict liability is, well, strict: no one cares what you were trying to do, what your intentions were, what you did or didn’t do. Did the harm happen? Then you’re responsible.
Before you give me any, hey, let’s be reasonable here, a business needs to operate and we’re so big some mistakes will happen, remember what we are talking about: homes; property rights; land records; fundamental fairness. How can the B.O.Bs be held to any standard other than strict liability when it comes to wrongfully selling a home?
Neil Barofsky, the former Special US Treasury Department Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and Matthew Stoller, a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute give a good overview of why this settlement really “sucks”
There is no accountability, no punishment for what has to be the largest fraud ever perpetrated in this country.
Tuesday, Mar 20, 2012 6:18 AM Eastern Daylight Time
A reader reminded me of this yesterday and it’s really quite something: in July, 2009, NBC’s Chuck Todd went on Morning Joe to defend President Obama’s decision to shield all Bush officials from prosecution for torture, arguing that because Bush got his lawyers to say he could torture, it was legal. I interviewed/debated Todd a couple of days later about those views, but before I did, I wrote a reply to the argument he made on television. When doing so, I tried to think of the most extreme tyrannical and lawless power possible which a President could hypothetically assert, in order to reveal the invalidity of Todd’s reasoning, and this is what I wrote:
I’d like to ask Chuck Todd: if Bush had John Yoo write a memo opining that it was perfectly legal for Bush to deploy hit squads within the U.S. to assassinate American citizens without any due process, would it be wrong to investigate and prosecute that, too, on the ground that everyone had permission slips from a DOJ lawyer and that’s just what lawyers do?
The current President has, of course, obtained his own DOJ permission slip to assassinate American citizens without due process. Since that permission slip is too secret for us to see, we do not know whether the authorized assassination power is confined to foreign soil or extends to the U.S., although once one embraces the Bush-Cheney-Yoo theory that the entire world is a “battlefield,” there is no coherent way to limit those asserted powers to foreign soil. In any event, the real point here is that our government has become so radical and warped that it outstrips one’s ability to create absurd hypothetical powers to test the validity of a principle: before you blink your eyes, you find that your hypothetical has become reality.
There are a couple of articles that have appeared in the last week or so about the willingness of many Democrats to passively accept or even actively cheer for policies under President Obama that they vehemently condemned (or would have condemned) under President Bush: this from Politico, and this from Tim Carney at The Washington Examiner. Back in June, 2009, New York Times columnist Bob Herbert – once an ardent admirer of President Obama – wrote a column lambasting his civil liberties record, and this was the first sentence in Herbert’s column: “Policies that were wrong under George W. Bush are no less wrong because Barack Obama is in the White House.” At the time, I truly did not fathom how that principle – which really should just be an unstated axiom – would not only come to be so controversial but routinely violated and ignored.
The Republican Party emerged in 1854, growing out of a coalition of former Whigs and Free Soil Democrats who mobilized in opposition to the possibility of slavery extending into the new western territories. The new party put forward a vision of modernizing the United States-emphasizing free homesteads to farmers (“free soil”), banking, railroads, and industry. They vigorously argued that free-market labor was superior to slavery and the very foundation of civic virtue and true republicanism, this is the “Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men” ideology. The Republicans absorbed the previous traditions of its members, most of whom had been Whigs; others had been Democrats or members of third parties (especially the Free Soil Party and the American Party or Know Nothings). Many Democrats who joined up were rewarded with governorships. or seats in the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives. Since its inception, its chief opposition has been the Democratic Party, but the amount of flow back and forth of prominent politicians between the two parties was quite high from 1854 to 1896.
Two small cities of the Yankee diaspora, Ripon, Wisconsin and Jackson, Michigan, claim to be the birthplace of the Republican Party (in other words, meetings held there were some of the first 1854 anti-Nebraska assemblies to call themselves by the name “Republican”). Ripon held the first county convention on March 20, 1854. Jackson held the first statewide convention on July 6, 1854; it declared their new party opposed to the expansion of slavery into new territories and selected a state-wide slate of candidates. The Midwest took the lead in forming state party tickets, while the eastern states lagged a year or so. There were no efforts to organize the party in the South, apart from a few areas adjacent to free states. The party initially had its base in the Northeast and Midwest. The party launched its first national convention in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in February 1856, with its first national nominating convention held in the summer in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
John C. Fremont ran as the first Republican nominee for President in 1856, using the political slogan: “Free soil, free labor, free speech, free men, Fremont.” Although Fremont’s bid was unsuccessful, the party showed a strong base. It dominated in New England, New York and the northern Midwest, and had a strong presence in the rest of the North. It had almost no support in the South, where it was roundly denounced in 1856-60 as a divisive force that threatened civil war.
Historians have explored the ethnocultural foundations of the party, along the line that ethnic and religious groups set the moral standards for their members, who then carried those standards into politics. The churches also provided social networks that politicians used to sign up voters. The pietistic churches emphasized the duty of the Christian to purge sin from society. Sin took many forms-alcoholism, polygamy and slavery became special targets for the Republicans. The Yankees, who dominated New England, much of upstate New York, and much of the upper Midwest were the strongest supporters of the new party. This was especially true for the pietistic Congregationalists and Presbyterians among them and (during the war), the Methodists, along with Scandinavian Lutherans. The Quakers were a small tight-knit group that was heavily Republican. The liturgical churches (Roman Catholic, Episcopal, German Lutheran), by contrast, largely rejected the moralism of the Republican Party; most of their adherents voted Democratic.