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Gender: Male
Hometown: Orlando
Home country: USA
Current location: Holistically detecting
Member since: Wed Jan 27, 2010, 03:59 PM
Number of posts: 9,219

Journal Archives

How about when lenders did the lying themselves?


Behold: JP Morgan Chase's "Zippy Cheats and Tricks" memo.

Explaining how to trick their own underwriting software into approving loans that were bad *by their own standards*

Try these handy steps to get SISA findings . . .

1) In the income section of your 1003, make sure you input all income in base income. DO NOT break it down by overtime, commissions or bonus.

2) NO GIFT FUNDS! If your borrower is getting a gift, add it to a bank account along with the rest of the assets. Be sure to remove any mention of gift funds on the rest of your 1003.

3) If you do not get Stated/Stated, try resubmitting with slightly higher income.
Inch it up $500 to see if you can get the findings you want. Do the same for assets.

It's super easy! Give it a try!
If you get stuck, call me . . . I am happy to help!

Besides pressuring rating agencies to falsely classify mortgage backed securities as AA, besides selling them to pension funds and government agencies, besides standing before regulators and swearing only THEY could properly regulate derivatives, lenders literally gave loans THEY KNEW WERE NO GOOD, because they weren't keeping them. Into the subprime blender they went, and out popped valuable financial instruments.

It's true the fraud was systemic, but in places it was acute and overt, and the message that has been sent is exactly the one Wall Street wanted -- when big money steals, it's not a crime.

No. Enron was not a bigger crime.

Easier to prosecute? Definitely. But not more egregious and not by a thousand percent as damaging an example of law breaking and willful malfeasance than the suprime / housing bubble collapse and all its associated shenanigans.

There was crime, and fraud on a massive scale, and much more could and should have been done, going well back into the Bush years.

I'd say both administrations failed catastrophically in that regard. But tossing Taibbi under the partisan bus because he dared to point out something everyone knows -- that efforts by anyone to bring anyone to account for any of this have been pitiful -- does not hold up to scrutiny for good faith.

Here's some of Taibbi's excellent work on a civil trial illustrating just one area of fraud going on throughout the mortgage crisis:


In reality, of course, the subprime bubble exploded because financial companies and banks were in a mad rush to get as many iffy borrowers into loans as quickly as possible and not because they were forced to, but because they made assloads of money doing so.

( snip )

Just to give one example, Household had a particularly disgusting scam going they called it the "EZ Pay Plan."

In it, customers were urged to junk their old (and presumably safe) mortgages and switch to a new Household Refinance plan that would be both more expensive and more dangerous, using a little sleight of hand. Among other things, they told customers they could save money and reduce their interest rate by switching from a monthly payment plan to a biweekly payment plan.

There were two things going on here. One and this is so sleazy it's almost funny by getting customers to make payments biweekly instead of monthly, they would essentially box borrowers into making an extra payment every year (remember, there are 52 weeks in a year). The other is that the company was using word games to try to tell people they would be paying lower rates, when in fact they would not be.

One example of the fraud perpetrated on borrowers with predatory practices. We did a little a better, unsurprisingly, at prosecuting fraud against investors.

If anything, the problem with punishing anyone was that the entire subprime system became a whirling cesspool of ever-more-egregious scams. Sure, de-regulation got the ball rolling, but there are enough facts and perpetrators out there that we could have done infinitely more in terms of punishing actual crime.

The point is we missed a VERY LOW bar.

The banking crisis was far more egregious, far more duplicitous, far more damaging, and equally as obvious as the handful of corporate disasters that fell in Bush's lap.

And what has changed? Who went to jail? Some fishmongers in NY?

We didn't close the barn door after the horses escaped, we gave them a carrot and a friendly slap on the backside on their way by. We appointed them to the cabinet.

Whether that fact is unacceptably offensive to people who wrongly believe our only job as Democrats is to try spin all the facts in the world in favor of the current President is pretty irrelevant.

A bad job was done. Far bigger crimes than Enron went on, and continue to go on, and we had the White House, and Jack and Spit have been done about it.

WE have responsibility here. And that includes "our" guy in the White House.

Every Apple product I've bought still works. Every other brand

broke. Save the Commodore 64 and the Atari 2600, if they count. Still functional as far as I know, in whatever boxes in whatever attic they're in.

The Departed:

- No name IBM AT clone -- motherboard self-immolated

- Dell Pentium something or another -- power switch failure and some other random self-shutdown nonsense.

- HP laptop -- spontaneous motherboard meltdown

- HP laptop -- case cracked and separated (*never* dropped, by the way) in such a way it couldn't be opened or closed


The Living:

- SO's first gen MacBook Pro
- Her newer MacBook Pro,
- Our iMac that's older than any HP / PC product I've ever owned
- Two first-gen iPods
- First-gen iPhone
- First-gen iPad
- Ipad 2
- Ipad 4
- Two iPod nanos of different generations
- Two newer iPhones

- All operational and issue free, save hard drive replacements on the extremely hard-working MacBook Pros, which Apple repaired adroitly for reasonable out-of-warranty costs, and in one case threw in a free new MacBook keyboard / faceplate, just to be nice.

Both co-workers who switched to Android phones from iPhones a year or two ago had catastrophic technical failures. Something about those "user replaceable batteries" went kaflooey.

So, no, it's not hype and marketing. These machines are better. Which is probably why it's never Apple people starting rants about how their equipment is so much better than everyone else's.

They already know.

Edit: And that's without getting into the bloatware and constant "security updates" from Microsoft. Jesus, it's been so long I almost forgot about all that endless crap. The anti-virus b.s. alone was ridiculous.

Edit: Totally forgot the 486 clone I had in the early 90s. Arrived with a glitch in the power button and had to be shipped back and replaced immediately. I forget how it died. Or it might actually have been theoretically functional when I replaced with the Dell. Still more trouble than any of the Apple stuff.

Yeah. No. What he said was wrong.

- We DID go in to grab their resources. Check Cheney's pre-war divvying up the oil fields for energy companies

- We left the country an ungovernable shambles, still on fire and wracked by destruction

- We absolutely did NOT abide by international standards of anything. We kidnapped, tortured, and murdered people without charge or proof of wrongdoing -- and that's according to US.

Obama did not cause the Iraq war. Obama did not vote for the Iraq war. But he tried to defend the indefensible, and in so doing muddled the facts and rationalized and dissembled.

Did he have any choice? Maybe not. Every time, forever, that the U.S. tries to tell another country it is selfishly and inexcusably using force on another country under a transparently fake rationale, there will be Iraq. Not our first crime of that sort, but it's the one we will never be permitted to forget.

This is another reason we should have prosecuted the war criminals. If we'd ever planned on being taken seriously as any kind of moral arbiter of responsible international citizenship, that is what we had to do. We didn't. HE didn't.

Of course, if he apologized unreservedly, Republicans would pillory him for being "weak."

But "context" doesn't help anyone here. Iraq is a flaming pile of bad that America created, and its shame cannot be swept aside or excused or explained or talked around. We are a non-entity in the world of self-righteous international conduct, and there is nothing Obama can do about it, but that doesn't mean his attempts to do so succeeded, either.

It is what it is. An inexcusable, inexhaustible reason to call America a hypocrite any time it tries to judge another country for horrific aggression in the name of freedom.

Not his fault. But not within his power to repair, either.

That is good stuff. And very much needed.

Everyone saying they'd prefer wildlife to live safely in clean, expansive natural habitat is right. But we can't give them that right now.

What we can do is evolve our sensibilities and shift into a mode where we focus on protecting and rehabilitating species and educating people while treating captive animals as humanely as possible. We screwed things up for them -- the least we can do is try to reduce or even reverse the damage.

And I think conservation efforts are helped enormously when people are able to see and appreciate live animals. Not stuffed and mounted, not tortured in a circus or ill-treated in a cramped zoo, but managed by professionals whose first priorites are conservation, study, and proper treatment. Just seeing an animal being carefully looked after in a healthy environment reinforces the type of relationship we're all saying we're supposed to have with the rest of the natural world. People who have only seen animals on television or mounted in a museum may never feel the connection that leads them to value other species and want to fight to protect and preserve them.

There is a small nature conservancy near where I live. It's actually moved to a more spacious site that I have not yet seen, but in its original form, it was small and cramped. The animals were all rescued -- from highway accidents or from misguided owners of exotic "pets." The enclosures were simple cages, but they were clean, as large as the facility could manage, and lovingly equipped with all the comfort the under-funded staff could manage. The lemurs had hand-made hammocks and climbing wires. The Arctic Fox someone thought would be a good apartment pet had boxes to hide in and planks to climb. Every animal was healthy and energetic and happy to see the workers there. You could go and look for free, but they took donations. We went to help them with promotional photos for their website and custom credit cards that generated small donations with every purchase.

Had they been shut down, all of those animals would be dead, period. The brain-injured racoon who couldn't keep her balance in trees anymore, the one-eyed Horned Owl, the Sherman's Fox squirrel injured on the road, the bobcat, the panther. Lemurs, herons -- the West African Tortoise who would follow you around her giant pen hoping for a bit more lettuce. That fragrant Arctic Fox that looked a little like a cute puppy dog, but was a wild thing to the core. All abandoned or injured. All taken in and cared for relentlessly, no questions asked.

The people working there were straight-up animal lovers, nursing baby squirrels in their living rooms and scrambling for donations of food and material to keep things going. I've got to go out see their new place soon and see how they're doing.

I think "enslave" is a bit too anthropomorphic a term.

You keep using it, so I'm thinking it's central to your thoughts here. I don't think it's entirely applicable.

It's true we're still learning the extent of intelligence among other species, and there's no question there are great depths of emotion and familial ties and "culture" in a lot of species. And there's no question cruelty is wrong.

But the inhabitants of the ant farms and bat houses are not composing essays on their years of cruel imprisonment "against their will." Their psychologies, however dignified and meaningful, are not the same as ours. They do not necessarily perceive living in a human-created habitat as "enslavement" any more than they they think of killing a competing animal's offspring as "infanticide" or chasing a weaker creature away from a meal as "stealing."

I've heard people suggest that domestic animals like dogs and cats and cows are "enslaved" as well. Do you think that's true? Does the cat in the windowsill, or the dog running in the backyard, who would likely run away if given a choice, resent her confinement the way a person captured and shackled would?

I think we can empathize with our fellow creatures, and understand that cruel treatment is an evil unto itself, without taking the added step of imagining that every species we encounter is imbued with exactly the same concerns about self-determination and free will that we have.

Animal intelligence is alien to ours. We learn more all the time about the complex needs of various animals -- for space, for familial and friendly contact, for stimulation -- but we are not the *same.* All creatures do not share all of our sensibilities or moral or philosophical imaginings. They live closer to basic survival than we do. A goat in a pasture with good food and water is probably a pretty happy goat. A spider in a well-appointed terrarium or a fish in a spacious aquarium is probably living as good a life as it could want. And in many cases, the world we have left them outside the enclosure is likely far less benign. No one poaches a captive rhino for its horn.

An Orca in a 35-ft deep tank, cut off from familial ties and forced to breed and perform? No. Big cats confined to a few dozen square yards, or great apes in cages or small enclosures? We know better now.

But "enslavement" is probably not the issue. Enslavement is a concept for people, concerned with motivations and freedom of choice and a lot of other ideas specific to our culture and our psyche. We know things the animals do not. We impact the world in ways they do not. We are in a position to study and protect and conserve and educate, and have responsibilties that do not concern the other creatures around us.

Our job is to be more aware and more sensitive and to be better caretakers of the world than we have been. If that means elephants "confined" to hundreds of acres in Tennessee, or captive breeding of the last handfuls of great cats, or trying to understand just exactly HOW smart apes or cetaceans are through experimentation and study, we need to do that, and not confuse their reality or ours with ideas drawn from our specific way of experiencing the world.

We are animals ourselves, but we are unique in our impact on the rest. They may be better than us in a number of ways. But we don't do them any favors imagining they think and feel exactly as we do. We have to try to do right by our environment, and it's far too late to approach that job by not interfering at all.

I like Kornacki, Hayes, & Maddow. A lot.

They're speaking at a higher informational level than most of the talking heads, with varying levels of ideological discussion mixed in. I keep learning things -- real information -- watching them, which is incredibly refreshing compared to talking heads that just paddle around in the shallow water.

And they're also doing real journalism. Rachel brought the Virginia governor's corruption problems to the fore. Kornacki broke important chunks of Christie's bridge & Sandy shenanigans. I don't see anything from either the right, or from pure journalism, doing what they're doing in terms of informing, debunking, and to varying levels, arguing progressive viewpoints. Moyers, probably, but he's not on enough.

I think Matthews and O'Donnell bring too pure a political vibe, which can be tiresome, although they're good for to get an insider's view of politics.

But those other three are something special in my opinion, and they're a good mix. Kornacki's a real reporter, Hayes is a magazine-style writer / thinker with a relentlessly rational point of view, and Maddow is a brilliant broadcaster and polemicist who's great at pinning down and annihilating rightwing nonsense in a really satisfying way.

I worry that MSNBC doesn't know what they've got or isn't satisfied with the way ratings are building, dumbing down Kornacki with that silly gameshow and having Hayes beg for Facebook likes.

They've got a real halo building around the network with these three. No one else is pulling off this level of work. I hope MSNBC doesn't screw it up chasing people afraid of big words and bored by complicated "facts."

What they mean is they HATE HIM more than any President

... in history. Like their gibbering invective constitutes fact.

I often do not agree with this administration's policies. But he will be seen as an effective President, and one that -- look out -- enacted some positive "change." The ACA, improvements in gay rights at the federal level, the end of Iraq.

They're outraged because they weren't able to stuff him like they thought. Twice-elected, handily. Significant forward motion on health care reform. A more credible voice in the world community. A rejection of stupidity and belligerence as America's main public attributes. That great wave of "buyer's remorse" never materialized except inside their own minds.

And part of his legacy may also be the implosion of the Republican Party. They were so horrendous in their monolithic opposition, so juvenile in their sly racial dog-whistling. So impotent and destructive in their extortionate rage. They are now flailing about in a small, smelly box of their own construction.

The drone conceit would seem exactly the "permanent war footing"

Obama said he opposed in the SOTU speech. The entire logic is that the U.S. in in a permanent state of worldwide, borderless war with shifting groups of "militants" or "terrorists," determined by unaccountable processes, carried out in secret, and subject to no apparent repercussions.

It's Bush-era conceit, relying on the concept of "war" to enhance the power of the executive. Cheney's baby, rationalized by Woo and others cooperative White House lawyers, to deliberately distort the balance of powers contemplated in the Constitution for the purpose of creating a "unitary executive" or whatever they're calling it now.

This will be the ugliest part of Obama's legacy, eventually condemned here as it is already everywhere else as a crime against humanity and an usupportable assumption of worldwide authority on the part of the U.S. that neither we nor anyone else accept from any other country.

Whether the number of innocents killed so far is in the hundreds or thousands is largely beside the point. We don't have the right to do this. We do not have the authority to rain death down on whomever we see fit, on whatever basis we claim, anytime, and anywhere.

Moreover, it's not going to solve terrorism or protect the country. It doesn't matter whether we've annhilated one civilian village or wedding party or a hundred. Every Hellfire is guaranteed to produce more anti-American sentiment than it can ever hope to snuff out.

Obama is wrong on this. History will blame him, and us, we will spend a long time crawling our way back toward any kind of worldwide credibility as an aribter of humanitarian standards or the rules of war or the wrongness of extra-territorial aggression.

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