Chuck Schumer: We Will Fix the Bankruptcy Bill

We just had a panel on economic issues, with Byron Dorgan, Chuck Schumer, and Sherrod Brown. It took until the last question–mine–for anyone to bring up the Bankruptcy Bill.

From these three Senators, there was little dispute: the Bankruptcy Bill was a bad bill and it needed to be fixed. There was also the recognition that the part of the bill that pertained to protecting houses had exacerbated the foreclosure crisis.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that we’re not going to do anything about it until 2009. Senator Schumer explained that he didn’t want to pick around the edges, he wanted to make a real fix, and we’re not going to be able to do that until we get a bigger majority.

It seems I have heard that before.

Update: Added video of Matt Stoller interviewing Debbie Stabenow on this topic. 

77 replies
  1. pseudonymousinnc says:

    Gnngh. Yes, you have to accept that any fix would get eaten by the GOPpers in the Senate or President Veto Sharpie. But in 2009, there’ll still be senators on the Dem side (DE, the Dakotas, possibly Schumer himself in NY) who have to deal with the state clout of Big Debt.

  2. RockPaperScizzors says:

    he wanted to make a real fix, and we’re not going to be able to do that until we get a bigger majority.
    Ummmm, just wondering if that ‘bigger majority’ he’s referring to are the unwashed masses citizens marching in DC and burning bankers in effigy?

    Was there any discussion of reinstituting the Glass Steagall 1933 Act?

  3. DeadLast says:

    Jack Kemp wrote an excellent op-ed in the LA Times recently on the subject.

    The major problem is that the Congress & Wall Street “prioritized” non-collateralized debt ahead of collateralized (i.e., mortgage) debt. Thus, if you declare bankruptcy, you will lose your house but you will still have all of that credit card obligation, which will be restructured. Meaning, you still have to pay it off.

    If the economy is in an upswing, not too many people would notice that change in the bankruptcy law. But given a down turn, the sky will fall — on everyone. We will all become further enslaved to the financial system than we already are — except we will be paying $1,500/month rent for a two-bedroom apartment instead of $1,800/month for a mortgage on a three bedroom house. And we will still be paying on the credit cards.

    And to those “true believers” who say these people need to suffer the consequences of their poor decisions, yes, you are right, and so on…
    But good luck refinancing your house when its value falls by 30% and you only made a 20% downpayment. You are going to have to come up with a tidy sum or be forced into a [gasp] subprime mortgage. Ha ha. See we are all in this boat together, a boat that Halliburton and freinds had a no-bid contract to maintain.

  4. Mary says:

    Completely OT (unless you allow for the fact that Blackwater may end up in bankruptcy I guess)

    Blackwater is suing their former legal team at Wiley Rein (a team that included Fred Fiedling) for malpractice. LOL Why do I keep hearing refrains of “where is the love?”

    Legal times article with more:…..1169145676

    Legal times article refers to Barry Nace, of D.C.’s Paulson & Nace, as new Blackwater counsel, and indicates that Greenberg Traurig handled the appeal to the Fourth Circuit (”By that point, Blackwater had turned the case over to Greenberg Traurig.”) which Blackwater also lost. So that may be an interesting issue too.

  5. Mary says:

    6 – *G* We did use an appellate guy from the Indianapolis office who did an excellent job about 8 or 9 years ago, but I grant you the swisher and will even observe that it went in from 3 point territory.

    More OT – but what the HELL is going on?!?!?!…..cs/fedpage

    The C freaking I damnit A has been using NSLs to collect domestic financial information on US residents?

    The blatant illegality at FBI, which Fine only tsk tsked over btw, was bad enough, but the CIA for domestic info on domestics? How the hell does that happen?

  6. RockPaperScizzors says:

    The current crisis can be credited to Banks Gone Wild, degregulation, offshore Pirate Coves whose sole premise is avoidance of paying their fair-share in taxes (ahoy, scalawag Romney), an economy that no longer has a GNP, rather a GDP based on 73% consumerism (we are no longer US citizens, rather US consumers), a war financed by foreign loans to be paid back by the next generations, and credit cards that replaced living wage raises. The refinanced mortgages, HELOCS, ARMS, and all the smoke and mirrors financial gimmicks of abracadabra voodoo Wall Street formulas of SIV’s, CDO’s, hedge funds and derivatives has proven the worthlessness of illusory fiat currency. The banks Federal Reserve in their infinite greed wisdom insist on lowering the rates and devaluing the dollar. Helicopter Bernanke should increase interest rates and people will save putting money back into the banks. But Wall Street would howl as people pullout of high stakes gambling.

    The Bush economy stayed afloat on lies. The biggest lie was that homeowners property increased 5 times in value. Evil Wizard Greenspan had the shmucks homeowners believe that their home was the mythical money tree. Wizard Greenspan knew that the lie would keep the party going on Wall Street and Bush would get his wars and tax cuts. He deliberately lied and the homeowners raided the last surviving sacred cash cow of their savings, their homes. To do what?, buy lots of cheap Chinese crapola, SUV’s, and payoff credit card debt.

    I’m waiting to sees these pirates, thieves, scum of the earth to be stripped of our wealth, frogmarched, and imprisoned until death.

  7. Mary says:

    8 – and can’t you just see Rockefeller holding a hearing? At least Leahy chewed on Mueller for awhile, although they did nothing and he went on about his merry torture cover up business with the rest of DOJ, breaking laws on whims and without worry that the IG will actually refer them for criminal prosecution (to who? Alberto? Mukasey?) and without concern that laws actually affect the “inner sanctum inner circle” boys and girls in the Executive Branch DOJ.

    Could someone, anyone, take up a collection to send Ceasar Milan to Congress to teach them about discipline, boundaries, limitations? I think he may be the only guy left in America who could snap a choke chain on Cheney and accomplish something.

    • pdaly says:

      I laugh every time I reread this. Funniest line of the day.

      “Could someone, anyone, take up a collection to send Ceasar Milan to Congress to teach them about discipline, boundaries, limitations? I think he may be the only guy left in America who could snap a choke chain on Cheney and accomplish something.”

  8. Mary says:

    And if you are around bmaz, when I saw this case (link from talkleft) I thought of you (and a couple others).…..038;coll=2

    More than a dozen people who ended up pleading guilty to get reduced sentences – and yet it was all about a lying snitch and his DEA handler. Judge set to release many, but only after serving years and years.

  9. Mary says:

    11 – so you think we should only give unto Ceasar what is Ceasar’s?

    We probably do need something more in the nature of a cat whisperer, and notice that no one appears with a claim to that talent.

  10. bmaz says:

    Yep, I saw that. I am kind of a broken record, but if people really knew what absolute bullshit goes on in the halls of criminal justice, they would soil their pants. I am not saying such stuff is pervasive mind you, but it is way more prevalent than anyone would guess. Of all the lawyers out there, prosecutors stand in an unique position and simply must adhere to, and be held to, different and higher standards. The rules and canons call for just that, but it is not practiced. That is exactly why what the Bushies have done to the DOJ is so heinous.

  11. RockPaperScizzors says:

    The DOW is going up. NOT because of good business acumen, productivity, product development, innovation, and job growth. These factors are reality based and are non existent in the Bush alternate reality faith-based economy. The DOW is up because Helicopter Ben is promising in cutting rates again, and devaluing the dollar…..again. He’s saving the speculators and abracadra hocus pocus financial swindlers geniuses whose financial instrutments and modalities produced illusory $000’s adding to the fictional wealth of investors.

    What the Fed appears to be doing is to try to save the market at the expense of the economy by adding more liquidity. The drunks on Wall Street are drowning in red ink liquidity.

    • LS says:

      The US market went down…..the Asian market (who we owe money to) went down..then…the US market went up….leaving them stranded….helllloooo….

  12. amberglow says:

    they won’t do a thing–they get millions and millions every year from Credit Card companies and Banks. They don’t get a penny from us poor people who need to declare and now can’t.

  13. phred says:

    EW, now that I’m less distracted with the FISA business… I’m curious, who arranged the panel and who was there? Was it just a blogger-Dems in Congress kind of thing or a broader assortment of people? Did you discuss more than the bankruptcy bill or was it primarily an economy-centered discussion?

      • phred says:

        Surely by now bmaz you’ve gotten the low-down on foot-gate. I thought you were following the hobbler-in-chief all over town ; )

    • emptywheel says:

      It was bloggers and progressive radio. It covered a number of subjects: Rob Wyden on healthcare, Schumer, Dorgan, and (shit I forget) on economy, Webb, Menendez, and Casey on Iraq, Sanders and Conyers on civil liberties, Klobuchar and Bingaman on environment. Plus we had a briefing with Feingold this morning.

      • phred says:

        Interesting gathering. Was it just to give the Dems an opportunity to get their message out or did you get a real sense that the Dem leadership in Congress is ready to stand up to the Rethugs and to start delivering to their progressive base?

  14. bobschacht says:

    OT: Sibel Edmonds

    From lukery’s diary at dKos:

    Luke Ryland: Will the US media start reporting on this now that it is ‘hot and sexy’ again?

    Sibel Edmonds: It’s hard to know. After being told for years that they won’t cover it because it is ‘old news,’ now there are certain officials in the agencies quietly telling journalists to stay away from the story because I came across a highly sensitive covert national security operation.

    Also, Turkey’s army of lobbyists in DC are very effective. The US press tends to stay away from any stories critical of Turkey, I would say even more than Israel.

    There’s also the possible problem of ‘eating crow’ but I hope this isn’t an issue, this story is way too important for any of that. The information that has been published in the Times recently could have easily come out four years ago in the US press. We now need everyone to focus on the important issues.

    I have one message for the US media: If they think this is over, it’s not over. Much more will come out. They won’t be able to ignore it any longer, and so I hope they get over any reluctance they might have.

    Look at the positive press that the Times’ series has received since their first article ran. Do you think their editors haven’t noticed? The Times is adding more and more resources to the story, more journalists, bigger budgets, and more importantly, they are getting more and more sources coming forward to shed light on these illegal activities. As I have said from the beginning, this story is not about me, there are many sources who have been waiting for the right time to come forward, I’ve probably never even heard of most of them, and now they are coming forward. This will play out like Watergate played out, with the drip, drip, drip. So I say to everyone ‘Buckle up, there’s much more coming.’

    So, hopefully American reporters will start to cover the story. I’m not particularly confident, but to a certain degree it doesn’t matter that much because the internet and the blogs can spread the reporting from the UK as soon as it hits the wires.

    Is she just blowing smoke, or is there real fire here? I suspect the latter.

    Bob in HI

    • LS says:

      Fire!!! It’s the motherlode…otherwise why would they have acknowledged her veracity and then gagged her.


      Bring ‘em down!!!

    • bmaz says:

      My guess is the fire to smoke ratio is 50:50 at best. I think she does have some worthwhile and important stuff that is corroborated and should be heard and explored; but I also believe the legend and story has ballooned and grown in such unbelievable and unsupportable ways to where it is all kind of lessened and incredulous.

    • Rayne says:

      She pissed me off with her crack about alternative media in that bit by lukery. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.

      Mary (10) — I would pony up some serious cash and hock some assets to see Cesar slap a collar on that flabby white boy and make him heel. Ah, if only it was that easy; can you see Cesar diagnosing his problem as insufficient exercise, wrapping that leash around the handles of a treadmill?

  15. klynn says:

    Like Matt’s video interview. Real news…

    Hey, when are all of you going to start your own Sunday show? Jane, EW, Christy, Glenn, Matt etc…

  16. bmaz says:

    Heh heh, get a load of this. We have always been incompetent at this wiretapping, and much like all of Bush’s policies, it has historically proved more harmful than useful, despite the lies our government has fed us through a complicit media. What was old is new again:

    On a rainy day 52 years ago, the cover was blown on one of the biggest espionage plots of the Cold War. Soviet and East German forces announced that they had found a quarter-mile-long tunnel that the CIA had burrowed into East Berlin as part of a massive wiretapping operation.

    Though the audacious project had come to a crashing end, news of the discovery generated unrestrained glee across the Atlantic at CIA headquarters. America’s spymasters were thrilled by the world’s response: admiration for the CIA’s daring and technical prowess, and a general assumption that the agency had roundly snookered the Soviets.

    The truth was much more complicated. Unbeknownst to the CIA, the Soviets had known about the tunnel all along.

    Before breaking ground, the CIA had made the mistake of discussing its plans with George Blake, a high-ranking British intelligence official. In 1961, Blake was exposed as a mole for the KGB who had betrayed the identities of hundreds of British agents, as well as plans for the tunnel project.

    So the CIA was snookered all along, not the other way around, and they were likely fed disinformation by the cagey Soviets. Jeebus, does this sound like a Cheney/Bush operation or what?

  17. bmaz says:

    Boy, Kathy Sebelius is struggling. Text OK, but her speechifying not good. Jim Webb absolutely killed them last year; this year, not so much.

  18. masaccio says:

    Boy, put up a bankruptcy thread just when I’m out with my partners taking over a business in a receivership, so I don’t get to play.

  19. masaccio says:

    Looks like a lawyer with a title company can’t find a couple of million, so we’ll go look around.

  20. prostratedragon says:

    The bad news is that we’re not going to do anything about it until 2009. Senator Schumer explained that he didn’t want to pick around the edges, he wanted to make a real fix, and we’re not going to be able to do that until we get a bigger majority.


    Here’s just a small sliver of why. The Credit Suisse one was my wake-up call a year or more age. Note that we’re now one more month out from the start date on the first graph. Pair those resets with the dim prospects for refinance as shown in underwater graphs like the ones here and it should be clear that 2009 is going to be too late for many households that could use a reasonable way out.

  21. bmaz says:

    Well, here is a shocker courtesy of the LA Times. DOJ blocking the much ballyhooed OSC investigation of Scott Bloch. Another Condi “Who could have imagined this would happen” Rice moment:

    The government agency that enforces one of the principal laws aimed at keeping politics out of the civil service has accused the Justice Department of blocking its investigation into alleged politicizing of the department under former Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales.

    Scott J. Bloch, head of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, wrote Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey last week that the department had repeatedly “impeded” his investigation by refusing to share documents and provide answers to written questions, according to a copy of Bloch’s letter obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

    The Justice Department wants Bloch to wait until its own internal investigation is completed. A department official signaled recently that the investigation is examining the possibility of criminal charges.

    But that, the regulator wrote, could take until the last months of the Bush administration, “when there is little hope of any corrective measures or discipline possible” being taken by his office.

  22. Neil says:

    I think Bobo’s wrong, again. Wrong because he conflates policy concerns with political methods.

    Partisanship can mean having a policy point of view and sticking to it. Isn’t that what Americans liked so much about Bush? He stuck to his values.

    But in the vernacular, “partisanship” has come to mean a disingenuous, intentional misrepresentation of your opponent’s position, or a dishonest misrepresentation of your opponent’s record.

    Non-partisanship doesn’t have to mean abandoning one’s principled position in return for harmony. In fact, that’s just silly. Maybe the vernacular is just more Orwellian doublespeak meant to spread the blame around, in a bi-partisan sort of way.

    Sept. 11th really did leave a residue — an unconsummated desire for sacrifice and service. The old Clintonian style of politics clashes with that desire. When Sidney Blumenthal expresses the Clinton creed by telling George Packer of The New Yorker, “It’s not a question of transcending partisanship. It’s a question of fulfilling it,” that clashes with the desire as well.
    The Kennedy Mystique by Bobo

    So what is Obama advocating? I like the way he campaigns and I prefer it to the way Hillary has campaigned against him since NH, Iowa really. But what would Obama’s governing style be like? How would he overcome opposition to his policy proposals when his opponent’s counter-proposal is in direct conflict with his, and he needs some agreement to move forward?

    • bmaz says:

      Yeah, we saw direct evidence of the GOP “desire” the lost in his own clouded mind Brooks cackles about today when they obstructed their own desires today just to poke a stick in the dems eyes. I love the Obama aura too, but that will not overcome the reality of political life in Washington DC.

    • TheraP says:

      My guess is that Obama’s governing style is suggested from his time as editor of the Harvard Law review and his community organizing. From what I’ve read he is able to listen a lot, keep his own counsel, and work to get warring parties to hear each other and cooperate. I can’t vouch for any of that from personal experience, but that’s my best guess, based on his past.

      It seems to me that Obama has more experience (than Clinton) at the grassroots level as well as in bringing opposing parties together – at the Harvard Law Review (where they chose him at a time when there were huge differences between liberals and conservatives there – and he apparently did an outstanding job).

      I honestly think the country needs a noncombatant but visionary president at the moment. We need someone like Nelson Mandela or Ghandi. Barring that, I hope Obama can bring some needed calming influence along with inspiration. We need a kind of healing to take place. Just my take. But I feel very strongly about it.

      • TheraP says:

        PS – and remember Nelson Mandela and Gandhi (think I misspelled it above) began their work as young men. We recall them as “old” – but their fame began in their youth.

      • bmaz says:

        Just two little points. I really love you and respect your comments immensely, but basing how someone would govern the bureaucracy of the United States on their performance in a law review group in law school is simply a few light years the other side of loopy. The breakdowns are among a great many soft areas of interest, not between two fierce and intractable parties of interest. By the way, Clinton was either the head or associate head of the Yale law review and her work was extremely notable as well; so does the same thing make her appropriate? Secondly, why are you in such a rush to “heal” with people that want to eat you and your children for evil snack? The concept is admirable, but it isn’t going to work real well with the party of fascist Genghis Khanlicans; They are simply not interested in it and will exploit it as a fatal weakness the same as they have been doing the last thirty years. Again, I am not a Clinton fan particularly; but all this kumbayah stuff is nonsense. Ever seen the movie “The Candidate”? At the end, a candidate running the same community organizing, high minded “Yes we can” message that Obama is, after winning, pulls his campaign manager into a bathroom and says “What the fuck do we do now” because by that point, he has figured out that the happy talk ain’t gonna work. It still won’t.

        • TheraP says:

          Thank you bmaz and rfw @ 46 for your comments and concern. I am an old naive idealist – and it is no accident I never entered politics. Thanks for your info on the law review. I got my take from the NY Times magazine article a while back, so I stand corrected as I never went to law school – or Yale or Harvard either.

          I don’t work with abusers. But helping people stand up to them doesn’t necessary mean helping them to become more like the abusers either.

          I appreciate, however, knowing that you guys are there to fight for me, while I continue on my naive, idealistic journey…. which I know doesn’t lead to “happily ever after.” I’ll settle for a bit of hope though. And continuing good will here. Peace.

          • bmaz says:

            You are not wrong; and I want a higher ethos every bit as much as you do. But you have to have willing and capable compatriots to actually pull it off. I am also inspired by Obama, but if he doesn’t have some ruthlessness and muscle behind it, it will evaporate quickly. No one is a bigger fan of Camelot, JFK and RFK, than I am; I literally idolized them as a kid in the 60’s. Still do. However, in spite of their lofty rhetoric, ideals and goals; the Kennedys were (and slyly remain so today) the consummate ruthless machine pols. Seeing Teddy give that spiel yesterday flat cracked me up. That said, I feel a hell of a lot better about Obama if he is going to have Teddy as a wing man. I kind of disagree with the media narrative that Teddy got mad at Bill Clinton for race baiting and that is why he signed on with Obama. Kennedy knows full well where the Clintons stand on race and civil rights, and it is firmly in the same corner he does. Rather, I think he is captivated by the inspirational qualities of Obama, sees them as that of his brothers, and wants to make one more run at that before he is gone. If it was Bill Clinton running, he would be Teddy’s guy, because Bill has that ability to really jaw up a crowd and inspire; unfortunately, Hillary, for all of her skills and abilities, does not. My only beef with the Obama wave was that I thought he just didn’t have the juice and experience behind him to match the message. If he is really paired up with Teddy and will stay so after election, that problem is removed for me. So, understand, I am not fighting you, just giving my take.

              • bmaz says:

                I agree with that to some extent; but Obama was never really a “Chicago pol”. Obama moved up the ladder and out onto the national stage so fast that i don’t think he got the hard nosed experience there or the hard nosed testing. Once he is the nominee, however, much less President, he will be a stationary sitting target with every weapon of the opposition pointed directly at him. That is a far different matter than his “experience”.

                • bobschacht says:

                  “I agree with that to some extent; but Obama was never really a ‘Chicago pol’. Obama moved up the ladder and out onto the national stage so fast that i don’t think he got the hard nosed experience there or the hard nosed testing.”

                  The other bit about his Chicago “schooling” that impresses me was his brief but formative experience as a community organizer. For a nice summary, see
                  Obama, Community Organizer, Back In The Day, by Adam B,
                  Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 12:53:52 PM PST over on dKos. Obama’s experience may have been short at that job, but he apparently learned a lot from it, and has used those tools since then in places like South Carolina and Nevada, where he has been raising up his own networks, and recruiting lots of young people effectively.

                  And yes, that “target” business worries at least one of my Black friends. I’m sure Obama has thought about it.

                  Bob in HI

            • TheraP says:

              Thanks for your lovely response, bmaz. I feel like you’re my brother, trying to protect me here. And I understand what you’re saying. I really do. I think we need people to inspire us. And yes, we need the heavy lifters in the Congress and elsewhere to make that happen. I hope Barak can be what I need him to be and what you need him to be as well. I’ve worked hard, on myself, as a therapist to be both strong and vulnerable. The two together. I need to inspire but also to confront and withstand. And that’s what you’re talking I think.

              In case you’re interested I have a related blog post from this a.m.

              I really respect you so much, bmaz! I really do.

  23. prostratedragon says:

    Speaking of not being able to refi, at CR’s blog we learn that Countrywide has begun tightening credit on entire counties at once, partly on the basis of underwater risk.

    Of the 5 risk categories, Nassau, Suffolk, Orange, and Dutchess counties in NY are cat 4, which will see its max loan-to-value on a purchase loan drop by 5 percent, and on hel by 10 percent. Some other hard-hit states are W/VA, FL, MI (Washtenaw, Wayne, Oakland, Livingston among the cat 4), MD, OH, AZ, NV, and of course, CA. It’s hard to see how this move by CFC won’t affect the borrowing landscape generally, with lenders becoming more reluctant as a class to lend in areas where declining prices increase the chances that borrowers become upside down in the near term; as CR notes in a comment, the risk assessment appears to be based on policies of Fannie/Freddie etc., to which all lenders will tend to respond similarly.

    Why, then, does Sen. Schumer not seem interested in at least looking like the party that is interested in doing something by say having some hearings into homeowner and lender predicaments, for instance? Or, EW, am I perhaps overinterpreting his remark?

    • bmaz says:

      Geez, I dunno. Talk about a guy who represents financial interests, whether it is direct because they are donors/supporters like some or not, you would think a Senator from New York would tread carefully so as not to disturb big finance too much. And Schumer has shown these tendencies in spades before; so I wouldn’t put to much faith in him.

      • prostratedragon says:

        Oh, I know, just sauntering up to the notion that it’s pretty near time to call him and some others out.

        My guess is that much that Schumer has done in the last year or two is explainable by big finance’s worries about legal exposure as this bubble bursts. Feinstein too. Wall Street deservedly gets the blame for much of this, but don’t forget that the business and industry model and the biggest players at the consumer lending level seem to issue from CA. Think Orange.

        Have another “soft market” article.

      • bobschacht says:

        “And, btw, I’m category 4, in Washtenaw!! No wonder my house has lost so much of its value.”

        As long as you don’t have to move, hang onto your house. In 3-5 years you’ll probably recover all its value and more.

        Bob in HI

    • skdadl says:

      Heh. Yes. That is one of my favourite stress-relievers of all time. Nothing beats holding hands, absolutely nothing. (I hope that’s not a spoiler. Pretend I didn’t say that.)

  24. radiofreewill says:

    TheraP – An acquaintance of mine, until recently, was with a Counselling Group that had a Contract to work with the families from a nearby military base in California. He not only left the Group, he left Counselling alltogether. Why? Because he couldn’t change the Abusers.

    BushCo is like the Abusers, and we are like the Families.

    BushCo isn’t responding to Therapy (no pun intended), and the lot of the Families isn’t getting any better.

    We need Leaders – strong enough to stand-up With the Rule of Law – to back down Bush’s Lawlessness.

    We need to set talk aside, for a bit, imho, and get some action going. If the “Rule of Law” is ‘out there,’ then We need to ’see’ it, because…

    …One thing We Know with BushCo – Talk alone won’t do.

    • bmaz says:

      The BK “reform” was not only heinous, it was bought and paid for by a credit industry that not only was a key participant in the derivitive/securitization abuse, but also knew the end of shitpile was imminent. By securing passage of the BK “reform”, they are profiting yet again from their own malfeasance. Fuckers they are, of the highest order.

  25. DeadLast says:

    Bush is behind the S&L Subprime Mortgage crisis too. A friend who worked for a “nation-wide” lender said that her company did not care about the quality of loans it was making, as they (the bank) was not at risk. Specifically, the federal government (through the Federal Home Loan Bank [FHLB]) were pushing money like a drug dealer to the lending institutions at very favorable rates. The lenders then made mortgages, packaged them as securities and sold them to pension funds, mutual funds, and other institutional investors. The banks held very little debt until the investors caught on and said were are not buying anymore of this “pile of shit”. So Countrywide, Indymac, WaMu, Fremont, etc got burned when they couldn’t sell the last piles of crap they couldn’t transfer to Wall Street.

    [Fun Fact: Wall Street got its name because the Dutch built a wall on the north east side of the city to protect against a British invasion by land. Then, the Dutch threw all of the garbage and animal carcasses over the wall. The street that ran parallel to the wall was called Wall Street.]

    Bush is now trying to get the Congress to increase the jumbo loan limit to $650K so that people can refinance and white wash the industry. BofA, who paid $8 billion plus to cozy up to Countrywide, will make a killing — or at least cover its tracks and survive. Bush is doing anything he can to keep the economy floating for another 10 months or so. Then when he leaves office, we are going to be investigating what happenned just like we did with Enron, WorldCom, and Tyco — only on a much bigger scale.

    And the winners will be China, Saudi Arabia, and any “freemarketeer” who short-sells the market (will portfolio protection for inflation) and bought real estate in Dubai.

  26. PJEvans says:

    [Mild hysterics provided by the double Google-ad on the front page … for Lindsey Graham. Oy, did they get the wrong blog!]

  27. wavpeac says:

    In response to the string of post 43-46 about power and control, abusers, Obama, I would like to make a couple of comments.

    One, the bush adminstration has been acting exactly like an anti social batterer of the american people. I work with the batterers and the battered; only in our agency we have elected for less judgemental terms. We have men and women nonviolence groups and then the domestic violence empowerment groups for folks who have been victimized.

    What we teach is accountability. We teach accountability to community programs in regard to violent and abusive behavior as well as to victims and to those who use violence. Same goes for our substance abuse programs. Accountability. Shame is the tie that binds us to most compulsive behaviors. And not being accountable, avoiding shame instead of using it to shape behaviors and make amends feeds more shame, feeds more compulsion. I think greed is a compulsion as well.

    Anyway, I hope Obama is willing to make accountability the top priority. If a woman is going to stop the battering or the wife of an alcoholic is going to be willing to take better care of herself, she is going to have not “enable” the bahavior by failing to set boundaries, failing to hold the person accountable. She is going to have to learn how to not accept unacceptable behavior. She will have to learn how to call the police, get a protection order, enforce a protection order, walk out of room, walk out of the house, go to a shelter. She will have to learn how to protect herself in a way she has never had to do before. Few of us find ourselves up against a more formidable foe.

    The American people have for too many years been accepting unacceptable behavior and failing to hold our administrators accountable. We fear the fight, we fear the mess, we fear the division. When you listen to a group of victimized people you find that they don’t want to hold the batterer accountable, not because they like being abused, or because they are lazy, or because they are not strong. It’s because it takes tremendous strength, fortitude and courage to confront unacceptable behavior. It rips apart your life. It’s uncomfortable and they usually fight back. Those who engaged in abusive behavior do not want to face the legal, emotional, and social implications of their behavior. They cannot face the pain and yet it is facing the pain, the shame that causes change and healing. It is the most difficult thing to do, and at the same time it is the only thing that brings truth and healing.

    Victims of domestic violence are at a higher risk of dying AFTER they get the protection order. This is the most dangerous, messy and uncomfortable time. The sacrifices are real. The risk is real. The fear is real.

    This is the decision that the American people have before them. Do we take the risk for the sake of our principles, are we willing to deal with the mess and discomfort, are we willing to hold these criminals accountable so that we will be role modeling to the world, and ourselves that our values, our constitution, our democracy has meaning. If we do not, we will continue to get more of the same. If we hold them accountable, we will be doing something different, and we may not be successful in the first round, the second round, but we will be living in line with the principles for which most americans stand. It takes courage to stand up for our constitution and the laws and values of our country. It doesn’t necessarily require a war, but it does require courage.

    I hope Obama is willing to make hold these criminals accountable, even if it’s risky, messy and uncomfortable. If he’s not we need to be developing politicians with the skills set to follow through.

    • bmaz says:

      Well stated, and dovetails perfectly I think. Working together, bridging the divide etc. is great; but that doesn’t mean you simply write off a clear pattern and history of aberrant behavior violent and violative to your common good. That has to be confronted and dealt with. I have questions with Obama in this regard, but feel one heck of a lot better if Ted Kennedy is the wing man on it. The Clintons have a ton of heavy baggage i would be happy to jettison from presidential politics; however, there is no question about their preparedness for battle and ability to successfully wage it to conclusion against the absolutely nastiest the Goopers have to offer. Our Congress, and Harry Reid, Pelosi and Hoyer have again showed us today what happens when you fail to recognize these facts.

      • BlueStateRedHead says:

        Clinton have a lot to offer vs. nasty goopers, but seem to have learned alot too, e.g. how to create free speech zones so nobody gets to speak. From the NYT:

        As Mr. Clinton shook hands with members of the audience after his speech, campaign aides blocked the only exit from the press area, leaving reporters corralled behind metal barricades until the former president was ushered backstage.

        Is this what you mean Bmaz? Not snark, not provocation. I am neutral until the general. Really curious if this is what we want to see, again.

        • bmaz says:

          No, that is exactly a part of what I mean by the “baggage” the Clintons bring to the show. I know I have a habit of defending the Clintons, but it is not an intentional desire. I fully recognize and admit the shortcomings of Bill clinton, and, again, state for the record that Hillary is not my chosen candidate. Al Gore was my choice, and absent that, John Edwards. But as not just a result of my profession, but even more so the part of it that I have inhabited, and to a limited extent still do inhabit, I am well schooled in bare knuckle war with intractable and powerful adversaries. I am cognizant to bring a gun to a gunfight, not a knife. the Clintons have all kinds of well earned baggage, but they bring guns and know how to use them; and we are most certainly, and unfortunately, not yet past the point to where that is needed. I don’t know what really happened in that interlude described in your quote; may be innocent, may be foul, probably is somewhere in between. The grave problems this country are far more serious than the pissant junk the press is focussing on though; that stuff doesn’t mean much to me. That is only my personal view; I may be arrogant enough to express it, but I am certainly not belligerent enough to think, or advocate, that it should have any effect on you or anyone else.

    • TheraP says:

      What a beautiful, lucid, true, and inspiring description of what needs to happen.

      When I’m working with people, to help them become more assertive, I talk to them about the “one-two” punch (I’m using that metaphorically only). Too often people make the first assertive statement or behavior and then feel they’ve failed, when, of course, they get knocked back by an aggressive response. And I tell them, they need to be ready for that next.. and that next… and that next assertive stand. That’s what you’re saying we need. Together with the assertive stand being one of placing responsibility where it belongs. Not cowering. And not abusing. But taking the steps we need to take. And refusing to take the blame when others behave responsibly.

      Thanks for putting it far more cogently than I.

      • TheraP says:

        Just noticed a big error in my 62. Last word of long paragraph should be “irresponsibly.” Talk about turning my case upsidedown!

  28. Mary says:

    60 – great summary.

    And I’m going to still go with a need for a Cesar Milan (dog whisperer)- his specialty is setting boundaries and limitations. *g*

  29. BlueStateRedHead says:

    if an OT can be permitted for a lite note and as a harbinger of spring. some baseball news. Santana is going to the Mets.

  30. radiofreewill says:

    TheraP – You are Fine Ambassador for the All-Love approach, imho, wherein there is Good to be found in Everything! I’m all for it amongst people who strive to self-correct and be consciously accountable to their community.

    However, there are times when it’s more important to Point Out, without adding a helping of mitigating ‘goodness,’ that A Group of Criminals, With Mal-Intent, is Hiding Amongst US.

    These are times that Call for Focusing the Awareness of the Masses, like a Beam of Radiation, on the Bush Cancer. Public Scrutiny – bringing the squealing weasels into the light – is what shrinks this threat, and makes it easier to remove procedurally.

    We can’t deal with the plague by converting the rats – we have to put them in pens away from the rest of US – if We want to stay healthy ourselves.

    It’s not abusive to Stand for the Rule of Law, and it’s not strength to take Abuse without End.

    • TheraP says:

      I think you’re underestimating me, rfw. In no way am I a devotee of the “all love approach.” Indeed, if I am discussing therapy, I would call that approach a false or fraudulent therapy. One must be able to confront. But the confrontation need not be abusive. I have no problem calling something immoral, unethical, or illegal. It’s crucial to use the right language. If someone as been raped, it’s “rape.” If by a relative, it’s “incest.” I would have preferred impeachment, if that’s what your getting at. I would still like to see these criminals in the Hague, in cells, for life.

      For me the first question is, does the person have a conscience? If not, there’s no dealing with them, except to hold then accountable for what they’ve done. I’m not into “converting” the criminals. But I do think the citizens of this land need to be inspired to get on board a “change” process.

      It takes all kinds to get the job done. I’ll do my part. And you’ll do yours. (like via trolls) But I won’t take part in becoming “like” the dark side. Whatever tactics I use, they must be legal and they must not destroy my soul in the process.

      I love the interchange here! Glad I’m on your side, buddy!

  31. bobschacht says:

    TheraP & RFW,
    I appreciate your discussion. One of my anxieties is that the next president will face a lot of pressure to “let bygones be bygones” and to not “tie up the government in knots” with “gotcha” politics and recriminations, i.e. the litany that Gerald Ford cited when he pardoned Nixon, and that George W. Bush recited when he pardoned a batch of Iran-Contra felons. We’ll be asked to “move on.”

    Now, I can tolerate a certain amount of foregiveness, but only after driving a stake through the heart of the vampire. In this case, to be clear, I am not thinking of any one person as the vampire, but rather
    (1) the principle of the Unitary Executive.
    (2) the class of felons who, if unpunished and branded as felons, will surely rise from their (temporary) political graves and inflict another generation with their poisonous doctrines (I’m looking at Elliot Abrams and Doug Feith, among others, right now). Elliot Abrams is Exhibit A. Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld would be examples, too, but they weren’t actually convicted of anything. And Henry Kissinger is a whole ‘nuther chapter.

    So, to “move on,” I’d be OK with commuting the sentences of (but not pardoning) these felons– after conviction.

    Bob in HI

  32. Neil says:

    Here’s another perspective on Barack. Shelby Steele has an interesting book called “A Bound Man.” He’s articulating what he sees in and about Obama in light of how black men engage society in america, i.e. Louis Armstrong, Bill Cosby, Barack Obama. CSPAN Video Steele at Cody’s Books in Berkeley, CA. 41 minutes.

  33. prostratedragon says:

    And, btw, I’m category 4, in Washtenaw!!


    Say, is anyone out there GIS capable? It would be nice to have the CFC zones mapped out. All you’d need would be a counties shapefile and the data extracted from CFC’s pdf, which I think I can do.

    Probably it could be done using GoogleEarth as the engine, but even with my middling GeForce graphics that route is slow enough to make you cry.

    You could mail me at churiken on gmail.

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