Thursday, October 28, 2010

How Widespread is the Fraud?

"Richard" poses an unsettling question (posted 10/28/10 7:03 AM) in the comments section of the Vox Day blog:

We observe here a lack of integrity of most (perhaps all) of the institutions associated with real estate transactions. Our interest in this topic stems from our desire to protect ourselves/our family from the consequences of this dishonesty and maintain that which we earned.

Given the ubiquity of dishonesty observed, it raises another disturbing question that should also be addressed: Is the same thing going on in the securities industry that is went on in the real estate industry. Do the brokerage companies really have the stocks/securities that you 'bought?' I know for a fact that stock brokers really, really, don't like to have to give you physical possession of stock certificates since then it is registered in 'your' name rather than being held in a pool by them.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Deadbeats?

Karl Denninger and Vox Day cheerfully hammer the bankster apologists, whose favorite refrain is that deadbeat borrowers are the real villains in the mortgage fraud scandal. It has come to light that employees at Ameriquest were conning borrowers into signing Adjustable Rate Mortgages when they thought they were signing for fixed rate loans.

Denninger writes:

People wonder why we can't find an original note, complete with the documentation? Why the original loan files "disappeared" - this, in a business, that historically has all been about paper, and which has studiously kept it around?

After all, you can walk into any office supply store in America and down one of the aisles you will find a product called BANKER'S BOXES. With good reason.

This is the part of the lending story that nobody wants to talk about. Wall Street securitized this paper, even though they knew they were securitizing trash. The original documents would prove the frauds - if they were ever produced in court.


And:

....how many of the so-called "deadbeats" are really beaten dead - by a financial system that rooked them and now has committed hundreds of thousands of felony counts of perjury to cover it up.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Another Snack for Moloch?


I have an acquaintance, a sister in Christ, whose 9 year-old son has been tagged "ADD" by the public schools because he has trouble paying attention in class. The bureaucrats want to dope him. Worse, the boy's father agrees with them. The mother is protecting her son, studying with him at night, encouraging him to apply himself to his school work, and always urging him to put his trust in God. Her love and faith have been rewarded with one notable academic success: the boy scored a 100 on his latest history test. I pray that she continues to stand up for him. According to her, nobody else will. But I fear she is wavering, and that she'll eventually consent to the doping if pressure from the school and her family don't let up.

It's no small measure of America's decadence that parents are willing to drug their own children to ensure their submissiveness towards an evil system.

Show Us the Note!

Good news from Kentucky, where another local government is standing up to the banks:

Kenton County, Kentucky, which has the third highest volume of foreclosures in the state, has enacted a general order impacting the filing of all foreclosure complaints in its courts.

Recent foreclosure paperwork errors at several major servicers nationwide prompted the move. Big lenders such as GMAC Mortgage, Bank of America, and JPMorgan Chase recently imposed suspensions to check their foreclosure case files for mistakes.

Kenton County’s order will have a wide ranging impact on mortgage servicing clients, including timelines relating to the filing of first legal action in Kenton County, with many other counties throughout the Commonwealth expected to follow suit.

The order requires all foreclosure complaints in Kenton County to be accompanied by an affidavit certifying that the plaintiff is the owner and holder of the note and mortgage and identifying the plaintiff as the original holder or an assignee, trustee, or successor in interest of the original holder.

Kenton County foreclosure complaints must also be accompanied by a copy of the note and recorded mortgage with copies of all allonges, endorsements, and assignments necessary to document the chain of title to both the note and the mortgage.

The "paperwork errors" and "mistakes" were deliberate acts of fraud, revealed when banks began foreclosing on houses they didn't legally own.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Great Trifle


In the German language there is an interesting expression, grosse Kleinigkeit, which may be translated as "a great trifle", a thing which is small and yet of tremendous importance. This phrase aptly describes the precious, formative experience of childhood play. Sadly, play is often denied to modern American children by parents who slothfully or ignorantly immerse them in electronic media or grimly enroll them in regimented group activities.

Laura Wood at The Thinking Housewife has devoted several posts to this topic, including a contribution by Lawrence Auster (a social critic of the first water). In Why Do Children Play?, Wood disputes the typical adult view that play is nothing more than a way to fill up empty time:

In truth, a child is more than an adult-in-waiting. Child’s play forms not just the developing person, but the world at large. The child plays because he is seeking to understand and to know. He wants to create something new. When a child plays, he is an actor in the drama of existence. He chooses. He decides. He loves. He thinks. He is free. Child’s play fertilizes all of society. It awakens adults from the slumber of rationality. For children, the spiritual dimension of existence, with both its good and its evil, is always close at hand. Imagination is the apprehension of the unseen. For a child, there is no gulf between the physical and the moral, the visible and the invisible. All reality is one. Things that are just things for us are filled with meaning.

That is why elaborate toys are a mistake for children. Elaborate toys, especially mechanical toys, deaden the imagination. The world as it is elicits a response from a child. He needs the time and freedom to act upon his inner life. Boredom is a natural and necessary part of play, a phase of exhaustion, rest and preparation. Contrived play suppresses a child’s awareness and stupefies him.

Play is not play when it is regimented, when it is enacted in large groups or impersonal settings. In an institutional setting, the playing child is like a seedling in a drumming downpour. His tender shoots are battered. He is over-stimulated, too busy and distracted to hear the barely audible voices of inspiration within. He may age, but he does not grow. He is prepared for lifelong stupefication.

For a child to play well, he must be loved. There is no play without love. To enable play is an exalted task, an awesome responsibility. The adult who supervises and nurtures the playing child, disciplining and loving him, is far more powerful than the world will ever admit. With balls and dolls, blocks and swords, civilization is forged.

"Things that are just things for us [adults] are filled with meaning." Absolutely. I can remember using my boyhood imagination to transform a ballpoint pen into a space rocket, or the backyard lawn into a battlefield for toy soldiers, or the indoor balcony overlooking the family room into a precipice at the edge of a yawning abyss (to be plumbed by a brave action figure lowered into the depths on a string). Nothing this side of heaven will ever match the freedom and fervent creativity of those early years, and without them I would have grown into a duller and shallower man than I am.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Sheriff Stands Up to the Banksters

As America slides towards economic and political disintegration, county sheriffs have the unenviable duty to maintain law while the fragile social order is attacked from above and below - from above by tyrannical Federal officials and their bankster allies, and from below by common criminals. In Illinois, Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart takes a stand against the banksters:

Two of the largest U.S. mortgage servicers have said they will resume home foreclosures, but a big-city sheriff has news for them: he won't enforce their foreclosure evictions.

The sheriff for Cook County, Illinois, which includes the city of Chicago, said on Tuesday he will not enforce foreclosure evictions for Bank of America Corp, JPMorgan Chase and Co. and GMAC Mortgage/Ally Financial until they prove those foreclosures were handled "properly and legally."

Bank of America, the largest U.S. mortgage servicer, and GMAC, on Monday both announced rollbacks from their foreclosure moratoriums.

The announcement by Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart comes after weeks of damaging accusations of shoddy paperwork that may have caused some people to be illegally evicted from their homes.

"I can't possibly be expected to evict people from their homes when the banks themselves can't say for sure everything was done properly," Dart said in the statement.

"I need some kind of assurance that we aren't evicting families based on fraudulent behavior by the banks. Until that happens, I can't in good conscience keep carrying out evictions involving these banks," he added.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Lawlessness Begets Lawlessness

Once Americans get it into their heads (and more of them do so every day) that we are ruled by criminals and that property rights have effectively vanished, they will learn to repay crime with crime. Karl Denninger comments on a case in California where foreclosed homeowners have stolen their house back from Conejo Capital Partners, the bank that foreclosed on them:

Why are you surprised? More to the point, why is anyone surprised?

Look, this is what happens when you sit idly by and countenance rampant and outrageous lawbreaking: The people decide they'll do it too!

As for the police telling you that they won't get involved, cry me a river. There's a lady here in Florida who was not in foreclosure, the bank did not have a judgment of possession, and they hired a company to break into her home and change the locks - with her inside. That's breaking and entering anywhere, it's a serious felony, and in Florida at least a homeowner confronted with this is within his rights to shoot the people doing it. Yet when the Sheriff responded he refused to arrest the perpetrators.

It sounds like Conejo ran into the same problem. I'd be sympathetic, but I can't be so long as they do not demand that the same sanction attach to all the illegal bank activities in regard to these repossessions as well.

Of course, Conejo didn't do that.

Two wrongs don't make a right - just more wrongs. But the lesson here isn't that a couple and their kids "re-took" possession and claim their original foreclosure was "illegal." I don't know if it was or wasn't - what I know is that the chain of lawlessness didn't start with them, and it is impossible to condemn their actions standing alone. [Emphases in original]


Vox Day recognizes a grim historical pattern:

It's not a question of the Rule of Law since it is an observable fact that there is no law as such in the United States anymore, there is nothing more than the public pretense of law and the sporadic enforcement of that pretense on parties who do not belong to the government-favored classes. The Rule of Law has been replaced by the much weaker and more delicate Rule of Force.

This is nothing new, as Cicero's letters make it clear that the latter days of the Roman Republic featured a similarly dynamic and amorphous pretense of law. America as you knew it, as you imagined it to be, is no more. It has been gone for some time now and it was laid to rest by the same cancerous forces of greed, lawlessness, and ambition that have brought every other great society in human history to its eventual end.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Carpenter's Calling

Too often this blog is a lament over tyranny. Tonight I would rather quote a beautiful passage from Giovanni Papini's Life of Christ. It may not be true on every point of doctrine, but in essence it speaks the truth about the nature of God's love and redemption towards sinful man:

Jesus [while growing up] did not go to school to the Scribes nor to the Greeks. But He did not lack for teachers. Three teachers He had, greater than all the learned: work, nature and the Book.

It must never be forgotten that Jesus was a working man and the adopted son of a working man: that He was born poor, among people who worked with their hands; before He gave out His gospel He earned his daily bread with the labor of His hands. Those hands which blest the simple-hearted, which cured the lepers, which gave light to the blind, which brought the dead to life, those hands which were pierced with nails upon the cross, were hands which had been bathed with the sweat of labor, hands which had known the numbness of work, hands which were callous with work, hands which had held the tools of work, which had driven nails into wood, the hands of a working man.

Before being a workman of the spirit, Jesus was a man who worked with material things. He was poor before He summoned the poor to His table, to the festival of His Kingdom. He was not born into a wealthy family, into the house of luxury on a bed covered with purple and fine linen. Descendant of kings, He lived in a woodworker's shop: Son of God, He was born in a stable. He did not belong to the caste of the great, to the aristocracy of warriors, to the circles of the rich, to the Sanhedrim of the priests. He was born into the lowest class of the people, the class which has below it only the vagabonds, the beggars, the fugitives, the slaves, the criminals, the prostitutes. When He became no longer a manual worker, He went down lower yet in the eyes of respectable folk, and sought His friends in the miserable huddle which is even below the common people. But until that day when Jesus, before going down into the Inferno of the dead, went down into the Inferno of the living, His position was that of a poor working man and nothing more, in the hierarchy of castes which eternally separates men.

Jesus' trade is one of the four oldest and most sacred of men's occupations. The trades of the peasant, the mason, the smith, the carpenter are, among the manual arts, those most impregnated with the life of man, the most innocent and the most religious. The warrior degenerates into a bandit, the sailor into a pirate, the merchant into an adventurer, but the peasant, the mason, the smith, the carpenter do not betray, cannot betray, do not become corrupt. They handle the most familiar materials, and their task is to transform them visibly into visible, solid, concrete creations, useful to all men. The peasant breaks the clod and takes from it the bread eaten by the saint in his grotto and the murderer in his prison. The mason squares the stone and builds up the house of the poor man, the house of the king, the house of God. The smith heats and fashions the iron to give a sword to the soldier, a plowshare to the peasant, a hammer to the carpenter. The carpenter saws and nails the wood to construct the door which protects the house from the thieves, to make the bed on which thieves and innocent people die.

These plain things, these common, ordinary, useful things, so usual, common and ordinary that they pass disregarded under our eyes used to more complicated marvels, are the simplest creations of man, but more miraculous and essential than any later inventions.

Jesus, the carpenter, lived in His youth in the midst of these things, made them with His hands, and for the first time by means of these things manufactured by Him, entered into communion with the daily life of men, with the most intimate and sacred life, home life. He made the table around which it is so sweet to sit in the evening with one's friends, even if one of them is a traitor; the bed whereon a man draws his first and last breath; the chest where the country wife keeps her poor clothes, her aprons, her handkerchiefs for festivals, and the starched white shirts for great days. He made the kneading trough where the flour is put, and the leaven raises it until it is ready for the oven; and the arm-chair where the old men sit around the fire of an evening to talk of never-returning youth.

Often while the thin, light shavings curled up under the steel of His plane and the sawdust rained down on the ground, Jesus must have thought of the promises of His Father, of the prophecies of old time, of what He was to create, not with boards and rules, but with spirit and truth.

His trade taught Him that to live means to transform dead and useless things into living and useful things: that the meanest material fashioned and shaped can become precious, friendly, useful to men: that the only way to bring salvation is to transform; and that just as a child's crib or a wife's bed can be made out of a log of olive wood, gnarled, knotty and earthy, so the filthy money-changer and the wretched prostitute can be transformed into true citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven. *

Caveat: Papini's book contains grave theological errors (e.g., works salvation and, in some passages, a gnostic disdain for matter).

* Giovanni Papini, Life of Christ (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1923), pp. 34-37.

Will the "Internet Kill Switch" Work?

Paul Rosenberg, in The State Versus the Internet, says yes:

We often say that the Internet is decentralized, which is more or less true, but it is not atomized. There are perhaps a few thousand large units called Autonomous Systems (AS) that make-up the Internet, and they relate to each other with Border Gateway Protocols.

BGP is, essentially, a type of "handshake" protocol: I acknowledge you, do you acknowledge me? Who is connected beyond you? The problem with BGP is that it is not verifiable. This isn’t a big problem – as we know, the Internet works just fine nearly every day – but on rare occasion something does go wrong. From a controller’s standpoint, however, BGP is a huge problem, because it cannot be grasped at a single point.

Enter SecureBGP (BGPSEC) Under this scheme, key exchanges between border gateway routers are involved, to verify that the other router is who it says it is. The problem here is that someone will want to be the official key creator and holder… which means the state. And the US government is working very hard to build this. (They already have a domain name version called DNSSec.)

If the key certificate authority for BGPSEC is anything like SSL certificate authorizers, then each layer of key provider will control the keys below it. That means that specific servers or groups of servers can be disconnected from the Internet within minutes. But even if that type of hierarchy is not part of the code, it is close to certain that AS groups will comply with orders, especially if disobedience means they will be shut down entirely. [Emphasis added]

So, yes, the Internet Kill Switch will work, sorry to say.


It seems to me that the Internet is too large and complex for the U.S. Government to control absolutely. Programmers and hackers, unencumbered by bureaucratic restraints, will easily stay ahead of the spooks both on defensive and offensive terms (e.g., encryption and viruses).

And the problem is not merely technical but cultural. Two generations of Americans are now accustomed to a free flow of electronic information. They are habituated to spotting and avoiding censorship - even private censorship for copyright or ideological reasons - wherever it occurs. Block one avenue of knowledge and they actively, almost instinctively, seek or create another avenue, in an independent and decentralized manner. The ruling class, thinking in the old terms of mass culture and mass obedience, doesn't grasp this critical point. Nor does it comprehend the depth and breadth of popular resentment and suspicion it has provoked by years of lying and plundering. Cyber-censorship imposed for the "public good" will be seen exactly for what it is: a power grab by a pack of sanctimonious crooks. The desire to resist and foil it will be almost obsessive. Think of Prohibition, but this time with nearly everyone below the age of 50 a regular heavy drinker.

None of this means that our rulers won't be stupid enough to try. I presume they will hit the "kill switch" before, during, or after the first massacre of street protesters. They will make high profile busts of people engaged in "cyber-terrorism". They will accomplish or attempt still more evil things. But it will not save the system.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Emerging Pockets of Anarchy

From Oregon and California comes news that cash-strapped city and county governments have begun to ignore petty crimes committed against citizens (trespassing, disorderly conduct, even shoplifting). It's the same process that has reached a more advanced stage in Cairo, Illinois: the ebbing of local law enforcement due to a withering economy. If the downward slide continues, we will see large pockets of genuine anarchy emerge in America, where inhabitants will either learn to cooperate for mutual protection or cower in their homes from the barbarians prowling all around.

First Experience with Heirloom Vegetable Seeds

Last year I blogged on the advantage of using heirloom garden seeds instead of hybrids: the second generation of plants will breed true from saved seed, so you won't need to keep buying new hybrid seeds every year. It's equally true that hybrids can more disease-resistant and productive than heirlooms. Experimentation is the only way to find out what works best in your garden.

My first heirloom spring garden wasn't a great success. The bell peppers produced few fruits. The tomatoes yielded a better crop than the peppers did, but still far less than most hybrid tomatoes I've grown. The lettuce and bok choy should have been planted last fall, but the bok choy at least produced plenty of seed for a second try. The sugar snap peas and yardlong beans were stellar performers, and I'm now growing a second generation of beans from saved seed. The Suyo Long cucumbers also did well.

Stagflation on Steroids

During the 1970s recession, economists coined the term stagflation to describe the combination of high unemployment and steep inflation. I was only a boy at the time, unaware of conditions in the job market, but I do remember the skyrocketing prices on the small items I could buy with my allowance. Candy bars, for instance, suddenly doubled in price and shrank in size.

Courtesy of the master class looters, Americans in 2010 are experiencing the early stages of a much more severe stagflation, as reported in The Economic Collapse blog:

American families better get ready to tighten their belts again. There is every indication that we are all going to really start feeling the squeeze in the months ahead. The price of gas is starting to spike again. The price of food is moving north. Health insurance premium increases are being announced coast to coast and a whole slate of tax increases is scheduled to go into effect in 2011. Meanwhile, household incomes are down substantially all over the nation and the U.S. government is indicating that there will not be an increase in Social Security benefits for the upcoming year once again. So if the cost of most of the basic things in our monthly budgets is going up and our incomes are going down what does that mean? It means that average American families are about to be squeezed like nothing we have seen in decades.

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Monday, October 11, 2010

The Economy in Extremis

In his column on Foreclosuregate, Vox Day writes:

The present economic situation is far more dire than is being reported by the media, the official declaration by the NBER's Business Cycle Dating Committee that the recession ended in June 2009 notwithstanding. Consider the way in which commercial bank credit has plunged an unprecedented 13.6 percent since its peak in December 2008; the previous two-year record was the 0.8 percent decline during 1974 and 1975. Since bank credit has historically grown by 8.4 percent each year, this means that the credit supply of the U.S. economy is presently $2.1 trillion below where it would have been if the economy had continued to grow normally in 2009 and 2010.

The recent confirmation that the entire U.S. financial system is presently resting upon a foundation of fraudulent securities backed by defaulting mortgages to which no one holds a valid title is unlikely to materially improve this situation. The problem is that for the last 20 years, under political pressure from the banks, both political parties have colluded in eviscerating the legal system of property rights that economist Hernando de Soto has demonstrated is required for a capitalist system to generate wealth. This short-sighted financial rapine has not only ruined the economy, but may have even managed to permanently damage the wealth-producing infrastructure of American society. [Emphasis added]

Karl Denninger believes that the banks' deliberate subversion of the land title system, which enabled them to package vast numbers of mortgages into fraudulent securities, has:

...massively corrupted the chain of title for perhaps as much as one third to one half of all residential housing units in this country and if not corrected will render these homes unmarketable in the future.

Now we hear that Senate Democrats are holding hearings on a proposal for government seizure of private 401(k) accounts.

The government and financial sectors have degenerated into a mere partnership of looters, turning America into a gargantuan banana republic where productive labor (outside the black market) is virtually a sucker's bet and traditional patriotism - the kind that takes pride in civic institutions - is reduced to a morbid joke.

Update

Vox Day, in a dialogue with Ilana Mercer, explains the essence of Foreclosuregate:

What happened was that the banks wanted to create mortgage-backed securities, but selling the securities legally required transferring the notes and titles as per the land title system. But that would have cost a lot in filing fees and all but eliminated their profits, so they simply ignored the law, created an electronic registry called MERS, and thereby ripped off large financial investors by selling worthless paper. The foreclosure-based fraud about which you have such doubts is merely the cover-up that resulted from the way in which a need to foreclose exposed the initial fraud.