I am apparently being “Ridiculous”

“I don’t mean people are packages, so let’s not be ridiculous,” the New Jersey governor told an interviewer on Fox News Sunday who pointed out that foreigners do not have labels on their wrists.

“This is once again a situation where the private sector laps us in the government with the use of technology,” Christie said. “We should bring in the folks from FedEx to use the technology to be able to do it. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

I’m not entirely sure how he intends to “use the technology” without something that seems very much like barcoding visitors. Maybe mandatory checkins with local authorities?

In Closing: this might be worth watching, but nobody better get in my way on the 21st. Got that??

Chirstie Shows his True Colors

So the latest “brilliant idea” from the Presidential candidate Chris Christie is to track immigrants as if they were Fed-Ex packages. Claiming that 40% of illegal immigrants are here on expired visas, his idea is to keep track of where they are, “And then when your time is up … however long your visa is, then we go get you and tap you on the shoulder and say ‘Excuse me, thanks for coming, time to go.’” Yes, real quote. Also, no specifics on how that would work. It’s not exactly dignified to slap a bar-code on them when they arrive at the airport. Hey, make sure the hotel scans that for you regularly, mmkay?

Now allow me to point out that — even if we take Mr. Christie’s often-quoted statistic at face value, this will catch at most 2/5 of illegal immigrants at some point in the future. It won’t do anything about the other 3/5. Hmm, interesting fraction that, since many illegal immigrants work in jobs that routinely violate labor laws, or are in outright slavery.


Back to the idea of somehow tracking every non-American who shows up at an port of entry, including airports and border crossings. Maybe give them some kind of emblem to pin on their jackets?? Now, if the Religious Right wing of the Republican base actually knows the tenets of their faith, they should have a specific Bible verse coming to mind.

Anybody who really wants to talk about the illegal immigration problem needs to address the fact that it can take many many years to get normal permanent status and/or become a citizen. There are only a limited number of permanent visas and green cards issued each year, and most immigrants must maintain that status for 5 years before applying to become a citizen. Dealing with current immigrants under these quotas is much like attempting to drink a gallon of milk using a teaspoon.

But hey, it sure sounds cool to track them like some package you’ve ordered.

In closing: boat; no, she can’t; irreproducible results; what recovery?; the plague.

Music Monday: He would have turned 257 yesterday

Rock me, Amadeus.


In closing: as true as this is, the other half of the solution involves prison time for supervisors and managers that ignore the law; facts can be twisted; work out before breakfast; how to cancel almost anything; hahahahahaha what planet are they from that they think doctors set their own prices??; 150 things really smart people are worried about; what kind of moron texts his girlfriend to say the baby isn’t breathing instead of calling 911??; deadliest jobs in America; Fluffy’s Dream Home.

Little Dogs with Big Boobs

Yes, Of course I know they mean “Teacup“. It’s still funny, particularly in Pink.

Follow up on Yesterday: Ron Paul ended up with 22 of Nevada’s 28 delegates, even though he was only “supposed to” get 8; no word on whether the RNC will have a hissy fit “challenge” the results.

In Closing: It’s International No Diet Day, and I won’t be celebrating it yet again; and the reality of illegal immigration.

Things I Learned from the President


  • It’s possible to proclaim innocence too much.
  • Clean air and water are good things.
  • Chinese food is tasty!


  • Be Careful!
  • Sometimes success is stepping up when you happen to be in the right place at the right time.


  • It’s possible to be a good man and not-so-good a President.
  • Telling people the obvious won’t make you popular. Sometimes they just don’t want to hear it.
  • Being too diplomatic can backfire.


  • Sometimes a pithy one liner is the best “argument.”
  • Don’t lose track of reality when you are negotiating.
  • Call it “supply side” or call it “trickle down,” it still doesn’t work.
  • Tell an outlandish enough lie, and somebody will call you on it.

Bush 41:

  • Don’t make a pithy one liner you can’t keep.
  • It doesn’t pay to lose track of the little people and their concerns.
  • If you feel sick, you shouldn’t go out.
  • It takes a lot of skill to pretend to not know something that theoretically should have been discussed with you in the room.
  • You’re never too old to do something fun just because you want to on your birthday.
  • All your sons can’t grow up to be “the smart one.”


  • Take credit for things you do — or good things that happen when you’re in charge.
  • Do your dry cleaning promptly.
  • Sex with the help is a bad idea.
  • If someone wants to hurt you bad enough, they will find a way.
  • Just because you walked to McDonald’s doesn’t mean a cheeseburger is good for you.
  • Repeating one meme over and over is almost as good as a pithy one liner.
  • Don’t lose track of the important stuff. Stand your ground when it’s important.

Bush 43:

  • There are no Illuminati.
  • People will do almost anything if it’s for “safety” and “security.”


  • We can elect a black man President and still have a big race problem.
  • “Liberal” and “Conservative” have changed so much that we call Mr. Obama a Liberal despite the fact that he’s well to the right of Mr. Nixon.
  • We really do have a plutocracy.

Technically I was alive during the Johnson Administration. I don’t remember any of it.

In Closing: death penalty; Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill isn’t over yet; Hurricanado; Women’s Equality Day; the sad state of humans when it comes to searching; terrorism since 9/11; this could be part of the illegal worker problem; school quality; why The Steve resigned now; debt; decoding book reviews; the role of metabolism in weight loss; Cheney takes credit (bet he never travels outside the country again); and Chemistry.

I Saw the Shorties

I have got to get into the habit of little posts throughout the week. Today’s items are a little mind-blowing.

On Taxes and Debt: Two graphs.

On Inflation: Core rate is crazy.

Explains the Popularity of Certain People: Most people just don’t read books.

I wonder if they’ll remember this come fall: Americans want to nearly double fuel efficiency standards.

Danger, Mistress: Alert the Doctor, Sarah Jane has been traveling solo.

Sadly, probably not a world record: One man eats 25,000 Bic Macs over 13,800 days. I feel bloated just thinking about it.

Speaking of bloating: 513 illegal immigrants in 2 trucks.

Sure, that’s your money, but you can’t have it! You’d just spend it on food and shelter: The Senate wants to “save” you from spending your own 401k funds in an emergency.

Record Used Car Prices: and it’s not just “Cash for Clunkers” that got us here, but the recession and Japan’s earthquake/tsunami issues.

“Banks Say Simpler Mortgage Form Could ‘Stifle’ New Products”: by “stifle“, they mean “make it harder to trick you into getting a mortgage that will gradually strangle your finances.”

On living within your means: If it weren’t for credit cards, the American economy would suck even worse.

On Bid Laden’s Security: It involved about 100 flash drives.

Millenials Have No Clue: They think that they are precious snowflakes that deserve jobs, despite reality.

If you’re going to be out of town for a while, make sure somebody is watching your place: you never know when somebody might set up a brothel inside.

Reid Dares Them: Yeah, go ahead and vote to gut Medicare. Do it. I dare you.

Huh?: Obama says Israel needs to go back to its 1967 borders and like it?? Oy, that will put some people in a tizzy.

Here’s a Hint, Janet: Stop treating us all like criminals. Enough with the nudie scanners. Enough with the probulators. Enough with confiscating our water bottles while letting real threats through. Enough with the Do Not Fly list and other shit that doesn’t keep us safe.

That is all.

Connecting the Dots

Today, the SEC announced fraud charges against a third banker for selling worthless and non-existent mortgages to Colonial Bank, leading to its collapse. This is on the heels said executive confessing to conspiracy and being sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Most reporting on “mortgage fraud” centers on one of two themes: Joe Average knew perfectly well he couldn’t afford the house and lied to get the mortgage in the first place; or robosigning was a just an unfortunate oversight caused by the sheer volume of foreclosures and nobody could reasonably predicted a problem. Both infuriate me. The first was only a small fraction of the foreclosures we have, and the second is merely a cover-up for the real mortgage fraud.

Let’s start from the beginning.

  1. The buyer is told by an unscrupulous mortgage broker that he indeed does qualify for a mortgage, even though the mortgage broker knows that within 3 to 5 years, this buyer will have to refinance or go into foreclosure.
  2. Some buyers — mostly minorities — are pushed into sub-prime mortgages despite the fact that they qualify for a better deal. They are at higher risk of foreclosure from day one and the mortgage broker knows it.
  3. In some cases, a bait-and-switch occurs at the closing table. Either the documents presented are not what was promised, or only the first few pages reflect what the buyer was promised. The rest of the huge stack of paper the buyer must sign is at a higher rate or with worse terms.
  4. The mortgages are sold to trusts, banks, insurance companies, pension funds, investment firms, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. They have been fraudulently represented as “performing” — that is, paying every month and likely to continue. Sometimes, these loans change hands multiple times. This is particularly true in an environment where some financial institutions have failed.
  5. The original bank is now just the servicer, and they have every incentive to add fees, post payments late, deny short sales, deny mortgage modifications, and push the homeowner into foreclosure.
  6. Meanwhile, in violation of the laws of every state in the union, they have failed to report the new mortgage holder at the county recorder’s office. After all, that costs money. Instead, they put together a private company to keep track of who owns what: MERS stands for Mortgage Electronic Registration System. The banking industry insists that this is fine, the law is quaint, this is the way everybody does things now, so the courts need to just accept it. Courts in several states have disagreed. Just because everybody goes above the speed limit doesn’t mean you won’t get a ticket.
  7. The homeowner knows he is in trouble. He calls to ask about a mortgage modification. He is fraudulently told that they won’t even consider it unless he stops paying for 3 months. When the 3 month mark comes, the homeowner is in default and the foreclosure process is begun; it’s a race to see whether the modification or the foreclosure finishes first.
  8. Default is where the robosigners finally come in to play. They have stacks and stacks of documents, some of which need to be fabricated because originals were shredded to hide fraud.
  9. I would be remiss if I did not point out that in some cases, banks are foreclosing illegally:  they foreclose on the wrong home, they foreclose without legal standing to do so, they foreclose in violation of a bankruptcy order, they foreclose on a member of our military who is serving overseas.
  10. In the fallout, some financial institutions fail.
  11. The banks turn around and sell the properties at absurdly low prices, sinking property values. In any other industry, they would face charges of dumping.

And there you have it. Robosigners and “people who should have known better” are only a very small part of the mess we now face.

Cross-posted at The Moderate Voice.

In closing: the center is further left; “don’t expose our law breaking trade secrets!”; odd recall; on austerity; women‘s issues; tied hands; seriously??; Pac-Man was supposed to be for girls; I’ve got a soft spot for VW, but this is not likely to be my next car; glad they can agree on something; Superman‘s citizenship and other issues; what are we hiding?; fix it; Matt Damon; and a picture:

Follow-Up Thursday

HR3: “Ok ok, we’ll take that word out if you’re going to get pissy about it. Damn feminists and liberals! We’d better get some concessions in return!” It’s still a bad bill that should not become law.

Banking Corruption: Oh yeah, JP Morgan knew Madoff wasn’t quite legit, problem? Elizabeth Warren still needs to head the CFFB, and to hell with Timmy Geithner. Did you know that the highest paid guy at Bank of America is still Angel Mozilo? The same guy whose business practices cost B of A billions of dollars last quarter alone?? It sure would be nice if someone would enforce the law regarding foreclosure fraud.

I felt a disturbance in the Force, as if a million wingnuts’ heads exploded and were suddenly silenced: The Obama administration is investigating whether the Health Insurance Reform bill can be used to require insurers to provide — not just cover, but provide freecontraceptives and family planning services!

On the Tea Party: Excuse me, I seem to have fallen into some alternate universe where George W. Bush is talking sense, and more or less agreeing with Howard Dean. Does the letter J exist in this universe?

On the Economy: Google got 75,000 job applications in one week because the economy is soooo good, right? At least demand for temps is up (pro tip: I’ve gotten job offers working at temp agencies; they’re a good way to earn a little money, get your feet wet, and maybe end up in a working interview!). On the whole, the employment situation is still “a lighter shade of gray.” The number of people using food stamps is up 14% from last year. So yeah, there’s a teensy disconnect between Wall Street and Your Street.

Will of the People: We want alternative energy, and the jobs we hope will be created by it, and the lower power/fuel bills, and just maybe the cleaner world. This is one of those “excuse me, the center is way off there to the left” moments.

On Education: You know, maybe teachers would do a better job if they had a decent curriculum to work from! Oh, now that’s crazy talk; everybody knows a really good teacher re-invents the wheel every semester…..

In Closing: Republicans hate puppies; they hate the environment too (Nixon was a dirty hippie!!) homeless shelters sometimes break up families; anchor babies; Weird Al; China; and VW is trying to win me back after making the Jetta look like ass:

Shorties Horizon

Dead Zombie Horse: a few thoughts on health insurance reform. And Immaculate Infection.

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree: you make a fine fish habitat.

Laughing all the way to the bank: Only $3 billion? Pshaw! Let me get my checkbook.

Speaking of Banks: FDIC may sue executives of failed banks to try and get some of their money back. Oh and if we won’t do anything about too big to fail, Europe will.

Just Call Him Phoenix: a real life superhero in Seattle.

Nice: The Westin St. Francis washes every coin it receives.

Nuts: the rift between environmentally conscious Christians and nutjobs who think Jesus will just fix the environment.

The Dude Abides: Well no, it’s really just Jeff Bridges.

Obligatory January Weight Items: most Americans think their weight and dietary habits are just fine, thank you. Here’s the 8 worst diet and fitness fads of 2010. And for the motivated, a kick-start workout guide (don’t forget to eat healthy foods in moderate quantities!)

On Poverty: officially and in reality. At least it’s creating jobs at Dollar General, for what it’s worth.

Nevertheless: I hope you never need to know this information.

On Republicans: Go ahead and read the Constitution. How do they get away with telling the same lies so much we start to believe it’s true? Three Cups of Tea (tell ’em, Howard!). Hey big businesses, what laws do you want to not follow anymore? Guide to Governance. The sane people are concerned. And an open letter.

On all the other parties: Ha! Seriously though, I’d like to see a big, televised debate between party leaders of all these “third parties,” live during prime time. It would be a great laugh (have you ever read some of the published party platforms??), and the few good ideas will get picked up by someone who can run with it.

Delicious: Bison.

Oops: I mean oats.

Immigration Reform: it’s more complicated than putting up a fence.

Images: ranging from merely amusing to mind-blowing.

Welcome to 2011.

On Being a Responsible Consumer

I grew up in a household that values the power of the consumer. I have never crossed a picket line. My father refused to so much as ride in a Mercedes because of what the company did in World War 2, before he was born. I’m not sure, but I think when Mercedes bought Chrysler, he sold his 10 year old New Yorker in favor of a Ford. He had purchased it used. I have at least forgiven VW for things done over 60 years ago.

Alright then. Just about the time that Wal-Mart (mostly) rehabilitated it’s corporate image, Target got itself in hot water with the liberal/progressive communities with ill-considered campaign donations, and stayed there after some Halloween ads that were considered in poor taste by Parent-Americans. Ok, fine, looks like Wal-Mart has moved to be the lesser of two evils, at least until the other day when they “teamed up” with the Department of Homeland Security to “catch terrorists” (remember, terrorists do “suspicious” things). Clearly, no officials from the DHS have ever actually been inside a Wal-Mart.

So where am I supposed to shop? Albertsons apparently wants to get rid of unions; is it alright to shop at Smith’s or Von’s? Will it be acceptable next week? Even if I could afford to shop at Whole Foods, there’s still the scandal surrounding their purchase of Wild Oats. I could go down to the farmer’s market, but unlike those amazing markets in cities like San Francisco, there’s just not a whole lot available. This of course assumes that the vendors at my local farmer’s market aren’t practicing the exact same contemptible business practices of the worst factory farms. “Hey Mr. Farmer! You don’t mind if I drive on out to your farm and see if your workers are legal before I spend $3 on onions, do you??”

And now I’m supposed to get rid of my Amazon.com account because they decided that the rest of their clients were more important than one controversial one? Screw that!

Since I am clearly not allowed to shop anyplace convenient or close, that means I’ll be using a bunch more gas: do I buy it from the guys who polluted Alaska, the guys who poisoned the Gulf of Mexico, one of many that is stirring up Middle East unrest, or the Venezuelan “dictator”? How do I reconcile my bigger “carbon footprint” with avoiding businesses whose practices I don’t like? Do I buy the electric car from Japan, or the American one that unlocks all my doors and puts my life in danger every time I put it in park?

Things get even worse if you want to boycott products by a certain company. Let’s say for the sake of argument that Proctor and Gamble has done something you disapprove of: here’s everything you must avoid if you want to vote with your wallet! You’ll have an easier time getting by without Colgate-Palmolive’s products. If you decide you won’t give money to P&G, Colgate, or Unilever, give up any hope of cleanliness. Ever. We’ll just call you Pig-Pen. Unless you prefer “Dirty Hippie.”

And let’s not get started on banks! Even if you are willing to endure the hassle of changing banks, the only way to be sure your new bank won’t be taken over by one of the big players is to give up and bank with a “too big to fail” institution and just live with the BAMTOR Principle. It’s worse with mortgages: you can’t control who buys the note, you can’t control who your servicer is, and you may not be able to stop them from claiming you owe money even if you don’t.

So how exactly am I supposed to “vote with my wallet”?

I’m deadly serious about this. It has literally gotten to the point where I cannot avoid doing business with companies I don’t like. How can I possibly stick it to the Oligarchy when I can’t go a day and a half without giving them my money or using their products and services?

When Ted Kaczynsky starts to look sane, the nation has gone crazy.