Anarchists have apparently decided that fixing potholes themselves is better than waiting for the city of Portland, Oregon to do it. This is music to many people’s ears, mine included, and for me that’s because it confirms one of my arguments in favor of what I have come to call “self-issued currency” about which I have of course written many times. I have not published much about this particular argument here on Liberty Road Media, but I have written about it in my forthcoming book on the subject, and this story of pothole-fixing anarchists provides the perfect opportunity to air this argument/theory publicly.
The purpose of this argument is to counter those detractors of the self-issued currency idea who typically will ask something along the lines of “If every individual can create the national currency in unlimited amounts, what will be the incentive for them to work, particularly at unpleasant or difficult—but necessary—tasks?”
In Portland, as we can see, simply being able to drive on smooth public roads is incentive and compensation enough to motivate these anarchists This is but one example of how society could work going forward in a system of self-issued currency, in which profit is not measured in dollars and cents, but is measured in actual profit of being able to live in a well-functioning, cooperative society. Believe it or not, there are people who like patching potholes, plumbing, math, housework, picking up trash, mending fences, digging ditches, and insert-unpleasant-task-here. In a society of self-issued currency, the incentive to get these things done will be to get these things done, not to be paid a salary of imaginary, arbitrary government chits whose only real value is to pay the taxman and to control the wage slaves.
This interview is instantly my favorite thing Lionel has ever done. He interviews the brilliant economist Richard Wolff, and from the get-go, it’s a tour de force of common sense obliterating tired, hackneyed, jingoistic propaganda that somehow just won’t die no matter how many silver bullets of logic are fired into it.
If you don’t have time to watch/listen to the whole thing, here’s a basic breakdown.
1. Listen to Karl Marx
Lionel asks Wolff to explain what a “Marxist economist” is, since Wolff is often described as such. Wolff mainly points out that Marx was intentionally marginalized by even America’s elite universities precisely because Marx was such an incisive critic of capitalism, and that as such, Marx should be embraced rather than ignored. As Wolff puts it in the interview:
“If you mean by ‘Marxist’ that I have been informed by, I have learned from the works of Karl Marx, then by all means I am a Marxist. I’m not gonna run away from that, I’m not gonna hide under the absurd pretense that I’m not a Marxist out of the proud recognition that I never looked at one word that this man had to say. It’s just silly.”
2. Put workers in control
Lionel then asks Wolff to identify the single most pressing current economic issue and how Wolff would solve it, if he were made economic czar in a hypothetical Lionel presidency. In a nutshell, Wolff’s answer is that the most pressing issue is the domination of the lives of workers and basically everyone else by a handful of unelected people whose only concern is profit, not the well-being of the people that work for them or anyone else. Wolff is talking here about corporate boards of directors and the very negative and direct effect the policies of those who work for them, without those workers having any say-so at all about it despite being the ones actually performing the labor. Wolff again:
“We allow a tiny group of people, because most work is done in an institution called a ‘corporation’—a tiny group of people—these are the major shareholders of a corporation—and here we’re talking about 10 or 20 individuals or companies of one kind or another, and they own the shares, the bulk of the shares. And if you know how a corporation works, the leadership of a corporation—the board of directors, it’s called—is typically 15 to 20 individuals who are selected by the shareholders under the system, ‘one share, one vote.’ So if you’re a big bank, and you own a million shares, you—you bank—get a million votes. And if you’re a worker in that factory, and you don’t have any shares, you get no votes, and so forth. So what we have is a tiny group of major shareholders—maybe a dozen—who select, because they have all the votes since they own the bulk of the shares, they select the 15 to 20 people who are the board of directors.
And now follow the logic—the board of directors and the major shareholders together make all the basic decisions that corporations make; what to produce, what goods and services to produce, how to produce them, what technology to use, where to produce them, in Cincinnati or Shanghai or wherever they choose. And finally, they decide what to do with the profits generated by the labor of all the people who work there. In any sizable corporation, the vast majority of the workers who do the work are not major shareholders nor are they members of the board of directors—that’s a tiny group of people. Now the outcome of every economy depends, first and foremost, on the decisions made by this tiny group of people, people who are not elected by the public, people who are not elected by the workers in an enterprise, people who are not elected by the members of the community where that enterprise is located. People who are elected by the shareholders where the major shareholders make the decision about who sits on the board of directors. If we don’t like the results of an economy, such as most Americans don’t like the results of our economy today, the place you must look is at the decision-makers who brought this about.”
In sum, says Wolff:
“Really all that Karl Marx wanted was for us to face up—and boy are we long overdue about it—that if democracy is what we think is the best way to run our political life, then where in the world did we get off thinking that it wasn’t the best way to run our economic life?”
Lionel asks Wolff what can be done about this situation (approx. 18:36), and Wolff points to the current platform of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party with respect of what has been called a “right to own.” The short version of Wolff’s description of the policy is this: if and when Labour controls the UK government, it will put into place a policy that whenever a corporation wants to sell itself, the workers of that corporation will have the first crack at buying said corporation, with money loaned to the workers by the government. Or, as Corbyn himself put it to The Guardian:
“Labour will look to create a ‘right to own’, giving workers facing a change of ownership or closure of a firm the first refusal in putting together a worker-owned alternative.”
3. Public control of the money supply
Lionel asks Wolff what role the Federal Reserve would have under Wolff’s hypothetical regime as economic czar. Wolff responds thusly:
“We should not put something that is a publicly important institution into the hands of people who structurally instructed to make money off of it, to make it be profitable. What’s profitable for a company isn’t necessarily what’s best for the community as a whole. And when there’s a difference between those two, it should be the community as a whole that prevails, not the private profit. And therefore for me, the key thing would be to democratize monetary policy. The decision of how much money to be circulated, the decision of what the price of a loan (in other words, the interest rate) ought to be, should not be decided by a Federal Reserve which is kind of half the private banks, who are [Wolff’s Skype connection garbles a portion here]…dependent for its money, its lobbying fees, and so on, on those same banks, that it really is more the banks who are making this decision more than it is the public well-being. And for me, that’s the problem of a democracy that never went beyond the political to encompass the economic and for that reason the political never worked out real well either and we see the constant buying of political decisions by the undemocratic economic system. For me, the Federal Reserve is just another example of that fundamental flaw that has to be fixed.”
Lionel concurs with Wolff’s assessment of the Fed and that money should be controlled for the benefit of the public rather than for the benefit of privateers, and asks Wolff what would replace the Fed. Wolff responds:
“Well, I’m an old believer in the following simple idea: Only the people can ever make sure that they, the people, are in charge. So I don’t expect what I’ve been talking about to come from the Republican Party or from the Democratic Party. Not its old leadership, and at least for the moment, not its new leadership either. That has to come—there’s no other way to say this—from below. That has to come when the mass of the American people—and boy do I think we’re getting there, and fast—when the mass of American people say: ‘The existing system is simply intolerable. We will not continue this way. It’s too unsettling for us, it’s too dangerous for the lives our children are facing—we’re not gonna take this anymore.’ When that happens, then suddenly the politics, the ideology, the economics, begins to give way to a much more powerful force. That’s what got us our independence from England, that’s what got us out of being half a society of masters and slaves, etc., etc.”
Attorney Linda Tirelli, a rockstar in the arena of foreclosure defense, has just filed an adversarial bankruptcy suit in the Southern District of New York naming the following as defendants: Bank of America, Nationstar, U.S. Bank, and Recontrust. As many former and soon-to-be-former homeowners know, this group is a veritable rogue’s gallery of home/wealth/livelihood/sanity thieves and scam artists. The fact that Tirelli is going after this financial mafia family is heartening, because Tirelli gets results.
So I read through her complaint, filed on November 29, 2016. You can read it here. What follows are my first impressions and sections of the complaint that stood out to me.
I am thrilled to see that Tirelli is going for the jugular with this complaint, and not shying away from what her client (and millions of people who are or have been in the same situation) truly deserves. Namely, Tirelli is seeking to void the lien and to void the debt. On top of that, she is also seeking punitive damages. As we’ll see below, she has very good reason to seeking these remedies.
The Facts: When Countrywide is involved, look out
The “debtor” (I will only put that word in quotes this one time, but please feel free to add them in your mind every time you see them from this point on) is named Helen Racanelli, who “borrowed” (same deal with the quotes) $508,000 from Countrywide prior to the 2008 crisis. She sought a modification from Countrywide in October 2008 and per Countrywide’s instructions, sent them a check for almost $5,000 as part of the modification process. Countrywide refused the payment and returned it to Racanelli. That started Racanelli down the road to the eventual Chapter 13 bankruptcy she sought earlier in 2016.
The evidence marshaled against the defendants
I am interested in this case for a number of reasons, but there are two in particular: 1) it calls out fraudulent, “ta-da” endorsement of promissory notes, and 2) it involves such an endorsement bearing the names of Michele Sjolander and Laurie Meder. I have personal experience with those very same characters and a ta-da endorsement that was used to take my house back in 2012. I have written about this a number of times, notably in the posts “BANK OF AMERICA’S MAGIC WAND” and “NO ENDORSEMENT, NO NEGOTIATION–NO NEGOTIATION, NO SECURITIZATION.” So I read the following passage from the complaint with great interest:
26. The Court should further know that according to the FDIC public website, Countrywide Bank NA became an inactive institution on April 27, 2009. MERS could not have acted as a nominee for Countrywide Bank, FSB, an inactive institution, on August 9, 2009. 27. Defendants also attached a copy of the original note with a dual blank endorsement bearing the rubber-stamped signature of Michelle Sjolander and Laurie Meder (“the endorsements”) to the proof of claim. 28. BOA, as servicer for U.S. Bank, caused agents and/or employees to affix the endorsements to the back of the original note as part of a “90 day delinquent note endorsement process” involving systemic surrogate signing for notes more than 90 days delinquent.
29. BOA’s agents and/or employees affixed the endorsements by rubber stamp in anticipation of filing the foreclosure, years after origination and years after the closing date of the trust in an effort to perpetrate a fraud upon the court. 30. As discussed supra, BOA, its agents, and its corporate representative prepared false evidence and testified falsely to defraud federal bankruptcy courts and state court judges into believing the endorsements were affixed within days of origination by document custodian employees authorized to use Ms. Sjolander’s or Ms. Meder’s rubber signature stamp.
In this section, it is almost as though I am reading from the complaint I filed in my own losing case against a couple of these same defendants. Other victims of foreclosure fraud likely feel the same way. I also found—and included in my complaint–that same info from the FDIC about Countrywide being an inactive institution and had the same experience of parties acting supposedly at the behest of Countrywide after Countrywide was supposedly inactive. And of course as I already mentioned, I had the same blank endorsement bearing the names of Sjolander and Meder, about which I was able to depose Sjolander, which you can read here: Robo-stamped | Full Deposition of Michele Sjolander Executive Vice President of Countrywide Home Loans.
I absolutely agree with this next bit:
32. Rather than dismiss those cases, pay attorney’s fees and new filing fees to refile the cases after endorsing the original notes, BOA engaged in fraud upon the court setting up a cover story that the surrogate signed endorsements of Michelle Sjolander, David Spector, Laurie Meder and Christina Schmidt were affixed within days of origination by document custodian employees acting under proper authorizations.
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
I was incredibly encouraged to see that Tirelli cited the testimony of Bank of America employee Linda DeMartini—in the case of Kemp v. Countrywide—that Countrywide/Bank of America did not endorse notes in the normal course of business and that she had “never seen an actual note that has an endorsement on the bottom.” According to DeMartini, the only time endorsements were bothered with was when they were needed as a defense at trial. It’s really incredible that this explosive testimony has not already taken down Bank of America’s foreclosure machine.
Incredible report on Fannie Mae and the effect of UCC-9
Tirelli continues her damning deluge of evidence by describing an incredible report that I had not heard about until reading this complaint, and I try and make it a point to keep abreast of such things:
46. In 2001, New York State adopted the Uniform Commission on Laws Recommendations to Amend Article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code to include the sale of promissory notes in the law governing secured transactions and to codify the common law rule that the mortgage follows the note.
47. These 2001 amendments codified that, upon proof of purchase of the debt evidenced by the signed agreements from the closing of the securitized trust documenting a complete chain of title for each loan, the mortgages would follow the note for all the loans in the securitized transaction, without need for further evidence. 48. In 2006, in response to allegations of widespread improprieties made at a Fannie Mae shareholders meeting, the international law firm of Baker Hostetler issued a report to Fannie Mae to address the allegations (“the BH Report”). On February 4, 2012, the New York Times published this report online. http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/02/05/business/05fannie-doc.html?action=click&contentCollection=Business%20Day&module=RelatedCoverage&pgtype=article®ion=EndOfArticle&_r=0 See Request for Judicial Notice Tab A.
49. The 2006 BH Report to Fannie Mae concluded at page 35 “that foreclosure attorneys in Florida are routinely filing false pleadings and affidavits regarding the Plaintiff’s – MERS or servicers – interest in the proceedings and regarding lost, missing or destroyed promissory notes. The practice could be occurring elsewhere3. It is axiomatic that the practice is improper and should be stopped.”
Tirelli goes on to make a great point about the Article 9 amendment:
“61. Despite the clear changes to New York and Florida law confirmed by the BH report, the Defendants BOA and Nationstar, on their own and/or as agents of Defendant US Bank N.A., as Trustee, continue to misrepresent to this court and courts throughout this nation that Article 3 of the UCC controls and that the effect of a note endorsed in blank as alleged here provides them with sufficient evidence of standing without regard to Article 9.”
Tirelli even alleges—correctly, I might add—that the so-called “uniform” promissory notes that are used to secure mortgages throughout the country are arguably not negotiable and therefore cannot be securitized:
64. The Debtor avers that the Note is a non-negotiable instrument as the parties contracted out of the UCC definition of “Holder” in ¶1 of the promissory note which states: “… Lender or anyone who takes by transfer and who is entitled to receive payments under this Note is called the “Note Holder.” Therefore, a party in possession of the original note with a blank endorsement would still need to prove it took by lawful transfer and had entitlement to receive payments. Article 3 of the UCC says even a thief can enforce a blank endorsed note. This note does not permit such a result.
65. The Debtor further avers that the Note is a non-negotiable instrument pursuant to ¶6 of the promissory note which provides any loan charge later found to be illegal may, at lender’s option, result in a reduction in principal. Accordingly, the reader must refer to the outside source in order to determine the value of the instrument.
66. The Debtor further avers that the Note is a non-negotiable instrument pursuant to ¶11 of the promissory note which provides there are additional protections for the Note Holder in the mortgage if the borrower fails to keep its promises. Accordingly, the note is governed by and subject to the various provisions of the mortgage that affect the amounts due under that note.
67. Specifically, the mortgage defines the term “loan” at §(G) as all amounts due under the note and mortgage. The mortgage further provides at page 6, ¶2, the application of payments goes first to interest, then principal, then amounts due under ¶3 of the mortgage, then late charges, then any other charges under the mortgage, then to reduce the principal. This renders the note subject to the mortgage and affects the amount due under the note.
68. The Debtor further avers that the Note is a non-negotiable instrument pursuant to page 5, ¶5 of the promissory note which provides the lender may force place insurance and page 16-08254-rdd Doc 1 Filed 11/29/16 Entered 11/29/16 11:12:46 Main Document
Pg 15 of 52
7 ¶9 which provides any amounts lender pays to protect the property all become additional debt secured by the mortgage that accrues interest at the note rate.
69. Moreover, at pages 6 and 8, the mortgage provides the lender may use any “insurance proceeds” or “miscellaneous proceeds” to reduce the amount due under the note. This also renders the note subject to the mortgage and affects the amount due under the note, all and any of which destroy the notes negotiability.
70. Even if the note were a negotiable instrument, the “mortgage follows the note” doctrine has been codified by Article 9 of the NYS Uniform Commercial Code. The exclusive statutory means to prove purchase of the debt is by N.Y. U.C.C. Law § 9-203(b) (McKinney). Only then does the mortgage follows the note under N.Y. U.C.C. Law § 9-203(g).
Bombshell Sjolander info
I always wondered what the rest of the story was with Sjolander after my case ended. I never heard much of anything else that went on. Apparently a lot, as can be seen here. She’s been deposed quite a bit and here are some highlights of that testimony that Tirelli provides:
146. According to the testimony of Ms. Sjolander and Ms. Garner, only Ms. Meder and Ms. Sjolander were authorized signors legally allowed to endorse original notes.
147. Plaintiff’s corporate representative conceded in a sworn videotaped deposition that both Ms. Meder and Ms. Sjolander lacked any present intention to adopt the signatures on the original note at the time they were made.
148. Teams of unauthorized signors used rubber stamps to affix Ms. Sjolander and Ms. Meder’s signatures outside their presence and control. 149. These teams were not the same people identified in the authorization agreements produced in discovery to explain the use of rubber stamps to affix the signatures of Ms. Sjolander and Ms. Meder onto endorsements on original notes.
150. Ms. Garner and Ms. Sjolander both testified falsely under oath that these rubber stamped signatures were affixed to the original note within days of origination in March of 2009.
151. BOA engaged in a systemic practice using rubber stamps to surrogate sign endorsements onto original notes years after origination. 152. BOA engaged Sourcecorp to scan original notes after going through a “90 Day Delinquent Note Endorsement Process” where the surrogate signing occurred. 153. This systemic surrogate signing practice first began with notes already in foreclosure with a complaint that alleged a lost note count.
154. In those cases, BOA’s counsel was in possession of the unendorsed original note before filing the lost note count and attached to that complaint a copy of the original note in their possession which had no endorsement. Years later, Plaintiff surreptitiously surrogate signed undated endorsements onto original notes.
155. The sworn video-taped deposition testimony of Ms. Sjolander and Plaintiff’s Corporate Representative, Marie Garner, that these endorsements were “surrogate signed” by document custodian employees using a rubber stamps outside the signor’s presence within days of origination is false.
In short, Tirelli doesn’t miss an argument that can be made against these greed creeps and their heretofore unhindered marauding of the wealth and well-being of the American middle class.
Just sample the rest of the subject headings that Tirelli addresses:
E. The Robo-Signing Scandal and the Various Settlements that Followed
F. MERS Is Still Being Used as an Instrumentality of Fraud
F. [sic] BOA’s Fraud Upon the Court Began in 2008 and Still Continues
The beautiful thing is that these bastards will have to respond to each of these allegations in their answer, which will no doubt be convoluted and full of tortured logic—in short, incredibly interesting to read. Tirelli is essentially attempting to put the entire mortgage banking system on trial here, and her past successes are any indication, things do look too good for the system.
“…endorsements that magically turn up on promissory notes after a lawsuit has been going for some time with banks relying on notes that have no endorsements.”
So why are endorsements so important in a foreclosure fraud case? Because the endorsements establish who actually does—or doesn’t, as the case may be—have the right to take someone’s house from them. In my research and in my personal belief, banks routinely did not endorse notes in order to effect negotiation of said notes to the various securitization trusts/pools into which they were supposedly bundled and sold. In my view, the question of endorsements is the question when it comes to the propriety of foreclosure in any given case, and improper or missing endorsements lead to not only securitization fail, but also to foreclosure fraud.
Attorney Linda Tirelli—who famously quipped that “If you don’t have the documents, perhaps you just don’t have the right to foreclose” on Fox Business Channel–has been relentlessly pursuing banks regarding issues of foreclosure fraud (read LRM articles about her here), and just yesterday, she got a big win in the case of Wells Fargo v. Cynthia Carssow-Franklin. A New York bankruptcy court had ruled against Wells Fargo on the grounds that a note with a ta-da endorsement that Wells had provided in Carssow-Frankin’s bankruptcy case was invalid. The opinion that was filed yesterday in the appeals case from the Southern District of New York upholds the idea that the endorsement was not “genuine,” thereby proving that Wells Fargo is not the holder of the note in question. This is a stunning turn of events, and one that is long overdue.
The opinion itself is a great and encouraging read for anti-foreclosure fraud activists. You can read it here. What follows are some really good excerpts from a really good decision.
How the ta-da endorsement came into play
“The proof of claim attached a number of documents, including a copy of the Note, dated October 30, 2000, payable to Mortgage Factory in the amount of $145,850, which was signed by Debtor. (See Order 2; see also A67–A105.) The version of the Note attached to Claim No. 1-1 bears a specific indorsement by Mortgage Factory to ABN Amro and no other indorsements. (Id.; see also A71.) Claim No. 1-1 also attached the aforementioned assignments, including the Assignment of Lien, dated October 30, 2000, pursuant to which Mortgage Factory assigned its rights under the Note and related liens to ABN Amro, and the “Assignment of Deed of Trust” by ABN Amro, dated June 20, 2002, pursuant to which ABN Amro assigned “all beneficial interest in” the Deed of Trust securing the Note, “together with the [N]ote,” to MERS, “as nominee for Washington Mutual Bank, FA.” (See A100–A102; Order 2.) Also attached to Claim No. 1-1 was an “Assignment of Mortgage,” pursuant to which MERS purported to assign to Wells Fargo Case “a certain mortgage” made by Debtor pertaining to the Note. (See A104–A105.) The Assignment of Mortgage is dated July 12, 2010, which is three days before Wells Fargo filed Claim No. 1-1, and is executed on behalf of MERS “as nominee for Washington Mutual,” by John Kennerty (“Kennerty”), who is identified only as an “Assistant Secretary.” (See A105; see also Order 3.)
In the underlying Claim Objection, Debtor’s counsel represented without dispute that
after reviewing Claim No. 1-1, she contacted Wells Fargo’s then-counsel with questions
regarding Wells Fargo’s standing to assert Claim No. 1-1. (Order 3.) Eventually, on September 23, 2010, Wells Fargo filed another proof of claim, amended Claim No. 1-2, which was the same as Claim No. 1-1 in all respects, except that the copy of the Note attached to Claim No. 1-2 had a second indorsement (in addition to the specific indorsement from Mortgage Factory to ABN Amro): a blank indorsement, signed by Margaret A. Bezy, Vice President, for ABN Amro. (Order 4; compare A110, with A71.)” (p. 4-5)
Finally, the bad behavior of the banks may be catching up to them
I say this for two reasons: 1) usually a court takes any document proffered by a bank as true, often without being validated by an affidavit or declaration, but especially if it is—but this time it was different, and 2) Wells Fargo in particular, having been in the news very much in the last couple weeks for its unconscionable involuntary debt trap scam, may have at least confirmed for the court (if not actively guided its thinking while drafting its opinion) that at least Wells Fargo, if not all banks in general, are not to be trusted anymore. Which leads the court to a conclusion like this:
Even granting Wells Fargo this point, the Assignment of Mortgage remains probative evidence of the possible invalidity of the blank indorsement because of MERS’s apparent lack of authority to assign the Deed of Trust in light of Washington Mutual’s non-existence and, more importantly, the assignment’s timing. The Assignment of Mortgage was signed July 12, 2010, just three days before Proof of Claim No. 1-1 was filed. (See A104–A105; see also A67.) If Wells Fargo already possessed the Note with a blank indorsement, which would be sufficient to confer standing to enforce the Note three days later, what would have necessitated the Assignment of Mortgage three days before filing the proof of claim? The decision to execute such an assignment is even more unusual given the likelihood that MERS lacked authority to assign a Deed of Trust as nominee for a defunct entity.
Based on the timing of the Assignment of Mortgage and the lack of authority (as well as Kennerty’s deposition testimony, discussed below), the Court cannot find that the bankruptcy court’s factual finding that the Assignment of Mortgage “was prepared by Wells Fargo’s then counsel to ‘improve’ the record supporting Wells Fargo’s right to file a secured claim,” (Order 16), was clearly erroneous. (p. 19)
The court goes on to politely call Wells’ ta-da endorsement an attempt to “improve the record.” An elegant—but damning—phrase, that. It’s just a hop, skip and jump away from another damning phrase: “committing perjury.” Indeed, the Court also found that:
“However, such assignment, like the allonge in In re Tarantola, remains evidence of the fact that Wells Fargo felt compelled to create a better record regarding its standing, despite purportedly possessing a note indorsed in blank, which, under Texas law, provided Wells Fargo standing to enforce the Note as a holder.” (p. 20-21)
The court also heard testimony regarding Wells’ procedures in which Wells would manufacture assignments and endorsements as needed to “improve the record” (i.e., commit perjury or an offense tantamount to it). Here’s the court’s take on the testimony:
Kennerty also testified to a seemingly similar process with respect to indorsements. “The request would come in” and the indorsement team “would check to see if [they] had the collateral file” and the note and once they located the note they would “check to see if there was any [i]ndorsement on the back of the note.” (A1250.) Kennerty did not specifically recall how the indorsement team would go about indorsing the note if there was no indorsement, but, to the best of his recollection, “a stamp was involved but then it had to be signed.” (A1251.) The Court agrees with the bankruptcy court that, while “it is conceivable that all of Wells Fargo’s newly created mortgage assignments and newly created indorsements were proper . . . that interpretation certainly does not leap out from . . . Kennerty’s testimony.” (Order 21.) As such, the Court cannot say that it is “left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been made,” Travellers, 41 F.3d at 1574 (internal quotation marks omitted), and thus cannot say that the bankruptcy court’s findings with respect to the testimony were clearly erroneous. (p. 22)
Thus, the court concludes:
“…a reasonable fact-finder could infer that the blank indorsement was not genuine, eliminating the indorsement’s presumption of validity.” (p. 23)
According to the court, this lack of validity means that Wells Fargo is not the holder of the note! After all, that is the only conclusion that one can reach!
The burden thus shifted to Wells Fargo to establish, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the indorsement was genuine. The bankruptcy court found that Wells Fargo failed to do so. As noted above, Wells Fargo did not argue in its briefing before this Court that it made such a showing in the event the presumption of authenticity was overcome. Accordingly, the Court affirms the bankruptcy court’s ruling that Wells Fargo lacks standing to file its proof of claim as a holder of the Note. (p.24)
Congrats to Linda Tirelli and Carssow-Franklin! Hopefully we will begin to see more cases with this result, and hopefully in rapid succession. Because we all know that this one case is far from an isolated incident…
On Thursday, federal regulators said Wells Fargo (WFC) employees secretly created millions of unauthorized bank and credit card accounts — without their customers knowing it — since 2011.
The phony accounts earned the bank unwarranted fees and allowed Wells Fargo employees to boost their sales figures and make more money.
“Wells Fargo employees secretly opened unauthorized accounts to hit sales targets and receive bonuses,” Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, said in a statement.
In other words, the bank went one step beyond what they normally do, which is to create money out of thin air when a customer requests it. They obviously decided, “Why wait around for customers to come in and ask us to create money for them? Why not just do it on our own? That way we can earn all the fees from securitization and the deposits that these bank and credit card accounts will give us.” In other words, “We’re not creating voluntary debt slaves fast enough, so what’s to stop us from involuntarily chaining people to debts that they don’t even know about (answer to that question: certainly not the paltry fine Wells was charged nor the immunity they were granted)?”
Yes, credit card “receivables” are securitized, just like home loans. That’s one reason they’ll give a credit card to just about anybody—to be able to sell it into securitization after originating the account, thereby selling off any risk to the bank into the open secondary market for credit card debt. For example, here is Wells Fargo touting its “credit-card-backed” ABS, among many other types:
Asset-backed securities (ABS) – Gain access to both consumer and commercial asset-backed securities, including those backed by credit card, auto, student loan, container, and rail car receivables, among others.
How many of the fake Wells Fargo credit card accounts were securitized, generating all manner of fees? No one that I’ve seen is really talking about that particular aspect of this situation, but if I had to hazard a guess as to an exact number, I’d guess 100%.
Keep in mind that credit card applications are, for the purposes of the bank’s treatment of them, more or less the same as a promissory note. Indeed, this Wells Fargo credit card application includes a section called “Promise to Pay,” which states the following on p. 4:
(9)Promise to Pay
.When you use your Account or let someone else use it, you promise to pay the total amount of the Purchases, Cash Advances, and balance transfers, plus all interest, fees and other amounts that you may owe us. We may limit or close your Account, but the terms of this Agreement will apply until you pay the Account in full.
And as we all know, “promise to pay” is the magic phrase that creates a debt, same as in a promissory note! Further down, there are more references to a “promise to pay,” such as this one on p. 7:
•Minimum Payment. You promise to pay the Minimum Payment due by the Payment Due Date.
The fact that Wells Fargo maintains the right to securitize your account is contained in the following language on p. 9:
.We have the right to assign your Account to another creditor. The other creditor is then entitled to any rights we assign to them. You do not have the right to assign your Account.
So the idea that a bank is restrained from creating money just whenever it wants has now been proven to be totally false. We already knew that banks manufacture currency out of thin air as part of their “divine right” of money creation, but the one check on that has always been that they could only do it when someone asked for a “loan.” That is, the customer was at least in control of deciding whether or not to take on a debt via the magic “promise to pay.”
But now we have confirmation that they can and do just create money—in the form of checking accounts and credit card accounts—whenever they damn well feel like it. And they can make you responsible for it–removing your control of what debts you will or will not have to pay. The news coverage of this situation has often referred to the accounts as “fake,” which they were, just as the money that was created by these accounts is also fake, but both the accounts and the money they created were treated legally as very real, which is the entire problem with the monetary system as it currently exists. Creating money out of nothing upon request was already and bridge too far, so this new revelation is just absolutely beyond the pale. That’s too much power. And if anyone thinks Wells Fargo is the only bank that did or would do this…think again.
The banks have to be seized, shut down, and the power of money-creation given back to the people individually as I have written about many times…
Another day, another police execution of an unarmed black male, this time with his hands unmistakably up, and captured on video from multiple angles.
My initial take on it was to to tweet/Facebook the following:
“He complied…but still died…”
The idea behind that is of course that a number of people tend to excuse the actions of police when they kill unarmed black people by offering the following bit of supposedly helpful advice—“If only the unarmed black person would have complied with the officer’s orders, he’d still be alive.”
Except here, in the case of Terrence Crutcher, we see that such is not necessarily true, as it also wasn’t true in the case of Charles Kinsey, the black Florida mental health worker who was lying down on the ground with his hands up and visible, unarmed, yet was still shot by police.
It wasn’t true in the case of Philando Castile, who was shot and killed by an officer in Minnesota while reaching for his ID, per officer’s orders.
As cases like these continue to emerge, the question becomes obvious: Have the police essentially become American death squads? This is in no way meant to downplay or trivialize the horror of political death squads in El Salvador and other places.
“A death squad is an armed group that conducts extrajudicial killings…”
When the police, an armed group, kill an unarmed person like Terrence Crutcher, that is the very definition of an “extrajudicial” killing. “Extrajudicial” simply means:
“done in contravention of due process of law”
When you have the police acting as judge, jury, and executioner—as has been the case in a number of these shootings–that is a denial of due process of law. It is the exact opposite of the way that the American system of justice is supposed to work.
You may recall the details—Mader responded to a call from the victim’s girlfriend saying that the victim was threatening to kill himself. When Mader showed up, the victim had a gun, but he wasn’t pointing it at Mader. The victim told Mader to shoot him, and Mader said, “I’m not going to shoot you, brother”—and Mader kept his word. Unfortunately, two other officers then showed up, and the victim flashed the gun in their direction, and he was shot without hesitation. Mader was then fired because he did not shoot the suicidal man—the official explanation was that Mader “failed to eliminate a threat.” The only problem with that assessment? The victim’s gun wasn’t even loaded.
What are they so afraid of?
So it turns out that there actually was no threat, neither to Mader nor to the officers who did kill the suicidal man. But that is the key—the police are taught to believe that the public at large is a threat, whether they have a gun or not, or whether it is loaded or not. And that the threat must be eliminated. In other words, the police department (at least this one in West Virginia) wants extrajudicial killings to take place.
The public is also taught to believe that there are constant threats of violent crime, even though violent crime is way down compared to past decades. As the Washington Post reports:
“This decline in gun violence is part of an overall decline in violent crime. According to the FBI’s data, the national rate of violent crime has decreased 49 percent since its apex in 1991. Even as a certain type of mass shooting is apparently becoming more frequent, America has become a much less violent place.”
So what are the cops so afraid of? Or why do they say they’re so afraid? Why do the cops seem to perceive a phantom threat that statistically speaking, isn’t there? Or why do they want us, the general public, to believe that such as threat is there?
Why is it that, as the public has become less violent, the cops have become more violent? To put it another way, it is the cops who are out of control, not the public.
Why was Crutcher executed? After all, there was nothing going on to make the cops think anything untoward was happening–no gun visible, no one complaining of being harmed by Crutcher, no visible signs of anything awry. Just a guy with a car stalled in the middle of the road (which is why the cops were dispatched to the scene). A big black guy. And he very well may have been giving the cops some attitude, like “Why do you guys have a bunch of guns on me? I’m telling you, my car just stalled out. Watch, I’ll show you, it won’t even start…” But that doesn’t mean he deserved to be executed.
Indeed, the cops could have retreated if they actually felt threatened. There was no apparent reason to take Crutcher into custody immediately. But for some reason, they wouldn’t back off long enough to assess what was actually going on. The cops and their defenders would like us to believe that it is entirely possible—and totally plausible—that Crutcher did have a big gun in his car and was reaching for it, even though statistically, that is way less likely than it would have been decades ago.
However, if that had been the case—and it wasn’t; Crutcher had no gun in his raised hands or in the car—the second the cops see it, they light him up. They’ve already got the drop on him. They’re trained. He presumably isn’t. They can afford to wait until they actually see a gun. That’s what we’re paying them for.
Or that’s what we think we’re paying them for. The cops, though, seem to think they are a death squad, as evidenced by the case of Stephen Mader. They literally think that they should shoot first, ask questions later.
I’m not at all comfortable with this state of affairs, and I’m shocked at people that are. And there are quite a few people who think that way, who say that, “Well, if you don’t follow a cop’s orders to the letter, you’re gonna get shot and deservedly so.” They think that we are put on this earth to obey cops.
We are not, and we must remind the cops and their cheerleaders of that fact.
You obey and what happens? More obedience is required. You go to work, you pay your bills, you pay your taxes, you support your candidates, and so on.
And what happens? More work, more bills, more taxes, more unjust laws. It never ends—just more debt, i.e., obedience. “Obedience” is a code word for slavery. “Authority” is a code word for master.
What if you just didn’t obey? What if you resisted? That’s where the freedom is—in resistance.
The worst that could happen is…you’d be free…
The best that can happen with obedience? Well, ask The Godfathers…
Where does resistance get you? Think Rosa Parks. Or George Washington. Or MLK. Or Bolivar. Malala. Tank Man. The results may not be immediate or immediately desirable, and getting to the results will not be easy. Not at first, anyway.
Resistance is life—every day we resist hunger, thirst, disease, injury. We daily refuse to obey the dictates of the world that constantly reminds us that it could do without us.
Some of the best writing on the detrimental effects of obedience I have ever read is from Arthur Silber:
By demanding obedience above all from a child (whether by physical punishment, by psychological means, or through some combination of both), parents forbid the child from fostering an authentic sense of self. Because children are completely dependent on their parents, they dare not question their parents’ goodness, or their “good intentions.” As a result, when children are punished, even if they are punished for no reason or for a reason that makes no sense, they blame themselves and believe that the fault lies within them. In this way, the idealization of the authority figure is allowed to continue. In addition, the child cannot allow himself to experience fully his own pain, because that, too, might lead to questioning of his parents.
In this manner, the child is prevented from developing a genuine, authentic sense of self. As he grows older, this deadening of his soul desensitizes the child to the pain of others. Eventually, the maturing adult will seek to express his repressed anger on external targets, since he has never been allowed to experience and express it in ways that would not be destructive. By such means, the cycle of violence is continued into another generation (using “violence” in the broadest sense). One of the additional consequences is that the adult, who has never developed an authentic self, can easily transfer his idealization of his parents to a new authority figure. As Miller says [emphasis added]: “This perfect adaptation to society’s norms–in other words, to what is called “healthy normality”–carries with it the danger that such a person can be used for practically any purpose. It is not a loss of autonomy that occurs here, because this autonomy never existed, but a switching of values, which in themselves are of no importance anyway for the person in question as long as his whole value system is dominated by the principle of obedience. He has never gone beyond the stage of idealizing his parents with their demands for unquestioning obedience; this idealization can easily be transferred to a Fuhrer or to an ideology.”
Go forth and resist death and slavery knowing that it is NOT futility!
NOTE 9/12/16: This was previously posted August 29, 2016 but was inexplicably removed for some reason. Probably some error of mine, but I didn’t do anything differently than I normally do. Oh well, here it is again, just not quite as timely…
A collection of thoughts about 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick…
So I posted this meme on Facebook under this status: “He will inspire others as others inspired him. It’s not really about what Colin did, it’s about what you are gonna do. In a very real sense, we are all his wide receivers…”
…and a Facebook friend mused that he could support Kaepernick in this case if only he hadn’t made it about race. I mused back that:
That’s a fair point. And I agree–the real issue isn’t race, it’s state violence. Not that race isn’t also an issue, which is a source of confusion for a lot of people, because the victims of much of the most outrageous state violence are black. Having said that, the outrageous state violence upon minorities creates a desensitizing effect that will carry over when the same level of indiscriminate state violence gets turned on the white population. It will already be established that, if an unarmed person is killed by the police, that unarmed person should have “obeyed orders” and not been “breaking the law.” The unarmed victim will always be seen as having “brought it upon himself.”
And when one really thinks about what Kaepernick actually did, one might conclude, as I did, that:
It’s actually quite eye-opening that the simple act of remaining seated while a song plays can generate so much controversy in 2016. The best thing those who oppose him for it could have done would have been to completely ignore it, which would have deprived his very small gesture of any of its power. The eye-opening part is of course that in an age in which we can carry all the accumulated knowledge of human history in our pockets, purses, bras or what have you, it still strikes a lot of people as super-important to conform to an outmoded, gratuitous exercise in groupthink.
An FB friend posted this misguided meme…
Which I reposted with the following:
No! The anti-Kaepernickians completely miss the point–he never said HE HIMSELF was oppressed. By sitting during the anthem, he stood NOT for himself, but for others. He stood up by sitting down. He is obviously quite aware of how good he personally has it, which puts him in the position of being able to call attention to the plight of those who aren’t as privileged as he is, which makes his simple act all the more admirable.
And finally, there was the Facebook friend who posted this single sentence: “There’s no such thing as an oppressed American.”
Wow. Lots of agreement with that statement by this person’s friends. I asked what this person meant by the use of the word “oppression.” His answer: “By ‘oppressed,’ I mean when someone isn’t afforded the rights and opportunities that every other citizen enjoys…that no American is being held back, or treated unfairly.” Eh, close, I guess. Not exactly the Webster definition of “unjust or cruel exercise of authority or power.” How anyone can state no Americans are oppressed under that definition is beyond me…
UPDATE: In the days between the original posting of this article and this re-post, I created the following meme:
“…the escrow is manipulated by either projecting taxes and insurance too high or projecting them too low.”
My taxes were projected too low in order to make my monthly payment appear lower at signing. Like, way too low. Laughably, unrealistically low, especially when the tax bill for the year previous was available. At the end of the year, they—Countrywide–hadn’t collected enough to pay the taxes, creating an escrow deficiency, and that’s where the whole foreclosure mess started for me. I pointed all this out in my lawsuit and it of course fell on deaf ears.
Had Countrywide (this was in 2007) realistically projected what they knew I had to actually pay in taxes, I would’ve rejected the deal at signing because I wouldn’t have been able to afford it. But that’s how they sucked us in, with the lower payment, made possible by simply fudging the numbers. Some people would call it fraud. The pitch was this: we can lower your monthly payment if you’ll just refinance with us! But gotta have an escrow account with force-placed insurance! And so when that escrow account goes into a deficiency, as I believe was purposely done because the amount of taxes was underestimated at closing, you then have to pay a new, higher monthly payment to make up the difference. Or, default. Because default is what Wall Street wanted. Read “The Big Short” if you don’t believe me.
They wouldn’t let us pay the escrow deficiency in a lump sum. They tacked it on to the new, 30-odd% higher monthly payment, the very opposite of the pitch that got us to refinance in the first damn place. And we couldn’t pay it.
So glad to see an article about this. A small sense of vindication washed over me as I read it. So yes, default from homeowners was where Wall Street got the real payoff. Collecting on mortgages for 30 years each was chump change. The CDS and CDO markets were the tables where the high-rollers played. They put their own spin on the old Vegas saw that “The house always wins”—they always win your house, by purposely engineering you into default. It’s called MIHOP: “made it happen on purpose.”