Friday, September 25, 2009

More Foreclosure Revolts

As the foreclosure freight train continues on its path, more and more homeowners are discovering they have options.

For way too long, banks have had the upper hand in calling the shots, but now savvy homeowners are calling them out and in more and more cases, are winning.

Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi recently wrote in his blog about one company, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, that holds over half the mortgages in the country. They lost an important decision in front of the Kansas Supreme Court that ruled MERS had no legal standing to foreclose on properties in that state. The ruling came down because MERS could not provide certified documentation of their right to have anything to do with individual mortgages. No documentation, no right to foreclose.

A landmark ruling in a recent Kansas Supreme Court case may have given millions of distressed homeowners the legal wedge they need to avoid foreclosure. In Landmark National Bank v. Kesler, 2009 Kan. LEXIS 834, the Kansas Supreme Court held that a nominee company called MERS has no right or standing to bring an action for foreclosure. MERS is an acronym for Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, a private company that registers mortgages electronically and tracks changes in ownership. The significance of the holding is that if MERS has no standing to foreclose, then nobody has standing to foreclose – on 60 million mortgages. That is the number of American mortgages currently reported to be held by MERS. Over half of all new U.S. residential mortgage loans are registered with MERS and recorded in its name. Holdings of the Kansas Supreme Court are not binding on the rest of the country, but they are dicta of which other courts take note; and the reasoning behind the decision is sound.

via Landmark Decision: Massive Relief for Homeowners and Trouble for the Banks.

The ruling states in part...

“By statute, assignment of the mortgage carries with it the assignment of the debt. . . . Indeed, in the event that a mortgage loan somehow separates interests of the note and the deed of trust, with the deed of trust lying with some independent entity, the mortgage may become unenforceable. The practical effect of splitting the deed of trust from the promissory note is to make it impossible for the holder of the note to foreclose, unless the holder of the deed of trust is the agent of the holder of the note. Without the agency relationship, the person holding only the note lacks the power to foreclose in the event of default. The person holding only the deed of trust will never experience default because only the holder of the note is entitled to payment of the underlying obligation. The mortgage loan becomes ineffectual when the note holder did not also hold the deed of trust.” [Citations omitted; emphasis added.]

Matt Taibbi is currently working on this story for his next Rolling Stone article. While the court decision applies strictly to Kansas, it sets precedence for other courts in other states grappling with the same problems.

If you or any one you know is facing foreclosure, all is not lost. Many Americans have been able to stop foreclosure of their property, and some have walked away with clear title.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What If You Had A Fire And Nobody Came?

What if your homes fire insurance was handled like your health insurance. Instead of today's socialist system where local government provides fire protection as a public service, suppose you had to subscribe to a fire insurance plan with a for-profit company. How would that company treat you to maximize its profits?

XYZ Fire Service Customer Support: (recorded message) "Thank you for calling XYZ Fire Service. If this is a fire emergency, please press one, if this is a medical emergency, please press two."

Caller/Subscriber: (presses one)

XYZ: "Thank you, please wait why we connect you."

Caller: (listening to bad elevator music while call gets re-routed to call center in Mumbai, India.)

XYZ: (recorded message) "We're sorry, due to the unexpected high volume of calls, please stand by for the next available operator."

Caller: (listens to more bad elevator music while watching flames spread. 30 seconds later....)

XYZ: "XYZ Insurance, how can I help you?"

Caller: "My house is on fire and I need help now."

XYZ: "Yes sir, can I have your account number please?"

Caller: "My account number, my house is burning to the ground."

XYZ: "I understand sir, but I need to confirm you're a valid XYZ subscriber."

Caller: "Very well, it's 123-XXX-XXXXX-XXXX."

XYZ: "Thank you sir, now where did the fire start?"

Caller: "In my kitchen, are you sending fire trucks yet?"

XYZ: "One moment sir. Did you say it started in the kitchen? Was this a stove fire?"

Caller: "Yes, my wife was cooking dinner when it started. It spread into the exhaust duct and into the attic."

XYZ: "Sir, XYZ Insurance considers stove fires to be consumer negligence. We also consider the fire in the duct work to be caused by a pre-existing condition, namely grease, and as a result we must rescind your policy at this time."

Caller: "What do you mean rescind? I've been paying you for over 15 years without a claim."

XYZ: "I do apologize sir, but if you check the fine print in your subscription contract, it's all spelled out there. If you feel you are being treated badly, here's our 800 number to register a complaint. 1-800-XXX-XXXX."

The house is now completely engulfed in flames.

Caller: "I can't believe you're cancelling my insurance just when I need it."

XYZ: XYZ deeply regrets your loss, but that is our policy. If there is nothing else, thank you for being a loyal XYZ Fire Insurance customer for all these years."

Caller: "Bastards!" (as he watches his home turn into ash.)

The next time someone you know has been brain-washed by FOX (Faux News Channel) into railing against socialism, ask them how they would like to be the caller in our little story. Sound far fetched? This is exactly how the health insurance companies treat their customers.

If all else fails, suggest they visit the one country with no taxes, no government regulation, no government paid for infrastructure, and no limits on what a person can do. Welcome to the Libertarian paradise of Somalia. Armed street gangs, Warlords, Pirates, and no central government. The Cato Institute must be so proud.

Personally, I believe in socialism for the common good. I want our children schooled. I want fire and police protection. Government regulation is good when it cleans the air and water, let's you eat safe food. Goes after charlatans and rip-off artists. All government services are inherently socialism. Consider the alternative.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Taking Dad Shopping

From our Friend Jody in Chandler Arizona.

I took my dad to the mall the other day to buy some new shoes (he is 84). We decided to grab a bite at the food court. I noticed he was watching a teenager sitting next to him. The teenager had spiked hair in all different colours; green, red, orange and blue. My dad kept staring at him. The teenager would look and find him staring every time. When the teenager had enough, he sarcastically asked: “What’s the matter old man, never done anything wild in your life?” Knowing my Dad, I quickly swallowed my food so that I would not choke on his response; knowing that he would have a good one. And in classic style he did not bat an eye in his response: “Got stoned once and fucked a peacock. I was just wondering if you were my son.”

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Meet The Stupids

Check out Ed Naha's great article on the stupidity in out current political discourse.
A portly man outside a Town Hall meeting carries a sign reading "Abolish federal government." A middle-aged banshee screams "Nazi" at a pro-health care reform Israeli emigre. Tap dancing Tom DeLay, caught up in the thrall of his own voice on national TV, demands that Obama show the world his "gift certificate." Rep. Michele Bachmann says that prayer and fasting will defeat health care reform.

Meet the Stupids circa 2009, folks, a familiar perfect storm of the flimflammers and the flimflammed, united as one to make nonsensical noise. I say "familiar" because, no matter how aberrated the recent spate of AstroTurf antics may seem, they are as American as apple pie. In fact, they are based on two of this country's founding principals: paranoia and righteous stupidity.

And my favorite....

It has nothing to do with health care reform.

It has everything to do with fear of change, fear of a Black president and the perceived loss of power. The fact that most of the people protesting are powerless doesn't matter. They are being bankrolled and directed by those who have power, members of the GOP and big business.

Let's concentrate on the protestors for a moment. Most of them wouldn't know Socialism from Botulism. Their worldview is in Braille. Yet, there they are carrying signs decrying "Obama's Nazi health care plan" and offering "Send Obama Home To Kenya" and "Black National Socialism Is Not Utopia."

(Note: Normally, I would shield the names of these folks and refer to them by the generically nonjudgmental term "fucktard A" or "fucktard B." However, these idiots have worked so long and hard for their fifteen minutes of fame; let's ridicule them by name.)

It's way past time to call out these idiots for what they are, ignorant, self righteous bigots, who can't tell the constitution from a Superman comic book. Do yourself a favor and read the whole article.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Dick Cheney Revisionist History Tour...

The Dick Cheney Revisionist Tour continues with his softball interview last Sunday on the Faux News Channel. Chris Wallace's questions were so soft, he might as well have been throwing Sta-Puf Marshmallows at him.

Cheney has every right to be worried about Attorney General Eric Holder's inquiry into abuses by CIA officials green-lighted by the Bush/Cheney White House on Enhanced Interrogation Techniques. Currently, Holder's investigation is focused on the small fry who "Were Just Following Orders", but expect that to change real soon. Holder can target all the low hanging fruit he wants, but when push comes to shove, all roads still lead to the Vice Presidents Office through John Yoo and David Addington.

Once the Justice Department decides to prosecute, there isn't a defense lawyer around that won't be willing to drag the higher ups into the case. Once that happens, Holder will have no choice but to start looking there as well. Any attempts to suppress the testimony of those who authorized this debacle will rightly be seen as a miscarriage of justice by the American people.

Unlike his daughter Liz who will go on any network to spout the Cheney family fibs, Dick Cheney is a coward with no balls who will only go on FOX knowing he'll get to say his talking points unchallenged. And why shouldn't he. Every other network will run excerpts from his interview putting out the talking points he wants to make. I'm reminded of the old adage that if you repeat a lie enough times, people will start to believe it.

If you want to see how a real reporter interviews a hostile subject, check out Rachel Maddow's interview of a very uncomfortable Tom Ridge earlier this week on her MSNBC show.

Imagine how different our public discourse would be if a politician knew they would be called out on their lies instead of given a free ride by most of what calls itself the mainstream media.