Why Liberals Are Lame

The chattering classes of the left are encouraged by the spectacle of 14 Wisconsin state senators having the intestinal fortitude to deny the governor a quorum for a budget vote that includes provisions to strip most state employees of virtually all of their collective bargaining rights. They were in turn emboldened by large scale demonstrations in the capitol, which seemed to get their momentum from the fact that students, rather than taking the day off when teachers called in sick so they could protest, turned out in large numbers to support them.

Don’t underestimate the ability of the Democrats to trade this opportunity away. All the defecting Senators are asking for is to slow down the process and negotiate the bill. Sounds reasonable, right?

As someone who been party to deal-making, the problem with being reasonable and measured is that that only works with fair-minded and/or experienced opponents. Being non-negotiable is not only terribly effective (you throw a tantrum and then make only token concessions to let the other side save a teeny bit of face), it also takes comparatively little in the way of bargaining skills.

The right wing, for the most part, has made being unreasonable and non-negotiable part of its branding. The left, peculiarly, has not adapted. And the result is that it too often winds up ceding way more ground than it needs to.

Many readers will point out that this ineffectiveness serves as useful protective cover, particularly with the Obama Administration. It has repeatedly sought to have its cake and eat it too, by appealing to as much as possible of the traditional Democratic base (which they figure they can abuse, since it has nowhere to go) while also playing up to corporate backers. The true state of play has reached the point that even purveyors of leading edge conventional wisdom like Jeffrey Sachs are now willing to say that we have two center-right parties in the US.

But this, while true, misses an underlying pathology. Reader Deus-DJ pointed out, “The problem is capitulation. There is always going to be conflict…acting like we should all just get along and that conflict is inherently bad is the problem.”

Let’s give an example I received by e-mail from a group that no doubt sees it self as dedicated progressives, untainted by corporate influences. I’ll take the liberty of reproducing it in full and then parsing it. The cover note read,

Hi xxxx –

Wanted to run by you a campaign by New York Communities for Change against JP Morgan Chase’s mortgage policies. Starting next week, high-profile elected officials, clergy, unions and legislatures across New York state will stop doing business with the bank unless they change their modification system. Particularly interesting as the Madoff angle heats up.

The main text:

“Tell JP Morgan Chase: Foreclosing on Families is Not the Way Forward”

In early February, New York Communities for Change released a report detailing how only a tiny fraction of New Yorkers with JP Morgan Chase mortgages who apply for modifications receive them – just 6 percent of all applications.

Until JP Morgan Chase changes its mortgage policies, a coalition of elected officials, unions, clergy and community leaders will publicly demonstrate that they have stopped doing business with the bank.

The launch of the statewide campaign, including two major unions (United Federation of Teachers and Transport Workers Union), was covered in the NYTimes:

Pulling Money Out of JP Morgan Chase:

Starting next week, the “Not the Way Forward” campaign will be calling for JP Morgan to change its practices and start modifying mortgages. Campaign tactics will include:

· Individuals, unions, community organizations pulling their money out of JP Morgan Chase

· Cities throughout the state debating resolutions to stop doing business with JP Morgan

· Urging the legislature to cancel contracts with JP Morgan Chase

· Weekly actions with affected homeowners and elected officials

These actions build up to the JP Morgan Chase stockholder meeting in May.

Until These Demands Are Met:

In order to protect the residents, communities and governments of New York, JP Morgan Chase should:

· Stop all filed and unfiled foreclosure actions.

· Put in a place a mortgage modification process that produces permanent, affordable, transparent, timely modifications whenever these have a positive net present value.

· Pay for an independent reviewer and pay for borrower representation for an independent appeal process for all mortgage modification requests that are denied by the bank.

· Pay restitution to homeowners who lost their properties unfairly – that is when a modification under the above terms would have been possible.

· Release data about Chase’s proprietary and HAMP mortgage modifications to the City Comptroller and the State Banking Commissioner.

Copy of the Report: http://www.nycommunities.org/foreclosure/chasereport

I hate to single a no doubt well meaning group out, but this is just lame. I suspect readers can offer more, um, constructive criticism, but let me go down a short list:

The branding sucks. It’s “Not the Way Forward”. It’s neither specific to mortgages nor evocative. “Stop Servicer Scams” “Shame The Banks” and “Foreclosure Fraud” are more targeted and forceful.

The pressure mechanisms are inadequate. First, this campaign has not started. There is no assurance that meaningful numbers will join in. Second, even if there is a decent level of participation, there appears to be no mechanism for relating the actions of this group to actual account closures. People close accounts all the time. Unless JPM sees a big enough spike to give it pause, it will not relate the account terminations to this campaign (trust me, branch manager will not tabulate it and pass it up the chain even if people tell them “I’m canceling my account due to your foreclosure practices”). The best shot is to do it according to the “Tank a Bank” plan, to pick a target date in the hopes that that the cancellations and withdrawals will be large enough for JPM to notice. But even if they constitute a meaningful blip, so what? You’ve taken you best shot, and the bank knows that was your only bullet.

Similarly, “canceling contracts” with JP Morgan is naive. You can’t just exit them; you might be able to negotiate your way out of them, but that would involve spending hard legal dollars to pay for attorneys, almost certainly paying some sort of settlement for terminating it early, and then having to spend the time to find a replacement vendor and incurring the cost of getting them signed up. And my understanding is that JP Morgan is the dominant provider in some services, such as EBT cards for food stamps. It might be possible to get JP Morgan excluded from consideration for certain contracts and contract renewals, but that is the best you could hope for. And how can an effort like this maintain staffing and momentum long enough (let alone find out about contracts scattered among various New York State government entities) to make this a believable threat?

Third, the most important part of the “ask” is not specific enough and not well thought out:

Put in a place a mortgage modification process that produces permanent, affordable, transparent, timely modifications whenever these have a positive net present value

It should instead say something like, “Provide deep principal mods (minimum 30% reduction in loan balance) on serviced first mortgages to borrowers who can demonstrate sufficient income. The process is to be administered by a credible independent party [such as NACA].” You’d need to add a statement as to what to do about the seconds when Chase owns the second.

Fourth, other “asks” are non-starters. Now there is sometimes value in demanding something that will be painful for the other side to trade away as a bargaining chip, but I doubt that sort of thinking is at work here. There are too many demands that are in the “never gonna happen” category.

Take “Stop all filed and unfiled foreclosure actions.” I hate the servicers and will still tell you that is patently ridiculous. As much as there are a lot of homeowners being treated badly, there are also homeowners who cannot afford their house even with a deep mod. Now there are lots of creative ways to deal with this issue that the banks are refusing to consider (like auctioning homes and letting the borrower remain if he can afford a mortgage at an amount slightly above the highest bid). But a blanket “stop all foreclosures” request just discredits the party asking for it.

“Pay restitution to homeowners who lost their properties unfairly – that is when a modification under the above terms would have been possible” is even more poorly thought out. What criteria do we use to judge this? I can see a demand for penalties of some sort for people who lost their homes during failed HAMP mods, particularly if they received a letter saying they were getting the mod or had been given repeated promises and were also told to ignore foreclosure notices. But how do you set parameters for anything less cut and dried? And even if you did establish criteria, how would you devise a process that does not involve huge documentation requirement on both the borrower and JP Morgan’s end? Who adjudicates? And how pray tell do you set the restitution level for a probably underwater borrower?

Fourth, trying to embarrass executives at shareholder meetings has never been effective and is even less so now. Annual meeting are more controlled by management and less meaningful to investors than they were twenty years ago.

There are far better models for action, such as UK Uncut. If New York Communities for Change wanted to help struggling homeowners, they’d achieve far more in the way of tangible results if they simply raised money for mortgage counselors and legal aid lawyers focused on foreclosure defense.

And if they wanted to pressure JP Morgan, a more direct route would be to set up and publicize a website, say JPLeaks.com ask customer service and customers reps to leak docs or register complaints, and post them publicly. It would create far more leverage than this campaign.

Wall Street people are overly fond of quoting Sun Tsu, but at two of his saying are nevertheless germane:

Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.

Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster

As we indicated, this “Not the Way Forward” plan demonstrates perilous little understanding of the opponent.

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  1. skippy

    Your *bond* finds, my back[side, your word, your face, is nothing too me, no matter how many times its unwelcome image is flashed before me, your actions betray you…why would I invest in a blatant sham.

    Skippy…damn too bizzy for a Placard or T-Shirt.

  2. Edmundo Braverman


    It’s funny that you mention this. When I wrote the Tank-A-Bank plan, the very first thing I wrote about was how bad the Left is at naming their movements. At the time I was talking about “Move Your Money”, which sounds like a lot of work and makes people nervous. Is there no one on the Left with a marketing degree?

    “Not The Way Forward”? Are you kidding me? When I see branding that bad it makes me wonder if it isn’t just shills from the other side of the aisle trying to make the libs look bad.

      1. JTFaraday

        You know, I was just just going to say “this is not the way forward” sounds just like something Robert Reich would say.

        ie., “I still want a career as a liberal talking head (but I don’t really mean it).”

  3. attempter

    There’s lots here to criticize (to use a mild term).

    But I’ll just go to the main point.

    It’s typical of liberals to propose things like these as provisional/temporary “actions”:

    · Individuals, unions, community organizations pulling their money out of JP Morgan Chase

    · Cities throughout the state debating resolutions to stop doing business with JP Morgan

    · Urging the legislature to cancel contracts with JP Morgan Chase

    · Weekly actions with affected homeowners and elected officials

    But these are in fact the minimum adequate permanent bottom-up measures everyone needs to take.

    They’re saying “Move your money out of JPMorgan if they don’t offer us some nice words.” (It’s typical of liberals to consider nominally encouraging words to be acceptable actions. Just like many of them consider it a significant accomplishment to literally “get a seat at the table”, and never mind that they’re then ignored and get nothing they claimed to want.) I infer that moving the money to another big bank would be acceptable.

    Um, here’s a clue, “progressives”: You’re supposed to Move Your Money out of all big banks, permanently.

    The same goes for a complete, permanent break in every other possible way, as soon as possible. And I disagree with Yves about breaking the contracts. The sooner a critical mass unilaterally breaks all contracts with the banksters in the same way they unilaterally broke the social contract with us, the sooner we’ll break the banksters and be free of them.

    So there’s some policy advice for anyone who wants to evolve beyond regressive “progressivism” and become a real democratic citizen activist.

    1. Dirk77

      I think it is obvious now that this whole society is intellectually bankrupt, this liberal “plan” to fight JP Morgan being one more example. These people need to first fight their way out of the PC fog that surrounds them and develop a real understanding of the situation they are in, which at minimum is that their opponents have descended one rung in the civilization ladder and are tribalists. If what I’ve been reading in this blog and others is true, that Taibbi article cited yesterday being an example, then your suggestions attempter are reasonable. Wall St at best is an unregulated, quasi-criminal organization, dedicated to pulling the pants down of everyone they deal with. Thus, no one in their right mind should deal with them period. Ever.

      1. attempter

        Yes, and that’s just Wall Street “at best”. They’re actually far worse. These are simply the worst robberies and subversions of society ever, Nuremburg-level crimes, and most of these crimes have been “legalized”. Which is why we need the New Nuremburg.

  4. vlade

    Indeed, starting negotiation with being reasonable just doesn’t work. Experienced negotiators advice is that you’d put your first offer outside of the other party’s reservation price – i.e. start with unreasonable. It’s likely you’ll need to make concessions (if nothing else, it makes the other party feel well), so starting at where you want to get is.. stupid.

    1. dirtbagger

      Vlade has it right “Experienced negotiators advice is that you’d put your first offer outside of the other party’s reservation price – i.e. start with unreasonable.

      An excellent book on negotiating is “Negotiation Genius” by Deepak Malhotra and Max Bazerman. One of the key tactics of negotiation is anchoring your bid. As above, your first offer or counter offer should be outside the other party’s reservation price. For instance;

      Republican anchor: Banks are over regulated, reduce oversight
      Democratic counter: Big Banks are insolvent, nationalize.

      Republican proposal: Cut Social Security and Medicare entitlements to balance budget
      Democrats counter: Increase taxes on Fat Cats to stabilize both programs.

      As much as I dislike the Republican pary, it is really hard to have any respect for Democrats. At least the Republicans have enough guts to say in public what the Democrats whisper to one another in the bathroom. In two short years they have squandered away the contempt most Americans had for the Bush policies and lost control of the House of Representatives. Those Dems are really brilliant negotiators and political operatives.

      1. Jessica

        “Those Dems are really brilliant negotiators and political operatives.”

        The real question is whether the people the Dems really listen to consider that a bug. Or a feature.

  5. ZeroInMyOnes

    Fantastic post. Thank you.

    Yes, where is the marketing arm of the left? Do they feel ‘selling a product’ is beneath them?

    1. Glenn Condell

      ‘Yes, where is the marketing arm of the left? Do they feel ’selling a product’ is beneath them?’

      (1) Any left-arm marketing effort that bids fair to go viral will not remain uncontaminated for long. Infiltrators, agent provocateurs, denial of web service… those 854,000 top secret clearance NSA types that Arkin wrote about have to be doing something to earn their keep. Brit police have recently been found doing this sort of thing, often with a lucrative corporate spying sideline to boot.

      (2) The window thru which any such effort must convey its message, the media, is rendered opaque by its ownership and control by precisely the forces our brave lefties oppose, so not much of their truths escape and are generally scoffed at in unison if they do

      (3) partly as a result of the above, most of our heroes’ natural allies, fellow sufferers under elite tyranny, have ingested the corporate-state religion so assiduously that they have become foot soldiers of the enemy

      (4) in a wider sense it is far harder for proponents of left-leaning ideas to coalesce into formidably solid political entities. This is in their nature; while conservatives tend more to religion, hierarchy, acceptance of received wisdom (or dogma), progressives tend to the scientific end of the spectrum, and the defining feature of this mindset is doubt, which is commendable and even necesary, but fatal in any conflict with the Borg

      (5) solutions to complex problems cannot and should not be reduced to bite-sized sound bites, designed not to sail over most of the populace’s collective head, but education has atrophied to the point where even optimally concise summations of the pros and cons of the issues we face are almost certain to wither and die unread or unseen; this of course exacerbated by the torrents of information we now wade in daily

      (6) but yeah, having said all that, the left IS pretty poor with the snappy political salesmanship…

  6. John Merryman

    Revolutions don’t happen because of bottom up pressure. There is always bottom up pressure and those top down structures are designed to channel it.
    Successful revolution happens when the old structures become too weak and corrupted to manage the pressure. The real problem for revolutionaries is the day after the old regime breaks and there is no coherent plan to replace it with. In this case, the plan should be public banking, logically starting with state chartered banks that explicitly channel their resources into credit unions and not just prop up private banks. Ellen Brown seems to be at the forefront on this, so maybe Yves and Ellen should have a meeting of the minds.

    1. John Merryman

      PS, Read Douglas Rushkoff’s Life Inc. on the ways in which this is really a centuries long long struggle which grew out of the collapse of monarchy and the ways in which private bankers took control of finances from bankrupt kingdoms and how it is now time to make banking a public function.
      The plan has got to have much greater depth to it and the time it will take for this system to explode is time to plan.

    2. Peripheral Visionary

      Interesting. The point that revolutions only happen when the ruling class becomes weakened and divided was first made by Plato (or at least, he has been the most prominent purveyor of that view since antiquity). Karl Popper reviews Plato’s views in The Open Society and Its Enemies, and Popper’s critique of Plato is so wide and so deep that it calls into question any and all of Plato’s conclusions, certainly including the unsubstantiated view that a unified overclass can effectively forestall any possibility of revolt.

      1. John Merryman

        What give you the idea the overclass is fundamentally united?
        This isn’t just about politics. Reality is a dichotomy of expanding energy and consolidating structure, whether you want to talk light vs. mass, or people vs. the state. They all go through counterbalancing cycles. Not enough order and you have Somalia. Too much and you have North Korea. The question is, here and now, when the current metastasized financial circulatory system collapses, what is to replace it.
        When politics was private corporations, it was called monarchy. Do we want to go back there, or do we want to create some balance between the public and private sectors. Any functioning market above barter needs a medium of exchange and when private parties control that medium, it is not really a free market.

      2. emca

        Most people would accept that Plato was ‘wrong’ some of the time (sic). That he was incorrect in all his arguments is a stretch.

        And this from Wikipedia:
        “Popper extols Plato’s analysis of social change and discontent, naming him as a great sociologist…”

        Popper favored a “liberal democracy”, a system of government with inherent channels for ameliorating demands of the governed, including universal suffrage, etc. A condition of mass revolt is implicit; the premise is just such a social system can forestall, if not eliminate this calamity of class.

        And technically, Plato can’t be a purveyor of any idea in our time since he’s been dead for over two thousand years.

    3. Glenn Condell

      ‘Revolutions don’t happen because of bottom up pressure. There is always bottom up pressure and those top down structures are designed to channel it.’

      The bottom up pressure may not be sufficient but it is necessary.

      ‘Successful revolution happens when the old structures become too weak and corrupted to manage the pressure.’

      Or too strong (and corrupted). I would argue the actual structures of control are as strong or stronger than they have ever been, but the beneficiaries dwindle in number even as they grow in wealth and power. Like pre-Revolutionary France or Russia, like Wall Street in mid-1929, today’s grandees seem bullet-proof in their carefully constructed cocoon of political (and cultural) protection, but their very success in cornering every market means that the growing ranks of ‘everyone else’ pose a species threat.

      The ingredient that revolutions require to go from tinder to brush fire is the inflammation of that vector of the polity where the oppressed and oppressing classes meet. A sufficiently robust ruling class includes the professions, the law, the sciences and the church, or at least dominant rumps of them. Someone said on another thread here a while ago, if as an elite you lose the professions you’re toast. Partly Egypt was down to a critical mass of highly educated young unemployed persons, just as starving young doctors and lawyers in the Paris of the 1780s decided enough was enough.

      The top down efforts to channel the river of anger into harmless rivulets have become so desperate as to be in virtual plain view, with Koch-driven politicians neutering worker’s rights vying with po-faced ‘regulators’ who feed their prey whatever legislative morsel they want, for the laurel as most shameless servant of the rich. And they plenty of competition too.

  7. ForgottenPsuedonym

    Excellent points as usual. I think people protesting the despicable behavior of JPM really do not understand how large they are, how many streams of income they control etc. To be fair though, it really should not be the responsibility of well-meaning lay people in the general population to insert rule of law into the nation’s capital markets.
    Most people involved in this type of effort came of age during an era when it was understood that reasonable restrictions and regulation of bank behavior should be left to appropriate government agencies; agencies with sufficient expertise, resources, oversight authority and enforcement capability to ensure efficient capital markets, confidence in the system, etc. It is not at all surprising that people lack the capability to take on such a task, especially considering the talent pool that and influence that has been at the disposal of JPM and the other TBTFs for decades.
    Your more general point that liberals seem to always bring a knife to a gun fight and never ever seem to understand that they are dealing with people who not only don’t act in good faith, but seek to completely dominate, destroy or eliminate their opposition. You cannot bargain with people who want to eliminate you, you simply have to fight them with every weapon available until they quit or are themselves eliminated. This is a death match in the Thunderdrome.

    1. liberal

      As someone who works in neuroscience, I have to say that the “scientific” aspects of the book are pretty much nonsense. OTOH his advice regarding messaging is amazing good.

  8. Peripheral Visionary

    I have serious doubts about the ability of such measures to make a significant difference. The largest financial institutions are where they are primarily because of their special relationship with the Federal government, and primarily the Federal Reserve. (That is easy enough to establish by asking where they would be if they had not had that special relationship? Bankrupt, that’s where.)

    Access to extraordinarily favorable borrowing terms that no private individual and very few other institutions enjoy have allowed them the ability to dominate the various markets where they operate. Ending abuses by the largest banks would require a number of measures, but I believe the most important would be shutting off access to the Fed and its host of both regular and special operations. But that would require abandoning the economic orthodoxy . . . And it would have to come from the top down, not the bottom up.

    1. DownSouth

      Peripheral Visionary said: “And it would have to come from the top down, not the bottom up.”

      That’s a half-truth. All successful and enduring social movements have come about due to a coalition of justice- and truth-seekers who hail from both “the top” and “the bottom.”

      To think that principled individuals “from the top down” could and would, by themselves, mobilize a successful movement for social and economic justice is utter nonsense. Even if they had the volition, there are too few of them, and by themselves they could not muster the resources to overcome entrenched injustices.

      1. gepay1

        Looking at Chinese history with it thousands of years of variable continuity – Dynasties started with vigor and gave reasonably competent government – Overtime they grew corrupt – some wanted the system to work and brought in reformers – if they were not up to the job they were let go – if they were, they were eliminated. (The Kennedy bros come to mind but JFK had not even progressed to trying to deal with the financial behemoth before he was eliminated) The new dynasties started with revolutions that originated in the outer provinces where the central control was weaker.
        In Rome there were would be reformers like the Gracchi bros who wanted the system to work. The corrupted elites just killed them. Rome just rotted but it took centuries. With modern technology change happens faster. How long can this system last? FDR did sort of save the system for a while. The rich despised him. They (some of the DuPonts, others) did attempt a coup but asked the wrong general – Smedley Butler. He heard them out and turned them in but nothing happened to them for their attempted treason. Did you learn about it in your public school history class?
        At this time, armed revolution is not a possibility. I think the system has passed the point of reform. I hope I am wrong but I think we’ll just have to let it collapse of its own weight like the Soviet Union and hope they haven’t wreaked too much damage in the mean time.
        Keep track of what works, what to keep, what to replace. Have a plan to start over with.

  9. Deus-DJ

    I agree 100%, and not just because I was quoted in there either.

    However, I do think there is a place for polemics with losers who refuse to properly debate the issue, and I have consistently advocated such an approach be taken(at appropriate times).

  10. John Emerson

    “Acting like we should all just get along and that conflict is inherently bad is the problem.”

    Obama basically ran on this, and “bipartisanship”. I just assumed he wasn’t serious, but he was.

    I actually caucused and worked for Obama, mostly because I didn’t like Hillary. (I had good reasons for not liking Hillary and still don’t, but Obama is worse.)

    What I noticed, though, was that the googly-eyed Obama youth delegates had been convinced that Obama would put an end to the contention and meanness in American politics. They seemed only weakly interested in traditional Democratic issues. It was Obama’s promised bipartisanship that seemed to drive them.

    Among the indictments of Obama is his disillusionment of the new group of young voters he so successfully recruited. “Change you can believe in” turned out to be not believable and hardly even change, and likewise “Hope”. When you recruit people on slogans and smoke and then let them down, you create cynics, and cynicism is Republican.

  11. Spencer Thomas

    I would apply this more to the Democratic party (particularly in the Senate) than liberals as a whole, but the description is correct. So, what is it that makes so many of today’s Democratic politicians so spineless, so devoid of resolve, so weak?

    * Fear that divisiveness is a “turn off”, even if they’re totally right.

    * Fear that attacking those that are wrong, even blatantly, is somehow rude or uncivilized, and so is “beneath” them.

    * The idea that compromise is always a good idea, and has value even if the ends are horrific. Even if that means compromising with war criminals, human rights violators, anti-enlightenment value nuts, or bigots.

    * Some twisted belief that compromise shows that you’re “civilized”, even if that means giving everything away.

    * Fear of appearing “radical” and being painted as a fringe minority, even though what they’re often challenging is radical.

    * Best is the enemy of good. No exceptions. An inability to see that it can be worth losing a fight while sticking to your principles than giving in and losing the confidence of your erstwhile supporters. Not to mention the fact that some compromises can be worse than simply losing.

    * Enslavement to the median voter theorem, and (sometimes) polls. Both parties can be guilty of this, but Republicans have been much better at sticking to their guns under fire. Lyndon Johnson’s administration proved that governing by polls does not work.

    I would call it “Modern Democratic Party Culture.”

  12. EMIchael

    I am all for increased modifications, but I do not understand how you can just state a “minimum 30% principal reduction”.

    Y’know, there are investors in these loans(and they are not Chase for the most part). Their interests should be even with the borrowers.

    I think in applicable cases(where the DTI is real and adequate), a principal reduction should be used whenever possible, but any gain at the end sale of the property down the road above the new principal amount decided should go to the investor until that amount equals the original mortgage.

    Perhaps then you can find more cases where the investor profits more by modifying instead of foreclosing.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Losses on foreclosures now average well over 70%. And now that more foreclosures are being contested, it will go up. I’ve seen cases where the foreclosure has cost 250% of the mortgage, and since the loss on the house was at least 50% of the mortgage balance, you have a 300% loss.

      I’m in contact with people who represent large mortgage investors. They’d take a blanket 30% for borrowers with enough income all day.

      1. EMIchael

        Then I obviously agree with the minimum 30% principal reduction in those cases.

        I would then wonder why the investors are not taking a more proactive role in such cases. And I shudder to think it might be because they do not even know which mortgages they hold.

        I know that any principal reductions require the servicer to obtain permission from the investor. So I fail to understand why the investors do not contact the servicers and obtain all of the modifications being considered and demand such reductions in appropriate cases.

  13. DownSouth

    Why are liberals lame?

    Liberals are lame because the very philosophy that liberals embrace is lameness. Liberals are what Nietzsche called “passive nihilists.”

    “Passive nihilism is a form of resignation in the face of a world without God,” is how Michael Allen Gillespie describes Nietzsche in Nihilism Before Nietzsche. “It is characterized by an increase in pity and is thus akin to the Buddhism that destroyed Indian culture.”

    “Passive nihilism deflects the convulsive self-obliteration that active nihilism seeks by putting in its place a doctrine of universal pity,” Gillespie continues. “It wants to go out not with a bang but a whimper. This is the path of the Crucified.”

    The end result is that, as Gillespie goes on to explain, “While liberalism may end in relativism, it rejects…Promethean visions; and while it may in some instances produce banality and boredom, it does not produce a politics of terror and destruction.”

    Passive nihilism has two alternatives according to Nietzsche. One is active nihilism. The Tea Party is the clearest modern-day manifestation of this. As Gillespie explains: “Active nihilism, by contrast [to passive nihilism], is not content to be extinguished passively but wants to extinguish everything that is aimless and meaningless in a blind rage; it is a lust for destruction that purifies humanity.” Active nihilism is not something “affirmative and healthy.”

    The other alternative to passive nihilism is embodied in what Nietzsche called “superman,” “over man” or “Dionysian man.” Here’s Gillespie again:

    As forms of negation, both active and passive nihilism must be distinguished from the affirmative stance toward life that characterizes the Dionysian man. The Dionysian man grows out of nihilism but he also overcomes it. In one sense, he therefore represents the most extreme form of nihilism, which Nietzsche describes as a divine way of thinking… His stance toward life is not reactive, it is not driven by the spirit of revenge or by resentment [as is the case with active nihilism], and it is thus not a form of negation.

    Martin Luther King, Jr. is the clearest manifestation of Nietzsche’s Dionysian man to have emerged in recent American history.

    King wrote the obituary on passive nihilism in the Negro community in 1957 when he declared that

    A revolutionary change has taken place in the Negro’s conception of his own nature and destiny. Once he thought of himself as an inferior and patiently accepted injustice and exploitation. Those days are gone.

    That King chose Dionysus over active nihilism became clarion in both word and deed. His speeches and writing are replete with warning such as this one:

    To meet hate with retaliatory hate would do nothing but intensify the existence of evil in the universe. Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love; we must meet physical force with soul force. Our aim must never be to defeat or humiliate the white man, but to win his friendship and understanding.

    And perhaps King’s abhorrence of both passive and active nihilism was no more brilliantly expressed than in this passage from an article he published in 1958:

    The sublime statements of the major denominations on the question of human relations move all too slowly to the local churches in actual practice. All too many ministers are still silent. It may well be that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition is not the glaring noisiness of the so-called bad people, but the appalling silence of the so-called good people. It may be that our generation will have to repent not only for the diabolical actions and vitriolic words of the children of darkness, but also for the crippling fears and tragic apathy of the children of light.

    King realized that liberalism, as a philosophy of change and liberation, was as worthless as the teats on a boar hog. Here are a few examples where he made this brilliantly clear:

    • At this stage of my development I was thoroughly liberal. Liberalism provided me with an intellectual satisfaction that I could never find in fundamentalism. I became so enamored of the insights of liberalism that I almost fell into the trap of accepting uncritically everything that came under its name. I was absolutely convinced of the natural goodness of man and the natural power of human reason.

    The basic change in my thinking came when I began to question some of the theories that had been associated with so-called liberal theology. Of course there is one phase of liberalism that I hope to cherish always: its devotion to the search for truth, its insistence on an open and analytical mind, its refusal to abandon the best light of reason. Liberalism’s contribution to the philological-historical criticism of biblical literature has been of immeasurable value and should be defended with religious and scientific passion.

    It was mainly the liberal doctrine of man that I began to question. The more I observed the tragedies of history and man’s shameful inclination to choose the low road, the more I came to see the depths and strength of sin. My reading of the works of Reinhold Niebuhr made me aware of the complexity of human motives and the reality of sin on every level of man’s existence. Moreover, I came to recognize the complexity of man’s social involvement and the glaring reality of collective evil. I came to feel that liberalism had been all too sentimental concerning human nature and that it leaned toward a false idealism.

    I also came to see that liberalism’s superficial optimism concerning human nature caused it to overlook the fact that reason is darkened by sin. The more I thought about human nature the more I saw how our tragic inclination for sin causes us to use our minds to rationalize our actions. Liberalism failed to see that reason by itself is little more than an instrument to justify man’s defensive ways of thinking. Reason, devoid of purifying power of faith, can never free itself from distortions and rationalizations.


    I am now convinced that the truth about man is found neither in liberalism nor in neo-orthodoxy. Each represents a partial truth. A large segment of Protestant liberalism defined man only in terms of his essential nature, his capacity for good. Neo-orthodoxy tended to define man only in terms of his existential nature, his capacity for evil. An adequate understanding of man is found neither in the thesis of liberalism nor in the antithesis of neo-orthodoxy, but in a synthesis which reconciles the truths of both.

    During the past decade I also gained a new appreciation for the philosophy of existentialism. My first contact with the philosophy came through my reading of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche. Later I turned to a study of Jaspers, Heidegger and Sartre. All of these thinkers stimulated my thinking; while finding things to question in each, I nevertheless learned a great deal from study of them.

    • The enlightened white southerner, who for years has preached gradualism, now sees that even the slow approach finally has revolutionary implications. Placing straws on a camel’s back, no matter how slowly, is dangerous. This realization has immobilized the liberals and most of the white church leaders. They have no answer for dealing with or absorbing violence. They end in begging for retreat, lest “things get out of hand and lead to violence.”

    Writing in “Life,” William Faulkner, Nobel prize-winning author from Mississippi, recently urged the NAACP to “stop now for a moment.” That is to say, he encouraged Negroes to accept injustice, exploitation and indignity for a while longer. It is hardly a moral act to encourage others patiently to accept injustice which he himself does not endure.

    In urging delay, which in this dynamic period is tantamount to retreat, Faulkner suggests that those of us who press for change now may not know that violence could break out. He says we are “dealing with a fact: the fact of emotional conditions of such fierce unanimity as to scorn the fact that it is a minority and which will go to any length and against any odds at this moment to justify, and, if necessary, defend that condition and its right to it.”

    We southern Negroes believe that it is essential to defend the right of equality now. From this position we will not and cannot retreat. Fortunately, we are increasingly aware that we must not try to defend our position by methods that contradict the aim of brotherhood. We in Montgomery believe that the only way to press on is by adopting the philosophy and practice of nonviolent resistance.

    • We must face the appalling fact that we have been betrayed by both the Democratic and Republican parties. The Democrats have betrayed us by capitulating to the whims and caprices of the southern dixiecrats. The Republicans have betrayed us by capitulating to the blatant hypocrisy of right-wing reactionary northerners. This coalition of southern Democrats and northern right-wing Republicans defeats every proposed bill on civil rights. Until we gain the ballot and place proper public officials in office this condition will continue to exist. In communities where we confront difficulties in gaining the ballot, we must use all legal and moral means to remove these difficulties.

    • There is a dire need today for a liberalism which is truly liberal. What we are witnessing today in so many northern communities is a sort of quasi liberalism which is based on the principle of looking sympathetically at all sides. It is a liberalism so bent on seeing all sides that it fails to become committed to either side. It is a liberalism that is so objectively analytical that it is not subjectively committed. It is a liberalism which is neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm.

    We call for a liberalism from the North which will be thoroughly committed to the ideal of racial justice and will not be deterred by the propaganda and subtle words of those who say, “Slow up for a while; you are pushing too fast.”

    King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” however, was perhaps his most famous indictment of the passive nihilism that typifies liberalism:

    While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities “unwise and untimely.” Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.


    You may well ask: “Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path?” You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word “tension.” I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. I therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation. Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue.
    One of the basic points in your statement is that the action that I and my associates have taken in Birmingham is untimely. Some have asked: “Why didn’t you give the new city administration time to act?” The only answer that I can give to this query is that the new Birmingham administration must be prodded about as much as the outgoing one, before it will act. We are sadly mistaken if we feel that the election of Albert Boutwell as mayor will bring the millennium to Birmingham. While Mr. Boutwell is a much more gentle person than Mr. Connor, they are both segregationists, dedicated to maintenance of the status quo. I have hope that Mr. Boutwell will be reasonable enough to see the futility of massive resistance to desegregation. But he will not see this without pressure from devotees of civil rights. My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.
    We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.

  14. Jack Rip

    We are missing the main point. What we see is the first signs of the people (i.e. the real left) resisting as a community of interest. In the last few days we saw similar actions in Wisconsin. The NY group may not be too effective, but it is not the last group. The Republicans were out of power for 50 years; they didn’t get good at their brand of fascism overnight.

    Branding is the wrong term to use. The Egyptian people did “brand,” they just demanded what is a universal right. If they were a small group, they would be either dead or tortured by the secret police.

    If we succeed in organizing a million people to stop paying mortgage payments, we will hear the banks scream uncle. If the TBTF could start from scratch after they caused the worst recession since the depression, why cannot we the people do the same?

  15. nonclassical

    We all should know what has happened to dems-as their funding has been undercut by corporatocracy=corporatists, they have turned corporate for their funding. Yves is correct; they have turned just as bought and sold as Republi$$K$$ans..Obama is completely bought and sold=Chris Hedges-tag-teamed by Bushit “Project For A New American Century” neocons=ex-John Birchers..(doubt fundamentalists here even KNOW their history):


  16. Ishmael

    Liberals are lame because they can not stand on their own two feet. Their starting point is asking someone to give them something and that in same way life has been unfair to them. In the end they attempt to enslave everyone.

    Personally, my only problem with the Governor of Wisconsin is he did not go far enough. Police, fire fighters and state trooper contracts should be rejected also.

    Government unions are terrorist organizations attempting to always frighten people into doing something! A pox on them all!

    1. EMIchael


      Geez, whydo I think you cheered our heroes of 9/11? Y’know, the firefighters and police officers?

      Though in your case, it would seem you have a reasonable dislike for teachers. Or you just never paid attention in school.

      1. Ishmael

        Emichael — this is your lame logic. Because someone does their job I should allow them the right to bend me over!

        Just another socialistic thought!

        1. EMIchael

          Not a chance that any of those people are actually paid what they are worth? Or even paid less than they are worth?

          1. Ishmael

            Emichael — if they were being paid less than they worth all they have to do is go out into the free market and prove it. Personally, I would cut every government employees salary and benefits in half and tell them if they don’t like it go find a job else where!

            Good riddance is what I say!

          2. EMIchael

            “But when we compare apples to apples, we find that Wisconsin public employees earn 4.8% less in total compensation than comparable private sector workers. The comparisons—controlling for education, experience, hours of work, organizational size, gender, race, ethnicity, citizenship, and disability—demonstrate that full-time state and local public employees earn lower wages and receive less in total compensation (including all benefits) than comparable private sector employees.”


            Same, same. Hard to discuss anything with someone hwo thinks government is the problem. At least right up to the point where they need a firefighter. Or a police officer. Or a teacher.

          3. Doug Terpstra

            Ishmael wants la policia and los federalis of Mexico, reliant on the free market system as extortionists, kidnappers, and protection rackets for narco-traffickers and plutocrats. It is a regressive nightmare of illiterate masses, potholed roads, unsafe streets, open sewers, polluted skies, and scorched Earth beyond the thunderdome.

    2. Glenn Condell

      ‘Personally, my only problem with the Governor of Wisconsin is he did not go far enough. Police, fire fighters and state trooper contracts should be rejected also.’

      Someone has been reading their daily dose of Shedlock.

      ‘I have a problem with Walker’s proposal. It is not extreme enough. There is no good reason to exempt police and fire and there is no good reason to allow any bargaining of wages.’ – Mish

  17. NarNar

    I really cannot understand why any one would still have money on deposit with ANY of the TBTF’s. I moved my money to a Credit Union years ago due to the gross incompetence of the big private banks. All the errors I experienced were caused by the bank and ALWAYS in their favor. I can’t afford pay for their corruption.

  18. finlandstation

    while i wholeheartedly with your sentiments, i’m just not sure what you’re ultimately after here. are you saying that anyone who says they can’t make their mortgage payments be entitled to a mortgage modification? what about everyone else, what about the rest of us middle class home owners, shouldn’t we also be entitled? we’re struggling as well! seems patently unfair, undemocratic, and frankly, anti-socialistic – especially since, as you point out, that many of the home owners now facing foreclosure should never have been given mortgages in the first place. why should they be the only ones to get favorable treatment? not sure why, except in cases of fraud and abuse, this has become such a cause for progressives? wouldn’t it have been better if the government just nationalized all residential real estate, offering home owners new financing with the caveat that profits on future sales be deeply restricted – thereby effectively ending private home ownership and all the many financial problems that come along with it. seems to me that is a much cleaner way to achieve your objective, which is the destruction of the private mortgage market.

  19. F. Beard

    Liberals are lame, imo, because they accept the basic injustice of the monetary system, fractional reserve banking and usury which steals from the poor. Where is the liberal outcry over that? Instead, the liberals want a share in the loot via progressive taxation.

  20. Frozen-headed liberal

    As a general rule, Section 13(c) protects transit employees who may be affected by Federal transit funding. Section 13(c) requires the continuation of collective bargaining rights, and protection of transit employees’ wages, working conditions, pension benefits, seniority, vacation, sick and personal leave, travel passes, and other conditions of employment. Section 13(c) also requires paid training or retraining for employees affected by Federal assistance. If a transit employee loses his or her job or is placed in a lower paying job due to Federal funding, Section 13(c) requires that the grant recipient pay a displacement or dismissal allowance to the employee for a period equal to the employee’s length of service, not to exceed six years. A displacement allowance pays the difference between the current position and the one from which the employee was removed. A dismissal allowance pays an employee the full wage for the position the employee lost. Section 13(c) does not protect employees from adverse effects that are not caused, directly or indirectly, by Federal funding, such as changes in the volume and character of employment resulting from causes other than the project. The protections applicable to a specific grant are contained in the Section 13(c) arrangements. Copies of these arrangements can be obtained from the transit grant recipient or the employees’ union.

  21. Liberal Nutcase

    “Most of the benefit of the capital gains exclusion accrues to the wealthiest taxpayers, which means other taxpayers have to pick up the tab for the cut. According to the ITEP report, special treatment for capital gains income resulted in an average tax reduction for the bottom 80% of taxpayers of a whopping $4, compared to nearly $4,000 for the top 1%. Can tax breaks for capital gains income help create jobs? The report cites a slew of experts to the contrary, from the Congressional Budget Office to Mark Zandi of Moody’s.com, and sums up by declaring, “preferential treatment for capital gains is simply not an effective means of promoting economic growth.” Nevertheless, on the campaign path Governor Walker advocated rolling back the 2009 changes to the capital gains tax. In a speech today at the Wisconsin Bankers Association, Walker said he would be in favor of eliminating the capital gains tax altogether for investments made in Wisconsin. However, Walker has not yet made any specific proposals regarding the capital gains tax. Senator Hopper is circulating a bill that would go even further because it isn’t limited to investments in Wisconsin. He believes that taxing capital gains “hampers investment dedicated to job creation and reduces economic growth.” His proposal returns the capital gains exclusion to 60 percent in tax year 2012 and phases in a full exclusion over the following two years, creating an 80% exclusion in 2013 and a full 100% exclusion in 2014 and beyond.”

  22. Greg

    Refuse to vote for them.

    As long as you vote for them, they will continue to compromise away your rights. You are the worse off for this because it drags out the process and you don’t feel the damage you are experiencing.

    REFUSE TO VOTE FOR THEM! And tell them you refuse to vote for them. Send them a letter, and tell them so. I did. If enough people do this, they will take notice. If not, they’ll just continue to suck up to their corporate

    If this doesn’t instill some backbone in them, maybe someone will come along who has it, who’s willing to fight for principles you can believe in.

    Every post Yves publishes is reason to do this. Pay attention. Think about it.

    Then act. This is something you can do, that can actually have an effect.

    Every letter they get will be from someone who feels enough about the issues to take the trouble to vote. They’ll know this.

    What use is fielding an army that just capitulates?
    How can you expect otherwise when they take the enemy’s money?


  23. Chris M

    I can’t believe people still support unions in this day and age. Teachers are “laborers”? What century is this?

      1. ForgottenPsuedonym

        More Walmarts and more prisons. In fact, why not combine them? Pay prisoners pennies a day to work the Walmarts. Schools? Schools and education are for loser countries like China.

    1. F. Beard

      Fractional reserve bankers are in the most privileged union there is, the government backed banking cartel. Why shouldn’t everyone else organize too if only to defend themselves?

    2. Justicia

      If anyone needs a union, it’s government employees. All your free marketeer ideas only work, in theory, if there is a market of employers bidding for the workers’ services.

      By the very nature of public service, the market for those who provide services like policing, firefighting, running the court system (which protect your holy property rights) has only one buyer — the government (state, local or federal). This is a monopsony, a market dominated by one (or a few) buyers — which is far from the free market paradigm.

    3. EMIchael

      Every single benefit and/or right that you currently enjoy in your non-union position can be traced directly to unions.

      Not a coincidence that the timetable of the decline of union membership matches up with the decline of wages for the vast majority of Americans and the increase in hours worked.

      In the last thirty years, the average American family has increased its time at work by over 500 hours a a year. Since there is a limitation to the amount of hours people can be at work, I doubt anyone thinks this trend can continue.

  24. Hugh

    Two center-right parties??? Bush was hard right and Obama and the Democrats are following in his footsteps. How does that make them just center-right? This sounds a lot like what happened when crap tranches were pooled into new securities with a AAA rating.

    It’s funny, but also kind of sad, to see in the comments those who rail against unions and public sector employees, or against those who are victims of bankster mortgage scams. As I have written before, distraction is the primary weapon of class warfare. If you are a small corrupt, kleptocratic minority, how do you keep your lootings? How do you keep the general populace from coming after you? Well, one thing you do is set groups against each other. If they are fighting each other then that is so much energy they are not using to fight you.

    As a strategy, it is extremely effective, I mean our kleptocratic elites have been robbing us blind for 35 years, and it still works. You want to know why there are no jobs, or deficits are high, why this city can’t plow its streets or has potholes everywhere, why education sucks, or healthcare is expensive, or your retirement blew up? It’s because most of the nation’s resources are owned, or through their purchase of the political system, controlled by a tiny segment of the population. Some higher power didn’t confer those resources upon them, it was not some innate quality or benefit they could give the rest of us. They stole them, not in the dark of night, but openly and in public, day in and day out, for 35 years. And yet after all that, there are still many who are so credulous, like puppets on a string, who will still dance to their tune and blame this group or that group, but never, never the group that truly caused it all. Like I said, funny, and sad.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Have you gotten outside the US? Sachs was making a comparison to the politics of other advanced economies. The Democratic party, particularly given Obama’s extension of the war in Afghanistan, is center right by world standards.

      Watch the Sachs video. Time to wake up and smell the coffee.

      1. Glenn Condell

        Er, is there a wire crossed here? I think it’s obvious Hugh smelled the coffee some time ago. He agrees, per Sachs, that there is no political representation for the progressive constituency in the US, it’s just that he puts the Dems even further right than the ‘centre-right’ moniker suggests.

        I’m with him. The Dems talk centre-right but walk somewhat closer to the extreme margin, certainly from a wider Western perspective.

      2. Paul Tioxon

        Yves, while Obama is not to be confused with Chavez by taking the oil revenue of the nation and investing in education and health care for the poor, to assume some sort of control over the military, just because he is titled the commander in chief is to trivialize a centralized bureaucracy and military of the behemoth size of the US Government. As far back as the Kennedy administration, Daniel Ellsberg, a PhD in economics from Harvard, under contract with the government, was doing an analysis of the Federal Government’s executive capacity to manage its far flung operations. The scale of the management task exceeded anything previously seen. It was clear then that the government’s operation was beyond what the president was aware of or even capable of. Getting the people closest to him, to get what he wanted, was regularly thwarted by various top level advisers and assistants. Today, with untold hundreds of billions inside of black budgets, secret agencies that honestly testify that they would lie as matter of operational integrity about what they really do, before Congressional or any other over sight shows a clearly self organizing system, beyond executive control. Seymour Hersh in a speech at Duke U, reported that Obama is at war with the generals. Gen Mccrystal, who was fired was in charge of Special Operations Command. He was the leader of an army of ghosts, hidden behind layers of secrecy. I doubt than any of us knows what the Oval Office has to contend with in the Pentagon. It is clear to me that it is out of control, in as much as most of the military is based outside of AMerica and off at sea and under it as well. Command and control does not seem to come from the commander in chief, their budget is not even remotely discussed as a source of saving by even the tea party. What ever lip service is given by conservatives about getting the military to be cut back and brought home is thread bare at best. Bottom line, there is no useful information about OBAMA that be derived from his behavior towards the military. It is indistinguishable from everyone before him.

    2. Doug T

      Insightful as always, Hugh. Obama may look center right against the reactionary active nihilists DownSouth describes, but he’s a true right-winger compared to his idol, Reagan or even Bush I. This is the creep of language that would make Orwell blush.

      Even Glen Ford of The Black Agenda Report appears to fall for it somewhat in “Obamaland, Where Right Meets Center-Right”, but he says clearly “Obama has always been a dangerous, corporate creature.”


      “The 2012 Obama budget should have caught no one off guard. Obama told everyone in earshot how much he admired President Reagan, so “why be surprised when you get a Reagan-type budget?” Obama’s assault on poor and working people’s programs collides with the historical Black consensus around issues of social justice. At some point there will be a reckoning.”

      “…Obama is showing such extraordinary talent for obliterating poor and working class programs across the board, he’s making Republicans look redundant and obsolete.”

      “From community block grants to Section 8 housing vouchers to child care to Pell Grants to home heating oil for the poor, Obama has preemptively savaged all that decent people hold dear in the social safety net, and is in enthusiastic, principled agreement with the Republicans that the big cuts are still to come, in Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare.”


      “African Americans are watching their Obama-dreams turn into nightmares. Sometime soon, they will demand an accounting from those who misled them into the lair of the scorpion.”

  25. /L

    Obama 2012: ?

    If will be what been heard in state of the union the present situation and what have been “achieved” will be ignored and it will be froth fairy tales about sputniks and what might be in an distant future. In a bipartisan way.

    He can’t make the speech FDR did in Madison Square Garden in October, 1936?

    Tonight I call the roll—the roll of honor of those who stood with us in 1932 and still stand with us today.

    Written on it are the names of millions who never had a chance—men at starvation wages, women in sweatshops, children at looms.

    Written on it are the names of those who despaired, young men and young women for whom opportunity had become a will-o’-the-wisp.

    Written on it are the names of farmers whose acres yielded only bitterness, business men whose books were portents of disaster, home owners who were faced with eviction, frugal citizens whose savings were insecure …

    For nearly four years you have had an Administration which instead of twirling its thumbs has rolled up its sleeves. We will keep our sleeves rolled up.

    We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace—business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

    They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

    Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me—and I welcome their hatred.

    1. F. Beard

      We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace—business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking , class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering. FDR [bold added]

      Our money and banking system is not just reckless; it is fundamentally dishonest. That is also why it is beyond regulation; how does one regulate a criminal enterprise?

  26. Strata

    Liberals are lame because they are terrified. They are terrified of being labeled “terrorists” in the local media. They are terrified of being beaten and jailed. They are terrified of losing funding from corporate backed foundations. And until they face those terrors and act they will continue to be lame.

    On a recent edition of Black Agenda Report, http://www.blackagendareport.com/content/obama-hurting-poor-people-ways-acorn-blocked-bush-achieving, David Swanson describes how the Left (in this case ACORN) can organize and be effective even against the most obstinate and heartless of Right wingers, George W. Bush. In fact, it was their effectiveness over the years that lead to the targeting and savaging of this now defunct group.

    If you go up against the Rightwing, they will throw everything at you, including the bathroom furnishings (tub, toilet and sink), but it is better to fight them on your feet than get kicked while on your knees.

  27. Knute Rife

    The US “Left” will apparently never learn that compromise with the Right is the equivalent of building a bridge half-way across a river. They compound this ignorance by then expecting us all to be grateful for the half-bridge and drive joyfully off it.

  28. steelhead23

    Actually Yves, this grassroots effort is a small, almost insignificant example of the failure of liberalism. I invite you to look at the U.S. Congress – according to some, loaded with liberals. It is not unusual for Congress to propose legislation, intended to help hapless homeowners, the unemployed, or the indigent which instead further enrich the elite. Examples are replete, and the list has grown exponentially during this crisis. Let’s start with HAMP. HAMP basically gave government money to noteholders to develop loan modifications. It has been gamed. I have little doubt that it has done more for noteholders than mortgagees. Further – and here is my bomb for the day – it avoids doing “the right thing” – principal writedowns. Allow me to express myself clearly. Capitalism has messed its bed. We do ourselves no favors by cleaning up the mess. What really needs to happen is debt default on a massive scale. That is, FORECLOSURES ARE GOOD!!!! What massive debt default would accomplish is this – the big banks would be toast. The MERS mess would result in a title mess of epic proportions and in short order, MERS would be toast. The problem with liberals, the truly mammoth problem for them, is that they cannot stand pain. Instead of solving problems, they go seeking palliatives to “make it all feel better.” Yet, those very same palliatives tend to further enrich and entrench the elite (e.g., who gained more from the Community Reinvestment Act, Jamie Dimon who securitized the mortgages, or the single mom who got a mortgage she couldn’t afford?). Thus, by attempting to make everyone’s life a little easier, they instead facilitate slavery. And today’s liberalism, as defined by the Democratic Party, is a thinly veiled effort to pander for votes while not overly ruffling the elite’s feathers.

    Today, big finance has a stranglehold on American politics – and it is getting worse. The failure of the Democratic Party to recognize this fact and to fight against it has me leaning toward the likes of Ron Paul, not because I like his libertarian views, but because he at least recognizes who the enemies of We the People are. They are the big banks, the banksters, and their enablers in government and the Federal Reserve. The Democratic Party has been woefully coopted.

    1. Strata

      steelhead23, while I agree with some of your points, your association of the Community Reinvestment Act with “… the single mom who got a mortgage she couldn’t afford…” flows from a flawed narrative. A very popular narrative, but a flawed one.

      The CRA is being used as a scapegoat by the banksters and their flunkies to deflect blame from the FIRE (Finance/Insurance/Real Estate) sectors for predatory lending practices which included targeting of working class Americans with shoddy loans based on massive fraud.

      The “single mom” that you reference was targeted and stalked through sophisticated affinity marketing. Predatory lenders stalked their prey in churches, neighborhood associations and cultural groups. Some even went door to door searching for marks. Nikitra Bailey with the Center for Responsible Lending (http://www.responsiblelending.org/) relates this story:

      IRA’S LOAN
      Nikitra S. Bailey, Center for Responsible Lending
      Ira Cheatham is a seventy-three-year-old retired veteran who has lived with his wife, Hazel, in a predominantly African American neighborhood of Portland, Oregon, for twenty-one years. In 2002, when they had nearly paid off their mortgage, the Cheathams received a check for roughly $1,000 in the mail from a finance company. For an older couple living on limited retirement income, the sudden appearance of this money seemed like a dream come true. They cashed the check and in the process took out a very high-interest loan.

      The lender followed up by calling the Cheathams and urging them to consolidate the loan with their credit card debt into a single mortgage. The Cheathams, who apparently had good credit at the time, were promised an interest rate between 5 and 6 percent. However, when the loan papers were presented, the interest rate was 9.9 percent, with an annual percentage rate of 11.8 percent. Moreover, their loan contained ten “discount points” amounting to $15,289. The lender
      financed these points as part of the loan, stripping away equity the Cheathams had earned through years of mortgage payments. The loan also contained prepayment penalty, requiring the Cheathams to pay the lender approximately $7,500 to escape their predatory loan. Cheatham noted that he received a call from the lender when the lender “happened” to be right down the street with a neighbor. It seems clear that this African American neighborhood was being systematically targeted and stripped.

      Since the Banksters were able to get away with defrauding working class folk, they then widened their scams to include the (now nearly defunct) middle class; all the while blaming and shaming the people who have been robbed and blanketing the media with a false narrative of their supposed victimhood.

      1. steelhead23

        Thank you for noticing. My little missive was loaded with hyperbole, but your example, that predatory lenders sought out victims well in advance of the CRA, supports my case more than it detracts. My point is that liberals have a tendency to create government programs ostensibly aimed at helping those in need, however, the outcomes tend to be otherwise. By depending on the system that routinely parasitizes the less sophisticated, Congress routinely provides more fodder for the sophisticated kleptocrats. It is maddening. My honest view is that banking is a utility function in the economy, best served by non-profit entities. That is, government should directly compete with or supplant by fiat most commercial banking functions. Because I recognize that is NOT going to happen, the next best solution is for the fruits of financial innovation to go home to roost. Let the banks eat their own cooking. Every program that serves to soften the blowback on the banks is contrary to that purpose and it is liberals who most often support such foolishness.

        1. Strata

          You make a sound argument. The best medicine for the Bankster class is natural consequences: having to eat the slop they dished out!

          The less sophisticated were only the first targeted. Now the Banksters are intent on devouring everyone else in their quest for ill-gotten profits.

        2. EMIchael

          I agree somewhat, but to even mention the CRA is ludicrous. Somehow, since the banks preyed on people that live in CRA areas that is somehow the CRA’s fault?

          All the CRA is, or was, is to make sure that zip codes have no part in credit decisions. The number of loans required to be done by CRA banks is incredibly low.

          And anyone that takes any time to look into CRA lending over the last 15 years, including right thorugh the bubble, understands that CRA loans were on a steady decline.


          Further, the nonsense that non CRA banks(like Countrywide) sold loans to CRA banks looking to meet their numbers is total garbage.


          Liberals are lame becuase they accept, at any level, the pr put out by the right on any topic.

  29. Lloyd C. Bankster

    Reposted here from comment #200 (appr) “Wisconsin Governor Uses Police Tactics”, slightly modified:

    Having pulled off one of the greatest swindles in human history (we knew that once we got it over $1 trillion you dumbass Americans would not be able to count that high and would forget all about us, and start targeting that public union teacher rumored to make $80,000 or the garbage collector seen wearing a smooth looking Diesel watch that retails for $100, how can he afford it?).

    But just to be safe, me and my buddies used a small part of the bailout loot to pay off our media shills. We instructed them to divert all anger away from banksters, er, investment bankers, and to make public sector unions into the new Al Qaeda. Yeah, why not.

    Judging from many of the comments here (Ishmael, How Deep is This Pile, Chris M, etc) our strategy seems to have worked and we are laughing all the way to the Cayman Islands. Suckers!

    Thank you America, for being so predictable, and so stupid. From time to time, we’ll keep throwing out a few scraps for you to fight over, just to keep us entertained, via satellite dish, on our Eclipse $1.2 billion yacht with 2 helicopter pads, 11 guest cabins and 2 swimming pools, all paid for courtesy of the American taxpayer.

    While we loot our next trillion, just keep it up, keep attacking those bad public sector unions, and always remember: Public Sector Union employee =socialist= bad; Bailed out Bankster = capitalist = good.

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha.

  30. Police are special too

    Walker said the state has always treated local police and firefighters differently than other public workers. He did not elaborate at his news conference, but his spokesman later pointed to sections of state law that lay out separate benefits for workers in protective occupations, including an earlier retirement age.

    The exemption could create jealousy among government workers upset they must suffer while police, firefighters and state troopers go on as if nothing has changed, Marquette’s Secunda said. That might be what Walker wants, he said; private sector managers have traditionally tried to weaken unions’ clout by dividing workers into camps.

    “You give a special privilege to some unions and don’t give it to others, it puts the privileged unions in a tough place,” Secunda said.

    That schism may already be forming. Both the police and firefighters’ statewide unions as well as the Wisconsin Troopers’ Association issued statements praising Walker for recognizing their members’ jobs are important and unique.

    Read more: http://www.postcrescent.com/article/20110214/APC0101/102140455/Controversy-grows-over-Governor-Scott-Walker-s-union-contract-bill#ixzz1ELivbk6L

    1. Masonboro

      I saw a report that identified the three exempt unions as the only ones that supported Walker in the last election.

      Obviously a good investment.


      1. scraping_by

        Police & fire unions are often “captive”, basically run by management, in this case the local government.

        Ask a rank and file cop or firefighter. If they snarl, or sneer, it’s management with a different mask.

  31. Max424

    “Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”

    Tsuy. You gotta love em.

    The guy who taught me how to play pool used to get on me all the time for “stepping up” and playing top players without weight. He used to say to me after negotiations: “You’re playing that guy even, jackass? You know, right; you can’t win.”

    And I would say, “Yeah, but what if I play good?”

    And he would say, “It doesn’t matter if you play like God on fire; if you can’t win, you can’t win.”

  32. Francois T

    Liberals have several mental problems:

    1) They still believe in playing fair when the conservatards are engage in a culture war. The hallmark of a culture war is the total obliteration of the “Other” and what they stand for. Witness Montenegro and Kosovo for more clues.

    2) They use nuances when what is needed is slogans with emotional impact. You’re engaged in a war…get it?

    3) The believe reason always work. They obviously haven’t read “Predictably Irrational”.

    4) They fear being called names when they should be willing to say “You’re a liar!” and “Shill!” to any dogmatic opponent.

    5) They thoroughly suck at marketing and branding.

    1. Masonboro

      “It’s a war Charlie. You do understand it’s a war?”

      Bill O’Reilly on Charlie Rose several years ago about cultural issues.


  33. Doc Holiday

    If your breast feeding, better sit down…

    Meet Scott Walker (R CAND, WI-GOV)

    In a recent interview with Redstate, Walker even went so far as to boast of his complete disdain for the state constitution.

    Asked what his first official act in office would be if he wins the election, Walker stated, “I’m not even going to wait for January. On November 3rd I’m going to march over to the state capitol and start taking over the budget process. I’m not going to conceded two or three months of the current governor messing with the budget we need for the next two years.”

    ==> Yikes….

  34. Pixy Dust

    Yves, you’ve hit the bull’s eye with unmistakable directness and precision.

    I, like many others, sense a monumental shift in the wind. Unmistakable dynamics are at work in the world. The moment to take charge of our collective humanitarian destiny is rapidly approaching. And yep, once again Democrats might blow it.

    I’ve been saying for awhile now that you can’t debate and reason with someone whose one relentless intention is our destruction. To conservatives, democracy is for equals. Conservatives clearly do not regard us as their equals. They are convinced of their superiority, privilege and entitlement. Money is their litmus test with which to design and implement the roadmap to legislative and judicial subservience.

    Just as the tough guy conservatives posture and pose about not negotiating with terrorists, it is apparent that they rely on others’ children to go fight and die for their interests. They peddle faith-based terror to promote a war on terrorism – just as useless, destructive and debt-hobbling as the well orchestrated war on drugs.

    The civil rights movement and the VietNam war propelled ‘boomers to revolt against abusive, fraudulent conscription and corruption. Because of the law- and life-changing outcome, conservatives set their sights on removing the middle-class obstacle in their path. They pitted labor against profession-bound citizens. They played our less educated citizens against our better educated with divisive buzz words like “elitism”. Or catchy phrases like “moral majority”. But in reality they are frauds and impostors without legitimate challenge.

    Why is that? Because the Democratic Party has consistently failed to muster up the courage to challenge conservatives with honest public dialog. After Jimmy Carter’s defeat, the Dems abandoned the old school FDR supporters and went chasing after the same Wall Street corporate donations that had unmistakable conservative loyalties. Ever since, they’ve been playing a game of “me too, but for you little people” (American Lilliputians, I guess).

    Democrats have one more chance to get it right if they are sincerely interested in preserving and growing the struggling middle-class. They must shake off their confusion and schizophrenia to determine who and what they stand for. They must use their natural advantage of voter numbers, and commit to the long haul with the same unrelenting, unwavering tenacity as conservatives.

    Dems must wage their own wars of self-determination through honesty, creativity, optimism and cooperation. They know it’s a rigged game, but Democrats need to start defining the game in terms of our reality-based world. I’m not sure they have the honesty and courage to do it. That is why they need dedicated, non-whiny liberals at grassroots levels and beyond, to grow backbone and help them find their way. By honoring the passion and commitment of our youth, who worked so tirelessly to win the White House and take back the Congress, real steps -according to our own roadmap – can take place. I believe it is not only doable, but is in fact our destiny. So go ahead and call me airie fairie. But I am, after all, Pixy Dust.

    And Pixy Dust loves the Tank a Bank concept. Especially if it branches out into State Wealth Funds, and Credit Unions Where Credit is Due You….or something like that…

  35. anon

    perhaps something along these lines:

    “…the propaganda & detestable doctrine that you promote will be eradicated; the damage incurred will be irreversible, and … your institution … will {n}ever be able to fully recover. It is in your best interest to comply now, while the option to do so is still being offered, because we will not relent until you cease the conduction & promotion of all your bigoted operations & doctrines. … The warning has been given. What happens from here shall be determined by you”

    Anonymous targets http://www.GodHatesFags.com

  36. nb

    the “script” of Revolution…

    I went into that dynamic oh a lifetime ago when we were all following all things Egypt thanks to Catherina, the others. But now it is time to look at this same dynamic here, in the good ol’ US of A.

    We heard from the Governor, really angry. that these people dared to jump state borders. We are hearing it from people like Ryan… I mean the Peasants are revoltin. We are at a stage where the GOP are in shock. The people are in the streets. This is not the way this was supposed to go. They were supposed to get that bill in, pass it and THEN and MAYBE THEN get some revolts. He expected them. He briefed the Guard last week before it was introduced. So here is the dynamic.

    1.- People organizing

    2.- Government reacts, at times violently, at times not.

    3.- The police\ army apparatus takes sides (so far the cops are on the side of the people)

    4.- Leader is in denial that the people don’t like him or more rarely her.

    5.- People continue to organize

    6.- Finally allies come to the side of the people and….

    7.- People win

    Having the State Senators go on the Lam has bought the people a lot of time… but we ar at stage four, Walker was pissed today, and in denial. So here we are… dynamics are not just useful in distant lands.

    Oh and there are variations in the script, but mostly they go like this. And we must be ready to stand for a while, This is not going going to stop in a day or two. This has the dynamic of a stand off.

    Oh and if Walker does not win, he will be thrown to the wolves by the RNC. If (it already is) this expands, then it will take on the flavor or a smal time revolt. It was out of things like this that the New Deal came… which was not an expected response. But perhaps POTUS will finally get the memo and PROTECT the New Deal. If he does not… well we are now in that dynamic… so DC coud be in the future.


  37. barbara minto

    what field would you say Gene Sharp is in? He seems like he could set up a really nice boutique management consultancy for the revolution and self-liberation vertical.


    A Guide to Strategic Planning for Action to End a Dictatorship or Other Oppression

    by Gene Sharp
    with the assistance of Jamila Raqib

    Which way to liberation?

    Many people live in countries with governments that can be identi- fied as dictatorships, or less harshly, authoritarian regimes. Usually, most of the people in those countries would like their oppressive regime to be replaced by a more democratic and free political system. But, how can this be achieved?

    Dictatorships are not the only major type of oppression. Systems of social and economic oppression also exist. When people want to end oppression and achieve greater freedoms and more justice, is there a way to do this realistically, effectively, self-reliantly, and by means that will last?
    Many people have sought answers to these questions and have worked hard to achieve liberation. Many additional people have tried to assist the oppressed people to end their subjection. How- ever, none of us can claim to have offered adequate answers. These challenges remain.

    In conflicts between a dictatorship, or other oppression, and a dominated population, it is necessary for the populace to determine whether they wish simply to condemn the oppression and protest against the system. Or, do they wish actually to end the oppression, and replace it with a system of greater freedom, democracy, and justice?
    Many good people have assumed that if they denounce the oppression strongly enough, and protest long enough, the desired change will somehow happen. That assumption is an error.

    There are dangers in seeking a better solution. Not all offered answers are equal. Some self-styled “revolutionaries,” despite their rhetoric, distrust the oppressed population. These “revolutionar- ies” believe that the system of domination can only be permanently removed if their own group of “guardians” somehow gains control of the State apparatus, and then uses its systems of administration and repression to remake the society, whatever may be the wishes of the supposedly “liberated” population.
    These issues require new consideration.

    The problem of how to remove dictatorships is generally ad- dressed in this writer’s From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation.2

    However, this strategic planning guide has a more limited purpose. It is intended only to assist people who wish themselves to plan a grand strategy, or super plan, to achieve their liberation from oppression and to build a more free and democratic system. Furthermore, this document is not only relevant to people facing internal dictatorships. It is also meant to be useful to people facing any kind of oppression.


  38. scraping_by

    The wimpification of the left in the US is the result of fifty years of attack by the corporate elite. Some of the high points have been

    Wedge issues. Abortion, homosexuality, civil rights, affirmative action, Israel, Vietnam, all we either created and used to exploit or create fault lines among the New Deal coalition and those who came after. Say the wrong thing and the person you were counting on is screaming, weeping, threatening, and they just won’t stop. Wimpy doesn’t go there.

    Very few are issues that most people would stake everything on, but they’re good for getting arguments started among comrades in other struggles. And ill will, whatever the cause, can hang around a long time.

    Culture clashes. Ralph Arlyck, in his film Following Sean, made the point the leftists of the early 20th century were unionists who wanted to create fair work. Their children in the summer of love dismissed work as a Bourgeois trap. The MSM reaches for the latter when they use the term “liberal.”

    Indeed, NPR’s reputation as a lefty conspiracy is their promotion of the upper class’s hedonistic viewpoint. Listening to a few minutes of their commentary on the Badger State Uprising, they sure don’t like unionists acting like they work for a living. Demanding vice without guilt isn’t likely to be confrontational, just shrill.

    Outright assault. Too well known for comment. The FBI, DOJ, state attorneys general, private security, lawyers by the score. And it’s always been this way – The Battle of Blair Mountain was really a battle.

    I’ve often wondered if some public officials aren’t actually intimidated. No one has any illusions about the moral fiber of the owning class, and some Dems act like people who’ve gotten an offer they can’t refuse. But this is Alex Jones stuff.

    The ultimate solution is to get over yourself. When you go out to organize against the banks, don’t freak if you’re talking to a NASCAR dad or a Southern Baptist. If you’re suing to stop foreclosure, don’t get bent over what your lawyer does with what to whom. Take offense, give offense, use unPC language and get the job done.


    1. Janet White

      scraping_by: “Indeed, NPR’s reputation as a lefty conspiracy is their promotion of the upper class’s hedonistic viewpoint. Listening to a few minutes of their commentary on the Badger State Uprising, they sure don’t like unionists acting like they work for a living. Demanding vice without guilt isn’t likely to be confrontational, just shrill.”

      Thanks for an excellent post. I’ve gotten to the point where I can’t listen to even a few minutes of NPR commentary anymore (I also try to avoid streams of flowing shit) and so I’ll have to take your word for this. But if NPR, and Americans who consider themselves to be liberals cannot even get behind the union workers in Wisconsin, then what exactly do they stand for? If anything?

      Okay, forget NPR, you described their corporate agenda perfectly as the “promotion of the upper class’s hedonistic viewpoint”. But what about other American liberals? Do any of them support the working class, workers’ rights and unions?

      And how much is cutting union wages going to save anyway, compared to the $3 to $10 trillion it cost to bail out the banking/finance sector? Also how can anyone be sure that whatever money is supposedly “saved” by eliminating or cutting back on unions doesn’t go straight into another backdoor bailout for the banking/finance sector, and once again politicians will either lie about it and say that it’s not a bailout, or once again they’ll lie and say that it was necessary to save the banks in order to save Main Street, etc.

      Either way politicians, banksters and their lobbyists will do what they do best: lie to the public, then steal the money.

      Even if you eliminate every union job in America, eliminate social security, eliminate medicare and medicaid and cut the minimum wage to $4.00 an hour, all that would do is give politicians and banksters a hell of a lot more money to steal, and that’s exactly what would happen: they would see this as a license to steal and then steal every dime the American people are willing to sacrifice.

      At this point, why should anyone believe a single word any of these people say? How naive and trusting are we? Haven’t our leaders lost all credibility by now?

      Or do we have to go through yet another round of bank bailouts and backdoor bailouts and looting before enough people start to get the picture?

      Lots of questions, I know, but it’s not like I’m expecting any response, as they’re all pretty much rhetorical.

      1. Strata

        Janet White, I agree with your assessment of NPR. I haven’t been able to listen to them for nearly decade. I detest their obsessive genuflection to corporate think tanks, pundits and honchos.

  39. 60sradical

    Outstanding post, Yves. And the comments regarding “why liberals are lame” are sharp.
    In the late 60s through the 70s, activists knew liberals were lame for many reasons. Essentially, they seemed timid regarding the necessary grit,danger,and gruntwork involved in revolution. That’s right–revolution! Anger in the streets, yelling inside the halls of buildings, networks communicating in real time,chaos may develop–revoutionary action is tricky and we must entertain the fact that we are living in a “soft-fascist” state which finances itself with fiat money and fractional lending. The money establishment views critics as rabble living in their slavery economy.
    Liberals could always analyze the situation, approach the edge, then pull back.
    When we hurt enough(like the Egyptians) perhaps we will no longer pull back.

  40. rzombeck

    Very well put. And if I may sound like a self promoting dweeb, Shame the Banks is a pretty good name. I was actually amazed that it wasn’t taken… when I took it.

    This attitude that we have to “empower” people and “guide them” to their bliss is ridiculous. How is it that we haven’t had protests on Wall Street? Where is the anger?

  41. Loser Blogs are the problem

    Is the view good from the sidelines, y’all? If any of you would get out from behind your computers long enough to actually do real organizing, maybe we could actually win against the banks.

    Quit bitching from the bleachers and get in the game.

    If you insist on continuing to hide behind your apple logos, please remember to lift your pinkies as you sip your tea.

  42. jollyroger

    If I may, modestly, propose another name for the anti-bank campaign, and another way of doing business (as it were):

    Collateral Attack.

    (In this case, “collateral” is both a noun and an advective)

    Since reference has been made to the estimable Ellen Brown, I will excerpt a post from the foreclosure relief page of her webofdebtblog.com:

    “Chapter III of Mau Mauing Your Lender For Dummies mentions a business model which extends somewhat our old debate over a foreclosed homeowners right to remove the furnace and take it with him on the way out the door.

    The Visigoth Wrecking & Demolition Company contracts w/the homeowner prior to the sale/law day. etc Before taking a sawzall to the door and window frames (for easy removal & resale) the prudent Goths check w/the foreclosing lender to give them a heads-up & confirm the stated pre-sale status of the property.

    Sadly. the diligent barbarians keep getting their contracts cancelled after the lender takes advantage of this notification and subverts the homeowner by making him a modification offer that he cannot refuse. .”

    What I mean to illustrate by this reference is the folly of playing the game within the lines and rules set by the opponent. You must change the game, or you cannot hope to win.

    That said, there are many lines of collateral attack. This is only one. (Although it is, without peradventure, a satisfying business model.)

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