Injustice Entrenched

There are songs you can’t get out of your head …. and then there’s the very occasional blog post. Regarding the foreclosure crisis specifically “from The Honorable Elizabeth W. Magner’s recent decision busting Wells Fargo,” Lambert explains that the errors are embedded in the code:

“Code is law.” Literally.

Maybe so. Now let’s look at law and code together. Here’s an extract from The Honorable Elizabeth W. Magner’s recent decision busting Wells Fargo [PDF], In Re Jones. It starts:

In this case, Wells Fargo testified that every home mortgage loan was administered by its proprietary computer software.

That is, code. I’ve reformatted Magner’s text into a table with two columns, which can be read left to right, top to bottom.

Column A (“Code should follow law”) contains content from the world of the judical system: Testimony, evidence, orders, plans, contracts, judgements, “the record,” and last but not least, the note and the mortgage.
Column B (“Code is law”) contains content from the world of information systems: Databases, coding, online forms, software manuals, and data entry procedures set up by Wells Fargo.
Note especially the key at the bottom of the table.

Lambert has made a table matching The Law …. with …. The Code :

First, this arrangement of Magner’s text makes one possible “theory of the case” clear: The incentives for fraud — the costs, the fees, and the interest — are all coded green, and are all in column B; the world of Wells Fargo’s proprietary information system. Follow the rents. Every time Wells makes a “mistake,” Wells makes money! After mistakes were incentivized, mistakes were made! (Could Wells Fargo’s home mortgage loan administation system actually have been a profit center?) Now, it is true that this scheme — if it is a scheme — does not conform to William Blacks’ “recipe” for optimized accounting control fraud, but it’s a nice little revenue stream all the same, and it falls within Black’s definition: “Control fraud is a term that criminologists use to refer to cases in which the persons controlling a seemingly legitimate entity [here, Wells Fargo’s proprietary computer software] use it as a weapon to defraud.”

. . .

Let’s take another look at Table I. Suppose I were a bankster, or a bankster’s lawyer, and I liked the green stuff in column B and wanted to keep what I’ve taken and take more of it. I might see Magner’s decision as a sort of “one from column A, one from column B” mish-mash that prevents me from doing God’s work. So why not get rid of that Column A entirely? Why not make code, law? That’s a clean solution, since all those pesky accountability issues go away. “Incorrect amortization” would become “incorrect amortization,” “misapplication of payments,” “misapplication of payments,” and so on and so forth. After all, if I were an oligarch, that’s exactly the kind of system I would want, right? Rent extraction without accountability. And there’s… not a precedent, exactly, that’s oldthink legalese, but a prior example, and in the same industry, too: MERS. Christopher Peterson, a law professor at the University of Utah, wrote of the “wholesale transfer of mortgages to a privatized database” [code] in Harpers:

What’s happened is that, almost overnight, we’ve switched from democracy in real-property recording to oligarchy in real-property recording. There was no court case behind this, no statute from Congress or the state legislatures. It was accomplished in a private corporate decision. The banks just did it.

With MERS, code replaced law. Going forward, code is law.

There’s really no clear way to summarize this post.  At this point we’re not even half way….

There’s more detail – more evaluation… Go Read the POST!

Badass cool and Srsly funny

Yesterday, the tumblr textsfromHillary received the following submission:

Funny thing was, it really was from the Secretary of State’s Office.  When I saw it yesterday, I thought it was a fake submission.  Turns out it was legit because afterwards, she posed with the guys who set up the tumblr:

What the heck is scrunchie time??

Ahhh, I see.  Her staff wants her to stop using scrunchies in her hair on bad-hair days.  Turns out that with all of her travelling, it’s a pain in the ass to have to deal with playing with hair all the time so she grew it out.  Now, she uses a scrunchie when she doesn’t have time to deal with it.

I can so relate.

Food and Eating and the State of the World ….

Hoo-KAY — God knows that after the 2008 election season I should be used to the robo-troll phenomena.  But, their appearance in my Sugar, Sugar post took me by surprise. So just to make it clear: The Eat4Today posts are thought pieces about issues revolving around Eating.  Which, for me are pretty much ALL issues.

And I don’t advocate ANYTHING for anyone.  What I DO advocate is that IF food is an issue for you, that you think about what you eat and when. I’m no ones nanny.  And I’m certainly not going to tell anyone that they should give up all sugar – or anything else. What you eat is your business. And, if you want to talk about it, I’d LOVE to hear from you. 

IF food isn’t an issue for you, then feel free to skip these posts.

Everyday is a new day
Eat 4 Today

Eat 4 Today

The thing about my Eat4Today plan is that yesterday doesn’t count. This is a good thing when my eating habits have been weird or out of control.  But, it can be exhausting and intimidating too. I’m not working on averages here: I can’t say, “I’ll have this toast and cheese now and make up for it tomorrow”.  I can’t say, “I’ve been so goodfor a whole month now — I’m going to have toast and cheese for breakfast as a treat!” …

Nope.  Everyday, I wake up – all too often craving that toast and cheese deliciousness.

But today, I had a cup of coffee, shook out my brain and had some oatmeal. This may seem like a small victory to you.  There might not even be a very big difference in nutrients or calories between the two choices. The difference is in what it does to the rest of my day:  The oatmeal puts me in control — the cheese starts me off with a defeat. I’m guessing that for me, the ritual of fixing & eating oatmeal is a power booster.

And for me, that’s important. This is an open thread: What’s important to you?

Wednesday: Family and Medical Leave Act already compromised

I don’t know how I missed this.  It didn’t seem to get the attention that Slutgate got.  On March 21, 2012, the US Supreme Court voided part of the Family and Medical Leave Act, one of the jewels of the Clinton Administration from 1993.  In a 5-4 decision, the Court has decided that states can not be sued for violations of the leave act.  It’s an ugly ruling. From the NYTimes article on the decision:

In a 2003 decision, the court allowed suits against state employers under a part of the law that concerned leaves taken to care for family members. The case decided Tuesday concerned a part of the law that entitled eligible employees to take leaves to tend to their own serious medical conditions.

Like other parts of the law, what the court called the “self-care provision” was drafted in gender-neutral terms. The question that divided the justices was whether the law nonetheless meant to address sex discrimination.

The case was brought by a man, Daniel Coleman, who had worked for the Maryland Court of Appeals. Mr. Coleman said the state had violated law by denying him sick leave.

Maryland argued that the federal law did not apply to it because states, as sovereigns, are generally immune from lawsuits for money. In the 2003 decision, Nevada Department of Human Resources v. Hibbs, the Supreme Court rejected a similar objection from Nevada to a suit under a family leave provision.

[...]

Justice Ginsburg, joined by Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, said the entire Family and Medical Leave Act, or F.M.L.A. “is directed at sex discrimination.”

“Indeed,” she wrote, “the F.M.L.A. was originally envisioned as a way to guarantee — without singling out women or pregnancy — that pregnant women would not lose their jobs when they gave birth. The self-care provision achieves that aim.”

The whole law, she said, was “an appropriate response to pervasive discriminatory treatment of pregnant women.” It avoided singling out pregnancy leaves, she added, to avoid discouraging employers from hiring women.

“It would make scant sense to provide job-protected leave for a woman to care for a newborn,” Justice Ginsburg added, “but not for her recovery from delivery, a miscarriage, or the birth of a stillborn baby.”

Justice Ginsburg wrote that Tuesday’s decision was narrow or, as she put it from the bench, “at least the damage is contained.” Suits for money under the self-care provision are still allowed against private employers, she wrote, and other kinds of actions remain available against state employers.

Sooooo, you can take leave, unpaid, to care for your newborn but not to take care of yourself?  Plus, if you work for the state and you get fired for taking care of yourself (let’s say you had a complicated delivery or a stillbirth) you can’t sue the state for damages.  Theoretically, they could just fire you for not leaving the wee tot in the care of some baby nurse and getting back to work immediately, right?  You still have the right to take unpaid maternity leave but not to recover from it, have I got that right?

It should be clear by now that the worst offender on the Supreme Court is not Antonin Scalia.  It’s Anthony Kennedy.  I think Jeffrey Toobin was pretty accurate when he described Kennedy in The Nine.  He said that it took Sandra Day O’Connor to knock some sense into him.  He isn’t really a swing vote.  O’Connor, being a conservative herself, was able to talk him out of what could have been a disaster on a previous abortion bill.  But without a conservative woman on the court, Kennedy has no reason to listen to a single thing the other female justices say.  He’s into pompousness.  He loves flattery and he’s a narcissist who revels in the very idea that his one vote could mean joy or misery for millions of Americans.  He’s the Supreme Court version of He-Man standing on his desk shouting, “I have the power!”.  He’s the Joe Lieberman of justices.  Not the brightest crayon in the box but probably a bit more qualified than Thomas.  The more liberal justices will never have a chance as long as Kennedy is around.  You’ll always know where the four uber conservatives stand but as long as there’s a fleeting hope that you will be able to appeal to Kennedy’s 1950′s view of the world, that’s who all of the arguments before the court need to be pitched and we have seen time and time again that he just doesn’t think women are fully human or something.

So, here’s where we are in 2012:

1.) We have one party that is full of screaming maniacs who are definitely appealing to the white male vote and doing all they can to get women out of the workplace during tough economic times.

2.) We have another party that is also appealing to the white male vote.  Ohhoo!  You thought they were going after female voters?  No, no, no, nooooo.  See, once women got scared by Republicans acting like the Taliban, the Democrats assumed that women would come flocking to them.  So, now that they have females in their “done” pile (or so they think), they can cross women off their list of voters to get.  THAT’S why their response to the Republicans off the charts misogynism has been so tepid.  They don’t want to scare the men away.  Ladies, when are we ever going to learn to make them put their money where their mouths are before we sign on?  As long as they think you are going to their side out of fear of the Republicans, they don’t have to do anything for you.  They’ll just sit back and call Republicans meanies on your behalf and let the decimation of your rights continue with little interference.

3.) If you want to keep your job, don’t get pregnant.  Ever.

4.) If you don’t want to get pregnant, emigrate.

QED, women are fucked under both parties.

Recently, I was over at Violet’s place reading her comments section and I think her commenters, some of them may be readers here, are onto something.  Basically, the reason why women’s rights are getting eroded under Obama and why Hillary Clinton faced so much opposition among party activists is because there is this little cadre of guys in the Democratic party for whom war is THE issue.  There is no other issue that gets their attention quite so much.  Just because the hopes and dreams and civil rights of 53% of the American public are under attack does not mean that they will be deflected one iota from concentrating all of their attention on war and torture.  Now, that is not to say that war and torture are not important but I think we have given this tiny group of latent sexist assholes enough of a platform to express their views.  It’s  time they stopped bogarting the mic and realized that they are undermining their own causes when they depress and demotivate their female sympathizers.  It’s not all about them.

They are our Anthony Kennedys.

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