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Followup and stuff

A few random followups based on comments and such:

1.) I am well aware that there is a law (HIPAA) or guideline or suggestion that your insurance carrier has to provide you with a certificate of coverage and that you can not be denied insurance for a pre-existing condition and that new carriers have to pick you up within 63 days of the last day you had coverage from your previous carrier.  And I qualified for all of that.  I have never been without insurance for even one day since August 1986.  That has nothing to do with the cost of the premium.  You and the carrier can comply with the laws and you could still get stuck with a ginormous, whopping premium through no fault of your own because one of your family members has a pre-existing condition.  They can’t deny you coverage but they can make you wish you didn’t have to pay the premium.  That’s the insurance industry’s way of encouraging you to not bother them for a policy.  See how Congress has looked after us?  Heartwarming, isn’t it?

2.) I have no problem covering the costs of other people’s health care but I do have a problem with people who insist on consulting unproven alternative medicine and I’d like that to no longer be possible.  If you want to visit chiropractors and acupuncturists, do it on your own dime.  My point about insurance is that at this point in time, it’s easier for the ditzy to get their weekly back cracking covered than for those of us with ailing family members to get the care they need at affordable prices.  That’s wrong.

3.) Unrelated: Atrios posted a link to an older post he had on ACORN and the foreclosure crisis and how the Vampire Squids were shoving their blood funnels into every aspect oo mortgage and real estate interactions back in 2007.  That reminded me of the letter I got from Wells-Fargo yesterday.  It was a sort of frantic letter on their part saying, “We see that you are escaping our event horizon by paying off your mortgage and home equity loan.  We are trying frantically to reach you (by an old phone number) and haven’t been able to.  Please contact us so we can persuade you to renew your relationship with us.  We’d like to talk to you about new ways we can hook you back up to our perpetual money making apparatus.  Sincerely, your BFFs at Wells-Fargo”

Too funny.  By the way, I’m still waiting for the escrow account money Wells-Fargo generously decided to withhold for the payment of the ridiculous property taxes I paid in NJ and if the check is not here by the end of the week, I’m contacting my lawyer.  Sincerely, the newly emancipated RD.

Note: A curious thing happened when I called W-F about the payoff amount for the home equity loan (all of which went back into the house for really useful stuff, not vacations to majorca or a new car).  When I called them, they wouldn’t give me the payoff amount and they refused to release the lien on my house.  They told me that only a third party could do that.  In other words, my exasperated lawyer had to prepare a document and send it to them on his letterhead in order to get a payoff amount at closing and have the lien on the house released.  Both myself and the lawyer were pretty steamed about this.  It cost me extra legal fees and it seemed completely unnecessary.  The lawyer said that Wells-Fargo is full of serendipitous surprises like this that hold up closings.  So, what was the alternative?  Wells-Fargo said they would give me the payoff amount and release the lien directly IFF I contacted them by snail mail and waited- are you ready for this?- FORTY DAYS from the receipt of the snail mail.  By then, the closing would have had to be put off and all kinds of chaos and expensive and unnecessary mayhem would have ensued.  I have yet to hear a logical, rational, consumer friendly explanation as to why the loan account holder was not able to process this request within the 3-5 days and that it required the magic mojo of a lawyer’s third party stationary to get it done.  But I smell a scam.

4.) Chris Christie has set an October date for the election of a new senator to replace Frank Lautenberg who died recently.  The Democrats are howling at how unfair it is because it means there will be an expensive election separate from the one for governor to be held a month later and the earlier one will dissuade voters from showing up to kick Christie’s ass out of Drumthhhhhhhwackit.  As if NJ residents didn’t already have a zillion reasons to displace Christie.  I don’t know anyone who really likes him and quite a few teachers and school employees who actively hate his sizeable guts.

But all of the candidates that the Democrats are proposing to replace Lautenberg are male.  Corey Booker, another bonus class ass kisser in the mold of Barack Obama, is on the top of their lists, as is Frank Pallone, a Democratic Congressman.  NJ is not my problem anymore but I would like to point out- again- that there isn’t one single woman in the US Congressional delegation from NJ.  Not one single Congressperson or Senator from NJ is a woman.  NJ is the densest state in the union, in more ways than one (don’t even get me started).  You would think Democrats would make more of an effort to promote women into that delegation but I lived there for 20+ years and saw very little evidence of it, Linda Stender being a notable exception in 2006.  The state Democratic machine abandoned Stender in 2008 when Obama and Rahm Emannuel decided to knife liberal Democrats.

Take that in.  In the state with the densest population not one of their congressional delegates to either house is a woman and this has been the status quo for almost 2 decades.

I have remarkable little patience for either party in NJ but the crocodile tears the Democrats are spilling over this golden opportunity to elect a woman to the Senate and start cleaning up their shameful record of neglect for more than half of their population has me playing a very tiny violin.

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Mather does not Cotton to the Pseudo-Puritanism of O’Keefe and Giles

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O’Keefe and Giles, in their portrayal of pimp and prostitute, reek of puerile classism. Were it not for the overwhelmingly noxious fumes emanating from the handful of ACORN employees who were apparently willing to enable a child prostitution ring exploiting illegal immigrants, the stink of the ill-informed moral superiority of O’Keefe and Giles would drive evolutionarily advanced members of our species to avoid contact.

Let’s cut to the chase. The child prostitution enablement shown in the videos is beyond the pale. It is wholly unacceptable. Giles and O’Keefe deserve credit for exposing this potential for promoting abuse with ACORN’s structure.

For ACORN to continue doing the good they do for the community, they must clean their house. This said, many houses and streets in the U.S. are in need of a good cleaning.

Credit granted where it is due, I am discomforted by the prurient form of Puritanism implicit in the method O’Keefe and Giles chose to expose ACORN’s illness. Their sting starts with a young female sex worker trying to buy a home, before it lures the ACORN workers into the ugliness of underage sexual exploitation. My issue with O’Keefe and Giles is that they appear to believe that people engaged in the sex trade should not be able to have normal life dreams.

Life in the Sex Trade

Life circumstances lead some people to prostitution. In our culture, it is rarely a profession of choice. This is something our political class should be well aware of, given the large number of personally undertaken, hobby social science, in-depth probes they have engaged in over the years.

There are volumes of research on the various factors and dynamics that create the participants in the world’s oldest profession. In our culture, an experience of sexual abuse and economic vulnerability are common themes in the dynamic of becoming a prostitute.

Should being a sex worker be a barrier to living as other citizens live?

If a sex worker wants to buy a home, and she meets all of the relevant requirements for obtaining a mortgage, other than that she cannot state her profession on the mortgage application because her form of employ is illegal, what is she to do, other than lie? If that sex worker wants to do the proper thing as a citizen and pay her taxes as a self-employed person, what is she to do, other than lie?

The simple answer is that citizens who want to pay taxes and buy homes should not choose to live the lifestyle of a prostitute. This is the type of answer one expects from those who are ignorant of the dynamics that create prostitution, especially in the underage realm. For example, leaving is often not merely a personal decision and few pimps are as non-threatening as the one portrayed by James O’Keefe. Accordingly, it fits that such an answer would come from those who choose to disregard how the practice of their political philosophy enhances the conditions that create the sex trade.

In this regard, Ms. Giles words to Sean Hannity on how she conceived the project:

It’s amazing what girls think about when they are jogging. And that was just something that popped into my head. I had never seen an ACORN office, I really didn’t even know that they existed and I jogged into the wrong part of town, saw some homeless people and street ladies and I put two and two together when I turned around to get back into a safe neighborhood. And it’s like — what if these people went into ACORN — a prostitute and what would come from that? No bills, no nothing — would they get a house? Could they start a business? So we put it to the test.

It is telling that Giles was interested in whether or not ACORN would help a street lady buy a home and, apparently, not so interested in what caused the women to become street ladies. Then again, perhaps that’s simply a feature of rarely running into the “wrong part of town?” Regardless, Giles began her project with two targets, ACORN and street ladies who wanted to buy a home.

For O’Keefe and Giles, having to live with the danger, and adopt the stigma, attached to selling sexual services does not seem to be enough punishment. They appear to think there is something improper about a prostitute wanting to own a home, which, if she worked there, would also be a brothel. They seem unable to see that owning a home might serve as a base upon which to leave the sex trade. Thankfully, many ACORN employees are not afflicted by the anti-New Testament immorality that informs that type of thinking.

ACORN: The Bad and the Good

ACORN has problems at a variety of levels. It is reasonable to call for a proper audit of the organization, given their government funding. A good time for the audit might be immediately after a full accounting of every dollar of TARP funding is released to the public.

Notwithstanding ACORN’s many problems, it provides valuable community services. ACORN employees work to bring a better life to many citizens and many of these citizens reside in the underclass. Working with people in the underclass requires empathy for their circumstance and a pragmatic attitude that involves working with limited resources to bring about optimal results, which will necessarily be modest at best. To me, it is entirely appropriate for an ACORN accountant to bend a category to find a way for a sex worker to pay her taxes so she can buy a home. (Perhaps the idea of a citizen wanting to pay taxes is outside the worldview of the young Republican film makers?)

O’Keefe and Giles have done a community service by exposing rot in the structure of ACORN. Unfortunately, their methodology lacks the discipline of the precautionary principle. As a tool for the healing of the body politic, therefore, the methodology of O’Keefe and Giles is flawed, because they are willing to worsen the lives of sex workers to achieve their aim of disarming ACORN. Accordingly, the methodology of O’Keefe and Giles is unethical because it causes a wholly unnecessary amputation, where a good anti-biotic would have done the job. For this reason, I reject the pseudo-Puritanism implicit in their methodology for its lack of empathy and wisdom.

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You don’t have to be stupid to be ignorant.

minervaSteven, a friend who is ex-military, and a heavy equipment mechanic, said to me this morning at breakfast,

“You don’t have to be stupid to be ignorant.”

Booman’s slight of dakinkat is a case in point.

Booman is not stupid. myiq notes that Booman can be sharp, but Booman is about as sharp as a bag of oranges on this issue.

If he was only embarassing himself with his naive assertion about the incorruptibility of ACORN and each and every one of its staffers, then I wouldn’t feel any need to comment, especially because I don’t doubt that the vast majority of ACORN personnel are well-intentioned people doing good works. He chose to use his ignorance as a tool to drag others in the mud, however, so he must be called to account.

Once again, it is a simple matter to demonstrate the intellectual and moral inadequacy of a Booman commentator by simply weighing his case against dakinikat. He makes the salacious claims, so the burden of proof falls on him. Please read dakinikat’s post and read his response to her post, especially the comments section.

Unraveling the Greed

Wells Fargo and Acorn

dakinikat ties the facts of the Wells Fargo case to the local history in her home district in New Orleans. Jacobson, in the NYT article, says that Wells Fargo targetted black churches to use their influence as a means of getting their parishoners to take out subprime loans with Wells Fargo. dakinikat relates this data with the meetings with subprime lenders that took place in churches by her home, seminars that tended to be sponsored by ACORN. That they sponsored the seminars does not mean that they knowingly worked against the best interests of the community. dakinikat also notes that ACORN is a bag organization in New Orleans (hardly a surprise, such things are common for both parties). She further notes that convictions of public officials on non-profits (not ACORN representatives) are a matter of public record.

Booman states that dakinikat is not telling the truth on the basis that her data does not conform with his experiences in Philadephia. Further, he rejects the claims of the ACORN 8 as right wing talking points.

The status of the claims of the ACORN 8 are open. Booman appears certain that they have no merit. He might be right. ACORN employees have been convicted and indicted, however, which suggests that complaints against ACORN can be more than right wing talking points, despite Booman’s idealizations. Perhaps they faced Republican judges.

It is worth noting that the head of ACORN is right when he notes that the number of cases against ACORN, and the number of convictions that have stemmed therefrom, are relatively small when one considers at the size of the organization. It is also important, as noted earlier, to not judge the many by the conduct of the few.

Booman appears comfortable with judging the conduct of the many by the conduct of the few. In doing so, he is employing the logical fallacy of generalizing from the particular. Then, on the basis of this fallacy, he proceeds to insult someone who is using her training to fight for the very same lending practises that he lauds ACORN for promoting.

For Booman to be right, we have to accept his assertion that ACORN and its employees are incorruptible, that their behavior is lock-step across each and every community that they operate in, that the ACORN sponsored church events with home loan lenders in dakinikat’s home district were not of the type propagated by Wells Fargo, and that the finance student who is working to fight against lending practises that exploit the poor is a liar and an agent for the Republican agenda.

ACORN employees have proven to be corruptible. dakinikat’s conference presentations are peer-reviewed, so they pass the truth test. In these publications she’s argued for regulation of said industries, which means she is arguing against the Republican agenda. It’s not unreasonable to assume that at least one of the home lending meetings involved a subprime mortgage lender. The only point that remains in Booman’s favor is the question of the role of ACORN in these loan meetings. It can be quickly dismissed, if we accept that ACORN would have worked with the lenders that offered the best deals for their constituents, even if these were necessarily subprime. They are, after all, only human.

Booman’s case fails on the balance of probabilities. His assertions about ACORN’s purity are empirically false, practically naive, and only have their force via a logical fallacy. His accusation about the talking points is non-sensical, given her academic presentations. That these claims found his assertion that she is not to be trusted, indicate that his judgment about her truthfulness and intellectual adequacy is not trustworthy. His wrongness about her truthfulness does not make him a liar, but that he dirties her name based on such a pathetic claim means he is a scoundrel.

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ACORN, Fannie, Freddie, and Frank

On September 25, 2008, in a FOX News interview with Greta Van Susteren, I heard Lindsay Graham say something about his opposition to 20% of the proposed $700 billion financial bailout going to ACORN. I couldn’t believe my ears and tracked down one story at Hot Air, where Ed Morrissey has the video. Apparently, some of Michelle Malkin’s readers were on to it — Yikes! I’m citing conservatives. Hers was only the first story, now updated, as many others who heard also it did a double take.

Please see this June 18, 2008 press release along with a series of documents about ACORN issued by watchdog group, The Consumer Rights League. ACORN has also been linked to voter registration fraud in multiple states.

These documents – which include staff emails and internal organization policies – suggest that ACORN has failed to maintain a proper distinction between its tax-exempt housing work and its aggressive political activities.

Republicans are bucking Bush and demanding accountability with no earmarks, and Shelby is quoting 200 economists who say nay to the Dem proposal. I feel like I’m going cuckoo as I see Repubs stand up for “the people.” Their constituents are flipping out and telling them not to pass it. Reportedly 70% of the country is giving the Bush/Dem proposed bailout package a thumbs down.

Actually, I feel like I’m having the closest thing I’ve ever experienced to questioning my sexual orientation or gender identity. I never have, but I know that it’s a crisis of choices not to be taken lightly. From what I understand, although coming out is mostly liberating, decisions made in the process can be extremely gut- and life-wrenching. Everything about your placement in the world turns up-side-down, and makes you doubt many assumptions that society and you have known or thought to be true. It can be confusing, which is the situation I find myself in politically.

Once you come out, you can’t go back. I’m told that you can never see things like you did before, or perhaps even remember what it was like. You’re often cut off or divorced from the things, the life, the family, that made you feel secure and comfortable. It’s like cutting a tether. I can relate to that in regards to the Party I had self-identified with my entire life. Even before I could vote, my heart swelled for the soaring hopes for the world as envisioned by Adlai Stevenson and JFK. And now?

I’m having party identity confusion. My crisis is that I’m doubting what the Democrats are actually standing for — not in theory or ideals, but in-action. Where is My Party??? Everything I’ve thought about my Democratic heroes has been turned on its head this year — except for the Clintons, who just keep getting better and better.

I know I’m also way, way over my head on the topic of economics. I’m just attempting to round up what I’m reading, this, an updated Bloomberg report (9/25/08) about IndyMac.

.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.

In the above clip, we can see that Republicans have been warning about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for years, while Barney Frank has been poo-pooing this as scare tactics for years. Is it any surprise he was one of their main apologists this last week? Frank was reported to be one of those yelling during Bushie’s all-parties-to-the-table meetin’ on Thursday. But, all these connections have been going on for years. Larry Johnson has more video of this history in his post, Barack’s Fannie Mae Buddies.

Please read economist dakinikat’s excellent analysis, Back to the Roots of the Problem, here at The Confluence. She concurs that, although we’ve always been on the Democratic side of social programs, this collapse, due to unsound home buying and mortgage policies, falls squarely in their lap.

.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.

And here was Senator Barney Frank in a July 2008 Bloomberg TV interview as he assured us all that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are jes fine, after the failure of Indy Mac:

We got into trouble, because there was not adequate regulation of the mortgage business in particular, and a lot of mortgages that were made that shouldn’t have been made, not originated by banks but it washed over into the banking system.

The one thing that people should be confident about, is that the set of things I talked about, the FHA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the Federal Reserve’s rules, we are not going to have any more of this. We’ve have learned now not to do this. . .

The reassurance we can give people is: As we cope with the current problem, don’t think that this is part of an endless series of events. We have learned from this terrible set of mistakes, and we know how to prevent them from recurring. . . . I think that is a confidence inspiring thing for the future.

Senator McCain and the Republicans are still rallying to prevent another blank check without accountability being foisted on US citizens. And Frank is still telling us to write the check. Me to Democratic Party leadership: Trust you? I don’t even know you anymore.

[cross-posted from Lady Boomer NYC]