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Thomas Frank blesses Bill Black's concept of "control fraud," after a defense team in California uses it as their theory of the case

This really is very, very big; I can't imagine why Joan Walsh let it through. Thomas Frank in Salon:

The case started as a routine mortgage-fraud prosecution, brought by none other than the aforementioned U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner. A group of eastern European immigrants had bought houses in California in 2006, in a real-estate market that was in the early stages of collapse. According to the indictment, filed in 2012, these people’s mortgage applications contained blank spots and wrong information; they were accused of getting the mortgages in order to sell the houses to one another at pumped-up prices in what is called a “straw buyer” scheme. Also, they defaulted on the loans.

However, members of the immigrants’ legal defense team—several of them appointed by the state—had read the newspapers over the years and were aware of the kinds of things that had gone on in real estate during the bubble. They knew, for example, that in the go-go days of the last decade, the mortgage origination industry routinely cranked out “stated income” loans—also known as “liar’s loans”—to people who were obviously unable to make the payments. The bankers back then almost never checked on whether the borrower was telling the truth about their income; they just wanted to make the loan. So the defense team in Sacramento came up with a novel strategy: How can the borrower have committed fraud on a mortgage application if the lender didn’t care whether their answers were truthful? Read below the fold...

In the garden: Ultimate thigmotropism!

I put this chair out so people can come into my office and sit, and look what happened!

Read below the fold...

In the garden: Ripening fruit

Tweet of the day

There are many stupid jokes on the Twitter. This is one of them!

Moustache of understanding: The way for the US to regain its moral authority is to become a full-on petrostate

Thomas Friedman in the Times:

The way you defeat such an enemy [Putin + ISIS, because they are totes like each other] is by being “crazy like a fox,” says Andy Karsner, the former assistant energy secretary in the last Bush administration and now the C.E.O. of Manifest Energy. “We have one bullet that hits both of them: bring down the price of oil. It’s not like they can suddenly shift to making iWatches.” We are generating more oil and gas than ever, added Karsner, and it’s a global market. Absurdly, he said, the U.S. government bans the export of our crude oil. “It’s as if we own the world’s biggest bank vault but misplaced the key,” added Karsner. “Let’s lift that export ban and have America shaping the market price in our own interest.”

Wowsers. Dick Cheney has risen from the grave! (Or wait, is Cheney alive? How can they tell?) Read below the fold...

The West Philly Tool Library

Pretty neat:

Hammers, shovels, ladders, cordless drills, chop saws, lawnmowers, weed whackers, pry bars and an engine lift are just a few of the more than 3,000 tools lining shelves, hanging from walls, and taking nearly every inch of floor in a section of warehouse at 1314 S 47th St.

Read below the fold...

A man on the way to his coronation should look happier

Off to the goddamned hardware store

By bus, taking hours, because my small town doesn't have a hardware store within walking distance, like it used to. Read below the fold...

Tweet of the Day

Cute meet: Hochul Rejects Wu Debate Challenge in Person at Manhattan Campaign Stop

New York Observer:

“Hi, I’m Tim Wu. Kathy, it’s a pleasure to finally meet in person,” Mr. Wu said.

Ms. Hochul echoed the greeting, and Mr. Wu started to walk away with his aides–however, a person who would only identify themselves to the Observer as a campaign worker for Mr. Schneiderman [!!] nudged him and urged him to press his opponent to argue the issues. Read below the fold...

"Teachout, Wu sue state Democrats over pro-Cuomo mailers"

Politics on the Hudson:

Fordham Law Professor Zephyr Teachout’s campaign is due in state Supreme Court in Manhattan this afternoon to seek a temporary restraining order that would prevent the state’s Democratic operation from funding mailers supporting Cuomo and running mate Kathy Hochul in this Tuesday’s primary election. (Several Democratic Committee-funded mailers have already gone out to primary voters.)

The Teachout campaign cites section 2-126 of the state Election Law: a ban on spending party money on any one candidate in a primary election.

The (Democratic) party is undermining the actual function of the party, which is to allow Democratic primary voters to make the decision between candidates,” Teachout said in interview. “Party leadership can’t make decisions between candidates before voters make the decision. That’s what we see here, and it’s a real problem.”

The article does give reasoning on why it's not so simple: Read below the fold...

Actual Democrat arrested during $15.00/hour fast food protest

Roll Call:

Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wis., was arrested Thursday afternoon while protesting with fast-food workers during nationwide strikes to raise the minimum wage.

“I take great pride in supporting Milwaukee workers as they risk arrest in pursuit of a brighter tomorrow for their families,” Moore said in a statement following her arrest.

Read below the fold...

In the garden: Grass I can live with, from the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden

I've successfully destroyed most of my lawn, along with most of the quack grass (although it keeps coming back, horribly). But this Appalachian Sedge looks very nice!

Foolishly, I Googled to find its Zone, only to remember that it's growing happily in Maine already! At the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens! Note to self: Don't let your fingers do the thinking. Read below the fold...

Why Are Obama/NATO Stoking a Thermo-Nuclear War With Russia?

So what on earth would be the payoff of a thermo-nuclear war with Russia? It would end all life on the planet.

Are Obama and the crazed neocons and crazed neo-liberal interventionists so obsessed with geo-political and military gamesmanship they just can’t resist raising the ante to F*CKING THERMO-NUCLEAR WAR?

Why does Russian involvement with Ukraine have anything to do with US national security for one thing?

What on earth are the NATO leaders thinking, as well? Read below the fold...

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