“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Senate Corruption - Give Them What They Gave Jim Traficant

Traficant, obviously drunk in this video , was thrown out of Congress and jailed for doing a lot less damage than what has been done by Washington lawmakers with the banking and mortgage mess.

Senate VIP Loans Mount
Countrywide Dealt With More Lawmakers and Staffers Than Previously Known


U.S. senators or Senate employees received 30 loans—far more than had previously been known—under a controversial lending program at Countrywide Financial Corp. that provided cut-rate terms to favored borrowers.

The information is contained in a letter sent to the Senate Select Committee on Ethics by Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), who has been spearheading the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee's investigation into Countrywide's so-called VIP mortgage program.

No specific loan recipients were named in the letter. But Mr. Issa's letter said borrowers on a dozen loans listed their place of employment as the office of "Senator Robert Bennett." Available public records don't indicate that Sen. Bennett, a Utah Republican and member of the Senate Banking Committee, received a Countrywide home loan.

Sens. Christopher Dodd (D., Conn.) and Kent Conrad (D., N.D.), have previously been identified among the high-profile individuals who received such loans. Both senators have denied wrongdoing. Until the Issa letter, no other senators or their staff members had been linked to the VIP loan program.

A spokeswoman for Sen. Bennett didn't respond to questions. Sen. Bennett recently lost his primary election battle and will be leaving the Senate in January after 18 years.

A spokesman for the Senate Ethics panel declined to comment. A spokesman for Bank of America Corp., which in 2008 acquired Countrywide, said the company had cooperated with the investigation by the House committee.

The VIP program operated during the housing boom earlier this decade, often writing mortgages with terms more favorable than those available to the general public. An estimated 28,000 loans were made, mostly to private parties such as Countrywide employees or their friends and relatives.

The House Oversight panel, where Mr. Issa is the ranking Republican member, is probing whether such loans were issued to public officials in an attempt to influence them. Last year, the committee subpoenaed VIP loan records from Bank of America.

In his letter dated July 13, Mr. Issa wrote that on seven loans not tied to Mr. Bennett's office, the borrowers listed their place of employment as "U.S. Senator." Another 11 listed the "U.S. Senate." In response to questions, a spokesman for Mr. Issa said the House committee didn't receive the names of the borrowers from Bank of America.

More than one loan could have gone to the same person, such as a mortgage and a separate home-equity line of credit. Mr. Conrad received four Countrywide loans, a spokesman for the senator said. Mr. Dodd reportedly received at least two. Their loans were presumably included in the 30.

Mr. Issa's letter said that many of the 30 loans were made in 2002 and 2003, at the beginning of a national "mortgage boom" that helped make Countrywide for a time the nation's biggest home lender. Increasing problems in its loan portfolio led to Countrywide's takeover and contributed to the widespread economic upheaval that hit the country in 2008.

The letter said the House committee's investigation had found that Countrywide used the VIP loan program to "build relationships with government officials."

Mr. Issa's letter said he was sending the information to the Senate Ethics panel, because his House committee didn't investigate ethics matters involving the Senate.

The House Oversight panel is still gathering information from Bank of America regarding VIP loans given to congressmen and their staffers, Mr. Issa's spokesman said. Such information is expected to include the names of at least some individual borrowers. Mr. Issa's spokesman declined to comment on what information was emerging in that investigation.

The Countrywide VIP loan program first hit the headlines two years ago with news reports about mortgages going to prominent individuals.

The Senate Ethics panel looked into the loans to Messrs. Dodd and Conrad, and last year cleared both men of any rule violations. The committee did say both "should have exercised more vigilance" in their dealings with Countrywide. On Wednesday, spokesmen for Messrs. Dodd and Conrad said questions about the senators' conduct had been resolved by the Ethics panel's findings.

Mr. Issa's efforts to investigate the VIP loan program were stymied for a time by the unwillingness of the House oversight panel's chairman, New York Democrat Edolphus Towns, to issue a subpoena to Bank of America for the VIP program records.

Last August, The Wall Street Journal reported that public loan documents indicated Rep. Towns had received two mortgages from the VIP program. At the time of the story, a spokeswoman for Mr. Towns said he didn't seek any preferential treatment and hadn't heard of the VIP loan program until the 2008 news reports. She added that Mr. Towns's unwillingness to issue a subpoena had nothing to do with his Countrywide loans. Subsequently, he decided to issue the subpoena.

Countrywide's business and financial-reporting practices are under criminal investigation by the Justice Department, which has declined to comment on the probe.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has a pending civil fraud suit against three former top company executives, including longtime Chief Executive Angelo Mozilo. The three have denied wrongdoing, and a trial is scheduled for October in a Los Angeles federal court.


  1. There that term is, again. "Civil Fraud."

    What the hell is "Civil" fraud?

    Fraud is Fraud.

    A Whole Bunch of these thieving bastards sincerely need some good, long Jail-time.

    And, this is prima facie Bribery.

  2. We are making a little progress around here.

    Just announced--a forty turbine wind farm down by Rosalia in eastern Washington.

    Also, the nuke plant in southern Idaho seems to be still on track.

    About 82 degrees, and blue skies here. Looking at the low nineties later this afternoon.

  3. And, the clouds will billow later today over the Blues and the Willowas, to I don't know how may thousands of feet, up there higher than an airliner, which always sends my imagination, for whatever it is worth, soaring.

  4. billow--

    [from Old Norse bylgja; related to Swedish bōlja, Danish bölg, Middle High German bulge; see bellow, belly]

    Language is life.

  5. Ruf

    from previous thread (sorry had to jump off yesterday), paid the light bill many times at the Rendevous back in the college days. There are a few pics of my dad as a police detective hanging in there.

    My favorite dish is "the half and half", a pork chop and half a rack of ribs. Of course a pitcher of beer and a cheese plate first! Enjoy!

  6. Rufus,

    Thanks for the "business case" on ethanol.

    Rendevous works for me. So many great BBQ joints in Memphis (Central BBQ, Interstate BBQ, Leonard's, Paynes (my favorite, but it's take-out only), Neely's, Corky's, etc.), but I do especially like the dry rub ribs at the Rendevous, as well as the warmly entertaining wait staff.

    Got the email addy. Will contact you when my plans firm up, but it's looking like last week of July or first week of August.

  7. Gag,

    TexMex gets old; GOOD bbq never does, i could eat it every day! ATL has zero good bbq restaurants - very unusual for Southern cities. Corky's tried a franchise out in Gwinnett County (ATL suburbs), but it didn't survive. Guess you gotta grow up eating it like we did in Memphis/North Mississippi.


    Anybody ever clear up Yuengling for you? It's the oldest American brewery and, imho, the best American beer. It's a real lager, although lighter than the microbrew or European lagers. Had a few last night, in fact.

    Sorry for O/T posts, but I can't add anything regarding Senate corruption except to note that there appear to be only a few exceptions who aren't guilty of some corrupt activity while holding office. And sadly most of it seems to be crime that pays.

  8. Pennsylvania once had more breweries than every other state combined. Yeungling is up in anthracite country , Pottsville, Pa. I used to sell them some machinery for packaging.

    Actually when I sold them they could not afford machinery. We sold them parts and had to give them credit. They were so broke at that time that we knew they would not pay us until they needed the next round of parts.

    My boss kept selling them because he liked the beer and eventually they always paid us. I think the bi-centennial saved them when they remembered to start telling everyone their age and history.

    It should go well with Southern BBQ.

  9. One can go on line to Rendevous and Corky's and get just about anything they serve FDXed to you overnight.

    I always ask anyone visiting me from Memphis to please go to Kroger and buy me Corky's and / or Rendevous BBQ sauce. It actually goes pretty good with the beef BBQ they serve here.

  10. Yuengling is my favorite beer.

  11. Yuengling

    Now I know I must be way out west.

    Never heard of it.

    And daddy's favorite is Coor's Light.

    Can I be a distributor?


  12. We do have some micro breweries here, there's one down at the Red Lion Inn, for instance, that makes a really good beer, the name I can't remember, and we have some local wine makers in Moscow. It's hard for them to compete with the stuff coming up from California, but we're trying.

  13. The best beer I ever had was over in Europe, in Denmark.

    Now that's good beer.

    Heineken I think it was, and not this watered down American stuff.

  14. Had many a beer in Europe..

    They do do that quite well...

  15. Looks like the "Topkill" might have worked. Oil flow has stopped.

    Big rally in BP, Anadarko, Chevron, etc.

  16. Best beer: Pilsner Urquell

    Best beer no longer available: Tolly Cobbold Bitter

    Best microbrew on East Coast: Flying Fish ESB

    Best memory lane beer: Pearl Lackland AFB
    and Dixie, Keesler AFB

  17. Ba Mui Ba


    "Dick, meet Dirt."

  18. Samual Adams


    Land shark


    St Pauli Girl

    Any light beer is a waste of calories for me.

  19. The fondest memories of beer drinking, Coors Banquet, that "Colorado Kool-Aid", while sitting on the patio, right there on the sea wall at the Balboa Yacht Club.

    Watching the freighters go by, chatting up the transients.

  20. Best beer - Southport Bar, Ft Lauderdale - 1979

    The guy's shucking the oysters as they come off the boat, and serving them to you, salty fresh, as you quaff them down with Grosch.

  21. Best Beer: one that is very very cold when you are very very hot. period.

  22. I think you're probably right on that one, Gag. Sometimes there's not a choice.

  23. Best beer I've even had?

    After a hundred mile drive from here to the lake, we cracked a couple.

    I can't remember what kind, but then we went swimming.

    Damn it was good.

  24. But I remember unca Jerry saying, this was before he got Alsheimer's. saying, he was a very polite man,

    "Damn, that's good."

  25. WASHINGTON — The White House on Wednesday issued new rules requiring health insurance companies to provide free coverage for dozens of screenings, laboratory tests and other types of preventive care.

    I guess insurance has always been regulated but...

    The rules apply to new health plans that begin coverage after Sept. 23 and to existing health plans that make significant changes after that date. The administration said the requirements could increase premiums by 1.5 percent, on average.

    This is one imperious Presidency.

  26. We should move the EB over to Wordpress or somewhere; anywhere! This Blogger is so bad. They've made no improvements in the 3 years we've been here.

  27. In September, we will have been here four years!

  28. I don't know about the best, but maybe the most significant beer I had was arriving hot and bothered on the quayside in Valencia.

    The Italian and I had been touring on Triumph 650 with a neat little sidecar. Side car had a little cloth top, wire wheels...

    Any way, we arrive quayside. Thinking about Majorca or Menorca. And there's these pallets of cold beer sitting there. San Miguel dark. Spanish San Miguel. Not that franchised Phillipine stuff. (Sorry T.)

    There's a Stevedore standing there. Takes a look at us and pops a couple beers from the pallet. Says have as many as you want.


    Got to talking with the guy. The beer was part of some ship's stores. He was waiting for the lighter. Said those guys on the ship wouldn't miss a couple of bottles. They get all they can drink anyway...

    Got me to thinking about the merchant marine life...

  29. Funny thing, when I eventually start shipping out, son of a gun, US flag ships were dry!

    Officially, that was...


  30. Then, as time went by on the ships, crews started getting smaller and ships getting bigger.

    We were even studied by Bechtel. For the shuttle program. See how folks did in semi isolation...


  31. "We should move the EB over to Wordpress"

    And how long have I been saying this? I like wordpress way better than blogger.

  32. When the results of the study came back the scientifical folks said we were sufferin' from anomie...

    Probably right... There were those new video tape players and a lot of guys would get those videos and watch'em in their f'c's'ls...

    So, out side of chow not much socializing was going on...


  33. Let us remember, that the first thing that Noah did, our ancestor, when he landed ashore, was plant a vineyard, and get drunk.

    This is one of the best illustrations of the humanness of the Hebrew Bible, which I love.

  34. Also shows their love of the sense/nonsense of life.


  35. Next thing we heard was that the Maritime Administration was worried enough about this anomie thing that they thought some intervention was in order.

    The plan, so we heard, was to re-introduce alcohol to the American merchant marine. Under controlled circumstances. At a "cocktail hour." With a two brew limit.

    Not that much. But a whole lot better than nothing.

    The fed's idea was, according to what we heard, that getting us together and lubricated would ease the weirdness; make us more normal like...

    Well, I figure you can guess the rest of the story... All this was happening just months before Joe Hazelwood decided to retire to his cabin for a couple of "near beers."


  36. Hopefully, the flow has been staunched.

    The Florida sit report today:
    Current Situation:
     Florida beaches are open.
     Estimated release rate of oil from Deepwater Horizon at 35,000 to 60,000 barrels
    per day. The “capping stack” procedure, designed to capture greater quantities of
    oil, was installed on July 12. Test procedures for the new cap are ongoing. July 13,
    total oil recovered approx. 17,060 barrels.
     This event has been designated a Spill of National Significance.
     Unified Area Command continues with a comprehensive oil well intervention and
    spill response planning following the April 22 sinking of the Transocean Deepwater
    Horizon drilling rig 130 miles southeast of New Orleans.
     More than 44,000 personnel are working the on and offshore response.
     Oil-water mix recovered: nearly 31.83 million gallons
     Response vessels available: more than 6,870
     Response aircraft available: 119
     Dispersant: more than 1.82 million gallons deployed.

    Beaches open, seafood not contaminated, 246 dead birds, 2 dead turtles. So far.

  37. 246 dead birds, 2 dead turtles. So far.

    Well, hell, that's no big thing daddy shoots almost that many birds in a year when he is going good but we have no turtles here


  38. Svetlana said that sometimes I misstipe

  39. Beer?

    An aunt and I made the beer/wine/liquor run today.

    They love this bunch at the McHenry Beverage Shoppe.


    Nice touch that.

    We're drinking Missouri Mules.

    In big plastic tumblers.

    I once made them in a garbage can for about 75.

    Someone set the outside of a house on fire trying to grill at 3 AM.

  40. You can see the arm (does it have only one arm?) of the Milky Way tonight. I was just informed.

    Five of us standing on the front porch, looking up.


    "It was the only good thing about the Sahara. The night sky."


  41. Nay it's got a couple arms just like men but did you know there are more galaxies than the sands on our seas think about that for instance the best star watching daddy ever took me to was down in the middle of Nevada out of sight! and the night was so warm till it got about 2 oclock and daddy said that's what the desert can do it cools off fast once the air rises


  42. Keep watching, The Fugitive will appear next.

  43. Wouldn't it be so much awesomer, bob, to speak in your own voice?

  44. I couldn't say it like this in daddy'
    s own voice we are swinging out bout two thirds of the way on our own arm and every very millions of years or so we sway in and out a little it's like being in the arms of a lover man back and forth and doing the rumba I'm not Spanish but I Spanish dance it's all like a cosmic dance


  45. I'll try but it seems I've become obsessed with Svetlana I'm always getting obsessed but all I really do is sit and read.

    The universe, Trish, is past understanding.

    No person can get their mind around it.

    More galaxies than the sands on the beaches of the sea.

    And that may be just the beginning of it.

    There's a word for this--awesome.

    Which is scary and beautiful both.

  46. "I'll try but..."

    But what?

    You're a fucking drama queen in the person of a man.

    A MAN. Bob.

  47. Trish that hurt.

    There is a new telescope up there now and another coming on line that will let us look back to the beginning of time, as if time had a beginning and is not just a mode of human perception, like Kant said it was.

    Some of the physicists these days say time doesn't actually exist, and it just is.

  48. Svetlana knows about men. Talkative men, silent men, all sorts of men.

    You know nothing next to her, but since I like you, I'm not going to argue.

  49. And you're a fucking foul mouthed bitch.

    But, I don't really mean that at all.

  50. "Svetlana knows about men."

    It's a sad reflection upon her creator.

  51. Svetlana has a loving heart, behind it all, so her creator must too.

    She just has a little exuberance, but I'll go back to being just bob, what G-d gives G-d can away.

    I'm going to bed now.

    Goodnight, Trish.

  52. "And you're a fucking foul mouthed bitch."

    : )

    My aunt and I landed upon Slow Bitch as the best characterization.

    We're going to have bumper stickers and coffee mugs made.

  53. Senate and the word Corruption seem to be synonomous. In Western PA, we have good old Don White (R-Indiana) who has never turned down doing something to benefit himself. He's now stooped to interfering in school board actions and elections. His former aide led the way in changing voting regions to make it easier for their chosen candidates to win the school board election. This happened as the current census was winding down and their buddy the judge forced the school board to use those lines for this current election knowing that once the census was done, the school district would have to redistrict AGAIN! Not to mention his former aide conveniently got a job as a teacher in the school district and there was a LOT of suspicion as to why he didn't get furloughed when others did with more time than him.

    His former aide along with White's current office, his buddy Sen. Jeff Piccola (R-Dauphin Co) and his puppet Rep. Jeff Pyle (R-Ford City), conspired with the Armstrong Co planning dept. to cause unnecessary delays for the school district between Nov-Jan in order to wait for the GOP administration to take charge.

    Then White had a private sit down with acting new Republican sec. of ed. (a guy who needs votes to get a permanent seat) without telling the school district. Even though the former dept. of ed. approved Plan Con for the school district's 80 million building projects (for 4 schools that hadn't had attention to in 30 years), White and pals caused delays and chaos in the district with absolutely NO facts but their own propaganda in order to please their gas and oil friends in Armstrong County.

    Armstrong has a history of one area wanting one high school in 436 sq. miles. The school would be in their area with all the bells and whistles the elitist want. They control the local media, courthouse, hospital, etc. all in secret. Rep. Pyle had a strong history of defending the communities that fought for their high schools (currently 4 hs in 436 miles). Last fall, he was in a tough battle for votes and turned where the money is. His employee was a rich oil and gas man's chairperson for his school board campaign (an unpaid job which they spent over 10k to win).

    Now White is proposing bill 1127 which would make school board directors the ONLY elected entity in the state of PA that can't make major decisions after Oct. 1. Why????

    The current battle is that since White interfered with school board elections and his candidates won, the dept. of ed. keeps stalling on any answer on reimbursing the renovation projects. White and company's plan is to keep stalling until the new candidates get in place and then use the 80 million borrowed towards their new high school and to hell with everyone else.

    Why would a senator get so involved in school board matters????