Occupy Wall Street protests Obama admin pursuit of bank immunity for foreclosure fraud

TheStreet.com recently reported that the Obama administration is pushing hard for a broad foreclosure fraud settlement between the federal government, all fifty states, and the nation’s five largest banks.

According to FBR’s Washington contacts, “the Obama Administration, especially Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, has stepped up efforts to come to a settlement,” along with the U.S. Justice Department, ” on behalf of claims related to FHA loans.” Attorneys General Tom Miller (D-Iowa) and Lisa Madigan (D-Ill.) continue to lead the negotiations, with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman continuing to oppose a multistate settlement.

According to the report, the major remaining hurdles to the settlement — which will include penalties for improper foreclosure filings, as well as large outlays for principal reductions to facilitate mortgage loan refinancing — are “to convince California Attorney General Kamala Harris that the deal is large enough and provides enough political cover to sign onto,” and “to convince the servicers, especially Bank of America, that the liability release is worth the penalty it will be paying.”

The Obama administration is putting pressure on California’s Harris, so the nation’s largest state would add the patina of this being an actual national deal. Everything that’s been reported about this deal says it’s a horrible deal for homeowners and a disgrace to the rule of law.

As a result, it’s not shocking that a movement that is going directly after Wall Street lawlessness and the power of financial elites would specifically target the Obama administration around the pending retroactive immunity for bank fraud connected to the financial and foreclosure crises. Occupy Wall Street is marching today around the foreclosure deal, calling on President Obama to be Wall Street’s puppet:

“This is a clear, moral issue that cuts to the core of why we occupy,” said Max Berger, an Occupy Wall Street participant helping to plan the event. “Instead of throwing corrupt bankers in jail, the administration is pushing to give them a get-out-of jail-free card.”

“President Obama and the attorneys general have a choice: do they stand with Wall Street, or do they stand with the 99%?” he said.

“We will not stand for a system that gives campaign contributors a right to immunity, while serving foreclosure papers to the 99%,” said Beth Bogart, a volunteer with Occupy Wall Street. “We will not stand for a country where bankers that issued deadly mortgage-backed securities are bailed out, but homeowners with mortgages are illegally thrown out on the street.”

This is an important and savvy foray by Occupy Wall Street into a very specific policy issue. But the foreclosure crisis is core to the problems of our economy and any efforts by the Obama administration to bail out the banks at the expense of homeowners should be opposed by the Occupy movement.

Occupy Oakland planning a general strike on Nov 2

Following last week’s violent police crackdown, the Occupy Oakland General Assembly passed a resolution calling for a general strike on November 2nd. You can watch a video of the Oakland General Assembly voting to pass the general strike here. While general strikes are rare and hard to enact, this one is gaining steam. The International Longshoremen and Warehouse Union has announced that they will stand in solidarity with this general strike. Occupy Oakland will march on the Port of Oakland and shut it down. Having support of the west coast longshoremen is clearly going to be helpful to the Occupy movement’s efforts. Here’s an excerpt from the resolution calling for the general strike:

We propose a city wide general strike and we propose we invite all students to walk out of school. Instead of workers going to work and students going to school, the people will converge on downtown Oakland to shut down the city.

All banks and corporations should close down for the day or we will march on them.

While we are calling for a general strike, we are also calling for much more. People who organize out of their neighborhoods, schools, community organizations, affinity groups, workplaces and families are encouraged to self organize in a way that allows them to participate in shutting down the city in whatever manner they are comfortable with and capable of.

Bill Black at #OccupyWallStreet on putting banksters in jail

It’s hard to read or watch Bill Black talk about the scope of criminality in our current financial crisis and not get really, really mad.

Black says that Obama should ask for Ben Bernanke to resign from his role as chair of the Federal Reserve. He also says that Obama should fire Tim Geithner and Eric Holder as well, though he says that these men were promoted because of, not in spite of, their work to protect banksters from prosecution. So I don’t think any of us should be optimistic about Obama giving Bernanke, Geithner or Holder the boot.

Stoller on OWS, Obama and the Federal Reserve of Oil

Two pieces by Matt Stoller that I think are worth reading, but I don’t have time to do analysis of. At Alternet,  Stoller writes about Occupy Wall Street as an unofficial primary challenge to President Obama.

Stoller also has a piece on Dylan Ratigan’s website, The Federal Reserve of Oil, which looks at one of the major power centers in American life and the challenge that exists in dislodging it.

Dahlia Lithwick on Occupy Wall Street & the Press

Dahlia Lithwick:

I confess to being driven insane this past month by the spectacle of television pundits professing to be baffled by the meaning of Occupy Wall Street. Good grief. Isn’t the ability to read still a job requirement for a career in journalism? And as last week’s inane “What Do They Want?” meme morphs into this week’s craven “They Want Your Stuff meme, I feel it’s time to explain something: Occupy Wall Street may not have laid out all of its demands in a perfectly cogent one-sentence bumper sticker for you, Mr. Pundit, but it knows precisely what it doesn’t want. It doesn’t want you.

It must be painful for the pundits at Fox News. The more they demand that OWS explain itself in simple, Fox-like terms, the more cheerfully they are ignored by the occupiers around the country. As efforts to ridicule the protesters fail, attempts to repurpose the good old days of enemies lists falter; and efforts to demonize the occupiers backfire, polls continue to show that Americans support the protesters and share their goals. The rest of us quickly cottoned on to the fact that the only people who are scared of the “violent mobs” at Occupy Wall Street are the people being paid to call them violent mobs.

By refusing to take a ragtag, complicated, and leaderless movement seriously, the mainstream media has succeeded only in ensuring its own irrelevance. The rest of America has little trouble understanding that these are ragtag, complicated, and leaderless times. This may not make for great television, but any movement that acknowledges that fact deserves enormous credit.

I’ve been less concerned of late about how the media was covering Occupy Wall Street. But Lithwick is right in her descriptions. By lying to people, outlets like Fox or CNN or CNBC expose themselves as fundamentally opposed to the interests, wishes, and desires of the lower 99%. This is not a good place to be right now.

One of the beauties of  Occupy Wall Street as a meme is that it is both very fecund and very simple. It picks a target: Wall Street. It instructs an action that goes after the target: Occupy. And the severity of the situation is met by an action which is honestly and realistically responsive to the situation in which it is happening. Things are so bad that a one day protest won’t do, so Occupy Wall Street does not ask people to do a one day protest. The power of this as a meme is demonstrated by how widely it has spread and how many people are taking the action it calls for. This in turn enables everyone else to understand at a primal, intuitive level what the Occupy movement is about without talking heads on TV digesting it for them.

The indictment of the Occupy movement is first and foremost one of financial elites having complete and total control of the economy and our political systems. That analysis includes rich sub-strata that go towards the unaccountability of politician to the public and the tendency of the corporate media to represent the interests of the 1% over the 99%. Any discussion of the deficit, debt, or austerity makes this crystal clear. This is part of the reason that the Media Working Group of the NYC General Assembly are so committed to creating their own reporting of what is happening and not relying on the press to come to Liberty Plaza and get what is going on.

The media must face up to the challenge in front of them. Police departments around the country are starting to violently crack down on peaceful Occupy protesters. Will the press tell the story of what is happening? Or will they do as the Washington Post did yesterday and show a photo of a cop in Oakland petting a kitten? That is, whose side will the press be on as financial and political elites use the police as a tool to break a movement that is opposed to their hold on power? As Lithwick points out, if the press is incapable or unwilling to honestly and accurately tell the story of this movement, they will only succeed at marginalizing themselves.

Schneiderman & Biden investigating criminal charges for foreclosure crisis


Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Last night on Rachel Maddow’s show, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman revealed that he and Delaware AG Beau Biden are investigating criminal acts in connection to the foreclosure crisis. Skip to 2:37 where Maddow starts talking about foreclosures. If you want to skip over Maddow praising a really cynical DNC ad hitting Romney for wanting to speed up foreclosures, she gets to Schneiderman at around 4:00. Schneiderman almost never appears on TV, so his appearance is definitely worth watching.

Business Week has more on the Schneiderman/Biden criminal investigation.

Schneiderman also spoke very favorably about Occupy Wall Street. He said he sympathizes with the protests and that the sentiments expressed by the Occupy movement were shared around the country, notably that there is no longer equal justice under the law for the other 99% compared with the top 1%. He said that he views Occupy Wall Street as the tip of the iceberg for sentiments that are common around America. Considering his offices overlook Liberty Plaza and that he’s one of the few Justice Democrats, it makes sense that he’s expressing such a rich and supporting analysis of the Occupy movement.

Taibbi on what #OccupyWallStreet wants

The whole post by Matt Taibbi is must-read, but this closing observation is the real point.

These inequities are what drive the OWS protests. People don’t want handouts. It’s not a class uprising and they don’t want civil war — they want just the opposite. They want everyone to live in the same country, and live by the same rules. It’s amazing that some people think that that’s asking a lot.

Yes, exactly.

Occupy Wall Street Still Has Work To Do

Matt Taibbi looks at President Obama’s recent move to trade some requirements for financial disclosure under Sarbanes-Oxley in exchange for business support for his jobs plan. Taibbi:

If the financial crisis proved anything, it’s that Wall Street companies in particular have been serial offenders in the area of dishonest accounting and book-cooking. Sarbanes-Oxley is obviously no panacea, but removing it in exchange for a temporary, election-year job boost is exactly the kind of myopic, absurdly irresponsible shit that got us into this mess in the first place. For Obama to pull this in the middle of these protests is crazy.

Totally agreed. Taibbi goes on and gets at the real point: the work of Occupy Wall Street isn’t done yet:

If anyone thought OWS has already done its job, and Washington has gotten the message already, think again. They’re not going to change until the protesters force them to change, it seems.

There is much work to be done. Change is going to come when protesters force political and financial elites to change. The mere existence of this protest has dramatically shifted the tone of political conversations, but it certainly hasn’t lead to any spontaneous efforts to hold banksters accountable for breaking the economy nor lead Congress to pass job-creating legislation. As a result, it is critically important that the protests continue and the message of the occupiers continue to resonate out into the political world.

#OccupyWallStreet’s inspiring donation and supply hub

NY1 has one of the most incredible and inspiring reports on the #OccupyWallStreet movement that I’ve seen. It’s about a large space – a former bank – donated by the United Federation of Teachers – that serves as the movement’s supply store room. It’s stocked with donations of food, medical supplies, clothing, and other essential items which are sustaining the occupation. The donations are coming in from all over the country and all over the world.

The donations coming in often include messages from the people sending them:

Occupiers said almost everything they receive is accompanied by a supportive note.

“Here are some cookies for the demonstrators. I’ll keep sending, as long as you keep protesting,” read Shan. “I’m a 69-year old retired journalist in Ohio who’s very much with you in spirit.”

One occupier told NY1 the notes they get with the supplies are like letters from the “frontline’s of America’s economic crisis.”

I’ve been at #OccupyWallStreet the last few days and had the privilege to see the inside of the storage space. The crew of volunteers who are organizing it and making it function are incredibly motivated by the donations they receive. What’s coming in is likely the lifeline which will allow the occupation to continue to into the cold New York winter.

If you want to send a donation of food, supplies, or anything else that you think the Occupiers will need to be sustained, you can mail donations to the Occupation. According to OccupyWallSt.org, the shipping address is:

The UPS Store
Re: Occupy Wall Street
118A Fulton St. #205
New York, NY 10038
Money orders only please, cannot cash checks yet. Non-perishable goods only. We can accept packages of any size. We’re currently low on food.