Weekend Open Thread

“You don’t need people’s opinions on a fact. You might as well have a poll asking: Which number is bigger, 15 or 5? Or, do owls exist? Or, are there hats?”

— John Oliver

35 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. VoyageurVoyageur says:

    The National Trumpstink Service has issued a Category Five Trumpstink alert for Mar-a-Lago and Washington, D.C.

    A Bolton alert is in effect for the entire planet.

    Stay upwind, America.

    And be afraid.

    Be very afraid.

  2. DavieDavie says:

    The price of incompetence:

    A Denver judge on Friday awarded more than $1.9 million to attorney Larry Castle and two associated businesses, who successfully defended themselves against state allegations of price gouging during the nation’s foreclosure crisis.

    In what should have been a slam dunk case (the defendants even offered a settlement before going to trial), Cynthia Coffman's crack team bungled this case, pissing off the judge, resulting in taxpayers getting dinged almost $2 million for attorney's fees.  But wait, there's more:

    “[The AG's office] sought more than $612,000, representing 1,534 attorney hours and 350 paralegal hours, which I found ‘ridiculously high,’” Hoffman wrote of the AG’s office. “I am flabbergasted that our Attorney General thought it appropriate to represent to this court that it was reasonable for her to spend more than $612,000 in taxpayers’ money to achieve a $119,500 judgment

    So long Cynthia — neither will we miss all the partisan lawsuits you've filed or joined with other RWNJ state attorney generals.

    • notaskinnycooknotaskinnycook says:

      But this wasn't one of those partisan suits. I followed the Castle case (in the media, at least). Castle really was pretty slimy. How Coffman managed to screw it up is beyond me.I guess it's just in her nature.

      • DavieDavie says:

        Agreed — and that's my point — not only has her office built a long track record of partisan lawsuits against Hick's wishes, as a final pièce de résistance, she leaves us with this smoldering pile that she actually should have won to help the victims of the mortgage ripoff.

      • Diogenesdemar says:

        Who knew that sometimes a complete partisan screw-up can also be a non-partisan incompetent? . . . 

        . . . My guess is that she must of had Moderatus working on the case?

        . . . Either that, or she was high?

    • Diogenesdemar says:

      If the judge could somehow manage to determine that $612,000 was a ridiculously high flabbergast, don’t you wonder how his or her honor could also reason an award to the Casttle slimeballs of $1.9M for fees?

      I’m flabbergasted!

      Jeez, I hope it’s not communicable . . . 

      It kinda’ sounds like maybe there’s more going on with this judge than just the facts of the case?

      • DavieDavie says:

        The judge indicated that since the AG was pursuing a $26 million damage award, the law firm was justified in running up $1.9 million in defense fees (their outside private attorneys charge more per hour than the state AG rate, presumably).

        Also, from the original coverage of the ruling:

        “The evidence, or lack of evidence, at trial was nothing short of breathtaking, especially compared to the investigative build-up and the serious and pervasive allegations in the complaint, Hoffman wrote. “The case Plaintiffs put on wasn’t even a sick relative of the robust allegations they made. They didn’t call a single witness from any of the allegedly deceived industries. I recognize that reliance was not an element of Plaintiffs’ CCPA/CFDCPA claims. But how could they not call a single buyer when their central claim was that the price that buyer paid was deceptively above market?”

        The order spans 20 pages and delves into much of the AG’s failures in handling the case. Despite these misgivings, Hoffman says he doesn’t think Coffman or other AG employees acted out of malice.

        “Despite Plaintiffs’ exhaustive investigative efforts, despite the feeble trial they put on, and despite the minimal results they achieved, I do not believe that Plaintiffs acted in bad faith,” Hoffman wrote in his order. “These were gross errors of judgment, not vindictiveness. I don’t doubt that every one of the assistant attorneys general who participated in this case, and their governmental client-representatives, subjectively thought this was a righteous case; they probably still do.”

        So the slimeballs got lucky with a clueless prosecution.

  3. davebarnesdavebarnes says:

    The Big Line needs updating.

  4. Conserv. Head Banger says:

    Interesting take on last weekend's Republican state assembly from noted Denver area libertarian conservative, Ari Armstrong.

    http://www.ariarmstrong.com/2018/04/theocratic-republicans-dominate-Colorado-assembly/

    —   30   —

     

    • DavieDavie says:

      That was a good read, CHB.  I especially appreciated the prescient words from none other than Barry Goldwater.  Too bad Ronald Reagan didn't heed them. 

      Between Nixon's Southern Strategy, and Reagan's alliance with the Moral Majority, (not to mention the current outrageous alliance with Trump) the GOP has made a Faustian deal that threatens to fatally corrupt our democracy.

    • VoyageurVoyageur says:

      Very nice piece by Armstrong.  For all her ineptitude, Coffman did more or less embody the Republican Party that I was a member of for 32 years.   Today, it is a pitiless coalition of bible thumpers and gummint haters.

    • JohnInDenver says:

      You have to wonder about someone describing Cynthia Coffman as both

      "a well-qualified and eminently electable woman with a distinguished career as an attorney and elected official"

      and

      someone who misreads a political convention speaking opportunities and makes an "attack [that] was heavy handed and out of place, and it cost her."  Or seemed "to run from the relevant [political position] controversies rather than address them head-on."

      • VoyageurVoyageur says:

        Watching Coffman's campaign was like watching Willie Mays drop a pop fly and hit .138.  Not really what I expected.  But as Ari noted, the extreme anti-abortion crowd didn't make it easy.

    • davebarnesdavebarnes says:

      There is no place in the GOP: Party of Hate® for cloth coat Republicans and Libertarians.

  5. RepealAndReplace says:

    You do need to update the The Big Line. And by the way, did the GOP manage to get anyone to put his or her name on the ballot in CD 2?

    If it’s not too late, maybe a vacancy committee could award that as a consolation prize to Kevin Lundberg.

  6. DavieDavie says:

    Latest dispatch from the S.S. Trumptanic, currently navigating frigid seas filled with icebergs:

    But a comprehensive investigation could raise questions about the Trump Organization’s compliance with anti-money-laundering laws and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which — according to the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice — makes it a crime for a United States company to act with willful blindness toward the corrupt activities of a foreign business partner.

    The former Donald Trump insider Steve Bannon has hinted darkly about the Trump family’s exposure to money laundering. And Mr. Mueller has already secured the indictment of Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman, on charges of money laundering related to his work in Ukraine. Federal prosecutors are reported to be looking into Jared Kushner’s family firm over its use of a federal program that offered wealthy Chinese investors visas in return for investments. Kushner Companies has denied any wrongdoing.

    The Trump family’s business entanglements are of more than historical significance. Americans need to be sure that major foreign policy decisions are made in the national interest — not because of foreign ties forged by the president’s business ventures.

  7. RepealAndReplace says:

    Well at least he did a better job collecting signatures than his nephew did…….

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/21/us/politics/mitt-romney-convention-primary.html?mabReward=ART_CBD1&recid=13ax1YhtSefwPdz58CLrHsf6GeB&recp=0&moduleDetail=recommendations-0&action=click&contentCollection=Sunday%20Review&region=Footer&module=WhatsNext&version=WhatsNext&contentID=WhatsNext&src=recg&pgtype=article

    He lost at the state convention – 51% for a RWNJ to 49% for Mittens – but otherwise collected 28,000 (presumably valid) signatures to make the primary ballot.

     

  8. PseudonymousPseudonymous says:

    Ed Perlmutter had to stay in the race– his work wasn't yet done.  His work fucking working people, anyway.  Well, we really didn't need the CFPB, I suppose.

    First, our friend Ed thought it was best to force regulatory agencies to waste their resources by forcing them to continually review regulatory impact.  At the same time, requiring the regulators to limit the impact of regulation without taking into account how those limits would impact the people benefiting from regulation.

    Now, our good friend Ed is sponsoring a bill that calls itself a technical fix, but

    […] the vague and sweeping limitations on CFPB authority in HR 3746 would drastically narrow or perhaps even eliminate the CFPB’s ability to oversee financial products and services offered to consumers by insurance companies.

    As a number of consumer organizations note, in their letter opposing the bill,

    […] the term “business of insurance” is broad, vague and subject to debate. It is also not clear if the bill would prevent the CFPB from addressing ancillary activities undertaken in the context of insurance products. The bill could be interpreted to prohibit the CFPB from addressing well-documented problems with deception and fraud involving force-placed mortgage and auto insurance, credit insurance add-ons, and private mortgage insurance.

    Companies that are engaged in core consumer financial markets such as mortgages, consumer loans, and auto loans may also sell credit insurance and hold limited purpose insurance licenses.

    The CFPB’s oversight of deceptive practices and lending law violations in these areas is critical as state insurance regulators have been largely unable or unwilling to rein in bad practices.

    The bill could also be interpreted to prevent the CFPB from enforcing credit reporting, privacy, electronic payment, and other laws that apply to insurance companies but are not within the expertise or authority of state insurance regulators.

    Thanks Ed, good to have you back.  We all gotta make a buck, even if that’s only to have it stolen later by Big Finance for some of us.  Dolla dolla bill, y'all.

    • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

      That is disappointing. Ed P. does have a reputation for being a strong consumer advocate. I looked on Perlmutter's website to see what his explanation was for co-sponsoring this bill back in 9/2017, and there was nothing.

      If I understand your explanation above and my reading of the text of the bill, it basically removes the enforcement and accountability from the CPFB in regard to insurance fraud.  So payday lenders can still charge what desperate people will pay, lowlife mortgagors like Countrywide can still slap on $2000 fees for no reason, the "live large by refinancing" industries can still keep people in virtual indentured servitude.

      Progressive Democrats should have primaried him, if nothing else, just to bring this type of crap up. Shame on you, Ed Perlmutter.

      • Diogenesdemar says:

        I predict a “we gotta’ destroy the CFPB to save it” justification somewhere?? . . . 

        OTOH Yammysmallbits and Mulvaney have pretty much taken the CFPB completely offline, so Ed’s part here is kinda’ like the guy who puts a bullet into a corpse.

        [Sigh.]  It was nice while it lasted, all things must pass.*

        (*Also suitable for enscribing onto the Statue of Liberty?)

        • RepealAndReplace says:

          so Ed's part here is kinda like the guy who puts a bullet into a corpse

          That is exactly why this vote does not matter. Except to ideological fanatics who get all twisted over symbolic gestures.

          • Diogenesdemar says:

            I dunno’, call me old-fashioned, but I still kinda’ subscribe to the wishful thinking of having representatives who work hard to keep bodies alive and warm . . . 

            . . . Ed’s wrong here.  It’s, sadly in relative terms, moot.  Still, he should be working and fighting to make things better.

            . . . he isn’t guilty of the murder.  Small comfort at best.

        • PseudonymousPseudonymous says:

          Here's the most recent action undertaken by the CFPB, perhaps shockingly, under Trump and Mulvaney:

          Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection Announces Settlement With Wells Fargo For Auto-Loan Administration and Mortgage Practices

          What was the basis for this $1 billion action?

          As described in the consent order, the Bureau found that Wells Fargo violated the Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA) in the way it administered a mandatory insurance program related to its auto loans. [emphasis mine] The Bureau also found that Wells Fargo violated the CFPA in how it charged certain borrowers for mortgage interest rate-lock extensions. Under the terms of the consent orders, Wells Fargo will remediate harmed consumers and undertake certain activities related to its risk management and compliance management. The Bureau assessed a $1 billion penalty against the bank and credited the $500 million penalty collected by the OCC toward the satisfaction of its fine.

          The corpse is still kicking. And, unless Congressfolks like Perlmutter allow it to be destroyed, it will have a new administrator and still-robust powers when/if the Democrats don’t blow the 2020 election.

  9. PseudonymousPseudonymous says:

    What price victory?

    Fearing Chaos, National Democrats Plunge Into Midterm Primary Fights

    Ms. Tran pointedly replied that she was “the only qualified woman, the only immigrant and the only physician in the race.”

    “I said to them, frankly, let the voters decide,” recalled Ms. Tran, a pediatrician.

    The national Democratic Party was not chastened: On Wednesday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee took sides in that House race and backed Gil Cisneros, a Navy veteran and former Republican.

    • RepealAndReplace says:

      Well, in the unique case of California, the national and state party do need to do SOMETHING.

      Because of its jungle primary, there could be a half dozen Dems and 2 Republican competing against each other for the top two finalist spots.

  10. mamajama55mamajama55 says:

    Ted Cruz should wipe that shit-eating grin off his face.

    Democratic candidate Beto O'Rourke is campaigning like he means it. According to the latest Quinnipiac poll, the matchup between Cruz and O'Rourke is "too close to call".

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