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Stein & Honkala arrested at a Fannie Mae sit-in over foreclosures

8:15 pm in Uncategorized by jest

August 1, 2012: Green Party vice presidential nominee Cheri Honkala hugs her son as she’s taken away by police after being arrested at a sit-in Wednesday in downtown Philadelphia. Matt Moore, © AP

The criminalization of protest continues.

Cheri Honkala (Photo: jakeratner / Flickr Creative Commons)

On the same day that their campaign overcame insurmountable odds and qualified for the Pennsylvania ballot, Stein & Honkala were out in direct action in protest over the foreclosure crisis.

The protest was originally called for by the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign to demand that the giant mortgage company halt foreclosure proceedings against two Philadelphia residents in danger of losing their homes.

Stein joined the protest after Cheri Honkala joined her as Stein’s vice presidential running mate. Honkala, a former homeless single mother, has been confronting banks and mortgage companies for decades demanding that they adopt policies that will, “keep families in their homes.”

At 1pm today about 50 protestors gathered outside of Fannie Mae’s Philadelphia headquarters. They heard from Miss Fran and Rhonda Lancaster, the heads of two families evicted by Fannie Mae in its refusal to negotiate an alternative to foreclosure.

Fannie Mae executive Zach Oppenheimer had previously promised in writing to meet with the two women in order to discuss other options. Yet no followup meeting ever took place, and so protestors today entered the Fannie Mae building and vowed to stay until Mr. Oppenheimer’s word was honored.

At about 2:30pm, an hour after entering the building and beginning a sitdown protest, lower level Fannie Mae officials agreed to meet with Miss Fran and Ms. Lancaster.

These meetings proved inconclusive, ending only with promises of more meetings. With Philadelphia police on hand with six paddy wagons and plainclothesman, a smaller subset of protestors stayed inside the building and risked arrest. Five were arrested, including Dr. Stein and Ms. Honkala.

Noting that the Obama administration has only released 10% of the aid that Congress had promised to homeowners, Stein asserted that “There is much more interest in Washington in protecting the profits of banks than in getting this aid out to the families whose lives are falling apart.

President Obama held a big press conference to announce a program that would supposedly help 1.5 million homeowners and so far it has actually helped only 1 per cent of that number. Real help goes to the CEOs who play golf with the President and the people get lip service. This will change only if the people stand up and say we’re not going to put up with it anymore.

One woman, Miss Fran, who has been sleeping in her car since being evicted, had this to say about her situation:

I have lived in Philadelphia all my life, and in this house since 1988. Once when I was forced to file for bankruptcy, my mortgage holder, Chase Bank, suddenly came to court and objected to my bankruptcy plan. Although the law requires them to notify me in advance, I had no warning of their action, so I had no lawyer and no time to prepare my evidence. The judge dismissed my file for bankruptcy and Chase began foreclosure proceedings.

I participated in Philadelphia’s Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion Program, so I was able to keep my home off the sheriff sale list. Then they claimed I missed a Conciliation Conference even though they had never notified me about it. When I complained, the court rescheduled the sheriff sale of my home from July 1, 2008, to September. I attended that sale on July 1 and was shocked to hear them put my house up for sale anyway. I was in the back of the auditorium and ran to the front making so much noise the sheriff’s lawyer had to stop the sale. Finally they brought in a letter from the sheriff saying they had obtained a court order that same day to sell the house. They had gone to court without even notifying me. The same judge who postponed the sale in the first place had turned around and vacated his own order, all without telling me.

The sale of my home went through on July 1, but my battle was just beginning. Although Chase Bank foreclosed on my home, I found out the sheriff changed the name on the documents to Fannie Mae. There is no bill of sale from Chase to Fannie Mae and no record of any transfer. Fannie Mae has no legal standing to evict me. But that didn’t stop them from trying. They sued to evict me in April 2011. I filed an objection, it was overruled, I answered them, and we were supposed to go to trial in February 2012. Then they filed for a summary judgment against me, which is only supposed to be granted when there is no dispute in the matter. I told them we most definitely do have a dispute: a district court order was ignored and Fannie Mae has no standing. But the judge granted the summary judgment anyway. They obtained a writ of eviction and scheduled my eviction for June 12.

The other homeowner, Rhonda Lancaster was talked into a reverse mortgage to pay for her sick mother’s health care bills. After her mother died, the bank refused to accept her as the executor of her estate, although the proper papers had been filed at City Hall. From that point on it was a complete nightmare.

And in completely unrelated news from today

by jest

Rocky Anderson & Barbara Ehrenreich try to talk sense to an idiot on poverty

5:45 pm in Uncategorized by jest



Gawd, I hate stupidity.

I would do a write up, but it would piss me off even more than I am now. If you can’t stomach it, I can understand. FWIW, Cornel West was interviewed in the first part of the show, and was excellent as usual.

by jest

Barack Obama, Eldridge Cleaver, and the American Right

9:08 pm in Uncategorized by jest

Mark Ames has a fantastic article up about noted conservative writer  V. S. Naipaul. But the article unexpectedly contains a lengthy look at Naipaul’s views of former Black Panther turned GOP Reaganite conservative, Eldridge Cleaver.

From the article:

And here Naipaul quotes an amazing passage from Cleaver’s Soul On Ice:

I was very familiar with the Eldridge who came to prison, but that Eldridge no longer exists. And the one I am now is in some ways a stranger to me. You may find this difficult to understand but it is very easy for one in prison to lose his sense of self. And if he has been undergoing all kinds of extreme, involved, and unregulated changes, then he ends up not knowing who he is….

In this land of dichotomies and disunited opposites, those truly concerned with the resurrection of black Americans have had eternally to deal with black intellectuals who have become their own opposites….

In a sense, both the new left and the new right are the spawn of the Negro revolution. A broad national consensus was developed over the civil rights struggle, and it had the sophistication and morality to repudiate the right wing. This consensus, which stands between a violent nation and chaos, is America’s most precious possession. But there are those who despise it.

The task which the new right has feverishly undertaken is to erode and break up this consensus, something that is a distinct possibility since the precise issues and conditions which gave birth to the consensus no longer exist.

The “new right” of 1968 had become the New Right of 1984, to which Cleaver belonged. Of this New Right I knew nothing until I got to Dallas; and what I learned was bewildering.


Like Ames, I was immediately struck by this passage; not only because it was my personal discovery of the “lobotomized” version of Cleaver, but the striking similarities to the evolution of our Commander-in-Chief & today’s right wing.

First off, Cleaver becomes in the 1980′s what he despised in the 1970′s: a black cultural elite who is in direct opposition of the desires & needs of everyday black Americans. Mainly through his opposition of the “welfare state” and negative views of programs like the New Deal:

We need entities where people could belong to organizations that are not controlled by government. The organizations could come up with projects that would benefit society and then they could earn money that would come out of that national product and not filter through the state. If we do it through the state like, say, President Roosevelt did it with the New Deal, you augment the power of the state. But if you do it through decentralized structures that are controlled by the people, then we maintain our freedom, within a free institution. I don’t want to see the government get control of the economic system…

I won’t bore you with comments from Obama about his love for unfettered free market nonsense; I’m sure you already know. If not, just check out FDL’s coverage of just KORUS. Also, note that most of the budget cutting Obama is obsessed with will disproportionately those who benefit most from the freedom killing “welfare state.” Or what little is left of it.


Second are Cleaver’s astute observations about the unity that enveloped the nation during the civil rights struggle. One is that this unity was a national treasure, and secondly, and perhaps most frighteningly, this unity was seen as a direct threat to the well-being of the New Right.

A fractured society is an attribute that actually gives the right strength; it is not just a political or legislative tactic. Divisiveness is and has been a rallying cry; it is a necessity for their mere existence. National unity is suicide.

Further, divisiveness is a very cheap, easy tactic to execute; much easier than building coalitions or organizing.


Third, and worst of all, the conditions that created unity, that national treasure, no longer exists. Left of center institutions & organizations have been decimated. Our leaders are no longer motivated by principle, but by access.

One of the biggest tragedies of Obama was his ability to do the impossible: quickly build an amazing coalition, and dismantle it with extreme prejudice even faster. He may have single-handedly ruined youth organizing for an entire generation.

There are other conditions that are different today, these are just a few. Unfortunately, the conditions on the Right are quite similar to the ones in the 1960′s: radicalism, divisiveness, and a self-destructive nihilism.

The larger point is that the conditions we face today are far more conducive to additional divisiveness, which serves to weaken the Left more and more each day. And triangulationist policies from modern day Cleavers who reside in the White House will only hasten this. The American Left has never been more fractured than it is today.

We saw Cleaver look to the New Right of 1968 with disdain, only to join the New Right of 1984 with enthusiasm. Much like Obama looked to the right with disdain, only to embrace, if half heartedly, many of the core beliefs of the contemporary Right.

Obviously Obama and Cleaver feel shackled by the past. Both men are tied to a black pride movement, which for obvious reasons had wealth equality as a core belief. And both men have tried to cleave, relatively unsuccessfully, this excess baggage from their political aura, damning whatever else is attached to it in order to impress Cleaver’s “New Right” or Obama’s “New Center”. Whether it be some attachment to their (our) collective past, struggles, or dreams. However, that never prevented either man from trotting out whatever could not be cleanly amputated whenever these vestiges were politically convenient.

by jest

You Are Here: $250,000 and Poor

7:58 pm in Uncategorized by jest

Stencil art: We don't belong in Gucci shoes. (photo: jontintinjordan via Flickr)

A couple months ago, there was an infamous dust-up in the econ blogosphere about a law professor at the University of Chicago. See this, this, this, this, or this.

Not too long ago, I wrote briefly about the common tragedy of a family of four living on $20,000.

So, you can imagine my reaction to this:

Down and Out on $250,000 a Year

$250,000 AND POOR
A family of four with an annual income of $250,000 may be in the top 2.9 percent of earners. But after taxes and basic expenses, they are far from the affluent family they may seem to be.

I tend to have a reaction to bad journalism. It is not pleasant. . . .

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