February 22, 2011

Land Scandal Community Education: Ideas Toward An Outline

Filed under: Bailouts Only Propped Up Zombies, Land Reform — Tags: , — Russ @ 3:33 am


A few days ago I broached the idea of community lectures on the Land Scandal, to describe it in detail and placing it in the broad context of Wall Street’s crimes, the Bailout, and the destruction of democracy and the real economy. These lectures could be for the benefit of mortgage holders, the community at large, and local governments.
I haven’t yet worked out the exact details for such a presentation, and since I’m not a tech guy I don’t personally know how to give it the whole powerpoint-type treatment, although I assume that would be more effective.
I’ve compiled hundreds of links on every aspect of the subject, mostly from Naked Capitalism. I’ve been in the process of arranging them by subject and chronology as if into a book. (There’s also the many posts I’ve written on the subject.) My basic idea would be to distill an accessible, popularized presentation from all this material. It should be comprehensive and easy to understand. The lecturer must also master sufficient detail to be able to answer most questions. We’d have to try to anticipate what the most common questions (both sincere and phony/hostile) would be. Looking at comment threads, perhaps at MSM outlets, seems like the obvious place to do such research.
Here’s some of the basic topics to cover:
* How the mortgage holder has a perfect right to challenge his current servicer or anyone who would foreclose.
* How the forecloser probably has no legal right to foreclose.
* How his documents are possibly fraudulent.
* The details of each of these: Servicer fraud, how the servicer seeks to put people into default, robo-signing of lost note affidavits, direct forgery, forged allonges, the fact that MERS has no standing to foreclose, etc.
* How all this violates venerable real estate law, which is a bastion of social stability and local control.
* How the banks and both parties in Congress are conspiring to legalize these crimes and further assault federalism in the process. This would be a key point – any bill you see in Congress will be part of this assault on behalf of the banks. The audience should be ready to swarm their reps like enraged hornets.
This could be placed in the context of:
* The nature of the housing bubble.
* How predatory lending was a premeditated fraud on the part of lenders who knew they were telling lies about a bubble. Also how the federal government collaborated in this. (Although lower-level governments did as well, there it may be better to go more with a “bad apple” approach. After all, we want to work with local governments and if possible take power at that level. So there’s no point in extending the systemic crime accusation to that level.) How all mortgages since the late 90s were fraudulently induced by the same banksters who were systematically destroying the real economy. (From here, to audience taste, one could give a primer on globalization itself, placing the mortgage bubble in that context.)
* How the banks intentionally crashed the economy in 2008.
* The basics of the Bailout. (How the TARP was just a tiny part of the Bailout, and how the Bailout is the ongoing and permanent priority of all federal government policy.)
* How by now the banks and government are indistinguishable.
While the main focus of each presentation would be Foreclosuregate in itself, the description of the broader context could be scaled depending on the context and the receptivity of the audience. I expect people would be interested in it.
Then there’s this basic point:
* Why did the banks blow up the bubble? Securitization. Primer on securitization. What are MBS?
* The reason for the convoluted originator-sponsor-depositor-trust conveyance. How there never was any reason for it which was good for the real economy, only good for the banksters and bad for us.
* How the banks then systematically failed to convey the notes. The reasons they failed to honor their own system (so they could belatedly assign failed loans to tranches; so they could sell the same loan multiple times; so they could engage in massive evasion of recording fees and taxes).
I haven’t figured out yet how to tie together in one simple package for novices the fraud “how” of the foreclosuregate basics with the fraud “why” of the MBS scam. Those are the two essential parts and are intertwined, but also seem like two different threads of presenting the ideas. So we need to figure that out.   
* How many if not all of the MBS are therefore fraudulent, void, null.
* How this means the banks are insolvent. (Even beyond the way the Bailout has always been a Ponzi scheme, the Fed and Treasury simply building a Tower of Babel of debt ever higher.)
In all of this, while it shouldn’t be too hard to find audience agreement on the malevolence of the banks and government, the tricky part is going to be convincing them not to also bash fellow debtors. This needs to be done with tact. The lecturer must not be haughty and broadcast how stupid debtor-bashing is. Presenters need to explain clearly:
* How we’re all victims of this massive fraud which was propagated by our own government and media. (Was it also propagandized in schools? I don’t know, not having been there lately. What were high school personal finance classes saying about asset prices and using one’s house as an investment during the decade starting in the latter 90s?)
* How those who fight foreclosure are not the profligate deadbeats of bankster propaganda, but are overwhelmingly either the victims of servicer fraud, are just flat out being wrongfully foreclosed upon, are trying to protect their home while filing for bankruptcy, or have been faithfully adhering to bank and/or government directives on how to apply for a modification, and are now being betrayed by that scam process.
In everything, the lecture should present the best examples we can find, selecting for clear-cut cases of abuse against what everyone would agree were normal, unassuming middle class types. Where it comes to wrongful foreclosure we have a vast selection available.
In everything, the right tone should be derived from the mood of the audience itself. The presenters should be prepared to be more or less passionate, more or less appealing to emotion, more or less radical in the indictments and prescriptions. For now the default tone should be restrained and matter-of-fact.
Finally, what is to be done?
* How people must be aware of the question, Where’s My Note in the Chain of Conveyance?
And the moment the servicer begins the foreclosure process, or there’s any dispute with the servicer whatsoever: Show Me the Note!
* Walking away (for non-recourse states), how it’s a simple contractual option. How the banks, other corporations, and the rich do it all the time. How the results are not as dire as system propaganda claims. (This should only be discussed sparingly, mostly in response to audience questions. After all, our goal isn’t for communities to continue to disintegrate, but for them to recohere. If people are willing to stop paying, our goal should be to convince them that they can still stay in the house and remain committed to the community, if that’s what they’d prefer to do. They shouldn’t let fear of the banks get in the way of that. Here we truly have nothing to fear but fear itself.)
* The tactics of seeking a mod. How one has to reject bank directives to miss payments and so on (that’s a trap they lay for us). How one has to reply immediately with a credible threat to stop paying permanently, whether one walks away or not.  
* As for the broader idea of mass Jubilation in Place, that a critical mass or any significant number in a community can stop paying the mortgage, stay in the house, keep paying the property tax, and remain committed to the community, I don’t know if many people are receptive to this idea yet. So for the time being it’s probably not a key part of the presentation, but something which could be suggested if a particular audience seemed like it might be receptive.
So there’s some basic ideas on what the presentation could contain, and how it could be laid out. Next I’ll work on a detailed outline. Then each item on the outline could be further fleshed out – basic explanation, talking points, rhetorical points, politically effective examples, recommended links, etc. Does anyone have ideas to add?


  1. This proposal is timely and sounds reasonable; the attitudes/tone expressed are appropriate. It is obvious that the bankster approaches are often illegal, but then the laws are apparently made to be broken/adapted by the privileged class. It will be an interesting challenge to attempt to try to rally the unenlightened/disenfranchised around the jubilation concept.

    Comment by William Wilson — February 22, 2011 @ 9:54 am

    • Thanks, William. I hope stuff like this can contribute to a democratic renewal.

      Comment by Russ — February 22, 2011 @ 12:19 pm

  2. I give a lot of powerpoint talks/seminars communicating fairly dense data. I often cringe when I see a finance/economics type powerpoint because of how badly they’re laid out (often times the slides are just black-and-white text bullet points of the text of the talk- total waste of the format). I know this is difficult due to the subject matter, but good visuals/diagrams are really a must to reach the broadest range of people, especially the visual learners. My guess would be that this talk would be an hour or so in length, maybe a bit more. People are going to be tuning in and out through that time, and a good diagram will let them do that without losing the thread of the presentation.

    The other thing I would suggest would be to break the talk into maybe 10 or 15 minute “units” which can be modularly assembled as appropriate for the audience’s level of background knowledge, locale, interest in particular matters (how the land scandal ties in with other corporatist projects, etc). This would also make it easier for lecturers to learn the material, as they could start out giving short 20-30 min talks with 2-3 of the most important units, and build up to the point where they’re able to cover everything competently.

    As you assemble the material, where time permits, I’ll try to contribute whatever diagrams or pictures I can find, as powerpoint slides or whatever format you think is best. If there are any journal articles or other academic materials you need access to please don’t hesitate to drop me a line and I can scare them up.

    Comment by paper mac — February 22, 2011 @ 1:29 pm

    • Thanks for the suggestions and offer, paper mac. I’ll keep those in mind.

      I know what you mean about the visuals. I wasn’t even sure if “powerpoint” was the word I wanted, and was using it as a catchall. At my relocalization group the usual A/V setup for a presentation or video/film is to hook up a DVD or slide machine to a laptop and project it onto a screen. I haven’t done any of those myself and don’t know what they call the software. I suppose that could be combined with a speaker.

      I also like the module idea, which is the way I’ve been trying to group the information in my mind, although it’s always hard to do because to me most things seem to ramify out in many directions.

      Comment by Russ — February 22, 2011 @ 3:34 pm

  3. These guys have it figured out:

    Comment by black swan — February 23, 2011 @ 6:46 am

    • Sorry, the second link was supposed to be this one:

      Comment by black swan — February 23, 2011 @ 6:50 am

      • A big problem with the “Oath Keepers” is that they are really tied up with the “Right to Carry” people, who are most visible in thug form, as here, walking around armed solely in order to intimidate:


        At the same time, we have an AG in Indiana wanting to fire on peaceful union protesters with live ammo. What’s a poor pacifist to do? He’s gonna get shot by the government AND the citizenry!?!!!

        All this gun-nuttiness is disconcerting. I’m just for opting out by reducing my income and hence their revenue stream, both of ’em, governments and corporations. Instead of going Galt, going Ghandi.

        Comment by Lidia — February 23, 2011 @ 10:13 pm

      • oops, “Gandhi”!

        Comment by Lidia — February 23, 2011 @ 10:14 pm

      • I always wanted to know how the “Oath Keepers” responded to the deputization of federal, state, and local police forces as BP’s privatized thugs in the Gulf.

        Comment by Russ — February 24, 2011 @ 1:57 am

      • Well, Russ, that’s a very good question!! I would have to conclude that since we didn’t hear about any bloodshed or confrontation, that they were cool with it.

        Another BIG problem with the “anti-Bilderburgers” is that they seem to be inherently quite racist or at least they attract an overwhelming racist element. Same thing with the militias and most all of the Teabaggers, who have this sort of “fig leaf” of being interested in legal and fiscal issues only, a complete crock.

        I ran into the same problem in Italy. I came across a superb book called “Money: The Devil’s Excrement” (the book was less lurid, but no less pointed, than the title), and sought to learn more about the author, Massimo Fini. Whether he likes it or not, he’s been lionized only by the “Stormfront” crowd here.

        He has a (languishing) site called “Movimento Zero” and the Manifesto there is as follows (my translation):
        NO to globalization, of men, of capital, of merchandise, or of rights

        NO to Capitalism and Marxism, two sides of the same coin: industrialism

        NO to the glorification of work, whose derivation is as much capitalist as Marxist

        NO to representative democracy

        NO to political and economic oligarchies

        YES to the self-determination of peoples

        YES to small countries

        YES to the gradual, limited, and reasoned return of forms of self-production and local consumption

        YES to direct democracy in limited and controlled environments

        YES to the right of peoples to construct their own future, without falsely benevolent “humanitarian” supervisions

        YES to global civil disobedience. If the vertices no longer recognize the untouchable sovereignty of the states, then it is the right of each of us to no longer recognize ourselves in a state.

        Now, you can see where the thuggish “ultras” (the ultra-nationalists, xenophobes, and race-obsessed Italian “Celtics”) would find a playground among these ideas.

        Although I agree with most of this manifesto, it raises the bigger question of whether it is possible to intentionally “relocalize” without letting brutish tribalism and racism get the upper hand.

        [Sorry, this is probably food for a different blog or a different post… I didn’t mean to hijack the presentation thread.]

        If you need help with graphics, you can e-mail me at the address used for this comment. I was a graphic designer for many years.

        Comment by Lidia — February 24, 2011 @ 10:08 am

      • Lots of information, dot connecting, and analysis about Tea Party (thorough history from Ron Paul to Koch funding) and oath keepers at Political Chili. The article linked below explains the NRA backing of, and Posse Comitatus and militia movement connections to oath keepers.

        Comment by AR — February 24, 2011 @ 12:32 pm

      • AR, thanks for the link. Nothing I didn’t already know. The psychological projection is hilarious “anyone who didn’t vote for Obama will be branded a terrorist”!

        I guess they slept through the Gulf War, 9/11, and the Iraq War!

        The problem of how to re-localize without getting entangled in the fear/greed/identity politics of the racists and Christianists is going to be no small order.

        Comment by Lidia17 — February 24, 2011 @ 1:16 pm

      • Unfortunately, this is stuff we need to think about too. Thanks for the links.

        Lidia, I never heard of Massimo Fini. That list is mostly good but so broad as to be manipulable in detail. And none of it is clearly democratic. So we can see how flexible fascist ideology can be. (Not that I’m saying that’s what he is, but as you say he’s at least being used that way.)

        Thanks for the offer, and I’ll keep it in mind.

        Comment by Russ — February 24, 2011 @ 2:35 pm

  4. I’d suggest a wiki format for organizing some of the information. If you wish to have other people collaborating with you on link gathering and rhetoric it would be much easier that way. If you prefer to work on it as a solo project a wiki is still a nice way to update information and still have previous versions available. There are free (as in liberty) wikis such as Media Wiki (wikipedia uses this) — you would need a webhost that runs the software — or commercial solutions like pbwiki and others that usually offer a free version to small projects.

    Comment by reslez — February 23, 2011 @ 10:13 pm

  5. This video has some good talking points and a logical flow. I think it could easily be expanded with the ideas you outlined in your post, Russ. I like the module idea. Everyone seems to have a HFT mentality these days. Giving more than 8 to 10 minutes, especially on the internet, would be difficult. Think how short tv is before cuts to commercial, what 5 to 6 minutes.

    Anyways here’s the link:


    Here are some good charts on wealth disparity: http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/02/income-inequality-in-america-chart-graph

    Comment by tawal — February 24, 2011 @ 12:40 am

    • The one about “the Ben Bernank” is priceless (though it may not fit with Russ’ presentation):

      Quantitative Easing Explained

      Comment by Lidia — February 24, 2011 @ 10:32 am

      • The sequel is also good (link at YT).

        Comment by Lidia — February 24, 2011 @ 10:37 am

  6. Sorry. Try this link:


    Comment by tawal — February 24, 2011 @ 12:44 am

  7. I believe this is closer to the orginal site:


    (Please do not be distracted by the occasional cosmic, karmic flatulence. Seems to be a feature of the software.)

    Comment by tawal — February 24, 2011 @ 1:03 am

  8. Thanks for the resources and suggestions, reslez and tawal.

    Comment by Russ — February 24, 2011 @ 2:06 am

    • You are very welcome Russ. Thank you for your commitment and dedication.

      Comment by tawal — February 24, 2011 @ 2:37 am

  9. Last fall I started to explain the scam to a neighbor who’s into investing, and usually up on things, and he was dumbfounded by what I was telling him. He believed me, but it was clear that such a massive fraud was hard to have to accept. But he made connections to all of the tales of woe he’d been hearing and it all made sense to him. I didn’t have time to tell him half of all of the scam, and yet it was already way too much detail. It’s just so mindblowingly 180º away from everything we think the system is supposed to be about.

    The biggest problem I foresee is popping people’s belief in the system, whether they’re liberals, libertarians or conservatives. Because it makes no sense until we realize that we’re all just victims with no dignity, in a ruthless, unfree, rip-off fascist state. The media is not informing, and the illusion of living in a ‘free country’ is still strong and hard to penetrate when Wal-Mart is still operating, so people think they still have choices about their lives.

    In order for many of the modules to make sense one would have to back-track or go off on tangents in order to bring understanding to why each action by the banks and government were initiated in the first place. Such as securitization. You’d have to explain the greed of Wall Street and the financialization of the economy. Globalized labor arbitrage, which means popping the illusions about Reagan and what he really instigated. The fact that investors want outsized returns and won’t invest in industry when they can manipulate things to go wrong and make a huge profit by betting against success, which means explaining the unregulated OTC CDS multi-trillion dollar shadow banking system. There’s just too much that people know nothing about that has to be explained in order for the entire explanation of the land scandal to be made sense of.

    The entire world view of the kleptocrats is alien to normal people. They don’t realize that the entire economic environment around them is not what they think, that we are all considered as mere ‘fodder units’ a Jeb Bush term. Here’s Al Martin’s definition:

    “Look, you hit them in every single hat they wear.” That was the idea. He used to call them fodder. You hit the fodder in their hats as Taxpayers. You hit them in their hats as Investors and Savers. You hit them in their hats as Insurance Policy Owners through all these insurance scams his brother was involved in. Then there was, of course, Jeb’s International Medical Corporation. Jeb also liked health care scams. But that was the idea the Bushes had, that you take the American taxpayer (which they called “One Fodder Unit,” or OFU) and you hit them in every single hat they wear. …”One Fodder Unit” became a popular term on the Republican cocktail party circuit in 1985. According to them, each individual American citizen equals One Fodder Unit. “ http://richmond.indymedia.org/newswire/display/1293/index.php

    An introductory unit about how capitalism really works would be necessary in order for the land scandal to fit into the overall framework of how our economy is being managed by the kleptocrats. Pump and dump needs explaining, to understand how the wealth is sucked upward via inflation and intentional bubbles. Intentional wage stagnation and consumer debt as a means of masking deindustrialization and globalization, and of making us into debt slaves has to be explained. Globalization has to be explained for what it really means, rather than just cheap trinkets from China. US imperialism needs to be explained, and learning that the US is not ‘the good guy’, and why our standard of living has been so high, and why it’s being shock-doctrined now. And peak oil, a huge hurdle.

    Comment by AR — February 24, 2011 @ 8:51 am

    • Whew! AR, you are right. Each of Russ’s bullet points could be an entire presentation in itself.

      What I find is that people really cling to “capitalism” with a patriotic and religious fervor. They choose not to believe their lying eyes which have to be registering the fact that things aren’t working the way they are supposed to be.

      I’ve done a bit of work trying to unmask a particular sociopath. The majority of people reject the clear proof they are shown of this person’s misdeeds, because the misdeeds are so outrageous that they just assume “nobody would do a thing like that”. But in fact someone HAS “done a thing like that”!

      I’m glad you were able to open your neighbor’s eyes, though. Sociopaths are what these people are, the Bushes and DImons and so forth. I know that word has been thrown around a lot, but I believe it to be literally true on a clinical level. Very creepy story about Jeb; that’s going into my files!

      Comment by Lidia — February 24, 2011 @ 10:51 am

    • We’re up against a tremendous amount of acculturation, like you say. I’m not sure yet how much this needs to be explicitly fit into a critique of capitalism itself. I suppose to begin with it mught be better to frame it within the crimes of the banks, but otherwise let people continue considering Wall Street to be an “abuse” rather than the pure distillation of practical capitalism. Otherwise, one runs the risk of turning people off prematurely. Education may need to be a step at a time, for this kind of forum.

      That is, it’s not an econoblog-reading audience, but normal middle class members of the community who have a vague sense that something’s very wrong with the bank mortgage system (and Wall Street in general) but don’t know much beyond that and are looking for a place to start learning. (Presumably they also sense the inadequacy of the MSM.)

      My next step probably will be to group the material into conceptual modules, for the time being including plenty of redundancy.

      Comment by Russ — February 24, 2011 @ 2:46 pm

  10. […] Workers’ Movement of South America.    This can then be tied in with parallel efforts at community education on the Land Scandal, which would include organized land redemption among its proposed solutions.  […]

    Pingback by What’s Our Affirmative? « Volatility — April 26, 2011 @ 3:29 am

  11. […] can then be tied in with parallel efforts at community education on the Land Scandal, which would include organized land redemption among its proposed […]

    Pingback by Food sovereignty in the post-oil future | The Bovine — April 26, 2011 @ 8:02 am

  12. Hi, you have a nice blog. I have a page about animals which, although in Germany but the top left is a menu English but also you can read everything in english. Greetings from Germany 🙂

    Comment by Zuechterszene — May 9, 2011 @ 10:06 am

  13. […] community at large.   One example is the kind of community lecturing program I described for the Land Scandal.   Another is the idea of placing all this political consciousness-raising within the framework of […]

    Pingback by Basic Movement Strategy « Volatility — May 23, 2011 @ 5:57 am

  14. […] see Lawrence Goodwyn’s The Populist Moment. . *** . Once upon a time I thought of adapting this idea to what I called the land scandal involving systematic property fraud on the part of the big banks. […]

    Pingback by Adapting the Populist Lecture Series for Today’s Food Sovereignty | Volatility — January 14, 2016 @ 7:13 am

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