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Don’t be silly, everyone knows the housing crash was caused by brown people getting mortgages from Fannie and Freddie! Why would they try to pin blame on a nice multinational corp like GE?

For General Electric Co., hawking subprime mortgages was a long way from making light bulbs and jet engines.

That didn’t stop the industrial giant from jumping into the subprime business in 2004, lending blue-chip respectability to the market for risky home loans by paying roughly half a billion dollars to buy California-based WMC Mortgage Corp.

What GE got in the bargain, former WMC employees say, was a place where erstwhile shoe salesmen, ex-strippers and even a former porn actress could sign on as sales reps and make big money pushing home loans. WMC’s top salespeople earned a million dollars a year or more and lived fast, swigging $1,000 bottles of Cristal and wheeling around in $100,000 Ferraris and Bentleys.

In pursuit of these riches and perks, several ex-employees claim, many WMC sales staffers embraced fraud as a tool for pushing through loans that borrowers couldn’t afford.

Dave Riedel, a former compliance manager at WMC, says sales reps intent on putting up big numbers used falsified paperwork, bogus income documentation and other tricks to get loans approved and sold off to Wall Street investors.

One WMC official, Riedel claims, went so far as to declare: “Fraud pays.”

How well did GE address WMC’s fraud problems?

GE says it did plenty to deal with the issue. Some ex-employees counter that GE officials didn’t do enough to rein in illicit practices, despite warnings from Riedel and other whistleblowers inside the lender. GE dispatched emissaries to look into the problem, the ex-employees say, but their efforts were too little, too late.

“They sent in people we thought were going to bring us back in the right direction,” Victor Argueta, a former risk analyst at WMC, says. “But it just never happened.”

Everytime you go away

It was a snowy night and I sat in my car, listening to this. Back in 1985, I thought this song was the essence of heartbreak. Programmed drums, cheesy syn – how crappy could you get? Yet the timeless lyrics, written by Mr. Daryl Hall, have lingered on lo, these many years. Paul Young:

Death and Costco

From the Reformed Broker.

‘Stop Stop’

Tonight

I just want to add that Mac McClelland is the Mother Jones reporter who did such amazing work on the Gulf oil spill, and she’s doing the same outstanding job with the Burmese rebels. Should be worth a listen!

8 pm eastern | 5 pm pacific |Virtually Speaking A-Z: This week in liberalism. | Stuart Zechman and Jay Ackroyd“Cognitive Dissonance and modern liberalism” . Follow @bobblespeak @Stuart_Zechman @JayAckroyd Listen live on BTR. Beginning midnight Friday, listen here.

9 pm eastern | 6 pm pacific |Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd |Jay talks with Mac McClelland about For Us Surrender Is Out of the Question an “intimate account of McClelland’s time among Burmese rebels.” Follow @MacMcClelland Listen live and later on BTR.

Heh

“My vagina is not a whiny little pussy.”

The Republican presidential hopefuls are all shameless flip-floppers, which is why Rick Santorum’s previous pro- labor union positions are no surprise:

GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum’s unexpected finish in Iowa has thrust his record into the spotlight. Naturally, his anti-choice, homophobic, and patently outrageous positions only help shore up his right-wing credentials. As he said in Sioux City, “A track record is a pretty good indication of what you’re going to do in the future.”

However, some of his votes in the past will certainly put a dent in his conservative credentials. As Bloomberg News points out, Santorum spent a lot of his 16-year congressional career fighting alongside labor advocates to protect striking workers, increase the minimum wage, and ensure that the law requiring employers to pay the prevailing wage stayed on the books…

Israel’s loose cannon targets Iran

This should be interesting. How will Barack Obama react if Benjamin Netanyahu tries to start World War III?

President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are engaged in intense maneuvering over Netanyahu’s aim of entangling the United States in an Israeli war against Iran.

Netanyahu is exploiting the extraordinary influence his right-wing Likud Party exercises over the Republican Party and the U.S. Congress on matters related to Israel in order to maximise the likelihood that the United States would participate in an attack on Iran.

Obama, meanwhile, appears to be hoping that he can avoid being caught up in a regional war started by Israel if he distances the United States from any Israeli attack.

New evidence surfaced in 2011 that Netanyahu has been serious about dealing a military blow to the Iranian nuclear programme. Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan, who left his job in September 2010, revealed in his first public appearance after Mossad Jun. 2 that he, Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) chief Gabi Ashkenazi and Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin had been able to “block any dangerous adventure” by Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak.

The Hebrew language daily Maariv reported that those three, along with President Shimon Peres and IDF Senior Commander Gadi Eisenkrot, had vetoed a 2010 proposal by Netanyahu to attack Iran…

Aunt Chippy wraps a present

Via Jimmy Kimmel:

‘Morning Dew’

This one’s performed by Jeff Beck (with Rod Stewart), not Beck Hansen, and it has nothing to do with Mountain Dew:

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