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This is really funny. Rick Santorum, never known for his brains, is called out by one of John McCain’s aides for stating that McCain doesn’t understand torture. Yeah, because unlike Rick Santorum, he didn’t just read a story about it:

WASHINGTON, May 17 (UPI) — GOP U.S. presidential hopeful Rick Santorum said Tuesday John McCain, tortured as a prisoner of war, “doesn’t understand how enhanced interrogation works.”

During an interview on Hugh Hewitt’s talk show on the Salem Radio Network, Santorum, a former Republican U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, credited so-called enhanced interrogation methods with helping the United States track down al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.

When Hewitt pointed out that McCain, the Republican presidential nominee in 2008 and a U.S. senator from Arizona who spent years in a North Vietnamese prison camp during the Vietnam War, has said there is no such evidence, Santorum said everything he has read shows the trail to bin Laden began with “information from people who were subject to enhanced interrogation.”

Well, sure! If the only things you read are Townhall.com, Red State and World Net Daily, I can see where he might get that idea…

“And so this idea that we didn’t ask that question while Khalid Sheik Mohammed was being waterboarded, he [McCain] doesn’t understand how enhanced interrogation works,” Santorum said. “I mean, you break somebody, and after they’re broken, they become cooperative. And that’s when we got this information.

“Maybe McCain has better information than I do, but from what I’ve seen, it seems pretty clear that but for these cooperative witnesses who were cooperative as a result of enhanced interrogations, we would not have gotten bin Laden.”

McCain aide Mark Salter responded on Facebook, saying, “For pure, blind stupidity, nobody beats Santorum. In my 20 years in the Senate, I never met a dumber member, which he reminded me of today,” MSNBC reported.

Attacking Cornel West

This is a very touchy area, one I’ve discussed recently as a guest of Mark Thompson on “Make It Plain,” a progressive radio show on Sirius XM. African-American callers responded by talking about their personal pain over Obama’s economic policies, yet feeling compelled to defend him as America’s first black president — and not quite knowing how to do both. Every caller made clear that this is a visceral point.

It’s also notable that class is still the dividing line. The most heated defense of Obama in the black online community seems to come from high-status professionals (or students studying for high-status jobs), people who see him as a peer. The people who called into Mark’s show? They’re living from paycheck to paycheck. That perspective makes a difference.

Now, I realize that on this issue, I come from a place of privilege. I’m disgusted by the right wing racism and call it when I see it, but as a white progressive, I also feel perfectly entitled to criticize Obama’s policies. Obviously, many black Americans don’t:

Scholar Cornel West’s scathing critique of President Obama’s liberal bona fides in a series of recent interviews has ignited a furious debate among African American bloggers and commentators.

The well-known Princeton professor and author, who has released rap albums and starred in Hollywood films, supported Obama in the 2008 presidential campaign but now calls the president a “black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats.”

“I was thinking maybe he has at least some progressive populist instincts that could become more manifest after the cautious policies of being a senator,” West told Chris Hedges in an interview for the liberal political blog Truthdig.

Focusing on Obama and race, West said: “I think my dear brother Barack Obama has a certain fear of free black men . . . It’s understandable. As a young brother who grows up in a white context, brilliant African father, he’s always had to fear being a white man with black skin. All he has known culturally is white. He is just as human as I am, but that is his cultural formation.”

White House officials declined to respond to West’s remarks, which have sparked a hot conversation this week. And Obama aides have have been content to allow others to take up the president’s defense.

Several commentaries from African American scholars and bloggers have particularly disputed West’s take on Obama and race.

Melissa Harris-Perry, a Princeton professor of African American studies and politics, wrote a column for the Nation calling West’s comment “utter hilarity coming from Cornel West who has spent the bulk of his adulthood living in those deeply rooted, culturally rich, historically important black communities of Cambridge, MA and Princeton, NJ. . . . Harvard and Princeton are not places that are particularly noted for their liberating history for black men.”

Imani Perry (no relation), also a professor at the Princeton Center for African American Studies and a former professor of law at Rutgers, defended West on Twitter this week:

Cornel West opened the space. Period. And in my tradition we respect elders, period. Disagreement can be consistent w/that. And I can’t stand “piling on” attacks. Debate, dialogue, don’t mob!

As a student, Cornel West modeled 4 me, commitments 2 the poor and marginal AND scholarly excellence. Amazing footsteps. Required courage.

West has an impressive body of rigorous brilliant scholarly work that even many academics aren’t aware of. But he always has kept connections with regular folks outside of camera view. That’s really rare.

So…It saddens me that many ppl who attack him (or silently cosign) are the explicit beneficiaries of his advocacy and kindness.

He has done so much for so many that folks don’t know about. And never asks anything in return. so, agree, disagree, whatever, but respect.

Gee, ya think?

So 29% of Americans think we’re in a depression, not a recession.

And Tim Geithner continues to lie and contradict himself.

You gotta serve somebody

Dylan:

Things have changed

Bob Dylan in the “Wonder Boys” soundtrack:

When I paint my masterpiece

The Band with Bob’s tune:

4th time around

Rumored to be Bob Dylan’s parody of “Norwegian Wood”:

‘I love women. So what?’

Apparently Mr. IMF assaulted a maid in Mexico, too.

Privatization

Anyone who thinks government privatization is about saving money needs to have his or her head examined.

Off register

Dave Dayen and I talked about this last night and he goes into more detail in this American Prospect article today. Think about all the revenue lost by your local county government because of this little shell game, and you’ll understand why it’s a big deal:

State and federal regulators have yet to stop mortgage-foreclosure abuses and exact punishment on the banks responsible for them. A slap on the wrist for 14 of the largest mortgage firms, a still fruitless effort by state attorneys general to reach a settlement with banks, and superficial investigations into the extent of the abuses have done little to answer questions about the proliferation of mortgage fraud. Without that knowledge, regulators are at a disadvantage in arriving at an equitable solution.

Enter the most unlikely players in this whole mess: unassuming elected county officials known as registers of deeds. Whenever a mortgage gets transferred from one owner to another or a home falls into foreclosure, documents of the transaction get filed at the county register’s office. Much of the truth about systemic document fraud is sitting in these local offices. Until now, virtually no register of deeds had bothered to take a look.

But Jeff Thigpen, the register of deeds in Guilford County, North Carolina, a county of about 465,000 in the center of the state (the largest city is Greensboro), decided to survey all the mortgage documents submitted to his office by DocX, a notorious “mortgage mill” that processes documents on behalf of lenders, between August 2006 and April 2010. He was inspired by a 60 Minutes investigation revealing numerous forgeries, backdating, and other false information on mortgage documents. “When I saw that [story], I was basically on fire,” Thigpen says. “‘I know this material is in my office, I’ve got to find it, I’ve got to get it out.’”

Out of the 6,100 documents Thigpen examined, 4,500 showed signature irregularities. The name of one DocX employee, Linda Green, who was acting as a vice president for several major banks, was forged 15 different ways on the Guilford County documents, rendering them invalid. Thigpen’s investigation was one of the first systematic assessments of mortgage document fraud in the entire country, certainly more robust than anything conducted by state and federal regulators.

Thigpen was elected as the Guilford County register of deeds in 2004, during “the steroid era of land records,” as he describes it. Mortgage securitization has been around since the 1980s, but it became widespread as the housing bubble inflated, when banks sliced up subprime mortgages into securities and sold them to global investors as an allegedly safe product. To reduce costs, the banks invented and funded the Mortgage Electronic Registration System (MERS), an electronic registry that allowed banks to circumvent county registers and thereby avoid paying the recording fee of roughly $35 per mortgage.

Go read the rest, it’s fascinating.

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