While I was gallivanting about the High Country last week, serving the Prince of Darkness, Housing Wire publisher Paul Jackson was deflating the Hindenburg of anti-bank gasbags, Yves Smith. Paul was writing about a decision in Arkansas in which a judge decided that as long as a loan servicer is a note "holder," it matters not who actually "owns" a note as far as the right to foreclose is concerned. If the borrower is in default, the "holder" of the note can foreclose. In addition, a borrower, not being a party to the pooling and servicing agreement among the parties to the loan securitization evidenced in part by that agreement, has no legal standing to contest the foreclosing party's right to foreclose under the terms of that agreement. Those rulings are directly contrary to positions taken by Ms. "Smith," and make her prior attacks on the credibility of Paul because he took positions contrary to hers, look like the blatherings of the ideological rant-bag I think she is.
I guess Paul resented Smith's prior unwarranted (and incorrect) attacks on him, and is issuing payback. My previous experience with Susan Webber (Smith's real name) leads me to the personal opinion that she's not worth the time it took Paul to write his opinion piece. In addition, her adoption of a French pseudonym in connection with her blog leads to me suspect that she's the type of American who would refuse to refer to "Freedom Fries" by their patriotic proper name.
Having said that, I confess to a personal bias against many of the loan servicers. I don't like what's been revealed about their slipshod servicing methods, and the noxious practice of "robo-signing" is particularly loathsome to me. My revulsion's cause is something that I haven't read much about, perhaps because I actually have a job that keeps me busy enough that I don't have time to scour the blogosphere for like-minded ranters, but perhaps it's because it's grounded in a moral objection, and "god knows," that morality stuff is all "relative and personal" these days. If you feel the same, then read no further and resume you're search for porn in cyberspace.
As most interested readers know by now, robo-signing involved employees of loan servicers and/or of law firms employed by the servicers, falsely swearing, mainly that they had personal knowledge of the truth of statements recited in documents filed with courts that were hearing foreclosure actions. There have also been allegations that notaries were falsely attesting that they witnessed the signatures of certain individuals, administered an oath to such individuals, and/or that those individuals swore under oath to the truth of the statements made in the documents filed with the court. Among other violations of law, such false swearing can constitute perjury.
Sure, if you're a presidential Pinochio, you might only get a three year suspension of a law license if you commit perjury. However, if you're a female rap artist like Lil Kim, you might get as much as a year and a day for perjury (although you'll likely serve less than that) and you'll also get a BET reality show out of the deal. If Kim had lied about sex with Bill Clinton, she'd likely have received only a suspended sentence.
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, a land we like to call "The United States of America," people actually believed that the fear of eternal damnation for the false swearing of an oath was necessary for the survival of a free society. George Washington, in his Farewell Address, asked an essential question:
Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice?
Washington was echoing the position taken by one of the philosophical God Fathers of the Revolution, John Locke, who, a hundred years earlier in his "Epistola de Tolerentia" ("A Letter Concerning Toleration") asserted:
Lastly, those are not at all to be tolerated who deny the being of a God. Nor do I. Promises, covenants, and oaths, which are the bonds of human society, can have no hold upon an atheist. The taking away of God, though but even in thought, dissolves all; besides also, those that by their atheism undermine and destroy all religion, can have no pretence of religion whereupon to challenge the privilege of a toleration. As for other practical opinions, though not absolutely free from all error, if they do not tend to establish domination over others, or civil impunity to the Church in which they are taught, there can be no reason why they should not be tolerated.
In the current "enlightened" age, it's hard for many to believe that such sentiments were representative of an era called "The Enlightenment." Dead, white, European males: What did those guys know? Nothing that's of interest to Lady Gaga or Charlie Sheen, I'm sure.
Well, George, to answer your question, I'd have to observe that the "denial of the being of a God" is so prevalent, and the fear of eternal damnation so weak, that "the sense of religious obligation" has long deserted oaths. Gone AWOL and is not returning in my lifetime. The only fear left to us with which to inspire men and women to honor their oaths is the fear of imprisonment for the crime of perjury. The only robe-wearers that inspire fear in our current civilization are not priests but their successors, judges. You can mourn or cheer this development, but it's difficult to deny it.
Wild Bill and Diminutive Kimberly are representative of how well the current system has been working for us. On the other hand, it's never too late to send a message. If robo-signers and their enablers (because it's important to cast a wide net in order to catch the big fish) get some serious time in the cooler for having perjured themselves or abetted the practice of perjury by others, then maybe we'll have stuck a small trowel of mortar into the cracks of the crumbling wall of Western civilization. After all: this isn't 'Nam. There are rules.