Larry Ribstein has a penetrating blog post on the forthcoming civil and criminal prosecution of Countrywide Financial and its former CEO Angelo Mozilo. Mozilo is a key figure both for those who blame the financial collapse on “greedy bankers” and for those who blame it on government action.
Thus, as Ribstein puts it, this prosecution is really an attempt to use the criminal justice system to define the ideological narrative of the financial crisis.
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At the blog Overlawyered, Walter Olson reports on the Toyota case : “The administration concedes that NHTSA has found little or no support for the trial lawyers’ electronic-gremlins theory.” A WSJ story says that “people familiar with the investigation have said the findings point to pedal misapplication.” Pedal misapplication? As the inimitable P. J. O’Rourke wrote seven years ago in Parliament of Whores: “The next time I get pulled over by the state highway patrol, I'm telling the officer, ‘You probably intend to ticket me for speeding, which would be driver error. But pedal misapplication is more descriptive of what occurred. It could happen to even the most attentive driver who inadvertently selects the wrong pedal and continues to do so unwittingly.’”
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Clifford M. Marks of the WSJ’s Law Blog writes ( "Grilled Chicken Sandwich; Hold the Carcinogen" ) that the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) is pursuing a California lawsuit that would force certain chain restaurants to post signs saying that a carcinogenic chemical is “present” in grilled chicken. “Burger King, which could not immediately be reached for comment, settled with the physicians group and agreed to post signs. McDonald’s and several other restaurants have kept fighting.”
Now, one of the advantages of reading The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged is that you learn to research the background of any group with a name apparently generated by the Ayn-Rand-Bad-Guys-Name-Generator. WSJ reporter Marks doesn’t tell us what principles are advocated by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine or who is actually behind it. Thank God for Google. It turns out that PCRM is not in any real sense a “physicians group.” Its Web site declares: “Doctors and laypersons working together.” In fact, it is partly a nutrition group that advocates a vegan diet, and it is partly an animal rights group. Indeed, some years ago, it was rebuked by the AMA for having “supported a campaign of misinformation against important animal research of AIDS.” Neal Barnard, quoted by Marks in the WSJ, is the president and founder of the organization and also a one-time board member of the PETA Foundation (the Foundation to Support Animal Protection). According to Wikipedia, PCRM has received more than a million dollars from PETA and its foundation. So, when PCRM tries to malign fast-food chicken as having a carcinogen, it may have some other agenda. It is not as though your family physician told you to cut down on smoking.
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Here is a fascinating but lengthy five-part article from globalpost.com on the end of Swiss banking secrecy: “Telling Swiss Secrets: A Banker’s Betrayal.” I commented on the passing of banking secrecy last June 24. The only cheery note in this latest version of the tale is that the banker who betrayed his employer and his clients was in turn betrayed by the so-called Department of Justice, and, instead of being given a big bounty-hunter’s award, found himself sentenced to prison. Let that be a warning.

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