Saturday, August 28, 2010

Elizabeth Warren Rap Video- Got A New Sheriff


Directed by: Rachel McDonald
Produced by: Bonnie Abaunza, Tiffany Bordenave, and Rachel McDonald
Director of Photography: Ross Riege
Editor: Jason Beattie
Starring: Ryan Anthony Lumas and Satnam S Ramgotra
Music Produced by:Lorne Balfe
Music Mixed by: Satoshi Noguchi
Recorded by: Chuck Choi
Music Programmer: Andrew Kawczynski
Backing Vocals: Michael Levine, Aleksey Igudesman, Lorne Balfe

Backing Track provided by Extreme Music, called Dirty Dollars off of album labeled XCD065.

Talking Business - Consumers Are Clamoring for Elizabeth Warren -

Elizabeth Warren proposed the financial reform agency in an article in the summer of 2007.

So it turns out that the Elizabeth Warren rap video that went “viral” this week is actually a made-in-Hollywood production.

You know the video, don’t you? The one in which a struggling comedian named Ryan Anthony Lumas, dressed in a cowboy outfit, high-steps his way through two minutes of catchy, if ersatz, rap, with lyrics like Sheriff Warren’s what we need-o/ She’s not about the money and the green-o... /She wants to expose the banks and all the greed/ and get rid of unnecessary fees/Which means more money in my pocket?
The group behind the video is the Main Street Brigade. But when you call the Main Street Brigade, you get the Santa Monica office of Hans Zimmer, a prolific Hollywood composer. The two women listed as the Brigade’s contacts run Mr. Zimmer’s new philanthropic/activist arm.
They are also the ones who recruited Mr. Lumas to write and star in the video — he actually makes his living selling televisions at Best Buy — then spent an all-nighter editing it, and e-mailed it to the Elizabeth Warren-obsessed Huffington Post, where it had its premiere a week ago Friday.
“We’re Trojan-horsing people with the messaging,” said Bonnie Abaunza, one of the Brigadettes. In addition to Mr. Zimmer, supporters of the Main Street Brigade include the directors James Brooks and Ron Howard as well as other Hollywood celebrities. Its purpose is to back the work of Americans for Financial Reform, a large coalition of organizations pushing for financial reform. The coalition’s Web site lists the subjects it follows, including foreclosure, derivatives and mortgage reform.
And, of course, Elizabeth Warren.
The group desperately wants President Obama to name her to run the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a key part of the recently signed financial reform legislation. “Tell President Obama: Nominate Elizabeth to Head the C.F.P.B,” reads the coalition’shome page. When you click through, you get the text of a message that can be e-mailed directly to the White House, which points out, among other things, that the new bureau was her idea.
But why, I asked Ms. Abaunza, is it so important that Ms. Warren lead the new agency? Isn’t it enough that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau got passed — especially since the banks were so intent on killing it?
“She’s the people’s choice,” Ms. Abaunza replied. She said she was blown away when she watched a video of a speech by Ms. Warren that outlined all the ways a new consumer bureau could make things better for borrowers.
“The best way to explain it is that she speaks truth to power,” Ms. Abaunza continued. “She speaks about how people have been ripped off in a way that everybody understands. Although she is a Harvard professor, she doesn’t speak in an elitist way. She is a grandmother. She is from Oklahoma. I like the fact that she says ‘golly.’ She engenders this trust immediately. Because she is very honest.”
Also, she walks on water.
O.K., so she doesn’t walk on water. Which isn’t to say that Ms. Abaunza isn’t right. Indeed, the incredible groundswell around Ms. Warren’s candidacy appears to be putting President Obama in a tough spot.
His Treasury secretary, Tim Geithner, by all accounts, would prefer to see Michael S. Barr, the assistant secretary for financial institutions, get the job. Others in the administration worry that she will impose tough new rules on the banks that will make it harder for them to nurse themselves back to health and hence the economy. But it is going to be awfully hard for him to turn his back on Ms. Warren.
With the president on vacation, nobody expects him to make this appointment until he returns at the end of August. But if he chooses anyone but her, he will be widely seen as helping the banks at the expense of the rest of us — something the government has been accused of doing far too often since those grim days of September 2008. With the midterm elections fast approaching, such accusations are not going to be terribly helpful to Democrats. Just a few days ago, 41 Democratic members of Congress sent Mr. Obama a letter pleading with him to appoint Ms. Warren.
How did this happen? How did a once-obscure Harvard Law professor become such a powerful touchstone?
Partly, it is because she really did come up with the idea. Ms. Warren’s views about banks and borrowers were largely formed early in her career when she and two colleagues, Teresa A. Sullivan, now the president of the University of Virginia, and Jay Lawrence Westbrook, a law professor at the University of Texas, conducted two seminal studies about people who file for bankruptcy.
In the late 1980s, when the first study was unveiled in a book the three of them wrote, “As We Forgive Our Debtors,” the root causes of bankruptcy weren’t well understood. The bank lobby routinely complained that Americans with the means to pay their debts were taking “the easy way out” by filing for bankruptcy. The empirical work done by the Warren-Sullivan-Westbrook team proved those claims false.
People who filed for bankruptcy were genuinely in over their heads, the researchers found. They had accumulated debt they couldn’t repay because they had lost their jobs or had some other life event that robbed them of their ability to earn a decent paycheck. They were often middle class, homeowners even. They filed for bankruptcy because they were desperate. Looking through thousands of bankruptcy filings, Mr. Westbrook said a few days ago, “you got a sense of human beings in real trouble.” He added, “All of us were very much affected by what we found in those files.”
By the summer of 2007, when Ms. Warren proposed the consumer agency, she was a well-known advocate for financial consumers — and the scourge of the credit card industry. She coined the term “tricks and traps” to describe how the banks lulled people into agreeing to credit card terms they weren’t even aware of when they signed up for the card. She had testified before Congress many times.
In the article where she proposed the new agency — she called it the financial product safety commission — she began with an analogy to toasters. (Ms. Warren has a thing for toaster analogies.) “It is impossible to buy a toaster that has a one-in-five chance of bursting into flames and burning down your house,” she wrote. “But it is possible to refinance an existing home with a mortgage that has the same one-in-five chance of putting the family out on the street.” Her timing could not have been better, she wrote the article at the exact moment the subprime bubble was reaching its peak.
What struck me, when I reread that article recently, was the bluntness of her language. She used words like “tricks,” “fleece,” and “bribe” to describe the actions of mortgage and credit card lenders. And I think a lot of her appeal stems from that simple fact: she describes abuses — predatory lending, hidden fees, bewildering “disclosures” that hide more than they disclose — in precisely the way most Americans have experienced them. She conveys a powerful sense that she understands what we’ve been through this last decade.
Her critics have complained that in her quest to avenge the downtrodden consumer, she could endanger the safety and soundness of banks, by writing rules that would strip them of billions in profits. Her essential position is that if taking advantage of borrowers is necessary to save the banks, then there is something deeply wrong with the banking system in America. The American Bankers Association may not agree with that, but that is unquestionably what most Americans believe. And they are right.
Ms. Warren also conveys a powerful sense of optimism about the good the new agency can do. I saw this for myself just a few days after President Obama signed the new law, when she was part of a panel discussion by the Roosevelt Institute, a liberal policy research organization that focuses on financial issues. I was also part of that panel, but after listening to Ms. Warren speak, I felt a little like Ms. Abaunza. I was bowled over.
That afternoon, Ms. Warren conveyed a great deal of passion, energy and historical knowledge about consumer lending practices. She gave a minitutorial about the history of usury laws, and about how credit card disclosures had become a tool for gouging customers.
Ms. Warren said that the new agency would have the power to make a rule, for instance, that credit card companies would have to disclose all their contract terms in two pages — in English simple enough for anyone with a 10th-grade education to understand. That one change, she said, would help end the practice of “cheating by contract.” (Another lovely Elizabeth Warren phrase, by the way.) When she had finished speaking, the audience gave her an ovation.
In 1934, Franklin D. Roosevelt had to choose a chairman to head a new agency aimed at protecting financial consumers — in this case investors. The agency was the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the man Roosevelt picked was Joe Kennedy, the legendary investor (and father of the Kennedy clan). When Roosevelt was asked why he had turned to a “crook” to run the S.E.C., he famously replied, “Takes one to catch one.”
This time, the president is facing a different choice. The people who want Elizabeth Warren to run the new consumer agency are rooting for her precisely because she is not one of them. She’s one of us.