Sunday, July 28, 2013

Not Happy, Still Crappy

Big Papi: Not Happy

Our Politicians: Still Crappy

Digby, re: The NSA and Saxby

Austerity is no longer the new black, notes Duncan Black.

When you hear the words "Public-Private Partnership", watch your back.

Why hang chads when you could hang an Admiral instead?

And here are the Ramones!

Cross-posted at Whiskey Fire.


Randal Graves said...

Yeah, it never goes well when I flash my privates in public.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

He was sick and tired of people phoning it in.

zencomix said...

The roid rage finally kicking in.

Jim H. said...

Big Papi kicked ass the next game. Sent one DEEP.

No Admirals hung by Bush/Cheney? Valerie Plame. Publicly outed, family endangered, undercover work on terrorism/nuclear weapons destroyed. Cheney used "confidentiality" as both sword & shield.

I'm afraid pursuing leakers through legal process (no matter how persistently) hardly rises to the same level.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Going to disagree with you there, Jim H.

Here's John Kiriakou, the only person sent to prison for Bush-Cheney torture abuse.

And here's Thomas Drake. (While they ultimately only got him for a misdemeanor, they did manage to destroy his life for a while, and send a message.)

What Cheney and company did to Plame was sleazy. But neither she nor her husband were forced to fight the DOJ for their freedom.

The Obama-Holder DOJ is an utter disgrace. Not even an attempted prosecution of a big Wall Streeter.

And the hits keep on coming.

Jim H. said...

SAC Capital. John Corzine (former Dem gov of NJ & U.S. Senator). to name two Wall Streeters who come immediately to mind. I'm afraid your info is simply not up to date. Nor is mine, but the "not even an attempted prosecution" claim is simply wrong.

Actually, the way I understand it, it's the SEC and the CFTC and folk like disgraced NY State AG Eliot Spitzer and the US Atty from SDNY (the only one who, to a certain extent, is technically under Holder, but who exercises a certain amount of prosecutorial independence) and even Manhattan DA's like the former Robert Morgenthau who have jurisdiction over most of the Wall Street shenanigans that took place after the deregulation of the big banks. (Full disclosure, I've defended cases against SEC and CFTC enforcement during the Clinton years when Glass-Steagall was still in effect.) And the SEC's and CFTC's investigative budgets have been sequestered and staffs decimated by Congressional budgetary austerity—also deregulation took a lot of the ability to prosecute away. So, Repubs deregulate & slash budgets (e.g. State Dept security, SEC & CFTC enforcement) and filibuster Cabinet secys and Agency heads then scream when stuff happens that could've been prevented with sufficient support. I'm afraid we'll just have to disagree here.

The spying/espionage/leaking issues are quite separate. I've yet to form an opinion on them b/c, frankly, I don't know enough to do so. And my lack of info is a function of its being hidden (probably deliberately). That's probably by design & gives me pause.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

SAC Capital: Insider trading. John Corzine: The disappearance of customer funds in the MF Global case.

Neither of which had anything to do with the giant asset bubble, burst, and subsequent abuses by mortgage servicers. I guess you got me for not being more specific. But, no my info is not out of date.

Here's Bill Black: The Obama administration’s record of prosecuting elite financial frauds is worse than the Bush administration’s record, which is a very large statement.

Bill Black 2: The leaks about the proposed deal occurred in conjunction with President Obama’s State of the Union Address and a series of press releases and conferences by Attorney General Holder about a newly created “working group.” That working group is intended to investigate secondary market fraud. There is no comprehensive investigation of the over $1 trillion in mortgage origination fraud. There are no prosecutions of any of the elite bank officers who led, and became wealthy from, the epidemic of mortgage origination fraud. The State AGs do not have the resources to investigate even two of the largest fraudulent lenders.
If Schneiderman had been named Attorney General of the United States, we would know that the administration really intended to hold accountable the frauds that drove the crisis. Instead, the top two Justice Department officials that are supposed to be prosecuting the elite frauds have consistently failed to even investigate the frauds, have denied the existence of material fraud, and came from the same law firm that represented many of the big, fraudulent banks and was critical to the creation of the notorious Mortgage Electronic Registration System (MERS) that contributed to the foreclosure fraud.
As to your claim about the Republicans...You do remember that Obama had very large majorities in the House and Senate his first two years in office, don't you?

Jim H. said...

Ever heard the word 'filibuster'?


Again, the 'crimes' (in the law, nothing is a crime until a court determines it as such) you're speaking about fall under the auspices of the SEC—again, an agency whose investigative and enforcement assets have been gutted. Smaller gov't, protect Wall St (Reps & Dems), and all that. Now it may be fair to call this the fault of the "Obama administration", but not Holder or Obama himself. If either were to tell an independent Commission what to do (see, e.g., the IRS) and whom to prosecute (see, e.g., the IRS), they would be guilty of vastly overreaching, tyranny, fascism, hitlerian socialism, and the like. No, seriously, they can't. You (or at least the libertarian strain in you) would & should be the first to condemn them. It might even be impeachable. Don't know.

That aside, jurisdictional issues and cost/benefit analyses of feasibility of prosecution is a HUGE matter when an agency has limited resources. Often, SEC and CFTC obtain 'consent decrees' in which accused/suspected wrongdoers agree not to do again what they are accused of doing but specifically deny having done. They pay a fine, which often seems paltry but which, if you subtract the public costs of prosecuting a firm that has a phalanx of lawyers at least as talented as me (& when I worked Wall St. I charged $400+/hr, and I was good at delaying enforcement actions and punishing agency lawyers by running up their costs and delaying), turns out to be more than the agency would obtain by a successful prosecution.

All that by way of saying I seem to remember some similar sort of 'consent decree' between a large number of the alleged perpetrators of the whole 2007 collapse and 49(?) state AGs and the feds.

One of my best buddies in law school went to Goldman, and his sole job was to make sure derivative practices had at least a veneer of arguable legality—enough to pass muster and cause enforcement agencies fits if they decided to prosecute. Remember, it was AIG (as insurer & reinsurer) & Lehman who had tons of derivative contracts @ redonculous leverages. The fault in the 2007 crash is not a simple deal. That makes such a prosecution especially hard. They gamed the system, played at the edges of legality. In fact, much of what was done might even be found to be legal in a court of law—remember, all these practices were heavily vetted by very smart, talented lawyers.

I wish it were as simple as Bill Black thinks. The crime of 'fraud' has very specific elements each of which must be proved to an objective trier of fact beyond a shadow of doubt. Regulatory violations are easier to prove, but do not amount to the _crime_ of fraud. He's confused there. It easy to talk about a bunch of "elite financial frauds", but it's awfully hard to prove, especially when no one agrees what the REAL frauds were.

Look, I didn't mean to go off on you. It's just that I come from a background of working within and around the vagaries of the law of financial crime and civil liability. Very rarely is it clear cut. And never is it cheap. To my mind, populist political resentment toward the bad boys on Wall Street just sounds naive. That's not to say I approve of what happened or don't want to see prosecutions, it's just that I'm a realist about what is and is not possible given limited resources on the good guys' side and practically infinite resources on the other. As a Wall Street defendant's attorney, we could walk into a courtroom with a dozen lawyers (and that might not even be the whole team or even the only firm working on the matter) and the SEC might have one guy and his first or second year assistant. It's, unfortunately, a rigged game in favor of the wealthy.


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Jim H., filibuster? The GOP had zero to do with the government's budget in Obama's first two years in office. The House doesn't have filibusters, and the Democrats had a large majority. In fact, it was Obama himself who was pushing austerity in February of 2010.

You're saying the SEC should have done something? Mary Schapiro was hired to do the same thing that Eric Holder and Lanny Breuer were hired to do: Nothing. And like Lanny Breuer, she has returned to the private sector to earn her reward.

Bill Black isn't some naive hippie, by the way.

I'll also point you to something in the links above:

=>Without mentioning that he had promised to write down the legacy of consumer debt and real estate debt, he hoped to disarm audience resentment by acknowledging that over the past “three decades, a housing bubble, credit cards, and a churning financial sector kept the economy artificially juiced up. But by the time I took office in 2009, the bubble had burst.” So it’s not his fault; he just inherited the problem.

What’s wrong with this picture? He obviously did not expect his students to remember how Democratic Congressman Barney Frank’s got Bush Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson to agree to link the $700 billion TARP subsidy to the banks to a mortgage-debt writedown. Paulson agreed to this, if President-elect Obama would sign on. He didn’t, and the proposal sank.<=

In other words, President Obama was selling out his voters for Wall Street even before he was sworn into office. And he had huge leverage to deliver on his promise...when Paulson was pushing that bailout, the banks needed it, and needed it now.

This continued: For instance, his Treasury Secretary Geithner's HAMP program was not designed to help was to foam the runway for the banks, so they could spread out foreclosures over time. (And suck more money out of the people they'd eventually evict, anyways.)

"Obama and Holder didn't indict Wall Streeters because they couldn't win" is a defense lawyer's argument. (If you have the law on your side, pound the law. If you have the facts, pound the facts. Otherwise, pound the table.)

Obama isn't entitled to a presumption of innocence here, because he's not on trial for his freedom. And because the facts show he's been a Wall Street whore all along.

P.S. I'm not a libertarian: I think unchecked corporate power is as dangerous as unchecked government power. I'm for a government that works for the people...not JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs.

P.P.S. That consent decree.

Irvin said...

This is gorgeous!