In a piece in The Dallas Observer, James Lieber opines:
Where did our wealth go? How do we claw it back? And when are we going to punish the culprits?
Heh, my refrain being sounded in the "mainstream media": Where are the cops?
He also calls out President Obama and the usual litany of campaign lies, including:
The Obama video portrayed John McCain as Keating's stooge and likened the S&L crash to the 2008 Wall Street meltdown, except that the current crisis is global and its bad guys are bigger and badder. Today's corporate villains were flashed on the screen, among them AIG, Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The opening narrator was Bill Black, a Ph.D. criminologist and former lead lawyer at the Office of Thrift Supervision who helped steer the brilliant federal effort that cleaned up the S&L industry and won more than 1,000 felony convictions of senior insiders while recovering millions of their ill-gotten dollars.
Those watching the compelling attack ad (still online) had every reason to believe that Obama's approach would be just as hard-edged and that felon-busting G-men would rout the crooks and recover our money.
This was not to be.
Yep. In point of fact President Obama immediately post-election installed people who were personally responsible for the mess and were either complicit in or blind to the looting that happened during President Bush's Presidency, including Geithner, Shapiro, Summers and more.
Of course the looting has continued since, and in fact has picked up pace, since the "honest buck" is rather hard to make in a lending environment with no qualified and willing borrowers!
We've also got this:
So, where is the justice in the current crisis? Why have there been so few prosecutions and only feeble attempts, at best, to claw the money back? One reason may be that, in such infamous cases as the Lehman Brothers collapse and Bank of America's absorption of Merrill Lynch, the Fed and the Treasury were intimately involved with the financial elite's deal making at the time. It's difficult to prosecute others for securities fraud if you condoned the deals to begin with.
Ah, recognition of reality! In the mainstream press no less. Congratulations. Better late than never!
More important, the nation's new top prosecutor, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, has a history of preferring that deviant corporations be held to no more than a "voluntary cooperation" system in which they investigate themselves privately.
Under the "Holder Memo," which he wrote in 1999 as deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration, bad-boy executives and their corporations who turn over evidence to the government qualify for lenient sentences and fines and, sometimes, for settlements without even indictments. The consequences of their crimes often amount to only the cost of doing business.
Oh, it gets better....
Black vents particular ire at Tim Geithner, who, as New York Fed chair, fiddled while Wall Street imploded; Henry Paulson (and Geithner again), who, as Treasury secretaries, refused to enforce a key banking law; and Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke, who, as Fed chairs, were supposed to regulate banks, especially the renegade mortgage units. The two Fed chairs closed their eyes to excess and continued to blow easy money into the bubble.
The key statute that the Treasury flouted under Paulson and Geithner is the Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) law. Congress passed it in the wake of the S&L scandal in 1991, and the first President Bush signed it. It's probably the best, fairest and clearest piece of financial legislation since the New Deal.
The message from the Bush administration was clear: The PCA "ceased to be applied to the big boys," says Camden Fine, president of the Independent Community Bankers of America.
Gee, what's The Ticker been talking about for the last two+ years?
Eventually, it became clear that "nothing was happening to the big banks, and everyone knew they were sliding south," Fine says. When four majorsóWachovia, National City, Bank of America and Citigroupóbecame critically undercapitalized, Fine went to FDIC Chairwoman Sheila Bair to ask why they weren't being subjected to the PCA law, which could have resulted in replacing their executives or even breaking them up. Fine likes Bair, who has a populist streak of her own and whom he finds to be a candid, "hard-as-nails regulator." But he says she "basically gave a non-response": that there were complicated issues and that, perhaps, if she had a free hand, action would be taken. "She was very sympathetic," he says, but what he gathered was that there "was great resistance from the political community."
It is called "regulatory capture" and it is what happens when you have NAKED BRIBES called "campaign contributions" and "lobbying" in Washington DC.
Yet this is exactly what we have had over the last twenty years in this country. Justice? Where? Fair play? Where? Honesty? Where? No, what you have instead is a monstrous snake pit that occasionally spits out one or two vipers that are "sacrificed" to appease the masses.
The Dallas Observer gets the naked credit default swap issue right too:
Geithner told Congress that the government was "blindsided" last year by the explosive risk of the derivatives market, but can regulate it now. That's wrong on both counts. Everyone in Washington knew or should have known the risks in 2000, when the government stopped regarding these complicated bets as felonies and started calling them "investments." Then, as now, the main argument was that if American markets won't clear such swaps, someone else will. But two wrongs don't make a right; nor do a trillion.
Ding ding ding ding!
The danger that is being left unsaid - and unrecognized - is as I have asked repeatedly - is the government a cop or a felon?
Should the people come to the conclusion that The Government is in fact a felon - should there be no enforcement at the state level, no real move to "take back" authority vested in The Constitution, returning it to the states and to rein in the crooks, subjecting them to the just desserts for their crimes, there is a very real risk that The People will decide that there is only one way to obtain justice: through the actions of their own hand.
Lest you think this is an unrealistic view, I direct you to Mexico, where the police have become so corrupt that the people are now catching burglars and torturing them on their own. Vigilante justice is swift, certain, and brutal.
But it is the logical and expected outcome when the people reach the breaking point. Those who believe it "can't happen here" are deluded - it both can and will if our government does not stop condoning and in fact conspiring with the crooks that have robbed the people of this nation. In the collapse of the 1870s there were multiple instances of bankers being pulled from their desks by angry mobs and strung up on the lamp-posts, and while I will not condone this sort of justice being meted out I can and do certainly understand it.
The States can step in and take this ball from The Federal Government in the prosecutor's arena, but whether this happens at the level of Eric Holder or in State AG offices it had better start soon. Irrespective of claims that "the economy is improving" the facts on the ground are nowhere near that complimentary - job loss continues to accelerate, banks continue to operate that should have been shut down two years or more ago, and those who can pay are being looted to cover the debts of those who cannot.
Exactly where the breaking point of The American People lies is impossible to determine in advance, but once that point is reached it is too late to do the right thing.
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