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Matt Taibbi zeroes in on Michael Bloomberg's "own personal Let Them Eat Cake" line about Occupy Wall Street, his alignment with Wall Street corruption, the smoke screen he blows about the financial crisis, and tells the New York City mayor where to go.

Matt Taibbi talks about US politics. (photo: Robin Holland)
Matt Taibbi talks about US politics. (photo: Robin Holland)



Mike Bloomberg's Marie Antoinette Moment

By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone Magazine

04 November 11

 

ast year I had a chance to see New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg up close at the Huffington Post's "Game Changers" event. I was standing right behind the guy when he was introduced by Nora Ephron, and watched as the would-be third party powerhouse wowed the liberal crowd with one zinger after another.

He started off with a crack about Ephron, saying he had agreed to say something nice about her book, which he blithely noted he hadn't read. Still, he knew the title, "I Remember Nothing," which he said he'd "heard is also the title of a new book by Charlie Sheen." (He pronounced Sheen like "Shine").

From there he cracked that he was honored to be a "Game Changer," although he was only the last-minute replacement for Snooki. (Zing!) Then he went into a riff about Halloween.

"Does everyone have their costume?" he asked. (This is the old "Did you hear this? Have you heard about this?" Jimmy-Vulmer-style standup routine). "I thought about going in a... dress," he began. "But then I decided I would just go as the fiscally-conservative, pro-choice, anti-smoking, anti-trans-fat Jewish billionaire mayor of the World's Greatest City."

The crowd roared. Bloomberg smiled, looked up, extended his hands, and said, "Maybe that's just too much of a stretch, I don't know."

Man, I thought. This guy is really sure of himself. If there is such a thing as infinite self-satisfaction, he was definitely approaching it that night.

And it wasn't hard to see why. Bloomberg's great triumph as a politician has been the way he's been able to win over exactly the sort of crowd that was gathering at the HuffPost event that night. He is a billionaire Wall Street creature with an extreme deregulatory bent who has quietly advanced some nastily regressive police policies (most notably the notorious "stop-and-frisk" practice) but has won over upper-middle-class liberals with his stances on choice and gay marriage and other social issues.

Bloomberg's main attraction as a politician has been his ability to stick closely to a holy trinity of basic PR principles: bang heavily on black crime, embrace social issues dear to white progressives, and in the remaining working hours give your pals on Wall Street (who can raise any money you need, if you somehow run out of your own) whatever they want.

He understands that as long as you keep muggers and pimps out of the prime shopping areas in the Upper West Side, and make sure to sound the right notes on abortion, stem-cell research, global warming, and the like, you can believably play the role of the wisecracking, good-guy-billionaire Belle of the Ball for the same crowd that twenty years ago would have been feting Ed Koch.

Anyway, I thought of all of this this morning, when I read about Bloomberg's latest comments on Occupy Wall Street. I remembered how pleased Bloomberg looked with himself at the HuffPost ball last year when I read what he had to say about the anticorruption protesters now muddying his doorstep in Zuccotti Park:

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said this morning that if there is anyone to blame for the mortgage crisis that led the collapse of the financial industry, it's not the "big banks," but congress.

Speaking at a business breakfast in midtown featuring Bloomberg and two former New York City mayors, Bloomberg was asked what he thought of the Occupy Wall Street protesters.

"I hear your complaints," Bloomberg said. "Some of them are totally unfounded. It was not the banks that created the mortgage crisis. It was, plain and simple, congress who forced everybody to go and give mortgages to people who were on the cusp. Now, I'm not saying I'm sure that was terrible policy, because a lot of those people who got homes still have them and they wouldn't have gotten them without that."

To me, this is Michael Bloomberg's Marie Antoinette moment, his own personal "Let Them Eat Cake" line. This one series of comments allows us to see under his would-be hip centrist Halloween mask and look closely at the corrupt, arrogant aristocrat underneath.

Occupy Wall Street has not yet inspired many true villains outside of fringe characters like Anthony Bologna. But Bloomberg, with this preposterous schlock about congress forcing banks to lend to poor people, may yet make himself the face of the 1%'s rank intellectual corruption.

This whole notion that the financial crisis was caused by government attempts to create an "ownership society" and make mortgages more available to low-income (and particularly minority) borrowers has been pushed for some time by dingbats like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, who often point to laws like the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act as signature events in the crash drama.

But Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are at least dumb enough that it is theoretically possible that they actually believe the crash was caused by the CRA, Barney Frank, and Fannie and Freddie.

On the other hand, nobody who actually understands anything about banking, or has spent more than ten minutes inside a Wall Street office, believes any of that crap. In the financial world, the fairy tales about the CRA causing the crash inspire a sort of chuckling bemusement, as though they were tribal bugaboos explaining bad rainfall or an outbreak of hoof-and-mouth, ghost stories and legends good for scaring the masses.

But nobody actually believes them. Did government efforts to ease lending standards put a lot of iffy borrowers into homes? Absolutely. Were there a lot of people who wouldn't have gotten homes twenty or thirty years ago who are now in foreclosure thanks to government efforts to make mortgages more available? Sure – no question.

But did any of that have anything at all to do with the explosion of subprime home lending that caused the gigantic speculative bubble of the mid-2000s, or the crash that followed?

Not even slightly. The whole premise is preposterous. And Mike Bloomberg knows it.

In order for this vision of history to be true, one would have to imagine that all of these banks were dragged, kicking and screaming, to the altar of home lending, forced against their will to create huge volumes of home loans for unqualified borrowers.

In fact, just the opposite was true. This was an orgiastic stampede of lending, undertaken with something very like bloodlust. Far from being dragged into poor neighborhoods and forced to give out home loans to jobless black folk, companies like Countrywide and New Century charged into suburbs and exurbs from coast to coast with the enthusiasm of Rwandan machete mobs, looking to create as many loans as they could.

They lent to anyone with a pulse and they didn't need Barney Frank to give them a push. This was not social policy. This was greed. They created those loans not because they had to, but because it was profitable. Enormously, gigantically profitable -- profitable enough to create huge fortunes out of thin air, with a speed never seen before in Wall Street's history.

The typical money-machine cycle of subprime lending took place without any real government involvement. Bank A (let's say it's Goldman, Sachs) lends criminal enterprise B (let's say it's Countrywide) a billion dollars. Countrywide then goes out and creates a billion dollars of shoddy home loans, committing any and all kinds of fraud along the way in an effort to produce as many loans as quickly as possible, very often putting people who shouldn't have gotten homes into homes, faking their income levels, their credit scores, etc.

Goldman then buys back those loans from Countrywide, places them in an offshore trust, and chops them up into securities. Here they use fancy math to turn a billion dollars of subprime junk into different types of securities, some of them AAA-rated, some of them junk-rated, etc. They then go out on the open market and sell those securities to various big customers – pension funds, foreign trade unions, hedge funds, and so on.

The whole game was based on one new innovation: the derivative instruments like CDOs that allowed them to take junk-rated home loans and turn them into AAA-rated instruments. It was not Barney Frank who made it possible for Goldman, Sachs to sell the home loan of an occasionally-employed janitor in Oakland or Detroit as something just as safe as, and more profitable than, a United States Treasury Bill. This was something they cooked up entirely by themselves and developed solely with the aim of making more money.

The government's efforts to make home loans more available to people showed up in a few places in this whole tableau. For one thing, it made it easier for the Countrywides of the world to create their giant masses of loans. And secondly, the Fannies and Freddies of the world were big customers of the banks, buying up mortgage-backed securities in bulk along with the rest of the suckers. Without a doubt, the bubble would not have been as big, or inflated as fast, without Fannie and Freddie.

But the bubble was overwhelmingly built around a single private-sector economic reality that had nothing to do with any of that: new financial instruments made it possible to sell crap loans as AAA-rated paper.

Fannie and Freddie had nothing to do with Merrill Lynch selling $16.5 billion worth of crap mortgage-backed securities to the Connecticut Carpenters Annuity Fund, the Mississippi Public Employees' Retirement System, the Connecticut Carpenters Pension Fund, and the Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association. Citigroup and Deutsche Bank did not need to be pushed by Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi to sell hundreds of millions of dollars in crappy MBS to Allstate.

And Goldman, Sachs did not need Franklin Raines to urge it to sell $1.2 billion in designed-to-fail mortgage-backed instruments to two of the country's largest corporate credit unions, which subsequently went bust and had to be swallowed up by the National Credit Union Administration.

These banks did not need to be dragged kicking and screaming to make the billions of dollars in profits from these and other similar selling-baby-powder-as-coke transactions. They did it for the money, and they did it because they did not give a fuck who got hurt.

Who cares if some schmuck carpenter in Connecticut loses the pension he's worked his whole life to save? Who cares if he's now going to have to work until he's seventy, instead of retiring at fifty-five? It's his own fault for not knowing what his pension fund manager was buying.

And, of course, in a larger sense, the entire crisis was the fault of that janitor in Oakland, who took out too big of a loan, with the help of do-gooder liberals in congress and their fans in bleeding-heart liberal la-la land – you know, the same people Bloomberg wowed with his hep jokes about Snooki and Charlie Sheen.

This is the evil lie Bloomberg is now trying to dump on the Occupy movement; this is where he's choosing to spend all that third-way cred he built up over the years with the HuffPost sect. And the mayor put a cherry on the top of his Marie-Antoinette act with the rest of his speech:

"But [congress] were the ones who pushed Fannie and Freddie to make a bunch of loans that were imprudent, if you will. They were the ones that pushed the banks to loan to everybody. And now we want to go vilify the banks because it's one target, it's easy to blame them and congress certainly isn't going to blame themselves. At the same time, Congress is trying to pressure banks to loosen their lending standards to make more loans. This is exactly the same speech they criticized them for."

Bloomberg went on to say it's "cathartic" and "entertaining" to blame people, but the important thing now is to fix the problem.

Jesus … I mean, for one thing, Fannie and Freddie don't even make loans. That's how absurd this whole thing is.

And the condescension levels here are unbelievable, his air of aristocratic superiority almost breathtaking to behold. Listen to Bloomberg paternally conceding in one breath that it is certainly nice that some struggling people now have homes ("I'm not saying I'm sure that was terrible policy, because a lot of those people who got homes still have them and they wouldn't have gotten them without that"), just before chiding us with the next that there are sometimes negative consequences to doing something that sounds like goodness, like giving people a place of their own to live.

And then there's this whole line in which he professes to indulgently understand the need for the "catharsis" and "entertainment" of protest, again almost like a Dad who tells his idiot teenage son that he understands the need to sow a wild oat or two, but please don't wreck the family Mercedes next time.

Well, you know what, Mike Bloomberg? FUCK YOU. People are not protesting for their own entertainment, you asshole. They're protesting because millions of people were robbed, by your best friends incidentally, and they want their money back. And you're not everybody's Dad, so stop acting like you are.

 

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+179 # maveet 2011-11-04 12:32
Oh yes. Thank You Matt Taibi. Again.
 
 
+151 # Beth Carter 2011-11-04 12:41
Ah, some righteous wrath at last. The fat cats are unscrupulous, unconscionable, and psychopathic. They are the spiritual representation of the crack whore on the corner and the pimp who fronts her--tangled and terminal. I'm unsure what to do about them myself, but we have not the luxury to wait them out.
 
 
+102 # Rebok10 2011-11-04 13:06
Matt, you nailed it. Are you familiar with the Powell Doctrine? Written by justice Powell in the 70s after Goldwater lost and they feared that Johnson was too much of a socialist. It is a frightening script of media, legal and deregulation needed to insure corporate power In particular but also the plutocracy. It is well described in the chilling accuracy with which it was carried out. In a just released documentary Heist: Who Stole the American Dream. One of the best kept secrets of the corporate elite.
 
 
+96 # hidjag87 2011-11-04 13:20
Matt, You hit the bulls eye. Keep up the great writing.
 
 
+112 # DPM 2011-11-04 13:20
Occupy and keep occupying! I am surprised at the lack of understanding most people have of the Occupy movement. Disappointed, really.
The sheep are being sheared and enjoying it. Then lead to "slaughter" willingly while protecting the very people "killing" them. Amazing.
The Occupy movement is out to educate the population and get them to stand up for themselves and their children. Do your part. Educate those that can't see.
 
 
+68 # Buddha 2011-11-04 13:42
What, the GOP lying about the causes of the Great Recession, so they can blame "liberal" policies of helping minorities, Fannie and Freddie which helps make mortgages available for anybody not named Rockefeller, and to push the "government is the problem" narrative? Knock me over with a feather.
 
 
+83 # MainStreetMentor 2011-11-04 13:43
Hey, Matt! If you keep writing like this, I'll keep buying copies of Rolling Stone! An EXCELLENT piece!
 
 
+75 # LeeBlack 2011-11-04 13:46
It's the SOP of the conservatives: detract from the real issues with illogical sound bites that discourage analysis.
 
 
+49 # SteveRitchie 2011-11-04 13:53
Matt, keep it coming friend. clarity of thought amid the chaos of blame and finger pointing. We may have been suckers then, but no more. This whole inequality thing is a moral issue (read George Lakoff). Not everyone is that motivated to want a million, billion? dollars. Just a level playing field. The clowns in the storey are the ones who sawed off their own plank with their greed and lust for power (bankers and politicos). Just remember we are them too :)
 
 
+25 # still thinking 2011-11-04 14:31
Good points, Matt, thanks.

Rebok10 at 11-04 13:06, thanks for the referral to the documentary, which I hadn't heard of and will look for. But you mean to reference the Powell MEMO from Justice Lewis Powell, not the Powell Doctrine which was from Colin Powell (which included "have an exit strategy" before getting into a war).
 
 
+41 # in deo veritas 2011-11-04 14:40
Corrupt, arrogant Billionaire. Perfect description of Blunderberg. Why anybody ever voted this buffoon into office is beyond belief. The Marie Antoionette analogy may have the same end result. Of course rotten NYC mayors is nothing new.
 
 
+18 # RSJ 2011-11-05 03:40
It's worth noting that Bloomberg paid big bucks to have NYC's term limit law overturned so that he could inhabit the Mayor's office for another term. Mike's a real believer in the rule of law, as long as it agrees with what he wants.
 
 
+42 # seeuingoa 2011-11-04 14:56
That is the whole essence about the
"American dream".

If you are ruthless and greedy enough YOU can also start as a newspaperboy
and end up a billionaire with a pink
mansion in Las Vegas, a pink Cadillac and a hooker with big boops.

The "American dream" is synonymous
with an appalling lack of compassion
for your fellow citizens and our kids
are brainwashed to believe in this crap.

Same with "American exceptionalism" !!

Yes: exceptionally immature.
 
 
+5 # jon 2011-11-04 19:33
"mansion in Las Vegas, a pink Cadillac and a hooker with big boops."

Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe the word is 'BOOBS'

The only reason I say this is because I don't like big boobs. ;-)
 
 
+2 # seeuingoa 2011-11-05 13:39
Quoting jon:
"mansion in Las Vegas, a pink Cadillac and a hooker with big boops."

Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe the word is 'BOOBS'

The only reason I say this is because I don't like big boobs. ;-)


Thank you Jon ! I am not too fond of
big ones either; that is maybe the reason
for my wrong spelling!!
 
 
+3 # RLF 2011-11-06 04:20
I like all Boops!
 
 
+41 # letsgetreal 2011-11-04 15:04
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU, Matt. So great to read the truth with appropriate flourish of disgust included. So gratifying!
 
 
+20 # DaveM 2011-11-04 15:12
Mr. Bloomberg needs to spend five minutes talking to Alan Greenspan. AND he needs a new job.
 
 
+39 # sandyboy 2011-11-04 15:17
Brilliant. I started out thinking Matt was being a bit hard on the guy for crappy speechifying, but then the facts come hard and fast with appalling clarity. No wonder he was welcome at HuffPost: the gal who begat that outfit made a fortune off the backs of unpaid writers and refused to share the bounty. Last time she was on BBC TV she plugged her brand every second sentence. By the way, who the fxxx is Snooki?
 
 
+22 # seeuingoa 2011-11-04 15:34
And please don´t call the Republicans
GOP !
G stands for grand and is positive
O stands for old and means wise

and there is nothing positive and wise
with the republicans
 
 
+4 # Cassandra2012 2011-11-06 16:13
Quoting seeuingoa:
And please don´t call the Republicans
GOP !
G stands for grand and is positive
O stands for old and means wise

and there is nothing positive and wise
with the republicans


Well, how about some --more accurate --redefinition:
G for Greedy
O for Obstinate, OBSTRUCTIONIST , Oligarchical
and P
for PIGHEADED Plutocrats ??
 
 
+33 # dyannne 2011-11-04 15:43
Thanks for your analysis of Bloomberg's statements. You nailed him and impaled him on his petard!
 
 
-26 # KittatinyHawk 2011-11-04 15:47
Because Mayor Bloomberg either is advocate of or so out of touch with, what actually happened is seen weekly if not daily on my News and I live not in NY. He has been a bag of wind forever, still a GOP for sure.
Do not feel sorry for all mortgage people. Many of Yuppies, have to keep up with Jonese' got what they deserved. When buying home you were supposed to go on top guns salary, used to be net of one week to be mortgage payment. Realtors, Banks, Contractors all had something to sell, didnot care what was happening. Banks would take home back, Realtors would not lose at all. Contractors got paid one way or the other. People went to buy homes out of their salary, did not follow any first home initiatives or rules. We want this, that. Then they move in, credit cards, new furniture to keep up with Jones. That was not enough, clothes, new cars.
All this when America was selling our jobs out from under us. No one was paying attention in that crowd, they were too busy keeping up with.
Sorry, blame who you want Banks esp, but Home Buyer did not want to listen, they had to learn a big lesson. They have not learned the lesson because they will do it again!
Opening up market for middle class and lower income were not buying million dollar pieces of crap. I know, have seen them going up, materials used.
 
 
+10 # JohnCDurham 2011-11-04 18:34
Blame the Victim. You blame the victims. Don't like people very much do you? Stretch as far as you can and cover over some emotional pain of yours and, at all costs to facts, you will always blame the wrong party.

Some day and it may be soon, it will dawn on you that the root of all this bad experience has to do with who ever was and is controlling the money. Pick people apart as you might, and you always can and perhaps you always will, the people of America but they don't contain enough lust for money to have put this operation together.

Yuppies? Not hardly. It took generations of some very big money people. People you have never met. People far, far away from you. But, people that your mind needs to accuse so as not to confuse.
 
 
+2 # dorianb@fuse.net 2011-11-05 12:29
Good comment. You have compassion and empathy John. VIP!
 
 
+5 # RLF 2011-11-06 04:26
I bought in 2004 and I looked for a neighborhood that would hold up when the bubble burst. All in the government said they had no idea it was a bubble...It is crap...they knew but kept it going so that they could dump it on the next president knowing full well that after the mess that was Bush, the thugs would definitely lose. I was extremely responsible and in the next six months I may be out because my business has collapsed. Don't tell me that everyone that has lost their house is irresponsble you self righteous piece of crap!
 
 
+51 # badbenski 2011-11-04 15:55
Back in the hey-day of loan to anyone with a pulse policy, every broker knew a payroll and Photoshop wizzard who could mkae the papwork package fly. The supposed watch dogs, the loan underwriters, were complicit in the consistent pattern of fraud. Instaed of outright rejecting packages with serious paperwork problems they bounced them back to the brokers to be fixed. After the paperwork was doctored the underwriters reviewed it again, as if they'd seen it for the first time and if all the glitches were out they funded the loan. From the broker's point of view, the complicity of the underwriters signaled open season/anything goes. And so it was. Fake check stubs, W-2's and entire tax filings were created and accepted with no problem and the paper packages flew. And, as everyone involved knew, when the papaer flies, everyone gets paid. Anatomy of a massive fraud. I know all about it, I was one of the Photoshop guys & ultimately had to deal with the FBI. The Federal Courts weren't sympathetic, not to us "...Sir, you're an Accountant, you know better." and put my old ass in the pokey, albeit for a matter of a few months. But still, those up the food chain weren't even touched. No consequences for them... too big to jail!
 
 
+13 # jon 2011-11-04 19:42
badbenski, your story reminds me of the underlings at Abu Ghraib. Only the lower levels were prosecuted, the well connected big bucks guys were given fat pensions, etc.

You should write more of the specifics of your experience. I am willing to bet that it would reveal much about the depth of rot that pervades our economic/politi cal system.
 
 
+14 # RSJ 2011-11-05 03:46
I know a guy who was in the home mortgage-lendin g business until about three years ago. The big banks he worked with were ordering him to take out ads in poor neighborhoods -- you know those 'No money, no credit, no problem -- own your own home today!' ads -- in order to pump up the number of crap loans. At the time, he wasn't sure what they were up to, but he finally found out, as did Matt Taibbi. It was hard for him to believe these big banks would be so incredibly corrupt.
 
 
+16 # elmont 2011-11-04 16:06
Matt, you're breath of fresh air.
 
 
+14 # jwb110 2011-11-04 16:41
Bloomberg like the rest of his cadre had better be much more careful about what they say and to who and where it gets said.
Most certainly, pride goeth before a fall and he is well on his way and the group he panders to. Not a soul at the 'party' is germaine to what is happening in America. NYC is the Petit Trianon before the Bastille. I think Matt is brilliant and he has once again opened the oculus onto a room of people who think they still matter. They don't matter. They are sleepwalkers.
 
 
+21 # colmo04 2011-11-04 17:26
Thank you Matt for explaining exactly what the money people and the lenders did; I never understood it until now. Please continue with the explaining and the fuck yous. Love it!
 
 
+11 # Terrapin 2011-11-04 18:50
WHO KEEPS VOTING FOR THESE SWINES???
 
 
+4 # RSJ 2011-11-05 16:17
Like Mark Twain said, 'A lie can spread around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes.' It takes a while for the truth to get out but, once it does, Bloomberg and his ilk will quit office and run for cover. Mayor Mike and the 1 percent live in a bubble of their own delusions; the truth is out in the streets with the OWS, and the truth will win.
 
 
+27 # soularddave 2011-11-04 20:16
Let's go back to the "schmuck carpenter in Connecticut [who]loses the pension he's worked his whole life to save". Now he must rely on a much smaller pension and Social Security, just to survive - if he can even work until he's seventy (I'm a 64 y.o. schmuck carpenter in Missouri working 'till 70).
Why are the clown of the supercomittee considering scaling back S.S. and Medicare - just when they're needed more than ever? The crisis enablers won't admit fault, and keep right on pushing us into a miserable oblivion. I just worked 12 days in a row (so I can pay my property taxes), and tomorrow I will be meeting up with our Occupy friends Downtown.
 
 
+5 # dorianb@fuse.net 2011-11-05 12:43
God bless you, Dave. So good to hear you are joining the Occupiers in Missouri tomorrow, after working 12 days in a row. I'm 74 and work FT but I do love my work and have learned to pace myself by getting enough R and R when I'm not wkg.
 
 
+10 # tomo 2011-11-04 20:31
Bloomberg shouldn't surprise us. We're going to see a lot of condescending commentary on the "misguided masses" if these protests continue. The current one in Oakland, oft repeated by the TV newscasters is: "These protests are costing money!" It doesn't matter where the money goes, or who doesn't get it, money is still, for many a commentator, a self-evident good--the sovereign good. Forget about people. Their reason to exist is to make money. If they're not doing that, then to hell with them.
 
 
+1 # dorianb@fuse.net 2011-11-05 12:38
Read Ann Rand for a non glorious glimpse of a world where people are commodities to be used and discarded or as a means to attain your ultimate end which in the Rand world is money and power.
 
 
+5 # thinkchip 2011-11-04 23:00
I'm no fan of a slimy oligarch like Bloomberg, but the moral of this story, the idea that big bad business is to blame and that the honorable state has been duped and is even capable of benevolence, is a grossly destructive fnord.

"The typical money-machine cycle of subprime lending took place without any real government involvement."
Who is the wholesale source of the banks raw materials that they make loans with?

"Fannie and Freddie had nothing to do with Merrill Lynch selling $16.5 billion worth of crap mortgage-backed securities to the Connecticut Carpenters Annuity Fund,"
So a federal government-back ed loan guarantees don't affect the salabilty of the securities backed by these loans?

I second the FU to Bloomberg, banksters and all of the rest of the ruling class, especially those in the org that makes it all possible: government.
 
 
+5 # epcraig 2011-11-05 02:20
Crater the 401K market and watch retirees homes get repossessed.
 
 
+1 # RLF 2011-11-06 04:31
Don't need to crater the market...the money is being made worthless as we speak by inflation, which the good old non-corrupt government tells us is 'really low'. Pretty soon the old folks won't be able to pay their heating bill and the food bill.
 
 
+11 # Karlus58 2011-11-05 05:28
...why aren't we hearing about these pension funds who were robbed, litigating against these banks?...
 
 
+11 # latebloomer 2011-11-05 05:49
oh matt - i wish people who consider bill o'reiily, rush limbaugh and sean hannity as "the guys to listen" to would actually take time to listen to someone like you now and then.

i worry that all the mainstream media trusting, fox-watching folk actually outnumber us and will continue to live/vote/behav e in ways that allow our country/world to go further down the toilet.

it's scary to witness how easy it is for people to be happily ignorant of reality, just going about their daily lives believing that they have a realistic take on what's going on in the world.

i just looked at bill oreilly's web page and saw how he is "spinning" the occupy movement as of yesterday, nov 4. it sickens me to think of all the people who watch him and trust him now going around believing what he says about it and chatting about it to their friends at dinner parties etc.

how do we actually reach those on the "other side" and get them to turn off fox news, get their complacent butts out of their easy chair recliners and begin to see what's really going on?
 
 
+9 # Tee 2011-11-05 06:59
Three words that describes this muther fucker bloomberg.Fear, greed, and ignorance. He is the epitomy of what is wrong with our political system.

How can he be representative of a place like New York city? But thanks to sellouts like Lenora Fulani, Calvin Butts, and others who pimped the people to get him elected for their personal gain and keep him in office, we all are suffering.

Yeah, you keep and clutch your pieces of gold. Soon it will turn into a snake and poison you.
 
 
+9 # Vegan_Girl 2011-11-05 08:30
The Occupy Wall Street movement is loud and clear. But the 1%, wrapped in arrogant ignorance, does not hear us. Not yet. Occupy, people, occupy.

Matt Taibbi, thank you for your great work. You give our voice the most articulate words. Keep it up, dude. We love you.
 
 
+3 # XXMD48 2011-11-05 09:59
Tank you, Matt Taibbi!

Being inspired by you mentioning Marie Antoinette - what about Velvet version of the French Revolution FOR the American people?
 
 
+6 # seeuingoa 2011-11-05 14:15
What about BATTERY-driven
heating blankets for our courageous
OWS staying put in the cold weather?
 
 
+7 # seeuingoa 2011-11-05 14:36
Bloomberg wants to remove people because
they are doing their things in the open
and transportable toilets are not allowed.

What about this strategy?

Step 1: you go to Wall Street and lie
flat down on your stomach.

Step 2: after a short time you will be arrested peacefully and brought to a
detention center.

Step 3: after a few hours you will be
released and go back to step 1.

The whole point is to be arrested, and
overloading the whole system with
hundreds and hundreds being arrested/
released/arrested/released etc.

Where will they put all these people?

Concentrationcamps?
Guantanamo?

Advantages: You keep up the pressure,
your presence and spirit !
It is cold in New York and detention
centers are heated and have toilet
facilities!

This strategy to be continued until March/April where the present tent
occupation can continue.

There is no reason to exhaust yourself
by sleeping out for the next 3-4 months.

You need all energy when the spring is
coming.

commentaries please!
 
 
+3 # larryoinpdx 2011-11-05 20:43
Huge waves of unmitigated crap typically abound about the causes of the housing bubble and the devastation subsequent to its bursting, and Taibbi nails it in about 5 paragraphs - one of the relatively few commentators who tells the absolute truth.
 
 
-2 # warrior woman 2011-11-06 13:15
This article is a very big, big deal. No one has called out Obama for these promises made behind closed doors to people who are not within our own govt.

Matt, expose this information!

U.S. needs to make progress on deficit, IMF warns
Howard Schneider

Thursday, January 27, 2011; http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/27/AR2011012707000.html

"The U.S. has a lot of credibility. This does not imply their credibility can last forever," IMF fiscal affairs director Carlo Cottarelli said as he released the IMF study. It concluded that the United States is falling behind on a promise it made to other top economic countries to halve its budget deficit by 2013.

"This is a problem many years in the making and will take a concerted effort by Democrats and Republicans working together to find a solution," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said in answer to a question about the IMF report.

He noted that President Obama called for a freeze on discretionary spending during this week's State of the Union address. IMF officials have welcomed the step but said that spending cuts in pension and health entitlement programs are also needed."
 
 
+4 # Ken Hall 2011-11-06 22:16
WW: The deficit is not the problem, lack of jobs is. The US is not broke, but it is broken. Much of the deficit non-problem could be fixed by bringing our soldiers home, by halving or quartering the military budget, by instituting a tax on financial transactions, and by raising taxes on the superwealthy. The IMF has a long track record of enriching financial sectors at the expense of everyone else. Don't be a shill for their propaganda.
 
 
+1 # Ken Hall 2011-11-06 22:07
Forparity: We miss you, and your revisionist claptrap. Aren't you going to comment here? It's becoming clearer and clearer who the culprits were in the economic meltdown and, hint hint, it wasn't the FMs. We could use a little comic relief, c'mon, throw us a bone!
 
 
+1 # stonecutter 2011-11-07 05:00
Well, no more invitations to Gracie Mansion for Matt! In his recent speech to Public Citizen, Bill Moyers offered the following quote, "Real news is what people want to keep hidden; the rest is just publicity". On that basis, is it really news, let alone a surprise, that a billionaire who made his fortune on, with and for Wall Street, who presides as mayor over the financial (organized crime) capitol of the world and putative #1 terror bullseye, who lives the insular private life of a super-rich elitist, flying to Bermuda on weekends in his private jet, etc., would scapegoat Congress and the OWS protesters, while he exculpates his Wall Street cronies? At the right PR moment, he probably will find something nice and exculpatory to say about John Corzine.

Just as the tens of thousands of kids who forcefully and persistently protested the Vietnam War no longer chose to be sheep, headed to the slaughter, so the OWS mosaic of protesters, all ages and walks of life, choose not to be sheep. The power elite, and their armies of handlers, PR flacks, media whores, think tank drones, K-Street capos, political stooges and police hammers, all have a hard time with that. Sheep are supposed to be docile, easily lulled and herded, and eventually sheared. If they start biting the dogs, bolting the flock, it's a major, major hassle. Sometimes, the shepherds get trampled.
 

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