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Taibbi writes: "There is ample evidence out there that the Obama administration has eased up on prosecutions of Wall Street as part of a conscious strategy to prevent a collapse of confidence in our financial system, with the expected 50-state foreclosure settlement being the landmark effort in the cover-up, intended mainly to bury a generation of fraud."

Matt Taibbi at Skylight Studio in New York, 10/27/10. (photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)
Matt Taibbi at Skylight Studio in New York, 10/27/10. (photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)



Obama and Geithner: Government, Enron-Style

By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

21 December 11

 

trongly recommend this piece at the Huffington Post by Jeff Connaughton, a former aide to Senator Ted Kaufman. Jeff has long been one of the smartest guys on the Hill and is particularly strong on issues surrounding Wall Street and the regulatory system. In this piece, he takes apart the oft-stated mantra that what Wall Street firms did during and after the crisis was maybe unethical, but not illegal. He takes particular aim at Barack Obama, who tossed that line out on 60 Minutes in what I thought was one of the real low moments of his presidency. Here's Jeff's take:

Speaking in Kansas on December 6, [Obama] said, "Too often, we've seen Wall Street firms violating major anti-fraud laws because the penalties are too weak and there's no price for being a repeat offender." Just five days later on 60 Minutes, he said, "Some of the least ethical behavior on Wall Street wasn't illegal." Which is it? Have there been no prosecutions because Wall Street acted legally (albeit unethically)? Or did Wall Street repeatedly violate major anti-fraud laws (and should thus find itself in the dock)?

The President is confusing "legal" with "difficult to prosecute successfully."

The notion that what Wall Street firms did was merely unethical and not illegal is not just mistaken but preposterous: most everyone who works in the financial services industry understands that fraud right now is not just pervasive but epidemic, with many of the biggest banks committing entire departments to the routine commission of fraud and perjury - every single one of the major banks, for instance, devotes significant manpower to robosigning affidavits for foreclosures and credit card judgments, acts which are openly and inarguably criminal. Banks and hedge funds routinely withhold derogatory information about the instruments they sell, they routinely trade on insider information or ahead of their own clients' orders, and corrupt accounting is so rampant now that industry analysts have begun to figure in estimated levels of fraud in their examinations of the public disclosures of major financial companies.

Beyond that, as Jeff points out, Obama is simply not telling the truth about the insufficient penalties available to regulators. Employing the famous "mistakes were made" use of the passive tense, Obama copped out in his December 6 speech by saying that "penalties are too weak." As Jeff points out, what Obama should have said is that "the penalties my own regulators chose to dish out were too weak":

Moreover, the President is misleading us when he says that Wall Street firms violate anti-fraud law because the penalties are too weak. Repeat financial fraudsters don't pay relatively paltry - and therefore painless - penalties because of statutory caps on such penalties. Rather, regulatory officials, appointed by Obama, negotiated these comparatively trifling fines. This week, the F.D.I.C. settled a suit against Washington Mutual officials for just $64 million, an amount that will be covered mostly by insurance policies WaMu took out on behalf of executives, who themselves will pay just $400,000. And recently a federal judge rejected the S.E.C.'s latest settlement with Citigroup, an action even the Wall Street Journal called "a rebuke of the cozy relationship between regulators and the regulated that too often leaves justice as an orphan."

What makes Obama's statements so dangerous is that they suggest an ongoing strategy of covering up the Wall Street crimewave. There is ample evidence out there that the Obama administration has eased up on prosecutions of Wall Street as part of a conscious strategy to prevent a collapse of confidence in our financial system, with the expected 50-state foreclosure settlement being the landmark effort in the cover-up, intended mainly to bury a generation of fraud. Here's how Jeff puts it:

In Ron Suskind's book, Confidence Men, he quotes Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner as saying, "The confidence in the system is so fragile still... a disclosure of a fraud... could result in a run, just like Lehman." The Obama Administration is pushing hard for a 50-state settlement with the major banks for their fraudulent foreclosure practices, even though several state attorneys general have rejected this approach because, in their view, it would shield too much wrongdoing. Regrettably, Obama's top officials and lawyers seem more eager to restore the financial sector to health than establish criminal accountability among the executives who were in charge.

In other words, Geithner and Obama are behaving like Lehman executives before the crash of Lehman, not disclosing the full extent of the internal problem in order to keep investors from fleeing and creditors from calling in their chits. It's worth noting that this kind of behavior - knowingly hiding the derogatory truth from the outside world in order to prevent a run on the bank - is, itself, fraud! This is exactly the mindset that led Lehman to the abuses of the "Repo 105" accounting trick, in which loans were disguised as revenues in order to prevent the outside world from knowing the dire state of the bank's balance sheet.

Now Obama and Geithner are engaged in the same sort of activity, only they're trying to prevent a run not on an individual bank, but the entire American financial services sector. Geithner seems really to believe that if fraud were aggressively policed, and the world was made aware of the incredible extent of the illegality in our markets, that international confidence in the American financial sector would plummet and our economy would suffer - and suffer, incidentally, on Barack Obama's watch. Better, apparently, the Band-Aid the problem now, and let the real mess happen later on, on someone else's watch, or at least in a second term, when there's no need to worry about re-election.

Of course, this is exactly the wrong way to go about things. If Geithner and Obama really wanted to convince the world that America's markets weren't broken, they would effectively police fraud, and by extension prove to everybody that at the very least, our regulatory system is not broken. By taking a dive on fraud, and orchestrating mass cover-ups like the coming foreclosure settlement fiasco, what they're doing instead is signaling to the world that not only are our financial markets corrupt, but our government is broken as well.

The problem with companies like Lehman and Enron is that their executives always think they can paper over illegalities by committing more crimes, when in fact all they're usually doing is snowballing the problem so completely out of control that there's no longer any chance of fixing things, thereby killing the only chance for survival they ever had.

This is exactly what Obama and Geithner are doing now. By continually lying about the extent of the country's corruption problems, they're adding fraud to fraud and raising such a great bonfire of lies that they won't ever be able to fix the underlying mess. If they looked at the world like public servants, and not like corporate executives, they'd understand that the only way out is to come clean. That they don't look at things that way should tell people quite a lot.

 

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+90 # Tippitc 2011-12-21 19:37
Isn't this the same guy who campaigned on transparency in government?? Well, now would be a good time. And some truth and even a little justice would be a good thing also!!

And if Obama wants to change his story maybe he should make sure the stories have a few elements in common!!
 
 
+114 # Richard Raznikov 2011-12-21 22:08
Obama's failure to pursue criminal penalties against the bankers and other Wall Street fixers is deeply offensive and morally reprehensible. The argument that prosecuting these people would jeopardize a 'fragile' public confidence in the system is a perversion of the actual truth: failure to prosecute is what has destroyed public confidence.

Here we have a President who periodically expresses his dismay at the damage these people have caused while raking in millions in campaign contributions from the same people and surrounding himself with Geithner, Bernanke, Summers, and that ilk.

It's a disgrace. Obama has been an utter failure as President. It is pathetic that we seem thusfar to have no better choices because he has forfeited the support of many people.

I can't wait to see his 2012 campaign swing into action. What will the new slogan be? "This time I really mean it"?
 
 
+28 # Rita Walpole Ague 2011-12-22 04:34
"What will the new slogan be?" Just more karlroving MSD (manipulation, spin, distraction),

OhBombAh fooled us once, so shame on him. Allow him to fool/MSD us more, shame on u.s..

And, no more Bushwhacking and or Kochsucking either. The Greedy Old Party and their puppet whores are and have been shaming us into shaming ourselves for some time. A disgruntled Pres. named Ike tried to warn us.

How best to cure the greed and power addicted staph infection that's overcome so many of us in today's villainaire ruled world? How about looking hard at countries that are doing and being what we the 99% would like to do and be, with governments that work for/serve the people (i.e. Healthcare Not Warfare, very good and costless education for all, quashing of corruption in both the private and public sector, no torture/police state tactics allowed, etc.).

Then, work we must to do anything and everything it takes to install such good, well regulated and effectively regulating govt., and.....

UNDO OUR EVIL COUP!!!
 
 
+6 # ruralhorseman 2011-12-22 11:41
What Mr. Taibbi and Raznikov is the alternative? We, the people, the citizens knew the system was broken in the Bush Administration. The then Assist. Treasury Secretary under Paulson had traveled the country for 2 years, warning of what was unfolding. Nothing was done by the Attorney General who was complicit in the 8 years of theft in the Bush Administration. Obama comes along, finds out about this mess What is he supposed to do.? Create a free-fall in a house of cards economy? And do you think the Republicans with their obstructionism would have let him prosecute their bread and butter too? The Democrats...Nan cy Pelosi, then Speaker of the House as well as Senate Majority leader Reid, said on national TV that there would be no prosecutions of the Bush Administrations . Do you think they did not know of what had transpired, with Democrats sitting on the finance committees in Congress? This is not a potential financial collapse...it is a potential collapse of government control over a society in panic mode. Could we survive that? I think YES, IF special rules/laws were put in place to prevent runs on banks and on brokerage firms, controls put on any speculation in the Commodities Market, cessation of all short selling, naked or not. The only other solution with VIABILITY, is for a group of responsible political big hitters to convince Hillary to Primary Obama and tell the American people the truth AND the plan to fix the problem AND the plan to prosecute those responsible.
 
 
+6 # Erdajean 2011-12-22 21:00
Well, it's the same as when Obama decided -- once in office -- to "let bygones be bygones" with whatever criminal acts the Bush Administration had done. Those atrocities ruined us at home -- where those with conscience still suffer about our "part" in them -- and they ruined us around the world, where we can certainly no longer strut about as "the GOOD guys" -- everybody now knows better. This guy reminds me of too many modern parents -- who choose not to see the unbearable behavior of their children -- which I suspect some of them actually secretly enjoy as vandalism against society. Purely sicko! When NOTHING is ever corrected, what can we expect?
 
 
+26 # Michael_K 2011-12-21 23:47
"Here we have a President who periodically expresses his dismay at the damage these people have caused while raking in millions in campaign contributions from the same people and surrounding himself with Geithner, Bernanke, Summers, and that ilk."

The latter named miscreants being un-indicted co-conspirators . Let's DEMAND that O'Bama be challenged in a primary, so that we can present a proper candidate for the presidency.
 
 
+24 # Dave45 2011-12-22 00:13
Connaughton and Taibbi indirectly call into question another social weakness in America, namely, the state of the legal profession. The goal of the legal profession seems hardly to be to bring about just solutions to social problems but, rather, to manipulate the law for clients (and, more especially, to manipulate the law for rich clients). It is not hard to understand why Obama, himself a recognized professor of constitutional law, seems to have such little interest in the law. Indeed, to express such an interest would be in open conflict with his deeper lust for plutocratic relationships that will further his political career.
 
 
+7 # dorianb@fuse.net 2011-12-22 00:33
The more we learn about Obama the more aware we are that our economy is not at the lowest point in history since the Great Depression through no fault of his. His talking points may have a rhetorical ring of concern for the people and their plight but his actions reveal his total lack of concern and distorted intentions. He is a passive-aggress ive hypocrite who continues to blame the wealthy 1% whom he cowtows to and the Republicans for favoring them doing what he has been favoring and doing all along. He plays at politics rathern than paying attention to the very real plight his constituents. He goes on vacation while his pseudo Super Committee accomplish nothing at the taxpayer's expense. Obama is a man who does not keep his word. He continually says one thing and does something else.
He is the worst President we have ever had.
 
 
+13 # Observer 47 2011-12-22 11:07
Every point you make applies exponentially to George W. Bush. I'm no fan of Obama, but how you can say that he's the worst President ever, when we've just come through two Bush terms, totally escapes me.
 
 
+5 # Travlinlight 2011-12-22 11:12
Hi, dorian, Travlinlight here. I agree that Obama has been an extreme disappointment, despite all the positive legislation he has produced. We have to remember that he, like all other presidents--pro bably since the beginning--is a man under constraint. The constraint comes from the permananet gov't.(corporat e-finanacial-mi litary complex). He is under the control of Wall Street, as every president has been for decades. The last president not in thrall to banks and corporations was probably Lincoln. Even Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt had to bow to those interests to some extent, depsite their decent record on reining in some of the worst behavior.

Obama is not the worst president we have ever had--think of McKinley, Harding, Hoover, Nixon, Reagan and the two Bushes. They did little or nothning for the ordinary citizen, while in some cases (Nixon and Bush 43) actually engaged in ourright crimial activity.

Obama is judged harshly due to the great promise that people heard in his campaign speeches and inaugural address, a promise largely unfulfilled. When great expectations are not realized, people will be very harsh in their judgment, understandably so. He deserves our stern critcism, maybe even condemnation, certainly for the decision to allow indefinire detention of American citizens on American soil, a terrible policy, regardless of the terrorist threat.

The real problem is a system of runaway capitalism and expansionism.
 
 
-1 # Bill Clements 2011-12-22 13:50
Well reasoned.
 
 
0 # Scott479 2011-12-24 22:19
Travlinlight,

Sorry to see both of our comments here have been pulled or lost to the digital world somehow but thank you for your posts.
 
 
+4 # mark_proulx 2011-12-22 00:34
I can't add anything of substance to the previous two posts. They're good.
 
 
+29 # dloehr 2011-12-22 00:43
It's not that Obama doesn't know what "transparency" is about. He knows, and he prosecutes it. Bradley Manning and Julian Assange, far from being enemies of a transparent government, were its AGENTS.
 
 
+28 # noitall 2011-12-22 01:55
They don't seem to have much difficulty framing whistle blowers. If its fear of people losing confidence in the financial system, I'd have a BUNCH more confidence in our financial system if all those bastids were cooling their heels in SingSIng and serious regulation was put into place. Everyone tip toeing around fearful that this house of cards is going to come tumbling down. When I'm building something and realize that it is unstable and ready to fall, I take it down and do it right. Seems as though that goose should work for the gander as well. I long for a little Anti-Trust and wasn't there something called the Fairness Doctrine...Just pining for the good ol' days.
 
 
+9 # dquandle 2011-12-22 02:05
No, his new campaign slogan will be
"If you don't shut up we'll kill you", always the tyrant's refrain...
 
 
+9 # Phlippinout 2011-12-22 08:38
"If you don't shut up we'll kill you" That is very funny but true, thanks for the laugh!!
 
 
+19 # tm7devils 2011-12-22 03:42
I am an independent...b ut usually vote democratic. Not any longer. I refuse to vote for a president who, for whatever reason, refuses to follow the law and indict those responsible for the condition of our financial situation. A vote for Obama in 2012 would be giving credence to his actions (in this case 'non-action')an d thereby rewarding him for his egregious behavior, which is - aiding and abetting the fraudulent practices of the banks & Wall Street.
When he was elected we got 'change' alright - a change from a president who, through his actions and policies, nearly ruined our government and way of life - to one who is adamant in finishing us off.
I would think that a republican president couldn't do any worse...except I have seen the republican slate...and realize how wrong I could be!
 
 
+21 # wrodwell 2011-12-22 04:27
It's getting really tiresome pretending President Obama will "do the right thing". He uses his fool-the-eye campaign rhetoric to make it seem like he's still the agent of change when much of his agenda has been maintaining if not reinforcing the status quo. While he does deserve credit for finally ending the war in Iraq, we really need to get our domestic house in order - and quickly. Making sure the banking system is not controlled by economic terrorists running amok is clearly a prime domestic security issue. Can you imagine a catastrophic banking system failure? If it happened, would The Fed pony up another 26 trillion dollars to save the banks yet again? As pointed out in the article, confidence in the banking system is tenuous at best, not because of the possibility of criminal prosecution, but because of its absence, which sends the message that another systemic collapse is possible if not imminent. That's the main reason why the rats are gorging themselves before the Ship of State sinks. While we need to prosecute our economic criminals, let's not forget the Bush Administration gangsters who were responsible for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan which so greatly depleted our resources. A gargantuan heist is underway from powerful self-interest-f irst entities, who are behaving like out of control drug addicts. They can't get enough even when they get more and more. They're sick, and we're paying the bill. If ever the country needed to clean its Augean Stables, it's now.
 
 
+22 # gdp1 2011-12-22 06:00
...so...$29tril lion later and the system is still fragile? For that kind of money we could've paid off every single first mortgage in America...and the crooks would be living in the streets, instead of the unsuspecting schmoes...and ...how many more trillions until the system is not fragile?
 
 
+25 # head out the window 2011-12-22 06:08
The only way faith in the system can be resotred is to prosecute every executive, and lackey who participated, convict them and put them in jail. Release the pot offendors, there will be plenty of room.
 
 
-12 # uglysexy 2011-12-22 06:52
Matt:

That's a poor choice of headlines. It suggests You are piling on to the right wing notion that the U.S. economy is a Ponze scheme when what You are really saying is that Obama has failed to indict the Guilty in the continuing Economic Collapse. Obama is our last best hope in the next term and your problematic headline isn't going to help us avoid Romney. While the gist of the article may be right the headline achieves the wrong result.
Thanks
 
 
+16 # Phlippinout 2011-12-22 08:45
Sorry ugly, I think Obama leaves us just as hopeless as the rest. I am pissed at the democrats for not challenging him and quite frankly I dont care who lives in the white house, I can see its all about congress and the senate. The president is powerless without both of them in his pocket. When Obama had a democratic congress and senate he still did nothing. We are doomed because there is no one with any integrity for us to choose from. Good luck with your hope!
 
 
+12 # Observer 47 2011-12-22 11:17
Obama is our "last, best hope"? For WHAT? He has supported the Wall Street criminals 100%, he has done virtually nothing to help the 99%, has failed to prosecute the rampant fraud in the financial sector, has abandoned single-payer, has abandoned environmental concerns, has continuted torture and rendition, has escalated the war in Afghanistan, has taken military action in Libya, Yemen, and other places without Congressional authorization.. .. What is there to hope for? I highly doubt that Mr. Obama is going to find Jesus and reverse his destructive course at this point, especially with all the Wall Street money now flowing into his re-election coffers.
 
 
+1 # jky1291 2011-12-26 15:10
If the Obama supporters want to split the progressive vote and give the White House to the Republican terrorists that is on them, because there are enough Independents who will not vote for Obama, as well as disenchanted Democrats that he has zero chance of being reelected. But, a true Progressive could enjoy a landslide victory, by leveraging the 90% and growing dissatisfaction with Congress. While I will never vote for another Republican as long as I live, the tax reduction extension welfare entitlement bailout for millionaires and billionaires, following the health care capitulation, forfeited my support for President Obama. It is one thing if one does not know what is right, but it is inexcusable when one knows what is right and still refuses to uphold those principles. If one only votes for the lesser of 2 evils the result still cannot be acceptable. It is essential that a candidate that genuinely supports and will fight for the fundamental issues presented in the Rebuild the American Dream movement is identified, recruited, and elected as a 3rd party President to wrestle our country out of the death grip of the multinational corporations.

http://contract.rebuildthedream.com/?rc=rtd_home

If President Obama wished to run in 2016, I would wish him well, hoping he had learned what is required to truly represent all of the citizens of this nation, not just the wealthy 2%.
 
 
+22 # JayMagoo 2011-12-22 07:00
Whose confidence in the system is Geithner, Obama, et al worried about? If those who committed criminal fraud lack confidence in the system's will to prosecute them, they are liable to go on committing additional frauds. If the American people lack confidence in the system, then the system is guaranteed to fail. The best way to restore the American people's confidence is to investigate the criminal activities and prosecute those who destroyed our confidence by their criminal acts. The system must be honest and we must be assured that those who act dishonestly will be swiftly and surely punished. If Geithner, Obama et al hesitate starting criminal investigations because confidence in the system is fragile, they are doing exactly the wrong thing by not prosecuting.
 
 
+21 # stonecutter 2011-12-22 07:10
@ Richard Raznikov

Trenchant comment with which I'm in heartfelt agreement. We seem to be living inside the Lincoln aphorism about fooling the people. GeeDohbya tripped over himself just trying to quote it, but Obama has internalized it, used it artfully, speaking out of 3 sides of his mouth on a host of issues crying out for clarity, trust and promise-fulfill ment. Instead we get Ivy League doublespeak.

When I occasionally still think of election night, Nov., 2008, the energy, emotion and tremendous relief of that night, the tears flowing down the televised cheeks of Jesse Jackson (They were genuine; it was in the eyes), and compare it to where we are now, I can't help feeling a letdown comparable to Nov. 22, 1963, when my boyhood idol was murdered. I'm a lot older, wiser, more experienced, more cynical, but the hurt is still palpable, the deep disappointment in Obama very personal. After 8 years of Bush, Iraq and Afghanistan, how could it be otherwise?There are many who say it's "unfair" to put such a burden on Obama, that he came in facing a mountain of intractable problems, that he had no real experience dealing with such a gargantuan crisis. Perhaps that's all true, but real leadership could've overcome much of that shortfall in experience, surrounding himself with experts committed to real change. He has shown little if any presidential leadership. IMO, that makes him just another self-serving political hack who fooled most of the people.
 
 
+5 # Observer 47 2011-12-22 11:19
OUTSTANDING comment, Stonecutter!
 
 
+16 # fredboy 2011-12-22 07:35
Think about high school then think about Geithner: It's hard to bust your best friends' chops. This guy WAS and still IS Wall Street--you know there are scores of big finance jobs already promised to him. So he's convinced the Prez to go soft on his buds. And given the GOP another pathway to the White House.
 
 
+22 # Lute 2011-12-22 07:57
Prof. Cornel West at Princeton called Obama a "black mascot" for Wall Street. That is correct. But Prof. West -- himself a Black American -- did not stoop to the terms of street slang that are even more insulting than "House Negro." Obama taught Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago, but now he is complicit in fraud on a monumental scale. So, too, is Geithner, who was head of the New York Fed before and during the meltdown. He should have been taken out but instead was put in charge of Treasury, where he continued bailouts for the banks while ignoring ongoing foreclosures, ongoing fraud. May they both rot in hell.
 
 
+7 # Carolyn 2011-12-22 07:58
Obama can handle anything. In the case of the financial breakdown, don't fix it with the Glass-Steagall Act with which FDR saved our nation in 1933 -- just print more money. It's working just great so far. We're still sleeping. Congress is sleeping. He's our president.
 
 
+14 # Pufferly 2011-12-22 08:31
We Nader voters are damn sick and tired of saying "We told you so." But it's no comfort to us when we see the nation sinking into a hellhole of corruption with all branches of government
rushing to cash in for personal gain and treating the People as fodder for their money machines. Anyone interested in starting a new country in a warm climate with beaches and tequila?
 
 
+17 # cvm79 2011-12-22 08:41
"Occupy Delaware protesters took the holiday spirit to the homes of politicians Wednesday night, singing Christmas tunes with a political message.

"You better watch out, You better not lie, You better not steal, I'm telling you why, Occupy is coming to town," protesters sang outside the home of Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del. "You're cooking the books, We're checking them twice, Gonna find out who's naughty or nice, Occupy is coming to town."

The protesters said they targeted the homes of Coons, Sen. Tom Carper and Rep. John Carney to present their concerns. Occupy Delaware has been protesting issues including social and economic inequality, corporate greed and government inaction."
 
 
+3 # JohnRussell2012 2011-12-22 21:01
AMAZING! I can only respond with... "If only I could have been there!"
 
 
+6 # mwd870 2011-12-23 06:22
Occupy Delaware, your activism is the way to get the attention of your representatives and senators. Thank you for being out there.
 
 
+15 # kitster 2011-12-22 08:43
what you gonna do?

obama the obfuscator has turned hope into hopelessness on every front.

the republican't clown college is graduating the goofiest goons in a generation...he ll-bent on biblicizing (with their particular brand of hypochristianit y)the body politic and easing access to the alters of greed and financial felony.

we seem to elect leaders interested only in raising enough money for the next election. and if our best interests are at stake...well, let's kick that can down the road for somebody else to consider. hopefully we can baffle the boobeoisie into forgetting how miserable we've made them.

will no one step up to squelch this never ending cycle? progressives with plenty of clout and cash...where is thy shame?
 
 
+14 # mwd870 2011-12-22 09:33
"By continually lying about the extent of the country's corruption problems, [Obama and Geithner] are adding fraud to fraud and raising such a great bonfire of lies that they won't ever be able to fix the underlying mess. If they looked at the world like public servants, and not like corporate executives, they'd understand that the only way out is to come clean." This makes me feel so angry and frustrated.

For some reason the names Beavis and Butthead come to mind. Lately my disabled son has been imitating them because he thinks they sound funny.

It seems we have to rely on committed activists, ethical attorneys-gener al, and above all election of better politicians. Without money in politics, they could work in the interests of the people instead of fund-raising to stay in office.
 
 
+2 # Travlinlight 2011-12-22 09:42
The vast corruption and fraud in the financial services industry is symptomatic of a psycho-spiritua l pathology that is caused by a failure to evolve in consciousness. I know that may sound strange or even silly to some people, but I think it is true.

Twice in my life, I have had experiences that took me beyond my normal sense of self into a state of altered consciousness in which I mo longer felt bound to the ego-self. In that state, I experienced a total lack of fear and craving and knew a profound peace. I needed and wanted nothing. Sadly, the feeling was temporary, and I have not had the personal discipline to bring about a constant state of such consciousness.

What these experiences taught me confirmed what I had read and learned about formal methodologies for advanced transpersonal consciousness. We all need to grow in consciousness and spirit to a point where the addiction to material wealth is overcome.

The drive to acquire material wealth is a compensatory behavior, an attempt to overcome fear and craving via more and more acquisition of things. It doesn't work because it can't work. No amount of money will ever free us of fear and craving. Those emotions are only overcome by a breakthrough to higher consciousness.

I know that weary, stressed-out folks don't want to hear this; it's an old mesaage. However, this old cynic knows it is the only real solution: we need to grow up in consciousness.
 
 
-4 # Donald 2011-12-22 10:42
Interesting how all of Obama's volatile detractors jump in whenever he screws up. Yes, he has sins. Who doesn't? and yes Geithner must go and should have gone a long time ago. However, would you rather have some rabid Republican in the White House who cares exclusively for the Wall Street crowd and their ilk and nothing for the middle class and the 1%? He's the best we have right now and our only hope for the little guy. Lets clean the Congress first and speak directly to him and maybe our true representatives , if we can get some, about how we want things changed. The 1% is trying to do that and succeeding to a small degree.
 
 
+2 # mwd870 2011-12-23 08:48
First, I believe the strategy you describe for political change is the best course to follow. No, we don't want a rabid Republican in the White House.

Obama has done some good things - this is what we expect from a Democratic President who promised change. Point taken it is easier to be critical.

However, when the President supports questionable policies, he must be called out. There has been too much secrecy, lack of transparency, and collusion with entities that have no interest in helping the majority of Americans.
 
 
-1 # jky1291 2011-12-26 15:17
I'm sorry but if the Obama supporters want to split the progressive vote and give the White House to the Republican terrorists that is on them, because there are enough Independents who will not vote for Obama, as well as disenchanted Democrats that he has zero chance of being reelected. But, a true Progressive could enjoy a landslide victory, by leveraging the 90% and growing dissatisfaction with Congress. While I will never vote for another Republican as long as I live, the tax reduction extension welfare entitlement bailout for millionaires and billionaires, following the health care capitulation, forfeited my support for President Obama. It is one thing if one does not know what is right, but it is inexcusable when one knows what is right and still refuses to uphold those principles. If one only votes for the lesser of 2 evils the result still cannot be acceptable. It is essential that a candidate that genuinely supports and will fight for the fundamental issues presented in the Rebuild the American Dream movement is identified, recruited, and elected as a 3rd party President to wrestle our country out of the death grip of the multinational corporations.

http://contract.rebuildthedream.com/?rc=rtd_home

If President Obama wished to run in 2016, I would wish him well, hoping he had learned what is required to truly represent all of the citizens of this nation, not just the wealthy 2%.
 
 
+7 # Activista 2011-12-22 11:27
" fraud right now is not just pervasive but epidemic" yes - Geithner with Obama IS running Ponzi scheme with US economy.
Analyze ex-regulator Bernie's Madoff scheme - money culture maximize profit ... it started long time ago with Alan Greenspan now Ben Bernanke ... this system made 1% rich - power that rules America.
Money Culture System is BROKEN - wake up.
 
 
+5 # Glen 2011-12-22 11:41
It is highly unlikely, mwd, that this country will return to the good ole days of yesteryear. The population is too numerous, too many demands, too much corporate influence, too much military spending, and on and on and on. I don't see that any effort will take the government back to working for the people. The people are just getting in the way.
 
 
-1 # AlWight 2011-12-22 12:18
I don't pretend to know what Obama thinks, intends, means, or what motivates him, and I am sure the author of this piece doesn't either. I am constantly amazed at the gullibility of those who buy anything written, or who believe what they want to believe. The author has no idea what Obama was referring to when he said some of the least ethical behavior of Wall Street was not illegal. This is not necessarily a contradiction of what he said before. I also don't know what would be required to prosecute the guilty, but I would like to see Obama appoint someone to do so, if he hasn't already.
 
 
+6 # roseviolet 2011-12-22 13:17
The banks don't bother to follow the law because they know there's little risk of prosecution. If they do get prosecuted, the penalties are, for them, akin to being slapped on the wrist and called a "bad boy". That can be written off as a price of doing business (along with any scapegoats who may have been personally prosecuted). But this is what we get when we let the whole system AND the system supposed to oversee it rot through and through. Worse, in many cases the way the oversight agencies work, it's like we have foxes guarding the hen houses. Sure, we may need people who "understand the world of finance" but surely there are people with a good education in business and economics (perhaps also the applicable law) who've never worked for a bank. It would be much better this way.

All that said, I don't see any reforms of the financial system (or the system that oversees it) until there's a short leash put on corporate "free speech", especially their lobbying of government. If that doesn't happen soon, the people may finally get peeved enough to force some sort of change. The Occupy movement may prove to just be the tip of an ugly iceberg.
 
 
+7 # wleming 2011-12-22 13:50
obama, geitner, summers,and the rest are there to defend the interests of corporate capitalism... i.e. the people who pay them to do what they do-. payment comes in many forms-. elizabeth warren was cut off at the knees because she opposed this transparent fraud. please matt, the guys are just doing their "job."
 
 
+6 # Travlinlight 2011-12-24 08:38
When current events and political behavior reach the extremity they have now, with mendacious, malignant creeps and fools taken seriously as presidential candidates, it is plain to see that the American empire is falling. As recently as the 1980s, men and women of this kind would have been swiftly dismissed as irresponsible and even laughable fringers.

Our politicians have always been mostly in the pockets of the stateless money mandarins, but now they are mothing more than nearly mindless marionets, dancing madly on gilded strings. The super-rich who own them are narcissistic sociopaths in the mold of the Jensen character in the movie NETWORK. They will promote and finance any venal boob with the nerve to
pop his vest buttons in absurd pretense as a competent statesman.

The one woman in this calamitous circus--
Michele Bachman--is so deranged and ditzy that she hardly merits any comment at all. She will become just a minor footnote in political history, if that much.

Our sitting president may be the worst of the lot because he has betrayed the nation in supine compromises and largely superficial half-measures that don't truly solve the problems and crises being faced by the bulk of an abused citizenry. He is vastly more intelligent than the puny corporate puppets who oppose him, but that intelligence is wasted if it isn't backed up with courage, decency and independence from Jensen-style manipulators.
 
 
0 # jky1291 2011-12-26 15:24
Percipient!
 
 
0 # Larkrise 2011-12-28 00:29
I will not vote for a man I cannot, will not, and must not trust. There is no reasons of any depth to trust Obama. His poll numbers show that millions feel the same. He has NOT earned our trust nor our respect. He does not inspire confidence. For millions, he is a sham. No wonder our country remains mired in so many problems. We have had a monumental lack of genuine leadership for far too many years. But, unless We The People clean our own house, we will remain down in the dumps, with hucksters, liars, con artists and narcissists serving themselves.
 

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