Friday, February 10, 2012

No Banker Left Behind

How do we hate the mortgage fraud settlement? Let us count the ways. First, there are Yves Smith's dozen reasons why the deal stinks. (She should know -- she writes from the unique perspective of a shadow banking heretic who escaped to tell about it). And Dave DayenJon Walker and Matt Taibbi, who has dutifully confessed that his initial optimism was woefully misplaced. As was mine, believing somehow that my attorney general (Eric Schneiderman) was the reincarnation of Eliot Spitzer -- who isn't dead, but simply marginalized and only occasionally allowed to speak truth to power on Current TV.

That we would be screwed once again was to be expected. But what is still breathtaking to me is the unbridled arrogance of President Obama in pretending this is a great deal for people. I missed his TV appearance yesterday, but just looked at the grim photos and the transcript. Yes, they actually had the nerve to preserve the broadcast of their litany of lies, the likes of which we haven't heard since.... oh, maybe a week ago when Obama bragged on the exquisite execution and precise precision of his officially nonexistent war crimes.  And the pictures memorializing yesterdays's heinous event actually reminded me of the publicity shot from The Sopranos. Mobsters, no matter the particular racket or crime family from which they hail, all seem to share the same body language and facial expressions: hands folded casually in front of their pricey dark suits, each oozing a uniform aspect of smug, sullen, cocky arrogance: 






You can read the transcript of Obama's bravura performance here. I am not going to parse the whole speech: its mendacity and unmitigated gall speak for themselves. But here are a few excerpts from a somewhat more truthful rough draft rescued from my imaginary waste basket:


All right, good afternoon, everybody.  Before I start, I just want to introduce my enforcers the folks on stage here, because the extraordinary work that they did is the reason that a lot of families are going to be screwed helped all across the country.....

The criminal actions of too big to exist banks and our complicit government housing bubble that burst nearly six years ago triggered, as we all know, the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes.  It cost millions of innocent Americans their jobs and their homes.  And because I refused to break up the banks and bring back Glass-Steagall it remains one of the biggest drags on our economy.

Last fall, my administration unveiled a series of steps but failed to actually follow through on to help all responsible homeowners refinance their mortgages to take advantage of historically low rates.  And last week, I urged Congress to pass a plan that would help millions more Americans refinance and stay in their homes.  And I indicated that the American people need Congress to act on this piece of legislation. Election time is fast approaching, the Occupy movement happened, and I had to pretend to care.

But in the meantime, we can't wait to get things done and to provide relief to America's homeowners.  We need to pretend to keep doing everything we can to help homeowners and our economy.  And today, with the help of Democratic and Republican attorney generals from nearly every state in the country, and taking our marching orders from the banks themselves we are about to take a unprecented leap into the arms of our Wall Street masters major step on our own.
   
We have reached a paltry landmark settlement with the nation’s largest banks that will speed relief to their bottom lines and secure the bonuses of their CEOs hardest-hit homeowners, aid and abet end some of the most criminal abusive practices of the mortgage industry, and begin to turn the page on an era of recklessness that continues to leave has left so much damage in its wake.

By now, it’s well known that millions of professionals in the monied burbs Americans who did the right thing and the responsible thing -- shopped for a house, secured a mortgage that they could afford, made their payments on time -- were, nevertheless, hurt badly by the irresponsible actions of others:  by lenders who tricked and defrauded sold loans to people who couldn’t afford them; by buyers who knew who were snookered into signing documents they didn't understand  couldn’t afford them; by speculators who were looking to make a quick buck; by banks that took risky mortgages, packaged them up, and knowingly and fraudulently and maliciously traded them off for large profits.

It was the worst and biggest case of massive fraud and theft and forgery in the history of the world wrong.  And it is still costing cost more than 4 million families their homes to foreclosure.

Even worse, many companies that handled these foreclosures were such heartless bastards they planned ahead of time to steal people's homes out from under them didn’t give people a fighting chance to hold onto their homes.  In many cases, they deliberately committed fraud didn’t even verify that these foreclosures were actually legitimate.  Some of the people they hired to process foreclosures used fake signatures to -- on fake documents to speed up the foreclosure process.  Some of them didn’t read what they were signing at all. The deal I am agreeing to today absolves all these felons of criminal responsibility.

We've got to think about that. We did think about it, a little, and came to the conclusion that the American people are not as important as the banks. You work and you save your entire life to buy a home.  That's where you raise your family.  That's where your kids' memories are formed.  That's your stake, your claim on the American Dream.  And the person signing the document couldn’t take enough time to even make sure that the foreclosure was legitimate. And the person signing the document knew damn well what they were doing was illegal and immoral. He or she was getting paid minimum wage in a foreclosure mill working as a subcontractor to the criminal banking cabal. We should not be calling it "carelessness."

These practices were plainly felonies punishable by long prison terms. irresponsible.  And we are allowing them refused to let them go unanswered.  So about a year ago, our federal law enforcement agencies teamed up with state attorneys general to get to the bottom of these abuses to try to force a sweetheart deal to please the banks and sweep the whole thing under the rug.  The travesty settlement we’ve reached today, thanks to the co-optation and passive aggression work of some of the fucks folks who are on this stage -- this is the largest criminal conspiracy joint federal-state settlement in our nation’s history -- is the result of that extraordinary cooperation and complete takeover of our democracy by fascist elements.

Under the terms of this settlement, America’s biggest banks -- banks that were rescued by taxpayer dollars -- are getting yet another taxpayer bailout.will be required to right these wrongs.  That means simply paying a small fee of less than a penny for each dollar they stole more than just paying a fee.  These banks will put billions of dollars of other people's money towards relief for a mere fraction of families across the nation.  They’ll theoretically provide refinancing for borrowers that are stuck in high interest rate mortgages.  They’ll possibly but not probably and not in time to help reduce loans for families who owe more on their homes than they’re worth.  And they will deliver another kick in the teeth some measure of justice for families that have already been victims of Class A felonies abusive practices. If people who were robbed even get their moving costs covered maybe three years hence, they'll be lucky

All told, this isn’t good at all just good for those families -- it’s good for the banks their neighborhoods, it's good for their the bankers' families, and it's good for increased Wall Street donations to my SuperPac our economy.

This settlement also protects our ability to further ignore investigate the crimes practices that are stilling causing caused this mess.  And this lie is important for my own political prospects.  The woefully inadequate mortgage fraud task force I announced in my State of the Union address retains its full authority to cursorally aggressively investigate the packaging and selling of risky mortgages that led to this crisis.  This investigation is already well underway and will end mere days after the statute of limitations runs out and millions more families are kicked to the curb.  And working closely with the co-opted and bought-off state attorneys general, we're going to keep at it until I am safely re-elected we hold those who broke the law fully accountable.

Now, let me tell last whopper before I go count the Wall Street money in my war chest  I want to be clear.  No compensation, no amount of money, no measure of justice is enough to make it right for a family who's had their piece of the American Dream wrongly taken from them. This deal sucks -- so what?  And no action, no matter how meaningful, is going to, by itself, entirely heal the housing market. So shut the hell up if you don't like it. But this settlement is a pathetic response to a crime against humanity start.  And we're going to make sure that the banks live up to their end of the bargain until, in keeping with past promises and past behavior, we won't.  If they don’t, we've set up an independent inspector whom the banks have approved, a monitor that has the power to make sure they pay exactly the peanuts what they agreed to pay, plus a lashing with a wet noodle penalty if they fail to act in accordance with this agreement.  So this will be a big help. to the banksters.

Of course, even with this settlement, there's still millions of responsible homeowners who are out there who will still be illegally foreclosed on doing their best.  And what they need us to do is get back on their feet. and make a campaign donation to me. We've still got to stoke the fires of my personality cult of our economic recovery.  So now is not the time to pull back.

And the conspiratorial bipartisan nature of this settlement and the appalling outstanding work that these state attorneys general did is a testament to what happens when money rules politics everybody is only concerned with their own re-elections.is pulling in the same direction.  And that’s what today's settlement is all about -- screwing standing up for for the American people, absolving and continuing to reward and enable holding those who broke the law accountable, restoring confidence to in to our rentier class housing market and our financial sector, getting things moving and allowing the financial predators to get bigger in order to strengthen their chokehold on our very lives.  And we're going to keep on at it until the 99% are rendered moot everyone shares in America's comeback.

So, consiglieres ladies and gentlemen, thank you for selling out your outstanding efforts.  We are very, very proud of you.  And we look forward to seeing this settlement lead to some miniscule small measure of relief to a pathetic few lot of property owners families out there that need help.  And that’s going to strengthen my re-election chances the American economy overall. 
So thank you very much.

26 comments:

Anne Lavoie said...

Karen, I wish we all had microphones hooked up so you could hear our laughter as we read this. What a hoot! Thanks.

Fred Drumlevitch said...

Great post, Karen.

If only some hackers could take your original text prior to the strike-throughs and substitute it for the deceptive mush currently fed to Obama’s teleprompters!

I join you in amazement at the unmitigated gall exhibited by Democratic politicians and their Republican co-conspirators as they toss a small rotten bone to the American public, and pretend it’s nourishing.

On the bright side, I attended two lectures by Noam Chomsky at the University of Arizona this week. The first, an academic lecture on language, drew a large crowd. But the turnout for the second, a public one on the subject of higher education, was astonishing, with people lined up for blocks. The actual venue was completely filled, as were additional overflow lecture halls fed his talk via closed-circuit television. There were so many people that some didn’t get in anywhere. (I ended up in the last overflow hall, and had I been about 200 people further back, I wouldn’t have gotten in).

Enough members of the public hold sufficiently-progressive views to warrant a progressive political challenge to our corrupt unbridled plutocratic capitalist status-quo. Where are the progressive political candidates?

James F Traynor said...

Where are the progressive political candidates?

They have been marginalized by the Clintonian wing of the Democratic Party and its current avatar, Obama, the Meliffluous.

Zee said...

To me, it is far more important that we send a whole bunch of banksters and predatory lenders to jail—along with more than a few fraudulent borrowers—than it is to fret about the amount of “compensation” that can or should be squeezed out of the banks.

No matter how large such a settlement might be, the banks will ultimately find some way or another to pass the cost on to the consumer in the form of increased fees and reduced interest, which simply means that ALL of US who need to use banks will pay the “fine” for the banks' criminality. That would even include the poor who, I presume, use banks too.

It may take some brief time for the banks to recoup their losses, but ultimately this approach lets the banks and banksters off scot-free.

According to James K. Galbraith (Thanks, @Denis Neville.):

“..it is worth remembering that the resolution of the savings and loan scandal saw over a thousand industry insiders convicted and imprisoned.”

http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/
HE/TA09EconomistGalbraith.pdf

See also:

http://www.nytimes.com/
2011/04/14/business/14prosecute.html?_r=1

Why are Obama and Eric Holder NOT doing the same? This almost makes Ronald Reagan look virtuous by comparison!

It is essential that many banksters and predatory lenders be sent to the Big House because:

“...the failure to prosecute is not just a bloodthirsty demand for a lynch mob, but a serious point that has implications for our economy. Through criminal affirmance, banks will feel no compunction against doing this type of thing again. Investors will be once bitten, twice shy on mortgage backed securities, and the federal government will keep this enormous risk on their books. And it’s about accountability and justice, which has decayed American politics for the last decade.” --David Dayen

Jail time is the only thing that will pacify people like me. I realize that I have been blessed in life thus far, but I—and many others who have played by all the rules—have also been hurt dearly by the banksters and predatory lenders in terms of lost housing values that we will likely never recover.

Don't worry. I'm not asking for compensation for myself or for others like me who merely had the misfortune to “buy high,” and who will probably have to “sell low” when the time comes to downsize or move into a nursing home. That's life.

But dammit, at least a few banksters, predatory lenders, sleeping regulators—and yes, fraudulent borrowers, too—should be headed for the slammer for what they've done to ALL of us.

Suzan said...

I couldn't finish reading it.

(I had to go to the bathroom to throw up.)

Your commentary paints in primary colors the defining problem of our civilization.

If it can be called thus.

We have moved from "We shall overcome" to "We shall go down quickly and quietly."

Thanks for all you do, Karen.

OCCUPY!

S

Jay - Ottawa said...

The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you've got it made.
-- Groucho Marx

Valerie said...

Well, I can't say this surprises me although it certainly disappoints me. It reminds me of what someone said in the documentary, Inside Job; the regulators in Iceland were greatly outgunned and the really good regulators, who were actually a threat to the bankers, were soon offered great jobs and hired away by the banks to help them screw the system even more efficiently. (Totally my words – not a quote.)

I saw The News Hour yesterday and was sickened by Eric Benedict Arnold Schneiderman who for his perfidy will surely be rewarded with some important position in the Democratic Party. Too bad, I actually thought he might be on our side when we formed the Reformed Democratic Party. What a sell-out!

" . . .the unmitigated gall exhibited by Democratic politicians and their Republican co-conspirators as they toss a small rotten bone to the American public, and pretend it’s nourishing." You NAILED IT, Fred!

There is a cancer in the Democratic Party and it is the Obama administration. Sadly, it seems to have metastasised.

Denis Neville said...

Kabuki Theater for the Masses

Upcoming: the “Champion” of Main Street versus Mittens, the “Captain” of Wall Street

With Barry (once again) all hat, no cattle; all sizzle, no steak; only his fig leaf…

And “Severely Conservative” Mittens, “the Piltdown Man of American politics,” “Pinocchio, the real wooden puppet”

The score: Banksters 1, Public 0

Mortgage expert Adam Levitin of Georgetown Law School says that most of Obama’s foreclosure fraud settlement "is being financed on the dime of MBS [mortgage-backed securities] investors such as pension funds, 401(k) plans, insurance companies and the like — parties that did not themselves engage in any of the wrongdoing covered by the settlement."

“The formal price tag for the settlement is $25 billion…Only $5 billion of that is hard cash contributed by the banks. Let me repeat that. The five banks involved in the settlement, which have a combined market capitalization of over $500 billion, are putting in only $5 billion. That’s less than 1% of their net worth. And they are admitting no wrongdoing. To call that accountability is laughable.”

“It’s a drop in the bucket relative to the scale of the problem…It lets the banks off the hook for the largest financial crime in history.”

http://www.creditslips.org/creditslips/2012/02/the-servicing-settlement-banks-1-public-0.html

Yves Smith, "The real problem is that this deal is just not going to give that much relief. The mortgages are underwater—in the U.S., $700 billion. Even the most generous estimate of how much relief that this deal will provide is $35 billion to $40 billion. I mean, that just isn’t that much. And the notion that homeowners who were foreclosed on are going to get a $1,500 to $2,000 check, I mean, we’ve just basically said the price of fraud is $1,500 to $2,000.”

http://www.democracynow.org/2012/2/10/50
_state_25b_mortgage_settlement_relief

Yesterday, I finally did it. For the first time in my life, I am no longer a registered Democrat. I am now non-affiliated (independent). The system is broken. The current political duopoly, both Republican and Democratic parties are intellectually and morally bankrupt. Alternatives will be welcomed.

Kat said...

Zee,
They're really not squeezing much from the banks. The losers are investors in mortgage backed securities that are forced to take write downs. Well, them and the entire American citizenry.

Kat said...

@Fred-- how was the lecture on higher ed? What did Chomsky have to say?

Denis Neville said...

Noam Chomsky and Glenn Greenwald on CSPAN BookTV this weekend

The "With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful" book event that Glenn Greenwald did with Noam Chomsky last November in Boston will be broadcast several times this weekend on C-SPAN Book TV.

• Saturday, February 11th at 12pm (ET)
• Sunday, February 12th at 1am (ET)
• Sunday, February 12th at 7pm (ET)

http://www.booktv.org/Program/12951/With+
Liberty+and+Justice+for+Some+How+the+Law+is+
Used+to+Destroy+Equality+and+Protect+the+
Powerful.aspx

Denis Neville said...

Jeffrey Clements, author of "Corporations Are Not People: Why They Have More Rights Than You Do and What You Can Do About It," will also be on CSPAN BookTV immediately after Glenn Greenwald and Noam Chomsky.

• Saturday, February 11th at 1:15pm (ET)
• Sunday, February 12th at 2:15am (ET)
• Monday, February 13th at 7:15am (ET)

"Rarely have so few imposed such damage on so many. When five conservative members of the Supreme Court handed for-profit corporations the right to secretly flood political campaigns with tidal waves of cash on the eve of an election, they moved America closer to outright plutocracy, where political power derived from wealth is devoted to the protection of wealth. It is now official: Just as they have adorned our athletic stadiums and multiple places of public assembly with their logos, corporations can officially put their brand on the government of the United States as well as the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the fifty states." – Bill Moyers, forward to “Corporations Are Not People: Why They Have More Rights Than You Do and What You Can Do About It” by Jeff Clements

Anne Lavoie said...

@Denis Neville

Yay Denis! Another member of the Independence Movement! (And a BookTV fan too)

'We The Peaceful' need more people to leave the cancerously diseased duopolistic system that promotes money and militarism by sacrificing people and peace. 'We The Peaceful' no longer have a party, organization, or institution to speak for us, so the only reasonable thing to do is to reject those entities before they totally destroy the entire body politic.

A cancerous growth is a group of cells that no longer recognize normal boundaries and limitations. In other words, they acquire a TERMINAL CASE OF GREED. We now have a greedy group of the monied and militaristic that have taken over the two-party political system, and the only way to stop that growth is to cut off the blood vessels that deliver nutrients to it. That would be us, the voters who register and vote with them, giving loyalty and support to their very existence.

This is a serious life or death situation for our country, not a political game. The monied and militarized will eat up our country, because that is what they live for - money and power. They even kill for it.

The first step towards recovery is for the intelligent immune system of the body politic to mount a powerful REJECTION response.

Valerie said...

The only reason I remain a registered Democrat is because I want to be able to vote in the primaries - to vote the bastards out.

Denis Neville said...

Chomsky & Greenwald - "With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful" book discussion [excellent!]

http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/WithLi

This will never happen, but nevertheless, apropos…

David Swanson points out that of the 35 articles of impeachment submitted by Dennis Kucinich against Bush in 2008, Obama by Swanson's count qualifies for 27 of them.

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2012/02/27-of-35-bush-articles-of-impeachment-apply-to-obama.html

“It is instructive to review the 35 Bush articles in the Obama age. It quickly becomes apparent that Obama has either exactly duplicated or closely paralleled most of the 35.”

http://warisacrime.org/busharticles

O.B.A.M.A. - anagram for "One Big Ass Mistake, America"

James Singer said...

There's lots of anger out tonight...

http://www.latimes.com/business/realestate/la-fi-hiltzik-20120212,0,7852934.column

Denis Neville said...

Our "Democracy Promoter-in-Chief" Obama in action…

Maldives President and Climate Advocate Forced at Gunpoint to Step Down

http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2012/02/09/maldives-president-and-climate-advocate-forced-at-gunpoint-to-step-down/

Maldives leader Mohamed Nasheed, called the “world’s most environmentally outspoken president” because of his calls for drastically cutting greenhouse gas emissions, was forced to resign at gunpoint.”

Mohamed Nasheed, President of the Maldives from 2008 until Feb. 7, wrote in the NY Times:

“The problems we are facing in the Maldives are a warning for other Muslim nations undergoing democratic reform. At times, dealing with the corrupt system of patronage the former regime left behind can feel like wrestling with a Hydra: when you remove one head, two more grow back. With patience and determination, the beast can be slain. But let the Maldives be a lesson for aspiring democrats everywhere: the dictator can be removed in a day, but it can take years to stamp out the lingering remnants of his dictatorship.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/08/opinion/in-the-maldives-strangled-democracy.html

What was the USA’s reaction? What did our "Democracy Promoter-in-Chief" Obama do?

Yep. He recognized the new military supported dictatorship of Maldives President Mohamed Waheed as legitimate and urged him to fulfill a pledge to form a national unity government. Nasheed, Maldives first democratically elected president, was encouraged to settle peaceably with Waheed.

O.B.A.M.A.

Valerie said...

When I read things like Denis'last comment - well, I am sick to my stomach. Sometimes my dislike for Obama bubbles to the surface and I find him truly repulsive. It is not that I think Romney or Bush would be different - or Clinton for that matter - but I refuse to accept that this is fit to be my president just because he wears the mantle of the Democratic Party and tries to sell himself as a caring person. What a crappy role model for his children!

Karen Garcia said...

In keeping with the current conventional wisdom that the Democratic Party is a complete sell-out, here is my response to Thomas Friedman's NYT column, in which he calls for a "second party"... presumably the old-timey moderate GOP:

Until and unless the Democratic Party returns to its own pro-labor, pro-civil rights, pro-environment, humanistic roots, the Republicans will migrate ever further to the outer limits of Wingnutville. We are already getting plenty of conservative bang for our buck from the Democrats: severe cuts in Medicare are being offered in the presidential budget, along with just a tad more of a tax increase for the richest of the rich. So who needs a new improved Republican Party when we already have a de facto Republican president? The current slate of desperados are competing against an incumbent who doesn't even exist: a European socialist who runs amok putting people on food stamps? The Republicans are not only radicalized -- they're reacting to being beaten at their own game. No wonder Mittens is reduced to bragging about being a "severe" conservative.

The very existence of the Occupy movement is testament to the fact that neither political party in today's landscape is serving the interests of the people. The vast majority are clamoring for single payer health care, and what we have is a 2000-page tome nobody has completely read, and which needs constant tweaking and waivers to satisfy all the malcontents out there. President Obama is open to more deepwater drilling and hydrofracking... as long as polluters like Dow Chemical can prove they'll be responsible this time. So who needs Republicans?

We need another party all right: one that isn't owned by Wall Street.

Karen Garcia said...

Oh, and I had to respond to a progressive sock-puppet's Obamapologetic comment on the mortgage settlement deal on another Times editorial:

This deal is so spectacularly bad that its terms are being withheld from public view. At best, a few million illegally foreclosed people just might, years from now, get the equivalent of a moving truck rental and a month's rent to compensate them for what is probably the biggest single case of criminal conspiracy, grand larceny and fraud in the history of the United States. This amounts to a second bailout for the too-big-to-exist banks. They will end up paying mere pennies compared to the billions they stole. They will not go directly to jail, but they will pass Go and collect their bonuses.

According to "American Banker", the actual settlement terms will not be released to the public because there is still no real deal on paper. The Obama Administration put the cart before the horse in its haste to put this mess behind them. More details can be found here:

http://www.americanbanker.com/issues/177_29/mortgage-servicers-settlemen...

It was just a coincidence, too, that the "deal" was announced right after the Democrats decided they'd join in the SuperPac money game, and Obama campaign director Bill Messina met with Wall Street bankers to assure them that the president had no beef with them - just with Mitt Romney. So it's all good.

They must really think people are stupid, and will just keep voting corporate Democrat because the alternative is worse. But guess what? The alternative is Occupy.

Valerie said...

Great comments, Karen. Thanks for posting them.

Kat said...

Thanks for your comments today Karen. Recommended!
The obot sockpuppets-- ah, they can see the big picture, can't they!
I actually became a little ill when I read the highest rated comment on yet another discussion of Charles Murray's book. Some guy who I see pop up all the time laying all the blame for our country's ill son the GOP. He talked about "trailer trash" being manipulated by the Reps. He stated that they were happy as long as they could feel superior to blacks, that they all loved the KKK and that he knows because he watches Justified and saw Winter's Bone. Whatever. What a fresh and unique analysis!
Hey folks-- perhaps this sort of talk is not quite the thing drive the "white underclass" into the hands of the Democratic party?
It's simultaneously hilarious and depressing that anyone thinks either party is representing the interests of anyone but the 1%.

Anonymous said...

Best one yet!

Denis Neville said...

Declaration of Independence from lame-duck Grand Bargains on how to pay for the 1%'s "social safety net”

In today’s NY Times, “Even Critics of Safety Net Increasingly Depend on It”

"Politicians have expanded the safety net without a commensurate increase in revenues, a primary reason for the government’s annual deficits and mushrooming debt."

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/12/us/even-critics-of-safety-net-increasingly-depend-on-it.html

i.e., the growth of Social Security and Medicare, rather than the Lesser Depression following the 2008 economic collapse, are the main factors behind the current deficit. Bollocks!

Here we go again! Obama's 2013 budget will be released Monday, launching an election-year debate over the deficit and “entitlement” programs.

Stuart Zechman discusses the centrist adoption of language characterizing our public insurance programs as part of a "social safety net." He explains that public insurance programs from the New Deal are there to protect all of us from high-rolling gamblers who keep trying to destroy our economy.

“Medicare is NOT primarily a ‘social safety net’ program.”

“Social Security is NOT primarily a ‘social safety net’ program.”

"Helping those who can't help themselves is NOT what Social Security and Medicare are primarily about. Somehow, over the course of many decades, the significance of these brilliant, New Deal-era policies got changed in people's - even many liberal Democrats'- minds, but they're NOT primarily social safety nets, they're something else. Social Security and Medicare are primarily PUBLIC INSURANCE. Not "safety net," but "public insurance."

“Economic crashes don't just happen to poor people, they happen to everybody. And that's why everybody needs Social Security and Medicare, whether we're low income or middle income or even above average income. These programs are NOT primarily safety nets for "the most vulnerable," they're what keep all of us from being vulnerable to the 1%. Instead of depending on them, we can depend on ourselves, knowing our life's savings are safe. Along with the guarantees in the Bill of Rights, New Deal-era public insurance is what keeps we the people free.”

“I think that movement liberals like us need to ask ourselves these things, especially as we start to hear more and more of the big Parties' plans for "shared sacrifice" and "entitlement reform" this election cycle. When you hear the President say that he will "only" change Medicare, our successful public insurance program, if he also gets taxes restored slightly on millionaires, what exactly is he talking about? He’s talking about "reforming" our independence, our freedom...our public insurance.”

“So, if you're a movement liberal like me, but you've gotten really used to hearing our New Deal public insurance programs --the ones you've been paying premiums into your whole working life-- as "entitlements" or "social safety nets" by politicians in either party, I think it's time to declare our independence from any candidate who is willing to negotiate away our hard-won freedoms in business-as-usual capital deal-making over budgets. That means Republicans and that means Democrats, and that means making our voices clear on the difference between "safety nets" and our independence --before this election is over, and they're back to lame-duck Grand Bargains on how to pay for the 1%'s "social safety net," once again.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=8FeoKeuOGSw

Denis Neville said...

“Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true.” – Francis Bacon

Karen said, “They must really think people are stupid, and will just keep voting corporate Democrat because the alternative is worse.”

They do. And they are probably right.

Excerpt from Bill Moyers interview with Bruce Bartlett:

BRUCE BARTLETT: We just seem to live in a zone in which people no longer really seem to care about facts or analysis… Clearly people don't seem to know as much. And they don't seem to care that they don't know as much about public policy or just the basic facts…People have to be given the factual information they need to make decisions. And they're not getting it. And they may not even want it.”

BILL MOYERS: I just read a summary of a study done at the University of Michigan that over a period of time shows that people have confronted with facts they believe to be true will reject them nonetheless if they offend or undermine their belief system. That their beliefs -- our beliefs are more important to us than the facts.

BRUCE BARTLETT: Oh, I think we need some -- instead of talking to economists like me, we need to be talking to psychologists and sociologists to try to get at the root of this problem.

http://billmoyers.com/segment/bruce-bartlett-on-where-the-right-went-wrong/

“Skeptical habits of thought are essential for nothing less than our survival—because baloney, bamboozles, bunk, careless thinking, flimflam and wishes disguised as facts are not restricted to parlor magic and ambiguous advice on matters of the heart.” – Carl Sagan

Neil said...

Great job Karen. The publicity shot from The Sopranos is very appropriate.

Anytime you get this many lawyers together, Obama, Eric Holder, and 49 state AG’s, don’t expect the result to make sense to those not in the club. (mob).

This "landmark settlement" does not surprise me at all. The $25 billion settlement amount is nothing more than a BUSINESS EXPENSE for these crooks. This kind of settlement is SOP - standard operating procedure - in such matters. This settlement is nothing more than a legal absolution of crimes committed by the banks. The $25 billion settlement figure will likely not be paid, or not paid in full, and pales in comparison to the $700 billion TARP bailout, and $7.77 trillion dollar secret Fed bailout of the financial system.

From Bloomberg: $7.77 trillion Fed commitment to the financial system (with 1,354 reader comments!)

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-11-28/secret-fed-loans-undisclosed-to-congress-gave-banks-13-billion-in-income.html

"The amount of money the central bank parceled out was surprising even to Gary H. Stern, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis from 1985 to 2009, who says he "wasn’t aware of the magnitude." It dwarfed the Treasury Department’s better-known $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. Add up guarantees and lending limits, and the Fed had committed $7.77 trillion as of March 2009 to rescuing the financial system, more than half the value of everything produced in the U.S. that year.

"TARP at least had some strings attached," says Brad Miller, a North Carolina Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, referring to the program’s executive-pay ceiling. "With the Fed programs, there was nothing.""

The bank criminals get to moonwalk away from their fraud and forgery crimes without consequences.

Over at 4closureFraud, the arrest "clock" on the number of Occupy arrests stands at 6,545 protesters arrested. Virtually no bankers have been arrested, let alone prosecuted.

In 2008 the American voters handed the Democrats a historic mandate: The presidency and majorities in BOTH houses of congress. And this settlement is the Democrats’ response to that mandate?