Monday, March 14, 2011

Chasing the Devil Out of Chase

A group of ministers stormed JP MorganChase on Park Avenue in New York on Friday to both perform an exorcism and close their accounts.  Although they waved their crucifixes with aplomb, and sprinkled holy water in an attempt to cast out the devil of greed, the banking behemoth was still standing as of Monday. No credible reports of CEO Jamie Dimon suffering attacks of pea-soup projectile vomiting or head-spinning have yet been received.

Jamie Demon Dimon

Chase, the nation’s third largest mortgage servicer, has modified the loans of only six percent of the New Yorkers requesting such relief in the past year. Out of more than a thousand city homeowners seeking help from Chase under the federal government’s Home Affordability Modification Program, more than 80 percent of the applicants never even got a reply from Chase.  Lloyd Blankfein. of that other mega-bank, Goldman Sachs, once infamously said that his Wall Street house was doing the "Lord’s work." But now the people who are really doing the Lord’s work are as mad as hell, and they aren’t taking it anymore.

It’s common wisdom that not only has HAMP been a bust , but the big banks are still acting like Mafia shakedown artists in foreclosing illegally and utterly thumbing their noses at the struggling homeowners the program was designed to help. Documents released today by the hacking group “Anonymous” reveal that Bank of America has been running a scam which forces its own expensive insurance on mortgagees without their knowledge.  Emails provided by a BofA whistleblower seem to indicate an effort to cover up the scam from the prying eyes of auditors.  A nonpartisan, populist activism group called has recently morphed into a social networking site to organize anti-Wall Street demonstrations and nonviolent resistance against the oligarchy.  Protest events at several branches of the Federal Reserve are being planned for later this month.
Our government is not watching out for our interests, so somebody has to. President Obama is not about to come out on the side of the people when his White House is stuffed to the rafters with Wall Street insiders. His new chief of staff, Bill Daley, is fresh from a stint as one of the head honchos of JPMorgan Chase. So what if he temporarily divested himself of his bank stock?  That revolving door from government to the Military Industrial Complex and K Street is spinning apace, and the boundaries between private and public have become so blurred as to be nonexistent.
The small group of church people and their followers sang “We Shall Overcome” and quoted Martin Luther King before they peacefully performed their symbolic exorcism, entered the bank and closed out their accounts.  Rev. Allen Ramirez of the Brookville Reformed Church passionately shouted, “We are here to sprinkle holy water on the Evil Empire!"
The Hell That Fraud Has Created (Dore engraving from Dante's Inferno)
That there is a special place in hell reserved for banksters is not a new idea. Dante assigned the penultimate recess of his fiery pit – the Eighth Circle – to the greedy and the fraudulent. One of its denizens is Geryon, the demon of avarice. He has a smiling human face, so we don’t immediately notice his grasping claws and stinging scorpion tail. Dante knew his banking industry, all right.  It hasn’t changed in the 700 years since he lived and without regulation, it never will. This is Medievalism Redux.
The only cure for avarice is outside intervention. Exorcism, of course, has some pithy symbolic value. It’s a nice theatrical segue to the mass demonstrations, recalls, elections, public exposure and relentless drumbeat of discontent that grows ever louder with each passing day.
We. Have. Had. Enough.


Anne Lavoie said...

Finally some real action is happening! I'm ready, willing, and able to join in for whatever mischief we can wreak on the banksters and fraudsters. Thank God some of the religious people are finally waking up. Exorcism - I love it!

Chris Hedges is a Harvard Divinity School graduate himself and has written an absolutely sizzling piece on called 'Power Concedes Nothing Without a Demand', but it really says a lot more than that! Don't miss his great piece.


Draft Spitzer said...

Chris Hedges was also a hell of a correspondent. Who famously left the NYTimes after a reprimand for speaking out against the Iraq War.

I think they were right to reprimand him, and I know he was "right" to have taken a public stance after all he had seen. I know he ruined his "impartiality", but in this case it was the right thing to do. At the right time in his life.

Thanks for the article, Anne.

Denis Neville said...

“Long ago, it was said that 'one half of the world does not know how the other half lives.' It did not know because it did not care until some flagrant outrage on decency and the health of the community aroused it to noisy but ephemeral indignation.” - Jacob Riis


Matt Taibbi referred to Goldman Sachs as "a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money."

There is never enough for the greedy, fraudulent “vampire squid” banksters.

Given the misery they have inflicted on so many, Dante’s assigning the penultimate recess of his fiery pit – the Eighth Circle – to the greedy and the fraudulent is a pleasing thought.

There are other examples of similar simple happiness.

“I have the most kindly temperament. My wants are modest – a hut, a thatched roof, a good bed, good food, milk and butter, all very fresh; flowers at my window, a few beautiful trees at my door. And if the good Lord wants to make my happiness complete, he will give me the pleasure of seeing six or seven of my enemies strung up on those trees. With all my heart I shall forgive them, before their death, all the evil they have committed against me while I was alive. Yes, one should always forgive one’s enemies – but not until they are hanged.” – Heinrich Heine, Gedanke und Einfallen

Draft Spitzer said...

No one needs to be hanged. The point is to 1) retrieve misused TARP funds and 2) break up the too-big-to-fail banks before they tank the system again, requiring TARP II.