Monday, July 14, 2014

Happy Bastille Day!

Here's a little something to help get those head-upon-pike visions dancing in your heads:

The Obama administration has given yet another sloppy, wet, incestuous kiss to the criminal financial enterprise of which it is an integral part. And taking a cue from Republicans, they're even scapegoating Bengha-a-a-a-zi for their delay in announcing their settlement with Citigroup. You read that right. This is a settlement between partners. There will be no prosecution. The guy whom the administration is actually prosecuting is one of those CIA assets terrorism fellows they flew in from Libya just in time to look tough for the mid-term elections.

The New York Times immediately lets you know that Eric Holder's Justice Department and the banksters of Citigroup are co-conspirators who achieved rapprochement during a fraught series of high-level meet-ups, divvying up the territory and the loot. Citigroup even gets "top billing" in the lede. We know right away who's the Boss, and who's the obsequious factotum in this modern retelling of "The Godfather."
Citigroup and the Justice Department have agreed to a $7 billion deal that will settle a federal investigation into the mortgage securities the bank sold in the run-up to the financial crisis.
 The settlement, announced on Monday morning, includes a $4 billion cash penalty to the Justice Department – the largest payment of its kind – as well as $2.5 billion in so-called soft dollars earmarked for aiding struggling consumers and $500 million to state attorneys general and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
That four billion ostensibly going to DOJ will be direct-deposited to Treasury, which will hasten to open wide its window to Wall Street. The "penalty" money will be recycled into overnight zero-interest loans between sharks. The money earmarked for struggling consumers will go through middle-men creditors and bureacrats. Because they struggle too, in their endless greedy quest for more, more and more. And some will go into the FDIC to insure TBTF banks against in-house theft loss. Who knows -- there might be a few bucks left over for a Gotti-style neighborhood block party. That would probably take the shape of Obama eating pizza with his latest human photo-op prop that is not you -- so don't get your hopes up.
The deal, after months of contentious negotiations, averts a lawsuit that would have proved costly for both sides and resolves a civil investigation into Citigroup’s packaging and selling of mortgage securities that soured during the financial crisis, causing large losses to investors.
If you can't make the time to endure those boring negotiations with your weak government partner, then don't do the crime. Also, get your P.R. people ready to feed the New York Times your version of the story. That would be a piece of pulp fiction that transforms some of the worst consumer fraud in the history of the world into little snack-packs that just mysteriously "went sour" all by themselves, causing investors to feel nauseous. There will be no mention of all of the millions of regular people who became jobless and homeless as a result of the crime spree.
“The bank’s misconduct was egregious,’’ Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said in a statement. “As a result of their assurances that toxic financial products were sound, Citigroup was able to expand its market share and increase profits.”
As a result of their wink-and-nod assurances, Barack Obama was also able to expand his administration with Citigroup wise guys, many of whom collected fat bonuses from the bank on their way to their new gig -- ready, willing and able to double-stiff the stiffs they've left rotting in foreclosed America.

As Elizabeth Warren observes,
 Starting with Robert Rubin – a former Citi CEO – three of the last four Treasury secretaries under Democratic presidents have had Citigroup affiliations before or after their Treasury service. (The fourth was offered, but declined, Citigroup’s CEO position.) Directors of the National Economic Council and Office of Management and Budget, as well as our current U.S. trade representative, also have had strong ties to Citigroup.
So Eric Holder dutifully slaps their wrists even as he slaps government kisses all over their expanded asses. He absolves them by euphemizing some of the worst fraud in the history of history as mere "misconduct."
The consumer relief will involve financing for the construction and preservation of affordable multifamily rental housing, principal reduction and forbearance for residential mortgages and other direct consumer benefits from various relief programs, the bank said.
Ah yes, rental housing. Citigroup is among the felons who bought up all those foreclosed houses for cash, at bargain prices, and are now renting them back to the same people they once unceremoniously kicked out. Citigroup is a slumlord trillionaire. Even worse, oftentimes they don't even have the right to suck more money from the homes they foreclosed -- because they don't actually own them!

But the endless greed-washing and self-serving continue through their Times mouthpiece:
We believe that this settlement is in the best interests of our shareholders, and allows us to move forward and to focus on the future, not the past,” Citigroup’s chief executive, Michael L. Corbat, said in a statement.
They are just like the unprosecuted Bush torturers, whom Obama also failed to prosecute. Of them, he'd also infamously said "We must look forward, not backward." Citigroup will forge ahead, screwing the citizens of the world with impunity as they reap more rewards for themselves.
He (AG Holder) said the settlement on Monday did not absolve “Citigroup or its individual employees” from facing future criminal charges.
Yes, it does. He knows it, we know it and the Wall Street mafia knows it. Eric Holder still works for them. He's just temporarily changed his geographical location in order to provide them with the exact same legal services he'd been giving them for decades.

To be fair, though, the actual task of settling with the Citigroup mob fell to Obama consigliere Tony West, third in command at the DOJ family. It fell to West to hilariously blame the time-consuming Benghazi prosecution for failure to take Citigroup to even a civil trial, let alone a criminal proceeding and finally sending a bunch of plutocrats to prison. (West, incidentally, previously handled Habeas petititions of Guantanamo detainees and once privately represented convicted American Taliban, John Walker Lindh.) 

 How times have changed. Because now West is invested in the civil rights of banks, which unlike the regular humans rotting in prisons, are deemed corporate persons too big and fat to jail. So the Times is on it again, insinuating that Justice is really, really getting tough on them this time:
Time was running out. Prosecutors had set a deadline of June 13 for Citigroup to present its best offer. Although Theodore Wells Jr. and Brad Karp, two of the bank’s lawyers at Paul Weiss, sought an extension, Mr. West and Mr. Graber said no.
With only hours to go, Citigroup was dealt a rude shock. News reports indicated that the Justice Department was planning to sue the bank.
To Citigroup, the message from the Justice Department was clear: Ratchet up the offer or face a long and bruising court battle. That evening, with the threat looming, Mr. Wells phoned Mr. West to raise the prospect of a broader settlement that would include state attorneys general from California and elsewhere, as well as the F.D.I.C. Mr. West — whose sister-in-law happens to be the attorney general of California — suggested an extra $900 million payment for the states and the F.D.I.C.
Oh well. What threatened to become a small-scale mob war, upsetting the  hierarchy of the government-corporate cartel, turned out to be just more Godfather Kabuki theater. Lots of offers were made that ultimately could not be refused. The only one taking the hit is the American public.

Tony West is not only married to California AG Kamala Harris's sister (a vice president of the Ford Foundation). His incestuous bona fides also include work as a Democratic Party bagman finance director in between stints in the previous Citigroup administration (a/k/a the Clinton presidency) and at various white shoe law firms. He worked as Obama's fund-raising co-chair during the 2008 campaign, raising $65 million in California alone. Obama, and Citigroup, eventually showed their gratitude by elevating him to Number Three in the DOJ cartel.

Unlike the good old organized crime days of the Mafia, the money no longer even needs to be hidden in paper bags. The corruption is right out there in the open. They're proud sociopaths, gleefully rubbing our noses in it. On Bastille Day, no less.

They're counting on whimpering puppies. So let's surprise them with some pissed-off pit bulls for a change.

Marchons, citoyens!


Jay - Ottawa said...

The Bastille? That was then, right? We’re free now.

"Like I've been saying since I've gotten out, get your nose out of a book and get your ass into the streets; we're going to make mistakes; we're going to mess up, but we've got to stop talking about what we're going to do and we've got to start doing things in order to figure out what works and what doesn't."

Denis Neville said...

On Sunday, Thomas Frank wrote about how presidential museums have become propaganda palaces.

His visit to the Clinton Center was a reminder of how contemptuous Clinton was toward traditional liberals and the little people as his administration adopted one Republican idea after another – deregulation (“the Republicans made me do it,” my ass!) of Wall Street (now collecting $$$$ from those same firms whose industry he deregulated), welfare reform (based on reckless assumptions and a callous disregard for families in need) that ended cash help of any kind for many needy families with children, undermined public education by promoting charter schools, and so on, and so forth.

There is already a team working on the future Obama propaganda palace, i.e. looking for mega-$$$$. Frank cites a Time’s story about Barry sucking up more than ever to big business because he needs $$$$ for his palace. Frank writes, “I also can’t help but feel that Obama should actually be focused on doing things he can boast about before he builds himself some monumental structure designed to boast about what he’s done.”

Clinton and Obama and their elite ilk live in different universe from the rest of us, much like Louis XVI in 1789. On July 14th, King Louis wrote in his journal, “Rien” (Nothing). His journal entry was not a reflection of his ignorance of the political reality in Paris, but a reference to his lack of success that day in his favorite pastime of hunting - no kills.

Nevertheless, it provides a profound insight into the remoteness of the elites.

Zee said...

“At one point last month, the Justice Department delayed a plan to sue Citigroup, fearing that the arrest of a lead suspect in the 2012 attacks on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya would overshadow their case against the bank.” --Michael Corkery, The New York Times, 14 July 2014

HUH? What the hell does one thing (Benghazi) have to do with the other (suing Citigroup), except, perhaps, to allow Citigroup more time to better cover its collective ass by hiding as much additional incriminating evidence as possible? And how the hell could a NYT reporter accept that BS at face value and still call himself a “journalist,” unless he, himself, is complicit?

Well, as Mayor Godfather once said (more or less), “never let a good crisis go to waste as an excuse to get away with whatever, even when that “crisis” is old, stale, and the responsible regime once strenuously denied that it was even a 'crisis' in the first place.” --Rahm (Dead Fish) Emmanuel (Slightly paraphrased and maybe even plagiarized by Zee.)

Karen, thank you once again for a wonderful, honest, and detailed parsing of mainstream journalism and White House “values!” I laughed through my tears, because I'm not anticipating seeing any tarred bankster heads spitted on pikes any time soon.

(Yes, I've been somewhat sickly addicted to the literary series A Song of Fire and Ice by George R.R. Martin since 1996, and I'm currently binging my way through Book 5, “A Dance With Dragons” since it came out in paperback. All heads on [s]pikes are also tarred in the books, for lasting effect. And yes, the characters are, well, wonderfully complex, but I'm still waiting—after five books and eighteen years—(SPOILER ALERT) to see if anyone in the series can finally emerge as, well, “truly good” or even some "reasonable approximation" thereof. It's the naive conservative “hope” in me, I guess. So far, no such luck, character-wise. My other “hope” is that Martin lives long enough to finish the series, else I'll have to follow him into his grave to strangle the denoument (sp?) out of him.)

Cirze said...

Formez vos bataillons!

I'm awaiting the marchers' departure for D.C.

Love ya,


Denis Neville said...

The plutocrats are engaged in a covert war against us and thereby should make revolution inevitable.

But revolution is not an apple that falls from the tree when it is ripe. It has to be made to fall.

“The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us?” - Dorothy Day, founder of The Catholic Worker and the Catholic Worker Movement

However, our nation is quickly approaching the level of Robert Nozick’s Experience Machine or Pleasure Machine. What we are demanding, beyond food, clothing and shelter, are nth generation social connection systems. What clothes are worn and which car is driven are becoming less important than selfies and status reports on social media by those who are happy as clams. Will they continue to prefer the machine that can provide them pleasurable experiences to real life?

This is not working well.

"You know, I know this steak doesn't exist. I know that when I put it in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy, and delicious. After nine years, you know what I realize? Ignorance is bliss." – Cypher, while dining at a simulated restaurant, The Matrix

Ignorance is not bliss. What keeps ignorance alive, or allows it to be used as a political instrument? How and why do various forms of knowing not come to be, or have disappeared, or have become invisible? There's more ignorance around than there used to be, and its purveyors have gotten much better at filling our heads with nonsense. Whole industries devote themselves to sowing public misinformation and doubt about their products and activities.

“It is not seldom the case that when a man is browbeaten in some unprecedented and violently unreasonable way, he begins to stagger in his own plainest faith. He begins, as it were, vaguely to surmise that, wonderful as it may be, all the justice and all the reason is on the other side. Accordingly, if any disinterested persons are present, he turns to them for some reinforcement for his own faltering mind.” - Herman Melville, “Bartleby the Scrivener”

Isaiah Earhart said...

These banks are going to ruin our economy again. This system of brute capitalism and austerity for the masses and ruling class kleptocracy reigns unfettered- is crushing itself. We will have the opportunity to pick up the pieces and create a system in which people and the planet are valued over individual narcissism and institutional power.

One of the most difficult barriers we must overcome in preparation for the collapse of this giant ponzi scheme of an economy is protecting the good people from this Justice Department. Obviously, we will not achieve the formal prosecution of elite financial terrorists, but we should try much harder to make sure something like this never happens again:

P.S. I leave tomorrow for a trip in which my son and I will visit colleges. I have never been to Ohio,New York State, or Massachusetts- very exciting and hectic. If I don't give feedback, or do so sparingly in the next couple weeks, I am still reading the great discussions here.

Pearl said...

The World Cup fills with human interest as the number of Israeli attacks on Gaza go unheeded via @sharethis

Pearl said...

Isaiah: A tragic story about Aaron Swartz.
The hounding by the FBI to our family during the McCarthy years caused deep wounds even to our children that have never healed and why I have become a political activist. And one wonders about all the untold stories never published. We are fortunate to have found refuge in Canada where some civility and sanity still exists.

Denis Neville said...

@ Isaiah Earhart

I don’t know what colleges you are visiting in New York, but I very much enjoyed attending Syracuse University in the late 60s. Having grown up in South Dakota, it was a real surprise and treat to spend the first year of my enlistment in the Air Force there. USAFSS sent me to Syracuse’s East European Intensive Russian Program. I spent a lot of my free time in Upstate New York in the Finger Lakes region. Skaneateles was a favorite hangout. The scenery was absolutely spectacular that fall, but I thought I knew snow, living in SD, until I experienced the lake-effect snows in Syracuse. Great tobogganing that winter.

Or, in Massachusetts. My roommate was from Boston, so I also spent time there and on the Cape. I loved Boston.

Here’s hoping that you and your son find time in your hectic schedule to enjoy some of the sites wherever you are going.

Isaiah Earhart said...

@Denis and @all

Denis- thank you. That is a great bit of info and very interesting about yourself.

My wife and I grew up in Wyoming- we know wind.

My son is a math and science person and is smart and therefore takes after his mother. We will visit Rose-Hulman, Carnegie Mellon, Case Western, RIT, RPI, WPI, and MIT. I guess Syracuse didn't send my son the right literature for him to put them on the East visit list.

Personally, I am very excited to see the area around Albany and Troy. I have also not seen the Great Lakes.

Actually, the only time I have been to the East is when I got arrested in DC for civil disobedience. So if anyone has a must see for Paul and I, we would be grateful.

Peace and Solidarity,

Isaiah Earhart said...


I would love to hear more about your family's ordeal with the McCarthy terror campaign.

I am very concerned that we may be headed swiftly in that direction once again, only this time, the State has the ability to plant whatever seed on whomever they would like whenever someone might show up and challenge the order that be. I find the prospects of ubiquitous surveillance, combined with the unprecedented storage capacity of information, combined with the 2012 NDAA- a recipe for catastrophic disaster.

Meanwhile, I will publicly poke fun, harass, write about, protest, organize, and otherwise do my best to resist the rule of these idiotic plutocrats.

Pearl said...

Isaiah: Karen had a copy of a 28 page report of our history I wrote after my husband died but misplaced it. I have tried sending it out to her again but its length creates problems. However I am having a technical expert go over my computer shortly and hope he can figure out how to get a copy via computer to her. And then she can send it to you if she get your e-mail address. I think you will find it interesting as it was a front page story at the time and a warning to us about what was to continue to happen in the U.S.

James F Traynor said...

Interesting article on Holder's defense of DOJ's and Heymann's institutional mugging of Swartz.

James F Traynor said...

And Jstor is a fucking joke.

Karen Garcia said...

To anyone interested in reading Pearl's memoir:

I thought I had lost my copy when my old computer died, but turns out it's been there in my email stash all this time. I already sent a copy to Isaiah, and if anyone else is interested in reading it, you can contact me at kmgarcia2000@yahoo. com