Posts Tagged ‘rahm emanuel’

WANTED: CORPORATE CONSCIENCE

April 18, 2010

"He was the biggest asshole at Goldman Sachs!"

US Accuses Goldman Sachs of Fraud by Louise Story and Gretchen Morgenson April 16, 2010 by The New York Times

Goldman Sachs, which emerged relatively unscathed from the financial crisis, was accused of securities fraud in a civil suit filed Friday by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which claims the bank created and sold a mortgage investment that was secretly devised to fail. The move marks the first time that regulators have taken action against a Wall Street deal that helped investors capitalize on the collapse of the housing market. Goldman itself profited by betting against the very mortgage investments that it sold to its customers.

The suit also named Fabrice Tourre, a vice president at Goldman who helped create and sell the investment.

The instrument in the S.E.C. case, called Abacus 2007-AC1, was one of 25 deals that Goldman created so the bank and select clients could bet against the housing market. Those deals, which were the subject of an article in The New York Times in December, initially protected Goldman from losses when the mortgage market disintegrated and later yielded profits for the bank.

As the Abacus deals plunged in value, Goldman and certain hedge funds made money on their negative bets, while the Goldman clients who bought the $10.9 billion in investments lost billions of dollars. December, initially protected Goldman from losses when the mortgage market disintegrated and later yielded profits for the bank.

According to the complaint, Goldman created Abacus 2007-AC1 in February 2007, at the request of John A. Paulson, a prominent hedge fund manager who earned an estimated $3.7 billion in 2007 by correctly wagering that the housing bubble would burst.

The Abacus deals deteriorated rapidly when the housing market hit trouble. For instance, in the Abacus deal in the S.E.C. complaint, 84 percent of the mortgages underlying it were downgraded by rating agencies just five months later, according to a UBS report.

It takes time for such mortgage investments to pay out for investors who short them, like Mr. Paulson. Each deal is structured differently, but generally, the bonds underlying the investment must deteriorate to a certain point before short-sellers get paid. By the end of 2007, Mr. Paulson’s credit hedge fund was up 590 percent.

Mr. Paulson’s firm, Paulson & Company, is paid a management fee and 20 percent of the annual profits that its funds generate, according to a Paulson investor document from late 2008 titled “Navigating Through the Crisis.” READ MORE: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/04/16-5

Goldman Case Is Likely Tip of the Legal Iceberg by Daniel Wagner April 18, 2010 by The Associated Press

Shareholder suits, criminal indictments likely after fraud allegations

WASHINGTON – The fraud charges against Goldman Sachs & Co. that rocked financial markets Friday are no slam dunk, as hazy evidence and strategic pitfalls could easily trip up government lawyers.

Yet that hardly matters, experts say, because the allegations will kick off a new era of litigation that could entangle Goldman and other banks for years to come.

The charges against Goldman relate to a complex investment tied to the performance of pools of risky mortgages. In a complaint filed Friday, the Securities and Exchange Commission alleged that Goldman marketed the package to investors without disclosing a major conflict of interest: The pools were picked by another client, a prominent hedge fund that was betting the housing bubble would burst.

Goldman said the charges are “unfounded in law and fact.” In a written response to the charges, the bank said it had provided “extensive disclosure” to investors and that the largest investor had selected the portfolio – not the hedge fund client. Goldman said it lost $90 million on the deal.

That doesn’t contradict the SEC complaint, which says the largest investor selected the mortgage investments from a list provided by the hedge fund. And the fact that Goldman lost money has no impact on the fraud charges.

“Traditionally it’s in the interest of the party that has Goldman’s role to muddy the waters – it’s rarely in their interest to have the picture as sharp as HDTV,” said James Cohen, a professor at Fordham University School of Law.

Several legal experts suggested Goldman and the SEC had reached an impasse over a settlement before the charges were announced. They speculated that Goldman was unwilling to admit that it allowed the hedge fund to create a portfolio of securities that was designed to fail because that admission could do irreparable harm to Goldman’s reputation.

“Goldman could’ve easily paid a fine already,” said John Coffee, a securities law professor at Columbia University. “So I don’t think it’s money they’re fighting over.”

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones of New York. Jones is the federal judge who five years ago presided over the $11 billion criminal fraud case that toppled WorldCom Corp. and sent its former CEO Bernard Ebbers to prison for 25 years.   READ MORE:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/04/18-5

Crocodile Tears on Wall Street by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship April 17, 2010 by CommonDreams.org

With all due respect, we can only wish those Tea Party activists who gathered in Washington and other cities this week weren’t so single-minded about just who’s responsible for all their troubles, real and imagined. They’re up in arms, so to speak, against Big Government, especially the Obama administration.

If they thought this through, they’d be joining forces with other grassroots Americans who in the coming weeks will be demonstrating in Washington and other cities against High Finance, taking on Wall Street and the country’s biggest banks.

The original Tea Party, remember, wasn’t directed just against the British redcoats. Colonial patriots also took aim at the East India Company. That was the joint-stock enterprise originally chartered by the first Queen Elizabeth. Over the years, the government granted them special rights and privileges, which the owners turned into a monopoly over trade, including tea.

It may seem a bit of a stretch from tea to credit default swaps, but the principle is the same:when enormous private wealth goes unchecked, regular folks get hurt — badly. That’s what happened in 2008 when the monied interests led us up the garden path to the great collapse.

The GOP’s SWAT team — also known as the United States Chamber of Commerce — has already spent three million dollars to try to kill or cripple a key part of reform — the proposed new Consumer Financial Protection Agency. With the Chamber as their front, corporations have bankrolled ads that make it seem like the Red Army is at our doorsteps.

Advocates for reform have countered with ads of their own, but Democrats are deeply in hock to Wall Street, too. Remember the hedge fund Magnetar that bet against its own products? The owners covered their bets with ample campaign contributions to Rahm Emanuel. Yep, the same — President Obama’s White House chief of staff. At the time he was an Illinois congressman and chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which collected millions of dollars from the financial services industry.

In fact, the website Politico.com reports that “the nation’s ten richest hedge fund managers have dumped nearly one million dollars into campaign accounts over the past several years… consumer advocates and critics from other financial sectors say hedge funds would get off pretty easily” under the Senate reform bill.

Bottom line: “The Wall Street banks are the new American oligarchy – a group that gains political power because of its economic power, and then uses that political power for its own benefit.” So write Simon Johnson, former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund; and James Kwak, former management consultant and software entrepreneur, in their important new book, “13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown.”

Their words of warning and the past year and a half make you realize that as usual, Thomas Jefferson, whose birthday we celebrate this week, had it right. Back in 1816, he wrote, “I sincerely believe… that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies.”

Bill Moyers is managing editor and Michael Winship is senior writer of the weekly public affairs program Bill Moyers Journal, which airs Friday night on PBS. Check local airtimes or comment at The Moyers Blog at www.pbs.org/moyers . READ MORE: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/04/17

West Virginia Open to Homicide Prosecution for Massey Coal Mine Deaths by Corporate Crime Reporter April 16, 2010 by Corporate Crime Reporter

For years, the state of West Virginia was proud to say that it was “open for business.”

In a twist, now it might be open for a homicide prosecution in connection with the deaths of 29 miners at the Massey Energy mine in Raleigh County, West Virginia earlier this month.

“If there is evidence to support a homicide prosecution, I would not hesitate to prosecute,” Kristen Keller, the prosecuting attorney for Raleigh County told Corporate Crime Reporter last week.

Keller says she has been in touch with the West Virginia State Police on the matter.

And she says that any federal regulatory investigation would not preclude a state homicide investigation.

“A federal regulatory investigation does not satisfy the need for a state criminal investigation,” Keller said. “If there were a car accident where one or ten or 29 people were killed – a federal investigation would not preclude a state criminal investigation. In fact, there would be a state criminal investigation.”

Twenty-nine miners died at Massey’s Upper Big Branch mine in Raleigh County as the result of an explosion on April 5.

Since then, there have been calls for both federal and state criminal prosecution. READ MORE:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/04/16-8

MEET THE BAD GUYS

March 26, 2010

REPUBLICAN FOLLIES

The Republicans are patently unable to accept either the truth or defeat.  Like hung over alcoholics, they stagger back to commit the same dumb acts over and over.  Persistence in a negative activity signifies mental disturbance.  The picture their intransigence paints is really stupid, mean-spirited and ugly.  Why anyone would want them as political party of choice eludes us.  Observe:

GOP Senator Blocks Jobless-Benefits Extension March 26, 2010 by the Associated Press by Andrew Taylor

Washington – As Congress raced to leave Washington for its Easter recess, a Republican senator blocked a stopgap bill to extend jobless benefits, saying its $9 billion cost should not be added to the national debt.

As a result, some people who have been out of work for more than six months will at least temporarily lose benefits. Newly jobless people won’t be eligible to sign up for generous health insurance subsidies.

At the center of the battle is Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who is insisting that the measure be “paid for” so as not to add to the nation’s $12.7 trillion debt.

“What we are doing is stealing future opportunity from our children,” Coburn said Thursday.

The practical effect of the lapse in benefits would be limited if they are awarded retroactively. But labor advocates say it produces bureaucratic nightmares for state labor departments, and that trying to restore the lapsed benefits is easier said than done.  READ MORE: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/03/26-5

Hurting defenseless people is unconscionable.  Senator Coburn is obviously no friend of the people, at least the ones who need help.

Meanwhile, the nutsies over at the Tea Party are going dingo.

The Mad Tea Party and the Cloward-Piven Conspiracy Theory March 26, 2010 by The Nation by Richard Kim

Leftists like to say that another world is possible, but I was never quite sure of that until I started reading tea party websites. There, a government of leftists is not only possible, it’s on the cusp of seizing permanent power, having broken American capitalism and replaced it with a socialist state. Down that rabbit hole, Barack Obama and Rahm Emanuel are communists, and “The Left”–which encompasses everyone from the Democratic Leadership Council to Maoist sectarians–is a disciplined and near omnipotent army marching in lockstep to a decades-old master plan for domination called the “Cloward-Piven strategy” or, as of January 20, 2009, “Cloward-Piven government.”

What is this plot? According to David Horowitz, who apparently coined the expression, Cloward-Piven is “the strategy of forcing political change through orchestrated crisis.” Named after sociologists and antipoverty and voting rights activists Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven, who first elucidated it in a May 2, 1966, article for The Nation called “The Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty,” the Cloward-Piven strategy, in Horowitz’s words, “seeks to hasten the fall of capitalism by overloading the government bureaucracy with a flood of impossible demands, thus pushing society into crisis and economic collapse.” Like a fun-house-mirror version of Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine theory, the Cloward-Piven strategy dictates that the left will exploit that crisis to push through unpopular, socialist policies in a totalitarian manner.

Perhaps most critical, the Cloward-Piven conspiracy theory pushes the tea party’s kettle closer to a boil. In its obsession with voter fraud and the potential illegitimacy of the 2008 election–and the democratic process itself–the conspiracy suggests a tit-for-tat strategy for victory: if the left is going to cynically manipulate the system to produce tyranny, then so will we. How? To begin, there’s the tried-and-true tactic of suppressing the poor minority vote–which would next place Project Vote in the tea party’s cross hairs. But why stop there? Like every good conspiracy theory, this one too is a call to arms.   © 2010 The Nation.  Richard Kim is a senior editor at The Nation.   READ MORE: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/03/26-3

There Will Be Blood Spilled If the Republicans Keep Matching Their Message with Violent Talk Frameshop By Jeffrey Feldman

Rather than recoil at violent language, GOP leadership seems to see it as a chance to turn out votes. The consequences could be deadly.

Words matter–and they matter even more when they are violent words. Apparently, GOP leadership agrees.

Despite the unwillingness of mainstream media to connect the dots, the base and leadership of the GOP are matching their rhetoric to the disturbing rise of violent talk at Tea Party rallies and amongst conservative anti-government groups. The conclusion: rather than recoil at violent language, GOP leadership seems to see it as a chance to turn out votes.

Palin via Twitter told her Republican followers to “reload” and “aim for” Democrats, directing GOP activists to her SarahPac website where they found a map of the country festooned with rifle scope cross-hairs over Congressional districts held by Democrats. Palin’s rifle scope map is the kind of image one might expect to see in an ad for a violent, first-person shooter video game.

RNC, Michael Steele, issued a recent call to Republicans to put Nancy Pelosi on the “firing line” because of the health insurance reform bill.

By using the phrase “firing line,” Steele encourages Republican activists to think of the next election as an execution of the opposition or a violent killing. The language Steele uses is not neutral. “Defeat” is defined as “kill.” “Voting” is linked to “shooting.” Winning the election is couched in an image of bloodletting.

In a similar violent vein, Sarah Palin via Twitter told her Republican followers to “reload” and “aim for” Democrats, directing GOP activists to her SarahPac website where they found a map of the country festooned with rifle scope cross-hairs over Congressional districts held by Democrats.

When Americans threaten to use firearms to enforce their political views, the violent threats carried by that language undermines the system of public debate on which our system depends. Healthy political debate can sustain a great deal of anger and passion, but it cannot sustain repeated threats of violence and calls for violent assault as a form of political engagement.

It is time to for right-wing political violence to stop before passions turn to bloodshed.  READ MORE: http://www.alternet.org/news/146178/there_will_be_blood_spilled_if_the_republicans_keep_matching_their_message_with_violent_talk?page=2

The Republicans are bought into the craziness at a very deep level.  They will not get better.  They will explode or fizzle out, but they will not get “well.”  These sick puppies prefer revolution and the overthrow of the United States government to honest political dialog and debate.  We really need to put these crazies into the booby hatch.

Fox News, Health Care, and the Right-Wing Nervous Breakdown Media Matters for America / By Eric Boehlert

How did health care go so terribly wrong for the Tea Party’s true believers? They made the mistake of believing their own hype — and Fox News.

Watching Fox News personalities recently come unglued as the realization set in that (surprise!) Democrats might actually have the votes to pass health care reform — and noting how extraordinarily loopy and dire both the attacks on the White House, and the proclamations for pending, apocalyptic doom were becoming — I was getting nervous that one of Fox News’ more unhinged hosts might finally just snap and pull a Rev. Jim Jones, beseeching viewers to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Honestly, unless you’ve been monitoring the ticking time bomb that is the far-right media in recent days, you probably don’t appreciate how frighteningly possible that cultish scenario has become, as the GOP Noise Machine, led by Fox News, publicly suffers a nervous breakdown. It’s a mental and emotional collapse that’s been advertised in recent days as cablers, radio talkers, and right-wing bloggers have reached for increasingly hysterical, often blood-curdling rhetoric to describe the irreversible atrocity — an incurable, metastasizing malignancy!! — that’s about to seize and destroy the United States in the form of a bill to expand health care coverage.

Yet last week, as its opposition to reform grew increasingly futile, the GOP Noise Machine dedicated lots of time and energy to mocking and attacking cancer-stricken patients, as well as a motherless 11-year-old boy who had the audacity to speak out in favor of health care reform.

Limbaugh’s immortal words to the boy: “Your mom would have still died, because Obamacare doesn’t kick in until 2014.”

To me, the attacks indicated a withering of the right-wing media’s shrinking moral compass, not to mention common sense. (Mocking the seriously ill is a winning political strategy?) It was another tell-tale sign of the unfolding, and unstoppable, nervous breakdown.

Because how else do you describe this kind of erratic, disturbed behavior? And it’s worth repeating: This wasn’t coming from minor, fringe players. It’s been coming from the supposed leading lights of the conservative media; leading lights who, blinded by paranoia, have suffered a collective collapse and can no longer make sense of their surroundings. READ MORE: http://www.alternet.org/media/146176/fox_news%2C_health_care%2C_and_the_right-wing_nervous_breakdown?page=3

Alan Greenspan is back to do us more dirt, not content with having supervised the systematic looting of the United States Treasury and creating the conditions for the collapse of the mortgage and banking sector.  He “apologized” for having done it, said he was wrong, sorry about that.  To show his benign good will to the American people, he now proposes to steal their Social Security for his masters, the Corporatist elite.

Alan Greenspan and the New York Times Are Gunning for Your Social Security AlterNet / By Zach Carter

The battle for Social Security is on — and the Times is fighting for the bad guys.

With health care reform finally signed into law, a new policy battle over Social Security is quietly but unquestionably building momentum. Make no mistake — Wall Street is now doing its best to gut Social Security, and as a front-page article in yesterday’s New York Times makes clear, the media is not ready to challenge them on it.

Like every other major institution in the public and private sectors, Social Security has taken a few licks from the current recession. But the problems are simply not very serious — the entitlement program’s trust fund currently stands at a massive $2.5 trillion — that’s trillion with a “t.” If the federal government makes absolutely no changes to Social Security whatsoever, the program is currently projected to remain fiscally fit through 2037. The effects of the recession are included in that projection — prior to the financial crash of 2008, Social Security was projected to remain solvent through 2041.

But pesky facts like that are not the focus of the story from Times reporter Mary Williams Walsh, who instead highlights a fundamentally meaningless statistic to needlessly frighten her readers:

“This year, the system will pay out more in benefits than it receives in payroll taxes, an important threshold it was not expected to cross until at least 2016.”

That’s a perspective shared by Wall Street billionaires like Peter Peterson, who has pledged a massive fortune to spreading the message: Save the bankers and brokers first — everyone else, including seniors, is expendable. Peterson and Greenspan have allies in the newspaper business and on cable television that are ready and willing to place this agenda at the forefront of the public debate. The Washington Post now even publishes Social Security hit pieces posing as news articles that are funded by Peterson, parading under the banner of the Fiscal Times. As we move into the midterm elections, and Republicans raise the specter of budget deficits and national debt that have increased thanks to their own predatory economic policies, we can expect more of this Social Security fear-mongering. But we shouldn’t take the bait. There is no Social Security crisis. READ MORE: http://www.alternet.org/economy/146175/alan_greenspan_and_the_new_york_times_are_gunning_for_your_social_security

It is clear who the bad guys are.  The Republicans are a big part of a criminal mob.  The entire cabal is not only treasonous, it exists through lies and innuendo, smear and violence – threatened and real.  It is no better than any other gangster crew extorting victims for more and more, insensible to law or decency.  The Republicans are aligned with the forces of disorder, chaos and fear.  They aim for the destruction of the society, our nation, the environment and, as a by-product, all living creation.  They have no rationale for their deeds save greed and stupidity.  Hypocrites all, they stand for the worst America has to offer and must be resisted at all cost, if we are to maintain our fair and free United States.

FASCIST AMERICA: ARE WE THERE YET? by Sara Robinson

This is the sign we were waiting for — the one that tells us that yes, kids: we are there now. America’s conservative elites have openly thrown in with the country’s legions of discontented far right thugs. They have explicitly deputized them and empowered them to act as their enforcement arm on America’s streets, sanctioning the physical harassment and intimidation of workers, liberals, and public officials who won’t do their political or economic bidding.

This is the catalyzing moment at which honest-to-Hitler fascism begins. It’s also our very last chance to stop it.  READ MORE: https://johnlegry.wordpress.com/politics-mostly/republican-insurance-nazis/

Sara Robinson, AlterNet: Fellow at the Campaign for America’s Future, and a consulting partner with the Cognitive Policy Works in Seattle. One of the few trained social futurists in North America, she has blogged on authoritarian and extremist movements at Orcinus since 2006, and is a founding member of Group News Blog. 

OBAMA’S FIRST REPORT CARD

December 21, 2009
 
For Obama, No Opportunity Too Big To Blow by Naomi Klein The Nation 
Contrary to countless reports, the debacle in Copenhagen was not everyone’s fault. It did not happen because human beings are incapable of agreeing, or are inherently self-destructive. Nor was it all was China’s fault, or the fault of the hapless UN.
There’s plenty of blame to go around, but there was one country that possessed unique power to change the game. It didn’t use it. Barack Obama arrived with embarrassingly low targets and the heavy emitters of the world took their cue from him.
(The “deal” that was ultimately rammed through was nothing more than a grubby pact between the world’s biggest emitters. No President since FDR has been handed as many opportunities to transform the U.S. into something that doesn’t threaten the stability of life on this planet. Obama has refused to use each and every one of them. Let’s look at the big three.
Blown Opportunity Number 1: The Stimulus Package When Obama came to office he had a free hand and a blank check to design a spending package to stimulate the economy. He could have used that power to fashion what many were calling a “Green New Deal” — instead, he reached across the aisle to Republicans, low-balled the size of the stimulus and blew much of it on tax cuts. Highways that perpetuate car culture won big.
Blown Opportunity Number 2: The Auto Bailouts A visionary Obama committed to the fight against climate chaos would obviously have used that power to dramatically reengineer the failing industry so that its factories could build the infrastructure of the green economy the world desperately needs. Instead Obama was down-sizer in chief, leaving the industry unchanged.
Blown Opportunity Number 3: The Bank Bailouts Obama took real effort not to nationalize the banks. He could have mandated the banks to provide the loans for factories to be retrofitted and new green infrastructure to be built. Instead he declared that the government shouldn’t tell failed banks how to run their businesses.
Imagine if these three huge economic engines — the banks, the auto companies, the stimulus bill — had been harnessed to a common green vision.
By the time Copenhagen had rolled around, the U.S. would already have been well on its way to dramatically cutting emissions, poised to inspire, rather than disappoint, the rest of the world.
Few U.S. Presidents have squandered as many once-in-a-generation opportunities as Barack Obama. The Copenhagen failure largely belongs to him.
Research support by the Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute. © 2009 The Nation
Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist and syndicated columnist, author of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. Visit www.naomiklein.org. READ MORE:
http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/12/21-11
Senate Health Care Bill Built on Obama’s Broken Promises by Jon Walker FireDogLake
Ezra Klein is trying to make the absurd claim that this Senate bill closely resembles Obama’s campaign promises on health care reform:
The health-care bill that looks likely to clear the Senate this week is not very close to the health-care bill most liberals want. But it is very close to the health-care bill that Barack Obama promised.
This claim, I feel, is just not based in reality. The following is a list of all the promises broken: READ MORE:
http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/12/21-9
Dear Barack, Spare Me Your E-Mails By Robert Scheer, Truthdig.
Barack Obama’s faux populism is beginning to grate, and when yet another one of those “we the people” e-mails from the president landed on my screen as I was fishing around for a column subject, I came unglued. It is one thing to rob us blind by rewarding the power elite that created our problems but quite another to sugarcoat it in the rhetoric of a David taking on those Goliaths.
In each of the three most important areas of policy with which he has dealt, Obama speaks in the voice of the little people’s champion, but his actions cater fully to the demands of the most powerful economic interests.  READ MORE:
http://www.alternet.org/politics/144500/dear_barack%2C_spare_me_your_e-mails
I think Obama should have to get Michelle, and the girls, to sign his report card, don’t you?