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Matt Stoller: Power Politics – What Eric Schneiderman Reveals About Obama

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By Matt Stoller, a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. He is the former Senior Policy Advisor to Rep. Alan Grayson. You can reach him at stoller (at) gmail.com or follow him on Twitter at @matthewstoller

A lot of people have asked why New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is going after the banks as aggressively as he is. It’s almost unbelievable that one lone elected official, who happens to have powerful legal tools at his disposal, is doing something that no one with any serious degree of power has done. So what is the secret? What kind of machinations is he undertaking that no one else has been able to do?

I’ve known Schneiderman for a few years, back when he was a state Senator working to reform the Rockefeller drug laws. And my answer to this question is pretty simple. He wants to. That’s it. Eric Schneiderman is investigating the banks because he thinks it’s the right thing to do. So he’s doing it. This guy has thought about his politics. He wrote an article about how he sees politics in 2008 in the Nation, and in his inaugural speech as NY AG he talked about the need to restore faith in both public and private institutions. Free will still counts for something, apparently.

In all the absurdly stupid punditry, the simple application of free will to our elected officials goes missing. Yeah, Obama got money from Wall Street. But Obama is choosing to pursue a policy of foreclosures and bank bailouts not because of any grand corporate scheme. He just wants to. He thinks it’s the right thing to do, and he’s doing it. If you don’t think it’s the right thing to do, then you shouldn’t be disappointed in him any more than you might have been disappointed in Bush. Obama is not trying to do the opposite of what he’s doing, he’s not repeatedly suckered by Republicans, and he isn’t naive or stupid. Obama is simply doing what he thinks is right. So is Eric Schneiderman. So is Tom Miller. So are any number of elected officials out there.

In positions of power, the best expression I heard is that “up there the air is thin”. That is, you have enormous latitude, if you want to use it. Power can be wielded creatively and effectively on behalf of whatever it is the wielder wants. Now of course there are constraints, plenty of them. Smart politicians spend their time working to maximize the constraints they want to impose and weakening the ones they want to overcome. But the basic Reaganite liberal argument defending supplication towards Obama these days is that Obama is “disappointing”. In this line of thought, powerful corporate interests and Republicans are preventing him from enacting what his real agenda would be were he unfettered by this mean machine. Eric Schneiderman, who is in a far less powerful position as New York Attorney General, shows that this is utter hogwash. Obama is who he is, and anyone who thinks otherwise is selling something.

The banking system is really at the heart of our politics, which is why it’s such a great test of one’s political theory of change. I’ve been following the foreclosure fraud story for a few years now, because it’s the tail end of a massive economy-wide fraud scheme that started as early as 2003. The securitization chain failure can’t be put back in the bottle, the housing system it collapsed is simply too big to bail. So elites keep trying to patch this up the way they have everything else. It isn’t working. And their scheme has been obvious and obviously dishonest. Along with Obama (who I criticized as empty as early as 2004, ratcheting this up to dishonest and authoritarian by 2006-2007), I pointed out that Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller was engaged in serious bad faith only a few months after the negotiations started.

I’m no genius, I just listened to what these people actually said and did. Obama mocks the idea that he is an honest politician, overtly, lying about NAFTA and FISA very early on in power. Miller lied to activists about being willing to put bankers in jail, and then said he was negotiating with banks in secret. It was overt. For Miller, as with Obama, few people really picked up on the lies until recently. Iowa activists who heckled Miller got it, as did Naked Capitalism readers. Now it’s becoming more and more obvious. That’s just how it is, I suppose, people in the establishment are paid to not notice corruption until the harsh glare is too bright.

The crazy thing is that robosigning is apparently still going on. Right now, the “settlement” talks are the equivalent of law enforcement negotiating with a serial killer over whether he’ll get a parking ticket, even as he continually sprays bullets into the neighborhood. Even having these “settlement” talks when the actual crimes haven’t been investigated or a complaint hasn’t been registered should be example enough that this process is rigged as badly as Dodd-Frank. It should not be a surprise that the administration is putting pressure on Eric Schneiderman, that Tom Miller is kicking him out of the club house. That’s who these people are. It’s what they believe in. Just as it should not be a surprise, though it is laudable, that Schneiderman isn’t knuckling under to the administration. I suspect he probably is laughing at the idiocy of Miller’s pressure tactic. I mean, this is a guy going up some of the most powerful entities in the United States: Bank of New York Mellon, Bank of America, the New York Fed, etc. And the Iowa Attorney General isn’t going let him on conference calls? Mmmkay.

When you look closely at most significant areas of government, it becomes clear that the President and his administration are enormously powerful actors who get a lot done. Handing over our national wealth to the banks and to China is not nothing. These people are reorganizing the economy and the political system so that there are no constraints on the oligarchical interests that fund and pay them. That is their goal, it has been their goal from day one (or even before that), and anyone who says otherwise is just wrong or deluding him or herself. Obama spoke at the founding of Robert Rubin’s Hamilton Institute, and his first, and most important by far policy initiative, was his whipping for TARP, a policy that was signed by Bush but could not have passed without Obama getting his party in line. That was his goal, and he’s still pursuing it. The numerous “what happened to Obama” wailing editorials overlook the consistency of his policy agenda, which stretches back years at this point.

If someone worked or works for the Obama administration, or the Department of Justice, or any other executive branch agency, they need to remember their service as a mark of shame for the rest of their lives. Remembering how they participated in this example of how to govern is literally the least they could do for the damage they have caused. I would leave out the small number of people who are there to overtly prevent as much damage as possible, and those who resign or are fired in protest.

For the rest of the Democratic Party, well, reality is just beginning to intrude into the fantasy-land of partisans, even though the 2010 loss should have delivered a searing wake-up call to the failure Obama’s policy agenda. From 2006-2008, the Bush administration’s failures crashed down upon conservatives, and they in many ways could not cope. But their intellectual collapse was bailed out by Obama. Faux liberals are seeing their grand experiment in tatters, though right now they can only admit to feeling disappointed because the recognition that they have been swindled is far too painful. And the recognition for many of the professionals is even more difficult, because they must recognize that they have helped swindle many others and acknowledge the debt they have incurred to their victims. The signs of coming betrayal were there, but in the end it all comes down to judging people based on what they do and who they choose as opponents. And this Democratic partisans did not do, choosing instead a comfortable delusional fantasy-land where foreclosures don’t matter and theft enabled by Obama (and Clinton before him) doesn’t matter.

Eric Schneiderman’s willingness to go after the banks and stand up to the corruption of the Bush and Obama administrations should be a reminder to all of us of this. We have free will. He is doing the right thing for no other reason than because he wants to, because he believes in it. He is going to face serious consequences for this, very nasty stuff. Eliot Spitzer was taken down and his name dragged through mud because of who he took on. Paying ugly costs for standing up is routine, unfortunately, in modern America. And the least powerful among us face far worse consequences than politicians who are embarrassed. But integrity exists, and Schneiderman is showing that free will can be exercised in its service. This fact is true of many people, not just Schneiderman; Bill McKibbin, Jane Hamsher, Dan Choi and others just got arrested in front of the White House to register dissent. So next time someone tells you that you have no choice but to support one of the two branches of the banking party, just remember, you also have free will. And the only person who can take that away from you, is you.

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217 comments

  1. attempter

    I’ll wait until he recants his statement that his goal is to “restore faith” in the mortgage scam. Until then he sounds, from his own mouth, like just another criminal but playing a different role.

    I think we can take it as axiomatic that anyone who still wants people to have faith in any part of this system is a criminal.

    1. chris

      Nothing can exist without faith and the government and banksters have done a great job at giving us reasons to be skeptics. But if we don’t have faith restored to some degree there will be continued chaos and continued tranfer of wealth to the new ruling class.
      The NY AG is trying to give us a chance to have faith in the system again. I he fails or if he backs down like all the other politicians have done to this point, we will lose what little freedoms we have left because with no trust or faith you can not have a functioning democratic republic. Government control will become greater and greater and people will lose more faith until neither will trust each other at all. It won’t turn into socialism but it will be more like a dictatorship.

      1. attempter

        Yes, you prove the point perfectly. You have terminal faith in “elites” and refuse to have any in the people. (As for that false “democratic republic” in which you repose so much faith, Madison himself admitted that was a scam in the Federalist. I recommend #s 10 and 51. Today we see the full fruit of that.)

        I, on the other hand, am optimistic about how we the people can rule ourselves far more effectively and morally than any elites. (It’s a low bar, and therefore doesn’t require much faith.)

        I have zero faith in kleptocracy, complete faith in the people and true democracy. (But I don’t rely on this faith. All the evidence backs me up as well.)

        And to ask yet again, even leaving aside the proven criminality and incompetence of all elites, how long do you think humanity’s tutelage, this “regency” of elitism, shall need to exist? How long do you think we must have our political and economic sovereignty and almost all we materially produce taken from us?

        I have no doubt you want to see the people ruled for the next million years.

        1. QWESTER

          Attempter,
          You place yourself among the very elites you pretend to despise. There is no true democracy. There were no Federalists at the Animal Farm. Orwell beats Madison, hands down. Greed is as normal as hunger, from which it springs. Trust but verify. There must be a well armed night watchman so we can have security when we sleep. The possessors of the economy via the demand for money, especially when the Secretary of the Treasury has fewer scruples than the Chairman of the Fed, will never fail to demonstrate the corruption of absolute power. The reliable and dependable nature of the American homesteader warranted interest rates in the 2 to 3 percent range at the max for many decades. Instead, the usury enabled by the investment banks and GSEs gutted the hapless but trusting homeowners and investor groups constituting the bedrock of our culture of hard work and secure savings, leaving us all with this bleak future.

    2. G Marks

      I have faith in this mornings reads.

      Steve Jobs – who purchased a million robots to replace his SUICIDAL Chinese workers is still dying a painful death from pancreatic cancer. CHECK!

      Bank of America faces new lawsuits! CHECK!

      Billionaires in Corsica gassed in their sleep by house thieves. CHECK!

      Billionaire Hedgie can’t unload 32 billion $$ home in Seattle… must sell at auction! CHECK!

      I am no hourly wage employee. This kind of class warfare is much like what happened in pre revolutionary France.

      I am Pure Main St — 45 years now. My new found hatred for the super rich is because I know NOW, at 64, that you don’t become super rich without CRIMES…. lots of em.

      Socialised Capitalism… where you use government to destroy competition and garner market share with contributions to the right people… or have the right relatives in office.

      I look forward to the alliance of the sans coulatte and the former middle class professionals – to bring this system DOWN … by any means necessary. ANY means necessary.

    1. frobn

      I think you missed the heart of the post. Obama is doing what he is doing because he believes in it. “He thinks it’s the right thing to do, and he’s doing it.” No one controls you when you are doing what you believe you should be doing. “Faux liberals are seeing their grand experiment in tatters, though right now they can only admit to feeling disappointed because the recognition that they have been swindled is far too painful.”

      1. required

        obama, in CHOOSING not to prosecute the most egregious, most pernicious, most systemic financial fraud of anyone’s lifetime, is himself a FR$UD whether he WANTS to be or not.

    2. Z

      No one controls Obama … he does what HE thinks is in HIS best interests. And he obviously believes that taking care of his sponsors is in his best interests. And he’ll likely be rewarded by them by them adding another order of magnitude to his wealth once he leaves office in “exchange” for various vacuous speeches and for serving on cushy corporate boards and think tanks.

      He also believes that the American people are too stupid … for the most part … to see through him and see him as the deceitful, evil person that he is. And according to his high personal popularity ratings, he’s right … the obama brand is still strong despite his low job approval ratings. And that’s one thing that he deeply cares about: keeping the obama brand strong so that he can still bask in the adoration of the masses and suffer no uncomfortable moments when he hangs with the a-listers once he leaves office. And the narcissist knows that the adoration of the masses and his brand won’t survive another four years of selling out during what is very likely to be one of the worst periods in our nation’s history … partly due to the odious policies that he has helped to effectuate … so he’s going to bow out of the 2012 presidential race. BECOZ IT IS IN HIS BEST INTERESTS.

      What he needs is an excuse to cloud the transparency of his transition from selling our asses out for 4 years and then voluntarily cashing out on it. His excuse is going to be that he is unelectable and to create the conditions for that excuse he must seriously erode his liberal support. How he is trying to accomplish that is by throwing ss and medicare cuts on the table and twisting that shiv into the backs of his liberal support.

      Now we’ll see if his liberal support has any principles larger than sustaining their large egos and their emotionally invigorating feelings of self-righteousness and self-satisfaction that they feel for voting in a half-black man as president. Now we’ll find out if they are willing to throw that away and admit that they were duped and that they wrong about him.

      Z

      1. Dave of Maryland

        There is the horrifying possibility that you are right and that sometime next summer the O man will announce a sudden and “unexpected” retirement. In the process destroying what’s left of the Democrats.

      2. ZadoofkaFlorida

        What i really can’t stomache is that the taxpayers, who are already sooooo ripped off by this charlatan, will be building him a “presidential library”

  2. Nick

    I have a serious question, and its going to sound patronizing but I don’t know enough about this administration and its actions to even comprehend the origins of this article, but where do you guys get the information to make these claims? and im being completely honest, because i want to look at the original information myself, please, if you guys could tell me where to verify this blog.

    1. frobn

      Hint: Start with the Justice Department. At the very least the should be making some inquiries and some investigations of a banking system that brought the world economic system to its knees. Doesn’t it say something when the Justice Department has done zilch but New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is doing something.

    2. Dan Friedman

      Nick,

      The conclusions drawn in this article are based on years of observations, across government, finance, law, etc. You can judge their veracity by what you yourself know. While I am familiar with the legal changes during the last 30 years, and the political shifts during this period, I rely most on my personal experience at the Bank of New York Mellon, where everything that is claimed in this article, went on.

      My suggestion is to validate what you do know firsthand, as a reasonable basis to validate the rest. Much of the evidence has been presented in books like “Winner-Take-All Politics” by Hacker and Pierson, and from the finacial perspective: “Econned” by Yves Smith.

      I’m certain that you will find the facts you require. I saw them firsthand for 30 years.

      1. Nick

        Yeah, that’d be a safe assumption (I’m new to the blog). I understand the whole deregulation of the seventies thing. In yves’ new book she talks about a guy named Henry Mann, and I won’t go throu details, but she explains it well. (great book by the way). I’ve yet to connect the dots between wall st. And Obama. Ill give it a look. Thank you and excuse the uninformed demeanor of my posts.

        1. Nick

          May I note that what I understood of Econned was well done, meaning I didn’t understand all of it. Didn’t Realize it would be such a financially savvy read. But I recommend it, to anybody who may be on the verge of getting it and needs a recommendation from a mediocre commenter on the blog.

        2. Dan Friedman

          Nick,

          I worked on the origional deregulations in the 70′s at Citi. First with the head of Retail Banking, to allow for lending relief, and later with Chairman Wriston on interest rate deregulation. Never expected what followed, so I recommend staying informed, in lieu of staying surprised.

        3. Tao Jonesing

          @Nick.

          Just Google “wall street obama contributions”

          The dots between Obama and Wall Street are connected by dollars.

        4. Maximilien

          @Nick: “I’ve yet to connect the dots between wall st. And Obama.”

          Wall Street…G….e….i….t….n….e….r….Obama

          The dots connect perfectly.

      2. JS

        Nick,

        Here’s one of the many simple examples of ways you can judge a politician, in this case the President, by his actions rather than his rhetoric. Take a look at who the President brought in as his new Chief of Staff; the senior executive in charge of lobbying at JPMorgan Chase.

        Is there any plausable explanation for this other that the Administration is in bed with the banks?

        I can tell you that I was holding on to the notion that the President’s intentions were good and noble, until this appointment made clear to me, where the President stands.

        1. noash

          Yup. Me too. That appointment clinched it for me too. Won’t be voting for Obama the next go-around.

    3. Foppe

      For recent stuff, see e.g. this article by Yves, and the article she links to by Taibbi, as well as these two. (Note, however, that the problem goes back way further than the last administration.)

    4. Paul Tioxon

      Nick, go to this web site and buy the latest edition of “WHO RULES AMERICA” BY WILLIAM DOMHOFF.

      http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/new_deal_book.html

      Also, read “THE NEW CLASS SOCIETY: GOODBYE TO THE AMERICAN DREAM.” BY PERRUCCI AND WYSONG

      http://www.politicalaffairs.net/book-review-the-new-class-society-goodbye-american-dream/

      Although Stoller clearly explains his position, the understanding that politicians have free will and just do what they do, tells us nothing. A truism, such as it is all the will of God, keeps us mystified as to why Schneiderman stands up the tremendous forces and Obama does not. There are understandable reasons for different behaviors that goes beyond tautology. Namely, socialization. The university system does NOT educate as well as it socializes and acculturates people into a cohesive group who behave and expect the world to operate in accordance with a set of learned expectations, not just freely chosen ones.

      The most elite universities provide the most segregation of elites from the general population just so they do not talk to, discuss, and maybe have an expanded view of the way the world is. Reinforcing and channeling behaviors, attitudes, opinions, creating a bias for a world view that will allow them to walk the halls of power in business and government and feel confident and comfortable and more importantly, be recognized by others of a similar set of worldviews. Those beyond the pale, are rough around the edges, not ready for prime time, bush league etc. there were a thousand transgressive names for those who were not permitted to pass onto to better jobs, opportunities and career enhancing positions in social, religious and political organizations. Women who emerged from the 60′s experienced this in their own way and called it the glass ceiling.

      Working class and lower middle class kids quickly drop the clothing, the attitudes, the preoccupations of their background and chose instead the appropriate callings of golf, white wine and art appreciation. The television show “MAD MEN” deconstruct the entire passage of Don Draper, who is America, from an isolated powerhouse of potential to a global power. America passed from poor, small town and farm citizenry to a new identity built via fabrication and discarding, even completely denying or hiding the old one.

      Obama is who he is, more so from the wealthy prep school in Hawaii that he attended, due to the middle class connections of his grand parents and his hyper intellectual mother who woke him up at dawn to do reading and homework, than any free will choices. He further IS who he is by his elite education at Ivy League schools and he is who he is by his competitive protestant work ethic that propelled him to the head of the Harvard Law Review. You choose fries or a coke, you don’t choose Harvard, or the Law Review, they choose you and only, only if you fit the role. Obama choose to be groomed to function in the most rarefied heights of money and power. Those were among the last free will moments he will ever have in regard to the limited sets of policy options he can now, even begin to believe are sensible, pragmatic or even politically possible. A whole world of possible solutions has been cut off from him by limiting his development to what the most elite and wealthy deem viable.

      1. James Cole

        I am glad you mentioned his ultra-ambition and his stint at the Law Review in your piece–I knew Obama was a tool when I learned he was chief editor, because I went to the same law school and saw for myself that all of the people on the Law Review were tools who didn’t know when they had more “prestige” on their resumes than what was good for them, and weren’t very good at critical thinking outside of the box that you describe.

      2. walt

        We need to hear from those who worked with Obama when he was a community organizer. Just resume building, I presume.

        1. Z

          Walt,

          I’ll tell you what I find interesting is that despite what a boon it would have been for his 2008 campaign’s narrative, I don’t recall one person that attested to being helped by his community organizing.

          Like a lot about obama, it’s pretty packaging but the contents are empty.

          Z

      3. Dave of Maryland

        Who says Obama doesn’t stand up for what he believes in? He’s been standing up to 300 million increasingly unhappy Americans for three years now. More of them every day. That not only takes guts, but a great deal of self-pride.

      4. chris

        Thank you for this comment. I always knew he must have been a complete tool but great to hear it from someone who was at the same school.

    5. nosemajd

      Read anything political (he’s also a great sprtswriter) written by Matt Taibi. His recent columns in Rolling Stone should give you a lot of insight-and proves the old adage, if your aren’t pissed off you aren’t paying attention.

  3. russell1200

    Schneiderman is presumed to be looking out for another big constituency: the bond holders.

    The AGs and Feds simply cannot get it through there head that people should be going to jail for falsifying documents. The bankers are so much a part of the system, that they cannot view it as more than a mistake.

    So they are locked into this idea of getting some money from the banks and using the money to help some people. This is the way that AGs deal with most of their civil complaint issues.

    Part of the problems is that most State AGs do not have the ability to bring criminal charges. New York does. In North Carolina they do not even have the power to go after securities violations: that belongs to the NC Secretary of State.

    So when the Feds offer solutions that look an awful lot like their usual civil remedies, it is natural that they would go for it.

    But of course, these are not normal civil violations.

    1. Arthur Waters

      You can help by researching the law on federal preemption doctrine — because once the Miller-led AGs cut a deal, Congress will pass a law enshrining it, and any other investigation, such as Schneiderman’s, will be countered with the claim that federal law has preempted it. cf. the use of “state secrets” in damages-for-torture suits.

      1. Nathanael

        If they actually do that it will trigger a constitutional crisis which will end with the repudiation of the federal government by numerous states.

        California will probably be the first, judging by psychology. California is the state which knows for a fact it doesn’t need the US.

  4. Linus Huber

    My question here is how can we specifically support Mr. Schneiderman? Who has an idea in this regard?

    1. Dan Friedman

      A day after AG Schneiderman was excluded from the group of AGs negotiating the Bank settlement, Eric Schneiderman sent an email to his supporters and whistleblowers. You can call 800-771-7755 0r send a message via Facebook.

      1. kravitz

        it’s even still possible to donate to his reelection campaign website – separate from the NYS ag page

    2. Fraud Guy

      Send him money. I have, and got a letter in return pledging to stay strong in his pursuit of these issues.

  5. PaulArt

    Its so gratifying to see a ‘right between the eyes’ article from Matt. “Yeah, Obama got money from Wall Street. But Obama is choosing to pursue a policy of foreclosures and bank bailouts not because of any grand corporate scheme. He just wants to. He thinks it’s the right thing to do, and he’s doing it.” this was the best part. Looking forward to a shellacking in 2012. I just can’t wait to see the smug faces of the ex-first family when they are sent packing.

      1. John Zelnicker

        Jordan — I, too, am just as worried, if not more, so by the possible replacements for Obama.

        “The devil you know…

        1. Tao Jonesing

          Only a Democrat can dismantle Social Security. If Obama doesn’t get that done in his first term, he will in his second term, if you elect him again.

      2. dom

        More of the same, right, either Romney, servant of financial capital, or Huntsman, servant of industrial capital, or Perry, servant of the extractive industries – and when one of them pulls ahead, the other sectors will buy shares of his influence. But churn is of value in its own right, as an inchoate expression of popular disgust. Next comes widespread realization that ‘no party represents me.’ Finally, civil society pushes rigged politics aside. Problem in the US is that civil society has been driven ruthlessly down two partisan cattle chutes, so it’s very primitive compared to Egypt, Latin America, or Pakistan, for example, where dozens of national NGOs work together. There’s a tremendous amount of propaganda here that silences or attacks any form of civil society that’s not under party control.

    1. Weekender

      The President doesn’t even matter anymore. On one level people should be terrified, there is more wrath on the way, and the show is going to be more real then ever.

  6. Norman

    Good post this morning, let’s hope that AG Schneiderman doesn’t cave like all the rest in this “GRAND KABUKI”! As the Commercial says with an adjustment, It would do the body good to put ones self in the position of being screwed, with the ones who already have been. Perhaps being thrown under the bus? Anyone who doubts that they are above being screwed by the “Oligarchs”, keep on dreaming. The only question is whether or not it gets really ugly when the proverbial “shit” hits the fan! As they used to say when I was in “boot camp”, “all ready on the firing line, watch your targets”, about sums it up. Sorry for the blunt language if it offends some ears, but being an ex-marine, old habits never die.

  7. Goin' South

    Well, Matt had Obama pegged in 2004. Adolph Reed has that beat by 8 years, back when Obama was first elected to the State Senate:

    In Chicago… we’ve gotten a foretaste of the new breed of foundation-hatched black communitarian voices; one of them, a smooth Harvard lawyer with impeccable do-good credentials and vacuous-to-repressive neoliberal politics, has won a state senate seat on a base mainly in the liberal foundation and development worlds. His fundamentally bootstrap line was softened by a patina of the rhetoric of authentic community, talk about meeting in kitchens, small-scale solutions to social problems, and the predictable elevation of process over program—the point where identity politics converges with old-fashioned middle-class reform in favoring form over substance.

    1. BDBlue

      And then somehow believed he would magically do good things in 2008 (see, e.g., here, here). I wish he’d at least somewhat acknowledge his roll in selling Obama in the first place (he certainly wasn’t the worse out there, I’m not saying that, but he did seem to buy into the idea that Obama could somehow “change” politics and worked awfully hard to get him elected).

      Having said that, lately it seems that Stoller has woken up and I’m very glad to see it. His recent work has been excellent.

      1. Valissa

        Yes, I too remember when Matt was an Obama supporter (I followed all the A-list blogs closely as part of my own research)… along with other progressives who also now claim they were never that into him. It proves what the recent research about the nature of memory shows, that our memories of someone or something are very subject to our current emotions on the topic. There was much propaganda, intense progressive peer pressure, and anger at the Bush era, and that propelled people into the Obama camp, even some who weren’t so sure about him. I am very glad to see this post by Matt and hope that many more of the netroots and progressives do the right thing, stop making excuses for Obama and realize that he is doing exactly what he set out to do.

        In hindsight I am glad that Obama got elected because people’s disappointment in him has been a great catalyst for a collective reassessing (on the left) of the whole political duopoly, and that seriously needed to happen. The “lesser of two evils” argument is finally losing power over many people. The only people that the Republicrats care about are the ones who have lots of money to donate to them. The opinions of the rest of us are of no importance. When enough people decide to stop playing the 2-party game and call it for what it is and start creating new political paradigms using different language/terminology, then perhaps some sort of political change will be possible (not holding my breath on that though).

          1. Valissa

            BDBlue just provided two links showing differently. I do not wish to argue with you about this. Please feel free to rebutt the two links to posts of yours that BDBlue provided. I am very glad to see your current position and commend you on your current efforts.

          2. dcblogger

            More from Matt in 2007 on the wonders Obama would bring to us on telecom issues
            http://www.openleft.com/diary/2369/

            Look, anyone can get fooled. Happens to the best of us, just admit it.

            But your recent work is great, and wonderful to see that you will at least entertain the possibility of voting for an emergent party candidate.

      2. Matt Stoller

        I’ll defend myself. First, I couldn’t speak publicly from early 2009 to late 2010, so keep that in mind when you assert timing. Second, those two blog posts don’t strike me as saying what you think they say. Third, I don’t think you can credibly argue that I was selling Obama or worked hard for his election. I am pretty much on record making the argument that whoever won the nomination would win the election, and that neither Obama nor Clinton suited my ideology. My efforts at the time were oriented around certain issues (telecom and finance), as well as some low level candidates. I also did some media reform work on Fox News and the Democratic debate.

        1. Valissa

          Perhaps some people (myself included) misunderstood your actual position based on the posts of yours that we read in 2008. If that is so, I am happy to reconsider. I do wish you well in your reform efforts!

        2. lizinsarasota

          Rule #1: never take a job where you “can’t speak publicly.”
          Unless, of course, you have information that is supposed to be confidential, though I don’t see that stopping many people.

      3. Goin' South

        Just to clarify. Adolph Reed definitely did NOT support Obama at any stage of his career. He was sending out alarms all through the primary campaign. I saw him with Bill Moyers just eviscerating Obama during the D Convention.

      4. Nathanael

        Even after I knew that Obama was a liar and had no moral compass (FISA), I figured he was still smart.

        And smart evil people can do good things, because it’s in their self-interest, if they’re enlightened enough to realize it.

        In 2010, however, it became clear that Obama was actually pretty stupid when it mattered. He can’t see that what he’s working to prop up is a failed system, a system which will inevitably collapse and probably take him down with it. He doesn’t even realize that his right-wing economic policies are killing the source of wealth for the rich, let alone realize that his scoffing at the rule of law is eliminating the only protection for the power of the current elites.

        A smart evil person would have figured all this out, and used the popular support he had to create a new system, with a special position as “savior of the nation” for himself, while destroying his enemies. It’s been done myriad times throughout history. But nope, Obama’s a chump.

  8. Ep3

    Hey yves, how are the other liberal bloggers handling this? Not to say you are a liberal blogger. But you seem to really drive home the corruption that this scheiderman vs. Obama public fight is exposing. Anyway, I was just wondering if other bloggers are backing the fight or do they fear the heel of Obama cutting off their funding?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I’m VERY late to reply due to Internet problems, so I hope you do see this reply.

      For the record, I’m a rather funny liberal. I was apolitical until the crisis. I’m SO appalled at the criminality since then (the failure to rein in/reform the big banks, the massive handouts given to them while ordinary citizens suffer, the tolerance of criminal behavior in the interest of trying to preserve the mortgage industrial complex) that I am now firmly in opposition to orthodox Dems, who fall in with the banksters. It seems that standing up for the rule of law (and a few other things, like believing in regulation, progressive taxation, environmental protection, and anti-discrimination laws) makes one a pretty far leftie these days.

      This isn’t a political blog per se, it’s a finance and economics blog, but the government has become so hyperactive, particularly in its extreme measures to support the banks, that you have to look at politics a lot these days. And you can’t look (honestly anyhow) and not be disgusted.

      And no one tries pressuring me in general or on this topic, I think I’m understood to be beyond redemption.

      Re the other “liberal” blogs, many are part of the Dem hackocracy, such as Matt Yglesias and Ezra Klein. They are part of the problem. Some have drunk deeply of the Obama Kool-Aid and are in denial as to how bad he is. Daily Kos and Brad DeLong are in this camp (you see occasional glimmerings of recognition there, but not often enough).

      The blogs that depend on funding are ones affiliated with think tanks, like Roosevelt Institute (we’ve gone several rounds on how they are being taken over by corporate Dems), Economic Policy Institute (they had a major grant yanked and they have become more moderate in their position). ThinkProgress is the Center for American Progress’s blog, that’s part of the hackocracy, big time political funding.

      The blog that is the most consistently critical of what is going on politically from a leftist perspective is FireDogLake. Glenn Greenwald has focused mainly on constitutional law issues, but he appears to have woken up recently to how bad Obama is on other fronts. New Economic Perspectives (Bill Black writes there) is not political per se but has a lot of good material. There are a number of good small blogs, like Corrente, that are vocally anti-Obama.

      But to your point, none of this is very well organized.

      1. EmilianoZ

        I’d add Truthdig, home of Chris Hedges, to the list of “leftist” blogs critical of Obama.

      2. Nathanael

        Atrios and Digby are openly and clearly hostile to Obama at this point thanks to his bad behavior. (Atrios in his inimitably terse and relaxed style, mind you.)

        DailyKos… is a zoo. I don’t think it’s fair to describe it as having “an opinion”. It currently has long-running fights between different factions.

  9. ex-PFC Chuck

    The denial is palpable when you attend meetings of Democratic activists. The Obama problem is the elephant in the room. Mentioning it is greeted like a fart in church: nervous glances, an uncomfortable titter or two, and someone suggesting we move on to whatever business is on the formal agenda. I hope PaulArt won’t be too disappointed, but I suspect Obama will very likely be reelected. For himself his move to the right of the [already far-to-the-right] ‘center’ will likely be a successful campaign strategy. People in the center are too busy dealing with the mundane challenges and occasional pleasures of daily life to pay the serious attention to what politicians say and do day in and day out. The $2B or whatever he’s collecting in bribes campaign contributions will be more than enough to convince them, via the mainstream media, that he’s a somewhat lesser evil than whatever Republican whacko pulls away from his or her peers and gets the nomination.

    However the consequences for the Democratic Party as a whole, as well as the country, will be devastating. Down ticket, their candidates will be decimated because the volunteers who usually man the phones and knock on doors every four years won’t show up. It’s the volunteers motivated by the person at the top of the ticket who make for the coat tails, and Obama won’t have any except for the handful of year-round party activists who are still in denial. Thus we’ll very likely see a second term President Obama ‘caving’ week after week to a GOP Congress, state houses across the country going the way of Wisconsin and Ohio, and Federalist Society judges overwhelming our court system from top to bottom.

    Win or lose, Obama could very well be the last Democratic president the country ever has. We are deep into another “Fourth Turning,” to use the term popularized nearly fifteen years ago by William Strauss and Neil Howe in their book of the same title. (http://amzn.to/nZVc3x) Unless there is a serious primary challenge to Obama in 2012 by a credible candidate, I believe the party is headed for the ash heap of history, and de facto American democracy will very likely be there along with it. I’m past my allotted three score andl ten, and until recently I never expected to see this in my ifetime.

    1. lambert strether

      +1000. Yes, Obama does what he does because he believes in it. Too simple for some people to believe, I guess.

      * * *

      I’d argue that in 2008, all the Ds had left on the balance sheet was good will from FDR. Before Lehman, by a happy coincidence, went under, McCain was still in striking distance. After the economy went south, Obama pulled ahead and won, since “the Democrats are better on the economy.” Obama has disabused everyone of that notion, and now the only thing the Ds have on the balance sheet is Brand Obama. That may not be enough; Obama’s throwing another part of the base under the bus with Keystone XL.

      * * *

      If Schneiderman gets a bankster CEO to do the perp walk in an orange jumpsuit on national teebee, I’d say he could challenge in 2012. And maybe win. Sometimes doing the right thing pays off.

      1. Alex

        If Schneiderman gets a bankster CEO to do the perp walk in an orange jumpsuit on national teebee, I’d say he could challenge in 2012.

        You don’t get the nomination by threatening to shake up the status quo. Look at Howard Dean, definitely a much stronger candidate than Kerry, but discredited over a peccadillo.

          1. lambert strether

            To amplify: Compare the Elizabeth Warren boomlet. I like Warren; she’s no-nonsense and the right people hate her.

            But Warren’s about making forms easier to fill out.

            Schneiderman is about putting criminals in jail.

            Which has more appeal?

      2. Passing Gas

        I’d like to believe he’s too good for such an venture. It’s not cynical to state that US politics nearly consumes any hope for good right out of the individual – The icon is simply elevated as a speech making face, interests control the campaign, the day to day mode of operation. Remember when out of nowhere Leahy shows up with a MERS initiative? They are all corrupt.

      3. EmilianoZ

        “Obama does what he does because he believes in it.”

        Yep. And his wallet believes in it too. There’s a house on the Vineyard with his name on it.

  10. Jordan

    On Tuesday of this past week Schneiderman was removed from the panel investigating foreclosure fraud to the applause of the big banks such as JPM, Wells, BofA etc and two days later Buffett ponies up $5b for BofA.

    What are the odds this was a quid pro quo for the justice department giving Schneiderman the boot?

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-08-23/new-york-is-removed-from-state-foreclosure-group-after-voicing-concerns.html

    and how does this fit with Buffett having a $35k/head fundraiser for Obama at the end of September.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-08-25/warren-buffett-to-host-obama-fundraiser-in-new-york-on-sept-30.html

    1. KnotRP

      The most recent California elections demonstrated that a massive bankroll fed into the MSM isn’t working any more.

      The Banker’s President is toast.

  11. Passing Gas

    Why, as Americans, do we need to tolerate these mother f$%kers? Revoke their security clearances, fire their asses into the street, disbar, remove from authority. Why in the hell do we tolerate illegitimate authoriy? Fear? Inconvenience?

    “If someone worked or works for the Obama administration, or the Department of Justice, or any other executive branch agency, they need to remember their service as a mark of shame for the rest of their lives.”

    1. John Zelnicker

      Passing Gas — If your question is not just rhetorical, the answer is that those who could revoke their security clearances, fire, disbar them, etc., are part of the same cabal.

    2. furiouscalves

      history will remember them as the ass clowns presiding over the apex of the corporate fascist state of the world as it blew up. their “perp walk” will be their enshrinement in history books for generations – read and reread over and over for generations. probably will be remembered kind of like the nazis who went to argentina or something.

      1. ambrit

        Dear Furious;
        Trouble is, we are becoming the new Argentina, in many more ways than one. Reread some Thomas Paine, he understood. Nothing is guaranteed, effort and sacrifice are required.

    3. Nathanael

      “Why in the hell do we tolerate illegitimate authoriy?”

      Difficulty figuring out how to replace it and how to organize to replace it. Simple answers to simple questions….

      …at some point, something’s going to gel — like in Wisconsin — and a huge group of people will agree on what to do and how to do it. And then it will get really interesting.

  12. tdraicer

    I think Stoller’s seemingly reflexive stab at Bill Clinton is somewhat unfair, given the vastly different political landscape of the 90s (the Right was not on the ropes when BC came into office in the way it was when Obama was elected) but regardless, the rest is certainly spot-on.

    1. Cinder Fella

      Well, let’s start with the executive branch’s extraordinary powers. They can strip detainees of the right to challenge their own detention – the President has the power to detain them indefinitely. U.S. officials are essentially immune from prosecution. Now, are any Bankers, after what has been widely documented and understood going to see the ugly side of so-called criminal justice? Never. This is the side liberals never talk about, just like war crimes. They don’t want to hear it, they don’t want to question it, merrily they roll along.

      1. Out of the Frying Pan

        Now, are any Bankers, after what has been widely documented and understood going to see the ugly side of so-called criminal justice? Never. This is the side liberals never talk about, just like war crimes. They don’t want to hear it, they don’t want to question it, merrily they roll along.

        —-

        Who says? Are you kidding? I want to hear it. Most on this blog want to hear it. Nothing will change until we do something about it.

        But how does that happen with both sides bought and paid for by the same crew?

        The grimmer answer is not until things get bad enough for an uprising of sorts. Not the way I’d prefer to see it happen, but what other option is there short of a charismatic populist who appears out of the blue and captures the nation’s attention without getting Spitzered by the media?

    2. Setting up 911

      Clinton was the most successful right wing demagogue since Reagan. It’s all there simpletons: Telecom act, Rubin, Summers, NAFTA, Gramm–Leach–Bliley, huge increases in police spending (drug war/police state), international bombing under the guise of “Democratic Intervention”, punishment for the poor with welfare reform, etc, etc, etc.

      1. Z

        “It’s all there simpletons: Telecom act, Rubin, Summers, NAFTA, Gramm–Leach–Bliley, huge increases in police spending (drug war/police state), international bombing under the guise of “Democratic Intervention”, punishment for the poor with welfare reform, etc, etc, etc.”

        B I N G O

        Z

        1. Clark Thornton

          Bingo +1000. I’ve always thought that Rubin/Summers are two of the most destructive people that were ever in power. Sure, they had a lot of help from the odious Phil Gramm and other corporatist neoliberals of the Republican brand, as well as from Dems of the same mindset. However, if we have a future financial crimes inquiry after the final meltdown, Rubin & Summers should be on the top 10 list of defendants.

      2. Jersey Girl

        Indeed. Clinton did things Republicans could only dream of and Obama is on that same path.

    3. Tao Jonesing

      tdraicer,

      A common failing of all human beings is the propensity to overlook actions we don’t like when they are performed by somebody we do like.I liked Bill Clinton. I still do. In hindsight, however, it is clear he oversaw the neoliberalization of the Democratic party, which actually started with Carter.

      1. tdraicer

        Well, I don’t particularly like Bill Clinton. Otoh, though Clinton is/was a moderate Democrat, he was/is recognizably a Democrat. And there were valid reasons why he was the first Democrat since FDR to win two elections-the average American was better off when he left office than when he entered, something that had not happened in a long time.

        As for drawing a straight line between BC and the current Obamacrats, there was a little thing called the Bush years in between. If you really think we’d be in the same position if 8 years of Clinton had been followed by 8 years of Gore and then 4 years of Hillary, well, you can believe whatever you like, but to say I find the idea dubious is to put it mildly.

        Obama (as some of us recognized back in 2004) was always the worst possible nominee in 2008, and those who supported him over Hillary were (to be polite) mistaken. Which is not to say either Clinton was ideal-but the attempt to blame them for the follies and crimes of those who came after Bill doesn’t wash.

    4. Aleealee

      Credit where it’s due. Clinton signed the repeal of Glass-Steagal with Graham-Leach-Billey. Full disclosure, I am also sensitive to the unending ‘CDS’ of “liberal” bloggers.

  13. Mike C.

    Obama is NOT doing this because he thinks it is “right”. He knows damned well it is wrong. He is doing what every sitting politician sincce the dawn of time has done – follow the path of least resistance.

    1. Thorstein

      I’d say “follow the path of greatest remuneration”. But, of course, Obama’s not purposively EVIL…He has convinced himself that the wealth he and his white buddies receive will trickle down fairly…

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      The evidence does not support your views. This is a man who when asked about the lies he told when campaigning, wasn’t merely unapologetic, he seemed almost proud.

      He believes in tromping on the little guy. Remember how he called banksters “savvy businessmen”? He made it clear he wanted to cut entitlements from before his inauguration.

      He is not on the side of average Americans. He is implementing the policies he wants.

  14. Z

    I’d make the point that Schneiderman is doing what he thinks is right … period … with little consideration for himself. He sees this as being larger than himself. Obama and Miller are doing what they think is right FOR THEMSELVES … what is in their best interests and to hell with morality or the people that they purport to represent.

    Z

  15. Steve from Cranbury

    Mr Stoller provides a good reality check. To paraphrase Lewis Black, anybody who thinks either political party is going to do us any good is delusional.

    The question I’m asking is “Why does Obama think his policies are the right things to do?” Does he deeply believe his policies are the best way to improve the American situation or is his conviction based on a deep belief that it will benefit himself and the political class in both wings of the banking party?

    Given the politicians in Western Europe are also enacting the banksters’ policies, fleecing their citizens to bail out the banksters, for me the simplest and best explanation is that the political elites of western democracies (in name only) have completely aligned their personal self interest with the banksters.

    Obama is acting on a belief that what is best for the banksters is the best for him and his ambitions. Surely when his term is over, he, like Clinton, will become a mega millionaire from speaking fees funded by the banksters and the NAFTA-rites.

    Oh, and let’s not forget Reagan who got a million for one speech in Japan.

    The system is hopelessly corrupt and willfully negligent of what’s best for America or Europe. Americans should follow the lead of the Icelanders. They refused to pay up to bail out their banksters.

    We need to throw the banksters and globalizers under the bus. Let’s start with the politicians. Vote out all incumbents in 2012.

    1. prophetwithoutprofit

      It is often too difficult to discern motivation. Free will may be too general a concept to apply effectively to understand what is going on. The policy choice may be as simple as articulated by Henry Paulson and others back in 2008, if we do not save the banks, the entire financial system will go down, workers will not be able to be paid, credit cards will stop working and a depression and chaos will ensue. Whether that is objectively true really makes little difference. It is what is generally believed by our policy makers. Yes, the bankers may have been disproportionally favored, but that was perceived by our political class asthe cost of saving the economy.

      Enter an inexperienced new president, Obama. He knows little about economics (his own admission). He is introduced to the economic policy gurus Rubin, Summers, Geithner, Bernanke and others. If you are the new president are you going to dispute the credibility and policy prescriptions of these individuals. And if you are wrong, the stakes are the shutdown of the financial system, depression and chaos? No, you are going to listen to these experienced “old hands.” These are the same folks who advised Clinton and others and the economy boomed.

      Now roll the tape forward to today and you have the following questions. Have Rubin and company really failed? Maybe not. Readers of Naked Capitalism, myself included, think the economy is dangerously unstable, bankers unfairly profiting at the expense of taxpayers and fraud and other crimes unpunished. That is an economic perspective. However from a politician’s viewpoint, unemployment is high, but not really growing, the stock market is above 11,000 and the economy is growing at 1-2%.

      Could Obama made better choices? Probably yes, but would a newly elected President have risked an immediate, sharp depression on the hopes of a more powerful recovery? Economy, law and politics all work together, yet may suggest different policy paths.

      Nevertheless, we are at a point where prosecutions should commence and policy favoring bankers ended. If you believe in free market capitalism there are rewards and punishments. The profligate need to fail and be prosecuted.

      Right now Perry attacking the money printing policies of the Fed, at the expense of the middle class is going to resonate more than Obama’s support for bankers and Bernanke.

      1. Z

        “(Obama) is introduced to the economic policy gurus Rubin, Summers, Geithner, Bernanke and others. If you are the new president are you going to dispute the credibility and policy prescriptions of these individuals.”

        HA ha ha ha ha ha ha … I don’t have the time to debunk this bullshit, all I have is the time to laugh at it.

        Z

        1. prophetwithoutprofit

          I was not suggesting that Rubin et al. are in fact gurus. Merely they were “sold” to Obama as gurus. Old, steady, economic hands that can guide a young president through a crisis. The facts were that these so called gurus had self serving agendas protecting their crony capitalist buddies.

          1. Thorstein

            At Columbia, and later at Harvard, Obama looked in the shop window and bought what he liked; he wasn’t “sold”…

      2. Twarburton

        One of the more thoughtful remarks on this entire blog. Balanced, and reasonable. Thanks for this fair reasoning. What appears to be the case amongst this savvy lot of observers is that regardless of whether you have been taken in or not, we have what we have. It fair to blame the financial elites, and next the political elites for not having policed the perpetrators of a scarily rigged and increasingly unstable ship of state.
        Political economy were the words of Adam Smith and rarely should they be separate. Good economy requires good governance, law, justice etc.
        Our rapidly changing world has overtaken our ability calmly set about bringing thoughtful balanced policies. Competing interests, more information than we can handle etc. Yet here we are, the financial and the political elite being attacked. As so eloquently stated throughout, the seeds of our destructions were first sown in the Carter years, and then Fannie, Freddie, Glass Stegall, etc. Yet some many good things also came from deregulation. Are we not just fine tuning the time piece here?
        One could posit that our expectations have become outsized. Our desires for a more perfect world impossible. Imagine the pressures on anyone trying to lead today. Most is react, react, and look for a path through the morass of problems to chose from. We know that 27% Credit Card interest is usury. How does a congressman allow such a thing to happen? Because clearly someone has described in the most fearsome detail what will happen if big bank X fails. Hence requiring the bank to make ‘extra’ profit where it can to offset the monstrous looming mortgage write-downs soon to come. And its fair to say that the fear is with merit. So what is required to bring a careful thoughtful plan to be bring ‘too big to fail’ down to manageable size. Why didn’t Dodd Frank do that? Barney Frank’s constituents, the great bulk of his area of Massachusetts can ill afford such rates, so who elected Barney Frank? Who bankrolled Barney Frank?
        And more importantly, even if Barney Frank was not unseated in the last election, his world is now different. In 2008 Frank won 68% of the vote, in 2010 just 54%.

        In Gretchen Morgenson’s ‘Reckless Endangerment’, we begin to get a fairly clear idea of just where along the road we went astray. It may be convenient to put the mortgage bankers in jail, and when reading Larry MacDonald’s book ‘ a Colossal Failure of Common Sense – the Collapse of Lehman Bros’, one starts to really get a sense of the extent and depth of the problem. Should Lehman have been shut down? Thousands of people put out of work in a matter of a day? Is that good regulatory behavior? Was Lehman too big to fail? Paulson was calling Dick Fuld several times a week after Bear Sterns and yet he couldn’t force Lehman to raise Capital. Could they, Treasury, have put more pressure on? Undoubtably, yet the ship was already really leaking at this point. The ship had left port after Glass Stegall with far fewer inspectors and the right to carry more leverage etc.

        We can not stop looking at what Congress permitted and what the SEC didn’t oversee and what we ourselves allowed to occur. It was clear in 1929 and in 10 years it occurred again. Banks should NOT be allowed to risk our deposits. Bankers are supposed to watch carefully over our money. Yet WE, yes we permitted them to be guaranteed by the taxpayers money.
        You folks are all talking about Obama, and you are missing the story. The story is that our Congress and our leadership as of 2011 have NOT yet taken the steps to correct their gross oversight and negligence in regulating the banking system. Why?
        Many here have touched on the answers. Where is the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee? Max Baucus
        The Senate Banking Committee ? Tim Johnson.
        Did we not get the Financial Crisis Inquiry Committee Report in January 2011? Hows that coming? And people are wondering about Obama?
        Obama is and was a one trick pony. Healthcare. He stepped up and made it happen. Should he have focused elsewhere? Indisputably. Is he the wrong guy at the wrong time? Who knows.. He is there, and the only question is how to influence what behavior.

        The United States is blessed with the finest water transportation system and feed growing plains on the planet. Obama is heir to this mighty resource, second none anywhere, this great trump card is unlikely to be dissipated, and so our lucky circumstances really require leadership to right some of our financial problems. The debate was in clear display this summer as well it should have been. Democracy is a noisy competitive serious endeavor. We are up for it and we will succeed for no other reason than we really like what we have far more than letting it go to hell in a hand basket.

        The simple fact is the financial and political elite have let us down, they were partially replaced in 2010, and more will be replaced in 2012. Who replaces them remains to be seen. But who ever they are, you can be certain of one thing: decisions that have been put off for years will be taken on. Unpleasant choices will be made. People will suffer, taxes will go up, but only AFTER the budget is balanced. The Midwest and South will reign. The Northeastern and Pacific states have lost credibility, and maybe NY’s AG will put the state back on the map along with Cuomo getting the fiscal house in order, but on the whole practical hard nosed populists will re-emerge. The grandchildren of the Roosevelt brain trust are largely bereft of any bold thoughts and incapable of action. As noted herein the future of the Democratic party may well be in doubt, and Obama’s Gorbachevian overseeing of its demise is itself heroic. The ideals of the New Deal have largely been achieved. Whatever comes out of the ashes will only be better, smarter, wiser, and more practical. The financial and political elite have nearly bankrupted the country. This is not Obama’s fault. He is at fault for not leading the charge to clean it up. Roosevelt lead. He showed a way, and he brought in smart people who could get things done. You can not say that about Obama. The country had a problem and our president did not focus on it. He could have, he should have, but he didn’t. So all the vitriol accorded to him here is deserved.

        But let’s be sure we focus on the primary core issues. Trust in our government to properly and fairly regulate business is the basis for economic liberty.

        This trust requires new public servants who get it. No more separate benefits for us and them. No more bailouts that take 210,0000,0000 (billion) out of 800 billion and put into the very bankers pockets who screwed up the system in concert (I use this term loosely because it may have been more witlessly) with the politicians who changed the laws to make it possible.
        Someone suggested that Bankers children work in the fields, and one could say the same about the New Deals heirs. Time for practice in the fields of labor. Theory is great, practical application greater.

    2. Susan the other

      the 2010 write-in candidate should be No One …or just do not vote at all… how will the great America explain that nobody turned out to vote… and we can build on the fact that no politicians have a mandate from the people…

        1. Carla

          I kind of like Susan the other’s idea. An election strike. Could we possibly make this work? After all, what is voter turnout in a presidential election now? Slightly over 50%?

          1. Nathanael

            Turnout’s been averaging around 44% for the last few decades, IIRC (I could be off).

            Trouble is election strikes are a consistently failed policy, worldwide — they only succeed if you have a united opposition in a single large organization to announce the election strike, and they’re only worth it if you expect the election to be fraudulent.

            No. We have to unite behind an alternative party, or group of parties, or manifesto to have a chance of getting legitimacy. And no, there isn’t a candidate for such a party or manifesto at the moment.

  16. spigzone

    The naming of the beast.

    Before something can be effectively attacked and defeated it must be identified and defined.

    In this case a label that defines the various entities that are turning this country into a oligarchic corporatist police state. The big bankers, first and foremost, the MIC, the billionaires funding the entire right wing media and ‘foundation’ machine, the corporatist MSM, the Republican party, Obama and most of the Democratic party, and so on, that are all driving to the same goal. Dismantling the middle class, constitution, rule of law and any real political or regulatory opposition in the quest to put all the power and wealth into the hands of an elite few.

    But the average Jane and Joe are kept muddled, confused, misled by the eliticons and their media machine. What is needed is a simple defined term that names these elites and the con job they are running on America, which is of course exactly what is happening, a gargantuan scam, a, literally, world class con job, on the rest of the peoples of this country and the world.

    Elites conning America in particular and the world in general … Eliticon.

    Until such a term comes into general usage so that those running this con job and their minions can be easily and quickly pinpointed for what they really are and what they are really doing, the people of this country will be kept off balance, muddled and confused, unable to see clearly what is going on and see who the real enemy is.

    The term Eliticon, properly applied and brought into wide usage, will become an anethema, especially to politicians, and once so labeled a person or institution will be put on the defensive and be forced to prove how and why they aren’t Eliticons or carrying out the Eliticon’s agenda.

  17. dom

    Power network theories of change stress the importance of outsiders and sympathetic elites. (Power network theory is a slightly disreputable branch of political science. It’s empirical in subversive ways, and it’s based in non-elite institutions.) Schneiderman’s a classic sympathetic elite. Yves: an outsider (though with more cultural capital than the usual outsider. It’s telling that these days impeccable ruling-class credentials are needed even to be a successful bomb-thrower.) Civil-disobedience is good clean fun but really, what outsiders need to do is undermine, sabotage, wreck, destroy – and get away with it. Take the formative experience of notable smart guy George Soros. He wasn’t marching and getting locked up by Nazis, he was helping Dad forge identity papers. And in our case the guiding principle should not be winning elections, but ripping both parties apart. You rip them apart with conflicts neither party wants to face: corruption, repression, dereliction of states’ duties.

  18. Mark S.

    “If someone worked or works for the Obamaadministration, or the Department of Justice, or anyother executive branch agency, they need toremember their service as a mark of shame for therest of their lives.”

    Truly the words of a spoiled little brat. I work for the administration, and I’m extremely proud of the work I’ve done. I’ve also got a family. Kids to feed, bills to pay, college funds to save for. I don’t have the luxury of quitting my job in protest over some naïve idealist nonsense. And what have you done, Matt? You spent 2 years as a “financial services staffer” for media-clown Alan Grayson? And you’re telling other people that their work should be treated as a mark of shame? Puh-leaze.

    This blog inhabits a fantasy-land of self-righteousness and delusion. Grow up, Matt.

    1. Out of the Frying Pan

      This blog inhabits a fantasy-land of self-righteousness and delusion. Grow up, Matt.

      —-

      I smell a troll post here. However, I could be wrong.

      If so, your post is just a good representation of why there are so many ex-supporters of Obama.

    2. invient

      Mark, ad hominems always make a weak argument and or response. No one can put shame on you, only you can do that. I believe Matt’s statement was not directed towards people with your obligations. However, the fact that you brought them up in a defensive manner implies lost hope in Obama. In the limit we all reach for our ideal world, but in the short term we often make decisions that work against us. We likely have four more years of Obama, and following his departure from the white house you will be able to once again start on a path that approaches that ideal world. If you never aim for the ideal, then you swim in mediocrity.

    3. Hugh

      Just another Upton Sinclair man:

      It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it

    4. David Graeber

      Well good to know what the other side is thinking.

      “Grow up” here means “accept that Wall Street owns America, the rich will get even richer, the poor will get even poorer, rotten people will for the most part prosper, decent people will for the most part suffer and lead lives of fear, pain, and despair, the US will continue to pursue military adventures until economic collapse finally prevents it, the world’s ecosystem will be destroyed by global warming and millions will die, AND THERE’S ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WE CAN DO ABOUT IT – so feeding your own family at the expense of others in the meantime and harboring any ridiculous fantasies about changing any of this (other than pretending to care about these issues around election time) is the only mature response.”

      1. David Graeber

        why did I write “harboring”? I meant “abandoning”.
        Shouldn’t probably be posting but i always did wonder how these people justified themselves!

    5. Yves Smith Post author

      Wow, Upton Sinclair indeed.

      You tell me you are proud of working for the Administration, and can’t even offer a single reason as to why. Instead you lapse into “I’m a slave of The Man”.

      The reason corruption continues is that too many people just like you perpetuate and defend it. The turning point in the Nixon Administration was the so-called Saturday Night Massacre, when Eliot Richardson forced Nixon to fire him. Google it. The fact that folks like you sell out to the corruption is what makes it possible for it to continue and become even more deeply entrenched.

      1. Mark S.

        I work at HHS, Yves, where we actually work to improve people’s lives every day, and I don’t really appreciate some spoiled think tank brat telling me that I should regard my service “as a mark of shame for the rest of [my life].”

        Citing Eliot Richardson and the Saturday Night Massacre is so spurious and so misleading that it’s tantamount to lying. How much good do you think it would do if a career civil servant in HHS resigned in protest over the actions of the Treasury and the DoJ? By calling me corrupt for not resigning in protest over your personal pet issue, you just demonstrate what a self-promoting hack you’ve become.

        The problem with people like you, Yves, is that you compensate for your manifest inability to appreciate nuance and context by ratcheting up the sanctimonious rhetoric. The truly ironic thing is that you’re just selling a story that people want to hear — a true charlatan.

        1. Nathanael

          So, as an HHS employee, have you spoken out against the appalling attempts to criminalize poverty? Do you do what you can to keep HHS allied to its true mission while rejecting the bullshit it keeps being saddled with (fingerprint people applying for welfare! Yar!).

          If so, good for you.

    6. Jason Rines

      Mark Perry. You know what you were doing was wrong and that is why you began having a change of heart. But now your scared and are going to go down with the Fascist ship. You’ll live fine for three or four more years until your thrown overboard as well. Propogandists are a dime a dozen and the initial credibility earned early in life has been destroyed.

      I would say you had best pray that the world doesn’t head to war, because if you think having a red scarlet letter stigma is bad now, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Your employee will also be thrown under the bus. Meanwhile, get yourself your boss another cup of coffee as Obama goes and gets Clinton his. Enjoy the plantation while it lasts, for the powers that be are vested in China where they don’t need Western propogandists.

      Or I suppose you could alleviate your tortured conscience and do what is right. It is a short life and those kids will want to know what Dad did to stop the suffering. Either way, unless you have access to an underground bunker your fate will land in the same place as the unwashed masses. And their will be lots more of them!

  19. Hugh

    That Stoller is saying this shows how the idea of the conservative corporatist Obama is penetrating into Democratic circles. But note his last line:

    So next time someone tells you that you have no choice but to support one of the two branches of the banking party, just remember, you also have free will

    This is what some of us have been saying for some time. It’s not just Obama. It’s the Democratic party. Everything Stoller has said about Obama could be applied to every other Democrat holding national office and almost every one at the state level with the rare exception of the Schneiderman’s. And even with him, only time will tell if he is the real thing or not. They are doing what they are doing because they have chosen to do so, they want to do so.

    So it comes down to this again: If you vote for any Democrat or any Republican, any of those now in Washington, you are casting your vote for the kleptocracy that is afflicting us.

    Stoller also touches on another argument some of us have made. Obama is President, and we have an imperial, unilateral Presidency. The office has acquired vast, and often unConstitutional powers. If Obama so chose, he could end the wars, investigate and prosecute Bush era torture and illegality, investigate and prosecute Wall Street criminality, dismantle the surveillance state, especially its private component, close Guantanamo, stop dangerous drilling in the Gulf and proposed drilling off Alaska, respect the rule of law, empower the DOJ’s Anti-Trust Division, get regulators to actually regulate, not just on Wall Street but the EPA, FDA, and NIH. This is by no means and exhaustive list but just gives an idea of what Obama could do without going near Congress.

    The other argument that I do not see in Stoller’s piece but is implicit in it. Is, not what Obama and Democrats, do or not do, that is what they are able to accomplish, but also what they are willing to fight for, even if they lose. Who can even remember the last time the Democrats took one of their core positions and fought for it, win, lose, or draw?

    Re some comments upthread, the construction of our kleptocracy began about 35 years ago in the Carter Administration: the repeal of the usury laws, the beginnings of deregulation and anti-unionism as government policy, Volcker’s draconian anti-inflation policies which laid the foundation for decades of no growth in worker wages, such growth was seen as inherently inflationary, and the great transfers of wealth to the rich, since such growth was deemed as non-inflationary. Reagan took these initial steps and greatly expanded them, adding in trickle down economics and so on. Clinton was very much part of this process with the repeal of Glass-Steagall, the deregulation of derivatives, and the sanctioning of OTC futures trading in commodities, especially oil (the Enron exception) to mention just a few of his efforts.

    Finally, although I have not added to it for a while, my own humble attempt to keep track of the Obama Administration’s excesses can be found here:

    http://obamascandalslist.blogspot.com/

    (some 277 items in and around this Administration)

    1. Neal Deesit

      If Obama so chose, he could end the wars, investigate and prosecute Bush era torture and illegality, investigate and prosecute Wall Street criminality, dismantle the surveillance state, especially its private component, close Guantanamo, stop dangerous drilling in the Gulf and proposed drilling off Alaska, respect the rule of law, empower the DOJ’s Anti-Trust Division, get regulators to actually regulate, not just on Wall Street but the EPA, FDA, and NIH. This is by no means and exhaustive list but just gives an idea of what Obama could do without going near Congress.

      From the late great comedian Bill Hicks:

      “I have this feeling man, ’cause you know, it’s just a handful of people who run everything, you know … that’s true, it’s provable. It’s not … I’m not a fucking conspiracy nut, it’s provable. A handful, a very small elite, run and own these corporations, which include the mainstream media. I have this feeling that whoever is elected president, like Clinton was, no matter what you promise on the campaign trail – blah, blah, blah – when you win, you go into this smoke-filled room with the twelve industrialist capitalist scum-fucks who got you in there. And you’re in this smoky room, and this little film screen comes down … and a big guy with a cigar goes, “Roll the film.” And it’s a shot of the Kennedy assassination from an angle you’ve never seen before … that looks suspiciously like it’s from the grassy knoll. And then the screen goes up and the lights come up, and they go to the new president, ‘Any questions?’ ‘Er, just what my agenda is.’ ‘First we bomb Baghdad.’ ‘You got it …’ “

    2. Nathanael

      Again, you generalize too much.

      “any Democrat”?

      There are, of course, a smattering of decent people scattered in the Democratic Party (and more rarely in the Republican Party — more rarely because of purges). Because of the two-party system it’s been the only way for people to get stuff done. See Schneiderman.

      Even the Republican Party in 1860 was formed by taking people who were former Whigs and Democrats.

  20. Middle Seaman

    The post offers a ultra simplistic ad-hock political theory. We didn’t see in 2008 much opposition from progressives to Obama banking dependency and his lies. It wasn’t until recently that a ground swell opposing Obama materialized.

    Things are not simply “that is what they want.” Obama was not the enemy of SS he is now in 2007; if this were the case, he would still be the right wing senator from Illinois. He and Miller basically lack progressive and human values. From that point with a little money they are what they are. There many other arguments in play but that is enough for a comment.

    Another minor point is the claim that Obama does what he wants and is not a sucker. The post is wrong; Obama is both.

    1. Tao Jonesing

      Anybody paying attention in 2007 noted that Obama had put the dismantling of Social Security on the table. Paul Krugman noted it. I noted it. One of Obama’s economic advisors at the time was even known as an advocate of SS privatization.

  21. bkm187

    I admit I was fooled by Obama. Shame on him. I want to think I have a choice other than “to support one of the two branches of the banking party”. Help me here, what would that be?… The political system is sewn up by these two. What is a real option?

    1. John

      I believe that in recent decades, only one third-party or independent candidate for President seriously altered the election results, by pulling off enough progressive votes to through the election to conservatives (or the other way around). That was Election 2000. In that case half a dozen events (including the infamous “Bush v. Gore” Supreme Court case and the infamous butterfly ballot) all conspired to push Bush just barely over the edge in Florida.

      So working for a third party is one possibility. Pressing for election reform — voter-verified paper ballots for auditing, instant-run-off elections where voters can rank candidates is another possibility. Primary challenges.

      Sneak into the Republican party and try to split them. If Michelle Bachmann or Sarah Palin win the Republican nomination, campaign on St. Paul’s admonition that women are not to be set in authority over men. Also campaign on Sarah Palin’s inability to keep control over her wayward daughter, who became pregnant as an unmarried teenager.

      1. John

        I would furthermore use as my motto, “What would Karl Rove do?” Not necessarily to come up with my own schemes, but just to try to figure out how we might be bamboozled once again.

        1. Jemmine Track

          You forgot Ross Perot. Nader, for all the work he’s done over the years, is a good guy. He probably has a sense of humor too, especially when hacks claim he destroyed Gore’s chance at being the Big Cheese. Got to keep the people entertained, distracted and shopping!

          1. Maximilien

            If Andrew Tobias is to believed, Nader is not quite the avenging angel he is reputed to be. I refer to his chapter on him in “My Vast Fortune”. It certainly gave me second thoughts.

      2. Clark Thornton

        While I do think that a third party or a widespread refusal to participate in the 2012 debacle is the only way to throw a monkey-wrench in the kleptocratic machine, a cautionary tale is the 1980 election. Some guy named John Anderson got 17% of the vote, mostly from the Volvo-driving upper middle class. Where did he go after that? He ensured the election of RR. Don’t know what to make of this as a lesson for current times, but it should be discussed. What scares me is a that a viable third party is unlikely in our non-parliamentary system, as some have noted. I take from the 1980 election that things will have to get far worse (civil unrest?) before a third party is viable.

  22. Jackrabbit

    We have the best government money can buy and Obama is the LeBron James of “community organizing.”

    Yeah, I really think that’s the way he see himself as a politician. It’s evident at town hall meetings when he notes that a certain question is a “valid concern” or a certain questioner is “one that should be supported.”

    I would call this “‘Chicago school’ community organizing” (borrowing the term for a business-friendly outlook) that starts from the premise that government and wealthy and powerful benefactors will support meritorious community projects (the “organizing” part) over handouts. It does not originate from, or concern itself with, any notion of what is a fair to the community or society. Such a “community organizer” is less an activist for the community (what most assume when the hear the term) and more a political “fixer” who heads off trouble and keeps a lid on discontent.

    1. Jackrabbit

      So, to complete the thought, I think Obama can “choose” as much as LeBron can choose to play basketball. Obama decided on his political philosophy long ago and probably knew just how it appealed to both big donors and ordinary people. He is a consummate politician.

      Like LeBron, Obama is talented and made “smart” career moves that have got him the Presidency, the Nobel prize, and millions of dollars. Matt makes it seem like Obama makes a personal choice everyday. Instead, I think, Obama lives the choices that he made over many years – and has no regrets.

      Is Obama’s moral compass the problem or is the problem money in politics? As long as money is a deciding factor in politics, politicians with a philosophy that favors TPTB will have an advantage.

  23. HTML Reader

    “I’m no genius, I just listened to what these people actually said and did.”

    It seems that Matt Stoller is not applying this rule to the Democratic party and its supporters:

    “And the recognition for many of the professionals is even more difficult, because they must recognize that they have helped swindle many others and acknowledge the debt they have incurred to their victims.”

    What have these people said? What have they done? Why have they not criticized Obama, Holder, Miller, and so on? Why is there not a civil war in the Democratic party over Obama’s repeated willingness (since his first month in office) to threaten the signature programs of the New Deal and Great Society? What does this tell us about them?

    Finally, what about what Matt Stoller is willing to say? Why is he not willing to blame the Democrats for not taking a public stand (“years from now they should look back in shame”? What about now?), but only some individuals such as Obama and Miller? What does that say about him?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Huh? Where do you get that Stoller is a Democratic party defender? That isn’t in this post, it’s YOUR projection.

  24. dave

    It isn’t clear to me that we can say Obummer believes in anything, with the possible exception of himself.

    More importantly: Yves is a woman? I didn’t know that. Guess mom and dad wanted a boy. Smith must be the only male on the planet named Yves.

  25. TC

    Deliciously searing!

    Agree with your assessment of those whose “what happened to Obama” wailing editorials overlook the consistency of his policy agenda. Yet Obama’s real trouble is with “oligarchical interests that fund and pay him.”

    “Paying ugly costs for standing up” might be “routine, unfortunately, in modern America.” Yet unfortunately, too, when what’s called “wealth” is built on a foundation of sand, ugly costs are just as likely to be born by oligarchs as well. No mass of physical assets acquired in time extending fantasy will amount to a hill of beans when reality of unfathomable insolvency sets in, as is rapidly asserting itself throughout the trans-Atlantic today.

    It seems those duped have but one choice remaining if their salvation might be gained: impeach the man willfully trampling on the U.S. Constitution and move to do this without any delay or compromise.

  26. Abe, NYC

    Usually, if you have to put your faith in individuals rather than institutions, you’re screwed. Of which Obama himself is the latest spectacular demonstration.

    People believe in what they choose to believe. I personally hope Schneidermann chose to believe in going after the banks because he saw some political capital in it, and that he’s right. If doing the right thing means sacrificing yourself, things aren’t going to get better for a long long time.

    The indications aren’t good. The tragedy is that Obama’s failure makes it even harder to argue with the know-nothing libertarian crowd. They welcome failure, they create conditions for it, they succeed. They gain support because they are ostensibly anti-big-brother and anti-banks, whereas their real purpose is to dismantle the remnants of social support and freeze the resulting serfdom forever.

    But they don’t have to put their faith in individuals.

  27. Deloss

    Why We Cannot Afford the Right Wing

    1. It’s an article of faith with the Right Wing (RW), and the Tea Party (TP, and all Republican Presidential candidates except Huntsman), that there’s no such thing as “global warming.” Yet we just had a record-setting hurricane which meandered up the East Coast and struck New York. Early damage estimates are $1-2 billion. The drought in Texas is so bad that most of the the crops were destroyed, at a cost of approximately $8 billion. For a time, most of the state of Texas was on fire. The drought in the Midwest is so bad that every new estimate of average bushels per acre is a reduction, whether by the USDA or a private agency, like ProFarmer. Corn closed Friday, August 26 at $7.67/bushel, more than twice normal. Since cattle and pigs eat corn, this price inflation will have an effect on all foods.

    2. The RW, activated by the Tea Party, is single-handedly responsible for getting the United States’ credit rating reduced from AAA to AA+.. (It is of course true that S & P, who reduced the rating, has several of its own destructive agendas.)

    3. The federal budget is terribly out balance. The RW cries out incessantly, “We must balance the budget!”

    4. But they won’t consider any tax increases, not even on the wealthiest Americans, despite the urgings of Warren Buffett that taxes on him and his ilk be raised. They want to balance the budget by reducing “entitlement” programs, like Social Security and Medicare, which are not “entitlement programs,” but actually insurance programs into which every American has paid since he/she went to work (in my case, starting at age 13).

    5. Every Republican candidate is absolutely opposed to abortion. Christine O’Donnell and Sharron Angle were opposed to abortion, even in the case of rape and incest. This is a terrible intrusion into the private lives of women.

    6. The RW candidates appear trying to shove their own version of fundamentalist Christianity on us all. Texas Governor Rick Perry (whom my cardiologist, a native of Texas, described as “a mean man”) found nothing disturbing in the fact that as a sitting governor, he presided over a day-long “prayer rally,” which he called “The Response.” His prayer rally did nothing to alleviate the Texas drought.

    7. Any student of Christianity knows that Governor Perry’s methods are absolutely contrary to Jesus’ teachings as recorded in the gospel. I record here the teachings of the Gospel of Matthew: “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” (KJV Matthew 6.5-6)

    8. So if I were a good Christian, I would be tempted to say that most of the Republican Presidential candidates, and the RW and TP representatives in the Congress and Senate, are evil. All I am allowed to say is that their views are financially ruinous to the United States. Whether they are actually evil will be decided at the Last Judgment.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Considering your definition of “good Christian,” you can’t limit yourself to the GOP. The leader of the Democratic Party has expanded our drone war, slaughtered innocent civilians in the pursuit of those wars, and then made jokes about predator drones. He may not be Lex Luthor or the Joker, but he is a wicked man whether 0bama considers himself a hero or not. His followers and those who make excuses are champions of the banality of evil.

      1. LucyLulu

        Perhaps, but our democratic politicians do not claim that they will, or have in the past, bring their Christian beliefs into their lives as public figures and allow those beliefs to become major determinants of policy. While I’m not defending Obama’s foreign policies in Asia, I don’t recall him holding day-long prayer rallies or claiming to have received guidance from God to ‘submit’ to Michelle and enter the presidential race. There have never been any statements made that the acts you mentioned have any Christian underpinnings.

        Let’s leave religion where it belongs. Separate from state as originally intended, so as to not have policy to become even yet more exclusionary.

    2. Nathanael

      OF course we can’t afford the right wing.

      Problem is, with Obama in office, we’re getting the right-wing. He *is* right-wing by his actions. What has he done about global warming? Right, nothing. Offshore oil drilling, baby!

      The question is how to get a candidate who is not a right-wing lunatic into office, given that the current Democratic Party seems to have been infiltrated by right-wing lunatics *too*.

  28. barrisj

    There is a lively exchange presently taking place on the openDemocracy website here on the failure of representative democracy as it is currently practised in Europe (applies equally to US) to give voice to what “the people” demand v. what the financial and political elites are willing to concede. The rise of activist groups based outside and organising beyond traditional political-party normatives is a salutory emerging trend that – though in the inchoate stages – may well redefine real participatory democracy where the chokeholds imposed on existing polities by oligarchic elites can in fact be surmounted by meaningfully radicalised masses. The appropriate vehicle(s) for such changes is yet to be fully worked out, but it is obvious across Western “democracies” that predatory capitalism in all its forms (“globalisation”, “flexible labour force”, “free trade”, “restructuring economies”) – the entire corpus of neoliberal tosh – has failed to deliver the goods to all but an ever-increasingly narrow tranche of society, and we are all, “…mad as hell and are not going to take it anymore”!
    Very interesting reads.

  29. Seal

    0 – the big zero – was born in the Year of the OX. He also thinks his bait and switch on Gitmo, Afg and bailing out the banks was “right”. McCain and Palin or for that matter ANYONE would have been better. The ticket I liked in 2008 was Clinton 0bama. For 2012, if it comes,Year of the Dragon. errrr maybe Petraeus.

  30. Tom McGovern

    I don’t know why “New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is going after the banks as aggressively as he is” and neither does Matt Stoller. Neither he or I have any insight into Mr. Schneiderman’s heart of hearts. I do know, as I’m sure Mr. Schneiderman knows, that the current (Andrew Cuomo) and previous (Eliot Spitzer) NY governors were aggressive NY AGs before becoming governors. Rudy Giuliani was an aggressive federal prosecutor who parlayed that job into being NYC mayor.

    Unless proven otherwise, I believe that politicians do what they do to realize their personal ambitions. I also believe that the majority of politicians could better be described as “public serpents” rather than “public servants.” I’m happy to see Mr. Scheiderman doing good things, but I also expect that he is following the lead of the two immediately prior NY AGs in climbing the sleazy pole of political ambition.

    1. LucyLulu

      I’m not so sure that voting for the lesser of two evils is a helpful strategy. Obama, as a Democrat, can push through changes that Democrats would never tolerate from a Republican president. Bush was never able to cut SS or Medicare and we got Part D from him. It took Clinton to eviscerate 60 years of successful banking regulation and impose the “free trade” policies that sent our jobs overseas. Obama wants to implement more ‘free trade’, with Panama, N. Korea, and worst of all, Colombia.

      I don’t know what the solution is. I don’t know how not voting helps because somebody will be voted in, and it only means I have lost my voice in the process. Yet I don’t like the current GOP candidates either. Will it be Texas’ Elmer Gantry, history revisionist, ‘we don’t need to raise the debt ceiling’ Bachmann, or business-eviscerating Romney? What we really need is somebody to primary Obama but I don’t know who, and don’t see that as likely.

      1. LucyLulu

        Above post meant to be reply to post below by STivo. Apparently, clicking on the correct “Reply” link is proving too challenging.

        Sorry………….

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      You evidently don’t live in New York.

      Cuomo an aggressive AG? That’s the funniest thing I’ve heard in a while. He did nothing his first two years in office, then woke up and went after a few targets. He was the antithesis of aggressive.

      And there is no evidence Schneiderman wants to be Governor, in fact, it appears to be the reverse. He is AG over the dead body of the Democratic party, and is most decidedly at odds with Cuomo which is not the way to become Governor in NY.

      1. Nathanael

        That said, the NYS system seems to be quite good at encouraging AGs to actually go after criminals. Cuomo did his best to not do his job, but still, the structural forces of the way our system is arranged seems to encourage the NYS AG to do his job.

        This is a good thing and it should be copied in future Constitutions. In particular the federal government badly needs an elected AG.

  31. sTiVo

    I am tired of having to say this.

    It is a waste of time to imagine that “assessing Obama” is worth anything.

    For what it’s worth, I agree with Stoller’s basic assessment of Obama. That and five bucks will buy me a cup of coffee and a muffin at Starbuck’s.

    It is completely pointless for Matt to dredge up his posts from 2004-2008 criticizing Obama. I could do the same, I’m sure. I could also dredge up others where I praised/supported Obama. Most of us probably did some of both. Those who did not may have made other dubious choices, like seeing in Hillary Clinton the opposite of everything they didn’t like about Obama, when in fact they were remarkably similar.

    No one is offering a prize for “having been right all along”.

    The question is what the fuck to do about it. Many here seem to know. Voting against Obama, cheering his defeat, or staying home in a “plague on both your houses” demonstration.

    Not me.

    Yes, Obama’s a fraud.

    However, I plan to vote for the SOB. If the criticisms that are raised here are to ever have a chance to amount to anything in real political terms, they would have the best chance to do so in the internecine warfare that is sure to erupt the day after the election if Obama wins and becomes a lame duck.

    If Obama loses, the Republicans have shown a great grasp of how to destroy what little remains of the infrastructure that once supported the Democratic Party, from Scott Walker, to Kasich, to the Kochs, and the rest of them. I believe they will take many steps to make even the re-attainment of the pathetic level of the Obama administration more difficult. Still, even then the fight must go on. It’s an uphill fight in either case, moreso if the right gains full control.

    The fact is, there is no Left. It has been channeled into impotent protest on sites like this one and others. Not only in America, but throughout the world. Understanding why that is so might be an assessment worth making.

    That said, I have no problem with Schneidermann doing what he’s doing, or the Wisconsin Democratic Party doing what it’s been doing. I am happy to support these efforts (and to stiff-arm those of the established channels like the DNC and the Obama campaign). These oppositional efforts help keep the flame alive. But note, none of these heroic people openly make the kind of critiques of Obama that are made here. To do so would weaken, not strengthen their ability to fight in current conditions. Their critiques are implied by their actions but that’s it. Matt worked for Alan Grayson. I never heard Grayson making such critiques publicly either. It doesn’t matter.

    We need to be constantly pushing Obama in such ways, making it as painful as possible for those wishing to push the corporatist agenda to do so. Openly critiquing Obama is not required and will not happen from anyone with power to lose until we have an infrastructure that can support such critiques. We don’t have one now. The problem is how to build one. Venting alone won’t do it.

    1. Hugh

      In policy terms the Democrats are every bit as bad as the Republicans. They continue the wars and start new ones. They continue the bailouts to the banksters and ignore homeowners and the unemployed. Their healthcare plan was written by and for BigPharma, BigInsurance, and BigMedical. It would force the uninsured to buy crap insurance they could not afford to use. And it contained restrictions on a woman’s reproductive rights that went far beyond the Hyde Amendment. They refuse to investigate and prosecute any of the elite for anything. They use the same spurious legal arguments as the Bush Administration, as with state secrets, and invent new ones, as in their violation of the War Powers Act. They promote the MIC and the surveillance state as hard as any Republican. And something the Republicans were never able to do, they look to slash both Medicare and Social Security.

      I think you need to look past the atmospherics. The Democrats and Republicans are the same at the core.

      Then too the lesser of two evils misses three key points. Voting for the lesser of two evils is still voting for evil. And this formulation is way too anodyne. A better way to look at it is is it enough that one candidate is only marginally less sh*tty that their deeply sh*tty opponent? The third point and the one that is fundamental to any democracy is that you do not owe your vote to anyone. On the contrary, if a candidate can not give you a positive and substantial reason to vote for them, then the most anti-democratic and socially destructive thing you can do is to vote for them anyway.

      1. SCyankee

        Thank you for bringing up the point, or reinforcing the premise, that voting for a candidate whom you believe will do a bad job, but not quite as bad a job as the alternative candidate, is the really worse for democracy than not voting at all.

        To do so is complicity as opposed to complacency, though neither should be accepted as being acceptable in any true democracy. More and more Americans (and citizens of other Western powers) have woken up to the realization (no longer just a suspicion) that our governments and systems aren’t just sick – they’re broken (and have been for a long time while we were being suspicious-like maybe since Nixon) and whether they’ve been broken for 10, 30, 40 or even 100 years doesn’t seem to matter. We just continue to slouch to the poll-booths every few years to take our voting placebo when we know it’s meaningless.

        Clearly, as a society we are either going to snap out of our stupor or whither into failure as a society or even as a species.

    2. glassline

      This is an insightful comment. While I appreciate the impassioned discussion on this blog, and Yves’s informative posts I still think Obama is about the best we can do. Despite all the economic
      /societal problems highlighted here the US remains a highly functional state and the elite power structure has a lot of power. I think Obama is acting as one would expect an establishment politician would. That’s how he got elected and that’s who he is.
      It would certainly be emotional satisfying to see some greedy “banksters” get their due. And I hope some do. But I also wanted to point out that if what people did was just greedy, not illegal, then they shouldn’t be prosecuted. Being charged with a crime cab ruin someone’s life. It’s easy to sit in front of your computer confident that prosector X is going to get your man. But look how often the screw up or abuse there power: a lot.
      There is an impulse towards punishment running amok in the US. Just because it falls on the weak doesn’t mean bringing the hammer down on some rich fat cats is going to improve anything.

      1. Jackrabbit

        Have you looked at your credit card statement recently? Those “fat cats” have no trouble bringing the hammer down on YOU. YOU didn’t create the financial crisis but YOU are paying for it in many ways, while the “fat cats” are raking in mega bonuses and buying your representative’s loyalty.

        No we shouldn’t punish people unjustly, but hey, what about an investigation?

        1. sTiVo

          Are you saying that a few points on your credit card statement mean that there’s no difference at all between Democrats and Republicans? If so, I think the Wisconsin Democratic Party might beg to differ with you. Do you see such efforts as misguided?

      2. LucyLulu

        >>”There is an impulse towards punishment running amok in the US. Just because it falls on the weak doesn’t mean bringing the hammer down on some rich fat cats is going to improve anything.”

        No, but failing to enforce the law, or enforcing it discriminately such that a certain class is not required to abide by laws, guarantees that nothing will improve.

        There may be some instances where the problem was limited to greed but there has been rampant fraud and misrepresentation that has been ignored and not prosecuted by executives in the financial industry. How many prosecutions have we seen? Mozilo? He was fined, but the fines were picked up by insurance policies and employers, he paid none and walked away with hundreds of millions and no jail time. What is the lesson when there are no consequences but massive profits can be made? Answer: the behavior continues. Which is exactly what is happening.

        Despite consent orders being signed between the major regulatory agencies, e.g. OCC, FCIC, etc. last spring requiring changes the lenders are continuing with the same practices of document fabrication and robosigning. These were their most publicized egregious acts but certainly not their only. Depositors of the loans also collected from insurers when the loans defaulted but failed to reimburse the investors, keeping the funds for themselves. Sometimes they got putbacks on the loans as well, thus were able to “double-dip”. They passed these loans off to the insurers as AAA, just as they did the investors, with full knowledge they were a “pile of crap”, as one email in a suit acknowledged. Another suit filed alleges that a lender credited funds to an originator they knew had a high default rate so that they could increase the numbers of loans where they could collect on insurance AND collect on putbacks. The trustees have documentation on these trusts verifying that the trusts never received the documentation necessary for legal standing to initiate foreclosure on large numbers of the loans yet the trustees continue to bring suits (and the missing documentation seems to appear in court when needed). If you or I showed up in court with documents, saying, let’s say, we’d paid off our mortgage, and the banks proved they were forged, what do you think would happen to us? Do you REALLY think any judge would dismiss the case and tell us we could come refile if we could come up with “real” documents (in other words, better forgeries that can pass muster)? This happens routinely with the lenders. And this is only a couple examples from one aspect of the market, the mortgage market, albeit a sector that affects a large percentage of the population. Books could be written on the fleecing of the US population by the financial sector. They have been written.

        Frankly, it stuns me that anybody could advocate anything but vigorous prosecutions. That which can continue, will………. until it can’t. Unfortunately I think it will continue until there is nothing left to steal. The public is asleep at the wheel, or already too busy trying to survive.

      3. lizinsarasota

        Geesh, what rock did you crawl out from under? What kinds of instructions do you give your kids when you are teaching them how to play a sport? “If it’s close, call it out.”?
        “If you can get away with it, do it.”? “If you can take a performance enhancing drug, do it.”?
        Sorry, there’s generally a right and a wrong. You cheat, or you don’t. You steal, or you don’t. You pad your expense account, or you don’t. You robosign, or you don’t. You file fraudulent documents in court, or you don’t.
        I can’t believe that jail time seems to be off the table for all the evil-does in the foreclosure fraud crisis. Jail time and disbarment – no one is talking about it any more.
        We are all faced with ethical challenges – big and little – every day. Little lapses bother our conscience. Big ones, well, after big ones we go to jail. We’re stripped of our medals. We’re fined and we lose the house and the Porsche and the yacht.
        Sometimes it’s easy to see what’s right and what’s wrong. The foreclosure crisis is one of those times.
        What are you teaching your kids?
        There is no prize worth cheating to get.

      4. Nathanael

        We already know that the fatcats have broken numerous laws and defrauded many people.

        Imprisoning and executing them would improve things greatly. It would restore respect for the rule of law. Without imprisoning and executing the powerful criminals, pretty quickly nobody is going to respect the rule of law (I sure don’t believe it’s present in the US). When the rule of law doesn’t exist, pretty soon the government’s writ doesn’t hold, and eventually you’re left with a powerless government whose own enforcers don’t listen to it. At that point, collapse-of-the-Roman-Empire ensues.

        This can be avoided if the arch-criminals are rounded up, tried, found guilty, and given suitable punishments. I am merciful, so I think life imprisonment without parole is fine, though execution would be wiser (to make sure they don’t get out and do the same frauds again).

    3. dom

      Vote for him anyway, right, that will work. Look at all his past betrayals of state duties, then give them your consent-of-the-governed seal of approval so he can repress you and undermine your economic security even more with his overwhelming popular mandate.

    4. rafael bolero

      Here in WI, like around the world, we used Facebook, other SM, email, and texting/calling to inform each other, make plans, get rides, put up people overnight; for the first time I handed money to a politician in person, Jim Holperin, who came to our small town to get exactly this. I also offered my house and rooms to his workers. Wrote and posted links online. Holperin won. Wish one more had, too. The infrastructure arose organically from the angry outrage, the unjust wounding, the sadism-and the new people I’ve met, friends I’ve made, express the same. The coalition here in our district was party democrats, professional independents like me, and many wounded former republican public employees ,who had voted for Walker before he released his secret ALEX agenda with their names on the enemy list. And, of course, all our family members: I made my son and his girlfriend register and vote, which they never had. Even born-again women country-western anti-abortion voters : everyone hit and wounded, plus some seeing the hand-writing down their names next on the wall. But we had our candidate, and he had done something noble, almost heroic : went to Illinois. Find the (hopefully true this time) articulate candidate, and the base is there, and will very quickly grow, as with Obama–but this time the veil is gone for good. The banks are definitely pushing their Black Rook in 2012, and maybe we’re down a few pieces, but we’ve still White Queen, a true democracy uprising. But I am afraid next year will be The Summer of the Riot Police.

    5. Nathanael

      In general I agree with you, but you’re quite wrong about one thing. Obama has done more to dismantle the forces of “the left” (aka sanity) than the Republicans have ever done.

      Just as the Wisconsin movement was only possible with Scott Walker in office, a national movement is only possible with a fraud like Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann in office, not with a fraud like Obama.

      Think about it.

  32. Roger Houghton

    This article makes me want to be a Christian. “By their deeds ye shall know them.” What a pristine summation of how to pick a representative.

    Thanks to NC and a few other blogs for maintaining the information flow.

  33. Maximilien

    “But Obama is choosing to pursue a policy of foreclosures and bank bailouts not because of any grand corporate scheme. He just wants to. He thinks it’s the right thing to do, and he’s doing it. If you don’t think it’s the right thing to do, then you shouldn’t be disappointed in him any more than you might have been disappointed in Bush.”

    But I AM disappointed in Obama. He’s so slick, such a skilled liar, that I pine for the good ol’ days when Bush used to accidentally tell the truth. To wit:

    “I don’t care what the polls say. I don’t. I’m doing what I think what’s wrong.”

  34. albertchampion

    i could say so much about the role of the outfit[aka cia] in usa presidential, congressional politics.

    but, i think that barry’s family affiliations with the outfit have been strenuously ignored.

    not just by the media[controlled by the secret state for decades], but also by the purportedly progressive acolytes advancing enhanced democracy[hah].

    suffice it to say, there was a nyt magazine cover on 24 april 2011 that revealed barry’s armature.

    barry dressed as a pirate. wearing a hat with the skull and crossbones. and an eyepatch[signature of someone with two eyes adopting a deliberately limited vision].

    embraced by his mother, an employee working as a targeter of the opposition[pki] to the indonesian military/oil gangsters – the suharto regime. the regime that brought indonesia a return to the colonial hardships of the dutch – but this time for the us hydrocarbon industry.

    and let’s never forget, barry’s stepdad[col lolo soetero] was trained in hawaii by the outfit. and trained to exterminate opponents to the suharto oilgarchy, sukarno’s nonaligned proposition.

    his mother worked under the cover of the ford foundation. an outfit cover. everywhere it had offices, you could find a deputy chief of station. all its employees were spooks.

    tim geithner’s dad was her controller.

    what was ann dunham’s job. it was to go out into the countryside and identify indonesian patriots[almost all of them members of the pki].

    when the cia promulgated the coup in the mid-1960′s, dunham’s husband, col lolo soetero was a leader of one of the death squads. how many of the opponents to the cia puppets were exterminated by lolo and his associates? conventional reckoning is 500,000 – 2,000,000.

    i am pretty certain that the white boys[george, bill, george] laughed their asses off when they placed a spook spook[so to speak] into the office of the president.

  35. Mcmike

    The simplest analysis of people in power is that they generally do what they want, and more often than not, they get the results they seek. No need to wrap yourself around an intellectual/psychological axle re Obama: he is doing what he wants to do, and the outcome- richer rich and stronger corporatocracy – is the desired outcome. In this analysis, we can give a smart person in the most powerful job on earth a little credit as a willfull actor, rather than sime accidental mr Smith in over his head.

    1. Nathanael

      They get the short-term results they seek.

      Long-term… well, let’s just say that short-term thinking is really common among supposedly smart powerful people, and long-term none of these greedheads is going to get the results they seek: history is quite clear on the fate of people who don’t know when to stop stealing.

      I think it has to do with the prevalance of pscyhopathy among powerful people (because pscyhopaths tend to be power-hungry). Psychopathy is now believed to be based in inability to avoid doing things with short-term pleasure but long-term bad consequences.

  36. Moral Hazard

    If we apply the eye for an eye principle…. we’d set up an elaborate scheme that grifts the uber-rich out of their ill gotten stash. We’d remind the Blankfeins, Dimons, Geitherners, Buffets that they lack the upbringing, connections, manners, appearance, to deserve that much money. We’d get their kids to go to Iraq, Afgahnistan, Yemen or where ever the hell the oil is. We’d provide the uber wealth with boring, dangerous, low-paid jobs as a means to pull themselves up by their boot straps. And what better means to motivate the rich then cramped tract housing where they can develop the character necessary to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. Pay your debts riff raff!

  37. Obummer Resignation

    We have begun the election march of the trolls. They have crawled out of the sewers of public relations firms, polling organizations, the commercial media, the two corporate political parties and elected office to fill the airwaves with inanities and absurdities until the final inanity—the 2012 presidential election – C Hedges

  38. heterodox

    Can we start a movement to show these banks and leaders like Mr. Schneiderman that we want those involved held accountable for the destruction created in our economy? It seems the only thing our politicians and bankers pay attention to is dollar voting. So I propose a support your local bank month, say October. If you have a bank account at one of the large banks close it and move to a local institution. Checking accounts are fee generators and the bread and butter of the industry. By closing accounts in mass we will send a message and at the same time strengthen those smaller banks in our communities. We should set a goal of at least 1 million accounts closed and have it be a petition an online petition where people can announce their closure and why. Lets send a message the only way they will understand by taking business away!

    1. Mullah Cheney

      Movement has been well underway, won’t be reported.
      One need only look at Google’s news pump to see first hand the vapid indifference. How dare you Google!

  39. steelhead23

    Congrats Matt, on getting over your addiction to political power. Now you can come to recognize that the plain truth you so strongly present, that politicians are precisely who they choose to be, can go from revelation to mantra. We all know. Every now and again we choose to ignore this truth, because it hurts – we voted for Obama, we had hope, we fell for the magician’s illusion. That’s what’s hard to swallow – we fell for it – again. Do us all a favor Matt, go visit with Liz Warren. Tell her we need her – because free will is not enough – we need hope.

    1. attempter

      Do us all a favor Matt, go visit with Liz Warren. Tell her we need her – because free will is not enough – we need hope.

      Shouldn’t that be Hope(TM)?

      But only faith in Better Elites, Better Leadership, never in democracy, never in the people.

      Fuhrerprinzip fundamentalism. That’s what this whole thread’s about. That’s why even after all that’s happened no one wants to think or hear about true democracy.

  40. ScottS

    Well said, Matt. Anyone else interested in the dynamics of electoral politics, fascism, and power in general should read and re-read Bob Altemeyer’s The Authoritarians:
    http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/
    Fascinating, fascinating stuff. It’s Bob’s lifetime of research into authoritarianism written in a narrative (ie readable) form. I read the entire thing in practically one sitting — I couldn’t put it down.

    1. attempter

      I agree, that’s an illuminating book. But did you know that Altemeyer himself is a classic RWA Follower, Obamacult version?

      http://attempter.wordpress.com/2010/10/14/question-for-readers/

      http://attempter.wordpress.com/2010/10/15/who-said-it-bob-altemeyer/

      There’s a perfect example of how even the most compendious knowledge about a subject doesn’t necessarily help one see oneself at all where it comes to that subject.

      So there’s another example of why one shouldn’t trust Leaders, in this case intellectuals.

      1. ScottS

        Does he believe what he hears from a small in-group to the exclusion of anyone else? Can he not be convinced by reasonably convincing evidence contrary to his stated beliefs?

        His defense of his defense of TARP and Afghanistan is pretty weak, I admit. But to be a RWA follower himself, he would have to exhibit the rest of the tendencies — holding contradictory beliefs, double-standards, xenophobia, paranoia, etc.

        I think RWA followers suffer from excess stress which produces cortisol which shrinks the regions of the brain associated with empathy. But I’m easily swayed by convincing evidence, not being a RWA follower myself. ; )

        That Democrats tend to attract fewer RWA followers has nothing to do with their policies — it’s an artifact of history. Republicans were down and out so long after WWII that they were desperate to pick up more votes and the RWA followers are a reliable bunch. They could easily have broken Democrat if the situation was reversed. The “Right” in RWA isn’t political, as you point out in your blog.

        As Altemeyer points out, he’s not a progressive. It’s hardly hypocritical for him to support those absurd policies on TARP and Afghanistan. It just proves he knows just enough about economics and world history to be dangerous.

  41. Nataya

    I exercised my ‘free will’ by writing to Obama and asking him to step aside so a real Democrat can become the Democratic Party’s nominee for president.

    I gave factual reasons for asking him, imploring him, to step aside for the good of the country.

    Here’s where anyone and everyone can write to Obama to make the same request: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact

  42. Home Theft

    Ask for the resignation of New York Fed director Kathryn Wylde:

    Federal Reserve Bank of New York
    33 Liberty Street
    New York, NY 10045
    Tel: (212) 720-5000 or (646) 720-5000

  43. Hector Luntz

    CREDO writes:

    “As the Attorney General of New York, Eric Schneiderman has a unique opportunity and a unique obligation to stand up for the victims of unscrupulous Wall Street firms. And the Obama administration and federal regulators should stop trying to strong-arm him”

    1-800-771-7755

  44. decora

    this smacks of armchair revolutionism.

    the fact is that you have to play ball to some extent or be homeless. you can make all the pretty speeches you want but if you are pissing into a gutter at the bus station at 3am nobody gives a shit. that is what happens when you lose your job in america, and what is a good way to lose your job? exercise free will.

  45. QWESTER

    Matt,
    Finally, a cogent explanation of Obama’s behavior.
    Thank you, thank you.
    PS Don’t forget Brooksley Borne in your list of Patriots.

  46. lizinsarasota

    You say that Obama is doing “what he thinks is right.” You say that a couple of times in this article. You are saying that Obama is doing what he thinks is right, just like Hitler did what he thought was “right.” Churchill did what he thought was “right.” Sorry, I’m not buying: Hitler and Churchill can’t both be right. Schneiderman and Obama can’t both be right. Obama is wrong, and I believe he knows it.
    You are saying that I should have known that Obama was going to – not just cave in to the banks’ best interest, but was going to actively abet their fraud? You are saying that I was native, stupid really, to buy into Obama’s hope and change shtick?
    Sorry, I don’t feel stupid. With McCain I knew for sure I’d get more of the same banking policy, with the added layer of anti-environment and anti-choice legislation. With Obama I did hope for change. With Obama I was betrayed when he surrounded himself with banker insiders and banker shills and his policies showed that he had a) no clue about the staggering, serious fraud perpetrated by the banks on the people and our courts, and/or b) no interest in battling the fraud.
    Here in Florida, our attorney general stands in stark contrast to Eric Schneiderman. Her name is Pam Bondi, and she followed a fellow Republican, Bill McCollum, into office. Before the election, Mr. McCollum had launched investigations into a number of foreclosure fraud-related companies and foreclosure mills, including the notorious fraudulent affidavit mill, Lender Processing Services in Jacksonville; the wayward process server, Tampa-based ProVest; and the foreclosure mill Daniel Consuegra. These investigations made national headlines when McCollum announced them.
    Bondi had no problem accepting campaign contributions from Lender Processing Services, its affiliates and subsidiaries, its in-house counsel, and at least two attorneys of its in-house counsel. Bondi had no problem accepting campaign contributions from the top three guys at Provest, and at least one of their wives. Bondi had no problem accepting a campaign contribution from the counsel representing Daniel Consuegra in the attorney general’s investigation.
    She also took a campaign contribution from Bank of America.
    Shortly after Bondi’s election, a top staffer named Jacquot quit and took a position as “governmental liaison” with Lender Processing Services. Four days later, Bondi fired the top two attorneys in charge of the Lender Processing Services investigation. The story goes that the LPS attorneys found the AG’s attorneys “too aggressive.”
    After a broohaha over the firings, Bondi tapped the state’s CFO, Jeff Atwater, to investigate the firings. Atwater, it turned out, had also fed at the Lender Processing Services trough, taking contributions from no fewer than eleven LPS-related entities.
    When a person/business under investigation makes a campaign contribution to the investigator, it’s called a BRIBE. When the investigator(s) acts to benefit the person/business under investigation, that’s called CORRUPTION.
    Nearly half of the Florida Bar exam is devoted to ethics.
    No national news outlets and very few Florida newspapers have reported about Bondi. In fact, the Orlando Sentinel editor told me to “calm down” when I tried to get them to report about it, after they did a number of Bondi-is-great puff pieces. The Sarasota Herald Tribune refused to mention Bondi’s campaign contributions whatsoever, giving us instead a huge, multi-part series about a loony tunes “sovereign citizen” guy. Are you saying that, if Bondi ever got elected president, Americans somehow should have KNOWN Bondi was on the take early in her career? How the heck could Americans know, unless the word gets out?
    I don’t know why Eric Schneiderman, Amherst graduate though he is, is standing up to the pressure of the banks and the Obama administration. Considering that Florida takes a back seat to no one as the epicenter of foreclosure fraud, I don’t understand why our attorney general isn’t in the vanguard of the fight against the fraud. She’s willing to throw Floridans and the country over for a few bucks? Apparently so.
    What I do know is that there is a right and a wrong in this epic struggle. Fraud is fraud. It’s simple. I am not going to accept any blame for Obama’s election. I believed I was voting for good over evil, right over wrong.
    I don’t buy into the idea – not for a minute – that Obama is doing what he thinks is right. I believe he knows full well that what he is doing is wrong. I don’t think it is some highfaluting philosophy that he’s following. I think that knowledge is a constant, annoying noise in his mind that won’t go away. There is no excuse for Obama’s behavior, there is no excuse for Bondi’s behavior, just like there was no excuse for Hitler. Obama is following a deliberate course of whitewashing the most massive fraud ever perpetrated on a citizenry in history.
    If nothing else, I understand that now. I understand it completely.
    Eric Scheiderman for president!

  47. Jackrabit

    This is a powerful comment. Some might say that the comparison to Hitler is going overboard. It would be interesting to get the perspective of some who lived in Germany during Hitler’s rise and reign.

    The devolution of US democracy has not gone unnoticed by the rest of the world:The United States as it Looks to a German Writer.

  48. Katherine Scott

    Brilliant. Best writing I have seen that pinpoints why “disappointment” and handwringing over Obama is so beside the point—and so ultimately about the handwringer and his/her inability to face the reality. Disappointment really needs to give way to a sober reckoning of where we stand, as individuals and as a nation, and what we plan to do about it.

  49. john reid

    The people revolted against an abusive and dictator government in Egypt, Libya and others are coming. The U.S. frowned upon the out going governments for killing it’s people for protesting. You watch, when the people of this country finally grow a pair of brass ones adn revolt. President Obama and the Congress will demand that the Army, Marines and National Guard be called out and start moving the people down. Our government is actually the same and when discension arises, you watch the bloodshed. Many people are fed up with a bully government that can simply exonerate and grant immunity to criminals on Wall Street without even looking deeply into the problem.

    It’s because Obama needs a fatter war chest to win another 4 years. God forbid, but ya know, the Republicans have been in bed with the banks for years and they don’t care about people being thrown out of their homes without proper documents, some signed by Clark Gable and whoever. With the sudden love affair with Wall Street and the Democratic Party, the bed they are sleeping in must be a super-sized King. Obama has even turned his back on his own people and union homeowners too. This is his version of HOPE.

    Good Luck, maybe if we’re lucky, the next earthquake will be centered right under the Capitol Building and take care of the cleansing of it’s very corrupt halls. Nothing like what are fore-fathers had in mind-they’ve pretty much have tossed away the Bill of Rights and Constitution.

    Lot of Luck.

    In These Times / By Roger Bybee 9 COMMENTS Attacks on NY AG Standing Up for Main Street Show Wall Street’s Control Over Our Elites
    Attacks on New York’s attorney general Eric Schneiderman expose the destructive thinking of our financial and political elites.
    August 25, 2011 | LIKE THIS ARTICLE ?
    Join our mailing list:
    Sign up to stay up to date on the latest headlines via email.
    TAKE ACTIONChange.org|Get Widget|Start an Online Petition � The following article first appeared at Working In These Times, the labor blog of In These Times magazine. For more news and analysis like this, sign up to receive In These Times’ weekly updates.

    “Corporations are people, my friend,” Mitt Romney recently declared.

    That was pretty clumsy coming from a mega-millionaire Republican candidate, as he was backing the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision Citizens United opposed by no less than 80 percent of the public because of the enormous political power it confers upon the rich.

    But how about the notion that “Wall Street is our Main Street,” which was voiced by Federal Reserve official Kathryn Wylde? Her assertion was especially startling because her explicit duty is “to represent the public” in determining how to handle the massive wrongdoing of major banks in ramming through home foreclosures.

    However, Wylde was merely being honest about the aims of federal policy. The idea that “Wall Street is Main Street” and its protection was the uppermost goal in the mind of top Treasury Department officials. The plight of working families on the verge of losing their homes—well, that was somehow a much, much lower priority.

    The major banks—Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo—are facing legal pressure from the attorneys general of all 50 states over their practices, including “robo-signing.”

    With the ownership of mortgages spread among thousands of investors due to securities designed to minimize the risk, it becomes hopelessly complex to prove ownership of a home when a bank wants to foreclose, as Chris Hayes of The Nation explained on MSNBC Wednesday night.

    But no sweat! Presto—the banks came up with reams of bogus documents and then hired employees whose job was to sign affidavits saying that yes, indeed, Bank of America owned the home in question. Untold thousands of families were thus illegally evicted.

    These unlawful practices brought together the 50 attorneys general who demanded—no, not time in jail for bank CEOs—$20 billion in fines that would be devoted to mortgage modifications. In exchange, the bankers would get total immunity from prosecution.

    When New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman—who this week was dismissed from the executive committee of the 50-state AG investigation—balked at accepting the deal, Wylde, the public’s watchdog, told him,

    It is of concern to the industry that instead of trying to facilitate resolving these issues, you seem to be throwing a wrench into it. Wall Street is our Main Street — love ’em or hate ’em. They are important and we have to make sure we are doing everything we can to support them unless they are doing something indefensible.

    Wylde’s concern for the banks—already the recipients of taxpayers’ generous 2008 TARP bailout package—has been matched throughout the past two and a half years of Obama administration programs designed to help homeowners.

    The programs were supposed to help desperate working families faced with rising interest rates and falling home values to stay in their homes.

    Recent reports and articles on foreclosures should assure Wylde that the bankers have been treated with kid gloves from day one of the mortgage-relief programs. First, the Obama Administration apparently ruled out the idea of prosecuting bank officials for their multiple offenses, as Mary Bottari of Bankster USA points out:

    Perverse incentives on Wall Street allowed top executives to make more money on flawed loans than boring old 30-year mortgages.

    Even though there is widespread agreement that Wall Street’s endless appetite for high-interest, high-fees loans to fuel the mortgage securitization machine had a causal role in supercharging the housing bubble, not one mortgage servicer provider or big bank CEO has been put in jail. This compares to over 1,000 successful prosecutions of top officers during the Savings and Loan crisis of the late 1980s.

  50. Alice Blie

    Every night before I go to bed, I ask the Lord, my God to strike them (Congress and Wall Street Bankers) down or let them die a slow, horrible and painful death for their corruption and complicity in letting it happen.

    They know how much pain and anguish they’ve delivered to Main Street but they don’t give a damn.

    Western justice at the hands of true patriots is what is needed now, votes didn’t work. Have you ever seen the move “Bullets for Ballots” with Edward G. Robinson? Well, our options are running low and so is our tolerance for greed and misery. If there’s any patriots out there, then I please ask you to get-er-done, so no more families and chilren lose their houses by way of faulty and fraudulent paperwork through a corrupt executive, legislative and judicial government at the federal level and state level.

    May God have no pity on their souls as they burn in hell.

    1. rps

      Well, see that’s the crux of the problem in a nutshell. Praying (wishing) to the patriarchal god to strike down the patriarchal system. The antiquated Dominant ranking structures need to be scrapped.

  51. G Marks

    This is why I will probably be staying home. I hated Bush and his Pit Bull Cheney. When I voted for O, I thought he was the real deal.

    Obama cured me of political rhetoric. He was a master. And as the author says, we are getting the REAL Obama. He obviously makes his money from Wall st types and the War Machine.

    How he had the cojones to take the Peace Prize is beyond my comprehension.

    I’ll vote for Ron Paul – but nobody else.

    Obama deserves to be booted, if only to use the tactics of the Tea Party on the left.

    Obama betrayed everybody but Latinos and Gays.

    He’s the same ole same ole…looks at the money and numbers… gays give big bucks…Latinos chuck out little voters like M&M’s

    I want to see Obama defeated and humiliated. I won’t say what I want for Bush and Cheney… but it involves a stopped heart.

    1. Safcraker

      Most of us probably all agree on one thing which is the choices for the next president are very depressing. This country desperatly needs a great leader with the conviction of an Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson or George Washington to name a few off of a very short list. I have never before seen such contempt for the status quo as what I witness now on a daily basis. Problem is, all the praying and wishful thinking is not going to right the course that this ship is on. We have been off course for so long people don’t even know what course we’re supposed to be on anymore because we have drifted so far off of the course our forefathers laid out for us. The big question is what are you going to do about it? If you think any of the available canidates are going to match up reality with your imagination then you most likely aren’t planning on doing anything about it, just more complaining. It’s going to take more than lip service and a vote to get the type of change that equals or even resembles what our forefathers envisioned for everyone one of us. They succeeded in changing everything they despised by sacrificing countless lives,then went so far as to even warn us about everything that this government has become but no one took the time to read the warnings, probably never even knew they existed for that matter. If our forefathers knew that this was going to be the result of all their sacrifice, they wouldn’t have bothered. Everyone one of us need to be ashamed for being the cowards that we are. A bunch of arm chair big mouths that were only concerned about ourselves instead of each other and what we meant together as a country as well as what we thought we stood for. As rebellious as it sounds our forefathers made sure it was the right of every citizen in this country to own a firearm not because they wanted to make sure you could feed yourself or protect ourselves from each other. They gave you that right because they wanted you to be prepared to take your country back from the government that they knew could easily manifest itself into what we have now, and they expected you to stand up and fight for what they left you, to never settle for anything less, period. Google up “famous quotes by our forefathers”, it may surprise you what you learn. That is obviously a worst case scenario and last resort only to be used after all other methods are exhausted first, but never think for a moment that there is a gaurantee that any of those other methods will work. You know, if the revolutionary war would have went the other way, people like George Washington would have been labeled as one of the most despicable people you could imagine, but instead, even though he obviously did those things that fit the bill of what a killer and tyrant would do if you were the opposition, he helped win our freedom and our undeniable right to cherish our God given rights which made him our hero and father of this country. That’s what you call sacrifice, a willingness and determination to win….or die for what you believe in. You can wish for all you want, but just remember…..if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

  52. Onceuponatime

    What about the legal obligation to prosecute financial crimes? Why aren’t the AG’s doing their jobs? It has nothing to do with free will, and everything to do with obligation. If they’re not following the law, they’re just as obviously in the pocket of the forces who are putting money in the campaign coffers of the next round of politicians who must then do their bidding.

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