New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman Discusses Mortgage Mess on Rachel Maddow

Since we’ve been big fans of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s investigation of mortgage abuses, we thought readers might like to see this interview on the Rachel Maddow.

There is a long preamble with Maddow discussing lame Democratic party ads and then discussing Schneiderman’s actions in the context of the party. That’s a bit odd, because even though Scnheiderman is a Dem, he’s been bucking the party because anyone who was serious about investigating and trying cases would be at odds with big funders like the banks. We’ve mentioned that Schneiderman is in office over the dead body of the state Democratic party. He had been the state senator for the Upper West side, but after pushing tough ethics legislation, he was redistricted into Spanish Harlem. He learned how to do the salsa and speak Spanish and was reelected. He is a thorn in the side of the corporatist governor Andrew Cuomo (Cuomo had backed Eric Dinallo, who lost in the primary).

I hope you enjoy this chat.

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  1. Lloyd Blankstein

    How much does he want? What do we have to give him to simply go away and bother us any more?

  2. psychohistorian

    So it was interesting to me that he couched it as getting equitable rule of law back which I thought was an interesting admittance that it currently isn’t by a person in his position.

    So lets say that he and Biden start prosecuting folk. There are not enough prisons to hold all the folk that are part of this problem, let alone the rest of the fascism/corporatism criminals. Are we going to arrest the Koch brothers, Mr Diamond, Larry Summers? Who are the fall guys for this kabuki that insures that there are no structural changes in our system? Or is there really going to be equitable enforcement of rule of law until the cows come home….so to speak? Not likely, huh.

    Folks think I am overstating the need for structural change but I have yet to hear any amalgamation of bandaids that deals with the private ownership of everything consolidated in few people issue. And these few people have and continue to screw the environment and the rest of us. I find it hard to comprehend “civilization” going forward with such a myopic class based structure which you might as well call slavery.

    Laugh the global inherited rich out of control of our society and into rooms at the Hague. Prosecuting the excesses of these folks will help society clarify what we don’t want in social governance going forward.

    1. john newman

      Notice that he starts with “the folks that are trying to re-write history”. First you have to have a formal investigation to establish facts, legal facts, due process and all that. This is what the Pecora Commission did seventy odd years ago and by establishing legal facts and placing them on the public record the commission was able to not only change the direction of the national discussion, but create entirely new political space for real and dramatic alternatives.

      “We’ve got to get things out in the open so they can’t re-write history.” This is strategic, not tactical. Who cares about partisan politics when the majority thinks both parties suck. He happens to be a Democrat but is obviously more interested in doing what he thinks is right rather than what the party would like him to do. Elizabeth Warren started out as a Republican but when faced with disgusting realities did what was right rather than “a good career move” as well.

      The point is to open the space for the structural reforms you seem to want not by scapegoating, but by putting the facts on record and in public. It is only by papering the way with disgusting facts about the deeply anti-social activities of de-regulated Wall Street that the popular case for calling Fraud Fraud again can be made. Once the legal case is made the mainstream media will not be able to avoid the F word anymore.

  3. CaitlinO

    Mr. Schneiderman’s emphasis on the loss of the rule of law as the first, most basic problem that needs addressing conforms to a deep and widening source of societal discontent. It’s a rigged game. It always has been but, this time, the level of excess, lawlessness and brazenness of the financiers and the incredible damage they’ve inflicted on so many millions of people is unbearable.

    Two great articles that speak to the same underlying outrage were available today from Glenn Greenwald and Matt Taibbi:

  4. matt

    “He is a torn in the side of the corporatist state governor Andrew Cuomo (Cuomo had backed Eric Dinallo, who lost in the primary).”

    I assume you mean a thorn rather than a torn….

  5. LucyLulu

    Schneiderman didn’t appear to be bucking the Democratic Party in this interview. Instead he seemed to be willing to give them a pass in not pursuing justice. He never answered Maddow when she asked if Obama and the federal government could be doing more. Of course they could. The federal regulators could be working with the state AG’s (mostly NY and to a lesser extent DE) to pursue criminal charges on these organized crime enterprises, instead of settling for fines paid by shareholders and no admissions of wrongdoing. The recent settlement with Citi for $285M is a prime example. How much more of a classic case of criminal fraud could one find?

    We all know what happened to Spitzer when he tried to impose the rule of law. Did the Democratic Party come forward to rally in his defense? Or was Spitzer replaced with the more “bank-friendly” Andrew Cuomo who was conspicuously missing when the Citi suit was originally filed?

    1. craazyman

      Lucy, Mr. Spitzer was caught in a brothel which he patronized on his own volition. I don’t know why folks traffic in these conspiracy theories. If he hadn’t been in the brothel, he wouldn’t have had a problem. Having said that, I’m absolutely not judging Mr. Spitzer on a personal basis on that one, and his loss was our loss. I hope he finds a way to return to public life in a constructive way.

      Time will tell what Mr. Shneiderman comes up with. I liked what he said about the OWS crowd, which I fully agree with having been there 4 times, visited their library and had lunch with them on Sunday. Have yet to write the review, but the beet stew (yes beet stew, not beef stew) was quite tasty and the green salad dressing was flavorful and tart without being aggressive on the tounge. The bread was a bit stale, but I’ve seen worse in expensive restaurants where the kitchen isn’t exposed to the elements and staffed by volunteers. And they had a tomato-based soup that hinted of gaspacho but with a milder and more subtle spiced aftertaste — gentle but robust and with a hint of warmth befitting an October repast. The price of the meal was zero, which disproves yet another economic myth, that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. I suppose if a bankster or one their useful idiots went there for lunch, it would not be free, because the diner would have to give up some of their illusions, which seems to be one of the most difficult things for a human being to do.

      I work in a white collar environment in Manhattan and I’m sickened by the attitudes toward OWS among the many of the upper-level staff there, who are financial industry professionals and who have every opportunity to understand. Not one has visited OWS, not one has a clue, but all have hardened opinions powered by instinctive prejudices and by the conceit of their own narrow financial self-interest. It’s amazing humanity has not blown itself up, utterly. It’s my theory that there is some profoundly unconscious but overwhelming force in the universe that has prevented that, sort of a communal life instinct that allows mayhem and murder but not the total self-elimination of the human race. That’s the only way I can explain it to my own inquiring mind.

      Mr. Shneiderman and Mr. Biden et. al. seem like their on the right track. Let’s see where they are in six months. If Mr. Biden’s dad wants to be president in 2016, which he seems to, I’m sure there will have to be some “interesting’ developments with these investigations.

      1. James Cole

        Spitzer was not “in a brothel” he was in a hotel room. He was caught because his bank (North Fork Bank, now owned by Capital One) reported “suspicious” activity in the movement of funds and an investigation ensued.

        1. craazyman

          YOu mean he had to pay for the room AND the massage?

          that sounds like a rip-off! usually for what the services cost the room is thrown in free of charge.

          bowaqha ahahah ahahahaha hahahahah!

          1. LeeAnne

            coincidence: I was just thinking yesterday how lucky Spitzer is that he was caught in that affair -otherwise, he’d be dead.

        2. LAS

          You mean a bank reported him? One of those institutions that regularly tolerates high levels of fraud?

        3. sgt_doom

          Thank you, Mr. Cole, for responding to trollster.

          I mean, really, First Data (now owned by Carlyle Group, I believe) and Trilegiant, etc., have realtime government contracts, and where do we supposed that information goes to??

          Then there are all those realtime information lines running into the banksters’ Regulation Data Corp’s G.R.I.D. (Global Regulatory Information Database) for global credit checks, etc.

          They can track anyone and everyone they wish to, at any time…..

          1. craazyman

            I don’t know why you feel the need to be so vicious as to call me a troll. Are you some long-haired tatooed ruffian hell bent on social collapse and anarchy? Or just a troll yourself, wasting your time reprimanding people on the internet who happen to have their own opinions?

            Maybe you are correct and I am naive. I’ll concede that possibility. But Mr. William Black seemed to be quite successful in the 1990s in a role similar to that of Mr. Spitzer, but maybe he never paid for a massaggie. I don’t know. And I wouldn’t want to ask him, either. He looks to me like somebody who in a previous life was a mason of some kind in Sherwood forest in tights and a pointy hat. I get that feeling when I channel his vibration.

            I hope you feel better about yourself, for a moment or two anyway, with your little insult. And if you’re interested in tatoo removal, I have no advice on that matter. I don’t have a tatoo, although I once considered getting a black skull tatooed on my upper arm once, just to remind myself of what’s coming and to always have courage. But I decided it was too morbid.

      2. patrick

        Spitzer wasn’t ‘set up’ in the usual sense of the term. However he was ‘targeted’ by the corporate kleptocracy. No other clients of this ‘service’ where outed. Nor have the banks shown any appetite to investigate other politicians bank transfers and pass their findings on to the Feds.

    2. Susan the other

      Lucy, I had that same uneasy feeling. Schneiderman doesn’t like to give interviews for good reason. He can’t reveal the “secrets of his investigation.” But I felt like something was missing. Again, as always, these guys get on the air and noticeably refuse to utter the words ‘securitization fraud.’ If it is in fact a securitization fraud investigation, as was first announced, why isn’t it spoken of now?

  6. pj and reveal many interesting things about corporations and their owners. Mostly they reveal that lawyers are now the registered agents for the corporations so that a corporation no longer has to reveal its ownership.
    Shareholders lose money because corporate leaders are invested in other companies, actively diverting funds to those other companies, and in the process, cheating shareholders, employees, governments, and customers, while enriching themselves personally.
    Money and paperwork is moved off-shore in boxes to countries like China, where equally corrupt businessmen and corporate leaders take bribes and cuts to hide the real source.
    This is called “business”.
    Schneiderman will have to resist not only government strong-arming, but corporate bribes, as well, if he is determined to pursue justice for individuals in this nest of highly connected and wealthy vipers and wrong-doers.
    How much do you want to bet that it all will be too much for him to resist? He needs the help of others sworn uphold the laws, but they are corrupted already. Not much hope for the little guy.

    1. James Cole

      Schneiderman already had the opportunity to make big money at a corporate law firm (Kirkpatrick & Lockhart) so if he was taintable in that way he would be tainted already. Not that there aren’t other ways to pressure a public official–see the dominatrix story (but no one cared about that)–more will eventually come, unfortunately.

  7. jake chase

    Why do you waste our time with all this stupid commercial drek? Who gives a shit about Herman Cain or Rachel Maddow or Mitt Romney or any of these other assholes? We can watch this nonsense on television. Where is your edit button?

  8. Barbyrah

    “There is a long preamble with Maddow discussing lame Democratic party ads and then discussing Schneiderman’s actions in the context of the party. That’s a bit odd…”

    Uhh, with all due respect: For Rachel Maddow, it’s not “odd” at all. She’s a Democratic mouthpiece. Through and through.

    Why I stopped watching her shortly after Obama got elected.

    Basic message: Republicans = bad bad bad bad bad bad.
    Democrats = good good good good good (with just an occasional “problem” that gets talked about for a nanosecond, quickly followed by Republicans = bad bad bad bad bad).

    Translate: Since I already know how Ms. Maddow framed this interview (you didn’t have to tell me, Yves, but thanks anyway!)…just…can’t…watch.


  9. Kevin de Bruxelles

    Seems a rather amateurish attempt at convincing disgruntled progressives to stay with the Dems.

    The first scene reminds people we are in a competitive political situation and if they are not careful an awful Republican may get elected. Then Maddow moves on to establish “neutrality” by criticizing Democratic adverts. This assures her less-aware progressive viewers (and let’s face it, any progressive watching this on television deserves to be catagorized as “less-aware”) that she is trustworthy and not a rabid Democratic mouthpiece. There is absolutely no criticism of actual Democratic policies of course. We just get a few samples of the bad adverts (which help support the meme that Democrats are bumbling good-guys) followed by a change in her tone of voice for a presentation of the “good”. This “good” advert tears Romney apart for saying the best move is to let foreclosures hit bottom. Not only is he probably right on this, especially considering most loans in the US are non-recourse, but this has indeed been pretty much the Democrat’s policy for the past three years. But this hasn’t been their preferred PR spin. So instead the Dems have just covered up their do-nothingness by announcing government program alphabet soups that do nothing. The difference between the two parties is that one says it doesn’t want to do anything and does nothing while the other party says the want to do something but does nothing. And the reason for doing nothing? Schniederman totally blows off the two years where the Dems controlled Congress and meekly states that Republicans will “do bad things to the American people” if Obama actually tries to do anything.

    Then we get this Schniederman character claiming to be “investigating” the mortgage crisis. Maddow tries to create a false consensus, an everybody knows that it is all Wall Street’s fault and the American people were all just helpless little victims who couldn’t resist when Wall Street offered them a free dip into the cookie jar. The less-aware progressive instinctually falls for this feel-good mass victimization instead of questioning if the people really are this child-like. And this “investigation” by Schniederman seems at best a replay of the “Fitzmas” investigations of the Plame scandal. After years of breathlessly following Fitz chase down the bad guys, even after they were all freed and the VP was not actually indicted, the less-aware progressives were appeased and felt they had achieved at least a moral victory. I’m sure the same thing with happen when “Schniedermas” turns out to be a dud.

    It is clear that Schniederman and Beau Biden are playing the roles of progressive Border Collies. They are out roaming the political hillsides looking for stray progressives to herd back into Obama’s flock. The Republicans are playing the role of the Big Bad Wolf, also there to scare the less-aware progressives back into Obama’s flock. One tactic they use is to propose radical cuts to Social Security so that when Obama does cut this program the less-aware progressive can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that his vote assured once again the lesser of two evils.

  10. LeeAnne

    Yves, thanks for this. It saves me so much time. I really can’t bear the elections’ horse race banter -its so worthless.

    For me, its a great introduction to Schneiderman, the person; I wasn’t aware of his politics -and in my own area. Will pay more attention now that I’ve been informed.

    Rachel’s make-up is a bit overdone this morning.

  11. LeeAnne

    Oh, and just a reminder -if the shoe fits. Party politics has gotten us nowhere.

    We did after all get Obama after Bush -not before a thorough vetting of the word ‘change.’

    So, how smart was that? just asking.

  12. LeeAnne

    and, it was a no-brainer that Maddow was selected from her position as successful radio host by the MSM to be co opted.

  13. Another Gordon

    As some early comments point out, getting back to the rule of law is central to fixing things yet the power elite doesn’t want to understand this.

    In his book Civilization historian to the establishment Neil Ferguson identifies six “killer apps” that, in his view, enabled the West to overtake the rest of the world after about 1500. His six killer apps do NOT include the rule of law yet I was taught its central importance to a just and civilized society as far back as primary school.

    One up for my primary teacher I think.

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