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Hillary Clinton Appeal to 9/11 to Defend Wall Street Donations Was Bad, But This Was Worse

By David Dayen, a lapsed blogger. Follow him on Twitter @ddayen

On Saturday night the Democrats held a successful debate – and by successful I mean that the party successfully hid it from public view, getting half the rating of the weekday version. Ceding all kinds of eyeballs to Republicans in a bid to protect your front-runner seems to me like the opposite of a political party’s job, but I guess that’s why they pay Debbie Wasserman-Schultz the big bucks.

That front-runner, Hillary Clinton, is taking some heat for oddly deciding to relate her campaign donations from Wall Street to aiding Lower Manhattan after 9/11. Depressingly, the crowd cheered, clearly conditioned to react to any invocation of September 11 like trained seals (obviously the overlay of the Paris attacks played a role). Only when mentioned by a Twitter user later in the debate did the full recognition of the strangeness of that comment shine through. Here’s some commentary by the establishment organ The Economist:

Mrs Clinton’s reply combined indignation, an irrelevant appeal to feminist pride, and a bizarre riff about the September 11th attacks, by which she seemed to imply that taking money from big banks was her way of making sure that the terrorists behind that 2001 atrocity did not win… Readers with furrowed brows may be assured that it made no more sense when Mrs Clinton said it.

More from Politico and WaPo, and a fairly blistering NYT editorial board.

This seems to be what the Gang of 500 has decided on as a gaffe, and it definitely has that odor. But I actually think Clinton said something even more egregious and revealing Saturday night. The problem is that the commentariat has deemed it some brilliant insight.

In both debates and numerous interviews, Clinton uses as part of her rejection of breaking up the big banks, as well as proof that her plan for financial regulation is more superior and comprehension, versions of this quote:

Look at what happened in ’08, AIG a big insurance company, Lehman Brothers, an investment bank helped to bring our economy down. So I wanna look at the whole problem. And that’s why my proposal is much more comprehensive than anything else that’s been put forth.

This is the kind of thing smart people say when they want to dupe the ignorant by sounding informed. But upon any reasonable inspection, the statement becomes completely absurd.

Let us first be so intemperate as to point out that, in the eyes of the federal government, AIG was a bank. They bought a small savings & loan in Wilton, Connecticut, explicitly so they could choose the Office of Thrift Supervision as their regulator. OTS’ oversight was so laughable that they were the only federal agency eliminated by Dodd-Frank.

Guess what? Lehman had a thrift too, Aurora Bank, which was ALSO regulated by OTS!

I should also note that AIG couldn’t be regulated as an insurance holding company at the federal level because Gramm-Leach-Bliley expressly prohibited it. That facilitated AIG shopping around for the worst possible regulator, one that wouldn’t delve deeply into its credit default swap and securities-lending activities.

(The Volcker rule actually forced AIG to sell this thrift, incidentally, and they do have increased regulatory oversight at the federal level through being labeled a nonbank SIFI, which unlike some other firms they don’t appear to be so concerned about.)

So even on Clinton’s terms, she’s dissembling. But the real problem here is that just stating that AIG and Lehman weren’t banks tells you absolutely nothing about the role of money center banks in the crisis. It was their entry into the mortgage securitization business that drove everything that happened. Big banks – universal investment/commercial hybrids – funded the non-bank mortgage originators with warehouse lines of credit. Big banks lumped that steady stream of home mortgages into the securities they issued. Big banks served as trustees to facilitate those mortgage-backed securities. Big banks funded the investment banks, like Lehman, with repurchase agreements and lines of credit and other forms of short-term funding. Big banks created an entire business line in credit default swaps for asset-backed securities; without them, AIG would have had nothing to insure. Big banks issued CDOs to repackage unsold MBS, generating a secondary market to the secondary mortgage market. And every CDO issuer bought everyone else’s CDOs, converting them into CDO-squared, derivatives off the derivatives, and so on, leading to both the interconnection and exponential layering of risk that were essential elements of the crisis. Big banks also had subsidiaries that were the biggest mortgage servicers, by the way, just to add on another malicious actor.

So pulling out two firms, Lehman and AIG, without acknowledging their funders and counter-parties, is the epitome of a half-truth. Lehman’s largest creditors in the bankruptcy were global banks from Germany and Switzerland. AIG’s largest counter-party was Goldman Sachs. Singling them out of a hopelessly interconnected financial system is a meaningless argument, especially when you consider that the largest recipient of federal government support was a universal bank called Citigroup, which only didn’t end up failing after having their pockets stuffed with trillions from the Treasury and Federal Reserve.

Any serious analysis of the central drivers of the crisis necessarily lead you to the largest banks as the focal point for the interconnection and risk buildup. The Lehman/AIG postulate is totally disingenuous. But it’s more than that. It’s a distraction maneuver, designed to cast a sympathetic eye on the same mega-banks going forward. Because if they weren’t responsible, how could more stringent regulation on them make sense? Why should they be broken up, if they aren’t the sole source of the trouble? Why should their political power and influence represent a threat? This is a clear case of the dictum that if everyone’s responsible, nobody’s responsible.

Shadow banking is absolutely a threat, and one Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown and the leading financial reformers should talk about more. I’d love to see more attention on collateralized loan obligations and fintech and all sorts of credit vehicles. But it’s beyond clear what Clinton is up to with this silly tactic, one that falls apart upon the slightest scrutiny.

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About David Dayen

David is a contributing writer to Salon.com. He has been writing about politics since 2004. He spent three years writing for the FireDogLake News Desk; he’s also written for The New Republic, The American Prospect, The Guardian (UK), The Huffington Post, The Washington Monthly, Alternet, Democracy Journal and Pacific Standard, as well as multiple well-trafficked progressive blogs and websites. His has been a guest on MSNBC, CNN, Aljazeera, Russia Today, NPR, Pacifica Radio and Air America Radio. He has contributed to two anthology books, one about the Wisconsin labor uprising and another on the fight against the Stop Online Piracy Act in Congress. Prior to writing about politics he worked for two decades as a television producer and editor. You can follow him on Twitter at @ddayen.

69 comments

  1. RedHope

    She will say anything to win and not care about meaning bc she knows the Democratic base will accept anything.

    If you read, at least anecdotally, about the responses of base voters, it seems to be similar to what the GOP does: brush off the discussion as boring, irrelevant, a conspiracy or some combo.

    The Democratic base is solely focused on Denial, delusion and hating the Republicans. She will survive this and will likely win with people defending her bat shit extremism.

    1. crittermom

      I completely agree with you in that she will say anything to win.
      Like a pinball, she will take to whatever side necessary to keep from falling into that hole of defeat.

      But please, please let’s not give any energy toward thoughts of her winning!
      She showed her true colors during the debate, & I still wanna believe–despite being continuously proven wrong, that most folks are smarter than that & were able to see through her. (Probably the only transparency in this current govt?)

      1. jgordon

        I will write in “dog turd” instead of HRC if her name shows up on the ballot. Better yet, I’ll do one better and vote for Trump–just to spite Debbie Wasserman.

      1. Jim Haygood

        The Abedin email material contains a January 26, 2013, email exchange with Clinton aide Monica Hanley regarding Clinton’s schedule in which Abedin says Clinton is “often confused:”

        Abedin: Have you been going over her calls with her? So she knows singh is at 8? [India Prime Minister Manmohan Singh]

        Hanley: She was in bed for a nap by the time I heard that she had an 8am call. Will go over with her

        Abedin: Very imp to do that. She’s often confused.

        http://tinyurl.com/nb2kq6y

    2. oho

      *** she knows the Democratic base will accept anything.

      If you read, at least anecdotally, about the responses of base voters, it seems to be similar to what the GOP does: brush off the discussion as boring, irrelevant, a conspiracy or some combo.***

      just because the GOP ‘accept anything’ doesn’t make it right if the ‘good guys’ are dogmatic too.

      and my hunch is that right now everyone on in the Democratic Beltway is feeling smug cuz of the GOP clown car. But my gut is that in 2016 if HRC wins the nomination, HRC’s load of manure is gonna stink a lot more than the GOP clown car’s.

      on election night I’ll be sitting at home cheering on the makers of humble pie.

      1. RedHope

        This isn’t a video game. I’m not going to be happy.

        I am also just describing as objectively as I can what I’m seeing. I’m not describing right or wrong.

        I don’t know what you mean by good guys. That sounds like a video game.

      2. Crazy Horse

        Come on people, what is the point of wasting energy and time talking about the two political parties participating in the charade that is called Democracy in the US? In reality there is only one political party — the Oligarch Fascist Party — and the National Election Circus is played out to keep people who mistake it for democracy divided and confused.

        Hellary or Chump— do you really believe the choice of figurehead will change the machinery of permanent warfare or diversion of wealth to the favored few?

        1. Malcolm MacLeod, MD

          Crazy Horse: You speak the unvarnished truth, which is always
          rather confusing in this day and age.

  2. jgordon

    Any serious analysis of the central drivers of the crisis necessarily lead you to the largest banks as the focal point for the interconnection and risk buildup.

    Well if we’re concerned about serious analysis it seems a bit odd that we aren’t starting with the largest bank of all: the Federal Reserve. If not for the deliberate policy of the Fed to inflate the housing bubble in the early 2000s after the dotcom crash, certainly 2007/2008 wouldn’t have been such a mess. Though admittedly government corruption (and for all intents and purposes the Fed is a government appendage) certainly played a part.

    The main problem is that there are just way too many zombies and criminals infesting the financial system right now, and they are all being lovingly coddled by the Fed with ZIRP and QE. The only way to slay these undead legions is to end the ceaseless Fed-facilitated blood transfusions from the exhausted living to the dead parasites.

    Well I suppose one could claim that its thanks to the zombies that our economy is able to function at all. But come on, is it really a good idea to live in a world ruled by zombies? They eat brains you know.

    1. MikeNY

      Hard Choices and The Courage To Act.

      Y’all don’t understand how demanding it is to be bootlicker and a bondswoman for The Oligarchs.

    2. paulmeli

      “Well I suppose one could claim that its thanks to the zombies that our economy is able to function at all.”

      One could claim that but one would be wrong. It perverts the meaning of function.

  3. crittermom

    Excellent article.
    I watched the debate.
    I found it very telling that when Wall St was mentioned, the only thing she could seem to equate to it was 9/11.
    I found it disgusting that she even brought up 9/11 in an obvious attempt to steer the debate away from the corruption by ‘her friends’ on Wall St while trying to encourage the voters to give her a pat on the back for ‘all she did’ after 9/11. Pathetic, cheap, transparent tactic IMO.

    I found it sad, however, as mentioned in the article “Only when mentioned by a Twitter user later in the debate did the full recognition of the strangeness of that comment shine through.”
    Far too many “trained seals” outside the convention center, as well?

    IMO she “put the last nail in her coffin”, so to speak, when she brought up AIG & Lehman, showing her ignorance to what really happened. (Or was she just “playing dumb” in an attempt to distance herself from her big contributors on Wall St?)

    1. mad as hell.

      Any time that you want to stir up patriotic humbug you must say 9/11. Rudy Giuliani has a halo around his head in the shape of 9/11. Her Majesty is aware of this tactic like most politicians and all sports franchises are aware of too.

      1. David

        What is really a shame is Bernie Sanders didn’t follow up – he could have nailed her to the wall – on her response – He is not up to the task – unfortunately

        1. jgordon

          Yeah. And I just remembered that he also mentioned that he’d support the eventual Democratic nominee, whoever it happened to be. That’s an incredibly spineless and annoying answer. Well if Bernie doesn’t have what it takes, there’s always Trump.

    2. fresno dan

      I agree. The tendentious quibbling about the definition of “banks” when everyone uses that as shorthand for “excessively large under regulated, corrupt, and stupid financial institutions who have completed co-opted the regulators and politicians who are suppose to oversee them and enforce the rules, regulations and laws” is just deflection from the real issue.
      As Bernie said in response: NOT GOOD ENOUGH

  4. James Levy

    It’s very hard for our brains to deal with reality and NOT form a narrative. We need stories to comprehend sensory inputs. But what we build those stories out of matters. All building blocks are not created equal. Some are grounded in demonstrable facets of the world outside us. Some are just shit we make up. The scary part for me is that once the story takes hold in the mind, it is fantastically difficult to alter. Hillary has been told, and retold to herself, a fairy story about what happened to make the economy crash in 2007-9. It was a comforting story and a useful story and a conformational story and so she would never in a million years doubt it or seek any independent verification of whether or not the story actually reflected reality. In this, she is more like most voters than we are. We see her false narrative as obvious and mendacious. I doubt that is how most voters will see it.

    1. dk

      I think you underestimate “most” voters. Don’t mistake them for the political media echo chamber that pretends to articulate their subconscious (via absurd polling). Except for the extremes, voters tend to be a taciturn bunch, it’s true. One ends up having to pick from an imperfect selection, that’s representative democracy; a fact of the circumstance, and voters know it. They play along, don’t kid yourself that they actually like it that much.

      Comforting stories play well for the comfortable, and when no other stories are being told. The wage disparity issue was almost non-existent in 2008 and got small play in 2012. The BLM narrative is in part a counter-shock to the (granted, naive) assumption that having a black president would have (or indicated) a significant impact on day-to-day racism. The street-level economy has kept sputtering for too many years for that to be passed off as “normal”. Too many cats got out of the bag this time around.

      Take a look here:
      http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/graphics/2015-october-fec-filings/charts/

      In the last quarter, Hillary collected 5.19 mil from under-$200 donors, Bernie collected 20.19 mil. That’s just shy of four times as much money, and arguably on the order of four times as many people. Whether Hillary is changing these people’s minds at any appreciable rate remains to be seen, but this many people backing a Dem candidate in this way is a new thing (not so new for the Tea Party brand).

      Not saying Bernie is a slam dunk by any means, but numerically, in dollars and voters, he can’t be dismissed as an impossibility (see also, Corbyn). Political media hacks hate voters, they still can’t predict them (and they know it too). Sometimes elections occur in a near vacuum of clear indicators and issues (2012), sometimes the indicators and issues are bigger than even a “big” candidate (2008, Obama would not have won without the financial collapse, which suppressed and fractured Rep voting).

      Voters aren’t smarter than anybody else, but they’re not dumber either. What they are is shy (especially the Dems). But think of Bernie’s small donor base as a bunch of wallflowers reacting to something they haven’t seen before. That wasn’t in anybody’s narrative.

    2. Ulysses

      You provide a very astute description, of how the MSM Wurlitzer works to concoct narratives that disempower people. Yet I think that Chris Hedges is also on to something when he observes:

      “The frustration, mounting across the country, is bringing with it a new radicalism.”

      http://www.truthdig.com/report/page2/pray_with_your_feet_20151115

      We teeter on a knife’s edge, close to societal collapse. My hope is that we will shake off our chains and begin to replace systematic oppression and exploitation with a more humane society. My fear is that the people, who currently benefit from the status quo, will go full-bore totalitarian/repressive in a desperate attempt to cling to their ill-gotten wealth and power.

      1. RUKidding

        I’m afraid that the impetus is more towards the latter than the former. The PTB haven’t spent decades/centuries brainwashing the masses to be good little authoritarians wanting Big Daddy/Momma to “take care” of them for nothing.

  5. Dino Reno

    Yeah, that 9/11 rift was bad, but the “60% of my contributors are women” was worse. I’d love to see this claim fact checked. What a tidy number. Not too big to make her campaign a women’s movement, but big enough to throw the guys off their game and make her nomination a foregone conclusion. Meanwhile, corporations make up probably 90% of her actual contributions.

    1. ambrit

      What’s the chance that many of those ‘women’ are wives and girlfriends of wealthy Oligarchials ‘sweetly’ donating cash as fronts for their Patriarchs? There is some sort of individual cash limit I read somewhere. (This begs the question; how many of these ‘women’ would have donated this way if it were in their purview to control the flows of the money?)

      1. John Zelnicker

        @ambrit – I had exactly the same thought about the wives of the Oligarchs.

        Donations to the official campaign organizations (not super PACs) are limited to $2,700 per donor for the primary election and $2,700 for the general election.

    2. flora

      “60% of my contributors are women”….

      maybe some of those corporation “people” are female. /s

      another bandwagon/identity politics statement. does Hillary expect me to support her because other women support her? The more I listened to her in the debate the more her voice started having the same Bush/Obama voice effect on me.

      Great post. Thanks.

    3. RUKidding

      Good initial and following comments. My feelings exactly when I heard that bullshit quote, esp given the rousing cheering applause that followed that stinking turd.

      I’d love to see it Fact Checked, but I doubt it will be done (at least factually).

      At any rate, also: so what? So if you have a vagina, then you’ll vote for another vagina just because? Spare me.

      I want someone to represent ME, not just my purported genitals.

      1. nigelk

        We had one neoliberal Trojan horse get elected twice and if you questioned his policies you were at best a “bad Democrat” and at worst some version of racist…why not try it again? Anyone who questions her bought-and-paid for corruption will be painted as a card-carrying member of the he-man woman-haters club.

        Some of us, however, just dislike her since she’s an enemy of the working class: http://mattbruenig.com/2015/11/06/my-beef-with-hillary-is-mainly-that-she-is-an-enemy-of-the-poor/

      1. nigelk

        Much like our corporate-inversion-loving CEOs trying to get in touch with their Canadian sides…or Swiss sides, perhaps they’re getting in touch with their feminine sides?

  6. Pat

    I agree that the remark was cynical and false and typical of Clinton’s disdain for both facts and the intelligence of the voters. (And knowledgable in that she knew she would not get fact checked on this in any manner that would make her look like Ben Carson talking about pyramids.) I truly do not think it is as important as you do, as she had already lost that battle.

    The people know the great never ending bank bailout of 2008 did not translate to bailing out the economy. There are still foreclosed homes in neighborhoods across America rotting. If they didn’t lose a job and are still looking for a decent one they have a parent, a kid, another family member, or multiple friends who are still un or underemployed. They know their bills are going up but their paychecks aren’t. And they get to hear about Jamie Dimon becoming a billionaire. They may not know which bank he heads, but they know a whole lot of those billions came from their taxes while they are still struggling. None of this may get into the details of what happened or what went wrong, but they know they got taken. And her response tells them she would take them again. The only people who don’t hear that, are the ones who think 60% of my donations are from women makes Clinton a feminist and tribal loyalists. You know the Democratic equivalent of the Bush supporters who never wavered.

    Trying to understand the ins and outs of the financial industry shenanigans is deep, dense, and takes way too much time for most folk. I happened to be out on workmen’s comp when it went down. This is not my area, I read and read and read and got deeply angry. I still don’t understand it all, and I have more facts at my fingertips then probably at least 75% of the population. My point on this, is that sometimes you don’t need to know the details to smell the bullshit. And it reeked of manure.

    1. crittermom

      Sadly, not only are there still many vacant homes as the result of (illegal) foreclosures, but the banks are actually ramping up again in their efforts to steal homes.
      They know they apparently have at least another year to ignore the laws without fear of prosecution.
      Just the “cost of doing business” in the way of fines (which usually equal about 10% of their ill-gotten gains).

      Regarding Jamie Dimon, as a victim of Chase Bank I’d know that Basset-eyed bastard anywhere! (No put-down intended toward that breed of dog, which I hold in much higher regard than that crook).
      Chase Bank stole all I’d worked for in my over 60 yrs, & makes more by lunchtime in one day than I owed on my ranch.

      Do we really have to watch millions more lose their homes in that PONZI scheme for at least another year without any of the banksters being punished?
      That infuriates me!

  7. Vatch

    Today is November 16, which is a deadline for the Clinton Foundation to refile some documents, according to this article to which Water Cooler linked on Oct. 28:

    https://100r.org/2015/10/clinton-foundation-faces-revisions-and-possible-reckoning/

    Here’s an article published today about this, although nothing has been resolved yet:

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/robertwood/2015/11/16/tracking-hillarys-speech-fees-clinton-foundation-or-pocket/

    Still, the Clintons have not defined how they decide to designate their speaking fees as income versus charity work. Earlier this year, the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation admitted collecting $26.4 million in previously unreported speaking fees from foreign governments and foreign and U.S. corporations. For tax purposes, who should be treated as the recipient of that money? It is not a silly question.

  8. charlotte scot

    Even if 9/11 was somehow remotely connected to Wall Street contributions, we are in 2015 and the donations keep coming. I would rather have seen all those “9/11 contributions” given to the first responders and the families of the victims.

  9. Dino Reno

    And let’s not forget how she said that they brought Bin Laden to “justice.” She kind of choked on the word when she said it. Priceless.

    1. RUKidding

      Yeah, just another tidbit in an unending stream of rank bullshit, hype, spin and lies.

      While the Ds tend to *comport* themselves more like adults, their “debates” aren’t any better, imo. Just crap through and through.

  10. Jerry Denim

    I couldn’t believe my eyes and ears during the debate when Sanders impugned Clinton’s integrity for taking Wall Street super PAC money and she seemed to successfully deflect the accusation by going full-bore star-spangled sparkle eagle. She played the vagina card then quickly blurted out “9/11 New York” for applause while attempting conflate aiding and abetting Wall Street with the 9/11 attacks and patriotism. I couldn’t believe people were clapping and I couldn’t believe Clinton had the audacity to pull such a illogical and juvenile stunt on live television, but yet CBS reported her highest approval scores of the debate were registered during her confusing but emotionally rousing (for some people apparently) “vagina, 9/11” defense.

    I loved that Bernie Sanders was willing to drop the “F-bomb” (fraud) on Wall Street but he needs to swing much harder at Clinton. Clinton was quick to zing O’Malley as a hypocrite by noting he appointed a former hedge-fund manager to some state regulatory position when given the chance, but yet neither Sanders or O’Malley hit back with the fact that her only child and Clinton Foundation board member, Chelsea Clinton, worked for the hedge fund of a Clinton family pal and mega-donor in 2006. Neither candidate mentioned that her son-in-law and the father of her grandchild who she is so fond of mentioning, just so happens to be an extremely rich hedge fund manager who benefits handsomely from the Clinton’s political connections and prestige. This isn’t mud, this is extremely germane, factual material already on the public record. It gets to the core of who Hillary is and where her loyalties lie. Hillary herself chose to identify unregulated derivatives and the repeal of Glass-Steagall as the primary causes of the financial crisis. She either claimed directly or insinuated that she would address these issues as President, but surprisingly no one pointed out that it was her husband’s administration that blocked Brooksley Born from regulating derivatives in the 1990’s and it was her husband’s administration that effectively repealed Glass-Steagal with the signing of Gramm-Leach-Billey act in 1999. It’s not a stretch to say the Clinton’s deregulation of Wall Street paved the way for the crisis of 2008 and the extreme income inequality of today. Wall Street is deeply unpopular and Bernie Sanders has built a candidacy on two main issues: attacking Wall Street and addressing income inequality. These are punches he can’t afford not to throw at his rival when she holds a commanding lead in the polls plus the support of the DNC and media establishment. Clinton is deeply corrupt and beholden to Wall Street. She needs to be beaten with this stick hard and often. Attempting to deflect this very accurate, very damaging criticism by wrapping herself in the flag and invoking feminism is a cheap stunt that will only work so many times before people notice what she is doing. Bernie needs to swing harder and keep at it, he already has the right message and Clinton is highly vulnerable on his pet topics.

    I thought O’Malley had one of the best lines of the night when he said “I think it may be time for us to quit taking advice from economists” but it seemed to go mostly unnoticed and unappreciated. I would have loved a frontal assault on the validity and integrity of economists when the bespectacled lady in blue attempted to nail down Sanders with a ‘gotcha’ question implying raising the minimum wage would be catastrophic for the economy because “such-and-such economist” said so. There is so much disdain for science and academic credentials in the heartland right now, it seems crazy not to harness this anti-academic populist energy and redirect it to a deserving target like neo-liberal economists instead of climate scientists. ” How’s that Laffer curve working out for ya Iowa? Are you feeling the prosperity ‘trickle down’ yet?” Sanders did a relatively good job of deflecting and not getting zinged by the ‘gotcha’ question but a full-frontal assault would have been much better. Stronger, more Presidential and with the added bonus of giving neo-liberal economists under the pay of plutocrats a black eye. Another missed opportunity. The questioner set it up perfectly for him. I would have loved to see the expression on her corn-fed face when Bernie turned her ‘gotcha’ question that she had spent so much time and thought crafting into the home-run answer of the evening. Perhaps it could happen in a debate in the near future.

    1. RUKidding

      I think what happened there is that Bernie is showing his true colors, unfortunately. While I’m more than OK with Bernie’s attitude towards Benghazi & the emails, he really does not confront HRC on her egregious attitudes towards unfettered War, Inc, and most esp not on Wall St and the Banks.

      I have no serious expectations of Sanders, however, and never did.

      1. Jerry Denim

        Perhaps you are correct but Sanders did say Wall Street’s business model is greed and fraud. Strong language for a Presidential candidate and unmistakably clear terms. When it comes to attacking Clinton I feel like something is holding Sanders back. Maybe it’s his campaign advisors because he’s been told his anger scares voters and people don’t like negative attacks. Maybe the DNC and Clinton are holding some threat over his head regarding ballot access, debate cancellation or some other punishment if he doesn’t play by certain rules. Perhaps he’s been warned certain topics are off limits during debates. Seems fishy to me, but maybe it’s just as simple as you say.

        1. RUKidding

          Yes, Sanders has been outspoken about Wall St, greed, fraud and tightening up regulations, etc. That’s why it’s disappointing and beyond annoying when he clams up vis Clinton and her relationship with and money from Wall St.

          The GOP engages in phony baloney food fights much to the tingling excitement of their base.

          I’d like to see some REAL debate from the Dems. Not just make nice phony baloney bullshit.

          Again, I’ve never expected Sanders to be anything more than someone who’ll sound populist and then tell his followers to vote for Clinton… as he’s already SAID anyway.

          We’re told allegedly that “poll after poll” shows Clinton in a double digit lead. I really question that, as well, but clearly no one’s showing me the factual data. It is what is. HRC is the anointed one, so get used to it.

          To me, Sanders is just window dressing & a distraction, even though, clearly, he’s the pick of “both” (or the combined, if you will) litters. Whatever…

          1. JerryDenim

            “Again, I’ve never expected Sanders to be anything more than someone who’ll sound populist and then tell his followers to vote for Clinton… as he’s already SAID anyway”

            Yeah maybe, but I believe that was the price of admission to the Clinton / Wasserman-Shultz ball for a life-long socialist who sometimes caucuses with Democrats. The more damage Sanders inflicts on Clinton in the primaries the less sincere and effective any possible Sanders endorsement of Clinton will be later. I too share your distrust of polls and given that distrust it’s hard for me to write off a guy who has had every disadvantage in his Presidential bid but is still polling pretty darn well against a extremely well-known political juggernaut early in the primary season. Sanders has the right message, the right record and popular support on his side in a year when people are fed-up with the entire Washington establishment and sick of pedigreed, legacy politicians like Clinton. Look at how poorly Bush has fared so far against outsider, blow-hard Donald Trump and unknown-nobody Ben Carson. Even conservatives are sick of dynasties. If there’s ever been a moment when Bernie Sanders could win the nomination this is it. If you really think Sanders is the “pick of liter” as you say perhaps you could stop calling him things like “window dressing” and “a distraction”. While it may protect your feelings from future disappointment to speak confidently of Clinton as the inevitable nominee it clearly helps her campaign objectives, so…. maybe just try tempering your cynicism just a wee bit unless you are out to help Hillary win the nomination. If you are out to help Hillary then carry on, you’re doing a fine job of tarring and feathering Sanders as a loser on behalf of her campaign.

          2. 3.14e-9

            Bernie’s campaign never in a million years thought he would get this far. In the beginning, it was calculated to draw attention to income inequality, big money in politics, and other issues that likely would get ignored if the coronation went ahead unopposed. Within that context, it would have been very easy for him to promise the few votes he thought he would get to Clinton.

            I have a feeling that his campaign is regretting he ever said that as much as we are. He has a huge number of supporters who, like jgordon above, would write in “Dog Turd” before voting for Hillary (although I don’t know why we couldn’t write in Bernie). These people are going to be extremely angry if he throws his support behind her, and they have demonstrated well already that they are very vocal. I’ve commented on NC before that I think there will be hell to pay if and when that happens.

            I also suspect that the DNC didn’t make a big fuss about his running as a Democrat because no one there thought he’d get this far, either, and they probably thought he would be useful. For all we know, he agreed to that. And then, suddenly, all the unexpected crowds.

            Sanders is the ranking minority member on the Senate Budget Committee, which means he definitely could challenge Clinton on economic issues, and competently. So I agree that something has to be holding him back. Yet another consideration is that he might be keeping the most damaging counts against her until later in the campaign. If he showed his hand now, the Clinton machine would kick into gear overtime, get her off the hook, and drag him down into the mud.

            1. Cassandra

              No need to think of conspiracies, etc. As you point out, Sanders is a senator. He never expected to get this far. He won’t win the nomination. He has to think of his post-2016 career. If he goes after Clinton hammer and tongs, he will be (more of) a pariah in the Senate, effectively ruining any chance for him to accomplish anything. As he said in the debate, the VA bill wasn’t all he wanted, but it was something. Many think incrementalism is a fool’s game, but I believe Sanders is willing to fight for crumbs.

              1. Lambert Strether

                I think Sanders did pretty well, especially considering the primaries haven’t started. He pushed Clinton into two horrible responses, at least: (1) 9/11 and Wall Street and (2) Sanders single payer vs. ObamaCare. Both will be gifts that keep on giving. My thought would is that the opportunity cost of spending a lot of time reverse engineering whatever number of dimensions of chess Sanders is playing failing to use the very powerful ammo he gave — both of which are about policy.

              2. JerryDenim

                “…he might be keeping the most damaging counts against her until later in the campaign. If he showed his hand now, the Clinton machine would kick into gear overtime, get her off the hook, and drag him down into the mud.”

                I like that theory, although I think he will have to have to land more than a single blow late in the game to make it stick. I say start chipping away at her now. All Sanders has to do is bring up the truth in a rather dispassionate matter-of-fact way. Despite their reputations the Clintons have a lousy record on almost everything.

              3. JerryDenim

                “He has to think of his post-2016 career. If he goes after Clinton hammer and tongs, he will be (more of) a pariah in the Senate, effectively ruining any chance for him to accomplish anything. ”

                Great point. I guess I forgot about that reality. Unlike Clinton Bernie does have a day job, one he cares about too, not just a temporary gig to burnish his Presidential resume.

            2. RUKidding

              I’m willing to be wrong about Sanders, and in fact, hope I am. Time will tell. I agree that he’s done better than the odds called for. Willing to listen to him but wish he’d speak up more about HRC’s bs. But he is a politician after all and is playing a long game.

        2. Nuggets321

          Its been suggested that if he’s too aggressive, he could loose his leadership position on various senate committees.

  11. Jim Haygood

    ‘AIG’s largest counter-party was Goldman Sachs.’

    Thus, the Federal Reserve’s “Sunday night special” waiver of the 30-day application period for Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to become bank holding companies, and to get their sticky mitts (or tentacles, as the case may be) into “free money” at the discount window. News story from 22 Sep 2008:

    http://www.cnbc.com/id/26828495

    Having essentially zero consumer deposit-taking business, then or now, these two investment banks resemble ordinary commercial banks like mangy wolves dressed in ill-fitting sheep costumes.

    Investment banking is a high-risk, high-reward business with some of the most highly compensated employees in the country. Subsidizing GS and MS with Federal Reserve free money is a rank disgrace. It vexeth me greatly, comrades. But changing it is not even on the menu.

  12. Chauncey Gardiner

    Watched the debate and agree with David Dayen’s keen observations.

    I am not a Clinton supporter, but I feel she did raise an important issue with respect to restoration of the Glass-Steagall Act, which I support. Despite the holes in her statement which David identified, I interpreted her comment as recognition of the need to monitor, regulate and limit “Systemically Important Financial Institutions” in the shadow banking sector. Besides investment banks, these presumably would include large insurance companies, private equity firms, hedge funds, etc.

    Seems to me that if any large financial intermediaries have become “Too Big To Fail”, and we cannot insulate our commercial banks from the risks they present to the banking system (and indirectly ourselves), then these “shadow banking” entities need to be broken up and intensively regulated as well.

  13. TimmyB

    What really hasn’t been discussed is Sander’s motivation for breaking up too big to fail financial institutions. Sanders on his website states he wants to break them up because they have too much economic and political power. Sanders says that breaking them up, in and by itself, will provide a benefit.

    So when Clinton starts discussing how her plan will be more effective in preventing another financial collapse, she has changed the subject from how breaking up our banks will benefit our democratcy to whether or not breaking them up will prevent another 2008 crisis.

    What Sanders needs to do is bring the discussion on breaking up TBTF banks back around to their having too much economic and political power. For example, he could say he wants to break them up because they have too much power and that Clinton want them to continue to hold that power. Clinton has no real response to that claim.

    1. Michael

      Bernie is not running to win. I’m not sure why he is running. If he does not start to hit Hillary then I think it is primarily to keep the left wing of the Democratic Party inside the party instead of seeking a new home elsewhere. The Justice Party is interesting but a third party has no chance unless the Democrats implode.

      Honestly I can see the Democrats collapsing before the Republicans. The South and Midwest are just batshit crazy and they’ll stick with the Republicans as long as the evangelicals dominate their culture. Does anyone here know anything about previous “great awakenings” in American culture?

  14. MojaveWolf

    For all her vomit-inducing disingenuousness about how she would be the toughest on the financial industry as a whole (really, how does she say that with a straight face?), and her basically sounding like a smarter, saner business as usual neocon on the middle east, I thought her worst moment by far was when she tried to describe single payer as “dismantling” Medicare, Medicaid, etc and letting Republican administrations decide who gets health care, and playing up that the ACA as better and more comprehensive. She is not stupid. She is one of the smartest people in politics from a pure short term IQ standpoint. And she has studied and once advocated for single payer so she KNOWS what it does. Think about this for a minute.

    Hillary KNOWS single payer EXPANDS on what Medicaid and Medicare provide.

    Hillary KNOWS Bernie’s single payer plan would not allow states to opt out, unlike the ACA she is touting, while she was claiming the exact opposite. She knowingly bald-faced lied on national TV & radio (I was driving and listening, not watching) in a way to equal anything Dick Cheney or Mitch McConnell or Newt Gingrich ever did, and she lied about a matter she KNOWS will result in millions of people NOT getting adequate medical care with ripple effects ranging from constant illness and misery to job performance to not seeking treatment until emergency to actual death. People can’t pay 3k or 5k deductibles. We already have news reports of people not going for this reason. We paid the penalty on our taxes last year because the only affordable plans that were actually usable required us to make a 2 hr one way drive (over 90% hwy, this is a long way) to the closest hospital/doctor that was included in it. One of my acquaintances who is covered took a taxi to what was supposedly the only local doctor who took her plan (after calling everyone in town), waited over an hr, and was told that whoever she spoke to on the phone made a mistake and she is not covered, and they have no idea where she should go, plus she’s out the time and a r/t taxi ride. You think Hillary hasn’t studied this and doesn’t know things like this happen? You think she doesn’t know Bernie’s single payer plan (and probably all single payer plans) wouldn’t prevent these sorts of situations?

    She KNOWS we could cut out the insurance companies, have free single payer, pay for it by taxing the most well off, and people on the whole would get much better service, with much better outcomes, and without having to freak out if the ambulance took them to a hospital outside of their plan or a visiting specialist at the hospital their plan said go to was outside the plan and billed them five or six figures or what have.

    But she clearly doesn’t care. She just cares about people donating money to her campaign and getting elected as a resume stuffer. She doesn’t want to change how things are done more than minor tinkering, even when she KNOWS the changes will make everything better off. She will be the same on climate change, even tho she isn’t stupid and knows both what we are doing now and what she is recommending are leading us to a planet of the jellyfish in the long run and a state of neverending crises and mass extinction in the short and medium run.

    (I am not saying she knows the misery her foreign policy position has and will cause because I actually fear she might believe in what she’s saying there; tho whether she believes it or not she clearly intends to continue the same policies that have led us to destabilize the middle east and are starting to destabilize the entire world; the only reason I’m not thinking this is her worst moment is because she was more hinting at than saying things, and I’m less sure of her actual positions)

    She is willing to sacrifice millions of lives to get herself elected and continue enriching her already rich family who doesn’t need any more money. She is, basically, a Republican on everything but social issues (yes, these matter, and good for her, tho past cowardly statements on abortion and votes on marriage equality should not be disregarded when compared with her opponents).

    i guess people think nothing of this, just as they think nothing of her lies on regulating the financial industry, because they think that sort of flat out lie and distortion is just politics as usual, and more important to be good at lying than good on substance?

    And that is why really do need a political revolution. Almost all of the current political class, including the political media, really need to go.

    1. RUKidding

      AKA, there’s very little difference bet HRC and whomever barking lunatic the GOP coughs up… other than HRC isn’t such a barking lunatic. She’s just mired in pure unfettered greed and imperialistic hubris.

      Actually the GOP should be kissing the ground that HRC walks on bc she’s probably the biggest War Hawk in the whole amalgamated group, and she’s way more for BigIns getting their hugely giant sucking cut out of “health” insurance scams than almost any other candidate.

      The GOP puts on a dog ‘n pony show constantly wasting time and all taxpayer money on voting against ACA. They do that bc they know their phony baloney bills will never ever pass. The GOP doesn’t want ACA to ever go away bc the politicians are getting rich rich rich off of it as much as the Dems are. They just have to play a Kabuki show to appease their utterly stupid base.

      Such a waste of time all of this is. Such a monumental waste of money. ugh.

      nothing will change. authoritarian USians like Big Daddy/Mommy too much to let ever let go of this system.

  15. McWatt

    Break up the banks how? Like Standard Oil was broken up? Or A T and T? Those break ups just
    made their Oligarchs wealthier.

    1. Vatch

      There are at least two advantages to breaking up the giant banks:

      1. If one of the fragments gets into financial trouble, we won’t have to fear a complete economic collapse.

      2. Sure, the owners of the banks will continue to own as much as before (and some of their stock might even rise in value). But the CEOs of the big banks will lose influence, because they will suddenly be the bosses of much smaller corporations. Currently, people like Jamie Dimon have far too much power.

  16. Bob Stapp

    I’m at a complete loss to understand why Dems, the media, and in fact anyone with two brain cells to rub together, can fail to see or acknowledge that HRC is a liar, a crook, and a generally mean-spirited individual who’s only in it for herself and will do and say anything and accept money from anyone as long as it helps her to win. Sadly, the only difference between Hillary and Obama, is that Barack is a better shape-shifter and, when he lies, he can do so with greater eloquence and charm. Hillary can never manage to completely hide her forked tongue and her poisonous lizard personality.

    Our country and, in fact, the entire world is at a crossroads and yet there has never been such a lack of selfless, skilled leadership stepping up to help us get to some version of the common good. Meanwhile, Bernie Saunders and Jeremy Corbyn get pilloried daily for even suggesting that we are all in this together and had better get to fixing things right quick. I guess it’s the fate of truth-tellers.

    I plan to attend my state’s caucus and when I say that if we insist on pursuing the political process as we have always done, we are condemning ourselves to disaster. Going out and working for a person, a personality, or a hoped-for savior, is merely repeating the same kind of insanity that has produced the rotten system we have today. Bernie’s right. It’s going to take all of us standing up together, not to get Bernie or anybody else elected, but for what we know is right. And we’d better do it soon. Then, when I’m shut down by the party operatives, I’ll go home and continue to watch the slow-motion train-wreck.

  17. cassandra

    After Obama’s behavior, and the documentation of Gilens & Page, can anyone believe that campaign speeches have anything to do with post-electoral policies? The nomination process is beyond dysfunctional: everyone knows Hillarity’s positions are synthetic, yet she successfully campaigns with the grossest political impunity and she is taken seriously enough for analysis. I don’t understand why. The only political power remaining to democracy is resistance, either by voting for a third party, or else by total abstinence. I personally prefer the former, as it’s a bit harder to sweep under the media carpet. This keeps me outside the grasp of helplessness.

  18. Telee

    The refusal of HRC to be for reinstating Glass-Steagall to separate investment banks and commercial banks is a sure sign that she will be a lap dog for the fraudsters on Wall Street. More of the same or worse.
    Another point. My readings has lead me to believe that she played a large role in the destabilization o Libya. In her 11 hours before the Benghazi committee she was never asked why she was so hell-bent for a military solution when there were negotiations which would have led to a more peaceful solution.

  19. Quantum Future

    I am writing in Deez Nutz and I havent voted for years.

    The people are wide awake and we still practice free speech. That gets stamped on more than it has watch the fangs come out on what the 2nd Ammendment is really for.

    Our Republic died. It was never perfect but we all play by the same rules or those at the top should expect bad things to happen in spades. Children in fact.

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