Matt Taibbi states the obvious. The Obama Administration refuses to criminally prosecute corrupt big banks and financial institution. Their few prosecutions have been against relatively small fry. Banks that launder money for drug cartels are given free passes by Obama. Attorney General Holder has said big banks will not be prosecuted because it would be bad for the stability of financial institutions. Our government runs a protection racket, imposing fines that seem large yet really aren’t, and no one goes to prison. Before Obama, corporate criminals actually did go the prison. yes, they really did.
AMY GOODMAN: Who was tougher on corporate America, President Obama or President Bush?
MATT TAIBBI: Oh, Bush, hands down. And this is an important point to make, because if you go back to the early 2000s, think about all these high-profile cases: Adelphia, Enron, Tyco, WorldCom, Arthur Andersen. All of these companies were swept up by the Bush Justice Department. And what’s interesting about this is that you can see a progression. If you go back to the savings and loan crisis in the late ’80s, which was an enormous fraud problem, but it paled in comparison to the subprime mortgage crisis, we put about 800 people in jail during—in the aftermath of that crisis. You fast-forward 10 or 15 years to the accounting scandals, like Enron and Adelphia and Tyco, we went after the heads of some of those companies. It wasn’t as vigorous as the S&L prosecutions, but we at least did it. At least George Bush recognized the symbolic importance of showing ordinary Americans that justice is blind, right?
Fast-forward again to the next big crisis, and how many people have we got—have we actually put in jail? Zero. And this was a crisis that was much huger in scope than the S&L crisis or the accounting crisis. I mean, it wiped out 40 percent of the world’s wealth, and nobody went to jail, so that we’re now in a place where we don’t even recognize the importance of keeping up appearances when it comes to making things look equal.
They weren’t murderers or anything; they had merely stolen more money than most people can rationally conceive of, from their own customers, in a few blinks of an eye. But then they went one step further. They came to Washington, took an oath before Congress, and lied about it.
The bad news is that the Tea Party’s political outrage is being appropriated, with thanks, by the Goldmans and the BPs of the world. The good news, if you want to look at it that way, is that those interests mostly have us by the balls anyway, no matter who wins on Election Day. That’s the reality; the rest of this is just noise. It’s just that it’s a lot of noise, and there’s no telling when it’s ever going to end.
Taibbi underestimates and denigrates the genuine anger driving the Tea Party, but his analysis that Republican Party and corporate operatives are trying to co-opt that movement is spot on. This is precisely the same method of neutralizing genuine protest that the Democratic Party does too, and which Peter Camejo delineates in the Avocado Declaration.
Goldman Sachs is essentially a parasite that has attached itself to the US government. It gives nothing, takes everything. Now it’s saying that investigative reporters are badly damaging their business. This of course is just another of their lies. Their own greed and thugishness is what damaged their business.
We are winning.
But watch your backs. Harry Markopolous, the whistle-blower on the Madoff case, may have seemed paranoid when he feared for his life when he said “If Mr. Madoff was facing life in prison, there was little to no downside for him to remove any such threat.”
But maybe not.
Michael Corleone: My father is no different than any powerful man, any man with power, like a president or senator.
Kay Adams: Do you know how naive you sound, Michael? Presidents and senators don’t have men killed.
Mainstream media is all, ah, atwitter about major stories that have recently been broken by blogs, as well as all that information flowing freely through social networking sites. Apparently these new media upstarts are not being properly respectful of the dinosaurs of journalism, who now plan to take decisive action – once they figure out what’s happening, that is.
The NY Times, after ignoring the ACORN story for an embarrassingly long time, will now have an opinion media czar who will monitor those bloggy things to ascertain what stories might be deemed worthy of their attention. The czar will of course be forced to remain anonymous to avoid “a bombardment of e-mails and excoriation in the blogosphere.” Those bloggers might be useful, but the czar does need to avoid the possibility of undue contact with and possible contamination by those icky bloggers.
This, of course, is the stupid reaction of a cornered and endangered animal. Deers in the headlights of a new world that is barreling head on right at them.
Meanwhile, the anonymously written Zero Hedge has broken major stories on high frequency trading, flash trading, and Goldman Sachs. This of course has pissed off the mainstream media, who are now flaming them. A bunch of anonymous rabble rousers have gone and made them look foolish, inept, and compromised. So they’re trying character assassination and sliming after trying to unveil them, as witness a NY Magazine article.
Zero Hedge responds. Here’s a few excerpts. Read the whole thing. It’s principled, intelligent, and dead on target.
The Fourth Estate has spent and leveraged its reputation capital in keeping with the finest traditions of 21st century investment banking. As a consequence, these age-old institutions are quickly for the way of their banking parallels: Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the media, we would like to make a few points:
1. Anonymous speech is not a crime.
You may or may not be aware that there is a long tradition of anonymous speech in the United States. It did not begin here. Not by a long shot.
2. Your unveiling motives are less than pure.
Demanding the unveiling of anonymous authors is often a pretense for opening the door to personal attacks.
3. The era of personality-centric media needs to end- quickly, and (hopefully) painfully.
The fact that you thrive on the momentum of personality-centric reporting does not mean that we do, or that it is the right kind of reporting.
4. You can’t fight a dead model. (They don’t respond to the sleeper hold at all, and getting caught with one while trying is bad news.)
It is not our fault or our problem that your business model is dead. We didn’t kill it. You did.
5. Take it from us. It’s time to punt.
When you’ve gotten to the point where you are attacking online media in order to boost viewing of embedded video clips of your content, inventing fights with new media to boost ratings, when you are boosting online ad revenue this way, might not it be the time to just cut out the expensive cost center middlemen (we are looking at you- in the eye- stacked anchors) and move to online distribution entirely?
6. Get out of the cycle of co-personality-dependence.
When your biggest ratings and embedded hit counts come from fights between the various gargantuan egos on your anchor desk it should tell you two things. First, that your have become addicted to on-air sideshows. Second, that you have hauled your audience down with you into the blackness of personality-dependence addiction.
One of the things that inevitably happens when someone like Zero Hedge causes as much damage as he has to very wealthy and connected people is that the media will start looking at who he is.
But when you shine a light on Zero Hedge, you’re taking the light off the people he’s focusing on. That’s the primary problem with this kind of activity, and one of the reasons you often see this tactic employed against an uncomfortable news-breaker.
I’m all about Zero Hedge. I think there are a great many things about him that represent an enormous improvement over traditional media, and a real rebuke to the thinking of most traditional editors. I know at most commercial news organizations reporters are told that the public has no appetite for complex issues, and that material has to be dumbed down for presentation to the public. Zero Hedge went 10,000% in the opposite direction and became a huge hit. Readers, it turns out, are a lot smarter than we give them credit for.
Zero Hedge (and Matt Taibbi) have been drawing blood lately with their attacks on the wealthy and corrupt and have made real and serious enemies. They deserve our support.