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The NYT Thinks Jailing the Banksters Would Cause a “Bind”

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William K. Black wrote another scathing article The NYT Thinks Jailing the Banksters Would Cause a “Bind”.

It is critical to remember that the administration did not simply shield the fraudulent banks from prosecution – it shielded the bankers that led the fraud epidemics from prosecution, from civil suits, from serious enforcement actions, and even from having their fraud proceeds “clawed back.” During the entire Obama administration, not a single senior prosecutor, regulator, White House official, or Treasury official resigned in public protest at this assault on the rule of law that once made our Nation great. No greater indictment of their lack of integrity (and competence) is possible. They were tested in the crucible and they all failed.
The “Justice” department deliberately chose to act in the most unjust fashion possible, and the results are already proving catastrophic for the global economy.

Maybe the following numbers from the article will demonstrate what Black means by catastrophic.

We have just seen the three most destructive epidemics of financial fraud in history cause a Great Recession that cost $21 trillion in lost U.S. GDP and over 10 million jobs – and both numbers are far larger in Europe.

This loss of GDP alone dwarfs the accumulated deficit incurred by the US government over its entire history.  Yet, all the politicians, Republican and Democrat, seem focused like a laser on reducing the budget deficit.  Perhaps this focus is what allows the much larger crimes of the financial sector pass them by in their peripheral vision without them taking much notice.

I am glad to see Bill make the case, again, that punishing fraudulent bank officers is not the same as punishing bank corporations.  In fact it is protecting bank corporations from the predations of their fraudulent officers.  Assessing huge fines against bank corporations and letting the fraudulent officers keep their loot is exactly what should anger the share holders, employees, and customers of these institutions.  Talking about being a bank regulator,  Black wrote the following:

If our role were “protecting [banks] to ensure they operate successfully” [it isn’t] then there would be no “conflicting role” in “pursuing misconduct” by the banks’ officers and employees. The opposite would be true – our highest priority essential to “protecting” banks would be to remove criminal bank officers and our second highest priority would be deterring such criminality by aiding DOJ in prosecuting those officers.

The article mentions the Huffington Post story  The Fed Just Acknowledged Its Too Big To Jail Policy.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) aggressively questioned Dudley’s claim that the New York Fed had helped end too big to jail with the Credit Suisse case. No human beings are actually in jail for Credit Suisse’s tax evasion scheme — either the Americans who stashed cash in secret, illegal offshore accounts, or the Credit Suisse employees who executed the scheme. The criminal investigation into Credit Suisse, Merkley emphasized, was spurred by a report from Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), not the Fed.

It is good to keep in mind that Elizabeth Warren is not alone in pursuing this failure of the Fed to do its job.  Perhaps she makes the most interesting videos, but we need the information from The Huffington Post about who was and who wasn’t at the hearings.

You don’t suppose any of the potential voters who did not come out in the last election were turned off by the failures of the Obama administration’s Department of Justice? The administration could have been aggressively pursuing these criminals at the same time others in the administration and the President himself were pushing health care reform.  An entity the size of the federal government can do more than just one thing at a time.

Senator Elizabeth Warren visits Israel as part of Mideast trip

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The Israeli newspaper Haaretz has the story Senator Elizabeth Warren visits Israel as part of Mideast trip: The Massachusetts Democrat is to meet with Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian officials, according to The Boston Globe.

U.S. Senator for Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren arrived in Tel Aviv on Saturday as part of a visit to Israel, the West Bank and Jordan, The Boston Globe reported Sunday. This is the lawmaker’s first trip abroad as senator.

The Democratic senator is planning to meet with Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian officials, according to the report, which cited an aide.

Warren was also set to meet representatives of UNRWA and UNHCR, as well as USAID. She is also to visit troops from Massachusetts who are serving in the area.
In August, during the 50-day war between Israel and Hamas, Warren said in a meeting with constituents that Israel was being attacked “indiscriminately” and had a right to defend itself, according to the report.

I don’t know how I missed The Boston Globe article Sen. Warren in Middle East for meetings, visit to Mass. troops.

For a senator who has largely focused on domestic issues — rarely choosing to wade into foreign policy — the trip appears mostly designed to allow Warren a chance to familiarize herself with Israel, one of America’s closest allies and the biggest recipient of foreign aid. It also allows her to travel to some of the safer areas of the Middle East, and accomplish a basic duty as senator: see first hand the areas where US Senate votes have an impact. Warren had been among only a handful of senators who haven’t traveled abroad. . . . Warren was pressed on her support of Israel and her votes to send money to support its fight against Hamas, during an August meeting with constituents in Barnstable. Warren said Israel was being attacked “indiscriminately” and had a right to fight back even though civilian casualties were the “last thing Israel wants.” “But when Hamas puts its rocket launchers next to hospitals, next to schools, they’re using their civilian population to protect their military assets,” Warren said, according to the Cape Cod Times. “And I believe Israel has a right, at that point, to defend itself.”

The Globe failed to point out the part where the constituent to whom she replied about Israel told her that she was badly misinformed. I am pretty sure it was the Globe that reported that she said to one of her aides something to the effect that she needed to learn a lot more about the situation before she made any further remarks like the ones she made.

Isn’t it interesting how your political views effect your memory. The also seem to have a big impact on editorializing in the news section of the newspaper.

Given the part of history The Boston Globe left out, I am hoping that Elizabeth Warren is making her trip with her usual amount of skepticism about official stories told to her by people in authority. I hope she comes back with a lot more sophistication in foreign policy than she has shown here-to-fore. As a big fan of hers who is hoping she runs for President in 2016, this is one area where I recognize some weakness that needs to be strengthened.

November 24, 2014 00:02

Well, I was not able to find that report that I thought I read in The Boston Globe.  However, a Google search on “Elizabeth Warren” “Boston Globe” Israel “Cape Cod” brought me to a number of interesting articles.

First is the Cape Cod Times article Warren explains positions on Israel, Pilgrim.

    Warren said Hamas has attacked Israel “indiscriminately,” but with the Iron Dome defense system, the missiles have “not had the terrorist effect Hamas hoped for.” When pressed by another member of the crowd about civilian casualties from Israel’s attacks, Warren said she believes those casualties are the “last thing Israel wants.”

“But when Hamas puts its rocket launchers next to hospitals, next to schools, they’re using their civilian population to protect their military assets. And I believe Israel has a right, at that point, to defend itself,” Warren said, drawing applause.

Noreen Thompsen, of Eastham, proposed that Israel should be prevented from building any more settlements as a condition of future U.S. funding, but Warren said, “I think there’s a question of whether we should go that far.”

Then there was an article Senator Warren’s progressive supporters demand accountability for her rightwing pro-Israel positioning by Jeff Klein.

When Elizabeth Warren came to Tufts University in Medford on Monday she was met by anti-war and Palestinian rights activists who asked why the popular senator and national Democratic Party celebrity seemed to echo Israeli talking points about the recent Israel attack on Gaza.
As she exited the auditorium, Warren — an irrepressible campaigner — approached the activists, shook their hands and warmly thanked each of them for being there. We handed her a flyer as she entered her car to leave.  The aide promised a meeting soon. We’ll see.

There is a lot more in the above article about some of the push-back that Elizabeth Warren has been receiving.  She may already be much more sophisticated on the topic as she lands in Israel than when she spoke on Cape Cod and at Tufts.

The article from The Boston Globe was published online about 4 hours ago, about half a day after I read the Sunday paper edition of The Boston Globe.

Making Progress: Senator Elizabeth Warren

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Those of  us who are fans of Elizabeth Warren know the story behind what she stands for, but not enough other people know it.  So no matter how many times we have heard it, it still bears repeating. Here is Elizabeth Warren explaining the story at the Center for American Progress Policy Conference in November 2014.

In this 18 minute speech, she spent about 15 minutes explaining the story. If you have not heard the story, you really owe it to yourself to listen to this first 15 minutes. Once you have heard what she has to say, come back here for my comments on what she said in 2 of the 3 minutes just before the end of her speech.

I want to summarize for you some research from election day … The survey of voters in 11 battleground states. Now remember, these are the people who showed up to vote in mid-terms, two weeks ago, the people who in 10 of the 11 states that are represented in this survey sent Republicans to the Senate. And here’s what they said, 80% of all those voting said both parties are doing too much to help Wall Street, 75% said invest more money in education from pre-K through college. 66% said close corporate tax loopholes to make investments in infrastructure, or reduce the deficit. 62% said raise the minimum wage. 61% said increase Social Security taxes and increase benefits. And 62% said the Republicans don’t have a plan to help the economy. People across this country get it. Sure there’s a lot of work to be done and there is a long way to go before Democrats can reclaim the right to say that we are fighting for America’s working people …

She needs a whole other speech to explain why in 10 of the 11 battleground states in the last election the voters sent Republicans to the Senate. What she did mention in this speech is that “80% of all those voting said both parties are doing too much to help Wall Street.”

When she said that “62% said the Republicans don’t have a plan to help the economy”, she needed to finish that thought. What percentage of the people thought that the Democrats did have a plan to help the economy? She missed the opportunity to explain what is wrong with Democrats with whom large majorities of people agree with their supposed policies, but these very voters who agree with them did not vote for them.

She mentions that Democrats have a lot of work to do to “reclaim the right to say that we are fighting for America’s working people.” Maybe she was trying to be too diplomatic to be more specific about what Democrats didn’t do or just didn’t do correctly. I hope her new role in advising the Democratic leaders in the Senate does not stop her from being more specific in the near future about what Democrats need to do.

Without me naming names, I ask you to think about what Democratic candidates who might run for the Presidential in 2016, have as clear an idea of what America did right from the depression era up until 1980 and what they did that was so wrong from 1980 up until now as Elizabeth Warren explained in the first 15 minutes of this speech. Try to be brutally honest with yourself. The future of the party and this country may depend on your ability to face the facts.

Iran will do a deal with the west – but only if there’s no loss of dignity

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Reader RichardH sent me a link to the UK  Guardian article Iran will do a deal with the west – but only if there’s no loss of dignity.

Speaking about Iran’s present political system, Hooman Majd wrote the following:

Beyond building the world’s first modern theocracy, which some revolutionaries and perhaps a large percentage of the then silent population never bargained for, the revolution was as much about Persian dignity and greatness as it was about overthrowing a despotic monarchy. It isn’t just pride, as some suggest, that governs popular support for the nuclear programme (or any other technical accomplishment), although Iranians are proud – perhaps overly so – of their 5,000-year history and culture, and can be accused of faith in Persian exceptionalism in much the same way the US has in its own.

I think about the application of this idea in our relations with Russia, Iraq, North Korea, Libya, Syria. and some other countries.  When we don’t give them the respect that they feel they deserve and we try to take away their sense of dignity, then it ought to be no surprise to us that they won’t agree with us on almost anything.  The more we heighten our threats and reprisals against these countries, the more recalcitrant and counter threatening they become.

Think about this same part of human nature in our domestic relations between President Obama and the Congressional Republicans.  In the beginning, Obama tried to win them over by giving them far more respect than they were giving to him.  They did not reciprocate.  It took many years for Obama to learn that his way of gaining their cooperation was not going to work.  In fact, the escalating threats by the Republicans against Obama have finally convinced him that he has  to stand up to them.

In the foreign policy domain, Obama at first took a conciliatory tone to many of our adversaries.  However, he reversed policy with them far  faster than he did with the Republicans.  Ironically, if he had  stayed the course in foreign policy, he might have got some reciprocity that he was never going to get from the Republicans.

In fact, it might have been showing deference to Republican sensitivities for him to take harsher stands in foreign policy.  It didn’t win him any fiends among the Republicans, and  it has only made things worse among some of our adversaries that seemed to be coming around to a more conciliatory approach themselves.  Just think of the sanctions we have imposed on Russia as a reward for the help they gave us in dealing with Syria.

This consideration of too many sides in all these situations has left me with one conclusion.  No single approach to relations is always appropriate in every situation.  You have to try to figure out the best approach for each situation.


Elizabeth Warren Blasts New York Fed President William Dudley

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Naked Capitalism has the article and features the video Elizabeth Warren Blasts New York Fed President William Dudley.

According to the posting of the video on YouTube:

The President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York faced a serious of tough questions from the Senate Banking Committee on Friday, following revelations that one of its former employees had been fired by Goldman Sachs for accessing regulatory information about one of the banks it supervised.

Elizabeth Warren told William Dudley that change in the New York Fed’s culture “has to come from the top” and “you need to fix it, or we need to get someone who will.”

I’d love to see the some action when the government decides “we need to get someone who will” fix this situation.

I didn’t hear Elizabeth Warren make the remark mentioned on the YouTube posting, but I did hear her say to Dudley,

And until you are willing to take meaningful action, our financial system and our whole economy remain at risk.

What kind of regulator puts our whole economy at risk?

President Obama Delivers an Address to the Nation on Immigration

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The Whitehouse has put the video President Obama Delivers an Address to the Nation on YouTube.

President Obama lays out the new steps he’s taking to fix our broken immigration system. Watch the address live on November 20th at 8pmET and learn more at WhiteHouse.gov/Immigration-Action.

This is a test for our nation. Can we all put aside our personal animosities, and come together to do what is best for our country?

The answer is in your hands, by what you tell your representatives in Congress to do.

President's thoughts in a nutshell

As for cracking down on companies who hire undocumented workers, I have been promoting the solution Immigrant Work Status Verification since 2006. I have been retired from my career as software engineer for 8 years. I could implement the proposed solution even with my rusty skills at software engineering.

Senator Elizabeth Warren has just posted a response on Facebook.

I was proud to vote for bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform in the Senate, but House Republicans have refused to even allow a vote on the bill for over a year. I support the President’s decision to do what he can under the law to keep millions of families together, to help scores of businesses, and to patch up this broken system. Congress still needs to step up – but if Republicans in Congress won’t do their jobs, it’s time for the President to do his.

I will let Senator Warren speak for me on this issue, because she does it so well.

FINAL RESULTS: DFA’s 2016 Presidential Pulse Poll

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I just received an email from Democracy For America.

2016 Presidential Pulse Poll: You have the power to change the results.

Steven —

I’m excited to announce the final results in Democracy for America’s first Presidential Pulse Poll of the 2016 race. And, just like in the 2007-08 election cycle, DFA members are not falling in line with the dominant media narrative.

With 164,733 votes cast by DFA members across the country, the results are in. And the winners are… (drum roll):
Surprised? We’re not.

Elizabeth Warren won by a large margin because she inspires Democrats by valiantly fighting for populist progressive policies to address income inequality in the face of Wall Street resistance — and because she regularly engages with the grassroots base of her party.

Of course, if you listen to the media, you would think there is no reason for a Democratic presidential primary to take place.

DFA members know primaries matter. We know that the Democratic Party is stronger when it’s a contest of ideas, not a coronation. And we know that none of the potential candidates can lock up the nomination before a campaign has even begun.

If several candidates run, the race will be wide open. And, no matter who runs, DFA members will be working day in and day out to get behind the best candidate with the strongest vision for fighting income inequality.

Is it just possible that Hillary Clinton is not the inevitable nominee, and that I am not the only person to think so?

Enough Is Enough: The President’s Latest Wall Street Nominee

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Elizabeth Warren has written the Huffington Post article Enough Is Enough: The President’s Latest Wall Street Nominee. Warren has a Facebook post featuring the article. You can join the conversation there too. Below are her concluding remarks.

I have voted against only one of President Obama’s nominees: Michael Froman, a Citigroup alumnus who is currently storming the halls of Congress as U.S. Trade Representative pushing trade deals that threaten to undermine financial regulation, workers’ rights, and environmental protections. Enough is enough.

It’s time for the Obama administration to loosen the hold that Wall Street banks have over economic policy making. Sure, big banks are important, but running this economy for American families is a lot more important.

I am glad her recent appointment by the Democratic leadership in the Senate has not co-opted her. I was hoping she would continue to speak for the rest of us, and deliver our message to the leadership.  I was pretty confident that she would not just deliver the leadership’s message to us.

If you aren’t up on the news enough to get her veiled reference to “pushing trade deals that threaten to undermine financial regulation, workers’ rights, and environmental protections”, here is a US Government web page United States Trade Representative Michael Froman.

Key initiatives ongoing under his leadership are negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement in the Asia Pacific…

If you haven’t heard Obama pushing this obscene trade agreement, you should read some of my blog posts about the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, also known as TPP.

Senator Warren Asks FHFA Director Mel Watt About Principal Reduction

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Senator Elizabeth Warren posted about his on her Facebook page article Senator Warren Asks FHFA Director Mel Watt About Principal Reduction.

Senator Elizabeth Warren asks Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mel Watt about principal reduction for homeowners, at a Senate Banking Committee hearing on November 19, 2014.

If this bozo had done something in the year he has been in office, how many people whose houses would have been saved might have come out to vote for a Democrat in the last election?

All the phoney number the Democrats produced about how the economy was doing better (for the top 10% only) didn’t sway many voters. If they’d had a real record to tout, they would have touted it. Can’t Obama light a fire under this guy?

How many failures of the Obama Administration do you have to see before you understand why the Democrats lost the last election so badly? When you fail to help millions of people when you could easily have helped them, they aren’t likely to come out and vote for your party.

Obama has had six years to fix this problem, and all he can say was that he couldn’t get it done even with help from Congress. The people who lost their houses in those six years may not have heard all the excuses that Obama had for not getting it done. What they had no trouble remembering was that they lost their houses.

How many other Senators can you name who are pushing on this as hard as Elizabeth Warren? Are there any Senators who pushed this issue this hard and still lost an election to a Republican?

Is there any other way I can put this that will reach the Democrats who are still blaming the voters who didn’t come out to vote for a Democrat?

Why is Anyone Surprised that Abenomics Failed?

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Naked Capitalism has the article Why is Anyone Surprised that Abenomics Failed?

Yves again. So understand full well why austerity gets such favorable treatment. In its current version, where central banks use QE and super-low interest rates to offset its bad effects, the result is rip-roaring asset prices and a continued shift of income and wealth to the rich. The financial classes, who have considerably sway with the media, want to be sure these beatings continue until morale improves.

I was surprised by this turn of events in Japan.  I thought Abe was actually using a fiscal stimulus approach.  If you refer to the wikiPedia definition of Abenomics, you can understand why I was confused.

Abenomics refers to the economic policies advocated by Shinzō Abe since the December 2012 general election, which elected Abe to his second term as Prime Minister of Japan. Abenomics is based upon “three arrows” of fiscal stimulus, monetary easing and structural reforms.

I admit that I wasn’t following what was going on in Japan very closely.  This article sets me straight on my false understanding of what Abe was doing. The fiscal stimulus part of Abenomics was too little and ended far too early. Sound like the policy of any President you know?

These policies fail and fail again, and yet some economists keep insisting that they will work.  Maybe it’s time to refer to Greenberg’s Law of Counterproductive Behavior to wit “If you see a behavior that seems to you to be counterproductive, perhaps you have misunderstood what the behavior was trying to produce.” It is clear from this article that the actual goal was “a continued shift of income and wealth to the rich.” In all cases this result has actually been achieved quite nicely.

The Boston Globe/The New York Times did a wonderful job of proving exactly what the Naked Capitalism article said. As published in The Boston Globe, the article was headlined “As Japan struggles, leader calls for early elections”. Online the headline was Abe’s call for early elections in Japan prompted by fear.

One problem, economists say, is that Abe failed to use the upturn as a chance to push through painful market-opening moves and structural changes needed to make the recovery last.

What you will never find in a story from The New York Times nor from The Boston Globe is “One problem, economists say, is that Abe failed to continue the fiscal stimulus long enough, and foolishly allowed the regressive consumption tax to take effect.” There are many economists (see the Naked Capitalism article above) who are saying this. In what universe does it make sense to put a tax on behavior you want to encourage – consumption?

As this article does point out, wealth in Japan for the working people is being shifted to the wealthy. The non-wealthy are hit by falling wages and rising taxes. A national sales tax is aimed at the middle and lower classes and takes the pressure off the wealthy classes. The wealthy spend a far smaller percentage of their income on consumption than every one else.  So a “fair” sales tax on consumption takes a far smaller fraction of the income from the wealthy than it does from the non-wealthy.

Yet the repeated failure of these policies in many places around the world continues to stump the reporters of The New York Times.