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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Paying for it

It has been an interesting news day for Vampire Squid hunters.

First, we have this insider account of how AIG works. Two former female vice presidents who worked for the derivatives unit have come forward to say that the company is rife with age and gender bias.
In a lawsuit filed Monday in the New Haven, Connecticut federal court, Susan Potter and Deonna Taylor alleged that AIG misled them about the existence of a salary cap, and paid male employees and younger employees more for comparable work.

The women also said the defendants "fostered a 'boys club' atmosphere," and that 96 of AIG's 108 vice presidents worldwide were men. They further alleged that Joseph Cassano, who once led AIG Financial Products, preferred to attract younger workers to give AIG "curb appeal," and once remarked that he did not want any employees who looked like his aunt.
This is the way the world ends: Drowning in a vat of debt and testosterone.

Meanwhile, the right is now publicizing a multi-media propaganda blitz devoted to the hilarious thesis that the economic meltdown resulted not from a lack of regulation but -- get this -- the "hippie ethos."
In other words, Bossie and Co. have concocted the perfect fantasy for right-wingers in denial over the complete, fully manifested failure of their approach to governance -- one that lets them, once again, blame those dirty hippies for everything wrong with America. No wonder it was so popular at the National Tea Party Convention and at CPAC.
The AIG story above reveals that the atmosphere within these financial institutions had far more to do with Reagan-era boy's clubbiness than with the flower children of 1967. The culprits resemble Gordon Gecko a hell of a lot more than they resemble Abbie Hoffman or R. Crumb.

The right wing propagandists have become so arrogant that they now feel they can sell the public on any proposition, however contradictory to common sense. What's next? Is Sean Hannity going to blame the Haiti earthquake on Robert F. Kennedy?

Meanwhile, former Goldman Sachs chairperson Jon Corzine says that the only reason why people dislike Goldman is "envy." That's a very Nietzschean attitude, eh wot? Sounds like something Hitler might have said in 1941 to explain why so many people disliked Germany.

(Screw Godwin's law. New rule: Godwin's law is dead.)

"Envy" isn't the word I'd use to describe how people should feel toward a company that buys politicians, changes laws and places the entire world economy at risk by selling unfathomable new financial instruments, mis-rated as AAA and based entirely on crap. These are the guys who robbed your retirement accounts, forcing you to work into your 70s. Are you merely jealous of those bastards, or do you feel that you have a legitimate beef?

Nevertheless, I expect the Tea Partiers to pick up on this "envy" meme. Soon. And the moment they do, you'll know who is paying for whom.

I think it is very telling -- very very telling -- that the people now screaming loudest in favor of high Wall Street compensation are the teabaggers. (If you object to my use of the term, don't bother sending me the usual complaints. I will no longer print or read them.) The Tea Party movement now wears a "Property of Wall Street" label. In fact, I would say that the baggers no longer wear that label hidden on the inside collar. The message is in huge white letters on the front and back of the jacket.

That last assertion may seem counterintuitive to those anti-Obama writers who have argued (as I have argued) that Obama himself was and is shamefully compromised -- and funded -- by Goldman and its cohorts. But look at the facts on the ground:

1. The Tea Partiers want no pay caps for the Wall Street executives whose firms survived based on governmental bailouts.

2. The Tea Party movement originated in a successful effort to stave off a HOLC-style bailout for people with bad mortgages. (More about this soon.)

3. The Tea Partiers use pseudo-populist rhetoric to justify growing income inequality and low taxes on the ultra-affluent.

3. And now, the Tea Partiers lead the battle against any financial regulations which pose the danger of returning the world to fiscal sanity.

It's a battle that they will probably win.

That's why I have posted the excellent video clip above, featuring Elizabeth Warren. Watching this video will require an investment of seven-and-a-half minutes of your life -- and right now, that's the wisest investment you could make.

Pay special attention to her comments at the end. The bit about the war chest. If you don't think that at least some of that money is going to the baggers, grow up.

Why would the big bankers toss money at both Barack Obama and his Tea Party opponents? Let's compare Team Obama to a Manila folder. That's an apt comparison: On the rare occasions when this administration tries to do something decent or liberal, the O-folk soon fold under pressure. And not much pressure is needed, because the damned thing was designed to fold.

By investing so heavily in the Democrats, Wall Street put the crease in the folder. That crease is what makes the turnover so effortless.

By investing in the Republican tea partiers, Wall Street provides the hand which will do the actual folding.
Professor Elizabeth Warren's video was interesting and shows an interest towards positive change. But there is still something else!

Marty Didier
Northbrook, IL
The Democrats are the Washington Generals of politics.
The stink of hypocrisy, ignorance and racism has been wafting from the teabaggers all along, but adopting the talkings points of the handlers may finally convince those outside the far right that still consider the teaparty movement grass roots and Palin a serious candidate to see this charade for what it is.
Was the reduction of the highest marginal list-order bracket to 3 part of the stimulus bill or a holdover from GWB?
How does she deal with the fact that Obama seems to undermine her efforts?

She is smart enough to know that Obama is a corporate whore and seems to be using her because she oozes intelligence and integrity.
The Tea partiers are simply anti-government bigots, nothing more. These types are everywhere here in Texas. They are what used to be called "cop haters." I'm sure if the teabaggers had their way, government workers would be forced to wear armbands and children expressing an interest in politics would be placed in therapy.
MARCY KAPTUR: ... wouldn't you think, with the largest financial crisis in American history, in the largest transfer of wealth from the American people to the biggest banks in this country, that every committee of Congress would be involved in hearings, that this would be on the news, that people would be engaged in this. What we're seeing is-- tangential hearings on very arcane aspects of financial reform. For example, now we're going to have a consumer protection agency to help the poor consumer, who doesn't understand all of this, rather than hearings on the fundamental new architecture of reforming the American financial system, so that we have prudent lending, capital accumulation at the local level again; that we encourage savings and limit debt by the American people. Our country needs this. Those aren't the hearings that are happening.

If you want a marker at the Federal level of how serious we are to get justice out of this financial crisis, look at the F.B.I. Look at the number of people who are really prosecuting and investigation mortgage fraud and securities fraud. It is so small

I've been one of the Members of Congress trying to increase by ten times the agents to get at the justice issues for the American people. For companies that have been hurt. For shareholders that have been hurt. Our government isn't doing it. That it's very easy to look at the budget of the F.B.I. in mortgage fraud and securities fraud and say, 'How serious is the government?' And until those numbers increase, we will not begin to get justice.
Joe Cassano has a perfect right to discriminate against women based on their looks. Ugly hires at AIG? I think not. Mr. Testosterone has his standards!
It would be great if Warren's commission was actually given some teeth, but I highly doubt it.

Elizabeth Warren reminds me of Brooksley Born, and Obama still has the sexist team players Geithner and Summers.
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