At the Campaign for America's Future, Richard (RJ) Eskow writes Incredibly Guilty: Despite Lowenstein's Defense, Wall Street's Still A Nest Of Criminality:
In a piece called "Wall Street: Not Guilty," financial columnist Roger Lowenstein attempts to defend Wall Street against allegations that it's a viper's nest of rampant criminality. His mischaracterization, mockery, and vague suggestions of McCarthyism are strident, flat, and fail to get the job done. But Lowenstein's piece is well worth reading, if only as a case study in the moral and cognitive blindness that's reached epidemic proportions in influential Washington and Wall Street circles.
Lowenstein shows us how people who are undoubtedly thoughtful and ethically-minded in their personal lives can lose their way when confronted with complex moral and legal issues, especially ones involving people they know personally. And his misdirection and vituperation suggests how unsettled they become when their worldview is challenged.
It's a shame. The analytical and moral flaws in Lowenstein's piece obscure some of the very sound points he makes about the wrongheadedness of our country's financial culture, a topic that deserves more thoughtful discussion. Without a clear rebuttal, this wrongheaded view is likely to become tomorrow's conventional wisdom.
Hooray for Hollywood
Lowenstein unselfconsciously mocks "armchair prosecutors" even as he appoints himself armchair defense counsel, armchair judge, and armchair granter of blanket amnesty. His basic argument is that "risk-taking and stupidity aren't criminal," as the subheading to his piece puts it; that there may have been crimes committed, but they're minor and incidental to the financial collapse; that no greater purpose is served by a massive investigation of Wall Street; and that people who argue otherwise are angry, misguided, self-righteous persecutors. ...
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At Daily Kos on this date in 2010:
The blogosphere truly became a force in 2004; ActBlue became a major online fundraising (and organizing) tool in 2006; Obama campaign's use of the internet for organizing gained widespread attention in 2008. Democrats clearly did better at campaigning, organizing, and fundraising online. Then in 2010, Scott Brown kicked Martha Coakley's ass across the entire internet. Suddenly the story became "can Democrats catch up online?"
That's a stupid question, because one race in which an effective candidate out-organizes a deeply flawed and inept candidate does not partywide dominance make. But it suggests we absolutely should be paying attention to how campaigns are doing at online organizing.
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Looking for a good diary to read? Try Window for Afghan War Drawdown Waning by Rep. Michael Honda, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus's Peace and Security Taskforce.
Title: My GuyArtist: Mary Wells
Today in 1964, this Smokey Robinson-penned song became Motown's first number one hit and broke up the Beatles' monopoly of the first 5 positions on the charts. Last week it was songs about girls, tonight I want to hear your favorite songs about guys.
It's a lot of pressure to put on Israel, to give meaning to Glenn Beck's life. I sort of feel like ordinary Israelis have it rough enough, without this nutmeat descending thither and bringing his be-visored hordes of pasty followers to put out their[...]
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Her name is Eleanor Powell and she reportedly shot this scene in her living room, because that's where the dog was comfortable doing its tricks.
The move is in response to increasing media scrutiny over the horrific way New York City has been enforcing "public possession" marijuana laws. The enforcement has been extremely racially biased, with almost all those arrest being black or Latino. Even[...]
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Before there were the Koch Brothers, there were the Rockefellers - yesterday marked the 100th anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling that Standard Oil was an "unreasonable" monopoly...
...and kudos to Carlos Santana for speaking truth to stoo-pid here.
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[Note: Reposted; this was lost during the Blogger hiccup, and I'd like to keep in on the record.]
We've been on this for a while, these extractive industry profits, but this Rachel Maddow segment makes it all so clear. We give them the store so they can sell it back to us. Watch:
"The U.S. government currently hands out $4 billion dollars per year in subsidies" to the most profitable corporations in the history of the planet (1:35 in the clip). Nice.
I'll say again ? "We" (Americans) don't have domestic oil, because "we" don't have a nationalized oil industry. "Our oil" is actually their oil: Exxon's oil, or Shell's, or Chevron's. They own it. "We" just give them permission to extract it from the ground.
From there "our oil" goes onto the world market, where "we" bid against everyone else on the planet for the right to own it again.
We give them the store so they can sell it back to us. And don't let that nice pant-suited lady from the oil advertisements tell you otherwise. Her name is Brooke Alexander, and she's used to playing con artists; she played one on As The World Turns before her oil industry gig.
(By the way, and apropos of nothing I've already said, it will be interesting to see what Sen. Schumer (3:45 in the clip) actually does with that committee of his.)
enlargeHenry Morgenthau and his former boss. Real-estate lobbies were wreaking havoc then too.
Click here to view this media
On this day in 1946 if you were listening to the radio you would probably be hearing an address by former Treasury Secretary under FDR Henry Morgenthau on the state of housing in Post-War America and where the returning Veteran stood in all of it.
Then as now, Real Estate prices were grossly inflated and there seemed to be little in the way of a remedy for it. Measures were introduced such as the Veteran's Emergency Housing Bill to provide a ceiling for prices in an attempt to curb runaway prices. But, as always, lobbies in Washington were powerful and belligerent and the crisis only deepened.
Henry Morgenthau: ?Wyatt?s (Wilson Wyatt, author of Veteran's Emergency House Bill) proposal was simply this; suppose a man owns a house, he would be permitted to sell it once at any price he could get for it. But if the house is again put up for sale after that, that same price would be considered the ceiling so long as the emergency lasts. In other words, if he got $10,000 dollars for the house, $10,000 would thereafter be considered the ceiling price. This would have done nothing, of course to roll the real estate prices back from their present dangerously inflated levels. Mr. Wyatt was just trying to work out a compromise. But the Real Estate lobbies wouldn?t hold still, even for that. They know perfectly well that millions of dollars of Black Market money, a lot of it in the form of $1,000 bills is being poured into real estate speculation. Evidently they are unwilling to put an end to it. As far as the Real Estate lobbies are concerned, Real Estate prices can go on rising till kingdom come. Even if the average American and the Veteran are reduced to living in cellers.?
In trying to remedy a situation that had spiraled out of control, Morgenthau, on behalf of the Truman administration sought to ease the anxieties and express some sort of solution to the problem. This radio address, given on May 16th 1946 was part of a weekly series of addresses Morgenthau gave on Post-War problems.
. . .and I left in the Gallo Wine commercial as a reminder.
There's a fundamental aspect of consumer financial protection that the banks just don't seem to be grasping, as is apparent in this statement about the banks efforts to keep us in the dark about fraud. At issue here is a complaint line for consumers to be created by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and whether these complaints should be available in a public database.
"The point of banking supervision is to get the system working properly, not to air dirty laundry and scare capital away from banks," Richard Riese, senior vice president at the bankers association?s Center for Regulatory Compliance, said in an interview.
The point of banking supervision is to make the banks comply with the law and to protect consumers from unnecessary financial risk in the form of shady practices by banks.
Nonprofit groups such as Consumers Union and the Sunlight Foundation are pushing for an open system that would allow anyone to scan the raw submissions. Industry groups including the American Bankers Association argue that making them public could allow frivolous complaints to damage reputable brands....
The hotline has become a focal point of a philosophical debate about the bureau?s role?whether it should aim to improve consumer financial products primarily by working directly with companies or by bringing public attention to unfair practices.
One could argue that if the banks and financial institutions were complying with the law and providing good customer service and fair products, then they wouldn't have to worry about even having any dirty laundry to air. Public exposure of bad bank and financial institution practices has two key goals: providing information to consumers so they can make educated decisions about where to put their money, and keeping pressure on institutions to keep their noses clean.
In setting up the bureau, Elizabeth Warren has argued for a very 21st century, public approach: crowd sourcing.
Warren has said that a public database would allow consumers to look for patterns?a process known as "crowd- sourcing"?and make their decisions accordingly.
"Through crowd-sourcing technology, consumers can deal collectively with those who would take advantage of them?and can reward those who provide excellent products and services," Warren said in a speech on Oct. 28....
Warren addressed the consumer complaint system at an April 6 meeting with groups that campaign for more open government, according to a blog post on the agency?s website. The groups urged Warren to make the complaints public despite bank objections, said Angela Canterbury, director of public policy at the Project on Government Oversight, a watchdog group.
"These concerns about consumer complaints on the part of industry reflect an old-fashioned sensibility," Tom Lee, director of Sunlight Labs at the Sunlight Foundation, said in an interview.
Lee, who attended the meeting, pointed out that Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) publishes unedited consumer complaints about products on its website "and global capitalism has not ground to a halt."
The whole point of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is just that: consumer protection. It's worked for the automobile industry, which has been subject to a similar system since 1966. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration maintains a public database. It's been fine for them, says Wade Newton, a Wade Newton, a spokesman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. "We compete on consumer satisfaction.... The idea that we have a channel to get feedback from our customers is a good thing."
Paul Ryan gave his big speech in Chicago today, desperately trying to reset the debate over his flailing plan for Medicare privatization. And he can pretty up the rhetoric as much as he wants, but in the end, it remains a program to get rid of Medicare.[...]
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