Sunday, December 18, 2011

William Black: Goldman Sachs In the Fourth Level of Hell and Hitch 22

Goldman Sachs In the Fourth Level of Hell

According to William K. Black, Goldman Sachs executives should find themselves in the fourth Circle of Hell as punishment for their frauds committed against the people and the economy. The first five circles of Hell are reserved for self-indulgent sins. The fourth circle is set aside for avarice.

Goldman executives could be considered both avaricious and prodigal as they fraudulently accumulate the savings and pensions of ordinary folk and continue to accumulate more wealth than they can spend in a lifetime. Goldman Sachs has been responsible for raising the country to greatness and for plunging it into poverty which are attributes of this level of self-indulgence. (Wikipedia)

One wonders if Blankfein will recognize himself and reject his sin as part "of doing Gods work." Goldman's contrapasso (poetic justice) would be either to have everything they touch turn into billion dollar bills that cannot be spent or (make up your own vengeance here).

In response to the 60 Minutes interview with President Obama, where Obama declared that the banks did not commit illegal acts, Bill Black has a different view of that assertion:

Dante's Divine Comedy - Banksters' Edition

By William K. Black - Naked Capitalism

Sixty Minutes’ December 11, 2011 interview of President Obama included a claim by Obama that, unfortunately, did not lead the interviewer to ask the obvious, essential follow-up questions.

I can tell you, just from 40,000 feet, that some of the most damaging behavior on Wall Street, in some cases, some of the least ethical behavior on Wall Street, wasn’t illegal.
Obama did not explain what Wall Street behavior he found least ethical or what unethical Wall Street actions he believed was not illegal. It would have done the world (and Obama) a great service had he been asked these questions. He would not have given a coherent answer because his thinking on these issues has never been coherent. If he had to explain his position he, and the public, would recognize it was indefensible.
I offer the following scale of unethical banker behavior related to fraudulent mortgages and mortgage paper (principally collateralized debt obligations (CDOs)) that is illegal and deserved punishment. I write to prompt the rigorous analytical discussion that is essential to expose and end Obama and Bush’s “Presidential Amnesty for Contributors” (PAC) doctrine.
The financial industry is the leading campaign contributor to both parties and those contributions come overwhelmingly from the wealthiest officers – the one-tenth of one percent that thrives by being parasites on the 99 percent.
I have explained at length in my blogs and articles why:

Only fraudulent home lenders made liar’s loans
• Liar’s loans were endemically fraudulent
• Lenders and their agents put the lies in liar’s loans
• Appraisal fraud was endemic and led by lenders and their agents
• Liar’s loans could only be sold through fraudulent reps and warranties
• CDOs “backed” by liar’s loans were inherently fraudulent
• CDOs backed by liar’s loans could only be sold through fraudulent reps and warranties
• Liar’s loans hyper-inflated the bubble
• Liar’s loans became roughly one-third of mortgage originations by 2006
Each of these frauds is a conventional fraud that could be prosecuted under existing laws. Hundreds of lenders and over a hundred thousand loan brokers were “accounting control frauds” specializing largely in making fraudulent liar’s loans.

My prior work explains control fraud, why accounting is the “weapon o(f) choice” for fraudulent financial firms, and why liar’s loans were superior “ammunition” for committing massive accounting fraud. These accounting control frauds caused greater direct financial losses than any other crime epidemic in history. They also drove the financial crisis that produced the Great Recession and cost millions of Americans their jobs....
Mr. Black also lists some questions he would like citizens or the media to ask President Obama:

To date, Bush and Obama have prosecuted none of the mortgage frauds in the top nine levels. I urge reporters to ask him to explain three things about his statements to 60 Minutes.

Why are there no prosecutions of the felons that drove the crisis and occupy the nine worst rungs of unethical and destructive acts?
• Explain the five unethical acts by elite financial institutions that you consider the most destructive and least ethical – but which you believe to be legal. How do you rank the degree of unethical conduct and destruction in those acts?
• What specific statutory provisions did you propose to make those five unethical acts illegal? As enacted, which provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act made those five unethical acts illegal? Who has been prosecuted for those formerly legal but seriously unethical and destructive acts that were made illegal by the Dodd-Frank Act?
Reporters will have to be persistent in coordinating their follow-up questions to get Obama to provide direct answers to these questions.
I request that private citizens write President Obama to ask him to provide specific, written answers to these three questions. I will be proposing a series of questions that I will urge citizens to demand answers to because it is clear that the regular media will rarely ask demanding questions of elite politicians or bankers. It is up to us to hold them accountable and end the doctrine of Presidential Amnesty for Contributors.
You can read about the various levels or circles of Hell reserved for the banksters here
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Occupied Media: Interview With Professor William K. Black
Posted by the Interviewer, Taryn Hart - Plutocracy File

The video can be found here.

Did I mention before how much I adore this guy's integrity?

I've said from time to time how much I admired Christopher Hitchens, who is now dead and among the immortal beloveds (and hateds).

Along with the tributes to his intelligence, quick-wittedness and vast general learning are those to his ability to change his mind sometimes and sometimes not.

To me that was the birth of Hitch the Apostate. He had always been an iconoclastic thinker in the Marxist tradition, but dissatisfaction with the whole enterprise of Marx propelled him to Prague and the glory of his arrest. A year and half later, the Berlin Wall fell, and the Soviet-style communism he dared to challenge in person was no more. Christopher felt vindicated in his break from socialism. His apostasy had served his ambition: to reach an audience larger than those who already agreed with him.

In the 1990s, his socialist worldview was defunct and so he became a liberal and an advocate of humanitarian intervention in the service of a Marxist-free internationalism. Escaping the leftist ghetto of the Nation, he landed in Graydon Carter’s penthouse at Vanity Fair. Always more convincing as a partygoer than a man of the people, he thrived as a writer and minor celebrity. He fell out with former friends like Blumenthal and Alexander Cockburn, I think, because their ambitions — to serve Bill Clinton and the international proletariat, respectively — seemed too limited.

On Sept. 11, Christopher became an apostate again, discovering a new  enemy — Islamist jihadists — and rejecting his former faith in a liberal international order in favor of bold action against an enemy of a free society. So while people would later accuse Christopher of “selling out” by supporting the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, I always thought he was repeating the grand gesture of 1988. He wanted to put his body on the line against the enemy of a free society, and he wanted people to read about it.

I didn’t agree with him but I felt that he had come to his position about overthrowing Saddam Hussein honestly. Even in the 1980s, when Iraq barely existed in the American political conversation, Christopher spoke of his friends in Kurdistan and Iraq who had suffered from Saddam’s savagery.  After Sept. 11, he wanted to go to war against Saddam, not because it would land him in a TV studio or a right-wing cocktail party (though he regarded both results as condign) but because his Iraqi friends wanted to. I respected that. It was his new friends who were more worrisome. When he assured me, “Paul is a very smart man,” referring to his new pal Wolfowitz, I knew our days of amiable debate were over.

Christopher wound up doing what Wolfowitz and many a brilliant intellectual has done when he (and it usually it is “he”) becomes certain that his admirable goals justify organized violence: He made a stupid mistake. He supported a war that was a disaster for the people it was supposed to help. The model democracy that he predicted would emerge turned out to be a collection of violent factions whose aspirations for self-rule Washington constantly sought to manipulate for its own ends. The jihadists he sought to defeat gained a new battleground (and were only driven out when Gen. Petraeus bribed Saddam’s former allies to do the job for us). When democracy finally came to the Arab world in the awakening of 2011, its partisans were peaceful and — Hitch’s feeble arguments notwithstanding — virtually none of them cited Iraq or Bush as inspiration.

His penchant for apostasy found much more winning expression in his 2007 atheist manifesto, God Is Not Great. The nature of belief, not geopolitics, was his strong suit. That’s why I was moved by the passage in his autobiography, Hitch-22, where he recounted the story of a young man who had been inspired by his arguments about Iraq to enlist in the U.S. military. After the young man was killed in action, his parents invited Hitchens to a memorial service, which he attended with a combination of honor and humility.

Some might say that Christopher was a warmonger who had helped send this person to a meaningless death. But if the young man’s parents did not think so, how could anyone else? Politically, I thought Christopher’s ambitions in Iraq were dangerous, but as a writer I could not begrudge them. He aimed to move his readers to believe, not in superstition, but in their ideals. For better and worse, he succeeded.

Elsewhere in Hitch 22 I looked forward to his account of our long-ago meeting in Prague.  I was disappointed to find only a dismissive line. What had been a memorable and inspiring episode for me stuck in his mind as mostly the equivalent of a boring dinner party — which gave me some insight into the scale of the life he had achieved. He wound up as one of those confident Washington pundits whom younger writers loved to loathe. But for all his ambition I think he stayed true to the ideals of the Osric Dining Society. He might have been wrong but he never resorted to flattery, deference or self-serving vacuity.

Hitch 22.


Truth 101 said...

I sometimes think that the biggest difference between Sarah Palin and many other politicians is that the others are just better at making their bullshit sound less stupid.

Suzan said...

The more I think of what you say, the more true it seems.

Good comment.

Thanks, buddy!

P.S. Did you see she got hit with the long-awaited infraction on campaign expenses and has to repay $300K+?

Love ya!