Yes, Bernie blew her away in Utah (imagine!) and Idaho, and we're hearing that the Dims who run Arizona did a number on their poor, trusting, foolish voters who were forced to wait up to five hours in line to vote in order to find out that their registrations had been changed to Independent, Libertarian and Republican(!). And, thus, they were excluded from being able to vote in the Democratic primary.
What a world.
But hardly unbelievable.
Even Paul Ryan has figured this out.
And that's saying somethin'.
As a matter of party integrity, Rahm and Debbie have to go.
. . . if Secretary Clinton really wants us to believe she’s no creature of the corporate and Wall Street money machine — despite more than $44 million in contributions from the financial industry since 2000 and her $675,000 in speaking fees from Goldman Sachs, not to mention several million more paid by other business interests for an hour or two of her time — she should pick up the gauntlet herself and publicly call for the departure of these two, although they are among her nearest and dearest. And we don’t mean Bill and Chelsea.
No, she should come right out and ask for the resignations of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Democratic National Committee Chair — and Florida congresswoman — Debbie Wasserman Schultz. In one masterstroke, she could separate herself from two of the most prominent of all corporate Democratic elitists.
Each is a Clinton disciple and devotee, each has profited mightily from the association and each represents all that is wrong with a Democratic Party that in the pursuit of money from rich donors and powerful corporations has abandoned those it once so proudly represented — working men and women.
Rahm Emanuel first came to prominence as head of the finance committee for Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign, browbeating ever-increasing amounts of money out of fat cat donors, and following Clinton into the White House as a senior adviser attuned to the wishes and profits of organized wealth. Few pushed harder for NAFTA, a treaty that would cost a million or more working people their livelihood, or for the “three-strikes-and-you’re-out” crime bill which Clinton later admitted was a mistake. After alienating most of Washington with his arrogance and bluster Emanuel left in 1998 and went into investment banking in Chicago, making more than $16 million in less than three years.
He came back to Washington as a three-term Illinois congressman, chaired the fundraising Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (calling on his Wall Street sources to get in on the gravy by electing so-called New Democrats over New Deal Democrats), and soon was back in the White House as Barack Obama’s chief of staff. There, he infamously told a strategy meeting of liberal groups and administration types that the liberals were “retarded” for planning to run attack ads against conservative Democrats resisting Obamacare. Classy. Writer Jane Hamsher described him as tough guy wannabe but really “a brown nose for power ready to rumble on behalf of the status quo.”
And now he’s mayor of Chicago, reelected last April for a second term, but, as historian Rick Pearlstein wrote in The New Yorker a couple of months ago, “Chicagoans — and Democrats nationally — are suffering buyer’s remorse.”
Remember that shocking dashcam video of a black 17-year-old named Laquan McDonald being shot 16 times by a Chicago policeman while he was walking away? Of course you do; who can forget it? Remember, too, that for 400 days the police kept the existence of the video secret and did nothing about the shooting. Meanwhile, the City of Chicago paid five million dollars to McDonald’s family, who at that point had not filed a lawsuit. But despite the large sum of money coughed up by his own administration, Emanuel claims he never saw the video. If that’s true, he was guilty of dreadful mismanagement; if he did know, he’s guilty of far worse.
Only after his re-election was the cover-up of the murder revealed. In Pearlstein’s words, “Given that he surely would not have been reelected had any of this come out before the balloting, a recent poll showed that only 17 percent of Chicagoans believe him. And a majority of Chicagoans now think he should resign.”
The Laquan McDonald murder is just one of the scandals on Emanuel’s watch: crime and abuse by police run rampant, the city’s public schools are a disaster, the transit system’s a mess. Yet while Emanuel has devoted little of his schedule to meeting with community leaders, Pearlstein reminds us that he did, however, “spend enormous blocks of time with the rich businessmen, including Republicans, who had showered him with cash…” Now many of them have deserted him, including one of his richest Republican — yes, Republican — contributors, multimillionaire Bruce Rauner, who became governor of Illinois.
Emanuel should go — and Hillary Clinton should say so. But while Senator Bernie Sanders, campaigning during the Illinois primary, said he would not seek and would not accept the mayor’s endorsement, with Secretary Clinton it’s business as usual. Emanuel has held fundraisers for her campaign since 2014 so chances are she’ll stay mum, take the money and run.
As for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, she embodies the tactics that have eroded the ability of Democrats to once again be the party of the working class. As Democratic National Committee chair she has opened the floodgates for Big Money, brought lobbyists into the inner circle and oiled all the moving parts of the revolving door that twirls between government service and cushy jobs in the world of corporate influence.
She has played games with the party’s voter database, been accused of restricting the number of Democratic candidate debates and scheduling them at odd days and times to favor Hillary Clinton, and recently told CNN’s Jake Tapper that super delegates — strongly establishment and pro-Clinton — are necessary at the party’s convention so deserving incumbent officials and party leaders don’t have to run for delegate slots “against grassroots activists.” Let that sink in, but hold your nose against the aroma of entitlement.
But here’s just about the worst of it. Rep. Wasserman Schultz — the people’s representative, right? — has aligned herself with corporate interests out to weaken the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s effort to create national standards for the payday-lending industry, a business that in particular targets the poor. Payday loans, as Yuka Hayashi writes at "The Wall Street Journal," “are quick credits of a few hundred dollars, with effective annual interest rates ranging between 300% and 500%.
Loans are due in a lump sum on the borrower’s next payday, a structure that often sends people into cycles of debt by forcing them to take out new loans to repay the old ones.”
According to the nonpartisan Americans for Financial Reform, this tail-chasing cycle of “turned” loans to pay off previous loans makes up about 76 percent of the payday loan business. The Pew Charitable Trust found that in Wasserman Schultz’s home state, the average payday loan customer takes out nine such loans a year, which usually has them mired in debt for about half a year.
No wonder radio host and financial guru Dave Ramsey describes the payday loan business, which loans $38.5 billion a year, as “scum-sucking, bottom-feeding predatory people who have no moral restraint.” The very people, it must be acknowledged, who now have an ally in the chair of the Democratic National Committee, who has so engineered the rules of the current Democratic primary process so as to virtually assure her unlimited access to a Clinton White House where she can walk in freely to press the case for her, ahem, “scum-sucking, bottom-feeding predatory” donors and pals.
So imagine now the Democratic National Convention this July. Presiding over it will be, yes, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, tribune for a party of incumbency, money and crony capitalism. Follow her as she makes the rounds of private parties where zillionaire donors, lobbyists and consultants transact the real business of politics.
Watch as she and Hizzoner Rahm Emanuel of Chicago greet and embrace. Then imagine those thousands of young people outside the convention hall who have arrived from long months of campaigning earnestly for reform of the party they see as an instrument of their future, as well as members of Black Lives Matter and other people of color for whom Rahm Emanuel is the incarnation of deceit and oppression.
This is why Emanuel and Wasserman Schultz must go.
To millions, they are enablers of the one percent, perpetuators of the Washington mentality that the rest of the country has grown to hate. What a message such servants of plutocracy send: Democrats — a bridge to the past.
By Pam Martens and Russ Martens
March 21, 2016
Americans have painful recollections of how allowing ratings agencies to take Wall Street money and dole out bogus triple-A ratings on subprime mortgages tanked the U.S. housing market in the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression. They fully understand that the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision that opened the floodgates to pay-to-play corporate financing of elections has grotesquely disfigured participatory democracy in America. Now they’re about to learn how America’s “free press” is able to be bought – literally.
This past Friday, March 18, Laurence Kotlikoff, a "Forbes" contributor, Professor of Economics at Boston University and bestselling co-author of Get What’s Yours: The Secrets To Maxing Out Your Social Security, tweeted the headline of an article he had just posted at "Forbes:" “JPMorgan Chase – The True Story of America’s Most Corrupt Bank.” The Tweet linked to a two-page article by Kotlikoff at "Forbes," which began with these two paragraphs:
“Between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, we’ve heard a lot about the corruption on Wall Street. But, if you want to understand exactly what happened and why, read JPMadoff: The Unholy Alliance Between America’s Biggest Bank and America’s Biggest Crook.
“Written by trial lawyers, Helen Davis Chaitman and Lance Gotthoffer, this heavily-researched, meticulously documented book lays out for the world to see the absolute corruption of JPMorgan Chase – America’s biggest bank. And the authors explain how Obama has furthered Wall Street crime by refusing to enforce America’s criminal laws against America’s biggest criminals – not Madoff, but JPMorgan Chase.”
By Friday evening, all that one got at the link to Kotlikoff’s article was a "Forbes"’ error message saying the page couldn’t be found. By this morning, even a partial Google cache of the article is giving the reader just a second or so to see the headline, then disappearing into thin air.
We emailed Mia Carbonell, Senior Vice President, Global Corporate Communications for "Forbes," asking if anyone connected to JPMorgan Chase had requested that the article to be removed. Carbonell responded:
“"Forbes" was not contacted by anyone at or on behalf of JPMorgan. An updated version of contributor Laurence Kotlikoff’s post will be available on Forbes.com this week.”
If you haven’t been closely following the criminal charges against JPMorgan Chase, you might think that the "Forbes"’ lawyers had every right to yank the story out of fear of a libel lawsuit. Unfortunately, for both America and the banks’ shareholders, JPMorgan Chase has the odious distinction of being both America’s largest bank and the only standing U.S. mega bank to have three felony counts against it by the U.S. Justice Department. Two felony counts in 2014 were in connection with its role in the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme. Those felonies received a deferred prosecution agreement.
At the time of the Madoff-related charges, FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge George Venizelos said: “J.P. Morgan failed to carry out its legal obligations while Bernard Madoff built his massive house of cards. Today, J.P. Morgan finds itself criminally charged as a consequence. But it took until after the arrest of Madoff, one of the worst crooks this office has ever seen, for J.P. Morgan to alert authorities to what the world already knew.”
Less than a year and a half later, JPMorgan Chase had another felony charge against it for its role in rigging foreign currency markets, along with other banks. No executive at JPMorgan has gone to jail for any of its crimes.
But in addition to the felony counts, JPMorgan Chase has been on a non-stop spree of abusing its customers and paying fines tallying up to more than $35 billion in just the past four years. Inconveniently for JPMorgan Chase, the trial lawyers who wrote the seminal work on its history of crime, have appended a “Wheel of Misfortune” to their website, listing in excruciating detail the timeline and nature of the abuses and fines and settlements paid. It truly takes one’s breath away that throughout this crime spree, the Board of Directors of this bank has left the same Chairman and CEO, Jamie Dimon, at the helm. One can only surmise from this that Senator Bernie Sanders’ view that the “business model of Wall Street is fraud” is an accurate statement. Why else would Dimon still be at the helm of this bank?
If "Forbes" doesn’t have to worry about a libel lawsuit, what else might be behind its rapid yanking of the article? As it turns out, "Forbes" sells, for hefty fees, the ability for corporations to write their own articles and post them as news articles on the "Forbes" web site. JPMorgan Chase is engaged in such a program with "Forbes." Instead of stating that the content is paid advertising, the content carries the nebulous appendage of “BrandVoice.”
Media blogger Phil Fersht had this to say about the "Forbes" BrandVoice model in 2013:
“To be honest, this whole debacle leaves me depressed and speechless. While less credible or renowned brands (or some lower tier analysts) might be pressured to take vendor handouts for rose-tinted articles, you expect more from a world famous brand like "Forbes." It’s almost as if the vendors want to cut corners these days and simply buy opinion – and even write it themselves, and some of these media platforms are (apparently) giving up the ghost on quality reporting and journalism. This is a slippery slope, and one you struggle to see bottoming out anytime soon.”
"Forbes" even Tweets about the paid content (see below) and has a special Facebook page set up for additional promotion. The "Forbes" web site carries a quote from an executive of another BrandVoice participant, Ian Dix, Vice President Business Marketing for CenturyLink, who states: “Between the amplification of our content and the "Forbes" seal of approval, we are extremely excited to be a part of this industry-leading content syndication program.”
For integrated packages, the costs can run to over $1 million. Other content-posting packages can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
As proof that once a magazine heads down this slippery slope there’s no turning back, last February "Forbes" was called out by Molly Soat of "Marketing News Weekly" for placing a Fidelity Investments ad on the front cover of its February 2015 print edition with only the notation, “FidelityVoice.” Soat wrote:
“Cover ads have been done before, of course, but this ad caught the marketplace’s attention because it was designed to look like a regular ‘cover line’ (a reference to editorial content inside the magazine) and because the content carried a nebulous label, rather than a clearly defined ‘sponsored content’ tag. According to the American Society of Magazine Editors’ editorial guidelines, rule No. 1 is that no ads should appear on the actual cover of a magazine, although foldouts and false covers have been used as advertising space for years, and some publishers have experimented with running small ads printed on magazines’ covers, themselves.”
Just the month before, in January 2015, Mike Shields of the "Wall Street Journal" had explored the deal that "Forbes" had with AT&T, selling it a cover directly inside the main cover of the print edition of the "Forbes Magazine." Shields wrote:
“In this case, AT&T is looking to drive readers to its own marketing site, AT&T Business Circle, which provides tips and advice for small business owners. Thus, as part of an elaborate sponsorship, the Jan. 5th issue of "Forbes" will not only feature the second cover just a page after the editorial cover, but also an ad for AT&T Business Circle just inside the front cover, as well as a full brand-commissioned article that will run within "Forbes"’ ‘30 Under 30’ feature … This year, AT&T’s BrandVoice cover ad package includes both online and print sponsored content, as well as a similar event sponsorship later in the year; the entire deal’s value is well north of seven figures, said a person familiar with the matter.”
All of this had a depraved but familiar ring to us at "Wall Street On Parade." As we wrote last year:
“In the late 1990s, Salomon Smith Barney’s telecom analyst, Jack Grubman, was viewed by his powerful firm as a ‘disruptor.’ He was throwing out the old rules on how a telecom analyst should interact with a company on which he was delivering research to the public and creating a new, innovative model. Instead of following the old rules and remaining pristinely independent and objective, Grubman was sitting in on board meetings at WorldCom, giving investment advice to its executives, while simultaneously issuing laudatory research to induce the investing public to buy the stock.
“When "Business Week" questioned Grubman on this new analyst model on May 14, 2000, here’s how the disruptor explained his redesign of his job:
‘What used to be a conflict is now a synergy … Someone like me who is banking-intensive would have been looked at disdainfully by the buy side 15 years ago. Now they know that I’m in the flow of what’s going on. That helps me help them think about the industry…Objective? The other word for it is uninformed.’
“Grubman was seen by himself and his firm as a disruptor not because his model made any sense, but because it was bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars in deals for Salomon Smith Barney. Grubman, in turn, got his piece of the action.
According to the SEC, between 1999 and 2002, Grubman’s compensation exceeded $67.5 million. Grubman was, in fact, a corruptor not a disruptor. Many of the companies he recommended went bust. The SEC barred him from the industry for life and fined him $15 million for issuing fraudulent research.”
One final question comes to mind. Does one depravity lead to the next in corporate America? Is the whoring of Wall Street the inevitable driver of whoring everything else it touches – from politics, to ratings agencies, to foreign cartel activity and, finally, a “free press”?
By Pam Martens and Russ Martens
March 22, 2016
"Wall Street On Parade"’s strong preference for a President Bernie Sanders over a President Hillary Clinton is based on a well-formed belief that the United States will experience another financial crisis on Wall Street within the next few years. That crisis will, in hindsight, be viewed as the direct failure of President Obama to enact meaningful financial reform legislation after the 2008 crash, when he had the will of the people behind him, rather than pandering to his overlords on Wall Street who financed his campaign.
Nothing more clearly demonstrates who has been calling the shots in the Obama administration than the President’s nominees to oversee Wall Street at the U.S. Justice Department, U.S. Treasury Department, Securities and Exchange Commission, and his outrageous refusal for more than five years to even follow his own Dodd-Frank financial reform law and appoint a Vice Chairman for Supervision at the Federal Reserve.
In the early days of his first term, Obama nominated Eric Holder to serve as U.S. Attorney General at the Justice Department and Lanny Breuer to head its Criminal Division. Both Holder and Breuer came from the law firm, Covington & Burling, which had deep ties to Wall Street. Both Holder and Breuer returned to their high-paying jobs as partners at Covington & Burling after failing to prosecute as much as one Wall Street executive of the mega banks that caused the crash. In a January 22, 2013 Frontline expose at PBS, producer Martin Smith revealed the following:
Martin Smith: We spoke to a couple of sources from within the Criminal Division, and they reported that when it came to Wall Street, there were no investigations going on. There were no subpoenas, no document reviews, no wiretaps.
Lanny Breuer: Well, I don’t know who you spoke with because we have looked hard at the very types of matters that you’re talking about.
Martin Smith: These sources said that at the weekly indictment approval meetings that there was no case ever mentioned that was even close to indicting Wall Street for financial crimes.
Dodd-Frank created the Financial Stability Oversight Council to provide ongoing monitoring of the U.S. financial system and placed the U.S. Treasury Secretary as its Chair. For his nominee for Treasury Secretary, Obama picked Jack Lew, a man who had worked for the serially malfeasant Citigroup in the very division which had collapsed the bank, leading to the greatest taxpayer bailout of a banking institution in the history of finance. (Lew served as Chief Operating Officer of the division that the SEC charged with hiding $39 billion of subprime debt off its balance sheet in Structured Investment Vehicles.) Citigroup received a taxpayer bailout of over $45 billion in equity infusions; over $300 billion in asset guarantees; and more than $2 trillion in secret, cumulative, below-market-rate loans from the Federal Reserve.
Out of the taxpayer bailout funds that went to a clearly insolvent bank, Jack Lew, as a departing gift from Citigroup, received a bonus (yes, a bonus) of $940,000. Adding to the depravity, during the Senate confirmation hearing for Lew, it was revealed that Citigroup had embedded a criteria in Lew’s employment agreement for him getting that big bonus upon his exit from Citigroup. It would be conditioned upon “your acceptance of a full time high level position with the United States Government or a regulatory body.” In other words, Citigroup needed to add another regulator’s name to its gold-plated Rolodex in Washington.
Lew’s explanation in the Senate confirmation hearing for why he accepted the bonus from a bank being propped up by the taxpayer sounds a lot like Hillary’s explanation for why she took obscene amounts of money from Goldman Sachs for three speeches. Lew stated: “I do believe it was comparable to compensation for people in positions like mine in the industry.” (Yes, insolvent firms like AIG were also handing out obscene bonuses, so in Lew’s warped view, that makes it okay.) When asked by CNN host Anderson Cooper during a Democratic Forum on February 3 why she took $675,000 from Goldman Sachs for three speeches, Hillary Clinton said: “Well I don’t know, that’s what they offered.” (See video below.)
Senator Bernie Sanders was one of only a handful of Senators with the courage to speak out against the Lew nomination and vote against it. In Senate floor remarks, Sanders said this:
“We need a secretary of the Treasury who does not come from Wall Street, but is prepared to stand up to the enormous power of Wall Street. We need a Treasury secretary who will end the current Wall Street business model of operating the largest gambling casino the world has ever seen and demand that Wall Street start investing in the job creating productive economy. Do I believe that Jack Lew is that person? No, I do not … As someone who supports President Obama, I remain extremely concerned that virtually all of his key economic advisers have come from Wall Street.”
Cleaning up the Securities and Exchange Commission, which had allowed all of the corruption to grow unchecked leading up to the crash, should have been Obama’s first order of business. What did he do instead? He nominated a fatally conflicted lawyer, Mary Jo White, who came from one of Wall Street’s go-to law firms, Debevoise & Plimpton, to be SEC Chair. White’s husband, John W. White, works for Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP, another law firm heavy into Wall Street work. Under Federal rules, the conflicts of the spouse become those of the SEC chair, gutting the SEC Chair’s ability to effectively serve.
Mary Jo White’s abysmal performance as SEC Chair prompted Senator Elizabeth Warren to send her a 13-page letter last June, highlighting her string of failures.
Obama has personally caused a significant amount of the Republican backlash by ignoring his own Dodd-Frank law for a solid five years in refusing to nominate a Vice Chair for Supervision to take the reins of overseeing Wall Street at the Federal Reserve. Even when Democrats controlled the Senate through 2014 and his nominee would have likely sailed through confirmation, Obama failed to act. Just this month, on March 15, Senator Richard Shelby, Chair of the Senate Banking Committee, explained why he is holding up Obama’s two nominations to the Federal Reserve Board, stating:
“As I’ve said before, I will not hold a hearing on the two nominations for the Board of Governors until the President fulfills his duty under the law and nominates a Vice Chairman for Supervision. Section 1108 of the Dodd-Frank Act amends the Federal Reserve Act to establish this position – one of two Vice Chairmen which is responsible for overseeing the Fed’s supervisory and regulatory activities.
“I’d remind you this is no small role, given the Fed’s unprecedented authority over our financial system granted in Dodd-Frank. Leaving the position vacant also deprives Congress of an important oversight tool as the Vice Chairman for Supervision is statutorily required to testify before this Committee twice a year. I believe this position should have been filled long ago. It’s now been almost six years since the enactment of Dodd-Frank. The President should obey the law and hold the Federal Reserve accountable for its actions.”
Hillary is effectively promising a third Obama term. We should take her at her word. The campaign war chest she has reaped from Wall Street and its law firms and hedge funds, together with her millions of dollars in speaking fees from Wall Street mega banks, means you can expect more of the same caliber of appointments to the key Wall Street regulatory posts. And when the next Wall Street crisis arrives, you can count on those regulators putting a gun to the head of the American taxpayer to bail out Wall Street while further sacking a beleaguered Main Street.
Americans should not underestimate what’s at stake in this election.