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Danger, Elizabeth Warren!

Here’s how Elizabeth Warren started her Senate career yesterday:

Now, I think these are good questions and she elicited some very uncomfortable responses.  Any of us could have asked those questions because we want to know.  Why are only ordinary people prosecuted and persecuted with the government playing the role of Javert ruining people’s lives for what may be minor infractions, like drug abuse or petty theft, while the bankers get away with murder?

The problem is I think her own party is setting her up.  That’s not to say she shouldn’t be doing what she’s doing.  This is the kind of stuff we, the average citizens, like to see.  But because she is so prominent, right out of the gate, and such a threat to the right wing AND to the Democrats’ campaign warchests, she’s going to be put out there with enough rope to hang herself.

It’s hard for me to see exactly what angle Rush Limbaugh and the Glenn Beck types are going to use to neutralize her because there’s really nothing wrong with her line of questioning.  But I guarantee that she will become the next target of ridicule and misogyny before very long.  Both parties’ leadership want her out of the way.  They’ll do a Franken on her.

I hope she’s ready and that there are enough of us out here to push back the tide of nastiness headed her way.

Or at least that Paul Krugman can spare some time from his exhausting job tilting at windmills to put in a good word for her.

By the way, if banks are too big to fail or prosecute then the answer to our problems seems to be pretty simple- break them up first.  Voile!  We could prosecute them to our heart’s content.

*********************************

Matt Taibbi has a review of Neil Barofsky’s book Bailout.  Taibbi focuses on the political gamesmanship and back stabbing aspect of Barofsky’s book while  I was shocked by the sheer amount of money we allowed the banks to have access to without any oversight.  Anyway, it’s all connected with what is about to fall down on Elizabeth Warren.

It’s the best $9.99 you’ll spend at Amazon this month (for the Kindle edition).

Beat me! Beat me! Make me write bad checks!

Brian Fischer asks why Republicans allow themselves to be branded as stupid:

Why indeed.

Let me think.  No, no, don’t tell me.  Could it be because of something like *this*?:

Senate Republicans on Friday pledged to block President Barack Obama’s choice to lead the consumer finance watchdog until Democrats agree to restructure it, ramping up an expected fight this year over the controversial new bureau.

The group of 43 Republicans, led by minority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Mike Crapo, an Idaho senator who is the top Republican on the banking committee, said the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau lacks congressional oversight.

Yes, the Republicans are threatening to filibuster the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau nominee until the Democrats agree to weaken the agency’s powers.  And what is the CFPB, in case you haven’t been paying attention since, oh, 2008, and the whole reason why Elizabeth Warren ran for the Senate?  The agency is a watchdog for all those vexing problems that get average consumers into trouble.  Like credit card rates and mortgage rates and financial industry “products” that are sold to the little people who don’t know that the financiers have rigged the game.  The CFPB is supposed to be on the side of the average consumer, protecting your right to not be exploited.  What’s not to love?

“As presently organized, the CFPB is insulated from congressional oversight of its actions and its budget,” the Republicans said. “Far too much power is vested in the sole CFPB director without any meaningful checks and balances.”

The consumer bureau, which was created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial oversight law to oversee mortgage lending and other sectors that played a role in the 2007-2009 financial crisis, was controversial before it even opened its doors.

Republicans and business groups have criticized the bureau’s broad authority over a wide range of financial products, and they want it to be funded by congressional appropriations rather than through the Federal Reserve.

Oh, dear, it seems that Senator Warren knew what she was doing when she put this agency together and now, it appears to have a bit more bite in it than our financial industry overlords like.    Apparently, the finance version of the FDA, checking things out for us and sticking warning labels on dangerous products, means a little too much transparency for the finance flim-flam guys.  Therefore, it must be defanged.

Of course, the Fox News cohort will swing into action and tell the fanbase that this is just another intrusion of government into their lives and if you want to take risks with your money and lose every penny of it, by golly, that’s your right  living in god fearing America where at least you know you’re free.  If the financial industry so-called “jahb creators” are to continue to be successful, they have to be able to take advantage of people.  That’s how you get the big bucks.  And anyway, if this government agency does its job right, all the other agencies might feel inspired to do good stuff too and we can’t have that.  I mean, it’s bad enough that the Social Security administration is so efficient with such low overhead.  It’s obscene, I tell you.  Speaking of obscene, gay people who aren’t married have sex using various and sundry orifices.  And women are having consensual sex!  Consensually!  Let’s obsess on that for awhile, shall we?

If you are a Republican and you aren’t super rich, you’re as dumb as a doorknob.  I see some of you out there saying, “I’m not a registered Republican.  I’m a registered Democrat. It’s none of your business who I vote for”.  That’s worse than being a conservative Republican because you *know* that there’s something unsavory and stupid about being a conservative Republican and you don’t want the label but you feel entitled to vote stupid. So, not only are you voting stupid, you’re a coward.  I’d feel much more respect for people who at least owned their stupidity instead of hiding behind their false party affiliation. Sorry, that’s just the way it is.  Why anyone would want to take pride in today’s definition of the word “conservative” is beyond me.  It just screams stupidity to the rest of us.

What, No Bible??

ElizabethWarren had her ceremonial swearing in ceremony a few minutes ago.  I missed the magic moment to screen capture it but I did manage to capture Maizie Hirono’s pose with Biden.

Screen Shot 2013-01-03 at 2.27.29 PM

As she was being sworn in, Biden offered Hirono a Bible, which she declined.  She swore on no book.  Maizie is a Buddhist, the first Buddhist Senator we’ve ever had.  So, this is her right to decline a bible.

She’s not the only one breaking new ground today.  Tulsi Gabbard, congressional rep from Hawaii, is the first Hindu elected to Congress.  She took the oath on the Bhagavad Gita.

Well. that’s the last sign of the apocalypse, surely.

Congratulations to Elizabeth and the Two Tammys!

This goes out to Elizabeth Warren who won her first term as Senator from Massachusetts

Tammy Baldwin, the first lesbian LGBT Senator (that we know of) from the great state of Wisconsin

Tammy Duckworth who kicked the ass of Joe Walsh in Illinois to win her first term as Representative from Illinois.

Going step out, steppin’ out, Ladies Night! Oh what a night!

Go Vote!

Just because you can’t stand the two major party candidates doesn’t mean your vote doesn’t count.  If you’re disgusted, this would be the best time to express that disgust.  If you don’t speak up now, they’re going to get the impression that you approve of their performance.

And don’t forget, there are a lot of downticket candidates who need your support.  Plus, there are third party candidates who you might feel more comfortable with.  Just because you think they can’t win doesn’t mean your vote isn’t important to them.  In some cases, states won’t recognize emergent parties unless their candidates get votes or write in support.  So, if you ever want to have true choice, and not the standard Pete and RePete choices every four years, support your local third party candidates.  Don’t worry about who ultimately wins or loses.  Failures should be assigned to the politician who did not address your concerns and issues.  Now is the time to let your elected officials know what you *do* support.

And this morning, I can confirm at least one vote for Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts from the voter to the left, Number #1 child in Framingham.  (She says she wrote in Steven Colbert for president but I don’t believe her.  There are some things your kids do that you just don’t want to know.)

You have only one vote.  Make it count!

The NYTimes editorial fearmongering women for Obama

Maureen Dowd, one of only two females out of 12 op/ed columnists at the NYTimes

I guess the ladies will have to rescue Obama after all.  Today’s NYTimes editorial is all about those meanie Republicans who want to reinstate the Mexico City Rule and take away all our reproductive rights.

First, it should be noted that if you don’t want to lose your reproductive rights, don’t vote for downticket Republicans.  Oh, sure, there are pain in the ass anti-choice Democrats who should NEVER get another term but there are far, far more Republicans who are adamantly anti-choice.  And anti-labor.  And anti-consumer protections. And pro-neo-feudalism. And pro-war and authoritarianism.  And anti-Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.  By the way, did you know that Medicare only got passed in the 60s when the number of Republicans in Congress was decreased to such an extent that they didn’t have the critical mass to obstruct it?  Yep, you can look it up.  Here’s a BBC-4 Witness segment on the birth of medicare and what it took to get it passed.

In short, just about everything Americans like had to be passed when Republicans were down for the count.  Otherwise, their method is obstruct, obstruct, obstruct.  It’s what they do.  So, if you vote for a downticket Republican or a Tea Party Republican, that’s what you’re going to get.  They’re into austerity and redistributing wealth -upwards.

Does that mean you should vote always for the Democrat?  Well, until there are more third party downticket candidates, yeah, probably.  I don’t like it either.  But for sure, voting for a downticket Republican is going to mean more austerity for YOU and not for their rich friends.  You can choose to ignore the evidence and history if you want but them’s the facts.

Second, who is in the White House makes absolutely no difference this year.  I know Democrats say that it does but there’s no evidence of that.  We’ve had 4 years of Obama and he unmasked himself during the first debate.  He doesn’t fight for Americans.  He capitulates to Republicans.  He doesn’t exercise his veto pen enough and he was quite happy to leave the Bush Conscience Rule on the books.  Oh, sure, he tweaked it but he didn’t remove it.  And in my opinion, removing it is significant.  As long as the Bush Conscience Rule is around, women will never be sure that their reproductive decisions can’t be overridden by someone else.

Now, I understand why the NYTimes would be carrying Obama’s water.  It’s not that the Times is particularly liberal.  But the paper of record does tend to put a socially forward face on it’s wealth protection policies.  It doesn’t like to think of itself as backwards like the Republican bible-thumpers and who could blame it?  It’s gauche and stupid and deliberately ignorant to be a Republican supporter these days.  Sorry, Republicans, but that’s the truth.  Of course, none of that matters if you win, right?  Then you can shove your ignorance on everyone else and make them eat it and that will make you feel better.  But it means that you WILL impose austerity on everyone, including yourselves, if you vote for downticket Republicans.

But at the top of the ticket?  Makes not a damn bit of difference.  And the reason it particularly makes no difference to women is because no one has to take women seriously.  They can scream about reproductive rights until their blue in the face.  Without someone taking you seriously, you get nowhere. And in the past four years, no one has been taking women seriously.  And a lot of the blame for that can be attributed to the Democratic leadership.  They allowed a pattern of sexism to develop since 2008 that has been unprecedented.

Let’s just put aside the 2008 primaries where Obama routinely attempted to diminish his opponent by saying things like,” periodically when she’s feeling blue“* Hillary goes negative, it was Obama’s intention when he took office to make sure the jobs programs were tailored for men because he was concerned that they would feel bad if they were encouraged to go into pink professions like nursing (It’s in Ron Suskind’s book, Confidence Men).  And he also made the White House a “hostile working environment for women” (Anita Dunn said this in Suskind’s book)  He also ignored the advice of Christine Romer, Sheila Bair and Elizabeth Warren, each one of whom had to go through Tim Geithner to get anything done.  Tim Geithner, if I recall correctly, was one of the guys who piled on Brooksley Born, the head of the CFTC back at the end of the Clinton years who wanted to regulate derivatives.

Obama was the guy who hired Larry Summers who once famously said that women didn’t have the same intellectual capacity in math and science as men. (guys, don’t try to sugar coat this.  I’ve read the transcript and he sure as hell said that and meant exactly what he said.)

The whole atmosphere in the past four years has changed towards women.  Tell me, ladies, am I just imagining that?  Are men more likely to act like you don’t have a brain, treat you dismissively and cut you off in conversations?  I’m talking about just conversations on the phone not in person where they can’t see whether you are too old to pay attention to.  It’s gotten to the point where I’m already prepared to battle when I place a phone call.  I’ve seen it happen to women at work and just casually.  We have lost whatever mojo we fought so hard to get over the past 50 years.  No wonder the Republicans think they can run over our reproductive rights.  We don’t count anymore and there are very few champions in the Democratic party who are powerful or interested enough to stick up for us.  It would be nice if we had more women running for Congress this year as Democrats but even that is hard to find.  The Democratic leadership in Maine decided it would put their money behind a guy who wasn’t even in their party rather than run a woman from their side for the Senate seat that Olympia Snowe is vacating.

We can’t even get above 17% representation in Congress, which is one of the lowest female government representations in the developed world.  It shouldn’t be any wonder why nothing that is important to us gets passed.  We can’t get economic reforms we like, the jobs programs we like, the wars we hate to stop or protection of our social insurance programs.  No one takes anything we want seriously because we don’t have the critical mass in Congress to change anything.

We have fewer women in government than Pakistan

Voting for Obama isn’t going to change that.  In fact, the only thing that will change that is running more women for office and in order to do that, we need to get more authority. And in order to do that we need to have a greater voice in the opinion pages of the countries papers and online news sources.

And if that’s going to happen, maybe it should start with the New York Times, which has a male to female ratio of op/ed writers of 10:2.  That means that men are 5 times more likely to have their concerns represented on the New York Times editorial page every week than women.  And one of those women is Maureen Dowd whose schtick has been to pile on the women that the guys hate.  That seems to be a survival strategy. (And how did that work out, Maureen?)  I can’t think of one unambiguously feminist voice on the pages of the Washington Post or New York Times on a regular basis nor do I see any parity at all when it comes to representation.

So, if the New York Times feels so strongly about the fate of women’s reproductive rights, now would be a good time to add more women to its editorial lineup.  May I suggest dumping Douthat or Brooks?  Or both?  Then, hire someone like Digby. I’m a little tired of the Ezra Kleins, Kevin Drums and Matt Yglesias types getting all the peach positions.  It’s time for the New York Times to practice what it preaches and hire some women.

Otherwise, I can’t take it seriously.

*You know the level of sexism is bad when Andrea Mitchell notices.

Does Scott Brown’s manliness feel threatened by a female teacher??

Sorry I missed the debate tonight.  However, here’s the carefully rehearsed ‘zinger’ Scott Brown used on Elizabeth Warren tonight:

In case you missed that exchange, here’s how the Boston Herald reported it:

Maybe the line of the night so far came when Warren tried to interrupt Brown as he attempted to make a point.

“Excuse me,” he said, “I’m not a student in your classroom.”

He keeps calling her Professor.  It’s not Professor Warren or Ms. Warren.  Just Professor.

So, does he feel he has to reassert his manliness when he debates her?  Put her in her place?  “That’s right, I’m not a boy you can push around, Teach!”  {{strut while sitting down}}

Why does he feel the need to do that?  Does Brown have a problem with women authority figures?  Is he appealing to the white male voters out there?  Any guesses?

Check out the look on Warren’s face.  It’s like, “I can’t believe I’m only slightly beating this guy”

Yeah, I can’t believe it either.  What are Massachusetts’ voters thinking??

Democrats and Sexism, perfect together

Yes, she is more presidential than he will ever be.

Ladies, remember all those articles in the past year that said, “Gosh, Hillary is pretty darn near perfect! When Obama’s 2 terms are up, she’s going to run in 2016 and THEN all of the people who think Hillary will be a fantastic president will have a chance to vote for her, just you wait and see!”

That crap was all over the place in every newspaper.  It was all about delayed gratification.  Sure, Obama is a miserable incompetent and getting stuck with him for four more years is going to suck yak testicles, they seemed to say, but just think about 2016.  Keep your eyes on 2016.  Hillary is going to run.  No, she never said she would but we pundits just know it.  So, people, give it up for Barack just one more time and then you’ll get the competent, resolute, experienced, intelligent DEMOCRAT you’ve been waiting for.

Then, on Friday, an article appeared in the New York Times which changed all that because all the people who decided to take an old cold tater and wait for Hillary simmered in their own juices in 2012 and said nothing just like they were told, expecting nothing, demanding no promises from the DNC.  Here is the title of that article in all its glory:

For Ambitious Governor, a Clinton Stands in the Way

Read it and weep.

Yes, just like in 2008, Hillary Clinton is the inconvenient woman who is standing in the way of the presidential ambitions of a younger man, Andrew Cuomo.

All that shit the party hinted at and intimated and implied and danced around to make you think that Hillary was going to run in 2016 was just a cynical ploy to get you onboard to vote for Obama now.  To me, this ranks right up there with Romney telling his donors that the 47% of Americans who pay no income taxes have the unmitigated gall to insist on eating.  Having a woman at the top of the Democratic ticket in 2012 or 2016 would only send a positive signal to OVER HALF of the population who is under siege from the religious right but who cares?  Not Democrats.

Of course, your mileage may vary but one of the reasons we are headed into this fall election with two candidates who don’t give a f^&* about working people or women is because the Democrats failed to challenge Obama with the only other person on their side of the aisle who had a prayer of beating the Republicans, Hillary Clinton.  You don’t get anything if you don’t ask for anything and the media was complicit in delaying the gratification of the desperate, the unemployed and the Clintonistas until 2016, so they asked for nothing.  See how this works?

If you don’t believe that the Democrats have absolutely no intention of EVER mentoring or promoting Hillary or likely any woman for president, read the article.  It’s full of the same sexist shit we saw in 2008.  For one thing, why aren’t we framing the headline, “For Ambitious Secretary of State, Democratic Males Continue to Obstruct”?  But wait! There’s more:

Creating frustration for his inner circle, as Mr. Cuomo considers a 2016 campaign for the White House, the eyes of his party are fixed on Mrs. Clinton, whose already sky-high stature among Democratic activists was enhanced by her husband’s crowd-pleasing speech this month at the party’s convention in Charlotte, N.C., and who can count on broad support if she decides to run.

Mrs. Clinton complicates Mr. Cuomo’s ambitions in several ways. Despite the fact that she hails from Illinois, she is now viewed as a New Yorker and commands deep loyalty from the state’s Democratic establishment. And Mr. Cuomo, 54, reveres her husband, former President Bill Clinton; he views Mr. Clinton as a mentor who helped him begin a career in politics, according to Cuomo friends and associates.

My GOD! There is a man who is frustrated!  This shall not stand!

And Hillary is complicating Cuomo’s ambitions.  Why is she doing that!?  Doesn’t she understand that he really wants to be president?

Neither she nor Mr. Cuomo has signaled any plans for the 2016 election, and the governor says he is focused on his current job. (Mrs. Clinton is not expected to stay in her cabinet post if Mr. Obama wins a second term.) But the potential collision between them is gripping the political world in New York.

“In terms of the psychodrama of politics, it does not get any better than this,” the Democrat close to Mr. Cuomo said.

While Mr. Cuomo has deep affection for Mr. Clinton and calls him for advice, his relationship with Mrs. Clinton is less personal.

What potential collision? The DNC virtually promised women and gullible Clintonistas that she was going to run.  All it needs to do is tell Andrew Cuomo is to suck it up and step aside.  How hard is that?

Ahhhh, but you see, Andrew Cuomo doesn’t have a personal relationship with Hillary Clinton, therefore, it will be OK for him to go after her personally and have his droogs tear her presidential ambitions to shreds.  It’s what Democratic males do.

What is most vexing to those who want to see Mr. Cuomo run is that Mrs. Clinton, given her popularity in the party, can take her time deciding whether to make another bid for the presidency, essentially freezing the rest of the Democratic field.

Yes, it’s altogether vexing.  Damn her.  Why doesn’t she just quit?  It’s almost as if she’s so popular because so many people have been waiting so long for her.

But here’s the best line in the article:

But others reject the notion that Mrs. Clinton poses a serious obstacle to Mr. Cuomo, saying she is enjoying a political honeymoon right now but still has many of the weaknesses that plagued her in the past, including a polarizing image.

By contrast, they say, Mr. Cuomo is a fresh face whom Democratic officials, donors and activists will naturally want to court — provided that he wins re-election in 2014, when Mrs. Clinton will most likely be out of a job in politics.

This is a not so subtle way of saying that Hillary is old.  Forget that her approval rating is stratospheric, she must still be called “polarizing”, she’s simply old news. She’ll be 68 before she’s allowed to run again.  She’ll be past her freshness date. And she’ll be running in a primary against this young whipper snapper with a penis who wants her to get the fuck out of his way.

I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so.  This is the way the party is going to get rid of Hillary.  They have no intention of ever putting her in the White House.  Repeat after me: The Democrats do not mentor women.  Don’t believe me?  Remember how the Democrats saddled Nancy Pelosi with Steny Hoyer instead of John Murtha, the guy she originally wanted?  Yep, before she was even out of the gate as Speaker of the House, the party guys stuck her with a minder who would simply ignore and override her. (I’ll try to find the pic where Nancy has to stand next to Steny after that announcement.  The look on her face says it all. ahh, found it.  See below. )  Nancy’s not much of a true liberal anyway, since she’s got her own clan to protect, but she’s not really in charge anyway.  Steny is.

Remember what happened to Chellie Pingree in Maine this year?  She was a Democratic representative who wanted to run for Olympia Snowe’s senate seat.  But the Democrats told Pingree they were going to support an independent candidate instead of her.  So, not only did the Democrats decide to support someone not even in their party, but they allowed a female senator’s seat to be replaced with a man.  We have a lousy 17% representation of women in Congress and Democrats have no obligation or desire to change that number.  Oh, sure, maybe Pingree couldn’t have won, but it’s not like the Democrats stood behind her and made her look like a formidable candidate.  Democrats don’t do that for their female candidates.  But they’ll do it for a first term senator Barack Obama and Andrew Cuomo, both of whom have the patience of a 2 year old.

Look at Elizabeth Warren.  The Democrats have been notably cool to her.  If she’s pulling ahead of Scott Brown now, she’s doing it pretty much on her own.  That’s because Democrats don’t back their female candidates. They have no faith in them, don’t want to have to work with them, act like they’re second best, tokens.  And they always expect them to step aside when an ambitious man wants to run for something.

You can deny it all you want but that’s the truth, people.  Democrats don’t think very highly of women.  They just don’t. And when you’re no longer fresh, you won’t get off the damn stage.  And when push comes to shove, they’re going to sell you out on everything that’s important to you: equal pay, equality in general, abortion, contraception.  They will ignore you in meetings, call you “not a team player”, say that you’re “hard to work with”, you insist on your own way.  Don’t believe me?  Go ask Christine Romer, Brooksley Born, Sheila Bair and Elizabeth Warren. Heck, the White House didn’t even keep Nancy Pelosi in the loop on the debt ceiling meetings in the summer of 2011.  Obama’s team wanted to do their deal through Steny and leave Nancy out of it. They didn’t even have the courtesy of keeping her updated.  If you raise your voice, attempt to exercise power, express an opinion and don’t go back home to tend the garden, they don’t want you around.

I say this as a liberal, Democrat-in-Exile, not because I want the Republicans to win. It is past time for women to seriously consider not belonging to parties that do not have a hard quota of female representation in their foundation documents, just like some European parties do that have greater female representation in government.  It’s too late in 2012 but it’s not too late for 2014.  I am sick to death of these two political parties treating us like we don’t matter to their own ambitions, like our lives are not as important, that we’ll just go along with the program.  They treat us like children, substitute their own judgement for ours and flush our votes down the drain if they’re inconvenient.  That shit’s got to stop.

Given that this is the strategy they’re going to take to sideline Hillary and everyone who has been waiting for her turn, I can’t see myself ever voting for another Democrat for president in my lifetime.  I was dubious that Hillary would even want to run in 2016, no matter how much the media pushed that meme.  I think she sees the writing on the walls.  The Democrats don’t see her as a full person with the ability to command the way they see men.  She’s also to the left of Obama and the party doesn’t want to represent working people and women anymore than Republicans do. And then there the issue of penis years.  She could be as perfect a presidential candidate as there ever was and they’d still shave points off of her because she doesn’t have a penis. Penises make you want to be president more.  If you don’t have a penis, your ambition mojo is not as strong.

And they’ll drag up the old urban legends about how her campaign was badly run.  Yes, a campaign that won CA, PA, NY, NJ, TX, OH, MA, IN, MO, FL, MI, NM, WV, KY, AR etc, etc, was poorly managed. {{rolling eyes}} Nevermind that it was Obama’s campaign that needed to have the rules changed so the party could drag his sorry ass over the finish line for the nomination, it will always be HER campaign that was mismanaged because she concentrated on big Democratic states and ignored Idaho.

So, anyway, Democrats are lying, sexist assholes.  That’s the truth.  You’ve seen the data, draw your own conclusions.

Warren vs Brown debate: currently in progress

You can watch it here on WBZ.

As Atrios says, document of the atrocities.

LI(E)BOR

We have used the word “evil” to apply to bankers so often in the last four years that it’s become trite.  Nevertheless, the level of austerity imposed on us by the financial establishment in order for them to continue to seize money and power without accountability is so destructive that there’s really no other word that applies.  Once again, we have to go back to Hannah Arendt’s comment about the “banality of evil” to understand what we’re talking about here. It is the normalization of the unthinkable.  It’s not that these financiers are people who beat their wives or sell their children into sexual slavery.  I’m sure that some of these people are perfectly fine to socialize with.  You can play a few rounds of golf, have dinner, go sailing with them.  They seem like such nice, intelligent, clean-cut people, if a bit more ambitious than the average Joe.  OK, insanely more ambitious, but you know what I mean.  They don’t look like gun toting SS droogs in jackboots who will conduct you to the edge of the pit where they will shoot you in the back of the head for inconveniently living on land they had their eyes on.

And yet, isn’t that what they’re doing, in a so far non-violent way?  They’re leading hundreds of millions of people to the edge of the pit of financial instability and a lifetime of precarious existence and pushing them over with a swift kick to the back.  When you lose your job, your house, your marriage, everything but the clothes on your back and the student loans you will be paying off forever, and it’s all because some wealthy bankers need to preserve their bonuses, isn’t that evil?

Check out this unbelievable interview about LIBOR from the BBC with Harvard professor Niall Ferguson.  The second part is particularly outrageous.  Essentially, we are being pressured to turn generation against generation and Ferguson implies that Obama will sell us out at the end of this year:

Part 1:

Part 2:

(Roberto Unger’s call for the left to defeat Obama makes a lot more sense now.  Ahh, I see that Ferguson is one of the original Confidence Fairies that Krugman is always referring to.  What’s more, he’s married to Aayan Hirsi Ali, the Somali born former Dutch MP who works for the conservative American Enterprise Institute.  She has taken Christopher Hitchens’ place in the Four Horseman dialogues.  Man-o-man, no one is safe from the creepy thoughts of extreme right wing philosophy.  I can’t take the Four Horseman dialogues seriously now.  Not until she’s replaced.  She jumped from ultra religious conservatism to ultra right wing conservatism and is not a good ambassador for the New Atheist movement.  Sorry, Richard.  She’s going to damage your credibility.  You’ve got to be very careful about these people because in this country, the political right wing is inextricably tied to the religious right wing.)

The LIBOR scandal took me back to the fall of 2008 when Planet Money popped up on NPR.  At first, Planet Money was a good resource for non-financiers to get a grip on Credit Default Swaps and Collateralized Debt Obligations.  A few months later, that began to change subtly as the hosts of Planet Money got pulled into the realm of the serious people.  But in October 2008, they were on top of LIBOR.  I remember them talking about the TED spread and LIBOR and getting the sense that the LIBOR number, the interbank interest rate showing how willing banks were to lend to one another was an indicator of the global scale of the catastrophe.  No joke.  The higher the LIBOR number creeped, the more likely we were to spin off to a Depression that was bigger than the world had ever seen.  The thing is, according to the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the banks were manipulating LIBOR starting in 2005, affecting rates on adjustable rate mortgages.  And the downstream effect of LIBOR was felt in just about every interest rate on every act of borrowing by every individual in the world.  We are talking about hundreds of trillions of dollars.  In this Planet Money snippet, Adam Davidson discusses the effect of LIBOR and the TED spread and what it means for global markets around the world.  Throughout October, Planet Money followed TED and LIBOR and the effect of the bailout money.  For some reason, LIBOR numbers should have gone down a bit after the infusion of money but they didn’t, probably because the LIBOR rate, as high as it was, wasn’t real and wasn’t high enough to reflect reality.

But reality might have set off a global panic, triggering much more severe regulation of the finance industry so it had to stay hidden.  In the meantime, we’ve been carrying the weight of these behemoth zombies for four years and if we don’t do something now, we will be carrying them for years to come- at our expense.  And they’ve gotten off with minor slaps on the wrist.  The CFTC fined British banks a paltry $450 million for their manipulations.  That’s an insult to American taxpayers and totally inadequate.  Democratic lawmakers should be outraged and demanding accountability.  Where are they??

In another Planet Money episode from October 2008, we find out what LIBOR meant to the little people:

Justin asks us today:

“I saw you mentioned student loan availability, but what about existing loans? Since many student loans have their interest rates tied to LIBOR or Prime, what does LIBOR hitting all-time highs this week mean for students? And, perhaps more ominously, graduates who are in repayment? How long can this go on before they start to see some effect on their loans?”

Even if Congress passes the bailout, many students across the nation will begin to see higher costs for loans in the coming months or could be turned away by banks altogether as the credit crisis intensifies.

The goes the same for graduates. The big issue is what kind of loans you have.

Most direct government-backed loans such as Federal Stafford and PLUS loans have fixed interest rates. This means the interest rate will remain constant for the life of the loan.

If you took out private loans, which have become increasingly common as students look for new sources to finance the soaring costs of college, they typically have variable rates and are projected to jump this year. Sorry.

Sorry, student.  Sucks to be you.  In the light of the LIBOR manipulation details, that seems particularly callous, along with Davidson’s subsequent attack on Elizabeth Warren for caring about homeowners and consumers and not being “serious”.  It was the influence of the serious people on Davidson (by the way, who was he referring to as his serious sources anyway?  Her colleague Niall Ferguson at Harvard, perhaps? And do “penis years” have something to do with why his word may have carried more weight than hers?) and on our elected officials that lead to the gouging of the taxpayers to pay the bankers’ unconscionable debts on bad bets.  We are talking about trillions of dollars of OUR money, OUR retirements, so that the weekend sailors and golf buddies would not feel inconvenienced.

I used to think my outrage meter was pegged but I have never seen such corruption go unchecked in my lifetime.  What we have here is a bunch of extremely irresponsible and unethical people playing with people’s livelihoods like it wasn’t real money to them.  And it isn’t real money to them.  The tens of thousands of dollars we’ll be collecting each year in measly pensions and social security, that’s nothing.  They can burn through that in a matter of minutes.  If it were several million dollars in Social Security payouts affecting their retirement packages, that might get their attention and they’d be furiously lobbying Congress to save Social Security at all costs.  Social Security and pensions would become holy sacraments. But because we are talking about such piddling amounts that amount to pocket change to the wealthy, it has no real meaning to them.  We might as well be flood victims in Bangladesh, clinging to a few square meters of dry land while the water rises all about us.  Those poor people.  Well, that’ll learn them to farm in a flood zone.

The careers we have lost? Not their problem.  Our children’s college funds, the roofs they have over their heads, the food we put in their mouths, barely registers.  On an individual basis, none of us make enough money to get their attention.  The significance of the figures of our incomes does not arouse their concern.  They are so caught up and preoccupied with making their numbers that they don’t have the time to care about your little problems.  They have jumped to a new level in the game where the sheer volume of money being swapped is intoxicating.  They’re not playing in the real world anymore.

It’s got to stop.  The manipulation of LIBOR was uncovered by the US CFTC.  That means, we’ve been aware of it for some time.  We probably knew about it when Occupy Wall Street was protesting last fall and we probably knew about it when their camps were broken up and they were hauled off to jail and when the DHS sent in their riot troops.  Yep, the Obama administration has known.  And so far, not one banker has been hauled off to jail.  No one has been penalized.

Think about that.  The scope of the LIBOR scandal affects every person who has ever dealt with a bank in the past 7 years.  It’s so outrageously immoral and has caused so much destruction and continues to wreck havoc in Spain, Ireland, Britain, the US, everywhere that if it isn’t prosecuted as a the criminal enterprise that it is, then I can only conclude that our elected officials are complicit.  They had to have known that the banks that are now too big to fail were in fact failing and were disguising the scale of the catastrophe from the public.  Those banks are still in business, thanks to our largess, and no one in the Obama administration, particularly Tim Geithner, has dared to declare them insolvent and break them up as Sheila Bair suggested in 2009. They are now bigger and more dangerous than ever and they are calling the shots about our jobs, retirements and money supply around the world.

Our money went into their bottomless gullets and continues to go in, and yet, they and their political arms have the outrageous gall to insist that we, the hardworking taxpayers who paid in advance for our social security benefits, WE have to take a haircut.  That is what the so-called Grand Bargain is all about, ladies and gentlemen. That’s why we must lose our jobs.  We cost too much.  They think they can dump the blame on us for having to eat and getting old and needy.

We are living in a world that is run by criminals.  You may think that’s they way it’s always been but this is now institutionalized criminality.  No one can be trusted.  And when no one can be trusted, all hell breaks loose.

More on LIBOR:

Boston Globe- How a LIBOR scheme works and what it means to consumers

Joe Nocera- LIBOR’s Dirty Laundry

Yves Smith- Yes, Virginia, the real action in the LIBOR scanda was in the derivatives

Here’s an interesting take on LIBOR from 2007 when banks were manipulating the rate up: Why LIBOR won’t hurt that much.

Also, this Fresh Air interview with Paul Krugman in Oct 2008 is very revealing.  He was right about almost everything except the unemployment rate. (his prediction was too low).  But even more striking is the last 5 minutes of the interview when he talks about the two presidential candidates and why Ben Bernanke was struggling to get a handle on this.  Could it be that the measures were inadequate because the LIBOR rates had been artificially lowered?

Matt Taibbi’s most recent posts in the Rolling Stone:

A Huge Break in the LIBOR Banking Investigation (6/28/2012)

Another Domino Falls in the LIBOR Banking Scam: Royal Bank of Scotland (6/29)

Why is Nobody Freaking out about the LIBOR Banking Scandal? (7/3)

LIBOR Banking Scandal Deepens: Barclays releases damning email, Implicates    British Government (7/4)

Matt Taibbi discusses the LIBOR scandal with Eliot Spitzer:

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