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Why Isn’t Wall Street in Jail? – Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi Answers the Question so well There is NO ROOM FOR DOUBT

18 Feb

Today we read this latest piece from Rolling Stone. The message is abundantly clear: the Oligarchs are firmly in power; the game is over and the people have lost.  If you have any doubt, it will only take you as long as it takes to read this piece to leave the doubt behind.

Sadly, at the same time this article is coming out, Border’s Books is going broke and clearly READING is not something Americans are much interested in these days – Much better to watch the boob toob and listen to the talking heads debate meaningless trivia while the ship goes down with all hands.

What will it take for America to wake up?  It’s a question we are not alone in asking. Lots of people are asking it. But so far, no one seems to have any answers. “Americans haven’t suffered enough yet” or “It hasn’t gotten bad enough yet” are to common refrains in the noise of the world – but neither of these seems likely or realistically true.  More likely, the work of Dr. Bruce E. Levine is more on target and more useful to the discussion.  He suggests that when people are overwhelmed, it is difficult for them to feel outrage at further atrocities and/or injustices – instead it brings up a sense of shame and compounding powerlessness.

And, it is true that we all need to take the small steps to help ourselves to re-empower our sense of ability to cause change and to make the world work – which is really what this site is all about – but in the mean time we must, for those of us willing and able, confront the truth as best we can, which starts with reading and knowing what is really going on rather than hiding our heads in the sand and trying to pretend that that knot in our gut isn’t there.  It is there. And there is a real reason for it.

Consider the opening lines of this new Rolling Stone piece… and it is easy to see why the rest of us sometimes feel like giving up…

Over drinks at a bar on a dreary, snowy night in Washington this past month, a former Senate investigator laughed as he polished off his beer.

“Everything’s fucked up, and nobody goes to jail,” he said. “That’s your whole story right there. Hell, you don’t even have to write the rest of it. Just write that.”

I put down my notebook. “Just that?”

“That’s right,” he said, signaling to the waitress for the check. “Everything’s fucked up, and nobody goes to jail. You can end the piece right there.”

But that is only the beginning of the story – and the rest of the story tells the reader why this former Senate investigator feels as he does, and provides the evidence for what must change if we are to restore our nation to any semblance of a fair or free society… And so, we must read on.

Nobody goes to jail. This is the mantra of the financial-crisis era, one that saw virtually every major bank and financial company on Wall Street embroiled in obscene criminal scandals that impoverished millions and collectively destroyed hundreds of billions, in fact, trillions of dollars of the world’s wealth — and nobody went to jail. Nobody, that is, except Bernie Madoff, a flamboyant and pathological celebrity con artist, whose victims happened to be other rich and famous people.

This article appears in the March 3, 2011 issue of Rolling Stone. The issue is available now on newsstands and will appear in the online archive February 18.

The rest of them, all of them, got off. Not a single executive who ran the companies that cooked up and cashed in on the phony financial boom — an industrywide scam that involved the mass sale of mismarked, fraudulent mortgage-backed securities — has ever been convicted. Their names by now are familiar to even the most casual Middle American news consumer: companies like AIG, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley. Most of these firms were directly involved in elaborate fraud and theft. Lehman Brothers hid billions in loans from its investors. Bank of America lied about billions in bonuses. Goldman Sachs failed to tell clients how it put together the born-to-lose toxic mortgage deals it was selling. What’s more, many of these companies had corporate chieftains whose actions cost investors billions — from AIG derivatives chief Joe Cassano, who assured investors they would not lose even “one dollar” just months before his unit imploded, to the $263 million in compensation that former Lehman chief Dick “The Gorilla” Fuld conveniently failed to disclose. Yet not one of them has faced time behind bars.

or, perhaps this little snippet a little later on in the piece will help make it more clear:

The deal looked like a classic case of insider trading. But in the summer of 2005, when Aguirre told his boss he planned to interview Mack, things started getting weird. His boss told him the case wasn’t likely to fly, explaining that Mack had “powerful political connections.” (The investment banker had been a fundraising “Ranger” for George Bush in 2004, and would go on to be a key backer of Hillary Clinton in 2008.)

Aguirre also started to feel pressure from Morgan Stanley, which was in the process of trying to rehire Mack as CEO. At first, Aguirre was contacted by the bank’s regulatory liaison, Eric Dinallo, a former top aide to Eliot Spitzer. But it didn’t take long for Morgan Stanley to work its way up the SEC chain of command. Within three days, another of the firm’s lawyers, Mary Jo White, was on the phone with the SEC’s director of enforcement. In a shocking move that was later singled out by Senate investigators, the director actually appeared to reassure White, dismissing the case against Mack as “smoke” rather than “fire.” White, incidentally, was herself the former U.S. attorney of the Southern District of New York — one of the top cops on Wall Street.

Pause for a minute to take this in. Aguirre, an SEC foot soldier, is trying to interview a major Wall Street executive — not handcuff the guy or impound his yacht, mind you, just talk to him. In the course of doing so, he finds out that his target’s firm is being represented not only by Eliot Spitzer’s former top aide, but by the former U.S. attorney overseeing Wall Street, who is going four levels over his head to speak directly to the chief of the SEC’s enforcement division — not Aguirre’s boss, but his boss’s boss’s boss’s boss. Mack himself, meanwhile, was being represented by Gary Lynch, a former SEC director of enforcement.

Aguirre didn’t stand a chance. A month after he complained to his supervisors that he was being blocked from interviewing Mack, he was summarily fired, without notice. The case against Mack was immediately dropped: all depositions canceled, no further subpoenas issued. “It all happened so fast, I needed a seat belt,” recalls Aguirre, who had just received a stellar performance review from his bosses. The SEC eventually paid Aguirre a settlement of $755,000 for wrongful dismissal.


Yes, we must read on, and we must read it all. And so, dear reader, must you, read on.

Until you get all the way through this lengthy piece, and have had your fill of the rot and stench and reality of the corruption which has overtaken us all – and then, you must decide what it is you are going to do about it.  Not shake your head and sigh, and go back about your business, but actually consider deeply, how it is you, in your own world, can do something, and what that might be. We know what it is for us.

 

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