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Aw, NUTS! Finance Bill: Baby-less bathwater from Congress and the Prez


So, here we are once again, we the sappy, economic-raped citizenry, with only two voices of integrity in our Senate right now. Count ‘em. The voices of Democrats Maria Cantwell (Wash.) and Russ Feingold (Wisc.).

Lots of the kabuki of faux reform, though. Appearance-Is-Everything Obama and the horrifyingly-still-prostituted Congress are getting ready to congratulate themselves once again on another legislative hurdle (one lower than a duck's in-step imho) and enjoy their own echoing sound bites from a fawning corporate-shilling press. One more time -- and most conveniently before the mid-term elections!!!

Roofied (yes, that is what I am saying ... you know, the date drug?) we are and raped once again, America. Deja vu anyone? (Except the dysfunction that is Obamacare is yet to unleash its fresh full hell of problems. But think T-A-R-P insanity? You remember the gang rape of T-A-R-P, America? What about "fool us once, blame them, fool us twice ...??????" Hello??????)

I am really appreciating the legislation-momentum-addictive-high with which Appearance-Is-Everything Obama (I’ll say it again) is re-seducing America and even the international US-watchers. “Wow,” did I hear a dazzled BBC radio reporter exclaim (and those guys don’t often go in for passion) over Obama’s ambitious and realized legislative agendas? “First healthcare reform. Now financial reform!”

Yeah, Barack. Following up on the paraphrased cynical adage, “Everything worth doing is worth doing badly!”

Especially if the corporate-run press will pick up your suddenly “populist-self-identifying” talking points on how you are self-declared champion in facing off these self-aggrandizing corporate persons. Is that why BP gets to clean up (and desperately try to cover up) its mess? The same way the perpetrators of the financial meltdown were on your fix-up team? The corporate back-room deals of Obamacare? But to ostrich America those sound bites will matter. Sigh.

After all that has happened, and the kick in the ass the incumbents are presently getting in primaries, we have ONLY two Dems with integrity calling out Congress and demanding serious reform after the worst financial disaster in 100 years? Yeah, get out the bandaids. Lots of rhetoric and bandaids. Stupid citizens won’t know the diff. Is that true?

According to Dylan Ratigan the new bill “is a complete joke. A few new rules of the road, but no traffic cops to enforce them." Ratigan asks why our Congress is enabling “a credit casino funded with STATE capital as a valid business model in our country?"

As Arthur Delaney (HuffPo) points out, the bill is "riddled with carve-outs purchased by lobbyists":

“Obtaining a carve-out isn’t rocket science,” said a Republican financial services lobbyist. “Just give Chairman Dodd [D-Conn.] and Chuck Schumer [D-N.Y.] a shitload of money.”
On MSNBC Tuesday morning, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), a Banking Committee member who worked closely with Dodd, said there was “no question” that Dodd’s draft contained loopholes. Corker mentioned a few hits from the carve-out list: “Private equity firms are left out,” he said. “Hedge funds are left out.”

The bill is all holes and no cheese.

Feingold and Cantwell are/were fighting for real reform, not the friggin' appearance of reform. This "admitted incremental reform" the Dem apologists will explain, "we'll just get on the books as a country, and that is a milestone. It will be strengthened later!" Bull shit! Exploited later, and not that much later. Remember the bonus babies after TARP? Anyone at least half awake to what is going down right now must be chewing on his or her fist to the corruption and AUDACITY of our Congress and our President. You got AUDACITY all right, Mr. Prez. But it's not of hope.

Feingold according to Andy Kroll, wants to see some form of Glass-Steagall Act. Hmmmm... remember hearing a lot about Glass-Steagall and how the slippery slope of corruption got launched thanks to its repeal in 1999 led by Republican Gramm and signed off by Clinton. Feingold was one of only EIGHT senators opposing that decision then. In 2008, Feingold opposed the Wall Street bailout in part because it "failed to reform our flawed regulatory structure." I think Feingold should be heeded by America. Apparently not. Crickets!

Andy Kroll on Feingold's stance:

"We need to eliminate the risk posed to our economy by 'too big to fail' financial firms and to reinstate the protective firewalls between Main Street banks and Wall Street firms," said Mr. Feingold, who is up for re-election this year. "Ending debate on the bill is finishing before the job is done."

Wow. Wonder if Russ will be re-elected this year. No good deed seems to go unpunished. It was the Bushco way. Now the Obamaco way in this what Maddow calls "ethical freakshow of a universe".

Senator Maria Cantwell is earnestly trying to protect America from the surreal, dark derivatives market, which is a $600 trillion industry she told Keith Olbermann Thursday night.

You remember the dark derivatives market? The one that specifically brought down the economy! That one. The one that is now being exempted in the new bill to most likely collapse the economy yet again on the backs of the American people.

But we are all hot and bothered this week by Rand Paul. Yeah, legitimately, but punk'd again, America! Look at what your Senate -- House -- President -- are doing one more time! Faux-historic legislation. Whew. Well, they get high grades at least for consistency.

Maria Cantwell told Dylan Ratigan (link above) there is a huge loophole in the bill protecting the derivatives gamesmanship. Cantwell says that has to be fixed, to ensure that all derivative trades are made through clearinghouses.

According to Cantwell as reported in the New York Times, there is now little consequence if firms evade requirements made in the bill. The bill does not prohibit the use of "uncleared swaps."

David Dayen, FDL, expands:

The problem, however, is that there’s apparently little consequence if firms evade the requirements, according to the email sent to a Banking Committee staffer by Americans for Financial Reform, an umbrella organization of consumer advocacy, public affairs and union groups arguing for reform. Some of these potential loopholes were first identified by Zach Carter of AlterNet.

“[T]here is no consequence for counterparties who enter into uncleared swaps even after a finding by the [Commodity Futures Trading Commission] or [Securities and Exchange Commission] that the swaps must be cleared,” the email reads. The bill “does not prohibit the use of uncleared swaps and, even more egregious, expressly states that no swap can be voided for failure to clear.”

Cantwell says that has to be fixed, to ensure that all derivative trades are made through clearinghouses. And clearly she’s determined to hold up cloture until that happens.

So the credit casino capitalism will continue. Congress and Prez will say they made their substantial incremental progress, hyperbolically and oxymoronically speaking, of course, and America is royally screwed one more time. Wow. There is just no end to the exploitation.

Just as an interesting aside on the literal attempt at exercise of Dem cronyism as described by Arthur Delaney and Ryan Grim:

There were some unusually Johnsonian moments of wrangling on the floor during the nearly hour-long vote. Reid pressed his case hard on Snowe, the lone holdout vote present, with Bob Corker and Mitch McConnell at her side. After finding Brown, he put his arm around him and shook his head, then found Cantwell seated alone at the opposite end of the floor. He and New York's Chuck Schumer encircled her, Reid leaning over her with his right arm on the back of her chair and Schumer leaning in with his left hand on her desk. Cantwell stared straight ahead, not looking at the men even as she spoke. Schumer called in Chris Dodd, who was unable to sway her. Feingold hadn't stuck around. Cantwell, according to a spokesman, wanted a guarantee on an amendment that would fix a gaping hole in the derivatives section of the bill, which requires the trades to be cleared, but applies no penalty to trades that aren't, making Blanche Lincoln's reform package little better than a list of suggestions.

"Basically, they blocked their own members from being able to bring up amendments, and I think that led to the chaos you just saw on the floor," said Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) after the vote, who described the Democrats as looking "cranky."

Sure they looked cranky, the conscienceless Dems. Cantwell and Feingold were illuminating the vast scope of their selling us out. Illuminating the number of Senate Dem participants in this latest gang rape of the American people. (As for the crazymaking Republicans, they find the bill too restrictive to corporations, i.e., our gang-rape still too "benign" in their eyes.)

So the weak, babyless bathwater of the Senate bill will be "conferenced in" with the weak, babyless bathwater of a House bill under the guidance of the Appearance-Is-Everything Obama administration. Gee, what do you think we’ll end up with? Reform?

Does anyone still have the audacity of hope to call their Congress people and senators? I’m gonna call mine and assert angrily, one is Schumer (sigh), but that and $5, if you still have it, at Starbucks will probably just get you a cup of coffee these days.

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Submitted by lambert on

Though you can always revise back any change that I make (I hope).

Submitted by libbyliberal on

Another powerful statement of what the situation is. The triumphant cynicism of the lobbyist enrages me.

If anyone who reads this fails to know that there is no reform, contrary to corporate media reports, that reader is deaf, dumb, and blind,

I will not likely contact my elected officials about this. In the past, about the Military Commissions Bill now Act for example, I telephoned every member of the Senate. For anyone who has not done that, though I know you have, it sounds easy; but calling 400 people ahead of a major vote and living one's life at the same time is a challenge.

I still do "ritual" calls and email from time to time. Partly, I want to be able to document that I have tried to influence the votes of my elected officials in the matters of the wars and torture, since for two years in a row I have refused to pay all my taxes because the Congress will not defund the illegal US military aggression. I know that such contacts are useless.

We saw clearly in the 2008 election campaign how leaders are chosen in the US now. The corporations give vast amounts of money to candidates who will do their bidding and the corporate media will only allow those with sufficiently large amounts of corporate money to be visible. Third party candidates are invisible, of course, but so were Kucinich, who was refused a place on a big national television "debate" because he had not raised enough money and was not a "viable" candidate, and Cindy Sheehan who was challenging Nancy Pelosi.

I loved your last sentence; since votes don't elect office holders and corporate contributions do, we know the effect of voters' opinions expressed to "elected" officials.

The outrage you express is well justified and effective. I would add that these unregulated banksters are not just despoiling us, they are also waging economic war, as Franck Biancheri, head of LEAP/E2020 (a European research team that has predicted accurately all the stages of the economic collapse) asserted in an interview with Le Matin, a Swiss newspaper, recently

In my opinion, the complicity of the US government with the banksters enables another front of the corporatist (Mussolini said fascism is corporatism) wars of aggression. The corporate controlled US invades some countries which it believes it can dominate and whose resources it wants or whose governments it dislikes, has military "agreements" with some others who cooperate (Mexico, Colombia) in allowing themselves to be despoiled for the "homeland," and wages economic war on places like Europe which are too strong to invade and too important to allow to be independent. Europe is fighting back, but why are we fighting at all? How horrible is this scenario!

Like Ray McGovern, I want to be on the right side of this. I don't think that people of good will (a term from the late and post war period in French intellectual circles) can win right now. I fear that they may in fact be destroyed in the collapse of the US. I still want to be among them. Who knows what our influence may be at some later time we cannot now imagine when people learn that there was resistance to US aggression--financial and economic as well as military.

Nancy Van Ness

Submitted by lambert on

1. Break up the TBTF banks

2. CEOs in orange jumpsuits doing the perp walk for accounting control fraud.

If you don't see both, you're seeing kabuki -- and a different brand of corporatist enablement from the "netroots" I might add.