Jul 13, 2016

Crisis: Eric Holder, Scheer on Bernie, Abu Zubaydah, Reich on Bernie
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Eric Holder’s Longtime Excuse for Not Prosecuting
     Banks Just Crashed and Burned

2. Et Tu, Bernie? 
3. Charge Abu Zubaydah With a Crime or Free Him
4. Bernie's 7 legacies


This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, July 13, 2016.

This is a crisis log. There are 4 items with 4 dotted links: Item 1 is about Eric Holder, about whom I am less sympathetic than the writer of the article: I think he is a conscious fraud who made a career because he advertized (already in 1999) that he is a conscious fraud; item 2 is about Robert Scheer's reaction to Bernie's support for Hillary: I think Scheer is correct; item 3 is about Abu Zubaydah and is brief and continues a review I wrote yesterday; and item 4 is about Bernie's legacies in Reich's eyes, and it turns out that I agree with roughly half of them (more than not).

Eric Holder’s Longtime Excuse for Not Prosecuting Banks Just Crashed and Burned

The first item today is by David Dayen on The Intercept:
  • Eric Holder’s Longtime Excuse for Not Prosecuting Banks Just Crashed and Burned

This starts as follows:

Eric Holder has long insisted that he tried really hard when he was attorney general to make criminal cases against big banks in the wake of the 2007 financial crisis. His excuse, which he made again just last month, was that Justice Department prosecutors didn’t have enough evidence to bring charges.

Many critics have long suspected that was bullshit, and that Holder, for a combination of political, self-serving, and craven reasons, held his department back.

A new, thoroughly-documented report from the House Financial Services Committee supports that theory. It recounts how career prosecutors in 2012 wanted to criminally charge the global bank HSBC for facilitating money laundering for Mexican drug lords and terrorist groups. But Holder said no.

I believe Eric Holder is a sick and corrupt fraud, and I don't need to consult the HSBC evidence, though I agree it supports my beliefs.

The point about Holder is that he advertized his eager wish to be corrupted already in 1999, long before being nominated by Obama, probably - it seems to me - because of his 1999 advertizement.

This is from Wikipedia on Eric Holder minus footnotes but with my bolding:

Prosecution rates against crimes by large financial institutions are at 20-year lows. Holder has also endorsed the notion that prosecutors, when deciding to pursue white-collar crimes, should give special consideration to "collateral consequences" of bringing charges against large corporate institutions, as outlined in a 1999 memorandum by Holder. Nearly a decade later Holder, as head of the Department of Justice, put this into practice and has demonstrated the weight "collateral consequences" has by repeatedly sought and reached deferred prosecution and non-prosecution agreements and settlements with large financial institutions such as J.P. Morgan Chase, HSBC, Countrywide Mortgage, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and others where the institution pays a fine or penalty but faces no criminal charges and admits no wrongdoing. Whereas in the previous decade the Bush administration's Department of Justice often sought criminal charges against individuals of large institutions regardless of "collateral consequences" such as cases involving Enron, Adelphia Communications Corporation, Tyco International, and others.

I am sorry, but if a lawyer advertizes his eager willingness not to prosecute any large corporate institution, and especially banks, and then gets nominated in a top governmental position, with many bankers holding temporary powerful jobs before going back to the better paying banks, I think these two facts are strongly correlated (at least).

Then again, the HSBC is one good instance of how incredibly far Holder went to save it from any criminal charges and to admit no wrongdoing:

The history: From 2006 to 2010, HSBC failed to monitor billions of dollars of U.S. dollar purchases with drug trafficking proceeds in Mexico. It also conducted business going back to the mid-1990s on behalf of customers in Cuba, Iran, Libya, Sudan, and Burma, while they were under sanctions. Such transactions were banned by U.S. law.

But - said Holder, in my reconstruction: 'This bank is BIG! These bank managers are RICH! I can't attack a big bank! I won't attack my rich friends! They will give me a rich job as soon as I leave here if I served them well!!'

And so this is what happened (and forget about a bunch of lawyers bullshitting about "the global economy": pure bullshit [1]):

The report documents how Holder and his top associates were concerned about the impact that prosecuting HSBC would have on the global economy. And, in particular, they worried that a guilty plea would trigger a hearing over whether to revoke HSBC’s charter to do banking in the United States.

According to internal documents, the DOJ then went dark for nearly two months, refusing to participate in interagency calls about HSBC. Finally,on November 7, Holder presented HSBC with a “take it or leave it” offer of a deferred prosecution agreement, which would involve a cash settlement and future monitoring of HSBC.

No guilty plea was required.

But even the “take it or leave it” offer was apparently not the last word. HSBC was able to negotiate for nearly a month after Holder presented that offer, getting more favorable terms in the ultimate $1.9 billion deferred prosecution agreement, announced on December 11, 2012.

I say it was a pure and intentional fake by Holder, who simply did as he said he would in 1999: He would not lay down the law on any large financial institution. He refused to. The managers of big banks could do as they pleased, possibly for the price of returning part of their profits, but that was the extent of "the responsibility" Eric Holder was exacting: 'If you give me part of your profits, I will sign an official paper that says you committed no crime and you need not admit any wrongdoing. Deal, my good friends?!'

I think Eric Holder was and is a conscious mega-corrupt fraud.

2. Et Tu, Bernie?

The second item is by Robert Scheer on Truthdig:
  • Et Tu, Bernie?

This starts as follows - and this is one of very many reactions to Bernie Sanders' support of Hillary Clinton:

What an embarrassment for Bernie Sanders and those, myself included, who thought he would not descend so cravenly into the swamp of political sellout.

It is one thing to hold one’s nose and vote for Hillary Clinton as the lesser evil. It is quite another to suddenly absolve the Clintons and other top Democrats who have, as Sanders repeatedly pointed out during his campaign, contributed so much to the national crisis.

Yes, that seems fair to me. Here is in some more detail what happened:

As Sanders repeatedly pointed out during his campaign, it was former President Bill Clinton’s radical deregulation of Wall Street that legalized the new, gilded age of Wall Street theft. But now we have the new Sanders, reinvented as a Democratic Party hack, insisting that this unfettered greed was exclusively enabled by the Republican leadership of the economy under George W. Bush.

Sanders’ speech made no reference to breaking up the too-big-to-fail banks that packaged and marketed fraudulent collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) in the trillions of dollars to an unsuspecting world. It was Bill Clinton’s signature on the Commodity Futures Modernization Act that prevented the regulation of any of those suspect CDOs and the phony credit default swaps that pretended to insure them.
Yes, indeed. I think Sanders should have attacked Bill Clinton, as he did in his campaign, simply because Bill Clinton bears a great amount of responsibility for the enormous frauds that the big banks committed in 2008/2009.

Here is some more on Bill Clinton:

Do the bipartisan policies of financial deregulation, lousy trade agreements and tax loopholes that defined the Clinton presidency have nothing to do with the massive resentment in this country over a rigged economy that has fueled both the Sanders and Trump campaigns? Or was the electoral revolt against the establishment of both political parties merely the achievement of particularly effective populists of the right and left?

That would now seem to be the Sanders message. The progressive protest he led was not much of a political revolution if he believes the Democratic leadership that has held power for two-thirds of the past 24 years could now so easily accommodate it. What he has bought into is that the revolt on the Republican side is so irrationally hardcore that Hillary Clinton is now our only bulwark against an imminent variant of American fascist rule.

Of course Bill Clinton bears a major responsibility for the banking crisis, for his decisions enabled it. What are the reasons for Sanders' - quite radical! - change of tune?

I think Scheer is right in his saying that Sanders believes "
that Hillary Clinton is now our only bulwark against an imminent variant of American fascist rule" and that he - therefore - should do all he can to stop Trump gaining the presidency.

And Sanders has a point. But even so, there is also this:

“I have known Hillary Clinton for 25 years,” the new Bernie gushes. “I remember her as a great first lady who broke precedent in terms of the role that a first lady was supposed to play, as she helped lead the fight for universal health care. I served with her in the United States Senate and know her as a fierce advocate for the rights of children.”

A regular Eleanor Roosevelt, except that as first lady, Hillary Clinton turned health care over to the insurance companies and supported her husband’s so-called “welfare reform” that gutted the federal Aid to Families with Dependent Children program.

Bernie, stop with the fawning. It’s not becoming.

I agree with Robert Scheer. And why should Sanders lie?

This is a recommended article.

3. Charge Abu Zubaydah With a Crime or Free Him

The third item is by John Kiriakou on Truthdig:
  • Charge Abu Zubaydah With a Crime or Free Him
This ends as follows and is the only bit I will quote from this article, that continues an item I reviewed yesterday.

 Also, I should say that Kiriakou wrote before the following bit that he
"acknowledged that Abu Zubaydah was a bad guy":

What Zubaydah did not do, though, was help plan the Sept. 11 attacks. He did not plot with al-Qaida fighters in the West to launch new attacks on the United States and its allies. He did not bomb the USS Cole. He did not blow up American embassies in West Africa. And he never pledged fealty to Osama bin Laden.

So why is the CIA holding him at Guantanamo and treating him as one of the world’s most dangerous criminals? Why did the CIA say, according to the torture report, that Abu Zubaydah should “remain in isolation and incommunicado for the remainder of his life?” Why isn’t he being released?

That’s the discussion the Obama administration should be having. Zubaydah is not the international archcriminal that Bush, then-Vice President Dick Cheney and then-CIA chief George Tenet said he was. They were wrong. As a result, Zubaydah has endured torture, solitary confinement, transfers to secret prisons around the world and unlawful detention. He has never been charged with a crime. He has never faced his accusers in a court of law. He has never been allowed to defend himself.

That’s unconstitutional. It’s un-American. Abu Zubaydah either should be charged with a crime or released. There are no other alternatives.

I agree - though I should add that this un-American unconstitutionality now exists for 14 years, which may suggest to some that quite a few things have radically changed in the USA, and grown a lot worse.


The fourth and last item today is by Robert Reich on his site:

I will copy and discuss the seven legacies of Sanders that Reich sees, but skip the comments of Reich. If you want to read those, click the last dotted link.

Reich starts thus:

Bernie Sanders’s campaign is now officially over, but the movement he began is still just beginning. He’s provided it seven big legacies:

First, Bernie has helped open America’s eyes to the power of big money corrupting our democracy and thereby rigging our economy to its advantage and everyone else’s disadvantage.
I think it is a pity Sanders' campaign is over. I explain it by repeating Scheer's point (see item 2) "that Hillary Clinton is now our only bulwark against an imminent variant of American fascist rule", but I do think it is a pity, were it only because I think Hillary Clinton is just like Obama: She'll say anything to get elected, and she will forget everything she promised after she is elected.

But otherwise I agree with the first point. Here is the second point:
Second, Bernie has shown that it’s possible to win elections without depending on big money from corporations, Wall Street, and billionaires.
I also agree with that (though I suspect he was the last who could do this). Then there is this:
Third, Bernie has educated millions of Americans about why we must have a single-payer health-care system and free tuition at public universities, and why we must resurrect the Glass-Steagall Act and bust up the biggest banks.
Hm. He probably did, but I also think that "the American voters" should be intelligent enough to work these things out themselves, and that if they are not, something should be said about it, for these really are elementary things. Next, there is this:
Fourth, the Sanders campaign has brought millions of young people into politics, ignited their energy and enthusiasm and idealism.
Yes, he probably did - but then young people should be interested in politics, and if he did bring millions to politics, it shows how lame they were, while it
is also not at all certain many will remain interested in politics now that Sanders failed. Then there is this:

Fifth, the movement Bernie ignited has pushed Hillary Clinton to take more progressive positions on issues ranging from the minimum wage to the Trans Pacific Partnership, the XL Pipeline, Wall Street, and Social Security.
I am sorry, but (i) Hillary Clinton is very conservative and (ii) is completely unreliable, and therefore I refuse to believe that she will continue to believe when she is elected what she says she believes now. There is also this:
Sixth, he’s taught Americans how undemocratic the Democratic Party’s system for picking candidates really is.
No, I don't think so. For one thing, the undemocratic "Democratic Party" successfully prevented him from winning the presidential candidacy [2], and for another thing, anyone reasoning about the Democrats' system for picking candidates would have found that this extremely undemocratic rule of superdelegates (<- Wikipedia) dates back to the early 1980ies. The final point is this:
Seventh is the real possibility Bernie has inspired of a third party (...)
No, hardly. And "third parties" (i) exist since a long time (but indeed can't make it in elections, and not through not trying) and (ii) have been discussed a long time. (They aren't funded well, and that is the usual end of them, as far as winning big elections are concerned.)

I'd say I agree (more than not) with about half of Reich's points and disagree
(more than not) with the other half.

Well... what shall I say? I think Burke is appropriate: "If you despair, just work on". [3]

[1] Lawyers talking about the economy are about as credible as econo- mists talking about medicine, who are as credible as medical persons talking about the law: Most of them know shit outside their own academic specialism.

The whole idea that lawyers are capable of (i) rationally weighing the economic world-wide (!) "collateral consequences" is utter nonsense, and the whole idea that these weighings should instruct them to give up practising the law as it is in the law books (!!), are both complete bullshit.

[2] Incidentally, I refer you to May 1, 2016, where there is an article by Fitrakis and Wasserman who pointed out that the American elections may be (and possibly have been) stolen, by manipulating the voting machines or the counting of votes, both of which are easy to program. And these counts are
done by private firms.

I am not saying they were stolen, but they may have been, and this is one reason why I am not convinced Sanders is right when he said that Clinton won "fair and square".

[3] Why? Because your despair is rarely based on an accurate and well tested idea about the situation you despair about, and even if it is, working on as you did is probably the best.

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