frankBel commented on the blog post As New York Officials Deliver Damage Estimates, Prospects for Supplemental Funding Remote
No, those storm-damaged areas won’t be abandoned. Poor people will occupy them.
frankBel commented on the blog post Durbin Outlines Democratic Approach on Grand Bargain
One budget measure I would support would be to zero out all federal money spent on any Representative’s or Senator’s Secret Service detail that touches any of the social safety net, especially Social Security, Medicare Medicaid, Food Stamps. I’ll bet that would get their attention.
frankBel commented on the blog post Americans Oppose Voucherizing Medicare But Don’t Know It Is Paul Ryan’s Plan
The only reason Republicans want to privatize Medicare and Social Security is because, unlike our military, these two programs are living examples of government programs that work well and have worked well since their start. Between the two, over a century of successful government programs.
frankBel commented on the blog post Medical Marijuana Will Likely Make the Ballot in North Dakota
What are the 17 states that have approved Medical Marijuana?
frankBel commented on the blog post Medical Marijuana Rescheduling to Go Before D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals
I couldn’t read it because the typeface color is too close to the background shade. Perhaps your webmaster should take notice.
frankBel commented on the blog post Judge Temporarily Blocks Contraceptive Mandate in Health Care Law
Paying war taxes offends my religious beliefs, but evidently, it doesn’t offend them enough to be able to warrant an exception.
frankBel commented on the diary post The First Bank Has Been Criminally Indicted for Mortgage Fraud by Cynthia Kouril.
Would exposing the regulators to Obstruction of Justice prosecutions for not issuing the referrals be a path toward getting the necessary referrals? I vaguely recall one agency shredding documents pointing to criminal activity. I’ve always maintained that this was a clear and coherent Conspiracy to Defraud involving the regulators as well as the banksters, and [...]
Will a transcript be available?
The wealthiest 535 Americans are at least 100 times wealthier than the 535 Senators and Representatives that make up the U.S. Congress. Maybe 500 times wealthier, even though our Congress is populated with multi-millionaires. Any dozen could easily fund a fatal primary against any legislator, and everyone knows this. In fact, it might not be [...]
As Sparky once commented, “A promise is a Delayed-Action, Time-Released lie.”
frankBel commented on the blog post Lack of a Straightforward Defense of the Individual Mandate
I don’t understand the objection to a federal “mandate.” Wasn’t the draft a mandate, and wasn’t the draft Constitutional?
frankBel commented on the blog post Texas Invokes Constitutionality of Voting Rights Act in Support of Its Voter ID Law
The rights of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude,
The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
The only wiggle-room in the XV is in the word, “appropriate.” However, if I (or much of the FDL community) were in the White House, I (we) would have the DoJ indict Clarence Thomas and his wife for conspiracy to falsify government documents.
That would certainly get their attention …
No, it means we need an alternative to the “We suck less” Democratic party.
frankBel commented on the blog post Condoleeza Rice Wants a Do-Over After Destroying Iraq
… but frankly, looking back, I don’t think we thought enough about how to build the provinces and use the tribal networks once Saddam was gone,” she said.
“We got bad advice.” Well they also got good advice. James Fallows details the “good advice” they had at their fingertips in his Atlantic article, Blind into Baghdad, and later in his book by the same title. The State Department had prepared a thirteen-volume study, covering all aspects of reconstructing Iraq including political, economic, and social tasks and goals. The reason the Sate Department’s study was willfully ignored was because the Cheney/Rumsfeld/Wolfowitz architects didn’t want to provide ammunition to its anti-war opponents.
frankBel commented on the blog post Occupy Des Moines Protesters Take Over Obama HQ, Iowa Democratic Party HQ
I would add that there is a profound difference between violating the law and breaking the law. Barack Obama along with Eric Holder and the agencies responsible for enforcing the law are as at least as responsible for the Wall Street frauds as the banksters themselves, but by selective enforcement, their actions rise to the level of law breakers. I ask that vigorous enforcement be a key Occupy demand.
frankBel commented on the blog post Occupy Des Moines Protesters Take Over Obama HQ, Iowa Democratic Party HQ
I would add to the list of demands, aggressive prosecution of the Wall Street banksters under the RICO statutes for conspiracy to defraud.
It is apparent that the various and varied Wall Street frauds leading up to the real estate/housing market collapse had a clear and coherent structure that reflected a clear and coherent purpose. Every step depended on fraudulent activity from the previous step. The liar’s loans originated in perverse mortgage broker incentives. The riskier the loan, the higher the interest rate and the greater the fees. And, the riskier the loan, the easier it was to find a borrower. The result was an explosion in the number and the dollar value of mortgages. It was essential that these decrepit mortgages be consolidated as quickly and as expeditiously as possible. Hence, instead of properly registering all title/deed/lien transfers with local authorities as required by over two hundred years of established law, the banks concocted the Mortgage Electronic Registry System, MERS. As minor as MERS was, the failure to properly convey the notes and the mortgages to the trusts, it was essential to the greater crime, pushing them out the door before the borrowers defaulted. The huge volume of mortgages flooding the market formed the feed stock for the Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities (MBS) and collateralized debt obligations (CDO), among other investment instruments. When divided into “tranches” and given a favorable rating by the store-bought ratings agencies, these became the final product, what the investment banks pawned off on the nation’s pension funds. Yes, there were the inside investors, John Paulson for example, that milked a corrupt system by creating securities designed to fail and then betting against them, but they were a relatively small fraction of the total fraud. This was a systematic fraud on all that aspire to a retirement free from poverty, and its architects must be held accountable, lest it happen again.
Moreover, it wasn’t just the investment banks. The mortgage brokers, the ratings agencies, the mortgage servicers, the commercial banks that originated the loans and the government regulators were all essential elements of the overall fraud and all played crucial roles. Aggressive regulation would have aborted the frauds while they were only a gleam in the bankster’s eye. Honest ratings agencies would have graded the Mortgage Backed Securities and Collateralized Debt Obligations toxic before they tickled the pension funds. Rational incentives would have prevented the “liar’s loans” from ever entering the market. The mortgage services would have never engaged in fraudulent foreclosure or “robo-signing” of the chain-of-ownership documents. Over and over, we see a coherent conspiracy, held together and made possible through sophisticated information technologies, but motivated by huge profits and an expectation of entitlement.
So what to do? My answer: Ignore their specious claim that no crimes were committed because the industry was exploiting legal loopholes and that they were taking advantage of lax regulation; in short, that there wasn’t enough law. There is plenty of law. Instead, treat the entire Wall Street investment banking industry as a giant conspiracy to defraud, and charge them under the federal conspiracy statutes. Who are the conspirators? All the salaried employees of the banks, the regulators, the services and brokers known to have participated in the fraud. Most of Wall Street. Round them up and try them as a group in a giant courtroom, say Yankee Stadium.
Keep in mind that conspiracy is a very easy crime to prove. All you need to show is that there was a crime and that at least one member of the conspiracy committed a single act in furtherance of the conspiracy.
How much culpability does each defendant have in the over-all crime? We’re in no position to judge, but their peers are. Their peers judge them every day and reward them accordingly at Bonus Time. Their bonuses are the true measure of their individual contribution to the crime; their method of keeping score. The final step would be to enter their names and annual compensation in an Excel spreadsheet. Column A contains their names, column B contains their salaries. Perform a Sort Descending operation on column B. Then we can decide punishment. Keep in mind that anyone who leaves that court with a felony conviction cannot associate with known criminals, their co-conspirators, so fifteen or twenty year sentences would be unnecessarily vengeful. The primarily point of trial, conviction and punishment is to deter future crimes. It might be a while before investment banking recovered, but it would be a much more honest industry.
What fraction of Wall Street people suffering felony convictions would it take to deter the rampant fraud infecting investment banking? Two percent, which is 20 out of every thousand players? Twenty percent? What constitutes a player? Salaried employees with annual bonuses of at least X dollars? How many players would that be? What should be the range of penalties? Some have argued for execution, but few regard that as serious. More likely, some might get long sentences, a decade or more, but most would probably be released after serving five to eight years, and with heavy debt from legal fees and fines. Some might be impoverished to the point of homelessness, but certainly, nothing harsher than what many drug addicts face.
What exactly does any one here think would happen if Obama decided to take all the Walton’s money. That is to say, how would your life change if the Walton’s can’t pass on their savings?
It wouldn’t affect you in the least. The only reason to deprive the Walton’s of their wealth is schadenfreude.
I think I made clear why we want to restrict excessive wealth from being passed on and accumulated into vast fortunes in comment 18: These fortunes corrupt the democratic process.
Why don’t my line breaks show up in my posted comments?
“I can hire half the working class to kill the other half.”
To paraphrase Jay Gould, the top 535 families are wealthier by at least two orders of magnitude that the 535 members of the U.S. Congress (House & Senate), and could easily hire half the Congress to kill the other half. I’m sure everyone, down to Dennis K, understands this.
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