Sunday, May 03, 2009


By Ivan G. Goldman

When President Obama went looking for a CIA director he settled on Leon Panetta, a smart, tough bird who knows his way around and also had minimal ties to the intelligence community.

But when Obama needed helpers to figure a way out of our economic quagmire, he followed an opposite strategy, choosing Wall Streeters from within the club. Not surprisingly, their lofty perspectives gave them no clue as to what’s going on down here in the financial sludge where the rest of us reside. Timothy Geithner, his Treasury Secretary, and Lawrence Summers, who heads Obama’s National Economic Council, have spent their entire lives inside the same privileged enclaves that gave birth to our economic ruin. They didn’t come into office questioning the structure that suckled them. Like their predecessors in the Bush Gang, they’ve been passing acres of cash to the same scumbags and idiots who gambled away the global economy. Now Geithner and Summers have developed a scheme designed to be so complex that we won’t understand what they’re doing while they pass on more trillions to the criminally insane. More on that later.

In a previous column I zeroed in on Summers. Now let’s take a better look at this Geithner person who supposedly supervises the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Geithner, whose father held an earldom in the Ford Foundation, went straight from college to the sinister lobbying outfit operated by Doctor Death himself, Henry Kissinger. Its primary purpose is to gain influence in Washington for a super-secret list of clients that you can bet never included Mother Teresa. After soaking up lethal doses of amorality there, Manchurian Candidate Geithner joined the entourage of Robert Rubin and Summers, who, with the aid of Alan Greenspan and others, set TNT under New Deal banking regulations, destroying the world economy and making lots and lots of money for themselves and their friends. Inside the sweet circle, Geithner climbed up to Treasury awhile, then the State Department, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Federal Reserve. There, as late as 2007, he was working to reduce capital requirements for banks so they could shoot craps for even higher stakes with other people’s money.

When the financial structure he’d helped to debase came apart, Geithner was well-known as a Fed hawk in favor of guaranteeing virtually all the banks’ IOU’s and asking virtually nothing in return. After returning to Treasury, he’s continued the class war against 99.8 percent of Americans. The $6.4 trillion question is why Obama lets Geithner, Summers, and the same old flatulent financiers regulate themselves and call the shots. Moody's, Standard & Poor's, and Fitch, for example, the firms that awarded triple-A status to trillions in worthless paper, are still paid by the companies whose financial instruments they’re supposed to rate.

Obama has certain goals he clings to – such as reforming the health-care non-system that forced his mother on her death bed to battle insurance company gnomes contending the cancer killing her was no business of theirs. On other matters Obama often compromises. Only last month he sat on his hands while the banks, after paying their usual legalized bribes to Congresspeople, managed to mutilate a bankruptcy reform bill. Where did they get the money to pay these bribes? From us, of course. Outraged Senator Dick Durbin of Illionis stated flatly that the banks still "own" Capitol Hill. Now once again they focus on their own short-term gains and wreck their institutions from within, figuring the long-term will take care of itself with more public funds. The government owns huge blocks of stock in "troubled" banks that brought on their own troubles, but Geithner has made no move to put individuals representing us, the taxpayer-stockholders, on their boards. Board members are still insiders like Obama's Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who used to make approximately $300,000 annually for attending four to five Freddie Mac meetings a year and look the other way while it filed financial reports that were later ruled fraudulent even by the notoriously see-no-evil Securities Exchange Commission.

By blocking legislation that would have allowed bankruptcy judges to jawbone down mortgage principal, banks owned by us the people will continue to torture underwater families. At the same time they create new foreclosures that make their bad paper worth even less, but that's the way they've always done it: Pay off Congress with relatively small bribes so they can harass widows, orphans, and other rabble.

Would you rather let the financially troubled family stay in that house down the block with a reduced mortgage or kick them out and create another vacant house that's a sitting duck for vandals and thieves?

Unlike Obama, Geithner and his ilk don’t compromise. They take all they can get, and without apology. Geithner’s TARP plan is to get super-rich speculators to buy rotten assets by guaranteeing their investments against loss. This will set the prices artificially high, earning profits for scumbags on both ends of the deal. This money, just like the bankers' bribe money, also comes from us.

Yes, we should ask Obama why he loosed the financial dogs on us. But we should also ask ourselves why we allowed him to open the gate. Actually, the answer’s not hard to find. Leonard Cohen already explained it: “Everybody knows the dice are loaded. Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed.”

If you still have twenty dollars left to spend, consider buying my new novel The Barfighter (The Permanent Press; 2009).

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