In order to understand how selective against Democrats the prosecutions by Obama’s “Justice” Department have been, one must know the background of a few cases that were begun under George W. Bush. This is especially so with regard to the case of a current federal prisoner, the former Democratic Governor of Alabama, Don Siegelman:
On 1 June 2007, Adam Zagorin of TIME, headlined “Rove Named in Alabama Controversy,” and he reported that,
“A longtime Republican lawyer in Alabama swears she heard a top G.O.P. operative in the state say that Rove ‘had spoken with the Department of Justice’ about ‘pursuing’ [Alabama’s departing Democratic Governor, Don] Siegelman, with help from two of Alabama’s U.S. attorneys. The allegation was made by Dana Jill Simpson, a lifelong Republican and lawyer who practices in Alabama. She made the charges in a May 21 affidavit, obtained by TIME, in which she describes a conference call on November 18, 2002, which involved a group of senior aides to Bob Riley, who had just narrowly defeated Siegelman in a bitterly contested election for governor. Though Republican Riley, a former Congressman, initially found himself behind by several thousand votes, he had pulled ahead at the last minute when disputed ballots were tallied in his favor. After the abrupt vote turnaround, Siegelman sought a recount. The Simpson affidavit says the conference call focused on how the Riley campaign could get Siegelman to withdraw his challenge. According to Simpson’s statement, William Canary, a senior G.O.P. political operative and Riley adviser who was on the conference call, said ‘not to worry about Siegelman’ because ‘his ‘girls’ would take care of’ the governor. Canary then made clear that ‘his girls’ was a reference to his wife, Leura Canary, the U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Alabama, and Alice Martin, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama.”
The Simpson affidavit also asserted that in this conference call, “Canary said ‘not to worry — that he had already gotten it worked out with Karl’” Rove, to get U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to okay this operation by these two U.S. Attorneys. However, in order to avoid the obvious appearance of impropriety if Canary’s wife were to prosecute Bill Canary’s opponent, she recused herself from the case, and Louis V. Franklin Sr. was appointed by the Bush Administration to carry out the prosecution of Siegelman. The judge in Siegelman’s trial was Republican Mark Fuller, a personal friend of Bob Riley.
The renowned international lawyer Scott Horton at harpers.org, on July 16th, headlined “I Accuse... 44 Attorneys General Demand an Inquiry Into the Siegelman Prosecution.” Actually, it was 44 former state Attorneys General who signed this document to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees. The document said: “There is reason to believe that the case brought against Governor Siegelman may have had sufficient irregularities as to call into question the basic fairness that is the linchpin of our system of justice.” Four days later, on July 20th, Horton headlined “Dana Jill Simpson Issues Press Release.” Her press release stated:
“When I first got involved in this matter on the Republican side of the fence, I was shocked and sickened to learn of the U.S. Department of Justice’s selective prosecution of Democrats, including former Governor Don Siegelman. I have a legal duty as a licensed attorney in Alabama to report anything that I consider to be unethical or illegal, when I obtain knowledge of same. Over a period of months I received legal advice regarding my ethical duty from a prominent Montgomery attorney, the Alabama Bar Association and a Circuit Judge in DeKalb County, where I primarily practice law.
“Mrs. Canary and Mr. Franklin are attacking me personally in an attempt to throw up road-blocks so the truth will not be shown to the public. I will once again state, I am looking forward to raise my hand to God under oath and to testify to these matters recently revealed. I assume that all of the others involved in this horrible travesty of justice, including Mrs. Canary and Mr. Franklin, will be willing to do the same.
“One of my favorite verses from the patriotic ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic,’ promises ‘His truth is marching on.’ I hope that it will march to Washington, D.C., for a fair and thorough investigation.”
On 10 October 2007, the Democrats’ blog, “The Gavel: Draining the Swamp” headlined “Chairman Conyers Releases Jill Simpson Transcript on the Prosecution of former Alabama Governor Siegelman,” and reported: “Today, Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers released the transcript from the sworn testimony of Jill Simpson, the Alabama attorney who ... cites conversations that allege Karl Rove’s involvement in the decision to prosecute Siegelman.” Five days later, TIME bannered “A Case of Selective Justice?” and Adam Zagorin presented evidence “that the Bush Administration pursued selective justice in Alabama” in this case. Lamar “Lanny” Young, who had testified against Siegelman, had also testified alleging corruption by William Pryor and Jeff Sessions, but the Bush Administration ignored those allegations, and appointed Pryor to become a federal appeals-court judge, while Sessions became a Republican U.S. Senator.
On 28 October 2007, the Birmingham News headlined “Prosecutor Says Montgomery Led Siegelman Case” and reported that “John W. Scott, a senior Justice Department trial lawyer who had been helping with the case at the request of Montgomery prosecutors, disagreed with the move to extend the investigation.” Moreover, “Scott was the most experienced prosecutor on the team.” So, the prosecutors in Montgomery “decided to request a special grand jury over Scott’s objections, seeking permission from a special Justice Department division that reviews such requests. Franklin [the prosecutor] said they received approval” from the “Justice” Department. This was the political decision that Rove had arranged through the U.S. Attorney General, and G.W. Bush acolyte, Alberto Gonzales. Three days later, on October 31st, Scott Horton headlined at pacificpress.com, “Career Prosecutors Opposed Siegelman Case,” and Horton explained how “Rove Called the Shots” in the case.
The conviction of Siegelman sent Siegelman to prison, and Riley to the Governor’s mansion.
Perhaps the Republican businessman Richard Scrushy’s aberration of having contributed to a Democrat (paying $500,000 for a seat on Alabama’s hospital licensing board) turned out to be his “legal” Achilles heel. Karl Rove had higher priorities than even the protection of a major contributor such as Scrushy. Rove’s message here was: Bribery is fine, so long as it’s being paid to a Republican. Scrushy was prosecuted in order to send Siegelman to prison.
On 26 November 2007, a comprehensive news report on the background of this case of politicized “justice” started in the first of five installments of Larissa Alexandrovna’s “The Permanent Republican Majority,” this installment being at http://rawstory.com/.... Larisa Alexandrovna and Muriel Kane bannered “How a Coterie of Republican Heavyweights Sent a Governor to Jail,” and they opened: “For most Americans, the very concept of political prisoners is remote and exotic, a practice that is associated with third-world dictatorships.” However, “A Raw Story investigation shows that as early as 1998, when Siegelman was first elected governor, Alabama corporate interests already saw him as a looming threat. ... Those interests were aligned with GOP operatives.” The timeline started in 1994: “Karl Rove is hired by the Business Council of Alabama to work with veteran GOP operative Bill Canary on winning races for the state supreme court. Rove brings with him from Texas the strategy of successfully demonizing Democratic judges by painting them as pawns of ‘wealthy personal-injury trial lawyers.’” Soon, Alabama’s then-Lieutenant Governor, Don Siegelman, was in Rove’s cross-hairs, because Siegelman wasn’t just a Democrat, he was trying to get the state of Alabama to join in the massive liability lawsuit which several states were bringing against tobacco companies. Rove was, from 1991 to 1996, a paid consultant to Philip Morris. Bush’s Amerika was a country where the good guys could get sent to prison by the gangsters who ran the nation and who were empowered by votes from the masses of the clergy’s suckers.
In the third installment of this story, which came out on 16 December 2007, titled “Running Elections From the White House,” Alexandrovna and her colleagues reported that: “Rove’s meetings with Riley campaign operatives are said to have taken place on street corners in Washington at prearranged times. ‘Riley’s people went up to DC and had a couple of meetings with [Rove],’ one of the Republican attorneys stated. ... ‘He would never discuss anything on the phone.’” Similarly, the Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff stated that Rove arranged to meet with him on streetcorners. Alexandrovna also described how Rove set Riley up with Mentzer Media Services, the firm which subsequently prepared the advertising campaign for the group that smeared Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.
So, Richard Scrushy of HealthSouth just got sucked into Karl Rove’s meat grinder. If that hadn’t happened, Scrushy’s Party, the Republican Party, wouldn’t have pursued him. Saving Scrushy wasn’t high enough on the White House’s list of priorities. Getting rid of promising Democratic leaders was the top priority.
On the same day, December 16th, Alexandrovna headlined on her blog, atlargely.com, “The Permanent Majority — Update,” and she accused the top management of CBS News of blocking “the work of their investigative team” at “60 Minutes,” who were preparing a report on a similar story; this report would reach a far larger audience. Alexandrovna was clearly angry at the censorship: “I know what CBS is sitting on, and although I am not investigating that angle, I will not hesitate to scoop their story if they don’t stand by their promise to give their sources the protection of public exposure.” Already, Alexandrovna reported, “I am hearing from multiple sources that the whistle-blower in the case, Dana Jill Simpson is now under investigation by US Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, Alice Martin, and that Ms. Martin is having Ms. Simpson tailed.”
Brad’s Blog, on 22 December 2007, at www.bradblog.com/?p=5471, bannered “Former Alabama Gov. in Newly Unearthed Video: ‘My Election Was Stolen Electronically.” A video by Julie Sigwart of Take Back the Media, on 13 September 2004,” showed Siegelman alleging “out-and-out theft of his 2002 contest. He describes having gone to bed on Election Night after having been declared the victor by 6,000 votes following the publicly-counted results. But then, he was awoken at about 4:30am with the shocking news that the numbers had magically flipped after the all-Republican Election Board in Baldwin County had ‘re-counted’ the results, illegally, by themselves, after midnight. ... ‘Somebody electronically manipulated the election results’ [he claimed]. The results were then certified immediately by the Republican AG who denied a legally requested hand-count, and the votes were then immediately sealed and locked away beyond reach.” This was like a police state.
Then, on 5 February 2008, Alexandrovna’s atlargely.com bannered “60 Minutes Caves to Pressure from White House on Siegelman Story,” and she reported that a White House smear campaign against Simpson had succeeded in causing CBS to kill this story, and so “we will be including what 60 Minutes did not.” However, CBS agreed to telecast the report, after all, on 24 February 2008 (competing against the Oscars, everywhere but in the East Coast time-zone). Headlining “The Prosecution of Governor Siegelman,” Scott Pelley reported there that, “Simpson told 60 Minutes she did what’s called ‘opposition research’ for the Republican Party. She says during a meeting in 2001, Karl Rove, President Bush’s senior political advisor, asked her to try to catch Siegelman cheating on his wife. ‘Karl Rove asked you to take pictures of Siegelman?’ Pelley asks. ‘Yes,’ Simpson replies. ‘In a compromising, sexual position with one of his aides[?]’ Pelley clarifies. ‘Yes, if I could,’ Simpson says. She says she spied on Siegelman for months but saw nothing.” Moreover, “there was another problem with the prosecutor’s star witness: Nick Bailey [the chief prosecution witness against Siegelman] was a crook. Unknown to Siegelman, Bailey had been extorting money from Alabama businessmen. Facing ten years in prison, Bailey agreed to cooperate with prosecutors to get a lighter sentence.” Bailey “told 60 Minutes the prosecutors were so frustrated, they made him write his proposed testimony over and over to get his story straight.” The prosecutor was required by law to turn over to Siegelman’s defense attorney Bailey’s notes, but the defense wasn’t even informed that those notes existed. Yet still, it was hard for the prosecutors to get the jury to convict. “After two months, the jury deadlocked twice, then voted to convict on its third deliberation. Many legal minds were shocked when federal judge Mark Fuller, at sentencing, sent Siegelman directly to prison without allowing the usual 45 days before reporting.” Pelley closed: “Karl Rove and others at the White House were subpoenaed to testify before Congress but they refused to appear. And the Justice Department has refused to turn over hundreds of documents in the case. Don Siegelman has six years and eight months to go on his sentence.” However, “52 former state attorneys-general have asked Congress to investigate whether the prosecution of Siegelman was pursued not because of a crime but because of politics.”
Right after the telecast, Alexandrovna headlined at huffingtonpost.com, “Soviet America: Parts of 60 Minutes Broadcast Blocked in Alabama,” and she reported that, “Tonight was something truly unseen in US history. During the 60 Minutes broadcast and ONLY during the Siegelman portion – the screen went black for Huntsville residents and Mobile residents. There are other reports of other locations.” Alexandrovna also reported that, earlier, Simpson’s “house mysteriously caught fire and she was run off the road.” Standard gangster methods.
Scott Horton, on 24 February 2008, at http://harpers.org/... headlined “Off the Air in Alabama” and he wrote of a TV station that covers “all across Northern Alabama — from Decatur to Huntsville and considerably on down.” He observed that, “This station was noteworthy for its hostility to Siegelman,” and that it was owned by Oak Hill Partners. “Oak Hill Partners represents the interests of the Bass family,” which had helped finance George W. Bush’s political career since its very start. (According to the Center for Public Integrity in 2002, the Bass family were the fifth-largest “career patron” of George W. Bush.) “The station ran a trailer stating ‘We apologize that you missed the first segment of 60 Minutes ... It was a technical problem with CBS out of New York.’ I contacted CBS News in New York and was told that ‘There were no transmission difficulties.’”
So, that’s how HealthSouth’s Scrushy got squished in order to destroy a rising Democrat. George W. Bush made Richard Nixon appear like Honest Abe by comparison. And Lincoln would puke to know the gangster organization that his Party transformed into after his death.
Scrushy was sent to prison not on account of his real crimes, but instead for an incident which wasn’t even a crime at all. Siegelman was convicted of having been “bribed” by Scrushy, because Siegelman re-appointed Scrushy to a state hospital board, after Scrushy had contributed to a state lottery fund, which Siegelman had established to help Alabama’s chronically underfunded public school system.
Democrats in Congress and elsewhere were pressing for justice in the Siegelman matter, and on Thursday 27 March 2008 the AP headlined “Ex-Ala. Governor to Be Freed on Bond,” and reported that, “A federal appeals court approved the release of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman on bond Thursday while he appeals his convictions. ... Appelate court judges Susan Black and Stanley Marcus said Siegelman could be released.” Both of these judges were Democrats, even though both had otherwise-conservative records. Both judges were pro-aristocratic and anti-democratic, but here they couldn’t stomach the political railroading into prison of a Governor. This news report noted, “Scrushy attorney Art Leach said the order releasing Siegelman makes him optimistic about Scrushy’s chances for release on bond.” The Republican judge, Mark Fuller, and the Republican prosecutor, Louis Franklin, who had slammed Siegelman into the slammer, were “very disappointed.”
On 7 April 2008, http://rawstory.com/... headlined “Siegelman on 60 Minutes: Karl Rove Has Succeeded in Ruining Political Career,” and reported: “‘Politics for me ... in terms of electoral politics — is over,’ says former Alabama governor Don Siegelman, once considered the most successful Democrat in his state, to CBS’ 60 Minutes. ‘I think that’s what Karl Rove wanted; he has accomplished his goal.’ ‘Frankly,’ he continues, ‘I’m about busted financially. I’ve spent my life savings ... I’ve spent a lot of money on trying to muster my defense.’” This news report then said: “The following video is from CBSNews.com, as posted on April 6, 2008.” The video showed Siegelman telling Scott Pelley of “60 Minutes” that he had been aiming at national political office, but that Rove had now terminated that aspiration. Pelley asked him his account of his relationship with Scrushy, and Siegelman said that he had never met him prior to becoming Governor, and that on the only occasion when he did meet Scrushy, which was in the Governor’s office, Scrushy requested to resign from the hospital board, but that Siegelman asked him to stay, because it would have looked bad for the most senior member of the board to quit just as the new Governor was starting. Siegelman’s appointments aide Elmer Harris was also interviewed, and he said that there was no relationship between the two men, no bribe, and also there had been no interest on the part of prosecutors or the judge in the case to have Harris testify in court. However, the 6 April 2008 edition of “60 Minutes” didn’t actually include any of this news story: there was nothing about it on “60 Minutes.” It was telecast only by the local CBS-TV affiliate in Birmingham, Alabama, as being only a local news story. It can be viewed nationally at rawstory.com and any linked sites. On 12 May 2008, Mary Orndorff of the Birmingham News reported: “Former White House political adviser Karl Rove has declined a request to testify before Congress about the criminal case against former Gov. Don Siegelman and instead made a counteroffer to answer questions in writing. ... The committee Democrats had already rejected Rove’s earlier offer to answer questions privately with no transcript.”
The 14 November 2008 TIME featured Adam Zagorin’s “More Allegations of Misconduct in Alabama Governor Case,” reporting that “new documents highlight alleged misconduct by the Bush-appointed U.S. Attorney and other prosecutors in the case.” According to the Administration’s account, Leura Canary had “recused herself in 2002, ‘before any significant decisions ... were made” in the case. However, “new documents furnished by DOJ staffer Tamarah T. Grimes tell a different story.”
On 6 March 2009, a three-judge appeals-court panel, comprised of three Republicans (two appointed by Nixon, and one by Reagan), unanimously upheld Siegelman’s and Scrushy’s bribery convictions. Roger Shuler, the legalschnauzer.blogspot, on 22 July 2009, explained the laws these judges were violating. Headlining “How the 11th Circuit Cheated Don Siegelman,” Shuler noted: “It’s undisputed that the alleged actions that made the government’s bribery charge ... took place outside the five-year statute of limitations.” And, “The 11th Circuit puts words into the mouth of the Siegelman team.” And, though bribery law required an “explicit agreement” to be established in order to convict, “The trial court’s jury instruction did not require an ‘explicit agreement’ and thus was unlawful. But the 11th Circuit let it stand.” And, the law required that hearsay evidence which is admitted under the “coconspiritor exception” must be from a “coconspiritor,” but no evidence was ever presented that Siegelman had conspired. Shuler called the ruling “judicial butchery.”
The supposedly Democratic President replaced Bush, and on 7 July 2009, Shuler headlined, “Justice Department Whistleblower Is Fired in Alabama,” and reported: “A U.S. Department of Justice whistleblower has been fired from her job after speaking out about wrongdoing in the Middle District of Alabama. Tamarah Grimes, who served on the prosecution team in the case against former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy, received notice of her termination on June 9.” Grimes said, “As a federal employee with a previously exemplary record, the decision to ... file whistleblower claims under the ‘No Fear Act’ was a careful decision made of necessity and conscience,” but she now regretted having depended upon the Department’s promises. She said, “The knowledge that you have admirably performed your duties as a federal employee cannot pay the mortgage.” Shuler bannered a week later, on July 14th, “Is Another Fix In Place on the Siegelman Case?” and reported: “Word is that Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby, Alabama’s two Republican U.S. Senators, have struck a deal with the Obama administration that would allow Bush-appointed prosecutor Leura Canary to remain in control of the Siegelman case.” Grimes publicly pleaded with Obama’s new Attorney General, Eric Holder, to assist “wrongfully terminated former employees of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and to citizens of the United States within the Middle District of Alabama.” Stunned Democrats wondered what was going on.
This new Democratic President’s Attorney General, Eric Holder, did everything he could to protect Bush Administration officials from investigation, much less prosecution. However, he was vigorous beyond justice, in prosecuting Democrats. The AP headlined on 9 April 2009 “AG Eric Holder: Siegelman Case Not Under Review,” and reported, concerning Holder’s recent decision throwing out the Justice Department’s prosecution case against Alaska’s former Republican U.S. Senator Ted Stevens. “Asked whether he was taking another look at the other public corruption prosecutions, such as the conviction of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman or cases against others, ... Holder said he didn’t have any reviews under way.” This was despite Siegelman’s pleas for a Justice Department review of his case, and despite 52 former state attorneys general signing a letter in 2008 urging a Justice Department review of that case. By now, 75 had signed it. Holder still ignored it. Soon after, this petition had 91 signatures. Holder still ignored it. In fact, on 12 May 2009, the AP headlined “Prosecutors Ask for Longer Sentence for Siegelman,” and reported that, “federal prosecutors want former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman to serve a much longer sentence. ... The prosecutors have sent a letter to federal probation officers recommending that Siegelman be sentenced to 20 years. ... Siegelman was originally sentenced to more than seven years in prison.” These prosecutors were holdovers from the Bush “Justice” Department, who were retained by Obama. They all should have been immediately fired and gone.
Though Obama opposed prosecutions of Bush, or of Cheney, or of any of the banksters, he did favor prosecution of Siegelman. He also favored indefinitely suspending the right of “detainees” (prisoners without trial) who were being held at Guantanamo. On 22 May 2009, Peter Finn headlined in the Washington Post, “Obama Endorses Indefinite Detention Without Trial,” and he reported that, “President Obama acknowledged publicly for the first time yesterday that some detainees at Guantanamo Bay may have to be held without trial indefinitely.” Any detainees who were innocent were, in Obama’s view, just so much tough luck — regardless of what the U.S. Constitution, international law, or the most elementary concepts of justice, would say. Obama also didn’t much care whether continuation of George W. Bush’s policy on this would return many of the world’s Muslims to despising America as a hypocritical nation.
Although Obama persecuted Don Siegelman, Obama protected banksters. On 3 April 2009, Politico bannered innocuously (and deceptively, given the shocking core which was buried here – Obama’s statement), “Inside Obama’s Bank CEOs Meeting.” Eamon Javers reported Obama telling Wall Street CEO’s, inside the White House, “My administration ... is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.” (This essentially secret meeting, and the comment itself, had occurred on 27 March 2009, but Javers failed to cite the date, which was indicated only under the accompanying AP wire photo of the CEOs coming out of the event.) Obama’s remark was implicitly analogizing here: he implied he was protecting them not from prosecutions for crimes (which he actually was), but instead from angry mobs outside, who were driven by irrational hatred (like lynch mobs were in the Old South). Obama was metaphorically siding here with the plantation owners, not the slaves; with the KKK, not their victims. He was going to protect banksters from the public (i.e., from the very people who had been looted by banksters, and by Bush, and now also by Obama). He wasn’t going to protect the public – which he here analogized to a hate-obsessed mob. His attitude here was despicable, above all for the leader of his country. But it turned out to be who – and what – he really was.
Obama also appointed some conservatives to key positions in his Administration. For example, Gary Gensler was a former Goldman Sachs and Citigroup cheerleader for not regulating derivatives trading, and protégé of the conservative economist Lawrence Summers; and on 25 March 2009, Robert Sheer headlined in the Nation, “Obama’s Toxic Advisers,” and condemned Obama’s appointment of Gensler to run the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, whose job was regulating derivatives trading. Sheer wrote: “Gensler helped create this financial crisis when he was in the Treasury Department back in the Clinton era.” Scheer quoted Vermont’s progressive U.S. Senator Bernard Sanders’s statement against this nomination: “Mr. Gensler worked with Senator Phil Gramm and Alan Greenspan to exempt credit default swaps from regulation, which led to the collapse of AIG.” In other words, Obama was whoring to Wall Street insiders, right from the get-go. This didn’t win him Wall Street’s support, however: they knew that Obama not only was weak, but was classically weak — someone who never retaliated. The aristocracy would have gained nothing by supporting Obama against the Republican Party. Not only was the Republican Party their own political organization, but Barack Obama was terminally weak, because he had no guiding moral principles, no ethical system to which he adhered. Pushing him around might even be fun for them.
Obama’s man at the U.S. Treasury, Tim Geithner, was unalterably opposed to any type of accountability against the banksters who had run their firms into the ground and whom he and Bush and now Obama let off not just scott-free but enormously wealthy. On 18 March 2009, Politico headlined “AIG Rage — the Fallout,” and former Mckinsey consultant Yves Smith noted that, “As for the bonuses [which AIG execs gave themselves, which Obama and Geithner said the government could do nothing about], the idea [from Geithner and Obama] that they [the bonuses] couldn’t be clawed back is a canard. Treasury should have filed lawsuits against the senior executives in charge at the time of the bailout ... for accounting fraud, or at least made clear it was prepared to file charges.” All AIG bonuses could have been retrieved by the Government, which now owned AIG. Robert Reich noted: “American taxpayers have so far committed $170 billion to the giant insurer, ... the most money ever funneled to a single company by a government since the dawn of capitalism,” yet those executives “are planning to give themselves over $100 million in bonuses.” Obama behaved as if he were in the banksters’ pockets. This was not “Change You Can Believe In,” to recall Obama’s campaign promise. It was “more of the same,” and such things destroyed the new President’s credibility.
On 18 March 2009, Britain’s Guardian bannered “Bank Shares Surge After Fed Says It Will Spend $1tn on Quantitative Easing.” What subsequently became known as “QE1” thus began, in order to pump up bank stocks, so as to recapitalize Wall Street and help these mega-banks to pass bogus stress tests that Timothy Geithner was planning in order to be able to attract still more investors to mega-bank stocks and thereby help the aristocrats who held those bum bank stocks to offload them onto outside investors. The idea was to transfer the aristocracy’s investment losses onto outside investors, and not just onto future U.S. taxpayers. On 31 May 2011, gurufocus.com headlined “The Effects of Quantitative Easing,” and reported that, “Since quantitative easing was formally announced on March 18, 2009 to May 26, 2011, the U.S. public debt has grown by 3.31 Trillion” dollars. That public debt would be paid off by future Americans, in two ways: reductions in government services, and increases in taxes to the government. So, the trash that was transferred onto the public was more than $3 trillion during this period. But non-aristocratic investors absorbed yet additional trash, by buying prettied-up bank corpses. Today’s aristocracy were thus protected from the downside of their gambles.
The progressive blogger Brad Friedman headlined at his bradblog.com on 21 July 2009, “New Evidence Reveals Feds ‘Coached, Cajoled, Threatened’ Star Witness in Siegelman Case,” and he opened: “How it’s even possible that former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman’s bribery case and conviction has not long ago been dropped by the Dept. of Justice is beyond us. There is now so much evidence of clear conflicts of interest, overt partisan political prosecutorial targeting, failures to recuse by at least one conflicted prosecutor as well as the judge in the case, evidence withheld from the defense team, and now evidence of the coaching and strong-arming of witnesses in exchange for a lighter prison sentence and a promise to conceal embarrassing personal information, it all makes the prosecutorial misconduct in the case of former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens — a Republican whose case was dropped by Obama’s Justice Department shortly after they came to power — look like jaywalking.” Obama’s “Justice” Department was behaving almost exactly the way Bush’s did: twisting “justice” to protect Bush and other Republican hacks, and to frame at least one Democrat, Siegelman. In early June, the Obama Justice Department had gone so far as to fire Tamara Grimes, a member of the Justice Department’s prosecution team against Siegelman, who had turned whistleblower and provided documentation that the U.S. Attorney in the case, Karl Rove’s friend Leura Canary, had lied, and that Siegelman had indeed been framed. Grimes’s prior record was flawless, but she was fired by Attorney General Holder shortly after she turned whistleblower. Obama’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission refused to enforce its “No Fear Act” which supposedly protected whistleblowers from such retaliation. Also on July 21st, four leading progressives in the House, each heading a powerful committee, signed and sent to Obama a joint letter threatening to oppose future legislation he might suport, unless he stopped continuing Bush’s tactic of using signing statements to nullify provisions in bills he signed into law. Rawstory.com headlined “Democrats Scold Obama on Signing Statements,” and displayed this letter to the President, which closed: “The policy of using signing statements to assert the right of the White House to ignore certain provisions ... may result not in the invalidation of those various provisions, but rather in insufficient Congressional support for further funding of these institutions [which are funded by that legislation].” What this meant is that now that Democrats, and no longer Republicans, controlled Congress, a President’s use of such signing statements might actually kill the chances for passage of future legislation he sought. Congressional Democrats were telling Obama: Back off, or else! On 9 August 2009, The New York Times bannered “Obama’s Embrace of a Bush Tactic Riles Congress” and reported that a Republican Senator, Charles Grassley, had sent Obama a letter in March, “criticizing a signing statemtent that challenged a statute protecting government whistle-blowers,” and that Sen. Grassley “accused Mr. Obama of chilling potential whistle-blowers, undermining the intent of Congress in a way that violated his campaign promises.” Even some Republicans were shocked at the extent to which Obama was continuing the very same Bush policies he’d attacked when running for the White House.
The day after the July 21st joint congressional letter was sent to the President, Ryan Grim at huffingtonpost.com bannered “Ignoring Watchdog Report, Treasury Gives Three Major Banks Sweetheart Deal,” and Grim reported the grim news, that, “Less than two weeks after a congressional watchdog called attention to backroom deals in which the Treasury Department repurchased stock warrants from bailed-out banks at well below market value, three more such transactions have now been reported [with BB&T bank, State Street Bank, and U.S. Bankcorp]. The big loser: The U.S. taxpayer. ... In three of the subsequent four transactions, the deals have only gotten worse.” On those three transactions, the U.S. taxpayer had been shortchanged from 35% to 46%, the Congressional Oversight Panel reported. The fourth transaction was with Goldman Sachs, which, on its own, decided to pay Treasury the honest price, 100%, probably because Goldman had been receiving most of the negative attention from the press, and because Goldman Sachs was named after two Jews. (This firm had long since ceased to be predominantly Jewish-run, but the anti-Semitic stigma persisted nonetheless, due to the firm’s name.)
On July 30th, John Carney at businessinsider.com headlined “Merrill Lynch Paid More Than $3 Billion Bonuses After Suffering $27 Billion In Losses,” and he reported that, “Last year, Merrill Lynch ... suffered losses of $27 billion,” and “agreed to take $10 billion in TARP funds. ... It promptly paid $3.6 billion in bonuses, blowing an even larger hole in its balance sheet.” Carney said, “If Merrill Lynch would have fallen apart without paying its employees one-third of its TARP funds — far higher than any other bank ... — it should have been permitted to die. ... It was just a wealth-transfer — straight from taxpayers to the Americans who needed it the least [and, one might add, whose performance in their bringing about that collapse merited it the least].” This “looting” by Merrill’s executives started on Bush’s watch, but was completed on Obama’s: the new President might have been able to stop it, but he didn’t even try. The next day, July 31st, the lead story in The New York Times was “Bankers Reaped Lavish Bonuses During Bailouts.” The two highest-earning banks during 2008 were, first, JPMorgan Chase; second, Goldman Sachs; and each paid out almost twice as many billions of dollars in bonuses as it made in earnings that year. Most of the other big banks actually lost money, but all paid huge bonuses, during this terrible year. And all of the big banks received TARP funds. Wells Fargo was the worst-performing: $42.93 billion in 2008 losses. Citigroup and Merrill Lynch tied for the second-worst, at nearly $28 billion lost. None of these three big losers had yet repaid its TARP funds. This news report said that the view by many Democrats against TARP-bailed-out banks paying huge bonuses “is not shared on Wall Street, which tends to reward employees based more on their individual performance.” Ignored in this article, in that aristocratic newspaper, was the key question: How ought such “performance” to be measured? The fact is: The very same people who had caused the enormous losses were also being paid multi-million-dollar bonuses for their “performance” in 2008. These bonuses were now just theft from future generations of U.S. taxpayers, and not merely dubious income taken from misguided investors (as had been the case before taxpayers took on the burden). Thus, progressive economist Simon Johnson at baselinescenario.com bannered, on 6 August 2009, “Larry Summers, Economic Recovery, And Ben Bernanke,” and he reported the phoniness of Summers’s account of the Administration’s economic achievements, such as: “Summers refers to ‘A Financial Stabilization Plan’, but this is ex post grandiosity. In fact, the government simply demonstrated unflinching support for all big financial firms as currently constituted. We the taxpayer effectively guaranteed all these firms’ debts, unconditionally. Once the market figured out that the Treasury, Federal Reserve and other officials could pull this off, the panic was over. But this victory brings also real danger,” because “The time to push for change was earlier this year, when banking was still in political disarray; now the sector is stronger than ever on Capitol Hill.” Summers, Geithner, Bernanke, and Obama, had given Wall Street billionaires massive taxpayer largesse which salvaged these aristocrats’ individual wealth, and by now the time was already politically too late for the corrupt system, which those now-recipients of taxpayer largesse had exploited, to be able to be rectified in any significant way. Obama’s give-aways to those aristocrats had thus been for just nothing. What Obama did constituted a failure even in purely political terms, because it needlessly encouraged the American public to become deceived into believing that the economic condition in which George W. Bush and the Republicans had left this country wasn’t really disastrous, and thus that it didn’t demand fundamental overhaul of financial regulation and of this nation’s entire economic model. Obama would have been far more effective politically if he had simply permitted the collapse to occur at the start of his Administration, so that everyone would have recognized the vileness of conservatism, and recognized — very publicly — that conservatism had caused this collapse. Obama turned out to be just a charming cocky fool: extremely smart, but not really very intelligent.
The Center for Media and Democracy bannered on August 21st, “Bank Looting Bonuses Reported — Will the SEC Awake from Its Slumber?” and Mary Bottari wrote: “A short time ago, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo released a report focusing on the bank bonuses paid out by the biggest banks in 2008.” Cuomo noted that the size of a bonus had had little to no relationship to a given recipient’s profitability (or loss) to the company which paid his bonus. Moreover, the continuation of these bonuses now was being paid by U.S. taxpayers, no longer by private investors. So, Bottari asked, “Why hasn’t anyone been prosecuted for looting the taxpayer?” She noted that in the case of Merrill Lynch, the Obama Administration had “fined the company $33 million, which is less than 1% of the $3.6 billion looted from taxpayers.” That fine was rejected by a federal judge, whose approval was necessary, but who “flatly refused to approve it” because it was a bad joke instead of a penalty appropriate to men who had “lied to their shareholders.”
On 4 September 2009, a letter to the editor was published in Britain’s Financial Times, and in France’s Le Figaro, signed by the finance ministers of the major European countries, headlining “Bonuses: We Need Rules,” and urging: “We call on our G20 colleagues to join us in adopting strict rules.” They said, “At today’s G20 Finance Ministers meeting in London, we will call for a strict compensation policy to be put in place. Guaranteed bonuses for more than one year should be prohibited. Bonus payments should be spread out over a few years, and paid bonuses should reflect the individuals and banks’ true performances over time.” They were trying to stem the rampant ripping off of investors, by cheaters who are subject to no liability for their cheating. “Spread out over a few years” would have contrasted drastically with Wall Street’s grab-and-run system.
Obama’s Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was the world’s biggest defender of executive bonuses for the people who had managed America’s major financial firms into the ground and who had then been bailed out by U.S. taxpayers. On September 6th, John Carney at businessinsider.com headlined “G-20 Europeans Defeated By Tim Geithner,” and he reported that, “In meetings in London to set the agenda for the Group of 20 economic meeting in Pittsburgh later this month, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner scored a major win over Europeans with rival financial reform plans. Backed by British officials, the US officials set the official agenda to focus on capital requirements at banks rather than bankers bonuses. The bonus provisions that were agreed to were far more watered down than had been wanted by French and German officials.” On September 4th, Sarah Butcher at news.efinancialcareers.co.uk had bannered “What Gordon Brown’s G20 Bonus Letter Really Says,” and she interpreted a jargonized letter which British leader Gordon Brown had sent to France’s Nicholas Sarkozy and Germany’s Angela Merkel. Ms. Butcher summed up the message as “We’d like to cap bonuses as a percentage of revenues and profits, but are waiting to see whether” Obama will “approve.” In other words, Obama did what the Wall Street bigs wanted him to do, and the G-20 couldn’t override the policy decision of its largest member state. American taxpayers were now paying these bonuses to those malefactors of great wealth, and Obama made amply clear, by his actions, that he felt comfortable continuing this into the future. The banksters had a loyal friend in the White House, even after George W. Bush left.
Clearly, the U.S. was the world’s most corrupt insustrialized nation – even more corrupt than Italy, whose Minister of Finance, Giulio Tremonti, was among the 7 signers of the published September 4th letter. The only supporter of the U.S. position was the U.K., America’s “poodle.”
Holder did everything he could to avoid reviewing the Bush “Justice” Department’s conviction of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman. On September 9th, attorney Andrew Krieg, at huffingtonpost.com, headlined “DoJ Attack On Siegelman’s Rights Threatens Election Rights For All,” and he noted, “On Aug. 27, holdover officials from the Bush Justice Department filed 226 pages arguing that former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman and his co-defendant [Richard Scrushy] have presented no evidence since their 2006 bribery convictions that justifies a hearing or new trial.” He went on: “No evidence? As too often in the past, DoJ officials look like they’re exaggerating to block justice and to protect themselves.” A review of the Siegelman conviction would place those former Bush “Justice” Department officials, including U.S. Attorney Leura Canary (who, amazingly, was still in her job, even though U.S. Attorneys are political appointees and not career Justice Department workers) in severe jeopardy. Holder was siding with them, against democracy. On May 12th, the AP had headlined “Prosecutors Ask for Longer Sentence for Siegelman,” and reported that those prosecutors wanted Siegelman “to serve a much longer sentence.” This was now Obama’s “Justice” Department. Krieg continued: “By seeking to imprison Siegelman for 20 additional years, DoJ clearly seeks to end public debate about Alabama’s most prominent Democrat. He held that distinction for years, at least until he narrowly lost re-election in 2002 following still-mysterious Election night switches of 6,000 votes out of his column in a rural county after polls closed.” In other words: “The all-out federal criminal prosecution launched in 2004 remains the centerpiece of unresolved evidence that Karl Rove used DoJ to target Democratic officials nationwide. In-depth public scrutiny of the DoJ’s high-ranking prosecution teams risks revelations about similar problems in hundreds of other disputed DoJ investigations that altered the nation’s political map during the Bush years.” And Barack Obama did not want to “look backward.” So, he was determined to look only forward, blind — and to leave in power the same corrupt people who had brought America down. And to leave a crucial message for the future: that top-level criminality will not be punished severely, and will not even be punished at all, in the United States of America, not even when it steals the government from the people.
On 25 September 2009, John Conyers, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, along with other signatories, sent to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder a letter saying “We write urging you to take all necessary steps to ensure that a comprehensive, fair, and impartial review is given to the extensive allegations of prosecutorial misconduct and politically-influenced prosecution that have been raised in connection with the prosecution of former governor of Alabama, Don Siegelman.” Conyers had previously sent to the Office of Professional Responsibility in the Justice Department a request to investigate the numerous allegations of prosecutorial misconduct in this case. “While the OPR investigation of the Siegelman matter has been pending for more than sixteen months, Committee staff has received claims that plainly important witnesses have not been contacted by investigators.” However, this letter might as well have been sent to the dead letter office, because there was never a response to it, not even an acknowledgment of its receipt.
President Obama continued with his campaign to continue with George W. Bush’s campaign to lock Democrat Don Siegelman in prison. Not only was Obama’s “Justice” Department trying to increase Siegelman’s sentence, but they were trying to prevent the U.S. Supreme Court from considering Siegelman’s case. On 25 November 2009, tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com (which was by now the only remaining news medium following the prosecution, or actually persecution, of Siegelman) headlined “‘Disappointed’ Siegelman: Obama Justice Dept. Virtually The Same As Bush DOJ,” and Justin Elliott reported that, “When the Obama Administration argued in a filing earlier this month that the Supreme Court should not consider an appeal by Don Siegelman, the former Alabama governor wasn’t surprised. ... ‘There’s really been no substantial change in the heart of the Department of Justice from the Bush-Rove Department of Justice,’ Siegelman” said. “While Solicitor General Elena Kagan was appointed by Obama, Siegelman says the DOJ staffers who are giving advice and making decisions on his case are the same people who were at the department under Bush. ‘The people who have been writing the briefs for the government are the same people who were involved in the prosecution,’ he says.” One of the reader-comments posted here said “Isn’t it funny how the Republican Ted Stevens, who was obviously guilty, got a get out of jail free card because the Bush prosecutor [whom Obama kept on] admitted to unlawful behavior, but the Democrat, who is obviously innocent, must go back to jail?” Another asserted: “The politicization of the Justice Department under Bush is undeniable, and their appointment of U.S. Attorneys that would use their office to take down Democrats is a proven fact. That Obama didn’t immediately dismiss every U.S. Attorney (as both Clinton and Bush did) and replace them with his own people as a first order of business is a shocking betrayal of all of us who care about justice in this country.” Actually, Clinton replaced all but one of the 93 G.H.W. Bush U.S. Attorneys. For unexplained reasons, Obama didn’t even replace Leura Canary, the Rove hack who framed Siegelman and whose husband Bill Canary was a Republican campaign strategist.
(Subsequently, Joe Palazzolo at mainjustice.com bannered “Morass in Alabama’s Middle District,” on 5 January 2010, and he reported that Senate Republicans were blocking any replacement for Canary who was acceptable to Democrats, and that the Republican U.S. Senator from Alabama Richard Shelby was trying “to promote the daughter of a political supporter for the job,” but Democrats refused to comply, and, “The White House, … thus far has been loath to mix it up with Republicans over U.S. Attorney nominations,” so that, “President Barack Obama has nominated 42 U.S. Attorneys, and 31 have been confirmed,” out of the 93 U.S. Attorneys, so that Obama had replaced only one-third of them, and he wasn’t at all raising hell about this, but just “thus far has been loath to mix it up with Republicans over U.S. Attorney nominations.” Obama’s extreme passivity with congressional Republicans contrasted with his often aggressive opposition and sometimes even blocking of Democratic initiatives, such as a public option in health reform, and even such as a President’s own normal prerogative of receiving virtually automatic Senate confirmations of his U.S. Attorney picks. Obama proved, by his actions, that he was satisfied to have Republicans control most U.S. Attorneys offices. On 9 August 2010, mainjustice.com bannered “[Texas Republican U.S. Senator John] Cornyn ‘Frustrated’ By Lack Of Texas U.S. Attorney Appointees,” and reported that, “The Senate has confirmed 66 of Obama’s U.S. Attorney nominees. … ‘I’m as frustrated as anyone else that the White House has been so slow,’ Cornyn told” a newspaper. This turned out to have been the last entry under “U.S. Attorney Nominations” that was posted at mainjustice.com during Obama’s entire first term. 66 appointees were confirmed, and many of the other 27 posts didn’t even have any nomination from the White House.)
Obama’s “Justice” Department didn’t need to be pushed by anyone in order to prosecute Democratic politicians such as Don Siegelman and John Edwards, but it never laid a hand against the promoters of fascism, nor against banksters, nor against the Bush gang.
On 27 April 2010, jessecrossroadscafe headlined “Market Manipulations, Systemic Risk and Fraud, Pure and Simple, And It Continues Today,” and noted: “President Obama does not need the Republicans to begin serious investigation by his branch of government. Indeed, this is why he was elected. ... The question one might ask is, ‘When is the Administration going to put the FBI and the Justice Department to work in the more serious criminal investigation of the perpetrators of this fraud, with an eye to prosecutions under the RICO statutes?’” Obama’s Attorney General had not yet initiated prosecution of any Wall Street figure, nor of any Bush Administration figure. However, Obama’s “Justice” Department was pressing to get the framed-by-Bush Democrat Don Siegelman back into prison, and to increase his sentence.
The next day, Mark Ames at exiledonline.com bannered “Confessions of a Wall Street Nihilist: ... Our Entire Economy Is Built On Fraud.” Ames interviewed an anonymous Wall Street executive who admitted that what he and his colleagues did was fraud and thievery, but who said that this is the only way to a successful economy, and who despised idealists — especially libertarians and liberals — for taking seriously their philosophy which he allegedly said was based upon mere mythology. A sub-head here was “Fraudonomics: 10 Fun Fraud Facts,” about these ten types of fraud: “Accounting Fraud,” “Big Pharma Fraud,” “Alan Greenspan: Fraudonomics Maestro,” “Municipal Debt Fraud,” “Journalism Fraud,” “Fraudonomics K-12,” “Boardroom Fraud,” “Corrupt Credit Rating Agencies,” “Regulatory Fraud,” and “Judicial Fraud.” Ames, who had started his own jornalistic career investigating corruption in Moscow, wasn’t finding things to be any more honest now, back home again in the United States.
Obama pressed even harder George W. Bush’s persecution-prosecution of former Democratic Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, who was ramrodded into prison by Bush’s Alabama U.S. Attorney Leura Canary. Obama’s U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan, who had pressed hard to extend Siegelman’s prison sentence, was appointed by Obama to the U.S. Supreme Court. Then, on 4 October 2010, Roger Shuler, at the legalschnauzer blog, headlined “Leura Canary’s ‘October Surprise’ Becomes Reality,” and he reported that the corrupt, intensely political, Republican Alabama U.S. Attorney, Canary, whom Obama had chosen to retain despite the custom of incoming Presidents to replace most U.S. Attorneys who were appointed by the opposing Party, had just indicted 11 people who were pressing to introduce a casino into Alabama. Canary’s husband, Bill Canary, was a buddy of Karl Rove, and also a buddy of Alabama’s Republican Governor, Bob Riley. “What is this ‘investigation’ all about? It looks like a thinly veiled effort to pay back Riley’s Mississippi gaming supporters – who reportedly laundered money through Jack Abramoff, Michael Scanlon, and Ralph Reed – by shutting down competition in Alabama. The George W. Bush Department of Justice … was a nightmare. But this happened on Barack Obama’s watch. That can only be described as shameful.” But no matter how hard Obama tried to mollify Republicans, he still was portrayed by them as a communist Muslim non-American who had illegally installed himself in the White House, rather than as the moderate Republican parading as a Democrat, which he became practically the moment he had won the 2008 election.
Obama’s close friend and now White House czar over regulatory matters, the University of Chicago law professor Cass Sunstein, was a major force helping to shape this Administration’s opposition to the prosecution, and even to the investigation, of the prior Administration’s crimes. Washingtonsblog.com headlined on 7 October 2010, “Obama’s Censor-in-Chief Against ‘Conspiracy Theories’ Is Responsible for Letting Bush-Era Torture and Spying Conspiracies Go Unpunished,” and reported that Sunstein’s theory would exempt them from existing anti-conspiracy statutes, and from all other laws, the reason being that “Prosecuting government officials risks a ‘cycle’ of criminalizing public service.” Sunstein there assumed that when public officials violate the laws that the public had hired them to execute and enforce, this constitutes “public service” instead of criminality, and thus needed to be protected. Was Obama so stupid as not to recognize that his friend and advisor was outrageously and dangerously wrong there, regarding the very thing for which Obama had hired him? Not only was Sunstein a passionate supporter of the government’s infiltrating and manipulating all dissident groups, and of suspending First-Amendment free-speech protections when “necessary,” but this quintessential White House champion of the aristocracy was determined that aristocrats should be exempted from even being investigated for any crimes they might possibly have committed as public officials. Sunstein and his boss in the White House thought that only conspiracies by the powerful should be permitted, and that the government should be unleashed from the Constitution in order to investigate and halt any conspiracies by the powerless. Sunstein was widely expected to be appointed by Obama to the U.S. Supreme Court, as a widely respected “liberal” constitutional scholar. There was no public discussion of the extent to which this scholar’s proposals, if enacted, would violate the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause, but he was ripping it to shreds.
The Obama Administration’s war against accountability was destroying the country, just as the Bush Administration’s war against accountability had done. The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein was a shill for the aristocracy, but sometimes he interviewed people who weren’t. When, on 8 October 2010, Klein headlined an interview with financial analyst Janet Tavakoli, “‘This Is the Biggest Fraud in the History of the Capital Markets’,” she described the massive criminality of the Wall Street banks and their top executives, and warned that every day of delay in the government’s taking over those corrupt and rotten-to-the-core enormous financial companies would only transfer yet more of the nation’s dwindling wealth to those crooks. But Obama-Geithner-Bernanke were just delay, delay, delay. The solution, Tavakoli said, “can be done with a resolution trust corporation, the way we cleaned up the S&Ls. ... The shareholders would be wiped out and the debt holders would have to take a discount on their debt and they’d get a debt-for-equity swap. [She failed to mention prison, but William K. Black made that a big emphasis.] Instead, we poured TARP money into a pit and meanwhile the banks are paying huge bonuses to some people who should be made accountable for fraud.” Obama was simply continuing the same anti-accountability regime that Bush had done, and thus more and more of the nation’s wealth was owned by the crooks at the top, while unemployment remained near 10% and poverty rates were soaring.
Felix Salmon of Reuters investigated how the securitized mortgages had been bundled and then sliced-and-diced into bonds (mortgage-backed securities sold in tranches), and on October 13th he headlined “The Enormous Mortgage-Bond Scandal.” He had found that “The investment banks didn’t mind buying up loans they knew were bad, because they considered themselves to be in the moving business rather than in the storage business,” and because these banks possessed inside knowledge of how bad each tranche was, and they received discounts from the bundlers on this basis. But the buyers of those bonds were never informed of any of this crucial information and never received any discounts for the high likelihood of a bond’s failure; this informational gap produced full-price sales on defective merchandise (bonds) by the big banks, and this extraordinarily high mark-up helped boost the profits of the half-dozen big banks. This was how Wall Street robbed investors all over the world — but Obama refused to prosecute the crooks, and instead he continued George W. Bush’s policy of bailing them out with the (diminishing) wealth of future generations of Americans (via a soaring federal debt). Four days later, David Segal headlined in The New York Times, “White House Urges Calm on Foreclosures,” and reported that, “As the foreclosure abuses have come to light, the Obama administration has resisted calls for a more forceful response, worried that added pressure might spook [the NYT’s euphemism for bankrupt] the banks and hobble [i.e., tank] the economy.” The following day, Paul Krugman headlined “Epitaph For An Administration,” and he noted that Obama had temporized with Wall Street every time, and was doing it yet again, and “the cumulative effect has been drift, and a looming catastrophe in the midterms.” James Kwak at baselinescenario.com bannered “Once More Into the Breach” and he wondered, “Why, just weeks from an election in which Democrats are probably going to get clobbered, is the Obama administration sitting on its hands, ... and opposing a foreclosure moratorium? ... The scary possibility is that what they’re really afraid of is systemic risk: the possibility that ... the mortgage securitization trusts ... could sue the banks, forcing them to buy back the underlying mortgages at the original cost.” In other words, the cheated investors could sue the hell out of Wall Street. Obama’s extend-and-pretend was crashing into a wall at the ideal time for the Republican Party, which now could blame the second leg of the Second Great Depression on him (and on congressional Democrats) instead of – if it had all come continuously as part of the one big plunge from G.W. Bush, with no pause and no “second leg” – on the former President (and on the Republican Party). Obama’s mighty efforts to prop up the big banks (and to block prosecutions and even investigations into the Bush Administration’s many crimes) ended up giving him (and smearing the Democratic Party with) ownership of the Republican-generated collapses, which had been inevitable in any case.
Meanwhile, the most courageous of the people who were not so fortunate were especially in trouble. Roger Shuler, the legalschnauzer blogger who had led the national reporting on the Don Siegelman persecution and related scandals, headlined on 27 October 2010, “Going on the Attack Against the Thugs Who Cheated Me Out of a Job,” and he reported that both he and his wife had been fired from the University of Alabama at Birmingham “because of the content on my blog about matters of public concern. This constitutes a First Amendment violation.” He linked to an audiotape of his being told by the University’s director of employee that his blog about the Don Siegelman matter was the actual reason for his being let go. Then, the next day, he headlined, “Going On the Attack Against the Thugs Who Stole Our House,” and he reported that, “Thanks to a neighbor with a long criminal record and his lawyer with a long history of ethical violations” (who was connected to Bill Canary, Karl Rove’s buddy), Shuler and his wife had had their house taken from them. So, even obscure bloggers who reported the truth now faced heavy consequences from the kleptocracy. Shuler wouldn’t be the type of investigative journalist whom the controlling forces in today’s America permitted to operate.
On 12 October 2011, Politico headlined “Defense Says Obama Team Didn’t Stand Up for John Edwards,” and Josh Gerstein reported that the U.S. Attorney who indicted John Edwards for having misapplied to himself a donation from a political contributor was “a hold-over Republican U.S. Attorney,” who was “a former aide to Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.)” who “also worked for Judge Terrence Boyle, whose appeals court nomination Edwards blocked in 2001.” This news report said that Edwards’s attorneys claimed that “President Barack Obama’s appointees at the Justice Department lacked political courage” in not interfering “even though the prosecution’s theory is completely unprecedented.” However, it didn’t mention whether Obama’s extraordinary practice of continuing the prior Administration’s U.S. Attorneys – especially from a President of the opposite Party, who had unprecentedly politicized the U.S. Attorneys and the entire “Justice” Department – was more the real problem here. Don Siegelman was being pursued by Obama’s U.S. Attorney Leura Canary, and John Edwards was being pursued by Obama’s U.S. Attorney, George Holding, both of whom had been appointed by President George W. Bush I, and were retained by President George W. Bush II. On October 30th, the Daily Beast bannered “John Edwards’s Defense Will Showcase a Novel Defense,” and David Margolis reported that the Obama Administration was prosecuting Edwards with such extraordinary zeal, in order to “bring it redemption after being sullied by its disastrous prosecution of the late Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska,” but the fact was that Stevens was a Republican whose prosecution had actually been done by the Bush Administration, in one of its rare legal pursuits against a Republican. The donor of the campaign money to Edwards that Obama was prosecuting Edwards for having misapplied to a personal purpose (of hiding from the public his marital infidelity, the same thing that Senator Ensign had done) “does not feel ill used” and “is bewildered that Edwards is being hounded for anything involving her.” Edwards’s “Novel Defense” being planned was said to be that this was “a ‘vindictive prosecution’” by U.S. Attorney George Holding. However, Holding was actually backed up by extraordinary resources from Attorney General Eric Holder’s “Justice” Department. Edwards wasn’t mentioning this, because the public was far likelier to accept the idea that Holding was behind this persecution, than that Holder (and ultimately Obama himself) was.
Andrew Krieg, of the Justice and Integrity Project, headlined on 2 November 2011, “Siegelman Nov. 2 Showdown Hurts Obama, Not Rove,” and he reported that former Democratic Alabama Governor Don Siegelman’s case was about to come to a head. The Obama Administration was baldly breaking federal laws by refusing to disclose to Siegelman’s defense team what the evidence was on the basis of which Siegelman was being prosecuted. “Also, the Obama Justice Department in June 2009 fired its top in-house paralegal for the Siegelman trial, Tamarah Grimes, after she complained to Bush and then Obama authorities about trial and office procedures, including [Rove friend] Leura Canary’s supervisory role” over the prosecution. Krieg went on: “Grimes is a Republican whom I interviewed extensively in 2009. ... Political strategists at the top of the Obama administration apparently have decided to let Republicans in several of the Deep South states do pretty much what they want in the criminal justice system in major political cases, according to Bill Barnes, Alabama’s most recent Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate. He believes Obama officials have written off his and other red states in his region, and hope to wheedle concessions from powerful Republican senators on matters elsewhere.” That was the most charitable interpretation possible of Obama’s motives in the case; this interpretation assumed that Obama wasn’t a Republican in disguise, a Manchurian candidate for the aristocracy. If Barnes’s interpretation were true, then Obama would have to have been a very stupid man, indeed. And Obama had won zero congressional support from Southern Republican Senators.
The resulting decline in the nation was internationally recognized. On 2 November 2011, Reuters headlined “Inequality Dents U.S. Rank in U.N. Development Index.” The extreme concentration of the nation’s wealth into only a few hands, and soaring poverty among the rest of the population, had caused the U.S. to be bumped down from 4th place to 23rd place in the annual ranking of nations’ development, by the U.N.
On 4 November 2011, Dina Spector at businessinsider.com bannered “CHARTS: Look How Much America Is Falling Behind In Infrastructure Spending,” and provided evidence that the U.S. was falling farther and farther behind other countries. Obama’s tiny infrastructure spending in his short-term “stimulus” programs would soon be zeroed out, and this behindness would soar even more. For Obama, the example of FDR was something to be ignored, rather than to be studied if not copied. The aristocracy couldn’t stand FDR, not then and not now; and this was enough for Obama, since they were his only interest.
On 2 March 2012, rawstory.com bannered “Backed by More Than 100 Former Attorneys General, Ex-Alabama Governor Asks Supreme Court for Review,” and Stephen C. Webster reported that Don Siegelman, the former Democratic Governor of Alabama, who had been framed by Bush-Rove-Canary and the rest of the Republican gang (including Leura Canary herself, whom Obama chose to re-appoint as U.S. Attorney despite her having framed this Democrat and sent him to prison), now had 113 former state AGs signing a friend-of-the-court brief for Spiegelman, this time to the (unfortunately mainly Republican) U.S. Supreme Court, as the only available way remaining for Siegelman now to succeed in his defense against the Bush-Obama gangsters.
On 7 June 2012, The New York Times headlined “Ex-Aide to Senator Pleads Guilty in Scheme That Snared Only Him,” and Eric Lichtblau reported that though former Republican U.S. Senator John Ensign had initiated and masterminded the scheme to turn his former friend and aide Douglas Hampton into a lobbyist and to make him the gateway to Ensign’s political favors so as to skim off lots of wealth privately for Hampton, in order to keep him quiet, and though all close observers had been shocked that Obama’s “Justice” Department had ignored Ensign and prosecuted only Hampton for having ultimately whistleblown against his former friend and boss, the biggest shock of all was the contrast with Obama’s legal treatment of the former U.S. Senator John Edwards, whom Obama’s “Justice” Department had been prosecuting relentlessly, for lesser and less-prosecutable actions. Both Ensign and Edwards had tried to hide extramarital affairs – Edwards with a mistress, and Ensign with Hampton’s wife. Ensign had set up his scheme in order to quiet his former friend and aide regarding Ensign’s affair with Hampton’s wife. Just days earlier, on June 1st, the AP had headlined, “John Edwards Acquitted on 1 Count, Mistrail on 5,” and reported that jurors couldn’t agree on whether Edwards had used only legal means to hide his extramarital affair. However, the Ensign case, in which clearly illegal means had been used to hide his extramarital affair, for which purpose Ensign had set Hampton up in this illegal lobbying scheme, now resulted in a plea-deal with Hampton, in order to keep him quiet about the Administration’s non-prosecution of Ensign. “Kenneth Gross, a top government ethics lawyer in Washington who is not involved in the case [regarding Hampton], said the Justice Department’s inaction against Mr. Ensign was particularly odd in light of its recent failed prosecution of former Senator John Edwards in another sex-and-money scandal. Mr. Gross said he considered the evidence that had emerged against Mr. Ensign to be much stronger than what prosecutors presented in the Edwards matter. ‘The whole thing is curious,’ he said.” The only sense it made was in the light of the Obama “Justice” Department’s having dropped the Bush Admibistration’s prosecution of former Republican U.S. Senator Ted Stevens, while continuing the Bush Administration’s framed-up prosecution of former Democratic Alabama Governor Don Siegelman. Obama had a perfect record of selective prosecutions, against high Democratic officials, and, on the other side, for perfect selective non-prosecutions, of Bush and other Republican officials, and of the banksters.
The chief person in Obama’s “Justice” Department handling white-collar crimes was the Wall Street whore Lanny Breuer. On 3 August 2012, this “Justice” Department headlined “Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman Re-Sentenced,” and announced that Siegelman would go to prison for 6 1/2 years on the charges that Karl Rove’s people had framed him on. Mr. Breuer said: “The outcome of this case reflects the unflagging commitment of the Department of Justice to hold [Democratic] public officials accountable for corruption,” regardless of whether they had been framed and were innocent. Barack Obama evidently thought that he could get away with doing things like this and still not jeopardize his re-election support from voters, since the alternative was a raving blatant fascist. He was right. But he was as evil as Romney.
On 12 January 2013, businessinsider.com bannered “Family of Aaron Swartz Blames MIT, Prosecutors For His Death,” and Owen Thomas reported that a boy who had co-founded demandprogress.org and reddit.com, and who was emerging as a leader of movements for progressive change, killed himself after Obama’s prosecutors threatened him with thirty years in prison for having downloaded thousands of scholarly articles from an academic library. Obama refused to prosecute banksters, and so his teams of federal prosecutors instead persecuted – investigated, harassed and prosecuted to death – people such as Aaron, who constituted little or no real threat to society, and (in Aaron’s case) who even were causes for real hope, until Obama, in effect, murdered them – hounded them to death in order to sustain a workload for those federal prosecutors. Swartz’s friend Matt Stoller headlined “Aaron Swartz’s Politics,” and he wrote: “What killed him was corruption. Corruption isn’t just people profiting from betraying the public interest. It’s also people being punished for upholding the public interest. ... If you are truly dangerous [to the corrupt] and brilliantly subversive [of them], as Aaron was, you are bankrupted and destroyed. There’s a reason whistleblowers get fired. There’s a reason why Bradley Manning is in jail. There’s a reason the only CIA official who has gone to jail for torture is the person – John Kiriako – who told the world it was going on. There’s a reason those who destroyed the financial system ‘dine at the White House.’” Ryan Grim, Ryan Reilly, and Zach Carter, at huffingtonpost bannered “Carmen Ortiz, U.S. Attorney, Under Fire Over Suicide Of Internet Pioneer Aaron Swartz,” and they reported that the prosecutor, “Ortiz, who was appointed by Obama, is close to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.” Her subordinate on the case was Stephen Heymann. “Top DOJ brass have also looked fondly on Heymann. ... He is the son of Phillip Heymann, the onetime head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.” These aristocrats were out to destroy people such as Swartz, and to let the banksters walk off with the loot that they had earned from their MBS and other frauds. A common reader-comment to the hufpo article was: “Prosecutors such as these are the true problems in our justice system. They answer to no one.” People didn’t think that those aristocrats answered up the chain-of-command, to the man who had hired each one of them, either directly or indirectly. There was thus no outrage expressed against the Commander-in-Chief, Barack Obama. In conservatism, all praise goes upward, and all blame goes downward, and this was Obama’s way, and not just the way of dictators and of other corrupt leaders – and Americans accepted that.
On January 14th, the Wall Street Journal bannered “Legal Case Strained Troubled Web Activist,” and reported that Ortiz and Heymann had placed at the top of their agenda locking Swartz up for at least 30 years, and that Adam’s money ran out, and he didn’t want to beg from the public. The next day, Glenn Greenwald at Britain’s Guardian headlined “Carmen Ortiz and Stephen Heymann: Accountability for Prosecutorial Abuse,” and he wrote: “The US has become a society in which political and financial elites systematically evade accountability, ... while those who are powerless – or especially, as in Swartz’s case, those who challenge power – are mercilessly punished for trivial transgressions.” On January 17th, Ed Pilkington in the Guardian bannered “Bradley Manning Denied Chance to Make Whistleblower Defence,” and he reported that Obama’s prosecution of the wikileaks-cooperating whistleblower would not, in Manning’s military trial, be allowed to enter his motivations into evidence regarding his guilt or innocence. A whistleblower was not allowed even to enter his motivation into evidence in his own defense. Obama seemed determined to go all-out police-state, corporate-state, terror, against any effective progressive. This was going to be lock-down against all resisters on the progressive side. Obama wasn’t noisy, incompetent, and cruel, like his predecessor had been; he was quiet, extremely competent, and cruel.
The “Legal Schnauzer,” Roger Shuler, headlined on January 21st, “A President’s Shame: Aaron Swartz Commits Suicide And Don Siegelman Is In Prison On Obama’s Watch.” Obama must have hated Democrats.
On 25 January 2013, Declan McCullagh at CNET News bannered “Swartz Didn’t Face Prison Until Feds Took Over Case,” and he reported that, “State prosecutors who investigated the late Aaron Swartz had planned to let him off with a stern warning, but federal prosecutor Carmen Ortiz took over and chose to make an example of the internet activist.” Obama had, in effect, murdered Swartz.
Ben Hallman and Eleazar Melendez headlined at huffingtonpost on 14 January 2013, “Foreclosure Review Insiders Portray Massive Failure, Doomed From The Start,” and reported that what Obama’s “Justice” Department had labelled the “Independent Foreclosure Review” that was supposed to audit each foreclosure in order to assign recipients in the $8.5 billion BofA settlement, and in the rest of the supposed $25 billion Wall Street 49-states settlement of abusive and fraudulent mortgages, wasn’t “Independent” at all, and had actually been designed by the banks so as to sabotaged from the very start. “‘It was doomed from the beginning,’ said Sheila Bair.” Moreover, “A consultant at Deloitte, hired by JPMorgan Chase to review its loan files, said that his team didn’t understand many of the bank’s processes, and weren’t permitted to ask.” That’s how “Independent” the audits were. Obama was a fraud upon a fraud.
On January 15th, Corporate Crime Reporter bannered “Professor Coffee Hits a Nerve at SEC” and Russell Mokhiber reported that the pro-investor legal expert John Coffee said that the SEC was now so crippled against corporate crooks, that “actions against high-ranking senior executives of financial institutions remain conspicuous by their absence,” so that, “My proposed answer to this problem is that the SEC should do what other financial regulators are already doing – including the FDIC – namely, hiring independent counsel on a negotiated contingent fee basis.” That way, the Obama Administration’s fake excuse that the SEC was not pursuing those executives because it lacked sufficient financial resources to devote to these cases would be eliminated, since the potential remuneration to outside lawyers as a percentage of the fines to be won in such cases could more than make up for that lack. The government would then no longer be paying the lawyers.
Bill Black headlined at nakedcapitalism.com on January 26th, “Why the World Economic Forum and Goldman Sachs Are Capitalism’s Worst Enemies,” and he explained why “Crony capitalism cripples markets and democracy.” He said: “Epidemics of accounting control fraud drove the national crises that produced the Great Recession.” He noted that the WEF lied by saying that “Malfeasance and outright fraud [in finance] are ... extremely rare,” and that the fact was that such frauds had been the norm at the megabanks during at least 2005-2008.
On 17 January 2013, Bloomberg News bannered “Corporate Profits Soar as Executives Attack Obama,” and reported that, “U.S. corporations’ after-tax profits have grown by 171 percent uner Obama, more than under any president since World War II, and are now at their highest level relative to the size of the economy since the government began keeping records in 1947.” In other words: after the 2008 crash, stockholders boomed, even while workers slumped – this was Obama’s “economic recovery”: it was virtually only for aristocrats. “Corporations are holding more than $1.7 trillion in liquid assets. ... We’re in the curious position where businesses are net savers. ... A White House spokeswoman didn’t return an e-mail asking for comment.” Obama was pouring so much “investment” into the aristocracy’s toxic assets, that there wasn’t much left over for what would otherwise have constituted a real Keynesian stimulus. .
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.