This really is a must-read, and it really speaks for itself. The subject is Bank of America, and it stands proxy for the entire U.S. banking system.
Kudos to Rolling Stone for actually turning a good researcher (Taibbi) loose on this stuff — and for publishing it during election season. A sitting president is a very persuasive man when his job is up for renewal (just ask MSNBC, Dylan Ratigan excepted).
The link is here. In the subtitle, Taibbi asks:
The bank has defrauded everyone from investors and insurers to homeowners and the unemployed. So why does the government keep bailing it out?
That covers it, right?
A taste (my emphasis and reparagraphing):
At least Bank of America got its name right. The ultimate Too Big to Fail bank really is America, a hypergluttonous ward of the state whose limitless fraud and criminal conspiracies we’ll all be paying for until the end of time.
Did you hear about the plot to rig global interest rates? The $137 million fine for bilking needy schools and cities? The ingenious plan to suck multiple fees out of the unemployment checks of jobless workers?
Take your eyes off them for 10 seconds and guaranteed, they’ll be into some sh*t again: This bank is like the world’s worst-behaved teenager, taking your car and running over kittens and fire hydrants on the way to Vegas for the weekend, maxing out your credit cards in the three days you spend at your aunt’s funeral. They’re out of control, yet they’ll never do time or go out of business, because the government remains creepily committed to their survival, like overindulgent parents who refuse to believe their 40-year-old live-at-home son could possibly be responsible for those dead hookers in the backyard.
That was my asterisk; no kittens or hookers were harmed in the pasting of this quote. (That was one paragraph of the source, by the way; I get two more.)
How about this:
It’s been four years since the government, in the name of preventing a depression, saved this megabank from ruin by pumping $45 billion of taxpayer money into its arm. Since then, the Obama administration has looked the other way as the bank committed an astonishing variety of crimes – some elaborate and brilliant in their conception, some so crude that they’d be beneath your average street thug.
Bank of America has systematically ripped off almost everyone with whom it has a significant business relationship, cheating investors, insurers, depositors, homeowners, shareholders, pensioners and taxpayers. It brought tens of thousands of Americans to foreclosure court using bogus, “robo-signed” evidence – a type of mass perjury that it helped pioneer.
It hawked worthless mortgages to dozens of unions and state pension funds, draining them of hundreds of millions in value. And when it wasn’t ripping off workers and pensioners, it was helping to push insurance giants like AMBAC into bankruptcy by fraudulently inducing them to spend hundreds of millions insuring those same worthless mortgages.
But despite being the very definition of an unaccountable corporate villain, Bank of America is now bigger and more dangerous than ever. It controls more than 12 percent of America’s bank deposits (skirting a federal law designed to prohibit any firm from controlling more than 10 percent), as well as 17 percent of all American home mortgages.
By looking the other way and rewarding the bank’s bad behavior with a massive government bailout, we actually allowed a huge financial company to not just grow so big that its collapse would imperil the whole economy, but to get away with any and all crimes it might commit. Too Big to Fail is one thing; it’s also far too corrupt to survive.
Hooked yet? I am. That’s my three-paragraph allotment — can’t wait to read the rest. This piece is loaded, and there’s a ton of history of the bank. Taibbi really does his job.
But what about the political side, the Obama bottom line?
If I were to ask the author, “Why is this happening?” he might reply (in the words of the article) because “our current president, like the last one, apparently believes it’s better to project a false image of financial soundness than to allow one of our oligarchic banks to collapse under the weight of its own corruption.”
Mr. Taibbi labels Bank of America, in its current form, a “full-blown assault on the American dream.”
I’ll go him one better. It’s a full-blown assault on the American political system, the American Constitution. After all, the Constitution isn’t just what’s on paper; it’s amended by what’s practiced, especially by bipartisan agreement.
Bush and Obama have amended our current Constitution. Rule of Law for the New Nobility (Our Betters) has been suspended. That’s just a fact. Whatever other reasons you may harbor for voting Dem in the presidential ad campaign, this isn’t one of them.
Restoring Rule of Law would be revolutionary — I mean that literally — and may take a form that looks like rebellion. If so, that’s terrible news. It’s sad to think that it took the Great Depression to allow FDR to sell his revolution to the Betters of his day, as an alternative to actual rebellion by the destitute and hopeless.
Do we really need a depression to get a different, better Obama (the one his voters Hoped for) to do likewise? If so, this is a really sh*tty corner we’ve painted ourselves into.
(Yep, second asterisk. Maybe if Matt quotes this, he will restore my original intention, and reverse my edit of his good swearing as well.)
(To follow on Twitter or to send links: @Gaius_Publius)