Who Goes to Jail? Matt Taibbi on American Injustice Gap from Wall Street to Main Street

'Well, this book grew out of my experience covering Wall Street. I’ve obviously been doing it since the crash in 2008. And over and over again, I would cover these very complex and often very socially destructive capers committed by white-collar criminals. And the punchline to all of the stories were basically the same: Nobody would get indicted; nobody went to jail. And after a while, I started to become interested specifically in that phenomenon. Why was there no enforcement of any of this? And around the time of the Occupy protest, I decided to write this book, and then I shifted my focus to try to learn a lot more for myself about who does go to jail in this country, because I thought you really can’t make this comparison accurately until you learn about both sides of the equation, because it’s actually much more grotesque to consider the non-enforcement of white-collar criminals when you do consider how incredibly aggressive law enforcement is with regard to everybody else.'


The Reasons Bankers Weren't Busted

The Biggest Lie of the New Century

Yesterday, we looked at why bankers weren't busted for crimes committed during the financial crisis. Political corruption, prosecutorial malfeasance, rewritten legislation and cowardice on the part of government officials were among the many reasons.

But I saved the biggest reason so many financial felons escaped justice for today: They dumped the cost of their criminal activities on you, the shareholder (never mind the taxpayer).

Corporate executives theoretically work for the owners of the company, namely, the shareholders. But there is an agency problem in that owners can't closely manage and object to the actions of these executives. Collective owners, such as mutual funds, seem to have no interest in doing so. What we end up with is a management class that works for itself instead of on behalf of the owners of the publicly traded banks. Many of these executives committed crimes; got big bonuses for doing so; and paid huge fines using shareholder assets (i.e., company cash), helping them avoid prosecution.

As for claims like those of white-collar crime defense attorney Mark F. Pomerantz, that “the executives running companies like Bank of America, Citigroup and JP Morgan were not committing criminal acts,” they simply are implausible if not laughable. Consider a brief survey of some of the more egregious acts of wrongdoing...


“The end of democracy and the defeat of the American Revolution will occur when government falls into the hands of lending institutions and moneyed incorporations.”
–Thomas Jefferson


Matt Taibbi Takes on the Justice System
Books decrying income inequality seem to be published daily, mostly by left-wing writers, especially since the socialist Michael Harrington wrote The Other America in 1962. Spoiler alert: That's not what this book is about.

The book is not about injustice as a metaphor for the disparity in wealth between the so-called 1 percenters at the top of the income distribution versus the masses of people trying to scrape by on three minimum-wage jobs. No, this is literally a book about the disparity between the way the criminal justice system works to sweep up and punish people who live a marginal existence and are swept up by police who themselves are under pressure to fulfill quotas by picking up a given number of petty criminals, issuing a required number of summonses and recovering a specified number of weapons and quantity of drugs.
According to Taibbi there are two virtual parallel universes in the way criminal justice is administered respectively for people who are swept up like tuna, hauled onto "factory boats" and then "canned" by a system calibrated to impose fines and sentences just long enough to keep them incarcerated and unable to earn a living, care for their families or even stay in the country versus Wall Street bankers who are allowed to pay token fines, remain free on bail in the unlikely event they are ever charged and continue to engage in practices that they have promised never to do again as part of routine settlements and deferred prosecution agreements.

In one case Taibbi described, a major international bank convicted of laundering money for drug kingpins had specially designed teller windows to accommodate passing bags of cash.

Taibbi laid out his case in remarkable detail. The only point that could make readers and viewers even more enraged would be if they realized that the fines themselves are effectively, if somewhat indirectly, funded by the government.
Drug-testing rules broken by Canadian researchers
Top Canadian doctors running clinical trials have risked patient safety, failed to report serious side-effects suffered by their human test subjects and botched the scientific research of the drugs.

Verma conducted the trial for the company, Hoffmann-La Roche. The doctor said he was not paid by the company for his work on the trial, something that he said would be unethical, but that he is on the firm’s advisory board.

When asked about this type of work, he said that from time to time he gets paid to give an “educational presentation” on breast cancer — a day’s work that brings him around $1,500.
Top 10 Medical Conspiracies
The mainstream media is focused this week on trying to convince you that "medical conspiracy theories" are whacky and untrue. Published by Reuters, USA Today and other mainstream media outlets, a false story based on distorted research is now trying to convince you that there is no such thing as a "medical conspiracy."
n what is now the largest criminal fraud settlement ever to come out of the pharmaceutical industry, GlaxoSmithKline has pleaded guilty and agreed to pay $1 billion in criminal fines and $2 billion in civil fines following a nine-year federal investigation into its activities.

According to U.S. federal investigators, GlaxoSmithKline:

• Routinely bribed doctors with luxury vacations and paid speaking gigs
• Fabricated drug safety data and lied to the FDA
• Defrauded Medicare and Medicaid out of billions
• Deceived regulators about the effectiveness of its drugs
• Relied on its deceptive practices to earn billions of dollars selling potentially dangerous drugs to unsuspecting consumers and medical patients


Financial Criminals Have Been Fined Billions, but They Rarely Pay

Even though prosecutors declare victory when massive penalties are handed down, most of the money never gets recovered.

On a plane earlier this week, I watched The Wolf of Wall Street. The film’s outsized antics—public masturbation, the tossing of little people, lots and lots of Quaaludes—seemed too big for a seatback screen, or, for that matter, reality. As despicable as some of Jordan Belfort’s behavior was, I was able to occasionally laugh at Leonardo DiCaprio's version of him knowing that, by now, more than 10 years after his real-life sentencing, Belfort has been sufficiently punished.

But in fact, that’s hardly the case: After pleading guilty to fraud and money laundering, Belfort was ordered in 2003 to pay out about $110 million to those he wronged. Since then, he’s only paid $11.8 million. He was also sentenced to four years in federal prison, but he only ended up serving just shy of two years.

Meanwhile, he’s thriving as a motivational speaker, and has made some money from selling the film rights to his life story. In a testimonial for his speaking services, Leonardo DiCaprio called Belfort “a shining example of the transformative qualities of ambition and hard work.”

Belfort’s relatively consequence-free story is only one of the more prominent ones in a parade of aggravating numbers reported on earlier this week by The Wall Street Journal. There’s still $97 billion out there in penalties that the Justice Department has failed to recover, and between September 2012 and September 2013, the department collected only 22 percent of penalties doled out. One particularly demoralizing figure was that the Commodity Futures Trading Commission had collected about a tenth of a percent of the $3.7 billion owed to wronged investors.
The outrageous methods British intelligence used in the US to encourage involvement in WW2 is a good example of what a conspiracy is capable of. Once you know what is possible you have to wonder when the same techniques were used but we don't know about it. You have to doubt every single thing you think you know.

Techniques British intelligence used include
  • Smearing non-interventionists as Nazi agents.
  • Collaboration of news and entertainment media.
  • Fake Nazi documents
  • Faking public opinion polls to influence congress.
  • Female agents influencing congressmen.
  • Influencing the selection of presidential candidates.
  • Murder of non-interventionists.
The theme that non-interventionists were really Nazi agents had perhaps the greatest long-term impact. That lethal smear destroyed the careers of many non-interventionists, eliminating opposition not only to involvement in World War II but also to postwar American globalism in general.
British intelligence worked closely with media moguls and big-name writers to spread stories reflecting those propaganda themes. Mahl clearly shows that this was not a case of influential Americans unwittingly repeating British propaganda, but rather was a deliberate and direct collaboration with British agents.
Among BSC's greatest propaganda coups was the production of a fake German map illustrating a fictitious German plan to take over South America. The map's creator was Walter Lippmann's brother-in-law, Ivar Bryce, who was one of Stephenson's agents. President Roosevelt, who was aware of the map's bogus origin, made effective use of it in persuading Congress to dismantle the last of the neutrality legislation in the fall of 1941.
Also of paramount importance in pushing the country into war was British intelligence's manipulation of public opinion polls. Mahl intones: "The first thing to know when reading the public opinion polls commonly cited from 1939 to 1942 is that none of them was produced by disinterested seekers of truth. The most prominent polls were all under the influence of British intelligence, its friends, employees, and agents. At the very best, when questions of the war or internal relations are considered, the major polls should be thought of as what modern critics call 'advocacy polls.' "

With public support for interventionism exaggerated in the polls, pragmatic politicians could gravitate in that direction. For example, a 1940 Gallup poll showed strong backing for the military draft — especially from those men actually facing conscription! In contrast, congressional mail ran overwhelmingly against the draft. Mahl writes that "without these cooked polls the congressional mail would certainly have killed conscription." (p. 84) Even when the poll figures were not rigged outright, they were "tweaked and massaged and cooked" to aid the interventionist cause.
British intelligence, as Mahl aptly illustrates, had the ability to destroy, transform, or advance American political figures, according to the dictates of British military policy. For example, he shows how British intelligence tried to destroy staunch non-interventionist congressman Hamilton Fish of New York by concocting bogus scandal stories. Seductive female British agents were used to transmute the political position of the influential Republican Senator Arthur Vandenberg from non-interventionist to interventionist. And the nomination of Wendell Willkie as the 1940 Republican presidential candidate was the collaborative work of British intelligence, American interventionists, and the Roosevelt White House. Making Willkie the Republican nominee required Herculean effort since he had never before held public office and had actually been a Democrat. The purpose of his nomination was not to defeat Roosevelt but to make sure that no non-interventionist alternative existed. Willkie himself consciously participated in this deception, maintaining close ties with British agents and the White House.
BSC murdered William Rhodes Davis, a Texas oilman who was promoting a compromise peace



"...Your child’s future was the first to go with budget cuts.
If you think that hurts, then wait, here comes the uppercut -
The school was garbage in the first place, that’s on the up and up.

Keep you at the bottom, but tease you with the upper crust.
You get it, then they move it, so you never keeping up enough..."

"...Your child’s future was the first to go with budget cuts.
If you think that hurts, then wait, here comes the uppercut -
The school was garbage in the first place, that’s on the up and up.

Keep you at the bottom, but tease you with the upper crust.
You get it, then they move it, so you never keeping up enough..."
The words are hitting hard at the core of the rot.


What Makes Mainstream Media Mainstream

When you critique the media and you say, look, here is what Anthony Lewis or somebody else is writing, they get very angry. They say, quite correctly, "nobody ever tells me what to write. I write anything I like. All this business about pressures and constraints is nonsense because I’m never under any pressure." Which is completely true, but the point is that they wouldn’t be there unless they had already demonstrated that nobody has to tell them what to write because they are going say the right thing. If they had started off at the Metro desk, or something, and had pursued the wrong kind of stories, they never would have made it to the positions where they can now say anything they like. The same is mostly true of university faculty in the more ideological disciplines. They have been through the socialization system.
Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media eliminate confusion, all of this has nothing to do with liberal or conservative bias. According to the propaganda model, both liberal and conservative wings of the media -- whatever those terms are supposed to mean -- fall within the same framework of assumptions.

In fact, if the system functions well, it ought to have a liberal bias, or at least appear to. Because if it appears to have a liberal bias, that will serve to bound thought even more effectively.

In other words, if the press is indeed adversarial and liberal and all these bad things, then how can I go beyond it? They're already so extreme in their opposition to power that to go beyond it would be to take off from the planet. So therefore it must be that the presuppositions that are accepted in the liberal media are sacrosanct -- can't go beyond them. And a well-functioning system would in fact have a bias of that kind. The media would then serve to say in effect: Thus far and no further.
Webb a courageous reporter whose career and life were cut short when the nation's three most powerful newspapers piled on to attack Webb and his three-part Mercury News series on the CIA's crack-cocaine connection. The New York Times, Washington Post and L.A. Times each obscured basic truths of Webb's "Dark Alliance" series.
Nearly three decades since the stories of Nicaraguan Contra-cocaine trafficking first appeared in 1985, the New York Times has finally, forthrightly admitted the allegations were true, although this belated acknowledgement comes in a movie review buried deep inside Sunday’s paper.
The CIA Inspector General’s report also admitted that the CIA withheld evidence of Contra drug trafficking from federal investigators, Congress and even the CIA’s own analytical division. The I.G. report was clear, too, on the CIA’s motivation.

The inspector general interviewed senior CIA officers who acknowledged that they were aware of the Contra-drug problem but didn’t want its exposure to undermine the struggle to overthrow Nicaragua’s Sandinista government.

Documented example of government conspiracy and main stream media cover up.

Webb "committed suicide", but it took two shots!
In the Boston Globe: Vote all you want. The secret government won’t change.
Vote all you want. The secret government won’t change.
The people we elect aren’t the ones calling the shots, says Tufts University’s Michael Glennon
Though it’s a bedrock American principle that citizens can steer their own government by electing new officials, Glennon suggests that in practice, much of our government no longer works that way. In a new book, “National Security and Double Government,” he catalogs the ways that the defense and national security apparatus is effectively self-governing, with virtually no accountability, transparency, or checks and balances of any kind. He uses the term “double government”: There’s the one we elect, and then there’s the one behind it, steering huge swaths of policy almost unchecked. Elected officials end up serving as mere cover for the real decisions made by the bureaucracy.
The ultimate problem is the pervasive political ignorance on the part of the American people. And indifference to the threat that is emerging from these concealed institutions. That is where the energy for reform has to come from: the American people. Not from government. Government is very much the problem here. The people have to take the bull by the horns. And that’s a very difficult thing to do, because the ignorance is in many ways rational. There is very little profit to be had in learning about, and being active about, problems that you can’t affect, policies that you can’t change.
"The ultimate problem is the pervasive political ignorance on the part of the American people."

I would just add that often times ignorance is like a blind spot, you don't know it's there.
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There are two viewpoints that I see as idiotic: there are no conspiracies and everything is a conspiracy.

To that I'll add that many who use the term as an insult don't seem to get that there's a difference between conspiracy and secrecy.
Now that she’s no longer on the CBS payroll, this pit bull is off the leash and tearing flesh off the behinds of senior media and government officials. In her new memoir/exposé “Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington” (Harper), Attkisson unloads on her colleagues in big-time TV news for their cowardice and cheerleading for the Obama administration while unmasking the corruption, misdirection and outright lying of today’s Washington political machine. . . .
the major network news decisions get made by a handful of New York execs who read the same papers and think the same thoughts
Often they dream up stories beforehand and turn the reporters into “casting agents,” told “we need to find someone who will say . . .” that a given policy is good or bad. “We’re asked to create a reality that fits their New York image of what they believe,” she writes.
Reporting on the many green-energy firms such as Solyndra that went belly-up after burning through hundreds of millions in Washington handouts, Attkisson ran into increasing difficulty getting her stories on the air.
Replied the program’s chief Pat Shevlin, “What’s the matter, don’t you support green energy?”
Says Attkisson: That’s like saying you’re anti-medicine if you point out pharmaceutical company fraud. . . .
Some worry that the news coverage will hurt a cause that they personally believe in.
One of her bosses had a rule that conservative analysts must always be labeled conservatives, but liberal analysts were simply “analysts.” “And if a conservative analyst’s opinion really rubbed the supervisor the wrong way,” says Attkisson, “she might rewrite the script to label him a ‘right-wing’ analyst.”
In mid-October 2012, with the presidential election coming up, Attkisson says CBS suddenly lost interest in airing her reporting on the Benghazi attacks.
Two expressions that became especially popular with CBS News brass, she says, were “incremental” and “piling on.” These are code for “excuses for stories they really don’t want, even as we observe that developments on stories they like are aired in the tiniest of increments.”
The reaction to “The Bell Curve” exposed a profound corruption of the social sciences that has prevailed since the 1960s. “The Bell Curve” is a relentlessly moderate book — both in its use of evidence and in its tone — and yet it was excoriated in remarkably personal and vicious ways, sometimes by eminent academicians who knew very well they were lying. Why? Because the social sciences have been in the grip of a political orthodoxy that has had only the most tenuous connection with empirical reality, and too many social scientists think that threats to the orthodoxy should be suppressed by any means necessary. Corruption is the only word for it.


Hmmmm....If there's genetic differences between races, seems like that's pretty much all you need to declare God either a fiction or completely unconcerned about humanity beyond us being guinea pigs or part of some weird joke.


Noise from Nowhere: The cable news jihad against human intelligence

As far as I know, when the American Psychiatric Association revised their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, they made no mention of the psychological and cognitive impairments associated with prolonged exposure to cable television news. They failed to consult with me, anyway, and that’s a shame, because I have become an inadvertent expert in the field. I’ve spent many years working in a newsroom in which multiple televisions blared their inanities in my direction, and I’ve composed countless online roundups of the vile distortions of consensual reality known in Washington as the “Sunday Shows.” Lately, though, my employers have mercifully instituted an office-wide policy of putting the workday’s unceasing torrent of televised political blather on mute. And having made something of a recovery, I can appreciate what I was slowly becoming.
further quote from article above:
Roger Ailes’s true legacy now appears to be the creation of a hermetically sealed worldview, generating an endless series of glorified talking points that look and sound like news, without ever once challenging a viewer’s preconceived notions about the world and how power operates within it. And whether or not the competitors trailing behind Fox’s wildly successful business model care to admit it, they work from the same playbook. Why think when you can feel? Why have simple emotions, when high dudgeon and lusty outrage offer such heroic highs? And why simply convey information, when you can conjure up a devoted viewership by the sheer force of your own operatic self-satisfaction? It turns out, in other words, that the best way to shun the panic-inducing unpredictability of the Nielsen ratings market is to consistently deliver smugness—to conscientiously program and package your news product so as to protectively seal your audience in the unquenchable righteousness of their own cultural grievance-addiction.