I’ve just had a very painful conversation with Matt Stoller on twitter, and it strikes me how blockheaded some people can be as they try to be the one true progressive. The basis of the conversation was this Ritholtz piece stating prosecutions are down since 2003. All I want to know is if are the prosecutions trending upward- it is widely known that the financial fraud resources were shifted elsewhere during the Bush years and simply not a priority, so all I am asking is if the numbers are increasing since 2009. I don’t know how to make this a chirpstory or conversation, but starting here, this is how I wasted a portion of my morning.
I will never get that half hour of my life back.
*** Update ***
Here is the conversation.
mike in dc
Well, at least he feels better about himself now.
I don’t know why you wanting to know if prosecutions are trending upward now justifies your seeming desire to ignore the point of the article, which seems a preyty strong and damning one.
And looking again, isn’t it asnswered in the article?
Twitter is still dumb. This post pretty much explains the only real purpose for twitter: It allows elites to communicate with other elites. Now, I know John doesn’t think of himself as an “elite,” but he does run one of the more highly trafficked and institutionalized political blogs in the US. So, he counts. And unfortunately, posts like this, where one elite person says they just got done arguing on twitter with another elite person, seem to becoming more common–not just here but other sites as well. I think we’d all be better off if you’d just quit twitter.
There’s that old joke about arguing on the internet. That goes double for twitter, I think.
See? This is where you go astray. The method is to get emo first, then start looking for a reason why.
@LT: ARRRGH. Where were they compared to 2003 in 2009? And 2008. That is all I am looking for- the trend. And was 2003 a high-water mark for prosecutions?
@LT: What Cole very clearly wants is not where they are in relation to 2003; He already knows that. He wants to know what direction the number is moving.
@LT: In 2007, it appears that prosecutions were down 87% compared to the 2002. In 2008, there were the fewest fraud prosecutions since 1991. All from this Ritholz link within the linked article. This is not an exact overlap, but it appears that the Obama DOJ is increasing the number of prosecutions. Also, one should note that the 2002-2003 period was was the all time peak of fraud prosecutions do to Enron; what would be more interesting is knowing where the Obama DOJ ranks in terms of the average number.
What *is* Matt Stoller up to these days anyways now that he’s finished running Alan Grayson’s career into the ground?
If Grayson had spent less time mouthing off on cable talk shows and basking in the adoration of the Professional Left and more time paying attention to people actually in his district, he would’ve, without having to change a single one of his votes in Congress, been re-elected.
Your suspicion is correct John – it’s complete horseshit. There were 437 in 2000, 512 in 2002, 133 in 2008 (from the linked 2008 article). 39% off of 512 would mean around 300 cases. So Obama *increased* the number of cases from the 2008 level (doubled them, in fact) but they were lower than the peak of a number that changes by a lot.
It’s also pretty obvious that a number which varied by a factor of 4 during the Bush administration has a lot of random elements. There is also an even smaller category of security fraud (jumped around from 69 to 9 during Bush.) I’ll bet that you can cherry-pick some misleading spike to claim Obama=Bush with that number too!
@John Cole: Okay okay, I see your point – but what? Are you hoping they’re trending up now? Well, good. Do you have some feeling that they are? I couldn’t begin to see why. And is 39% down from 2003 – today, after what we’ve gone through(!!!) – mean they shouldn’t have even mentioned all of this? Jesus. The article is obviously provoking for more fraud prosecutions, you can’t possibly have a problem with this.
@LT: Maybe John just isn’t a fan of articles built on statistics that don’t actually mean what the writer is suggesting they mean. Maybe John actually likes knowing the relevant facts before he begins making judgments about how good of a job people are doing.
Leaving out statistics on FRAUD makes this meaningless. And ignoring that it would still be down significantly from Clinton’s last year – what? it’s just to be ignored?
Is there no one who can kick these bothersome New Lefties out of my Progressive Movement? Vietnam was freaking 50 years ago, time to move on from railing against the man. Please bring me back the party of Rosevelt, Truman, Kennedy and Johnson.
If there’s a case to be made against the President on the merits I’m more than willing to hear it but these constant fact-challenged Glenn Beck theatrics from the self-styled “left” is starting to wear out it’s welcome.
One thing about having a popular blog, John – you get a lot of people to speak for you!
Could be a song.
Where’s my show trials?
@LT: I think Marc already answered your question. It is a lot easier to be snide when there is no data. John was not “hoping” for anything, he wanted to know whether yet another outcry of Obama=Bush had any merit. John has not shied away from echoing the Obama=Bush thesis when it has actual merit, like with civil liberties. But the extent that the Professional Left, like Stoller, like to trot out this line is getting silly and it is clearly emotional because Stoller was obviously not interested in the actual data.
I should bloody well hope so. Good grief, “under Bush/Obama”?
Don’t you get that if you’re the one flinging accusations it’s in your own best interest make sure you’ve done your homework first and gotten the facts? It’s not our freaking job to hunt down the data to prove Stoller wrong just because he’s to lazy to prove himself right.
Hey, look, it’s the guy who goes around telling people that average temperatures were higher in 1997, therefore global warming is a hoax.
It’s nice to see that he’s branched out into other fields of misleading statistics.
In other words, no actual number is meaningful – because whatever the actual answer is, you can always argue that it should be larger.
Comparing a current number to a past spike is intellectually dishonest. That’s what you’re defending here, and that’s why I object to it so strongly. If the article compared complaints to actions, for instance, it would be a fairer test.
Progressives can make dishonest cases too, and as far as I’m concerned it’s more important to weed out the weasels on your side than to notice the ones on the other side. Because it is a bad idea to operate on your beliefs about things which aren’t so.
John Cole @ Top:
It seems like Krugman is dealing with similar Village blockeheadedness on the Ryan Abandon All Hope Plan:
Junk? The Times writing restrictions show themselves again. Is it me, or, while they read that, did anyone else hear the pages of Roget’s Thesaurus flipping furiously as PK sought a Times style-guide acceptable synonym for shit?
So your point is backed up. I still don’t see why anyone would be trying to defend this admin and DoJ given what we’ve seen happen since 2008.
@LT: You got a point to make, or do you just feel like being a jackass?
There seems to be an awful lot of barking up the wrong tree here. Aside from the fact that this Ritholtz blurb, while having its heart in the right place, is very brief and light on substance, I would argue that there’s little point to trying to draw any comparisons between the Bush and Obama administrations on the basis of prosecutions alone. I believe I’m correct in assuming that “prosecutions” do not include “investigations.” (IANAL, so if they do, ignore this whole comment.) Remember, it took five years to bring the Enron crooks all the way to conviction and sentencing, so it seems pointless to look at a record of only two years, of a new administration.
I think the correct question instead is of whether investigations have gone up. Given how slowly the wheels of justice turn, that’s where all the action would be at this point. That’s where the issue of inadequate personnel and/or desire to prosecute would be showing up, and would give us a far better indication of, if not what lies further down the road in the way of convictions, then certainly the OBAMA DoJ’s will to prosecute. Looking at prosecutions alone seems to me to be like looking out the window of a plane that’s flying through clouds and complaining that the plane’s not going anywhere because you can’t see the scenery changing as proof.
I just want to know what is actually going on before I make judgments about things. While Stoller doesn’t think I care about financial fraud, I’m pretty sure I’ve had agita for a few years about the issue, so I want to know what is actually going on before I weigh in. This one dude I know once said “I like to know what I’m talking about before I speak.”
Who are you talking about? Stoller?
@John Cole: But you act like there’s no point at all in just those numbers – down 39% from 2003. That ALONE doesn’t bother you?
Things could be worse, John.
This could have happened to you while at home, for instance: http://imgur.com/oR3dY?full
Your point turned out to be bullshit but you still don’t see why anyone would defend the administration from your bullshit complaints?
@LT: The point, I think, is that the Ritholz piece is based on a couple of cherry picked statistics that conflate the Bush and Obama administrations’ prosecution records. It does not provide sufficient information as to trends so that people can make a a judgment about where the Obama DOJ stands in the grand scheme of things. Also, bring a successful fraud prosecution takes time. It involves significant investigation and research. If, as it appears, the Bush Admin more or less closed that area down, it takes time to move resources back and start investigations. The fact that fraud prosecutions appear to be increasing under Obama is indicative that this is happening. I will note, however, that the information provided in the linked pieces is insufficient to tell us much beyond that. Of course, this is why Cole was asking for more information. Going emo over two or three pieces of cherrypicked data doesn’t seem like the best idea. Getting more info does.
@lol He’s a fellow at the Rockefeller Institute.
I watched this in real time. I thought you were talking past each other–that you were focusing on a question that is something of a side issue, and he was refusing to answer a simple question, relevant or not.
The relevant measure isn’t the number of prosecutions in raw terms. It’s what fraction of the fraud is being prosecuted, and WHO is being prosecuted. Martha Stewart and not, say, the head of AIG’s CDS operation is the point. Or, if you prefer a more timely example, Bernie Madoff vs the head of Countrywide.
To take one class of cases we know, for sure, that the MERS system both systematically broke laws regarding preservation of the chain of real property ownership and also evaded fees that regular people have to pay. There have been no prosecutions. We know, for sure, that servicers have broken laws regarding the foreclosure process.
There have been no criminal charges.
Except, as someone whom I can’t remember pointed out, people who defrauded rich people, like Bernie Madoff or Rajaratnam.
These people blew up the financial system–and committed fraud in the process. We’ve seen no significant prosecutions.
Now, when I talked to Brad DeLong about this issue, he pointed out that, unlike Enron, the executives Matt (and Matt Taibbi) would like to see prosecuted held the stock–and rode it all the way down. Brad argued that this is evidence the senior executives didn’t really know what was going on–that they were being lied to about hedges that their traders thought kept them absolutely safe.
That’s as may be. But I would really like to see this defense made in a court of law, with rules of evidence in force, and sworn public testimony.
We haven’t seen that. The number of cases strikes me as a side issue–not unlike the re-characterization of 50,000 troops and at least as many contractors in Iraq as something other than occupation.
@Peter: “@LT: You got a point to make, or do you just feel like being a jackass?”
Yes. When someone tells you that almost three years after the second worst financial crash in U.S. history, with ensuing evidence that it was caused by fraud on an enormous scale, that fraud prosecutions are down 39% from 2003 (and nearly as much from 2000, according to stats upthread), that you have your priortites in the wrong spot when you say, “Yeah but is it a little better?”
Okay? What if it is a little better?
8 years of ideologically based hiring by the Bush admin are going to leave a mark. That’s just one more reason why we need to fight the Bush=Obama crap. I can’t imagine anyone trying to argue that Obama is hiring Regent University grads in preference to people that graduated from a quality school of law.
Since Obama was elected in 2008, emo levels in the progressive blogosphere has increased 1,000%.
Holy shit. I’m just going to assume this is a troll.
Absent any other data, it is an utterly meaningless number. You need the context and additional data to draw any meaningful observations. I dare you to find any statement by me drawing any conclusion, positive or negative, about the number. I haven’t made any, although you seem to demand that I get outraged about it without enough evidence for a reason to be outraged.
Ah so Stoller was talking out of his -ss and now you’ve exposed yourself as an unthinking sycophant in the face of authority. Bummer.
Re: Justice Department, they’ve done just fine. The problem is FDL and GG can’t stop flinging poo to get themselves some exposure. Have you actually been to e.g. FDL? Have you seen what passes for “journalism” over there? Glenn Beck got more integrity…
would somebody put these fucking numbers on a graph already?
Not really. Ensuing evidence is that much of the bad behavior that caused the crisis was actually legal, especially the derivative bullshit.
@LT: Look, this isn’t rocket science. The number of total prosecutions as compared with the Enron years is a pretty worthless and cherry-picked number. It makes a nifty talking point, but does it represent a real decline under Obama? You can’t tell from that number. It is meaningless without context. So Cole asked for a very simple statement of fact: in what direction are the numbers moving? And then Stoller flips the fuck out for no reason, and then YOU flip the fuck out for no reason, and then here we all are.
FYI: it might be easier to follow the conversation via this link, which shows all tweets in one go: http://twitter.theinfo.org/73354303372398593
@John Cole: But you don’t care about it in the right way. Why’s Stoller always like this?
@LT: Why should that single arbitrary, cherry-picked stat bother anyone? Of course he’s acting like it doesn’t mean anything, because it doesn’t!
@John Cole: “Absent any other data, it is an utterly meaningless number. You need the context and additional data to draw any meaningful observations.”
Utterly meaningless? Okay. (They’d be rendered meaningful if the numbers were trending upward a bit? I’m lost)
I’ll just disagree and say that I think the Holder DoJ is doing a fuckall job concerning the overall rape and plunder that just occurred. It’s not a nuanced position, I’ll confess to that.
The blatant moving of the goal posts in the face of utter embaressment.
Fun fact: the Obama DoJ has had 0 prosecutions in the past 10 seconds!
Doesn’t that bother you!!!!
You think that’s bad, under Bush/Obama, since 2003 there has been a billionty percent increase in American troops in Iraq!
But we need more numbers for this to really mean anything!
Here is the offending group think oxymoron that permeates the nutroots. Ass U ming.
Deregulation does not lead to illegality, it leads to a lack of illegality. A little mind twist with words this morn. If something is deregulated, there can’t be regulations to break, or something like that.
Fucen Pneumatic Fuck Wrench Tarmal
this may be an all to obvious question, but in eyeballing these stats, how long does it take, days, months, years? to go from “hey something is wrong here” to prosecution as is defined by the statistics.
i am just wondering, if catching the 2008 wave of seemingly widespread fraud is reflected in those numbers at all.
@LT: It is possible that the Obama DOJ is not proceeding aggressively enough against financial fraud. The problem is that none of the statistics in the sources linked here tell us anything like that. They are numbers plucked out of context.I would be interested in seeing trends in the numbers. I would like to know how many lawyers and investigators Obama has working on this versus Bush. I would like to know the man hours that are being invested into investigations and prosecutions. I would like to know if changes in the law during the Bush Administration have resulted in some activities no longer being illegal.
Thanks. Following the conversion, it looks like Stoller really didn’t like that Emo comment.
I am the one true progressive.
Btw Jay, I’ve been spending quite a lot of time at FDL lately, and since I know you’re an avid member of their community I must ask you: don’t you have any problem at all with the general low quality and complete lack of intellectual honesty and journalistic integrity of it’s front page posters?
In just a couple of weeks I’ve seen headlines baselessly accusing the Obama admin of planning to torture Bin Ladens kids with insects (Jim White), flat out lies about what’s in the PPACA by self-styled health-care experts (Jon Walker), and on and on.
Aren’t you troubled just a little bit by the knowledge that the leaders of a community you frequent lies to you?
Shorter LT – Obama is bad as Bush, why can’t you all see that, he is he is he is he is, nanananananan neaner neaner. stamps feet in ritual hissy fit at Obot facts stuff.
@Fucen Pneumatic Fuck Wrench Tarmal: It can take years, depending on how complicated things are.
Thanks for that.
Because I’m old and slow and don’t have a Twitter account, can someone explain to me how I would follow the “conversation” from the link Cole posted at the top? All I get on that page is Stoller’s initial tweet and Cole’s first reply. Nothing to scroll, no (obvious) button to mash to get to the ensuing tweets.
I think John’s question was fair and Matt was sort of a tool about it. But I don’t really agree that John was asking for the right number.
Fraud prosecutions are not a statistic like unemployment or global temperatures that gradually drift up or down. You expect there would be spikes. The reason we’re asking these questions right now is that there was a major financial crisis 2.5 years ago, and we want to know why all the fraudsters who caused it aren’t getting punished.
So it’s a reasonable apples-to-apples comparison to compare the 2010 numbers (2 years after the most recent fraud came to light) with 2003 numbers (2 years after the previous big fraud came to light). Now, I still don’t think this tells us very much because the raw number of prosecutions isn’t that revealing. (Are there the same number of bad guys today as there were in 2003? Are/were we prosecuting the big cheeses or a bunch of fall guys? What sort of resources are being devoted to investigations?) So this whole exercise is pretty much a waste of time.
But I don’t think it would be very informative at all to know how prosecutions today compare to 2008, because the massive fraud didn’t come to light until late 2008. Gee, I would sure hope prosecutions are up compared to before the fraud was exposed. It still would have been nice to answer John’s question though.
And this too, unfortunately.
My income is down 87% from 1997. Of course, that is the year I won $320,000,000 in the lottery. I am still rich as hell.*
(*) Not intended to be factual statements. (It would be nice though.)
Wasn’t there like 500 indictments, or somesuch with the MERS bullshit, and other mortgage fraud related stuff? Did I dream that or something?
I have no problem with any of that to fill out details. But to find it a grievous sin on the part of the writer of the article, and Stoller (I know next to nothing about Stoller, but it’s obvious John and him have history – and people in this thread go much farther than Cole has) to point out that there is a serious problem here, fuck. It’s just crazy.
If the article had said, “Numbers of prosecutions are increasing slightly under the Obama DoJ” – so fucking what? Not fucking good enough. And that’ the point of the article.
And good god, there are “Oh, you’re an Obamabot” – “No, you’re an Obama HATER” people here. Ugh.
How about all you guys currently so busy “just asking questions” go out into the real world and do the hard investigative work of finding one (1) guy that should have been prosecuted but wasn’t, and then show how the Obama admin let him off the hook?
Maybe then you’d get some respect, instead of beeing treated like the Glenn Beckians of the New Left that you’ve been acting like so far.
Danny, why do you just make stuff up? I spend more time here than I do at FDL. I haven’t read either of the posts you’re referring to. (And have you? You refer to “headlines.”)
I do read Marcy Wheeler regularly, and think she is one of the best reporters we have. But,if anything, my blogospheric goal is to bring these communities together. That’s why the Virtually Speaking Sundays program brings together DKers, atriots, FDLers, C&Lers and folks like Avedon Carol and Cliff Schecter. Not to mention Digby.
I really hated the primary pie fights, and still really dislike their legacy.
@General Stuck: One of the issues with mortgage fraud is that the actual crime being committed often is a state law violation. As such, it would not be prosecuted by the DOJ.
Yes, that’s true. The failure to investigate and prosecute is not merely a DOJ issue.
@Danny: This is the first time I’ve been called a Glenn Beckian of the New Left, that’s for sure. Maybe you meant to reply to someone else’s comment.
It would, by the way, be quite difficult to investigate a fraud that hasn’t been prosecuted without having prosecutorial resources yourself, and then to peer into the Department of Justice’s investigative files to determine why they didn’t go after the guy. I think you’re setting the bar for “who is qualified to complain about this” just a wee bit too high.
I thought I dint dream it.
500 fraud indictments for mortgage fraud
Man flings poo. John calls crap. Man cries neener, neener with an assist by “Won’t someone think of the children”…
according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, non-immigration federal prosecutions of all kinds have decreased under Obama, as compared to Bush. this, despite large increases in the number of federal law enforcement staff.
the only area where prosecutions has increased has been immigration actions, in the south-west.
i draw no conclusions and imply no motives.
Here’s my first comment starting the debunking of Jon Walkers lies about the PPACA.
Here’s Jim White’s post: Did the US Intend to Torture Bin Laden’s Children?
Those are from my experience quite indicative of the general quality lately.
I seem to recall us discussing FDL here or at Steve Benen’s blog some time ago. But if I got that wrong you have my appologies…
ShorterParaphrased LT: OK, so you were right. But I’m still righter cause shut up that’s why!
Where did these numbers come from?
@cleek: Of course, this does not say much about where non-immigration prosecutorial resources have been allocated. Are minor drug busts down and fraud prosecutions up? We can’t tell from this.
@LT: From here, a link to a previous Ritholtz piece within the Ritholtz piece that started the fight.
If you choose as your yardstick for whether it’s warranted to alledge foul play just a general feeling that “more people should have been prosecuted” but can’t be bothered to make a coherent, fact-based case showing that the conclusion is reasonable then you are in fact acting exactly like Glenn Beck or any other trader in conspiracy theories.
What gives you away is your insistence on the rest of us doing the work proving that your pet theory is wrong, instead of you bringing hard facts showing that your theory is right.
Sorry if it hurts, but hey that’s life.
@cleek: Wow. Weird stuff.
Obama is worse than Bush. Way worser. Doesn’t that just feel right?
@Omnes Omnibus: Thanks.
Don’t they seem like really small numbers, overall?
@cleek: Thanks for the data. It is interesting. I would be curious to see where these new law enforcement FTE’s are located.
Another thing that has not been mentioned about this whole prosecution thing is institutional capacity. If DOJ has not been active prosecuting certain types of crime for many years, it would follow that there would not be many experienced prosecutors in that area. Also too, the US Atty’s can only prosecute what is investigated, which for criminal prosecutions I would assumes requires dedication of resources by the FBI. Anyone know what the FBI is up to these days? I assume that they are still probably busy setting up terrorist sting operations on muslims playing laser tag.
@Mr B: How does one go about showing all the tweets in a thread? Please excuse my twitter ignorance, though in my defense I believe Twitter to be a sign of the Apocalypse…
So you’re now making up alternate statistics and blasting them? Why can’t we get the actual numbers?
Have you taken under consideration the fact that crime is way down the last couple of years?
OT, but the new head of the DCCC, Rep. Steve Israel, has been kicking ass on the airwaves this morning. He is smart, he is on point, and he knows how to wrap things up in a tight soundbite.
@LT: I get the impression that you are angry about the crap that precipitated the 2008 collapse, but I also get the impression that you would/will not be satisfies unless and until the heads of the various banks and hedge funds are in a pillory being pelted by rotting vegetables. This probably is never going to happen no matter how aggressively the DOJ goes after people. History is going to say that the biggest scandal of that time period is the amount of things that were legal that should not have been. Financial deregulation has consequences, many of them bad.
This is because you are a dishonest emo jackass.
The story of the Obama administration: Bush dumps a flaming pile of sh-t in Obama’s lap and “tru libruls” (c) assumes foul play to explain their feeling that Obama’s taking to long cleaning up the mess.
Mildly OT, and I generally like AmericaBlog, but this goes a bit too far for me. Yeah, I know there’s a history of BarryBashing there, but really ….
@Omnes Omnibus: I hear you. My reaction to John’s post was “Really? You need numbers – now?” Or something along those lines. I understand the numbers can fill the story out, but for christ’s sake, you dont’ ask for a thermometer when the house is burning down. Or something.
Stoller linked to this in the twit thread:
Seems to me that @LT is moving the goalposts a bit here, given that the response to actual data is “Don’t they seem like really small numbers, overall?”
Anyway, Google is your friend. Try “federal charges mortgage fraud” as just one example and you’ll find lots of neato info, such as the website http://www.mortgagefraudblog.com.
they have a shit-ton of data on that site, so the answers may be in there. i couldn’t figure out how to get exactly the data i wanted, tho.
FBI Financial Crime Report.
You can’t just up and compare the Enron era crimes to what is happening currently. What Enron and Worldcom did was straight up accounting fraud (speaking of Lehman Brothers…), but a lot of what the current batch of banks did wasn’t necessarily illegal. A lot of it should have been illegal, and there should have been additional regulations in place to prevent their stupid moves from tanking the entire company and/or industry, but believing ‘this time it’s different’ isn’t illegal, nor is selling swampland in Florida to idiots who believe that ‘this time it’s different’. Hell, even screwing over your customers isn’t necessarily illegal, not unless the screwer actually had an obligation to look after the counterparty’s best interest (which most sales guys definitely don’t have).
All this is the reason to put more regulation in place, since it’s obvious (and always has been obvious to anyone with enough neurons to form a synapse) that financial institutions have all the self control of a two year old on meth.
@soonergrunt: Well, that’s just disappointing coming from you.
@NCProsecutor: THat’s not moving goalposts, I just looked back at it and went – can that be right? And I was given the link where it came from.
I read how the producer of “The IT Crowd” started the story that OBL was watching his show when he got whacked. He simply tweeted something along the lines of “Anybody know if it really is true that OBL was watching The IT Crowd when he was killed?” He had to put a stop to it several days latter when even his non-tweeting, non-technical mother was telling him that OBL was watching the show when killed.
Try tweeting leading questions & let the morans do the heavy lifting!
@Brian R.: To be honest, I didn’t think Van Hollen was all that bad. He just never could get anyone to listen to him. I recall him making quite a few sharp and pointed attacks. Unless I’m just cornfuzzled and am mixing up if Van Hollen was the old head of the DCCC. If so, carry on then.
@Poopyman: Oh. For. Fuck’s. Sake. Get a life people, there was nothing fucking wrong with that statement. Just as there was nothing wrong with Pelosi’s.
@cleek: Okay, I thought you were trying to prove something with those stats and couldn’t see what it was.
Edited slightly for coherence
All you need to know about Stoller’s opinions can be found in this 4 year old blog post:
“Obama is Done”
This guy is the genius “Senior Policy Advisor” to the true progressive, Alan Grayson, whose re-election strategy was as follows:
“All you have to do is act like a REAL liberal (i.e., scream at people, online) and you will win, even in a moderate to conservative district in Florida”.
Has anyone thought of asking the Wingnut Congress to implement their healthcare reforms for themselves first?
Let them be on the petri dish for this great experiment in the free market and then report back to us.
And the larger question: Who the fuck is Matt Stoller?
@Danny: What is there to like about Aravosis?
How he warmongered for invading Iraq? How he beat transpeople over the head for their daring to ask that LGB people wait for T people in getting civil rights legislation passes? Or how he blamed all of those black people for Prop 8 passing?
@arguingwithsignposts: Some dude with a twitter account.
One last time. The situation now is not comparable to past scandals like the S & L one, where fraud laws were clearly broken. The “big fries” at the top of our current scandals, were using the fraudulent, in some cases, mountains of new bad mortgages to gamble with via the derivative scams. Which was almost totally legal, though certainly not ethical. You can’t prosecute a lack of ethics in federal courts.
and i even went through the trouble of adding a disclaimer line specifically to keep people from assuming that. le sigh.
There is no difference between this and the argument that the New Deal made the Great Depression worse by comparing unemployment figures in 1937 with those in 1938 and ignoring the unemployment trend of the previous 5 years. Something that Anti-Keynesians do with a fair degree of regularity, because it allows them to give their preconceived bullshit the facade of legitimacy.
@LT: Actually, no. Still rather innumerate.
It seems to me that Obama has already won the 2012 election, because of this. Just look at the new Quinnipiac poll. Mitt Romney is ahead of Obama in New Hampshire, but that won’t help him (nor his NYT op-ed “Let Detroit go bankrupt”) if he loses Florida.
@LT Oh, piss off.
You’re unhappy because you feel like there should be more prosecutions, even though you haven’t given us a rational argument as to why there should be more.
How many prosecutions would there need to be until you feel better? 500? 1500? 5000? What arbitrary number works for you?
And you do realize that the 2008 collapse came at the tail end of an almost 30-year push for business deregulation, right? As long as we’re talking out of our asses here, maybe there are so few prosecutions because a lot of the shit that happened wasn’t technically illegal anymore.
You quoted that comment, and then mentioned S&L. It doesn’t mention S&L, and it doesn’t have to be like S&L for that quote to be true. If you know more than Simon Wisenberg and William Black- okay.
I have to go to bed.
@cleek: Who read disclaimers these days? Not I, obviously.
whew. I thought I was the only one.
Unbelievable lunacy, but par for the course. Avarosis must think his followers are unhappy people and he panders to them by making certain they remain unhappy every day of their lives. And he’s a twit, which doesn’t help matters much.
@Danny: Okay, I gave you a chance to admit that you merely replied to the wrong post. At this point you look like a damn fool insisting that I have a “pet theory” based on a “general feeling that more people should have been prosecuted,” when I never posted anything remotely like that. Go bother someone else.
@LT: You’re disapointed? Perhaps you should try harder to not be a dishonest emo jackass then, because my life will go on whether you learn integrity and maturity or not, but at least you may become vaguely relevant.
Perhaps that is a good idea. You have been moving goalposts and arbitrarily declaring things to be not good enough without any factual back-up for a while now.
The entire article was based on comparison to the S and L scandal, and the author being flummoxed why we don’t have similar prosecutions of folks at the top.
You really should get to bed, rather than being foolish on a blog. The insanity will look different with a nice days sleep.
put my name on that list, too
@Omnes Omnibus: Going to bed under most circumstances, is a good idea. I encourage this behavior. And to go way off topic, I’m craving eggplant. Don’t ask, no rationality at all.
It’s also worth remembering that cases that were brought in 2002-03 were put together in 2001-02, before the dramatic shift of FBI resources into counter-terrorism. I tend to think that if you could regress all the factors that contributed to the decline in white-collar prosecutions, the decline in available FBI staff years would have a strong positive correlation and a big r-squared.
@Suffern ACE: Reading the comments there you will see that is exactly the case.
Paul in KY
@El Cid: No! I am the One True Progressive ™. Ye shall only come to The Progress thru the Paul, so it is written.
@arguingwithsignposts: @Omnes Omnibus: That about sums it up.
And we’re going to have to leave it there, folks. Next up on BJ ….
@Yutsano: I am not, as it happens, a fan of eggplant. As far as I am concerned, you may have all of it.
Back in the Dark Ages, if you were caught committing banking fraud they’d probably burn you at the stake or chop your head off. Or something. I’m all like, you need numbers? They were cutting people’s heads off! Anyway, the number of banker beheadings is still WAY down under Obama from where it was in 752 AD in Europe, so, you know, Obama is totally the worst person EVAR!
EGGPLANTS is PEOPLE!!
@burnspbesq: I think lack of resources and deregulation are the two primary factors. Resources can be reallocated, but the fact that somethings just ain’t illegal no more is one that is going prevent some people from being prosecuted. If I had my druthers, I would reimpose a shit ton of regulations, separate the I-banks from the retail banks, and make the I-banks go back to being partnerships. Na ga na happen, but still….
What was the decline during intervening years? The 2009 prosecutions could still be down from 2003 but up from 2008.
Some people may remember the major securities fraud case the SEC filed against Goldman Sachs last April, involving fraud in the marketing of a mortgage-backed securities product. Goldman ended up paying a cool $550 million to settle that case – the largest penalty ever assessed against a financial services firm in the history of the SEC. That was a really big deal.
But that was also a civil action by the SEC, meaning that if all you care about is totaling up prosecutions, the fact that the government made Goldman Sachs pay $550 million doesn’t count for anything at all.
Ah I see, and you have the 2 cherry picked numbers that absolutely prove your preconceived assumption.
Every “conversation” using Twitter is bound to be idiotic.
I don’t know why it’s taking you so long to figure this out.
This is semi-anecdotal, but not irrelevant.
A couple weeks ago at the firm’s monthly litigation meeting, there was a presentation by the white collar defense practice group. The biggest takeaway (emphasized repeatedly during the presentation): the DOJ under Holder has gotten very aggressive about prosecuting fraud, insider trading, and other white collar crime. ‘Aggressive’ in terms of what they prosecute, and the tactics they use (lots more wiretaps & informants, e.g.).
Take that for whatever it’s worth, but it seems to me these guys would know.
I interviewed a financial professional who sat on a pension oversight board who worked with state and federal law enforcement on a case against a local elected official who sold insurance. The elected official was doing a variety of illegal things with the pension money, including churning (moving money from fund to fund within Met Life) so he could get himself extra commissions.
This financial professional told me the Illinois Attorney General was ready to prosecute, but the feds asserted jurisdiction.
Then 9/11 happened and the Justice Department shifted its attention to terrorism and away from financial crimes. The elected official was never prosecuted.
I think Stoller and others are thinking frog marches out of the penthouse apartments into the crossbar hotel, of “controlling” investment bankers and maybe AIG et al. Civil cases and half bill fines for these fuckers is like paying a parking ticket, well, a little more than that, but as a punitive matter, about the same.
You keep using that word. I do not think etc. etc…
No, Van Hollen was the old one. He was decent, just overwhelmed by a tidal wave not of his making. That said, Israel seems to be the best Dem spokesman I can remember in a long, long time. Better at communication and messaging than Reid and, as much as I love her, Pelosi.
@LT: That ALONE is meaningless.
@Stillwater: I remember reading that somewhere. It must be true. It rolls off the tongue, and all the confusing thoughts go away. I will say it too.
Hewer of Wood, Drawer of Water
@cleek: @eemom: @arguingwithsignposts: Actually, the larger question may be, “Why does anyone care who he is?”
The fact that heads haven’t rolled yet is no indication that nothing is being done. If Bush gutted the ability of the DOJ to enforce the laws, that meant that Obama’s DOJ was starting from scratch. A lot of the competent prosecutors that were there under Bush probably left the DOJ for private practice out of sheer frustration, and putting together the paper trail to prove even a small fraud takes a lot of time and resources.
@Bobby Thomson:hmmm so what has happened since 2008 other than the election of a black president and his selection of a black attorney general
@daveNYC: This. Exactly.
A lot of the emoprog wailing about a supposed failure to prosecute boils down to “why isn’t the DOJ nailing these people for doing shit that should be illegal (but wasn’t)?”
@General Stuck: I know, but the frog-march isn’t everything. It’s weird because I think we realize a high-profile prosecution would be almost entirely symbolic, but we’re still upset that the administration refuses to make that symbolic gesture.
O/T guys, but the President’s speech to Parliament just concluded and not suprisingly it was a good one and it was well received I think.
British are less vocal than American pols, but the most spontaneous applause moment comes at the end when POTUS said that acceptance of diversity – and of newcomers – that makes it possible “for the grandson of a Kenyan who served as a cook in the British Army to stand before you as President of the United States”
@lamh34: Sure, he’s popular in Europe; that just goes to show what a soshulist weenie he is or something.
@Tom Hilton: I wouldn’t call it anecdotal if your firm does a lot of that work. Certainly the sense is the same here on Wall Street.
In addition to the DOJ, the regulators are a lot more active as well, but I think a lot of that is just CYA.
We don’t yet know if some of these top cats actually did go beyond just gambling with bad retail mortgages made by others, and maybe conspired or committed some other type of fraud. I will have to run it by Barrister Eemom, but a year or two for investigating cases of fraud at this level, is not very long, for these notoriously difficult types of crimes to be proved in court. And likely against the finest legal talent money can buy.
edit – and double so for a change of administrations from a GOP one to a Dem one.
@Tom Hilton: That’s pretty much what I’ve been thinking.
I actually had a conversation where I asked honestly, “What are the specific crimes we can prosecute them on?” And — I’m not making this up — the response was, “Crashing the economy!”
If I were Supreme Ruler there’s be a whole lot of people rotting in dungeons right now. But freak, the real problem as far as I can tell is how much of this hazardous shit was perfectly legal.
The Moar You Know
This thread has been the best troll ever.
@different church-lady: As I said upthread, when historians look back at this period of time, the great scandal is going to be that the financial system was left to its own devices and was able to do all sorts of insane things that were perfectly legal. This, of course, doesn’t mean that there wasn’t fraud as well.
@Tom Hilton: IMHO, most of it boils down to “Why aren’t important political figures acting as obviously upset as I profess to be?”
Jeezus, there isn’t enough facepalm in the world for a comment like that one. Sadly typical, though.
@Steve: Well, hence the ‘semi-‘ in front of ‘anecdotal’. Not statistics, but anecdotal from sources in a position to know.
@FlipYrWhig: Yeah, that does pretty much sum it up.
@arguingwithsignposts: I was assuming that, by the time the historians are writng about it, things will have been fixed. One way or another. You are, I take it, more pessimistic.
It’s always fascinating to me that the same people who run around screaming “Just words!” get pissed off if Obama doesn’t use the precise words they want him to.
I was referring specifically to this:
My point is that instead of asking questions you should do the homework yourself.
Given the legislation in place during the financial meltdown, and the practices that’s been documented – how many people should we expect to have actually boken the law? Did you go out and do your homework on that?
Is there any documented cases where we should have expected prosecution but someone was let off the hook? Did you go out and do your homework on that?
Get the data and if there’s a case to be made – make the case supported by the data.
Until you guys do that your inference about “spikes” and what we should “expect” is no better than arguing the “obvious” unreasonableness of the magic bullet or that WT7 couldn’t possibly have been that damaged by the events of 9/11. It’s conspiracy mongering or at best being a conspiracy enabler by not demanding a solid, consistent argument, backed by documented facts.
@Danny: Your reading comprehension needs a hell of a lot of work.
@different church-lady: So deeply, deeply agreed. Tweeter does enable access. What it disables is effective communication. A metaphor…?
That was “Poopyman” you’re replying to, not me. The post below mine.
@Steve: I would heavily discount Wall Street’s impression and the defendant’s bar’s impression. They both are going to scream to high heaven that Angelo Mozila was railroaded, and that people are “suddenly” being prosecuted for things that are “common practice on the Street.”
Shocked, Rick’s, gambling….etc.
Now if the white collar guys are not just talking but doubling their staff….
Dana Milbank, voice of The People (bolds mine):
If you can’t blame the black man for all the problems, well, then who the hell can you blame?
I quoted the specific part I objected to, and told you why.
ETA: Sorry, you’re right. Sloppy reading on my part.
@dollared: Believe me, I discount Wall Street’s view of the merits every day. But whether the conduct is run of the mill, the prosecutions surely are not. Goldman Sachs doesn’t pay those $550 million settlements every day.
@Danny: Okay, fair enough. Peace and love!
More mean, evil, stupidity to make you weep. Wingnuts are claiming that the Tucson Massacre and Gabrielle Giffords assassination attempt was faked:
The cruelty of these people recognizes no boundaries.
This is part of why there’s probably no good comparison for John. The “years since Enron/current fracas” isn’t a good comparison–under the Bush regime, DOJ and SEC were gutted and staffed with ideological apparatchiks, so it’s taking time to clean house before they can even start. The Bush DOJ was actively preventing states from pursuing fraud cases while the worst offenses were happening. As noted above, deregulation means having to find avenues for prosecution; that’s why I think the insider trading cases aren’t purely targeting rich on rich crime, to avoid going after the MOU. This whole mess will take a lot of resolving, and it’s hard to assess what Obama’s doing.
I’m not even sure that most people realize that it would be symbolic.
@Poopyman: You buried the lede. Spending a year with Dana Milbank “learning about America” = EPIC FAIL
Although to be fair to Bibi, it’s not like he wants to take all the Palestinian land away from them, just any of it that has reasonable water access and can support human life. He’s happy to give them some perfectly good desert and toxic waste sites in exchange. It’s called compassion, you know?
Thanks, that’s generous, even for a DFH :)
Beth in VA
I just read the tag here “Manic Progressive”. Brilliant, Cole!
I think Twitter could have a lot of value to liberals, by forcing them to articulate their ideas in 140 or fewer characters. The GOP has been doing that for years, to tremendous effect; it’s time we learned as well.
@les: It depends what we mean by mortgage fraud. The most basic kind of fraud is where you lie about your income in order to get a mortgage, but that’s not very interesting. No reasonable person thinks the financial crisis was caused by individuals overstating their income.
But then there’s the mortgage fraud that involves the next step in the chain, the part where the lender turns around and does something like provide false information to the FHA to get government insurance. That’s what was alleged in the big lawsuit the feds filed a couple weeks ago against Deutsche Bank – oh, wait, there’s another counterexample to the claim that the feds aren’t doing anything! This sort of thing is still garden-variety fraud, but it’s a federal issue because the lies are mostly being told to federal agencies.
Then there’s the sort of fraud that happens when the mortgages get bundled into mortgage-backed securities and sold as CDOs. This is a federal issue because securities are involved. Whether laws were actually broken, eh, who knows, but like many people I feel like the rating agencies probably deserved a closer look.
Then there’s the newest development, foreclosure fraud, which has been extensively covered here at BJ. That is mostly a state issue although again, the DOJ has been devoting significant resources in terms of helping out the states and coordinating the state efforts. So that’s another point for the administration, at least as far as I’m concerned.
@JGabriel: Saw that this AM. I have a feeling that some folks are trying to get out in front of the inevitable revelations that will soon come to light regarding Loughner’s motivations.
Paul in KY
@JGabriel: I’d want to see them stop by Mr. Green’s house & ask those questions.
I would think Mr. Louisville Slugger would be answering.
Not much I can add to the current discussion except this:
I worked for 11 years as an enforcement attorney at the SEC from one of their regional offices. I did civil prosecutions of violations of the federal securities laws. To just get subpoena power, I had to submit a memo outlining my case to the Commission back in D.C. Before it would go to the Commission, it had to be vetted by the D.C. office in charge of the regional offices. If it didn’t meet their standards, it was returned with directions about what was lacking either in facts or legal discussion. This process could take anywhere from a couple of months to almost a year depending on the pickiness of the attorney assigned to your case in DC. Just for subpoena authority– so you could move on in the investigation because who is going to turn documents over to you voluntarily?
Once you had the subpoena power, conducted and concluded the investigation, you would make a prosecution recommendation in another memo. Same process. Only this time the defendant(s) were given notice of what you intended and they could make what was called a “Wells submission” to the Commission that set out why they should not be sued. The Commission would then meet periodically and review your memo and the Wells submissions and rule on whether to authorize the filing of the lawsuit. Sometimes you would go to DC to argue your own case, other times you would rely on the DC office to do it for you.
With this process in place, it was (and still may be) easy to insert delaying roadblocks by those not interested in prosecutions. And if there are lots of holdovers from Bush still in the staff this could be true.
Another problem with looking at stats for fraud prosecutions is that prosecutions for fraud are only a relatively small subset of potential prosecutions arising out of the financial crisis. Prosecutions for things like insider trading, other securities law violations, embezzlement, perjury, obstruction of justice, etc., are probably not going to show up in the numbers for criminal fraud
If you two were’nt so busy teeting each other, one of you could have maybe looked it up.
I don’t get twitter at all. It sure isn’t conducive to a decent dialogue.
Where would such cases be “documented?” Somehow I doubt the DOJ keeps stats on the number of people they let off the hook.
I didn’t say documented by the DOJ – only documented by someone. The Bush administration released no stats on how many people were waterboarded or subjected to extraordinary renditions and “enhanced interogation”. There was still reporting on actual, documented cases of that stuff happening before the Bushies came out of the closet.
Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence and all that, but before crying wolf it’s often good to have more evidence than: “I feel people are being let off the hook to easy ergo that has to be the case. Obama is teh Suxx0r”.
If there is no hard evidence, only a “feeling” then – to be credible – one really has to at least bring meticulously documented circumstancial evidence and be perfectly transparant that there is in fact a lack of hard evidence. I’m not seeing that happening here from the administrations critics, hence my skepticism.
Oh c’mon, Grayson ran his own career into the ground, Stoller just naively hitched himself to that crashing plane.
“make the I-banks go back to being partnerships”
That would work, IMO. People whose entire net worth is on the line every time anyone in the firm makes a trade tend to take a highly disciplined and focused approach to risk management.
@burnspbesq: The issue is how one would make it happen. I-bankers would go to the mattresses over it.
Grumpy Code Monkey
But they wouldn’t get filthy stinking rich (well, even more so) in the process; it’s hard to leverage out the wazoo when it’s your own skin in the game.
@Omnes Omnibus: I’m another former SEC attorney (corporation finance, not enforcement) and I agree with you wholeheartedly. The only way it would happen is if there were financial costs attached to being a corporation rather than a partnership, and I don’t see any one in congress who would be willing to go there. This is, after all, only about the money and how much they can get.
Something else that hasn’t been mentioned with respect to deregulation. Although the public tends to focus on the activities of the Enforcement Division, the Division of Corporation Finance is the division that public companies deal with on a regular basis. CF (for short) “interprets” laws that it is responsible for and does so in a number of ways, both public and non-public. For instance, it issues Staff Legal Memos setting forth the division’s policies on various issues. You can go to the SEC website and find all the public memos. What you won’t be able to see is that some of those public memos have non-public portions and some memos are completely non-public. Before I left the commission at the end of the Bush/Christopher Cox era, a CF memo was issued (non-publicly) that actually permitted S-3 eligible companies to sell securities based on stale financial statements. It took some nifty interpretation to reach that result. I have no idea whether it is still in effect. Even though it was a nonpublic position, how long do you think it took before that was common knowledge among the firms doing securities law? Other ways in which de-regulation happens at the SEC are through “No Action” letters and Staff Legal Bulletins, not to mention the always effective directives to staff to simply cease commenting on particular portions of documents and/or various laws or regulation, which though still in effect, are simply ignored.
rob in dc
You guys really are hilarious Obama-bots making an excuse for anything so your guy doesn’t look like shit. For the record of justice in the face of fraud Obama looks like fucking garbage and there isn’t any damn way you can rationalize it out.
When you have a Citibank CFO testifying in congress that 80% of the mortgages packaged for sale in AAA tranches were shit you have a straight up case of fraud that cannot be ignored. Mozilo walks while the FBI throws some joe schmoe who schemed a second mortgage into jail, thats pure hilarity. When you have the goddamn treasury department making Goldman whole on the AIG CDS’s you have outright lawlessness in the executive branch itself.
Wachovia just laundered $400 billion dollars in drug money, they were fined a trivially. Half the actions taken are civil actions which aren’t even worth a goddamn, fraud and its consequences have become a cost of doing business in this county, it ain’t Obama’s fault, and it well predates him, but he definitely ain’t trying to clean shit up. I could spend all goddamn day finding links and more examples, but any of you assholes who are defending Obama about this shit are already Obama bots who won’t hear it anyway. You have to be willfully blind not to see how impotent this administrations DOJ has been.
Kittehs to the rescue
@Rihilism: Normally, if people reply correctly to a tweet then the reply contains the ID of the tweet they reply too. The link I posted basically uses that data to construct the thread.
Twitter has a similar functionality if you use search.twitter.com: if a tweet that is found there is part of a conversation, Twitter offers to display the complete conversation, but this often doesn’t work anywhere near as good as that website.