Patience My Ass.....

You know, for some time, it seems that any time someone complains that Obama's economic team is too close to the banks, the answer is that we are seeing some sort of chess game, and it's just that the White House is 3 steps ahead of everyone else.

I don't buy it.  I think that Larry Summers just jumped the shark into accepting bribes, as this Wall Street Journal analysis of his 2008 disclosure forms shows.

Among other things, he got $5.2 million from hedge fund D.E. Shaw for his thoroughly part time (he was a full time professor at Harvard) position, and he got $2.7 million for speaking, with his fees ranging from, "$10,000 for a Yale University speech to $135,000 for an appearance paid for by Goldman Sachs & Co."

So we know that the market rate for his speeches is about $10K, but Wall Street investment firms were paying more than 10 times that in a year in which the Democrats were favored, and he was likely to be on the team of either Democratic nominee.

A Tiny Revolution went through his  disclosure form (PDF) and came up with the following, with  Merrill-Lynch being a week after the election, and Charles River Ventures being the day before:

    • Goldman Sachs: $202,500 (two speeches)
    • Citigroup: $99,000 (two speeches)
    • JP Morgan: $67,500
    • Merrill Lynch: $45,000 (donated to charity)
    • Investec Bank: $157,500
    • State Street Corporation: $112,500
    • Pricewaterhouse Coopers LLC: $67,500
    • Lehman Brothers: $67,500
    • American Express: $67,500
    • Siguler Guff & Company (private equity): $67,500
    • TA Associates (private equity): $67,500
    • Charles River Ventures (Venture Capital): $67,500
    • Skagen Funds (Scandinavian mutual fund): $180,000 (three speeches)
    • Centro de Liderazgo y Gestion (the Center for Leadership and Management, in Colombia): $112,500
    • Association of Mexican Bankers: $90,000
    • Securities Industry & Financial Markets Association: $33,750
    • Pension Real Estate Association: $67,500
    • Hudson Institute: $10,000
It should be noted that the Hudson institute is a very right wing "think" tank which has consistently been dogged by accusations of racism and Islamophobia, and it's at the same "market rate" as Yale.

I can't see this as anything but bribe taking, with the various financial institutions paying forward to get favorable treatment.

What sort of treatment were the looking for?  Well, there was probably not a specific request, a quid pro quo, if you will, but something like the White House coming up with phony entities to act as intermediaries in order to skirt Congressional limitations on executive compensation:

The Obama administration is engineering its new bailout initiatives in a way that it believes will allow firms benefiting from the programs to avoid restrictions imposed by Congress, including limits on lavish executive pay, according to government officials.

Administration officials have concluded that this approach is vital for persuading firms to participate in programs funded by the $700 billion financial rescue package.

You know, the threat of being frog marched out of their workplace in handcuffs would work better.
The administration believes it can sidestep the rules because, in many cases, it has decided not to provide federal aid directly to financial companies, the sources said. Instead, the government has set up special entities that act as middlemen, channeling the bailout funds to the firms and, via this two-step process, stripping away the requirement that the restrictions be imposed, according to officials.

Although some experts are questioning the legality of this strategy, the officials said it gives them latitude to determine whether firms should be subject to the congressional restrictions, which would require recipients to turn over ownership stakes to the government, as well as curb executive pay.

The administration has decided that the conditions should not apply in at least three of the five initiatives funded by the rescue package.


Enough is enough.

This is more than being too close to the financial sector, this is corruption, and it pervades Obama's economic team.

Larry Summers, and possibly Timothy Geithner, need to spend more time with their families.

Cross posted from 40 Years in the Desert.

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Around the Country, Calls for Lawmakers to Address "Real Problems, Not Imaginary Ones"

As several states enter critical phases in their legislative sessions, the debate for one of the most controversial election reforms continues to dominate headlines and legislative hearings. This year, more than 26 states introduced legislation to go above and beyond federal election law relating to voter ID, despite near consensus among voting rights advocates that it hurts the process far more than it helps. Last week, the hysteria around voter ID reached an all time high in six states, evoking public concern from advocates and citizens alike.

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We Must Examine the Fairness and Accuracy of the Process

Last week, Senator Jim Webb of Virginia introduced The National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2009--an important piece of legislation with broad bi-partisan support that would create a commission to "look at every aspect of our criminal justice system with an eye toward reshaping the process from top to bottom." The legislation specifically gives the commission the important responsibility of examining why the United States has seen drastic increases in our prison population, particularly for individuals convicted of drug crimes and for the incarceration of the mentally ill. The commission would also be charged with examining the costs of our current prison system, as well as the current state, if any, of post-incarceration/prisoner re-entry programs. There is no doubt that the alarming number of individuals incarcerated, and the demonstrated lack of prison re-entry/rehabilitation programs, make it very clear that our criminal justice system is in drastic need of the kind of examination and reform that Senator Webb's legislation calls for. However, as written, the bill does not call for an examination of our criminal justice system at the front end, to see whether or not we convict and incarcerate individuals using a fair, accurate, and efficient process.

Unfortunately, in recent decades, DNA exonerations all over the country, as well as research on the causes and costs of wrongful convictions, reveals that our criminal justice system does not utilize fair, accurate, and reliable procedures during criminal investigations or criminal trials. We cannot be confident in the investigations and convictions that send so many people to prison in the first place.

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Measures to Expand and Balance U.S. Electorate Gain Traction in State Legislatures

by Erin Ferns and Donald Wine II

For the past few years, there has been a push by voting rights advocates to expand and balance the electorate in the United States.  Finally, measures to help enfranchise some of the nation's least represented Americans are moving forward in several states. This past week, five states advanced bills to restore the voting rights of citizens convicted of felonies, while four states moved bills designed to facilitate voter participation among young citizens. This trend in election reform is a step in the right direction, which more states should take notice of and consider in the near future.

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Casting A Ballot Proves Daunting For Former Felons

Cross-posted at Project Vote's blog, Voting Matters

Weekly Voting Rights News Update

By Erin Ferns

“...Too many people do not understand or exercise their voting rights, and as a result, entire segments of our population — and especially formerly incarcerated individuals — are being underrepresented at the polls on Election Day.” - New Jersey Sen. Ronald Rice (D-Newark)

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