black holes and gray matter. in one thousand tangos.

             
Matt Taibbi's The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap, ”as infuriating as it is impossible to put down.”
“Taibbi wrote The Divide to demonstrate that unequal wealth is producing grotesquely unequal outcomes in criminal justice. You might say that’s an old story, but Taibbi believes that, just as income disparities are growing ever wider, so, too, are disparities in who attracts the attention of cops and prosecutors and who doesn’t. Violent crime has fallen by 44 percent in America over the past two decades, but during that same period the prison population has more than doubled, skewing heavily black and poor. In essence, poverty itself is being criminalized. Meanwhile, at the other end of the income distribution, an epidemic of white-collar crime has overtaken the financial sector, indicated, for instance, by a proliferation of record-breaking civil settlements. But partly because of an embarrassing succession of botched Justice Department prosecutions, and partly because of a growing worry (first enunciated by Attorney General Eric Holder when he was Bill Clinton’s deputy attorney general) that any aggressive prosecution of big banks could destabilize the economy, Wall Street has come, under President Obama, to enjoy near-total immunity from criminal prosecution. It had more to fear, ironically, when George W. Bush was president. …
[C]riminals are getting harder to find even as new computer systems are enabling the police commissioner to keep track of which precincts are making the most arrests. The solution turns out to be aggressive use of a stop-and-frisk policy that gives cops a blank check to “search virtually anyone at any time.” The police start behaving “like commercial fishermen, throwing nets over whole city blocks.” Some of the fish get prosecuted or ticketed for ever-pettier offenses; 20,000 summonses, for instance, are handed out annually for riding a bicycle on the sidewalk. But most fish aren’t guilty of anything and must grow accustomed to being routinely cuffed and ridden around in a police van before they are tossed back into the water. These fish are, of course, typically black and poor. Anecdotal evidence suggests that throwing a similar fishnet over entire Wall Street firms would produce a criminal yield at least as high as any random ghetto block. But innocent Wall Street fish would have a much bigger megaphone with which to proclaim their constitutional rights, and guilty Wall Street fish would have much better lawyers. …
We may be approaching a day when any kind of personal attention from a large institution that wields substantial control over your life becomes a luxury available only to the few, like a bespoke suit or designer gown.”
The Justice Gap

Matt Taibbi's The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap, ”as infuriating as it is impossible to put down.”

Taibbi wrote The Divide to demonstrate that unequal wealth is producing grotesquely unequal outcomes in criminal justice. You might say that’s an old story, but Taibbi believes that, just as income disparities are growing ever wider, so, too, are disparities in who attracts the attention of cops and prosecutors and who doesn’t. Violent crime has fallen by 44 percent in America over the past two decades, but during that same period the prison population has more than doubled, skewing heavily black and poor. In essence, poverty itself is being criminalized. Meanwhile, at the other end of the income distribution, an epidemic of white-collar crime has overtaken the financial sector, indicated, for instance, by a proliferation of record-breaking civil settlements. But partly because of an embarrassing succession of botched Justice Department prosecutions, and partly because of a growing worry (first enunciated by Attorney General Eric Holder when he was Bill Clinton’s deputy attorney general) that any aggressive prosecution of big banks could destabilize the economy, Wall Street has come, under President Obama, to enjoy near-total immunity from criminal prosecution. It had more to fear, ironically, when George W. Bush was president. …

[C]riminals are getting harder to find even as new computer systems are enabling the police commissioner to keep track of which precincts are making the most arrests. The solution turns out to be aggressive use of a stop-and-frisk policy that gives cops a blank check to “search virtually anyone at any time.” The police start behaving “like commercial fishermen, throwing nets over whole city blocks.” Some of the fish get prosecuted or ticketed for ever-pettier offenses; 20,000 summonses, for instance, are handed out annually for riding a bicycle on the sidewalk. But most fish aren’t guilty of anything and must grow accustomed to being routinely cuffed and ridden around in a police van before they are tossed back into the water. These fish are, of course, typically black and poor. Anecdotal evidence suggests that throwing a similar fishnet over entire Wall Street firms would produce a criminal yield at least as high as any random ghetto block. But innocent Wall Street fish would have a much bigger megaphone with which to proclaim their constitutional rights, and guilty Wall Street fish would have much better lawyers. …

We may be approaching a day when any kind of personal attention from a large institution that wields substantial control over your life becomes a luxury available only to the few, like a bespoke suit or designer gown.”

The Justice Gap

Matt Taibbi on Eric Holder’s predictable decision to not pursue criminal charges against Goldman Sachs:

In the notorious Hudson transaction … Goldman claimed, in writing, that it was fully ‘aligned’ with the interests of its client, Morgan Stanley, because it owned a $6 million slice of the deal. What Goldman left out is that it had a $2 billion short position against the same deal.

If that isn’t fraud, Mr. Holder, just what exactly is fraud? […]

No, the real reason this wasn’t surprising is that Holder’s decision followed a general pattern that has been coming into focus for years in American law enforcement. Our prosecutors and regulators have basically admitted now that they only go after the most obvious and easily prosecutable cases. […]

But the Holders of the world do not want to be creative when the targets are politically influential rich people. Instead, they use their creativity against Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, immigrant housekeepers, and guys who knock over liquor stores. They like to flex muscles against bank robbers, celebrity tax evaders (we can’t have Wesley Snipes on the loose!), truck hijackers, and drug dealers. As Gene Wilder would say, “You know – morons.”

Holder’s non-decision on Goldman is more than unsurprising. It amounts to an official announcement that the government is no longer in the business of prosecuting smart criminals. It’s pathetic. The one thing you pay any lawyer to have is balls, and our nation’s top attorney has none.”

"This is a visceral, impassioned, deep-seated rejection of the entire direction of our society, a refusal to take even one more step forward into the shallow commercial abyss of phoniness, short-term calculation, withered idealism and intellectual bankruptcy that American mass society has become. If there is such a thing as going on strike from one’s own culture, this is it."

Matt Taibbi

I’ve already gone off on this more than once, but it bears repeating. Bankers on Wall Street pay lower tax rates than most car mechanics. […]

Goldman, Sachs in 2008 – this was the same year the bank reported $2.9 billion in profits, and paid out over $10 billion in compensation — paid just $14 million in taxes, a 1% tax rate.

Bank of America last year paid not a single dollar in taxes — in fact, it received a “tax credit” of $1 billion. There are a slew of troubled companies that will not be paying taxes for years, including Citigroup and CIT.

When GM bought the finance company AmeriCredit, it was able to marry its long-term losses to AmeriCredit’s revenue stream, creating a tax windfall worth as much as $5 billion. So even though AmeriCredit is expected to post earnings of $8-$12 billion in the next decade or so, it likely won’t pay any taxes during that time, because its revenue will be offset by GM’s losses.

Thank God our government decided to pledge $50 billion of your tax dollars to a rescue of General Motors! You just paid for one of the world’s biggest tax breaks.”

— Matt Taibbi: Wall Street Isn’t Winning — It’s Cheating

Matt Taibbi: Why Occupy Wall Street is Bigger Than Left vs. Right

I was surprised, amused and annoyed all at once when I found out yesterday that some moron-provocateur linked to notorious right-wing cybergoon Andrew Breitbart had infiltrated a series of private e-mail lists – including one that I have been participating in – and was using them to run an exposé on the supposed behind-the-scenes marionetting of the OWS movement by the liberal media.

According to various web reports, what happened was that a private “cyber-security researcher” named Thomas Ryan somehow accessed a series of email threads between various individuals and dumped them all on BigGovernment.com, Breitbart’s site. Gawker is also reporting that Ryan forwarded some of these emails to the FBI and the NYPD.

I have no idea whether those email exchanges are the same as the ones I was involved with. But what is clear is that some private email exchanges between myself and a number of other people – mostly financial journalists and activists who know each other from having covered the crisis from the same angle in the last three years, people like Barry Ritholz, Dylan Ratigan, former regulator William Black, Glenn Greenwald and myself – ended up being made public.

There is nothing terribly interesting in any of these exchanges. Most all of the things written were things all of us ended up saying publicly in our various media forums. In my case, what I wrote was almost an exact copy of my Rolling Stone article last week, suggesting a list of demands for the movement. I said I thought having demands was a good idea and listed a few things I thought demonstrators could focus on. Others disagreed, and there was a friendly back-and-forth.

So I was amazed to wake up this morning and find that various right-wing sites had used these exchanges to build a story about a conspiracy of left-wing journalists. "Busted. Emails Show Liberal Media & Far Left Cranks Conspired With #OWS Protesters to Craft Message," wrote one.

Read on.

Matt Taibbi: More Tea Party Hilarity

Quelle surprise! So it turns out that one after another of the Tea Party candidates is in one way or another mooching off the government. The latest series of hilarious disclosures center around Alaska’s GI-Joe-bearded windbag Senatorial candidate, Joe Miller, who appears to have run virtually the entire gamut of government aid en route to becoming a staunch, fist-shaking opponent of the welfare state.

Miller’s pomposity and piety with regard to government aid programs has all along been in line with the usual screechingly hysterical self-righteousness Tea Party candidates bring to such matters, railing against Obamacare and other “entitlement” programs and promising to end the “welfare state.” That makes it all the more delicious now that he and his family have been exposed for taking state medical aid, unemployment insurance, farm subsidies, hell, even for using state equipment to run a private political campaign.  

You see, when a nice white lawyer with a GI Joe beard uses state aid to help him through tough times and get over the hump – so that he can go from having three little future Medicare-collecting Republican children to eight little future Medicare-collecting Republican children – that’s a good solid use of government aid, because what we’re doing is helping someone “transition” from dependency to economic independence.

This of course is different from the way other, less GI-Joe-looking people use government aid, i.e. as a permanent crutch that helps genetically lazy and ambitionless parasites mooch off of rich white taxpayers instead of getting real jobs. I can’t even tell you how many people I interviewed at Tea Party events who came up with one version or another of the Joe Miller defense. Yes, I’m on Medicare, but… I needed it! It’s those other people who don’t need it who are the problem!

This whole concept of “good welfare” and “bad welfare” is at the heart of the Tea Party ideology, and it’s something that is believed implicitly across the line. It’s why so many of their political champions, like Miller, and sniveling Kentucky rich kid Rand Paul (a doctor whose patient base is 50% state insured), and Nevada “crazy juice” Senate candidate Sharron Angle (who’s covered by husband Ted’s Federal Employee Health Plan insurance), are so completely unapologetic about taking state aid with one hand and jacking off angry pseudo-libertarian mobs with the other.

Matt Taibbi: Lara Logan, You Suck

Lara Logan, come on down! You’re the next guest on Hysterical Backstabbing Jealous Hackfest 2010!

I thought I’d seen everything when I read David Brooks saying out loud in a New York Times column that reporters should sit on damaging comments to save their sources from their own idiocy. But now we get CBS News Chief Foreign Correspondent Lara Logan slamming our own Michael Hastings on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” program, agreeing that the Rolling Stone reporter violated an “unspoken agreement” that journalists are not supposed to “embarrass [the troops] by reporting insults and banter.”

Anyone who wants to know why network television news hasn’t mattered since the seventies just needs to check out this appearance by Logan. Here’s CBS’s chief foreign correspondent saying out loud on TV that when the man running a war that’s killing thousands of young men and women every year steps on his own dick in front of a journalist, that journalist is supposed to eat the story so as not to embarrass the flag.

According to Logan, not only are reporters not supposed to disclose their agendas to sources at all times, but in the case of covering the military, one isn’t even supposed to have an agenda that might upset the brass! Why? Because there is an “element of trust” that you’re supposed to have when you hang around the likes of a McChrystal. You cover a war commander, he’s got to be able to trust that you’re not going to embarrass him. Otherwise, how can he possibly feel confident that the right message will get out?

True, the Pentagon does have perhaps the single largest public relations apparatus on earth – spending $4.7 billion on P.R. in 2009 alone and employing 27,000 people, a staff nearly as large as the 30,000-person State Department – but is that really enough to ensure positive coverage in a society with armed with a constitutionally-guaranteed free press?

And true, most of the major TV outlets are completely in the bag for the Pentagon, with two of them (NBC/GE and Logan’s own CBS, until recently owned by Westinghouse, one of the world’s largest nuclear weapons manufacturers) having operated for years as leaders in both the broadcast media and weapons-making businesses.

But is that enough to guarantee a level playing field? Can a general really feel safe that Americans will get the right message when the only tools he has at his disposal are a $5 billion P.R. budget and the near-total acquiescence of all the major media companies, some of whom happen to be the Pentagon’s biggest contractors?

Does the fact that the country is basically barred from seeing dead bodies on TV, or the fact that an embedded reporter in a war zone literally cannot take a shit without a military attaché at his side (I’m not joking: while embedded at Camp Liberty in Iraq, I had to be escorted from my bunk to the latrine) really provide the working general with the security and peace of mind he needs to do his job effectively?

Hey Jake, it’s not like you were curing cancer. You were a fucking commodities trader. Thanks to a completely insane, horribly skewed set of societal values that puts a premium on greed and severely undervalues selflessness, communal spirit and intellectualism — values that make millionaires out of people like you and leave teachers and nurses, the people who raise your kids and clean your parents’ bedpans, comparatively penniless — you made a lot of money.

Good for you. Consider yourself lucky. But your company went belly-up and broke, almost certainly thanks in part to you, and now you don’t get your bonus.

So be a man and deal with it. The rest of us do, when we get bad breaks, and we’ve had a lot more of them than you. And stop whining. Jesus Christ.

Matt Taibbi is such a glorious little bitch. (via meaghano)

Someone give him a show already. I’m looking at you MSNBC.

©2011 Kateoplis