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Sure. Let’s Talk To A Pack Of Ghouls.

Way to burnish your legacy Barack.

Wall Street Firm Paying Obama $400,000 Faced Internal Controversy After Pocketing Huge 9/11 Settlement
by Jon Schwarz, The Intercept
2017-04-27

Barack Obama will deliver a speech this September at a swanky healthcare conference for investors run by Cantor Fitzgerald. As Fox Business News first reported on Monday, the firm is paying him $400,000.

The ensuing criticism of Obama for cashing in on his presidency has been thunderous – but has overlooked exactly whose money he is taking.

Cantor Fitzgerald, a major Wall Street brokerage house, lost 658 of its 960 employees when the World Trade Center was destroyed in the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. But when it settled a long-running lawsuit against American Airlines for $135 million in 2013, the proceeds didn’t go to the families of the dead.

At the time of the settlement, Cantor’s CEO Howard Lutnick issued a statement: “For the insurance companies, this was just another case, just another settlement, but not for us. We could never, and will never, consider it ordinary. For us, there is no way to describe this compromise with inapt words like ordinary, fair or reasonable.”

But Lutnick and his fellow Cantor partners reportedly kept some of the money for the firm and distributed the rest to themselves, in proportion to their ownership stake. Lutnick, the firm’s biggest partner, may have received as much as $25 million.

A Cantor spokesperson told Fox that “All of the money for the business interruption recovery relating to the American Airlines case went either to strengthen and support the overall business, or to the over 600 Cantor Partners, precisely proportionate with the exact stake in the company, Mr. Lutnick included.” As of 2001, Lutnick reportedly owned one-third of Cantor.

According to some I should cut Barack some slack since he represents the aspirations of millions of African American voters, a core constituency of the Democratic Party.

To many Black voters, he is the symbol of success for Black America. You might not agree with everything he has done, and I certainly haven’t agreed with everything, but you have to respect him for what he means to Black Americans — making it to the height of American politics and withstanding eight years of racist attacks. Sanders and his movement see Obama as symbolic of evil neoliberal corporate interests. Therein lies the disconnect. The far right holds disdain for Obama for some of the same reasons that the far left does: They see him as beholden to special interests instead of “those of the people.”

Black people can see this, they aren’t stupid. They see that the political fringe on the left and most of the right hates Obama for some of the same reasons. So when the far left comes out and says that the first Black President should be held to a different standard than Presidents before him — that he doesn’t deserve to get paid for his post-Presidential work or shouldn’t be compensated — the Black community feels that one of its largest symbols of success is under attack from an overwhelmingly white political movement.

“Some of the same reasons that the far left does: They see him as beholden to special interests instead of ‘those of the people.'” Really? To the Far Right “Special Interests” are Environmental Movements, Civil Liberties Institutions, Pro-Choice and Feminist Organizations, and of course all those pesky Minorities who should sit down and shut up, Shut Up, SHUT UP!!! because they’re lucky to be living in the White Man’s Paradise.

From the Left “Special Interests” are the Billionaire Plutocrats, their lackies in Politics and the Media, and the International Mega-Corporations they use to enslave the 99%. Do you see any distinction there or just the convenient Neo Liberal Consensus label used to conflate them?

Should I respect Herman Cain or Ben Carson simply because they’re Black or should I respect Jesse Jackson, Martin Luther King Jr., and Malik el-Shabazz more because they have principles and an agenda I agree with?

Where is the racism, or even the racial insensitivity?

I want to convince you Barack Obama is a Neo Liberal shill based on his policies, actions, and words. I don’t give a rat’s ass whether he’s a Minority Hero or not anymore than I care that Marco Rubio is also.

To return to Jon Schwarz’ The Intercept piece-

Barack Obama, he insightfully wrote in 2006 in “The Audacity of Hope” that when he entered the world of high-level politics, “I became more like the wealthy donors I met, in the very particular sense that I spent more and more of my time above the fray, outside the world of immediate hunger, disappointment, fear, irrationality, and frequent hardship of the other 99 percent of the population.”

“The path of least resistance,” Obama continued, “starts to look awfully tempting, and if the opinions of these insiders don’t quite jibe with those you once held, you learn to rationalize the changes as a matter of realism, of compromise, of learning the ropes. The problems of ordinary people, the voices of the Rust Belt town or the dwindling heartland, become a distant echo rather than a palpable reality, abstractions to be managed rather than battles to be fought.”

Let’s not forget Obama was no defender of African Americans on many levels, including his tepid response to #BlackLivesMatter and more important, economically-

Obama Failed to Mitigate America’s Foreclosure Crisis
by David Dayen, The Atlantic
Dec 14, 2016

This had a particularly gruesome effect on people of color, who stored more of their wealth in home equity and were targeted for subprime loans. (Ta-Nehisi) Coates points out that white households now hold seven times as much wealth as black households; he doesn’t mention how that statistic grew worse under President Obama, mostly because of foreclosures. Former Representative Brad Miller calls the crisis “an extinction event” for the black and Latino middle class.

I agree with Coates that “there is nothing mere about symbols,” and Obama’s meaning to black America looms large. But that achievement must contend with Obama’s culpability for the greatest disintegration of black wealth in recent memory.

If Obama ever reads this critique, I suspect he’d mutter under his breath, as he disclosed to Coates he does habitually when confronted with activist demands. “Where I got frustrated at times was the belief that the president can do anything if he just decides he wants to do it,” Obama grumbles.

Nothing is sadder than a man who disclaims his power to preserve his reputation. The presidency is subject to countless veto points and constraints, but the foreclosure disaster was unique; Congress had already given the incoming president the authority to act.

Obama the candidate ran on allowing bankruptcy judges to cut balances on primary mortgages; Obama’s administration actively whipped against the policy. Obama’s transition team earmarked up to $100 billion in funds appropriated through Bush’s bank bailout to mitigate foreclosures; eight years later only around $21 billion has been spent. Obama the president promised 4 million mortgage modifications; to date less than a million have been successfully achieved.

No Republican sign-off was necessary for Obama’s Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). The Treasury Department alone decided to run it through mortgage companies that had financial incentives to foreclose rather than modify loans. Treasury never saw the program as a relief vehicle, but a way to “foam the runway” for the banks, allowing them to absorb inevitable foreclosures more slowly. Homeowners were the foam being crushed by a jumbo jet in that scenario, squeezed for as many payments as possible before ultimately losing their homes.

Worst of all, most of these foreclosures were executed fraudulently. Banks neglected centuries-old property records laws, and used millions of forged and fabricated documents as evidence in courtrooms and county offices to paper over their mistakes. When this came to light in fall 2010, the leading mortgage companies stopped foreclosing because they could no longer do so legally.

But Obama’s Justice Department did not use this newfound leverage to obtain equitable solutions for struggling families. It didn’t prosecute those responsible for fraud. It reached a series of bank settlements that provided little meaningful relief. Fraudulent documents still get used in foreclosures today. And of course, no high-ranking executive saw the inside of a jail cell.

Coates cites the Shirley Sherrod fiasco as a “rare act of cowardice” for Obama. But Rick Santelli’s rant about “the losers’ mortgages,” which Coates also highlights, paralyzed the White House from aiding anyone other than “responsible borrowers,” an echo of Obama’s constant haranguing of irresponsible black fathers. The president never sliced up “responsible” and “irresponsible” banks in this fashion; instead, Wall Street’s balance sheets were privileged ahead of homeowners’. This decision didn’t just abandon millions in a time of need, it stunted the recovery, squandering Obama’s political capital rather than conserving it.

But it’s worse than that. This past year has made clear that America’s social fabric is fragile. When you let private companies distort a government program into a foreclosure-creating machine, when you allow the largest consumer fraud in American history to occur without sanction, you tear at that social fabric. You create a rot at the heart of American democracy. You teach the public the rules don’t apply to the wealthy and powerful. And people respond with cynicism and rage. Coates squarely blames racism for the rise of Trump. But the destruction of faith in institutions also plowed that pathway. Obama sapped that faith when he could have restored it. And now his party, the one that believes government can act to protect its citizens, is at its lowest ebb in 90 years.

So there you go. You may claim I’m tougher on Barack than I am on Bill and Hill but the truth is that I think they’re equally reprehensible and are emblematic of everything wrong with the Corporatist Neo Liberal Wing of the Institutional Democratic Party.

2 comments

  1. ek hornbeck

    Vent Hole

  2. TMC

    As much as I disliked Obama and his politics/policies, I really can’t get riled up over this. I actually expected it. We have bigger issues to worry about at his point. We are 100 days closer to restarting the conflict with N. Korea so the 70 year old with the temperament of a spoiled 8 year old can drop a nuke and keep from being impeached.. Never mind, killing healthcare and what’s left of the middle class so he can give his billionaire buddies a tax break that the Obamas will benefit from too.

    I just don’t care about Obama’s speaking fees. It’s whatever the market will bear.

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