This isn’t about the Republican Party, which has been controlled by its super-rich ever since Abraham Lincoln was shot in 1865; it’s focusing instead upon the Democratic Party, which didn’t previously serve only the super-rich, but now (like the Republican Party) it does: This is the Party that serves Democratic Party billionaires, instead of Republican Party ones. It’s not democracy, and it therefore cannot even possibly be a democratic republic, either; it is, pure and simple, rule by the aristocracy, otherwise called an “oligarchy.” That’s the proven reality of today’s America.
At least the Republican Party doesn’t pontificate that it wants anything else than that. But the Democratic Party does, and those lies (which now are repeated endlessly by the Party) are compounding the Party’s evilness. When the few people who run the Democratic National Committee, after Trump’s election, chose Hillary Clinton’s candidate Tom Perez, instead of Bernie Sanders’s candidate Keith Ellison, to run the Party, this locked-in the Party’s rot — made it enduring for the foreseeable future, not merely a Clinton-Obama phenomenon.
Ever since at least Bill Clinton’s Presidency, the Democratic Party has been effectively controlled by billionaires who believe (unlike the ones who fund the Republican Party) that so long as a few crumbs of symbolically progressive rhetoric are repeated as ‘representing’ what the Party stands for, the billionaires will be able to grab from the Government whatever they want, and their abuses of (and deceptions against) the public will be able to continue without real accountability. Thus, though low-class crooks (and many poor innocents who become wrongly convicted) go to prison, super-rich or ‘upper-class’ mega-crooks become instead ‘philanthropists’, and they get buildings named after themselves, while receiving further tax-write-offs, at the same time.
The Democrat Barack Obama entered the White House in January 2009 right after America’s orgy of bankster crimes, which the Republican President George W. Bush had tolerated, and which had brought down the global economy. This Democratic President didn’t prosecute the banksters; he protected them from prosecution. Although he promised the public that he would prosecute the banksters, he told the banksters privately that he would “protect” them, and he even went so far as to tell them, in private, that the public who wanted them to be investigated, and wanted them to be maybe even prosecuted, for what they had done, were comparable to the KKK in the 1920s, who, with pitchforks, had pursued Blacks, and then lynched them. The public in a supposed democracy were here being analogized, by this Democratic U.S. President, to being a racist, bigoted, mob. The banksters were their supposed victims. Obama told the banksters, in private, as reported in Ron Suskind’s 2011 Confidence Men:
“My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.”
It was an attention grabber, no doubt, especially that carefully chosen last word.
But then Obama’s flat tone turned to one of support, even sympathy. “You guys have an acute public relations problem that’s turning into a political problem,” he said. “And I want to help. But you need to show that you get that this is a crisis and that everyone has to make some sacrifices.” According to one of the participants, he then said, “I’m not out there to go after you. I’m protecting you. But if I’m going to shield you from public and congressional anger, you have to give me something to work with on these issues of compensation.”
No suggestions were forthcoming from the bankers on what they might offer, and the president didn’t seem to be championing any specific proposals. He had none: neither Geithner nor Summers believed compensation controls had any merit.
After a moment, the tension in the room seemed to lift: the bankers realized he was talking about voluntary limits on compensation until the storm of public anger passed. It would be for show.
Obama said “Everyone has to make sacrifices,” but he was talking to people who simply refused to be included in that “everyone.” As the mega-crooks who had been profiting from the crimes that had brought about the global economic collapse, those “sacrifices” should have been life-imprisonments. Only by means of such accountability, would their successors not try anything of the sort that these banksters had done. But such was not to be the case.
Obama kept his word to them. The banksters got off scot-free, and kept their personal hundreds of millions of dollars ‘earned’.
On 21 September 2013 in The New York Times, William D. Cohan, formerly of Wall Street but now an independent investigative journalist, headlined “Was This Whistle-Blower Muzzled?” and he described how Richard M. Bowen III, who had testified to the FCIC, was muzzled by them. Bowen testified because he claimed that he had been fired by Citigroup after allegedly having told Robert Rubin (who made $142 million there) that the bum mortgages they were selling to the public were rigged and would bomb.
On 14 January 2014, Cohan headlined at Bloomberg News, “Prosecutors Balk, Bankers Walk”, and he summed up the outcomes for the people who had planned and orchestrated these thefts by fraud:
“Jimmy Cayne, the former chief executive officer of Bear Stearns & Co., continues to enjoy playing bridge and golf, his $400 million-plus fortune, his sprawling mansion in Elberon, New Jersey, and his duplex at the Plaza Hotel.”
“Dick Fuld, the former CEO of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., … is closer to $520 million, according to people who prepared and studied Lehman’s public filings.”
“When Stan O’Neal resigned from Merrill Lynch & Co. in 2007, less than a year before it almost went bankrupt, he was given a parting gift of $161.5 million and a board seat — which he still holds — at Alcoa Inc.”
“Angelo Mozilo, the former Countrywide Financial Corp. CEO, … walked off center stage with a net worth of about $600 million.”
Those are just a few.
Of course, none of them was prosecuted, even though they all masterminded their respective organization’s role in the mega-crime, and benefited enormously from doing that.
Things have been a bit worse for a few of their employees, however:
“The lone civil case that occasioned a victory lap for the Securities and Exchange Commission was against Fabrice Tourre, the former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. vice president who was guilty of nothing more than following orders as a foot soldier in the Wall Street army. Tourre is currently appealing his 2013 conviction in this ridiculous case; I hope he wins.”
It was for reasons like these that, on 12 November 2013, Reuters headlined “Judge Criticizes Lack of Prosecution Against Wall Street Executives for Fraud”, and reported that:
“The federal judge who oversaw the recent civil fraud trial against Bank of America Corp criticized the U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday for failing to prosecute high-level executives over the financial crisis. U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff of Manhattan said while companies have been prosecuted for causing the 2007-2009 financial meltdown, Wall Street executives have escaped justice. ‘The failure of the government to bring to justice those responsible for such a massive fraud speaks greatly to weaknesses in our prosecutorial system that need to be addressed,’ Rakoff said.”
So: though Obama publicly promised prosecution of banksters, he privately delivered protection of banksters — those people thus being the same ones who still occupy top positions of honor and authority, instead of shame and imprisonment, in American society. His promises to the public were lies, but his promises that were made secretly to these top agents of the aristocrats were his actual commitments. That’s how an aristocracy operates. Aristocrats (and their direct agents) are above the law. This is how an aristocracy is, in fact, most implicitly defined: people who are not, in fact, above (and making) the law, are subjects, in the traditional feudal — but now in the fascist — social order. Today’s aristocrats are the billionaires, plus some of the centi-millionaires. The top executives of mega-banks are crucial agents of the aristocracy; and, for that reason, can’t be prosecuted (since to prosecute them would make the principals — the aristocrats themselves — likewise vulnerable).
America has the highest percentage of its people in prison of any nation on Earth, except the tiny island of Seychelles, and almost all of its prisoners are poor — basically people who can’t afford the high costs of an adequate legal defense. As Michael Lynch’s excellent 2007 book Big Prisons, Big Dreams points out, “an important criminal element omitted from America’s prison system includes white-collar and corporate criminals.” Furthermore, whereas formerly, the economic-class composition of America’s prisoners was routinely tabulated by the U.S. federal Government, it no longer is: the U.S. Government “now excludes information on income and occupation necessary for making inmate social class determinations. Currently, the only useful information that remains for making a class assessment is level of educational attainment.” A tabulation of this, that was made in 2002, found: “89 percent of inmates had a high school education or less. These ﬁgures are well below the educational attainment of the general U.S. population, where about 41 percent of the population fall into the same educational categories.”
Prisons, in other words, are modern America’s poorhouses. That too is characteristic for an aristocracy — not for any authentic democracy.
Then, late in Obama’s Presidency, he appointed the DNC chief who rigged the Party’s primaries and caucuses for his chosen corrupt heir, Hillary Clinton, and against Bernie Sanders, the candidate who (by all the polls) had far higher favorability ratings from the entire electorate than Ms. Clinton did, and than did Donald Trump (or any other candidate). And, after losing to Trump, the Democratic Party don’t blame themselves for the outcome, they blame Vladimir Putin. They try to incite World War III, rather than recognize that they had appointed an incompetent nominee. And they expect to win the 2018 mid-term elections because the Republican candidates are even more blatantly bad on domestic issues than they, the Democrats, are. And they blame the electorate, instead of themselves, for the increasing numbers of voters who either stay away from the polling-places altogether, or else register with no party. The aristocracy are thus giving us just these two choices: the liberal fascist Party, versus the conservative fascist Party. That fascist ’choice’ is today’s American ‘democracy’.
For many Americans, polling-places thus now reek too much to visit. Those places that should be shrines to democracy, have become, instead, mere fronts for America’s aristocracy, controlled from the top, behind the scenes.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.