Monday, October 13, 2014
Week of 10/13/2014
Checkbook Justice: Eric Holder’s True Legacy
You probably missed the big announcement amidst all the fear-mongering concerning ISIL and Ebola…
Attorney General Eric Holder is on the way out the door!
Yes, the first African-American top prosecutor announced his resignation this past September. He’ll stay on until his replacement can be selected, which will probably be soon seeing how the Democrats are panicking before the November elections. I’m sure his boss doesn’t want to have that “ideal” successor be shot down by the black-shirt GOP.
Oops! I’m sorry, I meant Holder’s other boss. His “official” boss, otherwise known as the President of the United States, probably doesn’t give a care right now because he’s only got two years left in his tenure. Yeah, it would be nice for Barack Obama if he didn’t have to worry about the Senate screwing over his choices, but I get the feeling that he’s not really caring too much at this point about it.
But I’ll get back to that “other boss” thing in a minute.
I’m supposed to be “overjoyed” by the news of Holder’s departure. After all, I’ve been calling for his resignation since March of last year! I’ve repeatedly mentioned that Holder needs to go. That he’s the albatross around Obama’s neck. So now he’s actually leaving, and I’m supposed to be “happy” about it.
But I’m not happy about it. Not in the least.
Because Eric Holder is leaving on his own terms. He’s not being forced to resign. He’s not leaving under a cloud of scandal and shame. And because of that, the Washington script has already been cobbled together to paint him as being this great “civil rights” saint. A modern-day Thurgood Marshall, minus the judicial robes. But the script-writers also see that as being next on Holder’s schedule.
Yes, the cons and neo-cons are even getting ready to start screaming bloody murder and to throw their usual “Screaming Brat in Wal-Mart” hysterics over the possibility that Saint Holder could become the next Supreme Court Justice. Even though they already held him in Contempt of Congress… which in and of itself is hypocrisy at its worst because Congress has shown contempt for the rest of the nation for quite some time now… they never really did anything more than that about him. Nobody there called for him to resign like this commentator has been doing. Nobody there called for an independent prosecutor to go after Holder for the various things they accused him of doing. It’s all been staged and orchestrated. It’s like Gene Wilder’s title character in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” when he says in a deadpan voice “Help, police, murder”.
So if the script follows through to that conclusion and Holder is being groomed to become a future Supreme Court Justice, the GOP in Congress really have nobody but themselves to blame for it. And they damn well know it!
There’s a lot that should have been done about Holder. He’s far from being the “civil rights champion” that the goddamned script paints him to be. Sure he refused to defend “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”, but that didn’t stop the freedom-hating bible-thumpers from continuing on their own to defend their especially-crafted policy. Sure he didn’t go after some of the states that are in the process of legalizing marijuana, but that didn’t mean he ended some of the other raids in states like California that allowed medicinal use. And it doesn’t stop his successor from resuming those raids.
Let’s not forget Holder’s continued expansion of the police-state in the name of “national security”. Edward Snowden did America a monumental favor by opening up this can of unconstitutional worms, and what did we do to thank him? Fox News brands him a traitor and Holder chases Snowden all the way into the loving arms of Russia. Here we have a whole District of Columbia full of career politicians who took an oath – proudly sworn on their own bibles – to “protect and defend the Constitution of the United States”, which they hold up on their own political pulpits as being almost as sacred as the Ten Commandments, and yet they desecrate that very document while Holder violates the Fourth Amendment right in front of them and they have done nothing to stop it.
Oh, yes, we tortured people. Holder admitted to it, and then refused to hold the criminals to account for it. “Sovereign Immunity”, of course! He jailed reporters by invoking a 100-year-old law and earned the ire of the very liberal bastions that previously supported Holder’s boss.
And yet the script still canonizes him as he prepares to leave the Department of (In)-Justice.
But the worst and most destructive part of Eric Holder’s true legacy is his allegiance to his “other” boss. The very boss that he worked for before he became the top prosecutor.
I’m talking, of course, about “Too Big To Fail”.
Yes, Eric Holder used to defend “Too Big To Fail” before he became the top prosecutor, and he never really stopped defending them afterward. Not one banking executive was ever held to account for their criminal activities. Not one.
We took down Charles Keating and exposed the corruption of the U.S. Senators in the 1980’s with the Savings and Loan failures. We went after the executives of Enron and WorldCom and even jailed Martha Stewart in the 2000’s. But, to this day, Eric Holder refuses to hold one single bank executive to task for their out-and-out criminal actions which led to the illegal theft of millions of homes during the Great Recession!
Instead of criminal charges, Holder let the banks get away with their criminal actions by simply paying a fine as part of a “civil action”. Millions of Americans forced out of their homes. Trillions – yes, trillions – of retirement monies vanish. Taxpayers forced to subsidize “Too Big To Fail” with bailouts, which they then use to screw over Americans even more while giving themselves huge bonuses. And Holder lets them get away with paying a modest fine and a mealy-mouthed promise of “doing better”.
Let’s get brutally honest here… this corrupt idea of checkbook justice is Eric Holder’s true legacy! The idea that the rich, the one-percent of the world, can get away with out-and-out criminal activity by simply paying a pittance of a fine is the very definition of a kleptocratic government.
This is no different than if you were charged with a causing a serious accident that clogs up a major highway for hours and causes injuries and you tell the judge “Tell you what, I really don’t have time for jail, so, how about I just give you a few bucks that I was going to spend at Starbucks and promise that I’ll try not to do it again. That work for y’all?” And the judge and the prosecutor actually agreeing to it!
Because that is precisely what Eric Holder has allowed the banking executives – his “other” boss – to do!
And he’s been allowed to get away with this checkbook justice because of the size of the “pocket change” involved. $13 billion may seem a lot of money to you and I, but JPMorgan Chase – the ones paying that amount to get away with their criminal activities - budgeted $23 billion long before the deal was even struck. And they got paid $30 billion from the taxpayers through the 2008 bailout. You do the math. Either way, it’s all just pocket change to them.
In addition to aiding and abetting the criminal activities behind the Great Recession, A.G. Holder has, through his actions, reversed his own department’s policies concerning going after corporations. The very policies which justified going after the executives at Enron and WorldCom and for throwing Martha Stewart in prison are now meaningless because of Holder’s actions. The next Bear Sterns or the next JPMorgan Chase or the next Bank of America know that all they have to do is flash some money and make some meaningless promises to “do better” and they can literally buy their way out of trouble.
This is your real legacy, Eric Holder. You have demonstrated that the Department of Justice is for sale, albeit with a price tag that only the 1% can pay. You should be very proud of yourself for that.
This is why I am not happy that Holder is leaving. Because it is on his own terms. He’s not leaving under a cloud of shame. He’s not being hounded out in fear of his freedom for his actions. He gets a cushy retirement plan thanks to the taxpayers while he decides what he wants to do next; knowing full well that he can literally write his next job.
Worse, because he is leaving on his own terms, he knows that the next group of people that fills his chair will make sure that none of his precedence-setting trends are reversed. Because the one thing that you do not do in Washington is reverse the policies of your predecessor if they left in good standing.
William Black, the man that exposed the Keating Five and the abuses of the worst of the Savings and Loan failures in the 1980’s, recently told Bill Moyers that Washington has created the incentives for an even larger disaster in the future. This commentator firmly believes that it is just a matter of time before this becomes reality. And when it does, we can thank Eric Holder’s system of checkbook justice for making it happen.