Wednesday, February 18, 2009

PBS's "Inside The Meltdown" Misses The Point: It's A Crime Story, Not A Human Interest Fluff Piece.

I watched "Inside the Meltdown" on Frontline, on PBS, last night. It was a thriller and nail-biter, going from one nearly-collapsed major financial institution to the next Oh My God Will We Survive moment, Indiana Jones in the Concrete Canyons, but without any rational discussion or analysis of how we got here, and who stole the money. Instead, they mindlessly recited the current cover-up story that nobody knew, nobody saw it coming, everybody was stupid (Oh yeah -- if they're so stupid, how come they got all the money?). The one-hour coverage was exciting but ultimately the equivalent of vaseline on the lens to make the aging movie stars look pretty.

For anyone planning to do more documentaries on this subject, here's a clue: IT'S A CRIME STORY, not a human interest story. They would put more intensity and passion in a one-hour story about some 14-year-old kid who stole $20 from a pizza parlor. But for this, they present the criminals as if they were sympathetic characters who we should all support. Yeah. Poor Guys. I'd like to see every one of them in prison.

What did Bonnie and Clyde say (at least in the movie)? "Hi. We're Bonnie and Clyde. We Rob Banks." That would have been a better title for a story of how Wall Street, the Financial Cartels, and the Bush government, along with too many of the politicians in Congress, looted our country and left most of us broke.
This program presented the whole plundering and looting of our country like it was some sensitive human interest story. Lots of black and white studied photos of Paulson and Bernanke and Wall Street Insiders looking serious. Just like the photos we're used to seeing in historical coverage of things like the Cuban Missile Crisis. So now we're supposed to think the criminal enterprise that has stolen all our money is somehow dignified, worthy of hushed tones, respected people? Give me a break. If these people were good people, they would have stood up on a platform and said: "Go seize the assets of these Wall Street Criminals and throw them in prison. Stop them, quick, before they get away." But they didn't say that. Instead they said "Who knows what happened, or why, we're all stupid."

Instead of showing us carefully-selected black and white or sepia-toned photos of these men who participated in one of the biggest crimes in the history of our country, they should have peppered the tale with photos like this one, of Billy the Kid, which is certainly a better example of these Wall Street Criminals:
Another title for the program could have been: "We're All As Stupid As A-Rod." A-Rod had a press conference yesterday in which he kept trying to convince the public that he was really stupid. He convinced me. But I don't think that means he didn't know he was taking steroids. Come on Alex, fess up. And somebody needs to go back and look at the list of demands when he went to Seattle, which I believe included a private area for his personal use pre-game with his trainer. To do what? Shoot up?

Among the most annoying aspects were the man-crush still photos of people like Paulson and Bernanke. Over and over again, the black-and-white headshot, Hank Paulson from a certain angle almost looking handsome, certainly looking sincere and concerned. A very man-crush photo. Whoever picked it out wanted the viewer to think: Thank God for Hank Paulson. Thank God he was there to save us. Yeah, sure.

They also essentially repeated the story that the Democrats started putting out a few weeks ago to quell the angry mobs forming in the streets -- the unemployed and broke, near homeless angry mobs. The new story is that Congress had no choice but to give the Wall Street Criminals $350 Billion last fall. If they had not done it, the entire world would have come to an end. No. Really. The whole world.

How stupid do they think we are?

Paulson is a Wall Street representative, a Goldman Sachs man who made $800 million for himself on Wall Street. He went to work for Bush. What does that tell us? He signed on to the neocon wet-dream of stealing everything from the U.S., turning it all over to the elite few. Then he goes to Congress with a ransom note from Wall Street that says: "Give Us All The Money Or We'll Blow The Whole Place Up." And shrugs his shoulders, as if to say "What can I do?" And Congress says "OK."
If Congress really believed we were on the edge of a financial meltdown, all the Wall Street and Financial Cartels were almost broke, why did Congress keep taking money from these Wall Street Criminals right through to the end of the year? If Wall Street really was on the eve of destruction, why did they take $18 billion off the top and pay it to the insiders as bonuses. Walking-around money. And again, how stupid do they think we are?

I hope somebody (I know Danny Schechter is trying) does a real film, real coverage of what has happened to our country. Because here's the thing: somebody got the money. It didn't disappear. A few people stole most of the money from the people of the U.S., from our Treasury, and even from many countries in the rest of the world. They have hidden that money in what they call secret "Private Equity Funds." Off-shore. Billions, maybe trillions of dollars. The money didn't disappear. It just ended up in fewer pockets. Our government needs to seize that money, bring it back here for the benefit of our people, and throw the thieves in prison.

How much funding does PBS get from Wall Street? How could anybody make a one-hour program about what has happened to the people of this country and fail to mention that the top 10% have grown amazingly richer under this same system, that the money did not disappear, it was just taken from most of us and stolen by the few. But then again I sometimes think the people who are covering this melt-down just lack a basic understanding of economics. Not so much that they are trying to mislead -- they just don't understand.

For example, one of the companies they discussed was Lehman Brothers. The head guy was someone that Paulson supposedly really really really didn't like. So Paulson let Lehman Brothers go down the tubes. Does that sound like crisis decisions or somebody using his powerful position to get revenge against an old competitor and apparently an enemy? But the thing is, what happened to all the money Lehman Brothers earned? They were selling bundled mortgages, essentially, and got lots of money in the door from doing that. I believe the program said they were also selling insurance, essentially -- insuring or guaranteeing that some other investment would never default. They got money for the insurance they sold. Where did all the money go? The insiders took it.

These are the kind of photos we should have seen in last night's PBS offering about the plundering of our country by the Wall Street Criminals and the politicians they own. Al Capone would have been in awe at this massive theft of the public's money by Wall Street and some corrupt politicians.

At the conclusion of the program, the viewer is left with no understanding whatsoever about what happened. The evil spirits did it, or maybe it was terrorists, or communists, or just bad luck. No explanation that:

(1) Bob Rubin and Bill Clinton, during the end of the Clinton administration, promoted policies to eliminate laws that controlled and regulated the financial institutions. Rubin immediately went over to an extremely grateful Citicorp, got a nice office and a big desk and reportedly over $100 million. And we all know that Bill Clinton left office and has been given hundreds of millions of dollars from, among others, the major financial cartels, presumably grateful for having all the laws changed to let them plunder the country.

(2) The Financial Cartels defrauded the public by making loans knowing full well the borrowers could never repay, would default, and would end up in foreclosure.

(3) The Financial Cartels then took millions of dollars' worth of mortgages (like a surprise box at an auction), bundled them together, hid the really stinky ones inside and put a few good ones on the outside, and sold fractional interests in the bundle to an ignorant public who were told that the loans were 100% secured, a sure thing.

(4) The Financial Cartels charged hundreds of millions of dollars for this activity.

(5) As the hundreds of millions of dollars came into the front door of the Financial Cartels, the insiders shuffeled it out the back door, out of the country, and into secret private equity funds where no one can ever trace it, knowing they were looting the country and their own businesses.

(6) The Financial Cartels paid hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes to Congress to make sure they would look the other way as the entire country entered a period of grossly inflated real estate, grossly obscene interest rates being charged to average Americans for non-secured loans (i.e. credit cards), while the rich paid less and less in taxes, and working people earned less and less.

(7) Congress and the Financial Cartels have worked and are working together to sell the country on a cover-up to hide their own liability for what they have done.

How could they quote Barney Frank chastising Wall Street without reporting that Barney Frank takes a lot of money from Wall Street. Isn't that information really necessary to tell the whole story?

Here's the only truthful statement in the whole hour. Some guy said that when Paulson went to Congress with the ransom note from Wall Street saying give us all the money or we'll blow the whole place up, "It was like Shock and Awe." Yes indeed, it certainly was. And brought to us by the same people, and for the same purpose. Paulson and Wall Street were just carrying out the final act of the Bush-Cheney neocon plundering of our nation. The "crisis" was as legitimate as were the so-called WMDs that Bush-Cheney claimed Iraq had, which allowed Bush-Cheney to steal $800 Billion from the American taxpayers to use to turn control of Iraq over to the U.S. oil companies.

Naomi Klein has written extensively about this in her book "The Shock Doctrine." The premise is that they start with shock and awe -- a truly dramatic, horrifying, threatening act (like telling the people the entire world's financial system will collapse) then quickly, before people have time to examine the claim, they move in and steal everything. That's what happened. When will somebody tell the truth? And more important, when will somebody seize assets and throw these criminals in prison?

Now that I think about it, maybe they should have titled their one-hour program: "The Godfather Part IV."

1 comment:

  1. And like all crime stories, to get to the bottom of it you just need to FOLLOW THE MONEY.