This new terrorist plot demonstrates the strengths and weaknesses of our Constitution. The alleged wannabe evil-doers (how’s that for retro Bush-isms) were living in this country–working the system! The central figure of interest, 24-yr old Afghani Najibullah Zazi, has been here for 10 years & is a legal resident. Employed in a strategic location— airline shuttle driver–Zazi had among his effects: too many backpacks & too much peroxide; bomb recipes; & a food cart licensed to work the Wall St. area!!! A deadbeat, Zazi racked up more than $50K in credit card debt in a very short time, then declared bankruptcy. DID THE BANKS finance his trip to Pakistan to train at a terrorist camp? LOOKS LIKE IT!
Well, I’ve just learned the mortgage Armageddon started small in SoCal—Orange County to be precise!!! And who said no one’s thinking out here?
This info came from an incredible show, House of Cards on CNBC. The 2 hr. special detailed how loan agents in the OC–home to those desperate reality housewives–joined forces w/ brand-name Wall St. banks, & began the scams that led to the crash. The sub-prime “instruments” became so sweet for all parties involved—TRILLION$ passed hands– that to fuel the raging demand, the loan businesses eventually began lending to anyone who could sign a contract, no matter how unqualified. You’ll hear about “structured products,” called CDOs, & risky modes of financing such as Pay Option Negative Amortization Adjustable Rate Mortgages. And how, in the heated, unregulated market, the toxic assets were packaged by the St., rated by Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s & Fitch as “investment grade,” stamped AAA, & sent out to pollute the world.
The interviews are priceless. You’ll see a smug Alan Greenspan proclaiming: “Laws for regulation would never have passed,”–Republicans will stand for no govt. interference, as you know—& some of the architects of the debacle: bottom-of-the-barrel loan king, Daniel Sadek, a young Lebanese immigrant w/ a 3rd-grade education who sold Mercedes until starting Quick Loan Funding in 2002 (he was pocketing $60,000,000-a-year at his peak & spending it on exotic cars, shag haircuts, & bankrolling a movie, Red Line), bland Wall St. “financial engineer,” Ira Wagner, & many others.
BTW: Not one in this bunch is in jail, or even under indictment. Their lives go on, & w/out a single mea culpa!
Pornmeister/ Gardena,Cal. gaming kingpin, Larry Flynt, & “Girls Gone Wild” guru, Joe Francis, had the chutzpah to ask the Feds for $5 billion to help bail out their industry. NO, NO, NO!!!
The Mob Museum, a la Cleveland’s Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame, is slated to open in Vegas next year. The vintage building needs more renovations & a modest slice of the bailout pie is wanted. The project has already received Fed funding & carefully examines the facts—remember, most people think Warren Beatty’s or Ellroy’s fictional riffs are true —surrounding this dark yet fascinating segment of our nation’s history. The FBI has participated & supports the project, while local pols say it will stimulate Sin City’s economy by attracting hordes of tourists—something that, unfortunately, didn’t happen in Cleveland w/ the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. I don’t gamble–except occasionally w/ the thieves of Wall St.–& I’m not dazzled by offshoots of the Cirque du Soleil, but if I were in Las Vegas that I’d want to see.
UPDATE: The Mob Museum opened in 2012. I’ve been and it’s really great. It was my favorite thing about my trip to Vegas.
This article from Vanity Fair makes it easy to understand what caused the world’s economic meltdown. Short, clear, & covering all the bases, Nobel-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz’s piece, “Capitalist Fools,” tells a long story that begins w/ Ayn Rand, her acolyte, Alan Greenspan, & Ronnie Reagan, and continues to the Crash of 2008. POWERFUL & GRIM!!!
As a kicker, there’s another piece from the same issue about a few gilded Wall Streeters & their mighty fall.
that’s what the US govt. will begin doing.
Re: the economic catastrophe 2008–THE SMOKE WON’T CLEAR EASILY–& IT WAS ALL CAUSED BY GREED.
Literally as Rome burned & the market crashed, top Brit artist, Damien Hirst sold 223 works— all made in the last 2 years–at London’s Sotheby’s. Unprecedented, his clear-out sale of formaldehyded sharks & shiny butterflies ( previewed from the Hamptons to Delhi) fetched $198 million +. Is art where the billionaires are parking their spare change?
Amid the complete devastation on Galveston Island by Hurricane Ike, the old mob-owned supper/gambling club, the Balinese Room, is gone literally w/ the wind. Run by Texas Mafia boss, Sam Maceo, in the 40s& 50s you could lose your shirt there, in style. Sorta like Wall St.–but with good food & Sinatra entertaining!