President Donald Trump’s naïve (or willfully blind) notion that Wall Street will work better at raising capital if it is unleashed from strident Federal regulation is unhinged from the facts on the ground. Those facts, as illustrated above, are that the Boards of two of the largest banks in the U.S. are utterly spineless when it comes to holding their CEOs and employees accountable in the face of a tsunami of crimes.
– From the Wall Street on Parade article: What JPMorgan and Citigroup Have in Common When It Comes to Crime
Opposition to Trump is extremely important, particularly when it comes to someone like me who sees his Wall Street love affair and disregard for civil liberties as serious threats to the nation. That said, it is absolutely imperative to see Trump as a symptom of a sick and broken system as opposed to the root cause of anything. The corporate media and legions of mourning Hillary cultists continue to present the Trump threat in extraordinarily simplistic and unhelpful terms. They act as if he’s the head of some evil snake, and that disposing of him as an individual will get America back on track. This couldn’t be more wrong.
I spent most of the Obama years warning about the dangers of his policies. I didn’t do this for kicks, or because I thought he would try to stay in power forever, but because I knew his monumental cronyism would only pave the way for major problems down the road. Well the backlash to Obama came quick, and we the people won’t do the country any good if we focus on Trump the man, as opposed to the entirely corrupt, billionaire/special interest-controlled cesspool of a society we inhabit. We need to focus on Trump’s policies, not Trump the man.
We also need to be under no illusions when it comes to the disaster that was the Obama administration, and the key role his failures played in providing the fertile ground for Trump to believe he can do whatever he wants — because Obama largely did.
As such, today’s article by Trevor Timm at the Freedom of the Press Foundation is extremely important. It provides new documentation demonstrating how the Obama administration worked tirelessly behind the scenes to prevent Congress from expanding government transparency.
Here are a few excerpts from the article, New Documents Show the Obama Admin Aggressively Lobbied to Kill Transparency Reform in Congress”:
New documents obtained through Freedom of the Press Foundation’s lawsuit against the Justice Department reveal that the Obama administration – the self described “most transparent administration ever” – aggressively lobbied behind the scenes in 2014 to kill modest Freedom of Information Act reform that had virtually unanimous support in Congress.
Three months ago, we sued the Justice Department (DOJ) under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for communications between the DOJ and Congress, since there were vague reports that the DOJ may have opposed the bill – despite much of it being based word-for-word based on the Justice Department’s own policies.
Today, we are publishing a detailed memo authored by the Justice Department that strongly objected to almost every aspect of FOIA reform put forth by the House of Representatives at the time.
The bill in question – known as the FOIA Act – was unanimously passed by the House in early 2014. The Senate passed a similar bill – known as the FOIA Improvement Act – in December of 2014, but a final vote in the House to merge the two bills was held up at the last minute by then-Speaker of the House John Boehner and the session of Congress ended before it could become law. It was unclear at the time why the bill did not come up for a final vote, but the Washington Post later reported that a few federal agencies—including the Justice Department—had “warned” lawmakers about some provisions in the bill.
But these new documents show it went well beyond that: the Justice Department vehemently objected to both House and Senate members on nearly all aspects of the bill from the very start, and made clear: “The Administration strongly opposes passage of [the FOIA Act].”Notably, the Justice Department indicates that this policy memo (published in full below) is not just the agency’s individual opinion, but that it is speaking for the entire Obama administration.
The Obama administration’s specious objections to FOIA reform were manifold. They were against codifying the Obama administration’s “presumption of openness” policy that Obama declared upon his first month in office, they were against Congress mandating that the federal government create a unified online portal to process FOIA requests, they were against mandating discipline for FOIA redactors who break any of rules or regulations for processing FOIA requests, and they were against providing more reporting and oversight to Congress to make sure FOIA was being complied with.
The administration tried to couch some of its opposition in concern that the bill would “cause delays” in the FOIA process, despite the fact that many of the provisions were written to speed up the process, modernize the system with an online portal, and encourage proactive disclosure by making more information available to the public without even having to file a request. Concerning other provisions, the DOJ claimed the administration is not opposed in principle, but its is against seeing them codified into law — which allows the Executive Branch to delay implementation indefinitely and gives the next administration carte blanche power to rescind any good policies the Obama administration did put in place.
While the Freedom of Information Act remains a valuable tool (this lawsuit can attest to that), any reporter who has filed a FOIA request can corroborate the fact that the law is badly broken. Multiple investigations have shown that the Obama administration has been the most secretive ever when it comes to FOIA. Requests can often take years to be fulfilled if at all, and the only way to get results is to sue, like we were forced to. (We did not receive any documents for over a year from our first requests, and only received these documents after filing a lawsuit).
This summer is the 50th anniversary of the Freedom of Information Act, and Congress is yet again debating a FOIA reform bill, this time with even more holes in it than last time. We hope that Congress will amend the proposed reform in the strongest possible way and send it to the president’s desk with the same message they did fifty years ago when the Johnson administration opposed it, yet was forced to sign it anyways: transparency is vital to democracy.
If I had to pick the most pernicious aspect of Obama’s entire presidency, it unquestionably would be the Department of Justice. By failing to prosecute a single bank executive, the DOJ made it clear to anyone paying attention that crime pays if you’re wealthy and powerful. With that incentive structure in place, financial crime flourished during the Obama administration, as was perfectly described in today’s article in Wall Street on Parade, What JPMorgan and Citigroup Have in Common When It Comes to Crime.
Here’s some of what we learned: