Alex Gibney’s Next Big Hit on Financial Sector Corruption

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Academy Award winning director Alex Gibney — who is in town and will be attending the White House Correspondents Dinner tonight as a guest of the Washington Post — is in release mode for his next big documentary achievement, Casino Jack and the United States of Money, that doesn’t just focus on the shenanigans of Jack Abramoff but puts a glaring spotlight on the Congressional and political enablers — on both sides of the aisle — of financial sector corruption.
The film opens in theaters on May 7th.
Gibney is a truth-teller, and his films cut through the obfuscation that Washington tries to cloak around most important policy issues.
The video piece above has some compelling clips from the film showing compelling commentary from director Alex Gibney as well as Thomas Frank, author of The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule and Melanie Sloan of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
Until I saw Gibney’s clip, I had no idea that hedge fund managers only pay a 15% tax on their income — because the income they make is considered “capital gains” — even though it is NOT THEIR MONEY they are investing.
The so called “hedge fund” loophole costs the government $6.3 billion a year — which the film notes equals “the cost of providing health care to 3 million children.”
Gibney’s Taxi to the Dark Side is one of the most important films ever in documenting for American history — forever — the horrible impunity that America unleashed in secret prisons, indefinite detentions, extraordinary rendition and the like under the direction of Vice President Dick Cheney and his chief architect of kafkaesque national security policy, David Addington.
I will be attending the White House Correspondents Dinner tonight as well, as a guest of Joshua Marshall of Talking Points Memo, where I have just been brought on as editor-at-large.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

34 comments on “Alex Gibney’s Next Big Hit on Financial Sector Corruption

  1. Paul Romer says:

    Erichwwk:
    Hi, Paul Romer here. No worries, but just to be clear, Christina Romer is married to David Romer, not to me. This is a common misunderstanding.

    Reply

  2. nadine says:

    Could somebody explain to me what giving a new raft of regulatory powers to the FTC has to do with reforming Wall St? From the WaPo:
    The Federal Trade Commission could become a more powerful watchdog for Internet users under a little-known provision in financial overhaul legislation that would expand the agency’s ability to create rules.

    The version of regulatory overhaul legislation passed by the House would allow the FTC to issue rules on a fast track and permit the agency to impose civil penalties on companies that hurt consumers. FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz has argued in favor of bolstering his agency’s enforcement ability.
    “If we had a deterrent, a bigger stick to fine malefactors, that would be helpful,” Leibowitz told Fox News last week.
    That provision to strengthen the FTC is absent from the financial overhaul legislation before the Senate. Some observers, however, expect the measure to be included when the House and Senate versions are combined.
    The proposal comes as uncertainty surrounds the federal government’s ability to regulate the Internet and oversee service providers. Spokeswomen at the FTC and FCC declined to comment.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/26/AR2010042604335.html

    Reply

  3. Tim Piersen says:

    “Judea Declares War on America

    Reply

  4. nadine says:

    Pessimist, I have no knowledge beyond a careful reading of public sources, which you seem to assume are few but in fact are many, even if you don’t know them. You seem to assume that what you don’t know, doesn’t exist, so I must have been in the room. That is silly. For example, Clinton, Ross, Miller, Barak, Ben Ami, Arafat, Agha & Malley are all on record as to what happened in Camp David/Taba in 2000-01, plus many other commentators. All say that a two state solution was offered and refused, even Arafat and Arafat’s apologists. They differ in details and interpretations.
    When sources disagree, you read carefully and make your own judgment. This is how every careful observer must deal with the world. Of course, if your only sources are the Daily Show, the Huffington Post, the New York Times, and TWN you rarely have this problem. You need to broaden your reading. I can give you links if you want.

    Reply

  5. The Pessimist says:

    Nadine,
    You are still not engaging on my initial query as to your unprecedented depth of knowledge regarding the most intimate personal conversations between the highest level leaders in the world. You have been publically and repeatedly called out to support your claims, and you shamelessly avoid the opportunity to clear your name. Why?
    It can only be one of two possibilities: either you are physically present when the meetings are taking place and security clearances prevent you from admitting this, or more likely, you are grossly exaggerating in your writing style and projecting your personal views into the unverifiable comments of others.
    Here is an example: “Mearsheimer says that Barak “flirted” with offering a two state solution. No, he offered one and Arafat refused it.”
    The only way you can possibly speak for Arafat on this topic is if you were physically in the room with these individuals as these conversations were taking place. Were you?
    Here are two more from your own words:

    Reply

  6. rc says:

    You obviously work to hard on this nadine. Just contact the Israeli intelligence network and ask for access to their databases and propaganda systems on how to ‘refute’ and dodge any criticism of Israeli’s behavior towards the Palestinians.
    Then it would be very easy to appear to have such a breadth and depth of facts and figures and understanding of this complex situation without working full time on it. They’d probably even pay you for your efforts on TWN to defend the party line.

    Reply

  7. nadine says:

    Pessimist, my level of knowledge is far from superhuman; it may only appear so in comparison to the active ignorance on daily parade through the comment section of TWN. When challenged by someone with knowledge of history, links, arguments, I can modify my opinions and have done so on occasion; when presented with insults and regurgitated agitprop, I don’t. I routinely supplement my opinions with supporting links to news reports, articles in fp magazines, etc – which is more than I notice you doing. I comment here at the pleasure of one man only, Steve Clemons, the proprietor of this blog.
    If you don’t like what I write, then don’t read it.

    Reply

  8. erichwwk says:

    First, congrats to Steve for being named, and accepting, the responsibility of editor-at-large for Josh Marshall’s TPM, the first blog I regularly read (and what made me aware of TWN).
    Second, I just read in the NYT that Obama has indeed appointed Janet Yellen as a Fed. governor, the vice-chair, via a search led by Larry Summers?? All three names floated several weeks earlier were in fact named the other two being Sarah Bloom Raskin, and Peter Diamond.
    Janet was former head of the SF Fed, and is the wife of George Akerlof, best known for his 2001 Nobel economics prize, and his work on asymmetric information as it pertains to markets (the Market for Lemons, describing the used car market where the previous owner usually knows much more about the car being sold than any prospective buyer). George also co-authored an article (with Paul Romer, husband of current Council of Economic Advisers chair Christina Romer) very relevant to financial corruption entitled “Looting: The Economic Underworld of Bankruptcy for Profit”, published in 1993 by the NBER. It can be read for free here:
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/13579076/Looting-Akerlof-Romer
    So is there indeed a change in economic policy in the Obama Administration?
    Or this this just a smart minimum concession to Main Street that the public demands, to head off deeper reforms to Wall Street, which to now have been rather minimal and rather pandering to the financial elite?

    Reply

  9. The Pessimist says:

    nadine,
    I know you are but what am I type responses only serve to more unmistakably expose you as the feeble-minded ideologue that I have long considered you to be.
    Address the topic I challenge you with; your verifiable credentials that would lend support to your definitive declarations regarding historical events over the past 100 years. Your superhuman knowledge demands that you prove your credibility. No one else posting here conveys such absolute certainty as you do. That is why you are being singled out from the masses.
    You are being directly and publically challenged to offer more than a superficial AIPAC talking point. Your impossibly precise interpretations of historical events are what I am challenging today. No one can ever possibly be as absolutely infallible as you project yourself to be.
    When you are on the offensive you project irrefutable certainty and a depth of knowledge that could only be possible of someone that had a seat at the table where these top level discussions that you consistently invoke were taking place.
    Are we to believe that you were physically present at Camp David in September of 1978? Are we to unquestionably accept that you were granted intimate access to the likes of Stalin, Roosevelt, Sadat, Begin, Arafat, Khomeini, Hussein and all of the others that you speak for as they formed and implemented high level official government policies? It would be preposterous of you to publically make these claims. Yet invariably, because of the anonymity that blogging allows, this is precisely the underlying emphasis that is conveyed by your asymmetrical and easily refuted claims on this blog.
    When challenged on your claims you simply endeavor to divert from the dialog as it was originally presented. It

    Reply

  10. nadine says:

    Pessimist and Paul: by your own logic, absolutely nobody should take either of you seriously either.
    Ah, but sauce for the goose is never sauce for the gander, now is it?
    As for being the wife of a Goldman Sachs employee: I could only wish.

    Reply

  11. Paul Norheim says:

    The wife of a Goldman Sachs employee, dreaming of starting her
    own business – blogging in the meanwhile.

    Reply

  12. The Pessimist says:

    It is due solely to the repetitive expression of your viewpoints with such absolute infallibility, certainty and precise accuracy that I would expect you to similarly be willing to offer your verifiable credentials for such all encompassing knowledge.
    Knowledge such as you insinuate to possess would be nothing less than inhuman.
    What are you, the living and breathing spawn of Spock?

    Reply

  13. nadine says:

    Um, Pessimist, insult is not refutation. And gratuitous insult, at that.

    Reply

  14. The Pessimist says:

    And what would be the point of “provoking a reaction?”
    Simply to distract from the relevance and accuracy of the topic being discussed?
    That is nothing other than the reflexive behavior of children.
    Again, no substance.
    nadine is a nobody until she offers up her verifiable biography.

    Reply

  15. JohnH says:

    Nadine and Ann Coulter are kindred spirits. Both have little substance but are amazingly good at provoking a reaction.

    Reply

  16. The Pessimist says:

    nadine,
    Your statements on this blog are becoming so easily and historically refutable as to be almost laughable. You are driving yourself into complete marginalization and irrelevance with your juvenile habit of absolute certainty in every statement. How could any one individual ever be as knowledgeable and certain as you are? Your latest postings just beg the question; what is the infallible source of your vast and in-depth knowledge of seemingly every world event of the past 100 years?
    To be taken at face value you would have to be either a time travelling fly-on-the-wall or the world

    Reply

  17. David says:

    How about Big Oil, JohnH? BP has just added another page to it’s sordidly ruthless portfolio. In this case, they couldn’t be bothered with installing a backup safety shut-off, and it’s not like this is their first deepwater accident. Thanks to the oil geyser’s proximity to the Gulf Stream, I will likely get to watch the entire coastline of Florida, Pensacola to Jacksonville, get crude lubricated.

    Reply

  18. JohnH says:

    One after another, America’s most powerful lobbies are being exposed as threats to Americans’ well being. If Big Pharma and Wall Street can be hung out to dry as ruthless parasites, which will be next–AIPAC?

    Reply

  19. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Poor Nadine. It rocks her to the bottom of her bigoted and corrupted soul when money doesn’t trump accountability.

    Reply

  20. Paul Norheim says:

    Yeah. Poor Goldman Sachs… getting demonized by the same
    guy who can think of nothing better to do from his Oval Office
    than chamberlaining the nuclear Mullahs and Holocaust-
    deniers!
    Yes, the President of America acts more and more like a Jihadist
    version of Al Capone. How did this poor jungleboy, this out-of-
    nowhere Death Panel Hussein get the nerves to start
    demonizing Goldman after they gave the a cool million!
    But here’s the good news: It is a well documented fact that most
    politicians are not from Chicago, and have learned to be
    grateful when Wall Street, powerful lobbies and wealthy
    companies give them cool millions. That’s the decent American
    way, and the way it’s done in most places on the planet –
    except for some gangster towns.
    And here’s some more good news: When the CEO’s at Goldman
    first read in the New York Times that SEC was investigating
    them, they immediately called Paulson, and asked him to help
    them create an arrangement that should secure a healthy profit
    for Goldman Sachs if Obama demonized them – and of course
    an equally healthy profit if Obama refrained from demonizing
    them.

    Reply

  21. nadine says:

    Even more of a bitch when the pols don’t stay bought – Goldman gave Obama a cool million during the campaign, and now they’re being demonized by him. Nothing personal, you understand. Just the Chicago Way.

    Reply

  22. karenk says:

    Sadly, big money buys off the politicians with huge campaign contributions and they shut up(or rather, complain a bit then do nothing). Wall Street bigwigs gamble with our hard earned investments and retirement funds.Corrupt hedge fund managers are insuring securities that they’ve sold and know will fail..unbelievable. Getting rich off ripping people off! They’re criminals who will hopefully end up where they belong. It’s all fun and games while it lasts Ken Lay is dead, Madoff is being beaten in prison. Karma’s a bitch.

    Reply

  23. Dirk says:

    Steve,
    I hope the movie covers Abramoff’s funding of equipment and training for an Israeli settler sniper school.
    “Abramoff, who has been described by his spokesman Andrew Blum as, “an especially strong supporter of Israel” and by reporter Michael Isikoff, quoting an anonymous Abramoff associate, as “a super-Zionist,” diverted “money meant for inner-city kids” to Jewish settlers occupying the Palestinian West Bank in order to help them “fight the Palestinian intifada.” Tribal donors were outraged by Abramoff’s diversion of funds to Israeli settlers.[3]
    Investigators believe that more than $140,000 of Capital Athletic Foundation funds were actually used for “purchases of camouflage suits, sniper scopes, night-vision binoculars, a thermal imager and other material described in foundation records as ‘security’ equipment.”[3]”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_Athletic_Foundation
    “Lobbyist Jack Abramoff used money from a Mississippi tribal client to set up bogus Christian anti-gambling groups and to fund pet projects including gear for a “sniper school” in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, according to documents released yesterday by Senate investigators.”
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/06/22/AR2005062200921.html

    Reply

  24. Franklin says:

    Ditto Josh Meah’s words. Congratulations on the TPM related news!

    Reply

  25. JohnH says:

    Amazing how Gibney’s trailer says exactly what I posted here on April 25:
    “Not all of us are enamored with Schumer.
    1) He represents Wall Street
    2) He represents Israel
    3) As head of the DSCC, he was responsible for selecting conservative, business-oriented Democrats and stiffing others with more grassroots support.
    It’s obvious whose side Schumer is on, and it’s not ours.”

    Reply

  26. Dan Kervick says:

    “… where I have just been brought on as editor-at-large.”
    Good. They can really use the help.

    Reply

  27. David says:

    What Josh Meah said. And thanks for posting this.

    Reply

  28. nadine says:

    jd — I found a very interesting Charlie Rose hour from June 2008, interviewing Sir Lawrence Freedman and Aaron David Miller on their then new fp books. The subject of the hour was Mideast fp advice for the next president. Very interesting hour by two experienced & very well versed men, both agreeing that the next administration had to stay more engaged BUT only to work the ground unless a real opening appeared, which didn’t look likely with the Palestinians fractured and the Israeli government weak. Of course Obama has charged off and done just the opposite. I thought it was particularly interesting in light of Miller’s recent, “for God’s sake, just stop peace processing” article in FP.
    http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/9114
    btw, Miller, who was never known for warmth for for the Israeli side (he faults Clinton for too much empathy), says that Arafat clearly bears the onus for Taba’s failure, followed by Barak for pushing too hard.

    Reply

  29. Josh Meah says:

    “…as a guest of Joshua Marshall of Talking Points
    Memo, where I have just been brought on as editor-
    at-large.”
    Awesome! Congrats Steve! That’s such a fantastic
    synergy. To me, TWN + TPM = expansion of the
    actually independent media. That’s a big win for
    political journalism.

    Reply

  30. nadine says:

    jd, once again you call not only Barak, but Bill Clinton and Dennis Ross liars. And as I have asked you before, how come there has never been a single Palestinian counter-offer? If the problem was the Jordan Valley, why didn’t they counter with a change in the Jordan Valley? Why the insistence of a full “right of return”? Where is the Palestinian counter-offer? You can’t claim lack of specifics is the problem when the Palestinians have never offered ANY specifics. Your claims don’t jive with the known facts.

    Reply

  31. jdledell says:

    Nadine – Once again you are very loose with the facts. Barak did not off the Palestinians a viable state which is necessary to call it a two state solution. Barak only offered 70+% of the West Bank. The Jordan Valley and the rest were “promised” very vaguely in maybe a couple of decades. Furthermore, Israel would control the water resources, airspace, borders etc. That is not a state – it’s autonomy – still subject to total Israeli control.
    As I have told you before – no one knows what Olmert was proposing. So how do you know it was any more viable than Camp David. If you know what Olmert’s offer was, the world is waiting for the information. Please share your inside knowledge.

    Reply

  32. nadine says:

    The Youtube of Barney Frank declaiming that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were doing fine, just fine, no reform needed — shortly before they both imploded — would make a great addition to the film. But something tells me it’s not likely to be there.
    Sorry guys. You’re not going to be able to pin this one on the Republicans; Democrats are implicated just as deeply, if not more so. I know Schumer was in the clip, but where were Dodd and Frank, heads of the Senate/House Banking Committees? Americans are aware now that Congress has been Democratic since 2007, and that government had a big, big hand in blowing up the subprime mortgage bubble. As for campaign contributions, Wall St. supported Obama over McCain by 2 to 1 — how about including that number?
    *************************
    On another topic, Steve, any comment about Mearsheimer’s speech at the Palestine Center where he classes American Jews as “Righteous Jews” (the leftists who agree with him about Israel and the “Israel Lobby”) or “New Afrikaners” (anybody who disagrees), saying the “New Afrikaners” have a “blind loyalty” to Israel and support an “apartheid state”? In this second list, he includes every major Jewish leader of the center or the Right, including many Democrats.
    Mearsheimer also gives an account of the I/P conflict where the Palestinians would be ready to jump at any offer of a viable two state solution, which not only flies in the face of the available evidence, but requires falsifying the history of the offers already given by PM Barak & Pres. Clinton in 2000, and by PM Olmert in 2007.
    E.g. Mearsheimer says that Barak “flirted” with offering a two state solution. No, he offered one and Arafat refused it. But by Mearsheimer’s argument, since the Israelis are “lords of the land.” all the Palestinians have to do to prove that nothing was ever offered is to refuse or ignore the offer. Presto, it never happened. The Palestinians, being absolved of any responsibility whatsoever, are officially innocent no matter what; which makes the Israelis officially guilty no matter what. Who needs facts?
    Is this the position of the “realist” camp today, Steve Clemons?
    Because if not, I’d really like to hear something to that effect from you and your fellow NAFers.
    But if this is now the position of the realist camp, why shouldn’t I say that the realist camp is full of Israel-bashing, race-baiting propagandists who have no concern for facts, history or scholarship?
    Mearsheimer speech: http://pulsemedia.org/2010/04/30/the-future-of-palestine-righteous-jews-vs-the-new-afrikaners/

    Reply

  33. Steven Clemons says:

    Erich — Thanks for posting the Bill Moyers link. best, steve

    Reply

  34. erichwwk says:

    “I had no idea that hedge fund managers only pay a 15% tax on their income”
    Warren Buffet has been quite vocal that he is taxed at a lower rate than his secretary because of this tax injustice. He is also quite open that this is not right.
    “…his next big documentary achievement …puts a glaring spotlight on the Congressional and political enablers — on both sides of the aisle — of financial sector corruption.”
    Good! For those folks that don’t want to wait until May 7, there is tons of good old fashioned writing that tells the same story. And if video/movies are your thing there is the recent interview of William Black by Bill Moyers here:
    http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/04232010/watch.html

    Reply

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