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Throw the Money Changers Out of the Temple

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Posted on Nov 19, 2009
DemocracyNow

Wall Street profits are an obscene affront to Scripture, as Robert Scheer details in an interview with Amy Goodman on “Democracy Now!”

Democracy Now!:

Partial rush transcript from Democracy Now!:

AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to the latest on the economy. A pair of new government reports released this week paint a startling picture of where the country is, more than a year after the economic meltdown. On Tuesday, the New York Comptroller’s Office said Wall Street profits are set to exceed the record set three years ago. The four largest firms—Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase—took in $22.5 billion in profits through September. The top six banks set aside $112 billion for salaries and bonuses over the same period. In a recent interview, the CEO of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, defended the bank’s massive profits, saying Goldman is, quote, “doing God’s work."

Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture has revealed that far more people are going hungry in the United States than previously thought. The Department estimates 50 million Americans, including a quarter of all children, struggled to get enough to eat last year. The number of children who live in households in which food at times was scarce last year stands at 17 million, an increase of four million children in just a year. 

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Our next guest has been closely following the impact and causes of the economic meltdown. Robert Scheer, editor at Truthdig.com, author of many books, including The Pornography of Power: How Defense Hawks Hijacked 9/11 and Weakened America. His latest column is called “Where Is the Community Organizer We Elected?” He joins me here in Burbank, California. 

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Robert Scheer. OK, just talk about these figures, from hunger to Goldman Sachs. 

ROBERT SCHEER: Well, first of all, I mean, the whole thing about the profit of Wall Street that makes it particularly obscene is that we gave them that money. Your previous guest talked about how China is carrying $800 billion of our debt. We’re running up a $1.4 trillion deficit. And what happened was, we threw a lot of money at Wall Street. In particular, in relation to Goldman, we had this buyout of AIG, $180 billion. We’ve guaranteed the toxic assets of these enterprises. And that money, in a really truly shameful way, was passed on directly to the very companies that you mentioned that are giving themselves profits. So there’s something—yes, I’ll use the word “obscene.” 

It’s also interesting that he should say he’s “doing God’s work,” Blankfein, the head of Goldman Sachs. And my goodness, if Scripture is clear on anything, it’s condemnation of those who take advantage of the poor. You know, after all, Jesus threw the money changers out of the temple. Scripture is devastating in its condemnation of usury, the immorality of usury. And yet, in your promo, you mentioned Chris Dodd is trying to get a bill passed that would cap interest rates. You know, where is the Christian right? Where are the Christians? Where are the Jews, for that matter? Or the Muslims? At least the Muslims, in their religious practice, don’t believe in interest as a principle, but the idea that we’re jacking up credit cards to 30, 35—this is loan sharking. And we can’t even get a bill passed through Congress that would cap interest payments. 

The other thing is, their rationalization is they’re somehow saving the economy. It’s the old blackmail thing. They ruined the economy; they got the legislation, the radical deregulation they wanted, that permitted them to become too big to fail—Citigroup and these companies; and then they turn around and say, “If you don’t throw all this money at us, the economy is going to go into the Great Depression.” But they haven’t solved the main problems. Mortgage foreclosures this month are higher than they’ve been in ten months. We have the commercial housing market exploding, you know, apartment building rentals exploding, going into mortgages. And so, you know, they are not dealing with the fundamentals. What has happened is an incredibly expensive band-aid was put on this. And these people don’t even have—they’re not even embarrassed. 

And the reason I wrote that column is they’ve also captured the President. And, you know, I voted for this president. I even contributed money that I didn’t have to his campaign. You know, I still feel great that he’s the President. You know, I’m biased. I like the guy, you know. I like everything about him.

AMY GOODMAN: Yet you ask, where’s the community-organizer-in-chief?

ROBERT SCHEER: I am appalled. This is not a minor criticism. I think the guy is betraying—betraying—his own presidency, the promise of his presidency, because he has taken these thieves—and I use the word advisedly. You know, I think people like Lawrence Summers, who pay themselves—you know, maybe he’s not legally a thief, but, you know, a guy who pays himself, or gets paid from hedge funds and other people, $15 million in ’08, while he’s advising Obama about the economy. And he’s the guy who, more than anyone else, when he was Secretary of the Treasury in the Clinton administration, pushed through the radical deregulation that allowed these businesses to get in all this trouble and refused to regulate derivatives and all that sort of thing. And then these guys are made the head of the—what? They’re going to save us now? 
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“The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street.”


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By ardee, November 24, 2009 at 3:49 pm Link to this comment

johannes, November 24 at 4:58 pm

There are many world wide who share your rage and anguish, johannes, and I live in the certainty that we will triumph in time.

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By johannes, November 24, 2009 at 12:58 pm Link to this comment

Every day again I am staggered and dumbfounded that people leth them self use and misuse by ther own country men and governement with out exploding and geth in a state of rage, if you and your famelie have nothing and others have to much, I can not belief it !!!!!!!!!!!!

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By liecatcher, November 23, 2009 at 5:28 pm Link to this comment

To grumpynyker, November 23 at 2:21 pm

Thanks !!!!

This may be a partial answer to your co-exist
peacefully prior to 1947 ?


From Wikipedia:

“The long term motives behind the British policy of
allowing Jewish immigration into the League of
Nations Mandate of Palestine was in order to protect
the nearby Suez Canal which formed part of the sea
lane to British India, and the use of Palestine as a
terminus at the Mediterranean sea port of Haifa of an
oil pipeline which led to the Iraqi city of Mosul,
construction of which was completed in 1935. The
Iraqis cut off the flow of oil via this pipeline to
Haifa after Israel declared its independence in
1948.”

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By Realtor Alma, November 23, 2009 at 11:46 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’m liberal at heart but love watching Dave Ramsey at 8 pm on Fox (Faux). He makes a very good point about NOT doing business with Citibank, Chase, Bank of America, etc.  Put your savings in an ethical credit union or a smaller bank.  You have FDIC insurance so you have no risk.  Vote with your money!

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By grumpynyker, November 23, 2009 at 10:21 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Typical.  I referred to Zionists (American christian/jewish defenders who divert attention away from Israel’s war crimes), NOT the apartheid state of Israel, which just bombed Gaza AGAIN.  I don’t believe AIPAC’s lobbyists have succeeded in passing a law that forbids criticism of Israel’s policies with holoccaust denial yet,but I’d still like an explanation of how muslims, christians, and jews managed to co-exist peacefully prior to 1947.

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By liecatcher, November 22, 2009 at 11:51 pm Link to this comment

TO grumpynyker, November 22 at 12:49 pm

Hey grumpnyker:

I believe you said more in your short comment:

“Amerikka should throw out all the PNAC cheerleaders,

Milton Friedman supporters and all Zionists from
local,

state and federal government, television,
newspapers,magazines, internet.

These savages have done far more damage to this
nation than any radical Islamist.”,

than all the other comments combined.

The evil of the PNAC cheerleaders & especially Milton
Friedman is crystal clear.

Would you be kind enough to explain the role of
Israel in the big picture.

I can’t determine if Israel is controlled by London
or New York, or if

London controls both.

Report this

By prgill, November 22, 2009 at 9:12 pm Link to this comment

Kaosu, I believe you meant to imply that Robert Sheer is a “corporate shill”, not “shrill”. A shill may be shrill, but a “shrill shrill” would more likely thrill.

On the other hand, you do not mention the alternative to voting for Obama… and disaffection is NOT an option.

Life goes on.

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By wiseowl, November 22, 2009 at 5:56 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

**FOLKS: this is a DICTATORSHIP FASCIST run Gov hiding behind the “mask” of “democracy”; EXPLOITATION which is the targeting and harming of US the PEOPLE: for PERSONAL PROFIT & GAIN: the GOV (Congress) SETS the PRICES: it runs from FED, to STATE, to COUNTY, to CITY: and not ONE GOV AGENCY is doing the WORK it is supposed to be DOING;
FOREVER DECEIVING AMERICANS: THIS GOV had CHINA set up the PEOPLES REPUBLIC OF ((((DEMOCRATIC DICTATORSHIP)) in 1949: they TOLD them to “make a Congress” LISTEN to the PEOPLE: write the laws for the BOOKS as the PEOPLE would be happy thinking the LAWS were in PLACE: and simply do WHATEVER they wanted to; JUDGES of course mostly go RIGHT ALONG with this CRIMINALLY RUN SYSTEM: THERE IS IN REALITY NO “national debt” folks: FEAR tactics; THIS is why OTHER NATIONS like Canada are going along in the same direction; “politicians” and Corps can blow billions a year on “selves” and the PEOPLE will never have a thing. (they are OVERPRICED on EVERYTHING)
Building codes EXIST: but not followed; and so sorry nothing that can be done; same thing done with schools etc in China: resulting in deaths of many children: UNDERSTAND: EXPLOITATION is the “way” THIS nation runs: and WE the PEOPLE are the TARGET. UNTIL Americans CHANGE this: might want to read “the BROKEN GOVERNMENT” the AGENCIES ONLY siphon trillions thru: with NO JOB being done.
Evil Empire of ILLUSION: the EMPORER is NOT WEARING any CLOTHES!

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LostHills's avatar

By LostHills, November 22, 2009 at 3:14 pm Link to this comment

You can’t throw a dead cat over your shoulder without hitting a Chase Bank now. I
never noticed one in California a year ago. I know these criminals better than I
want, because they hold the loan on my truck, which I need for work. I’ve been
having trouble making my payments on time for the last two years, but although
I’ve fallen behind, I have always managed to catch it back up. They didn’t use to
harass me unless I was over sixty days late. Now they start calling me multiple
times per day if I’m only a week late. I won’t talk to them on the phone anymore
because they are so beligerant and abusive.  My truck is already paid for - I’ve
paid over 26,000 on a 23,000 dollar loan - It’s all just interest now. I’ve got less
than 5,000 dollars left to pay. The last guy I talked to said that they like to
repossess vehicles like mine because it’s almost paid for and they can make
money on it. It’s Sunday afternoon and they have already called me twice today.
I’m only two weeks late. This is where your bailout money went, folks…..

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By Kaosu, November 22, 2009 at 1:23 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“And the reason I wrote that column is they’ve also captured the President. And, you know, I voted for this president. I even contributed money that I didn’t have to his campaign. You know, I still feel great that he’s the President. You know, I’m biased. I like the guy, you know. I like everything about him.”

God, I am so sick of this. This is why the American Left is so completely useless. If the President does not support your policies, and indeed devotes time, money, resources, and political capital to working against the very goals you claim to espouse, then what exactly is there to “like” about him? His carefully packaged personality?

It is only through an extreme act of cognitive dissonance that somebody like Mr. Scheer could grasp so well the myriad abuses of power which are occurring under the Obama administration, and yet at the same time declare an undying declaration of love for the President. It boggles the mind and churns the stomach.

Worst of all, it’s exactly this sort of “You’re totally screwing us but we still love you and still support you” attitude that ENABLES corporate shrills like Obama & Co to continue these unjust policies with impunity. Because liberals like Scheer have made it clear that their support for Obama is unconditional, why should the administration care about listening to them? They are already guaranteed their vote.

Somebody needs to tell Scheer and the rest of the American liberal establishment to wake the hell up and realize that if we don’t, as the very LEAST, make demands on our politicians, then we are guaranteed to see a perpetuation of the same failed policies, over and over again.

Better yet, don’t vote for somebody like Obama in the first place. I am so tired of the anguished howls of betrayal from holier-than-thou liberals. If any of them had paid attention during the campaign, they would see that the “Community Organizer” from Chicago is giving us exactly what he promised: an escalation and expansion of wars and imperialism abroad, a “healthcare reform” package that amounts to a bailout for the insurance industry, a terrible environmental policy that embraces “clean coal” and corporate nuclear power, and a total disregard for the poor of this country. This was plain to see, both in Obama’s words and in his actions as a Senator.

But the 2008 election proved that even educated liberals have been so conditioned by advertising, that a good campaign (and Obama’s campaign won best of the year for ‘08, beating Apple and other companies) can get them to ignore all of the facts.

So long as the vast majority of Americans (including “liberals” and “progressives”) remain hypnotized in this way, we are totally screwed.

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By grumpynyker, November 22, 2009 at 8:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Amerikka should throw out all the PNAC cheerleaders, Milton Friedman supporters and all Zionists from local, state and federal government, television, newspapers,magazines, internet.  These savages have done far more damage to this nation than any radical Islamist.

Report this

By bc41, November 22, 2009 at 7:40 am Link to this comment

Here is a link to an article written a year ago about the federal reserves bailout activity, is based on a Bloomberg News story.
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/11/26/MNVN14C8QR.DTL

Advocates for health reform say we must pass legislation to stem rising costs that may threaten bankrupting our national budget by way of medicare in future years.  Don’t see much published in that argument, mainly that we need it because we need it (child mindset).  I agree with Scheer and Ron Paul that before we do anymore big spending we need an accounting.  I think it is the shocking deficits of this year and last year that fuel the outrage in town halls—socialism cited because people feel big policies are beyond the democratic process and those vocal feel no control.

Current proposal reaching to another trillion:  Basically health is a reform of insurance.  We presume that advocates feel that if more were insured, the 16%/yr inflation of provider costs would normalize, a new system would force more to pay in to do that.  We don’t see much extrapolation on the subject, what would happen if that inflation was not stemmed in a provider industry we now feel is too complex to approach understanding.  We will have made a big mistake.

As a lay person on this subject there seams a dramatic incongruity on this thought.  When it is said that 80 or so percent of the nation is covered by private or medicare insurance, if half the uninsured were subsidized in the hospital patient bills the hospital costs would still be outrageously high in my opinion.  Fifteen year’s ago 10k/day cost ($400/hr) was not uncommon in a hospital, if it was half that what specific labor costs are we talking about.  Doctors make about 120k/yr and specialists make 180k/yr as stated by the washington post.

In 1995 I paid $1,200 for a couple stitches which took the doctor about 20 minutes.  Today it is that much to dispense flu medicine to an illegal.  My friend today says his daughter’s cancer treatment could reach a half million which is driving that family to seek alternative ideas.  We don’t know what the costs are because hidden costs are prominent and foremost in each itemization listed in a typical bill no matter who pays it.  I think a true accounting of how hospital services are billed is also a reasonable idea.

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By gerard, November 21, 2009 at 2:51 pm Link to this comment

It’s odd that people don’t see the obvious possibilities:  Stop all wars and war-making and divide the savings in half.  Use one half to repair the damage done by the wars, and the other half, divide that in half again.  Invest part of it in infrastructure jobs and home mortgages here.  Invest the other half in a cooperative worldwide organization to stop exploitation of third world countries and encourage local initiatives there for the improvement of lives of people trying to live on a dollar a day or less.
  The positive impact of doing the right thing would so invigorate the country and the world that new possibilities would start to open, new cooperative ventures would spring up, and global warming and nuclear proliferation could be prevented.  “Water on the Moon” would be unmasked as the black-hole of government funding that it is, and agencies like NASA would put their efforts into discovering new galaxies in the realms of human possibility.  It’s all in where we put our efforts.

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By Amy, November 21, 2009 at 10:57 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank you Mr. Scheer, very good interview. I came across your video because I’m (still!) a Ron Paul supporter and heard that he was mentioned in positive terms.

In many ways it’s good that the election is over, because people can finally listen to Ron Paul rationally.

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By johannes, November 21, 2009 at 9:27 am Link to this comment

To Robert Scheer,

Dear Sir, this as you say” Obscene ” is for us an other criterium, but it is as you say, and with you lots of other writers hold the same point of view, but now the question how to atack this gays and put them some where, where they can not do any harm to the people, their must be an legal way to forbid and stop that some men can steal from citizen in an democratic society that is to say, all the same and equal rights, thus this is realistic and open stealing,( could they be hanged als in the good old day’s ) this is meant as an amusan moment, with an bitterish undertone.

Salutation.

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By ardee, November 21, 2009 at 5:16 am Link to this comment

The checks and balances of our govt., the ones Bush sought so fervently to destroy, are also at fault. While the corporations, especially in the financial community, are unfettered in their business dealings, they will continue to lie, cheat and steal. If Atty.General Holder was able to investigate, charge, prosecute and convict we might see a curbing of this trend.

Just as, I might add, the lack of such within the govt., directed against Bush and company, ensures that their own form of criminal activity will surely be repeated.

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By liecatcher, November 21, 2009 at 5:04 am Link to this comment

NONE ARE SO BLIND AS HE WHO REFUSES TO SEE


From DEMOCRACY NOW interview:

ROBERT SCHEER :”...And that goes for the Fed, which
is supposed to be a government agency.”

Hey ROBERT SCHEER: Get real !  The FED is a private
criminal cartel owned &

operated by GOVERNMENT SACHS banksters.

  ROBERT SCHEER:”... And the reason I wrote that
column is they’ve also captured the President.

And, you know, I voted for this president. I even
contributed money that I didn’t have to his campaign.

You know, I still feel great that he’s the President.
You know, I’m biased.

I like the guy, you know. I like everything about
him.”

Hey ROBERT SCHEER: Even love at first sight becomes
reality after the mask is removed,even if you

helped pay for that mask.

ROBERT SCHEER: Because they think—they like business
as usual.

I mean, they are for Wall Street going its own way.

They haven’t learned the lesson that capitalism
uncontrolled is capitalism destroyed.

Hey ROBERT SCHEER: that should be:

capitalism uncontrolled is DEMOCRACY destroyed,&

FASCISM installed.

Report this

By prgill, November 21, 2009 at 12:16 am Link to this comment

It’s a long stretch from understanding the problem to acting on reform. Thank-you Robert Scheer, Amy Goodman and countless others for carrying the torch.

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By rollzone, November 20, 2009 at 6:12 pm Link to this comment

hello. i wish more people understood whom these thieves on Wall Street are, and what their speculative investments have to do with investment in our country. i agree they are thieves for having hands in both business and government, and ought to be brought to court to pay $trillions back to the people. however, that crack about God’s work was blasphemy, and i think Blankfein should be killed on site; and again agree -where are the silent religious?

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By davneil, November 20, 2009 at 5:16 pm Link to this comment

The banks on Wall Street have, demonstrably provided new meaning to ‘Bank
Robbery’ - robbery not of, but by banks.

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By Keith Magnuson, November 20, 2009 at 4:43 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Our corporate masters are engaged in their own downfall as they skim more and more from the many to enrichen the few. Eventually, and it won’t be that long, the middle and lower economic classes will not be able to buy all that stuff the corporations sell and they will have no money to put at risk on Wall Street in 401K’s as they scramble to scrape together enough to feed,clothe and house themselves with hopefully enough left to buy health insurance.

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By Glen Wayne, November 20, 2009 at 11:23 am Link to this comment

Wealth Trumps Peace     ePie     Nov. 09

Wealth trumps peace.
Why thank you for my life of ease.
It’s deviled eggs and doctrine if you please.

Who’s temple can we trash with the ‘least of these?’
Turn tables if you must,
but don’t bust the INCs we trust.

Who took that tempting apple?

‘Say don’t rib me about that,
I ain’t your Eve…believe what you believe.’

Whose devil doctrine should we appease?

Pray for lemons in a squeeze.

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By coloradokarl, November 20, 2009 at 11:18 am Link to this comment

The Corporations ARE at the root of our troubles. The people that are most hurt invest in the Corporations that crush their futures, INSANITY!!...

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By dihey, November 20, 2009 at 10:02 am Link to this comment

Sir: the money changers at the temple of Jerusalem served a commendable purpose. They lent money to poor people who could not afford to buy a lamb that was to be ritually slaughtered in the temple.

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Hulk2008's avatar

By Hulk2008, November 20, 2009 at 9:30 am Link to this comment

If the US were literally put up for sale, who would buy it and what would they do with it after the sale? 
  Every day corporations make similar assessments about competing companies.  Typical corporate raiders figure out a way to get the leverage, make the buy-out, dump all the employees, and then run “lean and mean” - at least until they can re-sell the merged corporation. 
  Note that a study done during the 80’s by Goldman-Sachs suggested that there had never really been a successful corporate take-over in modern business history.  Truly “successful” companies are ones that start small, use constant innovation, and never get so big that they run into serious problems.  Most times, the innovation has to be totally new technology which leaps over all previous methods.  The US leaped ahead of the world because of their radically new Yankee Trader methods, lots of fresh New-World raw materials, and formed themselves into a new entity that had never been done before. 
  Now the methods being used to pull us out of the morass are the tired old chestnuts of past generations.  “Innovation” was turned over to the very financial people who created the mess along with Congress (another entity not known for new ideas).

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By cabdriver, November 20, 2009 at 3:00 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Bravo, Robert Scheer and Amy Goodman.

Now, when does Scheer get an appearance to talk about this on CNN/MSNBC/Fox/CBS/NBC/ABC ?

(Maybe he’ll be allowed a slot on PBS, with Bill Moyers. Or a few minutes on Rachel Maddow’s show. As a way of demonstrating to the world that we still have a Free Press, here in the Home Of The Brave.)

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G.Anderson's avatar

By G.Anderson, November 19, 2009 at 9:20 pm Link to this comment

America, is going, going gone….the corporations are killing it. And with it the hopes and dreams of millions of people who struggled and fought for freedom, who sacrifised themselves for civil rights, from the very beginning.

The death of this country will have, some impact on the lives of people around the world, and here at home. 

Freedom, will be missed.

But the names, and the brands of those that did this will not be forgotten, by those that survive.

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