Our senior senator is a difficult woman

Worth watching. - promoted by david

She thinks she’s pretty clever, I bet, being all tricky and such at her first Banking Commission meeting:

One thing’s clear – there’ll be no ginormous Wall Street payday for Professor Warren when she leaves office.


67 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. This clip would be hilariously funny if the matter wasn't so serious.

    Senator Warren keeps asking a simple question that none of these bank regulators seated before her is willing to answer, because the answer is clearly “never.” Her question: “When was the last time you took a bank that broke the law to trial?”

    Then she makes the devastating observation that D.A.’s frequently bring ordinary citizens to trial on “thin grounds.”

    Demanding accountability for those in power: It’s what Warren campaigned on, and it’s great to see she’s losing no time in following through on that promise.

  2. I have been waiting over four years for someone to end up in court

    Because if no one has been guilty of anything (or at least suspected and worthy of a trial), then apparently everything that went on that resulted in the meltdown must have been legal.

    The government was sure quick 20 years ago to charge S&L folks. Is it too complicated now? Are the regulators not smart enough? These are kinds of things we need to discuss. If something is too complicated to regulate (and actually AIG was) then it shouldn’t exist.

  3. She's winning me over, and quickly

    I had my reservations about Senator Warren’s candidacy; felt she was too-much a one-issue candidate (… says the guy who’s smitten with Markey over climate alone…) and rather weak on the others.

    But she’s clearly willing to lead on this, and to witness her being this aggressive less than two months in is making those reservations disappear fast.

    From Huffpost:

    That set off angry responses to Politico’s Morning Money. “While Senator Warren had every right to ask pointed questions at today’s Senate Banking Committee hearing, her claim that ‘nobody believes’ that bank books are honest is just plain wrong,” emailed a “top executive” to the financial newsletter. ” Perhaps someone ought to remind the Senator that the campaign is over and she should act accordingly if she wants to be taken seriously.”

    Huh. Quite the opposite, sir–I just starting taking her a whole lot more seriously. And you can bet that a whole lotta people a whole lot more important than I am did too–and they’re a lot less happy about it than I am. I’m ready to say that we could have a hell of a team in place in the Senate pretty soon (meaning no disrespect to Sen Cowan).

    • Politico is right. Rookie Senator Warren should emulate first-term Texas Senator Ted Cruz and be self-effacing and deferential to the senior members of the committees on which she serves. And she definitely should NOT ask questions that might discomfit members of her own party, like WV Senator Manchin to her left in the video (not on her left philosophically) who will remember how tough she was in committee if Massachusetts needs something from Congress in the future.

      • Erm... please explain

        Could you please explain how or why Senator Manchin (D-WV) will behave if Massachusetts needs something from Congress in the future? Are you really thinking Senator Manchin will think: you know, I’d give those Massholes what they need, but Senator Warren was really tough on the various government agencies charged with regulating financial institutions, so I’m going to vote against the needs of Massachusetts where I otherwise would have voted for them?

        Are you really suggesting that Warren should be timid on a committee because otherwise her less-liberal fellow Democrats won’t support some parochial need? Huh.

        • As I was saying to Jonathan Swift the other day, “snark” is sometimes invisible to some people. But on WBUR thos afternoon, it WAS suggested that if a Senator (Ted Cruz for example)gets too full of himself or herself (and I’m not suggesting this is true of Senator Warren), that individual could be stymied by other members of the World’s Greatest Deliverative Body. Example: more and more people are filing income tax returns online, which is why I no longer work at the Andover, MA IRS facility. Maybe in the near future, the Austin, TX IRS plant could be expendable!

          • Ted Cruz

            would celebrate getting the socialist tax collectors out of Texas. Guys like Cruz care more about ideology than silly things like jobs.

            Maybe in the near future, the Austin, TX IRS plant could be expendable!

      • yes, because

        self-serving weasels and toadies who are terrified of their own shadows serving in the Senate has done such wonders for our party and country for the past few decades.

        /sarcasm off

        RyansTake   @   Fri 15 Feb 6:12 PM
    • what makes her such a sharp person

      is she’s able to connect the dots and understand things at a systemic level. She gets why bad banking policy kills the hopes and dreams of regular people, where for years or decades that’s been ignored. She gets those systemic issues in other areas, too, like health care.

      By understanding how one thing effects another, she transcends typical Democratic single-issue divides that have knee capped our party countless times for generations.

      That’s really why she’s one of the most progressive and visionary people in government today — because no one there can really compare in their ability to live within the reality-based community and simultaneously have the knowledge and understanding to get how these issues interconnect.

      RyansTake   @   Fri 15 Feb 6:10 PM
  4. Not Warren, but the strength of my emotional reaction to watching this great clip. Anger, that it has taken this long for even one person in Congress to ask these questions. At the smug bubbled oligarchs.

    And grief. Unexpected sadness about the colossal failure, ongoing, that is impoverishing almost everyone I know and radically changing civic life.

    Where can we get 99 more of her, please.

  5. "What did they know and when did they know it"

    This is why I so enthusiastically support Elizabeth Warren. She has immediately eclipsed the Senate career of John Kerry — I can think of no comparable moment from Mr. Kerry while he held elective office (his riveting testimony during the Vietnam War was comparable).

    Ms. Warren has ramped up the game with this extraordinary and apt comparison to the bullying of Aaron Schwarz:

    There are district attorneys and US attorneys who are out there every day squeezing ordinary citizens on sometimes very thin grounds and taking them to trial in order to “make an example”, as they put it.

    Precisely. It’s high time we see some finance industry executives facing felony charges. The damage done to the entire middle class of America makes the claimed transgressions of Mr. Schwartz a mosquito bite by comparison. I LIKE the idea of “getting tough on crime” — when the target is the perpetrators of the pillaging of the 99% that has been happening for all too long.

    I suggest that the executives of Standard & Poor’s are a good starting place. I’d like to see them sweating under the threat of a felony conviction while a tough prosecutor pursues the question of what did they know and when did they know it.

    • you're either too young to remember , or so old your memory fails..

      This is why I so enthusiastically support Elizabeth Warren. She has immediately eclipsed the Senate career of John Kerry — I can think of no comparable moment from Mr. Kerry while he held elective office .

      John Kerry went after BCCI with a vigor and affect that Elizabeth Warren would well do to study and emulate. You, yourself, should learn to keep silent on things you know little about… lest you demonstrate the depth of your poverty and your continued need to build one up by tearing down another…

      I have no doubt that, in time, Elizabeth Warren will equal, if not eclipse, John Kerry in her efforts and her effect, but to say she has already done so is a serious misreading of history and of the senate record of John Kerry.

      • Ouch!

        Tom, who I believe is about 60, generally does know what he’s talking about. Can you cite a comparable grilling by Kerry? Remember he said while in elective office so, “How can you ask someone to be the last to die for a mistake?” is not within this category. You could have easily made this point without disparaging Tom in the process.

        • you're confusing youtube with memory...

          Can you cite a comparable grilling by Kerry?

          … and Just ’cause it didn’t happen on youtube doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

          • Who said anything about Youtube?

            Most of Kerry’s Senate service was pre-Youtube, so I’ll take any form of citation. I mostly objected to your tone anyway.

  6. It's about time that somebody asked those questions.

    I really liked the end, where she says that District Attorneys squeeze ordinary citizens, sometimes on thin grounds, just to make an example, while banks that are too big to fail have become to be too big to go on trial.

    Elizabeth Warren makes me proud to be a Democrat!

    • As I pointed out above, she's asking questions of a Democratic administration

      That’s who those regulators work for.

      Does that make you conflicted?

      • No

        Speaking for myself, I’m not at all conflicted. Right is right. If the Bush Administration had done the right thing and prosecuted some banksters, I would have applauded, just as I would if Obama’s people had. None of them did, and that’s not right. It’s not that Obama and his staff are heroes immune from criticism; they could have done, and should be doing, a lot better.

      • Of course not.

        One of the reasons we’re Democrats is that we’re willing to criticize other Democrats. I, for one, have not been shy about criticizing Obama who is far more conservative and far more cozy with bankers (Tim Geithner) than I would like. With all of that said, Obama has had some accomplishments and another Republican administration would have killed us. Politics is always a choice between alternatives.

      • I support Democrats because they more often do the right thing than Republicans. When Democrats do the wrong thing, I object as loudly and as strenuously as I can. I simultaneously do all in my power to replace those substandard Democrats with other men and women who I believe will hold themselves and our government to a higher standard. For as long as I can remember, those “other men and women” are also Democrats.

        I am convinced that President McCain or President Romney would have been far less aggressive than President Obama. I am also convinced that the proposed policies of each would have destroyed our entire financial system (while enriching their wealthy sponsors).

        This Democratic administration is far from perfect. We should be prosecuting those who perpetrated the astronomical fraud that has devastated our economy. We should be prosecuting those who formally ordered abuse, kidnapping, torture, and murder from the Oval Office. We should be doing far more than we are to address the imminent catastrophe of climate change.

        As imperfect as it is, this administration is far superior to the alternatives offered by the GOP. We are now watching the GOP do everything in its power to destroy the military and the economy — between the insanity of Rupert Murdoch and the appalling ignorance of the Tea Party, sheer incompetence, delusional hysteria, and plain old bullying have replaced any semblance of reasonable opposition.

        I hate sports metaphors, but even so — Elizabeth Warren took the opening kickoff for a 101 yard return for a touchdown. Not only am I not conflicted, I am standing and cheering.

      • Hell, No!

        This is the essence of my being a progressive Democrat vs. establishment Democrat. I have long posited that establishment, self-serving, corporate Democrats are more toxic than Republicans.

        Next Question: Which Democrat will step-up and hold Beacon Hill accountable?

        She is our knight in shining armor and a big improvement. Cool thing is, she’s only just begun to fight.

      • "Does that make you conflicted?"

        You really don’t get it, do you? See, this is one of the things that separates Democrats from Republicans: we are willing to criticize our own when they don’t live up to the high standards to which public officials should be held. Republicans, in contrast, generally rally around the party flag, however obviously flawed its current bearer might be (see Perry, Jeff).

        I’m reiterating some of what others have said on this thread, but I really think you need to understand just how wrong-headed your question is, and how deeply it betrays your lack of understanding of what it means to be a progressive Democrat.

        • Perhaps we should call ourselves "Evidence-Based Democrats"

          Instead of Progressives.

          Because it’s all about the evidence, not gut feelings.

        • I was struck in particular with the "proud" comment.

          Considering the Obama administration has clearly not pursued prosecutions.

          I can’t see how you can say this

          we are willing to criticize our own when they don’t live up to the high standards to which public officials should be held.

          Where’s the criticism of the governor on this thread? Some of the current issues with the Patrick administration could use a good going over.

          Additionally we just recently had all sorts of people weigh in on how wonderful the Lt. Gov is, despite evidence to the contrary. We’ll see once McLaughlin testifies what he has to say on that score.

          Maybe that is you Mr Kravitz, but it’s hardly a brush I would paint on “Democrats” in general.

          PS (not to you) and saying ” Well Republicans would be worse” is not really an answer.

          • Where's the criticism of the Governor on this thread?

            Or the LG for that matter.

            Merrimack Guy, might I introduce you to the concept of staying on topic. Such criticisms are nowhere to be found on this thread because that is not what this thread is about! If you want to talk about those things write your own diary, but make sure to back up your claims.

          • Raising the bar

            When you write “I can’t see how you can say this …”, I think you being more transparent than you realize. I think you really can’t see that we LOVE to see Elizabeth Warren leading the way in an area where Barack Obama is, for whatever reasons, holding back. It’s better than criticism — it’s direct ACTION. It raises the bar for President Obama as well as for the GOP, and that’s a good thing.

            You asked: “Does that make you conflicted?” Several of us answered it the same way: “Hell No”.

            Barack Obama has done, is doing, and will do more about the abuses of the finance industry that either John McCain or Mitt Romney — those were the two other choices. Elizabeth Warren is doing FAR more than Scott Brown ever did or would do — she is also doing more than John Kerry ever did. Not only that, she is clearing the way for President Obama to do more about finance industry abuses, just as Joe Biden cleared the way for him to do more about gay marriage.

            Saying that Republicans would be worse most certainly IS an answer. I don’t get to vote for “perfect” or “best”. I get to vote for the candidates that are running. Why on Earth do you think there would be a conflict, if you understand that? I want President Obama to do more. I enthusiastically join bluewatch in being proud of Elizabeth Warren for leading the way — that’s what leadership IS. During the campaign, Joe Biden led the way on gay marriage — I’m proud of Mr. Biden for doing that.

            As Christopher has pointed out elsewhere, the Governor has no relationship to this thread. Neither does Mr. McLaughlin or Mr. Murray.

            I think that Ms. Warren is doing precisely what Massachusetts Democrats hoped she would do. I think she’s demonstrating that she is a better Senator than Scott Brown could ever hope to be. I think David has very accurately painted Massachusetts “‘Democrats’ in general” — among other things, Ms. Warren has just raised the bar for the GOP in the upcoming special election.

            I wonder if the real concern motivating your comments here is your perhaps unconscious realization that Elizabeth Warren has just made it much harder for the GOP to win the special election.

  7. Bravo for Elizabeth Warren’s concern that “too big to fail” means “too big for trial.” Too bad she insisted on muddying that concern with her pretty obvious allusion to the recent sad case of Aaron Swartz. His adulatory fans notwithstanding, I think a pretty good argument can be made that Swartz was not being pursued on “very thin grounds,” as Warren put it. If the grounds were that thin, Swartz’s expert legal team would have welcomed trial because they would have been confident Swartz would have been acquitted. And far from being an ordinary citizen, Swartz was a media star and the darling of many very influential people, as even the most cursory dip into blogosphere commentary will make clear. So, in the end, we should worry about what he did much more along the lines of Warren’s fear of “too big for trial.” Swartz was not a Wall Street bank, of course. But he was not entitled to deferential treatment because he had passionate commitment to his ideas or a coterie of powerful friends. And Senator Warren should not be romanticizing the behavior of a confused young man who got in way over his head.

    • She didn't mention Swartz in the video I saw

      Where did you hear his name?

    • It's an interesting comparison

      Aaron Swarz was a 26 year old kid who was mercilessly targeted by a U.S. Attorney. Not one single bank CEO has had to face the same possible consequences. Not one single bank CEO has been told that they had to serve at least six months in prison. Not one single bank CEO has been told that they must forever be branded as a “convicted felon”.

      Thank you, Elizabeth Warren, for having to courage to say what everybody knows. Wall Street bankers can do almost anything and never worry about prosecution while main street citizens can go to jail.

    • I am at a loss for words

      for what to say in response to your post, because everything that comes to mind is a clear violation of BMG rules of the road.

      Suffice it to say, what you have written is despicable.

      Kicking people when they’re down… or corpses… is truly vile and evil behavior, and using that to “muddy up” EW’s very real point and the the very real problem that DAs go after regular people with flimsy evidence all the time, while never even threatening to take banks to trial, is quite frankly unacceptable.

      RyansTake   @   Fri 15 Feb 5:59 PM
    • Sorry

      I meant a negative rating. I can’t say I agree with your thinking on Aaron Swartz. I think the case was clearly one of prosecutorial bullying and Ortiz did not look good. But I do agree that “too big for trial” is a big problem.

    • take your hobby horse somewhere else please...

      … this isn’t a thread about Aaron Swartz so please don’t try to hijack it into such.


    I absolutely loved watching that guy squirm. He is one of the many people who have utterly failed our country and should resign, post haste.

    We get six more years of this, people. Woot!

    RyansTake   @   Fri 15 Feb 5:57 PM
  9. Take that Video Clip Viral

    Please send out that video clip to everybody that you know.

    It’s against Senate rules for Elizabeth to use a video from a hearing for fundraising purposes, but we can do whatever we want. So, if you are so inclined, when you send out the video, encourage your friends to donate three dollars to Elizabeth’s campaign (http://www.elizabethwarren.com)

    Here is the link to the video:


  10. This is exactly the Senator Warren people were voting for. The Elizabeth Warren so many of us were introduced to in the Frontline reports on the economic meltdown. She is so clearly operating within her roundhouse here — and this is exactly why I felt so strongly she must be a significant voice in Washington.

    With leadership like this from Sen. Warren on issues surrounding banking regulation and finance reform, she may indeed open a space for others in Congress to follow her. Dodd Frank is weak tea.

    In order to call bullshit on an industry, you’ve got to be able to make the case. That was not Obama’s strengtht at the moment he came into office and had his best chance to achieve real reform. It’s been a series of compromises ever since. That’s exactly why the banking industry is still scared of her and will marshal every ounce of political capital to oppose her.

    There has to be a strong lead blocker on financial reform. and Sen. Warren seems to embrace the role. That is exactly the Senator I voted for.

  11. What too big to jail banks are up to

    Matt Taiibbi reports on what HSBC, one of the too-big-to-prosecute banks has been up to, and the US government’s stern, no-nonsense, hey-you-guys-cut-it-out response.

    The Treasury Department keeps a list compiled by the Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, and American banks are not supposed to do business with anyone on the OFAC list. But the bank knowingly helped banned individuals elude the sanctions process. One such individual was the powerful Syrian businessman Rami Makhlouf, a close confidant of the Assad family. When Makhlouf appeared on the OFAC list in 2008, HSBC responded not by severing ties with him but by trying to figure out what to do about the accounts the Syrian power broker had in its Geneva and Cayman Islands branches. “We have determined that accounts held in the Caymans are not in the jurisdiction of, and are not housed on any systems in, the United States,” wrote one compliance officer. “Therefore, we will not be reporting this match to OFAC.”
    . . .
    “They violated every goddamn law in the book,” says Jack Blum, an attorney and former Senate investigator who headed a major bribery investigation against Lockheed in the 1970s that led to the passage of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. “They took every imaginable form of illegal and illicit business.”

    So these criminals must have felt the full force of the American justice system just as though they’d gone into an unlocked closet or something, right?

    That nobody from the bank went to jail or paid a dollar in individual fines is nothing new in this era of financial crisis. What is different about this settlement is that the Justice Department, for the first time, admitted why it decided to go soft on this particular kind of criminal. It was worried that anything more than a wrist slap for HSBC might undermine the world economy. “Had the U.S. authorities decided to press criminal charges,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer at a press conference to announce the settlement, “HSBC would almost certainly have lost its banking license in the U.S., the future of the institution would have been under threat and the entire banking system would have been destabilized.”

    Let’s do that – let’s destabilize the entire banking system and replace it with one that makes some effort to obey the law.

    • The link

      I forgot to link to the Rolling Stone article those quotes came from.

      Why is it that the most reliable sources of news today are a comedy show and a music magazine?

    • Here's an idea

      If a bank commits those kinds of acts again, we — the United States of Fucking America — seize it. That way, we neither have to worry about those banks committing those illegal acts again, nor that their prosecution will ‘undermine’ the world economy. We can then sell the bank to the highest reputable bidders and make a 100% profit. Sounds good to me.

      RyansTake   @   Mon 18 Feb 6:09 PM
      • Sorry, Liberal, that won't work. They tried it in Sweden and

        uh, well actually it worked absolutely fine.

        Never mind.

        • From the debate ~2009

          Sweden, unlike the U.S., has a skilled class of government managers and regulators who could actually carry it off. In the U.S.? We have regulatory capture. Not so clear the Swedish intervention would work on these shores.

          • We suck so bad that doing the right thing will make things worse?


            By the time our senior senator has a few more banking committee meetings, the regulators may be thinking a little straighter…

            • Wasn't that basically

              what the bank “regulators” were saying in that video?

              We mustn’t do anything because we’d just screw things up.

            • Money is more convincing

              Our non-Swedish regulators usually return to jobs in the industry they regulate after a “stint” in the federal government. Their loyalties are at best divided.

  12. It is close to viral

    So far, that video clip has 800,000 views on YouTube. Pretty amazing for a Senate Banking hearing, which is normally fairly dull. And, its extraordinary when you realize that it’s Elizabeth Warren’s very first committee meeting as a Senator.

    Be sure to send a link to everybody that you know:


  13. Interesting to see that the initial blowback from this was from an anonymous emailer, a “financial executive” to Politico, with “Perhaps someone ought to remind the Senator that the campaign is over and she should act accordingly if she wants to be taken seriously.” Have women come so far that those “you should be more ladylike” comments we have endured for generations can only be delivered anonymously?
    I wish Adrienne Rich, were here to see this.
    “They say such things are stored/in the genetic code –/half-chances, unresolved/possibilities, the life/passed on because unlived-a mystic biology?–/I think of the women who sailed to Palestine/years before I was born-/halutzot, pioneers/believing in a new life/socialists, anarchists, jeered/as excitable, sharp of tongue/too filled with life/wanting equality in the promised land/carrying the broken promises/of Zionism in their hearts/along with the broken promises/of communism, anarchism./Makers of miracle who expected miracles as stubbornly as any housewife does/that the life she gives her life to shall not be cheap” Adrienne Rich

  14. Warren may still get her payday

    “One thing’s clear – there’ll be no ginormous Wall Street payday for Professor Warren when she leaves office.”

    Really? Why do you assume that? Didn’t Gov. Patrick do well for himself at Texaco after enforcing civil rights laws for the Clinton administration.

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