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Jul. 7 2009 - 11:26 pm | 598 views | 12 recommendations | 68 comments

On The ‘Everyone Was Doing It’ Excuse

“The [Rolling Stone] article makes a very compelling case against Goldman Sachs, but I think the problems it identifies are pervasive in financial firms and corporate America in general,” says Nell Minow, who is the co-founder of the Corporate Library, a research firm that tracks corporate-governance issues. “We need to launch substantive financial reform rather than weighing the faults of one firm versus another.” Minow’s point is this: spend too much time on Goldman and you miss the fact of how broadly the financial system and the regulations that are supposed to keep profiteers in check failed us. And she’s right.

via Goldman Sachs vs. Rolling Stone: A Wall Street Smackdown – TIME.

It’s been interesting, to say the least, watching the public reaction to my Rolling Stone piece last week. I of course expected that some kind of highly unpleasant response would come my way from Goldman and its allies in the press, but I admit to being surprised a little by the form this response took. Obviously I don’t want to dwell on this business, because it’s beyond boring when someone in my position complains about his critics, but I feel like I have to say something about at least a few of the talking points of the inevitable Goldman counteroffensive, which in various forms (letters sent to me personally, public comments) have reached my desk in the last few days.

The most ludicrous of these, and the one that surprised me the most, is the accusation that my article was anti-Semitic propaganda. The first letter I got on this score I actually mistook for a joke sent to me by one of my friends. Then I got another one which I quickly realized was not a joke at all. “Isn’t it convenient,” it read, “that an Arab-American writer for Rolling Stone looks at Wall Street and picks the most prototypically Jewish firm around to demonize.”

The last time I heard something similar was a few years ago, when Debbie Schlussel, a severely dimwitted Detroit-based right-wing pundit, railed against my supposed Arabness after I wrote an article about the Lebanese population in Dearborn, Michigan. I wrote to her to let her know that I’m actually Irish and Filipino, and not at all an Arab, but never got a response. This time the charge is a little different, as several writers complained that my article was “a rehash of every classic anti-Jewish conspiracy theory” and “a pale copy of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

The evidence for these charges seems to be as follows. One, I used the word “tribe” somewhere near the end of the piece. Two, the term “blood-funnel” was used (one person also hinted that the use of a squid image was somehow anti-Semitic, but I was not entirely clear what was being referred to there). Three, I “singled out” Goldman and failed to level similar charges at “less Jewish firms” (yes, one letter-writer actually used that phrase) like Morgan-Stanley.

A few points in response to this preposterous argument. Firstly I’m going to make a blanket denial and just say that the question of religion was so far outside my thinking while writing this piece that I never even considered it. If this issue had even entered my head so much as once, I probably would have been more careful, and it is remotely possible that I might not then have used a distantly suggestive word like “tribe,” if only to avoid having to answer charges like this. But I didn’t consider it, for the simple reason that it’s completely ridiculous and not at all relevant.

For one thing, while Goldman’s founders a gazillion years ago were apparently Jewish, I seriously doubt that religion plays any role at all in the makeup of the modern Goldman. I don’t have any way of knowing this, but I would be shocked if it weren’t true that a majority of Goldman’s current employees were not Jewish. And whatever the reality is, I don’t care; it’s not a concern of mine and we didn’t make it a concern in the article.

If anything it seems to me that what defines these Wall Street characters is not religion but the absence of it: even a hardened atheist like myself comes away from the experience of reading about the last two decades of Wall Street history shocked by that community’s complete and utter Godlessness and moral insanity. What I’m saying in other words is that if any of these clowns actually had a real religious sensibility, we wouldn’t be in this mess — and that’s coming from someone who believes all religions to be inherently ridiculous. For Goldman now to hide behind the cloak of Jewish victimhood is both more obnoxious and less convincing than Marion Barry wearing a dashiki after the indictment.

Then there is this other argument, the one being bandied about by Time magazine, among others. According to Steven Gandel of Time, the problem with my piece is that it is — get this — too specific. According to the above passage, focusing on Goldman in particular when attempting to explain (in general) the crimes of Wall Street to ordinary readers is somehow a distraction from the “real problem.” To repeat:

…spend too much time on Goldman and you miss the fact of how broadly the financial system and the regulations that are supposed to keep profiteers in check failed us.

I had to read that passage several times to even begin to grasp its ostensible meaning. Apparently this is the best argument that Time could come up with to discredit this article, that the rhetorical technique of using a specific example of a specific bank like Goldman to tell a broader story about Wall Street in general distracts readers from the “more important” issue of how government regulators… failed to stop banks like Goldman! I mean, really, how’s that for circular thinking? This is silly stuff even by Time magazine’s standards.

I’ve been shocked by how many grown adult people seem to have swallowed this argument, that the argument against Goldman’s behavior during the bubbles of recent decades is invalid because “everyone was doing it” — and other banks, like for instance Morgan Stanley, were “just as bad” as Goldman was.

Two things about that. One, it isn’t true, not really. By any reasonable measure Goldman is and has been the baddest guy on the block for a long time. When it comes to government influence, no other Wall Street company even comes close. And while maybe one might have made an argument that other players were more damaging to society before the crisis of last year, there’s simply no question now, after the bailouts and especially after the AIG fiasco, that Goldman now reigns supreme in the area of insider advantage. To pick any other bank to tell the story of the rapidly growing influence of Wall Street on politics and the blurring of public and private roles would be a glaring journalistic oversight, and surely even Goldman’s biggest supporters would admit this.

Two, even if it is true that “everyone else was doing it”: so what? Who cares? To me this response is highly telling. We published a piece accusing Goldman Sachs of systematically ripping off pensioners and other retail investors by sticking them with rafts of toxic mortgages it knew were losers, of looting taxpayer reserves to cover its bad bets made with AIG, of manipulating gas prices to massive detrimental effect, of helping to explode an internet bubble that caused over $5 trillion in wealth to disappear, and numerous other crimes — and the response isn’t “You’re wrong,” or “We didn’t do that shit, not us,” but “Well, Morgan did the same stuff,” and “Why aren’t you writing about Morgan?”

Why didn’t we write about Morgan? Because we didn’t. Because it’s your turn, you assholes. Maybe later someone will tell the story of the other banks, but for now, while most ordinary people are only just learning about the workings of the financial innovation era that blew up in their faces last year, the top dog in that universe is going to be first in line to get the special treatment. That might be inconvenient for Goldman, but it doesn’t make the things I or anyone else say about them untrue.

Normally I don’t care so much when people criticize my work. It goes with the territory. But in this case, the response of a bank like Goldman and Goldman’s supporters is characteristic of the subject matter in a way that is important to point out, even after the fact of publication. These are powerful people who know how to play the public relations game, have all the appropriate contacts, and have a playbook that they follow to discredit their critics. Whether it’s me now or the next guy who takes them on, they’re going to come back with some kind of charge, be it “Everyone was doing it,” or “We’re just smarter than the other guys, you can’t blame us for that,” or “The real culprits are the ineffective regulators,” something.

They’re going to say that and more, but whether it’s this time or the next time, the important thing is to pay attention to what they don’t say. And what they didn’t say about this piece is that it was wrong. They didn’t deny any of it. They said others were just as bad, they said I was a bad guy, they said it was a conspiracy theory. But they didn’t say it was mistaken, and that’s the only thing that matters.


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  1. collapse expand

    “But they didn’t say it was mistaken.” And that is all that matters. The only thing people can do when they have a losing argument is to try to change it: everyone else was doing it, Taibbi is an anti-semite etc.

    Most Jewish people I know are intelligent, hard working and moral. They would never want to be linked to the type of greed and moral bankruptcy that Goldman Sachs and Bernie Madoff indulged in. And just like with Madoff, I would bet a lot of Goldman’s victims were themselves Jewish. The only major difference IMO between Madoff and Goldman is Goldman has enough people in government paid to look the other way.

    • collapse expand

      > I would bet a lot of Goldman’s victims were
      > themselves Jewish.

      Almost ALL of Madoff’s victims were Jewish, and a great deal of the wealth he stole was from charitable non-profit organizations.

      He likely took down a few major supporters of the State of Israel along the way, and those Israelis don’t fool around.

      A prison sentence was a favor to that asshole, but don’t be surprised if they find him hanging from something in the near future.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  2. collapse expand

    I’ve already seen the “Non-denial denial is practically an admission” thing in the context of the current wholesale rape of the American citizenry that didn’t partake in the last round of apocalyptic fiduciary fuck ups, so I don’t even feel the need to say much on that account.

    To clarify for Matt, the objection to the squid image certainly comes from people more familiar with Nazi propaganda than the face-fuckers from the Alien movies.

    In reading the article, the combination of “squid” and “blood funnel” instantly conjured an image of being locked in the medical bay with a 12 year old girl and Gary Cohn, while we desperately tried to break the shatter-resistant windows and alert the Space Marines. When you mentioned the objection to that, the most artful line in the piece, a little bell went off.

    The octopus was an infamous image used as a metaphor for The Jewish Conspiracy(TM) used by the Nazi propaganda machine before and during WWII. Not that I’m saying you went there. I’m just saying that a guy can’t pick on cephalopods these days without this shit crawling out, all bilaterally symmetric and tentacally. At least you didn’t subliminally insert “RATS” into the article (I know, a decade ago is calling and wants its overused Bush reference back.)

  3. collapse expand

    I really liked your article about Goldman Sachs, and it is kind of hard to believe that anyone thought it had anything to do with being Jewish or any other religion.
    I always enjoy your articles, and I loved the vampire squid metaphor, what a perfect description of GS.

  4. collapse expand

    “Then I got another one which I quickly realized was not a joke at all. “Isn’t it convenient,” it read, “that an Arab-American writer for Rolling Stone looks at Wall Street and picks the most prototypically Jewish firm around to demonize.””

    I had to add this, how ironic that someone accuses you of somehow being a racist, while they labeled you an Arab, I guess because of your name or how you look, not sure why. That is a joke, a racist calling someone else a racist. Please keep up the great work.

  5. collapse expand

    I loved the article and love the work that you do.

    Instead of focusing on the minutiae of who said what, when it went straight to a high-level overview of the issues involved.

    The breakdown was great for some of us that are not completely plugged and is great to start doing our own research and fact finding on our own.

    I am glad that you are replying to the criticism that is being directed at your article.

    We need more journalists like you.

  6. collapse expand

    Nice rebuttal. You know any ad hominem attack is just short hand for “I’ve got nothing to refute your evidence”. Keep up the good work!

  7. collapse expand

    It does suck mightily that you are forced to defend against “allegations” as inane as anti-Semitism and “being overly specific”. Actually I’m still not even sure what that’s supposed to mean. In any case, please do not relent. Your particular brand of writing seems to be especially effective in situations like this. Sometimes the alarm needs to be adrenaline through the breastplate rather than contemporary adults tunes via the AM band. Great interview in Wall Street Cheat Sheet, BTW.

  8. collapse expand

    When I heard Matt was moving on to the health care issue, my heart sank a little. Now I feel Matt doesn’t want to go either, but he should. Gnawing on a issue so egregious as this for any length of time will burn a man up. He can come back later and cover the (employment) executions of the CEO’s.

  9. collapse expand

    The amazing thing is that Goldman does not appear to be the least bit ashamed or defensive about what they have done. They are proud of it and do not understand what the fuss is about.

  10. collapse expand

    I gotta say Matt, I’m surprised by your surprise. Really, you didn’t see getting called anti-Semitic coming? I gotta call bullshit on that line. You have been around quite awhile, and you should know as the rest of us do that when you attack ANY person in any reasonable position of power in this country that happens to be of Jewish descent, that is the accusation that will be thrown at you. I understand your desire to be politically correct(well actually, I don’t. it’s unlike you), but c’mon, man. I would love to hear an intelligent person like yourself call out these guys on their never ending”everyone who doesn’t like us is an anti-Semite” subterfuge. It’s got to end sometime, and please don’t pretend that this exact thing hasn’t happened to at least a dozen people you know.

  11. collapse expand

    Statement: …spend too much time on Goldman and you miss the fact of how broadly the financial system and the regulations that are supposed to keep profiteers in check failed us.

    Translation: Let’s not look too closely at the murder victims or the perpetrators in this case. What’s important for us is to all come together and talk about how bad killing is, and how it might be harmful to others. Focusing on particular murders, especially government-enabled murders, only detracts from the higher calling of discussing better legislation.

    Sounds like Time needs to get a life…

  12. collapse expand

    Aha, the classic “tu quoque” fallacy: everybody was doing it. One of the lamest retorts anybody can ever unleash. It wouldn’t fly in 4th grade, yet it’s being offered here.

    Also, I’ve heard the argument (in other cases) that why, it’s not the perpetrators fault, it’s the government’s fault for not STOPPING them.

    That’s tantamount to saying bank robbers aren’t responsible for their robberies because the police didn’t happen to be right there to stop them.

    Good work, Matt–when they start resorting to fallacies, it’s because you’ve got them dead to rights. Keep it up.

  13. collapse expand

    Next we’ll be hearing Flip Wilson’s line, “The devil made me do it!”

  14. collapse expand

    Truly incredible. The perfect line of defense that works wonders in this country to cloud and led us astray from the real issue at hand –that the system is gamed from the onset to advance the interests of the privileged few, violently, and at our expense.

    Let there be no doubt…Pastor Hagee will receive a call from his friends in Washington and he will gladly take this on and preach about your anti-semitic ways. And, perhaps this time, Laurie and Janine may be listening.

  15. collapse expand

    I guess I have to say it. If all your friends were jumping off a bridge, would you do it too? Just because everyone else was doing it, doesn’t make you smart for being so unoriginal. It also doesn’t get you off the hook.

    Also, let’s not forget that GS was the real leader in all this stuff. It was really the rest of the market following their lead. It’s scary to me that they can be smart enough to write junk securities and then bet against them and make enormous amounts of money, but they can’t figure out how to deal with an article that calls them out for doing so. FAIL!

  16. collapse expand

    I’m Jewish. I thought the RS piece was dead on and never took any of it as antisemetic. I have no clue why people would use that especially with a guy named Hank Paulson (a Christian Scientist) leading the firm when they were at the height of writing and selling the fraudulent CDOs and shorting them and then becoming Treasury Secretary after they let him off the hook for 75 Million or so in Cap gains tax for selling his Goldman stake.

    That in and of itself hits a level of conflict of interest that is only second to the conflict of interest when the current CEO of Goldman was with Paulson when the fate of AIG and Lehman brothers were decided.

    Of course they claimed that AIG and Lehman never came up in conversation. I beleive that like I beleive that Evan Bayh never talks to his wife about Health Care Reform as she sits on the Board of Wellpoint /Blue Cross making $350G a year, much of it in stock options that will do a moon shot if reform is defeated.

    All of this reminds me of Dustin Hoffman in the Movie Hero, when he said “It’s all Bullshit…Bullshit!”.

    The piece in RS has no hint of antisemitism. Zero. As a Jew, I get tired of these charges. I beleive 98% of the world’s elite are assholes without regard to race color, creed or religion. Goldman is an equal opportunity asshole employer.

  17. collapse expand

    All I can say is: thank you. For the article and for your followup responses. I hope this issue is still in the headlines six months from now, a year from now. I am doing what I can to see that it is. That the Democrats and Republicans both want to sweep the discussion under the rug shows the true divide in America is between the Power Elite and The Rest of Us.

  18. collapse expand

    Matt, pardon if this has been asked and answered in other places; but do you have an insight to the next giant bubble (green energy, commodities or natural resources like water-food etc)?

    I ask because a mentor once told me that you have to go back and learn history to get out in front of future trends; especially in social justice. Thank you for contributions in chronicling this history; any thoughts on the future?

  19. collapse expand

    nice try on the arab thing. since arab=terrorist in the minds of your accusers, let’s look at some inconvenient facts: filipinos are brown, and some are even muslim, and though the irish are white, they have some terrorists as well. so (1/2 irish + 1/2 filipino brown person) + 1/4 muslim X 2 terrorists = arab.

    the math is clear my friend.

  20. collapse expand

    I think you need to look back in Time. Thomas Lamont. Major JP player. Also Andy Mellon man. Major oil and everything else under god man. Mutual ass kisser within the power elite. Oh, and long time publisher of Time. That’s one of my richer sources for old family dirt. Lamont and my “Unc” shared seats in voting trusts more than once. The religion thing? Gee, when was the last time someone tried to change the subject with that one?

    I would direct anyone to “More They Told Barron” (or the first They Told Barron) for the description of JP singing hymns lustfully on the train back from the Baptist Convention the day before he and Thomas Fortune Ryan blew the doors off the Equitable Assurance Society with the self same bucket shops the CFTC Rules of 2000 legalized again to destroy us. JP pocket a railroad. Ryan took all the heat.

    Goldie seems to be in a whirl of bad press. I think that’s the Captain’s doing. Who says Goldie and the Captain didn’t pull this hellish plan off together and then JP turns around and knifes Goldie in the back? Sound logical to me.

    Raising the specter of Hitler and anti-semitism reminds me of the Teabaggers alternately claiming Obama is a socialist and a fascist. Any bogeyman will do. What idiots. The two were eternal enemies. I always thought we were just trying to find the right balance between the two. Idiots, know thy self.

  21. collapse expand

    Matt,

    Why you gotta go picking on these poor little rich people. Aren’t there any “welfare queens” out there to investigate? You’re about to make David Broder cry! :-)

    Thanks for the fine work!

  22. collapse expand

    Come on now Taibbi – you really aren’t so naive as to think that you wouldn’t be labeled an antisemitic conspiracy theorist for this piece were you? You also can’t be so naive as to think that Jewishness is a “religion” as if all Jews need to do to stop being Jewish is give up Judaism. Yes, a disclaimer in the piece itself and an avoidance of the word “tribe” would have been appropriate (though it would not have stopped the allegations of antisemitism from flying).

    That said, you are correct – it’s inaccurate to describe Goldman, Sachs as a “Jewish firm.” Even though its founders were Jewish and lot (most?) of its of leadership is Jewish.

    And even if we could accurately call Goldman, Sachs a “Jewish firm,” pointing out their crimes is clearly not the same thing as touting antisemitic conspiracy theory – but unfortunately it does put you in the company of antisemitic conspiracy theorists.

    Even though Goldman, Sachs is not a Jewish firm the way Israel is a Jewish state, it seems to have become the “new Israel” in that it is an institution that is supposed to be exempt from criticism.

  23. collapse expand

    If you’re Irish-Filipino, why is your last name Italian?

  24. collapse expand

    So you’re finally getting nasty track back instead of shrugs. Good. They’re feeling it.

    Since you’re heading to the next bubble, you might want to brain storm with David Suzuki. I heard him on the radio while I was out running errands (1 of which was finding the latest RS – finally success). He’s the Canadian ecophilia guru who’s has some good insight to the consumptive nature of our country and continent.

    Confuse their issues with facts (a fun argument those on the ropes like to use). Keep it coming. Different interpretations may be OK, but as an astute legislator noted, there is only 1 set of facts. You’ll probably get more hate mail than love letters, but maybe the internet helps with the balance.

  25. collapse expand

    They’re all like Robert McNamara — smart numbers guys with zero moral intelligence.

  26. collapse expand

    Matt…wondering what your take is on Al Gore’s Generation Investment Management company and the Goldman Sachs connection?

  27. collapse expand

    Time’s argument is, of course, the classic argument for manipulating cynics in a cynical time. Whereas ture believers can be manipulated by leaders, cynics can be just as easily manipulated with the “but everyone’s doing it! Why are you picking on me?” argument.

  28. collapse expand

    Matt, I love your stuff. Any chance you guys could get together with Michael Moore and “make the movie” on all this.

  29. collapse expand

    Damn Irish… Rock on Taibbi. God bless.

  30. collapse expand

    There is another industry that you did not mention that Goldman Sachs is involved in but tries to keep out of public scrutiny and that is Health Insurance. I use the term “Health Insurance” lightly because what they sell is not insurance, but rather another fraud on the middle and lower class causing bankruptcy and poverty.

    Health Markets, the parent company of Mega Life and Health like many companies is owned by “€œprivate equity”€. But in this case these are not just any €œprivate equity€ companies. The three owners are a) the biggest and now publicly traded private equity firm, Blackstone Partners, b) the most prestigious and most profitable investment bank, Goldman Sachs, and c) a unit of giant European investment bank Credit Suisse.

    While the owners and employees of these corrupt organizations are making their mega-millions, it’€™s about time that they are exposed before Mega Life and Health becomes the model for the current healthcare reform.

    We’€™re not talking fraudsters on the margins, we are talking about them being aided and abetted by the privileged sitting inside the gilded palace. Here are just a few examples of how these scumbags operate.

    From The Healthcare Blog

    Mega Life and Health sells health insurance door to door to poor to middle and low income working people. They claim that they are selling a product which their customers understand. But the point their customers clearly do not understand is that the insurance€ has severe limits on what it pays, especially what it pays per day in cases of expensive care. So if a policyholder gets sick and needs hospital care, Mega only pays out a fraction of what the hospital charges, leaving the poor sucker patient on the hook for the rest. Last year the California Supreme Court ruled that this con, like all the best cons, is legal. And this type of policy continues to be sold (more or less legally) in most states.

    Over at Colorado Health Insurance Insider I found this tale of woe of an electrician earning $40,000 a year with no benefits who joined Mega’€™s front organization the National Association for the Self-Employed€ after being sold a bill of goods by a commissioned sales rep. His son had cancer and ran up bills of $500,000 of which Mega paid out $45,000. It’€™s not completely clear from the story at which point Mega cut them off, but if the story from the couple who sued in the California Supreme Court is an indication, what probably happened is that the policy had a maximum per diem payment of less than 10% of what was actually billed. And now bankruptcy and poverty awaits.

    Several former employees in Alabama show that the company had no ethics and hid what it was doing from its customers.

    None of the three former Mega agents — Chaney, Aplin and Parrish — had insurance sales experience before joining the company. Each said they left the company after they learned more about other health insurance policies. “The training was how to close a deal. It wasn’t about the nuts and bolts of insurance,” 33-year-old Aplin said. Chaney, 29, said he worked for Mega about four months before he saw another insurance company’s policy and began to believe he was selling incomplete coverage. Salespeople “don’t even talk about the insurance,” he said. “You talk about the NASE and then you get them and you go. “I didn’t know that the insurance was linked to the NASE,” Chaney said. Parrish said the experience has been hard for her personally. “I wish I would have had sense enough or the insight enough to have researched it before I got into it,” said Parrish, who said she checked with the Better Business Bureau and Alabama Department of Insurance but did not detect any warning signs. In the beginning, she said, she thought it strange that she would be sent to pursue potential clients in areas an hour’s drive from home while other agents were assigned to Dothan. She said she found it odd that her paychecks came from her district manager’s personal account rather than from the company. Parrish said she also wondered why her questions at staff meetings seemed to her to go unanswered and why agents were not supposed to leave promotional materials in the homes of people who did not buy a policy. Mega agents she knew were not supposed to use insurance terms, but to sell the benefits of NASE membership and its preferred providers, she said. Now she believes, they were “giving those people false security.”

    It makes total sense that Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse own a health insurer that’s main purpose is to force you into bankruptcy and lose your house. That is what they do for a living and if they couldn’t force you into poverty through a “Bubble”, then they can still use medical bills to achieve the same result.

  31. collapse expand

    Matt if you are ever in northern New England investigating any other Dartmouth alumni click on my name here and shoot me an email. I am buying as long as you are drinking. That is some weapons grade ass kicking you are putting on the Goldman gang. I’m loving it. Cheers!

  32. collapse expand

    Amazing! So Goldman didn’t make decisions, it just floated downstream on Poo River with all the other financial institutions that ripped people off. Behaving unconscionably was the fashion then, the rage I suppose. And everyone was singing Merrily Merrily Merrily, Profits for the Team.

    Fuckers.

  33. collapse expand

    Matt, I loved your piece on GS, and they truly are the most flagrantly crooked of the bunch. You are an excellent writer, thinker, and droll as hell. However, upon reading that TIME article, I didn’t see them trying to “discredit” your work. It appeared to be a pretty low-res disagreement on your approach. As someone who is obviously in your corner (and certainly not dependent on TIME for my news), I wondered about your response. As a result of your superb journalistic efforts on GS, you’ve clearly been met with extremist theories, proselytizing, personal attacks, and plain old stupidity, so I understand the frustration you must feel. But in the interest of fairness, Gandel was pretty complimentary of your writing and research. It looks like you didn’t write the comprehensive expose on the entire machine that they were looking for (is that even possible in a magazine?). That doesn’t really scream blood lust to me. Am I missing something more insidious here? Could you at least acknowledge their partial endorsement of your work?

  34. collapse expand

    In one way, this is reminiscent of the inane “lipstick on a pig” imbroglio during the ‘08 presidential campaign — the real insult there, after all, was not in Obama’s use of that hackneyed phrase, but in the immediate indignation (feigned or not) on the part of the McCain supporters in assuming that any reference to a pig must, of course, refer to Sarah Palin. It was the very ones expressing that assumptions who were, by necessary implication, actually calling her a pig.

    And so here. The article lays out against Goldman a bill of particulars of stunning venality, heinousness and enormity with no suggestion – none – of any underlying religious basis. To respond to it with charges of anti-semitism is itself anti-semitic in the way it implicitly equates that behavior with Jews.

    Don’t let the shits distract you with this sort of cheap diversionary tactic, Matt. You’ve got ‘em on their heels. Keep punching!

  35. collapse expand

    You know, it’s kind of like if one of the top five Mafia families whined, why us?

  36. collapse expand

    ‘You know any ad hominem attack is just short hand for “I’ve got nothing to refute your evidence”. ‘

    Same with trying to dismiss something as a product of the Liberal Media. They can’t win the argument so they use a right wing approved method of running from it.
    Or they use one of my other favorites, ‘well that’s just your opinion’. Speculators caused the oil run up is an opinion? How that?

  37. collapse expand

    i thought the article was very well written. the opening with the “insoluble” line was a model for persuasive writing. although, i prefer reading the MT’s usual apathetic views on politics, class warfare and mania-inspired buffoonery, the wall street reporting has been pretty good and it’s nice to see someone actually saying something. Life is just too weird when the only magazine you can count on has the cover graced by the promise keeping Jonas Brothers or some weirdo laying on around with a 6ft neon viper getting ready for a groin strike. good times.

  38. collapse expand

    harrumph, harrumph. Good piece and right again. Thanks!
    Now, how can we stop this plague?

  39. collapse expand

    Matt, I am sorry my quote in Time came across that way — it was not my intention in any way to excuse Goldman. As a mom, I can tell you that the “everyone else is doing it” excuse is no excuse. On the contrary.

    I liked your article a lot. But I believe that the only way to address the conflicts and abuse you describe is through a systemic, industry-wide approach. Otherwise you’re just playing whack-a-mole; cutting back Goldman will just open up that space for someone else. I am concerned that the focus of Goldman lets the others off the hook. But please do not think I am making excuses for anyone or anything other than vitally concerned with these issues.

  40. collapse expand

    A total loss of dignity is the new “fail.” Back in the day, when people went out of business, got caught fornicating while Governor, or were caught breaking basic laws of ethics, the natural response was to slink away ashamed. You quit, moved out of town, hoped one day to start over fresh.

    Not those conscience-free, self-obsessed Baby Boomers, though! Nope, the new EPIC FAIL is to stay exactly where you are, look in the camera, and paint yourself as a victim. It’s not my fault! My ENEMIES are behind this, (insert: Arab, librul media, Al Qaeda, accountants, Democrats) and they are just doing this for (insert: Gay Agenda, to get press, for the money, etc.)

    The new fail is to keep spewing out increasingly ridiculous defenses, to keep changing the rules. So let’s see, you’ve created an airtight case showing Goldman to be amoral financial privateers. It must be that you’re a Democratic Arab anti-squid gay political operative trying to make life difficult for Jewish cephalopods when, after all, EVERYBODY ELSE WAS DOING IT TOO!

    Mr. Taibbi, that’s the equivalent of a football game where the score is 63 – 3. You’ve got a blow out on your hands. Congratulations.

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    About Me

    I'm a political reporter for Rolling Stone magazine, a sports columnist for Men's Journal, and I also write books for a Random House imprint called Spiegel and Grau.

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