Excusing The Inexcusable

A couple of weeks ago, a guy came out with a book talking about how it sure looked like quite a few members of Congress — including the leadership of both parties — were using inside information for personal gain. This is, of course, contemptible. And it’s even worse when you realize that it’s not illegal — Congress very carefully wrote the insider-trading laws to exclude themselves.

 

Anyway, when it first came out, I was wondering just how it could be spun to seem like no big deal. I was disappointed at first — mainly, the apologists tried to discredit the author or focus on the misdeeds of their political opponents. They didn’t try to downplay the whole thing.

 

Well, I’m disappointed no longer. Because the Boston Globe has risen (or, rather, sunk) to the challenge.

 

How do they do it? What kind of chicanery to they use to minimize the scandal?

 

Well, first up, they accuse Schweizer of “cherry-picking” his samples, and instead recreate the total trading activity of all the members. Then, by running their analysis against the sum, it turns out that on average, members of Congress don’t really do that well in the market.

 

This particular trick does a wonderful job of obscuring the misdeeds of some by lumping them in with the whole. It’s kind of like saying that of Joseph P. Kennedy’s nine children, only one of them killed a woman in a car — so, overall, it’s not that big a deal and we shouldn’t single out Ted Kennedy for special attention.

 

Further, by looking at the whole picture exclusively and not the components, they conceal those misdeeds. Here’s a comparison: there’s this degenerate gambler who supports his gambling addiction by robbing convenience stores. At the end of the year, he’s stolen $50,000, but lost $75,000 gambling. By the Globe’s methodology, his robberies aren’t that big a deal, because he hasn’t really benefited from them.

 

No, what it says to me is that these members of Congress are really bad at playing the market. If they were good, they wouldn’t need to cheat. And even with cheating, their “honest” trades tend to wipe out the advantage they gain.

 

But they’re still taking advantage of inside information and access the rest of us lack. For example, Nancy Pelosi’s being invited to get in on the VISA Initial Public Offering, where she made a very hefty bundle. Or John Kerry’s making a killing in health care companies while he was working on ObamaCare. And worse, they’ve made sure that they can’t be prosecuted.

 

 

I’m not surprised that the Boston Globe would publish this piece. They’re no fans of Senator Scott Brown (R-MA), and he’s one of the sponsors of a bill that would help reform that. On the other hand, they’ve heavily invested in the aforementioned Senator John Kerry (D-MA), and he got caught with his hand in the cookie jar. And they don’t seem able to see any flaws in former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who basically took the whole cookie jar.

 

Dismayed, yes, I’ll cop to that. Every now and then the Globe (owned by the New York Times) does something right, and I wanted to think that this time it would be so blatant that even they’d have to say something.

 

More fool me.

 

Sorry about the earlier, unfinished version; tech issues at home.

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  • jim_m

    Sorry JT, but the bill as it stands is a total sham.  It does not make insider trading illegal.  It raises the bar for congressional insiders to the point where it is only illegal if they profit from insider trading AND they tell someone else and that person profits as well.

    The bill is nothing but window dressing since it will be nearly impossible to prove that both criteria have been met.

    As for the Glob, I’ve got to think that if you would stop reading it their circulation would drop to zero.

  • Anonymous

    Dismayed, yes, I’ll cop to that. Every now and then the Globe (owned by
    the New York Times) does something right, and I wanted to think that
    this time it would be so blat

    Finish the sentence please. It should probably read

    Dismayed, yes, I’ll cop to that. Every now and then the Globe (owned by
    the New York Times) does something right, and I wanted to think that
    this time it would be so blatant that even they would be forced to recognize the filth

  • herddog505

    I wonder if the Globe did a similar “analysis” after Enron, AIG, or any of the other financial scandals.  Or did they take the attitude that ANY malfeasance (alleged, proved, imagined, or otherwise) was sufficient cause to slap thousands of pages of new regulations on the various industries?  And have they been supporters of the morons at OWS?

    I’m guessing that the answer to both those questions is “yes”.

    You can bet your sweet Aunt Sally’s a** that, if prominent democrats were not so clearly involved – if this could plausibly be made into a GOP “scandal”* – the Globe would have “analyzed” how much the worst crooks made, not how this isn’t such a big deal.

    —-

    (*) Which it WOULD be.  Personally, I’m in favor of the death penalty for high officials who engage in corruption.  The business of members having their dirty laundry drycleaned by “ethics committees” and “ongoing investigations” and the REMOTE possibility of a “censure” is a travesty of justice.

    • jim_m

      I wonder if the Globe did a similar “analysis” after Enron

      I’m sure any analysis that ran in the NTY/globe was written by krugmann and therefore is total BS.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OEL6MKIDWFC7LIUHOFEFTKLXQA Stephen

    Looks like OWS was right all along. Congress is indeed bought and paid for.

    • Anonymous

      Then why are they not occupying congressmen’s  front yards?

      • Anonymous

        Sorry! No casting pearls before swine.

      • Anonymous

        I’ll answer for you almost half wit… 

        Because it would be too obvious they are  taking orders from the Obama Borg machine when they  occupy only Repubiclan front yards..

        Now exercise your right to shut the hell up!

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IZ5BM5GNLA54OADSWGSXAMA7SY Jay

        Then why are they not occupying congressmen’s  front yards?

        http://www.facebook.com/pages/Occupy-Congress-January-17th-2012/203536356392018?sk=wall

        Any other questions?

        • herddog505

          Um, yes: the same one, actually.

          Why are they not occupying (note present tense) congressmen’s front yards?

          The link you provided is for a planned protest on Jan 17.

          Now, I’m willing to be gracious and assume that the OWS crowd, being comprised mostly of potheads and dimwits, took this long to realize that the problem is far less on Wall Street than it is on Capitol Hill and is starting to change their focus.

          O’ course, if I was NOT willing to be gracious (still assuming that they are potheads and dimwits), I’d say that they HAVEN’T really figured this out; that the efforts to close ports on the West Coast indicates that they still blame Big Business for our economic woes; and that the protest on Jan 17 is less about holding Congress’ feet to the fire and more about (democrat) electoral politics.  After all, the post you cite starts with [paraphrase] “GOP blocks tax bill”.

          I think that we’ll see a great deal more of “Occupy DC” as the election heats up, as people “take to the streets” to “protest Republican-led opposition to the president’s efforts to stimulate the economy and regulate an out-of-control Wall Street”.

          We shall see.

        • Anonymous

          1.) Stephen still hasn’t answered the first one.

          2.) Hasn’t happened yet.

          3.) Any other bald faced lefturd assertions not backed with fact?

  • Anonymous

    The fun part is how they’re skewing the examples in the book itself.  The author was on a podcast last week, and mentioned that in the book, the vast majority of cases he found were Democrats – and the worst cases, at that.  But for some reason, the “news” is covering it like the distribution is even, and about the same level of severity.

    He did, however, say that (of all people) Barney Frank seems to be one of the few Democrats who hasn’t indulged in insider trading while in office – he has plenty of other flaws, but insider trading doesn’t seem to be on the list (as opposed to Pelosi and Reid).

  • John H

    It would be legitimate to look at the whole congress if you further divided the data by years in office and call out each case. I have no doubt there are reps and senators who have been in office many years and deal honestly. But I suspect they would shine out in such a chart, just as those who don’t deal honestly become glaringly obvious. 
    Of course, this does seem to be an issue that can generate bipartisan support. Say a 90% capital gains tax on senators and reps while in office and for 5 years after office. Dems will love it because it raises taxes. GOP doesn’t like raising taxes, but it is a bone they can hand to the dems. Of course the pols won’t go for it, but keep it in mind for a constitutional convention.

    • herddog505

      SUPERB idea!  These wardheelers get a salary (set by themselves), all sorts of perks (determined by themselves), as well as goodies paid for by various lobbyists and (ahem) constituents who are buying them off…. er… supporting their well-deserved and vital reelection, I meant to say.

      So, why shouldn’t they “pay their fair share”?

      I would agree to a caveat that any investments they have prior to election, if placed in a blind trust, will NOT be subject to the extra tax rate.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_G7YIUZMXOD5JGZZTCYMVA75KFU Shadow

    The genie is out of the bottle.  Once we allowed politicians to determine what the definition of “is” is, we were doomed to suffer and pay for their corruption.  Until we overhaul the system and hold them accountable for lies and criminal activity there is no hope our country can survive and return to the great nation it once was.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/EU5DQWQTTHTPO4A4ZYSL3AAV2U Adjoran

    Even an effective law against “insider trading” by Congress wouldn’t affect situations like Pelosi’s IPO.  Those are limited offerings at a set price BEFORE the public sale and are usually reserved for major stockholders, officers, and directors of the company.  They are quite valuable as IPOs which are anticipated by the market often go up sharply the first few days.

    The only reason I can imagine for Pelosi getting such favored treatment is her office and influence on legislation.  If the VISA people had another legitimate reason for including her, they should be compelled to disclose it.  If not, it’s a bribe and Pelosi AND the executives who “helped her out” should all go to prison.

  • Pingback: Insider Slimbags | Daily Pundit

  • Anonymous

    …. like those others who keep him, the Boston Globe is heavily invested in John Julia Stimson Thorne Maria Teresa Thierstein Simões-Ferreira Heinz Fritz Kohn-Kerry ….

    Who, as Louis Prima might say is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CodmlmxpZeQ 

    He pay the $450,000.00 tax on his Rhode Island row-boat, yet?

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