Where does a corrupt bankster end & a corrupt politician begin? The manifestation of conservative Democratic 1%-er-turned-Republican 1%-er, Texas Senator Phil Gramm's "greatest" achievement-- at least in terms of making himself fabulously wealthy, but also in terms of impacting the people of the United States-- was the mortgage meltdown in the finally two years of George W. Bush's illegitimate presidency. Gramm was long gone from politics by then but he had years earlier helmed the victory in the Republican Party's-- and Wall Street's-- long-term jihad against Glass-Steagall. More about that anon. First a few words on how our government-- not Bush's but the one we elected based on Hope and Change to replace it-- has dealt with and is dealing with that manifestation of ultimate corruption. In short, the Obama Administration and most state governments are handing out Get Out Of Jail Free cards to the perps. We're talking about the foreclosure fraud settlement being embraced by every state with the exceptions of New York, Massachusetts, Nevada, possibly California, Delaware and Kentucky (if Kamala Harris, Beau Biden and Jack Conway are serious about national political careers) and maybe even Oregon, Arizona and Washington (state). The settlement the 40-some-odd states' attorneys general-- aided and abetted by the Obama Justice Department-- are about to tie a bow around and present as a fait accompli indemnifies the banksters from prosecution for their criminal behavior in the mortgage meltdown. Gretchen Morgenson writes that "the exact terms are under wraps," but everyone paying attention knows the inexact terms very well by now-- and Morgenson better than almost anyone. Cutting to the chase: if you thought this was the deal that would hold banks accountable for filing phony documents in courts, foreclosing without showing they had the legal right to do so and generally running roughshod over anyone who opposed them, you are likely to be disappointed. This may not qualify as a shock. Accountability has been mostly A.W.O.L. in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. A handful of state attorneys general became so troubled by the direction this deal was taking that they dropped out of the talks. Officials from Delaware, New York, Massachusetts and Nevada feared that the settlement would preclude further investigations, and would wind up being a gift to the banks. It looks as if they were right to worry. As things stand, the settlement, said to total about $25 billion, would cost banks very little in actual cash-- $3.5 billion to $5 billion. A dozen or so financial companies would contribute that money. The rest-- an estimated $20 billion-- would consist of credits to banks that agree to reduce a predetermined dollar amount of principal owed on mortgages that they own or service for private investors. How many credits would accrue to a bank is unclear, but the amount would be based on a formula agreed to by the negotiators. A bank that writes down a second lien, for example, would receive a different amount from one that writes down a first lien. Sure, $5 billion in cash isnt nada. But government officials have held out this deal as the penalty for years of what they saw as unlawful foreclosure practices. A few billion spread among a dozen or so institutions wouldnt seem a heavy burden, especially when considering the harm that was done. The banks contend that they have seen no evidence that they evicted homeowners who were paying their mortgages. Then again, state and federal officials conducted few, if any, in-depth investigations before sitting down to cut a deal. Morgenson goes into a number of concerned she says as "justified because past settlements promising big help to borrowers have failed to live up to their hype. She makes the point, as did Beau Biden in filing his anti-bankster suit last week, that "rules matter... Abiding by the rules has not been the modus operandi in the foreclosure arena. Thats why any settlement must be tough, truly beneficial to borrowers and monitored for compliance. Otherwise, the deal would be another case where our government let the big banks win while Main Street loses." Before we get back to the elusive, rarely mentioned Phil Gramm and his role in all this, let's take a look at a powerful cheat sheet by Pro Publica that asks what's happened to the big players in the financial crisis. (The criminality of the banksters will never be really examined because there is no one to examine the criminality of our political class-- if that class can even be separated from the banksters-- and that class has increased it's own wealth gigantically while Americans have sunk into economic desperation. "For example, Rep. Darrell Issa reported this year that his 2010 assets were worth at least $295 million, nearly double what they were the year before.") These political gangsters, like career criminal Issa, are not part of the Pro Publica "cheat sheet," although they do look at Gramm (and Bush Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson). Pro Publica breaks down their study into roughly 9 categories of criminals: mortgage originators, mortgage securitizers, people who created and dealt CDOs, the ratings agencies, the regulators, the politicians (though no one currently in Congress), executives of big investment banks and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. read more DownWithTyranny!