Monday, November 03, 2008

You Take Your Happiness Where You Can Find It And Today It Was At The Sentencing Of A UBS Swindler


A self-styled UBS master of the universe goes to prison

I went to the premier of Oliver Stone's movie, W and when I walked out a camera crew grabbed me and asked me what I thought. I said it was pretty good and that I enjoyed it. The interviewer wasn't happy with that. He wanted to know if I thought it would influence the election. "No," I don't think so," I said. Bush isn't running again and people sharp enough to realize that McCain would simply be another 4 year extension of his agenda have already made up their minds." That wasn't good enough for him either and he wanted to know how I would have changed the movie. Roland was starting to signal me that it was time to go and that he was hungry. "Well, if it was my movie and my world, Bush and Cheney would have been tried and the last scene would be the two of them walking up the steps to the gallows." That ended the interview... to Roland's satisfaction.

I know I'll never be completely happy but tomorrow I plan to revel in the good news as it come sin. Obama, of course, even if that means we get the baggage-- the Bidens and Emanuels and all kinds of horrible crap you can expect to hear Ken and I complaining about in the next few months-- but also the great news we expect to hear about Tim Walberg and Joe Knollenberg being defeated in Michigan, about the end of Ted Stevens' disgraceful career, about bona fide progressive leaders like Darcy Burner, Alan Grayson and Jared Polis being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives where I expect them to do a lot more than take their seats and vote well, and maybe about some close calls coming through, like Jeff Merkley, Tom Perriello, Jim Himes, Joe Garcia, Martin Heinrich... maybe even some genuine miracles like Dennis Shulman, Debbie Cook, Larry Joe Doherty...

But for today, I'm looking for my bits and pieces of celebratory news elsewhere-- and I don't even mean the final poll numbers showing Obama expanding his lead over McCain, ahead in Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania and even leading with a crushing margin in Fox's own silly biased polls. Sure I'm taking a great deal of pleasure seeing the ignorant assholes who inflicted 8 years of Bush on the rest of us depressed and disheartened and in no mood to even bother cheering on McCain's dying or dead campaign. I hope they don't bother voting tomorrow so all their down-ballot rubber stamp candidates lose as well. And, yeah, I'm delighted to know that when cell phone users are counted properly, Obama's polling numbers shoot up, and I'm delighted to see that McCain's negative and vicious smears-- like the scurrilous Dole attacks on Hagan we discussed this morning-- backfired and helped wreck his miserable, vile campaign.

But for me the best news so far, news I hope is a harbinger of things to come, concerns a prison sentence. Now, it could have been longer and it could have been for his colleague Phil Gramm, but it's a first step to see a former USB executive sentenced to six and a half years in prison after an insider trading conviction. Mitchel Guttenberg is very lucky I wasn't the judge.
In handing down the sentence, which includes three years of supervision after his release, Judge Deborah Batts of U.S. District Court in Manhattan said, "from the moment he joined the (UBS) investment review committee he planned to give that information to others to use illegally."

Batts did not fine Guttenberg, who expressed his remorse to his family, the court and his former employer. His lawyer Sean O'Shea described Guttenberg as "a broken man" whose wife had left him, and he was living in his sister's apartment.

Guttenberg was among 13 people, including former employees of Wall Street firms such as Bank of America Corp, Morgan Stanley and Bear Stearns Co Inc, who were criminally charged last year in an insider trading ring.

Guttenberg admitted in court that on numerous occasions between 2001 and 2006 he told two traders about upcoming analyst stock recommendations, including those for Caterpillar Inc and Goldman Sachs Group Inc shares.

The information about upcoming UBS analysts' upgrades and downgrades was used to execute hundreds of transactions, netting more than $17.5 million, prosecutors said.
In court on Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Fish told the judge that the securities industry is "full of people like Mr. Guttenberg. They have access to information they can use to make millions."

I wonder if anyone has thought about looking into how Rahm Emanuel became a multimillionaire so fast when he took a couple years off from politics to work on Wall Street. Anyway, is a new day coming? We'll have to see how much Obama really wants to make some changes and how many Jeff Merkelys and Darcy Burners and Alan Graysons get elected as opposed to status quo hacks like Bruce Lunsford, Bobby Bright and Mike McMahon.

Today I saw a piece in a magazine that made me want to throw up as if I was Michele Bachman at a St Patrick's Day party. People are losing their homes and their jobs and their children are losing their opportunities to go to college and the end of the Bush era leaves us designers talking about "following up their latest project with Louis Vuitton (a Hong Kong store in which shoes on conveyor belts drift past iPod bars and Martha Sturdy furniture) with a new restaurant idea. It's 'a first for the fashion house,' explains Yabu. 'We want to bring back the romance of the picnic, wherein the leisure class from days gone by had their Louis Vuitton picnic trunk-- fully equipped with silver, crystal and bone china-- and took it on the road.'"

When Obama talks about taxing that 5%, I hope he has this "leisure class" with their bone china in mind. Yesterday my friend Helen called me and asked me if I thought a company that charges several thousand dollars to put up and take down your Christmas lights would survive. But maybe they can repurpose into an industry that teaches ex-Wall Street executive how to be plumbers like McCain's pal Joe.

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