Rihanna, Jamie Dimon, and Hillary

Okay, Rihanna, Dimon, and Hillary are truly an odd combination. And I'm not referring to some kind of very strange fundraising event trio, but to a new video inspired by the divide in the Democratic Party, and in our country, over how we should view the titans on Wall Street. It's our light answer to all those politicians and groups who think Wall Street bankers should be coddled: We say that not only should they not be coddled, their arrogance should be poked, parodied, and prosecuted. We are truly delighted that we get to release this video the same day as the Jamie Dimon holiday card, which sent such a profoundly wonderful message about Dimon's unbridled arrogance.

There is a fundamental disagreement over approaches to the Jamie Dimons and Lloyd Blankfeins of the world, and one approach, exemplified by a recent speech by Hillary Clinton's recent speech to Goldman Sachs' execs helped inspire (if you can call it that) the opposite approach from an organization I chair, American Family Voices. Partly inspired by one settlement after another where Jamie Dimon has sweet-talked prosecutors into no-criminal-prosecution settlements of things which were clearly criminal (the JPM settlements were by far the biggest in history money wise, which is a good thing, but so inadequate in so many ways they still are disappointing), and partly inspired by Hillary's warm and friendly speech about Wall Street, we are putting out a parody of Rihanna's video "Diamonds," turning it into the story of that jewel of a guy Jamie Dimon -- we think it is just the kind of hard-hitting and funny satire he and JP Morgan Chase so desperately deserve.

The thing is, the Democratic Party and American society in general are going to have to make a choice about the kind of economic and political course we are going to follow in the years to come. We're going to have to choose between sucking up to Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein and the Wall Street masters of the universe with all their immense wealth and power on the one hand, and directly challenging the chokehold they have on our economy and our government through our policy initiatives, our political positioning, and cultural satire like this video on the other. Instead of being sympathized with, the Wall Street masters of the universe should be held accountable politically and legally for the role they played in damaging the economy and then keeping our economy from getting back on the road to recovery -- and they should be mocked for their arrogance. American Family Voices doesn't have the power to break the big banks up, or throw their executives in jail, but we can help on the mocking part and on the organizing part.

In the world of politics, most of the time you have to pick sides -- Democrat or Republican, coal company or climate scientist, Too Big To Fail or Jail bank executive or low-wage worker. I know which side I'm on. I do not believe, as Hillary apparently implied from the reports on her speech, and as other friends of Wall Street have been suggesting since the crash, that our economic troubles were the fault of everyone in our society. According to this reasoning, consumers overspent, the government got into too much debt, and oh yeah, the bankers made a couple of mistakes too. That "everyone is equally to blame, it certainly wasn't all about Wall Street's mistakes" positioning is as bankrupt as the millions of Americans whose net worth got destroyed in the crash. But it defies common sense and basic morality to say that Jamie Dimon and some poor guy with a low-wage job who got talked into a complicated mortgage during the height of the bubble and ended up being foreclosed on as a result are equally to blame for our economic woes. Our economy has gotten fundamentally off the track it used to be on through our country's strongest economic times, when the middle class was growing and prosperous, when young and poor people were able to get good jobs and climb into that middle class, when incomes for most workers were rising and they had spending money to fuel a steadily rising tide, and when good laws and regulators kept a few super-wealthy companies and investors from gaming the financial system so that they got most of the benefit from economic growth. As a result, small businesses are getting crushed by lack of credit and lack of customers with sending money, and most workers (if they have jobs at all) are barely making it -- a lot of times only by working two or three different low-wage jobs.

To say, as Hillary apparently did to the executives of Goldman Sachs according to sources in the meeting, that "banker-bashing so popular in both political parties was unproductive and indeed foolish" is a profound disappointment. It is a mistake from a policy and moral perspective to let the most powerful people and companies on Wall Street off the hook, and politically statements like this are likely to come back to haunt her a thousand times over if she runs again for president (which I think is almost certain). And I say all this as an old ally of hers who has always held her in high personal regard, and still has great respect and affection for her. The Hillary I knew in the Clinton White House cared passionately about poor children without health care, about families struggling to make ends meet, about people "working hard and playing by the rules" having good lives and opportunities. I hope she still does, but the speech at Goldman Sachs gives me, and the many other progressive groups and activists I know, very serious pause about supporting her in 2016.

Maybe no one serious will run against her for the presidency, and she will have clear sailing for the nomination, but politics is like nature: It abhors a vacuum. There is a rising populist spirit in American politics, so if this is her message, it is almost certain to spur a strong populist candidate to emerge and give her a hell of a run for her money. Even if she gets by without that kind of tough primary challenge, or survives it, a general election campaign absent the Bain Capital bashing, the attacks on the Ryan budget and Romney's refusal to tax the wealthy, and the ads going after Romney's 47 percent statement would not have been successful in 2012, and a Hillary campaign without that kind of populism won't either -- not after eight years of flat wages and huge income gains for the top 1 percent. Attacking the populists in the Democratic Party for "banker-bashing" and "beating up the finance industry" will not win the 2016 election. It is terrible messaging, bad policy, and profoundly troubling morally to let Wall Street off the hook.

By contrast, the populist progressives in the Democratic party want to hold accountable Wall Street accountable for its recklessness and for its criminal behavior -- JP Morgan's rap sheet is as tall as Kevin Durant. The big online groups like MoveOn, DFA, CREDO, and PCCC; the labor movement; big coalitions like Americans for Financial Reform; community organizing networks from all over the country; the consumer and watchdog groups; bloggers and progressive journalists: We are all united in the idea of holding Wall Street accountable and taking them on directly. That was the coalition that Elizabeth Warren credits for beating the bank lobby on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and for winning the Volcker rule. That is the coalition that helped get populists like Warren and Sherrod Brown elected last year, and is helping them in their determination to break up the biggest banks; that is the coalition that helped elect Bill de Blasio mayor of New York; that is the coalition that kept Larry Summers out of the Fed Chair's seat, and got Mel Watts his seat as head of FHFA.

But it isn't just legislation, appointments, and elections that will be needed to take on Wall Street. We are going to have to keep protesting them in the streets and online, and we're going to have to remind people of why they need to be shamed for what they have done. If we can have a little bit of fun while we are doing it, all the better. The arrogance of people like Jamie Dimon deserves mockery, and the lack of tough accountability coming from the Department of Justice deserve mockery, so that is what we are offering up today in this video. Instead of Rihanna singing about diamonds, our own Lauren Windsor is singing about Jamie Dimon (and not just singing, the multitalented Ms. Windsor wrote the lyrics, produced the video, and starred in it). We think it will make you laugh, and we hope it will stir you to action: here's our petition to break up banks like JP Morgan Chase. And here are the lyrics if you want to sing along:

Shine bright, Jamie Dimon Shine bright, Jamie DimonFined light by the SEC None from Sarbanes Oxley To the sky, to the sky Chasing profits ever high Thirteen billion penalty From mortgage securities Fraud you sold me, market dives Chasing profits ever high

The regulators let you get away Oh, DOJ Admission of wrongdoing, you don't have to say Paltry, the fine your power buys

So sleep tight, tonight, in your lies Crimes provable sealed from the public eye No jail time. Shattered lives, Foreclosures spike just like your bottom-line

Shine bright, Jamie Dimon Shine bright, Jamie Dimon Shining bright, Jamie Dimon Foreclosures spike just like your bottom line

Shine bright, Jamie Dimon Shine bright, Jamie Dimon Shining bright, Jamie Dimon Foreclosures spike just like your bottom line

Masters of the universe Street's high on derivatives Ride the bull -- will never die Chasing profits ever high Thirteen billion penalty From mortgage securities Fraud you sold me, market dives Chasing profits ever high

Most of the penalty, you won't have to pay With taxpayers is where the tab lies

So sleep tight, tonight With your prize Crimes provable sealed from the public eye Crime to crime, Morgan thrives Foreclosures spike just like your bottom-line

Shine bright, Jamie Dimon Shine bright, Jamie Dimon Shining bright, Jamie Dimon

Crimes provable sealed from the public eye Shine bright, Jamie Dimon Shine bright, Jamie Dimon Shining bright, Jamie Dimon Foreclosures spike just like your bottom line

Shine bright, Jamie Dimon Shine bright, Jamie Dimon Shine bright, Jamie Dimon 


This has been reposted from The Huffington Post.

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From the News