Gary Ackerman’s phony bluster: He and Congress pals deserve blame; his own district hard hit by Bernie Madoff


It’s time to stop pinning the “news” tag on Gary Ackerman‘s angry outburst at the SEC yesterday for not stopping Bernie Madoff.

Perhaps the most entertaining part of the House hearing, yes. But while the New York Democrat yelled at the SEC, whistleblower Harry Markopolos spoke more softly but cut deeper the day before.

Ackerman’s five minutes of fame passed the audio-visual test, but not the smell test.

The SEC deserves harsh criticism. But when it comes to the Madoff scandal — and the role of the SEC in trying to control Wall Street’s conniving bankers — Congress stinks it up too by consistently undermining the SEC.

More on that in a minute, but first, more on Ackerman:

There are 14,000 brokerage accounts that make up the latest list of Madoff’s victims — “Swindler’s List,” as L.A.’s Jewish Journal and others call it — and 2,000 of them are Long Island-based, Newsday reports. That’s one in seven, and the largest cluster of Long Island suckers — 600 of them — is in Great Neck. And Great Neck is one of the most influential towns in Ackerman’s Congressional district, which stretches along Long Island Sound’s “Gold Coast” of rich people. Nassau County itself is the nation’s 10th-richest county.

Yesterday, I pointed out Ackerman’s standing as an ardent loyalist of the Jewish lobby AIPAC loyalist (and a past recipient of campaign money from Madoff). And Madoff, as we well know, leaned heavily on his own Jewishness.

Philip Weiss (the former Observer columnist who got hounded out of there because he dared to write provocatively about Israel) noted that in December 2008 in “Madoff and the Israel lobby.” Weiss quoted one of his readers as remarking that “the Madoff event may be the greatest example of intelligent people being blinded by ethnocentrism I’ve ever seen.”

It’s no wonder that Ackerman was so pissed off at the SEC. He couldn’t blame Madoff’s wealthy victims, who, after all, are his constituents. He may not have known that Madoff himself was a monumental goniff, but he and other Jewish Democrats knew very well who the prominent party fundraiser was. No-brainer that Ackerman put on a good TV show; no brains if you think it’s consequential news.

Instead of looking at the cameras, Ackerman should be looking in the mirror, notes Seeking Alpha, the largest stock-market blog (and hailed in 2007 by Time as one of the top 50 websites).

The New York-based outlet aimed at investors puts the blame where much of it should be. In “Congress Should Look in the Mirror Before Attacking the SEC,” GT McDuffy notes:

It’s far too easy to blame the SEC for the Bernie Madoff fiasco — or anything else. In fact, it’s way too convenient. And, Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.) yesterday blaming the SEC for undermining the confidence Americans have in the financial markets is outrageous.

Mr. Ackerman, how dare you.

It is the SEC’s job to investigate and enforce — yet they do so under, and within, the laws and regulations set forth by Congress. Period.

McDuffy is just getting warmed up. And I’m going to include a lengthy excerpt. Just as James Lieber‘s must-read “Up in Smoke: What Cooked the World’s Economy?” in my own paper probed and poked at Wall Street’s machinations, McDuffy jabs at Congress for its role in the fiasco.

The differing perspectives of the two pieces sketch a good portrait of the Wall Street crime scene. Ackerman’s incredulity was phony, as McDuffy’s credible screed points out. Hence, this long excerpt from McDuffy:

It is Congress that has allowed generations of Wall Street executives and lobbyists to operate, unchecked, within a culture of greed and arrogance — arrogance that allowed the monolithic investment firms to gamble with the taxpayers’ money and lose billions due to incompetent trading and reckless investment decisions- only to then have these same firms come running back to the same taxpayers to be bailed out — and using their insider proxies on the Hill to do so.

It is Congress that, to this day, has never provided the SEC with sufficient funding and manpower to be able to effectively investigate and enforce the markets.

It is Congress that set up the rules for the mortgage market — and let their own mortgage children, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, wield havoc within the mortgage industry right under their noses.

It is Congress that let hedge funds run wild, manipulating every market on the planet. And continue to do so.

It is Congress that failed to regulate the un-Godly dark world of the derivatives market.

It is Congress that seems to only tackle any or all of the above once it becomes politically-correct to placate their tax-paying constituents — and only seems to even begin making a legitimate attempt at it — if there is a “TV-op” attached in the process.

And, it is Congress which loves to grand-stand on national television before taxpayers and levy blame on everyone but themselves for what is wrong.

You don’t have to be Jewish to understand where much of the blame for the Madoff scandal and other Wall Street shenanigans should be levied.