Friday, February 15, 2013

Myths and Their Misleadings -OR- Locally Screwed;Globally Phucked, .

When people speak of "Chicago Style" politics, -which they do, quite often, with only their own fevered delusions to guide them, to convey some simple unseemliness- what they never seem to grasp is the near universal standards and practices in play. If there is a "Chicago Way", it's not in the ways and means. Chicago practices a type of evolution politics that has been at work forever.

In the relative minor leagues of the modern game, the town of Cicero represents its ignominious past with a bizarre sense of pride. Cicero was home to Al Capone. From Cicero, weather permitting, "Scarface" ran his depression era empire. Too hot? Whether meteorological or legal, Capone was a snowbird; freely traveling, telecommuting. His physical presence was largely unnecessary, except for ceremonial duties, or to add that personal touch when needed. His celebrity status far outweighed his notoriety. He lived large. Everybody knew his pedigree. He got away with it. He was finally done in by a technicality; a legal cleverness. He went to jail. Case closed? Game over?

Of course not. Cicero remained. The Capone method intact, but without the intense spotlight. If it works, don't fix it. The crimes and corruptions associated with Capone and Cicero did not disappear with the verdict. The business didn't divest, it diversified. Over time, the corruption was no longer supported by criminal enterprise, it became publicly funded. It was legalized.

Meanwhile in the larger Opposite World...
Matt Taibbi reminds us, again, that the game never ends. He also reminds us that there is always a vested interest in the perpetuation of the game.

Gangster Bankers: Too Big to Jail
How HSBC hooked up with drug traffickers and terrorists. And got away with it

by: Matt Taibbi

After laying out the more colorful particulars of what might have been a monumental indictment, Mr. Taibbi concludes with the epilogue punchline:

"Thus, in the space of just a few weeks, regulators in Britain and America teamed up to declare near-total surrender to both crime and monopoly. This was more than a couple of cases of letting rich guys walk. These were major policy decisions that will reverberate for the next generation.

Even worse than the actual settlements was the explanation Breuer offered for them. "In the world today of large institutions, where much of the financial world is based on confidence," he said, "a right resolution is to ensure that counter-parties don't flee an institution, that jobs are not lost, that there's not some world economic event that's disproportionate to the resolution we want."

In other words, Breuer is saying the banks have us by the balls, that the social cost of putting their executives in jail might end up being larger than the cost of letting them get away with, well, anything.

This is bullshit, and exactly the opposite of the truth, but it's what our current government believes. From JonBenet to O.J. to Robert Blake, Americans have long understood that the rich get good lawyers and get off, while the poor suck eggs and do time. But this is something different. This is the government admitting to being afraid to prosecute the very powerful – something it never did even in the heydays of Al Capone or Pablo Escobar, something it didn't do even with Richard Nixon. And when you admit that some people are too important to prosecute, it's just a few short steps to the obvious corollary – that everybody else is unimportant enough to jail.

An arrestable class and an unarrestable class. We always suspected it, now it's admitted. So what do we do?

The best we can hope is that the monied criminal class will book a cruise aboard the Carnival Triumph, lose power, rendering all of their many amenities moot, to suffer the kind of degradation they richly deserve? How many boats do you think we'll need?

You may take some small solace that where you live is better than Cicero, just don't scratch the surface or examine the books.

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