Friday, September 10, 2010

White collar crime is the most corrosive of all

While doing my spring cleaning today (that would be spring cleaning, 1992), I found some hand-written notes dated 7 Novermber, 1990, I had taken from Ramsey Clark's book Crime in American.

Society cannot hope to control violent and irrational antisocial conduct while cunning predatory crime by people in power continues unabated. Any nation that wishes to prevent crime must be conscious of the whole range of criminal activity.

White collar crime is the most corrosive of all crimes. The trusted prove untrustworthy; the advantaged, dishonest. It shows the capability of people with better opportunities for creating a decent life for themselves to take property belonging to others. As no other crime, it questions our moral fiber.

When police crime occurs, it too brutalizes. Where police protection is purchased, it corrupts. Anyone who experiences such things or believes that they happen will have little confidence in the law or its enforcement. Where can he turn? If he lives in a world of brutality he will be brutal. If he lives in a world of corruption, he will be corrupt. Police, however professional, can never hold the respect of the people when they must endeavor to enforce laws the public will not obey.

Of the many faces of crime, the most tragic is never recognized by many. Millions fall victim to the cruelest of all crimes which takes its toll in miserable, empty and wasted lives. It is the crime of power over impotence – the crime of a society that does not insure equal protection under the laws. It is a crime against people who have no rights – the crime of a society which seeks to maintain order without law. From it grows most crime of violence and much property crime.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Things have changed ...

In Anatomy of a War: Vietnam, the United States, and the Modern Historical Experience, Gabriel Kolko writes of:

The bipartisan consensus on foreign policy which had existed since 1950 and had been the single greatest accomplishment of the Truman administration, permitting continuity in the application of U.S. power in the world. It had been dearly bought not merely with doctrines of nearly every conceivable nature but also with a greatly enlarged defense budget, which built a pork barrel, and an ideological constituency, for expansion and military spending. Despite nuanced differences over defense matters and diplomacy, that unity among executive, Congress and public was the greatest precondition for the continuity of postwar foreign policy. (pp. 121-122)

The defense budget continues to be enlarged and the pork barrel continues to be filled. There remains an ideological constituency (military-industrial-congressional-infotainment complex) for invasions and occupations of all stripes (more commonly called wars - but invasions and occupations are far more technically correct terms).

No longer are there "nuanced differences over defense matters and diplomacy." There are politically calculated partisan differences. Much of the support given to Obama was based on his "promise" to "end the war in Iraq". He had read the mood of the voters, as evidenced by Democratic mid-term victories in the 2006 elections, to be against the war in Iraq, and thus did he did he state he stood against that war.

The implosion of the financial and housing markets which became impossible to ignore by August, 2008 pretty much sealed the done deal for Obama, even though he chose to be a standard bearer for GWB's TARP program, thus clearly aligning himself with the Wall Street interests. It was very important that he signal to them that he would be worth their "investment" of campaign dollars.

But in order to have credence with the military-industrial-congressional-infotainment complex, Obama decided he would need to be a war partisan to show his bona-fides as a war monger. And thus did he promise to make Af-Pak "his" war.

As in all of Obama's efforts to establish bipartisan agreement, this too has failed him. The military doesn't like him (they would have been far more comfortable with McCain) and neither does Fox News. Obama's anti-war constituency has become very skeptical of his rhetorical double speak. The emperor has no clothes. (And the empire is running around pretty nekked also.)

In so many ways, things have changed, not one wit from the days of Nixon's fall. As Kolko writes:

The core of Washington's eventual political problem was the contempt of the decision makers for the Congress, press, and public - a manipulative relationship that was to produce a deepening mistrust that was to culminate in Watergate and the collapse of the congressional-executive unity. (pg 122)

Prepare for the fall.