Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Rome Wasn't Dismantled in a Day

Perhaps I was out of the loop due to my personal turmoil and almost total lack of internet access. Yet I honestly never knew until recently that the $700 billion TARP had its own Inspector General.

So imagine my shock, shock, I tells ya, when I read that IG Neil Barofsky had announced the opening of 20 criminal investigations into alleged TARP abuses that could include "for possible fraud, insider trading, tax violations, collusion, kick-back schemes and even, money laundering" (according to Yes, fellow moonbats, we still have to use the word "alleged." Innocent until proven guilty, yada, yada. It'll take a while before that quaint Magna Carta-era ideal becomes habitual to American thought again.

And if AIG isn't at the tippy-top of Barofsky's list, it ought to be. Of course, I'd very much like to know where Barofsky was when these alleged abuses began, which seemed to be the moment the checks began clearing, but I'll suspend criticism of that for now.

It may perhaps belabor the obvious to enumerate AIG's cold arrogance, intractable greed and genetically-encoded corruption. However, a short-term memory enables us to, as George Santayana wrote, be doomed to repeat history. Yet never should we forget these violations because who do you think's going to foot the bill next time these rapacious tycoons waddle to Capitol Hill with their beaverskin top hats figuratively in hand? You need only one guess and it ain't the White House holding a bake sale on the South Lawn. It'll be us, the real power but a bored, lazy, diffused, neutered and dead power. So we need to remind ourselves what's already been done to our tax dollars:

Immediately after cashing the first of three bailout checks, AIG wasted no time blowing $440,000 at the five star St. Regis resort on Monarch Island and had to be shamed and hounded into canceling another.

Last month, the Connecticut Attorney General informed us that, far from getting a "mere" $165 million in bailout bucks bonuses, AIG executives (specifically those who'd tanked the insurance giant thoroughly enough to the point where they had to be bailed out and rescued from their own greed) got about $210 million in bonuses. As with the resort getaway, they had to be shamed and hounded into giving back their loot (15 did, while five stubbornly kept theirs).

As the very poster child for corporate greed, arrogance, stupidity, incompetence and corruption, AIG has proven this time and again: The most egrgeious offenders have to be shamed and hounded into retroactively doing the right thing and, even then, it's done for PR expediency. No lessons are learned, as their constant ethical lapses in themselves prove.

Perception being everything, while AIG executives and executives in general hold our opinions in utter contempt, they nonetheless must bow to it or as far as their hideously distended midsections will allow.

In the meantime, we need to endure the recurring sight of executives dipping their paws in the honey pot and getting chased from it time and again like the single-minded children they are.

Now we're hearing that President Obama's Justice Dept. is seriously mulling filing charges against the moral Quasimodos of the Bush administration, particularly those who'd signed off on torture memos and had shoehorned torture into actual policy. We're possibly talking about John Yoo, who had no problem whatsoever with crushing the testicles of innocent children if it would get their Daddies to sing; the suddenly popular again and in demand Alberto Gonzales and maybe even Dick "No Brainer" Cheney. Oh my.

And this time, we don't have to stifle our ejaculations of joy at the news that some Bush-era cronies may at last be getting some comeuppance. However, let's not forget that prosecutable cases against these miscreants proves at the very least a strong likelihood that high crimes against humanity had been committed against hundreds if not thousands of largely innocent people, dozens of whom dying in US military custody. The prosecution of such crimes is not a cause for joy as one for grim satisfaction that the law is once again being enforced. A grim satisfaction that's tempered with sadness and frustration that even we, the so-called leaders of the shrinking Free World, haven't come as far as we'd like to think from the oblivious and complicit German citizenry of WWII.

Plus, as Boss Tweed said in Gangs of New York, "The appearance of the law must be upheld." And, so far, the mere appearance of the law rightfully being upheld (hopefully, without the followup, "especially while it's being broken") in the age of Obama is in itself a quantum leap from the "We'll obey only the laws we wanna, rewrite the ones we don't wanna and I don't wanna hear another word about accountability" days of the Bush junta.

For now, this is enough, the fact that our government is again interested in the rule of law, in once again making the US a nation ruled by laws and not a pack of loping, bipedaled jackals skulking in and out of Fox "News" sound stages. As long as there's a payoff at the end of the rainbow, for now I'll settle for the mere appearance of the law or what's left of it being upheld because we all should be able to appreciate by now the sheer depth, width and breadth of the moral and legal depravity bequeathed by the last administration to the current, an administration that at times had resembled a Hieronymous Bosch painting come to life.

After all, Rome wasn't built in a day, Neither will be dismantled in one.


At April 23, 2009 at 1:19 AM, Anonymous Comrade Rutherford said...

This is the post 9/11 economy.

Under the post-Bush Rule of Law, you can't do anything to stop a crime in progress. Once the crime has been committed, then you can make some noise about it and maybe start an investigation that never was intended to go anywhere.

Unless, of course, the target is a Democrat, then they can be preemptively prosecuted for Future Crimes they may have committed some day in the future...

At April 23, 2009 at 5:25 AM, Blogger Cossack said...


Good to hear you sounding off again. Your clarity of vision and prose are invigorating!

Yes, Rome was not sacked in a day, however, the security of Rome was quickly compromised. You recall, I'm sure, about the Shrub mentioning "We had an accountability moment, and that's called the 2004 elections." Yeah, right, the same elections whose accountability moment was clouded when Harman strongly lobbied the NYT to suppress the wiretapping article until after that election/accountability moment!

At April 23, 2009 at 6:30 AM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

Don't forget, Comrade, Ken Starr spent $70 million of our money investigating a sleazy office blow job.

The entire Justice Dept. was politicized in the name of protecting Republicans and demonizing Democrats.

It's a dysfunctional, battered wife mentality that I don't see changing anytime soon no matter the unimaginable perfidies visited on us by Republicans.

At April 23, 2009 at 12:04 PM, Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

no, rome wasn't dismantled in a day. neither was egypt, nor persia, nor great britain (although, as empires go, britain had a pretty short run at the top).

empires take a long time to die because they can be efficient engines for making a small elite supremely rich.

take, for instance, the stock price of halliburton. when dick cheney decided to quit as halliburton ceo and become bushie's veep, halliburton was trading steadily at a respectable and stable price that fluctuated responsive to the market between $38 and 45 per share.

two years into the iraq war, the price stayed about the same, with a split, then another split, then another.

think of a backgammon cube when you play this game.

halliburton, with its portfolio of big ass no-bid contracts, is still hanging out in the mid thirties. it's just that your one share of dick cheney ceo stock has been made into nearly 16 shares of dick cheney in charge of contracts stock.

follow the money. it always leads to the motherfuckers.


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