Saturday, February 27, 2016

Our Criminal Constituency
   Donald delights in bragging to the Trumpen element who rally to his ripsnorters that he’ll be breaking lots of laws when he moves into the White House.  He’s gonna take Iraq’s oil. He’s gonna grab up the $100 million of Iranian money parked in western banks. He’s gonna extort the Mexicans into paying for a wall. He’s all for torture, the more medieval the merrier.  The other day he was talking about executing Muslims with bullets dipped in pig’s blood. When he got heckled in Burlington, he ordered his security people to seize the coats of the hecklers before throwing them out into the icy street. He brags that he’s so popular he can get away with outright murder.   
    Then there’s Hillary. She doesn’t fantasize felonizing like Trump. Rather, she, Bill and Chelsea, busy as mice, just keep scarfing up every morsel of pelf they can sniff out. The Washington Post told us that their take over four decades of family fund raising amounts to $3 billion (yes, with a b). That’s apart from ‘misplacing' $6 billion of the State Department’s money.
    Hillary’s foreign policy fiascos, like her family’s voracious money grubbing, are there for all the world to see. Just the other day (Feb. 20, 2016)  the NY Times reported that in Libya “efforts to build a unity government have made little progress while “jihadists have prospered.” Libya, of course, was a Hillary project. So was Honduras where she managed the overthrow of the  democratically-elected president and replacing him with a death squad democracy that’s still torturing and/or killing anyone in that benighted land who leans toward Bernie-style politics.
    And there’s more, so much more. No family in American political life has been so candid about their cupidityThey all but walk around with their palms outstretched.
    Unfortunately for the state of the nation, Trump’s promises of larcenies and tortures to come and Hillary’s blithe dismissals when it comes to taking big bucks from big crooks seem to draw more applause than opprobrium from their crowds. Admittedly, those crowds are overwhelmingly made up of partisans prone to applaud for even the burps and coughs of their candidate. But still, to cheer for out and out crime?
    I’ve long believed that this country harbors a sizable criminal constituency that ranges from nickel and dime chiselers to the masters of the universe down on Wall Street. One example is our nonpareil prison population. If only half of our 2.2 million inmates deserve to be behind bars, that still makes us the most criminal society on earth. Another is that we are one of the rare countries that permits a multi-billion dollar racket consisting of nothing more than telephoning people and talking them out of their money.
    So let’s say there are millions of Americans who, to put it gently, are not the most stringent of law abiders. These miscreants are sufficiently sensitive to sniff whether the  zeitgeist favors probity or perfidy and vote accordingly. 
    The result has been the accession of Clintons, Bushes and Obama and the greatest unpunished, but instead rewarded, crime spree in history.  Of course, not all their votes came from the loosely-moraled.  The great majority, no doubt, were cast by those either ignorant of or indifferent to blatant corruption by our rulers.   
    The most humongous of these crimes are the great Wall Street ripoffs that brought about the  financial explosion of 2008, and the plunderfest of our wars in the Middle East. Both are ongoing, incalculable in their pelf, and brazen in their execution. So brazen, in fact, that their documentation is massively detailed in every form of media from thick official reports and journalistic inquiries to television documentaries and breakthrough films like The Big Short.
    The only thing missing from this Everest of evidence is prosecution.  Yes, banks and corporations have been fined, though not enough to reduce the bonuses received by the perpetrators, let alone impinge on their business. But no one in charge has been has been made to stand before a judge.  Instead, the likely defendants play golf with the president who’s supposed to make sure the laws are enforced. Instead, the nation’s thieves are reassured by Washington that certain types of  crime are, in reality, permissable. As Schiller put it: 
It is criminal to steal a purse, daring to steal a fortune, a mark of greatness to steal a crown. Those words can be read both as an indictment of dishonesty or as an inspiration to greatness for our criminal constituency.