Saturday, September 27, 2008

The bailout negotiations, sex-for-contracts, and getting laid in D.C.


Washington D.C.--Why would anyone expect the people who created this mess in the first place to act otherwise? One of the things to appreciate in all of this is that apathetic Americans are finally all affected by the corruption in Congress, the White House, and in the judiciary. There's nowhere left to run and hide, responsibility is coming. Lies won't do it. Threats won't work. Everyone sees-through the manipulations now. For all these reasons, the Spitzer scandal deserves a radical reappraisal in the context of our current economic crisis.

As New York's state attorney general, Eliot Spitzer went a very long way indeed in apprehending white collar criminals on Wall Street. In fact, he was so good that these same individuals and institutions pulled-strings in Washington D.C. to see if someone was already surveilling the attorney general, then known as "the Sheriff of Wall Street." Ah, but they almost always are, as Senator David Vitter discovered in the summer of 2007. Yet, Vitter escaped Spitzer's fate. Why is that? Besides the fact that he's an obvious egomaniac with delusions of adequacy, someone had his back. That doesn't speak well of New York Democratic Party leadership and their own relationship with Wall Street, not at all. What you have here is a bipartisan form of political corruption with numerous compromised players, just everywhere.

Yet it's worse than that for those hoping for some real solution to the problem of corruption on Wall Street. The perpetrators want to blame those who discovered the bad investments in the first place:
"It's easy to blame accounting because it doesn't fight back," said Jack Ciesielski, author of the Analyst's Accounting Observer, a financial newsletter. "Now that there's somebody out there putting some light on the financials, it's shoot the messenger."

Lynn E. Turner, a former SEC chief accountant, said he remembered fielding questions about the accounting provision six months ago from lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

"What the banks are telling everyone is that the accounting has caused the problem," Turner said. "The only thing fair-value accounting did is force you to tell investors you made a bunch of very bad loans."("Wall St. Points to Disclosure As Issue," The Wall Street Journal, 09.23.2008)

But these same elements--again, we'll say that they're "bipartisan" in their corruption--couldn't get Spitzer on anything until his own sexual indiscretions got caught on the FBI's radar. One could even imagine the taps were done as part of the war on terror, a catch-all excuse to spy on one's political enemies, and practiced by both major political parties. When you're doing these things when you're in power, oversight is not desirable, hence we get none with the FBI and other police agencies.

And so finally, someone did answer-back to these unknown business and finance criminals from their field outpost that they had Spitzer on some surveillance logs, cherry-picked with tenderness and care so that the GOP's own wouldn't be caught-up in the net and the inevitable press coverage. Hey, wouldn't you? Why sure you would, quit shitting yourself. So, they--some of whom must surely populate the ranks of the now-dead financial institutions these days, some still standing--got their man, namely Eliot Spitzer. Why? Spitzer wasn't going to stop the investigations into Wall Street, naturally, and he was now governor. Who needs rules? That's for the public. As we know, former Governor Spitzer had a problem over "getcha little somethin' that you can't get at home," like the aforementioned Sen. David Vitter, a Republican. We've had a lot of selective investigation and prosecution under the Bush II administration, but knowing this takes some deduction and investigation on-the-part of the public, never mind the press's coverage and their take on these stories, which was absurdly narrow. None of this is news to this writer.

My own experience with the Palfrey scandal has taught me the hard lesson that the press often don't want to know the details about corruption and that they're being leaned-on heavily not to look too closely into such stories by editors and ownership. In the context of all of this, it should be crystal-clear these days that the prosecution of Deborah Jeane Palfrey was damage control by an already embattled political and economic establishment. The Bush administration were merely the expediters for someone else, and it all could have happened under a Democratic presidential administration that controlled the Justice Department. That's how entrenched the corruption is, and has been for some time.

With the recent revelations of sex-for-contracts at offices of the Interior Department in Colorado and in Washington D.C., Palfrey's stories about Brent Wilkes, Randy Cunningham, and even Shirlington Limo don't seem so wild any more. While it's true that she didn't know exactly what was in her phone records, she did make what I believe was a valid claim to have spoken with Brent Wilkes on a few occasions over the telephone. He's hardly the only shady government contractor in her phone records, however, and there are many others waiting to be discovered.

Some researchers have probably already found all of the realtors that pepper the phone records of Pamela Martin & Associates, making for a charming snapshot of a totally corrupt boom period. The bailout, the bailout, I know. It's the coda to all of this. Had Palfrey waited long enough, she might have lived to see the system that had judged her collapse. What I find surprising is that some of the other members of the Palfrey defense team from the Sibley period are so silent about these possible connections to the financial scandal, and others. I question their sincerity in these areas. Perhaps they're biding-their-time for that big book with HarperCollins, Knopf, Time-Warner (TV rights! coffee table books, Amway product tie-ins!), or some other gargantuan conglomerate that threatens to topple in the current economic climate anyway. Who knows? Better spend that money while it's worth something, a certainty.

The need for a bailout came from this whole mess of corruption surrounding the political process and its intersections with the business and financial world.That's right, the world of lobbying.
Some Democrats still want a provision allowing bankruptcy judges to rewrite mortgages to help homeowners avoid foreclosure. Thune said that would be "a deal-breaker" for Republicans.

The compromise legislation that seemed to be emerging Saturday "is not the proposal that we got from Secretary Paulson," Reid said. But lawmakers said it would be much closer to Paulson's original plan than to the alternative offered by House Republicans several days ago. ("Senate leader: Significant progress on bailout," AP, 09.27.2008)

Why should the public get something for nothing when that's the traditional role of corrupt American business? It's all about the lobbying, and as Brent Wilkes showed, many of these government contractors do their own lobbying which often includes getting people laid.

We need to start asking the question: How widespread are these corrupt practices in the halls of Congress, in the bureaucracy itself in the form of crony appointees, and the White House? The intersections are everywhere in this, and yes, even in the sexual ones. A bailout isn't going to fix entrenched-corruption or a political culture rife with it. This opens-up terrifying implications that most of us suspected all-along about American civilization.

If the system isn't run on merit--something most of us likely knew a long time ago--what holds it all together? It doesn't appear to be business acumen, so what is it? These are the same kinds of issues that appeared in the collapse of the Soviet system. After this kind of connections-based crony-capitalism proliferates to a point, does it implode? How do you "fix" such a system if it's just going to keep perpetuating the same old mistakes over-and-over as part of how it's able to exist at all? At the end, then, it's all based on the belief of the public in that order, and that belief is eroding rapidly. There's every good reason for it to do this, namely from a lack-of-accountability in the halls of business and government. All they're trying to do in Washington is to bail themselves out, ultimately. Being mostly criminals, they will fail in this endeavor, the crisis will deepen, and objective-reality will correct things. The public is part of that reality.

Eventually, certain mechanisms of law and order are likely to kick-in. If this doesn't occur, then the chances of insurrection are substantial, and there is no military force on this earth that's capable of pacifying even half of the American public if they are up-in-arms over the way things are bound to be headed. The examples of Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, and just about every popular uprising prove that it's an unwinnable situation. Welcome back history, we missed you.


"Wall St. Points to Disclosure As Issue," The Wall Street Journal, 09.23.2008: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/22/AR2008092202688.html

"Senate leader: Significant progress on bailout," AP, 09.27.2008: