Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for April 2nd, 2011

Which side are you on?

Posted by Charles II on April 2, 2011

Ed Vulliamy, The Guardian:

On 10 April 2006, a DC-9 jet landed in the port city of Ciudad del Carmen, on the Gulf of Mexico, as the sun was setting. Mexican soldiers, waiting to intercept it, found 128 cases packed with 5.7 tons of cocaine, valued at $100m. But something else – more important and far-reaching – was discovered in the paper trail behind the purchase of the plane by the Sinaloa narco-trafficking cartel.

During a 22-month investigation by agents from the US Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service and others, it emerged that the cocaine smugglers had bought the plane with money they had laundered through one of the biggest banks in the United States: Wachovia, now part of the giant Wells Fargo.

More shocking, and more important, the bank was sanctioned for failing to apply the proper anti-laundering strictures to the transfer of $378.4bn – a sum equivalent to one-third of Mexico’s gross national product – into dollar accounts from so-called casas de cambio (CDCs) in Mexico, currency exchange houses with which the bank did business.

…the total fine was less than 2% of the bank’s $12.3bn profit for 2009.

So, one bank laundered 378 Billion dollars from just one country, at least $20B of which was probably from the drug cartels. HSBC is also under suspicion. No one has gone to jail.

Is there a dividing line between corporations and criminal enterprises any more?

Posted in banking, crimes, Mexico, War On Some Drugs | 6 Comments »

Reap the whirlwind

Posted by Charles II on April 2, 2011

The last time we were here was the late 1960s/early 1970s. Public officials were quite openly breaking laws by beating up on peaceful protesters, doing mass incarcerations, wiretapping, and so on, not to mention bombing a neutral country here and there or the continued unequal application of the law in both north and south that had African American communities in a state of turmoil. Unsurprisingly, official lawlessness was met with a widespread breakdown of respect for the law and the rise of a few fringe violent people on the left, notably the SLA and the Weathermen. That doesn’t justify their acts in any way, but a breakdown in general respect for the law appears to be the almost inevitable consequence of a breakdown of respect for the law by leaders.

Official lawlessness creates a sense of powerlessness, and powerlessness is the real root of social breakdown. The violence emerging from the Farm Crisis of the 1980s (e.g., the assassination of Alan Berg) and the recession of the 1990s (think Waco and the bombing of the Murrah Building) were not responses to official lawbreaking, but to an apocalyptic sense of despair, in which life is no longer worth living. While both of the latter examples involved people who were probably mentally ill, the wider violence of which they were a part was undertaken by people who were probably not. This was not random violence, but violence with a purpose. Consider the suicide bombers that have emerged at the fringes of Arab countries. They are not crazy. They are angry beyond endurance.

And so it is disturbing to read that threats of violence have been issued against Wisconsin Republicans and against the Mackinac Center that has been a part of the assault on labor. Again, not to justify these acts, which were clearly wrong and illegal, consider the atmosphere in which they arose:

  • * Shadow banks have been spared by Democrats prosecution for their misdeeds in the mortgage crisis
    * Torturers in the Bush Administration have been spared (by both parties) prosecution for crimes against Geneva
    * Both parties passed an ex post facto law protecting the telecommunications companies from plainly illegal wiretapping
    * Republican-led states like Arizona are pretending that they don’t have to comply with federal immigration law, the health reform act, or that they can even secede.
    * The Wisconsin Senate pretended to pass a measure ending collective bargaining that was almost certainly done in violation of Wisconsin law requiring a quorum and advance notice of public meetings
    * Governor Scott Walker refused to comply with a court order to delay implementation of that law
    * The US House passed a measure, HR 1255, that claimed it would become law even if the Senate did not concur or if the president vetoed
  • The latter states:

    If the House has not received a message from the Senate before April 6, 2011, stating that it has passed a measure providing for the appropriations for the departments and agencies of the Government for the remainder of fiscal year 2011, the provisions of H.R. 1 [an appropriations bill], as passed by the House on February 19, 2011, are hereby enacted into law.

    And these all cap the famous Bush v. Gore decision in which the Supreme Court stated that no precedent could be drawn from that case. To say that a court decision is not part of the law is the very definition of lawlessness.

    These are all examples of official lawlessness, of impunity. While I think the problem is substantially worse among Republicans, both parties clearly have been infected with the virus of authoritarianism. And, like an organism that is diseased, the body politic responds with turmoil and even violence.

    These are very dangerous roads we are on. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, we had a foretaste of what a breakdown in social order meant. Violent crime was over twice as prevalent then as now and, while there were certainly multiple factors in its decline, the murder rate is a pretty clear indication. In 1972, the murder rate was 98/million. In 2009, it was 49/million, almost the same as it was in 1960.

    Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind.

    Posted in impunity | 2 Comments »

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