"[M]onopoly profits exist over the long run only when the government guarantees them, as in utilities and cable. And for concentration of market power, no robber baron can hold a candle to the U.S. government.... The hugest concentration of market power in this country does not lie with the likes of Rupert Murdoch or Bill Gates, but with government itself.... No private company, no matter how huge or wealthy, could possibly have as much widespread power over the function of American markets as government does." ~ Brian Doherty
This Thing That Ain't Ours
Column by Tim Hartnett.
Exclusive to STR
The Sicilian proverb that three people can keep a secret if two of them are dead is something America’s ruling class might need to consider one day. That point began to jab at the ribs of the old Cosa Nostra itself in November of 1957. When dozens of bosses tried to convene at Joe Barbera’s place in Appalachian, New York townies noticed something fishy in so much out of state traffic flooding their little berg. Police soon got wind of things. Wise guys had become too comfortable, fast and loose, and it was common rubes who put the heat on them. Hoodlum brass took to the hills as the law arrived in the kind of screw-up that would’ve meant a certain whacking for the rank and file. Things have been unraveling for the honored society ever since.
This is a classic example of the value of name brand university over street education. Shady clubs with bosses that headquarter on Wall or K streets hatch their plots in heavily populated locales. They never fail to include reporters and politicians among their “made” members. The police act as doormen for their ritual events, and a fake ID seldom gets anyone past the cordon. One of the things on the agenda at the disrupted 1957 summit was loan-sharking. Capos from the Ivy League tradition have muscled in on this turf in the last decades. The ones connected to respectable, if not “honored,” secret societies squeeze victims out of four times the vig any mafia goon ever did. City Hall takes care of the enforcement end.
Thriving rackets of the 21st Century have been hosed down, Savile Rowed up and Harvardized. They never have to worry about surveillance from G-Men or one of their associates wearing a wire. It’s the people keeping an eye on the moves of this hobnob mob that Feds are after. An old axiom of the grifting trade says “act like you own the place and the help will be opening doors for you.” This principle has never been executed on so vast a scale before, and in spite of catastrophe for marks everywhere, the jig still aint’ up. The old dons dodged the media like it was double-ought buckshot while new world order kingpins use the boob-tube to pronounce the next shakedown.
Simultaneous to all this brazenness, our liege lords are more jealous than ever with the straight dope about what they do to us. Openness only looks good to the guys running for office until they get in; once there, it becomes less appetizing than an emergency cyanide capsule. First term presidents are often like outsiders who find themselves in a club they thought wouldn’t have them. The headiness of clique inclusion never fails to keep information circulating in just the right circles. Joe Six-Pack’s nose-prints are right back on the cold side of the window as soon as the new, improved executive is done waving at the inaugural parade.
Every socialized child knows the self-aggrandizing power of being part of the loop. Adults are more interested in using inclusion to multiply net worth. A hard look at bottom lines over the last 30 years leaves no doubt that who stays in the know does not change with the addressee at 1600 Penn. Even the ones that collapse, like Enron, can’t blame it on their greasees clamming up on them. A three page list of clubs, think-tanks, lobbies, PR firms and corporations knows policy before anyone else does even on those rare occasions when they don’t author it.
Where is the media in all of this? Well, back in the 1950s, they were the belly of the beast. Katie and Phillip Graham’s home was a notorious den of drunken thieves when Eisenhower was in charge. The corporatocracy, the CIA, Defense, Congress and anybody else interested in buying or selling public power needed an invite to 2920 R Street NW if the big time was on the agenda. Classified information flowed like the whiskey there. Things went awry for the infamous residence when Phillip cracked up in 1963. That’s what explains Katherine’s flirtation with anti-establismentarianism in the hippie era.
Getting the drift that the modus operandi hasn’t changed much isn’t rocket surgery. The naïve should consider the following story: Katherine Weymouth, granddaughter of Katie, planned to turn her home into a “salon” where lobbyists could gain exclusive access to politicians and reporters for a price. Resort to this extreme came as circulation and ad revenue have been flagging for the Post. But this kind of arrangement would only be a more efficient version of what goes on presently.
Clubs, socials and PR firms disguised as research organizations (AKA “think-tanks”) are no more irrelevant now than in the day of Louis XIV or Queen Victoria. Their core function is to put together policy makers and the ones most likely to benefit from them. Take the notorious Council on Foreign Relations as a perfect example. Three of its eight “founding” corporate members--Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America--stood to gain enormously from various bailouts of the Bush-Obama era. The complete list, well over one hundred companies, hardly excludes any commercial entity that has been named in a scandal, swindle or conflict of interest with government in the last 25 years. Many are also mentioned in the cables released by Bradley Manning as the State Department attempted to strong-arm foreign governments on their behalf.
Rather than rifle the files of these banksters, the Feds turn their enormous resources on things like the Occupy movement. What federal statutes they were suspected of violating remains classified, apparently. Deploying snipers against Occupy leadership was not ruled out, proving once again that in ruling circles, what’s considered good for Abdul abroad is not too good for Joe Six-Pack here at home.
Meanwhile, Germany’s request for an audit and now a return of their gold reserves calls the solvency of the Federal Reserve into question once again. If this is a Madoff scheme, it could make Bernie’s look like a mere Ponzi. People at the DOJ don’t see fraud at a quasi-government agency as their lookout.
Instead, the national snoop-ware continues to be pointed at people struggling to live decently as the corporatocracy and their muscle in DC leave less pie on the table after every feeding. Everyone knows this by now, it only remains unreported by the thoroughly discredited major media.
When The Godfather became a bestseller, the mob appeared invincible to honest citizens that lived within their grasp. The Justice Department surprisingly focused on it, and two decades later began to have success against many American gangs even if they had to stifle the Constitution doing it. It’s no longer a secret to anyone that protection, just like the vigorish, came at bargain rates before G-Men took it over.