5 02 2009

We have a tie for the “Truth in Strange Places” award this month.  I was going to give it to Antonio Maria Costa, head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, a guy who is usually so slippery that if he said the sun was shining I’d look to check.  However, I believe he gave us the real straight dope last month when he said, in an interview with Austria’s Profil magazine,

“The drug trade at this time could be the only growth industry …The money that is being made is flowing only partly back into illegal activities, in parts of Asia, Africa, and South America, where it is used to bribe politicians, buy elections, or finance insurgents, such as the Talibans in Afghanistan, the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka, or the FARC in Colombia, for example.”

The rest of the profit, Costa said, “is fed into the legal economic circulation through money laundering. We do not know how much, but the volume is imposing. As such, seen from the macroeconomic effect, this is simply bringing in investment capital. There are indications that these funds also ended up in the finance sector, which has been under obvious pressure since the second half of last year. In many instances, drug money is currently the only liquid investment capital, to buy real estate, for example,” Costa continued. “In the second half of 2008, liquidity was the banking system’s main problem and hence liquid capital became an important factor.”

When pressed on just how this was accomplished, Costa responded: “It appears that interbank credits have been financed by money which comes from the drug trade and other illegal activities. It is naturally hard to prove this, but there are indications that a number of banks were rescued by this means.”

Costa noted that money laundering controls put in place to stop drug trafficking have “ironically” resulted in drug traffickers sitting on large stashes of cash — the ultimate liquid financial instrument. “To get around the electronic surveillance of bank transactions, now criminals stash their funds in cash sums which can be up to hundreds of millions of dollars. This is the way they try to hold these funds liquid.”

Thanks to for what you just heard/read.  Now, I’ve hearing this for years from Catherine Austin Fitts,  but as a social scientist of sorts, I have an easier time believing things when they are, as it were, proved in different laboratories with different priorities, and I don’t think that you can get much more difference than these two and still stay credible.

Senor Costas shares this month’s award with U.S. House of Representatives member Marcy Kaptur, who is the senior member of the Ohio House delegation and the longest-serving woman in the U.S. Congress, who told Amy Goodman and anyone else who would listen, not to surrender their home in the event of a foreclosure:

possession is nine-tenths of the law; therefore, stay in your property.

Get proper legal representation. If you believe that Wall Street has been deceptive, could have been fraudulent or tried to dupe the public, and with these subprime loans and with the kind of circuitous financing that’s been done, Wall Street cannot produce the deed nor the mortgage audit trail, you need a lawyer.

And you should stay in your home. It is your castle. It’s more than a piece of property. It’s your home….

I’m recommending your Legal Aid Society. Call your local bar association or the national number, (888) 995-HOME. Most people don’t even think about getting representation, because they get a piece of paper from the bank, and they go, “Oh, it’s the bank,” and they become fearful, rather than saying, “Oh, wait a minute. This is contract law. The mortgage is a contract. I am one party. There is another party. What are my legal rights under the law as a property owner?” And many times, they are abrogating their own rights. They’re forgetting that they have rights in this proceeding. And they need to exercise those legal rights.

In case you missed it, Representative Kaptur was pointing out back in there that banks are all too frequently foreclosing on properties that, due to the “slicing and dicing” of the mortgage market prior to our current financial collapse, they do not actually have clear title to–that is, the deed to the property that the homeowner surrendered as collateral for the mortgage loan.  The devil is in the details, they say, but so is the savior.  Continuing to roar like a radical lion, Ms. Kaptur continued,

You know, when this mess started, when the meltdown really started back last year, 75 percent even of the subprime loans were performing. That means people were making their payments. What Washington has done and what Wall Street has done has made it so much worse….

I think that Wall Street really didn’t want (too be investigated), and they were powerful enough, in order to help to pass a bill, scaring Congress right before the election, before a new president was elected last fall, that they really put all the power in the Treasury Department, which isn’t a housing agency. It really doesn’t do bank regulation in the same way that the FDIC does, nor oversight. Treasury really works with Wall Street. They basically sell US debt. There’s a real circuit that goes between Wall Street and Washington, the Capitol, the US Treasury Department. So they used the wrong agency.
They brought in people from the very companies, like Goldman Sachs, to run the Treasury that had been one of the agencies—one of the companies that was going under, so they made it into a bank holding company. You can follow the trail of what they did. Meanwhile, they’re protecting their interests on Wall Street. And here on Main Street, the so-called bailout that they were given hasn’t trickled down. And so, millions and millions of families are getting foreclosure notices.

There’s plenty more where that came from on the Democracy Now website.  It’s reassuring to know that there are some honest people in Congress…her and Dennis Kucinich, maybe a few more.  It’s not too early to begin looking to 2010, and how to break the Democratic Leadership Council”s stranglehold on  the Democrat party, and how to break the two-party system’s lock on the American mind.   Obama could be the reincarnation of Jesus, Buddha, and Bucky Fuller rolled into one, but as long as the legislative branch keeps on being as venal and shortsighted as it still is, JIM COOPER, he would not be able to get the first piece of sane policy through Congress, which continues to be a whore for big money, and has been a whore for big money for so long that most Congresspeople can’t imagine doing anything else.  Two words:  Green Party.

Rave on, Marcy Kaptur!  May your tribe increase.

music:  Eliza Gilkyson, Runaway Train



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