Tools, drugs, sex, cash, gods...what year is this? Just call it "contraband."
When a mob boss says that the police need to crack down on contraband, is it out of the goodness of his heart? Does he really want to get those dealers off the corner? Protect young girls from pimps? Save the janitor's paycheck from the $1.75 + 2.9% check cashing place? Naah. It's just a way to signal a move on, either, people within his own operation whom he wants to purge, or competitors outside his operation.
Ergo when Bernanke, preening for the cameras in a rather Buffettian way, calls for a hit on some regional capos who approved this or that minority mortgage after he and George W. Obama made it damned clear to them they should have inflated the bubble, we know that (of course) he's not serious, or even trying to be. Rather, he's flexing his muscles. Once your trusted friend has helped you poison the godfather's bolognese, you have to kill him so he never testifies--either in court, or to the other good friends of ours.
Bernanke calling for the punishment of bankers is one of those once-grand, now humdrum, transironic moments: no longer even worth a giggle, decades after Kissinger and Obama received peace prizes. The man was the most powerful, the most definitive banker in the entire world, and he "calls" for the punishment of bankers due to a "crisis" that happened during the height of his power. Stalin calls for an end to violence; Freud blasts symbolism; Oprah does a show about the cultural vacuum. And why not? A mob boss who calls for the punishment of criminals is as literally hypocritical as one can get, and cannot possibly be parodied.
There's nothing novel about this kind of behavior. It's the kind of brazen behavior you see in some prisons in Mexico, where the people no longer expect the guards to pretend they aren't working for the inmates; where you don't have to mince around the subject of how much blow, how many whores, how many guns, go into the prisons, and how many orders for assassinations, bribes, and other communications come out. We care not if the inquisition is headed by witches, so long as we're done the courtesy of being told it is, in fact, an inquisition. A few years ago, perhaps, we demanded that the witches leave their brooms and pointed hats in the limo, and maybe toss on a cross or two, before approaching the podium to promise deliverance. As time went by, we let the pointed hats slide, taking some kind of perverse delight in our ironic acceptance of witches hunting witches for the benefit of witches. By the twenty-first century, we don't even mind if they ride Beelzebub's rotting phallus while eating a baby sandwich and withering the crops on live TV, so long as they still do us the courtesy of mouthing a few Psalms while they do so. They don't even have to try particularly hard, or avoid rolling their eyes; it's no longer even the effort that counts, but any empty gesture at which we can grasp in order to fantasize that there was an effort to lie to us. Give the Fed another few years, and they'll be promising to put an end to the Fed. Ironic? Impossible? So logically inconsistent it should make even the dullest dullard finally "get it"? Of course. But then, that's already what they're saying. "We will napalm the area to prevent fire."
No, once you're across that particular Rubicon, and the Fed is issuing legislative and judicial decrees in plain sight, in contravention of any conceivable notion of objective reality, the frog isn't merely boiling, but being eaten, slow and savory, with double-dips into the noxious brew of labor camps and lost souls. This is what it feels like, to be at once pieces of yearning background in both Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, rich and poor, poor and rich, forgotten and celebrated, surrounded by impossible caricatures of sad sighs a thousand years old.