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Monday, December 23, 2019

Trains Not Tolls 1

The Trouble with Tolls

Maryland, following Virginia's lead, auguring similar failures and inequities, is moving to put in toll lanes as it seeks to expand 270 to accommodate exurban commuters from Frederick County and further. At the same time, it is depreciating it's already depreciated commuter train service. Lexus lanes sound attractive until you study their full implications.

Lexus lanes are premised on notions that private monarchal government is somehow better than public government, “privateering” of public infrastructure. This false argument was setup in the 1880s and has been in operation since then. It is very lucrative for the Privateers, not so much for actual capitalists and workers. The results of privatization often look good in the immediate aftermath. But they rarely are sustained. This is because the capital and labor necessary to sustain private systems is often secondary in importance to profiteering.

Worse, the financial benefits of privatization are illusory for other reasons.

  1. The investment money is usually acquired by people, or their artificial person fictions, avoiding taxes on unearned income and often represents an opportunity cost of previous privatization.
  2. Investment money is often also from surpluses intended for other purposes, (derivative) and that will lead to short term spending rather than sane development. [Bubbles and Booms]
  3. Rental income is built into the investment. They will not invest unless they can guarantee rent from their investment. This means the profits are artificial and much higher than if the investment represented public investment.
  4. Ownership equals rule, and rule means that which a person owns, they can loot, junk or destroy. And so whether or not the new system is maintained solely relates to whether the new owners can extract maximum profits if they maintain it.
  5. Acquiring public services, where the customer has minimal or zero ability to find alternatives or refuse the products involved, usually leads to profiteering. Such as people using patent monopolies to jack up the price of insulin.
  6. Profiteering is built in. If a person owns the market, the tracks, the shop buildings, other infrastructure, they can live on rent from them.
  7. They will invest in markets and infrastructure that is lucrative, and neglect markets, i.e. neighborhoods that are short on credit.
  8. And since their income is derivative of our already privatized banking system, that means they will likely collapse when the economy turns.
  9. Privateering used to kill with broadsides, now it kills stochastically.
  10. Bridges collapse because they were cheaply built.
    Things manage to be costly and cheaply built at the same time.
    Bills don't get paid while the privateers walk off with the loot.
    Both inequality and inequity rise.

Those are the theoretical reason why Lexus lanes and similar privatization schemes fail. What is happening in Virginia illustrates how that plays out. Nothing like paying 60$ to use lexus lanes during rush hour times. They will claim they aren't price gouging. But does anyone believe them?

Reference:
https://ggwash.org/view/61095/495-and-95-toll-prices-were-very-high-on-tuesday-thats-likely-a-sign-theyre-working

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Post Truth and Authoritarianism

The irony of the times is that what is happening to us in America, is not new. Like the spooky refrain in the Battleship Galactica reboot,

“It has happened before”

The only real difference is that some of us understand what is happening to us.

Hypatia and the Barbarians within

In the movie Agora, Hypatia, then, like now:

“is a 2009 Spanish English-language historical drama film directed by Alejandro Amenábar and written by Amenábar and Mateo Gil. The biopic stars Rachel Weisz as Hypatia, a mathematician, philosopher and astronomer in late 4th-century Roman Egypt, who investigates the flaws of the geocentric Ptolemaic system and the heliocentric model that challenges it.”

The movie Agora is fictional. We don't know for sure how advanced science was in 415 AD, but we do know that much was lost to history during that time. Thus the movie is probably is more accurate than its critics like to admit.

”Surrounded by religious turmoil and social unrest, Hypatia struggles to save the knowledge of classical antiquity from destruction. Max Minghella co-stars as Davus, Hypatia's father's slave, and Oscar Isaac as Hypatia's student, and later prefect of Alexandria, Orestes.”

Powerful Secrets

The secrets of the PaRDeS, religious interpretation, lay behind most of the religious traditions of the Common Era, and those secrets include deep psychological insights into the value and uses of myth, narrative, emotion and belief.

Deep Secrets

A thin elite understood the world, almost as well as educated people understand the world now. Deep understandings buried in myth and fable enabled a thin elite to live lives of value and learning. Mystery religions taught people to understand deep psychological truths within themselves through meditation, study, and parsing out the allegorical meaning within religious text. The myths themselves were of value as entertainment and the fantasies gave comfort to the sick, dying, enslaved and suffering.

The Gnostic bible texts used the power of interpretation to preach equality, make people see nuances of reality and open them up to enlightenment. Such texts are only secret because those reading them don't read past the fictional vehicle to their inner truth.

Manipulating Masses

These Bishops also understood the tools that we know today as propaganda and marketing, and how to use religion to manipulate people. Homilies meant to comfort and sick and dying, could turn people into fanatics, or make them angry at rivals or enemies. Any tool can be used for good or evil purposes and the early church used its power to manipulate people. The early church was, for the well educated bishops and priests who converted to Christianity, in part, to ride its opportunities for wealth and power, such a tool.

Solving a Problem

The Romans had a problem. Religion had been chaotic, paganism was losing its power to motivate people, and the Romans needed to control their empire. Christianity appealed to people who were oppressed, enslaved, and to whom the old Gods were no longer speaking. Ironically this was a mostly urban phenomena, so the Bishops accommodated rural beliefs even as they sought to craft a religion that enhanced their power. In the process they created a bigger problem.

Believing your own Myth

Unfortunately the tools of myth and interpretation were used to turn people into fanatics, demonize rivals and stir up mobs to attack enemies of Christiandom. Those early Christians taught people to be fanatic, and the fanatics burned the books that had made Roman Culture tolerable to the educated. Whether they were sincere, true believers, or simply manipulative sociopaths, but the result was not peace.

The Barbarians inside the Gates

Instead people fought over religious issues. They converted and then fought with "heretics." They attacked fellow citizens as Pagans, Jews, or members of heretical religions. The internal wars were what made Rome weak. Dropping standards of hygeine. Baths shut down as "pagan" followed by plagues caused by parasite vectors and spread due to poor hygeine. The Vandals may have looted and burned Rome, but they were fighting fights motivated as much by their Arianism's conflict with Catholicism as by tribal identity. Religion enhanced tribalism. Tribalism used religion.

A New Civilization?

The replacement of Graeco-Roman culture with Christian culture was led by people who understood secrets and misused them. As a result, the secrets were burned or buried with the books and educated people, like Hypatia, who understood them. The movie depicts the Barbarians at the Gate, as being ordinary Roman Citizens in the Gate. That is all too accurate about now, every bit as much as then. The author Joshua J. Mark in the Ancient History Encyclopedia writes:

“The anti-intellectual stance of the early church is attested to by early Christian writers themselves and so, if the Christians in the film are depicted as ignorant it is because they were so by choice. St. Justin Martyr (c. 100-165 CE) was openly hostile to classical learning and claimed that all the important values and thoughts expressed by writers like Plato were stolen from the Christian Bible’s Old Testament.” [ancient-eu]

Rejecting Civilization

The early Christian apologist Tertullian (c. 160-230 CE) also rejected classical learning and famously stated:

“What indeed has Athens to do with Jerusalem? What concord is there between the Academy and the Church? What between heretics and Christians? Our instruction comes from "the porch of Solomon," who had himself taught that "the Lord should be sought in simplicity of heart." Away with all attempts to produce a mottled Christianity of Stoic, Platonic, and dialectic composition! We want no curious disputation after possessing Christ Jesus, no inquisition after enjoying the gospel! With our faith, we desire no further belief.” Tertullian

The Barbarians were inside the gate.

Hypatia
https://www.ancient.eu/Hypatia_of_Alexandria/
https://www.ancient.eu/article/656/historical-accuracy-in-the-film-agora/
IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1186830/

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

A Recidivist President

The Mueller report did not exonerate Trump. But he, his co-conspirators and co-dependents in the GOP, with a little help from the corrupt Attorney General William Pelham Barr, created a propaganda campaign to make it look like it did. They succeeded enough so that Trump decided he'd beat the rap and been "exonerated." Instead Trump shakes down the newly elected Ukrainian President Zelensky, in a shakedown over delivering promised military assistance. He does this, knowing that Ukraine is fighting trench war within it's country on the border with its Donbas provence, where the Russians have Tanks and military forces and regularly shoot at any Ukrainian who raises his head out of the trenches or happens to be in the path of an artillery shell. The USA promised to let them buy Javelin Anti-tank Rockets. Trump deliberately held up those missiles, after the State Department had certified that they'd complied with anti-corruption requirements to try to force investigations into 3 subjects:

  1. An investigation into Burisma intended to go after Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden, who had been put on Burisma's board in order to curry favor with the Obama administration. That could be true, but not illegal and had no influence on Joe Biden.
  2. They also claimed that Biden got a Prosecutor General of Ukraine fired in order to stop a Burisma investigation. This is false. The prosecutors fired were not doing investigations into corruption, but were themselves corrupt and shaking down targets. His ultimate replacement did investigate Burisma. Biden was proud of instigating reforms, not doing nepotism. Trump doesn't care about nepotism. You can ask his children.
  3. The Cloudstrike allegations, is worse. It is part of a Russian Disinformation campaign that made up a false story that the DNC Server somehow ended up in Ukraine. The Emails were "in the cloud", but the DNC server is now in their basement along with the Watergate file Nixon's burglars broke into. Cloudstrike is a US security firm. One of it's top people was born in Moscow, not Ukraine. The whole story was a megilla designed to shift blame from the Russian Hackers to a Russian Target, Ukraine.

It turns out there is a whole lot of corruption going on. I was trying to draft mock up articles of impeachment based on what I knew when we found out about what Trump is doing in Ukraine. It just keeps getting more surreal. The latest news is that Giuliani is in Ukraine making a movie “documentary” about all this, a sort of Citizens United 2.0 Biden edition. That Barr is going around the work trying to put the USA Intel community on trial, put the 5 eyes intel sharing agreement into the shredder, and dig up dirt on those who informed the Mueller investigation so they can be discredited, prosecuted or driven out of office.

Ukrainian Impeachment Report:
https://intelligence.house.gov/report/
PDF: https://intelligence.house.gov/uploadedfiles/20191203_-_full_report___hpsci_impeachment_inquiry_-_20191203.pdf
Mueller Report:
https://www.npr.org/2019/04/18/708850903/read-the-full-mueller-report-with-redactions

Monday, November 25, 2019

Cruelty is the Point Vs Reform

Dear David Trone:

Unfortunately for me, I've had family members who've been jailed or imprisoned. I live in a relatively decent State, Maryland, yet prisoners, both convicted and those merely jailed, suffer treatment similar to that experienced in West Virginia, referenced in this article by Rebecca J. Kavanagh:

“People incarcerated in West Virginia prisons will soon be charged $3 an hour to read books and $15 an hour for video visitation with their families.” DrRJKavanaugh
“Prisoners in West Virginia are paid between 4 and 58 cents an hour for their labor.” DrRJKavanaugh
“Do I really have to write a bill to ban charging prisoners to read?”Trone Tweet

David, You probably do need to write some laws, including repealing laws:

  • that reduced access to exercise rooms and libraries.
  • Resourcing libraries,
  • counseling,
  • Psych and recovery detention centers separate from prisons.

The reason they do things like this is that cruelty is the point. They are trying to run prisons as for profit plantations. The idea is to indebt inmates by refusing them access to basic needs like books or exercise, charge them for these things, and then allow them to borrow the money only to treat them like slaves even after their time is up. Not paying them for their work advances that, plus enriches the administrators.

And they do some of this in Maryland too. If we let our Piratical, Freebooting, "Republican" privateers, they'll privatize prisons here too.

It's a racket, and the officials are the racketeers. As I've been warning! These are:

Privateers! If they can't rent it, put tolls on it, extract loans against it, they destroy it. Modern day pirates, perfectly legal thieves!
Reason Article
https://reason.com/2019/11/22/west-virginia-inmates-will-be-charged-by-the-minute-to-read-e-books-on-tablets/

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

How to fix our Taxation system

Elizabeth Warren's wealth tax, probably would be deemed unconstitutional. It is also unnecessary. What is needed is a mix of reforms and restoring what worked before.

We had progressive taxation. It has never been perfect. But at one time people at least understood the basic principles.

Basic Principles

To get to just taxation a number of basic principles need to be properly defined, applied and traded off against one another:

  • Tax unearned income more than earned income.
  • Recognize that "wealth in the course of production" is capital.
  • Define as capital, only wealth used to buy actual capital goods, stock, tools, machinery and buildings, and being used as intended.
  • Recognize that wealth from renting wealth is not capital except to the people employing that wealth.
  • Recognize that natural resources, and land itself, are a common property that needs to be used wisely and for the benefit of the whole people as well as for those doing the extraction.
  • Recognize that the right to ownership is an inalienable right, but not an absolute one.
  • Recognize that work is what conveys a stake in ownership, that labor – of all kinds – is prior to capital, and that it is sacred and deserves to be adequately rewarded.
  • What a person earns, is theirs and deserves to be paid in treasury direct notes or coin.

Therefore we need to:

Bring back progressive taxation on net income calculations. Tax unearned income from owning property (rents). Don't tax business property that is in the course of production. Don't tax wage gross wage income
  • Stop treating Wall Street Stocks, Bonds, real estate property, etc... as if they were capital, and focus tax exemptions and deductions on capital used as capital,
  • Income from economic rent is not earned. Only the portion of economic rent that has been earned by the effort of the people owning the property (net income) being rented should be exempted.
  • and on protecting wages from labor. A person owns what they earned and should be able to live off of it.
  • Every person earning income, should be able to keep enough of what they earned (net) to live a complete life.
  • Therefore we should set a universal exemption at the poverty level, and deduct basic food, transport, shelter and basic comfort (clothing, heating/cooling) from gross wages before applying net taxation.
  • These rates need to be indexed for inflation. When wages and costs inflate, it isn't fair to tax them like they are rich when they aren't.
  • Tax rates are indexed, which means that the net for each rate level should be taxed, not the whole amount.
  • At the same time a net income greater than a million should be taxed at a millionaire rate (indexed for inflation), a 10 million net rate, a 100 million net rate and a billionaire top net income rate. That top rate should be something like 90%.

  • The first tax bracket should start at the wage which is the average of all wages in the country (mean) after exemptions and deductions.
  • Further tax brackets should attack unearned wealth with rates high enough to level out net incomes.
  • I would suggest using standard deviation calculations from the mean net income.
  • So called capital gains should be taxed as ordinary income on the net income taken out of capital. This encourages people to keep money wealth and resources in the market.
  • Tax earnings from Gift or inheritance at point of transfer or death, as ordinary gross income.

Now payroll taxes may be needed to pay for social security and healthcare, because people are going to have to save for or pay for healthcare and their retirement anyway. But if we focused taxes on unearned income.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Shootings and Reform -- The latest shooting and Gun reform

Another shooting in another school. This time at Saugus High School with a 45 caliber handgun. The gunman opened fire, killed 2 people and wounded 3 others. After the shooting he ran away and then shot himself when the police were closing in. This is a tragedy. It happens too often in this country.

The good news is he didn't have access to a semi-automatic long gun or the count could have been higher. California controls over weapons are the strictest in the country and the State is big enough that it is harder to smuggle weapons in. Though that happens.

Normalizing or Stopping Mass murder

The bad news is that these incidents are far too common and hard to prevent without hardening schools and controlling entry. The further bad news is that the risk of mass murder is still alive and well in most of the country because we do not properly regulate arms. We let people run around armed, while denying them a formal role in the security, self defense and emergency responses of our local and national land divisions and homes.

Security is a Collective Duty

Security is something that is supposed to be the collaborative responsibility of the Federal, State, and local governments,

and we the people

The constitution says that Congress has the duty of:

... “organizing, arming, and disciplining the Militia,”.... [Article 1, Sec 8 COTUS]

To which the Second Amendment clarifies:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,” [2nd Amendment]

That:

“the right of the people to keep and bear Arms,”

must be enabled and regulated.... So that law abiding people are part of the process of protecting their own homes and communities, local and general.

Palladium of Liberty

When the founders called the militia the “Palladium of Liberty”, they were referring to the reality that "militia" was intended to be a check on the power associated with standing armies. Standing Armies being a term that applies in a modern context to professional police forces, bureaucrats with coercive powers, and even security forces in private employment.

For more on the Palladium of liberty see:

https://holtesthoughts.blogspot.com/2018/07/the-palladium-of-liberty.html

Badly formed, Constituted, government

Regulating arms is not only in the constitution, it is a collaborative duty of a Democratic Government. That this issue is confused is because the original constitution of militia had different meanings and uses in different parts of the country. The Militia was initially vital for defense against immediate enemies. As the country became more generally settled, the idea of butchers and bakers, coachmen and candle makers, meeting weekly for drills and marching, made less and less. The original form of militia became outdated. At the same time the problem of standing armies and military forces as oppression never really went away. The national guard became a kludgy substitute for militia at the Federal and State level. Indeed the National Guard is pointed to when people think of Militia. But the concept was so muddied that private militia and even private armies, which are problematic expressions of militia, are posed as if they were what the founders were thinking of.

And so, the individual right to carry weapons has been made something blanket, that allows unregulated, undisciplined and sometimes criminal elements to engage in tyranny and oppression. Exactly the opposite of what the founders wanted.

And of course, even if the founders thought local tyranny was a good thing, all this goes against their own principles, the basic principles of a democratic republic that they expounded.

For more on this see:
Select Militia and National Guard

Turning the Second Amendment on its head

We have a system where extralegal violence is glorified. Where the right to bear arms for the common defense has been transformed into an individual right to shoot up shopping centers and police stations. From "Dirty Harry" thru "Barretta" to hundreds of examples of vigilantes and aggrieved revenge seekers, the lone criminal with a gun is glorified as some sort of hero. These media glorify cold blooded murder, revenge and grievance. Worse right wing propaganda also glorifies “standing ones ground” against strangers. It is telling that the “stand your ground laws” only seem to apply to murder situations where the [usually white] murderer can claim that his victim [black, gay, different] was at fault for being shot. It is no wonder that young men like this one in early November 2019, somehow saw something romantic in revenge murder. The propaganda is immature and appeals to teenage angst, and it encourages terrorism. Folks dress up in black. Try to look like ninja or their favorite hollywood mass murderer and attack. While hollywood may not the cause of gun violence, blood soaked fantasies fill the air nationwide. Thoughts lead to words, words lead to deeds. The propaganda builds on the frustration of people feel powerless. Powerless is the result when left out of self government. Militia was supposed to be an antidote to tyranny. The Second amendment has been turned on its head.

Second Amendment Badly decided

The Right to Participate in Government Functions is Democracy

The other reason that the militia clauses did not work as intended (at least by the defenders of the constitution) is that the militia did not always live up to its intended purpose as "the palladium of liberty" for everybody. Militia were associated with Slave patrols in the South. Militia were often used in "posse comitatus" actions. So much that in 1878 a law was passed to put a stop to it.

The Posse Comitatus Act states:

“Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws...”

It was intended to reduce the risk of the Government using the military to enforce martial law or arrest political opponents. But militia had been regularly used for posses and for “hot peace” civil warfare against indigenous peoples, immigrant communities and in internal disputes between rival settlements on the frontier. These have not been “well regulated” militia. Standing armies are dangerous, undisciplined militia are “no better than a mob” [Can't remember source of quote, will look later]. A well regulated militia is the palladium of liberty. Undisciplined or private militia and standing armies are dangerous to liberty.

For more on this see:
Selective Service vs Standing Armies
and:
Select Militia & National Guard

Stopping the Glorification of Violence requires Participation

Children will do stupid things. But by glorifying violence, the combination of culture and access to weapons makes it more likely, not less, that an angry and confused young person will do something vile and vicious. Preventing that is difficult, but shoring up the democratic and just aspects of our economy can, maybe, change the culture. At the very least, when weaponry is well controlled, but available when needed, the incentives to keep unsecured arms around the house can be removed. To get to that point. We have to respect the first amendments original meaning and respect the right and duty of the people to participate in their own affairs, their own defense and their own security. Guns are supposed to enhance security, not be used to gun down other kids a confused and deluded kid is angry at.

Voluntary Service and temporary Service are Militia

Expanding the National Guard, volunteer service, using national service to train health providers, teachers, and the militia system to bring communications and transportation personnel into the Emergency management system would go a long way to changing our culture. Democracy = "People" [Demos] + "Rule" [kracy]. Our involvement as volunteers, compensated for, “organizing, arming, and disciplining” those in service to the United States, is democracy. Jury Service is Democracy. Poll worker service are democracy. If we want to reduce gun violence, access to them must be regulated. And only those trained and sworn to use them in service to community and country, or in active self defense, should carry them. And only militia, and services derived from the militia, should bear arms in a fight or peace keeping role.

This kid should not have had access to a 45 caliber weapon outside of an armory.

It is time to differentiate between settlements, where guns need to be in secure locations, like Armories under control of legal & supervisory, local, authority, and less secure locations, where a person should be able to keep a weapon in a locker or other secured location in his own home. It doesn't even make sense to let people carry weapons into super markets and shopping centers, other than security trained people. Let's make sure everyone is participating in their government, so the second amendment has rational meaning again.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

No More Substitute Teachers!!!

When we won back the House in 2006, the hope of regulating the Republicans was restored, somewhat. Unfortunately, nobody had the stomach to raise the stakes on the Republicans and go after their crimes. Why? Because Democrats, as Pelosi said at the time, despite the fact we'd been treated unfairly by the GOP when they had the majority:

“are not about getting even” with Republicans. Pelosi NYT

The leadership, perhaps mistakenly, thought that with the Republicans electorally rebuked in 2006, the Republicans would behave like normal people. For that reason despite the fact that the GOP had:

“frequently excluded Democrats from conference committee hearings and ... blocked attempts to introduce amendments, would not suffer similar treatment. Pelosi NYT

We knew that the country could only prosper if the two parties can work together and so she:

“pledge[d] civility and bipartisanship in the conduct of the work here and we ... partnerships with Congress and the Republicans in Congress, and the president — not partisanship.” Pelosi NYT

Bipartisanship and getting the work of a functional Government was more important, to her, than duking it out with partisan Republicans. We really thought we could work with the Republicans.

Equal Application of the Law IS Justice

The trouble is, they had revealed who they were when they had the majority during the Bush Administration, and before, when they had impeached Bill Clinton on petty charges when they had a majority before. Extending an olive branch to unreconstructed bullies, just encourages them to escalate. As my Wife had explained about teaching:

“If you show up on the first day of class extending an olive branch and talking about how much fun the semester will be, some students might respond well, but most will see that as weakness and walk all over you.”

My Wife would lay down the law on the first day of class. Her students either loved her or dropped the class, but they learned from her. And most came to love her because she enforced discipline. The constitution is an overarching discipline, ethic, that shouldn't require external power to enforce, but when it does, it has to be done from the beginning of a person's tenure or it is lost.

Winter Coming

Winter is coming. It may seem pessimistic to think that during the high heat of August. But actually the thought gives me comfort on a hot steamy night. I know I can stop belly-aching about how hot it is and instead complain about the cold. One benefit of getting old is that one doesn't notice either hot nor cold so much, as the fact that one doesn't have the stamina one had when one was in decent shape and young. I hear if I exercise enough I can get some of that back. But mostly that ship has sailed. I'm left with creaky bones and joints that tell the weather. Winter is coming, and we must be prepared.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Impeachment as Regulation

Dear Speaker Pelosi:

The other day you were talking about impeaching Donald Trump. And you said that not all impeachable offenses should be impeached. That may be true tactically, even strategically, but morally is another matter. Impeachment is a regulation tool for dealing with corrupt, criminal and abusive officers of the executive or the courts. It has a purpose that is separate but parallel to the courts and the founders put it in the constitution to serve that purpose.

For a long time congress has been loathe to use its impeachment powers. But, if anything we need to expand the toolbox of remedies for corruption and abuse of power, and systemetizing impeachment for disciplining the government. With William P. Barr, and some of the recent judge appointments, a mean has to be created for removing unfit officers.

  • Clearly defined Entry points
  • Clear Guidance on what is impeachable.
  • For Judges, codifying "during good behavior."

We Democrats have erred in not using the impeachment power when high crimes were committed in the past. An argument can be made that what is going on with Donald Trump, is a direct consequence of past abuses:

  • Precedents were established when the country failed to stop past abuses of power and people got away with outrageous behavior.
  • Faulty doctrines were created in the shadows and continue because they weren't established at inception.
  • *** examples are the unitary state claims.
  • While it might not be expedient to impeach a President, impeaching officers engaged in bad behavior sends an important message to those who might be in a position to be tempted to commit the same crime later.
  • Also, while removing from office and barring from future office might not seem a sufficient punishment. In the case of corruption, it can prevent people like William Barr from a life of corruption.

  • Censure and rebuke is necessary along with impeachment, when important constitutional principles are under assault.
  • Such disagreements are not merely “policy matters” they are serious.
  • Impeachment can be analogous to losing one's bar license. Indeed, lawyers should lose their bar license on conviction in an impeachment.

If the President Does it, it's legal

This pernicious doctrine, advanced by Richard Nixon, demanded impeachment, censure and rebuke. Yet, he was allowed to resign, pardoned, and as a result many of his co-conspirators were able to go on to long careers continuing to cause mischief. I know that President Ford felt he was saving the country and that that in itself was, maybe, understandable, even virtuous. However, this doctrine of “If the President does it, it's legal” remained underground. Worse the notion that the President is above law was written into an Office of Legal Counsel opinion and has corrupted efforts to hold President's accountable ever since.

Iran Contra

The conflation of national security with personal enrichment remained an underground project among a faction of politicians and operatives, and during the Reagan Administration we had the Iran Contra Scandal, which involved the same disregard of checks and balances and the powers of the Congress. Eventually the abuses of power involved in Iran Contra came out, and the Walsh investigation. However, a gross injustice occurred when George H.W. Bush pardoned everyone involved.

Pardons as Gross Injustice

When we didn't conduct an impeachment inquiry into the Bush Administration in 1992, William Barr, the current Attorney General, was able to go to President George H.W. Bush and induce him to pardon the perpetrators of the Iran Contra Scandal. They were able to obstruct Walsh's investigation completely. Barr would go on to make millions lobbying for piratical monopolies and then re-enter politics to become Trump's AG and do the crimes he is doing now. Barr firmly believes Nixon's doctrine that "if the President does it, it's legal" and we see this pernicious and unconstitutional doctrines being argued before the courts. The people involved in Iran Contra avoided jail time, and there was no rebuke of them.

Impeachment is About Accountability

The people involved in Iran Contra, were scoundrels. Maybe George H.W. Bush didn't deserve impeachment, but the reprehensible conduct needed to be rebuked formally and the perps barred from further office unless they recanted doctrines like "Unitary State" and Presidential Immunity. These doctrines, themselves, are more dangerous than the particular actions that people like Trump and Giuliani carry out. They need to know that if they abuse their power, they will be held to account. Congress should rebuke the behavior.

It's not expedient to impeach the President sometimes. But a formal system for disbarring people from public office for such behavior is needed. Judges serve on "good behavior." Executives, will repeat behavior, or others take lessons from prior abuses. If we successfully impeach Trump for what he did in Ukraine, that will still leave a host of violations that may go unpunished because they are not illegal, but impeachable.

An example of what happens if you don't impeach abuse of power, is what William Barr is doing investigating the "origins of the Russia Investigation." It is also what happened to Bill Clinton when Democrats decided to "move on" after the Reagan/Bush years. Failure to be strict in enforcing law, emboldens criminals to abuse their power to strike back anyway. The Republicans flipped the script after years of impunity and criminality to investigate everything about Bill Clinton and his administration.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Article 10 Abuse of Power, Shaking down foreign governments

Article 10: Abuse of Power, Shaking Down Foreign Governments to force help with trumping up charges against a rival

We hold that Donald J Trump has betrayed his oath of office, betrayed our national security and betrayed the integrity of our elections for his own personal political gain. He:

  • Withheld needed material help to the Ukrainians during the height of defensive war which the Ukrainians were desperately on the defensive and outnumbered, thus betraying the purpose of appropriations meant to help them hold their country against a Russian Backed invasion.
  • He did this in order to force them to trump up an investigation against Hunter Biden,
  • To extort them into taking the blame for Russian interference in the 2016 election,
  • And for the personal business aspirations of Trump associates.
“President Trump has betrayed his oath of office, betrayed our national security and betrayed the integrity of our elections for his own personal political gain.”

Ukraine aid was directly tied to investigations

The withholding of and delay in Aid killed people

This is a draft. Things are going so fast I'll never finish this unless I put it out in draft form and keep updating it!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Putin's Puppet

It takes a lot of effort to ...

...to engineer a disaster.

Money Launderer Trump -- Literature

My friends who have been studying the Russian Mob and Trump, since before Trump was a TV actor, traced out relations also documented in books. The Trump Family have been "alleged" money launderer and mob assets since before Donald Trump joined the family business. Books on this subject include:

Ironically Andrew McCabe touches on the Russian Mob in his book The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump, touched on the origins of the Russian mob in his chapter on his experience with the Russian Mob near the beginning of his FBI career.

more to come...

Friday, October 11, 2019

When The Commons is in the hands of Pirates

I've been studying, talking to people and blogging about infrastructure for a number of years now. What is happening in California is a stark example of the inevitable result of our tradition of privateering with infrastructure. It's an old cycle:

Privateering in Infrastructure

Promise something for nothing; "cheaper, better, faster."
Take over ownership, control of a vital public commodity.
Promise maintenance, refresh and updating of said infrastructure.
Collect payments from consumers who have little choice but to pay or suffer.
Pocket those payments instead of maintaining, refreshing, updating or protecting the public capital goods they now own.
Neglect updates, maintenance, refesh of said infrastructure.
Eventually the infrastructure degrades to the point of failure.
Declare bankruptcy and make the state pay for refreshing public capital.

Why?!!!

Back in the 19th century, the pioneer economist, Henry George divided the properties necessary for production into 3 categories:

  1. Natures Bounty, land and natural resources
  2. Capital Goods, “wealth in the course of production”
  3. Labor

Capital is defined as that wealth that is used as input into making more wealth. In Henry George's world Capital is not the money itself, unless that money is spent on capital goods;

Capital Goods:
  • Tools, Factories, Equipment
  • Fuel, water, raw materials,
  • But NOT bank accounts or land.

Privateering Versus Actual Investment

In Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations" Capital Stock were things like Sheep or Goats kept to breed to produce more sheep and goats. With material goods one can tell a capital good from something more abstract because a capital good depreciates unless additional resources are put into maintaining, updating, refreshing it. Capital Goods cost money. We protect income from capital goods because it will be consumed by the use of those goods. In

Henry George did a good job of explaining all those things and his ideas informed the early stages of industrialization in the United States, with common sense definitions and clarity. See:

Borrowing the Virtue of Capital for Loot

Henry George was soon shoved aside by others, including some people who had initially been his disciples and who hijacked his movement. They wanted land property, natural resources, and simple wealth to be treated as capital and borrowing its virtues, taxed as if it were productive wealth. Actual capital, needs constant refresh. But corporations need guaranteed income. Investing in capital or wages is a cost. For a corporation profit is defined as wealth minus those costs. The course of investment in capital is a fine one, but the temptation to live on rents and coast is ever-present. At one time policy makers understood this. They exempted ONLY capital type expensing. But by lumping all wealth, including financial wealth and rents from property or hijacking wages, as "capital", wealthy people can make money by renting their wealth. They no longer have to invest their money in the constant refreshing and updating that is needed to keep a property up. They can live on depreciating investments and by even junking them, instead.

We've seen this with leveraged buyouts. A company is bought, loaded with debt, the debt is backed by depreciating assets, but purchased premised on the notion that it will be invested in capital goods. The people doing leveraged buyouts lend money, get their money back with interest, pay themselves godawful salaries and then junk or bankrupt the companies they purchased with investor money. This is not capitalism, this is privateering.

California

The latest example of this is Pacific Gas and Electric and their power outages. It has been easier for the owners of PG&E to use decades old infrastructure and put bandaids on it, than to refresh or modernize it. Their mandate is to make as much short term money as possible. Long term profit in the old sense, as a strong, modern, vital, robust system, was secondary to maximizing payments to top executives and stockholders. When that failure combined with climate change to disastrous consequences, they declared bankruptcy. Like the Turnpikes of old, revenues were diverted to pockets not maintenance because they see a monopoly situation

I would suggest that folks in California invest, big time, in solar, wind and stored water energy. We also need to stop pretending that privateering works. Although that is not the line pedaled by Cato and such. Champions of privateering will tell you that public and private partnerships "Work better" because they mix investor money with government money. The downside of that is that in cases where there is an underlying monopoly they also profiteer with tolls and fees. There is also no incentive to continue investing in refresh and update once the monopoly is established. The worst effect of privateering with public goods is that they become private goods available to an elite and excluding others. In the end that usually has led to alternative technologies coming along. But that doesn't make it an optimal solution.

And PG&E illustrates what happens when a public good is privatized. Just as Enron did. Just as we are seeing with internet platforms like facebook or twitter.

Cato article (which spins like a Tazmanian Devil):

I'm in the process of disambiguating older posts. This is part of a series, I'll come back to it later.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Oversight including Impeachment

Impeachment Process is Oversight Process

I started this Post around June. I was listening to Representative Jerry Nadler, who heads the Judiciary Committee that would become an impeachment inquiry, and he was talking about "time constraints" and the difficulty of impeaching the President. It made me think, it really is difficult to impeach anyone. And that degrades the power of impeachment and attenuates its potential effectiveness. But:

Is that a real problem or an example of bad process? In this era of gigantic government, where too much power is already delegated to the executive, aren't these matters of "bad constitution" rather than things we can't address? If so then they reflect antiquated process and that should be dealt with. In this post I include a few suggestions on how to modernize that process without a new constitutional amendment.
What are the benefits if the House impeaches anyway?

What Would Impeachment Accomplish Now?

The benefits of the House impeaching the President anyway are:

  1. Doing so will Document Trump's crimes.
  2. This will provide input evidence for prosecutions once he's out of office.
  3. Doing this will hammer home to the general public the depth of Trump's perfidy.
  4. This will rebuke and may even shame the shameless Republicans in the House and Senate.
  5. This may help us defeat him electorally.

For this reason, impeachment articles are worth doing, even with the knowledge that they'll get to the Senate and be ignored or tabled. It is my belief that each Article should focus on one set of infractions, document the criminality and abuse of power and why they are reason for impeachment. The reason for separate articles is that they should result in separate prosecutions, changes in law and impeachment/prosecution of co-conspirators. I personally like the "Drip Drip of investigations" idea. There are at least 8 or 9 articles needed, by my count, and each of them embraces several to hundreds of counts. For more on this see:

Impeachment Articles

Meanwhile this post addresses ideas for improving our antiquated process:

Saturday, September 14, 2019

The Insanity of Trumpism

Orange is the New Moron

Trumpism isn't even an ism

Trumpism, isn't even an ism. It is the completely arbitrary ravings of a demented old man with power he never trained for and ideas that never made sense. This latest thing, regulating light bulbs to protect incandescent technology, is case in point. The new technology is finally becoming relatively cheap to buy, and was already saving people money by being much more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs, and he puts out an executive order that nixes the effort. Why? Is it to please the light bulb manufacturers? No! it is because:

“I always look orange!”

This is the ravings of a mad man.

Stupid Tariffs

Tariffs can be useful when dealing with countries that are breaking the rules. The idea is to counter bad behavior with punishing behavior and reward good behavior. But Trump's take on tariffs has always been backward. Again the term is arbitrary. He rages against China, principally, it seems because he wants his companies and copy rights there, for himself and Ivanka. He manufactures in China, so I suspect he tries to exempt his products from the tariffs, and he puts them off until after the winter so they won't affect some of his constituents, but the Chinese have already retaliated. They decided to buy their soy beans in Brazil and cut off our farmers. So rather than bringing businesses home from China, he's mostly bankrupting small farmers. He subsidizes the big landlords so they aren't feeling the pain as much. They never really farmed much in the first place. They run the Government, house and Senate in farm states instead.

There are intelligent policies that could help bring back manufacturing. The first one would be to require manufacturers to pay their workers in China commensurate with what workers in the US are paid so that they didn't go their for the cheap labor. Trump goes there for the cheap labor himself. So he won't do that.

Lying Speaches

Rural folks and Red State Folks support Trump because most of them don't have 50 years of experience with Trump's Cons. He was a New York Grifter before he was a Florida Grifter. And eventually we all will pay for his completely moronic policies. Some hope they will work as promised, but Trump never makes promises he actually keeps so that is a fools errand. The real victim of Trump are the folks who think the Moron will make America Great Again.

And all so he can get laughs at rallies.

Fixed it

Grover says my meme is inaccurate
I corrected the meme to make it accurate (it was accurate as a paraphrase):
"We don't need someone to think it up or design it."
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wYYX0mZsQA

Friday, September 13, 2019

Capitalism has a lane, Socialism has a lane

And Healthcare

There is a lane for social goods and there is a lane for private goods. Henry George made the distinction based on whether the goods can be sensibly sold in markets.

Excludable and Rivalrous

Modern theorists insist that the distinction between market capitalism and socialism is in whether the goods involved are "rivalrous" or "excludable." That definition involves the behavior of consumers and sellers and power.

Excludable refers to governing powers

Excludable means that someone with power, a governor, can say "you can't enter here." It refers to the ability of people with power, government, to put gates on a resource, service or product. The natural commons is non-excludable. Yet historically westerners have seized, marked boundaries, claimed and fenced land and tried to do the same with oceans and even clouds. Rivalrous means that the good is limited in availability.

Vital Goods, food, medicine, shelter, are by definition rivalrous, but rationing them via markets is barbarous. If a good is vital and someone can exclude people from using it, then by George's version that is a natural monopoly. Excluding goods from markets is a means to make them more "rivalrous". His definition of monopoly is based on the moral effects, the natural rights of those who "should" have access to them. The Rivalrous and Excludable argument has more to do with power.

Purpose of Capital is to make Goods less rivalrous

The purpose of capital, historically, has been to make the formerly unavailable more available. Our ancestors found their health and life-spans limited by access to resources. Capital is about marshaling resources for both public and private benefit. There is little to share socially without the use of capital to make production, goods and services more efficient and/or better quality.

Capital

To Henry George and other early modern writers, capital was something very specific, it was wealth reused "in the course of production." Such wealth, like;

  • Seed Corn,
  • Tools of production like tractors, factory equipment, hammers and drills,
  • Ingredients of production such as livestock, nails, raw materials pulled out of the ground,
  • Those are “capital

Capital is the wealth, tools and equipment that go into production.

the Governance of Capital

The governorship of capital is either in the hands of the folks using those tools themselves, or in the hands of managers. Those managers can work for a government, or work for some private owner. Private owners call themselves "capitalists" but they really are property owners who are renting and managing capital. Capitalism is simply a term for a system where the ownership and governorship of capital is in private hands. Capitalists employ people and manage them. Private government versus public government. Is private government necessarily better? That is problematic.

Certainly not Collective Versus Free Enterprise

A Collective is a "group of people acting as a group." By that definition the only time one is not dealing with a collective is when a single person is running an owner operator business where he/she does everything him/herself. Therefore there is no "collectivism versus capitalism." The battle is between private governorship of collectives or some kind of republican and democratic forms. There is a range of involvement from pure democracy where nothing gets done unless everyone agrees, to some kind of hierarchy.

Republican and Democratic principles versus Tyranny

Businesses work best when they pay attention to republican and democratic principles. It is probably right to disparage purely collective decision making because that only works on a very very small scale. When scaling up to a Republic or some kind of federation you need a certain amount of hierarchy. But in any case large organizations are collective organization. This is definitional

Governing Collectives

A collective organization is can be governed democratically, oligarchically, or as a tyranny. We get sold "individual" enterprise as free enterprise. But unless Zuckerberg is the only run involved in facebook, he's managing a collective. An enterprise solely owned it is solely owned by a single person backed by a hierarchy is "monarchy" or "tyranny," by definition. If someone has a hundred or 100,000 employees, it doesn't matter. Ownership is government, enabled by legal documents registered with a court. If government turns into simple arbitrary ownership, that is usually bad government. Dictators make themselves extremely wealthy. In some cases they own their country and make themselves monarchs. "Capitalism" is often a problematical term that confuses the organization of productive property with some kind of governing system.

Privateering Versus Capitalism

For those reasons I no longer refer to predatory "capitalism" as capitalism. I call it privateering. Privateering is the conversion of government into private hands. Profiteering, legal piracy, Private warfare, modern corporate raiders, grifting and grafting, are all modern forms of privateering. Thus the issue is not capitalism versus democracy or socialism, but pirates versus common good, using propaganda and legal tricks to make their thefts perfectly legal. Privateers seek private separate power and advantage. That is tyranny, not a virtue.

What Capital is not

Not all wealth is capital.

  • Loot is not capital. It was stolen from someone and not produced by the person who stole it.
  • Coal, oil, gas, while still in the ground, is not yet capital. It is nature's bounty. The product of long dead trees and plants, and belongs to God, or nature. Claims on it are more like to loot than to capital.
  • Solar panels are capital. The tunnels dug or pipes put in the ground to get at coal or gas are capital.
  • Money invested in capital is working. Money to purchase property is derivative of capital.

The “Proper Social Function” Lane

When we are talking about nature's bounty or of goods and services that don't fit into a market mold, we are talking about goods and services that don't fit a pure capital mode. We call such goods “social Goods” because they are a “proper social function,” this is a social lane. In modern times it gets labeled socialism, but they are social goods whether or not they are controlled by the people as a whole or governed by rich people.

Public and Private Goods

When public goods, like parks, farms, and similar are handed over to private hands they are usually turned into gated club goods. A formerly non-rival good, by excluding people from using it becomes a gated good. Those with the resources to trade for the good get access to it, others are excluded. This creates market failure. Markets only work when the goods sold are non-rival (nobody hurt by purchase, plenty of hamburgers or cookies for example) and non-exclusive (meaning anyone can buy and sell in the market). Monopoly puts vital goods in the hands one one or a small number more people, who then can extract tolls from their access.

Public versus Private good

Vital social goods; food, medicine, health care, communications, transport, can be distributed through markets, but unless the markets enforce access, transparent information and resourcing for all actors, monopolists will turn them into gated goods, forcing artificial rivalries and excluding access arbitrarily. A free market is a creation not an accident. Some markets are never free. Hospitals, emergency services, and infrastructure, either belong to all the people or they risk being artificially gated or rivalrous goods where competition is life or death and resources extracted in the exchange. Example is when companies can buy drug patents and then raise prices to insane levels. Those are not free markets.

More:

The “Capitalism” Lane

The capitalism lane is what can be bought or sold in a market, justly. A good is in the lane of markets if:

  • The buyer and seller can refuse individual sales [no coercion]
  • There are real alternative buyers and sellers
  • There aren't significant barriers to others entering the market as buyers and sellers

Things that have those three attributes are in the capitalist lane. The social goods lane can also have capitalists involved and use markets, but if they do:

  • The presence of coercion means that either buyer or seller is denied a fair price for their goods or even unjustly denied access.
  • The presence of monopoly (complete or partial) means power of coercion due to lack of alternative buyers and sellers.
  • Barriers to becoming buyers or sellers means that the market is failing to reach or serve all persons in a society or collection of societies.

The kinds of goods described in Henry George's comments in 1890 were very profitable, because they could be governed by monopolists and denied to those not willing or able to pay an obviously inflated price, or in the case of monopsony, not sellers denied sales unless they pay an artificially low price. HG was describing market failure and social goods. It is not socialism when social goods are under governorship or at least control of the people as a whole through their representatives. It is monopoly capitalism, and privateering.

More information

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Election Judges should be Judicial Officials

The key to improving democratic systems world wide is the realization that elections are such a vital function in any democracy with parliamentary, republican and democratic features; that the following republican principles need to be applied:

Separation of Powers
Fair Judicial process requires separate Judge, Jury and executive functions
These functions are needed to ensure fairness
Neutral Judges
  • Elections require a neutral election judge.
  • Electing Partisan hacks by misapplying the principle of majority rule fails with judges.
  • Judges must be non-partisan, neutral, and ensure the process is administered justly.
  • Therefore, Judges should be appointed for long terms (life works),
  • Judges should be barred from outside income except teaching, and lectures to non-partisan groups
  • And Election Judges should be Judges, barred from running for partisan office.
  • Election Judges should have Juries!
  • Jury like structures should be responsible for overseeing the election along with the Judge and representatives of the election factions.
  • Jury like panel structures are necessary to vett candidates and elected officers.
  • Elected Officers should be subject to performance reviews at the end of term!
  • Investigators should be empowered and required to compel document discovery, testimony and perform accounting reviews of the officers performance.
  • The Sessions should be carried live unless a matter is determined sensitive and out of scope.
  • That material should then be provided to a review panel, reporters and made available to voters.
  • Separate panels should moderate forums, debates and review sessions of candidates.
  • Imagine if candidate promises were under oath? Do you think they'd break them so easy?

    Discussion

    If there is one thing that current events show is that there is severe risk in vesting control over justice in the Political Executive. Donald Trump is not the first executive to abuse his powers with the judiciary. On a process level no person should ever have judicial, executive or legislative powers over their own case. It is appropriate that officials have "informal" adjudication powers, but not when it is a case that concerns themselves. It is never appropriate that formal adjudication should ever effectively involve interested parties except as defendants or plaintiffs. Some of these principles were written into law, though we are seeing the laws involved are inadequate.

    Juries ARE Democracy

    Judges are an elite role. The reason US elections require juries, is that without them, judges are tempted to make themselves nobility, behave in a self interested fashion. Juries are there to ensure non-partisan, justice. They have the power to resist venal, partisan or corrupt judges.

    Judicial judges aren't always non-partisan or just. They can apply the law using sophistry or worse, if they are getting outside income or are part of a faction by wealth or interest. When that happens Justice remains the subject but the product is injustice. Juries are genuine democracy. Ordinary people are drafted to step up and speak for the people of the community. They can check such judges.

    Even Worse with Election Judges

    On those principles, it is absurdly bad process, not to mention corrupt, that election judges should ever be the election judge while they are in the running for office. It is like the town Sheriff being also the town judge and being also the only defense lawyer. It is a travesty of justice, unjust, for election officials to represent a political party as election judge, run for office while working as election judge, or seeking any elected post other than election judge while or after serving as election judge in the same jurisdiction. This is such an obvious bit of corruption that the remedy should have been in law long ago.

    And like with jury trials, all the factions in the election should have a say in picking the members of the Election Jury.

    But there is an even Deeper Level

    In elections, we rely on investigative reporters and the partisan system to vett candidates. This rarely works as intended. Candidates don't always tell the truth. Candidates can use money and influence to hide information from the electorate, or to push out false information that blocks people from voting for their opponents. When any one party has a monopoly over the election, the temptation to cheat is going to be there. Changing the officers doesn't change the temptations. Making elections a Judicial function opens elections to checks and balances that a purely bureaucratic or partisan process can't supply.

    Better Vetting

    The usual remedies for that involve transparency, competition, open access to both the ruling party and the loyal opposition as vehicles for getting out information. During elections debates, town halls, etc... allow some proper vetting. But they don't always work. With a formal process both parties have a voice, a judge is expected to enforce "truth and nothing but the truth" and a Jury, made up of neutral people from all factions, can keep an eye on reporters, activists, Judge and other officials!

    Election Judging requires Judge, Jury, prosecutor and defense

    When I discovered the ancient principles of Euthenia and Dokimasia (vetting and scrutiny) were used by the Athenians, I saw they were using a judicial process. The exact methods they used, don't apply in our day. But the principles do. We need two structures to protect our system. It turns out that we need precisely a judicial process to manage elections.

    • End of Term Accounting
    • Election Vetting

    End of Term Accounting Scrutiny

    Every Elected Officer should face an end of term accounting Scrutiny. If a private person works for a private company, the owners do a performance review, periodically. We the people should do an end of term accounting review of every officer. This should be mandatory, not voluntary, and run in a quasi Judicial manner. A Kind of Jury should be assembled, more like a Grand Jury than a trial Jury. Professional investigators, preferably a mix of police type investigators and journalists should have the right to pour through their records under the supervision of an election judge, who is more a Judge than simply running an election. The results would get presented to a panel selected from the jury pool. Representatives of the person would defend or direct prosecution of the information. All would be sworn to secrecy, but the result of the investigation would be a public report of the relevant facts, not an indictment. The panel would be able to take testimony under oath and if it were found that the people testifying lied they could be referred to a grand jury. The results would be available to the public. The officer would be judged based on his/her job description, promises made and promises kept.

    Election Vetting Scrutiny

    Similar panels would be convened for elections. Again the panels would have ordinary citizens, journalists and investigators, led by a Judge and representatives of the candidates. Accounting Vetting material would be available to them. This time they would manage debates, ask questions, get candidates on the record, and oversee the election. The panel in this case would have the duty to make sure voters are informed, are enabled to vote and that their votes are cast and counted. They would have a duty to be as neutral and factual as possible.

    Power of the People

    Scrutiny is important. Too many people think their power in their office is only tangentally derived from the people who elect them. Making Elections governed by people forced to act like they are on a jury would fulfil the promise of why we call election official "election judges."

    Empowering and Resourcing the Press

    The interface between elections and the people should be a press, with cameras (including video), recordings and on hand listening and participating in the vetting and scrutiny. Establishing a process such as that should provide jobs for reporters and ensure that local government has a free press.

    Tuesday, September 10, 2019

    Arms Reform And Militia

    We are seeing mass murder, almost on daily basis. Much of it perpetrated by ideologues or angry men. What to do about it? Establishment Alternatives include:
    • Bring back the Brady bill, adding a prohibition on oversized magazines and “converter kits”.
    • Red Flag laws –> beef up the background check system and authorize courts to issue orders allowing police to temporarily confiscate firearms from a person deemed by a judge as posing a risk of violence.
    • Improve and fund the background check system.
    I think a further, and common sense regulation would segue off Article 2 Section 8 of the Constitution and the Second Amendment directly. That would be a programic change to expand the National Guard to provide community reserve armories to arm people for emergencies, not with guns alone but with reserve medical, rescue and relief supplies. Those armories would be tied to local police, adult training, would have gun ranges for fire-arms training and practice, and train people in emergency response. They would be run by US Reservists in collaboration with the State and local PDs and SDs.
    I think our problem as a society is that people feel left out of the political discourse. The purpose of the Second Amendment wasn’t an individual right to carry around weapons, but a right of individuals to participate in defending their homes from threats and emergencies. Fire Departments, Rescue and Emergency Response personnel, all are as much “militia” as police and troopers, as all of those capabilities developed from jobs that were originally those of volunteer militia. If police and fire come from the neighborhoods they serve they can do their jobs as intended without being perceived as invaders or “standing armies.”

    If people want to own and use military grade weapons, the regulation can require them to keep those weapons with the local armory. If they want to keep a weapon for self defense they should be required to check that weapon out of the armory and provide sufficient security to prevent it falling into the wrong hands.

    Monday, September 9, 2019

    Article 9 – Misappropriation of Funds

    Donald J. Trump, in his perfidious effort to build a vanity wall along the border, and in pursuit of goals not justified in legislation has misused his emergency powers and misappropriated funds in order to fund and build detention camps and his wall and fund his concentration camps. [Draft]

    Violations of Statutes

    31 U.S. Code § 1301. Application

    1. Appropriations shall be applied only to the objects for which the appropriations were made except as otherwise provided by law.
    2. The reappropriation and diversion of the unexpended balance of an appropriation for a purpose other than that for which the appropriation originally was made shall be construed and accounted for as a new appropriation. The unexpended balance shall be reduced by the amount to be diverted.
    3. An appropriation in a regular, annual appropriation law may be construed to be permanent or available continuously only if the appropriation—
    1. is for rivers and harbors, lighthouses, public buildings, or the pay of the Navy and Marine Corps; or
    2. expressly provides that it is available after the fiscal year covered by the law in which it appears.
    1. A law may be construed to make an appropriation out of the Treasury or to authorize making a contract for the payment of money in excess of an appropriation only if the law specifically states that an appropriation is made or that such a contract may be made.

    The Donald J Trump Admin have claimed that they are authorized to misapply these funds based on their invocation of Emergency powers:

    Sec. 601. Declaration of policy (42 U.S.C. 5195)

    The purpose of this title is to provide a system of emergency preparedness for the protection of life and property in the United States from hazards and to vest responsibility for emergency preparedness jointly in the Federal Government and the States and their political subdivisions. The Congress recognizes that the organizational structure established jointly by the Federal Government and the States and their political subdivisions for emergency preparedness purposes can be effectively utilized to provide relief and assistance to people in areas of the United States struck by a hazard. The Federal Government shall provide necessary direction, coordination, and guidance, and shall provide necessary assistance, as authorized in this title so that a comprehensive emergency preparedness system exists for all hazards.

    Sec. 626. Authorization of Appropriation and Transfers of Funds (42 U.S.C. 5197e) (a) Authorization of Appropriations - There are authorized to be appropriated such sums as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this title. (b) Transfer Authority - Funds made available for the purposes of this title may be allocated or transferred for any of the purposes of this title, with the approval of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, to any agency or government corporation designated to assist in carrying out this title. Each such allocation or transfer shall be reported in full detail to the Congress within 30 days after such allocation or transfer. [page 80]
    https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/31/1301
    https:/c/www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1519395888776-af5f95a1a9237302af7e3fd5b0d07d71/StaffordAct.pdf
    https://www.scotusblog.com/2019/07/justices-allow-government-to-go-ahead-with-funding-for-border-wall/

    Tuesday, September 3, 2019

    Article 6 – Corruption and Bringing corrupt officers into his administration

    Article 6 – Corruption; Bringing a corrupt regime to government with corrupt officers.

    Donald J trump has used his Corrupt Trump Organization to enrich himself once in office, using extortion and blackmail to silence critics, lying to Congress to cover up those violations and hiring corrupt lieutenants and officers to protect him or to help him engage in corrupt practices. These are the kinds of crimes that call into question the very continuation of our republic as a well run Federation with Democratic controls on the three branches. The president has abused his power, violated the emoluments clause, in order to engage in corrupt behavior himself. He also has brought in a corrupt organization of lieutenants who have likewise abused their power.

    Article 7 – Systematic Obstruction of Justice

    *note someone else created this meme. I'm using it without permission only because I don't know who created it. It cites where they got it from. I use it because it summarizes what is in the report.

    This is a mock up of how, if I were a congressperson, I'd word an article of Impeachment.

    Article 3 – Fraud: Abused his Trust as President by continual lies and frauds

    Article 3: – Fraud: Abused his Trust as President by continual lies and frauds

    [Draft]

    Trump, since before assuming his office, has shown continual contempt for the laws and traditions of the United States, which he has expressed by continual lies and misrepresentations. Vanity Fair counted at least 9,179 (Vanity Fair) by March 2019, the current count is over 10,000+ whoppers since taking the oath of office. While many of these lies are legal, some of them are illegal, many misdemeanors, some point to felonies.

    We hold him in contempt of Congress for the lies, but the ones that are crimes represent potential for corruption, a corrupting influence on the rest of the country and unless he is held to account he and others will continue to violate law and standards of proof.

    Summary

    • Lying about the path of Hurricane Dorian. On September 1st he claimed that Dorian might hit Alabama, which was erroneous. When confronted with that lie, he doubled down and on September 4th he presented a doctored weather map showing a sharpied in circle over Alabama, which was added. The mistake was something anyone can make, but he insists he never made a mistake. This is a misdemeanor. 18 U.S. Code § 2074. False weather reports
    • “Whoever knowingly issues or publishes any counterfeit weather forecast or warning of weather conditions falsely representing such forecast or warning to have been issued or published by the Weather Bureau, United States Signal Service, or other branch of the Government service, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ninety days, or both.”
    • Financial Fraud lies

    Article 4 – USC30121: Election Campaign Violations

    Article 4 – USC30121: Illegal Election campaign contributions and working with foreign powers to win election

    Statement of Offense

    Donald J. Trump, even before becoming President of the United States operating as a criminal enterprise and committed election law violations and corrupt actions in contempt of law and ethical standards. He has solicited, taken and profited from aid, "things of value", from foreign governments. He has sought and taken contributions to his campaigns from foreign powers since he was candidate Donald Trump.

    Sought and accepted assistance from the Russians in getting "dirt on Hillary Clinton"
    Has purged counter-intelligence, law enforcement and other personnel from the office to protect foreign powers.

    Article 8 – Stonewalling and Misuse of Executive Privilege

    Donald J. Trump in his role as President, his Attorney General William P. Barr, are asserting dictatorial powers by asserting the doctrine of "unitary executive", by their misuse of executive privileges and emergency powers.

    Complaint

    This administration has refused to cooperate with Congress, respect the laws of the United States or the separation of powers, specifically, congresses power over the purse. Trump has stonewalled Congressional efforts to get information from his officers, barred his lieutenants from testifying on matters within the scope of the House's oversight functions, and claimed a fictitious version of Executive privilege to justify this stonewalling and lack of cooperation. As a consequence he has obstructed justice, diverted funds from their intended use, and broken a number of laws. More importantly he is usurping powers reserved to the legislature and asserting dictatorial powers by doing these things.

    Thursday, August 8, 2019

    Article 1 – Willful failure to respect the Constitution and rule of law

    Article 1 – Willful failure to respect the Constitution and rule of Law

    Executive Summary

    We hold that Donald J. Trump, his principle officers and supporters have not only failed to faithfully execute the laws of the country and the strictures and requirements of the Constitution but they have used their offices to commit the high misdemeanor of promoting bigotry and hate against immigrants, muslims, people from our southern neighbors and other countries. We hold that, as stated in an article of impeachment introduced in 2018 that:

    “In his capacity as President of the United States, unmindful of the high duties of his high office, of the dignity and proprieties thereof, and of the harmony, and respect necessary for stability within the society of the United States, Donald John Trump has with his bigoted statements done more than simply insult individuals and groups of Americans, he has harmed the American society by attempting to convert, or converting, his bigoted statements into United States policy and by associating the presidency and the people of the United States with bigotry, violence and abuses of power, on one or more of the following occasions:”

    Wednesday, August 7, 2019

    Pirates Versus the Commons

    Privateering Versus the Commons

    An essay in Scientific American titled: The tragedy of the tragedy of the commons, debunks a seminal article that claimed that the obstacle to progress was “the tragedy of the commons” Unfortunately, as the article by By Matto Mildenberger on April 23, 2019 explains:

    “The man who wrote one of environmentalism’s most-cited essays was a racist, eugenicist, nativist and Islamaphobe—plus his argument was wrong.” [Scientific American Article]

    Monday, August 5, 2019

    Article 2: – Perfidy:Donald Trump's cruel abuse of Power, engaging in Cruel and Genocidal Actions

    Article 2: – Perfidy:Donald Trump's cruel abuse of Power, engaging in Cruel and Genocidal Actions

    Donald J. Trump, in his capacity as President of the United States, unmindful of his duties and responsibilities has engaged in illegal, extra-legal and genocidal behavior. This behavior violates international law and norms, US law, and has resulted in numerous deaths and harm to persons in his trust. Donald John Trump has escalated from the racist and bigoted speech, threats and incitement of his first few years into efforts to build concentration camps for immigrants, asylum seekers and to begin to build the infrastructure needed to commit genocide and ethnic cleansing.

    Criminal and Unconstitutional Actions

    In his efforts to end what he calls “chain migration”

    • separated parents from children,
    • indefinitely detained people not even charged yet, with misdemeanor border crossing.
    • indefinitely detained asylum seekers who previously would have been released to family.
    • separated children from their parents in order to deem their children as abandoned.
    • Closed legal crossings thereby causing the death of migrants forced to either wait at the border or to perilously cross deserts and rivers.
    • Endangered people in his custody via over-crowding, indefinite detention and cruel treatment.
    • Caused the unnecessary deaths of migrants and children of migrants.
    • Detained US Citizens refusing to accept their proof of identification.
    • By these means he has violated laws requiring humane treatment of people in the custody of the United States.
    • Imposed a ban on Immigration from Muslim, African and other non-European countries.
    • Sought to revise general immigration law to deny green cards to legitimate applicants.

    Tuesday, July 30, 2019

    Article 5 – Emoluments; Soliciting and Taking Emoluments in defiance of the Constitution.

    Article 5 – Emoluments; Soliciting and Taking Emoluments in defiance of the Constitution.

    https://www.citizensforethics.org/2000-trump-conflicts-of-interest-counting/

    Donald J. Trump and his family have displayed a contempt for his office by his actions and inactions. He has shown a flagrant disregard for the emoluments clause and and the rules and laws that Presidents are supposed to abide by.

    Tuesday, July 23, 2019

    Privateering Versus Pirates

    Introduction – Privateers vs Pirates

    When we think of pirates we picture them with eye patches, bandanas or fancy head-dresses, but pirates are anyone who uses property without the permission of its rightful owners. Privateers are pirates who use war and the political system to make their thefts, usurpations and conversions legal. That broader definition has been used since the beginning. Piracy is in the eye of the Beholder.

    When we think of pirates we picture them with eye patches, bandanas and at sea. But the word buccaneer comes from people raising cattle and making leather. While a pirate is a thief who sails the seas. Brigand is a pirate but also a generic term for a thief who can be on land. Pirates and thieves are outlaws -- unless they have a permit to steal. Then they are called privateers.

    Pirates and privateers have operated in the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, the black sea, the Caspian, the Baltic Sea, the Atlantic, Pacific, every ocean and many lakes around the world.

    Pirates and privateers engage in private warfare. The term when that private warfare is conducted on land is "filibustering." A Filibusterer was a soldier in a private army operating on land. Sometimes they were also mercenaries -- who are soldiers who work for a private force. Piracy and privateering have always been a feature of war and conflict. From:

    • the Ancient Trojans, who waged piracy in the Mediterranean, to the Greeks, who were rival pirates who destroyed Troy
    • From Rome and the Carthagians to the Vandals and other German invaders,
    • From the Angles, Saxons and Jutes who plagued both sides of the English Channel til they settled in Britain,
    • From the Vikings who waged war with the Christian Kingdoms who had attacked them
    • To the Normans who once again sailed the Mediterranean as well as conquering Britain -- as Christians
    • And of course the Barbary Pirates, Arabs, Malays, Japanese, Chinese and other coastal people -- all pirates
    • And now the Americans.

    Pirates in Fiction and Reality

    In Pirates of the Caribbean, it looks like the Pirates are fighting the British Navy, but they really were fighting the East India Company, which was a rival pirate gang, but perfectly legal. Ironically, our revolution started as a fight against the East India Company too. The "Tea Parties" were about a Government sanctioned effort to take over and monopolize the tea trade by putting competitors out of business with artificially low prices on British carried tea, and taxes on American Ships. There is some evidence that the first American colonies were founded as pirate refuges.

    Piracy and land hunger go together. The Saxons who invaded in Britain were hungry for farms. The Vikings were hungry for land. The settlers of the Americas from Eurasia, were property hungry; land, loot, slaves, wealth, likewise. Privateering is about acquiring property.

    No real distinction between pirate and privateer

    The distinction between privateers and pirates has always been a parsed legal one. American "filibusters", like the Walkers, Texans, Jacksons, etc.... were considered pirates by the Spanish speaking people they plagued. The privateer may have a legal permit from his own country --> but he is waging war and war is violent and illegal in the fundamental moral sense. from the Point of view of the people we were attacking.

    Pirates, profiteers, and the industries who inherit their traditions, may be perfectly legal, but they are amoral to immoral buzzards who violate norms and do things that ought to be illegal

    Privateering companies are no better than pirate fleets, except they are somewhat constrained by laws. When they engage in theft, smuggling, private warfare, as part of a war or under some legal permit. So when the Government says that theft is legal, it is privateering. When people don't bother to get "clothed in the law" and engage in naked robbery of some kind, it is piracy. Privateers get to hang pirates.

    Modern Pirates

    I see Privateering as an ideology. I explained in a post first written in 2014:

    An Ideology of Privateering

    Thus, modern pirates are people who sell copies of movies or songs without paying royalties to their legal owners. Modern privateers setup abusive contracts to acquire such ownership. Thus modern pirates are usually dressed in fancy Armani or other well tailored suites, carry portfolios and have degrees from classy law schools, and are legally privateers not pirates. The victims, on the other hand, may have actually written the song they are charged with piracy for using. An abusive contract can take ownership of things like authorship, that no person can really sell, since selling the rights to a work doesn't change who wrote it. But modern pirates don't usually have peg legs anymore. It is much safer to bribe a judge or pay a legislator to change the law.

    The Pirates and the Privateers of Music

    For example in our system if one reproduces music without the permission of the corporate owner, even if you were the author. You are a pirate. The USA constitution gives people rights to inventions and writings for limited times for the purpose of stimulating commerce. Privateers lobbied to expand the time patents and copyrights operate long enough so they become virtual titles of nobility. Intellectual property, if it existed, should be the property of the inventor. Under the power of corrupt lobbying and influence pedaling, intellectual property becomes a rental property of giant conglomerates and wealthy individuals. No longer a connection to invention and no longer a limited right with a limited term. That is who privateering works.

    Most of us are used to them the way someone gets used to living in a pig-sty. This post is about some alternatives. But first we have to identify the real pirates.

    The biggest pirates have usually dressed better than the drifters and thieves that get labeled as pirates. If they aren't lawyers they can afford them. Worse, they can usually afford (or are) politicians. They can write the law. The term for this was "privateer" in the past. Modern Letter of Marquees come in the form of Corporate Charters or their ability to acquire patents, trade-marks, copyrights, from the creators. Modern pirates hang the hapless as pirates. They are known to sue and take the money of artists who made the mistake of selling their original work to them. That the original work belongs to them by basic right and can't be sold legitimately, doesn't matter to the pirates. They write the laws. They are privateers.

    Privateering is the right word because it is when the government grants a right of private government to an individual or hierarchy bound by contract [corporation]. Privateering is based on privatizing basic public function and enables profiteering, private warfare, smuggling, swindle and theft, all perfectly legal because the law has been modified to make it so.

    This post is about privateering and the money power. The subject is frequently distorted by cultlike arguments, but the reality is that our system of inequality, of periodic economic failure, is based on grifting and cons that depend on privatized money.

    Of course the most lucrative way to loot everyone, is to issue privatized money. Whether it is bit coin or fly by night banks, the goal is the same, to legally counterfeit money! Letting Wall street or private Pirates using banks to coin money as debt is an economy wrecker and that is the subject of this post.

    This follows the historical introduction in:
    An Ideology of Private Banking
    And:
    Privateering Smuggling and Piracy