My Blog List

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.