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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Faulty Assumptions and Verification

Paul krugman today writes in his article "Macrofoundations (Wonkish)"

"John Quiggin has a fun post debunking the notion, all too common among economists, that macroeconomics — the study of inflation, depressions, and all that — is somehow flaky and unworthy of the field’s grandeur, that only microeconomics, derived rigorously from rational behavior, is real science. Keynesian macro, in particular, is often regarded with intense distaste, and a lot of economists would like to ban it from the field."

Some Economists have come to that conclusion because of dogmas that haven't worked and their unwillingness to deviate from faulty assumptions, which are microeconomic assumptions:

"Quiggin points out, rightly, that almost all microeconomics depends crucially on the assumption that the economy is at full employment; this assumption is false, but what makes it not too false in normal times is the existence of stabilization policies, monetary and fiscal, that usually produce fairly quick recoveries from slumps. Macro is what makes micro work, to the extent that it does."

Every rational endeavor depends on observation, assumptions and verification. When assumptions are faulty, the results will be faulty. That is why we verify, debate, argue and sometimes have to change our minds. Krugman continues:

"I would add that macro is the only reason anyone listens to all those microeconomists who think they’re being rigorous. To see why, we need to think about the history of thought."

Because of the unwillingness to challenge authority, or even verify authority, science and scientists keep getting stuck. The unwillingness to verify has allowed dogma and faulty faith to substitute for reason, due to reasonable seeming theories turning out to be faulty:

"If you go back to the state of American economics in the 1930s and even into the 1940s, it was not at all the model-oriented, mathematical field it later became. Institutional economics was still a powerful force, and many senior economists disliked mathematical modeling. When Paul Samuelson published Foundations of Economic Analysis in 1947, the chairman of Harvard’s economics department tried to limit the print run to 500, grudgingly accepted a run of 750, and ordered the mathematical type broken up immediately."

And he continues:

"So why did model-oriented, math-heavy economics triumph? It wasn’t because general-equilibrium models of perfect competition had overwhelming empirical success. What happened, I’d argue, was Keynesian macroeconomics."

The thirties were a catastrophe not only for the nation but for mainstream economists like Von Mises, Hayek, and their classical counterparts all over the world. Their response to failure was to double down on their theories, but others challenged those theories by trying to examine assumptions and model out cause and effect.

"Think about it: In the 1930s you had a catastrophe, and if you were a public official or even just a layman looking for guidance and understanding, what did you get from institutionalists? Caricaturing, but only slightly, you got long, elliptical explanations that it all had deep historical roots and clearly there was no quick fix. Meanwhile, along came the Keynesians, who were model-oriented, and who basically said “Push this button”– increase G, and all will be well. And the experience of the wartime boom seemed to demonstrate that demand-side expansion did indeed work the way the Keynesians said it did."

Of course the reality of the models is that they too are based on assumptions, and the underlying assumptions are either things that can be held fixed, or they tend to blow up the models. Sometimes we can hold a variable fixed for calculation purposes, but we always have to be aware of the assumption and treat it as a modeling risk. Still, Keynesian concepts worked within the realm of those assumptions. Krugman continues:

"It’s not an accident that Samuelson, even as he was raising the math level of microeconomics, was a key figure in the triumph of Keynesian economics. Nor was it at all an accident that his intro textbook, in its 1948 edition and for a long time thereafter, started with macro, and only got to micro later. The perceived success of macroeconomics did double duty, establishing the bona fides of a model-oriented approach and also suggesting that full employment was not too bad an assumption — given the right monetary and fiscal policies."

Given the right monetary AND fiscal policies. Without responsible officials, again, the assumptions blow up. Krugman continutes:

"Oh, and economists who are upset that the public seems to judge the profession by its success at macro diagnosis and prediction are missing the point: it has always been thus, and purists who disdain macro are making mock of the only reason anyone takes them at all seriously."

So much for "praxeology." He continues:

"The academic enterprise of economics as we know it, in other words, rests on a macro foundation, and in fact a Keynesian foundation — and economists who denounce all of that as witchcraft are busily sawing off the branch they’re sitting on."

Of course the other reason the micro-economists folks don't like admitting they depend on macroeconomics is that most of them are conservatives who feel "in their bones" that the old classical assumptions always hold. That is why they jumped all over Friedman's ideas and monetarism. It was classical economics with a monetary stick they could wave like a magic wand.

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/10/26/macrofoundations-wonkish/?_r=0

Friday, October 25, 2013

Stochastic Disease Reality Versus propaganda points

A friend shared with me an article in German. My German isn't that good, but thankfully Google translate is much better than older translation routines and so I can share it. The article is titled[http://www.neues-deutschland.de/artikel/837196.verharmloste-strahlenfolgen.html]:

Ärzteorganisation IPPNW kritisiert UN-Bericht zur AKW-Katastrophe von Fukushima

Google Translates this as:

"Medical organization IPPNW criticizes UN report on the nuclear disaster in Fukushima"

The article summary tells us:

"The medical organization IPPNW submitted on Friday criticized the Fukushima report of the UN Committee on the effects of radiation."

Essentially IPPNW notes that almost all our officials and their employed experts make their reports based on outdated assumptions and inadequate data largely because the scientists are forced to rely on unclassified and deliberately downplayed propaganda points about the effects of radiation in generating "stochastic" [statistical] disease. In the Russian roulette of radiation effects, the odds are worse for people than officials -- burdened by secrecy laws and a punitive nuclear security state -- will admit. "The United Nations Committee on the Consequences of Radiation (UNSCEAR)' annual report on Fukushima" was characterized by the "The organization International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW ) as:

"targeted misinformation to the public."

They protested the reports claim that UNSCEAR's claim that:

"no apparent increase of cancer in the affected population could be expected , which may be associated with radiation exposure."

... is misinformation. IPPNW disputes the claim that:

"Although UNSCEAR admits an increase of cancer cases indicates,...that this would not be noticeable in the statistics because of their small numbers."

The IPPNW Angelika Claussen, chair of the German section, protests this finding saying:

"this statement is untenable.

And she notes how previously "very rare thyroid cancer was diagnosed in 18 children exposed to radiation in the region, with another 25 suspected of having this disease", while the normal "long-term average" in the area "indicated only one previous case expected." The IPPNW report is protesting that the UNSCEAR report underplays the massive risk of "stochastic" effects from radiation exposure in the form of increased risk of cancer. And the IPPNW investigators found that authorities were blocking systematic health checks and excluding sub-contractors from the measurements.

The article points to a failure to collect blood samples. It notes:

"they had to find in their journey through the mainly affected areas that the authorities block systematic health checks with blood [checks] 'spot.' Where this would have made on your own doctors , a significant accumulation of radiation- induced weakening of the immune system probably had been found . The pediatrician Alex Rosen , deputy chairman of the German section of IPPNW criticized , because even in the UNSCEAR report , especially the poor data base . Had been used mainly to the International Atomic Energy Agency ( IAEA), the operating company TEPCO and the Japanese nuclear authorities , although particular TEPCO repeated manipulations and inconsistencies were noticed . There are no data received from independent measurements in the report. Is also ignored , that in work in Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant after the disaster were used to a considerable extent employees of subcontractors that do not appear in the statistics.

So IPPNW is protesting deliberately left out data, and "manipulations and inconsistencies" in data collection and reporting. The report under reports the impact of radiation on the immune system and on Leukemia incidence. The article continues:

"How bad it is with the independence of UNSCEAR , has for Rose mere fact that the main radiation leukemia " expert " is a scientist who worked more than 30 years in the nuclear fuel manufacturer British Nuclear Fuel and also as a retiree or for the reprocessing plant at Sellafield operates."

This is not to impeach him as a science, but it does point to his probable partisan bias against admitting stochastic risks and that the man cannot possibly be a trained expert on Leukemia.

"Rose also sees shortcomings in other scientific methodology which partly goes from outdated assumptions since the 1950s . So it incorrectly assumed in the report of a threshold dose below which there will be no radiation damage. The radiobiological research has shown that such a threshold does not exist. In addition, embryos and fetuses were in the dose -response relationship simply equated with children , although in these the immune system is not yet fully emerged and they are particularly sensitive to radiation because of increased rates of cell division . In addition, an Australian study has 680 000 children in whom a CT scan was performed , compared with non-irradiated one million children. The absorbed radiation dose while about 4.5 millisievert ( mSv ) per 100 000 children have caused nine additional cancer cases. Such studies simply ignored the UN Committee , criticized Angelika Claussen , although UNSCEAR run out of loads comparable in Japan . But instead of a long-range evacuation had increased only in Japan, the annual allowable radiation exposure limit for children to 20 mSv."

So it is likely that embryos and fetuses are more susceptible to radiation than even small children.

And worse, instead of evacuating affected areas, Japan just raised the exposure level allowed for small children, expectant mothers, and others -- with predictable if "stochastic" results. Which the world governments are now denying.

[One] problem the IPPNW believes exists is the fixation on th[os]e [cancers] triggered by radioactive iodine thyroid exposure, although it is known that large quantities of radioactive isotopes with half-lives of around 30 years much longer-lived radioisotopes of cesium -137 and strontium -90 leaked continuous with leaking cooling water escape into the sea. Chronic exposure to these radioactivity can lead to leukemias , lymphomas and solid tumors.

Thyroid Cancers due to radioactive iodine are only the tip of the stochastic iceberg, as strontium and cesium poisoning initiates leukemias, lymphomas and solid tumors in affected populations. The IPPNW predicts:

The IPPNW expected in the coming years 10000-20000 additional cancer cases in Japan based on the determined by independent measurements of radiation levels around Fukushima. According to the roses is still a conservative estimate that emanates throughout Japan for one additional cancer case per 10 mSv lifetime dose of radiation.

10,000 to 20,000 future cancer cases; leukemia, lymphoma and solid tumors, in addition to the already expected thyroid abnormalities and tumors. And that is the real conservative estimate.

I believe the article gives the Atomic Energy and UNSCEAR scientists more credit than they deserve. Secrecy laws forbid them to tell the truth or they lose access to funds and contracts -- but I believe that makes them cowards, not merely blind, but cowards, because minimizing the effects of a deadly disaster makes them mass murderers or accessories to mass murder.

We did it to ourselves in the 50's and 60's. The Russians did it to themselves and the rest of us with Chernobyl and other disasters. Someday we'll see the real statistics on the effects of open air testing on our population.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Corrupt judges on the Supreme Court

When Sandra Day O'Conner retired CNN came out with an article talking about the relatively low salaries of Supreme Court Justices. http://money.cnn.com/2005/07/01/news/newsmakers/salary/ and they claimed:

"But one thing they won't get a chance to do is make a boatload of money in the process."

If only. 

It is true that they should make a really good salary, and they do, but do we really want their salary to be competitive with corporate Americans. The article continues:

"Whoever replaces O'Connor will undoubtedly have one of the finest legal minds in the country. He or she will also have a paycheck of less than $200,000 a year, compared with an average of over $5 million for corporate executives.

You can look up their salary, it's up to 223,000$ now and the articles will still tell you it is fixed, not that much, etc.... But that turns out to not be true. It might have been true for relatively honest people like Sandra Day O'Conner, but it is not necessarily even true about them. So we get the advertizing about our saintly judges (from same article):

'There is a motivational force that is not money," said Paul Hodgson, a compensation specialist at the Portland, Maine based research group the Corporate Library, in explaining why people become civil servants. "If you're a lawyer and you're not motivated by money, that would probably seem like the most important job there is."'

Sure, we are supposed to play the violin for them.

"Hodgson said the compensation discrepancy is especially acute for Supreme Court justices because, unlike many other high-level public employees, their lifetime appointment means they will most likely not return to the lucrative private sector."

But this becomes meaningless if they are able to break judicial ethics rules and receive outside compensation From the Private sector as these rule changes made possible. Paying officials too much makes them vulnerable to ego inflation, but paying them too little or giving them license to make unlimited outside income makes them susceptable to bribery!

Actually the compensation discrepancy is an issue because every time the government fails to pay officers the officers make up any discrepancy (real or perceived) with corruption. No wonder Kennedy ruled in a case that applied to lower courts that:

"That speakers may have influence over or access to elected officials does not mean that those officials are corrupt. And the appearance of influence or access will not cause the electorate to lose faith in this democracy"."

But Kennedy and the other Judges exempt themselves from those rules!

Bribery is defined! under title 18 as:

" directly or indirectly, corruptly gives, offers or promises anything of value to any public official...or ...give anything of value to any other person or entity, with intent— "

And all this to:

"(A) to influence any official act..."

Bribery isn't just piling a heap on goods on a desk. It also takes more subtle forms such as making deals while playing golf. Or simply attending the same functions and paying ones wife! Are we to believe that the Supreme Court can exempt itself from the appearance of corruption?

So the Heritage foundation doesn't employ Clarence Thomas' wife in order to influence Clarence Thomas? When the Supreme Court made it's Massey ruling, which it cited in it's corrupt Citizens United decision, the mere appearance of possible corruption, and not even a smoking gun of evidence of such influence was enough for them to rule that the Judge should have recused itself. So how do we excuse Clarence Thomas? We shouldn't. Open Secrets notes:

"U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, for instance, made headlines last month for failing to disclose years' worth of income his wife had earned -- including more than $686,500 between 2003 and 2007 from the Heritage Foundation."

Heritage Foundation campaigned for Thomas to get on the Supreme Court, and now they reward him, directly, by employing his wife. This isn't just the appearance of corruption. According to Title 18 a case can be made this is the reality. Pay in such a case can be presumed to be indirect gift for the sake of influencing his decision making. Of course with our Supreme Court Justices they were selected, groomed, and rewarded on the basis of such influence over a long period of time. One can say that these corrupt organizations pretty much created them in the first place. So it's no wonder the Supreme Court pretends that just because there is obvious influence and association between organizations like Heritage foundation and the Judges and politicians they create and maintain, and the wealthy individuals who pay Heritage Foundation to promote their personal seditious and corrupt purposes -- that just because there is the appearance of corruption (which is what they were saying in the Citizens United Case) doesn't mean there is the reality. Oh, no Thomas' hiding his wife's income was just an accounting error!

But of course though one can look up the disclosure statements of Supreme Court Justices, one can't know whether they are corrupt or not unless they disclose their income.

Open Secrets reports a relatively modest list of "outside incomes" for the Justices for instance:

RankNameGrand TotalMember TotalSpouse TotalDependent Total
1Stephen G. Breyer$46,812$46,812$0$0
2Antonin Scalia$45,655$45,655$0$0
3Clarence Thomas$26,955$26,955$0$0
3Samuel A. Alito$26,955$26,955$0$0
5Anthony M. Kennedy$26,500$26,500$0$0
6Ruth Bader Ginsburg$23,000$23,000$0$0
7Elena Kagan$15,000$15,000$0$0
7John G. Roberts$15,000$15,000$0$0     

But do you see Clarence Thomas' spouse reported, no? All of them have net worth in the millions.

RankNameMinimum Net WorthAverageMaximum Net Worth
1Ruth Bader Ginsburg$5,415,015$14,265,007$23,115,000
2Stephen G. Breyer$4,760,058$10,647,529$16,535,000
3John G. Roberts$2,680,039$4,542,519$6,405,000
4Sonia Sotomayor$1,225,010$3,477,505$5,730,000
5Antonin Scalia$1,885,023$3,142,511$4,400,000
6Clarence Thomas$715,014$1,317,507$1,920,000
7Elena Kagan$600,017$1,080,008$1,560,000
8Samuel A. Alito$380,006$740,003$1,100,000
9Anthony M. Kennedy$330,004$515,002$700,000

Oh well. So we aren't talking "quid pro quo" corruption are we. We are talking influence cultivated over a period of years; such as Kagan's involvement with Goldman Sachs, or the Gang of Five and the Federalist Society.  Maybe some of the influences are benign. Kennedy gives speeches for the Annenberg and Colonial Williamsburg foundation. But Thomas' relationship to the Heritage foundation is a scandal, and he doesn't ever recuse himself from decisions where his opinions just happen to match theirs.  So the point? Separate and privileged access are the heart of corruption, and denying that is itself corrupt. There are two kinds of corruption, one is legal corruption, and the other is when a process is degraded. In the second sense, the mere appearance of corruption is itself corrupt.

This article is a follow on to an earlier post on "Corruption, Racketeering and the Supreme Court: http://holtesthoughts.blogspot.com/2013/10/corruption-racketeering-and-supreme.html

Related Posts:
A Corrupt Court, Tuesday, June 26, 2012: http://holtesthoughts.blogspot.com/2012/06/corrupt-court.html
A corrupt decision blind to corrupt access and influence October 8, 2013: http://holtesthoughts.blogspot.com/2013/10/a-corrupt-decision-blind-to-corrupt.html
Corruption, Racketeering and the Supreme Court, Wednesday, October 16, 2013: http://holtesthoughts.blogspot.com/2013/10/corruption-racketeering-and-supreme.html
Corrupt judges on the Supreme Court. October 23, 2013: http://holtesthoughts.blogspot.com/2013/10/corruption-judges-on-supreme-court.html
Corrupt Court and Undue Influence and access according to Founders, Thursday, March 27, 2014: http://holtesthoughts.blogspot.com/2014/03/corrupt-court-and-undue-influence-and.html
The Expected Corrupt Decision by a corrupt court, Saturday, April 5, 2014: http://holtesthoughts.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-expected-corrupt-decision-by.html
Is Quid Pro Quo the only kind of corruption that Government can regulate. April 5, 2014: http://holtesthoughts.blogspot.com/2014/04/is-quid-pro-quo-only-kind-of-corruption.html
Undue influence and Dependency Corruption or why the Supreme Court Decision was so corrupt, April 21st, 2014: http://holtesthoughts.blogspot.com/2014/04/undue-influence-and-dependency.html

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Managing energy on spying

To: <aclu@aclu-md.org>;
Dear Susan Goering

I've been researching the regime setup for internal spying and have found that the culprit is as much local as national. I'm glad to see the national organization noticed this: https://www.aclu.org/spy-files/more-about-fusion-centers

The relationship between NSA/FBI, Private organizations, and the Fusion Centers that Homeland Security let each Governor setup to pass on the tools that formerly had been exclusively with NSA to FBI, State and local police and private companies sabotages the value of protesting NSA.  Stopping NSA from spying on us won't stop the spying unless we reform the secret organizations that have been spun off including The Domestic Security Alliance Council (DSAC) which is coordinating spying from the FBI.

Unless we understand how spying has metastasized, reigning in NSA, will just shift the center of domestic spying to the FBI, and worse, or even shift it to private actors including the DSAC and it's Networked members, including Maryland's MCAC.

These organizations include (Related to Maryland):
http://www.gohs.maryland.gov/ii_sharing_accomplishments.html
http://www.mcac.maryland.gov/
National participation from MCAC:
http://www.nfcausa.org/default.aspx/MenuItemID/117/MenuGroup/Home+New.htm
Further reading:http://www.zcommunications.org/fusion-centers-and-the-maryland-spying-scandal-by-anthony-newkirk.html

http://www.dsac.gov/Pages/index.aspx
http://www.ise.gov/annual-report/section1.html#section-5

I'd like to participate in protests against NSA but I think it confuses the issue as NSA is the least guilty organization. Moreover, there are legitimate security concerns and so I'm not even sure that prohibition is either possible nor wise. We certainly need changes to how we manage tele-comm information and a lot less use of secrecy laws to prevent whistleblowing and enable misuse of that information.

Christopher H. Holte

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Corruption, Racketeering and the Supreme Court

Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations And the Supreme Court

Anyone who has studied corruption and racketeering in America will certainly find the reasoning in the Citizens United Case specious at best, and astoundingly corrupt at worst, not for the corporate personhood provisions, but for the corrupt deliberate obtuseness of Justice Kennedies opinion that;

"That speakers may have influence over or access to elected officials does not mean that those officials are corrupt. And the appearance of influence or access will not cause the electorate to lose faith in this democracy".

This is one of those decisions that reminds one of a judge who has a mafioso enforcer in front of him and a treasure chest full of evidence of his murders and who says "just because he was in proximity to all those murders, and owned the murder weapon doesn't mean he's the murderer." You hear a judge say that and you wonder how much the Mafioso attorney paid him. The smell gets even stronger when you realize that the case Justice Kennedy cites; Caperton v. A. T.Massey Coal Co., 556 U. S. ___, distinguished. Pp. 40–45. (2010 decision) is one where the mere appearance of possible corruption was justification for disqualifying a judge from hearing a case. Yet this "gang of 5" on the supreme court cites the Massey case to create an impossible standard for preventing or enforcing bribery. Mafioso lawyers must be salivating at the chutzpah, that RICO law will be next. But on the other hand the differences between mafioso methods and modern political business in general have disappeared. The Michael Corleone depicted in the last episodes of the Godfather would feel at home in the Vatican chambers of the Supreme Court here.

But it Gets Worse

Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO), Background

When RICO laws were first drafted, the evolving and somewhat arbitrary distinctions between who is a legitimate citizen and who is a "crook" were defined differently then they are now. And they had evolved over time as factions in the country sought to paint themselves as "good citizens" and other factions fought them and sought to beat down the doors to equal protection of the law and protection of their interests. The earliest laws about corruption were "common law" and were imposed by judges based on customs dating back to the dark ages.

In Andrew Cohen's masterful book on racketeering [THE RACKETEER’S PROGRESS Commerce, Crime, and the Law in Chicago, 1900-1940 ANDREW W. COHEN Syracuse University] he notes:

"According to common law, two or more individuals, acting in concert, pursuing an illegal end or achieving a lawful end by unlawful means, made up a criminal conspiracy." [Src: Cohen's book]

Unfortunately that definition makes it difficult to identify or separate simple access and legal influence from it's corrupt cousins. Criminal conspiracy may be easy to spot after the fact or in theory, but in practice it is difficult to spot and even harder to run down and prove. Worse the law's social enforcement meant that folks could be seeking a lawful end and be held liable for criminal conspiracy if the State deems their means unlawful. What those 'criminal ends' and "criminal means' are had to be defined to be useful, and often were defined conveniently to those who held the franchise, or paid the lawyers who defined it. For example for most of the late 19th century railroad, transportation, banking and other corporations enjoyed legal advantages and talked a lot about "free markets" - - but targetted tradesmen and their unions under "criminal conspiracy laws." Cohen's book notes:

"Craft governance depended upon a web of agreements" but "early-twentieth-century judges barely acknowledged the right of workers to organize. Before the bar, unions were mere voluntary associations of individuals with no official legal standing. [Cohen: page 3] They could negotiate a contract with the employer, but this was the limit of their formal authority. The lawprescribed that each individual worker should sign his or her own agreement and ensure the employers’ obedience to its terms. Some unions gained official capacity by obtaining corporate charters from the state, but most declined because this required they grant politicians power over the creation of new organizations and subject themselves to judicial supervision." [Cohen: page 4]

So tradesmen were not full citizens under the law in the 19th century. They had no or limited rights to petition the government, to representation, or to their contracts and interests being honored. But as with all oppression, the infringement on a right pretty much starkly illustrates that right. Cohen also notes how modern authors fail to appreciate:

"the craftsmen’s preoccupation with governance, a fascination that defined their worldview and granted them some measure of control over Chicago’s future. Craft unions were consumed with enforcing rules governing wages and production, with controlling entry into the labor market, and with pressuring the rank and file to obey union discipline. Often in alliance with their own employers, craft workers established informal but fairly stable systems of private regulation that deflected corporate economic development and maintained their position in the city’s commercial life. Tradesmen were conservative, but they wer also ambitious, asserting total authority over many urban industries. In doing so, they challenged not only the right of wealthy businessmen to operate unfettered in the city but also the supremacy of the state.[Cohen: page 3]"

This self governance was deemed illegal by the officials and influential members of society and thus these small businessmen and workers came under persecution as "criminals." As with all folks whose rights are denied, they fight back. An evil system turns legitimate leaders into illegitimate ones, and creates people who embody the "Robin Hood" archetype as they seek to defend the interests of their people by illegal means. Essentially Criminal conspiracy by officials creates criminal conspiracy by members of groups defined as outlaws by a repressive or suppressive system. The right of people to assemble and form their own organizations was denied to them:

"The law prescribed that each individual worker should sign his or her own agreement and ensure the employers’ obedience to its terms. Some unions gained official capacity by obtaining corporate charters from the state, but most declined because this required they grant politicians power over the creation of new organizations and subject themselves to judicial supervision.[Cohen: page 4]"

At the time the more "white collar" business community of lawyers, engineers and corporations had unfettered access to courts, but that was not the case for unions, small business or tradesmen. From the point of view of the law, Union Contracts and trade-groups were criminal conspiracy.

"the courts used common law definitions of criminal conspiracy to go after craftsmen and union members. Given this hostile climate, craftsmen unsurprisingly preferred to enforce their rules and agreements outside of court through pickets, boycotts, and violence. This led to craft workers, union members and tradesmen to be in constant conflict with the police and the courts. [see page 4]"

This worked for the companies, banks, and upper classes as long as they were genuinely wedded to free market and individualistic principles. But Individualism sounds good until people figure out they get further by colluding together. It was easy for monopolistic companies and trusts to collude without leaving a paper trail, but craftsmen weren't even allowed to breath the same air without being accused of criminal conspiracy. And the courts used criminal conspiracy to go after craftsmen and union members:

"Though such cases largely failed to uproot craft governance, public officials themselves were dedicated to the open shop and its individualistic assumptions. [Cohen]

Juries were not going to convict their own leaders of criminal conspiracy, and the jury system saved craftsmen from effective repression though not from being labeled as criminals for defending their rights illegally.

"Given this hostile climate, craftsmen unsurprisingly preferred to enforce their rules and agreements outside of court through pickets, boycotts, and violence" This led to craft workers, union members and tradesmen to be in constant conflict with the police and the courts. As long as corporations and the "upper classes" were wedded to principles of free enterprise this worked.

But then between the 1880's and the 1920's businesses realized they could make bigger profits and operate more efficiently by organizing themselves too. This led to talk of "free markets" being increasingly hollow. By 1902 this led to Theador Roosevelt surprising J.P. Morgan by prosecuting his company under anti-trust law: [More: http://www.theodorerooseveltcenter.org/Learn-About-TR/Themes/Capitalism-and-Labor/The-Northern-Securities-Case.aspx]. Roosevelt eventually found himself having to distinguish between "good trusts" and bad "trusts" but over the next 20 years it became increasingly difficult to distinguish New Jersey Corporations and Trusts from the kinds of conspiracies local prosecutors regularly went after -- except that the big trusts got away with a lot more. So, as Cohen notes:

during the 1920s, Chicago’s criminal justice system retreated from this position [cracking down on unions and shop keepers]. Of at least 133 indictments issued against craft unionists between 1920 and 1929, only 12 ended in conviction or a guilty plea, and some were property crimes largely unrelated to the question of craft governance, such as robbery and petit larceny.With each year, the numbers grewstarker. Jurors granted prosecutors victory in only 4 cases—the candy jobbers, bootblacks, bakers, and the machinery movers—out of 39 indictments issued between 1925 and 1929. Many times, the state’s attorneys declined to prosecute union officials, fearing the wrath of their constituents. In 11 cases between 1921 and 1929, cleaners, machinery movers, teamsters, garageworkers, and other tradesmenwon their freedom, largely because of the sympathy that some jurors felt for unions. Many of those convicted successfully obtained pardons from Illinois Governor Lennington Small." [page 11]

The difference between the Carnagies, Morgans and the dry cleaners, movers, teamsters, garage workers and other tradesmen had pretty much vanished except in the pretensions and tirades of muckrackers. Most companies instead of practicing free markets (they still preach free markets to this day) went to managing markets through legal deals, managing employees, and the use of advertizing. As Cohen notes:

"As corporations abandoned the free market for managed competition, the ideological assumptions underlying their legal assault on local craftsmen grew increasingly strained. If conspiracy laws restricted building contractors, team owners, barbers, and butchers from forming associations, then the same rules might implicate organizations of steel manufacturers, meatpackers, and railroads. As corporate executives experimented with private regulation, they searched for a legal regime that distinguished their associations from those established by craftsmen during the previous decades."[Cohen page 12]

And they found their new regime by rebranding a word and inventing a crime, "Racketeering":

"In a series of promotional writings, including a monthly newsletter and a popular book titled It’s a Racket, Hostetter advanced a new word—racketeering— seeking to equate certain local unions and trade associations with criminal gangs. The EA secretary defined a racket as a “scheme by which human parasites graft themselves upon and live by the industry of others, maintaining their hold by intimidation, force and terrorism.” Acknowledging that the public used the term to describe varied forms of illicit enterprise such as bootlegging, prostitution, and gambling, Hostetter purposefully added another category: organizations that set prices and wages in trades like laundry, dry cleaning, barbering, construction, and trucking." [Cohen page 13]

Apparently the invention of the term was meant to provide wealthy establishment businessmen, and their police and courts, a new Justification for prosecuting labor, tradesmen and other "criminal groups" rather than treating them as legal equals. It was founded on real misbehavior by these tradesmen, mobsters, union officials, and others as they struggled with the issue of doing business without the benefit of being part of a legitimate business framework. Cohen also notes:

"To note that racketeering is a historical artifact is not to say that Gordon Hostetter fabricated everything he wrote about assault, bribery, and price fixing. Rather, it is to appreciate his stories as subjective interpretations that shaped public attitudes and affected the legal status of labor unions and collective bargaining. It is to understand that the history of crime is inseparable from the history of ideas about crime. [page 17]"

Cohen's notes about crime point to the fact that what is criminal in one society and for one set of courts, can be standard practice in another part of society and not even noticed as criminal behavior. Unfortunately for establishment business, financiers and their lawyers, these theories of Hosteter's were specious and racketeering type behavior was as common among establishment business as among the people he labeled as "racketeers". Unions were more often the victim of Mobsters than mobsters, or gunmen hired by establishment business, as perpetrators. Mobsters got much of their power from the fact that tradesmen and workers were already being criminalized and oppressed by that establishment. Once housing markets and stock markets crashed, largely due to their fraudulent and reckless bheavior, and along came revelations that they crashed largely due to fraud, chicanery, and parastism by so called "upright" establishment figures. The definitions and legal approach to Racketeering had to adjust and become more progressive too. This occured during the new deal.

"More obviously, the New Deal radically overturned criminal law and especially Hostetter’s notion of racketeering. NIRA gave credibility to agreements that had been criminal just a few years before. Cook County grand juries still indicted craftsmen, but local juries refused to convict them, seeing them as lawful components of the recovery effort. At the same time, NIRA greatly increased the importance of keeping gunmen out of labor unions. The first federal antiracketeering law, also passed in 1933, proposed to protect collective bargaining from exploitative criminals like Murray “The Camel” Humphreys rather than to discourage trade agreements. In essence, the NewDeal made the word racketeer synonymous with gangster, validating the views of social scientists and union officials. Racketeering became a crime perpetrated upon organizations by evil individuals rather than a crime committed by those same groups.[page 17]"

For the next few years racketeering and gangsterism became synonymous, but at some point the FBI and other law enforcement folks tried to pretend it wasn't a problem anymore. The Head of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, denied there was any such thing as a "mob" or "mafia", publicly. Possibly because the Mafia had photos of him betting horses up in Laurel, or maybe other photos of him and his advisor Tolbert, or maybe simply because he didn't want to deal with the subject. But thanks to the Kennedy Administration and some high profile prosecutions he eventually had to admit there was such a thing, and in any case in 1970 Congress passed the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) to go after organized crime. [WSJ Article on RICO: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052748704881304576094110829882704]

"The law allows federal prosecutors to stitch together crimes going back many years, from extortion and loan sharking to murder, in a single case. It is easier for them to convict mob defendants when they wrap in evidence of the "broader context in which the crime was committed, along with the pattern of conduct that led up to the crime," said Samuel Buell, a professor at Duke University School of Law."

RICO has helped make life safer for ordinary citizens in some ways. But unfortunately, the convergence of Racketeering and ordinary business has also continued non-stop since Prohibition, especially among wealthier people. It's gotten so it's hard to tell them apart.

"RICO's reach has expanded well beyond the mob in recent years. Businesses can be considered enterprises subject to the law, said Peter Henning, a law professor at Wayne State University, in Michigan. Victims of an alleged fraud can use RICO to file civil suits and recover triple the amount of damages they suffered. The Gulf of Mexico oil disaster has prompted civil racketeering suits. Some alleged conspirators of Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff have been charged under RICO, as have tobacco companies and prominent political figures."[WSJ Article]

Now can politicians be subject to RICO? Not if their racketeering and corruption is considered "free speech" or folks can't see it.

"Over time, Mr. Henning noted, the law has become controversial. "RICO is often criticized because of its use in civil cases to deal with business disputes that have nothing to do with mob activity," he said."[WSJ Article]

Again we have that social definition of criminality Cohen and others talk about. Equal application of the law gets trumped by social prejudice:

"RICO's first big test came in 1979, when the law was used to prosecute the Hell's Angels motorcycle gang in California. The bikers were acquitted. With their long hair and tattoos, they didn't look like an organized-crime enterprise to the jury."[WSJ Article]

Nevermind that groups like the Hells Angels and other Gangs have pretty much moved into the Mob orbit of outlaw business. They didn't look like Gambini's or Corleone's. Fraud, racketeering, and corrupt organizations only seem like "rackets" to some people if they are run by career criminals whose names end in Gambini, or who are from minority groups.

Citizens United is a Racketeers Dream decision

Racketeering is hard to prove unless there is a long trail of corpses, because crooks don't come out and say "We'll make you an Offer you can't refuse" while being recorded or in a tweet. They use indirect language, like leaving a horses head in a bed, or dropping a 'campaign contribution" on a politicians desk. Requiring proof of a quid pro quo in every case of bribery, or a dead body in every assassin conviction, is not only setting the bar high, it is setting up a Mafia lawyers wet dream. Denying the connection between influence and access and corruption is the current equivalent of Hoover denying there was an organized crime in the 1960's. Racketeers will be able to cite it when avoiding prosecution. "Just because this man is my associate doesn't mean he worked for me. I didn't tell him to knock off Louie the snitch." Or "I was just exercising my first amendment right to buy the judge."

The lawyers on the Supreme court know there is corruption all around them. In the Massey case that Justice Kennedy cites; they write:

"the judge in question should have recused himself from the case because "There is a serious risk of actual bias when a person with a personal stake in a particular case had a significant and disproportionate influence in placing the judge on the case..."

Thus their citation of Massey is all the stranger for them to cite in their claim that we don't need to put limits on separate assets and influence. Indeed Justice Stevens spends a number of pages of his dissent dissecting Kennedy's citation of this case. The case cited demonstrates that such influence at the very least looks corrupt. I don't get it. Instead it looks like Stevens was referring to the line; "Though not a bribe or criminal influence, Justice Benjamin would nevertheless feel a debt of gratitude to Blankenship for his extraordinary efforts to get him elected" in the Massey case. The Court holds that Benjamin should have recused himself from the case and then denies that those "extraordinary efforts to get him elected" are corrupt influence, even though it is pretty obvious in this case, it's ruling, and the fact that it had to go to the supreme court in the first place -- that that was their intended effect. Like I said, Mafioso Attorneys must be salivating at the prospect of a comeback.

McCutcheon as evidence of a corrupt supreme court.

On top of their racist and obtuse comments in the current session, their dismissal of long existent laws limiting corruption in states across the country, each backed by a long and well documented history, tells me this court isn't merely obtuse, it is corrupt. A recent Washington Post article referred to their questioning on the McCutcheon case:

"They expressed skepticism about “wild hypotheticals that are not obviously plausible” — when in fact we’ve already seen those scenarios play out. They talked a lot about the FEC’s “earmarking” and “coordination” rules, but they didn’t seem to recognize that those rules are impossible to police and that a dysfunctional FEC isn’t doing much policing anyway. And the conservatives on the court seemed to fail to understand what leads to corruption or the appearance of corruption — with Justice Samuel Alito going so far as to suggest that giving a very large check to a political fundraising committee isn’t inherently a problem, because the committee could take the money and burn it. “Well, they’re not,” replied Solicitor General Donald Verrilli. “They are not going to burn it.”[Wash Post story]

Sounding like a Politician claiming that the money he received from the mob wasn't a bribe. The author of the article says that the Supreme Court needs to "get smarter" about corruption. But I don't buy that argument. Their statements in past decisions shows that they know what they are doing. This level of deliberate obtuseness is itself corrupt. The last few cases they received they cited citizens United without even considering the content of the complaints. They aren't stupid. That leads the deduction that they are corrupt.

"Many court-watchers have described McCutcheon as the next Citizens United, to the extent that it could continue dismantling campaign finance laws that have sought to protect our political system from corruption for decades. Whereas Citizens United v. FEC jettisoned the ban on corporate election spending, the petitioners in McCutcheon seek to eliminate the $123,200 cap on an individual’s total donations to candidates, parties and political committees in a two-year election cycle."[Wash Post story]

And considering previous cases since Citizens United, it is pretty obvious that is their intention. They aren't even hiding it. The Author of the article gives them more credit than they deserve:

Tuesday’s exchanges suggested a further parallel to Citizens United: Despite being out of their depth, the justices seem perfectly comfortable being the ones to decide whether to transform the landscape of campaign finance. They don’t want to defer to Congress on a subject it is obviously more familiar with. Instead, they are forging ahead without understanding the consequences.

They have to understand the consequences. Their path is just reckless and corrupt. Each of them is going to be (those who aren't already) a millionare as a result of these decisions. And the difference between the Republican Party and the Mafioso is going to disappear. And maybe they'll gut RICO next. The Washington Post Reporter explains how:

"The comment about “wild hypotheticals” came from Alito in response to the solicitor general’s calculation that if the aggregate donation limit were eliminated, but the limits on how much an individual can give to each candidate, party or political committee remained, then a joint fundraising effort could bring in as much as $3.6 million from a single donor. Alito dismissed that idea as lacking “any empirical support.”

With Alito denying the empirical evidence just given him. This is corruption at work. The author notes:

In fact, in the 2012 election, President Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney each established a joint fundraising committee consisting of his campaign committee, his party’s national committee and several state party committees. As I laid out in the amicus brief I filed with the court on behalf of the Campaign Legal Center, those joint committees raised hundreds of millions of dollars by collecting the maximum amount from donors that the aggregate limit allows. That’s pretty strong evidence that, Alito’s skepticism notwithstanding, candidates and parties will push the law as far as it will go.

The talks about other artifacts from the long chain of evidence that campaign reform is necessary to control and that unchecked money is almost always defacto bribery. And he concludes:

"Tuesday’s exchanges suggested a further parallel to Citizens United: Despite being out of their depth, the justices seem perfectly comfortable being the ones to decide whether to transform the landscape of campaign finance. They don’t want to defer to Congress on a subject it is obviously more familiar with. Instead, they are forging ahead without understanding the consequences."

They did the same thing with Civil Rights laws, and a whole host of decisions that have been on the Federalist Society Agenda since the society was created. Too bad it is difficult to prosecute a Supreme Court Justice for RICO.

Further reading and source:

THE RACKETEER’S PROGRESS Commerce, Crime, and the Law in Chicago, 1900-1940 ANDREW W. COHEN Syracuse University URL: http://www.sagepub.com/lippmanccl2e/study/articles/Cohen.pdf
Also: Google Books Racketeers Progress
Citizens United Decision: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/09pdf/08-205.pdf
http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/08pdf/08-22.pdf
http://www.forbes.com/sites/rickungar/2011/02/22/a-secret-deal-between-gov-walker-and-koch-brothers-buried-in-state-budget/
TR: http://www.ushistory.org/us/43b.asp
Wall Street Journal, They Call It RICO, and It Is Sweeping http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052748704881304576094110829882704
Washington Post article

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Southern Empire Strikes Back

Punishing present day people for mythical infractions

I lost touch with my Southern side when I realized that most of what they'd tried to teach me was mallarky and myth. Now that I'm older have more appreciation for the value of myth and legend, but less tolerance for it's abuse so I'm even less sympathetic to my Southern Ancestors. But what worries me most are historic mythical grudges. These Grudges can last for millennium and the people who believe in such grudges can get revenge for deeds and infractions that never occurred, or that were very different in actual attributes from the myth they've handed down. In fact such myths can spread from people to their neighbors. In this case a lot of Northerners have come to accept Southern myths and legends and so it's not entirely a regional myth anymore. Thus a lot of what is motivating the Tea Party, even it's northern branches, is Southern Revenge "Revanchism" seeking based on myths about race, class and the civil war. In fact the debt ceiling fight is largely about folks seeking to punish bankers, the North, and that "black man in the white house" for mythical infractions. I'm not a psychologist, but this lunacy has to be fought. Southerners want to Punish Obama for being black, for being President, for the slight of "Lincoln freeing the slaves" and for the fear that the USA is becoming a Brown nation and might one day be ruled by other brown people.

Ironically Southern Republicans are fighting to avenge mythical crimes committed by Northern Republicans.

Setting up a Trap to setup a coup

The basic strategy for the Tea Party folks has been to use the debt ceiling law to setup a legal trap so that Southerners can degrade the reputation of the President on Racist arguments, and maybe setup an impeachment battle. The way they are doing it, is by refusing to authorize spending, which in turn starves the government, makes it impossible for the President to legally do his job. Then as soon as he tries to do his job he'll be caught in a Catch 22 trap. If he finds a way to pay his bills he'll be in violation of the Debt Ceiling law. If he doesn't then he'll be in violation of the 14th amendment and other laws passed by congress making him legally liable for their failure. The 14th amendment says in part:

"4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void."

Unfortunately it doesn't say "congress shall" or "the President sell" thus the 14th amendment sets up a constitutional fight. Congress passed a law requiring the President to keep spending within limits in 2011 [http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/31/3101A], this was known as "sequestration" and the amount in it is less than the amount the Government appropriated, so we've been in a debt crisis since sequestration went into effect.

If the country defaults, the President will be breaking the law, if it doesn't default he will be breaking the law. So in either case we have a constitutional crisis coming.

Impeachment

When Andrew Johnson became President after Lincolns' assassination. The Northern Senators who were abolitionists were in a fight with Johnson, who was a Southern Congressman before he became Vice President. They found excuses to impeach Johnson, that in retrospect were entirely political and had nothing to do with his personal ethics. They succeeded in impeaching Johnson. I think some of the Republicans want to impeach Obama and this is one method for them to get to that.

It looks like it is failing. Thank God if it does. Republicans are talking about "fairness" but it is nowhere to be found in their actions.

Are they doing this unnecessary debt ceiling fight to destroy the USA as a means to get back at the Federal Government, and the Republicans, for mythical deeds from the 1860s? Are they planning to impeach Obama to get even with the impeachment of Andrew Johnson? If so they are subversives and insurrectionists using sedition and treachery to undermine the Federal Government. They are breaking their oath to uphold the constitution and they are breaking the law. I have trouble believing, but it looks like it might be true, that the "Southern Strategy" has allowed Southern revanchists (folks seeking revenge) to take over the Republicans and in that way get back at both the USA and the Party of Lincoln by making both unrecognizable?

The Plot

Rachel Maddow's blog quotes an Op Ed from Ted Cruz from September:

"If Senate Republicans stay strong and hold true to their previous commitments to defund Obamacare, we will force Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to make a choice: keep the government open, or shut it down in the name of funding a glitch-riddled health care takeover that is killing jobs, wages, and health care benefits all across the nation."
"http://maddowblog.msnbc.com/_news/2013/09/23/20658242-ted-cruzs-shutdown-scheme-takes-shape"

But that was the advertized plot. In January 2013 (beginning of year) DeMint gave a speach in which he claimed that the USA wouldn't default on anything if we didn't raise the debt ceiling and that we needed the discipline of not raising it.

http://www.myheritage.org/news/video-jim-demint-on-raising-the-debt-ceiling/

Republicans have been trying to impeach Obama since 2008 without ever having a good enough excuse. Fortunately for me the Atlantic Wire lays out the quandary they are setting up.

"Rep. Louie Gohmert, known for his colorfully erroneous perceptions of basically everything in politics, over the weekend suggested that if the government defaults on its debts, it could lead to the impeachment of President Obama. He's sort of got a point — but it may be the case that preventing default would guarantee that Obama commits a high crime or misdemeanor."

More: http://www.theatlanticwire.com/politics/2013/10/obamas-options-avoid-default-impeached-if-you-do-impeached-if-you-dont/70524/

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Ayes Have it Over the nays

The Ayes Have it Over the nays

The eyes have it over the neighs,
better to say "aye" than be a horses Nay
Better to say yes and come out and play
Than hide in a cellar on a rainy day.

Oh the Ayes have it over the Nays,
We are each Eye's, Each I's,
Who open our eyes one day.
And we should hold each other's hands today.
Because that is the way to tomorrow;
and also the way out of sorrow.
 Christopher H. Holte

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A corrupt decision blind to corrupt access and influence

The Citizens United Case was an incredibly corrupt decision. At first I laid the source of the corruption to it's resurrection of the "right of personhood" to corporations, but the reality is simpler.
On September 30, 2013, in an article by Richard L. Hasen in today's Slate titled "The Next Citizens United?" [http://tinyurl.com/NextCitizensUnited] writing about the upcoming "McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission," which is likely to overthrow most controls over influence pedalling and bribery, Hasen quotes Justice Kennedy:
"In Citizens United, Justice Kennedy wrote for the court majority that “there is only scant evidence that independent expenditures even ingratiate. … Ingratiation and access, in any event, are not corruption.”
But ingratiation and access are the core of corruption. The New York Times further quoted him with this nonsense:
" “The appearance of influence or access, furthermore, will not cause the electorate to lose faith in our democracy.”
"http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/04/us/politics/04bar.html?_r=0"
That decision sure caused a lot of people I know to lose faith in our democracy. The decision itself was corrupt.
But the problem is not mere access, it is "preferential access". And the problem is not "influence" it is undue influence, preferential influence, "private, separate advantage" [Locke,199] and these amount to tyranny.
The New York times article also notes:
In 2003, in McConnell v. F.E.C., the Supreme Court said there was “no meaningful distinction between the national party committees and the public officials who control them.” Large contributions to parties “are likely to create actual or apparent indebtedness on the part of federal officeholders,” the court said, and “are likely to buy donors preferential access to federal officeholders.”
The appearance of corruption is often an indicator of the reality of corruption, and we have judges all over the country being convicted for taking bribes from private companies running jails or other influential people. Often folks they do business with while playing Golf on the Links or getting a rubdown in a country club. Fact is that ingratiation and access, especially private separate access, are at the heart of corruption in the USA, and since the Supreme Court made it's Citizens United, the level of perceived and actual corruption we are witnessing nationwide has gone up exponentially.
So the real problem with Citizens United is that Kennedy gutted the definition of corruption. Heather K. Gerken in the Prospect published an article immediately after the decision [http://prospect.org/article/real-problem-citizens-united]:
"For many years, the Court had gradually expanded the corruption rationale to extend beyond quid pro quo corruption (donor dollars for legislative votes). It had licensed Congress to regulate even when the threat was simply that large donors had better access to politicians or that politicians had become "too compliant with the[ir] wishes." Indeed, at times the Court went so far as to say that even the mere appearance of "undue influence" or the public's "cynical assumption that large donors call the tune" was enough to justify regulation. "Ingratiation and access," in other words, were corruption as far as the Court was concerned. Justice Kennedy didn't say that the Court was overruling these cases. But that's just what it did. "
The problem with "quid pro quo" corruption is that most corruption occurs on the Golf Links or in the lockeroom in a country club.
"If the Court rigidly insists that Congress can regulate only to prevent quid-pro-corruption, narrowly defined, then Citizens United has implications that extend well beyond what corporations can do. Justice Kennedy's own opinion even hints at the possibility, as he notes that the evidence supporting the "soft money" limits – which apply across the board -- rests on evidence about the connection between money and political access. While Justice Kennedy backed off from saying anything definitive, we may find that it was the Court's discussion of corruption, not corporations, that matters most in the long run."
If the Supreme Court applies this rule to the McCutcheon case, which it probably will, then we'll be further down the road to shameless corruption under the protection of the first amendment as "free speech."
Fact is that money buys access which leads to influence which leads to collusion and is corruption. Corrupt court illustrates this at work, when they make decisions that legalize corruption while drawing outside income from teaching, speech making, and become blind to the reality that "access = influence". Judges used to avoid even the appearance of Corruption. Thanks to being exempt from Judicial ethic rules all other judges are supposed to live by some of the court justices on the Supreme Court now display openly their corrupt associations. This is destroying peoples faith and trust in the government and is enabling flagrantly corrupt politicians to get elected by flagrantly venal wealthy individuals. When Justice Scalia hunted with Dick Cheney and then selected his choice to be President, that is corruption. When folks graduate from universities, become lawyers work for a corrupt official, and then take a job at a company as a reward for corrupt decisions as a regulator, and then gets appointed to offices as a result of corrupt decisions in private practice, that is known as the "revolving door" and there is never a Quid Pro Quo that one can identify -- but it is incredibly corrupting. There doesn't have to be direct quid pro quo to run a corrupt enterprise, and US Penal Law represents "influence" as criminal when it is coerced. It's also criminal when it's not -- but thanks to the Supreme Court only morally.
Kennedy's decision was either morally blind, or morally corrupt.
The Swiss define corruption this way:
"Corruption means any abuse of a position of trust in order to gain an undue advantage. This involves the conduct of both sides: that of the person who abuses his position of trust as well as that of the person who seeks to gain an undue advantage by this abuse."
And "private, separate advantage" was the core part of John Locke's definition of tyranny, so corruption, oppression, usurpation and tyranny are always connected. And the Swiss (SECO) go on:
"Corruption can occur in relation to officials as well as between private persons. It is particularly prevalent in certain kinds of transactions (for example, when awarding public contracts), in certain economic sectors (for example, in extractive industries), and in certain countries. Corrupt practices can range from small favours in anticipation of a future advantage to the payment of large sums of money to senior members of governments."
http://www.seco.admin.ch/themen/00645/00657/00659/01387/index.html?lang=en
By those definitions "undue influence" is at the heart of corruption. Kennedy's decision was not just incorrect, it itself was corrupt, because it gives advantage to corruptors and the corrupt by forcing the government to a narrow and hard to prove definition of corruption.

Published: 10/18/2013

Further reading:

http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/PE/htm/PE.36.htm
http://holtesthoughts.blogspot.com/2013/10/corruption-racketeering-and-supreme.html
Montana Decision: Corrupt Court

Monday, October 7, 2013

Campaign Reform that might pass Supreme Court

I believe that some of the justices on the Supreme Court are corrupt, but there are things we can do to improve our campaign finance laws that will be difficult for them to overturn on "first amendment" and "corporate personhood" grounds without showing just what scoundrels the majority of the Supreme Court are. These modest proposals all draw on past laws and commons sense:

Define certain kinds of donations as de-facto evidence of bribery:
Any donations from a person or other organization doing business with the Federal Government, or an officer of an organization doing business with the Government shall be deemed as an effort to influence the Federal Government favorably to their business and such gifts, donations or loans shall be deemed as evidence of quid pro quo for bribery, or extortion (if given to an opponent), even if there is no direct link between the Federal Contractor and the recipient, or the person or business doesn't get the business or the gifts are returned and the debts paid unless the recipient discloses such gifts, loans or donations and recuses him or herself from any decision involving that business.
All donations, gifts, loans, or other contributions from any person whatsoever shall be disclosed at the time they are received. Failure to disclose such gifts, loans, donations or other contributions by persons or organizations doing business with the Federal Government by elected officials, or their immediate families, at the time they are received shall be deemed as evidence of intent to violate the law and of bribery.

* Note, the only reason for not making this a blanket restriction is the courts are currently corrupt.

Any legislator or other officer of the Government who receives money, gifts, or other emoluments, from anyone doing business with the Federal Government shall recuse him or herself from all legislative votes or decisions related to any matters related to that business or the officer or legislator shall be presumed to have been influenced by a bribe and shall be subject to US bribery laws.
All persons making any kind of donation, gift or loan to any politician or person running for office or re-election, shall disclose those donations to the IRS and these donations shall be listed publicly if they are over $2000.00 individually or $10,000.00 total in 2012 dollars.
Any person having information about campaign irregularities, bribery, influence pedaling, or other violations of the law shall be protected from retaliation, firing, or being targeted for prosecution by those who he has accused and if there is a conviction or a plea the person shall receive a 10% bounty on the amount of money value of the fine or of the amount of money saved to the taxpayer.

* Note: This is a variation of the Lincoln Law.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Elysium

Saw the movie Elysium here in Frederick. It was a good movie, a little sad. The future it describes is a distopia where a few live in comfort and near eternity and the vast masses of people live in "La Miseria" comparable to that of Favelas in Brazil or "La Miseria" in Argentina or Mexico. In fact a lot of the dialogue was in Spanish, and what got to me is that the daughter of the main character's love interest is named "Matilde" and has untreated Leukemia. It sure would be nice to be able to save her the way this character did.

Unfortunately, movies like this are getting to seem increasingly prophetic. Too often our officers are starting to forget that they don't "rule" except by consent of the governed, and in a democracy they either serve the people or they are usurpers. In Elysium the elites have gone so far as to flee into space, taking their technology with them. In our current times they are trying to buy Islands on the border between Canada and USA on Public land instead.

Drop the Gun, Release the Hostages, and then we'll talk

The GOP is hostage taking because it works. Thanks to the Hastart rule and a willingness to "crazy dance" the GOP was able to extort anti-democratic concessions from the Democrats in 2011 -- by threatening the faith and credit of the USA treasury. In 2011 they used the crazy dance to extract a "sequester" rule to fund the government in the face of GOP obduracy with constant cuts. They grabbed the democrats, refused to raise the debt limit, and jumped up and down on the edge of the "fiscal cliff" until the Democrats either caved to them or the economy collapsed. They were willing to risk economic collapse and this was reemphasized by the rating companies lowering our ratting to AA. Another debt collapse would cause our cost of borrowing to rise and restart inflation. I suspect the Koch's and other folks paying for the far right want that outcome. They can charge higher interest on their own loans, and buy up the country at bargain rates with their money. They already own most of it. We are seeing the plans outlined in "Atlas Shrugged" being implemented. The Democrats agreed to the sequester if they couldn't get a clean vote.

As a result they've refused to negotiate and deal with Democrats since then and managed to accomplish a lot of their goals of stiffing the 99% by using the Sequester compromise from the 2011 hostage taking. In fact, they've cut funds to old people, poor people, women and children using the sequester. This time they figured they could use the crazy dance to dump the ACA. But tricks like this only work once. Once people see that the extortionist is going to kill the hostage whatever they do, they can't put up with it anymore. As a result this sequester has run into a wall of refusal to deal. All the spinning, lying, and efforts to pass a budget piecemeal are now PR efforts by the Republicans to shift the blame for their extortion effort to the Democrats. They are counting on low information voters to not be paying attention. But the extortion efforts are ongoing. A minority in the republican party are pushing a seditious and anarchist agenda on the rest of the country. And it has to stop. This is a call for a Parliamentary style House of Representatives and dividing the government into a Presidency and a Prime Minister. Then the President could dissolve the House and call new elections. But that is pie in the sky in this country.

Meanwhile: As the cops say: "Drop the gun, release the hostages, and then we'll talk."

Meanwhile we can hope that the Democrats coupled with a few sane Republicans can come up with a way to get this insanity ended. Unfortunately the crazies have safe seats with crazy local majorities, so it will be hard to dislodge them in 2014. But we have to try.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Expand the Whistleblower Act and Qui Tam rewards

There is an active movement to paint whistleblowers as hackers and malcontents, bad people or even terrorists in the government right now. All that is happening at the same time as white collar crime is so rampant that much of it is either legal or so hidden that no prosecutor will ever catch the conspirators. There is a solution to this however, and it is an old one. It's to change the law to make it illegal for officials to violate the law, and reinstate and broaden the Whistleblower law. Wikipedia explains:

"The False Claims Act (31 U.S.C. §§ 3729–3733, also called the "Lincoln Law") is an American federal law that imposes liability on persons and companies (typically federal contractors) who defraud governmental programs. The law includes a "qui tam" provision that allows people who are not affiliated with the government to file actions on behalf of the government (informally called "whistleblowing"). Persons filing under the Act stand to receive a portion (usually about 15–25 percent) of any recovered damages. Claims under the law have typically involved health care, military, or other government spending programs, and dominate the list of largest pharmaceutical settlements. The government has recovered nearly $22 billion under the False Claims Act between 1987 (after the significant 1986 amendments) and 2008."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_Claims_Act

A lot of our fraud and mischief is directed by persons with power and money. They behave very similar to the defense contractors of both Lincoln's times and present times, except that our corruption is often outside of the pure acquisitions realm. If hackers had the legal power to turn in those committing crimes and file Qui Tam suits, then we would have restored one of our democratic controls that helps keep a lid on corruption. Whistleblowers need to be protected not persecuted and that involves a government whose priority is protecting the general welfare, not attacking it. This law should extend to bank fraud, securities fraud, NSA security fraud, and all frauds.

What is Qui Tam?

It's not the NSA, and that's the problem

In my previous posts starting with Bush's Loogie I showed that the problem wasn't so much with NSA proper as with how those capabilities have been granted to private and State actors; which basically amounted to reducing our privacy protections to something like a strippers pasties and thong and the Metastasis of surveillance which has given NSA/FBI powers to State and local police. In the later I detailed how most of our security flows from well meaning directives or efforts to make security work better by sharing it with law enforcement or by inviting in State and private partners.

Thus almost all our problems derive from these seemingly well meaning National Security Council Directives. Since I wrote all that I've been investigating each of the institutions implied by the NSC directives. My last article on this subject was about the Domestic Security Alliance Council (DSAC) which went after Occupy as detailed by Naomi Klein. And other efforts that have gone after "intellectual property" have the intended/unintended consequences of strengthening the power of giant corporations.

The result of all this is that law enforcement has tools to go after innocent folks and is sufficiently in bed with powerful private companies that it now has the incentive. Organizations like DSAC are invitations to corruption, and themselves are corrupting because they are run by folks from organizations whose private interest is often at odds with the public interest. At best private companies are mercenary and at worst they are corruptors of our system. I have a lot more to write, but this let me put it all in one place.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Horse Pucky, Great Literature, Politics and lies

I still consider myself a disciple of the great sage Nichiren, and feel a debt of gratitude to all the disciples of Nichiren who introduced me to the man and his body of work. I learned from Nichiren a lot of important principles, but the most important principles I learned from his critiques of the Buddhism of the time, and from observing how his disciples mangled his teachings. He saw that contemporary Buddhists were lying a lot about Buddhism. So his critiques of Buddhism were based on that awareness.

Like in modern times there were people who treated Buddhist teachings as magic talismen and relied on them as a kind of magic to get through life. And like in modern times there were Buddhist sages who were perfectly happy to offer up steaming piles of Horse-stuff and call it Buddhism. Nichiren even refers to it as such. I learned from some truly great Buddhist teachers and really admired the principle "the disciple exceeds the master" but then found out that most masters don't like that principle. They need someone to wash the floors, clean the bathrooms and keep the swimming pool operating.

Later, I found out that Nichiren had been criticizing esotericism and it's offerings, while teaching many esoteric notions. At that point I realized that he was making a bigger case than "I'm good your bad." His own disciples hadn't figured that out. They were always fighting over which sect of Nichiren's disciples was "Good" and which one was "Bad." Then I began to realize that the best parts of all religions are the steaming piles of fictional narratives known as literature. I started talking about this. I got into trouble for that.

It's called 'esotericism" for a reason. Some folks are allowed to figure it out, but NOBODY is supposed to talk about it. I like Nichiren, had to leave. I retired from Nichiren Buddhism for a while, and realized I liked all the ideas he was criticizing -- once one understands that a lot of the best jewels are buried in horse pucky.

This also taught me to appreciate my Judeo-Christian roots. Understanding the living esotericism in human religion made me understand how people could be burned at the stake for telling the truth. Esotericism is in Christianity. Explicitly in some ideas and concepts. And a whole pile of religious fiction, great literature actually, supports the esoteric element in Christianity too. And it's in Judaism in the form of Kaballa. And in Islam in the form of Sufism. The best parts of religion are highly imaginative, highly figurative, original, fictional, and on a surface level, horse pucky. A lot of folks get caught up in a reaction to the horse pucky. They recoil from taking a story seriously that is about long haired freaks drinking and fighting and yet somehow pure and inviable until someone cuts their hair. The myth repels them to the point where they either go crazy by trying to claim that the whole thing is honest to gosh truth, or by rejecting it all. Great Religious writing is always Horsepucky. It's boring without the stories.

During my transition I ran into a fellow named Cris Roman. He was a leader when I first started practicing Buddhism. He'd been real close to a fellow named George Williams, who was a Japanese by way of Korea, who'd come to America as a young man, determined to create world peace by converting everyone in the country to Nichirenism. I'd fallen in love with George Williams and the unstoppable Ted Osaki when I met them. They'd seemed like Gods to me. And their lectures had thrilled me with the notion that religion could be rational, and modern and not full of Horsepucky. I'd been so thrilled I gave theeir notions of Buddhism 30 dedicated years of my life. I became a NSA member. They called it NSA because for some members it was Nichiren Shoshu of America and for others it was the Nichiren Sokagakkai of America. It took me 20 years to realize that those were two different factions, but since they all were disicples of Nichiren that never really bothered me. Later I found out that both groups had their own horsepucky too, that is why I'm not a member of either group anymore.

But I love them all. Anyway. Soon after I joined Cris Roman departed. I was told he had become a very bad man and went "Taitan" and that all who go "Taitan" were bad men who'd fall into hell and be very miserable the rest of their lives. For a time I believed what I was told.

But Nichiren's critiques led me to investigate what he really was saying beyond the simplistic narrative of "Nichiren Good, Honen evil." Nichiren criticized the heck out of Honen and explained how according to his own teachings he was going to fall into hell as a really bad man. Ironically most Japanese saw him as a saint and his religion is still one of the more popular in Japan. More interestingly, Nichiren's critiques led to his disciples getting sucked into Japanese feudal feuds between rival groups of Japanese and since Nichiren became popular in the big "southern capital" city; Kyoto; Nichiren Disciples from the city and Nembutsu believers from the countryside were often fighting. The infamous Ninja started out as folks "defending Buddhism" from rival sects and the Government, as well as pursuing the family feuds that define Japanese (like British) Feudal History.

As I studied all this I ran into a Princeton Professor named Jacqueline Stone, and her writings opened my eyes to the complexity of Esotericsm. It really is about understanding the Horsepucky, [mythical and esoteric religious literature] and learning about the deeper layers of spiritual life.

Esotericism gets dangerous because it's also in politics. Nichiren got persecuted mainly because he was spilling state secrets about spiritual happiness and personal growth, that were attached to state secrets that pretended that the horse-pucky, the magical narratives, of esotericism had real magic power. Officials would have Shingon (Japanese esotericism) priests recite mantras and prayers to protect the country. Without the magic the officials would have to do more material things to help the people. The Shingon priests needed to eat, so they needed (other people) to believe their magical teachings were magic and not highly figurative teachings meant to help people figure out who they really are. They preferred praying to Gods and selecting a few people to teach to be special. If everyone was special that would mean they weren't so special. Nichiren appreciated Esotericism. He taught it's ideas without hiding the horsepucky. That made him dangerous. It also made him a disciple of Saicho (Tendai) who'd had a similar attitude towards esotericism. The first step to mastering esotericism is to recognize great religious literature is both horsepucky and a vehicle for plucking insights out of the unconscious. I had the same insight about Kaballah a few years later.

Well it turns out that Cris Roman, Jacqueline Stone and some other people I never met had helped out Williams in his "Shakubuku" campaigns to appeal to students at Universities by helping him write some of the literature. The works I so admired that he wrote were the kind of Buddhism that attracted me. Those people helped him write some really good books teaching Buddhism as a modern religion. So I wasn't the only one who benefited from Mr. Williams association, or who had to leave because all this was somewhat heretical from the POV of lay priests and religious priests who need people to believe the religious literature to be literally and magically true in order to keep the dough rolling in. They have to eat too. So I shouldn't fault them. But Nichiren would have. And it's pretty obvious they know better.

Finally, my insight from this is that, in religion or politics, some folks recognize horsepucky for what it is, but hitch themselves to the horses anyway. When you run into a group of people teaching nonsense, and no matter what you say to them you find them coming back to you with rhetorical devices, you are running into folks building a big steaming pile of lies and doing so because they are eating the truth and making too much money and power from the lies to stop themselves. They get angry, not because they don't know it's horsepucky, but because you aren't supposed to catch on, and if you do it represents a threat to their gravy train. That is what many preachers of most major religions do, though they don't have to lie because they are also ministering to the sick and dying and there are ways to treat esoteric ideas as "maybes" and recognize that the truths are within the literature, not the literature itself. And that is what Communists, Libertarians and Movement Republicans are doing to our country right now. You can call a big pile of Horsepucky something else. But it still attracts flies.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Tea Party and Republicans have become a Seditious organization

This morning a fellow on Twitter told me that the solution would be to put a bullet in the Presidents' head. I forwarded his tweet over to the FBI and blocked him, but this is where a lot of Tea Party, movement righties, have their heads right now. They are trying to bully the whole country. As Robert Reich notes in his own essay today:

http://robertreich.org/post/62690696498
"The bullies are a faction inside the Republican Party – extremists who are threatening more reasonable Republicans with primary challenges if they don’t go along."

And Robert Reich lays it out, as to what is driving the extremism:

"And where are the Tea Party extremists getting their dough? From even bigger bullies – a handful of hugely wealthy Americans who are sinking hundreds of millions of dollars into this extortion racket."

And Reich names names:

"They include David and Charles Koch (and their front group, “Americans for Prosperity’);  Peter Thiel, leverage-buyout specialist John Childs, investor Howie Rich, Stephen Jackson of the Stevens Group, and executives of JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs, (all behind the “Club for Growth”); and Crow Holdings’ Harlan Crow, shipping magnate Richard Uihlein, and investment banker Foster Friess; executives of MetLife and Philip Morris, and foundations controlled by the Scaife family (all bankrolling “FreedomWorks.”)"

Now Sedition is defined under the Smith act [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sedition] as "to advocate or to teach the desirability of overthrowing the United States Government, or to be a member of any organization which does the same." The Smith Act was used frequently against the Communist party for years, so while people may have the right to free speech, and they certainly have the right to an "abstract" formulation about the subject, there is a lot of sedition in what they are doing now. Reich continues:

"Their game plan is to not just to take over the Republican Party. It’s to take over America. The showdown over the budget and the debt ceiling is a prelude to 2016, when they plan to run Texas Senator Ted Cruz for President. (Cruz, if you haven’t noticed, is busily establishing his creds as the biggest flamer in Washington – orchestrating not only the current extortion but also the purge of reasonable Republicans from the GOP.)"

Now taking over the United States government peacefully is itself not sedition, but overthrowing it is. And the current Republicans with their violence and personal attacks on Obama, and efforts to use minority power to block efforts to make the USA a functional commonwealth and not merely a guardhouse for the wealthy, are a seditious organization in my opinion. Whether it amounts to illegal sedition. Well you choose.

"The President began negotiations with the Republican bullies in 2011 when they first threatened to default on the nation’s debt if they didn’t get the spending cuts they wanted. He negotiated again at the end of 2012 when they threatened to go over the fiscal cliff and take the rest of the nation with them if they didn’t get the budget they wanted. Now they want to repeal a law they detest. If we give in again, what’s next? A coup d’etat?"
http://robertreich.org/post/62690696498

Mussolini started his activities up in Milan, where he'd once been a Socialist Agitator, by attacking verbally and literally his former colleagues in the Socialist movement. He later built up to a "March on Rome" which was undertaken by his Fascist Black shirts, and formed the pretext for a coup against the established government. He claimed the current government was weak, ineffectual, that "socialism" would weaken the country further and that Italy had a glorious future. He had the support of police, courts, military and King; and by the time he got to Rome his march was a triumphal march and the country had brought him to power in a coup.[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/March_on_Rome]

Think it can't happen here? Back in September Larry Klayman called for a coup:

"The day of reckoning has come. Obama, having failed to plead in response to the indictment that was served upon him, waived his right to a jury trial. Thumbing his nose at We the People, as the citizens’ prosecutor, I appeared before a citizens’ court judge and presented evidence from Cold Case Posse investigator Michael Zullo showing that Obama tricked voters into electing him in 2008 and 2012. As a result, the citizens’ judge found him guilty on two counts of falsifying information to federal and state election officials. He was thus sentenced to the maximum prison term for these offenses of 10 years, and ordered to immediately surrender himself into the custody of the citizens of the United States and Florida."

Now this is sedition. Despite the obvious legitimacy of Obama's birth, his birth certificate, and his mother being a citizen, Larry Klayman claims he is an illegitimate President, and wants his arrest.

"Of course, Obama will not willingly obey the law of the people. He will attempt to hide behind the iron fences of the White House, perhaps cowering under his desk for fear that the people will rise up and demand his ouster."[http://www.addictinginfo.org/2013/09/26/tea-party-supporter-has-set-a-date-for-the-armed-overthrow-of-the-government/"]"

And he continues with the diatribe concluding:

"On November 19, 2013, a day that will hopefully live on in the history of our once great republic, I call upon millions of Americans who have been appalled and disgusted by Obama’s criminality – his Muslim, socialist, anti-Semitic, anti-Christian, anti-white, pro-illegal immigrant, pro-radical gay and lesbian agenda – among other outrages, to descend on Washington, D.C., en masse, and demand that he leave town and resign from office if he does not want to face prison time."

Now I heard about this several weeks ago and thought it was ludicrous, and certainly the addicting information article here details how insane this is; [http://www.addictinginfo.org/2013/09/26/tea-party-supporter-has-set-a-date-for-the-armed-overthrow-of-the-government/] until the Republicans shut down the government this week.

Now we have Faux News and friends advocating the overthrow of the United States through shutting down the government. Including Sean Hannity demanding a 2 month shutdown:

"encouraged conservatives to leave the government inoperable for up to two months if that's what it takes for Democrats to acquiesce to GOP demands -- advice that would carry devastating effects for the American people."

http://cloudfront.mediamatters.org/static/uploader/image/2013/10/01/hannity-shutdown1.jpg"
["http://mediamatters.org/blog/2013/10/01/hannity-encourages-gop-to-shutter-government-fo/196213"]

And you have wingnut sites:http://www.renewamerica.com/ which includes Klayman highlighted and other rants, and focuses on impeaching the President in 2014. whooooo boy.

"Impeachment must be the centerpiece of the 2014 elections – and candidates for both houses must sign a pledge to impeach!

And they would impeach Biden too I suppose because the next line is:

Boehner must be dumped as Speaker and replaced with the next president of the United States, whoever that may be, chosen by the House – the 'people's chamber'!"

So this is the opening bell in a long hot season.

Update: Crooks and Liars reported on October 1st (same day I published this) that a Minister is calling for a military takeover of the country:

http://videocafe.crooksandliars.com/david/christian-tv-host-asks-god-military-takeover

He claimed that:

"there should be a "military takeover" as "the only way to save the country from tyranny".

This is sedition. If Rick Joyner were right that "democracy" is "doomed" "unless the Lord" imposes martial law. Then Democracy is doomed because perverse charlatans like Joyner are preaching sedition. Incidentally when I looked up Joyner what came up was his exegesis on the rebellion of Korah against Moses. Korah was also convinced that Moses was bringing down Israel, so what can you say?

Subversion:

"refers to an attempt to transform the established social order and its structures of power, authority, and hierarchy. Subversion (Latin subvertere: overthrow) refers to a process by which the values and principles of a system in place, are contradicted or reversed." [https://www.google.com/search?q=Subversion+definition]

Subversion is when that transformation is designed to undermine democracy and oppress people. Subverting principles like democracy, rule of law, equal justice, and fairplay are what our current battles are all about.

Sedition refers to:

"the crime of saying, writing, or doing something that encourages people to disobey their government." [http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sedition]

I don't think the Con artists even deny this!