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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Oversight including Impeachment

Impeachment Process is Oversight Process

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

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

What Would Impeachment Accomplish Now?

The benefits of the House impeaching the President anyway are:

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

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

Impeachment Articles

Meanwhile this post addresses ideas for improving our antiquated process:

Saturday, September 14, 2019

The Insanity of Trumpism

Orange is the New Moron

Trumpism isn't even an ism

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

“I always look orange!”

This is the ravings of a mad man.

Stupid Tariffs

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

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

Lying Speaches

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

And all so he can get laughs at rallies.

Fixed it

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

Friday, September 13, 2019

Capitalism has a lane, Socialism has a lane

And Healthcare

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

Excludable and Rivalrous

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

Excludable refers to governing powers

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

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

Purpose of Capital is to make Goods less rivalrous

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

Capital

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

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

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

the Governance of Capital

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

Certainly not Collective Versus Free Enterprise

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

Republican and Democratic principles versus Tyranny

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

Governing Collectives

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

Privateering Versus Capitalism

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

What Capital is not

Not all wealth is capital.

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

The “Proper Social Function” Lane

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

Public and Private Goods

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

Public versus Private good

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

More:

The “Capitalism” Lane

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

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

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

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

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

More information

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Election Judges should be Judicial Officials

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

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

    Discussion

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

    Juries ARE Democracy

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

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

    Even Worse with Election Judges

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

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

    But there is an even Deeper Level

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

    Better Vetting

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

    Election Judging requires Judge, Jury, prosecutor and defense

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

    • End of Term Accounting
    • Election Vetting

    End of Term Accounting Scrutiny

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

    Election Vetting Scrutiny

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

    Power of the People

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

    Empowering and Resourcing the Press

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

    Tuesday, September 10, 2019

    Arms Reform And Militia

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

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

    Monday, September 9, 2019

    Article 9 – Misappropriation of Funds

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

    Violations of Statutes

    31 U.S. Code § 1301. Application

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

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

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

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

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

    Tuesday, September 3, 2019

    Article 6 – Corruption and Bringing corrupt officers into his administration

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

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

    Article 7 – Systematic Obstruction of Justice

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

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

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

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

    [Draft]

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

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

    Summary

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

    Article 4 – USC30121: Election Campaign Violations

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

    Statement of Offense

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

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

    Article 8 – Stonewalling and Misuse of Executive Privilege

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

    Complaint

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