Jan 23 2010

Christian Science Monitor has great faith: in incumbent Government, that is

Category: corruption,governmentharmonicminer @ 8:59 pm

In a stunning display of ignorance about the nature of American government and the intent of the founders, the Christian Science Monitor editorial board whines that the Supreme Court opens the money gates. There is more at the link, if you can bear to read it.

The Supreme Court on Thursday opened wide the gates to allow more corporate and union money to finance political campaigns, and potentially influence politicians and lawmaking.

That’s unfortunate, and means that the role of watchdogs tracking the money trail will be more important than ever.

It’s not as if corporations and unions have so far had their wallets glued shut. They can fund issue ads that are important to their interests. And they’re allowed to form political action committees that directly support candidates, as long as the donations are collected voluntarily from employees and union members.

But even members of Congress, whose energy is increasingly diverted to fundraising, have long recognized the potentially corrupting effect that big money can have on them. More than 100 years ago they banned corporations from donating directly to federal candidates.

Thankfully, the justices upheld that ban Thursday, as well as disclosure rules about contributors. But in a divisive 5-to-4 ruling, they overturned other important restrictions.

In time for this year’s midterm elections, corporations and unions can now spend directly from their treasuries on ads to support or defeat candidates, as long as those ads are produced independently and not coordinated with a campaign. They may also run ads right up until election day, instead of pulling them 30 days before a primary and 60 days before a general election.

Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy grounded the ruling in First Amendment rights. Corporations and unions, like individuals, have a right to free speech, the majority reasoned. “The censorship we now confront is vast in its reach,” he wrote.

But Justice John Paul Stevens said in his dissent, “The court’s ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions around the nation.” Indeed, when voters say they want “change” in Washington, the influence of money on politics is the kind of thing they’re talking about.

Some facts do intrude.

There were plenty of rich people in America in 1850. They spent very little money trying to get candidates of their choice elected. The reason? Taxes were low. There was no income tax. The federal government didn’t spend all that much, and did not fund lucrative contracts. A government that doesn’t take much of your money, and can’t give you much, is not a government whose makeup matters enough to very many rich people, or groups, to bother to spend much money on.

Fast forward.  In the modern USA, the government has the ability to take your money, regulate everything you do, and spend lots of money buying various goods and services from the private sector.

The Christian Science Monitor suggests that the people who are affected most by government power, the people who have the most to lose, should not have a commensurate ability to affect the decision making process.

Shame on them.

And the CSM seems to think that a government that spends enormous sums of money is one that the people whose money the government took should not be trying to influence, or at least not very much.

That’s just ridiculously naive.

A couple of recent experiences of large corporations in relation to government are instructive.  Not so long ago, Microsoft Corp gave almost no money to political groups or candidates.  But ever since the Clinton justice department essentially attacked Microsoft under “anti-monopoly” law, Microsoft has become a large donor to BOTH parties, out of sheer self-defense.  Something similar has happened with Walmart, which was previously mostly uninterested in politics, until many legislators got the idea that they should force Walmart to change its employment policies in various ways, at which point Walmart began giving money to both parties.

Does someone think that Microsoft and Walmart should not have the right to try to influence the outcome of political processes that are going to affect them in a very big way?  Yes.  But those people fundamentally want the public, including the people who are most productive among us, to be unable to defend themselves from government.

There is no way to “get the money out of politics” and still have a free nation.  The best way to ensure some kind of balance and fairness is simple: require complete and total disclosure of every donation, donor and recipient, to the electorate.  Print it everywhere.  Then let everyone make their case, in the open, about who is influencing whom in a way that is against the interests of the public.

Then let the public decide at the ballot box, instead of letting judges and congressman decide who gets to fund what communication to whom, and when.

The REAL corruption is elected politicians drafting legislation to shut up people and groups who want to exercise their free speech rights.

Here’s another viewpoint on the Supreme Court decision.

Dec 27 2009

Murderous nostalgia

Category: corruption,Russiaharmonicminer @ 1:32 am

Sixty Percent of Russians Nostalgic for Soviet Union

Russians still consider the dissolution of the Soviet Union as negative and they think this process could have been avoided, studies by sociologists show. As Vladimir Putin put it, it was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th Century. Over the last two years, the number of Russians who regret that the former Soviet Union broke up has not been declining.

This opinion is now shared by 60 per cent of respondents, Interfax was told at the Yuriy Levada Analytical Centre. This sentiment peaked in December 2000 with 75 percent.

Regret for the break-up of the Soviet Union is mostly shared by pensioners (85 per cent), women of all ages (63 per cent), 40-55 year-olds (67 per cent) and older respondents (83 per cent), those with less than average education (68 per cent), lower income (79 per cent), and rural residents (66 per cent). So it seems that those who actually lived in Soviet times feel that way. This is a significant fact.

“I think everyone has a certain nostalgia for the Soviet Union,” said Zhanna Sribnaya, 37, a Moscow writer. “It’s trendy because people my age, they can buy what they see, and they want to see their happy childhoods. We remember when ice cream cost 7 kopeks and we remember Pioneer camps [similar to Scouts and Brownies] when everyone could go to the Black Sea for summer vacations. Now, only people with money can take those vacations.”

Bring back those gulags! Reopen the torture and execution chambers in the Lubyanka! Drive over some more Eastern Europeans in tanks!

While you’re at it, find another 30 million or so people who are wasting oxygen and starve them out… those you don’t just shoot outright, that is. 

Then see how close you can come to provoking a nice nuclear holocaust, and still live to tell the tale.

Dec 26 2009

Christopher Dodd — Corruption without embarassment

Category: Congress,corruption,Democrat,governmentharmonicminer @ 9:26 am

Once again, we have Chris Dodd trying to cement his place with the voters by bringing home the bacon.

A $100 million item for construction of a university hospital was inserted in the Senate health care bill at the request of Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., who faces a difficult re-election campaign, his office said Sunday night.

The legislation leaves it up to the Health and Human Services Department to decide where the money should be spent, although spokesman Bryan DeAngelis said Dodd hopes to claim it for the University of Connecticut.

The provision is included in a 383-page series of changes to the health care bill that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., outlined Saturday. Scattered throughout are numerous items sought by individual lawmakers, many of them directing money explicitly to programs or projects in their home states.

The one sought by Dodd provides $100 million for “a health care facility that provides research, inpatient tertiary care, or outpatient clinical services.” It must be affiliated with an academic health center at a public research university in the United States “that contains a State’s sole public academic medical and dental school.”

This health care bill is so laden with sweetheart deals and outright corruption in the form of direct vote buying that it may set a new high for sheer quantity and brazenness.

I’m sure that Connecticut needs a new hospital worse than anywhere else in the USA.

Oct 25 2009

Hello World Government? Goodbye freedom? UPDATE

Watch this, from Lord Christopher Monckton, chief policy advisor to the Science and Public Policy Institute.

I haven’t heard much about this from other sources…. I’m trying to get more information about it.  But if this fellow isn’t exaggerating, this is looking really ugly.

More info here and here and some especially scary nonsense from Gordon Brown, British Prime Minister.

Feb 02 2009

Who’s Sorry Now?

Category: corruptionamuzikman @ 12:25 pm

Tom Daschle, former Senate Democratic leader and current Obama nominee for leading the Health & Human Services Department says he is sorry for failing to pay more than $120,000 dollars in back taxes.

Timothy Geitner, Obama nominee to be Secretary of the Treasury says he is sorry for failing to pay $30,000 dollars in back taxes.

I lost track – did Eric Holder, Obama nominee for Attorney General, ever apologize for enabling the pardon of Marc Rich, multimillion dollar tax evader?  Not that it matters, since Democratic President Bill Clinton granted Marc Rich a full Presidential pardon.  But it was ol’ Eric who made it all happen.

(click here to read more about Eric Holder and the Marc Rich pardon)

Now, imagine a nominee from a Republican President showing up on Capitol Hill for confirmation hearings, carrying baggage like this.  They’d be crucified in the hearings, and they’d be crucified again in the media.

But here we have THREE nominees put forth by Obama who have serious blemishes on their records. There is virtual silence in the media and the confirmation hearings are little more than posturing and formality.

If you were seriously delinquent in paying your taxes would you want to face the IRS with nothing more than an “I’m sorry”?  You know what would happen to you, right?

Can there be ANY doubt the media is nothing more than a Democratic lap dog?

There is really only ONE thing these cheaters are sorry about, and it’s not the “errors of judgment”. They are only sorry they got caught.

I’m sorry too.  I’m sorry so many of my fellow citizens, in their zeal to find hope and change have embraced a radical liberal leftist without moral compass who intends to surround himself with others who have similar bents.  These people will be making policies, rules and laws about you and me, after having already demonstrated the fact they think those same laws don’t apply to themselves.

So to all you who voted for Obama I have a question: Is this OK with you?


Jan 11 2009

What Price Victory #2

Category: corruption,election 2008,politicsamuzikman @ 10:06 am

Or perhaps this blog could be more accurately entitled, “To The Victor Goes The Spoils’.  In either case there are immediate and profound consequences of this last election, and in my opinion troubling consequences as well.

As a result of the recent election three U.S. Senate seats are now vacant; one each in Delaware, New York and Illinois. Current law allows for the governors of those states to appoint individuals who will fill the seats being vacated by Obama, Clinton, and Biden.  For a moment, if you can, set aside your political affiliation and think about this. This means that 32,578,952 citizens of the United States are about to be represented by individuals who were not elected but rather selected for them by one person.

I seem to remember a lot of people were very upset after the 2000 presidential race when the Supreme Court had to intervene in the tallying of election results in Florida.  Even today you can find many of the liberal persuasion who claim President Bush was “selected, not elected”.  This has been one of the cornerstones of the “Hate Bush” crowd for eight years.  While the circumstances of 2000 are clearly subject to interpretation depending on your political leaning, this current situation is not.  Yet the silence is deafening.  Why don’t those same accusers raise their voices of protest in this case when “selection” is indisputable?  The answer, of course, is obvious.

What’s tragic for our country is that the selection process in each of the 3 current cases has shown itself to be entirely corrupt.  Apparently the seat in Illinois was up for the highest bidder, The Delaware selection process seems to be nepotism at it’s best and the New York seat is about to become a coronation more reminiscent of the British House of Lords than anything resembling our democratic process.  And in all three cases the issue of qualification is given little more than lip service.  Does ANYONE want to try and make the case that Carolyn Kennedy Schlossberg is actually qualified to be a U.S. senator?

Watching the way theses 3 senate seats are being filled should make us all demand a change in the law requiring a special election to fill all vacated seats.  Instead watching the news recently has made me feel like I’m watching “The Fall Of The Roman Empire“.  In case you are unfamiliar with the admittedly mediocre 1964 film, it ends with the hero, Livius, (Stephen Boyd), besting the evil Caesar Commodus in gladiator combat.  Immediately afterward he is offered the throne by the recently-deceased leader’s hirelings.  His (excellent) reply is, “You would not find me very suitable, because my first official act would be to have you all crucified.”  He then walks away with his true love on his arm while in the background a spontaneous auction begins for the throne of Rome.

I hope it does not need to be said that I do not advocate for crucifixion of political enemies.  But I do think there are many qualified men and women who simply refuse to participate in our political process either as candidates or even voters because they see the degree to which our political process has become corrupted.  Much of the corruption, not surprisingly, is tied to money.  Influence and access to political office has become the domain of the wealthy.  As more highly qualified, moral, intelligent, and knowledgeable individuals abdicate the election process, and as more political positions are gained by means other than that process, more of us will continue to ask:

Why bother to vote?

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Dec 17 2008

OK, as long as no quid pro quo

Category: corruption,election 2008harmonicminer @ 4:41 pm

It’s OK with me if all Rahm Emmanuel did is twist Illinois Gov. Blagojevich’s arm to Appoint Obama Loyalists. That’s to be expected, and is neither illegal nor immoral. It is, after all, a political appointment, and normal political considerations apply.

Incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel pushed Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich to appoint longtime Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett to fill Barack Obama’s Senate seat, and even gave Blagojevich’s staff a deadline by which an appointment was expected, according to a report in today’s Chicago Sun-Times.

Citing sources “with the Obama camp,” the Sun-Times report says Emanuel began to push for Jarrett to fill Obama’s seat “just days” after the Nov. 4 election.

That story also cites a source close to Emanuel admitting it is “possible” Emanuel discussed the appointment with Blagojevich chief of staff John Harris, and that a specific date for the appointment was given.

The Sun-Times’ revelations suggest that Emanuel was more deeply involved in discussions with Blagojevich and his staff than previously reported, and was more assertive in promoting a specific candidate.

Those conversations could have contributed to Blagojevich’s apparent belief that the Senate appointment held great political value.

It is only if there was some deal to compensate Blagojevich personally that we have a problem. And, of course, if Blagojevich twisted Emmanuel’s arm to offer some kind of bribe (essentially a form of criminal conspiracy), then Emmanuel was obliged to report that, even if he didn’t take the offer.  We can only hope that it turns out that Emmanuel is the one who tipped the FBI that something was imminent.  It will not help achieve a successful Obama presidency to begin it by having a Chief of Staff resign in disgrace.


Nov 13 2008

Hang ’em, uh, high

Category: corruptionharmonicminer @ 1:20 am

It would seem that we have a problem with a certain criminal element being employed as air marshals.

Since 9/11, more than three dozen federal air marshals have been charged with crimes, and hundreds more have been accused of misconduct, an investigation by ProPublica, a non-profit journalism organization, has found. Cases range from drunken driving and domestic violence to aiding a human-trafficking ring and trying to smuggle explosives from Afghanistan.

Of course, if you took a like number of cops, say, 4,000, you’d find some bad apples there, too.

In fact, out of 4,000 school teachers, or plumbers, or professors, or (gasp!) lawyers, or especially politicians, you’d find a like number of cretins.

And, unfortunately, in all these other cases, we can’t just toss ’em off the airplane at 30,000 feet.


Oct 21 2008

Dying from too much care

The patient takes vitamins and minerals in doses recommended by most physicians, and gets plenty of exercise.

The patient eats a reasonably healthy diet.  However, the patient depends to a large degree on imported food, which has become very expensive, and while the patient could grow plenty of home grown food, the patient hasn’t been planting enough lately to sustain present and future dietary needs.  So the patient is hungry, and losing weight

The patient is mysteriously ill.  Upon examination, it appears that the patient has been slowly poisoned.  The patient’s immune system and general state of health might have been sufficient to cover the symptoms of the poisoning longer, except for the strain imposed by the recent hunger and weight loss.  The symptoms have been coming on for sometime, but only recently have they become indisputable.

Continue reading “Dying from too much care”

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Oct 09 2008

The Chicago Democrats’ dirty little non-secret

Category: corruption,election 2008,Obama,politics,socialism,USAharmonicminer @ 9:13 am

Obama’s political and professional alliance with Bill Ayers, unrepentant terrorist, has not gotten nearly the coverage it deserves in the media.   In what little coverage there is, the story seems to stop at the discusssion of whether Obama knew Ayers well, whether, or when, Obama knew that Ayers was a terrorist, how close the alliance between them was, etc.  These are all important questions, and Obama has given different answers at different times, all evasive.

What’s missing in the discussion is the simple fact that Ayers’ past was well known to the entire Chicago Democrat political machine. Ayers had been given the Citizen of the Year Award by the city of Chicago (read, Mayor Daley) in 1997.  Everyone in the Chicago political machine (in which Obama was a card carrying member) knew all about Ayers.  If Obama didn’t (unbelievable, but just for the sake of argument), everyone around him DID know, and thought it not important enough to mention to Obama.  It reveals all we need to know about the nature of the Chicago political machine, and about what members of that machine thought would matter to Obama.  But, of course, he knew all about it.  It’s just funny that his campaign thinks that claiming he didn’t lets him off the hook.

This tells us a few things.

The CULTURE of Chicago Democrat machine politics is radical to its core.  Can you imagine, say, Tulsa, Oklahoma giving a Citizen of the Year Award to an unrepentant terrorist who said, “We didn’t do enough.”?  (After all, Ayers only tried to blow up government buildings in other cities…  it would be different if he’d tried to blow up something in Chicago.)  This tells us that Obama is a favorite son of, honestly, a pretty sick political machine.

Obama made his political bones IN that culture, by being a good member of it, agreeing with its principles and procedures, etc.  Obama had no problems with it, never fought it, was never a “maverick” or a “unifier” across party lines, etc.  He was always, first and foremost, a party man, in a city where that party was seriously bent and famously corrupt.

A President Obama is all too likely, especially with a Democrat Senate doing the approvals, to appoint radical, radical people in important jobs.  It would be bad enough for him to recycle political hacks from the Clinton or Carter administrations.  But there is every chance that he will appoint a Secretary of Defense whose main impulse is to build DOWN the military, saddle it with impossible rules of engagement, use it as a further testing ground for all kinds of social engineering, etc., with military effectiveness being the last consideration.  His Secretary of State will have the happy job of giving away the store.  His Secretary of the Treasury (not likely to be Warren Buffet, despite the last debate), will probably help guarantee there is little store to give away.  I don’t even want to think what his other appointments would be like, but former ACORN membership is probably the least of our problems.

And given his union commitments, and his obvious willingness to play political hardball, there is no chance that he and a Democrat Congress won’t enact a “fairness doctrine” that will attempt to cripple Right leaning talk radio, and an end to secret union balloting, that will allow unions to pressure individuals to vote the union’s way.

Make no mistake.  This isn’t just a little gerrymandering to jigger the voting districts favorably.  The Left plans to permanently alter the face of American politics by creating such structural imbalances in the system that the center-Right can never catch up.  If they can make enough people dependent on government for their daily bread, and silence the rest, the game is over, and the American experiment in constitutional republican democracy will be finished, even if it continues in name.

And it will have come out of Chicago’s political machine, where more murders were committed in the last 6 months than the death rate of American soldiers in Baghdad in the same timeframe.  I’m sure they’ll do a wonderful job of running the nation.

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