August 2014 Archives

English: West face of the United States Suprem...

English: West face of the United States Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. EspaƱol: Edificio de la Corte Suprema de Estados Unidos en Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear America,

When I was in law school, I had to go through something called "moot court."  Moot Court is simulated courtroom argument that is intended to teach law students what it is like to both write out cogent arguments in the form of briefs and orally before judges, and it is invaluable experience.  In my moot court brief, which regarded a case of corporate malfeasance, I described a possible perpetrator as a "nefarious corporate inveigler," and the judge in our argument referred to that phrase in particular when he praised the brief in question.  I bring that up now because for the first time I am recognizing the utility of that phrase today.  The financial crisis wasn't just a confluence of human events such as economics endeavors never endingly to describe, predict and find remedies for.  The creation of the mortgage-backed securities was not just a random misfortune; it was a deliberate act...a scheme if you will.  And those who created the securities were like the schemers in "The Producers."  They thought that they could sell off these risky bonds, which were in reality just bundles of often times low grade mortgages taken out by people who had virtually no prospect of paying them off unless they could sell the underlying homes for a profit, because in the course of time those houses and condos would indeed be sold and the non-creditworthiness of the mortgagors would never come to light.  And if the financial fabulists' dreams of unending wealth were even a possibility, that might have been a rational risk.  But pie doesn't come out of the sky and money doesn't create itself...and housing bubbles do burst.  Thus, the financial crisis and the "Great Recession" that followed weren't just unfortunate coincidences.  They were the aggregate effect of the acts of nefarious corporate inveiglers who thought they could get away with selling nothing for something.  The question is, why aren't those nefarious corporate inveiglers in jail?  Jeffrey Skilling, Enron's lead corporate inveigler, is in jail.  Charles Keating, the nefarious corporate inveigler who ran Lincoln Savings & Loan like it was a money farm for his own use, is in jail...actually, he was in jail for a few years, but he's dead now.  But Jaime Dimon isn't in jail, nor is the CEO of any one of the large investment banks that either failed or came close to it.  In fact, none of their executives is in jail, and no one has given even a half-hearted explanation as to why.  Well, I for one want an explanation other than, "it's complicated."

In 1819, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized the right of corporations to enter into contracts in the case of Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward.  Even before there was a U.S. Supreme Court, corporations were considered by British courts to be endowed with such rights, and with powers as well.  The progression of cases that ensued after 1819 led ultimately to the Citizens United case, which though a perversion of reasonable thought does follow the precedents by which the Western courts bind themselves under the doctrine called stare decisis.  Stare decisis, put simply, means that a court must follow the preceding cases when deciding issues and be bound by them unless the highest court with jurisdiction overrules the precedent and imposes another on its posterity.  In other words, courts have to do what they have always done unless and until a higher authority changes it.  So, Citizens United was a correct decision.  It's just that it perpetuated a lousy legal idea.  To some extent, such things can be changed through legislation as statutory law, that is law made by the legislation, overrides common law.  But when it comes to constitutional principles, the law as stated by the U.S. Supreme Court binds everyone, even legislators.  And in reality, corporations should have a sort of immunity from the constraints that we operate under as individuals.  A lawsuit against a corporation shouldn't impart liability on an individual acting in the name of the corporation unless he is acting ultra vires, or outside his authority.  Thus, when Fabrice Tourres, otherwise known as the "Fabulous Fab" when he was a derivatives trader at Goldman Sachs, appeared in court as a defendant for securities fraud, he was found guilty because of the representations he made about the garbage he was selling as gold and the prosecuting SEC asked that he be required to pay a fine of $1 million without asking reimbursement from his former employer.  That is because, while the Fab was employed by Goldman Sachs, his acts were ultra vires...that is, he was intentionally lining only his own pocket and only incidentally lining those of the executives at Goldman Sachs.  Goldman Sachs, since we are talking about incidental things, agreed to pay more than half a billion dollars so it wouldn't have to go to trial, and could thus decline to admit liability rather than being found by a court to be liable.  And these amounts are fines, not damages awards.  The federal government keeps that money and the injured investors get nothing.  So, as you can see, a corporation's criminal liability is just a matter of money.  No one goes to jail because he's a crook if he is working in a corporate office unless he is just so flamboyant about it--like the Fabulous Fab was--that his acts can be seen as not just criminal, but self-serving rather than a function of corporate duties.  And of course, a corporation itself can't go to jail.  Why? Because it isn't a person!  That's rub in all this entity theory.  Corporations may be considered to have all the rights and powers of the individual, but they don't have all of the accountability, which means that they can do bad things without worrying about getting raped in the shower...not that anyone should have to suffer being raped in the shower, which is different issue.

So, since our Supreme Court is so willing to promulgated federal law based on fantasies about the personal lives of corporations such as to endow them with the rights the rest of us have, what we need now is legislators who are willing to change state law so that corporations' employees are personally liable under broader circumstances.  The Fab belongs in jail, just like Charles Keating, and New York State, where he worked on Wall Street, should have seen to that, though it didn't.  The alternative is for us to elect enough representatives and senators who are rational about such things to pass a constitutional amendment distinguishing between corporeal and corporate people by, for example, ensuring that a person within a corporation is responsible for every criminal act committed by the corporation under criminal law, or by imposing vicarious liability on all those who knew or should have known that a corporation's acts were illegal.  In any event, what we need is rational legislators to deal with this issue.  Of course, like the man searching in the pharmacy for the talcum powder, if we could elect such legislators, we wouldn't need to be talking about it this way.

Your friend,

Mike


Dear America,
English: In January 2009, President of the Uni...

English: In January 2009, President of the United States of America, George W. Bush invited then President-Elect Barack Obama and former Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter for a Meeting and Lunch at The White House. Photo taken in the Oval Office at The White House. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The naked opportunism of our Republican politicians and the Democratic poltroons who join them in their petty sniping is a discredit to our nation.  An American journalist was beheaded by a Muslim troglodyte earlier this week, and President Obama happens to be on his annual vacation at Martha's Vineyard, a resort island in New England.  The day after that obscene demonstration of the nihilism and amorality of jihadist Islam, The President took to a podium set up for him where he is vacationing and he spoke candidly about his intention to use our resources to find and deal with those responsible, but he then went back to vacationing and played golf.  Almost the moment he did so the Republicans began sniping at him for not donning sackcloth and mourning going into mourning.  And now that the outcome of the November elections appears to be more in doubt than ever, some Democrats pandered to their more conservative constituents by agreeing with the Republicans for political gain.  And of course their cries of callousness had already become a daily clamor regarding the violence in Ferguson, Missouri...as if there is ever a good time for a president to go out of town to recreate.  Of course, the hue and cry over the Affordable Care Act is unabated as Mr. Obama vacations, and he is impliedly the cause of the national puling over the Common Core, which eventuated primarily because of the decade-and-more old "No Child Left Behind" legislation that the Republicans and their leader, George W. Bush, thought was such a good idea that they touted it as their legislative beneficence during the next election cycle...to good effect I might add.  But all of the whining about President Obama doesn't amount to one iota of substantive criticism whether you see merit in it or not.  When a president vacations doesn't alter the course of history, especially that being made by lunatics and zealots.  As to what has already been done--the ACA and the Common Core for example--all of the criticism is a function of elliptical, eristic, purely political casuistry that not only lacks merit but is also a disservice to those who actually would think about the issues if they were clearly and honestly illuminated by the debate.  We should be ashamed...but we're not.

The fact that this goes on and on, election after election, is a discredit to us as Americans.  Why are we not demanding intellectual integrity rather than stated affiliation to one party or the other and demonstration of philosophical credentials for the benefit of the strident fringes of our two-party political system.  What's worst about it all is that it could be avoided if our legislature were not permitted by its own self-made, self-serving rules to thwart the will of the people with Robert's Rules of Order and filibusters.  If every one had to vote on every issue in each house, it wouldn't matter whether one party or the other were in power because we could chose our representatives and senators based on what they stood for rather than who they caucused with and what kind of pronouncements they made on the evening news.  As to the awareness of the public as to the real substance of the issues, if the news media were more concerned with such things than they are with whether beluga whales play with the children who watch them through the glass at the Mystic Aquarium, we might actually elect some people who deserve to be recognized in our history for their integrity rather than forgotten because in the end all they were was political hacks.  I for one don't care what John McCain thinks about The President's vacation, nor do I want to hear anymore from him about Benghazi and the IRS's attitudes about the Tea Party.  Let's get down to business.  Let's make our senators--Harry Reid in particular--eliminate the refuge from public scrutiny that filibustering and poisoning legislation with unrelated amendments that no majority would ever vote for provides for these weak minded pols.

My hope is that sooner or later we will be faced with decisions about the integrity of our politicians rather than their party affiliations and their public personae.  I hope that one day people will cast their votes based on what kind of person a candidate really is and whether he can be trusted to honestly do the people's business for them.  Who knows.  Maybe that will happen this November.  But I fear that it won't and that we will continue to wallow in this self-destructive political ether in which we find ourselves floating.  It's a shame really.  This could be such a great country.

Your friend,

Mike

Dear America,
English: Eric Holder, Attorney General Nominee

English: Eric Holder, Attorney General Nominee (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


I am always discomfited by things for which I cannot explain.  When I was a child, I can remember hearing on the news about brutal crimes and trying to assure myself that I was not in the group from which the perpetrator chose his victims.  There is comfort in the knowledge that even the most irrational things can be explained, and that there are ways in which to protect ones' self from exposure to danger, for example, that can be fathomed and implemented.  You can avoid IRS audits by always filing a reasonable tax return.  You can keep your self from getting scurvy by eating fruit.  You can avoid being hit by cars by crossing at the cross walk with the light.  You can get your driver's license if you read the book and take the test.  But how do you avoid the kind of chaos that is afflicting Ferguson, Missouri?  And how do you stop it now that it has arrived?  The violence on Ferguson's streets is irrational.  The protesters, if that is indeed what they are, aren't even making a demand as far as I can tell.  Even if the officer who shot Michael Brown were arrested, they would still be in the streets I believe because the protest has a life of its own now.  It isn't really about anything but anger over the way in which the people of the community are being served by its law enforcement establishment, and I can understand that to a large extent.  I was never a fan of policeman myself.  I have found them brutish, sanctimonious, arbitrary, prone to acting based on their own prejudices, and in some cases even corrupt.  I have told this story before, but I was seated across from a Connecticut state trouper at a dinner party one night and we began talking about a case I had just settled in which a man had been beaten by two troopers across the highway from a construction trailer in which there just happened to be someone watching.  I told the trooper at my table how the two troopers had told the story of a large man who was resisting arrest and was belligerent, and how the testimony of the impartial witness put the lie to both of their testimonies under oath.  That's why the cased settled: they got caught in a lie.  I opined that the whole state police organization was tarred by their example, at which point the trooper I was sitting across from tried to vindicate his comrades.  He insisted that 80% of troopers were good guys...his phrase, not mine: 80%.  I noted that what that meant was that there were 20% of a 400 man force driving around in powerful cars with badges and guns who couldn't be trusted.

The relevance of that story is that there may well have been an abuse of police power in the case of the shooting of Michael Brown.  Being no fan of cops I have no trouble believing that such was the case.  But quite shortly after Brown was shot a video from a local store was published, and it depicted Brown stealing cigars and pushing and menacing the person in charge of the store...an elderly, small, seemingly Indian man.  The relevance of all of these facts is that Brown wasn't necessarily a racist as he was not deterred by the brown skin of his victim on the tape of the robbery, but he was a violent bully...a thug as I heard one newscaster call him in his interview of Brown's companion during the petty theft and the subsequent shooting, which by the way appears to have possibly been unrelated to the robbery.  This is where rationality comes in.  This is where the people of the city of Ferguson should be considering the ways in which they are not potential victims of the police in town if they don't behave in certain ways.  This is where the police should be rational as well and release everything in their investigation thus far, and possibly arrest the cop who did the shooting.  There is a way out of this, but only if both sides recognize that the story of Michael Brown's shooting likely has no heroes in it.  Most likely, there is a police officer who at the very least used excessive force in that he shot someone over the fact that he was walking in the road, and there is a thuggish, oversized 18 year old kid who somehow got the message that he could do anything he pleased with impunity, including breaking the law.  In the moral debate that goes with all this, there is no moral high ground.  To me that signifies that there is no justification for the violence that has accompanied the protests in Ferguson, though there may be justification for protest in a general sense.  There is no efficacy in people being in the streets all day and all night.  There is no justification for the self-approving lawless people involved in the protests to wander about the town destroying the resources of the members of the community at random.  Ferguson isn't Watts, and this country isn't what it was in 1965.  This country isn't Eden for a black person today.  But it isn't the purgatory it was in 1965 either. Today we have a president who is half African-American, and he agrees with me on this point.  Today we have an infrastructure with which to address the kinds of abuses implied by the riots in Ferguson as demonstrated by the presence of the FBI and Attorney General Eric Holder...another black man.  And as for the lopsided racial mix on the Ferguson police force, it isn't a good thing, and the Justice Department will certainly look into that, but on that score at least, the point has been made and further riots with their attendant looting and acts of violence will serve no purpose other than internecine destruction.

The Brown shooting should be investigated by outside agencies, and it will be.  But the impunity with which thugs like Michael Brown act in our society, whether they be black or white should be considered by all as well.  Michael Brown would probably be alive today if there hadn't been someone like him with a badge and a gun whom Brown chose to confront, or who chose to confront Brown.  But either way, one person of questionable morality confronted another with the same deficiency, and the worst outcome eventuated.  Neither of them deserves beatification.  And the people of Ferguson should recognize that and start acting rationally because there is an explanation for what happened, and it doesn't redound to anyone's credit.

Your friend,

Mike

Dear America,
Emanuel and Mayer Lehman

Emanuel and Mayer Lehman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Regulators are attempting to amend the rules followed by banks--the term "bank" now has a meaning that departs dramatically from the meaning we used to attribute to it--when they begin to fold their tents in the derivatives market.  You may remember derivatives from the beginning of 2008 when Lehman Brothers collapsed, as did Bear Stearns, that latter being bailed out by J.P. Morgan and incorporated therein.  Derivatives are what sank both institutions, and the way in which they did so was that the underlying property for the huge volume of derivatives they had sold became semi-worthless and both "banks" had to make good on them...that is pay out on what are essentially insurance policies against financial reversal.  Derivatives as such are nothing but financial instruments by which people with enormous amounts of money bet on whether the rest of us will succeed or fail in doing what we set out to do, whether that is buying a house and paying for it over time or running a business on credit necessary to get it started.  There are even derivatives related to consumer credit, such as that you take advantage of every time you use your credit card.  Derivatives fall into two categories however, and one of the two is useful.  When a farmer needs seed money, he sells his crop in advance as a future contract.  He gets paid now and delivers his crop to the owner of that contract later on, thus being financed by his success in growing something.  Without those futures, American agriculture in particular would suffer enormously.  But the mortgage backed derivatives..."swaps" as they were called then and still are...are nothing but wagers made by bankers and their customers.  Banks bundle mortgages into large groups and create "securities" that represent those bundles.  Then, they sell "tranches" (slices or pieces) of them to their investing customers.  As that practice makes it apparent, these erstwhile banks are really primarily brokerage houses dealing in hypothetical property, and sometimes in pieces of bets on that hypothetical property's durability.  The derivatives market stretches far out beyond the horizon of its true utility to the point at which it becomes nothing more than financial debauchery, and that is what financial regulators are now trying to protect us against in a way that points out how decayed our financial system is.

When Lehman Brothers failed, someone lost a lot of money, but if you want to gamble, that is the risk you take, and that is how the federal banking authorities viewed it.  Lehman failed and our government didn't step in to save it.  But within days, Bear Stearns was in the same straits, and the feds did step in by engineering the take over of the firm by J.P. Morgan with some federal assistance as an inducement for J.P. Morgan.  The tide of failures that they all claimed was imminent was staunched and we suffered the worst financial crisis since the depression, but we didn't actually have a depression, and that was the point.  All of this happened in the course of days, and one of the contributing factors was that when the derivatives house of cards started to fall, some people who had trades in the pipeline cancelled them, leaving the sellers in the lurch and precipitating runs of various derivatives, and thus various banks.  That's a major component of the mechanism by which we came to our current sorry pass, and regulators want to prevent it by preventing those last minute cancellations of derivatives trades when it is obvious that catastrophe is just around the corner.  But the banks are fighting it.  They fear that it will put them at a trading disadvantage because people will feel insecure about doing business with American banks that will be required to make them follow through when they buy or sell, no matter how imminent losses seem to be.  To the banks, the concern isn't whether the market in derivatives is secure for investors...and for their shareholders as well.  What they want is as much business as they can get, no matter how unsavory, risky or outright outrageous it is.  The 2010 Dodd-Frank Act addressed some of the banks' avarice in this and many regards, but it was no substitute for the Glass-Steagall Act, the repeal of which President Clinton signed into law during his administration on the advice of Larry Summers.  I mention their names because the ignominious behavior of banks today, which is a continuation at perhaps an even greater fever pitch than before 2008, is largely attributable to those two men, and their names should be mentioned in that connection.  But what about what is happening now; how can we ensure that 2008 doesn't descend upon us again in 2018.

Well, what regulators are trying to do now is at least a small step intended to decelerate the failure of banks doing risky business with our society's wealth.  It is a minimal step, but it seems the least we can ask of them, and the only reason I can fathom for opposing the proposed regulations is sheer greed.  What bothers me right now is that none of our legislators are talking about all this anymore.  You don't hear the words "bailout" and "derivative" in political conversation these days, but the issue of financial industry profligacy isn't dead, and it may be just waiting in the weeds to bite us again.  Remember that the next time your congressman or senator comes back to his district or state office.  Maybe we should be reminding them that they haven't done the necessary job quite yet.

Your friend,

Mike

Dear America,
President Barack Obama visits Al Faw Palace on...

President Barack Obama visits Al Faw Palace on Camp Victory, Iraq, April 7, 2009. This was Obama's first visit to Iraq as commander in chief and he took time to talk to troops and civilians. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


We are at a crossroads with regard to American foreign policy for the long-term future.  This moment in world history is the nexus between the old Bush Doctrine, which was really the reiteration of the hawk mentality harbored by conservatives and everyone who considered himself a patriot from the end of World War II, through the Vietnam era up until the withdrawal from Iraq that President Obama implemented finally two years ago under what could be called the Obama doctrine.  The Bush Doctrine in all forms has shown itself to be a rolling quagmire for this country.  We have sunk fortune after fortune in every kind of terrain from swamp to desert for over fifty years and buried tens of thousands of our young in the name of proliferating our own aspirations as if there could be no question as to whether such would succeed in other nations and cultures, but at last we are asking ourselves the questions we should have been asking all along, the first of which is whether our goals and values are transplantable to other societies universally.  It seems abundantly clear that in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq, there are various inimical factors at work, and without an indigenous movement for social change in our direction, there is no prospect of success for anyone but the few political leaders who emerge under our auspices during our military adventures.  The current form of the debacle in Iraq, that is the ascent of radical (or reactionary to my way of thinking) jihadist Islam in the form of a military force led by a chiliastic tyrant who thinks himself a visionary, is only one of the most recent outcomes of our wars, and it is largely a consequence of what we left behind after declaring victory.  The Malaki government may not have been as brutally suppressive as the Hussein regime, but it was seen as just as sectarian and exclusionary as Hussein's government, and it spawned the success of the Islamic State, as the militia sweeping through Iraq presumes to call itself, but it was not the only cause.  The sectarian schism in Iraq is the condition of the middle east, not just Iraq.  In fact, religious schism is the root cause of clashes all over the world, including The Balkans, where peace seems to have taken hold over the past twenty years since the Dayton Accords, but that is more likely an anomaly than the norm.  In the area formally known as The Levant, the likelihood of a Pax Arabia, so to speak, seems so remote as to be no less than six hundred years away.  I say six hundred because that is how much Islam is younger than Christianity by, and it took us six hundred years for Christians to go from Crusaders and anti-Semitism to polyglot society, and I believe it will take Islam that much more time to do the same.  It is a matter of doctrinal evolution, and there is no substitute for time.

So, given that there is nothing we can do to tame the wild, wild east, the definition of the American role in the world becomes the central task for our foreign policy makers, and President Obama has taken the first step.  He takes no measures, for the most part not even humanitarian ones, until there is consensus in the world and a political alliance that acts.  In the instance of the present crisis on a mountain in Iraq where tens of thousands of Zoroastrian Arabs are taking refuge from the sectarian rampage of the Islamic State below, we have been supplying provisions and air cover for those trying to escape for a few days, and now the British are helping out with the supply of sustaining aid to the refugees, but President Obama continues to insist that we are not going to fight Iraq's battle again, and of course, the Republicans are piling on him with criticism that we aren't doing anything more, though they are short on recommendations other than to undo history and the departure from their war that Obama engineered.  But American politics is not the worst of it.  The world sits by and waits for us to solve the problem of the Islamic State's rise to power, and as it progresses it gains more and more acceptance from Iraqi Sunnis previously persecuted by the political posterity we left in place when we withdrew.  Thus, the questions now are, first, does Mr. Obama have the political fortitude to stand his ground and refuse to act unilaterally in Iraq, and second, does the world recognize what may well be a historic reiteration of the Islamic control of Spain for centuries from about 700 A.D. until the beginning of the next millenium.  That occupying culture did many great things, and it led the emergence from the dark ages into the light, but the new Islam seems to be based on a nostalgia for the dark past.  And if the Islamic revolution that the most violent and ardent Islamists propose occurs, the dark is where Europe will go again.  Of course, that seems very far fetched a prospect today given the vigor of modern militarism in Europe and the rest of the modern world, but who would have believed that Ayatola Homeni could have seized the throne of The Shah half a century ago from his exile in Paris.  Who would have predicted the disintegration of a half-million man force in Iraq at the first shot from what turns out to be a formidable foe.  And who would have guessed that Europe would have sat around waiting for us to handle it until now.

It is time we recognized in our foreign policy that we are sheltered by two oceans, so the bacon we save in our military dalliances is never our own...at least not directly.  As we approach independence from foreign oil and our economy recovers from the mess made by our financial industry, it is less and less incumbent on us to lead the world when it comes along in its own best interest only kicking and screaming.  The necessary alliance was formed in Libya, but now it seems that even with our help, some states are doomed to fail, and the causes of those failures may well be addressed only by autocratic control in the form of dictatorships and juntas.  But whether such is the case or not, without a world order, nothing can be done about it...not even by us.  So let us continue to participate in the political life of the world, and in its commercial life as well.  But when it comes to being the world's protector, it's time to let the world protect itself in its own best interest--with our assistance of course.

Your friend,

Mike

Dear America,
Official portrait of United States House Speak...

Official portrait of United States House Speaker (R-Ohio). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Sorry I was late with Tuesday's letter, but our internet and phones went down courtesy of AT&T.  We now have Cox, and we'll see if its an improvement.  But while I was posting my letter for August 5 I referenced for your review a new portion of Speaker Boehner's website about "jobs bills" that are languishing in The Senate...Harry Reid's Senate, as Boehner and other Republicans put it.  So, I went to the site, which you can too at www.speaker.gov/jobs, and this is what I found in the way of purported jobs bills passed by Boehner's House: HR 890, which would prohibit waivers of some welfare reforms; HR 624, which requires the federal government to share cyber security technology with designated companies; HR 1406 allowing employers to give 1.5 hours compensatory time instead of money for overtime worked up to 160 hours; HR 45, Michelle Bachman's bill to repeal "Obamacare"; HR 3, which would approve the Keystone Pipeline; HR 1613, which allows congress to approve some international agreements not deemed to be treaties, and expediting the exploitation of oil reserves that run across borders; HR 5 allocating funds for education while prohibiting the federal government from overseeing local education, such as with common core testing; HR 28 diminishing regulation of the coal industry by the federal government; HR 1582 prohibiting the EPA from passing any regulation that costs American business more than $1 billion to implement; HR 2879 prohibiting bonuses for federal employees and allowing agencies only 45 days to investigate federal employees without taking action; HR 2009 prohibiting the IRS from enforcing the fine related to the Obamacare individual mandate; HR 367, which ups the ante of HR 1582 by requiring congressional approval of EPA regulations costing American business $100 million rather than $1 billion...that's where I stopped reading.  I assume that Boehner would have posted the bills actually related to job creation first, but since there wasn't a one of them in the first twelve that I read--and I read the acts, not just the self-serving titles of the acts listed by Boehner--I figured that there was no point in wasting any more time giving Boehner's claim fair consideration.  There aren't 43 bills from congress about jobs on Harry Reid's desk.  There isn't one, and that is the quality of the Republican obstruction of the Obama administration's initiatives.  If Boehner's disingenuousness is an indication of the veracity of the Republican Party as a whole, there is no doubt that no one should vote for them, but unfortunately, someone like the author of the article I referenced doesn't care about verity and candor.  He is apparently a dogmatic conservative and a Republican in the bargain, and the truth therefore is irrelevant.

Of course, he would probably say the same thing about me.  The difference is that I actually looked at the very source of his claim that there were jobs bills that the Democratically controlled Senate isn't acting on and gave out the Republican website at which everyone could find out for himself, and it turned out to be as vapid and false a claim as Newt Gingrich's advocacy for the claim by that Texas congressman Louie Gohmert that the EPA had passed a regulation banning dust from the dirt roads on farms.  And if a Republican presidential candidate, a self-proclaimed sage and futurist, can be duped by such a preposterous claim from a man who makes nothing but preposterous claims, how can we expect more from party operatives.  That's the quality of the "loyal opposition" in this country, and unfortunately, we all have to pay the price.  Of course, we are fortunate in that we have the right to vote, but considering how many Republicans there are in congress, it seems that nearly half of us are squandering that right.  The sources of those bills I read were people like Michelle Bachman, who thinks that government action is a violation of everyone's rights, and who never encountered a measure sponsored by a Democrat of favored by President Obama that she felt she could vote for (that may be an exaggeration, but you get the point).  If we don't start voting to replace people like Bachman, we are in danger of complete reversion to our natural state, which hasn't served us well in the past.  In fact, until the second half of the last century, many people were being denied the right to vote because of color, and it hadn't been that much longer ago that women couldn't vote either.  Business hired children to populate factories until the federal government began regulating child labor early last century and monopolies were preying on us all.  The list of the advantages of government of and by "The People" is almost endless, and the call of socio-political Luddites like Bachman to prevent it is a call to the primitive past rather than a viable claim of right.  We have to do something.  Vote.

Your friend,

Mike

Dear America,

While I was on vacation last week I began to feel out of touch, so I picked up the New York Times a few times.  Unfortunately, out of touch or not, there wasn't really anything new to be concerned about, although the old matters for concerned remained unresolved.  Our national politics are still the shambles they were the week before last, and "Obamacare" continues to be the central point of attach for the Republicans and conservatives in general.  The war in the Gaza Strip continues to lumber on killing innocents primarily and destroying property amid which the Hamas Palestinians insist on hiding and caching their ordinance regardless of how many of their own people will be bombed as a consequence, and the Israelis continue to occupy West Bank settlements in violation of international law, albeit no one dies directly as a consequence of their misfeasance.  In Ukraine, impartial experts are now at the crash site of the plane that the Ukrainian rebels shot down and they are finding more grisly artifacts from the crash...artifacts that will be shipped home to people who can only grieve over the senseless deaths of their loved ones and friends, leaning how to tolerate their bereavement as best they can.  The Russians continue to complain about western sanctions imposed in response to their meddling in Ukrainian affairs, which incidentally seems clearly to have enabled the destruction of a passenger jet and all aboard in consequence of the Russians providing the method of bringing the plane down to a purported rebel militia that looks for all the world like a bunch of masked thugs and gangsters on television news.  There are some stories of local impact in the papers...some tragedies and some political farce like that on the national scene...but overall, each day's news is just a repeat of that from the day before while the problems that need to be dealt with continue unabated.  Mudslides kill poor Indians because poverty is rampant in that country, which none-the-less has managed to become one of the largest emerging economic giants on earth, though the disparity between rich and poor is being baked into that pie even at this stage of nascency.  China continues to hunt witches in its never ending, but never too vigorous, quest to stamp out official corruption, and here at home, conservatives continue to complain about the poor and working poor as if they are stealing something and about our lack of foreign policy direction under President Obama, all the while obstructing every effort to do anything about it.  They complain when The President takes foreign policy initiatives because they are his,  but they refuse to take their own.  And when it comes to the problem of refugees at our southern back door, they want him to send them home but won't approve the funding to expedite the process.  What's a voter to do?

It may be hard to make suggestions based on specific issues; we all have our own political interests and preferences.  Besides, the dogmatism of American politics at this point, causing dysfunction in tandem with naked partisanship at the expense of the country as a whole has created a partisan line down the middle of our political landscape and inspiring people to cross it seems to be all but impossible.  So what I propose is that instead of looking at candidates' positions on issues we look at their roles in the current political circus.  Put simply, I think we should stop voting for clowns and start voting for acrobats.  What we need are people who can bend with relative ease rather than people who perform these broad political farces on television as if the people find them entertaining.  John Boehner ends every explanation of why he can't get a bill passed by the House of Representatives, which his own party controls, by claiming that the American people don't trust President Obama and that Obamacare is killing jobs.  The problem at issue isn't his concern.  He just wants to make us laugh.  So I say, fire him.  He's a clown.  Mitch McConnell takes the same tack with regard to everything.  Clown.  Fire him.  Ted Cruz, something of a pariah in The Senate, where he is a member, invites a bunch of representatives from The House to his office for pizza where he talks them out of supporting a compromise on the bill to fund the process of dealing with the central American refugees about which they complain incessantly.  Why can't he mind his own business.  Clown.  Vote for anyone who runs against him.  Harry Reid, despite his leadership position in The Senate with all its powers to create change in the rules over the past three congresses, has refused to organize a change in the filibuster rules in that body, even by reducing the number of votes required for cloture, and thus allowing a vote, from 60 to 55, or better yet, 50.  As a consequence, The Senate is nothing but a dog and pony show.  Classic clown.  Vote against him.

In my opinion, as electors of our political leaders, we should now be voting for people who want to make the political process work democratically, that is, as we want it to.  We should be looking for representatives in what the Republicans call "The People's House" when they are doing something that the American people don't want, who will change the rules so that anyone can bring a bill to the floor for a vote, and precluding The Speaker from preventing it with a "special rule" by which he designates one of his cronies as his surrogate and then precludes calling that bill to a vote unless he or his surrogate chooses to do so.  The majority party can resort to that on any issue over which there is public sentiment that they don't like, and indeed, Boehner has done used that tactic.  To be fair, Harry Reid has done the equivalent in The Senate, and as I proposed the last time he faced reelection, if he isn't willing to change the rules so as to require The Senate to vote on issues without contaminating them with poisonous amendments, he should be voted out of office too.  No more Boehner.  No more Reid.  And if your congressman and senators aren't willing to bring about change...now...cut them loose.  As always, the fate of the nation is in our hands.

Your friend,

Mike

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from August 2014 listed from newest to oldest.

July 2014 is the previous archive.

September 2014 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

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