The Appearance of Corruption and the Privilege of Serving

For a government official to merit dismissal from a position in a democratic country, that official need only give the appearance of corruption because that “mere” appearance of corruption on the part of someone entrusted with the privilege of serving the people suffices to throw mud on the face of democracy. It demeans our way of life and undermines our freedom.

We have prima facie evidence that Pruitt was offered and accepted a bribe. Pruitt has given the appearance of being corrupt. When judging whether or not the action of any government employee, especially of a high official, is appropriate from an ethics perspective, the appearance of corruption suffices to make the judgment concerning whether or not that government employee should be allowed to continue in his position. Whether or not that person merits arrest, trial, and–if convicted–jail time is not the question. The question facing Pruitt (not to mention others) concerns appearances. For a high government official, appearances are crucial because when the public gets the impression of rampant corruption, that impression weakens the fabric of democracy underpinning our freedom.

Let’s put it this way: if Pruitt had rented his personal condo to an 18-year-old of breathtaking beauty for only $50/day, that would create an “appearance” reasonably leading a wife to take exception to his behavior.

Pruitt is guilty of creating the appearance of corruption. He knowingly put himself in the position that would make it more difficult for him to resist paying off the favor received. His poor judgment disqualifies him from serving the American people. He should be fired. 

Then he should be investigated. If he gave any favors to the contractors who gave him the cosy little gift, then he should be arrested.


Colluding, Being Unwitting, Covering Up

As long as the power vacuum resulting from the absence of leadership persists, the winds of change will blow the political initiative in Washington from one spot to another as the result of chaotic efforts from all corners to seize control.

Senate Democrats were in charge of Washington in January until Schumer caved, giving away all their bargaining chips for absolutely nothing: a stunning concession that in any other political context would reek of collusion. Then the wind shifted, and the right sensed an unearned shot at power (holding the majority is not “power,” a concept that implies the ability actually to do something). Would the GOP try for some introductory form of ethnic cleansing, provoke an unnecessary war with North Korea, or focus like a laser on using their brand new tax Christmas gift to themselves to accelerate the transfer of American wealth into their own pockets? Many possibilities appeared to be emerging from the dense political fog of the Lost Year 2017. Then, as is their nature, the winds shifted again, as Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted the Russians, smoothly brushing aside all the old debate, leaving the following clear albeit by no means mutually exclusive choices: 1) colluding, 2) being unwitting, 3) covering up.

Political systems are designed to take action. Political systems that are collapsing from their own dead weight inflate like an old star, ejecting a ball-shaped tidal wave of chaotic energy and leaving behind in the center a vacuum. If that vacuum happens to contain a Loose Cannon, then that Loose Cannon will continue doing what Loose Cannons do. Regardless, some force will naturally, inevitably attempt to displace that vacuum to reestablish order.

As of February 16, 2018, that force was Robert Mueller.


Three Hypotheses on Alleged GOP Ties to Russian Interference in the 2016 Election

A. The Collusion Hypothesis – Some GOP Individuals Colluded with Russians to Undermine U.S. Democracy

B. The Non-Witting Hypothesis – Some GOP Individuals Were Dupes of the Russians

C. The Cover-Up Hypothesis – Some GOP Individuals Tried to Cover It Up 


GOP Cover-Up: In a pathetically clueless reaction that supports the Cover-Up Hypothesis, GOP Senator Rubio intoned that the indictments demonstrate that the problem is “not partisan.” In reality, as long as the White House insists on the “no collusion” claim plus the line that the whole thing is essentially “fake news,” then “partisan” is precisely what it is. The absolute minimum requirement to make this issue “not partisan” at this point would be vigorous, sincere, no-holds-barred bipartisan investigation of the issue of connections between Russia and the White House.

State of America: 2/8/2018

Illegal Immigrant Activist Wins Stay of Deportation on Free Speech Grounds: any legal step toward compelling ICE to obey American law, however small and temporary, defends the liberty of all.

State of America: 2/11/2018

NY Teamsters Training Workers to Resist Abuse by ICE: unions finally starting protecting workers from the man workers elected, recognizing at last that only the people can protect their own liberty.

WAR (Parade)

A military parade! Cool! You can bet ours will be bigger than Rocketman’s! Bigger than old Joe’s too. Way bigger than Adolf’s. And with Great Leader in the reviewing stand, of course! Finally Great Leader will get a chance to see the military up close! And maybe it will win some more votes in Congress for a bigger, badder war budget…more bombs for the Saudis to drop on the people of Yemen, bigger B-52 shows over Afghanistan, and perhaps a few dollars left over to buy Great Leader his first uniform ever! And we will all be able to stop thinking about the breakdown of civil society, global warming, the undermining of our Constitutionally-guaranteed liberties, financial corruption, crooked politicians gerrymandering their way into power, politicization of the Department of Justice, corporate welfare by tax give-aways, and all the rest of that liberal, college-boy nonsense. Maybe Great Leader could even announce a new war from the reviewing stand! There isn’t much to watch any more…what with drones not really making it to prime time and all. But no traitors, please. Just real ‘muricans. Don’t nobody else get to see our parade. No traitors, no foreigners, no immigrants…’ceptin them what’s bin hir’ four hunert years, ‘xactly four hunert, no more, no less…ifn ya git ma drift.

Market Warns GOP

This weekend the global stock market warned the GOP billionaire party: just a little canary singing in the gold mine of financial fraud by the party committed to the transfer of wealth into the hands of the…wealthy. Who else would know so well how to use it?

The cleavage in American society during 2017 could not have been more blatant: neo-Nazis rioting in the streets and Federal agents spreading terror through immigrant communities while the billionaires hold their own riot at a party celebrating their hot new stock market bubble and the year-end GOP tax gift…for some corporations hitting a cool $10 billion. And now, five weeks into the Make the Billionaires Great Again Era, their pumped up stock market looks like an Olympic diver plunging straight down toward an empty pool. With the financial bubble blowers, foreclosure kings, and casino bankruptcy fraudsters to whom Obama gave unearned get-out-of-jail-free cards now firmly in control of the Federal Government, the Supreme Court blessing of Citizens United tucked in their hidden vest pockets, and the closet racists offering their votes, the billionaires had just pulled off the smoothest revolution any extremist could ever dream of…and then they bit off one bite more of America’s wealth than even they could swallow.

Two bubbles, carefully and oh-so-intentionally blown bigger and bigger, now busted and dripping off the faces of the billionaires in precisely 10 years. Sad, so sad. But don’t cry too many tears for our darling billionaires. Proudly representing Big Pharma (while Medicare patients are suddenly paying more for their medicines due to GOP efforts to remove health care), Pfizer got an $11 billion gift from the GOP Welfare for the Rich Reform (aka “tax reform”). Proudly representing Big Oil, Exxon got a $6 billion gift.

All the very, very rich individuals using these corporations to transfer America’s wealth into their own pockets are, of course, “not responsible” for the financial disasters their corporations cause. The law is clear. Following Citizens United, corporations are “people” where elections are concerned, so these corporate persons can spend their billions “voting.” However, they are not “people” (nor, evidently, are the “people” who run them) when it comes to being held responsible for any financial fraud they cause, any mortgages they steal that destroys the lives of millions of American families.

So here they are again, the lessons of 2008 swept under the rug, and this time the billionaires are not just manipulating the Government. This time, they are the Government. Now we shall all see how the latest “market correction” proceeds: it is, so far, just a warning. They won’t pay attention. Nothing will be corrected.

State of America: 1/31/2018

The Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit Ruled that the Independent Structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is Constitutional: giving this key institution for  protecting consumers from Big Finance corruption a lease on life in the face of Trump Administrations attacks.

State of America: 2/2/2018

Senator McCain, on Release of Nunes Memo: “The latest attacks against the FBI and Department of Justice serve no American interests ― no party’s, no President’s, only Putin’s…The American people deserve to know all the facts surrounding Russia’s ongoing efforts to subvert our democracy, which is why Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation must proceed unimpeded. Our nation’s elected officials, including the president, must stop looking at this investigation through the lens of politics and manufacturing political sideshows. If we continue to undermine our own rule of law, we are doing Putin’s job for him.”

State of America: 1/30/18

FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe retires, following Trump’s insults to him and his wife: …leaving the public impression that Trump forced him out in order to politicize the FBI.