19 March 2009

Calling on accountability for thee...

From a button seen at a convention:


Do as you Say.

Say what you Mean.

Mean what you Do.



Gets to the point.

I do my best in that realm, but leave the deciding to others as I may not be mentally sound and I sure as hell at physically able.  Advice is the best I can do and back it by analysis, take it or leave it as you may.

But when you are in a position of authority, given to represent the people of the Nation, when you act in an authoritarian manner and call upon honor to be performed, then you had damned well best be able to follow your own honorable path as you lay it out.

From Fox News, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) 16 MAR 2009:

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley suggested on Monday that AIG executives should take a Japanese approach toward accepting responsibility for the collapse of the insurance giant by resigning or killing themselves.


"I suggest, you know, obviously, maybe they ought to be removed," Grassley said. "But I would suggest the first thing that would make me feel a little bit better toward them if they'd follow the Japanese example and come before the American people and take that deep bow and say, I'm sorry, and then either do one of two things: resign or go commit suicide.

"And in the case of the Japanese, they usually commit suicide before they make any apology."

Grassley spokesman Casey Mills said the senator is not calling for AIG executives to kill themselves, but said those who accept tax dollars and spend them on travel and bonuses do so irresponsibly.

First those who did commit suicide did leave a note of apology to their Emperor.  It would be only in the most extreme circumstances that one did not do that.

Second, that was a military caste decision going back to the Samurai as a code.  Honor demanded this action from them.  Thus when Sen. Grassley brings this into the fray as a possibility, then he is invoking the Honor system that was present then.

Looking at the last ten years of AIG contributions to candidates from 1998-2008 we find, on pg. 3 from OpenSecrets.org and the Center for Responsible Politics:

Grassley, Chuck (R-Iowa)

And most of that before the last year.  So will Sen. Grassley do 'the right thing' and tell us about how his campaign has *not* been tainted by pay-ins by AIG?  In truth he is a only in the mid-range in this regard of accepting contributions from AIG.  Lets take a look at a few other notable names on the ten year list, and if they got over $50k they are on the list, but other names to fit my whimsy are added:

Baucus, Max (D-Mont)

Biden, Joseph R Jr (D-Del)

Boehner, John (R-Ohio)

Bush, George (R-Texas)

Bush, George W (R-Texas)

Byrd, Robert C (D-WVa)

Chafee, Lincoln D (R-RI)

Clark, Wesley (D-Ark)

Clinton, Bill (D-Ark)

Clinton, Hillary (D-NY)

Collins, Susan M (R-Maine)

Coors, Peter (R-Colo)

Corker, Bob (R-Tenn)

Cornyn, John (R-Texas)

Daschle, Tom (D-SD)

Dodd, Chris (D-Conn)

Dole, Bob (R-Kan)

Dole, Elizabeth (R-NC)

Ensign, John (R-Nev)

Feinstein, Dianne (D-Calif)

Foley, Mark (R-Fla)

Frank, Barney (D-Mass)

Gephardt, Richard A (D-Mo)

Giuliani, Rudolph W (R-NY)

Gore, Al (D-Tenn)

Goss, Porter (R-Fla)

Graham, Lindsey (R-SC)

Gregg, Judd (R-NH)

Hagel, Chuck (R-Neb)

Hoyer, Steny H (D-Md)

Huckabee, Mike (R-Ark)

Johnson, Nancy L (R-Conn)

Kanjorski, Paul E (D-Pa)

Kennedy, Edward M (D-Mass)

Kennedy, Mark (R-Minn)

Kennedy, Patrick J (D-RI)

Kerry, John (D-Mass)

Larson, John B (D-Conn)

Lieberman, Joe (I-Conn)

McCain, John (R-Ariz)

Moynihan, Daniel Patrick (D-NY)

Murkowski, Frank H (R-Alaska)

Murkowski, Lisa (R-Alaska)

Obama, Barack (D-Ill)

Rangel, Charles B (D-NY)

Reid, Harry (D-Nev)

Romney, Mitt (R-Mass)

Schumer, Charles E (D-NY)

Shays, Christopher (R-Conn)

Shelby, Richard C (R-Ala)

Snowe, Olympia J (R-Maine)

Specter, Arlen (R-Pa)

Sununu, John E (R-NH)

Torricelli, Robert G (D-NJ)

Am I leaving tons of folks off the list?  Yes, yes I am, and you can look them up for yourself.  What I did do is include the top heavy hitters - the ones that got the most money the last 10 years from AIG.

  1. Chris Dodd (D-Conn): $281,038
  2. George W. Bush (R-TX): $234,560 (Total)
  3. Chuck Schumer (D-NY): $111,875
  4. Barack Obama (D-IL): $110,332
  5. John McCain (R-AZ): $99,249
  6. Max Baucus (D-Mont): $90,000
  7. John Kerry (D-MA): $85,000
  8. Nancy Johnson (R-Conn): $75,400
  9. John Sununu (R-NH): $69,049
  10. Hillary Clinton (D-NY): $61,515

And if you add Bill and Hill together they then go right under Max Baucus.  So if you are on the top ten recipient list and have had anything, whatsoever, to do with passing regulations that effected AIG or this bailout plan, perhaps you could do the 'right thing' as Sen. Grassley hints.

Now what is a lot of fun is you can go to OpenSecrets.org's page on AIG and hit their Affiliates tab and see what organizations are affiliated with them!  Then you can hit All Cycles on the drop-down and what you see are all the corporate funding venues that AIG has to push money into political campaigns.  That is how large corporations get around the various minor problems of corporate campaign contribution limits: affiliates, co-owned companies, wholly owned subsidiaries, and the such.  Each get to put in their limit and you multiply the number of companies and you multiply the number of funding venues.  Some of these may have been separate companies at one time, no doubt, which is why when they are bought up, they become 'wholly owned subsidiaries' and keep some of the veneer of their previous separate ownership.  Additionally when there are primaries involved, you can fund someone twice: once in the primary, once in the final campaign.  Primarily this is a bandwidth issue for cash, and with other bandwidth issues when a single band has a saturation point and you want to get the flow to open up, you open up more bands.  This is the case with fiber optic cable where the amount of information per color band is limited by processing power at either end, but if you put more related color bands in you open up more bandwidth.  It works for cash flows to campaigns as well as information through various media.

In the top 5 you have heard all these names recently, but in the next 5, unless you are a real watcher of Capitol Hill, you will only recognize Kerry and Clinton.  What is interesting is that the party affiliation grouping doesn't change all that much until you get down to below the $20k mark and there are even some folks who gave back money at to AIG, some at the start of the recording cycle in 1998, but others later.  Pete Coors was added for fun and frivolity, to demonstrate that you can even get a net $0.

Really if you are going to complain of 'bonuses' handed out and you were involved in any way, shape or form with the drafting of regulations over the last 20 years and got money *from* AIG, then you should have either given the cash *back* or recused yourself from any dealings with such legislation as you receive backing from a company that has dealings in that area and *you* will be seen as having such backing sooner or later. And, for me, that goes with any *other* company, firm, agency, or lobbying group: you take the money from them, you get involved in the issues, then you can only be seen as having some personal stake in the outcome for the sake of your career.

Is there a way to end this?


Make each company a 'citizen' in this area and limit them to the exact, same limits as real, living individuals.

And getting wholly owned subsidiaries to do the corporate will is seen as 'conspiracy' to evade the tax laws.  Those subsidiaries should be able to examine their own market area and determine what is best for them outside of the parent corporation venue and record that in open proceedings of their subsidiary available for public scrutiny to ensure that no undue influence is placed on it by the parent corporation.  If it is a large company it will have competing market interests and outlooks, thus it will have, innately, funding that will be contradictory based on market outlook.  And by limiting each company or subsidiary to the exact, same amount that can be given as real, living individuals, then those companies will have no more say as 'corporate citizens' than REAL LIVING CITIZENS have.

What would be the punishment for that?  For a company seeking to sway politics in the US to its own ends when considered a corporate citizen given the same weight as normal citizens, but having unequal monetary capability and undue sway on its subsidiaries looking out to the best health of their markets?  Well, so long as I'm using the equivalency of corporate citizen to real citizen, what is the law that is broken when one tries to conspire to change the Nation's outlook to their own ends via corrupt means?  To all those at the highest offices involved in the company, when their company gets the charge, they will be the ones to go down.  Those that are left to pick up the pieces should then learn their lesson.

And do this for 'activist' groups that have common funding bases, too.  The same concept applies to funding 'issue organizations' and not claiming them as a lobbying group when companies fund them.

Why are we giving more leeway and say to political lobbying organizations, activist groups and corporations in the way of what speech is allowable via financing than to ordinary citizens?  If you are going to limit individual citizens, then do NOT give MORE capability to these artificial organizations that are not flesh and blood individuals.  Of course I really would like to see these limits removed for everyone and *everyone* being accountable with their funds for political activist organizations, lobbyists, and we already have the donations area set-up, save when campaigns refuse to collect information on small donors that they have but don't want to release.  It is well past time to level the damned playing field so that 'corporate citizens', activist groups, and the like are all put on the same level of trust and accountability as ordinary citizens.  If that means you have to close funding off a week before a campaign ends so that everyone can get to see the tally sheets *before* they enter the voting booths, then that is a reasonable restriction on speech via cash contributions.

Since we are on the issue of bonuses going to ill guided organizations receiving federal funds, can we apply this to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, too?  Because these federal government backed, brown-nosed staffed mortgage financing companies are doing the exact, same thing and they are part of the major CAUSE of the housing mess.  These bozo corporations staffed with political suck-ups have been the ones lobbying to get the regulations put in place to extend mortgages to those without the ability to pay them and have backed the mortgage vehicles that were created to do that.  Indeed, it was seen as a 'growth area' that they needed to compete in and those in charge of the organizations pushed for that via Frank, Dodd, et. al.  And you can look around at OpenSecrets and a few other places to get what these two federally chartered companies do in the way of donations to campaigns, and that Grassley suicide list would grow pretty long once you threw them into the mix.

Just what is it with DC the last 90 years?

Are they unable to read what the federal government is *allowed* to get into under the Constitution?  There is only one area that addresses this, and it is as follows in Article I, Section 8:

To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;

Do you notice what part of that allows the federal government to be the backer of home mortgages so that if one defaults on it the government becomes the holder of it?


That is because it isn't there.

In the US Constitution, being a negative document for government rights: if it is not positively handed something to do, it does not get to do it.

Establish practice by a previous President has explicitly stated this in the Bank Veto Message of 10 JUL 1832, which got rid of the National Bank:

The several States reserved the power at the formation of the Constitution to regulate and control titles and transfers of real property, and most, if not all, of them have laws disqualifying aliens from acquiring or holding lands within their limits. But this act, in disregard of the undoubted right of the States to prescribe such disqualifications, gives to aliens stockholders in this bank an interest and title, as members of the corporation, to all the real property it may acquire within any of the States of this Union. This privilege granted to aliens is not "necessary" to enable the bank to perform its public duties, nor in any sense "proper," because it is vitally subversive of the rights of the States.

The Government of the United States have no constitutional power to purchase lands within the States except "for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings," and even for these objects only "by the consent of the legislature of the State in which the same shall be." By making themselves stockholders in the bank and granting to the corporation the power to purchase lands for other purposes they assume a power not granted in the Constitution and grant to others what they do not themselves possess. It is not necessary to the receiving, safe-keeping, or transmission of the funds of the Government that the bank should possess this power, and it is not proper that Congress should thus enlarge the powers delegated to them in the Constitution.

When Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were set up, Congress and the President, then, went beyond the established and understood precedent that follows directly from the US Constitution.  And it is of note that Congress must seek the consent of the State legislature of a given State for each and every piece of property that will pass into federal hands.  By this reading and understanding the two home mortgage companies set up by the federal government are given a power that Congress may not assume.  The federal government may not guarantee such mortgages as, in default, such lands would then pass into government hands without the consent of the legislature of that State for that single piece of property.  Plus for residential homes, they cannot be considered forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards or other needful buildings TO the federal government.

Of course no 'conservative' dares to uphold the actual language of the Constitution these days... that would be 'strict constructionism' and you can only put that thought in your head with regards to the Supreme Court and not one other single, solitary part of government whish is ALSO under the strict construction of the US Constitution.  That, of course, would mean actually doing more than mouthing the words to get to a partisan end, think about what they mean, and then apply those same concepts of strict construction to the entire federal government without exception.  And you wouldn't even have to ask others to commit seppuku for you, either.

Just follow the damned US Constitution and mean it.  And stop making exceptions for partisan politics and seek equal protection under the law for everyone.

Because once you get Congress into the act of re-writing contracts and creating ex-post facto laws, you are in for a mountain of danger and a world of tyranny.

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