Reflection analysis

It’s interesting as I look back on several of my past posts how many are about politicians and our government.  Some may say they are negative, I’d say they are just the voice of frustration, anger, disgust and embarrassment at the sad state our country finds itself in – primarily as a result of the corruption and manipulation of our government and laws by self serving interests of politicians.  You could say well the corporations and businesses that pay them for their legislation are to blame but that frees the elected officials of any responsibility.  They make a choice to do whats right or take the money and run regardless of the affect on society because they enrich themselves.  Yet, when you don’t “play ball” you don’t get the money and favors and your voice is diminished if not stifled altogether.

We have been blessed to find ourselves in the greatest country, the greatest social/political experiment of all time which frighteningly seems to have advanced stages of cancer.  It’s not like a train wreck that is sudden and obviously horrific, it’s more like the frog in the pot of water that you put on the stove.  The water gradually heats up and the frog thinks nothing of it, all is going well then next thing you know you’re in hot (boiling) water – AKA: Toast, finished, kaput.   I love this country and all it has to offer and I fear for its future.  The freedom, the opportunities… this is the greatest country on earth.  We’re ruining it, letting it get ruined by politicians and special interests.  Now everyone has their own special interests, I do, that’s not to say they are bad in and of themselves but when they are given unfair influence to exploit or create laws giving them unfair advantages over others at a much greater cost to society in the long run, that’s where they get their bad name.  Compounding this problem it seems politicians can easily spend money and create laws but it seems near impossible for them to stop spending money or remove laws that are wrong, misguided or out of date.  The founding fathers were wise in fearing too much power in one “class” of people so they created the three branches of government to have separation of powers and a system of checks and balances.  Our nations sickness can find its roots in the politicians who have created the political class we have today.  They began studying how the political system works and finding ways to exploit the system to their own benefit.  How do people vote, who can vote for which candidate where, how are the checks and balances on legislation applied.  This has given birth to gerrymandering political voting districts, manipulating the Judicial system by appointing activist judges who would prefer to legislate from the bench rather than just provide a ruling on the strict interpretation of the law.  Can you see the problems here?  What about Law – Case Law in particular.  The practice of deciding litigation by case law assumes the previous Law is good and that the case was decided correctly/properly in the past.  What if any or all of that is wrong…could that be a problem?  Similarly, how can you expect a Judge in the 21st century to really know or understand what the authors of the Constitution were intending in the 1700’s?  Can a judge raised in our society today with all its influences and diverse social cultures really honestly intellectually and unemotionally grasp what the Constitutional authors intended?  We have to be honest with ourselves, admit feelings are fickle and we all are colored and influenced by our upbringing and experiences.  It is hard to set all that aside and be unbiased.

Ah, to be King Solomon for a year and clean up our country…  We should do away with career politicians.  You’ll say, well we have elections.  OK, then, despite them being dishonestly manipulated to create mini-political-fiefdoms we should eliminate the “perks” of political service that create the Political Class.  Elected officials should NOT have their own retirement system/benefit plan, premium healthcare system and separate laws/rules for themselves (e.g. being able to legally trade stocks on insider information) that don’t apply to the rest of the population they serve.  This is corrupt, dishonest and a disincentive to actually act selflessly in the public best interests.  So maybe were stuck with gerrymandered political districts for now that lopsidedly stack the votes to ones favor.  Give the politicians incentive to do the right thing and only allow them access to the same benefits as the population at large such as social security and IRA’s, not a very generous private (er, public?) retirement benefit program or premium healthcare program – they should have to use, buy, invest like everyone else.  America is angry because we’ve accepted too much, turned our heads away and ignored corruption and dishonesty for too long and the politicians have ruined the good thing they’ve created for themselves.  Not unlike the spectacular financial & business meltdowns like MCI, Enron, Bernie Madoff, Lehman Brothers, and the continuing CDO mortgage & banking meltdown ~ it was good for the insiders while it was working but when the music stops and the lights go on everything is exposed for what it really is.  Wrong, unfair, dishonest, immoral, manipulative, add your own characterization here ____________.  And they are deeply intertwined – business/finance and the political system.

So you see it’s hard to just talk about business and finances when everything is in the lurch of the political class.  You can’t ignore it and I think it’s high time we stopped accepting and not questioning it/them.  I’ll wrap up with a few quotes that influence my thinking (and yes some I’ve quoted before – see, they influence me)

“Property is the fruit of labor…property is desirable…is a positive good in the world. That some should be rich shows that others may become rich, and hence is just encouragement to industry and enterprise. Let not him who is houseless pull down the house of another; but let him labor diligently and build one for himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be safe from violence when built.”

–          Abraham Lincoln

“As government expands, liberty contracts.”
Ronald Reagan

And a particularly haunting quote that every American should know and consider:

“At what point shall we expect the approach of danger?  By what means shall we fortify against it?  Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow?  Never!  All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.  At what point, then, is the approach of danger to be expected?  I answer, if it ever reach us it must spring up amongst us.  It cannot come from abroad.  If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher.  As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.

– Abraham Lincoln

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Along Mexican border, US ranchers say they live in fear

Here’s a simple question: Who would you believe the politicians or the farmers and ranchers who live there?

It is a pathetic shame that this not only does not get more attention but that it is not getting solved.  So the ATF gives the cartels high powered rifles to supposedly help them track them to the cartels and all we hear about is the Border Patrol agents who are out gunned and getting shot buy the drug smugglers.  And in the mean time the politicians in Washington D.C. which last I checked is pretty far from the US-Mexican border all say it’s not really all that bad, that’s just politically motivated negative talk.  How about it’s accurate reporting about a problem the politicians fail to acknowledge or deal with.

For you conspiracy theorists here’s something to think about (I can’t resist, maybe a screenplay in here?):  How about all the liberal politicians who want to continue to raise our taxes and give illegal immigrants benefits they are not entitled too and are bogging down and draining our financial, medical and educational infrastructure so they can gain illegal votes & financial support to stay in power because they have ulterior motives.  Maybe if an investigative reporter was to dig deep enough he might even find maybe some of these politicians are on the drug cartel payrolls.  Nice huh?  Doesn’t have to be a direct contribution, how about laundering it through other sources, even legit businesses & by giving jobs or at least money to their family members for their support…. I see a movie in the works.  Sadly the reality is probably scarier than the best Hollywood fiction.

While I’m not a fan of illegal immigrants, they key being the word illegal, I suspect even many hard working ones are afraid for their lives as well working on and near these border crossing points.  Not a good situation.  How can such a prosperous success story such as the United States have such a screwed up border with such a backward third world country like Mexico?  Why isn’t Mexico a prosperous and safe country?  This is an important issue the politicians should be working on.  Hey, here’s a crazy thought, could this be a possible part of the problem we’re having with illegal immigration?  Maybe if a rich drug cartel lord was to pay for a nice luxurious, expense paid trip for the US politicians to come visit their great South American countries they would go take a look.  Oh, wait am I back on my movie script?  Maybe they already have?  Who wouldn’t like a trip to Cancun or Rio?  How about we send our politicians to Mexicali, Juarez & Mexico City – I think an exchange program is in order…

Along Mexican border, US ranchers say they live in fear.

Read it and weep.  We need to change this serious and growing problem.

-LA

Congress does it again – We are Above the Law

Actually surprised but not really.  Could this be another symptom of the boiling anger America has with it institutions be it Economic, Political or other that fuels movements like Occupy Wall Street?

Just when you thought you had heard it all it appears Congress has created a little loophole for themselves in the Law that would put anyone else in jail.  How would you like to be either responsible for or privy to laws and legislation that was going to affect a business then be able to go buy, sell or option that stock before anyone else knew about it.  That would be a pretty sweet deal except its called INSIDER TRADING and its ILLEGAL for everyone unless you are a member of congress.  Can you believe that?  Should you accept that?  This kind of garbage just fuels the fire of distrust and disrespect.  Congress has developed cancer and it’s been slowly and steadily eating away at the healthy organs it was founded upon resulting in the hideous morass of corruption, insincerity, self-serving, self-enriching, biased activity we have found ourselves with today.  Congress as it exists today can’t fix this mess because they are too deeply intertwined and a part of it.  Too corrupt and beholden to deep pocked donors agendas that don’t weight the greater public good only the elite individual enrichment and longevity.  Very sad.  How to fix it?  To be fair a few congressmen have consciences and have tried to enact change but they’ve been ignored because those with the power squash their voice before it can affect their own wealth and powers.

Read, or better yet watch the report on 60 minutes about the insider trading law that doesn’t exist for members of congress and tell me if your jaw doesn’t hit the floor in disbelief.

Oh, and don’t tell me your waiting for congress to fix the deficit, wall street, health care and social security…..ha ha.  Get a grip on reality folks.  Stop living in denial.

November 13, 2011 7:06 PM

Congress: Trading stock on inside information?

Watch the Segment »

Peter Schweizer of the Hoover Institution says the most valuable intelligence is often traded behind closed doors.

(CBS News)

Washington, D.C. is a town that runs on inside information – but should our elected officials be able to use that information to pad their own pockets? As Steve Kroft reports, members of Congress and their aides have regular access to powerful political intelligence, and many have made well-timed stock market trades in the very industries they regulate. For now, the practice is perfectly legal, but some say it’s time for the law to change.


The following is a script of “Insiders” which aired on Nov. 13, 2011. Steve Kroft is correspondent, Ira Rosen and Gabrielle Schonder, producers.

The next national election is now less than a year away and congressmen and senators are expending much of their time and their energy raising the millions of dollars in campaign funds they’ll need just to hold onto a job that pays $174,000 a year.

Few of them are doing it for the salary and all of them will say they are doing it to serve the public. But there are other benefits: Power, prestige, and the opportunity to become a Washington insider with access to information and connections that no one else has, in an environment of privilege where rules that govern the rest of the country, don’t always apply to them.

Questioning Pelosi: Steve Kroft heads to D.C.
When Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner, and other lawmakers wouldn’t answer Steve Kroft’s questions, he headed to Washington to get some answers about their stock trades.

Most former congressmen and senators manage to leave Washington – if they ever leave Washington – with more money in their pockets than they had when they arrived, and as you are about to see, the biggest challenge is often avoiding temptation.

Peter Schweizer: This is a venture opportunity. This is an opportunity to leverage your position in public service and use that position to enrich yourself, your friends, and your family.

Peter Schweizer is a fellow at the Hoover Institution, a conservative think tank at Stanford University. A year ago he began working on a book about soft corruption in Washington with a team of eight student researchers, who reviewed financial disclosure records. It became a jumping off point for our own story, and we have independently verified the material we’ve used.

Schweizer says he wanted to know why some congressmen and senators managed to accumulate significant wealth beyond their salaries, and proved particularly adept at buying and selling stocks.

Schweizer: There are all sorts of forms of honest grafts that congressmen engage in that allow them to become very, very wealthy. So it’s not illegal, but I think it’s highly unethical, I think it’s highly offensive, and wrong.

Steve Kroft: What do you mean honest graft?

Schweizer: For example insider trading on the stock market. If you are a member of Congress, those laws are deemed not to apply.

Kroft: So congressman get a pass on insider trading?

Schweizer: They do. The fact is, if you sit on a healthcare committee and you know that Medicare, for example, is– is considering not reimbursing for a certain drug that’s market moving information. And if you can trade stock on– off of that information and do so legally, that’s a great profit making opportunity. And that sort of behavior goes on.

Kroft: Why does Congress get a pass on this?

Schweizer: It’s really the way the rules have been defined. And the people who make the rules are the political class in Washington. And they’ve conveniently written them in such a way that they don’t apply to themselves.

Read the full report here.

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