Friday, December 09, 2011

Friday Flotsam - Fraudsters, Hypocrites, Liars and Politicians. But I repeat myself.

Time once again for the Dividist to stroll down our metaphorical beach and take note of the detritus that has washed ashore and cluttered this little island of rationality in the great big blogospheric ocean.

Much of what attracted our attention this week were items that have washed ashore here before. Again and again and again. The Dividist simply does not have the arm strength to throw this garbage far enough into the sea to keep it from washing back on our beach. Pity.

ITEM - "Will No One Rid Me Of This Meddlesome Priest Just Fix It?"
The Dividist has been covering "The Case Of The Missing Billion." since it was revealed that heretofore sacrosanct legally segregated client funds were apparently tapped to backstop Jon Corzine's ill-advised "bet the company" wagers at MF Global. Little noticed in his testimony to the Agricultural Committee on Wednesday was this tidbit that foreshadows some coming legal attractions, to whit - The Becket Defense. From Huffington Post:
"Lawmakers asked Corzine to lay out how he may have "unintentionally" contributed to the mixing of customer and firm money. He pointed to the chaos of the hours leading up to MF Global's bankruptcy filing on October 31. "Someone could misinterpret 'You gotta fix it,' which I said the evening of October 30th,'" Corzine said."
Yes, "You gotta fix it" could easily be misinterpreted to mean something like "Raid the client accounts if you have to, but get me the time to sell this piece of crap before the street figures out we're insolvent." That kind of misunderstanding happens all the time. Consider this innocent off-the-cuff remark by King Henry II, acted on by nearby knights in his employ, and the next thing he knew, through no fault of his own, he learns the Archbishop of Canterbury was lying in a pool of blood. These things happens.

(start at 3:31)

ITEM - "I am shocked, shocked to learn there is gambling insider trading going on here!"
For a few minutes there, The Dividist was beginning to think that Congress might act quickly to curb at least one particularly egregious example of "Honest Graft" . This form of Insider Trading commonly practiced by many of our Congress critters and their staffs was highlighted by 60 Minutes and CNBC a few weeks ago. In short order the STOCK Bill (which had been languishing for years and unable to pick up more that an handful of sponsors) received a public hearing, and began attracting co-sponsors like flies. By the middle of last week, it had a bipartisan majority of the House of Representatives signed on as co-sponsors! A lead pipe cinch to get a vote on floor and pass into legislation - right? Well - no:
"In a strange and unexpected twist, the Republican leader in the House of Representatives is now blocking progress on a bill that would definitively outlaw insider trading by federal lawmakers. The Republican sponsor of the bill in the House, Financial Services Chairman Spencer Bachus of Alabama, had scheduled a markup of the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act for next week. But on Wednesday, Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia cancelled the markup session. Cantor reportedly said he blocked the bill to give Congress more time to examine the issue. Critics of the move, however, fear that any delay could kill the bill entirely. "

Just when The Dividist's comfortable cynicism in the venality, corruption, and self dealing duplicity of our leaders in Washington was about to be undermined, Republican Eric "Your winnings sir" Cantor steps in to assure us that nothing has changed. Thank you Eric.

ITEM - President Barack Obama and our legislators have once again claimed executive authority that undermines the Bill of Rights and reaches beyond anything the Bush/Cheney administration ever dreamed of [yawn].
So what else is new. This time it is indefinite detention of American citizens without trial at the discretion of the executive branch. I can't even be bothered to write anything new about this. Glen Greenwald lays it out.

As I've said before - In many ways, the Obama incarnation of the Bush/Cheney Imperial Presidency is far worse than Bush/Cheney. Then there was robust opposition from the left. Now, the handful of voices on the principled left and libertarian right raised in defense of civil liberties and in opposition to this continuing accretion of power to the executive branch are lost in the noise level of the Obama apologists. They are the equivalent of "Loyal Bushies", and appear to crave nothing so much as a benevolent Obama monarchy.

It did not have to be this way. There was another path available to the Obama administration. The Bush/Cheney executive power grab could have been seen as an outlier, an aberration inconsistent with our Constitution and reversed by Obama, restoring balance to the checks and balances between the branches. Instead the Bush/Cheney view of the unitary executive / imperial president was embraced by Obama and institutionalized with the passive compliance of first - a lap-dog Democratic Congress - and now - a bipartisan abrogation of legislative responsibility .

The result is that the Bush/Cheney unitary executive/ imperial presidency is now the norm, the new benchmark for the indefinite future. The sad truth is it will remain so until this expansive new executive power is abused by this or a future executive, and Americans finally understand what they have given away.

ITEM - The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to give away control of 417 acres of beautiful and valuable coastal park land owned by the people of San Francisco to the federal government. Just give it away. No. Really. They did.

This issue may be a bit local for this blog. But this was just so batshit insane that I thought I should bring it to the attention of a little broader audience so those who live outside of our city limits can again have the opportunity to point at us and laugh. If you are so inclined, I have been covering this story for the last three years in great and gory detail in my other blog.

The vote was 6-5. Some of the principal players in this vote have been seen here before. Of the six votes to betray the interests of the citizens of San Francisco, we find the usual suspects: John Avalos, Ross Mirkarimi, and the poster child of mind-numbingly stupid San Francisco Value initiatives - Eric Mar.

For any one who gives a rat's ass about Public Golf in San Francisco, or cares about preserving a unique and historic Alister McKenzie golf course, or just wants to poke a stick in the eye of clueless city supervisors in San Francisco who have so little respect for their constituents that they are willing to give away coastal park land that belongs to the people of San Francisco - send mayor Ed Lee a note and ask him to veto this bullshit ordinance.

Divided and Balanced.™
Now that is fair.

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