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July 13, 2008

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Scuzzy, sure. And typical.

But is this sort of thing illegal ("Crooks")?

But is this sort of thing illegal ("Crooks")?

Title 18 §201, US Code - Bribery of public officials and witnesses

IANAL, Adam, but is Mr Payne a public official? Is he taking cash in exchange for policy decisions, or governmental actions or non-actions?

I don't see bribery. I see Lincoln Bedroom.

And this is different than the Democratic Party taxing hedge fund managers at 15% how? Other than more zeros for the hedge fund managers?

This is wrong, but it is not a partisan problem.

True; I was using 'crooks' loosely. I had no specific statute in mind.

B.O.B, arranging the meeting is only half the problem. The payments to issue public statements praising the other governments reeks. Do we have a foreign policy by auction here?

I will say it's impeachable if bribes have altered our foreign policy.

MobiusKlein;

To which I’d counter than selling ballistics technology to China is as bad if not worse than writing a letter. A comfortable distance has been engineered between the electorate and the politicians that allows this crap to happen. Universal suffrage is one part of the design.

Corruption is a problem with both parties (the single party?) and will only get worse as immigration, dysgenic breeding, and public education have their way with the broad electorate.

The model is Central America. But I think they’ll fail. American proles are not Ingsoc proles.

Dysgenic: Exerting a detrimental effect on later generation;s tending to racial degeneration. Opposite Eugenic.
(1993 edition of Shorter OED.)

Are you sure you want to use that word? Immigration is going to ruin our racial stock you say? And universal suffrage is causing it too.


And please after 7 and a half years, can we discuss Bush without saying Clinton Did It First?

He is a public official; he's a member of HSAC. It also seems clear to me that he's "directly or indirectly" offering or promising something of value to a public official "with intent to influence [an] official act." Former officials are also regulated (§207).

As a member HSAC, so in addition to violating §201(b)(2), he's potentially violating the personal financial interest rules by asking for money for his firm (§208), offering representational services (§203), and perhaps compensation for services (§209).

This is presumably not the sort of publicity SMU's administration had in mind when they promised increased publicity for the university thanks to its association with the Bush Presidential Library.

ThinkProgress also has a useful rundown of Payne's background: he was Bush's personal travel aide during his father's 1988 Presidential campaign, serves on the President's Homeland Security Advisory Council, was a Bush Pioneer (raised over $100,000) in 2000, and a Ranger (raised over $200,000) in 2004.
The way this sentence is worded, "Bush's personal travel aide during his father's" with "George W Bush’" as the antecedent, clearly states that Payne was G. W. Bush's travel aid, when he was instead G. H. W. Bush's travel aid; might want to perhaps fix that inadvertent misstatement, for clarity.

"To which I’d counter than selling ballistics technology to China is as bad if not worse than writing a letter."

I'd ask for a cite, but a cite to a tu quoque fallacy would still be a fallacy.

You might consider, BoB, arguing without fallacies. It could do wonders for your ability to persuade people.

"The model is Central America."

Because repetition is proof.

Just keep repeating it, Bill. That'll persuade everyone.

(I actually amn't inclined to argue on substance, in fact; it's your notion of what's a logical, or even useful, form of argument that I take issue with.)

He is a public official; he's a member of HSAC.

Um, maybe. Not excusing his activities, but HSAC is an advisory council composed of industry leaders, not exclusively government employees.

MobiusKlein;

‘Democratic’ politicians in third world countries quickly degenerate into a class of people who cut deals with an oligarchy consisting of businessmen, similar to what Hilzoy is pointing out, or sales to the Chinese, or the hedge fund tax rate. I’ll let you speculate as to the reasons for this. But I speculate that as we bring more of the third world to America, our political system will become more like theirs.

The solution is color-blind. It is to require means testing for voters, just like the Founding Fathers did. The alternative is a bankrupted treasury and internal civil conflict. The nice thing about means testing is that it not discriminatory. Any hard worker, who is economically responsible, can accumulate some assets over a period of years.

In 1789, we had an electorate of stakeholders. We now have an electorate of consumers of government services. Which is simply unsustainable. We are witnessing the effects of it.

There is also the difference, whether the action is in the public or done in private (as here).
One could argue that bribery requires at least a certain amount of secrecy. Extreme case: is official (secular) Simony covered by bribery statutes? I do not even know, whether it would be illegal to auction off positions, if it was done in the open (provided the senate approves in those cases where it is prescribed by the constitution).

Gary: see here:

"During his tenure as Legislative Director, Mr. Payne began his affiliation with the Bush White House by serving as a White House Advance Representative for President George Herbert Walker Bush, coordinating dozens of official White House events across the nation, and serving as George W. Bush's personal travel aide during his father’s 1988 Presidential campaign."

He is a public official; he's a member of HSAC.

So there's that. This could put him on the receiving end of the bribe. Does the law distinguish between actions take in an official capacity and those taken as a private citizen (ie, his Rolodex and his access are independent of his role as an HSAC advisor)?

It also seems clear to me that he's "directly or indirectly" offering or promising something of value to a public official "with intent to influence [an] official act."

And this would put him on the offer side. Maybe Payne offered Cheney, Rice, et al something in exchange for their time.

I think the other laws you mention (money for his firm; offering representational services) are more compelling. But then, IANAL.

The solution is color-blind. It is to require means testing for voters, just like the Founding Fathers did.

Given that this means testing essentially boiled down to "don't be black," I'd say it was anything other than "color-blind."

But I think they’ll fail. American proles are not Ingsoc proles.

Nope, they're probably closer to World State proles. Which makes sense. Orwell was criticizing communism; Huxley was gunning for capitalism.

‘Democratic’ politicians in third world countries quickly degenerate into a class of people who cut deals with an oligarchy consisting of businessmen, [...]

The solution is color-blind. It is to require means testing for voters, just like the Founding Fathers did.

So let me get this straight. The problem is that the government is becoming corrupt and falling into the service of the oligarchy; the solution is to only enfranchise the "sufficiently" well-heeled?

I apologize for feeding the troll.

Means testing has nothing to do with taking care of the ‘well-heeled’. Means testing benefits everybody. Universal suffrage appeals to one’s emotions, but fails the real world test. See Hilzoy’s post.

Another case in point is Rhodesia. Rhodesia had a system of means testing that denied the right to vote to many white people and permitted black people to vote. Admittedly a much larger percentage of whites than blacks were eligible to vote, but everybody could strive to meet the requirements.

Rhodesia was a fairly stable country that exported food under this system.

Mugabe then instituted universal suffrage. People are now starving, a dictator has come to power, and political opponents have their testicles crushed, killing them.

Voting needs to be reserved for responsible stakeholders. A good measure of responsibility is having one’s finances in order. Our Founding Fathers recognized this. Idealism leads first to crooks, then to ruptured scrotums, then to stacks of skulls. It must be resisted for the good of all mankind, specifically mentioning poor people.

And slaves, for example - they don't have any means, so there is absolutely no reason they should vote.

Heck if slavery was good enough for the founding fathers, it should be good enough for us.

Means testing has nothing to do with taking care of the ‘well-heeled’. Means testing benefits everybody.

Indeed. The well-heeled get the benefit of appointing representatives who will pander to their needs to get elected, and continue to pander to them afterward... while the poor get a kindly Uncle Joe type who knows what's best for them, and has no reason not to give it to them good and hard.

Universal suffrage appeals to one’s emotions, but fails the real world test. See Hilzoy’s post.

Hilzoy's post contains precisely nothing that indicates popular suffrage is to blame for this corruption. If you feel I am in error in thinking this, please to be pointing out where it does.

Voting needs to be reserved for responsible stakeholders. A good measure of responsibility is having one’s finances in order.

Riiiiiight. Having one's finances "in order" is a good measure of one's finances. Full stop.

Idealism leads first to crooks, then to ruptured scrotums, then to stacks of skulls.

Care to detail this causal chain? And I mean "detail", not "anecdotaly handwave while pretending to have explained it", else I'll have to counter your anecdotes with my anecdotes. There's plenty of stable nations granting universal suffrage for me to choose from.

It must be resisted for the good of all mankind, specifically mentioning poor people.

Yeeeeeeees. Democracy is too important to trust it to any old people; we must reserve it for the right kind of people. Only when the poor are disenfranchised wholesale will we see an end to the corruption and oligarchy that marred the era of universal suffrage; only then will we see people who are concerned with the plight of all people, not just their own kind or potential voter blocks, rise to power. But mind, this isn't a misty-eyed idealistic stance; it's a hard-headed, coolly pragmatic one. Those silly universal suffragists are the idealistic and unrealistic folk. Riiiiiiiight...

Look. You want to limit suffrage "for the good of humanity"? Geez, you could at least try to hide your agenda. Why don't you propose a more meaningful test: mandate a certain score on annual comprehensive civics exams or somesuch. You'd still exclude a higher percentage of the poor than the rich due to inequity of education, but there'd at least be a vague semblance of a relevant standard of qualification.

We've tried means testing for the vote. It failed miserably. Although to ensure a true test of this idea we need a 100% estate tax and maybe random executions of rich people...just to insure they don't lose their sense of irony.

Means testing benefits everybody.

Argument-by-assertion benefits nobody. Why? Because I said so!

Gaze in awe at the loathsome diatribes of B-O-Bill, for this friends, is the true face of conservatism...finally, after all these fakes, a real conservative.

Way to go, Bill.

Rather than try to reason with BOB's notion of means tested suffrage, it would be more instructive to see what actually happened in Rhodesia. BOB's suggestion that it was universal suffrage that led to Rhodesia's downfall is ahistorical fantasy rather than history. In fact, Rhodesia is the perfect example of a small minority trying to hold on to power for far too long and reaping the whirlwind. Wikipedia is a good place to start.

Bill does have a certain fragment of a point in that the ouster of white landowners was disastrous for Zimbabwe's food production. The rest, though...I dunno.

...still, that was a couple of decades after Rhodesia was dead and gone.

And I've found BOB's soulmate, P. K. van der Byl

Later that month, Van der Byl was finding pressure put on him by more moderate voices within Rhodesia and hinted that the government might amend the Land Tenure Act which restricted the amount of land which Africans could own...Although Van der Byl was now prepared to say that he supported the transition to majority rule, he was quick to put restrictions on it when interviewed in April 1977. He insisted that majority rule would only be possible on a "very qualified franchise--that's what the whole thing is about"

It is also instructive to read the last paragraph of the article and learn how much he suffered from his views (i.e. not much at all)

And not to flame, Slarti, but this comment from the previous Wiki article relates to that.

During UDI, white tobacco farmers switched to the production of maize and beef for sale on the domestic market. This provided severe competition to black farmers, whose share of marketed home food production declined from 65% to 30% during the UDI period. The black peasant farming sector never recovered. At the same time, sanctions provided an artificial protection for domestic manufacturing, which allowed the development of industries. These businesses later faltered when exposed to international competition in 1980.

The article asks for a citation on that 65% to 30% drop, but it suggests that the reason the ouster was so problematic was not that the white farmers were so much better skilled than black farmers but that they created a brinksmanship situation.

Does selling access to the Vice President, Secretary of State, and National Security Advisor count as "means testing"?

In 1789, we had an electorate of stakeholders.

Minimally, I'd say that the stakeholders in a polity are all who pay taxes -- any taxes.

That's pretty much anyone who earns an income of any kind, buys anything, owns any property whatsoever, owns a car in a place with automotive excise taxes, etc.

In other words, almost everyone.

More realistically, I'd say "stakeholders" should include any citizen who is affected by the law.

In other words, everyone.

But never worry, people with means will have no problem having their concerns placed front and center.

Thanks -

Folks, please don't pick on BOB. His posts do provide the occassional chuckle due to their nature of hyperbole mixed with irrationality mixed with nonsensicalness mixed with ridiculosity mixed with bigotry. We are lucky to have him here. He is an example of an extremely rare breed.

Folks, please don't pick on BOB.

But John, we're not picking on him, we're feeding him! How can you expect a troll to grow up big and strong without proper nourishment?

"Gary: see here:"

Oh. My misunderstanding. Never mind. (Sorry!)

BoB:

Any hard worker, who is economically responsible, can accumulate some assets over a period of years.
I think you really believe that.

So, what about the hard workers who are disabled? Who are disabled and homeless? Who are mentally disabled, as well as physically? Who are illiterate? Who lack the knowledge of how to engage normally required behavior in the workplace? The single parents who must take care of multiple children, and the people who combine some or all of those problems?

Can they all, every one of them, accumulate assets, always?

"Gaze in awe at the loathsome diatribes of B-O-Bill, for this friends, is the true face of conservatism...finally, after all these fakes, a real conservative."

I don't know how BoB self-labels, but I don't recall seeing him call himself a conservative. I don't recognize his beliefs as following any particular brand or thread of conservativism I'm familiar with. Neither would I quickly offer a label for BoB's system of beliefs, as I don't have any grasp of it as a coherent system. Retro-reactionary believer in democracy as the Greeks practiced it, maybe. BoB, what do you call yourself and your political belief system? ("Arthur.")

"His posts do provide the occassional chuckle due to their nature of hyperbole mixed with irrationality mixed with nonsensicalness mixed with ridiculosity mixed with bigotry."

You left out "ignorance," mixed with "inability to fact-check," mixed with "inability to recognize fallacies," mixed with "firm believer in proof-by-assertion."

But other than that, I'm sure he's a nice guy. He has lunch with dark-skinned people, and really likes a Jewish person, and everything.

I don't know how BoB self-labels, but I don't recall seeing him call himself a conservative. I don't recognize his beliefs as following any particular brand or thread of conservativism I'm familiar with. Neither would I quickly offer a label for BoB's system of beliefs, as I don't have any grasp of it as a coherent system.

He is, however, utterly convinced that he would be on the right side of the means being tested...

drat

Well, there goes a bunch of great stories we'll never hear again -- "can't use a computer," "Americans are whiners," "two-parent adoption," "social security is a disgrace," and the four-year (eight-year?) balanced budget that saves all its money by VICTORY. VICTORYYY! Over/under on how much of any of that gets past monday?

Sorry to keep banging on about this, but a) there is no such thing as the "Times of London", and b) this is the Sunday Times, not the Times.

"Sorry to keep banging on about this, but a) there is no such thing as the 'Times of London',"

True, but "The Times" isn't much of an identifier. Kinda provincial, you might say, as if it was the only "Times."

And it's better than "The London Times," after all.

(Me, yanking your chain? Couldn't be, because I'm American, and have no sense of irony.)

I'm American too. If Americans insist on giving it some other identifier, there's nothing wrong with "the UK's Times". The point being that it's a national newspaper, not a London newspaper. London has several local papers, and the Times isn't one of them.

I realise I'm taking your post too seriously, but calling the Times "the Times" is much less parochial than calling the New York Times "the Times", as if it were the only Times.

As to part b) of my comment, that's something that people should pay attention to regardless of their preferred nomenclature. Sunday newspapers in Britain are separate operations to the daily papers (there's some tax reason dating back many decades). The journalists and editors are different people and they have different news agendas and styles. There's usually some overlap in back-office staff, sales, subs, and internet operations, but most fiercely maintain their editorial independence from their sister papers.

"I realise I'm taking your post too seriously, but calling the Times 'the Times' is much less parochial than calling the New York Times 'the Times', as if it were the only Times."

I don't think referring to either as "the Times," when specifically referring to one, is at all parochial. It's simply conventional English to do so; using fuller names is typically unnecessary in context. But best use is to use the full name first, and then diminutives, if necessary, following.

But many Britons do love to bang on about how there's only one "The Times," etc. It gets a little old when you've been hearing it for something like twenty-five-plus years, as I have.

"As to part b) of my comment, that's something that people should pay attention to regardless of their preferred nomenclature."

I've been known to murmur on this point myself, as it happens.

Ginger Yellow: Sorry to keep banging on about this, but a) there is no such thing as the "Times of London", and b) this is the Sunday Times, not the Times.

True, but you will never get Americans to understand that even though The Times and The Sunday Times are undeniably London-centric (and are published within Greater London) they are not London newspapers. It's one of their charming, folksy colonialisms, and not one worth fighting about. We do actually understand what they mean when they say "the Times of London" or "the London Times", and that's something.

Even if the Times is birdcage-quality news.

"But many Britons do love to bang on about how there's only one "The Times," etc. It gets a little old when you've been hearing it for something like twenty-five-plus years, as I have. "

Understood, hence my apologies. But I don't object to people calling the NYT or any other Times the "Times". I object to people calling the Times the "Times of London".

While the UK media is very London-heavy, there is a national press. People in, say, York, are no less likely to read the Times than people in London. Obviously there are class based regional variations and a few oddities (the Sun in Liverpool, for instance).

As a binational journalist, I find it quite important to point out and analyse these differences in media culture, to see if both sides can learn from the other.

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