WAGING A CORRUPT WAR ON CORRUPTION
I’ve said before that people can criticize others and advocate changes which appear benign, but in reality the purpose is to thrust us deeper into a constitutional crisis. Rudy Giuliani fits that narrative exactly. After watching Rudy Giuliani’s most recent remarks in Reno, the title I feel that is most appropriate for him is Reichsführer-SS. I will explain.
Before Holocaust victims were sent to their deaths, their possessions would be confiscated. After death, gold would be extracted from teeth. Anything of value was to be sent to the Reich. In October of 1943, Heinrich Himmler gave a speech in Poznan before SS officers in which he declared war on “corruption” in the SS. Corruption was defined as an SS officer taking a bribe to let a prisoner escape, or keeping some of the stolen loot for himself rather than sending it to the Reich. SS officers who were caught would be prosecuted and punished severely.
When you think about the seriousness of the crime of the Holocaust, you can see the absurdity of the Hitler regime prosecuting SS officers for keeping stolen loot. The real reason for a criminal regime cracking down on small scale corruption was not because the regime cared about the victims, but to enhance the power of the regime. To the extent SS officers complied with orders to send stolen loot to the Reich, that benefited the criminal regime. To the extent SS officers deviated from policy, they became competitors with the regime by functioning as independent de facto tax collectors.
Applying Caesar’s observation on war, Lysander Spooner neatly distilled the genesis of the state. Any group of scoundrels, as Spooner saliently articulated, having money enough to start with, can form themselves as a state. Because with money they could hire agents. With agents they could steal more money. And so the first use the state always makes of its money is to hire agents to subdue and kill all those who refuse to give it more money.
The government doesn’t sustain itself by satisfying consumer demands, i.e. it doesn’t earn its income. The government sustains itself with compulsory taxation, i.e. it uses violence or the threat of violence to obtain its revenue. That’s why problems inhere with everything the government inserts itself into. It has nothing to do with personalities. It’s the nature of the state. (There’s no better way to crystallize this than to think about how free markets don’t create concentration camps. Nobody would patronize such a place. Governments create concentration camps.) You have to pay the government in order to remain free. If that isn’t the definition of a protection racket, gentle reader, then I don’t know what is.
People often times conflate the violence that ensues between warring tribes and warlords with anarchy. That is not anarchy. That’s the genesis of the state. It’s competing warlords fighting to obtain a territorial monopoly on the use of violence. Eventually, one of them prevails and becomes the government. At that time, their crimes are made legal. And because the violence is directed one way, vertically downwards, that’s called “order”.
Government is, to put it simply, the most powerful group of thugs with guns. The first documented political act that I can think of is when Cain murdered his brother Abel. I’m not saying the government doesn’t do anything good and there aren’t a lot of well meaning people in government. But the good government does in apprehending sporadic criminals is because if the government allowed people to behave the way it does with impunity then pretty soon a different government would replace it. The good government does is incidental to its primary function of maintaining a territorial monopoly on the use of violence.
If the government permitted its own minions to collect bribes its power would be diffused. If the government permitted anybody to steal with impunity, then before long there would be a new government. As we can see with the SS officers, their offense was not in harming people or even stealing, but in trying to compete with the Reich. Reichsführer-SS Himmler didn’t care about the Holocaust victims, just like Reichsführer-SS Giuliani doesn’t care about innocent detainees being tortured to death.
In Reno, Reichsführer-SS Giuliani boasted that he could successfully prosecute Hillary Clinton not for any of her matter of policy crimes, but for selling protection to UBS bank in Switzerland. This is the same Reichsführer-SS Giuliani who blamed Hillary Clinton for creating ISIS not because she actually helped create ISIS (like she did), but because of the alleged troop withdrawal from Iraq (there are troops in Iraq right now). Pursuant to Reichsführer-SS Giuliani’s calculus, criminal policies are not the crimes, but the efforts to circumvent criminal policies are the crimes.
Rather than plagiarize myself, I will post an excerpt from a previous commentary I wrote regarding Jesse Ventura’s anti-libertarian heresy on campaign finance. To make clear, I was still hoping he would run despite my disagreements. I can think of no better way to illustrate how the government’s war on corruption is corrupt. The trend is not for the government to administer justice but to drive up its cost (i.e. drive up the cost of a “bribe” or protection). My rule is to look for the means to further that trend in every political plan. And that’s why the government prosecutes people like the former police chief Willie Lovett, who deserves a Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Jesse Ventura recently posted a commentary about campaign expenditures. Somehow, campaign expenditures get morphed into both the cause of political crises and the crises itself. From that thought pattern, it then follows that curtailing and/or proscribing campaign expenditures is the way to remedy crises.
While Ventura lamented the First Amendment rights of protesters being curtailed, he simultaneously endorsed curtailing the First Amendment rights of campaign contributors and candidates. Hopefully I am able to draw the nexus between the First Amendment and campaign contributions for Jesse Ventura to see.
Newspapers can deputize their editorial boards to write up editorials in favor, or against, candidates. This amounts to nothing less than a campaign contribution. That doesn’t need to be reported as such. Worse yet, newspapers generally endorse candidates who wish to keep all of the other candidates in handcuffs with the very campaign regulations that newspapers are not bound by. Also, newspapers need not register as PACs, and they need not disclose subscriber lists.
Candidates are bound by disclosure laws, contribution limit laws, and so forth. Meanwhile, a newspaper can deputize its editors to endorse or oppose a candidate. That is, objectively, a campaign contribution. Should the political speech of newspapers be regulated? Should Jesse Ventura’s show be shut down? That would violate First Amendment rights. And so, too, do campaign finance regulations. Campaign finance regulations violate the First Amendment rights of candidates and PACs. So, let’s now see the nexus between the First Amendment rights of commentators and candidates.
About the only addition I could make to my previous commentary that I post below is that legalizing bribery on a blanket basis might actually diminish police brutality. Why? Police officers would feel much more beholden to the citizens whose generosity they rely upon. Before dismissing that argument, please read these two commentaries and consider two different cases involving police officers with different outcomes. In one case, a police officer didn’t arrest people for a victimless “offense” and received 7.5 years in prison. In another case, a police officer actually murdered a man for a victimless “offense” with impunity. See: http://libertyeconomics.com/supporting-the-police-who-enforce-sheldon-adelsons-racket/ and http://libertyeconomics.com/a-prediction-on-police-body-cameras/ Under the current system bribery is legal, but only for politicians. Politicians can bribe us with our own money, but we can’t bribe them with our own money.
Ask yourself why anybody would spend, as Ventura would say, “hundreds of millions of dollars” on elections. It’s being spent in the pursuit of power. The problem is the power. Donors are spending a record amount of money on protection from political candidates. And why is that? They are buying protection from a government that’s the biggest it has ever been. Big government creates demand for protection. The way to solve this is not to rein in campaign expenditures, but to rein in government power. It would be undesirable to rein in campaign expenditures while keeping government intact.
By advocating tighter campaign finance regulations – which Harry Reid advocates as well – Jesse Ventura plays right into the hands of the power brokers. What I found to be very amusing was seeing Reid go back to Washington arguing for tighter campaign finance regulations after the entire Whittemore thing came out. As if that was his way of “atoning” for his transgressions. But just think of the government as nothing but a gigantic conspiracy in restraint of trade. Not to claim accolades, but I wrote a great commentary in which I demolished Ventura’s position about as well as anybody could. It would be fun to debate Jesse Ventura on this issue.
From my commentary where I demolish Ventura’s position:
I will never forget the time when I was in Tijuana with a few other Marines in the 1990s. Tijuana wasn’t a place I went to often. It’s not the nicest place in the world and, sadly, that’s largely due to what Americans have helped do to the place. If you want to see what a total gun ban looks like, go to Tijuana.
I was with two other Marines. We had just left a bar and were outside. A Mexican national ran up to one of the Marines I was with and handed him a cup of beer. My Marine friend began to drink down the beer and as he was in the middle of doing so a Tijuana police officer came over and threatened my Marine friend with arrest for drinking a beer in public. That had to be the least of the problems going on in Tijuana at the time. We soon figured out why my friend was targeted.
The same Mexican national who handed my Marine friend the cup of beer appeared to “negotiate” with the police officer to not take my Marine friend to jail. The terms were my friend would hand over $20 to the police officer in order to evade arrest. My friend handed over the money which we noticed afterwards was split with the same Mexican national who handed my friend the cup of beer. In the end, we made it back just fine.
Of course that Tijuana police officer was abusing his authority and engaging in petty corruption. But you know what? The issue wasn’t the money he received to not arrest my friend for doing something so many others were doing. The issue wasn’t that he let my friend “walk”. Whenever I shared this story in the past, I would remind people that it’s not really a bad thing you can buy some justice in Mexico for twenty bucks. Cracking down on police officers who sell justice for twenty bucks will merely raise the cost of a bribe (i.e. justice).
Here in the United States you wouldn’t be able to buy justice like that. You would be arrested, hauled off to jail for a few days, miss work and maybe lose your job, and then get fined a few hundred dollars. After all of the other middle men in the criminal justice system get involved, the price of justice goes way up. I’m not one to say all police officers are anxious to use force, but it does seem nowadays like there’s a chance somebody might get tased over an offense like that. And people would go along with the narrative that’s real justice because the police officer strictly enforced all statutes and ordinances created by politicians.
This brings me to the case of Harvey Whittemore which I felt compelled to write about after seeing the front-running Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in a different state promise to ban members of Congress from ever becoming lobbyists. The more I think about that, the more I get the proverbial butterflies. A proposal like that should send chills down everybody’s spine.
Think about this one. Harvey Whittemore has been prosecuted for skirting campaign finance laws. Is the United States any better off because of that? This should prompt questions. We ought to ask ourselves what, exactly, campaign finance laws beget? In my estimation, campaign finance laws are all about giving the government more power while also curtailing the ability of the people to influence that same government. It’s called power consolidation. Meanwhile, the crimes of the government continue to metastasize.
There’s a paradox in campaign finance laws. While it would be perfectly legal for a wealthy person to self-finance, donating, say, $500,000 to their own campaign, it becomes a crime to donate the same amount of money to another person’s campaign since it’s necessary to use strawman donors due to contribution limits. That wealthy person could run with those funds but they couldn’t use those same funds to help somebody else run. As if the government so cares about donors like Whittemore it had to create these laws to help level the playing field in their own favor.
Let’s take campaign finance laws to their logical conclusion: criminalize all campaign contributions. If all campaign contributions were criminalized, is that going to fix anything? No. The corporate media would have more power to determine the outcome of elections as people find themselves unable to support the candidates they want while the media continues to enjoy its First Amendment right to support and oppose candidates. If somebody wants to run for office they will need to be very wealthy so that they can self-finance. Campaign finance laws are most injurious to the poorer candidates who need to fundraise.
Campaign finance laws are also injurious to candidates who strive to follow the statutes, which places those candidates at a disadvantage compared to candidates who violate campaign finance statutes. In other words, it’s statutory law that created the very system to be gamed. Eliminating donors also centralizes the sources of campaign funding into fewer and fewer hands, compelling politicians to tap more establishment and elite sources of funding. That would beget politicians becoming more and more like carbon copies of one another.
Perhaps that’s why politicians in Nevada who are guilty of far greater crimes than Harvey Whittemore don’t oppose campaign finance laws and have said nothing in Whittemore’s defense. Politicians who even took Whittemore’s money. They’re indifferent to the corruption. What they like is the weaponization of laws, using them selectively to ensnare their political opponents and to remind people they have no business trying to buy some influence. Or maybe prosecutions of people like Whittemore are meant to send a signal to other donors that their contributions better not taper off or else they’re next.
The problem with Washington is not lobbyists per se. We should all be trying to lobby Washington. Restrictions on lobbying and lobbyists drive up the cost of lobbying, putting the less connected lobbyists out of business while also driving up premiums for the services offered by the more connected lobbyists. If we’re so worried about members of Congress being lobbied or becoming lobbyists, then why trust them as members of Congress? Why not just ban what members of Congress are doing to us through legislation and policy? Ban the federal government? Maybe people ought to recognize campaign finance laws were constructed by Congress to keep power entrenched. Which brings me to the real issue: government power.
It’s kind of like government run medicine. It’s inherently inefficient. The solution isn’t for Congress to exercise more oversight over the VA or to get better VA caseworkers. The solution is to get the government out of healthcare, and then veterans can’t be blackmailed with their healthcare. And then there’s no having to decide which candidate, which member of Congress, I must support in order to get the eczema treated.
When it comes to lobbying, I would make the point that if a lobbyist pays a politician $X to do XYZ on their behalf, it’s impossible to say who was bribing whom. Perhaps it’s the power-wielding politicians who play political games, who can threaten companies and people with sanctions, that are bribing people in order to sell their “protection”. Is the campaign contributor buying “protection” or is the politician buying campaign contributions with “protection” from the very schemes that politician creates? Let me distill this even more sharply, and this is “Mark original” writing. Are campaign contributions being used to buy favors or are favors being used to buy campaign contributions?
If you want to curtail lobbying, then curtail government power. It’s not that people try to influence power. It’s the power. The people who prosecuted Harvey Whittemore had the wrong person on the docket. Instead, it should be politicians who are prosecuted for what they are doing to the country as a matter of policy. This is why I’ve never written about alleged kickbacks and payoffs to Reid in exchange for him to do somebody a favor. If Reid can help somebody in exchange for some kind of compensation – no matter how in violation of a statute it might be – it could actually be in the pursuit of true justice. The issue isn’t Reid personally or individually. The real issue is the entire system – a system Reid supports. That’s what makes Harry Reid a criminal.
If you believe that politicians should run everything and that the solution to how everything is being ran straight into the ground is to lock up campaign contributors, you are totally delusional. Things won’t change until we demand governmental agencies and departments get shut down and abolished. For starters, let’s shut down the Department of Homeland Security which trains with paper targets of children. Let’s shut down the VA medical system which is unable to take care of veterans. Let’s end the promiscuous foreign policy of war all over the globe which creates more disabled veterans when we can’t afford to take care of the ones who already exist. By following the Constitution, this would curtail the practice of politicians using favors to buy campaign contributions.
While there are many legitimate reasons to criticize and even prosecute Hillary Clinton, selling protection to UBS bank isn’t one of them. It’s the wrong barrister with the wrong indictment of the right suspect. Reichsführer-SS Rudy Giuliani couldn’t be more mistaken. It’s not the crimes that matter to Reichsführer-SS Giuliani, but that people would sell protection from the crimes. Let’s not forget Reichsführer-SS Giuliani defends Trump on tax avoidance, and I agree with him as it is certainly not in anybody’s interest that billionaires pay taxes to empower government even more so. Tax fairness should not be defined by taxing the rich, but by eliminating taxes on everybody.
This is another example of how Republicans and Democrats engage on the wrong issues in an effort to thrust us deeper into a constitutional crisis. It reminds me of Clinton’s email controversy. Pursuant to the Reichsführer-SS, it’s not the matter of policy crimes committed by Hillary Clinton, but that she isn’t good at securing information which can lead to us mere mundanes finding out about those matter of policy crimes. Hillary Clinton’s carelessness with state secrets might be her main excellence. Call it unintentional transparency. The perfect solution to the Clinton Foundation is to liberalize laws on bribery. If Reichsführer-SS Giuliani can claim accolades for knowing that he could successfully prosecute Hillary Clinton for selling protection to UBS, then I will claim accolades for knowing I could successfully defend Hillary Clinton on those particular charges.