Thursday, October 31, 2013
The Chicago way
A US politician is to serve more than two years in jail after lashing out on an elk head, guitars and a gold watch - with money earmarked for his campaign. Former US Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr has been found guilty of spending almost $800,000 in campaign funds on himself during the 2008 presidential race.
Jackson, the son of civil rights leader Reverend Jesse Jackson, is in federal custody today as Inmate No. 32451-016 at the Butner Correctional Centre, North Carolina. Federal prison guidelines indicate the former legislator with a fondness for luxury will be assigned a cell - possibly sharing a room with other convicts - and a menial job working for less than a dollar an hour. His fellow inmates include Wall Street fraudster Bernie Madoff.
Jackson's wife, Sandi, was given a yearlong sentence for filing false tax returns. In a concession to their two school-aged children, the judge allowed the Jacksons to stagger their sentences.
Jackson used campaign money to buy a $US43,350 gold-plated Rolex watch and $US9,587.64 on children's furniture, according to court papers filed in the case. His wife spent $US5,150 on fur capes and parkas, according to court documents.
Jackson represented his Chicago-area constituents in the House from 1995 until he resigned last November following months of speculation about his health and legal problems.
Jackson, 48, was once a rising star in the Democratic party and an early supporter of President Barack Obama, who served the Illinois state Senate and then represented the state in the US Senate.
Feds Stage Pre-Dawn Raid for Potato Gun
Audrey Hudson’s husband had just left for work on August 6 when suddenly, her dog began barking. The nationally-known journalist walked over to the curtains and peeked outside to discover her Chesapeake Bay home was surrounded by law enforcement officers wearing full body armor.
The phone rang. It was her husband. “I’m in the driveway,” he said. “The police are here. Open the door.”
And so began Hudson’s nightmare – held captive by armed agents of the U.S. Coast Guard, Maryland State Police and the Department of Homeland Security as they staged a pre-dawn raid in search of unregistered firearms and a “potato gun.”
But instead of taking the potato gun, agents seized unrelated government documents and notes from the former Washington Times journalist.
Agents took Hudson’s records during a search for guns and related items owned by her husband, a civilian Coast Guard employee. They also confiscated her legally registered firearms, according to court documents obtained by The Associated Press.
The armed agents held Hudson and her husband in the kitchen as they searched their home. At some point, one of the agents asked if she was the same person who had written a series of stories critical of the Federal Air Marshal program in the mid-2000s.
Hudson did indeed author those stories for The Washington Times. “Those stories were embarrassing to the agency,” she told me.
It wasn’t until five weeks after the pre-dawn raid that Hudson realized agents had taken her private documents – documents that were not listed on the search warrant. At the time she was told that “miscellaneous documents” had been taken.
“I got a call from Homeland Security and they told me I could come pick up the documents,” she said. “The search warrant did not allow them to walk out with those documents. They clearly violated the search warrant.”
It appears the agents were on a fishing expedition. Hudson tells me her home is filled with boxes and boxes of files.
“But they only took five files – and all five had to do with the Federal Air Marshal stories,” she said.
The Coast Guard told The Associated Press its investigator was suspicious that the government documents in her possession were labeled “law enforcement sensitive.” However, they were returned after concluding Hudson had obtained them under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.
But that doesn’t explain why the Coast Guard took her personal, handwritten notes. Nor does it explain why the Coast Guard accessed her personal Facebook page.
“I think they found a great way to get into my house and get a hold of my confidential notes and go through every other file in my office,” she said.
The Washington Times said Friday it is preparing legal action to fight what it called an unwarranted intrusion on the First Amendment.
“While we appreciate law enforcement’s right to investigate legitimate concerns, there is no reason for agents to use an unrelated gun case to seize the First Amendment protected materials of a reporter,” Times Editor John Solomon said.
The Coast Guard defended their actions. A spokesman said the warrant authorized police to search the family’s home for guns, ammunition, records of gun purchases, gun cleaning kits and other gun-related documents.
It should be noted that neither Hudson nor her husband have been arrested and no charges have been filed. “We have absolutely no idea what this is all about,” Hudson told me.
I’ve got a pretty good idea. It’s about the federal government trying to intimidate an American journalist.
The Obama administration has a history of targeting journalists in their effort to root out leaks. The Associated Press noted that the raid on Hudson’s home came one month after Attorney General Eric Holder toughened the Justice Department’s rules for seizing reporters’ phone records, notes or emails using federal subpoenas or search warrants.
“This really can’t stand,” Hudson told me. “You cannot come into a journalist’s home under false pretenses with a bogus warrant and just waltz out with confidential files.”
So if you’re doing the constitutional math, I’d say the Obama administration has violated the Hudson family’s first, second and fourth amendment rights.
“Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that state police and federal officers would come into my house at 4:30 in the morning to take my files without a federal subpoena,” she said.
It’s really not all that surprising the Obama administration would use a potato gun to trample the constitutional rights of an American citizen.
It’s a perfect tool for shredding potatoes – and the U.S. Constitution.
More on the Left/Right difference
I have been updating my big article on the history and psychology of conservatism and I present below my new introduction to it:
Left-leaning psychologists and other Leftist "thinkers" sometimes "study" conservatism -- usually with the obvious motive of proving a theory which discredits conservatives in some way. But the shallowness of their actual knowledge of conservatives is shown when they feel the need to consult dictionaries just to find out what conservatism is (e.g. Altemeyer and Wyeth). That is a remarkably desperate recourse. Dictionaries record usage but they cannot tell you whether the usage is right or wrong, shallow or profound. They even record mistaken usages.
The problem underlying the recourse to dictionaries is that the Leftist wouldn't know conservatism if he fell over it. His only concept of conservatism is the caricature of it that circulates in his own little Leftist bubble. But he does realize dimly that he doesn't know what it is. So with a schoolboy level of sophistication, he turns to his dictionary to find out what it is!
By contrast, in my studies of Leftism, I feel no need to rely on dictionaries. From many years of reading Leftist writings, I can tell you what Leftism regularly is. What the Leftist does or tries to do is to stop people doing what they want to do and make them do things that they don't want to do. They are not alone in that but that underlies all that they do and say. What changes they want and why they want them I consider in detail elsewhere. So conservatives tend to allow the natural world to continue on its way while Leftists forge an inherently unstable world that can be held together only by coercion. Leftism is quintessentially authoritarian.
The redirection of a large slice of people's spending power via compulsory taxation is only one part of the coercion. There are also many direct commands and prohibitions. The very expensive "mandates" of Obamacare were under much discussion at the time of writing. Only a Leftist would think that old ladies should be forced to pay for obstetric care.
It may be noted that some people with strongly-held religious views tend to be like Leftists in trying to forge an unnatural world. That helps to explain why Leftists are infinitely tolerant of Muslim Jihadis and why the major churches tend to support the Left, some of them being very Leftist. In the 2004 Australian Federal elections, the leaders of ALL the churches came out in favour of the (Leftist) Australian Labor Party. The only exception was a small Exclusive Brethren group in Tasmania who supported the conservative coalition -- and their "intervention" sparked huge outrage in the media and elsewhere. (The conservatives won that election in a landslide).
And in England it is sometimes now held that "C of E" stands for "Church of the Environment", because of the Church of England's strong committment to Greenie causes. Cantuar Welby's scolding of business might also be noted. And a previous Cantuar (Carey, a generally decent man) called his little grandson "pollution" on Greenie grounds. Pity the children! And, in stark contrast with the Bible, a senior Anglican cleric has called "homophobia" a sin. The C of E and most of its First World offshoots no longer have strong feelings about salvation but they have strong feelings about Green/Leftist causes.
Because they focus so much on personal feelings and the promise of salvation rather than on "the world", American evangelicals are something of an exception but, even there, 10 million evangelicals voted for Al Gore in the year 2000 American Federal elections.
But back to conservatism: While conservatives tend to let the natural world run its course, that is not a defining characteristic.
What Leftists find in their dictionaries is that conservatives are opposed to change. That is indeed the prevailing Leftist conception of conservatives but it ignores one of the most salient facts about politics worldwide -- that conservative governments are just as energetic in legislating as Leftists are. Both sides busily make new laws all the time. And the point of a new law is to change something. The changes that Left and Right desire are different but both sides push for change. On the Leftist's understanding of conservatism, a conservative government that wins an election should do no more than yawn, shut up the legislature and go home until the next election!
So in a thoroughly anti-intellectual style, the Leftist ignores one of the most basic facts about politics. That sure is a weird little intellectual bubble that he lives in. EVERY conservative that I know has got a whole list of things that he would like to see changed -- usually reversals of Leftist changes. But Leftist intellectuals clearly just doesn't know any conservatives. Conservatism is NOT a rejection of change, though it may be a rejection of Leftist change.
So what really is conservatism? I have taught both sociology and psychology at major Australian universities but when it comes to politics my psychologist's hat is firmly on. One can understand conservatism at various levels but to get consistency, you have to drop back to the psychological level. And at that level it is as plain as a pikestaff. Conservatives are cautious. And that is all you need to know to understand the whole of conservatism.
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Posted by JR at 1:48 AM