Archive for the ‘Political Corruption’ Category

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Start by Enforcing the Mandated Reporting on Police Excessive Use of Force per the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994

Sunday, December 7th, 2014

The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, co-authored by Vice President Joe Biden when a senator, contains language mandating the reporting of local police “excessive force” to the federal government. According to reports, local police departments stonewall, and do not adequately report police “use of excessive force” as required under this Act.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? is the ancient Latin phrase depicting the dilemma of finding someone to guard the guardians.

It is shameful that local police departments are out of compliance with federal law on reporting police use of excessive force. Had both local and federal government officials taken this reporting obligation more seriously, we might not be seeing as many deaths and the consequent social disturbances from police shootings. Perhaps there is something this present administration and Congress can do about getting better compliance to a law so closely connected with the Vice President. Certainly, a bi-partisan issue. . .

© Copyright 2014, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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Aphorism LXXXI

Sunday, July 6th, 2014

Some dictatorships and rogue states are kept alive by larger states to serve as disruptor states, to undermine and divert the resources of the rivals to the larger states. Several of the world’s dictatorships would not exist but for the fact that they served another state’s disrupting purpose. In this way, human misery is prolonged, human rights are eroded, and progress toward human freedom is delayed.

States that feed disruption in smaller states for the purpose of geopolitical strategy thus commit crimes against humanity.

For example, both the Nazis and the Soviets fueled anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe and the Middle East for geopolitical reasons. While both the Nazis and the Soviets are gone, their legacy of strategic hatred endures, and may endure for centuries.

© Copyright 2014, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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Dan Savage’s 30-Year Mandatory Abortion Fantasy

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Speaking on a recent Australian television show, and stating that “There are too many goddamned people on the planet,” “America’s most popular sex advice columnist” Dan Savage suggested that “Abortion should be mandatory for about 30 years” —

I wonder who is going to run the police state required to implement Mr. Savage’s fantasy.

© Copyright 2013, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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Aphorism LXX

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

The dreaming Chicago Left, allied with old Red true-believers, civil libertarians, New Left “progressive independents,” and life-style radicals, labored mightily, and brought forth a Rube Goldberg health care web application disclosing both Stalinist bureaucracy and American government purchasing systems for all that they are.

Social justice proposals that are to be implemented by government are always realized in bureaucracy. The mastery of bureaucracy is more about competence in performance, gained after constant study and relentless pursuit, than it is about naive good intentions and panacea promises.

Government, because of the complexity of bureaucracy and of procurement and other constraints, can never be the sole source of social justice. We’re lucky that we didn’t have to endure a violent revolution and over seventy years of human suffering to find that out once again.

Not that this revelation will matter to the true-believers, whose response to their own abysmal failures is ever: “Much more is needed of the same.”

After spending several years trying to destroy religious and mediating institutions, it’s only a matter of time for, out of sheer desperation, the present architects of social justice to turn again to “public-private partnerships” with the same organizations previously on their hit list to solve their embarrassing problem.

© Copyright 2013, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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Aphorism LXIX

Monday, November 4th, 2013

“If you like your plan, you can keep your plan,” goes on the list of famous presidential whoppers, which includes “A war to end all wars,” “I am not a crook,” “Read my lips, no new taxes,” and “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”

© Copyright 2013, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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The Politicization of the IRS

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

There are few outrages that seriously undermine trust in a US presidential administration and in the US Government in general more than the use the Internal Revenue Service for political purposes.

The recent, very credible charge by the National Organization for Marriage that their donor list was leaked by the IRS to the Human Rights Campaign, a pro-LGBTQ organization, as mentioned among similar IRS violations by the Wall Street Journal here and here, complicated by the President’s close ties with the Human Rights Campaign as evidenced by his 2011 address to them, will harm more than the present administration. Similar reports about the IRS impeding the applications of pro-life organizations can be found here.

Violations of public trust by a tax bureaucracy travel wide and deep throughout society, and build momentum until their consequences are overwhelming.

No amount of spin, or pivoting, or political Teflon can withstand the outrage of citizens over their tax system becoming politicized and suborned by influential factions.

© Copyright 2013, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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St. Thomas More’s 1513 Comment on Bill Clinton’s 9/5/12 Speech

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

While following the Twitter feed of hundreds of various responses to Bill Clinton’s 9/5/12 Democratic Convention speech, I found Elizabeth Scalia, Fr. John Zuhlsdorf and many others mulling how to put succinctly just how persuasively Mr. Clinton conveyed his nevertheless deceptive point of view.

St. Thomas More coined the very phrase they needed, in a work he kept unpublished during his lifetime, since it was a personal meditation on the origins and meaning of tyranny, entitled:

The History of King Richard the Third (Unfinished) Written by Master Thomas More, Then One of the Undersheriffs of London, About the Year of Our Lord 1513. . . .

When the Duke [soon to be Richard III] had said, and looked that the people, whom he hoped the Mayor had framed before, should after this proposition made have cried “King Richard! King Richard” — all was hushed and mute and not one word answered thereunto. Wherewith the Duke was marvelously abashed and, taking the Mayor nearer to him, with others that were about him privy to that matter, said unto them softly, “What meaneth this, that this people be so still?”

“Sir,” quoth the Mayor, “percase they perceive you not well.”

“That we will mend,” quoth he, “if that will help.”

And by and by, somewhat louder, he rehearsed them the same matter again in other order and other words, so well and ornately, and nevertheless so evidently and plain, with voice, gesture and countenance so comely and so convenient, that every man much marvelled that heard him, and thought that they never had in their lives heard so evil a tale so well told.

The History of King Richard the Third, from The English Works of Sir Thomas More, Volume the First, Reproduced in facsimile from William Rastell’s edition of 1557, and edited, with a modern version of the same, by W. E. Campbell, with Introductions and Philological Notes by A.W. Reed, and An Essay on “The Authorship of Richard III,” by R. W. Chambers, together with an Essay and Collations by W. A. G. Doyle-Davidson, 1931, London, Eyre and Spottiswoode, pp. 443-444.

Someone has got to bring a similarly paired facsimile / modern edition of the 1557 William Rastell publication of Thomas More’s English Works back into print and media. Nobody, except for perhaps Chesterton, could quite turn a phrase like More. So few get to read how much St. Thomas More has to say to us. . .

© Copyright 2012, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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Two Unsustainable Political Illusions

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

One point of view of this Sanity and Social Justice blog is that both the public policy program of the Left and the program of the Right present unsustainable illusions. Both distort economic reality with partisan propaganda and spin. Both engage in wishful thinking. The same intensity of criticism should be focused on both the Left and the Right, but rarely is.

When completely victorious, as in the one-party rule of Chicago and Illinois, the Left descends into inefficient corruption and factionalism, fulfills few of its economic promises, and produces disorder if not financial and social ruin. When completely victorious, as for a time in the Reagan Era, the Right similarly lacks the discipline to fulfill its own economic commitments, engages in wishful thinking such as Jack Kemp’s (joined by Democrats) over-extending home ownership to an unsustainable percentage of the population, and descends into cronyism. Neither partisan platform ever fully realizes its economic vision. Each over-promises to critical, if not tragic, proportions.

It thus is something of a puzzle why people continue to believe that politicians can achieve economically what they say they will, when history perennially demonstrates that they consistently do not, and why people continue to treat political belief with a passion that surpasses religious devotion to the point of idolatry.

Part of the answer lies in the fact that our political beliefs do not represent historic or economic fact so much as they represent our own concept of ourselves, our own “identity maintenance,” as I have long called it. Also, since both the Right and the Left have consistently descended into cronyism, one can conclude that political passion depends in the end on that group of political cronies with which one wishes to throw in one’s lot. The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in unrealized and probably unrealizable political ideas, but in our own self-concept and self-interest, framed as the public good.

Against a world of illusory political discourse, one can respond with competence and effectiveness, the Aristotelian Ergon and Arete of Work seeking Excellence. The teacher acts as a good teacher, the doctor or nurse as a good doctor or nurse, and by extension the school or university is a good school or university, the hospital is a good hospital, etc., and it is to be hoped that the society is a better society as a result.

For centuries, heady and trendy intellectuals have tried in vain to transcend Aristotle only to confirm him. I’ve said before that Stanley Fish has labored mightily, and brought forth in the end a few two-thousand-plus-year-old lines from Aristotle. Modern political thought has bypassed Aristotle to its peril.

Political economy is grounded on the variable strata of the physical world of natural resources as moderated by meteorological forces, of long-wave demographic trends, of cultural tectonics, of shorter-term markets, of sudden and disruptive innovation and disease and disaster, and of shifting public policy interventions. To a certain extent, politicians must practice the art of taking credit for the weather and for the prosperity that comes from the occasional financial bubble as their own personal artifacts. To do so, they must artfully lie with consistency about both economics and history.

Political partisanship, however, does sometimes fulfill its promises on non-economic issues. The Germans voted in politicians who did in the end kill Jews, and the West has voted in politicians who did in the end kill babies.

For a Catholic like me, the present political choice is sometimes falsely cast as the choice between social compassion (the Left) and Pro-life (the Right), as if the Left could actually deliver on social compassion, or the Right could actually carry through on Pro-life. Both promised political products are highly unlikely.

It is however very likely that the Left will continue to kill the unborn, so in this particular regard the Left must be vigorously opposed. But it is not likely that the Right will endure in consistently defending the unborn, either. Killing the unborn is based upon selfishness, which is an enduring human constant.

My political critique is not naive cynicism, but is grounded in history, science, and common sense. Against the political illusions of both the Right and the Left, I suggest that we concentrate our resources on building a society based instead upon professional and institutional competence and effectiveness, efficiency, and sustainability imbued with human compassion, and informed by science. This approach is based upon trust and hope in what truly endures in human society.

Morally-committed and scientifically-informed professions and institutions promulgate order, and outlive politics. I pity the partisan true-believer, who presently lives in a spinning, self-referencing Twitter-cloud-dream uninformed by history or by economic science, or, for that matter, by perennial philosophy and theology.

The first step away from this illusory world-view is to consistently direct one’s critique in one’s own direction to the same degree that it is directed toward one’s adversaries. This is an ancient Christian principle (Matthew 7:3) that extends well to politics.

For more on my analysis of the commonsense propositions that underlay political discourse, please see chapters 2 and 3 of my dissertation.

© Copyright 2012, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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Raymond Aron on Liberation and Enslavement

Saturday, April 28th, 2012

Raymond Aron (1905-1983), the French political thinker, wrote:

“Every advance in liberation carries within itself the seed of a new form of enslavement.”

(Raymond Aron, The Opium of the Intellectuals, p. 21)

It is hard to overstate the long shadow cast by the Marxist French thinkers of Paris, 1968 (among whom number Jean-Paul Sartre, Henri Lefebvre, Michel Foucault, and Jacques Lacan [the latter more adopted by Marxists than a Marxist himself]) over what passes for “critical thinking” in American arts and letters.

A substantial segment of American intelligentsia have in the years since read the French radicals of 1968, but without substantially reading their critics. American “critical theory” is therefore oddly uncritical of itself, and infused within a cycle of self-reinforcing, naive solipsism.

Many American college graduates therefore find American “critical theory” perfectly useless outside of the confines of the classroom.

Raymond Aron and Jacques Maritain were among several of the critics of the tradition of Paris, 1968. Aron’s principal criticism was twofold, that the French Marxists actually failed to “think politically,” and that their political statements were based upon “bad faith” or a double standard.

By failing to “think politically” Aron meant of the French Marxists–

“Two things: First, they prefer ideology, that is, a rather literary image of a desirable society, rather than to study the functioning of a given economy, of a liberal economy, of a parliamentary system, and so forth. . . And then there is a second element, perhaps more basic: they refused to answer the question someone once asked me: ‘If you were in the minister’s position, what would you do?'”

(Raymond Aron, 1997, Thinking Politically: A Liberal in the Age of Ideology, New Brunswick, NJ, Transaction Publishers, pp. 154-55.)

By “bad faith,” Aron meant–

“Western societies were excoriated for their every injustice (and what society, Aron would ask, has not been unjust?) while the socialist world was judged on the basis of its ostensibly good intentions.”

Brian C. Anderson, 1997, Raymond Aron: The Recovery of the Political, NY, Rowmand & Littlefield, pp. 4-5, citing Aron’s Opium of the Intellectuals.

A number of the students of the Marxists of Paris, 1968 have since taken some of the criticisms to heart, and have tried to embed their critiques in spatial and empirical narratives. A few, like David Harvey and Manuel Castells, have essentially been re-writing Marx’s Das Kapital in spatial, systematic–and sometimes impenetrable–terms throughout their life-long research programs.

But Aron still stands as a powerful critic of the traditions that arose in those heady days in Paris.

I should mention that Aron was a contemporary of Simone Weil, and attended the École Normale Supérieure with her in Paris. Aron’s book title, The Opium of the Intellectuals, is obviously a echo of Weil’s earlier dictum from her book Oppression and Liberty, “Revolution is the opium of the people.”

When one is sick and tired of the “literary politics” of the professors, one can turn to Aron.

Aron’s writing approaches the commonsense politics one derives from Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas, Frank J. Sheed’s Communism and Man (wherein Sheed makes a similar point to Aron that political systems have inherent self-destructive capabilities), and the best of the political and governmental (as opposed to academic) American pragmatic tradition as practiced by Alexander Hamilton and by Abraham Lincoln.

Brian C. Anderson summarized Aron’s approach as–

“A conservative defense of liberalism rooted in historical reality, an awareness of tragedy, and a keen sensitivity to both the contingencies of politics and the self-undermining tendencies of the liberal democratic regime.”

(Brian C. Anderson, 1997, Raymond Aron: The Recovery of the Political, NY, Rowmand & Littlefield, p. 167)

Students of social justice should by all means read Sartre, Lefebvre, Foucault, Lacan, Harvey, and Castells. But to not also read Aron, Maritain, Yves Simon, Weil, Hamilton, and Lincoln for a different perspective may mean condemning oneself to years of pursuing intellectual and political dead ends.

In addition, to pursue Marxist analysis and politics without reading every page of Leszek Kolakowski’s Main Currents of Marxism is be both intellectually lazy and politically irresponsible.

Unlike the overly-lionized Marxists of Paris, 1968, Aron’s ideas can actually be applied. One of his principal ideas relates to the tragic imperfection of our political efforts, and the constant need for correction.

Constant awareness of the possibility that I may be wrong about my political choices and about my own assumptions leads to a very different kind of politics, a politics that is open to correction.

The first step toward liberation therefore sometimes can be taken by casting off our own slavery to our own pet ideas, and by constantly seeking new ways to correct them.

As Abraham Lincoln said, “We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.”

© Copyright 2012, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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Comment on 3/28/12 Huffington Post story on Illinois legislative tuition waivers

Friday, March 30th, 2012

I was heartened to read that apparently the Illinois Board of Higher Education reported some legislative tuition waiver discrepancies to the FBI, according to the Huffington Post on 3/28/12.

Here’s hoping that the U.S. Attorney some day gets to review the
complete file of legislative tuition waivers for all Illinois state
universities.

If a few legislators finally do get indicted over legislative tuition waivers, I hope Judge Abner J. Mikva and other members of the Illinois Admissions Review Commission might be willing to modify their earlier comment on the previous University of Illinois admissions scandal that “The University now finds itself in a full-fledged crisis purely of its own making.”

It it galling that the University of Illinois lost irreplaceable reputation, and stands weakened in the face of self-serving interests, while political rascals got off scot free.

© Copyright 2012, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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