Why K St. Is the New Wall St.
Published on November 17, 2011
It'd be really difficult to steal a headline lately from that 'guy's guy', Sandusky, but, if anyone can do it, it's some perverse Congressperson, and it doesn't even involve anything sexual.
It has recently come to light that several members of that political body have, well, molested the general welfare of that body. For purposes of emphasis, we'll focus on one of them, whose very name hints at a timeless altered state. Rep. Spencer Bachus of old Alabamy, having had a really scary meeting -- invitation only -- with Treasury Secretary Paulson and others, got a hold of his investment broker the very next morning and told his broker to bet against the economy, roughly doubling his money almost overnight. Allowing for the fact that even a good old country boy with a name that conjures that ancient Roman deity of drunken abandon, it's best to get him a legal check-up.
Bachus, it seems, had slumbered in waking dreams, dreams that made him feel immune from any prosecutor's accusatory clutches. Let's have a look-see in them law books and such, and eavesdrop on the inside of his well-coiffed old southern gentleman's head.
"U.S. v. Brewster, 408 U.S. S. Ct. 501... a Senator was charged with violating a federal bribery statute. The trial court held that the Speech or Debate Clause precluded criminal prosecution. The Supreme Court reversed and found no constitutional violation. The Court said, at page 520: 'The sweeping claims of (Brewster) would render Members of Congress virtually immune from a wide range of crimes simply because the acts in question were peripherally related to their holding office. Such claims are inconsistent with the reading this Court has given, not only to the Speech and Debate clause, but, also, to the other legislative privileges embodied in Art. I, 6.' "
"Heck, that's just the old Sue-preme Court, and it's only talking about established, statutory crimes like bribery," Bachus's sober neurons advise. They remembered reading something, something in a memory file labeled 'real good', a blog in The Hill
about this here stuff, about him and his colleagues having a loophole, a dad gum big one, yessir.
His more sober neurons were correct; in a 2009 article on The Hill
's Congress Blog, Craig Holman of Public Citizen
explained this gaping loophole, its size confirming it's not accidental:
"The SEC does not have the authority to hold employees of Congress or the Executive Branch liable for using non-public information gained from official proceedings for insider trading. Under current law, 'insider trading' is defined as the buying or selling of securities or commodities based on non-public information in violation of confidentiality -- either to the issuing company or the source of information. Most federal officials and employees do not owe a duty of confidentiality to the federal government and thus are not liable for insider trading."
Yep. And it seems that a new industry's grown up around this here sort of information, and its practitioners have acquired that warm, fuzzy label 'political intelligence operatives'. We know them by their official title, lobbyists, among them former Congress persons. It's estimated at $40 million annually, and growing. Hey, money makes the world go 'round, right? Besides, this is job creation (the temptation to apply a salacious adjective to these 'jobs' is resisted, out of sincere respect for Steve, and to help ole Billy Clinton forget).
What's to be done where the lawmakers are the potential lawbreakers? Ancient wisdom advises with a rhetorical query: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
-- who will guard the guardians?
Sadly, even the wise ancients could only come up with something called 'the noble lie', a kind of legal fiction best depicted in that tale of the naked Emperor: go along to get along, trust me, I took an oath to that there secular deity, CONst-t-to-SHUN.
So, then, in this time when the judiciary, the last resort branch of the governmental tree of liberty, is an even more problematic source of timely and/or just remedies than ever (just Google Clarence Thomas' financial nondisclosure controversy, caused by the Court he sits on... having no real rules regulating any such misconduct), the only solution is direct nonviolent action, and demanding that these legislators, executives and adjudicators place all of their investment holdings, retroactively, into blind trusts -- Presidents have done this for some time now, largely due to their high 'one person' visibility.
As for these others who've counted on our blind trust, it's time to pony up.