Ethics Dunce, But He Doesn’t Care: Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr (R-NC)

I know this is unfair, but in almost every non-posed photo I found of Burr, he looks like he’s hiding something.

The Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Richard Burr,  sold off  between $628,000 and $1.72 million of his stock holdings on February 13 in 33 separate transactions. At the time, Burr had received the government’s most highly classified Wuhan virus briefings. About a week after Burr unloaded stocks that figured to be affected, the stock market began its dive and has lost about 30% of its value since

Today  NPR revealed  a secret recording from February 27 in which the Senator gave a GOP group at an exclusive social club a gloomy preview of the economic impact of the approaching pandemic. According to the NPR report, Burr told attendees of a business executives group luncheon held at the Capitol Hill Club:

“There’s one thing that I can tell you about this: It is much more aggressive in its transmission than anything that we have seen in recent history … It is probably more akin to the 1918 pandemic.”

Yet in an op-ed that he co-authored with another Senator earlier in the month, he said  that “the United States today is better prepared than ever before to face emerging public health threats, like the coronavirus….No matter the outbreak or threat, Congress and the federal government have been vigilant in identifying gaps in its readiness efforts and improving its response capabilities.” That was his last public statement on the matter before he dumped his stocks.

The sell-off was no coincidence. Burr’s biggest sales included holdings in companies among the most vulnerable to a pandemic situation,  including about $150,000 worth of shares in Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, a company that has now lost two-thirds of its value.  He sold up to $100,000 of shares of Extended Stay America, an economy hospitality chain whose value has been halved by the Wuhan virus.

Well, maybe, if the public indignation over this  unusually egregious and blatant example of Congressional conduct that is anything but unusual, Senators and Representatives will have to finally do something meaningful to prevent it.

I wrote about Congressional insider trading just last December, and the conclusion hasn’t changed, nor have there been significantly tightened reins (or enforcement) on the kind of desperate self-help Burr engaged in. It is the epitome of, at very least, the appearance of impropriety, which is supposed to be an ethics violation for any member of Congress:

Nothing but ethics alarms stops members of Congress from voting for or against measures based on their financial interests rather than the public interest. There are still loopholes that make insider trading impossible to prove and very profitable. …

[A New York Times]  editorial concludes, “The most comprehensive solution would be to require people who are elected to Congress to divest holdings in public companies within a reasonable period following their election. But such a requirement could impose significant costs on people entering public service. It would be nearly as effective, and less burdensome, to bar members from buying or selling shares.”

…Members of the Senate and Houses are both permitted to hold stock in companies that they may help by passing legislation. Incredibly, they don’t even have to recuse themselves from a vote or other action that might affect their own holdings. This is unethical (and ridiculous) of course, and essentially an institutionally-sanctioned conflict of interest that proves Congress isn’t serious about limiting the ability of elected officials to illicitly profit from their elected post.

A pending bill was introduced [in 2019] that would require members to either put their holdings in blind trusts [or] to refrain from any trading until they leave Congress.

 

Senator Burr did not support that legislation.

42 thoughts on “Ethics Dunce, But He Doesn’t Care: Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr (R-NC)

  1. It should be apparent to anyone by this point that the US federal government is too big to succeed in its mission to protect ‘We the People’ and thus just uses its power to its own ends even if just or especially in ideological conflict.

    Those who are Trump deranged or never Trumpers should see why he is so squarely hated by the elites. Not that Trump or his people are immune to this behavior, but he represents what the entrenched elites, a group of people enriching themselves and impoverishing the electorate, cannot have…exposure of the public to what they really are regardless of political affiliation.

        • I’ve read your second paragraph several times now and am still not sure what it means. can you elaborate? My take was something along the lines of “he’s draining the swamp”, so if I got that wrong please clarify.

          • He represents a threat to the swamp because they couldn’t be sure they could control him. Thus, even before he took office to enact any policies, they had plans to be rid of him which continue to this day. Not sure which impeachment plan we’re up to here, but it reveals a big pile of elite’s fear.

            • “He represents a threat to the swamp because they couldn’t be sure they could control him.”

              I’d love for you to elaborate, and include substantive actions and reforms that support this vague statement (be forewarned, if you only point to examples in which he has attacked his political opponents, I will laugh at you). “Draining the swamp” was always, and continues to be a smokescreen for his own ineptitude and corruption.

              • There’s no doubt, when you look at the fate of so many of Trump’s appointments, that one swamp was substituted for another. But there is also no doubt that…

                1…the first swamp resents the substitution
                2….it was worth trying to get rid of.
                3….denying that swamp exists/existed is a bad sign
                4….the general assertion that Trump is “inept and corrupt” is just “Orange Man Bad” cant, and beneath you.

                Trump is inept at many things, and adept at others. The “corrupt” trope appears to just mean “we don’t like him.” He was certainly a corrupt businessman, but I don’t see evidence that he has been a corrupt President, and I’ve been looking. This is all part of the “he must be guilty, because he’s a bad guy” theme, which is not how our system, or ethics, works.

                • I was going to write a long response – but I’m too busy. So I’ll just say that his lies, his pardons & commutations, his personal financial gains, the nepotism, the cover-ups, using the power of the executive branch to attack his political enemies…..there’s so much out there. It’s documented. It’s factual. It has nothing to do with whether people like him or not. You’re either not looking hard enough or choosing to ignore what you see. You think he had an about face the second he was voted into office? Why would you think his corrupt business practices wouldn’t carry over into office? This shit was happening since day 1. And we still have no good sense as to what his various financial entanglements may be, so there’s no way to say with any degree of certainty how deep the rot may go – we only see the corruption he does in plain view, which is still substantial. Which, has actually been a great strategy for him – make the corrupt seem normal and eventually people will no longer notice. Seems to be working pretty well.

                  • The lies are a trope, and I’ve shown that most of them are trivial or contrived. No, he does not have a reliable relationship with facts. Stipulated. Not one of his “lies” exaggerations or hyperbole’s have had 1 tenth the damage of a single Obama lie—you know which one—and view the lie complaint as hypocritical.Pardons and commutations are an absolute power, and can be extended to anyone–this is in the “we don’t like his choices” category. The nepotism is legal, and since it is stipulated that he can’t trust anyone outside of his family, it is justified. Again, nepotism isn’t corruption. “The cover-ups” is generic bullshit. “Using the power of the executive branch to attack his political enemies” is nonsense. This is, I presume, the contrived Ukraine argument. It doesn’t work, never did. If he has the power to do something with a legitimate government purpose, it’s not corruption. “His personal financial gains” is, again, bullshit. What gains? There is little doubt that being President has cost Trump money, and hurt his business. “there’s so much out there. It’s documented. It’s factual” is what I usually hear from those who make this assertion. No factual details, just presumptions and biased conclusions. I’m looking plenty hard. If you have facts, why default to ” You think he had an about face the second he was voted into office? Why would you think his corrupt business practices wouldn’t carry over into office? This shit was happening since day 1.” That’s just “we know he’s a bad guy and is unfit for office.” That’s not an argument. Yes, men who become President want to be good Presidents, and their practices before they were elected are not predictive or dispositive. The shit that was happening since day #1 is the vague, non-corruption you allude to.

                    You have to do better, or concede that you’re just operating on bias, like the rest of the “resistance.” I regard the latter as an honorable admission, at least.

                    • And look: The Democrats have tried one claim of impeachable offenses after another, but the best they could come up with in actual charges were standard Presidential practices within the power of the office, so generally stated that any President, past or future, could be similarly charged. Corruption, in contrast, is an impeachable offense. If it was there, then they would move heaven and earth to use it. It isn’t there, and “We just know it’s there, but he’s covering it up” isn’t valid in ethics, law or logic.

                    • Lying: “The number one duty of an elected government in a democracy it to foster trust—in its honesty, its motives, its integrity and its competence. The Presidency of Barack Obama has failed that duty, and for the public to realize that its nation faces life-and-death problems under an untrustworthy government is, and should be, terrifying.” You said that.

                      Has Trump failed at this number one duty? And no, besides the exaggerations and hyperbole, he LIES. Constantly. About things big and small. The fact that you are so willing to minimize this is amazing to me. And now, the lies about the virus being under control & not being a big deal could very well get people killed, as large portions of the country are still under the impression that this is true despite his complete 180.

                      Nepotism: It’s legal for the president, does that make it ok? You once said this:

                      “At its core, nepotism always, always, creates a conflict of interest for the supervisor, boss or manager, or leaves a strong suspicion of one, which is just as bad, the epitome of “the appearance of impropriety.” Nepotism simultaneously destroys the organization’s members’ trust in leadership—Was he or she objective? Was love and loyalty to a child rather than merit and the best interests of the organization behind the decision? Were there objectively better candidates? Will this bias harm me? —and the hired, no matter how good or qualified the son or daughter may be.”

                      Do those things cease to be true when it’s legal? He can’t trust anyone outside of his family? That’s your excuse? That’s some next level rationalization.

                      Pardoning: When you wield this awesome power as a culture war tool to own the libs, how can that be described as anything other than a missuse of those powers?

                      Abusing power: “If he has the power to do something with a legitimate government purpose, it’s not corruption.” I think I’ve also seen you say something along the lines of since Trump wants to be reelected, and doing something that would hurt the country would necessarily hurt his reelection chances, anything he does is in the best interest of the country. I didn’t try to find the quote so correct my interpretation if it needs correcting – I tried to capture the spirit of what you seemed to be saying. But this claim is really silly – who decides what is “legitimate government purpose”? Because a whole lot of career public servants came forward, very loudly yelling “these actions are not for legitimate gov’t purposes”. But of course they were just Trump haters too, right? I’m sure that was it.

                      And I know it’s fashionable to believe that the Muller report was a nothing-buger because Trump’s hand-selected DA told you it was, but there was plenty of evidence of corruption in it. Just one example, from Rueters:

                      “The report, with some portions blacked out to protect sensitive information, provided fresh details of how Trump tried to force Mueller’s ouster, directed members of his administration to publicly vouch for his innocence and dangled a pardon to a former aide to try to prevent him from cooperating with the special counsel. [and then instructed his lawyer to lie about it]

                      ‘The President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests,’ the report stated.”

                      Guess obstructing justice is ok as long as you’re too dumb to effectively do it? I guess we should believe Trump when he denies these allegations? Because he’s so truthful? Sure would have been nice if he allowed anyone close to these accusations to testify under oath.

                      I mean FFS, five high-profile associates have been convicted, most of them for lying to congress & the FBI. This isn’t emblematic of a culture of corruption and cover-ups to you?

                      Finanancial gains: So is your position that if the president incurs a net loss from holding office it’s all good? How can you know that any decision, foreign or domestic, is not being made without at least some consideration for his financial entanglements? You can’t! None of us can – do you see the problem?

                      Every time he takes one of his many golf trips to one of his resorts he is lining his pockets with taxpayer money: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/02/why-does-billionaire-charge-secret-service-650-night/606253/

                      Every time a politician or a foreign leader stays at or rents a Trump property, how can we know that they are not buying influence? https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2019/09/04/trump-presidency-spawns-conflicts-of-interest-personal-profits-column/2197263001/

                      Ineptitude: You once said this:

                      “The well-established pattern of the Obama administration has been ineptitude followed by denials and dishonesty, culminating in efforts to blame someone else. This is a familiar sequence in management incompetence, and it is one reason why incompetence is unethical.”

                      Ineptitude followed by denials and dishonesty, culminating in efforts to blame someone else. Sound anything like this administration? Trump has had to blame the following (by no means an exhaustive list) people and institutions because in 3 years of bumbling from crisis to crisis, nothing is ever his fault: The media, the state department, the FBI, the CIA, his own appointees, the democrats, etc. You don’t hand out that much blame in 3 years when you’re doing a bang up job.

                    • 1. Lying: “The number one duty of an elected government in a democracy it to foster trust—in its honesty, its motives, its integrity and its competence. The Presidency of Barack Obama has failed that duty, and for the public to realize that its nation faces life-and-death problems under an untrustworthy government is, and should be, terrifying.” You said that.

                      Has Trump failed at this number one duty? And no, besides the exaggerations and hyperbole, he LIES. Constantly. About things big and small. The fact that you are so willing to minimize this is amazing to me. And now, the lies about the virus being under control & not being a big deal could very well get people killed, as large portions of the country are still under the impression that this is true despite his complete 180.

                      I don’t minimize it, but I also refuse to accept the exaggeration of it, which you do. The various lists and Factchecks are dishonest and ridiculous. I have made this clear: he has lied so much about such trivial things that nobody whose awake can believe any factual assertions he makes.

                      That’s still not “corruption,” and we don’t and cannot impeach Presidents for lies. Once you don’t trust a President for what he says—Obama was a calculated liar—then additional lies don’t do any harm. The harm is done—unless you lie under oath, like Clinton.

                      Nepotism: It’s legal for the president, does that make it ok? You once said this:

                      “At its core, nepotism always, always, creates a conflict of interest for the supervisor, boss or manager, or leaves a strong suspicion of one, which is just as bad, the epitome of “the appearance of impropriety.” Nepotism simultaneously destroys the organization’s members’ trust in leadership—Was he or she objective? Was love and loyalty to a child rather than merit and the best interests of the organization behind the decision? Were there objectively better candidates? Will this bias harm me? —and the hired, no matter how good or qualified the son or daughter may be.”

                      Do those things cease to be true when it’s legal? He can’t trust anyone outside of his family? That’s your excuse? That’s some next level rationalization.

                      No, it’s not. My position on nepotism stands, but there are exceptions, and this is one. The Democrats and Resistance set out to intimidate good and qualified people out of serving this Administration. Embedded partisans like Sally Yates breached ethics and confidentiality to undermine his policies; leaks and betrayals from the non-family member appointees have been outrageous and catastrophic. A President has to trust someone—this is one reason First Ladies have played such major roles in recent administrations. Was Michelle not an advisor because she didn’t have a policy title? Nancy Reagan? Barbara Bush? Hillary? Trump doesn’t have a qualified Firs Lady; he has been uniformly betrayed, and yes, I would have advised him to use his sons, daughter, and son-in-law. In the end, he has to function. Having undermined his ability to have trusted and qualified aides and advisors, the “resistance” is estopped from criticizing him on this point. In business, in organizations, in most situations, nepotism is harmful and unethical. Not always.

                      I one was trying to save a messed up non-profit and the only fundraisers I could find appeared to be frauds. So I hired my wife, the best fundraiser I knew, who worked for a pittance and wouldn’t lie to me. And I’d do it again, in that situation.

                      When you have no options, you have no choice.

                      Pardoning: When you wield this awesome power as a culture war tool to own the libs, how can that be described as anything other than a missuse of those powers? What? It’s a power that cannot be abused unless it’s sold. It wasn’t sold. Name the worst of Trump’s pardons, and I’ll name one as bad or worse by another President. All Presidential powers have political applications. The issue is corruption. There’s nothing corrupt about pardoning people to make one’s foes heads explode.

                      Abusing power: “If he has the power to do something with a legitimate government purpose, it’s not corruption.” I think I’ve also seen you say something along the lines of since Trump wants to be reelected, and doing something that would hurt the country would necessarily hurt his reelection chances, anything he does is in the best interest of the country. I didn’t try to find the quote so correct my interpretation if it needs correcting – I tried to capture the spirit of what you seemed to be saying. But this claim is really silly – who decides what is “legitimate government purpose”? Because a whole lot of career public servants came forward, very loudly yelling “these actions are not for legitimate gov’t purposes”. But of course they were just Trump haters too, right? I’m sure that was it.

                      I’m not even sure what you are saying. A President who believes he is doing what is in the country’s best interests should regard re-election as a legitimate governmental as well as political goal. The president also is elected to be the arbiter of what is in the nation’s interest. To a degree never seen before, pure policy differences have been condemned as “corruption.” Bias makes you stupid: denying, for example, that it isn’t legitimate to find out whether the previous VP was influence peddling to benefit his son in business maneuverings abroad is objectively intellectually dishonest. Of course it is, and objectively so. I don’t know whether those saying it wasn’t in the best interests of the nation were lying, stupid, or biased, but anyway, they were objectively wrong.

                      >And I know it’s fashionable to believe that the Muller report was a nothing-buger because Trump’s hand-selected DA told you it was, but there was plenty of evidence of corruption in it. Just one example, from Rueters:

                      “The report, with some portions blacked out to protect sensitive information, provided fresh details of how Trump tried to force Mueller’s ouster, directed members of his administration to publicly vouch for his innocence and dangled a pardon to a former aide to try to prevent him from cooperating with the special counsel. [and then instructed his lawyer to lie about it]

                      ‘The President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests,’ the report stated.”

                      Guess obstructing justice is ok as long as you’re too dumb to effectively do it? I guess we should believe Trump when he denies these allegations? Because he’s so truthful? Sure would have been nice if he allowed anyone close to these accusations to testify under oath.

                      I mean FFS, five high-profile associates have been convicted, most of them for lying to congress & the FBI. This isn’t emblematic of a culture of corruption and cover-ups to you?

                      No. The Mueller investigation was an attempted coup. As we have learned, the whole myth of “collusion” was based on unproven opposition research and a partisan FBI that fraudulently obtained a warrant to surveil the Trump campaign. It was an attack on elections and the institution of the Presidency. The President’s oath obligated him to protect the Constitution. A legitimate argument could be made that attempting to stop an illegally created effort to cripple his office would be an obligation. Obstructing justice requires action as well as intent. I don’t see the intent–the President didn’t do anything wrong, so there was no “justice” to obstruct—and there were no completed acts. he could have fired Mueller, and that which a President can do legally cannot be obstruction (as several experts have explained.) If he was innocent, and he was, then telling subordinates to say so is not obstruction. “Dangling a pardon” is more supposition and characterization. His associates were being bullied and threatened. Short of “Lie, and I’ll pardon you,” this is more contrivance.

                      It’s not a nothing-burger—it warped the time and priorities of the White House for more than two years, and not one single American was found to have engaged in “collusion.”

                      No, the fact that five Trump associates (some of the m far from high profile) were indicted on matters having literally nothing to do with the purpose of the investigation proves nothing regarding Trump ‘corruption.” Now, if Trump associates went to jail rather than answer questions like one of Clinton’s Whitewater cronies did, you’d have a better case.

                      Finanancial gains: So is your position that if the president incurs a net loss from holding office it’s all good? How can you know that any decision, foreign or domestic, is not being made without at least some consideration for his financial entanglements? You can’t! None of us can – do you see the problem?

                      Yeah, I see the problem that many Presidents had, if you don’t give them the presumption of good will, which is what an election is supposed to guarantee them. See, you’re back to “we shouldn’t have elected the guy!” Asked and answered, counselor! Saying that he could be weilding his power corruptly is not proof or evidence that he would or is.

                      Every time he takes one of his many golf trips to one of his resorts he is lining his pockets with taxpayer money: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/02/why-does-billionaire-charge-secret-service-650-night/606253/ Every time a politician or a foreign leader stays at or rents a Trump property, how can we know that they are not buying influence? https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2019/09/04/trump-presidency-spawns-conflicts-of-interest-personal-profits-column/2197263001/

                      This complaint is suddenly expected to be taken seriously after the Left furiously defended the Obamas lavish family trips. Trump does not get the profits of the entities his company owns. It’s not “emoluments,” and any time any President takes to chill, especially one like Trump, who is abused all day and all week, is time and money well spent. Again, this is another “Orange Man Bad” complaint. The problem of a President with hotel holding was ignored completely until it was too late to address it. The new media was lazy, and just assumed it was a moot point. You can’t force any non-lifetime politician to abandon a business to run, and your suspicion that a rich President would be bought off by a hotel bill is per se derangement. You should see that.

                      Ineptitude: You once said this:

                      “The well-established pattern of the Obama administration has been ineptitude followed by denials and dishonesty, culminating in efforts to blame someone else. This is a familiar sequence in management incompetence, and it is one reason why incompetence is unethical.”

                      Ineptitude followed by denials and dishonesty, culminating in efforts to blame someone else. Sound anything like this administration? Trump has had to blame the following (by no means an exhaustive list) people and institutions because in 3 years of bumbling from crisis to crisis, nothing is ever his fault: The media, the state department, the FBI, the CIA, his own appointees, the democrats, etc. You don’t hand out that much blame in 3 years when you’re doing a bang up job.

                      I didn’t say he’s doing a “bang-up job.” Character and style matters, and on that score, he’s terrible. I said that he isn’t inept at everything. Many of his policies are much better than those of the president he replaced, who was inept and the media never called him on it. But Trump’s botches are called, and his successes are called botches.

                      (I’ll clean this up when I can get back to my office. I’m sure I messed up the formatting. Thanks for taking the time to make a substantive argument!)

                • we all have biases, and I’m no exception. But I try hard to temper mine and keep an open mind. But calling me blind, deranged, sad and intellectually dishonest is a weak cop out.

    • Correction to my earlier post, the federal government doesn’t just use its power to its own ends. It does often do so. There is no proven metric for the level at which this occurs. However, a good proxy might be family net worth before taking office, elected or appointed, and then during over time or after.

    • It should be apparent to anyone by this point that the US federal government is too big to succeed in its mission to protect ‘We the People’ and thus just uses its power to its own ends even if just or especially in ideological conflict.

      Those who are Trump deranged or never Trumpers should see why he is so squarely hated by the elites. Not that Trump or his people are immune to this behavior, but he represents what the entrenched elites, a group of people enriching themselves and impoverishing the electorate, cannot have…exposure of the public to what they really are regardless of political affiliation.

      Good Lord! When you finally fall you are going to fall really hard. I wonder if you can notice the contradiction in what you are saying? You are right on the verge, and yet miles and light-years away! from realizing the degree to which we live in a totally managed system and one that has been corrupted. Notice that you clearly see it, at least if you can project it onto an evil *those there!*, but you cannot see the level of corruption if you have to extend it to *us here*.

      It seems to me that this is the primary error of the ‘conservative’ viewpoint. It is a false and misleading binary.

      Many years ago sectors and interests within the US sold out the US in the sense that seems to concern you: We The People. That is, at fundamental, Constitutional levels. It terrifies you to face this fact (it seems to me). And you choose, deliberately and consciously, to refuse to see and understand that corruption permeates the system. The system is defined by corruption.

      You operate with a specific supposition — a wild hope perhaps — that *as if by magic* Trump and his adjutants are going to ‘clean up the swamp’ and set the US on some proper course. It is a highly romantic vision that you seem to desperately hold to. I wonder what would happen if that (false-) vision collapsed? This is an example of why it is sometimes best to *believe a lie* than to *know the truth*.

      Saying this does not mean that I do not recognize that ‘Never Trumpers’ and the ‘Trump Deranged’ exist, they certainly do. I merely suggest that to give unqualified trust to Trump et al is quite possibly a mistake, and not what is needed now. The level of analysis about how we got to this point needs to be the central term of conversation.

      Your political analysis reminds me of the simplistic narrative of a movie script. The so-called *arch-plot*:

      Arch plot is a goal-oriented plot where, “for better or worse, an event throws a character’s life out of balance, arousing in him the conscious and/or unconscious desire for that which he feels will restore balance, launching him on a Quest for his Object of Desire against forces of antagonism (inner, personal, extra-personal). He may or may not achieve it” (McKee, 196). Film examples of arch plot include: Toy Story, The Godfather, Back to the Future, Star Wars, Etc. (Most American Hollywood films use arch plot). Book examples of arch plot include: Harry Potter (Rowling), Hunger Games (Collins), Speak (Anderson), Pride & Prejudice (Austen), Hamlet (Shakespeare), The Odyssey (Homer), etc.

        • Jill is a variant spelling of ‘gill’?

          gill 1 (gĭl)
          n.
          1. Zoology The respiratory organ of most aquatic animals that obtain oxygen from water, consisting of a filamentous structure of vascular membranes across which dissolved gases are exchanged.
          2.
          a. often gills The wattle of a bird.
          b. gills Informal The area around the chin and neck.
          3. Botany One of the thin, platelike structures on the underside of the cap of a mushroom or similar fungus.
          v. gilled, gill·ing, gills
          v.tr.
          1. To catch (fish) in a gill net.
          2. To gut or clean (fish).
          v.intr.
          To become entangled in a gill net. Used of fish.
          Idiom:
          to the gills Informal
          As full as possible; completely.
          [Middle English gile, of Scandinavian origin.]
          gilled adj.

          As to being ‘contrarian’ and ‘deconstructionist’, yes, indeed, but I think the term deconstruction should be changed to dismantle to avoid misunderstanding.

          So, to understand what is going on in the present — a realm of shifting shadows — requires dismantling, and that involves understanding the causal chain. And seeing these causal chains involves confronting structures in ourselves.

          The *yoke* I propose . . . is not light and it is not easy!

      • We The People, own those institutions you suggest manage our daily lives. Thus, we the people make the decisions that affect us directly and indirectly.

        I get a kick out of people tha lament the evil corporations that rip off the public and then cry like hell when the value of their retirement accounts fall.

        You seem to believe that only you and those you study have the vision to see how the powers to be manipulate us.

        How about giving us a bit more credit. We know full well that we are giving up perfect autonomy to create a social compact. We know more often than not when we are being fed BS by those that we give power to. We also know the human condition will cause each of us to abuse power given to us to one degree or another for personal gain. We accept the costs of the social compact knowing full well that the compact is subject to ongoing negotiation.

        When I read your comments I look for what you propose as remedies for the problems you feel we are blind to. Perhaps because of that blindness I cannot see the remedies you propose.

        Personally, I am happy knowning I don’t live in a perfect utopian world because I know I am not perfect and would not fit in well in such a world. Additionally, there would be no reason to live in a perfect world because the perfect world would have no need for the human spirit.

        • We The People, own those institutions you suggest manage our daily lives. Thus, we the people make the decisions that affect us directly and indirectly.

          It seems to me that *thinking people* universally disagree with what you say here. But I will bore you, and then irritate you, if I repeat that I think that Power finds its ways to usurp people. I find that I more agree with Steve Bannon when he notices the degree to which the human being is reduced to a hamster-status. Is this absolute? No, of course not.

          I get a kick out of people that lament the evil corporations that rip off the public and then cry like hell when the value of their retirement accounts fall.

          I could mention something to get a bigger kick out of: that people do not grasp that it is they who, through ‘people’s power’, grant charters to these corporations. Yet these corporations, fictitious persons with unlimited life, take for them self a level of power that no natural person could ever attain. They claim for them self an *entity* that no person can have. And they *do* astounding things, things that have tremendous effect and repercussion. Do I have to be a Commie to notice this? Do I have to be a progressive rebel to be concerned about it?

          Personally, as someone trying to forge a path to a Dissident Right/Dissident Conservative position, what I get a *kick* out of is how people that should understand the mechanisms through which our self-defining rights have been usurped, are the ones that will not see, and perhaps cannot see, how Power sets itself to undermine the sovereign power of the person.

          You seem to believe that only you and those you study have the vision to see how the powers to be manipulate us.

          I wish for you to point out to me any person writing on this blog, now or in the past, who ever seems to devote time and energy to speaking about how we are ‘manipulated’. With that said I do of course notice that some write complainingly about the ‘democrats’ and those horrible people that are destroying our nation with *identity politics*. It is just complaining though. It never gets to the heart of the matter.

          I would rather turn what you write into a question (but though I ask it no one will answer, because no one is home to answer it!):

          How are we manipulated? Why are we manipulated? How did these systems develop through which we are manipulated? And why do we ourselves allow this to happen and, indeed, participate in the defense of it?

          When I read your comments I look for what you propose as remedies for the problems you feel we are blind to. Perhaps because of that blindness I cannot see the remedies you propose.

          If America has been *dumbed down* then the solution is *smartening up*. Conversation, exchange of view, I can think of no other line of action.

          • You fail to recognize that power in a market economy flows up not down. People do not become wealthy and powerful by forcing people to trade their money for goods and services.

            Power eminates from the ability to obtain yes’s not no’s. HRC could not get enough yes’s in the right places to elevate her to power, Apple derives its power by getting yes’s from people who desire what Apple makes.

            Bottom line is that those thinking people that universally believe I am wrong simply are too lazy or unwilling to exert the effort to convince people to say no to those evil powerful people you speak of and yes to their arguments that such evil people are no good. It is far easier to blame others for your own failure to obtain a yes.

            It is the aggregation of the millions of individual choices each of us makes that allows some to accumulate vast power. We give the power and we can take it away. No one put a gun to anyones head to make them stand for hours in freezing temperatures to get into a Trump rally. No one holds a gun to your head to see a specialist who charges 1500 dollars for a 10 minute consultation. You give them the yes and when you do you transfer your power to them.

            What I see is much of what you are selling here provides some here to value your offerings at zero while others give it a positive valuation. Nonetheless I don’t see much in the way of gaining yes’s but I see a great deal of your comments negating any value others offer. In sales, never talk badly about your competition . You must demonstrate why what you offer will deliver greater value.

            • I will end with. If people are being manipulated they do so by the choices they each make. With that said, if they believe that such choices lead to greater personal satisfaction no one can say they are wrong. The most anyone else can do is give them an alternative that increases their opportunity costs of their original decision. I assume that is your goal but you never say how my life will be improved if I adopt your line of thinking.

            • A civilization is not a ‘market economy’, and what our civilization is, in its more important aspects, is more than a reduction to *market forces*. Though I do recognize that the American system is grounded in business and production and the freedom to enterprise. I think someone said that theology and economy are two distant poles but they certainly could not ever be separated or divided away from each other.

              In brief, though I understand on what you base your analysis, I do not think that you take into consideration that the general direction taken by the US in the arc of its history involved many many different levels of choices made by specific factions. Thus the issue of ‘pure choice’, and certainly of classically understood democratic choice, has rarely been the determining factor. I do not think it is a determining factor. While I could focus on those areas where people do make choices — and these certainly exist — it is more necessary to try to determine the important areas where people do not make choices and effectively have little or no choice.

              I recognize that the entire notion is absolutely problematic, but if there were really & truly ‘people’s choice’ we would I think live in a very different sort of society. For this reason I refer to *social engineering*. These ideas, these descriptions of reality and the way things work, were developed by people like Edward Bernays and Walter Lippmann. There is no one on this blog, over the years that I have been here, who talks about the nuts and bolts of social engineering in a democratic society. Why is that?

              So, though perhaps my perspective is in its way as lop-sided as yours, what mostly draws my attention is the individual and that individual’s ‘moral self’. The moral self is not a *market creation* and is not (or should not be) subject to *market forces* nor to being bought & sold. What role *persuasion* has within a moral society & for moral persons also concerns me. And I notice that in the market and advertising society that you recognize the art of persuasion is not similar to the philosophical or morally-grounded art of persuasion. Market forces work more on market appetites and, to put it philosophically (and Platonically) on lower aspects of the total self. For this reason they are prone — highly prone — to perverting forces (and you notice that I use that word often).

              [C14: from Old French pervers, from Latin perversus turned the wrong way]

              In your discourse, How could you even consider moral perversion or materialistic perversion if you see ‘market forces’ as the guiding & determining impetus? No, it should be clear that there needs to be, there must exist, a moral individual engaged in moral questions. Ultimately, this is aristocratic work (if I can put it like this). This is not ‘democratic’ and democracy does not — cannot — create a moral being. And the market definitely does not, cannot, and never will.

              Bottom line is that those thinking people that universally believe I am wrong simply are too lazy or unwilling to exert the effort to convince people to say no to those evil powerful people you speak of and yes to their arguments that such evil people are no good. It is far easier to blame others for your own failure to obtain a yes.

              There is another way to see it. And that is that people are captured in the inundations emitted by powerful players and powerful entities. That is, they have no other choice but to participate in the systems that have been developed for them. I do not think this is such a difficult idea to understand. I also do not think that you are aware that by nature a democracy will always tend to serve mass-attitude and mass-appetite. You cannot rely on the mass to define higher and more demanding values. Higher values are defined by aristocratic persons in the literal sense: better persons. When mass appetite, mass desire and mass man is *seduced* to pleasure and to surrender to the mutable, it is simply a fact that they cannot serve what is defined through transcendental recognition. And those who do see in those ways are not common people, they are always extraordinary people. So, if ‘dumbing down’ really means something, what it really means is that people are seduced by materialistic objects and aspirations, and this is not necessarily their own fault.

              What concerns me, principally, is a) how people fall away from their inner, moral, determining and powerful selves, b) what entities and processes encourage and stimulate this, and c) how restoration can take place. You reduce this to ‘market forces’ and that seems absurd to me.

              What I see is much of what you are selling here provides some here to value your offerings at zero while others give it a positive valuation. Nonetheless I don’t see much in the way of gaining yes’s but I see a great deal of your comments negating any value others offer. In sales, never talk badly about your competition . You must demonstrate why what you offer will deliver greater value.

              Of what I just said, you remain unconvinced? You and I (and others) do not deal in the same terms. Obviously, you are in no sense dealing in any sense in spiritual or moral terms. Because what creates, or what stimulates, the formation of a moral person is not your topic of interest.

              You are mistaken if by *negation* you mean something mean-spirited. If I say *your analysis seems shallow and incomplete* (superficial and ‘surface’ is the word I use) it is not meant to insult. But it is taken that way. I see it more as a simple and clear fact. We spent a great deal of time here talking about decadence and perversion or ethical values. We notice that we are in a descending cycle. I say that we are all part of this and no one can say they are separate from it. Is that so vile? I use examples and I name names and that is provocative but not mean-spirited. It cannot be considered to be *negative*. It is critical though and I approach conversation through polemics. We have to be willing to receive ‘criticism from the competition’ and that means the people surrounding us.

              If people are being manipulated they do so by the choices they each make. With that said, if they believe that such choices lead to greater personal satisfaction no one can say they are wrong. The most anyone else can do is give them an alternative that increases their opportunity costs of their original decision. I assume that is your goal but you never say how my life will be improved if I adopt your line of thinking.

              You are flatly wrong here. Or what you say is partly true and partly false. You give far too much agency to a frail entity and do not take into consideration the essential corruptibility of that entity. To be manipulated means to be grasped and molded, often by power that you never see nor face. That is what both propaganda and advertising are: the molding of minds by men and design that they never see nor can confront. It can be a positive influence and it can, obviously, be an influence of another sort. Why can’t you and why don’t you take this into consideration?

              …if they believe that such choices lead to greater personal satisfaction no one can say they are wrong

              It can certainly be said that they are wrong, when they are wrong, and the results of choices can be known. What is ‘personal satisfaction’? Something the market provides to man? What a simplistic and shallow analysis. A minimal analysis of what gives sustaining satisfaction to a person will often turn 100% against what is said in the mass-media and what is presented by persuasive rhetoric to actually give satisfaction. This is such basic material.

              The entire relationship of the Greco-Christian tradition is always one of a superior element instructing an inferior element. That is a simple and perhaps a hard fact. It is that way now and it will always be that way. It is something fundamental to this *world*, to reality. It is a metaphysical notion however: and metaphysical notions are destroyed, soundly, buy the ‘market’ you refer to.

              I assume that is your goal but you never say how my life will be improved if I adopt your line of thinking.

              And yet I have, if imperfectly, but also impersonally, made a case here for a superior dimension within what can be known. My line of thinking? It is not really mine. It exists. It has already been defined. It really has to be recovered.

  2. I’d like to point out that actually selling stocks allows one to REALIZE A LOSS. The one market certainty is that over time the Market will be higher. Now is the time to buy and hold. Only idiots sell stocks they hold during these temporary events that do not reflect changes in actual fundamentals. Does anyone believe that this virus will kill so many that it will have a long term effect on aggregate demand? Those who do are nuts. When you strive to make high short term profits buying and selling stocks you fail to consider your long term economic costs.

    Further,
    Assume you buy a stock in 2016 for $100 and at the height you could have sold it for $300. If you still own the stock what is the capital gains tax on that profit? The answer is zero because you still own the stock and did not realize a gain. If that same stock loses 2/3 of its value from the high point and you sell it at 100 dollars what amount of capital loss can you deduct? The answer is zero because you sold it for what you paid thus no gain and no loss.

    The circuit breakers in the stock market are being triggered because of automated program trading that reacts to buy and sell movements. This can cause cascading downward and upward effects that the average Joe cannot win against.

    Program trading should be suspended everytime events like these occur so as to prevent massive unnecessary selloffs which benefit those with prior knowledge of near term events and those who make their living selling short. This massive selloff was brought to you by AI. (Artificial intelligence)

    • I agree on your idiots comment regarding the long term valuation and nearly inevitable growth of the market, but you can also see the short term thinkers are using their position for immediate profit with insider information. The effect of this is making obvious there are two systems at work and it significantly frays the fabric of the American social compact.

      • Absolutely. I aldo laugh at the concept if blind trusts. The owner of the trust must know who is the trustee. If a politician creates a blind trust with a major investment bank and that bank is given a heads up by the politician during private social events it stands to reason the trustee will draw that same inferences as the owner of the account. Because trustees have fiduciary responsibility they cannot ignore any information that they acquire that could adversely affect the account.

        The simplest legislation would be to allow elected persons to trade as they please but all transactions made by them or on their behalf must be reported online at the time the trade is ordered or 5 minutes before the trade is executed whichever is longer.

  3. This is a good reminder that crony capitalism in the midst of crisis endures from both sides of the aisle.

    I recall the financial crisis of 2008 had a variety of players that we seem to have forgotten about. There was Jim Moran, Duck Durban, John Kerry, Sheldon Whitehouse, Spencer Bachus, etc.

    Perhaps if the media and its dog faced horse faced minions paid attention to more than Whose Today’s Worst Bigot, issues like this may have been addressed. Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Maurice Hinchey, Hugh Gregg, The Clintons, and so many lawmakers have been inside trading and profiting off times like this. Yet where are the keyboard warriors and their woke friends when it comes to conflict-of-interest scenarios? No where? Why? Because it isn’t as cathartic or sexy to address these crimes and bad ethics. Some would rather scream at the sky and attach “phobe” to anyone who has the audacity to be honest, than tackle cronyism regardless of political affiliation.

    • Some would rather scream at the sky and attach “phobe” to anyone who has the audacity to be honest, than . . . ”

      Thanks for that, Mrs. Q. I was just looking for the right phrase to bring to an argument I will present at a(n online) meeting tonight concerning the duty, not just the right, to criticize one’s own group – and declare it publicly, as necessary – without being declared a “traitor” or facing turned backs. It is an attempt (not the first) to start a conversation. I expect it to be unsuccessful, in which case I needed a strong exit line . . . .

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