Wednesday, August 28, 2013

There Are Some Republican Children Left in Philadelphia

We have made great progress in learning how to improve the lives of children. We have discovered that music and arts stimulate their minds so they learn better. We recognize the importance of physical activity to keep their bodies and mind healthier. It is known that providing counseling earlier in life wards off immediate problems and deflects what otherwise could become lifelong problems. Since we know how to improve the lives of children, what is happening in the Philadelphia school system is atrocious and something we’d expect to find in an undeveloped nation.
The Philadelphia schools are opening without administrators, counselors, sports, clubs, and nurses. Essentially there will be classrooms for students where students will report where there will be teachers, and that is about it.
Ironically, there are hundreds of millions dollars available to build a new prison in the Philadelphia area. We seem to be planning to make this prison a huge success, Without counselors and administrators to help guide students, more students are destined to find their way to the new prison. Without well developed minds obtaining a proper education, careers in crime are assured
There are no intellectual disability counselors in Philadelphia schools, but there are in the juvenile justice system. There are no nurses in the Philadelphia schools, but there is health care in juvenile detention. There are no sports in many Philadelphia schools, but there are gyms in juvenile detention.
It is the height of irony that we make juvenile detention more appealing to some than school. We are building prisons and juvenile detention centers that cost a lot more than schools. Why are we spending more money to make the next generation worse off? What message are we sending to children?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Its Problem is IT

The recent Labor and Industry Department computer problems represent a potential growing concern that funds can be mismanaged. A great abuse facing government involves wrongful charges for operating and maintaining computers. A major public administration failure occurs when many of our elected officials and public sector managers lack the knowledge and ability to properly oversee their information technology (IT) departments. IT often involve specialized skills with code writing that only a select few understand. Yet, as IT departments can cost public sector departments many millions of dollars, this represents large amounts of funds being expended that few understand how it is being spent.

There have been instances in organizations worldwide where IT funds have been spent for services not rendered, for undeserved cost overruns, or otherwise mismanaged. What is required is for management to hire independent IT auditors who oversee that funds are properly spent. It is also important to oversee that the work is sharable and usable by others. A key mistake occurs when only a few people know how to operate any expensive system, thus providing these few people undeserved job protection. This has already been proven dangerous when one person was able to shut down the entire San Francisco government computers for several days because only he knew how to get the system working and refused to do so.

Government should also save money in IT costs by putting more information into “the cloud”, or the public arena, where it belongs (except for confidential personnel and security information). Thus there will be less need for IT maintenance expenses. Government data should be easily found and usable by the public. It should also be interactive. People should be able to post recommendations, opinions, or voice concerns and officials should be able to read them and respond. Government computer data should be democratic and not a fiefdom for a few.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

A Democratic Senator Who Might Have Made a Good Republican

Michael J. Ybarra. Washington Gone Crazy: Senator Pat McCarran and the Great American Communist Hunt. Hanover, N.H.: Steerforth Press, 2004.

This book is an extensive book on the Senate investigations into alleged Communist infiltration of the American government. It delves into extensive details on the politics of the era as well as the life as one of the chief accusers, U.S. Senator Pat McCarran. It is more of a history book for the era centering around the career of McCarran and the events that led to the Senate hearings.

This book concludes that Soviet intelligent agents operating as Communists existed. Yet the search for them did the nation more harm than the damage the spies did. It is interesting to note that this book was spurred by research into repealing the McCarran Act which required members of subversive groups to self-declare themselves or else face penalties of loss of citizenship and passport.

Sen. McCarran belonged to the U.S. Senate Internal Security Committee . He chaired committee meetings on whether government officials were communists while Democrats held the Senate majority. When Republicans took over the majority, the leader of the hearings regarding communism was Sen. Joseph McCarthy, whose actions led the Senate to censure him.

McCarran fought Presidents Roosevelt, Truman, and Eisenhower over economic issues, internal security, and immigration policies. McCarran achieved and knew how to wield Senate power. He believed his own Democratic Party was under communist control.

McCarran was a lawyer. His first client was his father who was charged with cutting down telegraph poles that ran alongside railroad tracks on McCarran’s father’s farm. Pat McCarran testified that he, not his father, cut them down. The jury found his father not guilty. Pat McCarran was threatened with perjury but was never charged.

In 1906, McCarran was elected County District Attorney. He then ran and lost for the Democratic Congressional nomination against George Bartlett. McCarran ran as a supporter of William Jennings Bryan.

Key Pittman in 1910 placed his $5,000 in poker earnings with Democratic Party leaders as a bet to become a U.S. Senator. Pittman won. Pittman lost the popular vote to the incumbent Senator George Nixon. Pittman believed Nixon bribed voters. Nixon died a year and half later. Pittman won the special election by 89 votes.

Pittman got drunk once in 1914 and, in public, hit U.S. Marshall B. Gray, State Sen. William Sharon, and McCarran among others. McCarran and Pittman continued their feuding and never reconciled.

McCarran ran for state Supreme Court, Rep. Bartlett then ran as a nonpartisan candidate. Ironically, Bartlett, who was close to the Democratic machined, claimed it was McCarran who was the machine candidate. McCarran defeated Bartlett.

McCarran then decided to run for U.S. Senator even though Justices were prohibited from being elected to another office. McCarran lost reelection, which liften any controversy over his eligibility for Senator. He ran as an isolationist when voters were becoming increasingly pro-internationalist.In 1932, he was gave a notable speech supporting silver and against Prohibition while contribution $5,000 to the Nevada Democratic Central Committee. McCarran reported just one contribution of $1,000 form the Democratic National Committee yet outspent his Republican opponent $5,215 to $3,870. He won. McCarran was one of nine Democratic Senators elected alongside Democrat Franklin Roosevelt’s victory over President Herbert Hoover.

McCarran befriended Republican Sen. William Borah, an opponent of the Leauge of Nations and the World Court. McCarran split with Roosevelt on the President’s second bill before the Senate. McCarran became noted for offering more amendments than did more other Senators.

A secret Marxist study group existed in D.C. Even spouses were not told about this group. Whitaker Chambers was a member.

McCarran gave numerous speeches condemning communism. He believed American Communists were “the greatest enemies of our republic.”

The International Communist organization in 1935 switched from condemning Roosevelt to denouncing pro-Nazi American financiers and urging support of anti-Nazi leaders including Roosevelt. In 1938, this changed after the Soviet-German pact. American Communist leader Earl Browder was instructed to distance the Communist Party from Roosevelt’s policies.

Roosevelt supporter Al Hilliard ran against McCarran’s reelection. McCarran easily won.

Roosevelt and most liberals did not seek nor wish the support of Communists.

Rep. Martin Dees claimed numerous communists (he at one point claimed there were 1,121) in the Federal Government. Few names were provided. Those that were published included Assistant Interior Secretary Oscar Chapman, who is turns out was not a communist, and National Labor Review member Nat Wit, who was a communist.

McCarran opposed Roosevelt’s Lend Lease program to supply military equipment to England. The White House opposed McCarran becoming Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman. Sen. Fred Van Nuys became Chairman instead even though McCarran had more seniority. McCarran became District of Columbia Committee Chairman, a less important committee.

McCarran became angry that the National Labor Relations Board certified the election of a union in a Nevada company. He became more angry at labor and liberals.

McCarran decried, in 1944, that communism is “using a battering ram on the portal or our democratic home.” He made his anti-communism a major part of his successful 1944 reelection campaign

McCarran used his parliamentarian skills to halt the progress of bills he did not like. He often continued with parliamentarian challenges until he wore down his opposition. McCarran declared “ I never compromise with principal, but almost everything is principal to me.”

OSS agents found secret government documents in the “Amerable” magazine offices. The magazine editor admitted he was obtaining the documents from a State Department employee and giving them to Soviet intelligence. Three people were charged with unlawful possession of government documents and fined. Espionage charges were not filed The State Department employee was investigated, cleared, and transferred to Japan. THis incident became a “political Rorschach test”: The political right saw this as confirmation the Soviets were infiltrating the State Department. The political left saw this as a minor event.

FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was mad at President Truman for not acting on briefs Hoover sent to Truman. Truman was one of the few politicians who did not favor Hoover. Hoover then began giving this information to conservative members of Congress, including McCarran. The author notes “the damage that the communists did to the country would turn out to be far less than that caused by Hoover and McCarran.” Hoover claimed there were 100,000 communists in the U,S, with one million “fellow travelers”.

McCarran added an amendment to a State Department appropriations bill that any Civil Service State Department employee could be fired in the national interest wihtout a hearing or being given a reason. The amendment was designed to get Alger Hiss fired, as he had been exposed as a Communist but this then could not be proven. Sen. Carl Curtis demanded Communists be fired from the State Department.

The Americans for Democratic Action formed as a liberal group that opposed communism. It descended from the Union for Democratic Action. It warned that communists were hurts liberals more than conservatives.

Truman signed Executive Order 8835, known as the Government Loyalty Program. The Order made it illegal to employ Communists in government. This Order allowed being suspected of being a Communist or a member of a “sympathetic association” would be given a hearing from a loyalty board created in each Department. White House aide Clark Clifford would later observe “my greatest regret is that I did not make more of an effort to kill the loyalty program at is inception.”

Elizabeth Bentley gave the FBT names of Communists in 1945. The FBI investigated by couldn’t find evidence required for convictions. A Grand Jury indicted known Communist Party leaders.

McCarran began leading what the Washington Post called “a one man Un-American Activities Committee in the Senate.”

McCarran as Senator would have two people working for him at half salary and have both do similar work at full time jobs.

McCarran at an Appropriations Committee hearing on the Civil Aeronautics Board budget asked about an application for an airport in Nevada. The Board members replied that the application was pending. McCarran suggested the Board members were all present. They then approved the application on the spot.

McCarran halted legislation allowing displaced person homeless in Europe after World War II moving into the United States. Earl Harrison, Dean of he University of Pennsylvania Law School, was sent by Truman to inspect displaced persons camps in Europe. Harrison concluded “we appear to be treating Jews as the Nazis treated them except that we do not exterminate them.” McCarran opposed any displaced persons moving to anywhere in the United States except for the Alaska territory.

It is noted the only Roosevelt nominees that McCarran opposed were all Jewish. In private conversations, McCarran used slur names for Jews. His opposition to displaced persons entering the United States may have been driven by his anti-Semetism even though four-fifths of displaced people were Christians. McCarran’s official explanation was that communist spies would be let in. When refugees were allowed to enter, McCarran had the percent of refugees being Jewish reduced from a planned 25% to 16%.

McCarran successfully fought for loans to Spain over the opposition of President Truman.

Sen. Joseph McCarthy claimed to have a list of 205 subversives (he initially did not mention he believed they were communists) employed in the State Department. His next speech stated he had 57 names.

Sen. Herbert Lehman argued that anti-Communist legislation would only only make real spies less visible as they would not be associated with the Communist Party. He warned the legislation would only impeded individual liberties. McCarran demanded and helped with passing a bill requiring the registration and possible detention of subversives. Some liberal members of Congress were appalled that the U.S. could have its own concentration camp of political dissidents.

When McCartny got publicity for his accusations about Communists, he was a first term Senator from the minority political party. It was McCarran as a committee chairman who created the hearings that allowed the attacks to be aired.

Truman create the President’s Commission on Internal Security and Individual Right, chaired by Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz. It’s main objective was to downplay McCarthyism. It was called by some the Un-McCarran Activities Committee. The entire commission members resigned stating the McCarran hearings had rendered it ineffective.

McCarran stated that Truman had fired General Douglas MacArthur by noting the Communist Party had called for his firing. The author writes that McCarran’s “speech was as crazy as anything that McCarthy ever said, but it receive scant attention.”

McCarran accused Communists in the State Department with letting China fall to Communism. Anti-communist columnist Joseph Alsop objected to McCarran’s actions stating “we may as well abandon all hope of having an honest and courageous public service in mere mistakes of judgement are later to be transformed into evidence of disloyalty to the state.”

Stanley Dollar’s shipping business owed $8 million to the U.S. government when it went into default in 1938. The U.S. Maritime Commission took over the company and invested $4 million into the company, built 32 additional ships to its fleet, and raised its vale to $40 million. Dollar sued to gain his company back. Dollar became close friends with McCarran. McCarran defended Dollar on the Senate floor. Graham Morrison, who headed the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, claimed McCarran demanded the Justice Department halt it case against Dollar in order for James McGranery be confirmed as U.S. Attorney General and that McGranery agreed to this.

FBI reports later confirmed that McCarran assisted Bugsy Siegel in getting a casino license and a government loan. McClarran claimed he never met Siegel.

McCarran was the only Senator to speak out agains the 1953 Korean armistice.

When Communist forces ousted the French in Vietman, McCarran spoke against the U.S. getting involved in Vietnam. He warned that it “could turn out to be the greatest disaster this country has ever seen.”

When Republicans gained a majority in the Senate in 1953, Joseph McCarthy took over McCarran’s committee chairmanship. McCarthy’s actions further divided a nation and led to his censure by the Senate.

We Thought Oscar Goodman's "Beef, Booze, and Broads" Slogan Was the Republican Platform

Oscar Goodman with George Anastasia. Being Oscar: From Mob Lawyer to Mayor of Las Vegas - Only in America. New York: Weinstein Books, 2013.

The author is critical of prosecutorial abuses. As a defense attorney, he often demonstrated how these abuses of the system were wrong and he would get cases dismissed against his clients. Among abuses he found were forged signatures on wiretap authorizations and the use of the same soundless tape of a meeting to claim different matters were discussed. He got an FBI agent to claim that the FBI had access to tape recorders when taking statements yet the agent then insisted in court that notes are more accurate than a recording.  He defended in one case there several police offices gave the same stories verbatim until he found an uninvolved witness who stated something completed different happened.

Goodman is upset that prosecutors lie and are able to get away with lying. Defense lawyers doing the same thing would be disbarred or disciplined. He finds this as a major fault of the legal system where one side can get away with abusing the process, especially when it violates the Constitution. Goodman notes that not all prosecutors abuse the system, yet those they are are ruining the judicial system.

As Goodman writes, “I don’t defend the guilty or the innocent I defend our system of justice and the U.S. Constitution.”

Goodman provides your legal tips. At one trial, a Judge was never ruling in his favor. He knew the Judge was a baseball fan so he had Tommy Lasorda sign personalized baseballs for the Judge and for the Prosecutor (who would be present when he gave the Judge the baseball). The Judge began ruling more often in favor of Goodman. Goodman writes that he does not know if the baseball made a difference yet, if it did, this is something they don’t teach in law school.

Goodman’s father was a prosecutor in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office. He thought his service merited a Judgeship. He became disillusioned when local Republican Party leaders stated they required a $10,000 contribution to the Republican Party organization in order to become a Judge. His father refused to pay and he never became a Judge.

Goodman is highly critical of law enforcement officials and prosecutors who use people with little credibility to trade receiving lesser penalties for their crimes in return for testifying to what prosecutors need witnesses to state. He observes this is especially abused when he sees the same people used over and over again in different trials.

During jury selection, Goodman seeks a juror who is “an independent and a non-conformist”. He also wants intelligent jurors who will follow his arguments during closing.

Goodman ran for Las Vegas Mayor in 1999. He raised $900,000 with no funds contributed by people connected to casinos. He received 495 of the vote in the first round against several opponents. He won the runoff. He got 80% of the vote in the next two reelection campaigns.

As Mayor, he had a “coffee with the Mayor” where he went to different parts of town and answered questions and listened to constituents. He then added “martinis with the Mayor” held in local bars.

As Mayor, Goodman’s film license grant policy was to only grant licenses to those filming in Las Vegas who included a role in the film for him. His first two roles were cut. He then insisted his role not be cut.

As Mayor, Goodman had a river, or as he describes it “a man made rivulet”, created. It gives people an area to relax. He also acted to preserve buildings such as the city’s post office and courthouse. These renovations were used as catalysts for downtown renewal. The courthouse became a tourist attraction known as the Mob Museum.

Goodman spoke out against able bodied homeless who begged for money which they used for drugs. He was criticized for that sentiment. He argues there has to be a distinction between types of homeless and who deserves assistance and who does not.

Goodman also made a controversial proposal to renovate an abandoned prison and turn it into a homeless shelter.

Mayor Goodman sought to avoid eminent domain. He disliked taking public property so a developer could profit. He swapped properties owned by the city with a property owner so the land could create new shops and stores in downtown Las Vegas. Goodman declared downtown Las Vegas mall as “the best dollar per square foot producing mall” even though he made up that fact, yet the press printed it without fact checking. As he puts it, “I was the Mayor, and I could say what I want.”