The Unhealthy United States Government

The Return of the Goddess Reason by Darwin Leon

THE UNHEALTHY UNITED STATES CONGRESS

BY

DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS

17 July 2017 Miami Beach


The well has been poisoned. The present government is unhealthy. It is an enemy of the people at large and a friend to the power elite. Measures can be taken to restore it to health.

The struggle by a minority of Republican Congressmen to build a slim partisan majority to repeal and replace the 2010 Affordable Health Care Act legislated by Democrats, despite the fact that the overwhelming majority or supermajority of the people oppose repeal, and also adamantly oppose replacement in the mean form proposed, exposes the naked truth about the current government, that it and its president is unpopular and therefore unstable, and is not a government by and for the people at large although they are theoretically responsible for it.

Fashions in politics can be as fickle as in clothes. Popularity is not always wonderful, for power does corrupt, wherefore majorities may be tyrannical and foster totalitarian governments.

Supermajorities protect the people against political whims in government, especially where basic human needs are at stake. The most fundamental need is health, and for that we need mutual care from birth to death.

Without health, life and liberty and property, not to mention happiness, whatever that may be, is at risk. We love our freedoms, as if we were all kings and queens in private domains. Yet those domains are by no means isolate.

Freedom is not an empty concept: We want freedom from impediments like tyranny, poverty, disease, and so on. Health care legislation is, as it were, a treaty that we as individuals have with each other, that we will come to the aid of one other when attacked by diseases, injuries, and old age.

Health is therefore not only a personal matter but is a vital collective concern. And it is so personal for everyone that the success of humanity depends on the personal health of every person. Legislation in that regard is so important that both the whole and the part should be secured by a healthy consensus so that simple slim majorities do not give things one day and take them away the next.

The United States is presently subject to a minority government that would be dismissed and a new election called for if its Constitution were amended to invoke a cabinet system of government led by a prime minister selected by the majority party or a risky coalition. That amendment would have to be proposed by either two-thirds of both houses of Congress or two-thirds of the states, and then be ratified by the legislatures or constitutional conventions of three-fourths of the states.

The drafters of the U.S. Constitution were wise to require a supermajority for fundamental acts, in this case to change the framework of the architecture for government. The Constitution also calls for a two-thirds supermajority for treaty ratification, expulsion from Congress, forgiveness of rebellions, impeachment conviction, restoration of authority to a president suspended for inability to perform his duties, and the override of a Presidential veto.

The American electorate has not been wise, however, to retain the vestiges of the tyranny against which the founders revolted, in the form of a temporary king in the president and the House of Lords in the Senate.

The mother country with its unwritten constitution has advanced since the invention of steam engines and automobiles. The Queen and Lords are respected, and at least two-thirds of subjects must have them to be British, yet Commons rules, and royalty and nobility is not an impediment to the people’s will or a check on the Commons except for the influence of respected opinions.

The United States does not need the Senate, whose members represent state elites and not the popular electorate, to check the famous madness of the members of the House of Representatives, who are supposed to represent the crowd the best they can. Under the present system they must do their best to keep the crowed deceived to maintain their seats. They too have been sickened by the poison flowing into the well from special interests.

The Senate loves to think of itself as a deliberative body of One Hundred Dignitaries, who slow things down by careful consideration based on reasoned debate, stall for amendments, or kill bills submitted by the House. That well has been polluted, not only by the almighty dollar they must constantly hustle for, but by mean partisanship sponsored by naturally selfish donors who have lots of money to invest in politics. It was thought that corruption would be more obvious in that noble house given fewer members, and it certainly is, but what are they to do for money until people can vote online so that votes and not dollars are the only political currency?

Wait a minute! What about the supermajority tradition of the Senate? What about the 60% needed to stifle the opposition from blocking bills and motions to even consider them? Forget about that. It is not yet in the Constitution or a statute. The Constitution says each house of Congress can make its own rules; they can do that at any time no matter what academics say.

The key word is “reconciliation.” There is a statute that allows for a simple majority to reconcile differences between the House and Senate in fiscal legislation. Why not stick anything which has to do with money, which is everything, into a reconciliation bill? The Byrd amendment to the statute provides that reconciliation bill may not include provisions that increase deficits ten years after the reconciliation. Senator Byrd sponsored the amendment because President Clinton wanted to rely on budget reconciliation to pass a 1993 health care plan.

Now the sponsors of the 2017 Better Care Reconciliation Act to replace the 2010 Health Care and Reconciliation Act, which was tacked onto the 2009 Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act of 2009 passed by the House 416-0 and approved 219-212 by the Senate after its health care amendment, do not want the nonpartisan budget office to review the half-baked repeal and quasi-amendment bill before voting on it—the House also skipped that input before voting on the bill it passed, and passed the buck to the Senate.

No, the Senate prefers to rely upon White House agencies for fiscal analysis including predictions of deficits. The President is pushing repeal and replace, and will be delighted to vindictively sign the legislation, cast by Democrats and some Republicans as a handout to the rich at the cost of the sick, poor, not to mention the middle class.

Many are those who are not in a charitable mood. The extent of our selfishness depends on how much we have; that is, the margin we have above our needs, and we think many of our wants are needs, say, that beer money if not the two cars in the garage. The extension of Medicare is quite frankly unpopular except among those who need it and the likes of Warren Buffet and other welfare capitalists.

To support relief to the wealthy during the currently prosperous time for them, the White House claims that the Congressional Budget Office was all wrong in its assessment of the consequences of Obamacare, that not enough have signed up for insurance under the Individual Mandate to spread the risk, so the insurance companies, to protect their vast coffers, are jacking up premiums or dropping out of the market.

The truth of the matter is that people, especially young and healthy ones, do not like to pay the fines required if they choose not to buy insurance. They would rather take the risk of an unexpected accident or illness, which might drive them into bankruptcy and force the public to pick up the medical tab anyway. Thus is the risk spread anyhow.

It is more than obvious to every logical person that the solution to this squabble, in terms of replacement, is a single-payer, Medicare-like plan, with benefits similar to those enjoyed by the Senators in their government plan. Then the United States could join other civilized countries with national health care plans. But reason goes down the drain with big deductions from earned income.

Whatever is done on the issue so vital not only to the survival of the nation but to the people should not be done lightly. That is, it should be done with their consent, and with a consensus.

Do you trust a simple majority in Congress and the President of the United States with your life in this vital matter? Only 30% do at this juncture.

Major health care legislation should be submitted to the people in a referendum that requires a supermajority. Let the people be a check on Congress in advance so they do not have to show up in the halls of Congress, as in this case, to demonstrate on crutches and in wheelchairs. Amendments to that legislation should require a 60% majority in Congress.

Why not just a simple majority in a referendum? The crowd is wise but only with experience, and we should be more certain of ourselves before getting it, because then it might be too painful for everyone concerned.

Take, for example, Great Britain’s popular 1975 decision to remain in, and then the 2017 popular decision to exit, the European commonality.

The House of Commons had voted 395-170 to continue in Common Market under new terms; that action was confirmed by a nonbinding referendum, the nation’s first ever, held 5 June 1975, with turnout of 64% and huge majority of Yeas over Nays of 8,908,508. The Question put was, “Do you think that the United Kingdom should stay in the European Community (the Common Market)?” Labour split on the issue, breaching collective Cabinet responsibility, so votes in Commons were carried only with opposition support, i.e. the issue was nonpartisan. There was a 64% turnout, with a huge majority of 8,908,508 Yeas over Nays, wherefore the referendum was hailed as the biggest support for government ever, hence popular.

Critics, however, said the nation was dead, that it had relinquished its sovereignty. A document on the discussion of sovereignty in parliament, kept secret for thirty years under the Thirty Year Rule, disclosed that Parliament thought it advisable to put consideration of Power before Sovereignty.

That makes sense. Would the people rather have the sovereignty of North Korea, or even Switzerland, or the political and economic power of the United States? After all, with or without the power, they shall still have sovereignty over their culture, still be Americans or Cosmopolitans.

The governing House of Commons considered the EU matter settled for 40 years, and then the BREXIT movement, narrowly approved in a referendum by a margin of 52% in 2016 to exit, as compared to 67% or two-thirds to remain in 1975. The turnout was 72% in 2016, considerable more than the 64% to remain in 1975, but the margin of Yeas over Nays was very slim to exit in 2016, only 1,291,501, whereas the margin to remain in 1975 was 8,908,508.

Now, then, before the feat has been fully accomplished, the British have had second thoughts due to bad experiences, foreboding even worse to come as the rest of Europe goes merrily on its way, so BREXIT may be reversed despite the strong nationalist feelings.

It is high time that the people of the United States take legislation into their own hands, purge Congress of its poison, and provide preventative, structural measures for their own sake. As it stands, almost everyone agrees that it is sick, and doom must be prophesied to invoke a cure. The cure can only come from people at large, who must themselves be healed, because the disease in their representatives begins with them.

xYx

The Revolutionary French Macron

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THE REVOLUTIONARY MACRÕN

BY

DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS

July 14, 2017

‘Macron’ now means something more than a diacritical mark elongating vowels. The term presently purports revolution, the long-awaited revolution fomented by Immanuel Macron, the newly elected President of France, who convened Parliament at Versailles for a grandiloquent proclamation of reactionary principles for France: Efficiency, Representivity, and Responsibility.

Consequently Macron is ridiculed as a pretender to the throne of France as well as the revolutionary antidote to monarchy. But insiders who liken him to counter-revolutionary Napoleon Bonaparte draw a better likening.

Nevertheless, there is a whiff of liberal revolution, the overthrow of The System, a razing of a labyrinthine, Kafkaesque superstructure, and a return to primitive foundations, the retrograde movement towards radical roots that gave Hegel cause to revamp his dialectical musings as he feared the spread of the Revolution of revolutions, the French Revolution, to his native country.

True, Macron eschews violent overthrows of government, and he is not yet a dictator, but radical reform may gather momentum and go too far, for we know that the most efficient way to hold humans responsible is to cart them off to the scaffold for humane disposition.

In any case, he would export his counter-revolution to the world. He called upon Citizens to change their cynical attitudes so that France can be “the center of a new humanist project for the world.”

The United States of America, which has suffered the dialectic of the French Revolution within the American Revolution since the Declaration of Independence, is no longer the Beacon on the Hill that it once was. Yes, Americans, like the French, are “divided,” yet that is really nothing new since every in-dividual is theoretically divided from birth by the radical Me/We antagonism from which organizational conflicts evolve. The collective secures us so we love it, and that love is often based on the fear therefore hatred of others, for other collectives are a threat. We will wage war with France or other nations if they take the wrong side. So what is the global or catholic solution?

Macron believes inefficient organization is the obstacle to Life, Liberty, and Property—the last term was changed to Happiness in America. He does not preach Love as the solution, but material reorganization on scientific principles, as if politics, economics, sociology, and so on are really sciences the study of which can produce predictable outcomes. No less than Thomas Jefferson was swayed by that attitude on his visit to France during the Revolution there, which he blamed on Marie Antoinette. Jefferson fell in with the Ideologues, and became so enthused by the ideology of social science borrowed from physics that he replaced Theology with Ideology at his beloved university in Virginia upon his return to the states.

That being said, Macron is certainly not a materialist, for he exerts mind over matter, with thoughts “too complex for journalists” to understand, he said, when explaining why he would not make a traditional Bastille Day speech. We cannot read his mind, but we think a counter-revolutionary prejudice dissuaded him. We suppose he had contemplated the popular storming of the Bastille, a prison where the monarchy kept its political prisoners, although there were only seven inmates at the time. Upwards of two hundred revolutionaries were killed, and the superintendant of the jail was beheaded—one story claims his heart was ripped out and eaten. The recent terrorist attack in Nice on Bastille Day will never be forgotten. Such terrifying events tend to unify France, but for a sophisticate like Macron, they are in themselves repugnant.

Indeed, his thoughts are so complex that his approach to unity was described as “mystical.” His Versailles speech was short on details, as is typical with inspiring, high-flown rhetoric. The nation would realize the principles of Efficiency, Representation, and Responsibility by virtue of a social contract with the people.

That contract would apparently be in the underlying spirit of Jean-Jacque Rousseau’s Du contrat social of 1762, which differs somewhat from John Locke’s The Second Treatise of Government, claimed to be a foundational document for political theory in the fledgling United States, which really did not have much of a theory because its history was virtually new, and reading the Bible and the biographies of its founding fathers sufficed for knowing what to do.

According to Locke, people would be moved by natural law to form a government to defend life, liberty and property, and their freedom would be guaranteed the constitutional contract for representative government. Locke puts the state over the individuals consenting to it as “one body, with a power to act as one body, which is only by the will and determination of the majority; for that which acts any community being only the consent of the individuals of it, and it being necessary to that which is one body to move one way, it is necessary the body should move that way whither the greater force carries it, which is the consent of the majority.”

With Locke we have an overwhelming power of numbers, and, since a great number of people may not consent to the acts of a majority, the possibility of the tyranny of the majority of representatives beholden not to the people at large but to factions and special interests. The solution as always is the right of people to overthrow “their” government, and good luck to them with that project.

Rousseau would have the people directly represent themselves with the guidance of a charismatic leader in accordance with the impetus of the universal ‘We’ of all individuals, namely, the mystical General Will. That man must be Macron, and presumably the General Will would be done even if his reforms are obstructed because he will call for a referendum to effect them.

Macron declared to the Parliament order to Versailles that from efficiency, representivity, and responsibility he wants a “contractual republic” to emerge, a contract between citizens and the republic, a direct relationship that has been destroyed by the mechanical exercises of parliament. For one thing, he would reduce the number of representatives in both houses, which now number well over 900, by a third. Simple laws could be made by parliamentary commissions instead of in full sessions.

Legislation must be streamlined to address pressing issues and suit the changing needs of the people. Lawmakers should draft laws more quickly and legislate less. We might add that, if a contradiction lies therein, never mind, for it is, as Luther once famously said of self-contradictory theology, one of God’s mysteries.

Rather than debate over whether or not merely changing an organizational form can save people of different cultures from themselves, let us presume that our present constitution or architecture of government, which we believe is better than the Constitution of France although there are archaic similarities, is not the best at present because times have changed.

Taking the cue from Macron in France, we have known for some time that the members of the United States Congress have lost touch with the people of the United States. There is no real or mystical bond between the government and the people. The people are represented well only intermittently, and then by a minority able to persuade special interests to go along. The Congress has been poisoned. It has become the enemy of the people. It is the de facto cabinet of the privileged elite, a small minority that has sway over the vast multitude whose freedom has become an institutional prison.

So where is our charismatic efficiency expert, and what would he recommend to amend our constitution? He is no Macron, for he would enjoy consorting with workers in their dining establishments and union halls, and attend well to the welfare of the disadvantaged, hopefully investing in Louis Blanc’s national workshops. If they are to be responsible, they must have the means. He has already said he would free people from the straightjackets of their cultural origins, but he had better watch his step there, and observe how many revolutions Chinese culture has survived.

Our own long-awaited Macron would recommend, for example, abolishing the United States Senate as a “check” upon the so-called democratic House of Representatives. The nobles should get down off their high horses and sit with the people. If a check is needed, that check should be the people in an electronic referendum.

Modest cabinet amendments to the wording of our Constitution would render the legislature and the president immediately responsible to the majority of representatives, who could with a vote of no confidence dismiss the cabinet with its president and call for a new election. In fact, that might be done today if we had the amendment, but then again, perhaps not, for the representatives might really represent us with a two-thirds consensus in major matters.

xYx

Rights of Man 1789  – 2. The aim of all political association is the preservation of the natural and imprescriptible rights of man. These rights are liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression

The Individual Mandate & Political Poison

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THE INDIVIDUAL MANDATE & POLITICAL POISON

By David Arthur Walters

PRESS INDEPENDENT

July 7, 2017 Miami Beach

Nothing is more obvious than the fact that Americans today are governed by a self-serving leadership faction and have once again been forgotten by their Congress due to unbridled political partisanship.

Take for example the continuous effort to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act.

Republican leaders want payback for having Obamacare foisted upon them by a Democratic majority in 2010. Repealing it, no matter what the effect a repeal would have on their constituents, has priority over reforming it or simply replacing it with a single-payer national healthcare system with benefits similar to those they enjoy under their own plan.

Younger, healthier people or those who do not anticipate needing potentially ruinous medical care anytime soon do not appreciate the individual mandate forcing them to buy insurance or pay a fine in order to spread the risk. If they unexpectedly wind up in the hospital and their funds are exhausted, then let them go bankrupt and the public pay the expense, which will by far exceed the fine, because they were unwilling to buy insurance when they were healthy.

While a leading minority of Senate Republicans struggle to kill Obamacare, orders have been issued not to enforce the individual mandate. Vengeance is ours, say the faux-republican faction, after scores of failed attempts to rid the nation of Obamacare and other successes they perceive as blackening the nation, after the nation was saved from the Great Recession and probable Depression and fascist consequences by the man they love to hate even after he has been replaced.

Unsurprisingly, given the insane rivalry currently sponsored by the nation’s political teapots, the individual mandate was originally a nonpartisan feature championed by reasonable Republicans. After all, national health care acts would be doomed to failure without the mandate requiring all persons not exempted for hardship to buy coverage or pay a tax to replenish the fund for at least some of the premiums they withheld. Clearly, unless everyone pays something before they need health care, the overall plan will become lopsided and go into a “death spiral” due to inadequate funding.

In 1989 Republican senators championed an individual mandate as a market-based approach, as outlined by the conservative Heritage Foundation. The idea is that every capable individual should be responsible for their health care. In 1993 President Bill Clinton proposed an employer mandate for employers to provide health insurance to all employees, but Republican Senators wanted an individual mandate, not an employer mandate, and Clinton’s plan failed. A Republican alternative introduced in 1993 by Republican Senator John Chafee, famed for his bipartisanship, included a requirement for universal coverage with an individual mandate. In 1994 Republican Senator Don Nickles’ original proposal included an individual mandate with a penalty provision. And Mark Pauly developed a proposal including an individual mandate for President George H. W. Bush.

In 2007 Republican Senator Bob Bennett and Democratic Senator Ron Wyden introduced the Healthy Americans Act, which featured an individual mandate, but the proposal did not get beyond the committee level. Governor Mitt Romney was praised by Senator Jim DeMint for his conservative ideas, and the presidential candidate said he was proud of Massachusetts’ health care plan including its individual mandate. Indeed, Democrats sided with Republicans on the individual mandate and other features, and the Massachusetts’ plan was a kind of template for what ensued, the Affordable Health Care Act of 2010.

Constitutional issues with the mandate were not broached by Republicans. The penalty was believed to be a tax, not a premium forced on people. With Obamacare, Republicans would argue that the bill was in effect a tax bill that should have originated in the House, but it had actually originated in the Senate in the guise of an amendment to an unrelated tax bill sent over by the House, rendering the Act unconstitutional.

The most reasonable plan of all, at least in theory, would be a single-payer universal health care plan along the lines of those adopted by civilized countries. But democratic republicanism does not work that way in the United States, which is poisoned by political factions beholden to special interests.

The main fault of Affordable Health Care Act of 2010 is that it is not a single-payer universal plan, although it is almost the best one can do without such national health care insurance. It may be tinkered with to overcome some of its current faults, but it shall always be plagued by its fundamental flaw.

For one thing, the Senate would have had to agree to the reasonable alternative and not enough votes could be mustered to overcome a filibuster in the Senate for such a “socialist” plan in order to bring the bill to a vote.

Yet now Republican senators may use the nuclear option, invoking the Constitutional right of each house of Congress to make its own rules, in order to repeal Obamacare, risking the lives of millions of people, with or without a replacement, giving the savings to wealthy people who do not need the money.

And they would do this while mouthing alternative facts and fake assessments to cover up the fact that their partisanship has made them a poison unto the people.

xYx

Healthcare and Sunshine – Congress is Critically Ill

West side view of the United States Capitol building.

HEALTHCARE AND SUNSHINE

BY

DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS

Article I, section 5 of the United States Constitution clearly states that ‘‘each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings.’’ The senators and representatives are therefore expected to conduct the people’s business in the best manner possible, that is, efficiently and effectively in the interest of everyone concerned, and not in the special interests of factions.

It is to that end that the public business should be conducted publicly by Congress in all respects.  Yet from the time of its constitution we hear of backroom and cloakroom deals and closed committees where fundamental business is done in the dark by members who are evidently ashamed of their political factions. And we hear of working documents deliberately withheld for fear of criticism. They know that conspiring is inimical to the public interest, and that their objectives would not be realized if their behavior were transparent instead of opaque.

It is no wonder that the members of Congress, who are supposed to be representing the people at large, have established no ironclad rule or have not passed an effective law prohibiting such conduct on pain of expulsion or imprisonment unless the conspiring is justified by national security.  They are the enemy of the people as constituted. That is not to say that the people are any better at heart, for people deserve the leaders they elect.

Healthcare is vital to the public interest. Now the Democratic faction has complained that the Republican faction in the Senate secretly contrived a plan to repeal and replace so-called Obamacare with so-called Trumpcare. The plans are so-called because the members care more about the relative power of their respective parties and their prejudices than about the health and welfare of the American people.

There are admittedly problems with the Affordable Health Care Act that could be fixed in one way or another, perhaps with a single-payer, national health insurance program enjoyed by civilized nations. Otherwise the existing act could be tweaked. Most importantly, something could be done to convert mismanaged health care, conducted in the interest of providers and insurance companies, to managed health care, conducted in the interest of the human beings.

But no, Republicans, who are now in the majority, prefer to blame President Obama and his party for forcing a national health care act down their throats when they were a majority. Wherefore the House got a bill passed in public, but that bird will not fly in the Senate, so the Republican senators privately concocted their own plan, in secret, say the Democrats, along the lines of the purported theme of the Republicans ever since they eschewed Reconstruction in the South: rob the poor to pay the rich.

After the Republicans pulled the rabbit out of their top hat, Warren Buffet, the famous welfare capitalist, showed his tax return on Megyn Kelly’s new television program. He said the Republican bill would save him hundreds of thousands of dollars in one year, and he had friends who would save millions. He said he did not need the money. In fact, he claimed he likes to live in the same old house, that he could live nicely on a hundred-grand a year, and that he loves to apply his fortune to humanitarian causes rather than floating around in a multimillion-dollar super-yacht and so on.

Well, Republicans deny they are the greedy, racist party, and they make some good points about the faults in the bill they resent so much that they tried to get it repealed about fifty times. Whatever they do, let them do it publicly, and let not the pot call the kettle black because we all hail from the African continent regardless of our current birth certificates.

We recall that Republicans made the same complaint, about secret healthcare conventicles held after Barrack Obama was inaugurated in 2009.

For example, Dr. Michael C. Burgess, representing Texas, spoke at some length, on January 12 and March 10, 2010, on the lack of transparency, which he thought could be solved with a Minority Resolution of Inquiry, a tool that members have to ask for information they believe is being withheld from them needed to make an informed legislative resolution. He knew that his recommendation was futile, but he wanted to get his two cents in, and the media did take notice.

“Mr. Speaker, I would like to continue much as we have done over this past hour, talking about this same issue, the health care bill that is now before the House and Senate, even though none of us have seen the finished product, and what has happened on the issue of transparency over these past several weeks since the House adjourned in the middle of December.”

That sounds familiar today because the people have failed to discipline their senators and representatives so that all public business is conducted in public and that all documents are immediately available to anyone concerned.

“This bill has nothing to do with health care any longer…. This was, how do we get the outcome we want, which is to pass this bill? There is something wrong with the process when you say, ‘We can’t let you read it. We can’t wait. We’ve got to do it in a hurry. And oh, by the way, the benefits that are going to come to you off of this bill actually start in 2014. Your taxes will start next week….’”

Here we go again. Obviously something is wrong with the way business is conducted on Capitol Hill. The obstruction is augmented by supermajorities.

“This debate now has become an internal debate on the Democratic Party. We will continue to be blamed on the Republican side for obstructing this bill, but please understand there is nothing that we can do. We lack the numbers to stop this bill— supermajority in the House, a 60-vote majority in the Senate. All the Republicans can stay together and the bill still passes because we just simply do not have the numbers….”

The Senate is a de facto supermajoritarian institution because the rules allow that a bill can be held up forever by a filibuster unless 60 votes put an end to the delay.

The so-called nuclear option was deployed by Republicans so that the hurdle could be overcome and the nomination of Neil Gorsuch by President Trump could be confirmed by a simple majority. The nuclear exception to the 60-vote cloture rule had been created in 2013 by Democrats partly in response to Republican prejudices delaying the appointment of black judges.

The change in tradition may be a precedent for deploying the nuclear option to pass sweeping legislation such as national healthcare reform. In any event, the Senate’s structural reputation as a de facto nonpartisan institution has gone down the drain.

Arguably the supermajority rule should somehow be made permanent in such a way that it would apply to crucial public issues, such as health care bills; that is, the Republicans would not get their health care bill passed, characterized as “mean” by the President, who would not veto them no matter how mean, without a supermajority.

“The arguments that are going on right now are arguments entirely within the Democratic conference,” said Dr. Burgess. “And it is a conference committee, if you will, of the Democratic conference where they’re trying to work out the difference the Democrats have with Democrats over the bill, and ignore the Republicans—blame them, to be sure, because they’re useful to blame as being obstructionists, but realistically no Republican is obstructing or slowing down this bill. We can’t. We would like to, but we can’t.”

Dr. Burgess feared that he would not outlive the Affordable Health Care Act: “This is sweeping legislation that has a long half-life and is going to affect the way of life in this country from this day forward, really long past my time on this Earth, and I suspect a long time past the life expectancy of almost everyone who is serving in this body. So it is so important that we get this right. It is our obligation. It is the oath that we swore on this floor the early part of January of 2009 after those very famous elections, those historic elections that created the new Presidency, created a supermajority for Democrats in the House, created almost a filibuster-proof majority in the other body.”

Dr. Burgess noted that Barrack Obama’s approach sounded pretty good early on: “He said there was going to be a mandate to cover children. He said there was not going to be an employer mandate nor would there be an individual mandate, but that anyone who didn’t have insurance would be able to have insurance just as good as a Member of Congress under a program like the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program….”

But contingencies always arise that impact good intentions. The Great Recession presented huge budget problems, and then we had a flu epidemic, et cetera. A special Senate election may change the balance of votes. Coverage and cost had not been discussed during the campaign and after the inauguration, but now a cost of around a trillion dollars, was to be funded by increasing taxes on energy, and motorists back home already suffering from severe recession were outraged by expected increases in fuel costs.  There are backroom conspiracies, and the content of the bill is a mystery. After the bill is signed it will be up to an agency to make a myriad rules, and one administrator is in charge of that, yet that person has not been nominated and confirmed.

Dr. Burgess wrote a letter to President Obama on September 30, 2009, wherein he respectfully asked him for full disclosure of information on negotiations and agreements related to the national health care bill. The details would include among other things the names of the special interests.  A Resolution of Inquiry was filed on December 17, and here in January he is vainly telling the House what an important tool it is. Another important tool he and his colleagues extolled is C-SPAN. Yes, it may be boring because editors do not spin the proceedings into a story, but a free and democratic people must have public affairs aired, C-SPAN must be an option.

“The American people understand that C–SPAN is sunshine. C–SPAN represents good government. C–SPAN was the foil that the American people had against the excesses of a Presidential administration that overstepped its bounds and brought us the spectacle of Watergate and the crumbling of a Presidency. C–SPAN is the preventive medicine that keeps that from happening again in the future.”

Phil Gingrey of Georgia, speaking right before Burgess on January 12, thought he knew what the American people think about the whole affair:

“Here is what they think. I know the President knows this, and I know the Democratic majority knows this, and I know that’s why they want to pass this thing in the dark of night. They don’t want C–SPAN looking in. They don’t want Republicans looking in. They don’t want the American people looking in. They want to get out of that hole and get out of town. That’s what their plan is.”

Florence Nightingale, who was called “the prick in the side” of the power elite, would know what to do with the unhealthy Congress: she would open the windows to let in the light and fresh air, and she would scrub the place clean even though she did not believe in germs.

Michael Burgess is an obstetrician, born 1950. We hope he is not a hypocrite even though hypocrisy is the underlying crisis of humankind. Given reelection, good habits, genetics, health care, and intentions he may very well live long enough to assist the United States Congress in giving birth to a Sunshine or Open Window Law that will afford all inquirers insight into the workings of Congress. Until such a law is made, it shall remain the mortal enemy of the democratic republic.

xYx

2017 Miami Beach

How Great Can America Be?

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HOW GREAT CAN AMERICA BE?

BY

DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS

I think therefore I am, I am what I think, and thought is the breath of my existence, so I did not realized that my spirit had been repressed into One Dimension until I was enlightened by Herbert Marcuse that:

“One-dimensional thought is systematically promoted by the makers of politics and their purveyors of mass information. Their universe of discourse is populated by self-validating hypotheses which, incessantly and monopolistically repeated, become hypnotic definitions or dictations.”

For example, Make America Great Again is being trumpeted to the high heavens of late by the Flimflam Man, about whom Nothing Greater Can Be Thought.  That is to say that This Great Nation of Ours is no longer great. And just how great was it, anyway?

Greatness in this once Great Nation of Ours must be as measureable as the Flimflam Man’s waistline. Quantity and not quality counts, and we are to use his presumably gargantuan tool as our measuring rod. Yet we have no way of knowing how long his ruler is, nor even its width or depth, as long as we are diminished in comparison to mere points, to live a one-dimensional, pinheaded, or windowless monadic existence in Pointland.

Intercourse in this totalitarian Universe of Discourse is naturally reduced to the most one can get with the least expenditure, and the producer is systematically attuned and atoned to the social product. The automaton no longer thinks about the social product; it thinks him. The Universe of Discourse, which is the sine qua non of human existence, is a manufactured system aka the Best of All Possible Systems and The American Way.

“The efficiency of the system blunts the individual’s recognition that it contains no facts which do not communicate the repressive power of the whole. If the individuals find themselves in the things which shape their life, the do so, not by giving, but by accepting the law of things—not the law of physics but the law of their society.”

“Thus emerges a pattern,” continues our perverse guru, “of one-dimensional thought and behavior in which ideas, aspirations, and objectives that, by their content, transcend the established universe of discourse and action are either repelled or reduced to terms of this universe. They are redefined by the rationality of the given system and of its quantitative extension.”
Can if be that the Flimflam Man is the only person who has emerged from One Dimensional existence? Is he the One to save us from the News of Reality that is faking us out?

I feel fortunate that I came across a copy of Professor Marcuse’s book at Kafka’s Kafé on South Beach before that absurd used bookstore and cafe was rationalized by The System.

I had, by the way, already managed to broaden my consciousness, from Pointland to Flatland.

I also encountered a few New Age books at Kafka’s, but they did not inspire me to stand up because the New Age is really a product of One-Dimensional Society.

“The reign of such a one-dimensional reality does not mean that materialism rules, and that the spiritual, metaphysical, and bohemian occupations are petering out. On the contrary, there is a great deal of ‘Worship together this week,’ ‘Why not try God,’ Zen, existentialism, and beat ways of life, etc. But such modes of protest and transcendence are no longer contradictory to the status quo and no longer negative. They are rather the ceremonial part of practical behaviorism, its harmless negation, and are quickly digested by the status quo as a healthy diet.”

Now there is no way to overcome repression without consciousness of repression, and then and only then can one become fully individuated as a three-dimensional entity via the fourth dimension, and therefore partially freed from the flattening gravity of circumstances.

Please stand by for the elevator.

How Miami Beach Officials Get Away With Torture

Umberto Boccioni, The Street Enters The House
 
OPEN LETTER
Michael Grieco, Commissioner
THE CITY OF MIAMI BEACH
Miami Beach, Florida

Plea for Formal Remediation of Unreasonable Noise and Maladministration

Dear Commission Grieco:

I have posted this letter on the Web for your easy reference. You have said that my letters are too long for your cell phone, so I am hoping that you have access to a desktop or laptop computer. I am also hoping that your colleagues have the equipment and power of continuous concentration to consider this document and act upon it. If I do receive a response, I shall provide voluminous factual information to support my thesis upon request

This is my petition for legislative and administrative action to mitigate unreasonable noise, vibrations, exhaust fumes, and other pollution in construction projects in the City of Miami Beach by requiring contractors to include statements of probable pollution impact and their remediation program in their bidding documents, and by requiring owners and developers to provide temporary housing to residents whose lives are unreasonably impacted by construction pollution in all events, and especially when the city waives the charter provision of a civil right against such disturbances.

The need for such legislation was made evident to your neighbors during the horizontal drilling of a 2/3 mile long redundant sewer line. The noise, vibrations, and fumes around the entry and exit holes can only be described as torturous, of the nature that terrorists and other criminals are subjected to by the police power in other parts of the world in order to drive them out of their buildings or to confess to their crimes.

The only expression of concern was that the customers of Joe’s Restaurant, frequented by the affluent and vested interests, not be disturbed.

The charter protection was waived by the city because the drilling contractor had contracted to be present on the North Dakota pipeline. A responsible city official for that reason declared that the project was “time sensitive,” but implied that the city was in imminent danger of being inundated by sewage, which if expressly stated would have been a bald-faced lie. There was no emergency. In fact, an engineering report stated that there was a very small chance of a break in the existing sewer main, and that there was no imminent danger of it failing. The drilling team left town a year ago and the redundant project is just now winding up.
Many complaints and pleas were submitted by victims to the mayor, commissioners, and administrative officials. Responsibility for the outrageous disturbance on weekends and evenings was shamefully shirked by administrative officials, with the exception of Eric Carpenter. The mayor was too important to receive the victims at city hall; the commissioners, who were notified time and again of the issue, were unresponsive.
The rule of thumb when only a small number of people are disturbed is not to provide for their general welfare but to ignore them the best one can. This usually works politically because of the local culture: with some remarkable exceptions, people not only do not love their neighbors but they do not even want to know them unless there is something in it for them. Further, traumatized people tend to be concerned with their own predicaments to the exclusion of others.
The duty to address the complaints was delegated to the general contractor and his public relations employee. Shutting down the project until adequate sound protection could be obtained was out of the question due to the drilling team’s scheduling needs. The general contractor slapped together a wooden box for the gigantic engine to reduce the decibels. That project created more noise in the evenings and took all too long for a minimal result. In fine, it was too little too late, including too late to file for an injunction in circuit court, and the racket dragged on for months. The public relations sophist did what she could, which was to simply shine people on with specious rhetoric.

A meeting was held by your powerful neighborhood association. A public works official finally publicly addressed the ongoing nuisance. As an engineer he had no sympathy with the people suffering the unreasonable pollution due to a drilling process that is usually employed out in the boondocks and not in the residential neighborhoods of small cities such as ours. I have an account of that meeting if you have a personal computer and the time to consider it.

That account includes the tearful complaint of a woman who was being tortured by unreasonable vibrations and noise at 419 Michigan Avenue, near your home. She apparently thought David Mancini was the city’s official contractor, and that the 419 Michigan Avenue project was his responsibility, which he has nothing to do with.
As you know, the groundwork at that site for a small hotel, across Michigan from the healthy Vibe studio, seemed almost interminable due to water conditions. I estimated that the entire declared valuation of the hotel construction was absorbed by the groundwork, although a superintendent told me the extent of the groundwork was expected. Still, I have asked the building department to collect affidavits and documents upon completion to make sure that a correct value is declared and all permit fees are paid, which has not always been done in the past under the city’s Rob Peter to Paul to Breakeven Policy.
I hope that woman has recovered. I shall never forget her tearful plea for relief from the awful noise and vibrations. But manly engineers and city officials are deaf to such pleas from small minorities. There is always collateral damage in the fog of war against nature. The fact that there are so many complaints in our city creates a din that tends to deafen city officials unless, again, there is something in it for them if they respond to it.
There were so-called activists around town who could have raised enough hell to get some relief. Unfortunately, they either had their noses in the wrong place, or they were afraid to speak up because they had their own needs. After all, His Honor the Mayor said after the last election that people who complained about things would have to wait until the next election to be heard.

Therefore, I hope you will at least respond with your position on what you can do to make sure that city officials in instances such as this provide for the welfare for all stakeholders, not just the welfare of those represented by the power elite’s political bureau on the commission.

Sincerely,

David Arthur Walters

Are Miami Beach Politicians and Lawyers Dishonest?

Dan Gelber and Michael Grieco for Mayor of the City of Miami Beach
 
 
ARE POLITICIANS AND LAWYERS DISHONEST?
The Fake Poll and Fake PAC Episode
 

by David Arthur Walters
PRESS INDEPENDENT
June 4, 2017

 

Dan Gelber stooped to conquer his opponent, Commissioner Michael Grieco, in the race for City of Miami Beach mayor by casting the first stone, or at least Grieco says so, out of sheer desperation, using an unethical “push poll” to push voters into believing that Grieco is a political prostitute.

Up to that point in the campaign, Grieco had been saying that “Gelber is a good man.” He might have remained silent now rather than lower himself to the traditional political mudslinging that Gelber is an old hand at in his professed career of fighting corruption, yet he took the bait and strenuously denied the charge.

He called Gelber “Dishonest Dan” for using a fake poll to advance himself to the coveted position of mayor by suggesting that he, Grieco, was using a friend’s political action committee to raise money from people doing business with the city. Hypocrisy was apparently afoot, for he countercharged Gelber with using an unregistered PAC to his own ends. He admitted to having “many friends who chair or participate in political committees, campaigns, and other forms of political free speech,” but denied that he had any control over or raised money for a PAC by the time he made the statement to the Miami Herald, which did not name the PACs alluded to.

We recall that Richard “Tricky Dick” Nixon pioneered push polling, an unethical practice condemned by the American Association of Political Consultants and the American Association for Public Opinion Research and ethics activists who like to see it outlawed. Democratic voters received telephone calls during Nixon’s 1946 run for the U.S. House against Democrat incumbent Jerry Voorhis: “This is a friend of yours, but I can’t tell you who I am. Did you know that Jerry Voorhis is a communist?”

The negative aspersion does not have to be stated as a fact with push polling. When George W. Bush ran for governor of Texas in 1994, voters were asked whether they would be more or less likely to vote for Governor Richards if they knew that lesbians dominated her staff. During Barrack Obama’s presidential candidacy in 2008, callers insinuated that he was a Muslim or hostile to Israel.

So would you be likely to vote for Grieco if you knew he benefited from a dirty political action committee and then lied about it? If Grieco were a Machiavellian politician, he might ask, “Would you vote for Gelber if you knew he was a bigot and hypocrite?” Or he might have just said, “Gelber is a good man, and certainly is a better than thou bigot and hypocrite,” knowing that people tend to forget the “not” and would then associated Gelber with bigotry and hypocrisy when his name came to mind.

The greatest sin around Miami Beach, a city already infamous for its corruption over the decades, is the use of soft-money political action committees, whether technically illegal or not. The sordid reputation of such PACs was pioneered on the beach by Mayor Philip Levine when he got on the horn to hustle money for Relentless For Progress, a “dirty” PAC headed by sitting Commissioner Jonah Wolfson, a clever lawyer with a sense of humor—the initials of the committee, RFP, were also the initials of Request For Proposal, the name of the process used for obtaining bids on government contracts.

Levine is loaded, but the self-made businessman in him apparently did not want to lay out more hard-earned money out of pocket to be reelected to a position paying a pittance. He had already spent over a million dollars out of pocket for the mayor’s seat and seats for the bevy of commissioners that purchased him a “reformist” majority on the commission and rendered him a strong mayor in a city with a weak mayor charter.

Relentless For Progress raised hundreds of thousands of dollars right off the bat. Its success was obviously due to the fact that many of the contributors were somehow doing business with the city. Wolfson is not an incompetent lawyer: There was no definite quid pro quo, or promise made to earmark the contributions for the benefit of a certain candidate, therefore no apparent violation of ethics laws. Taxpayers were howling blood murder, as if politicians are charged with working for the whole community therefore are not supposed to do anything to favor particular contributors. The high regarded city attorney, Raul Aguila, opined the PAC was legal, but Wolfson folded the PAC, anyway, and refunded the unspent portion. The city commission slightly amended its political contribution ordinance.

So it seems that Gelber is playing on the public fear that Grieco is a miniature Levine. Both candidates are using their families and careers as prosecutors and politicians to bolster their credibility. Gelber emphasizes fighting corruption as usual. Grieco has the edge, however, in the minutia of city politics, and is well known lately for his battles against massive crowds that would float or hip hop and trash or shoot up Miami Beach.

Grieco says he has “evolved” from serving Mayor Levine, a wealthy developer and public relations mogul, as his right-hand protégé, and has often bitten the hand that once fed him on the dais, yet he wholeheartedly backs the continuation of the mayor’s epic struggle against the Great Flood, which is expected to wash away the Sins of South Beach anytime within the next fifty years, perhaps before the end of this year.

There may or may not be PACS, and any existing PACS alluded to may or may not be in compliance with the elections laws, but dishonesty in all its forms including outright lying is definitely corrupt. Gelber seems to have reasserted his claim in an email blast, so I asked Grieco if Gelber is a liar. Grieco responded with an “?” He did not respond when the charge was more fully described to refresh his memory. Joey Flechas has been asked for his fact-checking documentation of the PACS referenced by both sides. Gelber’s campaign has not yet responded to requests for documentary proof.

June 7, 2017

RAUL AGUILA, CITY ATTORNEY

Estimado Aguila:

I hope you are enjoying business as usual.

Below is a link to a recent Miami Herald article in reference to allegedly “dirty” PAC activity on the part of Commissioner Grieco that supports Candidate Dan Gelber’s notion that it is prohibited by city ordinance.

Curiously, the behavior alleged seems almost identical to that of Mayor Levine/Jonah Wolfson that you deemed legal. A minor change was made in the ordinance later that did not make sense to me at the time.

Attached is a pdf of an article about the first incident.

I happen to be quite fond of Michael, but since I have covered the PAC issue in a recent article, with a title asking if lawyers and politicians are dishonest, I am duty bound to find the truth in this instance the best I can

A pdf of my query about honesty is also attached.</

I am hoping that you will look in to the subject, and render your opinion on it

David Arthur Walters

 
xYx


UPDATE June 6, 2017

Dear Fellow Miami Beach Resident,

Today The Miami Herald chose to publish an article about a political committee that has raised money to engage in political speech. In a clearly coordinated effort, Dan Gelber’s campaign immediately sent an Eblast attacking me over it. However, thus far, the only documented communication attributed to that particular committee was an Eblast the day after the Memorial Weekend Holiday attacking me and my effort to make the Air and Sea Show a new attraction for our city. Many of you received it and called it out for the smut it is. That was a part of Dan Gelber’s coordinated effort

I want to thank in advance so many of you, Miami Beach’s residents, who have contacted me with support and encouragement. I appreciate you seeing the truth and opting to ignore what is a clearly my opponent’s attempt to distort my record, attack my character and avoid talking about substantive issues of the city

Since last year, political consultant Christian Ulvert, and those who pay him, have embarked on a smear campaign to attack my character and falsely attribute The Herald story’s political committee fundraising to me.  As I’ve stated for the record and full transparency:

“I know the chairmen of many political committees, such as John Morgan, Ben Pollara, Brian Abraham, Stephen Bittel, Adonis Garcia and others through my political, personal and professional relationships over the years, so the premise of your question and this article itself merely makes this publication an accomplice to a dishonest attack on me by my political opponent, his consultant, and developer backers. As I have demonstrated, this is a textbook case of character assassination, and in any other arena this would constitute an act of slander/libel.

Unfortunately, rather than report my quote within its original story, The Herald opted to place it at the end with the preface, “Michael Grieco statement, After this article appeared online, Michael Grieco contacted the Herald and asked that the following statement be published:” Yesterday, in person, I made it clear to The Herald reporters that this anticipated written quote should have been my on-the-record response to begin with. In short, and in truth, Dan Gelber’s attack on me is founded on a false accusation based on one person who I’ve never solicited money from, a Chair of a political committee raising money independent of me (which is anyone’s right to do), and the attack by an disgruntled developer who wants Gelber to be Mayor. The truth – Dan Gelber has devolved into either a bad lawyer or an outright corrupt liar, or both.

The Herald article quotes the developer Bradley Colmer, affiliated with Deco Capital. This developer tried to strong-arm me to support a height increase and spot zoning application in Sunset Harbor. I stood up to the developer in defense of The Lofts residents and in opposition to the illegal act of spot zoning. This height increase was mired in scandal, as Mayor Levine himself had to recuse himself because he stood to directly profit from this height increase due to his ownership of neighboring property.

Evidence reveals that Gelber, developer Colmer, and developer/absentee-Mayor Levine share the same political consultant, Christian Ulvert, and the evidence reveals they are illegally coordinating to attack my character and falsely accuse me of raising money for the political committee addressed in today’s article.

I remind everyone that it was Mayor Levine who spearheaded the fundraising controversy in 2015 for the Relentless for Progress PAC, which I had nothing to do with. Perhaps this is Gelber’s way of deflecting or playing defense because he, in fact, is Levine’s puppet and hand-picked candidate.  Powerful people truly do have powerful connections, and will stoop to the lowest levels just to win the Mayor’s office.

I am trying to run my campaign to be your next Mayor mainly on a platform of independent leadership, experience, achievements as a Commissioner, and vision for our city’s future. But Gelber (who only this year surfaced in our city politics) and his henchmen have taken this election season down a path that leaves me no other choice than to fully reveal Gelber’s dishonesty, hypocrisy, and bad positions on issues that adversely affect our local quality of life.

Very soon, I’ll begin my campaign communications to the public. Because of Gelber, it will contain a lot more comparison messaging about us than the predominantly purely positive advertisements I had intended. But we’ll have to thank Dan and his henchmen for that.

Please visit my campaign website and join our effort by hosting a Friend Raiser, signing my candidate petition, placing a yard sign, or volunteering.

Thank you.
Your City Commissioner for Mayor of Miami Beach

JUNE 8 From Dan Gelber

Despite my opponent’s continued lies and denial about his secret PAC, the Miami Herald has just published a second investigative piece that confirms that Michael Grieco is indeed behind it.
As the Miami Herald wrote, “..new evidence suggests otherwise: Handwriting on a public document filed by the group — People for Better Leaders — is identical to handwriting on paperwork the commissioner filled out for city elections, according to two well-regarded forensic document experts.”
Here’s the bottom line.
You
deserve to have the truth from your elected official. There is a pattern of behavior that follows Michael Grieco and the truth is unraveling when it comes to his secret PAC.
“It is my professional opinion within scientific probability and in accordance with industry standards, that Michael Grieco is identified as the author of all the extended writing appearing on [the PAC document],” Flores wrote in a sworn affidavit.”
So far Michael Grieco’s response to these very telling stories has been to accuse the newspaper of a conspiracy, and then somehow blame me for the Herald’s report of his misconduct ––attacking me and my record of service.
I’ve spent a good deal of my life in service to my community – as a long time federal corruption prosecutor, a big brother, a state legislator.  No one – ever has accused me of anything even remotely close to what my opponent has said about me.
I appreciate that some people — when they feel cornered — will panic and display their worst side.
With evidence mounting that he is behind this PAC, my opponent should drop the name-calling and come clean with the voters.
– Dan

 

BY NICHOLAS NEHAMAS AND JOEY FLECHAS

For months, Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Grieco insisted he was not involved in a mysterious political group raising money from developers, lobbyists and city vendors, just as he launched a surging campaign for mayor.

“It is absolutely untrue,” Grieco told the Miami Herald on Tuesday. “You can look right into my soul.”

But new evidence suggests otherwise: Handwriting on a public document filed by the group — People for Better Leaders — is identical to handwriting on paperwork the commissioner filled out for city elections, according to two well-regarded forensic document experts.

Their findings directly link Grieco to the political action committee he has repudiated.

YOU CAN LOOK RIGHT INTO MY SOUL.

Michael Grieco

So far, People for Better Leaders has raised $200,000 from Beach residents and special interests. The political action committee, or PAC, is run by Grieco’s friend, Brian Abraham, the former manager at King of Diamonds, a Miami-Dade strip club.

Abraham’s signature appears on a document filed to state election authorities by People for Better Leaders. But the rest of the form was filled out by the same person who completed Grieco’s city campaign paperwork, according to Thomas Vastrick, a forensic document examiner based in Central Florida.

Vastrick conducted a side-by-side examination of letters from Grieco’s handwriting and the PAC document, as is standard industry practice. Differences in handwriting make each person’s script unique.

“The evidence brought me a very high level of confidence that they were written by the same person,” said Vastrick, who has 40 years of experience in the field and worked for the law enforcement arm of the U.S. Postal Service for more than a decade.

He has testified as an expert witness in federal and state courts around the nation, written books and held a research position at the University of Central Florida. He also sits on the board of directors of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.

On Tuesday, the Herald published a story outlining Grieco’s connections to the PAC. The article included an interview with a Miami Beach real estate investor who said Grieco recommended donating to the PAC. Another donor said he contributed to the PAC at a Grieco fundraiser in South Beach.

Grieco said earlier this week he had nothing to do with the PAC, and that people who claim otherwise are lying.

Last year, the city passed a law to prevent campaigns from soliciting special interests for PACS. People for Better Leaders has become controversial because it accepted donations from a Miami Beach vendor and a lobbyist, as well as others with business before the city.

Emailed a copy of both handwriting reports Thursday, Grieco said he needed 48 hours to respond.

“Note that my calendar doesn’t and won’t revolve around yours,” he wrote.

Writing on the wall

Grieco’s fingerprints may not be all over the PAC, but his handwriting appears to be.

The Herald hired Vastrick to perform the analysis after it was given a previous expert examination also linking Grieco to the PAC document. That analysis was paid for by a longtime ally of Grieco’s opponent in the mayoral race, Daniel Gelber, and performed by handwriting analyst Dianne Flores of Miami. Like Vastrick, Flores is considered an expert in the field of forensic handwriting analysis.

“It is my professional opinion within scientific probability and in accordance with industry standards, that Michael Grieco is identified as the author of all the extended writing appearing on [the PAC document],” Flores wrote in a sworn affidavit. She declined further comment.

Vastrick’s report represents an independent confirmation of her findings.

In order to ensure Vastrick came to an unbiased conclusion, the Herald did not tell him any details about the controversy surrounding Grieco and the PAC, nor did it inform him of Flores’ earlier conclusion. His examination was based on the same documents used by Flores.

Flores was commissioned by Miami attorney Samuel Rabin, who has donated $1,000 to Gelber’s mayoral campaign, the maximum allowable, according to campaign finance records. Rabin donated an additional $1,000 through his law firm, records show. He did not respond to a phone call Thursday.

The PAC document examined by Vastrick and Flores is a request to the Florida Division of Elections for credentials to use its website, dated Nov. 6, 2015. The form names Abraham and accountant Brian George as the PAC’s officers. Neither man has any political experience. They have not responded to messages. Abraham was not at his family’s Coral Gables office Thursday morning.

The Grieco campaign documents include candidate statements, financial disclosures and campaign-finance filings. All bear his writing.

Expert analysis

The accuracy of handwriting comparison is sometimes contested, as are some other forensic sciences. But courts around the nation allow expert testimony from handwriting analysts, and judges and juries use their findings in reaching verdicts. In Florida, state courts allow witnesses to testify to the authorship of disputed handwriting.

Rumors about People for Better Leader’s connection to Grieco started circulating in January. Outside political fund-raising groups are unpopular on the Beach because of former Commissioner Jonah Wolfson’s Relentless for Progress PAC. Wolfson and Mayor Philip Levine raised money from city vendors and lobbyists for the group before the last Beach election.

In response, commissioners passed a new campaign-finance law in January 2016. The law’s intent was to prevent elected officials and candidates — and people working with them — from shaking down special interests for political access. The commission, including Grieco, voted unanimously in its favor.

Two of the donations to People for Better Leaders came from city vendors and lobbyists. If Grieco or someone acting on his behalf solicited those donations, he could have broken the new law.

An additional Miami-Dade County ordinance, implemented in 2017, would have required Grieco to register to undertake any fund-raising activities for the PAC.

In an interview before the Herald’s original story was published, Grieco doubled down on his denial, emphatically stating that he had nothing to do with the PAC. He and his political consultant, David Custin, said his political enemies, including Gelber, are conspiring to discredit him.

The commissioner then responded angrily to the story once it appeared online, asking if a reporter was on Gelber’s payroll. He later sent out an e-mail blast to supporters thanking them for “opting to ignore what is clearly my opponent’s attempt to distort my record, attack my character and avoid talking about substantive issues of the city.”

Fallout

The PAC is already causing fallout on the Beach. Its activities were raised at a city meeting on Wednesday when Marc Lawrence, one of the owners of the Angler’s Resort hotel, appeared before the commission.

The hotel is seeking a zoning variance at its Washington Avenue location. It contributed $15,000 to People for Better Leaders last year. Grieco sponsored the zoning item on the agenda.

At the meeting, Commissioner Ricky Arriola asked the purpose of the donation. Lawrence replied that he did not know anything about the donation or how it happened.

A corporate affiliate of the hotel’s management company, San Francisco-based Kimpton Group, made the donation. Kimpton did not respond to a request for comment.

IT SMELLS LIKE QUID PRO QUO.

Ricky Arriola

Arriola said he would not support the project of any donor to the PAC until it was clear who was behind it and why it was raising money. While Mayor Philip Levine and Commissioner Joy Malakoff expressed similar concerns, Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez questioned their stance.

“Why are we being mean like this?” she asked. The hotel doesn’t “need to suffer because of any interpersonal conflict you guys are having with Grieco. … Why don’t you guys just put on some gloves and go at it outside?”

Several of the PAC’s other donors also have business before the city.

“It smells like quid pro quo,” Arriola later told the Herald. “That’s why we ban these kinds of donations.”

Grieco left the meeting shortly before its final vote of the