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markpkessinger

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Member since: Sat May 15, 2010, 03:48 PM
Number of posts: 7,555

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My response to a truly execrable NY Times Op-Ed by Arthur Brooks . . .

. . . head of the American Enterprise Institute.

Here is the text of my comment:

Mark Kessinger [font color="gray"]New York, NY 2 hours ago[/font]

The suggestion that most middle- and working-class folks are 'envious' of the very wealthy is an outrageous insult. Nobody is begrudging anybody's success, nor do they covet what the very wealthy have. But many of the very wealthy seem to have lost sight of the fact that nobody succeeds alone. What people want is the ability to make a decent living for themselves and their families. They want a real chance to get ahead. They want job security. And when the businesses who employ them enjoy large increases in profitability, they want their contribution to that increased profitability to be fairly reflected in their wages or salaries.

In any case, the prevailing emotion is not 'envy,' but rather bitter resentment. People resent that this tiny percentage of folks who have succeeded so spectacularly have used the fruits of that success to undermine the formerly robust commons this country once enjoyed. They resent that they use that money to lobby legislators to tear away at the social safety net and to block a long-overdue and very modest rise in the minimum wage.

An economic system must work for everyone. A system that enables a relative handful to hoard ever larger sums of wealth while everybody else is left to divvy up an ever declining remainder is unsustainable.

Finally, if anything is feeding this resentment, it is the smug, self-satisfied pronouncements of the 1% about what is "healthy" for society as a whole!


And here is an excerpt of Brooks' Op-Ed:

[font size=4]The Downside of Inciting Envy[/font]

[font size=3]Arthur C. Brooks[/font]

< . . . . >

Unsurprisingly, psychologists have found that envy pushes down life satisfaction and depresses well-being. Envy is positively correlated with depression and neuroticism, and the hostility it breeds may actually make us sick. Recent work suggests that envy can help explain our complicated relationship with social media: it often leads to destructive “social comparison,” which decreases happiness. To understand this, just picture yourself scrolling through your ex’s wedding photos.

My own data analysis confirms a strong link between economic envy and unhappiness. In 2008, Gallup asked a large sample of Americans whether they were “angry that others have more than they deserve.” People who strongly disagreed with that statement — who were not envious, in other words — were almost five times more likely to say they were “very happy” about their lives than people who strongly agreed. Even after I controlled for income, education, age, family status, religion and politics, this pattern persisted.

It’s safe to conclude that a national shift toward envy would be toxic for American culture.

< . . . . >

. . . [W]e must recognize that fomenting bitterness over income differences may be powerful politics, but it injures our nation. We need aspirational leaders willing to do the hard work of uniting Americans around an optimistic vision in which anyone can earn his or her success. This will never happen when we vilify the rich or give up on the poor.

< . . . . >
Posted by markpkessinger | Sun Mar 2, 2014, 01:04 PM (26 replies)

Lawrence O'Donnell: "Worst political strategy idea of the year" goes to Democrats . . .

. . . He's spot on, IMO.

http://on.msnbc.com/1dKbYG0
Posted by markpkessinger | Wed Feb 19, 2014, 07:34 AM (28 replies)

Just posted to Laura Igraham's Facebook page

Posted by markpkessinger | Sun Feb 9, 2014, 12:59 PM (22 replies)

Any lawyers care to weigh in on Stepian using the Fifth Amendment on a document subpoena?

The lawyer for Bill Stepian, Chris Christie's campaign manager, has announced that Stepian will invoke the Fifth Amendment and not comply with the subpoena demanding production of certain documents, which he received from the NJ legislature's joint committee investigating the GW Bridge access lane closings and related scandals. It sounded strange to me that he could do that, so I started trying to research the question myself. I came across the article below in the online journal, California Lawyer. If I am reading the article correctly, it sounds to me like Stepian is on very shaky legal ground in invoking the Fifth Amendment to avoid producing documents. Is my understanding correct?

[font size=5]Taking the Fifth with Documents[/font]
by Anthony A. De Corso | March 2012

< . . . . > (T)here is no Fifth Amendment privilege to refuse to produce subpoenaed documents on the ground their contents are self-incriminating; courts hold that such information is not "compelled testimony." However, as explained below, there is a crucial corollary: In certain circumstances the act of producing such documents may indeed be entitled to protection under the Fifth Amendment. - See more at: http://www.callawyer.com/Clstory.cfm?eid=920910#sthash.YO0uURU3.dpuf

< . . . . >

Fifth Amendment Privilege
Well-established case law holds that if a person voluntarily creates and possesses self-incriminating documents, he or she may nevertheless have to produce them in response to a subpoena. That is the law notwithstanding the privilege against self-incrimination, because the creation of such documents is not "compelled" within the meaning of the Fifth Amendment. (See Fisher v. United States, 425 U.S. 391, 409-410 (1976).) Even so, the act of producing documents may compel a person to implicitly or inherently admit that responsive papers exist, are in that person's possession or control, and are authentic. In such circumstances, the production of documents is testimonial and, because compelled, may be privileged under the Fifth Amendment. Whether the privilege applies turns on whether the act of production is likely to be incriminating. (See United States v. Hubbell, 530 U.S. 27, 36-37 (2000) (affirming dismissal of charges, based on Fifth Amendment violation.)

< . . . . >

Business Entities
Under the "collective entity doctrine," the Fifth Amendment privilege does not apply to artificial entities (such as corporations) or to their custodian of records who claims that producing documents will incriminate the custodian personally. Such entities act only through agents. Allowing these agents to assert the privilege as to the production of the entities' records would effectively extend the privilege to the entities themselves. (See Braswell v. United States, 487 U.S. 99 (1988).) Moreover, when individuals voluntarily assume the custodian position, they take on the duty to produce its records upon proper demand (Braswell, 487 U.S. at 109-10 (applying collective entity rule to president/sole shareholder of small corporation); United States v. Blackman, 72 F.3d 1418, 1426-27 (9th Cir. 1996) (applying same rule to defendant partner of law firm)). - See more at: http://www.callawyer.com/Clstory.cfm?eid=920910#sthash.YO0uURU3.dpuf
Well-established case law holds that if a person voluntarily creates and possesses self-incriminating documents, he or she may nevertheless have to produce them in response to a subpoena. That is the law notwithstanding the privilege against self-incrimination, because the creation of such documents is not "compelled" within the meaning of the Fifth Amendment. (See Fisher v. United States, 425 U.S. 391, 409-410 (1976).) Even so, the act of producing documents may compel a person to implicitly or inherently admit that responsive papers exist, are in that person's possession or control, and are authentic. In such circumstances, the production of documents is testimonial and, because compelled, may be privileged under the Fifth Amendment. Whether the privilege applies turns on whether the act of production is likely to be incriminating. (See United States v. Hubbell, 530 U.S. 27, 36-37 (2000) (affirming dismissal of charges, based on Fifth Amendment violation.)

< . . . . >




Posted by markpkessinger | Sat Feb 1, 2014, 03:48 PM (36 replies)

Commenting on Krugman's Blogpost, "Godwin Help Us"

This is a comment I posted to Paul Krugman's blog post titled, "Godwin Help Us," a column about billionaire Tom Perkins' comparison of criticism of the rich on the subject of income inequality with Kristallnacht.

Mark Kessinger New York, NY 7 hours ago

This persecution complex seems to be a widely shared affliction among conservatives on many fronts, not just the rich. Religious and/or social conservatives, when called out on their intolerance of, for example LGBT persons or gay marriage, respond by insisting that it is they themselves who are the victims of intolerance. When Christian fundamentalists are reminded that the constitutional separation of church and state prohibits laws that give Christian preferences and practices the imprimatur of the state, they claim they are being 'persecuted' by godless atheists and liberals. Discussions about a saner, more rational approach to gun control are met with hysterical claims that President Obama is coming for the guns of responsible gun owners. And what can one possibly make of the right's perennial claim that Christmas itself is under siege, other than that it is yet another way many conservative Christians convince themselves they are the victims of secular persecution?

Robin Corey, in his book, "The Reactionary Mind," posits that the unifying principle that best explains the many conservative sub-factions -- which are at times seemingly at odds with one another -- is the perception of the imminent loss of something they value and hold dear. That thing might be money, or it might be the cultural dominance of their social peer group, or any number of other things. That, for me, explains a lot about this right's tendency to see themselves as victims of persecution.


There was one thought I would have liked to have fleshed out a little more, but couldn't because of the Times' character limit on comments. Specifically, with regard to whatever thing it might be that a conservative believes he is in imminent danger of losing, that is not to say that the particular thing, whatever it might be, is necessarily ethically defensible -- often it isn't -- but that it is nevertheless something -- tangible or intangible -- that these conservatives do indeed value and fear losing.
Posted by markpkessinger | Fri Jan 31, 2014, 10:37 PM (2 replies)
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