[Note to Readers: The original article (below) was published on 9/22/12 at my blog here. Given the puzzling level of attention to this article & one surreal, pathetic, unprofessional, non-standard report on this diary/blog in mainstream (CBS DC local) media report (see my upcoming blog ridiculing this CBS "report" on a hypothesis articulated by a non-famous blogger, whose main point was to critique media & whose other points are much more important- ironically confirming my media critique) on my Daily Kos version, I will eventually give it a proper editing.
I feel I should clarify some things up front. To be clear, my original objective was merely demonstrate how a journalist/citizen could use a scientific mode of thinking to generate a logically coherent, plausible, falsifiable theoretical explanation of important empirical phenomena (i.e. what's known & hidden in tax records?), which produced hypotheses that could be tested on empirical evidence, something I clearly state that I did NOT intend to do. I never claim to prove this theory is true, and openly admit that I had not even done the preliminary research I would normally do to make sure my hunch wasn't ridiculous (remember I picked an issue I professed virtual igorance about), because my objective was to illustrate how I would use logic & science to go about investigating this- or any- importan question. I was only aware of superifical facts from headlines when I first published this. I was partly motivated by my long-standing disgust with US media's failure to ask important questions, or practice adversarial/investigative journalism, so I embarked on this intellectual journey to simply rely on my superficial knowledge of the headlines & see what answers scientific thinking would produce. I was not going to publish it because I wasn't finished editing it, and because I felt I hadn't made my objective clear, & didn't want to get mocked for "believing" a theory I hadn't even done basic fact-checking on, but said "what the heck" & published it in the wee hours, expecting a handful of strangers might read it. Based upon the comments I received and sheer quantity of views/shares of my little thought piece (if trustworthy, 90,000+ via social networking shares), I tentatively conclude my theoretically-deduced hunch convinced people who likely knew more about the facts than me that this theory was plausible (something I hadn't seriously attempted to discern for my "tutorial" to journalists), some of whom supplied details (see comments) that further corroborated my reasoned guesstimate. No one has yet provided compelling evidence or logic contradicting this theory (I learned had been more seriously explored by some paid journalists; see links at bottom), which is a good sign for a scientific theory that must be considered a "provisional truth" until its internal logic is debunked or evidence disconfirms it. The most important fruit of this exercise was that it may have coincidentally produced a perfect "gem" of question the media & citizens can demand Romney answers. Given the scandalous nature of this plausible theory, the fact that Romney is violating norms of disclosure (measured by average of years/records of previous candidates, including his father), this puts the burden of proof on him to demonstrate why he deserves "special treatmnet" & that this "dark secret" hypothesis is false. If he refuses, then we can conclude he feels he deserves more privacy than past/present candidates & values this more than public's right to know they can trust their candidate/president wasn't a criminal, or what he's hiding is worse than what's been hypothesized. Personally, I think it appalling that the media & Americans tolerate such secretive, evasive, intransparent behavior of a candidate for president, and disgraceful that anyone must waste time trying to guess whether our leaders are hiding criminal pasts when Romney could easily dispel such suspicions.
The crux of the hypothesis deduced (for purposes of illustrating "scientific thinking" to credulous media) from my superficial knowledge of headlines was that Romney's hiding fact that he took advantage of the USDOJ's 2009 "amnesty" program for tax-cheats & paid penalties/fines for assets/income he'd illegally hidden for years.
The rest of this article is not technically scientific-but may refer to more important truths overshadowed by the misinterpreted headline- is my personal attempt to put this question/possibility in its broader socio-economic-political-cultural context, and is laden with my own normative, political biases, such as my profound belief that any legitimate US president should not be trusted unless he's willing to categorically come clean with his financial past, like every other candidate. Maybe you believe Romney deserves special treatment & rights.]
The question on minds of many hard-working American tax-payers is: "What dark secret is candidate Romney hiding in his (pre-2010) tax records that's worth all the bad press & suspicions caused by his secretiveness?"
For example, if I were a paid journalists I'd first make sure this hypothesis is not easily contradicted by logic or available facts before even tossing this supposition out there. If I determined it was plausible, then I'd ask Mitt Romney to deny it on the record. If he refused to explicitly deny it, I'd conclude that I was probably correct and write an article demonstrating my reasoning and the facts, and explore alternative ways of dis-confirming or confirming my hunch, while increasing pressure on Romney to disclose the pre-2010 records, which will certainly revealing some embarassing truths, if my hunch is wrong.
Hopefully, this encourages some US media reporters to experiment with this mode of inquiry called a "scientific (or objective) mode of analysis." The great thing is that once you get the hang of it, you can use it to explore any empirical question of public interest, and we'd all be very grateful in the end.
Such a scandalous revelation would not only decimate Romney, but perfectly capture (& possibly alter) the essence of the current grotesque, outrageously perverse, systemic, injustice, hypocrisy, Big Lies, poverty, & inequality (of everything like political influence, freedom, rights, food, opportunity, truth) resulting from a rigged, corrupted US economic, legal, political, propaganda system, which is essentially facilitating an elite 1% Oligarchic coup d'etat in plain sight.
How emblematic of our times & demise that the heroic whistleblower who exposed the biggest Oligarchic tax-evasion scheme in US history would be the only one imprisoned while 5000 plutocratic 1% free-loaders avoid justice & prison by purchasing their "amnesty" with wealth stolen from the US Treasury, so they could plot & finance a 1% victory in the 2012 election.
Who better to deliver the final death blow to the American Dream than plutocratic Bishop Romney mounted on his prophesied White Horse, ushering in new theocratic-oligarchic neo-feudal order,
"rescuing" the 99% from the "spiritual emptiness" of American democracy, even if suppressing the vote & cyber-stealing the election are necessary to deliver us to the "promised land."
While my hypothesis about Romney's amnesty from prison might not be the dark secret he's hiding in his 2009 (& previous) tax records, it would certainly fit with his character and the fact that the biggest criminals and most corrupt are not only "above the law," but rewarded with more power & money, while whistleblowers & the bottom 99% are aggressively- often illegally- punished by the so-called "rule of law" that increasingly does not include fundamental constitutional or human rights.
If I'm correct, then this would fit with other high profile cases that seem choreographed to accentuate the perverse irony of a collapsing, corrupt system of rewards & punishments that are the diametric opposite of the public, American interest.
Like this tax-evasion example, the only one prosecuted for US War Crimes of torture, was the CIA whistleblower (& some low-level 'bad apple' scapegoats who didn't do the real torturing) who reported it.
The only ones prosecuted for the massive illegal US warrentless spying on Americans, have been the USDOJ & NSA whistleblowers warning of an Orwellian "turn-key totalitarian state," who were initially charged with the Espionage Act & other trumped up charges (see my reporting on this).
Those who were unforgivably negligent for avoiding specific warning signs before the preventable 9/11 attacks were promoted, glorified & re-elected, while the FBI agents, like Colleen Rowley (who's since publicly voiced hypothesis that Wikileaks could've prevented 9/11 if her FBI colleagues had that option at time), who accurately suspected an Al Qaeda terrorist of preparations for a suicide-hijacking before the 9/11 attacks, were so inexplicably thwarted, they half-jokingly wondered whether Osama bin Laden moles in FBI HQ had sabotaged their investigatory effort.
The whistleblower, Harry Markopolos, who tried to expose the Madoff ponzi scheme to the SEC for many years before countless people lost their life savings, lived in a constant state of terror, fearing for his family & his life.
I could go on endlessly supporting this outrageous narrative of collective insanity & self-destruction.
Given my outspoken, controversial, long-standing, published warnings about the unprecedented censorship, repression & manipulation of scientists & academics, and the underestimated threats this posed to democracy, the global economy & security (see (Tucker 2004) "Ideological Protectionism: The Bush Administration's Misuse of Science & Information in the Policy Process")- which I know top-level Bush administration officials heard (because I personally told one I was having drinks with in SF, in July 2007), the above narrative seems to dictate that I become the most censored, discredited & repressed academic in the US, though there are likely many other candidates.
My hypothesis that Romney purchased amnesty in 2009 to avoid prison by paying back taxes he stole from us may be false, and I don't plan on investing time on investigating this, and my main objective was to simply illustrate how journalists could become useful if they used some basic scientific thinking to generate important questions, hypotheses & "connect the dots" they seem to willfully ignore, which is why I think the media is perhaps most most responsible for unacceptable decay of our democratic institutions & the looming death of the American Dream- a dream that needs to be re-democratized, complexified & re-fortified to grapple with 21st century realities.
"Both men said their workdays ended around 10 p.m., though they described their late-night routines somewhat differently. Mr. Obama said that after his wife and daughters went to sleep..." [see article for more such "critical" details]How disgracefully shameful that while the famous NYT was wasting ink & paper to mimick real journalism, an unpaid, Un-person like myself, who hadn't been following the election closely, cooked up (in a spare hour or so) what may be the most plausible answer to the question about what Romney's hiding in his tax records, which very well might reveal that the same candidate who heeped haughty scorn on the bottom 47% for feeling entitled to food (!) and not paying any taxes, may actually be the one who illegally avoided paying taxes for many years until he opted to avoid the risk of getting busted, exposed & sent to prison, quietly accepted the US "amnesty" deal, paid his back-taxes plus penalties, so that he could not only avoid prison, but run to be the venerated leader of the most influential super-power humanity has ever witnessed.
No wonder most journalists- let alone citizens- are mostly unaware that- ongoing NDAA case is- possibly the biggest constitutional showdown between the President & Judiciary since the Pentagon Papers has been proceeding, the very future of the 1st Amendment free speech, free press & association, and fundamental rights to due process, indefinite detention of citizens, are in the process of being decided as I write. On tha issue as well, I'm pretty sure I'm the only expert in the US who's "connected the dots" that the new NDAA "war on terror" powers, are essentially a re-wording of Pres. and Bush's secret legal memos that were declassified on 3/2/2009, but point blank said the president can suspend the 1st & 4th Amendments, use the military/CIA inside the US, and treat citizens with legal status of "the enemy," and this is critically relevant to understanding this important case that the media barely covers.
Although I didn't intend on seriously investigating this issue (& haven't), I received some links indicating that it is much more likely Romney's "dark secret" is that he'd probably be in prison for tax-evasion if he was one of us 99% peasants, insofar as as the 2009 "amnesty" program was for all tax-dodgers hoarding unreported assets somewhere.
The point is that I generated a theory so plausible and potentially scandalous that all the media have to do now is their job, and relentlessly hound Romney until he disproves the allegation, which is a much better question than the new Obama ad poses ("What's Romney hiding?"), because it is a very specific question that corners him into either coming clean with the American people, or risk looking like Pres. Nixon assuring us that "I'm not a crook," while refusing to hand over the evidence that would conclusively demonstrate whether the GOP voters fell for a Con job by a neo-Con man.
If the same conservative-biased media and debate moderators that have had Obama jumping around to disprove every allegation their right-wing rumor machine dreams up can not hound a presidential candidate to simply comply with traditional disclosure norms, then I'm going to conclude we simply do not have a healthy democracy, or legitimate elections that are anything more than choreographed parades that gloss over the voracious cancer eating away at the soul of America (something I'll conclude until Citizens United is overturned, voter suppression stops, journalists start doing their jobs, & I feel protected by the 1st & 5th & 8th Amendment, an impossibility if the plaintiffs lose in the ongoing case over the NDAA provision 1021).
Here's an exercise journalists can practice to prepare for asking Romney an important question:
"Mr. Romney, did you take advantage of the 2009 "amnesty" deal and pay penalties for tax evasion? Is that why you so carefully parse your language, referring to taxes 'owed,' and averages over many years? I'm sorry, unless you settle this question, the American people simple cannot trust you with such immense power & responsibilities that will affect the future of humanity."
Is there truly no journalist in America with the courage to demand the truth & defend our democracy, by doing their damn job?
I hope that my hunch was right & this goes viral, just to shame the media with a gigantic wake-up call.
If I had an inkling more than a handful of strangers would read this, I would have finished editing and polishing it, which I suppose I must do now.
Note to Reader Updates: Again, my original main objective was NOT to Prove or even Test the hypothesis discussed, but rather to offer a scathing critique of US media, for its failure to ask important questions, investigate, take an adversarial approach to political & economic elite, or report important truths. I openly professed my virtual ignorance of news related to this topic and my intention NOT to test the articulated hypothesis, which I generated based upon my superficial knowledge of related headlines as part of an exercise to demonstrate how journalists could apply a scientific mode of thinking to any important empirical question. To me, the important mystery/question is why this blog/diary got so much attention,given that others, who had actually researched the question of what Romney might be hiding in his tax records had previously articulated the hypothesis that Romney had avoided prosecution/prison by accepting the 2009 "amnesty" deal for tax evaders (a fact I subsequently learned from reader comments). The fact that I happened to generate a hypothesis from my superficial knowledge base that others found extremely plausible & supported by facts unfamiliar to me, was partly due to luck, possibly some good intuition, but again, was not my main objective. Some have suggested that the reason this got attention had more to do with my framing of the issue, proposed strategy for pressuring Romney to release his past tax records, &/or advocacy for a more adversarial, aggressive journalism. For reasons the reader could not know, I suspect this attention (& bizarre, atypical CBS report) has something to do with something else inside the original article, and more likely some of my actual scientific/political analysis from the past few years, which does test & support important original hypotheses that virtually no media has even considered (e.g. blogs on NDAA, censorship, discrediting operations, whistleblowing) some of which can be found on my new blog: http://theglobal99movement.blogspot.com.
Nevertheless, since this blog has been shared over 90,000 times, and some people will visit expecting to find an actual analysis of the available evidence supporting this "dark secret" hypothesis, I'll refer them to some of the links that readers have given me, though I do not personally endorse any particular source because I have not properly analyzed most of these previous stories. That said, I have read a few and quickly noticed factual errors in my original (e.g. 2009 NYT quote of IRS official claimed 14,700 people accepted the amnesty deal before the deadline & many banked with Swiss UBS, like Romney). I'd like to strongly emphasize how ridiculous it is that citizens and the media have to waste their time guessing what a presidential candidate might be hiding in his past tax records, and encourage people to treat Romney's non-disclosure as a "deal-breaker" for any viable candidate. Why does he deserve special treatment? Why do media NOT hound him with this issue, and refuse to report anything else until he adheres to tradition & rational norms that allow Americans to trust candidates are not hiding a criminal past. That's a character issue.
Here's some links to related reports & articles:
* What Romney's Hiding: 'It's the Amnesty, Stupid'
* "14,700 Disclosed Offshore Accounts," by LYNNLEY BROWNING (Nov. 17, 2009)
* "Lawrence O’Donnell Asks Tax Attorney If Romney May Be Hiding A Felony In His Tax Returns" (8/2/12)
* (curiously, similar Daily Kos diary only got 5 shares days before mine)"It's time to make him deny it..." (9/21/12)-
* Daily Kos (9/13/12) diary, "Why Romney Will Never Release His Tax Returns: the IRS and UBS"