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Member since: Sat Dec 6, 2003, 04:15 AM
Number of posts: 48,532

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The Espionage Act defiles our legal system.


It's a dirty, medieval law.

A couple of offhand comments (not well thought through so

criticism is welcome).

1) Christians (and members of other religions) are persecuted around the world. Egypt comes to mind as does maybe Saudi Arabia, and those are just a couple of examples.

2) But with regard to the Supreme Court's disapproval of putting the Ten Commandments on the lawn of City Hall somewhere while the Court has the Ten Commandments on its own walls, the confusion, I suspect (and could be wrong) arises from a misunderstanding about the First Amendment to the Constitution.
Here is the text:

U.S. Constitution › First Amendment
. . . .
Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.


If a local government places or sponsors the placement of a symbol or language or a specifically religious artifact on public property to endorse a religious holiday or belief but does not permit other religious groups to place their symbols, artifacts, etc. on its public property to endorse their religious (or atheist) ideas or holidays, then that local government is establishing a religion. That is prohibited by the First Amendment. That is why a local government may not place the Ten Commandments on its lawn. Because that is the establishment of a religion -- the Jewish or Christian religious traditions.

The Supreme Court has as yet not been considered to be establishing a religion due to the display of the Ten Commandments on its walls. That is because the friezes on the walls of the Supreme Court represent the most revered lawgivers in history.

"Cass Gilbert (1867-1934), architect of the Supreme Court Building, selected Adolph A. Weinman (1870-1952), a respected and accomplished Beaux-Arts sculptor, to design the marble friezes for the Courtroom. Weinman’s training emphasized a correlation between the sculptural subject and the function of the building. Gilbert relied on him to choose the subjects and figures that best reflected the function of the Supreme Court Building. Faithful
to classical sources and drawing from many civilizations, Weinman designed a procession of “great lawgivers of history” for the south and north walls to portray the development of law. Each frieze in
the Courtroom measures 40 feet long by 7 feet, 2 inches high and is made of ivory vein Spanish marble.

Weinman’s sculpture begins on the South Wall Frieze with Fame and moves from left to right. Included among the great lawgivers are allegorical figures whose names are included below the images in


I think this is such a great historical tribute that I will list all the great lawmakers honored on the walls of our Supreme Court and mentioned in the article I cite:

Menes -- Egypt
Hammurabi -- Babylon
Moses -- Mosaic law (which some think was somewhat inspired or related to Hammurabi's code). They are different.
Solomon -- Israel
Lycurgus -- Sparta
Solon -- Athens
Draco -- Athens
Confucius -- China
Octavian -- Rome
Justinian -- Byzantine Empire
Mohammad -- Prophet of Islam (Muslim religion)
Charlemagne -- Franks and Roman Empire
King John -- signed Magna Carta
Louis IX -- St. Louis
Hugo Grotius -- Dutch and wrote on international law
Blackstone -- great British legal scholar
John Marshall -- American
Napoleon -- Napoleonic Code

The Ten Commandments appears on the walls of the Supreme Court not to symbolize the establishment of the Jewish or Christian religion as the religion of our country but to recognize its historic importance. That is why it is not a violation of the First Amendment.

As for evolution, anyone who questions the scientific basis for the "theory" of evolution should read "Your Inner Fish" by Neil Shubin. Evolution is called a theory, but it is a pretty well established and proven theory.

Cleaning house last week, I discovered a copy of an old National Geographic magazine from Feb. 2009. The front teases the reader with the title "What Darwin Didn't Know." The magazine contains an article, "Darwin's First Clues" followed by the article "Modern Darwins." The theory of evolution is simply based on the idea that the plants and animals that survive and reproduce successfully are most likely those most favorably adapted to the current environment. Over time, traits like human speech, give biological beings such an edge that the successful species with the advantageous traits distinguish themselves as a new sort of biological life form. (Personally, I believe we are ultimately all a part of life itself and linked in more ways to other animals, plants and living beings than we realize, so survival of the fittest is survival of life itself and that includes all of us.)

There isn't anything complicated about evolution. It's just common sense backed up by DNA.

Here is an excerpt from that National Geographic article, "Modern Darwins."

". . . off the Gulf Coast of Florida, beach mice have paler coats than mice living on the mainland. This camouflages them better on pale sand: owls, hawks, and herons eat more of the poorly disguised mice, leaving others to breed. Hopi Hoekstra . . . and her colleagues traced the color difference to the change of a single letter in a single gene, which cuts down the production of pigment in the fur. The mutation has occurred since its beach islands formed less than 6,000 years ago."

National Geographic, Feb. 2009, at pages 58-59. (May be available in some electronic form from National Geographic or your library.)

Clearly, if the lighter beach mice are not eaten as frequently as are the darker ones, the lighter mice breed and reproduce themselves more successfully. Thus the beach mice become differentiated based on color with the lighter ones forming a special group and living on the light colored sand. That is a step in the process of evolution -- the separation of the beach mice by color and location.

As more information and understanding are acquired, the errors in the nascent theory that Darwin espoused about evolution are set aside.

Another quote from that Feb. 2009 edition of National Geographic at page 71:

"Though modern genetics vindicates Darwin in all sorts of ways, it also turns the spotlight on his biggest mistake. Darwin's own ideas on the mechanism of inheritance were a mess -- and wrong. He thought that an organism blended together a mixture of its parents' traits, and later in his life he began to believe it also passed on traits acquired during its lifetime. He never understood, as the humble Moravian monk Gregor Mendel did, that an organism isn't a blend of its two parents at all, but the composite result of lots and lots of individual traits passed down by its father and passed on from their own parents and their grandparents before them.
citation above.

The gift of gab, being able to speak and communicate well on the radio, TV or internet is a wonderful thing. I love talk radio, but some of the hosts on talk radio need to research the topics they plan to discuss. Opinions on political issues -- even those should be based on research and facts.

Theories that are not based on research and facts should be identified as such or part of a conversation of theories that could give rise to research and compiling facts. It is not helpful just to assert that you do not believe in evolution unless you understand the current state of the research supporting the theory of evolution. A person with a large audience who spouts ideas without checking to find out whether maybe those ideas are wrong does a grave disservice to his listeners. He is spreading ignorance and misunderstanding.

On that note, all religions meet up with intolerance. So do self-described atheists. We all need to work together to be more sensitive to the religious beliefs of others. And we need to make sure that our government guarantees our freedom of religion by making it clear that our government does not endorse or establish any particular religion. That is my opinion. I believe that idea best complies with the First Amendment.

I respect all religious beliefs. I also respect atheists' ideas and suspicion of religion. But I cherish my own spiritual sense and my own study of what is common to all religions and to atheism.

Sorry my posts are long and maybe ranting, but I'm very detail-oriented and don't want to spend a lot of time editing posts that will be read once if that often.

Listen to Elizabeth Warren read a few pages from her new book here:


Thank you for posting this.

Have you started a new thread with this?

Sixth Amendment

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.


There aren't any ifs ands and buts about a public trial.

Also, the defendant is supposed to have "compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor."

Whether or not the NSA requests that Nacchio denied were legal we will never know because it is all "secret." But we do not that the Constitution makes no exception for secret trials or denial of the right to compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in the defendant's favor based on national security. And here and in similar cases in which a defendant needs information sheltered by national security agencies, that compulsory process is denied. Over and over. And that violates the Constitution.

May I remind DUers that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. Not the NSA. Not presidential decrees. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land.

(Sorry if this sounds condescending, but a lot of DUers seem either not to have read the Constitution or not to understand that is the supreme law along with treaties in the land.)

Looks to me like the NSA and our courts violated it in several serious ways in the Nacchio case.

A lot of DUers have ignored or even ridiculed my warnings that what the NSA has done and is doing endangers many, many of the constitutional rights we have. Among them is the right to a fair trial.

I hope I will see some posts from some of those people admitting that they have been wrong.

I have been accused of having my hair on fire. Actually, my hair is on my very calm head. The NSA is violating our Constitution in very serious ways.

As Nacchio said. This stuff started before 9/11. The terrorism threat is real. Always has been. But the Constitution is what makes our country great. And we have to respond to the terrorism threat WITHOUT VIOLATING OUR CONSTITUTION.

(Before terrorism there was the threat of Communism. There are always excuses for taking shortcuts and violating our rights.)

The NSA reform needs to be done properly. I seriously doubt that it will be. Lose a right. You lose it forever.

For my notes:



How to have a more competitive economy. Austria shows the way.

This is an excerpt from an interview made in Davos, Switzerland with Philip Jennings, General Secretary of a major Austrian union.

Jennings: Die Länder, die die Krise gut gemeistert haben, hatten gute soziale Institutionen. Dazu gehören Österreich, Deutschland und die Schweiz. Das wird zu einem Wettbewerbsvorteil für Österreich: Stabilität. Österreichs Tradition des sozialen Dialogs macht das Land zum Weltführer. Viele sagen sicher auch, das ist kein Wettbewerbsvorteil. Die Rechten haben keine Agenda und machen nur Migranten für die Arbeitslosigkeit verantwortlich. Es gibt jedoch keine Diamanten oder Ölvorkommen, aber soziale Verantwortung. Gewerkschaften und Unternehmer sind daran gewöhnt, miteinander zu sprechen. Das ist ein Vorteil im Vergleich zu anderen Ländern.

Jennings: The countries that mastered the economic crisis had good social institutions. Austria, Germany and Switzerland are among them. Stability has become an advantage to Austria in terms of competition. Austria's tradition of social dialogue makes the country a world leader. Granted, many say that is not a competitive advantage. The right-wingers have no agenda and blame immigrants for the unemployment. No diamonds or oil revenue are available, however, only social responsibility. Unions and employers are used to speaking with each other. That is an advantage compared to other countries.


Also posted in General Discussion.

Sabrina, did you get a chance to watch the news conference by the other whistleblowers including

Binney and Tice?

Here is the link.


If you haven't watched it, it is long but worth listening to.

The Germans know first-hand how dangerous the kind of spying we are doing not only on foreign

leaders but on ourselves is. Some spying may be needed but we have gone far, far, far too far, and while some of Obama's changes in the system sound good, they are far, far, far too cautious.

We need a complete overhaul of all the domestic and foreign spying programs not only of the NSA but of all the agencies that conduct spying.

the big shock for me was when MSNBC presented a video of Hayden vehemently denying that "probable cause" is the standard the Constitution sets for the kind of search and seizure that the NSA conducts on us all the time. Here is the clip.


A person that ignorant of the text of the 4th Amendment certainly should not be in charge of a program that is capable of violating the 4th Amendment. He was not well enough versed on the constitution for his job.

Just in case there is any question about the 4th Amendment, here it is.

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.


In general, customs writs of assistance served as general search warrants that did not expire, allowing customs officials to search anywhere for smuggled goods without having to obtain a specific warrant. These writs became controversial when they were issued by courts in British America in the 1760s, especially the Province of Massachusetts Bay. Controversy over these general writs of assistance inspired the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which forbids general search warrants in the United States.

. . . .

General writs of assistance played an important role in the increasing tensions that led to the American Revolution and the creation of the United States of America. In 1760, Great Britain began to enforce some of the provisions of the Navigation Acts by granting customs officers these writs. In New England, smuggling had become common. However, officers could not search a person's property without giving a reason. Colonists protested that the writs violated their rights as British subjects. The colonists had several problems with these writs. They were permanent and even transferable: the holder of a writ could assign it to another. Any place could be searched at the whim of the holder, and searchers were not responsible for any damage they caused. This put anyone who had such a writ above the law.

. . . .

In response to the much-hated general writs, several of the colonies included a particularity requirement for search warrants in their constitutions when they established independent governments in 1776; the phrase "particularity requirement" is the legal term of art used in contemporary cases to refer to an express requirement that the target of a search warrant must be "particularly" described in detail. Several years later, the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution also contained a particularity requirement that outlawed the use of writs of assistance (and all general search warrants) by the federal government. Later, the Bill of Rights was incorporated against the states via the Fourteenth Amendment, and writs of assistance were generally proscribed.


The British may be comfortable with the broad surveillance, but we Americans should not be. After all, we fought one revolution to narrow police investigations to warrants based on probable cause.

We should not allow our precious U.S. Constitution that was so hard-won in that revolution to be denied, reworded or simply ignored even by our must honored and trusted elected officials and military leaders. They should be better informed.

I have often thought of something similar.

Imagine yourself outside our universe looking down through the universe, across the suns and planets and moons, focusing on earth, seeing the mountains and oceans as tiny specks, coming closer and closer in, focusing closer in until you see the larger animals, elephants and whales and then closer and closer until you see us, humans and then all of the cells and bacteria in us then in smaller animals, ants, then plants.

That is what I think about when I want to get a perspective on my problems and my relationship with God. We are about as big in terms of the perspective of the universe as that tiny speck of bacteria is in the video in the OP. We are nothing. And yet we are our whole world because the world is contained in our perception of it. There is, for each of us, no world, no real world, beyond the world we can perceive, touch, feel or at least imagine and think about. And our perception of ourselves in that immensity, our tiny selves in that greatness, only our souls, the spiritual aspect of ourselves can travel across the great vastness of the universe. And we only travel the distance when we are spiritually whole.

That is perspective for me.


Back in the late '80s, interest on a home mortgage was 9.5% or 10%. That's what we got in the late 80s.

In the late 90s, interest rates on private student loans were 7.5-8.5%.

Those of us who paid the increases in payroll taxes that were enacted to save in the Social Security Trust Fund for the retirement of the baby boomers (starting during the Reagan administration between 1983-1985) PAID those interest rates.

The interest rates now are artificially low thanks to Fed maneuvers and the crash of the housing boom. Please note that the first of the baby boomers who were born in 1946 first became eligible for Social Security at the reduced distributions for 63-year-olds in 2009. The housing crash and bank failures were timed perfectly to harm baby boomers.

As is the proposed default on the Social Security benefits.

And please note that the Republicans were in office when the housing boom and subsequent crash were allowed to happen.

We are due a lot of interest on the money that we put into the Social Security system.

Most of us started putting in money when we were still kids back in the 1960s. Our generations (war babies and baby boomers) often started working as early teenagers.

The money we put in when we were in our teens and 20s so long ago has accrued an enormous amount of interest. That is why we probably are not really even getting back the value that we put in with the current benefits.

Average benefits paid out to retirees as of August 2013:

Old-Age and Survivors Insurance . . . . 1,203.72
Retirement benefits . . . 1,224.69
Retired workers . . . 1,270.38
Spouses of retired workers . . . 634.20
Children of retired workers . . . 619.95


The minimum benefit is $1.


The maximum benefit depends on the age at which you retire and your income (how much you put in).

The maximum benefit depends on the age you retire. For example, if you retire at your full retirement age in 2013, your maximum benefit would be $2,533. But if you retire at age 62 in 2013, your maximum benefit would be $1,923. If you retire at age 70 in 2013, your maximum benefit would be $3,350.


The recent job deficit has forced more people to retire earlier. That means that the monthly benefits they receive are and will continue to be lower than those who can still work until they are 70.

People retire because employers really don't want to hire older workers.

If workers were in big demand, if we had very, very low unemployment, fewer people would retire before they were 70.

So, the real problem is not Social Security but our bad economy. We have outsourced and exported too many jobs. That is our problem. Our free trade policies are really hurting Americans. Social Security is a red herring. It's not the problem. The lack of jobs is the problem.

Le Monde began working on the Snowden documents in August apparently

and was, following instructions from Greenwald and Snowden, careful not to publish any details that might harm US security interests.

Here is a very brief excerpt from what Le Monde said in its editorial on the Snowden revelations regarding France.

The freedom to communicate and to benefit from secrecy in one's correspondence is a cornerstone of functioning democracies. The systematic intrusion in private lives is the mark of totalitarian systems, as the film, "The Lives of Others" which described the Stasi's operations in East Germany reminds us. . . . .

La liberté de communiquer et de bénéficier du secret de la correspondance est une pierre angulaire du fonctionnement des démocraties. L'intrusion systématique dans la vie privée est le propre des systèmes totalitaires, comme a pu le rappeler le film La vie des autres décrivant l'appareil de la Stasi en Allemagne de l'Est. . . . .

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