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Member since: Sat Dec 6, 2003, 04:15 AM
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Excellent analysis, however, Obama may be waiting to attack, and he may

be able to fight back quite effectively through surrogates. (That includes us, DUers.)

Sorry for the length of the rant that follows, but:

Let the right-wing arguments sink in and become old hat. In August, some Americans will begin to receive rebate checks from their insurance companies and honest folks will begin to ask intelligent questions.

Fact is, Americans are paying the equivalent of this "tax" for health care insurance now. We pay it to the health care insurance company and doctors of our choice. We will continue to pay for our health care insurance "tax," and continue to pay it TO THE HEALTH CARE INSURANCE COMPANY AND DOCTORS OF OUR CHOICE.

Most Americans will not pay this "tax" to the government. And those who do will pay a relatively small amount to Uncle Sam because they have figured out that they can get their health care cheaper that way. If you earn very little and can't afford health care, you do not have to pay either the insurance company or the government. Nothing changes for you either.

The things that will change are those that Papantonio mentioned -- more accountability as to how our insurance dollars, our "taxes," are spent, rebates of a certain percentage of our premiums -- of the part that the company does not spend on healthcare, coverage for pre-existing conditions, no denial of coverage due to pre-existing conditions, affordable coverage for most Americans, coverage for children under age 26 by the parents' insurance, more free coverage for preventive care, more cooperation and coordination among your doctors and between your hospital's doctors and surgeons and your family doctor (especially for seniors), less waste and fewer gimmicks like offering some seniors memberships in health clubs and charging that to the Medicare Advantage bill. (Which regular Medicare does not pay for.)

The bill will have its failings. They will have to be corrected. That's the way legislation works. The glitches get amended. But it's a great start.

And while I agree with Roberts that the plan is an exercise of Congress' tax and spend authority and not of its authority to regulate commerce, this is not a new tax. This is a "tax" that we have been paying, or at least most of us have been paying, for a long time -- at least since we became adults and started working. And if you are a woman or have a pre-existing condition (which nearly everyone over 55 has) and have been honest with your insurance company, chances are you have been paying a very high, trumped-up "tax," an unfair "tax" that will now be made fairer.

This bill will mean life itself for many, many children (and adults) whose pre-existing conditions have served as an excuse for exclusion from health insurance coverage.

This bill will mean that our emergency rooms are not filled with poor people who cannot afford health care insurance and who sit endless hours in the emergency room to get treatments a primary care doctor could render in his office more efficiently and economically.

It is human nature to be afraid of change. But this bill is not going to bring about threatening change. It will bring about positive change.

Remember when you were a child. You heard scary stories from other children and read frightening fairy tales and got terrified of the dark. You woke up, saw shadows and thought there might be monsters in the room. At camp, you huddled with your friends in a tent and tried to see who could tell the scariest story. Well, that's what Republicans do.

"The sky is falling. The sky is falling."

Don't believe it. The Republicans will, once again, be proved wrong by the facts. Let's just calmly inform ourselves of the facts and prepare to discuss them gently and intelligently. That is the best strategy.

We are going to have to be strong and unmoved by the Republicans' fear on this.

We are, as usual, going to have to hold a lot of Republican hands because they are going to work themselves into a frenzy over this. That's their high. They rev up the adrenalin and then they "feel good." Marijuana may be illegal, but working yourself into an adrenalin frenzy is not -- and that is what Republicans enjoy.

Reason and calm are the best remedies for Republican fear.

You make an interesting point.

I have three large avocado trees in my back yard. Every spring each of them sprouts thousands of blossoms. Literally thousands of tiny blossoms show up on each tree. Then the sorrel flowers beneath the trees bloom, and, drawn by the bright yellow sorrel flowers, the bees show up -- always on schedule around 10:00 a.m. every morning -- and pollinate the avocado blossoms.

Thousands of tiny blossoms, each created to become an avocado and so many bees. I begin to dream of trees sagging from the weight of avocados. This year, I think. This year we will have more than enough avocados to feed us, all our neighbors and our friends with some left over. Hmmm. Guacamole, I can taste it in my mouth.

The baby avocados form, tiny, plump green balls on the branches of the trees where the blossoms were. And then, just as sure as the blossoms sprouted and the sorrel bloomed and the bees arrived, most of the baby avocados fall to the ground within days and weeks of their creation.

The avocado "embryos" cover my yard. Only a few survive on the limbs of my trees. I'm sure there is some way to increase the numbers of avocados that survive, but I don't know what it is.

Nature promises; nature pollinates; nature creates thousands of avocado embryos. And then, nature kills most of its promises, most of the baby avocados.

The avocados that do survive are strong and healthy and in the right number to mature into large avocados in our back yard. Let me assure you, our avocados are the best you can find, far better than any you buy in the market, even at the farmers' market.

Limiting the quantity of our avocados in order to assure quality is an example of nature's wisdom.

We humans have invented all kinds of ways to foil nature and its natural killer instinct. We try to trick it, to prevent it from limiting the numbers of its creations that it permits to survive. But nature is much smarter than we are.

We love our children and our babies and we want each of them to live. But, by interfering with the nature's processes, we are overpopulating the earth, demanding too much of its limited resources. If we don't find a way to limit the numbers of our species, nature will. That is nature's way. Birth control and the morning after pill do not contravene nature. They imitate it.

He probably was truly caring and loving and devoted to her.

Feelings can be complicated, and people do impulsive things that they later regret.

I gave money to Edwards too, and I was furious because I also campaigned and put my integrity on the line to support him. But having seen what the Obama administration has done -- the signing of the NDAA, no public option and sitting down to negotiate with insurance companies, not prioritizing the passage of an amendment to end limitless corporate campaign involvement, continued eavesdropping on Americans, the appointment of bankers to manage the economy, the lack of support for labor unions, the campaign against teachers, etc., I am grateful that Edwards at least brought some more liberal points of view to our primaries in 2008 regardless of his personal life, regardless of whether he really planned to be elected. At least I feel that someone, sincere or not, voiced my view on a lot of issues.

Edwards, for all his human weakness, made sure that the progressive view was not completely laughed at or ignored. I like Kucinich, but the press does not take him seriously. They laugh at him. I don't expect that the press will wise up about Kucinich. He also is a good man.

Please note. The press and the FEC do not descend upon conservative politicians or "moderate Democrats" to destroy them by scandal, innuendo or ridicule the way they do progressive or very liberal candidates. That is not an accident.

I see this terrible trend. No matter who the liberal candidate or the liberal spokesperson is, the right wing and the so-called "moderates" will destroy that person. I remember when Schroeder was destroyed simply because she cried. We heard endlessly about how weak women are. That is what Edwards faced -- a campaign to destroy the reputation and respect and trust of any person who dares to tell the American people the truth or present another, more progressive/liberal point of view.

There are a lot of politicians who are leading double love-lives right now. You will never hear about them unless they cross up the 1%.

One-world plutocracy and privatization

I had a discussion with someone on DU the other day about world trade and in particular the roles of the international courts in replacing and superseding local laws and national laws.

Now, this first part sounds like some crazy, right-wing theory that we progressives and liberals like to laugh at. And I must admit that I have laughed about some of the theories associated with these ideas from time to time. But, bear with me, please.

Obviously, in "democracies" like our own, local and national laws are decided by locally and nationally elected representatives through some sort of democratic process, however flawed.

Not so the judges sitting on international courts like the NAFTA court. They are appointed, yes, hopefully by individuals elected by representatives or members of national governments. But can you personally name one judge sitting on an international court? Thought not. Neither can I. Nor do I know how much money passed hands, how many lobbyists weighed in, how much influence was used when these judges and others who run international organizations were selected. We have to ask who does know how that these people were chosen?

Yet, those judges can require your government to set aside a regulation or law that your democratically elected representatives passed at some level if it is deemed to result in some unfair trade practice such as dumping or protectionism. They have supra-national powers not derived from the people.

These courts combined with free trade agreements that weaken labor and environmental movements push us further and further toward international government that is selected and controlled by the major international corporations and the plutocracy that controls and profits from them. (That's the part the right-wing has been obsessing over for years in kind of nonsensical terms.)

But what about our national governments. Aren't they brakes on the process of global government by the plutocracy?

Here is where PRIVATIZATION fits into the picture (and where we liberals and progressives begin to object instinctively to what is happening).

Increasingly, our government (at all levels) is selling its functions to private corporations. We have private arbitration courts -- much cheaper and more efficient, we are assured, than courts of law with public trials. Courts in which procedures and rules of evidence that are established in laws passed by democratically elected bodies are followed with opportunities for appeals take too long.

In some states, even the highways and parking meters are being sold to public-private cooperative entities. Privatization among other things, permits foreign shareholders to own strategically vital parts of our American infrastructure.

Many community hospitals were privatized during the 1990s. Now we are seeing the privatization of schools.

Water is now in the purview of wealthy corporations. Imagine having to pay private companies just to get water to drink.

Privatization weakens and in some cases deprives we the people of the right to oversee these heretofore public functions.

Paying taxes to maintain traditionally public functions is increasingly viewed as an unbearable burden even when paying private companies to perform the same function -- say delivering packages of mail -- may cost three times as much as the government charges. So privatization is viewed as a way to replace having to pay taxes even though we would often be better off as individuals paying taxes than paying corporate profits.

Once the privatization occurs, it is hard for the government and local control to take back the privatized function.

And each time that another government function is privatized, our government, our democratically elected government and the democratic processes that support it, are weakened. As a result, we, the people have less and less say over how we live our lives and the price we have to pay to stay alive.

And all we hear from the private sector is how much they resent the regulations. No wonder they hate regulation. The regulations are imposed by democratically elected officials and the regulatory agencies that the democratically elected officials appoint. And, horrors, the regulatory agencies make the regulations through procedures that are transparent to the public.

I invite critical remarks (although I will answer them), but I think I have come across the kernel of something very important.

International corporations have grown to be more powerful than many governments.
Trade agreements deprive us of the ability to control democratically our own environment and economy.
Privatization threatens to deprive local and national governments of their authority and the financial capacity to govern or provide for the defense of the people living in the nation.

What is happening I am beginning to think is the destruction of the concept of the nation-state.

This might be acceptable except that the institutions that are replacing the nation-state are imposed on us by some sort of anonymous apparatus with only a slight relationship to democratic processes. Yet these international organizations like the World Bank, the IMF, the NAFTA Court, and similar entities have the capacity to impose upon nations of people including potentially ourselves, dictatorships and laws we do not want. These institutions have the capacity to completely destroy even the semblance of democracy. We are seeing how the European economic union has displaced the democratically elected government of Greece.

What do you think?

"How can we find a legitimately funny conservative person?" he wondered.

To answer that a bit. I know a number of comedians and comedy writers. Most (but not all) of them are Jewish or at least half-Jewish. Most of them really suffered when they were kids -- from bullies who were bigger and meaner than they were. Most of them are realistic. Most of them are Democrats.

A lot of the comedians and comic writers I know are realistic to the point of depression. Without exception, they are extremely intelligent. Humor is the way they cope with life. Jokes can disarm strangers and make communication easier. Comedians use them to bridge the gap between their own great intelligence and the limited understanding of others.

The comedians I know laugh at themselves even more than they laugh at others. They ridicule themselves first, and only after they finish roasting themselves do they start on others.

In fact, not all of them, but most of the comedians I know or have known are or were, beneath the facade, extraordinarily compassionate people. They may never admit it, but they are. They don't need to be told to walk in someone else's shoes for a day. The minute they meet you, they are trying on your shoes. That's where the jokes come from -- wearing other people's too big or too small shoes.

Do you know any Republicans with those personality traits? Neither do I.

While I am at it, fundamentalist Christianity is, in my opinion, completely incompatible with a really healthy sense of humor.

I was raised by true Christians. They could be very humble and very funny. We laughed a lot. And lots of Christians, even fundamentalist Christians, can tell stories and jokes effectively.

But generally, fundamentalists take themselves and their beliefs too seriously to achieve the necessary distance or irony to be capable of writing a really belly-aching joke about much of anything.

So, Republicans should just give up the quest for a good comedian and accept themselves for the boring bullies they are. Actually, that would be a starting point for a Republican comedian -- writing jokes about what boring bullies Republicans are.

Here is what Jefferson said -- his own wordsd:

Monticello Aug. 22.13.

Dear Sir (addressing John Adams):

. . . .

Your approbation of my outline to Dr. Priestly is a great gratification to me; and I very much suspect that if thinking men would have the courage to think for themselves, and to speak what they think, it would be found they do not differ in religious opinions, as much as is supposed. I remember to have heard Dr. Priestly say that if all England would candidly examine themselves, and confess, they would find that Unitarianism was the religion of all: And I observe a bill is now depending in parliament for the relief of Anti-Trinitarians. It is too late in the day for men of sincerity to pretend they believe in the Platonic mysticisms that three are one, and one is three; and yet the one is not three, and the three are not one: to divide mankind by a single letter into ("consubstantialists and like-substantialists"). But this constitutes the craft, power and profit of the priests. Sweep away their gossamer fabrics of factitious religion, and they would catch no more flies. We should all then, like the quakers, live without an order of priests, moralise for ourselves, follow the oracle of conscience, and say nothing about what no man can understand, nor therefore believe; for I suppose belief to be the assent of the mind to an intelligible proposition."

. . . .

You are right in supposing, in one of yours, that I had not read much of Priestley's Predestination, his No-soul system, or his controversy with Horsley. But I have read his Corruptions of Christianity, and Early Opinions of Jesus, over and over again; and I rest on them, and on Middleton's writings, especially his letters from Rome, and to Waterland, as the basis of my own faith. These writings have never been answered, nor can be answered, by quoting historical proofs, as they have none. For these facts therefore I cling to their learning, so much superior to my own.

The Adams-Jefferson Letters, The Complete Correspondence Between Thomas Jefferson and Abigail and John Adams edited by Lester J. Cappon, 1959, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, page 368-69.

As for Rev. Conyers Middleton

Middleton (1683-1750) was a Fellow of Trinity, Cambridge, and a Church of England clergyman described by Leslie Stephen as a "covert" enemy of Christianity and "one of the few divines who can fairly be accused of conscious insincerity". Despite this interesting judgment, Middleton's is not a well-known name. Indeed, he has been largely forgotten. This should now be corrected. In an essay, published for the first time in the collection History and the Enlightenment (Yale, 30), Hugh Trevor-Roper establishes his importance in the history of intellectual doubt, and demonstrates his influence on Gibbon and two generations later on Macaulay. A man who mattered so much to our two greatest historians deserves to be rescued from oblivion. His career was admittedly unsatisfying. Despite the patronage of Sir Robert Walpole, he never secured the preferment in the Church that he repeatedly sought. His opinions were regarded as subversive, even heretical.

Middleton's hero was Cicero, whose attitude to religion, expressed in the work De Natura Deorum, was founded in reason. That was Middleton's own position. Meanwhile, he discovered that, as Trevor-Roper puts it, "those ceremonies and forms of Catholic devotion which Protestants regarded as idolatrous were identical with, and copied from, and continuous with, those of pagan Rome." This conclusion might be regarded as a stout defence of Protestantism and the position of the Church of England.

Middleton, however, was not content to stop there. He proceeded over the last 30 years of his life to assail the Christian citadel and undermine its defences. There were three stout bastions: the Word of God as revealed to Moses and recorded in the first five books of the Old Testament; the miracles wrought by Christ and the Fathers of the early Church, which proved that the Christian Church embodied the fulfilment of the Divine Plan for mankind; and the prophecies which prepared the way for the coming of Christ.

. . . .


Jefferson may have been a member of the Anglican church, but his beliefs, his thinking were not at all Christian. He was a deist, a free-thinker and although not formally a member of the Unitarian religion, very much a Unitarian in his thought. The Jefferson Bible, if you are not familiar with it, omits the miracles and a lot of other material that Jefferson did not believe.

I beg to differ with Dr. Roberts on two facts.

1. I returned to the US from Europe in 1985. While babysitting an children in the Fall of that year, I watched C-Span. That kind of programming was a new experience for me so I remember it very well.

One day, I watched an exchange between two members of Congress about free trade. The discussion was heated and unforgettable. The Democrat told the Republican that if we adopted the Reagan administration's ideas about free trade, we would turn into a country in which we just handed each other hamburgers. Prophetic.

I am paraphrasing the words of the Congressmembers, and I unfortunately do not remember the names of those involved in the exchange. I am, however certain that at that time the earliest legislation that prepared the way for our current catastrophic trade and employment crisis was discussed. I believe it was also passed -- and that it was the Republicans who pushed very hard against Democratic resistance to pass it and therewith establish the groundwork needed for the final onslaught in the 1990s.

The Republicans in the Reagan administration were very busy building the foundation upon which was erected the free trade edifice that is damaging not just our economy but that of the Western world at this time.

2. If the Reagan administration did not know that the Soviet Union was disintegrating, imploding long before 1988, it is because they were not paying attention. Austria was the central perch from which the action in Eastern Europe and thus in Russia could be observed.

Ronald Reagan did not seem to appreciate the historical and cultural role that Austria played in Europe. He named his secretary, yes, his personal secretary as the ambassadress to Austria. I'm sure she was a sweet and very competent secretary, a very nice lady. She assuredly spoke German since she was born in Austria. And of course, the Embassy probably had more highly qualified people to assess the political situation in the country.

But . . . . . didn't the Reagan administration notice the increasingly frequent stories of successful defections from Eastern Europe to the West? Stories appeared in local newspapers of heroes from the East, especially Czechoslovakia flying planes across the border from Czechoslovakia to Austria. Poland was exploding. There were so many indications of the breakdown of the Soviet control over the Soviet satellites that I cannot believe that it was not the topic of daily discussion in the Reagan administration.

When we returned to the US, we told our friends what we had seen and predicted that things would change drastically in the then USSR and Eastern Europe. People just stared at us. The press reported otherwise. Of course the official lies served to make the Reagan administration look positively heroic when the Berlin Wall fell.

In fact, the Carter administration and perhaps administrations earlier than that -- and maybe no administration deserved what credit should be given for the changes in Europe of the time. The Reagan administration was actually quite a Johnny-come-lately with regard to changes in Eastern Europe. If the press stories are to be believed, it was apparently not even really watching what was going on.

Good Heavens! Travel between Austria and Eastern Europe was already quite commonplace by 1981-1981. Elderly Viennese ladies were traveling to Budapest by train just to eat a spicy Hungarian mal They left in the morning and returned to Vienna in the evening. A lovely day's outing. No problem.

That such a highly placed member of the Reagan administration was not aware of what was happening is further proof of the incompetence of that administration.

Most important post ever posted on DU.

I hope every DUer reads this.


Thank you, Jesselyn Radack

You are honest and ethical. You deserve the best.

The American Bar Association:

A lawyer's conduct should conform to the requirements of the law, both in professional service to clients and in the lawyer's business and personal affairs. A lawyer should use the law's procedures only for legitimate purposes and not to harass or intimidate others. A lawyer should demonstrate respect for the legal system and for those who serve it, including judges, other lawyers and public officials. While it is a lawyer's duty, when necessary, to challenge the rectitude of official action, it is also a lawyer's duty to uphold legal process.

(In my opinion, Jesselyn was upholding legal process when she blew the whistle on her supervisors who refused fully to cooperate in the court's discovery process.)
. . .

Rule 3.3 Candor Toward the Tribunal

(a) A lawyer shall not knowingly:

(1) make a false statement of fact or law to a tribunal or fail to correct a false statement of material fact or law previously made to the tribunal by the lawyer;

(2) fail to disclose to the tribunal legal authority in the controlling jurisdiction known to the lawyer to be directly adverse to the position of the client and not disclosed by opposing counsel; or

(3) offer evidence that the lawyer knows to be false. If a lawyer, the lawyer's client, or a witness called by the lawyer, has offered material evidence and the lawyer comes to know of its falsity, the lawyer shall take reasonable remedial measures, including, if necessary, disclosure to the tribunal. A lawyer may refuse to offer evidence, other than the testimony of a defendant in a criminal matter, that the lawyer reasonably believes is false.

(b) A lawyer who represents a client in an adjudicative proceeding and who knows that a person intends to engage, is engaging or has engaged in criminal or fraudulent conduct related to the proceeding shall take reasonable remedial measures, including, if necessary, disclosure to the tribunal.

(c) The duties stated in paragraphs (a) and (b) continue to the conclusion of the proceeding, and apply even if compliance requires disclosure of information otherwise protected by Rule 1.6.

(d) In an ex parte proceeding, a lawyer shall inform the tribunal of all material facts known to the lawyer that will enable the tribunal to make an informed decision, whether or not the facts are adverse.


The collapse of the US is due to the fact that during the 1970s,

as oil prices began to rise, legislation was passed that eventually encouraged many Americans to invest their life savings, their retirement savings month by month in pension funds and 401(K)s that were placed in the stock market.

During the 1980s, our Congress contemplated "free trade" and opening our markets to foreign manufactured products.

In that "free trade" environment (which increased in scope over the past 30 years), instead of investing the pension funds of Americans in American-based businesses and industries, Wall Street, seeking higher short-term profits by using cheap labor, rushed to fund the building of industry and prosperity in countries like India, Singapore, China, etc.

So, now, Americans import most of their consumer goods. The excess of imports and the comparative lack of exports has lead to a chronic balance of payments problem.

We hardly make any consumer goods at all. Not only does that mean that we are left with an economy of jobs that are either extremely poorly paid or extremely well paid with few jobs in between, but we have to borrow money in order to sustain the infrastructure and lifestyle to which we have been accustomed for decades.

It is politically nearly impossible to tell the American people the truth about our perilous economic situation. None of our politicians have dared to deal with this honestly. And if they did, they probably could not be elected.

On top of our trade and deficit problems, on top of the fact that our standard of living is declining, our currency is the currency in which oil and a lot of other commodities are traded. So what happens to commodity prices affects us even more than it does people in other countries. Right now, commodities are expensive (although not more expensive than they have been at times in the recent past) so we still feel that we are not doing too badly. But this will not last.

Wall Street has made a lot of bad choices. They blame the problems they almost single-handedly caused on ordinary, middle-class Americans. They lie. Ordinary, middle-class Americans did not make the important choices. Wall Street did. Wall Street and wealthy investors. And they have increased their profits in recent years as the rest of the country's belts have been pulled ever tighter.

How the world will respond? It may be that each country will try to look out for itself. We will have trade war, hopefully not worse, and everyone will suffer. Countries will compete to impose austerity in order to prevent their citizens from having the money to purchase foreign-made products.

We need just one politician who can speak the harsh truth to Americans: Wall Street squandered our future.

As for Wall Street: if a bunch of Wall Street traders want to go into a back room and gamble, say play poker, with their own personal fortunes that they earned from honest work, then that's nobody's business.

But they took the pension funds and savings of Americans, and they use money from the Fed, money that is printed in the name of the American people, so they should conduct their business in the open, with transparency. Above all, they should follow the rules that are established by Congress and those rules should protect ordinary people, our American infrastructure and our American industry.

Don't worry, every other country will do the same thing. Free trade has not worked. I am for capitalism, but I do not support the kind of socially irresponsible capitalism that is now destroying our economy and the future of our children. Anything too big to fail should be made small enough to fail or succeed on its own merits.
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