Wednesday, August 03, 2011
Ask yourself this: If you were the coach of a professional baseball team playing the final game of the World Series and your scheduled starting pitcher had a record of not only never defeating the opposing team, but never having an effective performance against them, would you start that pitcher or take your chances with another who has a better record?
What if you and your neighbors have experienced the destructive results of pollution coming from a nearby factory? The surrounding neighborhoods have suffered as well and they have already taken legal action against the factory. The court found in favor of some of the groups and not for others even though their cases were identical. The only difference was that all of the groups that won were represented by one lawyer while all those who lost were represented by a different lawyer. It is just good common sense to avoid the lawyer with a demonstrated record of failure.
These are the choices we face in 2012 and we need to consider our choice carefully. The Republicans certainly will and they can be counted on to construct a ferocious attack strategy aimed at exploiting every weakness in Obama’s campaign, weaknesses the president and his administration have generously provided them with. Pointing out that Obama’s prospects of being reelected are unlikely is not an attack against the man, but a logical observation of the situation.
From the Republican point of view, Obama has done more to ensure the opposition Party’s return to the Oval office than any campaign strategy they could have employed. They will relentlessly attack Obama for his weakness in negotiating on the Debt Ceiling crisis and point to the fact that they were able to get everything they wanted while the Democrats got literally nothing! They will label him as a liar for not delivering on his campaign promises such as closing Guantanamo and bringing its prisoners to the US for trial. Although the Republicans won those battles as well, they will all the same brutalize Obama for having given in to them.
The Republicans can and will exploit Obama’s failures during his first term and they will most likely have success among the moderate Democrats and Independents. Many in the Democratic base that put Obama in office are regretting having campaigned for him and could demonstrate their dissatisfaction by staying away from the polls in November or not casting a vote for president. The only way the Republicans can lose in 2012 is if they shoot themselves in the foot by allowing a rift between themselves and their Tea Party nitwits.
Friday, July 02, 2010
The diarist states that 200,000 people per week will lose benefits if this legislation doesn’t pass, one million per month until the elections in November. Perhaps this might be the impetus needed to bring about the realization by the Republican electorate that their elected leaders’ only concern is, and always has been, for the corporations and the extravagant wealth at their disposal. Let me quickly add that the Democrats in government are nearly as bad and attempting to surpass their GOP colleagues. The problem in Congress is not one that recognizes any Party distinction, but is an all encompassing disease.
Consider that while a huge number of Americans are out of work and running out of benefits that keep them from being homeless and going hungry, major corporations are posting the largest profits in their history. Worse, these businesses have publically acknowledged the advantage of the current situation from the business perspective, specifically the availability of cheap labor due to so many people out of work.
Corporations exist on another level from the rest of us and their motivation is pure gluttony, the desire for all they do not presently have. Individual, civil and human rights mean nothing to them; in fact they are impediments to corporate goals. Those at the top of the corporate ladder, or nearing it, think of themselves as royalty and above the work-a-day world of the rabble they consider less than human. Remember when there was a Personnel Department instead of “human resources”? Is there any better indication of how corporations consider those they employ than to devote a department to the control of human resources as they would for, natural resources, or mined resources, or agricultural resources.
Without legally enforced regulations, corporations would still be employing child labor, unrestricted work hours, horrific working conditions, no minimum wage, harmful and dangerous work environments, even slavery. All of these practices and more were used by corporations until they were forced to stop. Unions led the fight against unsafe working conditions and excessive demands by employers which jeopardized the health, safety and lives of workers.
We as citizens, tax payers, consumers, even employees, have complained of the inequity of corporations avoiding payment of US taxes by maintaining an off-shore PO box, but the laws allowing this were passed by Congress, the people we elected to represent us. And if many major businesses do not contribute to the tax base then the citizenry has to make up the difference in revenue for the government to keep running. Tax money is used to build new, and repair old roads, but businesses use the roads freely and with greater wear and tear due to the size of their vehicle fleet and non-stop (24/7) operation. Government oversees domestic and international traffic at airports, railroads and ship harbors, but if corporations aren’t paying taxes we are paying for the commerce traffic never used by individuals. Yet, if corporations find themselves in financial jeopardy for any reason they run to the government for a bail-out at the tax-payers’ expense. Corporations have been able to socialize the cost of doing business while privatizing the profits.
Friday, April 16, 2010
President Obama has elevated himself to Emperor of the United States with all the associated despotic powers. As president he did not possess the power, under any circumstances, to order the assassination of an American citizen, but as Emperor he can order one of the federal law enforcement agencies to murder that citizen in cold blood without having to justify his actions.
- If the federal government should overpass the just bounds of its authority and make a tyrannical use of its powers, the people, whose creature it is, must appeal to the standard they have formed, and take such measures to redress the injury done to the Constitution as the exigency may suggest and prudence justify. - Alexander Hamilton
Decency, security, and liberty alike demand that government officials shall be subjected to the same rules of conduct that are commands to the citizen... If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. - Justice Louis D. Brandeis
The citizen in question is an American born Islamic cleric named Anwar al-Awlaki and he is by no means an upstanding model of American patriotism. He has advocated attacks against American military targets and has been a vocal adversary of this country’s policies concerning the Middle East. Obama has ordered his assassination because he believes that this individual has shifted from encouraging attacks on the United States to directly participating in them, but he offers no proof. The fifth amendment of the United States Constitution stands in stark contrast to Obama’s presumed authority:
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
- Emergency does not create power. Emergency does not increase granted power or remove or diminish the restrictions imposed upon power granted or reserved. The Constitution was adopted in a period of grave emergency. Its grants of power to the federal government and its limitations of the power of the States were determined in the light of emergency, and they are not altered by emergency. - Justice Charles Evans Hughes
Congress does not have the courage necessary to declare war and they have gone to great lengths to avoid their Constitutional duty in that regard. Yet, they have attempted to conduct business as though the country were actually engaged in a declared war which must include the authorities granted to the president as Commander in Chief. This is because the president is officially the Commander in Chief only as stated in the U.S. Constitution, Article 2, Section 2, Clause 1: The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States. If not at war, the president has other civilians in charge of the military as required by the Constitution.
As his predecessor, George W. Bush, Obama is endangering the lives of our military to prolong an undeclared war just to protect his assumed authority he tells us he is granted because of that war. It is as much of a sham now as it was under the criminal administration of Cheney and Bush, and it is equally criminal. If Obama succeeds in having an American citizen assassinated without due process, whether war has been declared or not, he will have committed the federal crime of commissioning murder. And if he is allowed to get away with murder because the target happens to be objectionable, anti-American, and Islamic, then what is to prevent him from ordering the assassination of other, not quite so objectionable citizens? And if he will not afford the accused due process of the law this time, nor present conclusive and compelling evidence of this person’s guilt, what will stop him from ordering assassinations of any of us based merely on his say?
Thursday, March 04, 2010
Supporters of HCR have had little to cheer about since this administration took office and Congressional Centrists, Blue Dogs, and “Values” members have diminished spirits even further. The President’s comment in the late summer of 2009 began to reveal his divergence from Liberals and Progressives regarding healthcare reform. As he then stated in his speech, "To my Progressive friends, healthcare reform has always been about ending insurance abuses and making coverage affordable to everyone".
That statement perfectly demonstrated a broad misunderstanding of the desired goals of healthcare reform held by the majority of Americans and an intentional misreading of the desired outcome anticipated by Progressives. The answer most Americans wanted to hear was that reform “has always been about making and keeping people healthy”! Every other advanced country on Earth mandates that healthcare providers must first demonstrate that the care they provide is working by making their patients healthier rather than merely lining the pockets of the drug and healthcare industries. The president’s "Progressive friends" want universal healthcare for all citizens under a single payer system which is the only way costs can ever be controlled. They want healthcare providers to be rewarded or penalized for actual results their patients experienced from their care and not for the profits they generate for healthcare profiteers.
Unlike his predecessor, intelligence is not this president’s short suit, so he is likely not suffering from a misunderstanding of Progressives. Instead, he is enabling a calculated agenda to prevent oversight of the healthcare industry just as he has stifled the oversight duties of Congress to prevent any serious investigation of the previous administration. President Obama, rather than exemplifying the change on which he campaigned, has instead joined the ranks of undignified Oval Office occupants that not only consider themselves above the law, but execute the powers of the office to guarantee their exclusion from it.
The president also stated he did not believe a single payer system was workable in our country. Having already acknowledged his prominent intellect, it is impossible to avoid recognizing this statement as anything except purposely misleading, factually unsupported, disingenuous, deceitful, dishonest, a lie. Take your pick. Single payer is already working well in other countries and is frightfully successful.
Why is it paramount for the government of this country to prevent its citizens from having universal healthcare? Could it have something to do with the fact that the global healthcare industry (hospitals, doctors, insurance companies, medical equipment manufacturers, medical network suppliers, etc.) has few significant countries remaining that have not rejected their predatory method of providing healthcare and of that few, America is the richest, business friendly government, with an extremely disorganized citizenry. Allowing Americans to have single payer universal healthcare would deplete a major amount of the revenue generated by the industry who continue to achieve astronomical profits. Because the other countries with universal healthcare regulate costs and ensure performance, they are not contributing to the bottom line of the industry in a significant way, it is up to Americans to fill the void and over pay for care that is no where near as good as in those other countries.
In effect, America’s failure to move to single payer universal healthcare is enabling the continued excesses of the healthcare and insurance industries and contributing to the ability of other nations to enjoy the lower cost and better results of their own healthcare systems.
Monday, January 25, 2010
The decision was only possible due to an earlier decision, by the same body, that money is a form of free speech, further disadvantaging the poor. However, the damage of this latest decision goes far deeper than is visible on the surface. With their newly granted power, corporations have the ability the hold the power forever and to crush anyone that attempts to limit or reverse it by purchasing the election of friendly candidates.
Worse is the fact that most corporations have become global in their makeup and often do business and even partner with countries that do not have this country's best interest at heart. In fact, due to the ability of international corporations to shield their identities when doing business globally it is possible for enemies of our country to be able to influence our elections because of the court's decision.
More disappointing regarding the decision is those who are in agreement with it. I was shocked to hear Jonathan Turley, Law professor at George Washington University, agreed with the court's decision as well as Glenn Greenwald who defended the decision in his blog at Salon.com. Finally, the ACLU will not take a position in opposition to the Supreme Court's attack on US elections.
I have strong feelings about this issue and believe it must be addressed in the strongest terms. Primarily, I believe the foundation of the court's decision is their recognition of corporations as people. Corporations had attempted for years to persuade the Supreme Court to recognize them as a person and extend to them the rights enumerated under the 14th amendment which came into existence after the Civil War to address the newly freed slave population. At the time one of the largest corporations was the railroad which was using its money and power to influence elected officials and push for beneficial legislation in Congress. However, they had been unsuccessful in convincing the Justices, so the railroad brought a steady stream of cases to the Supreme Court claiming the rights of a person under the Constitution in hopes of wearing them down.
The 1886 case of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, though it dealt with taxation of railroad properties, became most notable for the obiter
dictum statement that corporations are entitled to protection under the
Fourteenth Amendment. Obiter Dicta are the head notes preceding every case, a
short summary in which a court reporter summarizes the opinion as well as
outlining the main facts and arguments. The court reporter, J.C. Bancroft Davis,
wrote the following as part of the headnote for the case:
"The court does not wish to hear argument on the question whether the provision in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids a State to deny to any
person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, applies to
these corporations. We are all of the opinion that it does."
In other words, corporations enjoyed the same rights under the Fourteenth Amendment as did natural persons. However, this issue is absent from the court's opinion
Before publication in United States Reports, Davis wrote a letter to Chief Justice Morrison Waite, dated May 26, 1886, to make sure his headnote was correct:
Dear Chief Justice, I have a memorandum in the California Cases Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific &c As follows. In opening the Court stated that it did not wish to hear argument on the question whether the Fourteenth Amendment applies to such corporations as are parties in these suits. All the Judges were of the opinion that it does.
I think your mem. in the California Railroad Tax cases expresses with sufficient accuracy what was said before the argument began. I leave it with you to determine whether anything need be said about it in the report inasmuch as we avoided meeting the constitutional question in the decision.
C. Peter Magrath, who discovered the exchange while researching Morrison C. Waite: The Triumph of Character, writes "In other words, to the Reporter fell the decision which enshrined the declaration in the United States Reports...had Davis left it out, Santa Clara County v. Southern Pac[ific] R[ailroad] Co. would have been lost to history among thousands of uninteresting tax cases."
Author Jack Beatty wrote about the lingering questions as to how the reporter's note reflected a quotation that was absent from the opinion itself.
Why did the chief justice issue his dictum? Why did he leave it up to Davis to include it in the headnotes? After Waite told him that the Court 'avoided' the issue of corporate personhood, why did Davis include it? Why, indeed, did he begin his headnote with it? The opinion made plain that the Court did not decide the corporate personality issue and the subsidiary equal protection issue
In answer to the question posed above, also from Wikipedia:
John Chandler Bancroft Davis (December 22, 1822 – December 27, 1907), commonly known as Bancroft Davis, was an American lawyer, judge, diplomat, and president of Newburgh and New York Railway Company!
Because of the Santa Clara case corporations have argued numerous cases before the court claiming Davis' head note as legal precedent and have been mostly successful in gaining greater recognition as a person with Constitutional protections. But, until Chief Justice Roberts, the high court refused to overturn 125 years of legislation limiting a corporation's ability to unfairly influence elections with their vast financial resources.
In Glenn Greenwalds comment section to his post about the Supreme Court’s decision, he asked one commenter the following questions:
So I'll ask again -- of you and anyone who claims that since corporations are not persons, they have no rights under the Constitution:
1. Do you believe the FBI has the right to enter and search the offices of the ACLU without probable cause or warrants, and seize whatever they want?
2. Do they have the right to do that to the offices of labor unions?
3. How about your local business on the corner which is incorporated?
The only thing stopping them from doing this is the Fourth Amendment. If you believe that corporations have no constitutional rights because they're not persons, what possible objections could you voice if Congress empowered the FBI to do these things?
4. Can they seize the property (the buildings and cars and bank accounts) of those entities without due process or just compensation? If you believe that corporations have no Constitutional rights, what possible constitutional objections could you have to such laws and actions?
5. Could Congress pass a law tomorrow providing that any corporation - including non-profit advocacy groups -- which criticize American wars shall be fined $100,000 for each criticism? What possible constitutional objection could you have to that?
Thought provoking as they seem each question assumes a premise which may be faulty. At the time of the writing of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights the existence of corporations was nearly non-existent. The founders were not concerned with granting rights to anyone except the citizens of this brand new nation and they certainly did not want to open this newly formed government to the corrupting influence of British wealth concentrated in businesses like the East India Company. You'll remember this company from one of their many products they were forcing the colonies to buy exclusively from them and enforced by the King. The product was tea and the result of that action was the impromptu flavoring of Boston Harbor. In fact, the founders warned of the danger of allowing the concentration of powers in large companies because of the abuses they witnessed at the hands of companies like the East India Company and others.
Since the decision the President and Congress have discussed how they can limit the damage of the Supreme Court's irresponsible action, but they are only attempting to alleviate the harm in very peripheral ways. Until and unless they pass legislation specifically recognizing that a corporation is NOT a person and does not have the same rights as citizens the relentless assault on democracy by the excessively privileged corporate elite will not cease.
Currently, the Republicans and their big business lobbyists are fighting to block the creation of a department of consumer protection while corporations themselves have a position in the president's inner circle at a cabinet level position known as the department of Commerce. Why is that?
The Constitution opens with the sentence "We the People", not “We the Corporation” and establishes the laws and liberties our new democracy was founded upon. That’s why “We the People” need a department of consumer protection and we do not need a department of commerce. In fact, “We the People” should insist on a separation of commerce and state the same way religion is (or used to be) banned from the working of government.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Well Peter, President Obama needed to answer two of three questions correctly, but only got one.
Will there be a Public Option? The Public Option was included albeit shrouded in distracting verbiage about exchanges and other programs and described as merely one of many choices available to consumers of healthcare. He doubled down on requirements to be placed on insurance companies by demanding their practice of denying coverage for existing conditions be criminalized. He got that one right, though just barely.
What deal did the White House make with Big Pharma? The deal the President made with the Pharmaceutical Bigwigs was not even mentioned in his speech and therefore left many Americans asking for the details and why the White House felt it had to be kept secret. No credit for this answer.
What is Healthcare Reform all about? President Obama’s answer to the final question demonstrated his misreading of the healthcare debate and its importance to the Party that put him in power.
As he stated in his speech, "To my Progressive friends, healthcare reform has always been about ending insurance abuses and making coverage affordable to everyone".
This merely trades one sin for another. Insurance companies will temporarily avoid major abuses to get millions of additional policy holders who will be forced to purchase coverage. The answer most Americans wanted to hear is that reform has always been about making and keeping people healthy! Every other advanced country on Earth mandates that healthcare providers must first demonstrate that the care they provide is working by making their patients healthier rather than merely lining the pockets of the drug and healthcare industries. Obama’s "Progressive friends" want universal healthcare for all citizens under a single payer system which is the only way costs can ever be controlled. They want healthcare providers to be rewarded or penalized for actual results their patients experienced from their care and not for the profits they generate for healthcare profiteers. But, in lieu of single payer, they were willing to go with a ROBUST Public Option and this is not it
So as a parting gift, the President will receive Primary challenges to be the Party’s candidate for President in the 2012 election. He will also receive Little to No cooperation from the Liberals he threw under the bus. He will get more challenges from the Left to replace Congressional moderates and corporate enablers that claim to be "business friendly" when they are in fact "anti consumer"
It shouldn’t be too surprising that a graduate of the university that spawned the likes of Milton Friedman would not be able to see any point of view except that offered through the prism of corporate doctrine and disaster capitalism. What is a surprise is that Progressives have not yet learned this. That they still hold out hope that corporatists like Obama will ever do anything that doesn’t benefit profit over all.
Monday, August 31, 2009
Of course, the president has had the option to push this legislation through by standing by his own words on the campaign trail and by not wasting precious time seeking bipartisanship that was never going to be. Instead, he and other Democrats have capitulated on issue after issue because it has never been their intent to upset the insurance, hospital and pharmaceutical industries by passing meaningful reform. And if that is the end result of the fiasco we have been witnessing since January then those of us who worked so hard to put this administration into power must be just as prepared to replace it.
Listening to the crap being passed off as analysis of the surrender of the public option is enough to sicken the heartiest of souls. An endless hoard of talking heads and pundits, supposedly from both ends of the political spectrum, chatter on about how Democrats would be crazy to not pass a bill just because the public option is being dropped. How Liberals need to see this as a success because something is being done to address healthcare. These are words of appeasement by those who never had the stomach for the fight and who don't have to worry about healthcare.
Just what is the president thinking? Each day more psychopathic assholes show up at his town hall meetings packing heat and spewing hatred, any one of them capable of doing physical harm to the him or his family. Does he believe that whimpiness and capitulation on his part elevates their opinion of him? Do the Democrats in Congress think this? Of course not.
What we are witnessing is a tightrope act being performed by President Obama, his cabinet and Democratic members of Congress to make it appear that they are conscientiously working on our behalf for healthcare reform while making sure not to piss off the lobbyists and healthcare executives that fill their coffers with campaign contributions and other bennies. At the same time we are seeing the Republicans teeing off on Democrats with lies, mis-information, orchestrated protests and as much noise and misdirection as they can generate. The whole time the Republicans are secure in the knowledge that the lobbyists and healthcare executives would prefer them back in power because they are more completely owned and subject to their control.
What would be refreshing is for President Obama to demonstrate his depth of understanding of the Constitution by conducting his actions and those of his administration in accordance with that document. It would be exceptional to see the re-emergence of Constitutional government be the legacy of the first African American president. It would be historic for this president to lead this country back from the reactionary abyss by standing against the forces that are doing everything in their power to ensure his failure. It would be awe inspiring to have a president who understands all of this and chooses not to concede to the corporate thugs seeking absolute power, but opts to steer his ship of state away from the radicalism and hate driven stupidity coming from the Right. The country is in as bad of a state now as it was when FDR stood against the same cabal of power hungry tyrants and put the country back on the path of justice, morality and constitutionality. If ever there was a time for a great leader to emerge, this is it, but as each day goes by and each new capitulation takes place, as each new promise of change is rescinded, as each pledge of correcting the errors of the past administration is ignored, the American people are realizing that we have seen this movie before and we didn't like it any better the first time.
It is now time to prepare contingencies for the inevitable collapse of the Democrats to the pressures of the healthcare industry lobbyists. The idea has been put forward to push for a referendum that would allow individual voters to determine whether members of Congress should enjoy healthcare and retirement benefits when they will not support similar benefits for the people paying for theirs. This approach holds much promise because it would appeal to the Conservative haters of big government and taxes.
A second idea is to Outsource our healthcare requirements to countries that offer better care to their citizens at a much better price. OK, at first glance this may seem implausible, but consider how major corporations got away with it when they shifted American manufacturing jobs to under-developed nations to avoid labor costs and union protections. Certainly, we have as good of a reason for doing so and I’m sure when it was first conceived in some corporate board room many thought it to be too radical and un-American to succeed. Yet, they did succeed and our country’s economy has suffered greatly as a result.
So, why not open negotiations with Canada, England, France, the Nordic countries and other nations with greater respect for the citizens than our Congress has for us? Why not issue Requests For Proposals (RFP) to these nations and get cost estimates for them to integrate interested American citizens into their healthcare system by diverting some of our taxes to whichever country makes the best offer, then have them recruit medical professionals and facilities within our borders to comply with their policies.
Many will say this is not feasible and too many obstacles threaten to kill the idea. I say that we should know by now that Everything is negotiable just like the integrity of our elected officials