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Jack Rabbit

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Gender: Male
Hometown: Sacramento Valley, California
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 45,984

Journal Archives

Stand up for American workers: Defeat the trade package and overthrow the oligarchs

If there is no trade deal that will displace more American jobs, then there should be no need for trade adjustment assistance.

So what is trade adjustment assistance supposed to do for displaced American workers? Retrain rocket scientists to flip burgers or greet customers at WalMart?

Of course, I'm oversimplifying. There's a bigger problem here than bad trade deals. One DUer is hitting the meme that jobs are being shipped to India and China, with which the US has no trade treaty. I think that poster may be on to something in identifying the problem, but his solution is more bad trade deals and that doesn't impress me as a good solution.

The neoliberal social paradigm is unsustainable. Large corporations cannot direct a race to the bottom without destroying the middle class, leaving them without consumers to purchase the products they manufacture. When that happens, they go broke, too. At some point we come after the bastards with torches and pitchforks, but after that, then what?

That is a conversation we need to start having. The then may be fast approaching, so we'll need the what sooner than we think.

In this case, we'll have to meet behind the proverbial closed doors, as much as it is possible for 99% to meet behind closed doors, to discuss the matter, because the captains of industry and their pet politicians are not invited. They'll only try to sell us on their neoliberal paradigm (you know, the one that is unsustainable), and we don't have any more time to waste listening to their pitch. We can listen to more enlightened 1%ers like George Soros, Warren Buffet or Nick Hanauer. They might have something to contribute to the discussion, but Legs Dimon, Pretty Boy Lloyd and the Koch kingpins are going to be left behind as we forge our own path the other world that is possible.

I'd like not to agree that we are documenting the last gasp of democracy, but . . .

. . . a couple of weeks ago, I posted the opinion that passage of the TPP would be the death of democracy and caused quite a stir mainly form HRC supporters.

Yes, the passage of the TPP will be the death of democracy. The reason I say that is because the TPP provides for a a platform to sue elected governments that is not available to actual citizens, who are made of flesh and blood and only of flesh and blood. The United States of America is formally a representative democracy. If the voters elect representatives who go to the capital to pass laws abating air and water pollution, who then pass such legislation only to be sued by ExxonMoble or the local coal company because such legislation will prevent them from realizing "expected profits," then democracy is indeed dead. The TPP creates corporations not as people, which is a silly enough idea, to creating corporations as a legal entity with more rights to citizens. It makes the realization of expected profits a right and with it the right to befoul the planet in pursuit of those profits.

We can elect whoever we please and pass whatever laws are appropriate, but ExxonMoble need not obey them and may even punish the citizens (who are also taxpayers, last time I checked, which is more than can be said for General Electric) by making us pay them for unrealized expected profits, awarded them by an unelected panel of corporate shysters in secret proceedings.

If that isn't the destruction of democracy, then what is?

I not only say that the TPP would be the end of American democracy, but that the only proper way for the public to respond to the passage of such a vile outrage is a mass campaign of civil disobedience aimed at making the TPP and similar "free" trade deal unenforceable. Our goal is victory. Our terms is unconditional surrender of the enemy. And when I say the enemy, Dave and Charlie Koch, I mean you, among other oligarchs.

We're all getting a wee bit carried away about the anti-Bernie blog today

Everybody assume the lotus position, take a deep breath, hold it for a few seconds, then let it out sloooowwwwwly.

I think we can agree that if Bernie Sanders is a racist then Hillary Clinton is a retired kamikaze pilot.

Some Coyote-worshiping joker questioned Senator Sanders' commitment to civil rights on her blog because most of the crowd gathered in Burlington, Vermont, to listen to him formally announce his candidacy was white. In Burlington, Vermont. I'm shocked, shocked to learn that there are very few people in Burlington who aren't white. I think I've known this before I first heard of anybody named Bernie Sanders who was the town's new socialist mayor.

If the blogger's intent was to sow the seeds of strife at DU, she succeeded. We fell for it, big time.

This acrimony is not worth it. Save it for Jeb Bush or Ted Cruz.

Now, take another deep breath, hold it and let it out slowly. Now, concentrate on what your face looked like before your parents were born.

Perhaps Bernie's candidacy will allow us to breathe again

We are going to hear an awful lot about Senator Sanders being an avowed socialist and out establishmentarian media is going to do everything it can to make him sound like the reincarnation of Joseph Stalin. Let me assure everyone, the two are easily distinguishable, but don't expect that to deter the Koch Kings from slipping media moguls some extra free $peech to pay no attention to the real Bernie Sanders and smear him as a Bolshevik. Of course, the Bernie Sanders you'll hear about on FoxNews will resemble the real Bernie Sanders about as much climate change denialism resembles science.

I am not a socialist. I would be very happy to return to the economic models that worked so well for America until the election of Ronald Reagan. At the same time, I am not at all anti-socialist. There is no such thing as a "moral" economic system, as claimed by the followers of Ayn Rand. An economic system is something that works well for everyone or is in need of repair, at least some tweaking, otherwise.

Evil does not come into the world from economics, the art of producing goods and services and resolving scarcity with people's needs, but from politics, the art of gaining and maintaining power, too often only for an elite class who spend too much time creating myths about how they're better than the rest of us in order to justify their privileged positions, which is almost always undeserved.

Capitalism or socialism is neither moral nor immoral. Government by coercion of the few for the benefit of the few over the many is at the expense of the many is immoral; democracy, government by free citizens where citizenship is equal, universal and unalienable, is the only moral system of government.

Socialism is not the greatest threat to mankind at this moment. Neither is Islamic terrorism, which can be easily contained with just governments and good police work. That's right, I'm talking about the Frat Boy the Big Dick, who told us it took a war to contain Islamic terrorism. No, it didn't. It took a war to steal Iraq's natural resources.

The greatest threat is to humanity today is neoliberalism. This is the doctrine that insists that unregulated capitalism, and nothing else, will meet all of humanity's need forever. Its adherents proclaim freedom, but its only freedom for the elite. The rest of us will toil for low wages, breathe carbon fumes, drink flammable water and be wary of getting sick. Politicians will be so bought and sold that they will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

No, I am not a socialist, but I will vote for a social democrat like Bernie Sanders before I vote for another neoliberal, especially one who tries to mask his (or her) neoliberalism in unconvincing populist rhetoric. Any politician supporting the Trans-Pacific Partnership is doing a lousy job of hiding his (or her) neoliberalism.

For this reason, the candidacy of Bernie Sanders is a most welcome phenomenon.

Let me say this loudly and clearly

Regardless of President Obama's accomplishments, the Trans-Pacific Partnership will destroy American democracy, and, as far as I am concerned, that means it will destroy America. It will destroy many of these same accomplishments that the writer of the piece justifiably lauds.

That is how easily one dares to say it. It isn't very hard for those us us who believe in telling the truth to the best of one's ability. By the way, I am a Democrat and not at all ashamed to say that I oppose this agreement because it will destroy America.

The verbiage that accompanies the OP was not written by sheshe2. She simply copied the page off The Obama Diary website. It's simply cheer leading and sophistry, which wouldn't bother me if it hadn't attacked those who oppose the TPP, including Senator Warren and shamed them opposing the President's proposal. The sophist says that the TPP will not destroy America, but doesn't tell his readers what it will do to help America or why those who say it will are wrong.

So let me at least say how it will destroy America. The TPP establishes an Investeor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) system that will be used by corporations concerned about costly regulations. A three member tribunal of corporate shysters will decide if the investors' case warrants sanctions against the state. The proceedings are secret, but the tribunal will have the authority to order the offending state to reimburse to corporation for unrealized profits due to the regulations passed by democratic governments. That can run into a pretty piece of change that the state's taxpayers will be providing.

If that hasn't sunk into you yet, let me summarize it this way: an unelected panel of corporate attorneys will meet in secret, hear evidence in secret and will be expected to give an unbiased (remember, when they're not on leave to do work on an ISDS tribunal, they're defending corporations in court) decision that could cost taxpayers billions. It is an end run around a democratically elected government.

All that stuff that the President has done that the sophist who wrote the the piece in The Obama Diary that finds it way to the OP claims is so great for the environment and his efforts to fight climate change is at risk under this arrangement. Likewise minimum wage increases. Likewise protections for labor unions. Likewise public health. Anything that any of out greedy, slimy corporations think costs them too much money can be challenged to the TPP's ISDS and stopped without any elected representative being able to do anything about it.

Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), also called Fast Track, will put an end to any discussion in Congress about the TPP. There will limited debate with members of the House and Senate unable to offer any amendment to the agreement. It all culminates in a straight up or down vote. Our founding fathers put more thought into writing the Constitution. If we're going to yield sovereign power to make our laws to an unelected tribunal of corporate shysters, then we should at least have good, hearty debate on the matter.

There is another troubling point about the TPP: the secrecy that shrouds the agreement. Our representatives in Congress are forbidden from discussing it in public. The secrecy is being directed at you and me, We, the People. This is wrong. The discussion that shouldn't be happening is discussion in Congress about scheduling a vote. There should be no vote at all on the TPP unless and until the agreement is made public. I can't imagine what is in a trade agreement that would require this level of secrecy. This, too, should ring the alarms.

It isn't our duty to support the President when he's pushing a bad, undemocratic trade deal whose provisions dismantle democracy and sell out our national sovereignty. We didn't support the last President when he prosecuted a ginned up war for oil and we're not going to support the TPP. Our duty is to oppose the trade agreement now, and to rip it to shreds with a campaign of mass civil disobedience if it passes.

Shame on anyone who says our duty to the leader and not to our nation.

Essay Inspired by the Cotton Letter



This essay is not addressed to Senator Cotton or his seditious friends on Capitol Hill, or even to their paymasters in America’s corporate suites, the one percent, those whom George Carlin calls the owners of America, the oligarchs who are in the last stages of overthrowing the vestiges of American democracy.

This essay, in its own way just as seditious as Senator Cotton’s letter, is addressed to you Americans who aren’t in the club that George Carlin identified.

I see the passage in the near future of the Trans Pacific Partnership as the death knell of American democracy. We can pass whatever laws we like and the oligarchs will just take it a kangaroo court composed of corporate lawyers who will overrule it. The sovereignty of nations, and of the people who are the citizens of those nations, will be at an end.
If we want to return to democratic government, we will have to fight the oligarchs for it.

The fight must be best fought with a commitment to nonviolent strategy and tactics. We must not recognize oligarchs’ regime. We must not cooperate with the oligarchs’ regime. Our goal must be to overthrow the oligarchs’ regime and restore democracy.
Key to these tactics will be things that are just plain illegal. General strikes are against federal law, but that is not something that we should concern ourselves with once American sovereignty is usurped by a corporate oligarchy featuring its own judicial system under the TPP. The corporation for whom you work will be paying you as little as possible and bringing cases to the TPP tribunal to strike down regulations concerning workplace safety and public health. The Koch brothers won’t even have to go through the charade of denying climate science to escape culpability for the effects of global warming. They just bring the case to the TPP’s kangaroo courts. Should we be expected to honor laws or government given to protect those who starve us with low wages and choke us with environmental pollution? Of course not. We should refuse to work for them.

Another important weapon at our disposal is the tax strike. The law is not for our benefit, but for the benefit of corporate tyrants. With national sovereignty destroyed and government of the people, for the people and by the people a thing of the past, why should we pay taxes? Representation of the people has no effect, and taxation without representation is still tyranny.

Of course, the forces of tyranny should not be expected to take kindly to an open campaign of civil disobedience and non-cooperation. They will strike back and strike back hard. Be prepared to go to jail, even to be tortured and even to die. We may be committed to nonviolence, but, as seen in the Iraq War and Ferguson, Missouri, our adversaries are committed to building and protecting their power at any costs and by any means.

Finally, we must commit ourselves to not fight in their dirty little corporate imperialist wars. We don’t benefit from them. There’s nothing in it for any of us except a burial plot in Arlington.

There are very few "just" wars, and no war is really just in the last analysis. World War II is often cited as a just war, but in that case it was only just for the allies. Otherwise, it was a war started by a mad man who had no excuse, just his hate-filled delusions. The Japanese were more conventional villains than the Nazis. The Japanese went to war to expand into an empire, to subjugate nations and seize their natural resources.

Wars are not fought for noble reasons. The Trojan War was not fought to rescue a “kidnapped” Queen from captivity, even if there is any truth to that story. The Agamemnon led his command across the Aegean Sea to Troy in order to control shipping through the Hellespont, the most important trade route in the region in the late Bronze Age.

US wars since 1945 have been of that Japanese model. The war against Iraq most certainly was. It was a war for oil. All other rationales were just window dressing to make a war rooted in corporate greed more palatable to the American public as making it appear to be an altruistic effort to destroy a bloody tyrant and enhance national security. The only truth in that was that Saddam really was a bloody tyrant. That he was a threat to American security, or even to his weakest neighbor, were bald faced lies. That the world is a better and safer place without Saddam in power is a mantra that the architects of the war have continued to use to justify their actions as all the other reasons have fallen apart under even the slightest scrutiny. Yet even this justification is brought into question by the rise of the terrorist regime of the Islamic State, which makes Saddam look like an enlightened despot by comparison.

The fossil fuel industry is on life support. Coal and oil are dirty, polluting and unhealthy sources of energy, and this is true even before we start talking about anthropogenic climate change, something that most certainly not a hoax. Yet the private enterprises that extract these resources from the earth are given tax breaks and government subsides to do so. Renewable energy is ready to come online and supplant fossil fuels in a matter of years. There is no excuse not to begin the process to begin the process of supplementing and finally supplanting fossil fuels with solar and wind power immediately.

Therefore, there is no need to fight wars in the Middle East. There is no need to spill the blood of America's future to secure more supplies of oil for ExxonMobil or Chevron.

We must not give our lives or the lives of our children or grandchildren to be sacrificed on the altar of the fossil fuel industries. We Americans must avoid military service until a rational energy policy is adopted by the government that supposedly derives its power and authority from We, the people, not They, the corporatists.

"There would be no reason to keep it so secret if it was in the interest of the public"

That, the last word for Yves Smith, is true.

That would mean that if America were actually a democracy, the default position of the people's representatives would be to oppose the TPP. To fast track this agreement when no member of Congress is allowed to see the whole thing, or even to bring it up for any kind of vote under those circumstances, is like signing a contract without reading the fine print.

The push to ram the TPP through Congress as quickly as possible without public discussion is just further evidence that America is an oligarchy in which corporate masters are aristocrats who presume to know what is best for the whole society and, as aristocratic classes have don throughout history, make decisions conforming to their own narrow interests and tell the unwashed masses that starving to death is good for them. That is the sum of John Galt's speech from Atlas Shrugged.

We, the People, have a right to read the TPP before our representatives in the legislature vote on it. We have a right to discuss this matter among ourselves, with the expectation that their will be a full discussion and airing of the agreement in a congressional debate before it is voted up or down. This whole process is an attempt to make fundamental law without consulting the people or even allowing the representatives of the people to be fully informed. It is a process that violates the principle that government is legitimate only if it is government with the consent of the governed.

Under these circumstances, any congressman who is prepared to support this agreement that he cannot read or streamline its passage is no true representative of the people of his district or state. It is simply not OK to be OK with that.

Let's get this straight: there are very few conservatives in the GOP nowadays

Anyone, including another woman (are you listening, Mrs. Schlafly?), who believes a woman is expected to oppose abortion in any and all circumstances without even an understanding of the issue from a woman's perspective and is otherwise perfectly all right with giving men the authority to tell women what to think or do is a misogynist.

The belief that such an arbitrary, unnatural hierarchy is mandated by either nature or something supernatural is by definition right wing. There are no kings, emperors, fascist leaders, slave masters or Übermenschen of any kind in this cosmos; those who claim there is a supernatural creator who made such beings and who is benevolently disposed to human beings believes in an oxymoron. Human beings are made partly as the aggressive, acquisitive beasts that Ayn Rand would have us believe we are, but also the social animal who reaches out to his fellows for love, companionship and a collective, cooperative effort toward a common goal that Ms. Rand would also deny that we are. The most primitive humans are free men and women who live in groups and hunt in packs. Consequently, objectivism is nonsense, society exists as an outgrowth of human nature and democracy is the outcome of the natural process of social decision making. There is no need for kings, emperors, priests, fascist leaders, slave masters or Übermenschen of any kind and that includes -- dare we say it? -- business leaders who think their judgment is better than that of any of us and outweighs the judgment of the rest of us put together.

No human is superior to another in any natural order. Rousseau said Man is born free, yet is everywhere in chains. Those chains, I maintain, are an illusion. As another great writer said, The fault, dear Brutus, is in ourselves, not in our stars, that we are underlings. The first act toward casting off our chains is to simply stop believing in them.

Women of America and the world, I cannot make you free; I merely inform you that you are free, as you probably already knew that you are free. Don't let these misogynists even think that they have any make-believe authority over you. Tell them loud and clear that they do not and that abortion is your right and has always been your right and will always be your right and no misogynist -- not Erick Erickson nor Ted Cruz nor Phyllis Schlafly -- can take it away from you.

I have a different point of view

This is in response to Mike Malloy's comments on Chris Kyle.

My years in the Army were during peacetime, but they still gave perspective. I have serious problems with the "just following orders" rationale not being a proper defense in all cases. Soldiers are trained to follow orders. Soldiers are often decorated for following orders. Soldiers are ofter given a court martial for not following. While in basic training, I saw a short film about war crimes and how an order to commit one is itself illegal and the soldier is has an obligation to disobey. Of course, the war crime dramatized was a redneck infantry lieutenant ordering that civilians be used as human shields and later that prisoners be executed because the captain wants a body count of at least three. It was a pretty cut and dried case of a war crime with no ambiguity whatsoever. It was all simple, neat and well-packaged. As drama, it was artless.

The reality, I suspect, is quite different. The same people to urge enlistees to "use your chain of command" also warn them that "shit rolls downhill." Too many troops I served with were afraid of authority, even of officers they thought were lunatics or idiots. If a soldier gets a questionable order in combat, my bet is that he will carry it out, no matter distasteful he finds it or how clearly illegal it is. He also knows if he disobeys, there will be repercussions directed his way. He knows his comrades in arms will be discouraged from giving witness against and that there will be a likelihood that up the chain of command, the accused officer's fellow officers will give him the benefit of the doubt against an enlistee.

I like to think I would have refused such an order, but in the heat of performing a live combat mission I cannot be sure how I would have acted.

I can't be accused of being "right wing-ized." I'd make an awfully bad wingnut.

Nor can I be accused of not being among those who tried to stop the war in Iraq before it started. I marched in the late winter/early spring to 2003. One day I was part of the largest anti-war demonstration ever seen in Sacramento. The next day I was part of over a quarter million marchers who jammed Market Street in San Francisco all the way from the Embarcadero to City Hall. Even counting my three years in the Army, March to stop the invasion of Iraq and my other anti-war activities at that time was the best service I ever gave my country.

Chris Kyle does not sound like an admirable person. If it weren't for joining the Navy, he sounds like someone who might have become a serial killer. One of my best friends has a son who served in Iraq. His Marine unit was in Fallujah. One night he was on guard duty. A suspicious looking approached the compound entrance. The young man told him stop. He told him to stop in Arablic. He picked up the language because he had positive interactions with the locals, unlike Chris Kyle. The man did not stop and the young Marine had to shoot and kill. It bothers him to this day. It bothers him even though, as it turns out, the man was, in fact, wearing a suicide bomb.

It's hard for me to think of Chris Kyle as a hero. He is the worst of America, a racist who goes overseas and enjoys murdering foreigners in their own country in order for US oil company tycoons to expropriate that country's natural wealth and isn't bothered by it.

As for my friend's son, he is a hero.

Dissenting: I wish it were BS

To make your point, you cite one of those among the powerful who still has the common sense to know that in the long run the market cannot go unregulated as it has for thirty years. It should come as no surprise that that is the only quote you can find, since most of those driving us driving us off a cliff, like the Koch brothers or Legs Dimon or Pretty Boy Lloyd don't make public statements about it. Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and those assholes certainly aren't going to protect their plans from the sun. It's the same reason the TPP was negotiated in secret and remains secret.

Frankel is right: what we have is an "amoral", "irresponsible system." But it is the system we have and the Wall Street tycoons have paid good money to bribe politicians and influence elections to further their nefarious goals. The thesis presented by Messrs. Papantonio and Leopold is that Democrats, too, are sucking up Wall Street as much as Republicans. Perhaps not all Democrats, since Senator Warren clearly doesn't. Unfortunately, she and Senator Sanders, who shows his disdain for how the Democrats have bought into the prevailing corruption by running as an independent, are among the exceptions. The rule is represented by Senator Booker, who raises money from Wall Street and votes as they tell him to vote in return, as well has unholy trio of Clinton, Manchin and Schumer named in Pap's introduction.

Let's drop this party chauvinism. Let's take our blinders off. There is a real crisis in the economy and the Democrats in Congress and the administration have done far more to feed it than to relieve it. President Obama, too, must bear responsibility for feeding the crisis since he allowed Eric Holder and Lanny Breuer to let the Wall Street criminals off the hook with light fines when he should have thrown both of them out of the Justice Department, loudly and publicly, about half way through his first term.

Democrats are better than Republicans. The Affordable Care Act is a good beginning to health care reform. Democarats are better because they support a more inclusive society that allows more people to participate in the American dream. However, that makes precious little difference when the American dream can no longer be realized. The absence of gay marriage or even more affordable health insurance is not going to tear America apart before income inequality does. The only way to maintain this level of inequality is with a police state. Do you really think NSA spying is about al Qaida? Don't be so naive. You and I are the presumed enemies of the government over whom the government is keeping watch. There is no war on terror. There is a war for the planet's natural resources and the powerful expect your children and grandchildren and mine to fight and die to make them richer, while we and our posterity will not benefit a twit.

It does no good to dismiss RT with such a broad brush. I watch much of RT's content as it presented here or on YouTube and I still think that if the Russian people were smart then they would make a lamppost ornament out of Vladimir Putin.

The question before us is what are we going to do about income inequality. It certainly isn't to stay on the same course administrations of either party and the congresses controlled by either party have been steering for the last three and a half decades. The follow up question is can we still fix the problem at the ballot box. Personally, I would still like to think we can; however, given the ability of the powerful to corrupt and manipulate the system, I advise all of us to prepare our torches and pitchforks.
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