June 24th 2009 - Wednesday
Hour Two: "Health care reform? Capitalism is the answer!" Thom challenges Dr. Jay Richards of the Discovery Institute www.discovery.org
Hour One: John Wasik www.johnwasik.com "The Cul-de_Sac Syndrome: Turning Around the Unstainable American Dream
Hour Three: "Everything You Know is Wrong" Ken Davis www.dontknowmuch.com "America's Hidden HIstory"
Here is my latest dispatch from war zone where the ongoing struggle for human dignity continues. One of the least respected rights of a civilian, especially if he is a minority, by police is protection from arbitrary harassment, especially if motivated by race or appearance. Take for instance reading a book while sitting on a park bench on a sunny afternoon. A cop on a fishing expedition comes up to you and asks you what you are doing. Doesn’t this cop have eyes, or have advanced past the fourth grade, or the playground bully stage? Isn’t being a cop an occupation that requires an IQ somewhere in the “normal” range? You say “What does it look like I’m doing?” The cop responds by saying “Oh, oh, an attitude.” Having an “attitude” is all the excuse a cop needs to abuse you.
One of most routinely ignored rights a citizen has from police abuse is not being stopped and/or required to produce your identification for any arbitrary reason, including race or appearance. That is until the Hebiil case in which the fascist five on the Supreme Court once again trampled on a person’s Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights. Police are now allowed to stop anyone or demand ID on mere “reasonable suspicion.” What does “reasonable suspicion” mean? I know what “reasonable suspicion” means to bigoted whites, and by extension their police. Skin color or “ethnicity,” walking alone, speaking a different language, reading a book—these are all sufficient “reasons” for “suspicion.” When a Port of Seattle cop singled me out of scores of others waiting at a bus stop and demanded that I show him “where my name was” on my laptop, it was clear that there is not a low standard for “reasonable suspicion” or even “probable cause”—there is no standard at all that applies to police.
Last week, the power adapter on my over-priced Sony laptop suddenly decided it didn’t want to work anymore, and instead of shelling-out $150 for a new one I went to the nearest used PC parts and repair shop, this one located in Tukwilla, WA. The proprietor had only one that would work for the Sony brand, a very old and very bulky adaptor which he would sell to me for $50. If it worked I was fine with that, but I wasn’t expecting to pay that much and didn’t have the money on me, so I left to go the bank a couple blocks away. I withdrew some money from an ATM, and walked back toward the shop. I stopped at a cross walk to go the side of the street the shop was on. That’s when the “trouble” started.
While I was waiting for the walk sign, a Tukwilla police car was crawling toward me; the officer inside was staring at me, obviously hoping I would make some furtive movement that would give him an excuse to “rough” me-up. It was so obvious a ploy but also quite maddening; when he drove past me he turned his head and kept his eyes trained on me; in response I shook my head. This caused him to laugh and grab his radio mike; he spoke to someone briefly, then made a u-turn. Before I could cross the street he parked the car on the side of the street near to me and told me to stay put. I asked him what he wanted; he asked me what I wanted, that I had gestured to him that I wanted to talk to him. Quite perturbed by this falsehood I told him I didn’t want anything. He then proceeded to tell three more rather bizarre fabrications, even for a policeman:
I had stopped him in order to inform him of the location of stolen goods.
That it had just been reported that someone who “looked” like me was a suspect for something he didn’t explain. In frustration I informed of what I had been doing for the past hour; the fact that the officer didn’t feel justified to repeat his claim spoke for its lack of veracity.
After calling him on these falsehoods, He wanted to see ID; I have often wondered what would happened if I refused to do this, but now wasn’t the time and I had things to before I went to jail on principle. A dispatcher informed him in one of those code numbers that they had nothing on me. Still insisting on acting the clever/stupid cop, he asked me about the robbery I wanted to “report.” This really upset me, and I amused several bystanders while gesturing with my arms and telling the cop to “stop lying.” The cop informed the dispatcher that he was letting me go, and that I was, well, angry.
Of course, there was a fourth lie, which was the fact that looking like a “Mexican” had nothing to do with his initial interest in me. Anyways, while I proceeded on my way to the shop, I noticed this officer and another pulled into a parking lot further down the road. As I was walking by, the cop rolled down his window and asked me if I hadn’t just told him I was going to the bank. I informed him I had just been to the bank (as I had told him before), pointing in the direction I had just come from. I informed him that I thought his behavior was “sick.”
Enough my ongoing struggles for dignity. A few months ago a jury found a Kent cop and the city not liable for violating the civil rights of man who had been wounded during a shooting spree by a Kent cop who claimed his life had been in danger. The man was a passenger in a car that unbeknownst to him was stolen; video showed that the cop’s life was in no way “imperiled” when he fired the shots that wounded this victim. Of course, we may ask when it became customary for police to shoot people in moving cars rather than trying to disable the vehicle (like blowing out tires), especially when a head shot is what they are aiming for. Now there are reports that one juror, the wife of a police officer, bullied the other jurors with the usual police paranoia and alibis. Even the trial judge reportedly disagrees with the original verdict, and there may be a retrial.
As an aside, it is interesting to note that the victim only had civil rights to defend because he was alive. If he was dead, he would have no need for civil rights.
Still, I give the Kent police a slight edge over the Tukwilla police for level of thuggery; the Kent police are, after all, more “proficient” with lethal force, the victim just spoken of notwithstanding. Of course, speaking out like this only invites more abuse than I’ve already received. But like I told one of those bystanders who was laughing, I am not afraid of cops. Why should a law-abiding citizen be afraid of cops? Or should they be?
I have heard similar stories from my son. When he was in high school, he was running with the "wrong crowd." (He was depressed, having trouble with school, I was away for months or weeks at a time because of regular critical episodes in my mother's terminal disease, and my husband worked long hours and just didn't see our son's need for help.) Apparently, frequent run-ins with cops and my son and the people he hung out with sensitized my son so that he was immediately aware of any cops in the area. He was wary of them, which, I imagine, made them even more aware and suspiscious of him. (That is, if you LOOK guilty, you must BE guilty, in the cops' way of thinking.) So, he suffered harrassment, as a result. On one occasion, he was arrested, threatened, and physically roughed up at the police station. (He is white and looks Scandinavian or northern European.) I thank God that he made a life-changing decision and is on a different path today.
Mark, the WA cops you describe sound monstrous. Is there anywhere you can go to address this problem? Is there an ACLU group there that could help or advise you? My first inclination is to contact people on the city council or the state representative for your area. Of course you are angry and suspicious --- I would be, too. (I have struggled with authority figures since my abuse as a child.)
Maybe you aren't asking for suggestions. I wish I could help, though. I'm so sorry for all you have endured.
btw, your narratives are so moving and articulate, you seem to have a gift as a writer. Any possibility of doing some writing for your local paper, especially on these issues?
Dignity as a human being seems so little to ask. It's hard to get from those who have none themselves.
Chris Matthews got into a dust-up with Mika and Joe on "Morning Joe" today over the morality of universal health care in the U.S.:
Bottom line, in the private industry, there is an incentive to keep people ill so as to keep charging them for treatments and pills etc.
We do have food banks and food stamps from the Farm Bill
No one believes that gov can do a better job- then why are the insurance companies so freaked out about a public option?
If you people wish, you can call the Iranian Consulate, like I did at (202) 965-4990. Press 2 for not a citizen, then 2 again for general information, then 0 for a rep. I got right through and just told him that I didn't think the authorities should be shooting people in the streets and arresting journalists and other people. He was real fired up that I called, and said he would report that to the Iranian authorities. I made sure I let him know that this was not our government speaking.. just a concerned citizen.. Got the idea from John Stewart's guest the other night..Son of a prisioned Iranian activist. He thinks that is the best thing we could do. .Thanks, Blake
Who is standing between me and my doctor?? I don't have a doctor, because I've never had health insurance. So I guess the Republicans (and a few Demorats) are the ones standing in the way.
Oops. I did not mean to write "Demorats" instead of "Democrats". Nice accidental pun, though.
We not only are working on Democratic (?) Senator Nelson for health care but we visited Senator Mike Johanns office in Kearney, NE yesterday. Don't know how much good we did, but we tried.
With health care I do not want competition; I want competence and care when needed. An HMO is not competent to decide what care is needed. That is a matter between the patient and the doctor.
To consider health care as a business is another circumstance in which humans are treated as objects of profit just as they are considered expendable in their jobs.
I am fortunate to benefit from health care in France where I reside. I choose my doctor and received excellent care after heart surgery ten years ago, two weeks in the hospital and a month in a specialized center for recovery , exercise, pool, dieticien and medical care.
This care is not free. We pay for it out of salaries and retirement benefits and the employer pays his share into the Medical fund that insures everyone.
We are not furniture, we are human beings and we deserve human care.
I just talked to Maria Cantwell's DC office and asked about her position on the public option to health care.
I was told that she is in favor of a comprehensive public option.
She does not yet have a position on single payer.
I was told that she does not favor the co-op option.
How she will vote is still not certain, but she is definitely moving towards the public option. The rep said that they are receiving many calls on both sides of the subject. Keep up the pressure or she will revert to following the money.
Here is a suggestion for what to say when callers like "Bob" insist that a public option will put private companies out of business. Forget about pointing out that their argument is illogical. Instead, just say, "Oh, sure, just like the Post Office put UPS and Fedex out of business. Just like public schools put private schools out of business. Just like police departments put private security firms out of business." I'd like to hear what their response is to that.
Thanks for the interview with John Wasik. The conversation about land use only briefly touched on the subsidies for sprawl, but this is a significant part of the present political crookedness. David Cay Johnston (in "Free Lunch:...") points out that 75% of W's net worth came from a stadium scam. Such deals are typical of sprawl development.
A particularly egregious such outrage is Sacramento's formerly rural "North Natomas" development. Because agricultural land is cheap -- a few thousand dollars an acre -- and development land is expensive -- a few hundred thousand an acre -- there's a tremendous incentive for land speculators to beg for development rights, no matter how unsuitable the land.
And just because of this enormous hundred-fold profit, Sacramento's land speculators proposed to develop even the twenty-foot-under-water-surrounded-by-weak-levees floodplain that is North Natomas (a stadium was included in this one too).
How unsuited for development was this land? When Sacramento's regional sewer plant got a Federal grant to increase its capacity, the terms of the grant said that if the additional capacity led to the development of North Natomas' floodplain, the developers would owe a $6 million penalty -- real money at the time.
The land speculators didn't hesitate a moment. They went all the way to then-Vice President G.H.W. Bush, and got the agreement altered so the penalty was payable in installments, rather than up front, which would have been prohibitive.
Oh yes, and they also got a grant of $43 million in Federal levee improvement money to bring those weak levees up to pre-Katrina standards.
Pretty good deal, eh? Pay $6 million on the installment plan to get $43 million in improvements! Where do I get one of those?
But wait, there's more! Not only do developers get a hundred-fold (10,000%) profit when they do these deals, the only tax they pay on that profit is the chump change in planning fees. If they 1031 exchange out of the land (into an income-producing property like a shopping center or apartment complex) they indefinitely defer paying even income tax.
There are more profits / subsidies to describe in this particular case, but I think you get the idea. It was a gigantic rip-off from the public realm. Notice, BTW, that none of this appears as either taxes or spending. It's a special favor to land speculators that amounts to a missed revenue opportunity.
Contrast this (California) development practice with Germany's. There, the developers have to sell the land to the local government at the low (ag land) price, and buy it back after that government grants the development entitlements. There is no 10,000% tax-free profit in the developers' pockets; it all stays with the local government.
And in Germany, kids don't have to sell wrapping paper and candy so they can have after-school sports, or arts programs. To give you an idea of the extent of this outrage, just the arts budget for the City of Berlin exceeds the National Endowment for the Arts for the United States of America.
This scratches the surface of the massive give-aways that are unfortunately a commonplace in local politics. George W. is just a guy who was a super-star at extorting money from little local governments -- for the Arlington stadium in his case.
I'd encourage you to make more of this known.
If you don't want to feature the subsidy / crookedness angle, I recommend Andres Duany as a guest. What got me started as a fan of pedestrian-friendly, mixed use development was his 90-minute lecture visible here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwd4Lq0Xvgc
I'd also encourage you to lobby Senator Sanders about this. The Feds could change the way we build cities overnight. All they'd have to do would be to change FNMA / FHLMC underwriting standards to require all new development be in neighborhoods configured according to the pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use "Smart Codes" (see http://www.smartcodecentral.org/)
Since such neighborhoods typically produce more valuable homes, reduce driving roughly by half, encourage healthy walking, and lessen social isolation, this is one of the few win / win / win propositions around.
Meanwhile, sprawl is the physical embodiment of the YOYO ("You're on your own") philosophy that infects those you call the "Cons." The Congress on New Urbanism estimated not too long ago that the U.S. develops sprawl 1500 times more often than pedestrian-friendly mixed use.
That sounds like a big deal to me...
(The most inspiring planner: Jaime Lerner of Curitiba / Garana Brasil also does English speaking gigs. I don't know how it'd work on the radio, but Paul Hawken's "Natural Capitalism" has some very encouraging descriptions of what Lerner did with a third-world budget. It puts our efforts to shame, frankly).
Thanks again for a terrific show.
While watching the government crackdown on the Iranian people a comment was made that the Iranian middle class could not sustain a prolonged general strike because their economy was in bad shape. I was stuck by what Thom has been preaching to us that the wealthy in the US do not want a wealthy middle class in the US so that they can control us and they can keep us from protesting in the street. There it was, being played out right now in front of our own eyes, the ruling classes worst nightmare.
Breaking news from Mark Sanford's press conference!
Don’t fly for me Argentina
The truth is I never was hiking
My wife thought I was writing
Why all the drama
I wasn’t naked
I blame Obama
For your caller on Hillary Clinton’s healthcare plan:
Revisionist much? Ms Clinton did not put forth the best healthcare plan. There were two Democratic candidates with better healthcare plans than Ms Clinton’s . . . Dennis Kucinich advocated a true single-payer AND Ms Clinton’s plan widely parroted John Edward’s plan with greater protections for corporate health insurance providers.
Yes, Ms Clinton’s efforts remain worthy of respect BUT not unnecessarily glorified.
Also, there was Huckleberry's . . . Sorry . . . Huckabee's plan . . . Diet or die.
Did anyone else check out the Michelle Bachmann comic book put out by the folks at DUMP BACHMANN?
RE: Sanford . . .
Why would he resign anything . . . I think his behavior typifies Republican behavior. Actually, I am surprised that it was a woman . . .
RE: Actually, I am surprised that it was a woman . . .
Wish we weren't losing Thom's full 3-hour show in San Francisco. Any suggestions for hearing Thom's Show live on-line?
Are there still lots of secreted Nazi-Fascists in Argentina?
There are only 40 - 49 Senators in the way of historical health care reform. These corporatists are in the way of the American people. They only outnumber us in Dollars and in media propaganda. WE have video cameras on our cell phones. WE can camp out in thier yards. WE can protest on thier streets. WE 72% of 300 plus million AMericans must number what around 220 million? Are we going to let 49 corporatists get in the way of 220 million Americans? Hell no! Unite ! show pictures of these Senators on yachting vacations with corporate lobyists. SHOW THE CORRUPTION! THEY HAVE CNN AND FOX BUT WE HAVE CELL PHONES AND UTUBE!!!!!!!!!! FIGHT!
IN BRAZILIAN JUIJITSU THEY TEACH THAT THE MAN ON THE BOTTOM IN A FIGHT CAN WIN THE FIGHT IF HE IS SKILLED AT FIGHTING FROM THE BOTTOM. THAT IS WHAT WE THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ARE DOING FIGHTING FROM THE BOTTOM. WE CAN WIN BUT WE MUST ORGANIZE AND HIT KEY POINTS. PEACEFULLY ATTACK THE SENATORS WITH THE TRUTH IN THIER OWN FRONT YARDS! THIS IS JUST ONE METHOD THAT I HAVE THOUGHT OF, BUT THERE ARE OTHERS WHO CAN THINK OF DIFFERENT WAYS OF GETTING DOWN AND DIRTY AND VERBALLY AND VISUALLY "GROUND FIGHT" ON THE INTERNET, THESE SENATORS INTO PUBLIC HUMILIATION THROUGH UTUBE EXPOSURE OF THIER CORRUPT BEHAVIOUR.
Aloha and "right on" John! Every excuse has been used by transnational corporations against a single payer health plan. Why? Because pharmaceutical and insurance corporations stand to lose billions that are being cheated from people who pay medical insurance. Like parrot's, many in the republican party mimic these arguments and don't even understand, or for that matter, base anything they say on fact or personal experience. Many of these people have never been out of the USA! They repeat what dad, uncle, cousin, auntie said, but have no factual basis for what they say.
When someone tells you that they know of someone that had to drive down to the states from Canada to receive prompt health care, ask for a name. I have many times and so far, no one has given me a name or email address so that I can ask the question. However, I have asked people from Canada, England, Norway and France (I recently graduated from online international animation school) and they all seem to like their health care. So... who do I believe... the people who can't give me proof of their assertions, or from people who are friends and give me their "actual" opinion?
The bottom line is that health care costs are crippling American small business owners, the backbone of our economy. Millions of people are going without healthcare. Millions of Americans are paying billions of dollars each year on inadequate health care, being denied services even after paying and going bankrupt.
Since most Americans favor a public health plan, the opposition is now saying that we can't afford it. I say, "how can we not afford it?" We spent trillions on a war in Iraq we were "scammed" into. We allow goods from other countries to enter our country and compete with American made goods without tariffs to compensate for the lack of health care, environmental protection and safe working conditions that are required by our US companies? And we can't afford universal health care for our own citizens?
I would like Thom to weigh in on The Obama Deception movie, if he has seen it. The way it's presented is a little hokie. Nevertheless, conspiracy or no conspiracy, there is a ruling elite who control the US and this movie attempts to explain how Obama is also a puppet of the same wealthy people who have always been in control. The people out front might change, but the ones pulling the strings have not. Which is why nothing will change until we have publicly funded elections, and nationalize the Federal Reserve. Anyway, the movie keeps talking about the ruling elite's desire for a "New World Order".