every great cause needs someone who will go to the extremes that no one else will former utah governor mike leavitt – on tom welch
meet tom welch. he was born in ogden, utah and was a prominent attorney and civic leader in utah in the mid-1990s.
and below, meet dave johnson. he was a big car dealer and also a very prominent citizen in utah around the same time.
being the civic minded guys they are, they were charged with bidding to get the winter olympics to be held in utah. they tried and failed. they learned from their experience. oh – and their boss was a guy named frank joklik. nothing special about frank except his funny name, which was the basis for many jokes at the time.
what they learned was that it isn’t just about facilities, airports, stadiums, scenery, logistics and competition. they learned that the olympics, like the businesses both men were involved in, were really just about money and often, swindling people.
after getting burned on an olympic bid they were sure salt lake would win, they went on all cylinders for the 2002 bid. some would say they went too far – but they were successful. this was back in 1995, mind you.
i remember listening to the announcement on the radio that we had ‘won’ the games. (purchased would have been a more apt term). i remember the guy who announced it, in broken english, saying ‘we award the 2002 winter olympics to the city of salt lake city”. i always thought that was cute, the ‘city of salt lake city’.
seemed like it would be a good thing for our city. and perhaps it was.
but that wasn’t what this article is about.
this is really about tom welch. tom got into hot water, along with dave johnson, over how they handled the bid. was then-governor mike leavitt privy to it? what did he know and when did he know it? did they commit a crime?
doing a little research it seems clear that each and every olympic games ‘bid’ and ‘award’ process is just a money game. china ‘lobbied’ hard for the games, and put on an amazing show. they surely spent more than they made back, but it’s about raising the value of the city – or the nation, itself.
many cities around the world have horrible olympic stories. the olympics came and went, leaving newly constructed empty event centers and the like. for a lot of places, there was no payoff.
in utah, however – i think it has paid off, and continues to do so.
but how did we get the olympics? in the 1995 go-round, tom and dave spread around close to a million dollars worth of bribes, free tuition and medical care to 14 members of the ioc (international olympic committee) and their families.
there was testimony that welch once, while wearing a rolex during a dinner with an ioc member, actually gave him the watch off his wrist. utah wanted the olympics badly. tom welch delivered, no matter what it cost.
tom welch was riding high in 1995 and 1996. but then in 1997 he had a problem. in his fancy house with his rags-to-riches wife, he got into a spat. he either ‘choked or slapped’ her. it wasn’t ongoing abuse apparently, just a situation that got out of hand. but the cops were called. and tom, being the olympics big-wig he was, it made the national papers.
on top of that, in late 1998, a whistle-blower at the ioc said that members had been taking bribes. investigations began. tom welch, being the point man, was the name mentioned in the news every time they mentioned the salt lake bid.
after about a solid year of stories in the local paper and in the international news, tom stepped down, ostensibly to await his fate. he would get divorced, by and by. but would he go to jail? would he lose all he had, just for doing what he was instructed to do by his mormon handlers in utah business and government? nah. he’d be fine.
i think it was all decided ahead of time. i think tom welch is a soldier and did what he had to do to get the olympics here, and then to make sure they went off as best they could, he took the bullet. i think he probably could have stayed on and ran the olympics. he probably could have weathered the storm, if it were just the bid scandal looming. but because of his getting charged with domestic violence prior to the blow-up, it seems like it was all too much. i think the word came down from mike leavitt (or ‘higher’ authorities) that tom should take the fall.
and i’m sure that they were told that, in the end, nothing would come of it for him and dave. and in 2003, a judge threw out the case against the guys.
and in the interim, mike leavitt brought in mitt romney to take tom welch’s place, so the bad press wouldn’t interfere with the olympic glory. mitt took over in 1999, by the way.
alma welch fell on hard times. she divorced tom and ended up going through any money she recieved. in late 2011, reports surfaced that she sold her 2003 jaguar to a title loan company for $3000 and was homeless, or close to it.
tom welch is still a prominent member of the community, in his way. dave johnson’s car dealerships are still selling cars, and the international olympic committee keeps selling the dream of the olympics to rich and poor cities alike, all hoping for a miracle. and mitt romney is 100,000 votes in ohio away from becoming the president of the united states.
but really what this blog post is about is that i’m sitting in bed, the night before the presidential election, where mitt romney is challenging barack obama to lead that nation, and all i can think is: “if tom welch hadn’t slapped his wife around, would it be possible?”
i recently watched an overblown movie about ‘human connectedness’ called cloud atlas. i hated it and wrote about it on this blog. but looking at the butterfly effect, perhaps, of one couple’s bad night when the cops were called and how that has possibly panned out for the nation, i’m just a little in awe of how tightly everything really seems related.
“i’m going to tell you how god came to be god. we have imagined and supposed that god was god from all eternity. i will refute that idea and take away the veil so you may see…he was once a man like us: yeah, that god himself, the father of us all, dwelt on earth, the same as jesus christ himself did.” from teachings of the prophet joseph smith
with mitt romney challenging barack obama for the presidency, i thought it would be something to read up a bit and spell out some of the particular beliefs of the church of jesus christ of latter day saints, since many in this country know very little about the mormons.
interestingly, at the first republican party convention in 1856, their platform contained the following language: “fight the twin relics of barbarism – polygamy and slavery”. the republicans were anti-mormon because of polygamy and various anti-american stances the mormons had taken. the church leaders also endorsed slavery. democrat stephen douglas, in the following presidential election, counted on the mormons and backed their squatters rights of sovereignty. he was defeated by abraham lincoln.
but given the current presidential race, a lot are calling it the ‘mormon moment’ – a time prophesied to come when a mormon would take power in the americas. but romney isn’t the first mormon (or even the first romney) to take a stab at the presidency. mitt’s father ran but didn’t get the nomination. this has puzzled me a bit because he was born in mexico while his parents were living on a mormon mission there. george romney wasn’t a natural born us citizen, nor was he born in a us territory or on a us military base, so i don’t know that he had a legal basis for running. why were his parents in mexico in the first place? it wasn’t simple missionary work. many mormons originally went to mexico so that they could continue to practice polygamy. and yes, mitt romney’s ancestors practiced polygamy.
in addition to the two romney’s running for president, the church founder, joseph smith, also ran for president in 1844.
up front i think i should say that i have never been close to being mormon. i currently live in utah, but did not grow up here. i came to utah for the first time in 1994 or so, and up until then i had only heard the word ‘mormon’ in an offhand way. i never had reason or cause to investigate it, and i don’t think that before i moved here i had ever talked to a single mormon.
but being in utah, it’s a thing you learn something about. a lot of non-mormons here are really hard on mormons. they complain that they stifle and ruin the culture, that they are judgmental, boring, uninspired and sheeplike. i don’t see them as any different from anyone else or any other religious group, as far as the individual goes.
mormons believe and follow a totally self serving belief system which comforts them and assures them of certain rewards and blessings if they believe, behave and contribute.
it’s just the odd specifics of some of their beliefs, some of them beliefs they don’t like to talk about publicly too much, that i mean to share for those who might not be aware of them.
it is a religion which borrows liberally from other faiths and scriptures. it has a curiously comic but very specific origin story, because it is so historically new. the mormons have a history of being anti-american, until it suited them – with spates of violence and rebellion filling that gap. they believe in revelation and prophecy, and despite the moniker ‘the church of jesus christ of latter day saints’ they really are not ‘christians’.
mormons believe that the book of mormon is the most correct book of all. they believe that every person that has ever existed is a spiritual brother or sister. nothing new there so far…. but they go on to believe that there really is not just one god, but many gods. mormons are essentially polytheists.
for them, god was once a human being and grew to be a god. they believe jesus was the first born son to god and one of his 1000′s of wives. they maintain that jesus wasn’t born to be our savior, but that he became one through a vote of a ‘council’ of gods.
mormons believe that they too can become gods. they further believe that if they reach the highest level of glory they will eventually get their own planet when they die. god supposedly lives on a planet called kolob.
for mormons, there are three degrees of glory for all mankind: the telestial kingdom (doctrine and covenants 76:103), the terrestrial kingdom and the celestial kingdom (76:58). the celestial kingdom is, of course, the highest.
maybe i’m getting ahead of myself. let’s go back to the beginning:
“the bible is so full of errors, one can hardly believe a word in it” mark e peterson (mormon apostle)
from the book the way of the master
joseph smith was the founder of the church. he was born in 1805. he was born into an area of upstate new york that was given to revivals and end of days preachers, so much so that it became known as the ‘burned over district’. joseph, his brother and his father all had some limited involvement in the occult. his father was said to have the ‘gift’ of visions. i am not certain if this involvement was because they actually believed it or because inciting occult practices helped in short term con games.
joseph engaged in glass looking. this was a con wherein a special stone or glass is used to ‘determine’ the location of treasure, other valuables or even water. by and by this leads to joseph being charged in court.
where they were living was home to many indian burial grounds, and the idea that they were living in an area where ‘treasures’ could be found permeated. so too did the idea already exist that the lost tribe of israel might be somehow interred there.
in the spring of 1820, as a teenager, he went to a grove to ask god what church to join. he said that god and jesus both appeared to him over the sun and told him that all the earths churches were wrong, and that all their creeds were an abomination.
it is some months after this that joseph smith said that he was visited three times (religions are real big on things in threes: visitations, trinities, books, etc) by an angel named ‘moroni’.
joseph smith will eventually provide at least 9 different version of these ‘visitations’. he was told that the true gospel of jeus christ had been lost to the world early in the 1st century – and that he should uncover it. the angel moroni appeared and instructed him what to do next in the holy restoration. he was directed to a stone chest which was supposedly buried in the hill cumorah, luckily not far from where smith lived. it contained a book written on gold plates. it was left there by jewish settlers who came 600 years before christ.
likely due to a fascination smith had with ancient egyptian culture, he reported that the word of god was written in reformed eqyptian characters on the gold plates. the question of why jews would write and bury a holy book in egyptian is never explained. smith translated these via two ‘seer stones, the thummim and urim, which were also provided.
several people were enlisted to help in his ‘transcribing’, starting with martin harris. they would be separated by a sheet and smith would put the seer stones in his hat, as he did when money-digging. he would ‘read’ what he saw there. why didn’t smith just write down the book of mormon himself? because he may not have been able to write, or if he could, he couldn’t write very well.
after the translation was complete, the golden plates ascended into heaven. not harris, oliver cowdery (another helper), or even joseph smith’s wife emma, ever saw the plates.
the book of mormon itself is really tiresome to read. the phrase ‘and it came to pass’ is used over 2000 times. a lot of text appears to have been liberally repeated from the bible itself – 25,000 words form the old testament and 2000 or so from the new. many other ideas appear to have been culled from ‘view of the hebrews’ by ethan smith. this book’s tales were well known around the time smith would have been supposedly getting his divine direction.
looking at joseph smith and mormonism through the lens of history, it seems he plagiarized a great deal of, if not the words, then the character of the religions he knew a little about: the texts of christianity, ideas from islam, and the character of the jews, going so far as to refer to non-mormons as gentiles.
the definitive biography of smith is ‘no man knows my history’ by fawn brodie.
later, smith reports that john the baptist returns to earth and baptizes he and oliver cowdery into the aaronic priesthood. he further claimed that peter, james and john also come to earth to bestow the melchezinuk priesthood upon him. in this way, followers of smith who were baptized could trace their spiritual lineage back to the ‘beginning’ of christianity. it’s a kind of spiritual genealogy. mormons are big on genealogy too.
more visitors appear to smith over time: moses, elias, elijah all appear to smith with special messages and different keys for the restoration.
and so joseph begins to build his church. over his life he would have at least 30 wives, many of whom were married to other men at the time of being sealed to him. he had a lot of range when it came to women. while many of his brides were underage children, many were also over 40.
he models himself on the islamic prophet muhammad, even appropriating an islamic slogan for himself: either joseph smith or the sword. he actually says “i shall be to this generation a new muhammad”, which is interesting because both were essentially illiterate men who were supposedly charged by god with writing lengthy holy books and who, in turn, borrowed like crazy from religious stories that illiterate men would be familiar with at their given times.
eventually he lands in nauvoo, illinois with 20,000 members. on april 11, 1844 his council declares him king of the kingdom of god. he’s also mayor of nauvoo, as well as the chief judge. all this power and his numerous declarations, not to mention all the wives he takes and the men he casts out of his church because he wants their wives, begins to rub many non-mormons the wrong way.
at this time he also has an ‘army’ of 2500 men he leads under the title ‘general joseph smith’
1844 is also the year smith runs for president. smith is reportedly asked by a subordinate “why run for president when you’re already present pro temp of the world?”. joseph smith was trying to build his political kingdom of god. he meant to fulfill his own prophecy. he and his apostles are constantly making anti-american statements, bucking the federal government and fomenting basic disorder among non-mormons around them. the mormons, especially during the first 50 years of the church, tended to see the authority of the government as at worst a hinderance and at best secondary to the word of their prophet, and therefore the word of god.
eventually, joseph smith is bound over for trial on treason and is jailed. quite fed up with him by then, an angry mob storms the jail on june 27, 1844. smith and his brother hyrum are killed, unintentionally granting smith martyrdom and reinforcing for mormons for 100 years the doctrine of blood atonement.
a jupiter talisman is found on joseph smith when he died at carthage, illinois.
the mormons begin an exodus , eventually stopping in utah, under the direction of brigham young
“the father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s. the son also” doctrine and covenants
prophesies of joseph smith
the city of new jerusalem – smith said a temple would be built in missouri in his generation on ‘mount zion. this did not happen.
the coming of god in 1891 – smith was very specific about the time frame, which is always a shaky move for a revelator. smith said jesus would return within 56 years of the revelation. this did not come to pass. (history of the church vol 2, pp 189)
white horse prophecy – this is the real biggie. this is what many are excited about with the ‘mormon moment’ chatter. this is the idea that the united states would fall under theocratic rule of mormons. this has yet to pass. and even if mitt romney gets elected, do you think it’s likely? and yet, a lot of mormons might secretly think this is a possible and even realistic outcome.
civil war prophecy – smith, like a lot of americans, could see a civil war coming. he thought that the entire world would become embroiled in it and that the confederacy would align with the british
he also actually and incorrectly predicted that the sun would disappear for ‘many days’ (doctrine and covenants 88:87)
“no, i don’t believe in the traditional christ. the traditional christ of whom they speak is not the christ of whom i speak. for the christ of whom i speak has been revealed in this the dispensation of the fullness of times” gordon b hinckley
deseret news, june 20, 1998
brigham young’s many adventures, misadventures, wives, crimes and conspiracies are worth a blog entry all their own, so i’ll cover just a few things here for historical continuity.
young succeeded joseph smith as president of the mormon church after smith’s murder. but it wasn’t immediate. there was a gap of over two years where the mormons fought among themselves. he is the one who, like moses, leads his people west to fulfill more prophecy but also get out away from the government and the locals with whom they were in nearly constant conflict with.
over his life, brigham young had at least 55 wives in his life time, and had 57 children.
they arrive in salt lake city and brigham young is appointed governor by millard fillmore. he sets up what would become the university of utah and starts mail delivery. but he is also very isolationist.
in 1855, president franklin pierce appoints a non-mormon governor for the utah territory. this incenses young and he starts a plan for cessation. he tries to foment revolution among the native americans, too, because at this point they are often cooperating with the us government.
in 1857, brigham young has the faithful involved in the mormon rebellion, which is not referred to as the utah war. it was really the first civil war in the united states.
brigham young employs a deadly group of militant mormon solders called the ‘danites’. they are an armed militia and act as the political police of the mormon church. the are ruthless enforcers and some tales revolving them will also get their own blog entry soon.
eventually, president buchanan sends troops to try to steady things. but on august 11, 1857 – young tells a crowd in salt lake city “i have fixed my determination to not let any federal troops into this territory”. immigration to utah ceases, and travel through utah becomes a touch matter for any travelers.
all this comes to a head when some travelers from arkansas are traveling through utah. they are eventually attacked by the mormons and 140 are killed. the date of the final attack? september 11. this would become known as the mountain meadows massacre.
brigham young remained president of the mormon church until he died. and like joseph smith, brigham young wore a blood stone around his neck as protection.
below, watch a wonderful animation that explains a lot about mormonism:
parley parker pratt has been called the archer of paradise. he opened a private toll road that runs from the park city area to salt lake. to this day the road and the canyon bear his name. he was great-great grandfather of mitt romney.
some accounts i’ve read say that the aforementioned mountain meadows massacre was allowed to take place because the mormon hierarchy circulated the rumor that the people from arkansas were somehow involved with or related to hector mclean. who was hector mclean? he was the legal husband of pratt’s twelth plural wife. after a court battle in which pratt was cleared, mclean tracked down parley pratt and shot him.
i mainly only mention parley pratt because he is mitt romney’s ancestor and was a devout polygamist. he had 12 wives and 30 children. mitt’s father, george romney, was born on a polygamous colony in mexico, as well. this is just background information. it does not indict mitt romney or mormonism. i’ve actually mentioned polygamy very little here, if only because i’m a little bored by the subject.
mormonism and freemasonry
joseph smith joined the masons in 1842. he adapts many masonic rituals and dress from freemasonry for mormon ceremonies. for example, the temple endowment ceremony is introduced just two months after he joins the masons. additionally, the nauvoo temple architecture is very masonically influenced.
freemasonry is a curious fraternal organization i mean to talk about more in the future, but for now let me just provide some extremely basic information.
freemasonry most likely began so that men who worked with masonry could know if someone else knew what they were doing. hundreds of years ago, as they were building huge buildings and temples with masonry, there were different levels of craftsman. it was dangerous work, especially if you weren’t sure of someone else’s skill level. this was before schools and certifications for trades, this was before social security cards and calling on the phone to check references. masons formed an organization so they could ferret out who knew what. they essentially certified themselves. they would have meetings to teach each other tricks of the trade. they would make each other swear upon death and other calamities not to share this information with anyone else because it was their bread and butter. through all this, they were able to share knowledge and techniques only with each other and to quickly identify other master masons. they developed various hierarchies inside the organization – replete with secret words and handshakes.
eventually ceremonies evolve and the organization expands. in the modern age, freemasonry has little to do with masonry work. the guy working on your house is likely not a mason. now it’s a private group that boasts about it’s secrets and has long had men of power who enjoy whatever shadowy fun and knowledge is to be had there.
masonic ceremonies and dress are curious things and a lot of them are ripped right from the occult. it is a lot of these aspects which smith lifted (again plagiarizing) for his own church to use.
baptizing the dead
the way mormons baptize, you can trace your baptism all the way back to john the baptist, peter, james, john and jesus.
one thing: joseph smith claimed that john the baptist descended from heaven and restored the levitical priesthood of aaron upon him, but so far as i can tell, john the baptist never held the levitical priesthood, so how could he restore it to joseph smith? but that’s just splitting hairs.
the point is, mormons are big on baptizing. they don’t just baptize new members or eight year olds who can’t possibly know enough about god or the world to make an informed decision. they have found a funny workaround for the fact of all those people who perished without knowing the good news joseph smith and mormonism had for them.
in secret temple ceremonies, the baptize dead people into their church.
the huge mormon genealogical database in salt lake city doesn’t exist just so that people can research their family trees. it exists so that the mormons can systematically pray into the church, i suppose, everyone who has ever existed, save for those that they excommunicate.
this still goes on.
38 major cities located in south america are mentioned in the book of mormon, built over 1000 years, with temples and huge buildings and everything that goes along with ancient civilizations. archaeologists cannot find any evidence of any of these places.
at least geographically, the bible, is based on many actual places that existed, that still exist. this is just more evidence that joseph smith was mimicking bible stories as he made most of this up.
in the book of mormon, there are references to animals that would not/could not have existed at that time in the places smith mentions. there are references to chariots and ‘steel’ swords which could not have existed at the time (and of course, of which no evidence can be found). the book of mormon is full of these types of errors, because smith was describing a story that takes place hundreds of years before christ, but he was telling it through the eyes of someone living in america around 1830. he just didn’t know enough about history to fabricate correctly enough.
for example, 500,000 people are reported to die at the battle of cumorah. this would make this one of the largest battles in human history. but nothing has ever been found – not even an arrowhead, at the the purported location.
antinomianism, blood atonement, voting, racism
the mormons had a very anti-law tradition, especially in the first 50 years of the church. they paid dearly for their antinomian ways and slowly began to take a different tack. when church president woodruff officially denounced plural marriage so that utah could finally become a state (in 1896), they can be seen of at least trying to appear they were coming into the modern age. it would take another 40 years or so for this really to click into place.
it wouldn’t be until 1978 that the revelation would come down that black men could hold the priesthood in the church, an usually slow change. there may have been a couple of freed slaves who held the priesthood back when joesph smith was still alive, but the church would officially become pro-slavery as it was trying to expand into southern states around the time joseph smith was murdered.
in the past 100 years they got much more savvy. now the church of jesus christ of latter day saints is a diverse organization with an array of diverse, tax-exempt corporations under it’s umbrella. they evolved their ceremonies away from the more occult aspects and cast out those among them who wanted to remain more fundamentalist. they have a great pr organization that puts on a great show for those with just a passing interest in the church.
the mormons also engage in monolithic block voting. this means that they essentially will all vote the in the same manner. if you speak to mormons individually, they will say that this isn’t the case, that no one instructs them how to vote. and how could they? but the result of the conference talks and all the sitting in church is the same: they vote almost exclusively republican. and given the origins of the republican party, this is a curious outcome. but then again, mitt romney is a long, long way from abraham lincoln. so too is the rest of what the republican party is today. but to be fair, there’s certainly no lincoln on the other side of the political spectrum, either.
jesus supposedly gave joseph smith special knowledge. this is not really christian and more like gnosticism. the idea that a mormon could ‘become’ god is a facet of the original teachings of joseph smith that hasn’t been abandoned by many in the church. and it’s what makes mormons un-christian, despite their branding.
religions lean heavily on their origin stories and i don’t know why. there is this needless, eternal justification of religions having to be true and correct and the ‘one, true faith’ that they all go through. they needn’t do this.
if religions stuck to the tenets of: here is what human nature is, bad things will happen and this is how you can deal with it. good things will happen and you ought not to get to swell a head about it. this is why you often are unhappy, here is how you can be happy since, as people, that feeling is very important for you. if religions could stop at teaching people that they will be happy if their life has meaning and purpose and went on to show them here is how to give yourself meaning and purpose so that you can live a kinder, better, richer life, who could find fault?
if religion were just a guide for life, religion might have a great deal to recommend itself. instead, religion insists on itself. teachings that merely help you live without having to define yourself as this-one or that-one are referred to as self-help and are relegated to something below religion, because they don’t require faith in some silly backstory that was written in a primitive time when people understood very little about the natural world.
they have to put forth the notion that you aren’t righteous enough or holy enough to know the truth, as you are. you need more than just morality lessons for life. you need to accept the church’s origin and history as fact and be prepared to defend it. mormons take it a little farther to believe that the real truth is only for some. in fact, some people, though study and time and more importantly, money – can themselves become more than human. this is a good basis for cult.
the mormon church is big on disciplining members who say or do things the church elders think they ought not to. joseph smith’s own biographer, fawn brodie, was excommunicated almost immediately for her book.
even more recently, blogger david twede, who ran mormonthink.org, criticized mitt romney and was threatened with ex-communication. he resigned the church instead of waiting to be cast into outer darkness, but as of this writing, his blog and all of his writing has disappeared. maybe it’ll pop back up after the election?
mormons seem nice when you deal with them – but i often wonder if it’s because they really want to be friendly or help me, or if they are simply trying to prove their worthiness. maybe it’s a mingling of both. it’s not a bad habit to have, but i always wonder what’s behind it.
mormons are instructed to never question the church leaders. it is the word of god. to question your leaders is essentially to doubt god. this seems like a doomed path not just for religion but for man kind.
looking at the origin story of mormonism, it seems to show that smith was just making it up as he went along, cherry picking various ideas from occultism, christiaintiy, islam, freemasonry – a cafeteria approach to creating a religion. and with whoever the current leader (prophet) of the church is at any time having the power of ‘revelation’, he is allowed to do just as joseph smith did: improvise!
i initially intended this blog to be much more comprehensive than this, covering topics like:
märk hofmann and salt lake bombings
ervil lebaron – crimes he and his followers committed
brigham young in general
the kirtland, ohio mormon cult murders
warren jeffs and the flds church
the mountain meadows massacre
gordon b hinckley sexual controversy
freemasonry basics and history
the john birch society (strong mormon ties)
joseph smith and the mummies (papyrus)
brief history of mormon temple ceremonies and changes to them
instead i’ve pulled out the stuff related to these because this is getting too long. i will do a post or so a week on each of these topics until i get bored.
it’s may 17 and mitt romney is in boca raton florida speaking to a group of conservative business people. one of the attendees decides to record what he says. some buzz about that person being jimmy carter’s grandson has popped up. regardless of who recorded it, what happened when that recording was finally shared has become a huge pain in romney’s ass.
romney says a lot of things that are embarassing or insulting to many groups. he says at one point that peace in the middle east is impossible. he jokes that if he was born to mexican parents, he’d have a better chance of winning. he says the 47 percent of people who will vote for obama no matter what are essentially living off the government. he intimates that americans are not interested in foreign policy. he boasts about being born with a silver spoon in his mouth. it goes on.
as i see it, it’s perfectly fine for romney to insult half of america, so long as it’s the half that doesn’t turn out to vote.
mitt romney is like a lot of people in this country: he loves america. he just loathes many (or most) other americans. like many on the opposing left, he believes we’d be the best, strongest and most solvent country on earth again if only everyone who disagreed with him would change their minds.
given his background, i’m sure that mitt romney believes most of the things he said at the fundraiser. he’s curiously not backed off the things he said but simply clarified and crafted them better in the days following. but giving him the benefit of the doubt, one could argue that he was doing what all politicians do: saying whatever they think the people listening at the time would want to hear.
and assuming that is true, it would seem that there’s something that a lot of right wing business people have forgotten: the segments of society which they argue ‘feel entitled’, are mostly the people that ultimately are their customers. in the corporate culture they have insisted on promulgating, it rests upon and is kept going by the less wealthy people who spend essentially all they earn on the things they need or want.
the difference between the poor and the very rich is the degree to which their needs and wants cost, the percentage of their income that their needs and wants is of their total income (or net worth). and when you are poor, there is rarely any money left over. in fact, you usually owe more than you earn.
the super-rich make money off of this fact, too. and yet they seem so bitter about it all. maybe they want to change things, but who would keep them rich?
yesterday the supreme court decision on obama-care came down.
it didn’t go the way many had hoped or feared it would. based on the questioning, it really seemed like they were poised to strike it down. in fact, in the decision that mostly upheld it, some telling words in the dissenting opinion shows their hand. justices scalia and thomas use language that implies that the law would be struck down. it seems one of the conservative judges totally changed his mind quite late in the game.
because of the nature of the conservative vs liberal dynamic of everything political in our country and the court in specific, it really came down to the decision of justice roberts, who is normally conservative.
justice roberts saw it as a simple tax issue. the government, through obamacare, was imposing a tax on people, plain and simple. if you don’t have health insurance on your own already, you pay more tax. on that basis alone he said that it can stand.
he also, in a nice underhanded way, further gutted the commerce clause of the constitution, thus severely perverting congress’ power to keep business in check. this has been a slow and gradual process since the late 80s, reflected in many supreme court decisions starting with many written by william rehnquist. this is the part of this story that not enough people are talking about and fewer still understand, because they are all so busy being horrified or overjoyed that the decision on the ‘mandate’ seemed to go (or not go) their way.
that the bill was sold to us with pleas of ‘oh no, this is not a tax’ really don’t matter, although many on the right are trying to make that part of it the issue now.
what’s funny about the law and the right’s obsession with it is that it’s set to be the biggest profit the major health insurance companies will ever see. it’s totally for big business. and while they see the idea of the government forcing you to buy it as a big government idea, they see no problem with the government forcing you to buy car insurance if you want to drive. they mostly also see no problem with random mexicans being stopped and searched/interrogated in arizona, either.
they argue that you don’t have to drive, so therefore you don’t have to buy automobile insurance.
well, what is the automobile insurance requirement about? it’s mostly about protecting other people on the road, not you. i’m driving along one day and you come by and clobber me. what’s to be done? auto accidents are common and without insurance they would wreak financial havoc.
meanwhile, the auto insurance industry is like most of our economy. it is controlled tightly by a few companies and the seeming variety of them is just the illusion of freedom of choice. as i’ve said my whole life it seems – burgers or pizza is not freedom.
so, the auto industry is just a few companies who have a stranglehold on that part of the economy. they make money hand over fist. this is good for business and the economy. and all the while it’s good for society that drivers have to have insurance and it’s existence keeps many people from health and financial ruin due to the mistakes, misfortune or carelessness of others.
how is health care any different? whether we have obamacare or not, we all pay for each others health. it really seems much the same as the car insurance dynamic. health insurance should be there not just to ensure the individual can get his needs met, but just as much to protect everyone else from the heavy burden of other people’s misfortunes, which in the end, we all pay for anyway – whether it’s through government programs or the higher cost of health care that spreads around the financial exposure and unpaid bills.
the funny thing about the right/left dynamic in this country is that the left has a hard on for catering to anyone who makes less than $30,000 a year and anyone who disagrees with them must therefore be heartless and cruel. the right thinks that anyone who makes more money ought to keep more of their money because then they will hire more of the poor people who the more wealthy people also happen to think should think should pay more in taxes or at least get less help in the form of entitlements and welfare. oh, and they are for ‘small’ government, except when it comes to moral issues and things like immigration, military and police monitoring to keep us ‘safe’. then they are as big goverment as it gets.
the release of the health care decision also once again demonstrated everything that’s wrong with our media. it was literally a circus outside on the courthouse steps. when the decision was handed down, paid legal experts skimmed it as fast as they could. two of the big networks that almost always get things wrong, cnn and fox, initially incorrectly reported the decision because of the opening language of justice roberts’ opinion. they saw a few sentences and ran with it. they had it all backwards.
the media in the united states is more interested in being first than in being correct. they are more interested in ratings than truth. they are more interested in entertaining than informing. this isn’t new.
now i cut to about… an hour later. the true decision is known. i made a point to listen to kfi radio out of los angeles because i tend to get long form information on certain of the segments regarding breaking news. i heard two interviews. one was a left wing type, the other a right wing hawk.
the ring wing guy was amazingly transparent. he said, without having read the entire decision, that it was wrong. that roberts’ had lost a lot of his conservative credibility and that a grievous error had occurred. i guess when he does read the entire decision, he will do so merely to inform his argument against it. i mean, justice roberts was swayed and argued for something that he is philosophically opposed to, there was probably a good reason for it. but not for this guy.
the left wing guy was cautious, but obviously pleased. he hedged on the idea that it could be repealed if romney was elected, but tried to convey that it was a good thing for all of us, if it ever gets to take effect.
i don’t know that obamacare is such a great thing, but the arguments the left and right guys provided i found neither comforting, plausible or persuasive.
one thing i’d like to mention: once i was sitting my truck in denver, of all places. at this time i was listening to a lot of vintage radio broadcasts. i was listening to jean shepherd’s rado show from WOR in new york. the year was 1960. a commercial came on. it was george meany, who at the time was the president of the afl/cio. this is back when unions had much more sway. it was a long form commercial, where mr meany read a statement. he said something along the lines of ‘we need to elect a president who will balance the budget…..who will respect the rights of working people….and who can reform our faltering health care system’. this was 52 years ago. they still talk about the same issues.
the point is – health care has been acknowledged as quite often a failure in this country long before most of us were born. that some people seem to want to contend that it’s perfect and needs nothing, is baffling. that others fight any measure to approach a reform or a change is downright odd.
health care is screwed up. care costs too much and quality health care eludes many. somewhere along the line we got into this employer-based insurance system which has only made things worse and magnified many of the problems within the system. preventative care is almost totally neglected if you are not well insured. debt related to health care is chiefly responsible for 60 percent of all bankruptcies – more than real estate even. it is a mess.
so why the resistance to reform or do anything about it? because a lot of corporations make a lot of money off the broken system as it is. that’s the only truth in this. if health care was a bank, it would have been reformed or bailed out long ago. but so many interests make so much money off of it, expect real change to come only incrementally and after much, much societal noise and protest.
the idea about obamacare that bothers some is that the government is requiring you to buy something. many argue this is against the ideals of what our country was founded upon, that it is unconstitutional.
the first congress was composed of 20 of the framers of the constitution. they required that ship owners of freight carrying ships had to buy medical insurance for their sailors. this was 1790. this was signed into law by george washington.
in 1792, 17 of the framers of the constitution are still in the congress. 13 vote that all able bodied males must procure firearms. why would this be? to protect themselves against harm. how is this ‘mandate’ different from the health care ‘mandate’?
then in 1798 – congress does it again. they rule that if you are a sailor on an american merchant ship, you had to buy hospital insurance. this one was signed into law by president john adams.
so the argument that the mandate is unconstitutional, or would never have been agreed to by our founding fathers, is largely smoke screen and bluster. first off – this was a long time ago and the world has changed a bit. and secondly, if you are going to hold everything up to a founding fathers framework, you have to know a bit more about your history and not just act on ideological assumptions.
is obamacare a good idea? does the health care system need reforming? these are the types of questions to ask. rather than discussing these questions, most people are just arguing about their political point of view.
i’ve always maintained that medicare works well. let’s take out the part the says ’65 and older’ and just have medicare for everyone, with everybody paying $100-$150 a month. in other countries, with ‘socialized’ medicine, people pay much higher taxes than we do here. they tend to end up with societies that provide much more services than ours and they somehow have a smaller percentage of people on welfare and public assistance programs. but they pay for their health care through taxes.
this is what obamacare approaches, although the insurance company is still in between you and your care, which to me seems downright awful – and they will be taking their profits out.
with a ‘medicare-for-everyone’ plan, it’s a simple payroll deduction for the employed. people who are indigent and cannot pay, we subsidize. this is essentially what we already do with the poor who cannot pay.
why would this plan never come into being? because, though people could opt out and keep their own insurance, most would not. most health insurance companies would go out of business. business and government would never let that happen.
i think as written, obamacare is essentially a bonanza, if not a bailout, for health insurance companies. and i would expect as a result that the average health care bill will actually go up.
congress may try to get rid of obamacare, but the numbers they’d need to get that going are tough. people tend to go right down party lines so the math isn’t hard to do.
the presidential campaign is on and romney has made noise about repealing it, if he is elected. although, the plan is a great deal like the plan he himself instituted in massachusetts when he was the governor there. google the details of it. it’s a nice model.
but i think this noise he’s making about repealing it is just posturing to shore up his base. if elected, romney would never follow through on repealing obamacare. and, if re-elected, a second obama administration would hardly comport itself any differently than romney’s would in all other things. in short, we have no real choice to make. it’s already been made for us.
too many of our choices are made for us. the art in politics is getting us to accept the illusion that they aren’t and to get us to believe in the ideal that we do have a say.
if you are on the right, and you think that this boon for the insurance industry, this health insurance mandate is anti-american and evil, you’ve bought into a rhetoric that ensures you will never move from where you are standing right now.
and if you are on the left, and you think this is the beginning of something good and just and true, you have sadly fallen victim to the highest art in politics – getting you to argue passionately for something that is not in your best interest.