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(The following is a draft excerpt from a forthcoming book.)

One important issue that prominent pre-constitution pre-Americans were concerned about was the tyranny of the English government and of how to preclude the possibility of a similar tyranny amongst a conglomeration of the thirteen east coast English colonies which then existed. Ten years prior to their drafting of the constitution in 1786, there had been a loose sort of formal relationship between these colonies (which at the time and for many years hence had the status of different countries with different currencies and laws) inscribed in a document called The Articles Of Confederation. Then, no executive (president) or judicial (supreme court) branch of government existed. The educated, wealthy people at the time (reminiscent of the philosopher-kings of Plato’s Republic) had for decades just made the laws for their individual colonies without any vote or debate. Despite this, perhaps surprisingly, the colonies prospered. According to Benjamin Franklin:

“There was abundance in the Colonies, and peace was reigning on every border. It was difficult, and even impossible, to find a happier and more prosperous nation on all the surface of the globe. Comfort was prevailing in every home. The people, in general, kept the highest moral standards, and education was widely spread.”

Given the lack of democracy in the Colonies of the mid-eighteenth century, one may wonder: how could such a relatively utopian society possibly exist (especially given the views of post-second-world-war American presidents about the moral necessity of democracy in current geo-politics)? According to Benjamin Franklin the reason for this prosperity was two-fold. First, the colonies printed their own money (called ‘colonial scrip’), paying no interest to any bank. Secondly, neither too much nor too little printed money was allowed to circulate – colonies controlled their money-base (and incidentally, people from such colonies could revolt against their government if e.g. the value of their money was too low – that’s not possible nowadays since government doesn’t control the value of money anymore).

The (privately owned and misleadingly named) ‘Bank Of England’ had been cut off from a source of revenue from the colonies during this time. Upon their learning of the existence of colonial scrip, opposition to it arose immediately. This led to the bank’s insistence that the English Government (who were subservient to the bank) require that the colonies cease printing their own money.

Although colonial scrip was ‘fiat currency’ i.e. owner’s of such currency had no right to demand to exchange it for a set amount of e.g. gold or silver, it had worked well in pre-revolutionary times. States (not banks) could control how much currency was in circulation in order to regulate its value and thereby facilitate commerce and prosperity. The key idea about fiat money is that money in general is only what people agree upon as having instrumental value – something that can be exchanged for something else that is intrinsically valuable (valued for its own sake, not as a means to getting something else). Almost anything could (and often has) been used as money historically around the world e.g. Yak dung, wooden ‘tally-sticks’ (in England), gold, silver and pieces of paper with numbers on them (e.g. dollar bills).

Following her appearance in the second round of Democratic debates (Wednesday July 31) Tulsi Gabbard garnered a fair amount of media attention and was the most googled candidate during the debate. (Google had blocked people from searching for her after the first debate, which resulted in Tulsi suing Google for $50M. That would go a long way in helping her campaign.)

One of the main tenets of Tulsi’s campaign is to end regime-change wars. She shares this view with that of Jill Stein in 2016 and also Bernie Sanders 2016 and 2020. Indeed, Tulsi endorsed Bernie in 2016 and resigned from her position in the DNC following the corruption that was exposed within that organization at the time (actively sabotaging Bernie’s primary campaign). This was in contrast to Elizabeth Warren in 2016 who chose to endorse Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries rather than Bernie.

Somewhat surprisingly and confusingly, in the 2019 Democratic primaries Warren has adopted much of Bernie’s language and platform from 2016 particularly with regard to single payer Medicare For All (which she opposed in 2016). Perhaps even more surprising and confusing is Tulsi’s 2019 rejection of getting rid of private health insurance (which is what a single-payer Medicare For All plan would do). Instead, Tulsi apparently wants to keep private health insurance.

I argue here that Tulsi’s plan to keep private health insurance but disavow regime change wars is just as inconsistent as Warren’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton (rejection of Medicare for all) in 2016 and support of a single payer Medicare for all plan for 2020.

At the California Democratic Convention (CADEM) of early June 2019, John Delaney was booed for more than a minute due to his claim that Medicare for all is neither good policy or good politics. (Unsurprisingly Joe Biden did not even attend the convention - one can only imagine how his lies, plagiarism and vague Republican slurred sound-bite speech would have been received.)

John Delaney is a corporate stooge, in bed with the health insurance companies. His claim that Medicare for all would throw 150 million people off their health insurance is a disgracefully disingenuous scare tactic since it would do the opposite of what he claims. Delaney’s lie is that losing private health insurance under Medicare for all means losing access to health care. On the contrary, people would have better health care and have more flexibility to keep the doctor they like rather than be subject to arbitrary employer changes to health insurance plans. On top of that, everyone would have free point of service access to heath-care, eliminating the sort of health-care bankruptcy situation that many Americans are in today.

On Twitter, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez firmly rejected John Delaney’s proposals about health-care, in light of the sort of claims he makes described above. Despite that, John Delaney replied that he would be willing to debate AOC about the issue of health-care, claiming that Twitter was not the appropriate venue.

The mainstream media devoted considerable time before the second round of Dem debates in covering the issue of Bernie needing to distinguish himself from other candidates. For instance, pseudo-journalist and MSNBC millionaire Chuck Todd interviewed David Kos (of the Daily Kos which masquerades as a leftist outlet but which is actually centrist). Kos in effect complained that Bernie was too consistent - he needed to change his message a bit from 2016 in order to have an effective strategy for 2020. Similarly, CNN ran numerous segments in which panelists (all conservative, pro-corporate agenda) suggested that Bernie needed to try to prove to the people watching the debates how he differs from his rival candidates.

What the corporate-media have proved to the American public in following this strategy is that they are much more of a threat to American Democracy than Russia ever was. In 2016 Bernie changed the political landscape, so that the plethora of mostly corporate-duopoly politicians who have chosen to agree to pollute the 2020 Democratic Party Presidential debate stages are forced (inconsistently) to try to sound like Bernie in order to seem popular whilst (absurdly) also disagreeing with him. The corporate media pundits are left looking typically disingenuous or just stupid, in trying to reconcile this inconsistency.

For instance:

An apparent equivalence has recently emerged in pieces disseminated by the main stream media in America, purporting to characterize the views of Trump/traditional Republican voters and Obama/Biden Democratic voters:

Gov taking away your guns (i.e. serious anti-NRA gun control legislation) = Gov taking away your private health insurance (Medicare for all)

Fox is typically against the former and CNN is typically against the latter but each network (both part of the same corporate duopoly) suggests in its propaganda that you shouldn’t be forced by government to relinquish a freedom. The so called ‘freedom’ in each case happens to be massively profitable to private corporations - gun manufacturers and the for-profit health care industry respectively. Needless suffering and death (from gun violence and inadequate health insurance) ensues as a result of these government policies.

Why only in America? No other major industrialized country suffers these sorts of problems.

Contrary to the corporate media propagandists, the freedom to kill is not equivalent (and is of much less worth than) the freedom to have one’s life saved.

Thursday June 27 - AOC criticizes House Speaker Pelosi’s plan to endorse Mitch McConnell’s senate version of a border bill which would provide no oversight into how money was spent.

Monday July 1 - AOC, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib etc. visit ‘concentration camps’ at the southern border, prompting major msm coverage (listen closely to one or two people who shout ‘liar’ during Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ press statement about what the delegation witnessed during their visit - sounds like someone was paid off to subliminally discredit her claims in the mind of the non-critical viewer).

Friday July 12 - AOC, Tlaib testify under oath in Congress about the inhumane conditions they witnessed at migrant detention centers at the southern border of the USA.

Following months of speculation (and free pre-President Trump-like publicity) in the main stream media about if / when Joe Biden would formally announce his candidacy for the Democratic Party’s nomination for President, Biden finally announced the day before Easter Friday 2019. The first thing Biden did was to hold a meeting with Comcast executives (Comcast owns CNN). The following Monday (April 22) speaking to Teamsters Temple #249, 4701 Butler St., Lawrenceville, Joe then held a rally with Firefighters in Pittsburgh PA (having earlier being endorsed on live TV on CNN by Harold Schaitberger, the IAFF's General President). At the rally, Biden described the current zeitgeist using the terminology of Immanuel Kant i.e. that workers are unfairly being ‘used as a means to an end’ and were not being treated as ‘an end in themselves’.

This was very odd language coming from Joe Biden, as any politically aware undergraduate moral philosophy student would know. Joe was forced to drop out from his first (1988) run for President due to (inter alia) having been exposed as plagiarizing part of a speech by (socialist) Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock (U.K.). So why is he now taking the liberty of borrowing from an 18th century German philosopher, in his speech about ends in themselves etc. to a firefighter’s union? Not only does such talk risk re-opening old plagiarism wounds, it is just wildly out of keeping with Biden’s political record - the opposite of Kant’s in philosophical terms.

July 15: Trump in a WH garden statement claimed that the four progressive Democratic Party House Representatives who had just recently criticized the treatment of migrants legally seeking asylum at the southern border could “go back to the places from which they came”. Trump’s remarks overall in his address were widely seen as racist. Later that afternoon Congress women Rep. Ayanna Pressley, Rep. Ilhan Omar, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Rashida Tlaib gave a press conference on live TV (during the ‘Situation Room’ with Wolf Blitzer) in which they responded to Trump’s comments.

Prior to the conference with the four Congress women, Blitzer had interviewed black Republican Representative Will Hurd (a former CIA employee). Blitzer repeatedly asked Hurd if he thought Trump was a racist but Hurd refused to affirm that idea. Instead he asserted that he didn’t know how many times someone needs to say something racist in order to count as a racist, admitting that Trump had made some racist claims (including those against the American citizens and Congress women that Trump had disparaged).

Hurd was implicitly appealing to the philosophical notion of vagueness in his non-answer to Blitzer. How many dollars must you have in your name at the bank before you count as middle-class? How old must you be before you count as middle-aged? What height must you be until you count as tall (relative to some specified category e.g. modern American Wall Street bankers?).

Disclaimer: The following is culled from a broad-ranging text written for students taking the general education requirement course in Moral Philosophy at Saint Joseph’s University, Philadelphia PA USA, circa 2006. Following a university wide ‘curriculum review’ shortly thereafter, the Catholic Jesuit university in question substantially revised the amount and content of required undergraduate courses in Philosophy, effectively ‘dumbing down’ the subject. Many philosophy lecturers at Saint Joe’s at the time voiced their opposition to this proposed change in the curriculum, as it applied to the Department of Philosophy.

The following was written prior to a period when wealthy contributors to Saint Joseph’s began to pay for the construction of new buildings at the university. During this time, the millionaires in question didn’t think of embellishing the name of Saint Joe’s by improving the lot of the majority of professors teaching there living in near poverty. Around 70% of the country’s university professors are adjuncts with no health benefits and an income (if they are lucky) of around a third of that of full time salaried professors.

This was a time when there was a push for Saint Joe’s to become the foremost catholic university in the region: there were massive ads in 30th street station in Philadelphia, ads on buses, on local TV etc. Saint Joseph’s is/was perhaps best known for its business school, whose students notoriously were not academically inclined.

July 14, 1789 - the storming of the political prison in Paris now referred to as the Bastille, sparking the French Revolution against the monarchy heralding a new age of freedom.

July 14, 2019 - the president of the country that was gifted the Statue of Liberty (made in and shipped from France) as a symbol of freedom from the tyranny of monarchy, racially attacks (via Twitter) four politically progressive Congress members. This president who would be king also heralded a Kristallnacht (‘Crystal night’ - referencing the broken glass of Jewish stores, synagogues etc. in Germany in 1938) neo-Nazi type crack down on undocumented immigrants in ten cities around the country on July 14 - a country originally inspired by France to declare independence from the British monarchy.

In 1886, (according to Wikipedia) a dedication for the statue was performed:

“Shortly after the dedication, The Cleveland Gazette, an African American newspaper, suggested that the statue's torch not be lit until the United States became a free nation "in reality":

"Liberty enlightening the world," indeed! The expression makes us sick. This government is a howling farce. It can not or rather does not protect its citizens within its own borders.

Undergraduate students who have taken introductory philosophy courses may have heard of David Hume's problem of induction, which concerns our rational justification for believing that future causes will have the same effects as past causes. Hume’s argument is usually described as being a problem for the rationality of science - one has no rational justification for believing that the sun will rise tomorrow, or more generally that the laws of physics will continue to apply in the future. I argue here that Hume’s argument has application in the context of political science; in particular, with respect to the importance of political polls in primary and general elections.

Remember how in 2016, the main stream media used the notion of ‘super-delegates’ to push the narrative that Bernie couldn’t possibly win the nomination even though his policies were far more popular than Clinton’s? After the corruption of the DNC was exposed (Debbie Wasserman-Schultz being forced to resign, CNN pundit and super-delegate Donna Brazile being exposed as a cheat etc.) the Democratic Party wants to appear to voters as being more transparent than in 2016. However, although they want to appear as if they have cleaned up their act they still have an ace up their sleeve i.e. super-delegates if needed at a second ballot. That is, if none of the twenty or so candidates achieve a plurality of votes at the first ballot, as is likely - the super-delegates can select the party’s preferred corporate candidate.

However, before super-delegates in a second ballot become relevant, the Democratic Party’s affiliated corporate main stream media have another card to play first - coverage of polls.

First, did you know that the Biden (CNN) poll in April didn’t reflect the views of anyone under the age of fifty? Younger people were questioned in the poll but not enough were included in the poll in order to statistically extrapolate from with any reliability, so their views were not reflected.

In May 2019, Senator Bernie Sanders (supported by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez-Cortez) introduced a piece of legislation to Congress called the ‘Loan Shark Prevention Act’. The primary purpose of the legislation is to fight against modern day usury in which poor people who have desperate financial needs are charged extortionate interest rates on loans from credit card companies (the interest rates of ‘pay-day loan’ companies advocated by disgraced ex- DNC chair and 2016 pro-Hillary liar Debbie Wasserman-Schultz are significantly worse).

Joe Biden (a.k.a. Joe ‘Hillary’ 2.0) is a well-known defender of credit card companies. In April 2019 Elizabeth Warren, when asked about Biden’s announcing his run for the Democratic nomination said:

“Our disagreement is a matter of public record. At a time when the biggest financial institutions in this country were trying to put the squeeze on millions of hardworking families who are in bankruptcy because of medical problems, job losses, divorce and death in the family, there was nobody to stand up for them . . I got in that fight because they just didn’t have anyone and Joe Biden was on the side of the credit card companies.”

Regarding credit card companies, Bernie, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Elizabeth Warren are in agreement.

Debate night two:

Presented in glorious Bernie-vision: profess to support 15 minimum wage, immigration reform, no regime change wars, Medicare for all, Democratic Socialism, Green New Deal, free college tuition, taxing billionaires (and millionaires, very recently including Bernie) their fair share etc.? These were all part of Bernie’s platform in 2016, ridiculed by the main stream media at the time but now plagiarized by the Bernie-clones below (with some corporate candidate exceptions).

Scores are based on an average of the extent to which the candidates in question (in the subjective opinion of stoningroll.com) have been influenced by Bernie’s 2016 agenda and whether there is evidence for or against that they are sincere in their support of those policies.

Marianne Williamson

Healing crystals.

One may remember the pressure put on Senator Bernie Sanders to drop out of the 2016 race for the democratic nomination. Appeals for Senator Sanders to concede defeat by the main stream corporate media were universally couched (explicitly or implicitly) in terms of such concession being a moral requirement. That Bernie should support Hillary (and urge his supporters to do the same) has been described as ‘the right thing to do’ and necessary in order to defeat Donald Trump in a general election. To this end, invisible olive branches were extended by Hillary to Bernie’s supporters. At the time, CNN and MSNBC blamed those supporters for not being able to see the invisible, in order to explain their lack of enthusiasm to fall in line behind Hillary.

Unfortunately for her, many of Bernie’s supporters at the time regarded the idea of supporting Hillary Clinton as anathema (especially given the fact that the DNC had not repudiated the bogus declaration by NBC and AP of Hillary being the presumptive nominee on Monday June 6, the day before the California primary; nothing short of voter suppression), and what we now know about how the primaries were rigged against Bernie since before their start.

Dem Debate night one:

Presented in glorious Bernie-vision: support 15 minimum wage, immigration reform, no regime change wars, Medicare for all, Democratic Socialism, Green New Deal, free college tuition, taxing billionaires and millionaires their fair share, opposing the pharmaceutical industry, private health insurance industry, military industrial complex etc? These ideas were all part of Bernie’s platform in 2016, ridiculed by the main stream media at the time but now plagiarized by the 2020 Bernie-clones below (with some blatant corporate candidate exceptions). These current candidates promote one or other of Bernie’s ideas from 2016, now propped up by the MSM - the same media who ran a propaganda campaign against them In 2016.

Scores are based on an average of the extent to which the candidates in question (in the subjective opinion of stoningroll.com) have been influenced by Bernie’s 2016 agenda and whether there is evidence that they are sincere in their support of those policies.

Bill de Blasio - fifteen dollar minimum wage in New York City (even that’s not enough), says Dems should be party of working people etc. (yet supported Hillary in 2016).

Average Bernie score: 2 out of 10

(The following is excerpted from a draft of a forthcoming book)

As previously stated in the introduction Jefferson amended Locke’s phrase ‘life, liberty and property’ (from the latter’s 2nd Treatise on Government) to the phrase ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ in the former’s list of what he regarded as self-evidently inalienable rights with which all men have been endowed by their creator (though Jefferson was a deist, not a theist). This was in contrast to the notion that an English king had a divinely granted indirect moral authority to take away the right of life liberty or property (mainly property, i.e. that of the wealthy drafters of the constitution, drafted after Shay’s Rebellion which acted as somewhat of a catalyst). Despite this, the contemporary American Christian religious view is that although one has been endowed by one’s creator with certain inalienable rights, the creator (unlike the king) DOES have the moral authority to capriciously take those rights away.

So for Jefferson, a non-existent theistic God has the authority to take away your property, but not the King of England: i.e. you can consistently reject the King of England (in the war of independence) but accept God. This sounds like a political scam of the sort that Donald Trump would be proud of. Most uneducated people at the time were religious, who (unlike Jefferson) thought that the King of England and God were equally real.

However, set aside Jefferson’s pro-revolutionary war con for a moment. Suppose he was wrong about denying the existence of a traditional theistic God in the Christian or Muslim sense. A deeper question regarding the relationship between authority and morality arises - does what is morally right or good depend on authority? Can ANY authority be the source of moral rights (and morality in general)?

Joe Biden’s campaign strategy thus far has been to portray himself as someone who can work with people whose views he does not share, i.e. Republicans. This middle ground centrist image is one that he hopes will be attractive to voters in a general election battle against Trump.

Three problems with this strategy: first it is out of touch with the modern progressive part of the Democratic Party and with their voter base. Biden risks doing a Hillary (when in 2016 she gave her middle finger to progressives, ultimately losing to Trump). Just like in 2016, the corporate media are now doing what they can to help their corporate stooge. Unfortunately (as Barack Obama recognized) Biden (unlike Hillary) is not the sharpest pencil in the box.

(The following is a draft excerpt from the introduction to a forthcoming book. Amongst other things, the excerpt touches on Thomas Jefferson’s philosophical influences in drafting the Declaration of Independence, the notion of a human right and why Jefferson would vote for Bernie rather than Biden.)

Drafters of the Declaration Of Independence and the U. S. Constitution were strongly influenced by philosophers of the European enlightenment in the 18th century. As is well known, Thomas Jefferson, the main architect of the Declaration Of Independence was particularly influenced by the English enlightenment philosopher John Locke and the latter’s notion of a natural right (in contrast to the alleged divinely granted right of the king to arbitrarily take away life liberty or property).

Famously, Jefferson amended Locke’s phrase ‘life, liberty and property’ (from the latter’s 2nd Treatise on Government) to the phrase ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ in the former’s list of what he regarded as self-evidently inalienable rights with which all men have been endowed by their creator. This was a sentiment soon to be echoed in the motto of the French revolution: ‘liberte, egalite, fraternite’.*editor’s note - Joe Biden referred to Jefferson’s phrase above in his Easter Thursday 2019 video announcing his candidacy for Democratic Party nomination for President in 2020. Looking at Joe Biden’s political record, he is not a staunch advocate of human rights. When rights and corporate profits conflict, he is on the side of corporate profits.

Jefferson was a deist, not a theist: i.e. he held the view (common amongst educated colonists in pre-Darwin, pre-evolutionary, pre-revolutionary times) that some sort of intelligence was responsible for the apparent design in the world but that such intelligence/intelligences don’t necessarily take any interest in what they’ve designed, after designing and/or designing and creating it. For instance, (*editor’s note: unlike Joe Biden who professes to be Catholic) Jefferson rejected the divinity of Jesus Christ, allowing that Christ really existed as a human being who was admirably moral but denying that he had any supernatural status or powers. Like Scottish enlightenment philosopher David Hume, Jefferson (who would have read Hume’s ‘Dialogue on Natural Religion’) rejected the idea that it is reasonable to believe in miracles.

On Wednesday June 5, Joe Biden supported the Hyde amendment to Roe v Wade (as he had done for the previous forty years). On Thursday June 6, he claimed that he now opposes it. Why?

The Hyde amendment was passed very soon after Roe v Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that abortion is a constitutional right. However, the amendment prevents federal funds from being used to pay for abortions except in cases of rape, incest or when the mother’s life is in danger. In effect it penalizes low income women (and given the ongoing racist history of America, predominately women of color). In effect, the Hyde amendment was a racist amendment that restricted the abortion rights benefits of the Supreme Court’s Roe v Wade ruling to (relatively affluent) white women.

On Wednesday June 5 (the day before Biden’s 180 degree reversal on Hyde) Chris Cuomo interviewed a Biden surrogate. Biden’s campaign co-chair Cedric Richmond, vaguely replying to questions about Biden’s views on abortion, Roe v Wade and the Hyde amendment said - look at Biden’s record. Next day Biden espoused a view which denounced his record of decades past.

A day before Good Friday 2019, Joe Biden officially announced his candidacy for the Democratic Party’s nomination for President. Two days after Easter Sunday, on April 30, a new poll was heralded on CNN - good tidings of great joy! Joe Biden is polling way ahead of the Democratic field and is even double digits ahead of Bernie Sanders.

This quite bizarre change in polling for Biden i.e. from the day before Good Friday to two days after Easter Sunday was explained by CNN as Biden’s getting a bump just for formally announcing. This explanation by CNN doesn’t make any sense since on the same day that Biden announced, according to CNN’s own web-site Bernie was the Democratic front-runner. How could such a profound change take place over the course of a weekend?