MAKE AMERICA

dEMOCRATIC AGAIN!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Greek Church Condemns Racism; Joins Conference

Photo of The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King at link below

The Greek Orthodox Church in America has joined with other Christians in condemning racism in America and around the world.  They have  joined with numerous other Christian churches in a new effort to oppose racism.   There is more information at the link below.

On this national holiday honoring Rev. King, his message is more pertinent -- and urgent --than ever.   


Greek Church Condemns Racism

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Saturday Poetry

SONG OF MYSELF

by 

Walt Whitman

                    1

I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you,
I loaf and invite my soul,
I lean and loaf at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.
My tongue, every atom of my blood, formed from this soil, this air,
Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same,
I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,
Hoping to cease not till death.
Creeds and schools in abeyance,
Retiring back awhile sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten,
I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard,
Nature without check with original energy. 


excerpt from "Song of Myself" by Walt Whitman (1819-1892)


Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Progress for Workers

Quick Link --

New York City has come up with an innovative way to support workers' right to organize -- by making it easier to join non-union organizations which advocate for higher wages and benefits.  This appears to be a major advance for workers.   
 

The New York Times article:
Progress for Workers

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Is There an Intelligent Choice on Marijuana Policy?

As the federal Department of Justice announces U. S. attorneys will no longer look the other way in states which have legalized recreational marijuana use, the rational individual looks for a smart alternative.  Is there an approach other than legalization on the one hand, and going after individual users on the other?

The people at an organization called Smart Approaches to Marijuana say yes.  You can read more about there mission at the link below.

Surely, we do not need another "Big Tobacco" in this country.  And recreational marijuana use does, afterall, involve smoking -- an activity which is not healthy no matter what you put in the pipe.  


A Smarter Choice on Marijuana?

Friday, December 29, 2017

The Importance of Study

 
As one might guess, study and scholarship were a strong suit of mine in school.  I actually enjoyed learning facts.   My favorite subjects other than music were English and History.  I also managed to get enjoyment out of chemistry and math. 

In recent years, interest in facts has not been particularly popular in many circles.  This is changing.  We are finding out that a disdain for facts can lead to trouble, no matter how much bravado one enters into the habit of truth-denying.  It is, after all, easier to deny truth than to have to think about the facts.  And especially if the facts are inconvenient, it is ever so easy to simply change them in one's mind.

But Truth or whatever we might call it, does object.  And inasmuch as truth is an inherent part of the world, people of the world will notice, later if not sooner. 

The difficulties of the current Administration in Washington points this up.  So it can be predicted credibly that Truth will once again come to be valued.  We can only hope this change will come about with as little pain as possible.  


-- TMP  


Photo: Public Domain Pictures

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Saturday Inspiration

In the Bleak Midwinter

by
Christina Rosetti

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
   earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
   snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
   in the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, heaven cannot hold him, nor earth sustain;
   heaven and earth shall flee away when he comes to reign:
   in the bleak midwinter a stable-place sufficed
   the Lord God incarnate, Jesus Christ.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
   cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
   but his mother only, in her maiden bliss,
   worshiped the beloved with a kiss. 

What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
   if I were a wise man, I would do my part;
   yet what I can I give him, give my heart.

 
  

 

Monday, December 18, 2017

How Internet Companies are Ruining Our Democracy

I think people should carefully re-read the first part of the Declaration of Independence.  Because I think sometimes we as a society start to get confused and think that we have a right to happiness.  But if you read the Declaration of Independence, it talks about "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."   Nobody has a right to happiness.   You should have a right to pursue it, and I think the core of that is liberty.   
                  
                                                     -- Jeff Bezos


 This is, in a word, ignorant.   A more complete excerpt, including the complete sentence which contains the phrase quoted above is the following:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. 

It is clear from this fuller excerpt that the Declaration of Indepence does assert through implication that citizens have a right to happiness.   If there is no such thing as happiness, why guarantee a right to pursue it?  Thus Bezos' claim is illogical, a non sequitur.  This is easy to see from a careful reading.  More important, can anyone claim that people are happy with the system they now have?   

Jonathan Taplin's 2017 book Move Fast and Break Things. How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy, gives a certain history which I have read nowhere else.  It is an important history, a history which is critical to the understanding of why we are where we are now.  

Although clearly there are antecedents to the ascendant dominance of the Internet over culture and its concomittant victory over democracy, Taplin's book usefully describes how the way the Internet has developed has indeed helped to undermine our democracy.   The book is highly recommended for its readability and credibility.

 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

How to Thwart Authoritarianism

At this time of electoral victories for Democrats it is wise to remember who  -- and what kind of President -- sits in the Oval Office.  The article shown below was written by a Pole who has faced an increasingly authoritarian regime in his country.  His warnings are most apropos.

Another writer has said it is shocking that only six Democrats have called for the resignation of Trump.  Who knows?  -- perhaps they are thinking of the theocrat Pence ascending to the Presidency and want to prevent that.

But while OML is still in the White House, the American democracy remains under duress.  While I believe the democracy is going to survive, it is going to take work to bring down the plutocrats.   A good question to ask is:  How did such a sycophantic neophyte ever get himself declared "President" in the first place? 


Guide to Thwarting an Authoritarian Regime


N.B.   "OML" stands for Our Military Leader.  This reminds us that a dangerous incompetent still has putative authority over the USA's massively powerful war-making machinery.  

Monday, December 11, 2017

American Pai?

What should we expect from the illicit current administration but a stealth job from its FCC chairman against net neutrality?  The article referenced below helps show why the illegitimate FCC is poised to destroy net neutrality. 

This is un-American.  This is ugly.  This is -- as I say -- illegitimate. 



Far From Humble Pai

Election Hijinx A-Brewin' in Alabama

This is not just conjectural.  Following the link below will take you to a Greg Palast investigative report on nine methods of vote suppression being used by Republicans in Alabama.  And, yes, this the new Republican party of accused -- well -- you know what.  


Is the Fix In -- In Alabama?

Friday, December 08, 2017

Hundreds Support Net Neutrality in New York

Protest in New York

Other locations also see protests


Hundreds of peaceful protestors gathered at a VER-uh-zon* store in New York City to decry plans to end the Internet super highway as we know it.  The article below is from Huffington Post** and informs us that the new head of the FCC is a former counsel for the telecommunications giant.




Protestors Meet Verizon Customers



* this is my preferred pronunciation for Verizon.   Not having television, I never did see the introductory campaign for the latest name of the former New York Bell Telephone.  Looking at this weird word I decided that if it were spelled with two "o's" it would rhyme with the word "horizon."   therefore I decided it must be VER-ih-zon.   The pronunciation stuck.


** The article also admits that VER-uh-zon owns the parent company of Huffington Post.  I did not know that. 


Photo courtesy Huffington Post

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Senator Franken Announces Coming Resignation

Sen. Al Franken has announced that in coming weeks he will resign from the U. S. Senate.  This is tragic news for America.  Whatever the circumstances (and there has not been any trial), this is a tremendous loss for the country.   Sen. Franken was a tireless advocate for the average citizen and the underprivileged.  He will be missed.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Music and the Internet: A Challenging Combination

Quick Link --


The book referenced here is largely about the Internet as we know it and its effect on everyday life.  It also reviews the relationship of the World Wide Web to music and other creative human pursuits.

A very taking perspective. 

See more here:
Music and the Internet 
Reference to Amazon.com

Friday, December 01, 2017

Staying Afloat

I continue to stay abreast of the news at a pace which I believe will help me retain my sanity and still keep me informed adequately as a citizen of this great country.  For those reading from abroad I can assure you we in the United Stares are overwhelmingly the same friendly and open people you have always known.  We are not publicly, or even privately, purposely insulting people of other races and religions.

Of course, there is always a minority who have opposite intentions.  And with Our Military Leader (OML) encouraging them sometimes their actions have become emboldened.  This is very concerning and regrettable.

Having said this, news stories relating to OML's administration continue to come fast and furious.  For me, the problem has to do mostly with the lying which has come out of this White House, and -- saliently -- the Oval Office.  The total rush of events, however, does cause one to lose one's balance, if not indeed, one's stomach.  This, it seems to me, is part of the plan.  Such a method has been described by Naomi Klein for one. 

So -- I will endeavor to keep up with things.  Not everything deserves comment.  And some things require so much research the day is over before I can even begin.  For the immediate future I plan to continue writing about what I regard as the most important and/or interesting matters -- things which surprise and delight, as well as things which are critically important.  Under the current trying circumstances it can be difficult to parse the news and write in a way which is complete yet at the same time fits the timely nature of a web log. 

Still I shall do my best, even if quantity suffers.  If it comes to it, better to have quantity suffer, and quality remain high.  

Monday, November 27, 2017

Some Cities Offer More than Tax Abatements to Corporations...

Some seem to be practically giving away the keys to the city itself.


The Seattle Times reports that plans for Amazon's second headquarters is being treated as an opportunity to bargain away democracy itself -- at least to a dangerous extent.  With a company already having done such great damage to brick-and-mortar retailers (such as J. C. Penney), this is not the right way for cities to go.  Read more here:

This City Hall Brought to You by -- Amazon!


Coming Soon:  At least one city is taking an entirely different tack.  

Monday, November 20, 2017

Why Vaccines Are So Important

Answer in three words:  to relieve suffering

 
There are legitimate concerns about vaccines.   However, a resulting autism is not one of them, according to scientists.  And even though many illnesses are treatable with today's medicines, once contracted, certain diseases can cause great suffering and even death.  This is particularly true in parts of the world where access to medical care is distant or expensive.  Vaccines, which can be made available at low cost, can prevent the appearance of dread diseases such as pneumonia before they are ever contracted. 

Yet, the main program supporting low-cost vaccines in these "Third World" countries is considered temporary until such time as a country raises its living standard enough to be able to afford a higher cost.  Yet this cost, lower than that paid in First World countries, can still be prohibitively expensive to an emerging nation.  

As I said last night, much more needs to be done in this area to make needed vaccines available to children around the world. 


Why Vaccines Are Important


Photo courtesy WHO

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Update: Vaccines

from Friday --

 Clarification:

What I wrote Friday about vaccine manufacturers was in fact true -- but in the past.  I am still researching this matter.   But in the same issue of National Geographic (November 2017), a public-private partnership has been able to make available to countries such as Bangladesh vaccines for pneumococcal virus at a much-reduced cost.  Thus while the history of the high cost of this particular vaccine remains, currently there has been significant improvement.  I regret any impression left about current conditions.

Of course there continue to be many problems related to the profit motive in medicine, including needless deaths.  We remain in a national and international emergency with ever so much work left to be done. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Horror of Our Time; The Regret of the Future

The current issue of The National Geographic magazine is notable for its numerous interesting and useful stories.  Tonight I have been reading about vaccines -- their usefulness and necessity.  So much good has come from vaccines, simply in terms of alleviating suffering. 

Yet, in recent years countries (such as Bangladesh) desperately needing the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (for juvenile pneumococcal virus infections), were unable to afford the price the manufacturers had decided to charge.  That pharmaceutical companies could demand high prices for something which could mean life or death to children is simply a horror.  It will be the great regret of the future.


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Program on Corporations, Law, and Democracy

Here is the link to an important website devoted to understanding the legal status of corporations in America, especially as they affect democracy.  I have been aware of the Program on Corporations, Law, and Democracy (POCLAD), for over twenty years and have found the group to be very useful in understanding the history of corporations and how they came to have so much power in America.

Most every great nation in history has struggled in some fashion with the powers of accumulated wealth.  America is no different.   POCLAD helps understand the "how."  What America needs most is to understand is the "why."  I have found it is possible to develop a beginning understanding of why corporations have had so much power accrue to them.  While it is difficult to deal in-depth with this here, I am happy to share what I know on an individual basis.  I may be reached through the commenting function below each post. 


http://www.poclad.org/

Friday, November 10, 2017

Voter Suppression Appears to Affect Results: Research

As recently as this week, pundits and columnists such as Kathleen Parker in The Washington Post continue to refer to "the people" electing Donald Trump, or words to that effect. But this simply isn't true.


Research Shows Crosscheck Program Purges Legitimate Voters

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Issues I Am Watching Now

Here are issues I am watching and researching now.  In coming days I plan to bring you news and views on these matters:


  • The beginning of a wave?  Democratic wins on November 7
  • The vast incompetence of the media regarding the general election of 2016
  • Surprising Democratic Socialist gains in the off-year elections this month
  • The tragedy of mass shootings made simpler

Please visit in coming days to see posts on these important subjects.

Your interest in this blog is, as always, greatly appreciated.


Yours,

T M P  

Republicans Enter Troubled Waters after Off-Year Elections

Late Afternoon Link --

The Republican Party finds itself in deep water after failures in New Jersey and Virginia elections yesterday.  Party operatives are said to be worried about 2018

I'll have more on this subject later. 


Republicans: Major Fail in Virginia

Friday, November 03, 2017

Mueller Alleges Manafort Link to Organized Crime

Quick Link --

Buried deep  inside the Mueller indictment of Paul Manafort is an allegation that Manafort avoided paying taxes on money that was then used to purchase expensive items such a Mercedes-Benz. 

Mueller Indictment Alleges Manafort Link to Russian Organized Crime

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Move Fast and Break Things -- New Book Purports to Reveal How to Undermine Democracy through Technology






This book by the director emeritus of the Annenberg Innovation Lab at the University of Southern California promises to show how the culture of Silicon Valley and other "Valleys" has significantly effected our democracy and even our way of life and culture.  I am just now starting to peruse this important-looking book.

A few books I am aware of have already been published on this general topic, and there are numerous magazine articles available as well.  It is long past time for a major review of the effects of new social media technologies on both the body politic, and simply the society. 


Move Fast and Break Things -- book review

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Commenting on the Mueller Indictments

There is no denying the importance of the Grand Jury indictments of former Trump campaign officials at the behest of Robert Mueller.

But whether it will be proven that Our Military Leader was himself guilty of collusion with the Russians is yet to be seen. 

In the meantime, damage continues to be done to the democracy. 

And yet progress is being made.  Let us hope that Monday's events are a harbinger of more progress ahead. 



Please check back here soon for more.

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Famous Author You've Never Heard Of

Author Donald Bain, ghost writer extraordinaire, has died.   Author of the Murder She Wrote mysteries, and Margaret Truman Daniel's mysteries as well, passed away last Saturday in White Plains, New York.

I confess I never heard of Mr. Bain, either -- until today.  He was obviously an interesting and talented writer, as well as an aspiring musician ( about whose talents in that department I am totally clueless).
Angela Lansbury in Murder, She Wrote

In the interest of promoting alternative sources of information, I am linking to an article on another blog.  The blog, entitled "The Passive Voice," is itself interesting and worth a look. 

Happy reading.  


Ghost Writer Dies

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Edwin Starr Teaches Us the True Value of Most Wars

...including Viet-nam.

A special re-visit to the 1960's 





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Friday, October 20, 2017

Could the Market Crash of 1987 Happen Again?


Quickly --

Thirty years ago, the stock market crashed.  People were terrified.  Could it happen again?

Today's CNBC commentators weigh in: 


1987 Market Crash: Could It Happen Again?

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

It Is a Deep and Important Time...

...in America now.  With all that is at stake I am forced to spend extra time researching.  While this research (and my musical life) goes on, I will continue to post here as much as possible.  At the same time, I encourage you to visit my sister blogs as you will find more detailed information in those locations.  (Please see left sidebar.)  

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Profit System is (Literally) Killing Us

The profit system is literally, if indirectly, killing us.  I think I can show that quite quickly. Today's New York Times in an editorial entitled "The Gun Carnage, as Time Goes By," describes what has gone on in the gun industry.  According to the Times, referencing a Harvard and Northeastern Universities study. says that three percent of American adults own half the nation's guns -- an astonishing 17 guns per person!  The newspaper further states that as fewer Americans have bought guns in recent years, the gun makers have marketed more and more guns to fewer individuals.

Just what is going on here?  We know more guns are being sold to fewer individuals.  Perhaps we may wishfully imagine that there is no net increase in guns.  At any rate, a huge number of guns are going into the hands of individuals. Seventeen guns per person?  And we know that being a profit-making industry, gun manufacturers have a motive for selling more guns.  Again, at best we can fantasize that through proper education and training of gun-buyers this might not be a problem.  But it is a problem.  Why?

First, there are in fact persons of evil intent loose in the land.  Second, there are more guns.  This alone is a recipe for disaster.  But the hidden contributor is an economic system which encourages such a situation.  How? -- by never calling gun manufacturers to account.  The charters for the gun-making companies go on forever, even out-lasting the lives of mortal human beings.  Thus does the corporation get the upper hand politically.

This combination of factors explains in essence what is going on.  Of course it doesn't explain the existence of evil.  That I leave for now to the philosophers and theologians.  But any society which allows such a situation to exist can hardly be called civilized.  

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Bill Clinton Warns on Rising Nationalism

Rush Link -- Bill Clinton on Rise of Nationalism