Let it be borne on the flag under which we rally in every exigency, that we have one country, one constitution, one destiny. -- Daniel Webster

Monday, July 31, 2006

Theologians Under Hitler -- the Book

Our wonderful local library system, which ordered "Theologians Under Hitler" at my request, recently notified me that the book had come in. Late last week I retrieved the book from the hold shelf and have begun reading what is sure to be a fascinating history.

Although the book is over twenty years old, I had never heard of it until the DVD with the same title was recently released.

Over the coming days and weeks, I plan to present here some of the information in this book. For now, I will relate part of a blurb on the back cover of this paperback edition. James Richmond of Times Higher Educational Supplement writes: "He [Robert P. Ericksen, author of Theologians Under Hitler] also poses the following questions: Could the same sort of thing happen again? If so, in what kind of political, economic and international circumstances? And would we avoid being the Kittle ["Kittel"], Althaus or Kirsch of our time? Ericksen soberly asks us to ponder these questions well before answering." (Kittel, Althaus and Hirsch [not "Kirsch"] are the three theologians dealt with in this book.) If ever there was a time to ask these questions it is now. Would the circumstances of an attack on our country help to provide an environment for authoritarianism? And has this not already happened to a significant extent? Would economic malaise create an environment where a strongman could emerge, offering a steel will, if not actual solutions? And would such an environment be profound enough that otherwise learned, intelligent people would either offer their enthusiastic support, or look the other way?

There is much more to be said, but if you will excuse me, I'd like to get in some reading of Theologians Under Hitler before bed. I can hardly wait.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Gratitude in the Summer

The news of the world as presented by our major media is enough to make one want to emulate the snail by curling up inside a very comfortable shell. Yet as one reflects on the many beauties of this world -- the forgiving sunshine, the bending boughs yielding to the breeze, the birds who with their chirping seem not to have a complaint -- we find reasons to be grateful, even happy.

Certainly, the cares of life will be with us. Yet aside the cares, are the pleasures, the little winsome ways of our friends, the momentary tokens of hope which remind us of something beyond ourselves -- a something which, if we choose to so see it -- is friendly, watchful, caring.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The President of Torture

Since the following article is quite complete, I will keep this short. As you read the article it will become clear to you that the American system, in this case led by the Supreme Court, has once again triumphed. Standing against the President, the Congressional majority and the majority of the American people, the majority of the Supreme Court ruled decisively that the President was in error to set up the military tribunals in the way he did, with torture as a predominating feature.

The only major point not explored in the article is the obvious fact that those in the Bush administration who authorized cruel and inhumane treatment of prisoners are in violation of U.S. Law. Thus Cheney, Rumsfeld, G.W. Bush, and others are all subject to indictment. In the future I hope to explore this further. There are important implications for us citizens and our responsibilities.


Monday, July 24, 2006

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. -- Contemporary American Patriot

In these turbulent times, a few Americans stand out as bright stars -- leaders with clear vision who are not afraid to speak the truth. One such leader is Robert Kennedy, Jr., who certainly is a profile in courage.

I have written about Mr. Kennedy before and am glad to refer you to the article whose link is below. It was my privilege to meet Bobby, Jr., a number of years ago. Quite young at that time, he has matured into a person with a passionate and informed voice who understands a great deal about what is going wrong with our democracy. The only major mistake he makes is when he speaks about our right to vote. In point of fact, our right to vote on the federal level is limited to voting for our United States Senators and Representatives. (This right, however, is fragile, as the recent debate over the Voting Rights Act shows.)

Robert Kennedy makes clear that he is convinced our last two Presidential elections were stolen. I agree, as I have stated this to anyone who would listen after each election.

I have often wondered why it has been so hard for people to believe these elections were stolen. The main reason I have seen is the failure of the press and media to report this news. People do not yet comprehend that the media is different from the one many of us grew up with. The CBS News of today is a far cry from the tower of light of Edward R. Morrow, or Walter Cronkite. NBC is owned by General Electric, a major defense contractor with business before the government. ABC is a Mickey Mouse network, if I may. The agenda of the media is to make as much money as possible. This does, in fact, involve a corrupt federal government.

Also, people have become so cynical about government, that it has not much mattered to them who the winner was. This cynicism, though horrible, is nevertheless understandable.

Third, the issue is not easy to understand without media assistance. So we are back to the media. It can be shown that the media negligence in this matter is criminal. Congressional investigations should be held and charges brought forthwith for misuse of the publicly-owned airwaves.

I entreat you, dear reader, not to be one of the cynical. Please do not simply dismiss this issue, throwing up your hands and declaring, "There is nothing I can do, anyway." Let us all ask ourselves What can I do now for my country? For instance, you can tell your friends about the Kennedy interview linked below. You can also contact your state officials and demand fair elections. You can support the effort of Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr., to pass a constitutional amendment, establishing a federal citizenship right to vote (something which most democracies have, but the United States lacks).

As the old axiom says, God helps those who help themselves. Let us be about -- if not God's work -- at least the work of democracy, the work which will ensure that we and our offspring will live in happiness, freedom, prosperity and true safety.


Friday, July 21, 2006

The Great Storm of 2006

The power here was off for twenty-five hours. I am racing against time to write and post this before any new power outage, as another storm has arrived.

I am grateful that I am fine, and even much better today with the power on. At another time perhaps I can write more. For now I will simply say it was an experience I do not care to repeat.

May everyone stay safe.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Mexican Election Fiasco Renews Memories of Bush Installation

As one of the major candidates in the Mexican election fall-out, Manuel Lopez Obrador, turns up the heat, memories of the troubled 2000 and 2004 votes in the United States are revived. In the case of Mexico in July 2006, the candidate seen as more of the people, Obrador, has fought back. One does wonder Why didn't Al Gore do this? Or John Kerry? To answer the question swiftly, the media and political machine, coupled with voter apathy effectively doomed any protest.

After the 2004 voting, I spent a total of about forty hours researching all the returns. Because of the Internet I had access to sources, such as university statistical analyses, that most people hadn't seen in the major media. It was clear to me that had all votes been counted, John Kerry would be the winner.

Now comes the thrilling reaction of not only Senor Obrador, but the people of Mexico. They are showing more gumption than their northern neighbors. If this keeps up, the rebellion will spread across the border to the Mexicans here. This can only be good news for the effort to get out the truth about the 2000 and 2004 elections.

Please see the link below for a quite complete and up-to-date article.


Friday, July 14, 2006

Wal-Mart Is Not the Only Saving Place

I saw this sentence on the out-door sign of Flowing Rivers Christian Church* near where I live last week. Certainly, the message can be taken more than one way. One way is to say that even though Wal-Mart may offer cheap prices, it is at the cost of good wages for its workers.

In another reading of the church sign, Wal-Mart is not the only store cheating its workers out of a living wage. Such low-ball pay by numerous retailers hurts not only workers but communities and our entire country by helping to drive down wages and lower purchasing power.

One interesting organization which seeks to bring the truth of corporations to the public is Reclaim Democracy. You will find their web link at the end of this post. Perhaps you will want to pay a visit and learn more. I certainly recommend it.

In the meantime, best wishes for the week ahead.

-- Your Musical Patriot

*The name of the church has been slightly changed.


Thursday, July 13, 2006

Vice-President Cheney sued

I have been on holiday from this log for the last week and am now glad to return for an important news item. During the last days, many important news stories have developed. It has been a good time to be thoughtful. In coming days, events will sort themselves out, I presume.

In the meantime, it seems to me proper and right that Ambassador Joseph Wilson and his wife, Valerie Plame, have sued top Bush administration officials, including Vice-President Cheney and Karl Rove. As this case is added to that of Patrick Fitzgerald (acting as United States prosecutor), an additional light will come to be shed on the secretive machinations of the Vice-President of Torture as he sought to descredit an American patriot, Joseph Wilson. Wilson, you may recall, was sharply critical of G.W. Bush's 2003 State of the Union address claim that Saddam Hussein had attempted to buy "yellow cake" from Nigeria as part of an effort to develop weapons of mass destruction. Wilson who had investigated this claim on a trip to the African nation, knew the statement to be false.

Richard Cheney, the current Vice-President, was furious over Wilson's attempts to set the record straight and allegedly sought a kind of revenge by revealing Wilson's wife as being a C.I.A. operative. The MSNBC story is linked below.

There have been many significant moments in the future demise of the G.W. Bush administration. This may be the most significant to date. It is especially welcome as it brings new troubles for R. Cheney, the man most unwanted in the Oval Office chair. With Cheney removed, the possibility for a suitable replacement for the to-be-gone Presidency of Bush the Lesser (as Arundhati Roy has called G. W. Bush), will increase.

A new honesty is being born in America. This -- even amidst dark times -- is cause for rejoicing.


Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Benjamin Franklin -- the Man, the Patriot

I have been reminded by the author William Rivers Pitt of how fine a patriot Benjamin Franklin really is. Rather than re-tell what Pitt has written, I will place a web link below for you to follow and read for yourself.

What we see is a man who valued learning and discovery. Franklin's mind was discerning, serious and jocular. He was curious, yet principled.

As we face continuing threats to both our freedoms and our sensibilities from what can aptly be called a rogue administration in Washington, may Benjamin Franklin indeed be a model for us.


Monday, July 03, 2006

Skip the Vote?

For the last two evenings I have heard scattered fireworks piercing the quiet of the night as Independence Day celebrations commence. As the United States moves into this celebration I intend to use the occasion to highlight true patriotic issues.

In years past we have heard "Every Vote Counts." More recently we have heard of the campaign "Rock the Vote." Today, a more apt quote is "It's not what the vote is that counts, it's who counts the vote." So perhaps, a new advertising slogan could be "Skip the Vote."

In this post I am happy to bring to your attention a new book by the reporter and author Greg Palast. Palast is well-known, especially in the United Kingdom, for his comprehensive work on the stolen U.S. Presidential elections of 2000 and 2004.

Now, in a new book, Mr. Palast further documents what happened in those years and what is being prepared for the 2006 and 2008 elections. This is not an effort to be a salesman for the Palast book. However, I like what he writes about the subject on his web site and am including a major portion below. His writing style is rather breathless, or perhaps simply energetic, but this is understandable given the topic.

Please check back here for further posts relating to the true meaning of this wonderful national holiday.

But first, back to those slogans. Perhaps there can be a better slogan: "Watch who counts the vote."

Without further adieu, here is the Palast oration.

Don’t kid yourselves. If you think Bush’s lower-than-my-laces ratings portend victory for Democrats, that’s what Rove wants you to think. Bush shoplifted Ohio (and New Mexico and Iowa and…) see, he doesn’t need your vote. And he doesn’t count your vote, either. The Rove-bots are preparing next year’s model (probably Good Doctor Frist) and will load the bad vibes on to the lame duck and the lame Dick. Frist will run on a platform of stopping homosexual flag-burnings by enforced readings of the Ten Commandments in courthouses.

What to do? I wrote ARMED MADHOUSE for just such a contingency. We can’t do a damn thing to stop these dangerous inmates running this asylum unless we know HOW they’re doing it.Lots and lots of topics. Let’s begin with two: votes and war.

Counting all the votes: why not? In America we don’t and that’s not much of an issue for any politician elected under the current system. THREE-MILLION, SIX-HUNDRED THOUSAND THREE-HUNDRED AND EIGHTY ballots were cast in the last election AND NEVER COUNTED: “spoiled” ballots, “provisional” ballots and “deficient” absentee ballots. And — ready for this — 88% of the ballots not counted were cast by voters of color.

This non-count doubled from the 2000 election and will double again for 2006 and 2008 unless we make it an issue. We are not getting the will of the people underan apartheid voting system.
By the way, these figures are not from my black helicopter, but from data available from the United States Elections Assistance Commission. The racial calcs I did (I used to teach statistics) with professors from Cleveland State, Harvard and the US Civil Rights Commission. Not that you’d read about it in the US papers.

WAR: “Operation Iraqi Liberation” (OIL) was NOT, I discovered, about getting our hands on Iraq’s oil and bringing it home — which would have brought down the price of petroleum. The invasion was, rather, about getting our hands on Iraq’s oil and [italics, M.P.] preventing it from entering the market. The oil-poisoning of our foreign policy, the bending of our “War on Terror” into a war on democracy has simply not been addressed. It’s all about “The Quagmire” versus “Cutting and Running.”....

What do you think?
WHAT TIES IT ALL TOGETHER? Whether it’s the war on Black voters or the war on the Tigris, it’s all about the money; or, to revise a much-needed and forgotten phrase, CLASS WAR. Them versus Us. The Haves versus the Have-nots. Taking away your vote is of a piece with taking away your Social Security, your child’s educational security and your national security through war on the planet.

The Democratic Party of 1933, of FDR and the New Deal, was created from the realization, after the 1927 flooding of New Orleans, that the rich would rather we drown economically, even physically, than share the wealth and bounty of this nation.

Unfortunately, some nominal Democrats run away from their party’s working class heritage and heart. This week, 47,000 GM and Delphi workers will lose their jobs — the endgame of the half-billion a year in auto parts that have flooded in from Mexico and Canada since NAFTA.It’s an inconvenient truth, but the Democratic Party won’t stand a chance until it starts worrying less about the future flooding of Malibu beach homes and more about the economic drowning of heartland assembly-line workers.

When the average guy and gal have a choice between the party of NAFTA and the party of NAFTA, they’ll use their vote to stop boys from kissing boys.
What do you think? No, better yet, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?

******************Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Armed Madhouse: Who’s Afraid of Osama Wolf?, China Floats Bush Sinks, the Scheme to Steal ‘08, No Child’s Behind Left and other Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Class War.

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