Webster Quote

Webster Quote

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Thomas Jefferson's Notes on Customs and Manners

This post consists almost entirely of an excerpt from Thomas Jefferson's Notes on Virginia. I am quoting this today because of the eloquence of the writing, the obvious intelligence of this early President and because I believe the import of its message has a bearing on the U.S. of now. Although the excerpt deals with the bad effects of slavery, there is a resonance with now. For indeed, do we not now have a kind of economic slavery in which people must work in order to obtain health care? Is it not a kind of slavery to be only one paycheck away from starvation? Here, then, is the excerpt:

From Thomas Jefferson's Notes on Virginia, the section entitled The Particular Customs and Manners That May Happen to Be Received in That State

It is difficult to determine on the standard by which the manners of a nation may be tried, whether catholic or particular. It is more difficult for a native to bring to that standard the manners of his own nation, familiarized to him by habit. There must doubtless be an unhappy influence on the manners of our people produced by the existence of slavery among us. The whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotisms on the one part and degrading submissions on the other. Our children see this, and learn to imitate it; for man is an imitative animal. This quality is the germ of all education in him....if a slave can have a country in this world, it must be any other in preference to that in which he is born to live and labor for another; in which he must lock up the faculties of his nature, contribute as far as depends on his individual endeavors to the evanishment of the human race, or entail his own miserable condition on the endless generations proceeding from him. With the morals of the people, their industry also is destroyed. For in a warm climate, no man will labor for himself who can make another labor for him.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Rush of Events

The past week has been a busy one for your web log host.

As we begin a new week, a week leading to the final days of Campaign '06, I wanted to deal with a couple of matters.

First, after considerable thought, I am coming to the conclusion that due to circumstances essentially beyond our control, progressives and lovers of liberty and justice are given no alternative but to work and vote for Democrats in the election next week. Such voting, however, must be accompanied by renewed activism at the local level to ensure both the abolition of insecure computerized voting, and the appearance of new progressive candidates on the ballot in the future.

Second, for those of you in the U.S. and beyond you may be interested in a new progressive talk radio network. Here is the link to its web site. http://www.novamradio.com/

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Constitution Is the Supreme Law of the Land

Lest it be forgotten, the Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the land. No Congress nor any President can trump the language of the Constitution.

The Miliary Commissions Act of 2006 attempts to subvert the Constitution of the United States by removing long-standing legal protections, protections which make the U.S. a civilized nation. Remembering that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, anyone who attempts to subvert the constitution is not only a criminal but a traitor as well. These are in no way meant to be inflammatory words. This is the simple truth of the matter. I mean this quite literally.

While the matter of so-called "enemy combatants" has its own history, we must remember that the "War on Terrorism" is as much a marketing term as anything else, regardless of the actual existence of terrorists. That is, this is no war, but a campaign replete with its propaganda arm as well as military and psychological components. Much more can be said.

By way of reminder I quote now the sixth ammendment to the U.S. Constitution, an ammendment still widely admired around the world:

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Highwater Mark?

The Native Americans living on the coasts of these shores were assiduous watchers of the tides. From the tides they could tell the time of day, and even the seasons of the year, as I understand it. High tide to us today can mean plenty. It can also mean inundation.

In any event, high tide is always followed by a gracious retreat and then low tide. And so it is in American politics under the "two-party" system. We seem to have passed high tide with the current Republican-led federal government.

Over the past several years, and before the starting of this "blog", I had the opportunity to do a certain amount of historical research. This is not the time to get into that, but I can say perhaps some things now.

Indeed we have had the high tide of profit economics recently. At least we have had the high tide of trying to maintain the profit system. By around 1980-90 or so, we had come to the point in history where, in order for the profit system to survive, drastic measures were going to have to be taken. We then had "The Battle for Seattle" and other huge protests against the world financial system. (This is the true meaning of the protests against the G-8 meetings and other similar meetings.) The oligarchs of the world knew this level of protest could not continue at the same time as their profit flow.

These oligarchs are the same financial interests who, for example, led the British Empire by the nose in conquest after conquest all over the world, including in North America. In the case of Britain, these were the same interests who supported the Confederacy over the Union in the American Civil War. It is no accident that the Southern viewpoint has become dominant in the Federal government of now.

In order to stem the tide of protest, a certain type of "Reichstag fire event" was needed. It is my belief and that of increasing numbers of people that the events of September 11 served that purpose.

The supporting evidence for these statements must await another time, and perhaps a book. But for now, it is helpful to know something of the cause of the fascist tilt in America now. It comes from evil -- the desire to dominate, control, and own others. It is a force at least as old as society itself. The question for us, then, is to decide which side we are on. Do you know the old labor song "Which Side Are You On?" It is a great song, and one with a current meaning.

Choosing a side also means choosing certain actions. It has been one of the purposes of this web log to encourage clear, informed thinking, followed by right actions. As the days go by I hope to demonstrate this purpose itself more clearly. In the meantime, dear reader, I will ask you: "Which side are you on?"

Sunday, October 08, 2006

A Valuable Voters Resource

Recent unbiased reports indicate the likelihood of voting problems in the U.S. next month is high. Whether this will culminate in another illegitimate announced "result" is unknown at this time, of course.

A helpful web site for voters is shown below. Voters United is a good group of folk, as far as I can tell. Their web site always has good up-to-date information. I think you will find it a valued resource for accurate news about the voting process in the United States at this point in our history.

I will soon have more to say about this subject viz a viz recent polling data which indicates a Republican debacle in the mid-term elections next month. Please check back here for a post on this subject in coming days.


http://www.votersunite.org/

Friday, October 06, 2006

The America We Loved Is Still Here

For today's post, I have chosen an encouraging title, because I believe it to be true. The America of tremendous physical beauty in a variety unparalleled on earth -- is still here. The America of charming and open people -- though changed -- is still here. The America of freedom of religion -- is still here.

At the same time there is unease in the land, a vague disquietude. There is no earthquake but rather a rippling, something more felt than heard. There is a sense of wrongness, but also a disinclination to see that wrongness clearly.

The wrongness has been most evident in these last days in the form of a Congressional bill which attempts to give the President sweeping powers to use degrading and inhumane treatment, or really any treatment he sees fit regarding prisoners. It even gives him and him alone the power to determine who is an "enemy combatant", either foreign or domestic. This includes U.S. citizens. Every citizen of the world should be frightened by this bill, for it is the U.S. which is still the historic leader and champion of human rights. It should frighten us because we know human nature well enough to know that no one can be trusted with such awesome power.

So what are we to make of an America with such a law? Yes, we who are American citizens can hardly escape blame. It is we who have allowed such a person as G. W. Bush to first enter the White House, then preside (if that is the word for it) in that place for nearly six years.

This, truly, is not America. This is surely not the best of us. The question is can we, even now, do better? Or the question might be put, can we do anything but work to drive out this alien uncouthness, this brutal governmental force which lives and works among us? (And the driving out, it should be said, is to be done non-violently, for violence only tends to beget violence.)

I believe we are up to the task. Yes, we will have to set aside our cynicism. And yes, we will have to get up out of our chairs and do some work. Yet, just as I attended our local October 5 protest yesterday, everyone can do something to save our Republic in this time. It is truly a defining moment for America. Let us be about the work of democracy, of justice, and even love.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

G.W. Bush, the Thought Censor

In a Rose Garden press conference some ten days ago, the man who most recently took the oath of office as President of the United States declared in an impertinent comment that it was "unacceptable" to compare the American people with al Qaeda. While this may seem "acceptable" language to some, a closer hearing of this comment reveals a mind unfit for the highest office of the land. If the current resident of the White House had said it is "ridiculous" or "ludicrous" to make such a comparison he would simply have been giving his own opinion, something he is entitled to do. But in using the word "unacceptable", G. W. Bush is attempting to deny anyone the right to use his or her own mind in a critical fashion.

Indeed we know, for instance, that there have been people in America, such as Timothy McVeigh, for example, who have been compared with the terrorists of September 11, 2001. And there have been numerous church bombings, school shootings, and other heinous crimes of a similar nature. While no one in his right mind would suggest all Americans are like this, it is a fact that our government with -- for many years -- popular support, executed a war of terror and atrocity in Viet Nam, something we have never apologized for. Additionally, there has been an invasion of a sovereign country (Iraq) on specious grounds (the non-existent weapons of mass destruction). So perhaps America should not be pointing the finger at others quite so vigorously.

A man who has broadcast a very articulate and astute rebuttal to George W. Bush is the MSN commentator Keith Olbermann. He has been mentioned on this web log previously. The web link below will point you to a page containing the broadcast essay, "Bush Owes Us an Apology." I highly recommend it.

And let us all think seriously about what kind of a country we want to live in and whether sinister forces, have in fact set about to destroy the democracy we love.


www.truthout.org/multimedia.htm

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Poetry from the Far North

A marvelous book has just come into my hands, and it seemed only natural to share something from it here. The book is called Beyond the High Hills and is a book of Inuit (Eskimo) poems. It was published by World Publishing Company in 1961 and is illustrated by Guy Mary-Rousseliere.

The poems have no known authors. They are really songs, chanted spontaneously by the poeple. One of my favorites places austerity in relation to abundance. I am happy to print excerpts of it here.


Hard times, dearth times
Plague us every one,
Stomachs are shrunken,
Dishes are empty...

Mark you there yonder?
There come the men
Dragging beautiful seals
To our homes.
Now is abundance
With us once more,
Days of feasting
To hold us together....
Joyfully
Greet we those
Who brought us plenty!


-- from Beyond the High Hills. A Book of Eskimo Poems. Collected by Knud Rasmussen. World Publishing Co., 1961, p. 13



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