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, February 28, 2011

Evidence: Madison Police Defy State Constitution, Subvert Democracy

The local Madison, Wisconsin, daily is reporting evidence the Capitol police have violated the state Constitution by barring most of the public from the Capitol building today. I waste no time in saying, Shame on any one who would limit general public access to a state Capitol, particularly on a normal day of business! This is an egregious and most serious breach of democratic principles. What is this, Qaddafi's Libya? After all, what gives any police force anywhere in America the right to pick and choose who gets to enter the building of the State Assembly?! Under the circumstances protestors in Madison, who have been peaceful, should feel under no obligation to obey any kind of order to exit the Capitol since they know they may not be allowed back in, and particularly since they are not interfering with meetings. In fact, in the report linked to here, it was the police who temporarily blocked entrance to a member of the Assembly!

It is time Gov. Walker came down off his high horse and started seeking genuine solutions to his state's budget crisis, which appears, after all, to be caused or exacerbated by ideologically-driven decisions of his own.

N.B. This blog has always decried violence and will continue to do so.


Friday, February 25, 2011

Hope for Democrats in 2012

This article at Huffington Post shows the voting math can favor Democrats in 2012 provided public employees stand firm on the issues of union rights. With broad public support in polls as well as support among the ranks of protestors, this seems likely. Author Howard Fineman lays bare the Republican strategy for 2012 which follows the gubernatorial strategy of 2010 which was only partially successful. He also demonstrates the up-side to the otherwise-maligned Citizens United Decision of the Supreme Court.

(I can give here a heretical view that the Supreme Court may have actually had a point to make in terms of the Constitution. Government should indeed be careful about curtailing how citizens spend money in campaigns. The problem, of course, is that a corporation is not a person and thus not a citizen. And a union, while an organization, is still made up of persons [and persons who can vote for their own leaders], and whose organization is non-profit.)


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Com Check

Astronaut Eric Boe completes successful communications check. He expresses extreme happiness.

Astronauts Continue to Enter Space Shuttle

The astronauts continue to enter the space shuttle and to be strapped in. The astronauts almost appear to be upside down with their outstretched feet actually above their torsos.

Second Astronaut Enters

Astronaut Mike Barratt has entered spacecraft.

The Mission Commander

Mission Commander Steve Lindsay is now donning his emergency back.

Astronauts Have Reached Launch Pad

The astronauts have reached the launch pad and are about the enter the space shuttle.

Bloggin the Final Launch of Space Shuttle Discovery

This afternoon, it is my pleasure to provide a few live up-dates of the final launch of Space Shuttle Discovery.

A few minutes ago I saw the flight crew depart from their headquarters building, enter the astrovan and travel to the launch pad.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Democrats in Wisconsin Senate Respond to Changed Circumstances

After a staffer from an on-line blog "pranked" Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin by impersonating plutocrat David Koch, Democrats today reacted to the revelation by Walker in the phone call of a plan to trick Democrats into returning to Madison.

The story is best read at the Huffington Post web site. (Click on blog post title above for more.) There is no need for me to make any kind of snide comment here. I can't say I feel pity for Walker. But whatever caused the governor to accept this prank call, he has become a pathetic figure in the Greek sense. No matter how you slice it or dice it, as they say, this is a person who never should have been elected governor. His motives are corrupted and his political judgment has been called into serious question.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

American Fascism in a New Guise

You can check the links at bottom right for a free download of Sinclair Lewis's It Can't Happen Here, the landmark novel about a fascist regime which develops under the leadership of a Democratic President. While this is a novel and 2011 is reality, the parallels between fiction and non-fiction are there to be seen. Highly recommended.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Secret Funding of Scott Walker Not So Secret Anymore

Forbes magazine on line is reporting the infamous Koch brothers are behind Scott Walker and his effort to attack unions in Wisconsin. The article alleges that the Koches are against all unions, not just public-sector unions.

I thank the Koches for making anti-unionism so obvious and so odious. This has made it much more likely such efforts will not succeed. No one should underestimate such efforts, of course. And with the Supreme Court run amok with the Citizens United decision, it is hard to predict just what will happen in the short term. Look for more labor unrest. If efforts to stop Walker in his tracks should be unexpectedly unavailing, there will be labor unrest on a scale not seen in our life-times. American history, when looked at carefully shows this.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Where to Find a Protest in Your State

Either click on the blog title above or cut and paste the link below to find a local demonstration in solidarity with the workers of Wisconsin. You do not need to be an S.E.I.U. member in order to attend or sign up for information. (Registration is not required.)


Raw Video of Madison Protest

Here is amateur video of decent quality showing the crowd at the Madison State Capitol listening to Mary Bell, educational leader in Wisconsin. I will have more news (and video, I hope) from Madison soon.

Also coming soon: protests planned across America

On Wisconsin

Skip the Mainstream Media: Go Local

Allegations of bias in the local media regarding their reporting of yesterday's events in Wisconsin have begun popping up. According to local Madison media pro-union protestors out-numbered "tea party" demonstrators by a margin of something like 68-1! The Wisconsin State Journal (on line) reports today that yesterday's protestors numbered about 68,000 people while another source put the tea party counter-protestors at only some 1,000 people.*

To listen to major media, one would have thought the tea party was emerging from the woodwork to rescue the public interest and save The Union from cataclysmic chaos, in something like equal numbers.

The fight song of the University of Wisconsin-Madison is "On Wisconsin!" This can also be the fight song of Wisconsin workers as they battle for simple human fairness. As one twenty-four-year-old protestor put it: to fight for the right to collective bargaining is to fight for the right to participate in our democracy. I agree!

* John Nichols writes today at The Nation web site that the Tea Party people claim to have had several thousand in attendance. Whatever the exact numbers the ratio was not favorable for the "tea drinkers."

************** *************** *************

In honor of Wisconsin workers who are showing a true fighting spirit:


Friday, February 18, 2011

Wisconsonites Follow Arab Lead

Tonight news is breaking in the Arab world and in Wisconsin. It is all about opposing tyranny in one form or another. After having spent years advocating for workers' rights, I am fairly astonished at what I am seeing. I am more hopeful than I have been since at least the November U.S. elections. When I am less startled I will have more to say.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sen. Sanders on Budget Proposals

Sen. Bernard Sanders gave an interview with Judy Woodruff of the PBS News Hour yesterday which was filled with honesty and clarity rare in today's Washington, D.C. The transcript is at the link below.

I commend the News Hour for conducting this interview. It must have been very refreshing for News Hour viewers.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Best Ways to Contact Congress to Protest Draconian Budget Cuts

Organized protest against the incredibly and cruel Draconian budget being proposed by both B. Obama and members of Congress is undoubtedly right around the corner. But you can get a head start now by taking a look at the suggestions below. The suggestions come from the General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church which has been a reliable advocate for the poor and the needy in the past.

According to the Board, the best method is a one-on-one meeting when the member of Congress is at home in the district.

...when you can't meet face-to-face, Bread for the World activists and congressional staffers say that letters from constituents of members of Congress are the next best method to exert influence on them. They describe handwritten letters as "incredibly effective.”

The reason is largely quality versus quantity. It's easy to send thousands of copies of a single e-mail or letter to a congressional office. When it comes to gauging constituent opinion, congressional staff members say they simply give less weight to communications that could be mass-produced.

-- Mark Harrison

I hope every reader of this web log will make the effort to seek a personal meeting or contact the representative by hand-written letter or even a phone call. We must vigorously oppose what amounts to an attempt to balance the budget on the backs of helpless individuals.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Urgent Importance of Facts

With eagerness, I post a link to a talk recently given by journalistic icon, Bill Moyers, on the subject of factual reporting and why it is in danger. The talk is a good one, very valuable.

In this talk Moyers slams two subjects which have been of interest to this blogger: the Obama "birth" controversy and the truth about what happened on September 11, 2001. I do not wish to overshadow Moyers' main point, so I will not say much about his comments on these two subjects. (There are ample references given on this blog. A simple search should turn up the desired information.) For now, I will only note that Moyers himself presents no facts, only allegations. His allegations may be right; they may be wrong. But we cannot tell from this talk.

As for his main point, it would be good to see more follow-up to this talk. I hope, myself, to provide a bit of follow-up to the research on the role emotions play in belief. Moyers states new research shows belief can trump facts. Such a conclusion is not surprising (the evidence is all around), but is nevertheless disturbing for a democracy.

Yet, let us not lose heart. Emotions have always been rather taut surrounding the functioning and even the very idea of democracy. Within living memory, the press and media helped to counter raw emotion. Now, as Moyers shows, any commitment to truth in journalism is in danger of evaporating into the ether zone. That is not necessary. Everyone should work to make sure this does not happen.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Poetic Encouragement

In these days of economic stress, international crises, and Washingtonian inanity, poetry and music offer me the only true consolation and encouragement. Tonight I offer a poem of Edgar Guest. It is on the simplistic side, yet useful for what people are facing now. In its descriptive words I hope it will offer a degree of inspiration and hope.

Don't Quit

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will.
When the road you are trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must -- but don't you quit!

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don't give up, though the pace seems slow --
You might succeed with another blow....

Success is failure turned inside out --
the silver tint of the clouds of doubt --
And you can never tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you are hardest hit --
It's when things get worse that you mustn't quit.

Robert Schuller adds this admonition: "Don't trust the clouds -- trust the sunshine...."

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A New Handbook for Progressives

I have begun looking over a new handbook for progressives.* It is too early in the process for me to say definitively how valuable this work may or may not be. However, already I can see this work is useful in its tone of hope. If, as I go through the work, the practical side rewards high hopes, it will be a valuable piece indeed.

In a very real way, being able to imagine something different than what we now have is half the battle. For those of a certain age there exists in the memory banks a mental picture and an emotional feeling of a time when one's fellow citizens automatically engendered both feelings of respect and camaraderie, however fleeting. This sense of shared purpose has all too often been replaced by suspicion of those different from oneself.

I suspect this guidebook will have its deficits. There are things which could be mentioned now. But I need to wait until a more thorough look-see allows for a more thorough review here.

* The Progressive Strategy Handbook


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Remembering Abraham Lincoln

The story is told of a man who was applying for a job with the Lincoln Administration. President Lincoln was refusing to hire the man. Why are you refusing to hire this man?, came the question. "I don't like the looks of that man," replied the President. "Why that man can't help how he looks," said the inquirer. "Why, certainly he can," exclaimed Lincoln. "A man's character shows in his face." President Lincoln did not hire the man.

Abraham Lincoln was right. We can learn from Lincoln, not only in how a man's character shows in his face, but in how important character is as such (for both men and women).

N.B. Quotes may not be word for word.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Today's Development: Released Google Worker Electrifies Protestors

An employee of Google released from detention in Egypt electrified an audience in Egypt today with what were said to be moving tales of his imprisonment.

The full story can be read here:

Monday, February 07, 2011

The Moral Encouragement Needed Now

Casting the rantings and ravings of modern discordant voices aside, I present a useful quote from twentieth century thinker and philosopher, Bertrand Russell. It is from his book of 1917 entitled Political Ideals. The quote shows the emotion Russell had about the need for a certain kind of encouragement by each individual person. And we can ask: Is this requirement for encouragement had by every single person in the world, no matter the nationality? From America to China, to Africa, I think the answer is, Yes.

Whatever else Russell's personal politics may have been, he is on the right track here. And again, one can ask whether the conditions he specifies are available to all now? Clearly the answer in this case is, No. When we think back to the "naughts" (and I do like that designation for the "2000's"), was there not an extreme overlay of fear in America? And in 2003, was there not a tyranny of public opinion blocking any viewpoint other than that favoring war with Iraq?

Here, then, is the quote. I hope it will provide food for thought and future discussion.

In just the same way[,] mental development may be helped or hindered by outside influences. The outside influences that help are those that merely provide encouragement or mental food or opportunities for exercising mental faculties. The influences that hinder are those that interfere with growth by applying any kind of force, whether discipline or authority or fear or the tyranny of public opinion or of the necessity of engaging in some totally uncongenial occupation. Worst of all influences are those that thwart or twist a man's fundamental impulse, which is what shows itself as conscience in the moral sphere; such influences are likely to do a man an inward danger from which he will never recover.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

The Winter of Our Discontent?

There is an interesting short article on the Shakespeare line which I will show below. The article points out how this line is often misused by writers. So, not wanting to abuse the original text, I will treat it gingerly, and simply make the point that during this winter in North America, and unlike the victorious Richard III, the discontent such as it may be is increasing not decreasing for many people.

Whatever your mood or circumstance dear reader, I offer you the following lines of the poet Robert Bridges. By way of warning, the poem is not up-lifting in the ordinary sense, but I think you will hear the moaning grayness of the lines and appreciate the vividness of the text.

Here, then, the poem.


The day begins to droop, ---
Its course is done;
But nothing tells the place
Of setting sun.

The hazy darkness deepens,
And up the lane
You may hear, but cannot see,
The homing wain*.

An engine pants and hums
In the farm hard by;
Its lowering smoke is lost
In the lowering sky.

The soaking branches drip,
And all night through
The dropping will not cease
In the avenue.

A tall man there in the house
Must keep his chair;
He knows he will never again
Breathe the spring air:

His heart is worn with work;
He is giddy and sick
If he rise to go as far
As the nearest rick+:

He thinks of his morn of life,
His hale, strong years;
And braves as he may the night
Of darkness and tears.

-- Robert Bridges

* a usually large and heavy vehicle for farm use
+ possibly a stack of cordwood split from logs (or some other material)


Thursday, February 03, 2011

The Honor Is Mine

Special thanks to those who have chosen to support this blog during the last month. It is hard to convey in words how much this means. One thing is for sure: it is a fine thing to find value, whether it be in a piece of music, a painting, or the written word. To support the creator monetarily imparts particular value in the eyes of the contributor. It is for this I am most deeply grateful.

-- The Musical Patriot

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Al Jazeera Advances to the Fore

Gravitating away from traditional news sources, Americans are turning toward Al Jazeera in any way they can access the organization for the best live coverage of events in Tahrir Square. Today's Washington Post, for instance, was hopelessly out of date by the time I purchased my copy in late morning.

Unlike many, I still support print journalism with my purchases. The week's events, however, underscore the value of Internet news as this medium was the only one allowing access to the best coverage for most Americans.


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