The Spirit of '76

Brand-new book from author interviewed on "Fresh Air"

Friday, December 30, 2011

Occupying the Iowa Caucuses

Occupiers, forced out of "Zucotti Park" in New York, are in some sense re-convening in Iowa in an effort to impact the caucus process there. It is an interesting idea, one explained at the link below. The Occupation movement explains the invovlement in the Presidential political process as an effort to highlight the strong ties of both political parties to the oligarchs and plutocrats. Surely this point is obvious to all who look closely at the situation.

This "Occupying" of the Iowa caucuses is at least twelve years over-due. Remember the errant campaign of Nader and how he tried to call attention to this issue, only to enable the election of the President of Corporate America -- G. W. Bush? For 2012, it appears we have with us the kind of campaign we should have had then. This is a campaign which can make the point that America and its government are controlled by big money -- without acting as a spoiler in the Presidential voting itself. This is nearly the most hopeful development imaginable as America moves into an important, though deeply flawed, Presidential nominating process.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Message from Founder of The Patriots

This message landed in my e-mail box and I felt it was valuable enough to share with you. I heard Bob Bowman, retired military officer and advisor to the White House, speak a few years ago and was very impressed. His is a non-partisan, heart-felt and fairly effective message for all Americans living in these days.

The message I have repeated almost in its entirety below, is re-assuring in a way many messages I have received this year have not been. So if you are looking for hope keep reading. While the message is from a Christian's perspective, it is general enough to be appreciated by everyone.

And to Dr. Bowman's message I add my own: Peace and Good Will to All.

-- The Musical Patriot

Bob Bowman

This note will have to suffice for a Christmas card for friends
and family, a pastoral letter to those in our Church, and a message of
encouragement to the Patriots.

We spend most of the year dwelling on what is wrong with the
world and with our beloved country – and there is indeed much to be
concerned about. In my “Inaugural Address,” I try to give a vision of an
alternative and better future. It is meant as an awakening for those who
have been lulled into acceptance (if not comfort) by our consumer society, a
reminder that things could be (and should be) so much better. It is a call
to those who have been on the sidelines to get involved and help bring about
the better world we seek. But it is also meant as an inspiration to those
already struggling on behalf of all of us, and encouragement to those who
have given up or have considered doing so. Above all, it is meant as a
message of hope that the kind of nation and world we envision is indeed
possible. (If you haven’t heard it or read it, you can do so on our web
site .)

At Christmas, the season of joy, it is especially fitting that
we hold fast to that hope, in the firm faith that God is indeed in His
Heaven. We may not see how we can succeed in our efforts. (Lord knows,
fighting the moneyed elite, the corporate media, and the brainwashed masses
can be frustrating.) But we must remember that we are not called to succeed
– only to be faithful in our struggle to serve God by serving His people.
Success is God’s business, not ours. It’s above our pay grade. In God’s
time, success will come.

As Maggie and I look back 55 ½ years to when we started our
married life together, we see a better, simpler time – the time of “Happy
Days.” “Leave It to Beaver,” and “Father Knows Best.” The vibrant middle
class of 1956 has disappeared into the great divide of 2011. Workers’ wages
are now a third of what they were then. Our children and grandchildren work
more hours for less money, have fewer freedoms and less fun, and face an
uncertain future.

On the other hand, if we look back 100 years, or 500 years, or
2,000 years, we see that the last 50 years have been but a tiny blip in a
long, steady improvement for all of humankind. God has been working through
His people for centuries … indeed for millennia. Even the last 50 years
have brought progress and blessings to most of the people on the planet.
The 1950's were not “Happy Days” for everyone. Those in China , India ,
South Africa , and Europe are immeasurably better off now than they were
then. Even in our own country there have been gains. People of color
(though still behind the rest of us) are better off today. Their standard
of living and their freedoms have increased considerably.

So if we take the broader view (in both time and geography),
success is not only possible, it is CERTAIN.

Let us give thanks for all the many blessings we have received,
and for being given the grace of having the opportunity to serve God’s will
in difficult times, in the sure knowledge that our efforts are not in vain.
When we pray “Thy Kingdom Come,” we are not just praying for the end of the
world. We are praying for the transformation of the world (the same thing
we are working for), and we know that our prayers will be answered (though
probably not as quickly as we’d like). When we pray “Thy Will Be Done,” we
are not asking God to do it all by Himself (it doesn’t work that way). And
we are not praying for somebody else to do it (Our neighbors? Our
coworkers? Our enemies?). No, the only way that prayer makes sense is with
our recognition that WE have to do God’s will. If we don’t, who will??
Those of us who are Christians believe that we are the Body of Christ.
We’re His hands, His feet, His voice in the world. If WE don’t do His will,
how on earth (no pun intended) is it to get done???

By the way, our loved ones who are Jews, Muslims, and whatever
believe the same thing. Most of the phrases in the Lord’s Prayer appear
also in prayers of other faiths. The humanists feel the same compulsion to
do good and serve their fellow human beings. (Some of them do it better and
more consistently than many of us.)

But we people of faith have a distinct advantage. We believe
that our efforts are inspired and guided by an all-loving God who likewise
inspires and guides others toward the same ends. We therefore are assured
of the efficacy of our efforts and the inevitability of our success. We can
therefore look forward to our renewed commitment in the New Year. Those of
us called to comfort the afflicted can do it with renewed empathy. Those of
us (like yours truly) called to afflict the comfortable can do so with
increased vigor.

For today (Christmas Eve), and tomorrow, however, let us dwell
on our blessings. In my daily prayers, I start by thanking God for all His
many blessings, for this day, for all of creation, for life, for Jesus and
the Church, for friends, family, and loved ones, and especially for Maggie
and our marriage. I thank God for preserving and blessing our marriage.
Then I pray for God’s blessing on each and every one of you (it takes a
while). And remember, the purpose of prayer is not to get our will done in
Heaven, but to get God’s will done on earth. When I walk our German
Shepherd, Sadie, through our community of well-kept homes, green grass,
lakes, trees, flowers, birds, squirrels, rabbits, and friendly neighbors, I
can’t help but be overwhelmed by the goodness of God and by the enormous
bounty he has heaped upon us all. As we celebrate the birth of the One who
came to bring us Abundant Life, let us savor it, drink it in, be thankful
for it, and share it as best we can.

A joyous Christmas and a most blessed New Year to you all.

Bob & Maggie

Friday, December 23, 2011

Heading Toward Capitalism's Alternative

The solution for this denial of democracy is to Occupy the Corporation.

America is groping its way toward Non-Capitalism. It used to be that if you were anti-capitalist you were called a socialist or a communist. I for one don't believe we all need to live on a commune, though it is a free country and the nation can stand a commune here or there. If socialism means people cooperating together in everything from church choirs to the Rotary, then I think human beings are social beings. In that since perhaps we can proclaim our belief in "associationalism."

What is becoming clearer is that at a minimum unbridled capitalism is noxious. And a brave few are seeing and saying essentially that the profit system tends toward self-aggrandizement and self-aggrandizement tends toward plutocracy. And that, dear friend, is simply un-American.

Read more here:

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Today's Featured Video

In this beautiful short film, the words of Charlie Chaplin ring clear and strong with the accompaniment of video and images of our time. At this special time of year, I can think of no better message than the one given here. (In English with subtitles)

Occupy Wall Street at a Crossroads Makes Choices, Tries to Move Ahead

The Occupy Wall Street movement, still alive even with the loss of Zucotti Park, is attempting to move forward even without a physical headquarters. The article at the accompanying link describes some of the questions the protestors face now.

What comes across is the determination of persons to continue to make their case. It seems to me that, as part of such a process, criticism of a church is not out of bounds, although a church might not be my first choice as a target.

However, if the movement needs space and if an institution which is one of the biggest land-owners in Manhattan has no room in the inn for the protestors, certainly the church can be questioned and even criticized. The image of an Episcopal bishop scaling a church fence in his robes is surely unprecedented in anyone's memory.

The church can indeed do better. While perhaps not the most obvious offenders in the selfishness department, the major churches have, nevertheless, embraced capitalism these many years sometimes in egregious ways. If the issue can be framed this way -- as an economic choice -- I think the discussion will fare better.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Occupy Movement Addresses Attack on Civil Rights

While adjustments have been made in backdoor meetings after President Obama’s threat of veto, none of these primary concerns were directly addressed. The NDAA in its present form could still allow for an indefinite military detention of a US citizen on American soil without trial.

-- From Occupy Together

Is the Bill of Rights still in effect in America? When one learns of all the laws Congress is passing circumventing the Bill of Rights, one wonders whether America is still America. The Occupy Movement is fighting back. While we cannot say they have yet met total success, they have at least opened up the discussion.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Congress Said Set to Eviscerate Bill of Rights Protections

The web site of the American Civil Liberties Union is reporting that the Senate is expected to pass a bill attempting to allow the government to detain citizens in prison indefinitely in spite of Constitutional protections. Here is a portion of the ACLU statement:

Our government must not enshrine permanently into law the power to militarily detain people indefinitely without charge or trial. Tell the president to listen to the American people and veto any bill that contains indefinite detention. If the president fails to veto the bill, ask him to publicly commit to limiting his use of this authority to actual battlefields only. The whole world is not a battlefield and the president should make that clear.

This is very good, but can be put more simply -- and more accurately. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land and anything which contravenes the Constitution is simply not law. We all know Washington loves to make things complicated. Sometimes laws do need to be written in a most comprehensive way. But the Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution to rule out the kinds of abuses which England had practiced in the recent Revolutionary War, including indefinite detentions. There is no need to lose sight of our heritage and our American values. Any diminishing of our rights diminishes America. It is now an old story: "terrorism" can and must be fought without changing the very fabric of the country. If that happens the terrorists (whoever they may be) will have already won.

More here:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Fall-out from Michigan Republicans' Assault on Democracy

The article linked to here tells the truth about the assault on democracy in Flint, Michigan. Who asked the governor of Michigan and his minions and co-conspirators in the State Legislature to disempower elected officials in Flint and thus disembowl democracy?

The fingerprints are at the crime scene. Is there more evidence needed? All that remains is the proper forensic investigation to determine just who is funding this totalitarian putsch in Michigan.

Where is the U.S. Justice Department?

Michigan's Governor Rick Snyder Least Popular Governor Says Poll

A recent Michigan State University poll shows Gov. Rick Snyder's approval rating at just 19.3%. Those calling his performance fair or poor amounted to a whopping 80.6%. (The missing 0.1% was not explained in this article.)

Snyder and Republican legislators enacted a shockingly un-Democratic and effectively racist law, enabling the Governor to appoint "managers" in cities who then have been "dismissing" mayors and council members, as if democracy were no longer in force in America.

My hat is off to those who have launched a recall effort against Snyder. If this poll is any indication, it would seem they have a ready audience for their message.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Occupying the Halls of Congress

...or at least a small portion of them

A group of protestors not officially connected with the Occupy movement but with a sympathetic message, arrived on the mall in Washington, D.C., yesterday to visit offices of members of Congress and demand jobs for Americans. Their experiences in a couple of offices make for some interesting reading.

The righteousness of the anger coming from people now is beautiful -- and important in American history. Not since the Viet Nam war have we seen such marches as have occured in various places during the last two months. Zucotti Park may have been forcibly evacuated, but that brutal event has only encouraged the movement to become more entrenched, its members more committed and persistent.

As one web page said, people have lost their apathy and their cynicism -- at least to some extent. We may be heading into our winter of discontent, but discontent hasn't seemed this energized -- or hopeful -- in a long time.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

U.N. Official Derides U.S. Government for Not Protecting Protestors' Rights

As I mentioned in a previous post, the United Nations official responsible for tracking human rights violations has criticized the U.S. federal government for not standing up for the rights of protestors in the Occupy Movement to demonstrate. While upholding the need for civil authority, he asks if persons cannot peacefully demonstrate in the United States where can they?

Consult this web page for further information:

Friday, December 02, 2011

Occupying the Colleges

Students across America are leaving the comfort of their dorm suites, their library nooks, and their cloistered classrooms in a clamor of protest from California to who-knows-where.

I hope to have news of the latest protest at University of California at Davis soon.

In the meantime, this web site satisfies with great information.

Also at this site: Report on the declaration of the U.N. special commissioner for human rights on the U.S. Occupy movement

Thursday, December 01, 2011

L.A. Protestors in Their Own Words

The web site of the Occupy L.A. movement tells of the forcible police removal of the Los Angeles protest site. As the web site says, the entire United States is a free speech zone. If the Occupy movement is not supported now, the free speech rights of an entire country could be in jeopardy.

See L.A. Occupy web site here:

Poster in photo says "The revolution will be crowd-sourced." (ed.'d)

U.S. Scene of Widespread Retaliation Against Occupy Camps

Police in Philadelphia and Los Angeles, appearing in full riot-control gear, have moved to shut-down two of the most prominent camps of the national Occupy movement. Allegations of police violence were made on yesterday's Democracy Now! program.

While details are still emerging, it is clear authorities are moving to crack down on a protest movement which is hitting too close to the truth for the existing power structure. This effort to squelch protest will not work. As the protestors have said, You cannot squelch the truth.

I plan to have more details on these latest police crack-downs soon.

Featured Post

Bill Clinton Warns on Rising Nationalism

Rush Link -- Bill Clinton on Rise of Nationalism