Sunday, December 30, 2012

Labor Year in Review

All the major media are filled with year-end retrospectives as usual at this time of year.  While most such stories focus on the year's best movies, TV shows, and books, there is another much more important area needing review:  labor news.

As the writer of the article linked below states, in spite of examples of bad news, chief of which is a poor economy, labor made strides during 2012 in some important ways.  Even intransigent Wal-Mart faced labor actions. 

There is a stir in the land in spite of the capitalist structure which dominates our economy and our country.  While the Scrooges of the modern day toil on in their greed and oppression, the Bob Cratchits, aided by the Charles Dickenses, are not yet completely down and out.  In fact, if anything workers seem to be gaining at least the rhetorical and moral upper hand. 



2012: The Year in Labor News

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Back After a Christmas Break

Work duties required your Music Patriot to be very busy indeed this Christmas season.  Work was so extensive (a good thing for me financially), I had little time to write and publish here.  But I am back and will even try to post while traveling.  For starters, see my post on Washington's attack on Social Security immediately below. 

Social Insecurity

It seems the latest successor to Franklin Roosevelt is unworthy of his heritage.  Barack Obama has either proven his abject opportunism, or his fathomless, superior political savvy through an "offer" to cut social service support by $112 billion over several years.  If his intention was to force the far-right Republican Party to reject his offer, then claim Republican intransigence he is to be congratulated for not only savvy but omniscience. 

If, however, he is part of a thoroughly corrupt political process, one in which a John Boehner can be virtually dictating terms to the President of the United States, we are all in more trouble than we can account for. 

I have started my own petition through MoveOn opposing any cuts to Social Security.  At last count there were well over 200 signers.  I urge you, dear reader, to find such a petition and sign it.  Like all other proposals to cut or weaken Social Security we can kill this reeking effort.  But we need everyone sticking together on this one. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Greg Palast Weighs In On G.O.P. Vote Heists




By my initial calculation, 9.3 million Americans lost their vote on November 7 – purged from voter rolls, blocked at the polls, or had their “provisional” and absentee ballots thrown in the dumpster.



Let's get to the bottom of this: In the next 90 days, we need to name names, expose their games, and make sure things don't stay the same.



Just because Mr. Obama won re-election doesn't mean the vote-heist didn't happen. This is no joke: the evidence suggests the GOP actually lost the majority of Congressional races. But, through sick tricks in Arizona and three other states, snatched enough seats to hang our economy over a fiscal cliff.

                                                                                                  -- Greg Palast


The evidence continues to mount that big-money operatives worked assiduously to tamp down Democratic votes.  And the evidence is further showing that the House of Representatives would have gone Democratic, had all votes been properly cast and counted. 

Meantime, a Democratic President was returned to office despite a poor economy.  This shows that voters thought Romney and Ryan were worse. 

But America deserves a House which truly represents the people's interests, not primarily the interests of the God-free capitalists. 


Greg Palast Web Site

Friday, December 07, 2012

Forms of Anti-Capitalism Growing

University of Maryland professor Gar Alperovitz is interviewed by David Barsamian at the following link (transcript also provided).

It is clear from this interview there are many challenges being faced by capitalism, although only 5 % of the people still own 70% of the capital in the U. S.  Times are changing, and a true American spirit is beginning to invade the traditional capitalist system.


A New Economic Paradigm

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Review of Gerrymandering Promised

Sam Wang of the Princeton Election Consortium is promising a review of the gerrymandering which went on prior to last month's national election.  There is reason to believe partisan gerrymandering was responsible for the failure of Democrats to re-take the House, since a majority of voters in House races voted Democratic overall.  Surely, this would be an unconscionable assault on democratic principles. 

It is time to promote a non-partisan method of drawing Congressional districts.  Such a method would have to take into account the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  But a way should be able to be found to preserve minority representation plus equal representation for voters in general. 


Princeton Election Consortium

Monday, November 26, 2012

Still Time to Give Thanks

Amidst holiday bustle, including retail intrusions on the national Day of Thanksgiving, it is good to be reminded of who we are as a people.  President Obama's message this year speaks of what kind of people we are at our best.  It is a reminder of the need to constantly hold up our best ideals, so future generations may enjoy the rights and, yes, reponsibilities of this great nation. 





Presidential Thanksgiving Message

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Wal-Mart Employees Challenge "Black Friday" Euphoria

Rush Post --


The Nation magazine is calling yesterday's strikes against Wal-Mart "the largest-ever US strike against the largest employer in the world."

Clearly, many Wal-Mart employees have had enough. 


Wal-Mart Employees' Strike Called Biggest in History

Friday, November 16, 2012

Poetry Is for All Seasons

Amidst political rancor, economic turmoil, and spiritual entropy, can poetry serve a useful purpose?  Poetry stands as one of the great forms of literary art.  Poems are used to say things meaningfully and purposefully.  Poems are used as texts for songs. 

I think poems can be ever so much more than merely pretty words.  Poems can be useful, even in emergencies.  For instance, the Bible contains great poetry, and the Bible has been used in personal and national emergencies for centuries.  The concern over economics world-wide is an emergency.  I propose that poetry be named as one of the tools in a resurgent economy.  Why would I make such a seemingly impertinent suggestion?  To fully answer that question would take some time.  But in poetry we have both useful ideas and the means of expression which can be an effective antidote to despair. 

A beginning can be made at the link below.  Even as autumn is a time of change, may poems about autumn encourage us to see more the beauty of the world and what we may do to protect this precious, lively planet.


Poems for Autumn

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Socialist Weighs in on the Election

A week has gone by since the federal election of 2012.  What strikes me is the silence of Barack Obama.  It is true the Romney-philes have quieted down.  And like the author linked to below, I am glad Romney lost.  My vote was less for someone than against another (Romney). 

But as the author points out, Obama did not talk much about policy in his acceptance speech, certainly he offered very few specifics.  He did, however, talk about fixing long lines at polling places and this was particularly laudable considering all the troubles with voting especially since 2000. 

Yet the political structure cannot abide any discussion of a new stimulus package, so badly needed.  The oligarchs cannot stand a policy of full employment, or fair taxes on the wealthy.  Sure, there are exceptions, most among the privilege class want the same tax rate or lower rates on themselves, certainly not higher taxes. 

It is now more of an opportunity than ever for those who want a better America, a different America.  True change will require desire, knowledge, commitment, talent, and hard work.  Seems to me that is a pretty good list of America's attributes. 



Election, 2012: A View from an International Socialist

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Americans Voted for a Democratic House in 2012

Any claims the Republicans have to legitimacy in House leadership simply don't hold water according to the analysis from Sam Wang at the Princeton Election Consortium.  He is incredulous at the results saying Democrats should have picked up enough seats to win the majority.  That they did not can be attributed to re-districting, says Wang.  That is very likely a major cause.   Perhaps voter suppression and other Republican dirty tricks added to the Republican lock.  I will be checking into this further in coming days.  For now I agree with Wang that it is time for a non-partisan but (small-"d") democratic arrangement on re-districting.


Americans Voted for a Democratic House

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Pres. Kennedy on U.S. Imposing Its Will

In this time of concern for our country, a President has been elected to a new term.  This morning I have had the pleasure of listening to Pres. Kennedy speaking on a few different subjects, everything from his win to his religion to his views on U.S. leadership.  In this video snippet John F. Kennedy gives a vision for a new United States leadership in the world -- one which is strong and tough but does not seek to impose its will on the rest of the world. 

This has been the meaning of the victory of Barack Obama.  Whether he was or was not born in the U.S., as many have argued over, he is now an instrument for fulfilling President Kennedy's vision of leading by example.  That, at least, is the opportunity Mr. Obama has.  If Pres. Obama remembers this principle above all others, America will be successful.  Where the U.S. deviates from this principle whether by launching unjustified wars or through unilateral assassination or imprisonment missions, this country will fail in its obligation to protect human rights.  Should any nation seek to victimize the American people, America must respond.  But let it not be the United States which seeks or encourages opportunities to use armaments simply for glory or the financial gain of the few.  This is what America must strive for now.  For only in this way will America truly respect itself, and truly be safe and free. 







Wednesday, November 07, 2012

"Blue State/Red State" Lingo Hurtful to America

This is something I have wanted to say for a long time.  The convincing win of Mr. Obama yesterday plus his victory speech last night has inspired me to say it is time to retire this tedious naming of states as either red or blue.  First such summing up of states can be a prelude to the terrible divisions of yesteryear in other countries such as the Orange and the Green.  In America, it is more than the majority rules.  It is majority leadership with the rights of the minority protected.  For many years, for example, Virginia voted Republican, later called red.  Now it seems to be "blue"?  There were always huge numbers of Democrats in the commonwealth and there are still huge numbers of Republicans, both Tea drinkers and old-line. 

And does anyone in the media remember when "red" meant Communist?  What an irony that red now means right-wing! 

Amid the Hoopla, Lingering Questions About the Democracy

Normally, I am critical of anything with a whiff of fatalism.  But sometimes, the truth must be told.  One morning newspaper -- part of the Tribune chain -- stated that cheating is an unfortunate feature of American politics.  This is certainly true. 

I support very much the re-election of Obama simply because it means a certain fascist approach to reality will not become -- reality. 

One thing has been gnawing at me -- why there wasn't a Democratic sweep of the House.  I realize many pundits (will we ever be rid of this rather odorous category of opining) hadn't necessarily predicted such a thing.  But I did say here it was possible.  Now comes the hint of validation from the Princeton Election Consortium.  At least my sixth sense was right, if not, perhaps, my arithmetic.  The problem appears to lie with re-districting, combined -- I suspect -- with all the various voter suppression tactics of the Republicans.  More is at the link below.  According to the PEC, it appears more Americans voted for Democratic House candidates than voted for Republicans.  If this is true, it would be only the second time since World War II this situation (actual results differing from the majority vote) has occured. 

So instead of voters desiring divided government it is entirely possible they meant to vote for a unified Democratic leadership, but were stymied by gerrymandering and other assorted deep, dark tricks from the other side. 

Understanding the House

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Democrats Appear to Rebound

At this relatively early point in the proceedings, Democrats appear to be heading toward solid, if not overwhelming gains this election night.  At least one race which earlier in the year seemed out of Democratic hands -- the Senate race in Indiana -- has already been called for the Democratic candidate.

In the Presidential race, even Fox News commentator Brit Hume is opining that Romney will have to get what is known as an "inside straight" in order to win the Presidency. 

In the House, the Democratic tide appears as of this writing to be insufficiently strong to bring the Democrats back to majority status.  But any diminishing of Republican power will be welcome.  As I have said so many times, this is not the Republican party of John Rhodes, and Bob Michel.  I predict a continuing fracturing of the Republican power structure as was seen leading up to the Democratic defeat in 2006.

Monday, November 05, 2012

If Dead People Can't Vote Can We Vote for Dead People?

Today is the birthday of Eugene V. Debs, American writer, union activist, candidate for President, and socialist.  If memory serves, Debs garnered almost a million votes in the 1920 race for President.  This while Debs was in prison.

In 2000, a majority of Missourians voted for a dead man for United States Senator, the late and great Mel Carnahan.  His wife ended up being appointed to the seat.  Perhaps some descendant of the great Eugene Debs could be named President. 

N.B.  No, I haven't taken leave of my senses.  But I believe those who cannot dream, never achieve. 


Garrison Keilor's Writer's Almanac for Today

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Democratic Sweep Possible*: You Read it Here First

Smart observers are beginning to understand that President Obama is beginning to pull away in the race for re-election.  Further, it is becoming clear that Democrats will retain control of the Senate.  And, if Steve Israel is right that House seats whose districts went for Kerry and Obama are in play, the House could revert to Democratic control, too.

For politics, you see, is of a piece.  According to the Princeton Election Consortium, the Presidential election pie was baked weeks if not months ago.  Only vast cheating to deny Latinos, blacks, and poor whites the votes can stop an Obama victory now.  We now have less than forty-eight hours to go and Romney clearly lost momentum last week as Hurricane Sandy was ravaging the coast and bottling up both campaigns in quarters.  Romney needed clear skies and got head-winds instead.  Furthermore, hasn't it always been Obama's race to lose? 

The winds have indeed shifted.  Momentum is flowing Mr. Obama's way.  If voters internalize the Obama message that Republicans are only for the wealthy, coat-tails will begin to lengthen, bringing along numerous Democrats in the process.  See how logical it all is?


Best wishes,

TMP

*If "anything is possible," this is possible.
Democratic Sweep Possible

Friday, November 02, 2012

Jill Stein Running for President Under Green Banner

One of a series of reports.

First, please note that under the current election system, strategic votes against candidates are often necessary.  This year is such a year, and Romney is a candidate who must be blocked from becoming President.  Thus it is strongly advisable not to "waste" a vote.   I wish I could say otherwise.  Instant run-off voting or something similar would help prevent this.  But for now in order to stop the fascism which Romney represents (and make no mistake -- he does represent the new Nazis), a vote for Obama is the only way.

However, in a perfect world a great alternative could be Jill Stein representing the Green Party.

Read more here:
Jill Stein, Green Candidate for President 2012

Continuing to Debunk the Mainstream Media Election Narrative

"Super Sam" Does it Again.

I hope Sam Wang will pardon any undue familiarity as implied by my subtitle above.  In any case he has again offered timely information, this time regarding "undecideds."  It turns out that those undecideds are not what media pundits claim they are (and aren't).  Sometimes people may have made up their minds but are unwilling to admit it. 

Again, on the subject of Ohio, Mr. Wang deconstructs the media charlatans who claim to know more than they actually do about polling.  Ohio is not, as various ones have said, becoming a toss-up state.  Pres. Obama continues to lead there, as Sam Wang shows.  Ohio, that state which supposedly will decide the election is still leaning, perhaps heavily, toward Obama.


A Little About What Makes Undecideds Tick

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Vote Discrepancies Reported in Early Voting

We have only just arrived at the month of the national election.  And already there are reports of lost votes.  The article linked below details some of these allegations.

It also calls for a change in the way we elect our President.  While I agree there can certainly be improvements to the way we elect the President the main problem is the power which is given to private for-profit corporations in the U. S. today.  These companies' wings must be clipped, their very purpose changed to something ethical.  We must start now to ensure we have anything like a functioning democratic republic.


Stealing the Vote -- Again

Friday, October 26, 2012

Princeton Election Consortium Continues to See Obama Lead

Sam Wang at Princeton is the most astute election analyst I have ever seen.  His data are impeccable as far as I can see.  And his analysis is excellent due to his superior understanding of numbers, and also to his humility in knowing what not to try to predict. 

You can search for Princeton Election Consortium on line for more information. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Obama Wins Third Debate Decisiviely: Newsday

As one who is frightened by historic Republican saber-rattling, but is also critical of the general attitude of dominance over others shown by the American government, I find the article linked below useful.  It does seem clear that Pres. Obama "won" last night's debate on both style and substance. 

Two things struck me.  First, I had expected the President to be competent enough to more than hold his own in a debate on foreign policy.  What I did not expect was his near-total dominance of the evening.  Second, I was reminded again of how full of bluster this country's foreign policy has become.  The fact that the deaths of Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, and Ghaddafi, can be crowed over and held up as trophies as if in some primitive battle scene is still startling to me.  As far as I know, not one of these killings comports with international law, no matter how persuasive the arguments on behalf of the assassinations.  This is not the popular position to take, but it is one which supports the rule of law, a concept the U.S. still uses when it is convenient to do so.

At the same time, a Romney win would spell disaster, if he were left to operate the way he operated last night.  He showed a chilling ignorance of international diplomacy, the place of Russia and China in the world, and the nuances of the Middle East.  His talk of peace was welcome but surprising as he hasn't spoken much of peace, at least not through the media.  On style, he was much less combative than in the last two debates.  One can credit him for acknowledging Obama's successes.  Yet, Romney was far from devoid of hubris and impertinancy, as in the case of declaring our Navy is smaller than any time since 1917. 

Whatever else may be true, W. Mitt Romney is not the man for the job of President of the United States.  And Pres. Obama has a decisive edge on foreign and domestic policy. 


Obama Wins Third Debate Decisively


Coming Soon:  More on Alternative Candidates for President (and why you might not want to vote for them)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Princeton Analyst Says a Democratic Take-Over of the House Has 74% Likelihood

I don't have time right now to say much about the following article except that I respect the author very much for his acumen and demonstrated ability.  This is analysis of a strict statistical and mathematical kind, the kind we need more of.


Excellent Analysis of U.S. House Election Situation

Poll Analysis for Those Who Like to Dig Deeper

I feel it necessary to remind us all that polling has inherent weaknesses.  However, the analysis done here attempts to adjust for various biases in individual polls.  Although the analysis here is a little dense, it is readable for those who enjoy such reporting.

The upshot seems to be that Pres. Obama is more than holding his own, although voters appear nearly split.  If the vote count could be relied upon to be fair, I'd say Mr. Obama is on a course to win the Electoral College and the popular vote, both.  With a corrupted vote count in the offing, an Electoral College win is likely, with the popular vote tally in doubt. 


In-depth Polling Analysis

Obama Continues to Lead in Important "Battleground" States

Even as concerns continue to be voiced over Republican voter suppression efforts, Pres. Obama continues to lead in polls in important "battleground" states such as Iowa, Wisconsin, Nevada, and -- importantly -- Ohio.  This continues to give him a lead in the Electoral College count, the vote which really matters.  It also appears Mr. Obama has benefitted from his second debate performance.  A strong appearance in the debate on foreign policy should strongly favor President Obama, and further strengthen him. 

By the way, have you noticed the media was quick to trumpet a Romney "win" in the first debate, even though W. Mitt Romney's case was full of untruths (lies)?  Yet, when Mr. Obama clearly trumped Romney's effort in the second debate, the media in general refused to call it an Obama win?  One exception, surprisingly, were certain Fox News figures who said the President won on "points."  In this case, I'll take deserved praise from whatever source. 



Review of Latest Polls

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Pres. Obama Does More than Level the Playing Field

As is becoming clearer now almost twenty-four hours after the second Presidential debate, Pres. Obama did more than level the playing field in last night's dust-up with Willard Mitt Romney.  He re-presented himself to the American people as a person who can learn from his mistakes (in the now-storied first debate underperformance).  While much can be said, it was clear last night which man was the Chief Executive and why. 

I continue as a severe critic of the debate format which lessens the dignity of the office of the President even while elevating incivility and mediocrity (read:  Romney).  When each candidate gets only two minutes (two minutes?!) to make a statement, how can there be any in-depth statement from anyone?  And how can there possibly be a "winner" in such a scenario. 

Read more here:
Romney's Catalogue of Lies

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Biden to the Rescue

JOE BIDEN RIDES TO THE RESCUE.  Such might be the lead in a western newspaper were Vice-President Biden running in 1884.  Mr. Biden is being hailed as a savior, a fix-it man, a populist guru, and maybe a western sheriff in the wake of President Obama's debate performance last week.  As I have been saying all week, the fault lies not so much in the stars, or with Mr. Obama, but in our system.  A system which could produce someone so opportunistic, untruthful and simply rude as a Willard Romney is itself the problem.  (See earlier recent posts here for more commentary and resources.)  But to hear the pundits yammering, one would have thought we were talking about a boxing match, not a debate among two men who wanted to be President of the United States. 

Let us hope Mr. Ryan's inner tiger will be tamed by tonight's moderator.  Even George Foreman would have trouble defending against an actual tiger in the ring.   Mr. Biden is a seasoned politician, and should prove to be a shrewd debater.  But let us also hope -- most sincerely -- that the moderator and the debate format will provide for an event somewhere within bounds of the civilized universe, unlike last week's factoid food fight.



Sen. Sherod Brown on Where the Democrats Stand

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Hugo Chavez Wins Re-election



Hugo Chavez has won re-election as President of Venezuela with 55% of the vote. 

Bill Clinton Continues to be a Bright Light in This Campaign

Former President Bill Clinton continues as the brightest light on the Democratic block in its supposed night-time of despair.  Over the past few days I have found much reason for hope for the Democratic ticket, everything from lower unemployment numbers to increased "likability" numbers for Pres. Obama after the debate.  (Perhaps there was something to be said for the polite approach after all.)  At the very, very best it is a mixed bag at this point in the election season.  Clearly, Pres. Obama doesn't do as well on his feet in debates as we might have expected. 

But Bill Clinton continues to deliver.  He is clearly the brightest bulb in the pack when it comes to framing issues and speaking clearly and directly to the people.  There truly is no one like him on the political scene today.  No one person, not even Bill Clinton, can save any candidate, given the corporate-dominated media in the U.S.  But clearly he has a contribution to make. 

As for the rest of us, we have a choice.  Barack Obama may not be the savior many people thought he was.  But given the possibility of a Willard Romney administration, one thing is clear:  we must vote "no" to Romeny in 2012!  


Bill Clinton, tied to reality, uses facts and humor to shore up the people

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Shh-- Dont Tell: Democrats Really Do Have a Good Chance of Re-taking the House: Salon

Salon on-line magazine is saying that the Democrats really do have a good chance of re-taking the House in next month's elections.  Read along with me as I explore the evidence:


Democratic Chances to Re-take House Looking Better

Obama Campaign Fires Back with Facts and Humor




The Obama Campaign is releasing new television ads based on last week's mediocre and insulting debate.  The Big Bird ad is a must-see!  The other ad I've seen is factual and persuasive.  Why isn't the mainstream media helping get the truth out?  Is it possible they prefer to pump up a slug fight instead of truly informing readers?  It's an old media game. 

But the Obama campaign at least is trying to bring some semblance of rationality to the fray. 




Recovering from the Debate

Last week I had something to say about the Presidential debate fiasco.  My main point then was that the format, the moderator, Willard Romney, and to some extent President Obama, were all to blame.  Beyond the matter of the format (which allowed for blistering and rude interruptions from either candidate apparently), I pointed out that these debates have really become, in effect, bi-partisan rather than non-partisan debates.  The article I linked to claimed certain debate sponsors were withdrawing their support for this reason.

The pundits have harped on one point, a point which I believe is mistaken.  Overall, most have harped on this one point to the virtual exclusion of all others.  They have claimed that Romney was the "winner" of this debate.  Besides making the debate into a wrestling match or a baseball game, this contention is wrong.  First and foremost, a debate is supposed to inform citizens or at least voters.  In this sense, only the truth should win.  The truth suffered terribly in last week's debate, mostly because of Romney's ill-informed and possibly purposeful distortions.  If his distortions were ill-informed he does not know enough to be President.  If they were purposeful he is ethically unfit, for lying to voters on national television is inexcusable. 

There have been many articles which have attempted to hold Romney to account.  I will try to post links to some of them in coming days.  The main claim, and the biggest untruth, is that trickle-down economics has not worked in the past and will not work now.  This is the argument Mr. Obama should have made.  As Pres. Clinton said at the Democratic Convention, the Republicans' main idea is to "double down on 'trickle-down.'"  This is true yet neither Lehrer nor Obama effectively pinned him down on this point.  And the claim made by both candidates that their positions on Social Security were essentially the same has also been found to be untrue. 

As we dig deeper, we find the race hasn't much changed, that actually the facts are trending in Obama's favor with an improved unemployment picture.  At the same time and looking back,  I hoped for a bigger stimulus in 2009.  But I also hoped the American people would rise up in indignation over the ascension of G. W. Bush to the Presidency, solely because the Supreme Court decided he could.  But I do digress. 

Looking deeper, what of the white vote?  It has been said that white voters have deserted the President and vice versa.  But is either true?  The article linked below says, Wait a minute -- look closer.  I believe that when we actually start looking at the numbers, things look fairly good for Mr. Obama.  Now, if we will wake up to the huge Republican dirty tricks operation, including widespread efforts to suppress minority and poor white votes, we will have a chance at an outcome we can live with.  But next time, let's have a non-partisan debate process, if there are to be any debates at all. 



Obama Doing Better Among White Voters?

Friday, October 05, 2012

Romney's Hooey Factor

Wednesday night's Presidential debate is being criticized from all points on the political spectrum and even from nonpartisan professionals.  Whether it was the format (bizarre), the moderator (ineffective and bordering on incompetent), Romney ( hyper and rude), or Pres. Obama (suffering from altitude sickness?), the whole sad event speaks to the low state of American politics. 

This year I tried to listen to the debate on radio.  But the event was so disjointed, disorganized, and weird that I had to switch stations after about twenty minutes.  Willard Romney gave me a headache.  I was shocked at his rudeness in repeatedly interrupting a sitting President of the United States.  I noted Mr. Obama's lack of energy and the absence of targeted rejoinders, but still felt he did a reasonably good job in measuring up to the challenge of Romney's diatribes.

And where were any other candidates?  This debate badly need a Ross Perot, someone who in a few words could puncture the bubble of hubris surrounding this mediocre event.  What a spectacle of less-than-Presidential televised theatre!  America can do better. 



Romney's Ten Most Baseless Claims

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Other Candidates for President 2012

As I did in 2008, I am once again providing information on so-called Third Party candidates for President.
While many of these candidates can hardly be considered viable, each seems to offer views worth considering. 

As time goes on I will be offering more information about some of these candidates.

Sadly, these third-party candidates are being systematically eliminated from both national polling lists as published by the media, and the Presidential debates are becoming widely recognized as being, in actuality, bi-partisan debates rather than non-partisan. 

For now, those who would like more information about alternative candidates the following web site is available:


Fuller List of Presidential Candidates 2012

Who Ate the Debate?

Americans may remember the appearance of one Ross Perot in the televised Presidential debates of 1992.  Perot's participation energized the debates bringing a much-needed and long-sought alternative perspective to what was already a fairly boring American Duopoly of Republicans and Democrats. 

Not once since 1992 has any person other than a Democrat or Republican appeared in a Presidential or Vice-Presidential debate.  This gives a quality of pancake v. waffle to these quadrennial match-ups.  Since 1992 an erstwhile "commission," set up by the Democratic and Republican national committees has conspired to prevent any third (or fourth or fifth) party candidates from appearing in the national debates. 

Today I begin a series of reports on other candidates for the office of President.  This will be in the form of periodic insights gleaned from primarily on-line sources. 

The first is an article about Libertarian candidate and former New Mexico Governor, Gary Johnson.  According to this unsubstantiated report, Johnson is garnering as much as 10% of the vote in some states. 

As the first of the Presidential debates looms tonight, it is wise and fitting to consider what is being left out of the national discourse. 


Libertarian Ire Over Debate Exclusion

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Are Professional Musicians Workers?

Occasionally I am able to present an issue which justifies my moniker as being a Musical Patriot.  Today is one of those occasions.

Recently, the musicians of the world-renowned Chicago Symphony went out on strike.  As music is rarely a front-page issue, I had not heard about this until reading of it today at the site linked here. 

Evidently, local press in Chicago printed many comments critical of the musicians' union.  As a former and to-be member of the American Federation of Musicians I can attest to the fact that the musicians' union helps to provide a minimum level of support for musicians. 

And as the author says here, it is all about power.  Anyone who has been employed, especially in a large corporation knows what it means to be in the loop or out of the loop regarding such issues as how the corporation's money is spent, for example.  A union, then, restores some sense of balance in the relationship, helps assure a minimum salary, and supports contributions to pension plans. 

Working in a major symphony orchestra is very rewarding, but it is very much a job.  Musicians at this level must practice at home, usually balancing this with teaching, and family duties.  Like anyone else who has a degree, younger musicians must re-pay loans.  If you think "sawing away" at a string instrument for several hours a day isn't work, I don't know what is.  And to be able to keep feeling the music no matter what is going on in one's personal life is an absolute triumph! 

As a fellow musician, I can speak for the physical wear and tear on the part of the musician.  And I can speak for the other stresses musicians endure.  Yes, the rewards of music are wonderful, but high-level musicians deserve fair pay just like any major professional sports athlete. 



Debating a Symphony Strike

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pres. Obama Hanging Onto National Lead

President Barack Obama is hanging onto a lead in national polls according to The Huffington Post, which tracks a variety of polls.  Of special interest is his lead in the Electoral College, which at the moment is overwhelming.*

Meantime, I have a brand-new book listing various statistics relevant to the great Election of 2012.  The tome appears straightforward and useful.  I plan to have more to write about this after looking the book over more thoroughly. 



*The effect of state legislation mandating Electoral College votes go to the supposed winner of the popular vote (who verifies that?) is unknown. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Billionaire Bandits

I continue to read Greg Palast's new collection of reports, Billionaires and Ballot Bandits.  Gathering together a series of essays full of facts, Palast shows just how deep the corruption of our politics has become.  As can be seen from the book our politics is so corrupt as to make a mockery of the designation "democracy."  This is a painful thing to have to say, though I have said it in different ways in this web log over the last six years.

As one of my friends recently said about the new 9/11/01 documentary recently broadcast over PBS, reading Palast's book gives one a sense of responsibility to do something.  In this case, the suggested to-do list is included at the end of the book. 

This is an important book -- one which should be read by every voting citizen.


Note: This book contains its fair share of profanity and is not suitable for students, except the very oldest high school student.  This feature also makes the book unsuitable for church, garden clubs, and true gentlemen.  I'm sure Palast would consider this last quite quaint.  I still like Palast a good deal and his information should be regarded as highly reliable. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Week-end Time Out for Humor

A Few "Great" Headlines --

  1. HOSPITALS SUED BY 7 FOOT DOCTORS
  2. JUVENILE COURT TO TRY SHOOTING VICTIM
  3. SOMETHING WENT WRONG IN JET CRASH
  4. TYPHOON RIPS THROUGH CEMETERY;  HUNDREDS DEAD

-- courtesy of S. P., Manchester, New Hampshire as printed in the 2013 Old Farmer's Almanac, p. 252



Thursday, September 13, 2012

"Why Revisit 9/11," Asks New Boradcast Film

Rush Post 

via Colorado Public Television --


A film just broadcast on PBS has just been rated as the third most-watched documentary on the network.*  In a path-breaking move Public Broadcasting has decided to broadcast a film casting doubt on the official government story of why the Twin Towers and Building 7 collapsed on September 11, 2001. 

The film can now be viewed at the link below.

*  Source:  Digital Journal


"Why Revisit 9/11," Asks New Broadcast Film

Facebook System Appears to be Censoring Freedom of Speech

The more Orwellian aspects of current computer technology come into focus in the article linked below.  I assume the notice received by Citizens for Legitimate Government from Facebook is indeed part of the Facebook system and may not have even been created by a live human being. 

However the message was generated it speaks to a disturbing methodology on the part of Facebook's review system.  It would be just like Big Brother to claim that criticism of the government was caused by some kind of mental illness.  "1984" didn't occur in A.D. 1984.  It is occuring in the twenty-first century.  Without resorting to any kind of paranoia, it is best to be aware. 


Facebook Concerned About Legitimate Political Opinion?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

New York Times Reports Significant Bush Administration Negligence Leading up to 9/11/01

As this blog has reported, the G. W. Bush administration was warned about the possibility of just the type of attacks which occured on September 11, 2001.  Now comes a report from the New York Times that warnings were more numerous and insistent than previously reported. 

It is a sad day every September 11, and none less than today.  This morning I rang the bell at the church next door to memorialize the victims of that hideous day.  To have confirmation that the federal administration failed America adds enormously to the grief.  Yet, above all, the truth is better known, than hidden.


New York Times Reports Significant Bush Administration Negligence

Friday, September 07, 2012

Commenting on Huffington Post Article

The article linked below is useful, but Willard ("Mitt") Romney is not the answer.  Romney proves the truth of his statement that he did not watch the Democratic Convention.  Evidently the writer here either did not hear or correctly evaluate former Pres. Bill Clinton's speech on Wednesday evening nominating Barack Obama.  It is perfectly fine to criticize Barack Obama.  However, Mr. Clinton was right on the money when he said the Republican's essential message is "We made the mess, the President isn't cleaning it up fast enough, so put us back in charge."  Even Franklin Roosevelt didn't "clean up" the Great Depression in one term.  Let's welcome a dose of realism. 


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/07/presidential-election-season_n_1864312.html

Romney and Obama on the Things that Matter Most: Closer Than You Think

It is not true that there are no important differences between Democrats and Republicans.  For example on education, health care, the environment, and the social safety net, Democrats are far and away the superior party, especially now that the Republican Party is dominated by the far right. 

However, there is another level of policy where Democrats and Republicans inhabit the same territory.  This includes such issues as big agribusiness, Big Oil, and "clean coal."   Sadly, both parties are intimately involved in propping up a failed economic system.  At this week's Democratic convention I heard more than one speaker praise our American profit system. 

This praise, amidst so much uncertainty, hardship, and pain, is what is troubling Americans most, though they may not be able to articulate the problem.  Why, four years after the economic panic of 2008, have the structural issues not been truly dealt with?  This failure to address underlying economic weakness is the reason the economy is still not "robust." 

I challenge us to look at the numbers.  What are the numbers of jobs being created compared with the number needing to be created in order to get us back to where we were and even better?  How can an economist be quoted by a leading news organization as saying we are not near to getting back to "full employment" conditions of 5-6% unemployment

No matter who is elected President the economy will not recover until issues of essential fairness, including the absolute right to a job are addressed. 

Romney and Obama: Closer Than You Think


Coming:  The Successes and Failures of the Democratic Convention 2012 

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Pres. Bill Clinton in a Stem-Winding Game-Changer!

This amazing speech by a former President in top form has changed the dynamics of the 2012 election by totally skewering the Republican strategy and energizing not only Democrats but the entire country.

-- The Musical Patriot


In what must go down as the most energetic and right-for-the-moment speech at a party convention in U.S. history, former President Bill Clinton showed both Presidential timber and citizen power in an amazing speech at the Democratic Party convention last evening in Charlotte, North Carolin.  Before an enthusiastic convention throng and a nation-wide audience Mr. Clinton completely eviscerated the Republican strategy in 2012 through the use of humor, charm, and -- most importantly -- facts. 

This speech is a must-see for anyone seeking rejuvenation and solace amidst a very dismal election-year campaign marred by incessant attack ads and gross misrepresentation of reality by Republican operatives.  Examples can be given.  But for now, it was utterly refreshing to hear someone speaking from the heart with energy and clarity of mind.  It was a pleasure listening to someone who could marshall the facts to support intelligent budget policies without sounding in any way pedantic or patronizing.  What a joy!  What a relief!  What a feeling from a man of Hope!

Watch Pres. Bill Clinton Nominating Barack Obama

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Calls it a $4 Billion Election




In this brief video Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., talks about the unprecedented levels of money being spent in this election and why. 



New Greg Palast Book Unmasks the Bandits




In a new book entitled Billionaires and Ballot Bandits author and respected reporter Greg Palast reveals the money behind the Republican throne in this year's election.  He reveals what makes Romney tick, what makes Ryan run, and what makes Republicans giddy.  The anwer?  It has pictures of green Presidents on it.


Greg Palast's New and Revealing Book

Republican Dirty Tricks Effort Already in Operation

Rush Post:

Greg Palast is reporting a high level of vote suppression efforts and other dirty tricks already underway by Republican operatives.  Help me review this information at the following link.

Greg Palast Reports on Republican Dirty Tricks

Romney Is First Recent Republican Nominee Not to Get Convention "Bounce"

The Gallup polling organization is reporting no convention bounce for Mitt Romney following last week's Republican convention -- the first recent Republican nominee to fail to garner the typical rise in poll numbers. 

The Gallup web site has this to say about the implications of the latest polling:

Convention bounces are an expected part of each presidential campaign, so the fact that Romney did not receive one is surely a disappointment for his campaign and his supporters. However, with Americans' engagement in elections much higher earlier on in the 2004, 2008, and 2012 elections than in prior election years, conventions may no longer serve to introduce the nominees to Americans.

Gallup also mentions that it would not be surprising for Pres. Obama to also fail to get such a rise in his polling numbers following the convention.  However, judging from last night's series of strong speeches, it should not be surprising were Mr. Obama to get the expected bounce. 

Meantime, there was so much about America which was not addressed in last night's speeches, though the economy was highlighted.  However, when the economy was spoken of it was usually in the context of trying to explain why the President has not done more.  Such an explanation is the least the Democrats can do.  But the needed explanation must surely include the obstructionism of the Republicans in Congress most of whom adopt a cynical strategy of "do nothing and hope the country blames Barack Obama." 

In the main it was heartening to hear the Democratic voice last night after so many days of hearing all about Romney/Ryan.  These two are like the Katzenjammer Kids rebelling against the authority of the President. 

As one speaker has put it, Romney's "concern" for others is really about what will advance his own interests in the end.  It is this difference, subtle yet important, which separates the Romney convention from the Democratic convention.  The Democrats have more true feeling for the people, working together to lift one another to greater heights and accomplishments. 
Gallup Report on Latest Romney Poll Numbers
*************
Question of the Day:  When will either party put forth a program to end poverty as we know it? 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Not an "Act of God" -- But...

I don't buy into this business of weather being caused by God to punish people.  And I certainly don't wish physical injury to anyone.

However, it is seemly that the Republican Party, that schism-plagued political organization now performing a juggling act over hot burning coals, should need to deal with tropical-storm force winds at their convention.  Theirs and our first concern should be for the physical safety of convention-goers and residents of Florida and workers in the Gulf of Mexico.  This may mean, at a minimum, cancelling some festive events, out of sympathy for residents of the Tampa area, if nothing else. 

In a related matter -- I am tired of hearing about Mitt Romney, very tired.  That is a personal feeling based on his whole manner and program.  But to have NPR (formerly known as our national public radio) consistently lead their newscasts with Romney is terrible.  Also, we are hearing Romney's voice, then only an announcer's summary of Pres. Obama's speeches.  This bodes ill for the future of NPR, for they must know Romney is a second-rate candidate at best, and Ryan is, well, a clever, handsome fascist. 

So -- safety first.  That goes for both August convention-goers and voting citizens in November.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

McCaskill Leads Akin by Ten Points in New Poll

Sen. Claire McCaskill now leads Todd Akin in Missouri's Senate race according to a new poll by Rasmussen, a Republican-leaning firm.  The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports a ten point lead by Missouri's Senior Senator.  The Rasmussen poll is the first since the controversy over Akin's comments on rape became widely known earlier this week.

The Post article stresses that it is still early in the race.  Naturally, Republicans are hoping the issue will die down before McCaskill develops any commanding and irreversible lead.  For now, though, what a difference a week makes. 


Latest Poll Puts McCaskill Ahead of Akin

Monday, August 20, 2012

Larry Summers, Discredited Voice, Given Platform by Post

via  t r u t h o u t  --



A political figure who was key to the destruction of 40 percent of

the wealth owned by citizens in the country that signed his paycheck should be

ignored or exiled.


Instead, just today, Larry Summers is given prime billing in The Washington Post to

whip up fear of expanding social safety net costs. Instead of being ridiculed for

helping to pave the way for the destruction of the Glass-Steagall act and for

demanding regulators have no say in the creation of hundreds of trillions of

dollars in unregulated derivatives, Summers is treated as if his opinion is still

relevant.




Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Do We Really Have a Choice?

The author of this article offers a stark and necessary reminder of the coming election:  the choice is not what it may appear to some.  It is obvious that many people are excited about this election of 2012.  It should be clear also, however, that many millions are greeting this election with a collective yawn.  The youth excitement of 2008 is nowhere to be found.  The "Change" slogan could be changed to "Maybe."   "Hope" has become "Let's just pray."  Try running a campaign on "maybe," "if," and "let's pray," and see how much enthusiasm you can generate. 


The Michael Rechtenwald article:
Legitimizing "Choice"

Briefly: The Forgotten Presidential Process

The way the President of the United States is being chosen has gotten so far from what the framers had in mind as to amount to a re-write of the Constitution.  I make the following points:


  • The Electoral College was chosen to insulate the selection process from popular ignorance and whim.   One prime example would be the hysteria following the alledged sinking of the Maine.  (Or think of the abnormal situation following September 11, 2001.)

  • State legislators who were elected were to determine the method of selection of the Electors.   They had and do retain the power to select the Electors from their state.  The idea was that such men (women weren't quite on the scene in Legislatures), would be better informed as to the worthiness and character of the Electors.  Since corporations were allowed to develop, corruption set in and the Reform movement led to popular election of state legislators and candidates. 

  • The idea of parties was not included in the Constitution and George Washington warned against them. 

  • Originally, the Vice-President-elect was the person who garnered the second highest vote total for President.  There were ways in which this was deemed not helpful, so eventually, the vote for Vice-President became a second "race."  Soon, Presidential candidates began running on "tickets" with a candidate for Vice-President.  The Vice-Presidential candidate came to be selected by party conventions.  (Since George Washington there has never been a successful Presidential or Vice-Presidential candidate who was not part of a political party.)

So this is some history. 

What we have now is a mingled system in which the media is so heavily involved as to be an actual partner in the selection process, rather than merely reporting the results of the process.  This is a hideous distortion of the framers intent.*  No matter one's political party, this situation must change -- and soon -- if we are to have the kind of process which we would recognize as democratic. 

*Facts can be given, and shall be in due course. 

 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Election 2012: the Devil Is In the Details

As the news media chews on and tries to digest the Obama-Romney contest, there are numbers of Americans who remain unhappy with either candidate.  Although there has been relatively low interest in other candidates there is one candidate who is emerging as a potential spoiler in an important state.  Former Congressman Virgil Goode, running as the Constitution Party candidate, is polling at 9% in Virginia, an astonishing number for someone who gets essentially no big-media coverage so far this year.  At 9%, Goode could easily help Barack Obama win Virginia, a key battleground state this year.  Not having any states to lose, Romney should be very worried about Virgil Goode. 


See more about Virgil Goode Here: 
Third-Party Candidate Could Act As Spoiler

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Biggest Flaw in Ryan for Vice President Choice

Rush Post: 

The perennial question for a Vice-Presidential choice is whether the person could save ably as President.  Besides being on the wrong side of the economic divide, Ryan is largely untested on the national stage. 

The Huffington Post tells more, linked below.

Paul Ryan's Biggest Flaw

Friday, August 10, 2012

Romney's Bain Capital Has Financial Ties to Salvadoran Rightists: "Democracy Now" Report

via Democracy Now --

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is facing new scrutiny over revelations he founded the private equity firm Bain Capital with investments from Central American elites linked to death squads in El Salvador. After initially struggling to find investors, Romney traveled to Miami in 1983 to win pledges of $9 million, 40 percent of Bain’s start-up money. Some investors had extensive ties to the death squads responsible for the vast majority of the tens of thousands of deaths in El Salvador during the 1980s.




Romney's Alleged Ties to Salvadoran Death Squads

Thursday, August 09, 2012

"To Tell the Truth" Montage

Below is a montage of photos from the Garry Moore version of the TV game show "To Tell the Truth."  The montage is great, but the real reason I wanted to post this video is for the complete theme song.  Although I heard the theme in its abridged version or with loud applause and commercial messages over top of it when broadcast, this is the first time I have been able to hear all the words.  I find the music to be good, entertaining.  The lyrics are surprisingly personal and hard-hitting, telling the object of the song, "You dont' know how to tell the truth!"  I find the overall song to be taking and even great.  See what you think!  





     ...but I'm going to try to teach you how "to tell the truth." 

Music by Score Productions

Huffington Post Blogger: Obama Leads in Projected Electoral College Vote

Writer Chris Weigant is doing valuable analysis of the projected Electoral College vote totals. 

As good as his work is, there are other issues to be concerned about.  These issues have been delved into on this blog in the past and may or may not affect the election out-come.  However, the issues of concern are these:  1) the unprecedented amount of money being raised by unaccountable outside interest groups, especially on the right;  2) energetic voter suppression efforts on the part of the Republicans;  3) dickering with the laws concerning selection of Electors, now successful in several states.

As time goes on I will be attempting to present more information on these issues of concern.  Sadly, we cannot be concerned with simple poll numbers, but must be prepared to dig deeper. 


Persuasive Election Analysis

Salon Reports New York Going After Political "Welfare" Groups' Records

Groups such as Karl Rove's Crossroads fund-raising group are set to be audited by Eric Schneiderman, New York's Attorney General.  Seeking records from groups on both the right and the left, Schneiderman is operating under New York law which requires tax-exempt groups which do business in or raise substantial amounts of money in New York to submit auditors' reports and their federal tax returns to the Attorney General's office.  Since New York is a center of political fund-raising, this effort could give Schneiderman oversight of groups which up until now have been operating with little or no disclosure or federal oversight. 


New York Attorney General Asks for Political "Welfare" Groups' Records

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

What President Obama Needs to Do to Win in 2012


The red flags have been thrown and the warning lights are flashing. The re-election campaign of Pres. Obama is in trouble. It is to the President's credit that under the poor economy his numbers are not totally tanking. But this is small comfort when Romney's donations have topped Obama's for a third month in a row and Democratic enthusiasm is way down from 2008 levels. Things are going to have to change dramatically if Barack Obama is to win this election.


Democrats appear to be asleep, depressed, or on vacation.  Mr. Obama has had a much better message the last several months, but Americans seem to sense he does not have the program to lift America out of tepid growth and  historically low unemployment.  It is true that Republicans have blocked every recent initiative of the Obama Administration and Congressional Democrats on jobs.  And Romney is clearly is own worst enemy, inspiring neither confidence nor enthusiasm. 

The election looks much like that of 1960.  A young Democratic candidate at least offered youthful energy.  But many Americans found they could not put their full confidence in a relatively untried Senator.  Barack Obama, of course, is already the President with a track record.  But that record is not strong enough in the mind of the public.  The reasons for this are complicated, as indicated above.  But unless President Obama can make a stronger case for his own program as opposed to merely bashing his opponent, we are in for a harrowing experience between now and election day. 



Washington Post on What Pres. Obama Needs to Do to Win in 20012

Monday, August 06, 2012

Troubles in Europe Continue to Cause Alarm

I am continuing to watch the situation with the Euro and the so-called Euro Zone, still being rocked by financial turmoil.  In Senate testimony last week, according to a news source, former International Monetary Fund official, Simon Johnson, startled members of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on European Affairs with testimony that the current bail-out plans will not work, that there isn't enough money to bail out all the various troubled economies.  This contradicts testimony by Treasury Secretary Geithner who has said U.S. bank exposure to Europe is "limited." 

I will keep a wary eye on this situation.  If any reader knows of any reliable source of up-to-date, non-biased information, please assist by contacting me through the comment button below.  In the meantime, I will be searching out the best sources of information I can find.  It's very much one world now financially and to be prepared citizens we must know precisely what is going on in Europe. 

Latest News on Corporations' Antics

PR Watch -- "PR" for Public Relations, of course -- is a good source of information on not just the public relations industry but of corporations in general. Particularly useful is a new article on what ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) is doing to suppress voters' rights.  This ALEC group has been introducing copy-cat bills in legislatures all over the country with the hidden agenda of advance corporate rights over the rights of individuals.  The PR Watch web site has some excellent background information on this nefarious group. 

We need to recall the attitude of Franklin Roosevelt who proclaimed that the big wealthy forces didn't scare him, that in fact he welcomed their opposition.  President Obama of late has been echoing this line to some extent.  We need to back up this new-found opposition to big money and end corporate welfare as we know it. 


 Latest News from PR Watch

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Why the Continuing Cut-Backs in Education?

The author of this article begins to link a rise in corporate profits to cut-backs in education.  Though the link is not clear here, it is useful to compare numbers.  Funding for education has been decreasing even while the economy has been growing modestly.  Corporate profits, however, have risen significantly. 

One thing is clear -- corporations could be taxed more.  Education funding is still done primarily at the local level as is appropriate under our American system.  So the real question is: What are corporations doing, if anything to shore up local business.  I think we all know the answer to that:  essentially nothing.  Being that large corporations are focused on their own health, they are not interested in shoring up any local competitors.  Can anyone deny this?  


Why the Continuing Cut-Backs in Education

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Rise in Consumer Confidence Explained

A decrease in gas prices has apparently contributed to a rise in consumer confidence.  As one consumer analyst points out, however, consumer confidence is still not great.


Via Bloomberg News On line --


“Consumers are definitely getting some benefit from lower gasoline prices and that is freeing up some income,” Gus Faucher, a senior economist at PNC Financial Services Group Inc. in Philadelphia, said before the report. “Confidence is OK, it’s not great. We need better job growth.”


 See post below.


U. S. Consumer Confidence Up in Latest Survey

via Bloomberg News On Line -- 


The Conference Board’s index increased to 65.9 this month from 62.7 in June, figures from the New York-based private research group showed today. Economists projected a reading of 61.5, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey. The report showed a gain in the share of consumers anticipating better labor and economic conditions in six months.





Breaking Story: Consumer Confidence Unexpectedly Rises in July

Bloomberg News is reporting that consumer confidence unexpectedly rose for the first time in five months.  Details coming shortly.

Some at Federal Reserve Are Arguing for a New Stimulus


The New York Times is reporting that some at the Federal Reserve would like to see a new stimulus effort to avoid what they say could be a self-energizing spiral later this year. 

As many Americans already feel themselves to be in a spiral such contemplations are behind the curve, but urgently necessary nonetheless.  Why is the American government so slow on its feet?  Neither public institutions nor the private Federal Reserve have been able to prevent a softening of the economy, nor been able to deal with the underlying weaknesses at the root of the new economic uncertainties. 

It is long past time for the federal government, from the top down, to address the malaise with bona fide, proven policies, such as those used by Franklin Roosevelt in a similar time of uncertainty.  The 2009 stimulus was clearly too small to affect long-term confidence, as prize-winning economists such as Paul Krugman have long said.  I call for a new round of stimulus, plus a return to protective instruments such as the Glass-Steagall Act to shore up our economy and promote long-term health.  The alternative is a new period of prolonged pain and even a new fiscal crash such as occurred in 2008.  We do, in fact, need change we can believe in. 


New York Times article on possible new economic stimulus effort at the Fed

European Confidence Down

Headlines say that consumer confidence in Europe is down.  This is certainly not surprising given all the turmoil in Europe, including an increase in unemployment.  The economy worldwide should now be issue number one, assuming the nuclear stockpile is safe, a matter which may not be completely resolved.

Economic Figures Due Today

Your Musical Patriot is looking for the latest figures on the economy due out this morning.  Of particular interest is the latest report on consumer confidence.  With most recent reports running negative, it will be interesting to see whether the latest news brings a ray of hope or more cause for concern.  At this point it seems doubtful there will be any great cause for optimism, sad to say.  Please check back here later for the latest.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Importance of the Electoral College

Every four years, especially, the issue of the Electoral College appears in American politics.  This year, the matter is more important than ever as my research indicates four states have enacted laws which effectively end their voice in the Presidential election.  To understand why, click on the link shown below. 

After considerable debate, and based on a careful reading of history, the Founding Fathers decided on a system which would help insulate the Presidential selection process from demagoguery.  That populations can be whipped into momentary frenzies is well-known by both historians and politicians.  Witness what happened in the mid-term elections of 2002, little more than one year after the horrific events of September 11, 2001.  In contrast to almost every mid-term election in history, the President's party actually picked up seats in Congress that year, returning the U.S. Senate to Republican control and thus the entire government, in actuality, since a mafjority of the U.S. Supreme Court was then -- as now -- acting in a partisan fashion on election issues.  It is a very defensible position that this would not have happened if there had been no September 11 event, as G. W. Bush, being a minority and illegitimate President was struggling to remain effective in the early months of his Presidency. 

It is ever so important that the Presidency not be decided on the basis of a simple public vote.  Remember junior high when only the most popular were elected to any office?  Certainly, being likable is an important consideration but should never be the only reason to vote for anyone for such an important office.  Ideally, knowledgeable and responsible electors carefully selected by our democratic process would retain the power to make the ultimate choice based on each state's aggregate choice. 

But mandating that a state's electoral votes go to the supposed winner of the popular national vote is a shocking delegation of power, and essentially an abdication of duty*.  Those states which have enacted such an idiotic law should repeal such law, and no more states of commonwealths should pass such attractive-sounding yet dangerously harmful legislation. 


N.B.  This blog has often referred to parties or entities which although not in and of themselves deserving of out-right endorsement, nevertheless hold certain positions of value.  The American Policy Roundtable linked to below may be such a group. 



Protecting and Defending the Electoral College


*  Recall the 2004 election after which the U.S. Congress for the first time in over 100 years held a formal debate over doubts that G. W. Bush had actually won the vote!  

Thursday, July 26, 2012

We Need Mother Jones's Great-Great Grand-daughter

Mother Jones was a social reformer, union organizer and firebrand speaker at the turn of the last century.  Seeing the plight of coal workers she adopted the persona of an old-fashioned feisty grandmother to rail against big corporate bosses who she said destroyed family life by keeping women, children, and fathers in virtual slavery. 

Today it is time for another Mother Jones.  Perhaps she could be called Grandma Jones.  In fact, we could use several Grandma Joneses.  There is angst and disquietude in the land.  Where are the women of maturity today?

I believe I have an answer.  They are there right in plain sight, but made silent by a roistering, festering media titillated by shocking mass shootings, European economic panics, and celebrity divorces (if indeed the couple happens to be married).  That is, anything except the plight of American workers.  I know one such church lady who heads the Peace and Justice committee of her state-wide church.  She works steadily and sacrifically to advance the cause of migrant workers among others.  These are the modern day Mother Joneses.  I say to the press and the media, "Will you interview them fairly?" 


More about Mother Jones


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The U.S. House Overwhelmingly Passes Fed Augit Bill

The House of Representatives, in a rare display of bi-partisan unity, today passed a bill requiring an audit of the Federal Reserve.  The bill was passed amid concerns that the Federal Reserve knew of shady dealings on the part of Barclays regarding  LIBOR, the agency which sets interest rates world-wide.  All this according to Huffington Post today.

The bill put forward by Ron Paul had 270 co-sponsors.  The final vote was 327 to 98.  I applaud the House for passing this bill.  This is the first real praise I have had for this House. 

May this be the beginning of a new openness and transparency in our nation's financial matters.  The people are supposed to be in charge of the money in this country.  This is hardly the case.  Today's vote shows there can yet be a turn toward sanity regarding the nation's economy. 

Read more here:
House Votes to Audit Federal Reserve

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Time to Put the Brakes on Monsanto

From my e-mail In-Box --


So-called "Monsanto riders," quietly slipped into the multi-billion dollar


FY 2013 Agricultural Appropriations bill, would require -- not just allow,

but require -- the Secretary of Agriculture to grant a temporary permit for

the planting or cultivation of a genetically engineered crop, even if a

federal court has ordered the planting be halted until an Environmental

Impact Statement is completed.



That's why I created a petition on SignOn.org to Congress and President

Barack Obama, which says:  "Stop the Monsanto Riders."

Unless a citizen's army of farmers and consumers

can stop them, Congress is likely to ram these dangerous riders through

any day now.



Click here to add your name to this petition, and then pass it along to

your friends.



Thanks!



--Robert Shepherd



This petition was created on SignOn.org, the progressive, nonprofit

petition site. SignOn.org is sponsored by MoveOn Civic Action, which is

not responsible for the contents of this or other petitions posted on the

site.


Visible links

.. http://civic.moveon.org/signon_feedback/?id=47059-23347113-SrNl8Ax&t=3

.. http://www.moveon.org/r?r=277161&id=47059-23347113-SrNl8Ax&t=4





Monday, July 23, 2012

Confusing Polls Addressed

Gallup is reporting a plurality of Americans (49%) disapprove of President Obama's performance, with 44% approving.  Yet the race for President is essentially tied between Mr. Obama and Mitt Romney.  Given the choice at hand it seems Americans are willing to either a) Give Mr. Obama another chance; or b) Vote against Romney;  or c) Possibly give Mr. Romney a chance to lead.  That the sitting President would have minority acceptance of the population for the job he is doing and fare this well in the Presidnetial race speaks, it seems to me, of the weakness of his opponent. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"Tricky Mitt" Ad Creates a Stir

What do you call a Presidential candidate who won't release more than a year's worth of tax returns?  Secretive?  What do you call this candidate when he parks his money in foreign bank accounts?  Does the word "tricky" come to mind?  That's the word the Move On organization came up with to describe Mitt Romney as he has attempted to run for the highest office in the land while seemingly hiding as much of the details about his financial past as possible.

Those of a certain age will remember the last Presidential candidate who was called "tricky."  Long before Watergate, voters were asked whether they wold buy a used car from this man.  There just seemed to be something a bid shady about the fellow. 

So now thanks to modern technology Mitt Romeny can morph into Richard Nixon and -- quick! -- back again.  The ad which can be viewed below courtesy of CBS News, is clever indeed.  Mitt Romney is suddenly very much on the defensive with nothing much to recommend him for the White House except the fact that he helped pass a health care act in Massachusetts which later become something of a model for the federal Act. 

The Romney campaign has sprung a leak.  Time to call the Plumbers?  


via CBS News --


Monday, July 16, 2012

Occupy D.C. Protests Bank of America

At this time in America there continues a vast unsettled feeling, particularly among the twelve million who are unemployed.  (This figure does not include those who have stopped looking for work.)

Occupy D.C. will be continuing its protest of Bank of America this week.  This is a most useful and admirable protest.  Likewise, the program which appears, in brief, on the Occupy D.C. web site is apropos and necessary.

At the same time it is good to remember that Bank of America is but one institution among ever so many which are fostering the system of ruthless greed which continues in the U.S. now.  Let the protest of Bank of America be a harbinger of more protests, not only of other institutions but of this evil system, so against the hopes and dreams of our citizens. 


http://occupydc.org/news

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Occupy News: Police Break Down Door at Private Residence

Rush post:

Police have broken into an apartment in Seattle used by organizers of Occupy events there.  This has been reported by the Occupy Wall Street web site.  More is found at the link below.


http://www.occupywallst.org/article/swat-raid-organizers-occupy-seattle-e4e/

Monday, July 09, 2012

Writer Foresees Permanent Protest Movement

It is hard to disagree with the thesis of the writer at this article who says there will be a continuing protest movement replenished and strengthened by new college graduates each spring.  These graduates will be unemployed and burdened by debt.  A certain percentage will become protestors each year.

This makes perfect sense.  The economic malaise of now is no more necessary than was the malaise of the Great Depression.  When money was put into meaningful programs during Roosevelt's 100 Days, people's lives were changed.  When union rights were strengthened, more people entered what had been a small middle class. 

What worked then can work now.  We need a new Glass-Steagall at the very minimum.  Then we need a new stimulus package.  These are the minimum actions.  Others should quickly follow.  Where is the program in Washington?  

http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/10125-the-aftermath-of-occupy-will-surpass-the-sixties

Friday, July 06, 2012

PRI Candidate Wins in Mexico According to Electoral Office

Rush post:

According to the Mexican elections office, Pena Nieto, candidate of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) has won the Presidency of Mexico.  In what seem to be convincing results Nieto has been announced the winner over Andres Obrador, the leftist candidate.  While I might have preferred Obrador, the PRI has traditionally stood for Mexican sovereignty and at least nominally for the rights and welfare of the general Mexican population.  Reports indicate the PRI has in the past stood against large international financial firms which seek to rook and rob nations.  More at the link below. 

http://www.france24.com/en/20120706-mexicos-pena-nieto-wins-presidential-election

Help Stop the Deafening and Death of the Whales

Special:

At this link you can possibly help stop the intentional deafening and death of multiple numbers of sea life by a Navy program.  The link provides information as well as a petition you can sign.  It is a real shame that such a program is even contemplated.  I am being told that time is short to stop this tragic outcome.  Please read the information and respond as you are able.


http://signon.org/sign/navy-under-water-sound?source=s.em.cr&r_by=4882565&mailing_id=4893

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Even Swamis Like the Fourth of July

It is rather charming to learn that a swami was moved by the spirit of July 4th.  This makes sense as the aspirations expressed in the Declaration of Independence have crossed all political boundaries and inspired everyone from world leaders to field workers in India.  And the inspiration goes on.  Here is the poem.


--By Swami Vivekananda (Swami Vivekananda passed away on the 4th of July)



Behold, the dark clouds melt away,


That gathered thick at night, and hung

So like a gloomy pall above the earth!

Before thy magic touch, the world

Awakes. The birds in chorus sing.

The flowers raise their star-like crowns --

Dew-set, and wave thee welcome fair.





The lakes are opening wide in love

Their hundred thousand lotus-eyes

To welcome thee, with all their depth.





All hail to thee, thou Lord of Light!

A welcome new to thee, today,


O sun! today thou sheddest LIBERTY!

Bethink thee how the world did wait,

And search for thee, through time and clime.


Some gave up home and love of friends,

And went in quest of thee, self banished,

Through dreary oceans, through primeval forests,

Each step a struggle for their life or death;



Then came the day when work bore fruit,

And worship, love, and sacrifice,


Fulfilled, accepted, and complete.

Then thou, propitious, rose to shed

The light of FREEDOM on mankind.

Move on, O Lord, on thy resistless path!

Till thy high noon o’erspreads the world.

Till every land reflects thy light,


Till men and women, with uplifted head,

Behold their shackles broken, and

Know, in springing joy, their life renewed!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Breaking Down the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

C.N.N. on line has a useful feature which breaks down the major components of the 2010 health care law which has just been upheld (with one major caveat) by the Supreme Court:


http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/26/health/health-care-reform-interactive/index.html

American Cancer Society Statement on Supreme Court Decision

Up-date via CNN on line:


John Seffrin, CEO of the American Cancer Society, has released a statement which says in part:







"The ruling is a victory for people with cancer and their families nationwide, who for decades have been denied health coverage, charged far more than they can afford for lifesaving care and forced to spend their life savings on necessary treatment, simply because they have a pre-existing condition...."





Majority Leader Reid

Up-date via CNN on line:


Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid gave his reaction to the ruling.







"No longer will American families be a car accident or heart attack away from bankruptcy," Reid said. "Unfortunately Republicans in Congress continue to target the rights and benefits guaranteed under this law. They’d like to give the power back to the insurance companies, the power of life and death back to the insurance companies. But our supreme court has spoken. The matter is settled."





Today Blogging the Supreme Court Decision on Affordable Health Care Act

Up-date via Huffington Post:

On Medicaid expansion, the court upheld the expansion but with a critical caveat: The federal government may not threaten the states that don't comply with the loss of their existing funding. Essentially, the Medicaid expansion is now optional for the states.




CNN: Supreme Court Upholds Health Care Law in Entirety

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Rush Post: E. J. Dionne Says Scalia Must Resign. Agreed!

It is long past time that certain members of the Supreme Court must pay the price for appearing to compromise the independence of their office.  The price I am talking about is resignation.  Several posts ago I hinted that perhaps it was time for Justice Thomas to resign.  Now E. J. Dionne of the Washington Post has written he believes Justice Scalia must resign.  Both Justices have skirted close to and probably crossed the line from judicial independence into the area of political activity by appearing as speakers at certain political events.  The entire country is coming to believe that some members of the Supreme Court appear to act in a partisan policitical manner on some issues. 

While pressuring any Justice to resign is a serious matter, the reasons in this case seem clear.  Mr. Dionne is describing in this article the reasons why Justice Scalia should resign.  Mr. Justice Scalia, if he has in fact compromised the honor of the Supreme Court in any serious way, may expect to hear calls for his resignation.  Whether such calls grow more numerous and louder is up to the American people. 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/ej-dionne-jr-justice-scalia-should-resign/2012/06/27/gJQApkO06V_story.html

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Bill Clinton Warns on Rising Nationalism

Rush Link -- Bill Clinton on Rise of Nationalism