The Spirit of '76

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

Friday, March 30, 2012

Occupy, Tea Party Together!

Occupy Worcester's Jonathan Noble said, “Anarchists, communists, and tea partiers are standing together. Even though I feel a little uncomfortable about what they (tea party members) stand for, I think it's kind of a beautiful thing that we can stand together on this.”

attribution: Worcester Telegram & Gazette

Beautiful, indeed. But not so surprising when you think about it. The American nation was formed in the wake of what was really a foreign occupation in this land. Further, the Constitution was based, in part, on strictures placed upon the King in the Magna Carta. The last thing the framers wanted was a new king with unlimited power. The National Defense Authorization Act passed and signed late in 2011 seems to grant that kind of power.

Any American has the right and even duty to oppose such a law. Long live the American republic! And long live its defenders, one and all!

Republicans Join Fight to Amend N.D.A.A.

In a welcome development, some House Republicans are backing efforts to amend a law some say could allow the President to detain American citizens indefinitely. The article below tells more.

I have not yet been able to review any specific proposed changes to the law, but I am glad to see bi-partisan support for common-sense modifications develop.

We do not need these loosely-worded bills which could allow for un-Constitutional detentions ordered on nothing more than Presidential surmise.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Supreme Interference

The Righteous Five of the Supreme Court are reportedly ready to strike down the so-called individual mandate, and perhaps the entire Affordabe Health Care Act of 2010. And for what reason?

According to press reports this morning, certain members of the Supreme Court, such as Justice Scalia, have behaved more as legislators than as justices of the Supreme Court (see The New York Times, for example).

By stretching my imagination, I can conceive of a constitional reason for rejecting a so-called individual mandate. But I can also conceive of a justification for it, at least in a practical sense, in light of the Commerce clause.

What this argument shows, I think, is the weakness of an approach which essentially leaves in place the for-profit insurance companies. By contrast, a policy which would clearly state that health care is a basic human right and should never have been allowed to become "profitized,"
to coin a word, could lead to a humane solution. A true national health service could work in America provided there is strong Presidential and Congressional leadership. This would also require a sane and rational Supreme Court willing to get out of the way.

Whatever the faults of the Supreme Court Righteous Five,* -- and there are many! -- America should be ashamed of putting the health and lives of its citizens on the line to satisfy corporate interests.

*Thomas, Scalia, Kennedy, Roberts, Alito. Note: I am including Anthony Kennedy because of the nature of his questions in this week's hearings.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

National Security Laws Un-constitutional

It seems clear that a series of laws recently passed by Congress are un-constitutional. Chris Hedges reports on a court hearing in a lawsuit by him and others challenging the constitutionality of laws designed to crack down on government whistle blowers. The Obama Administration has been quite energetic in prosecuting whistle blowers. These whistle blowers have been intimidated into remaining silent when they should have felt free to report on any corruption, according to Hedges. Read more at the linked artcle.

Whatever the facts, it seems clear Obama did not keep his promise regarding a return to Constitutional government. At least that is the picture that is developing.

Chris Hedges is to be congratulated for his courage in challenging these very dubious laws.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Optimism of Occupying

The following e-post addresses the effects of stress on health.

via Occupy Wall Street --

[by MachineShopHippie (70) from Louisville, KY]

Actually, I feel GREAT! But, I do totally understand and sympathize. The current local, national and global climates are all very stressful. There is uncertainty about almost everything, from international agreements and currency issues, down to local problems like unemployment and government oppression.

Stress is a huge factor in most illness, and directly affects things like immune response and levels of dopamine and serotonin in the brain. It sounds like what you're describing is low level depression. It's completely understandable, and more and more people are being diagnosed with it every day.

I was horribly depressed for a while, feeling like nothing was ever going to change, and feeling powerless to do anything meaningful about it. Now I realize that we are all just one tiny drop, but if we all act together, we are a powerful flood. I give supplies to my local occupiers. I call the mayor weekly to tell him that homeowners with jobs appreciate his continued tolerance of the encampment and him not turning our local police force into stormtroopers. When I see the police harassing kids, I ask if they are under arrest and let them know what their rights are. I work hard at my job and feel good about helping the domestic manufacturing industry at a small, family owned company. I work on my house and foster a sense of community in my neighborhood. I take care of my body so that no matter what may happen in the next few years, I'll be ready for whatever physical challenges I may have to deal with.

The wonderful thing that Occupy has done for me is to replace a strong sense of dread with an even more powerful sense of anticipation. We're on the front lines of a movement to save our communities, our country, our world and ourselves. We all know things can't go on this way. A major change is coming. Every day is a gift of time to prepare. I am preparing to serve, preparing to educate, and preparing to lead. Whatever talents you have, we are going to need them. Things may seem bleak right now, but just know that an amazing future is coming and you can be one of the ones that help shape it.

New York Police Try Their Hand at Sanitation Jobs

Laughably, the New York police are reported to have taken up brooms and dust pans in an effort to become pretend santitation workers.

In a series of over-night reports protestors in Union Square, New York have chronicled the attempt on the part of New York police to enforce a curfew, the first in the history of Union Square -- which was opened in 1882 -- reports "Occupy Wall Street dot org."

Last night on our local PBS station John Reed, the former CEO of City Bank, told of his sympathy for the Occupy movement as he expressed regret over the actions of Citi Group in the 2000's.

The world is coming to the idea that godless capitalism is no good for the people of this earth. Now, many are ready to risk life and limb to oppose the increasingly oppressive tactics of those who would attempt to extend the life of the profit system.

I am reminded of the old labor song, "Which Side Are You On"? It is time for everyone, including you, Dear Reader, to decide. Will it be unlimited greed for the few, or justice for all?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Press Photographer Beaten by New York Police

Zach D. Roberts


This from my e-mail In box.

(Rush post. Editing in progress.)


from Greg Palast of The Guardian --

[New York Monday March 19]

Our photographer ZD Roberts was beaten by New York City cops with
nightsticks while covering Occupy Wall Street's attempt to re-take Zuccotti
Park Saturday night.

Zach yelled several times, “I’m PRESS! PRESS!” yet was
slammed on the head twice after he’d been thrown to the ground when
the police shoved back the protesters. Zach, whose photos of Occupy Wall
Street have been seen all over the world on the front page of The Guardian,
showed his press badge, an act for which his hair was grabbed, head pulled
back and slammed again with a club.

If you remember, Zach was arrested while covering the story three
months ago. His trial is coming up (he refused to cop a plea).

We’ve covered the world … but who thought that the toughest
combat assignment would be New York?

Here’s Zach’s story and comment in his own words...:

My head hurts. The NYPD did this to me.

3 months after my arrest during an Occupy Wall St. protest on #D17 and two
days away from my meeting with the Assistant DA about said arrest - I got
beaten by cops just outside of Zuccotti Park.

I wasn't the only one, and I have no doubt I won't be the last. The NYPD has
complete authority in this town - I hate using the word police state, but
when I saw a girl thrown from a bus, in handcuffs, having a seizure being
tossed to the ground - I really am at a loss for any other words.

Cameras documented it. Here's one of the photos I took. There's tons of
video. I can tell you from being there that there wasn't a single police
officer with a look of concern on his/her face as the girl continued having
a seizure on the hard pavement of Broadway.

It took 15 minutes for an ambulance to arrive. I'm told 5 minutes is the
usual response time in this part of town.

This is Commissioner Ray Kelly's city, we just live here.

There was no ambulance needed for me. I was lucky… or maybe just stupid.

After the second cleansing of Zuccotti Park, Saturday night, the police
continued their pushback under the guise of 'safety concerns' - basically a
standard operating procedure to keep protesters and journalists from being
allowed to witness arrests and to disperse the crowd in different

It works quite well, that is until it doesn't. The thing is, when you're
pushing back with billy clubs and metal barricades, sometimes people can't
move back quick enough. Or sometimes, people refuse to move from a public
sidewalk. Well as a photographer, I get caught in the middle quite often -
usually I'm deft enough to get out of the way - this time I wasn't.

I fell back, and while trying to get up - there was another push from the
police - they saw me fall, mind you. Just didn't care.

Two or three people made it over me without falling as well, using me as
their sidewalk (they didn't have any other choice) - but then came the rush
- four or five people fell on top of me.
The police kept pushing. Then came the batons. I couldn't see if the people
that were on top of me previously got hit at all but I certainly did, twice
to the back and once on the head.

I'm not quite sure what the logic is of literally beating a man when he's
down. But once he saw that his baton beating wasn't getting me going he
decided to try to pick me up by my hair. That didn't work either - but by
then I was up enough to get my footing under me as I continued screaming
"PRESS!!! PRESS!!!" That was enough to get the beating to stop - but I still
was pushed/thrown back into the crowd, again almost losing my footing as I
had to leap over a pile of garbage into the street.

Checking my bag and camera for damage I moved outside of the crowd to
compose myself before pushing back in.

Read the rest at later tomorrow and visit our facebook
page for some exclusive photos from the raid.

Monday, March 19, 2012

New York "Re-Occupied"!

After being brutalized at Liberty Plaza in an effort to re-occupy the park, protestors in New York have moved to Union Square, the site of many momentous public speech events over the decades. While tables and tents have been banned, demonstrators have brought in sleeping gear and have stayed in the park for three days now.

There is great meaning in this movement, which seeks to in some sense return the land of New York to its citizens.

Unions Getting Creative in Tough Times

A union in West Virginia has decided the young persons in their community are worth investing time and energy in. The efforts of one union member have led to a recognition award for his work in helping educate students.

There is an introductory article with a link to a video at the URL shown below.

Friday, March 16, 2012

A New View of Poverty Desperately Needed

Barbara Ehrenreich, in an appeal redolent of mercy and even a little grace, advocates for a new view of poverty and its causes. Surely she is right when she says that the immediate cause of poverty is a lack of money. But what causes this lack in the first place? This re-evaluation is what America needs and what Ehrenreich has so eloquently called for.

It is tragic when authors, meaning well, are then used by revanchist opportunists. This is what happened with Michael Harrington's book The Other America, now fifty years old. Helpfully, Harrington pointed out that poverty in America was real and more widespread than acknowledged. But he also seemed to say, according to Ehrenreich, that those in poverty were there because they were different, even thought differntly. This allowed for a certain haughty conclusion to be drawn by many that they themselves had avoided poverty because they were made differently -- and better from those in poverty.

A corrective is long over-due, no doubt. This, too, is what the Occupy movement has been about. The homeless man pictured at the link below reminds me of persons I saw last fall at Occupy D.C. Occupy D.C. was happy to include the homeless. The homeless were then caught up in the Occupy movement by accident, if you will. But their presence gave the demonstration a certain real-world, gritty feel. In this way the children of the privileged mingled with the unfortunate from their elders' generation. It was a moving sight. Now, we should all be moved from pity to action.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Parents and Children to Protest in New York

This Saturday, as many adults get ready for St. Patrick's Day revelries, parents and their children will be using their time wisely to protest police over-reach in New York. Calling chalk drawings on sidewalks "graffiti" would be ridiculous if it hadn't resulted in the jailing of peaceful individuals.

You can read about the fuller story at the Facebook events page whose address is shown below.

If not through public protest, how else are we going to get economic justice in this country? While the question is rhetorical, I believe there is an answer. For our purposes here, the impending protest this Saturday should serve as a welcome public demonstration of an alternative to the current oligarchy which America has, in effect, become.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Movement to Re-Claim Wisconsin Gaining Steam

“Brothers and sisters, this is our way of showing the world that unity and solidarity are alive and well. And in Wisconsin, those are not just words and chants, but those are the ways that we function and we move forward.”

-- Wisconsin State AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt

Wisconsinites continue to press for a return to normalcy in Wisconsin following the efforts of extreme right-wing Republicans in that state to turn the clock back on worker rights. In a move to force far-right Wisconsin governor Scott Walker from office, voters in the state have succeeded in putting a recall question on the ballot later this year.

To drum up support for the recall effort the AFL-CIO and others sponsored rallies across the state ending in a huge rally in Madison. The fuller story is told at the link shown below.

To the workers of Wisonsin, I say: Solidarity Forever!

Monday, March 12, 2012

From my own experience I know of many benefits to the study of any
musical instrument. I happen to believe that learning a keyboard
instrument is the most practical, but the benefits of all music study are great.

In these days of cut-backs to the arts, an article like the one linked below helps show how short-sighted and damaging such cut-backs really are.

I have scanned the article at the link below, and believe it to have
a good deal of valuable information. May it be most useful to you!

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Occupy May Day?

via "Occupy Wall Street" --

On May 1, 50,000 people from all over the world will flock to Chicago, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and #OCCUPYCHICAGO [sic] for a month. The world’s military and political elites, heads of state, 7,500 officials from 80 nations, and more than 2,500 journalists will be there for a rare G8 and NATO simultaneous summit. And so will #OCCUPY. Join us!

Your Musical Patriot heartily endorses this effort. As others rush to take over the phrase "Occupy" for their purposes, Adbusters, the original sponsor of Occupy Wall Street, is moving into the future with what shows signs of being effective plans for effective public push-back against corporate over-reach.

Good luck, peaceful Occupiers!

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Californians to Occupy the State Legislature: Report

The crisis in education funding is showing itself in California, but students and workers there are fighting back against Draconian budget and program cuts along with tuition increases.

from < > --

A show of resistance against education cuts
Melissa Cornelius and Michael Fiorentino report on plans for protests in California.

March 1, 2012

California students march against corporatization and cuts to public higher education (Steve Rhodes)
THOUSANDS OF California students, teachers and faculty, and community members will begin a series of protests March 1 against cuts in education spending, culminating with demonstrations in Sacramento on March 5 and a plan to occupy the state Capitol building.

The case for protesting couldn't be stronger. California is now 46th in spending on public education. The K-12 system has been ravaged by the budget crisis. K-3 class sizes in 16 of the state's 30 largest districts increased from 20 students to 25 between 2009 and 2011--and that's on top of cuts to special services and the arts.

Meanwhile, college students are being priced out of access to quality public education, and faculty and staff are undergoing pay cuts and layoffs. Tuition at the 10 campuses in the University of California (UC) system has more than doubled since 2000, while classes and even whole majors have been cut out.

"The thousands of people who will occupy the Capitol with a People's Assembly will put grassroots democracy in action," said Charlie Eaton, financial secretary of United Auto Workers Local 2865 and a sociology graduate student at UC Berkeley.

Eaton talked about the plans for the days of action, which include promoting an initiative of the California Federation of Teachers (CFT) for a "millionaire's tax" to raise taxes on the rich:

We'll have the debate we really need about who should pay to refund jobs, education, essential services and a better world. We'll debate the real alternatives like the 'millionaire's tax' for a budget that makes the 1 percent pay. And we'll talk about how that money should be used from the bottom up to reverse tuition hikes and cuts.

Students are being pushed to the edge by the cutbacks and spiraling costs of education.

I'm in default on $27,000 in debt owed to San Francisco State University. And I have no degree to show for it. Collection agencies hired by the state are threatening to garnish my already poverty-level wages.

What's wrong with the people who run California? This state's public universities used to be free, but I don't know if I'll ever be able to afford to finish my education now.

Students at the 23-campus California State University (CSU) system have seen tuition and fees soar from just under $2,000 in 2000 to more than $6,000 today.

Meanwhile, wages and benefits for instructors have stagnated. In response, the California Faculty Association is considering a one-day, system-wide general strike. Faculty members already participated in a one-day strike in November at CSU-East Bay and CSU-Dominiguez Hills.

Community colleges are also getting hammered. They are cutting classes that help a significant segment of the working class, such as English as a Second Language, parenting and vocational programs.

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