Let it be borne on the flag under which we rally in every exigency, that we have one country, one constitution, one destiny. -- Daniel Webster

Monday, September 30, 2013

Representative"s Office: We Plan to Be Here Tomorrow

I just spoke with my U.S. Representative's office in Washington, D.C. The aide said "The Congressman will continue to be the Congressman tomorrow, even if there is a government shut-down. When asked whether the Congressman's office could function without money she replied that the President had the power to declare some departments essential. That's all well and good, but it seems to this citizen that without a Continuing Resolution, the President would have the power to declare Congressional offices non-essential. President Obama is too smart to make such a declaration but what about some future President? For the time being we must let the future take care of itself. But as of now, with "The New York Times" and "CNN" calling a shut-down "likely" one does wonder about the very legitimacy of this government. That is not lunacy; it is stark reality. Thank about it, please.

Federal government shutdown draws near as bickering continues: CNN

A Congressional Republican ridiculously claims that the Republican effort is an attempt to keep the checkbook out of President Obama's hand. The Republican irrationalists do not understand the U.S. government's checks and balances. They want government by fiat -- their fiat.

Assault on Budget: 12:04 p.m.

The House Republicans are holding to their childish and destructive behavior of insisting a government shut-down would be better than health care for all.

Blogging the Republican Assault on the Budget

Today, I am blogging the Republican assault on the budget process. In line with my policy of anti-cynicism I see the current impasse in Congress as part of a long-term process bringing about something better in the American economy. I will be saying more about this in the near future.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Too Much Power

Whether or not the federal government has "too much power," what does it mean to American politics if a majority of Americans think the the U.S. government does have too much power? If this is the belief, surely at some point there will be a tipping point and the government will have to respond to reality. Of course under our system, the voter is said to have the final word. The voters supposedly can vote out those who have attained "too much power." But what if by "too much power" we mean the government has even conquered the democratic process to the point of subverting it and usurping the power of the people? This is, of course, a recurring story throughout history, at least throughout the history of democracies. It is related to the warnings the Founding Fathers issued regarding the difficulty of maintaining democracies once established. Still, there are signs democracy is not yet dead in America. Or if essentially dead, perhaps it is in process of reviving. Or even, perhaps, in process of being truly established for the first time. Let us hope one of these is true.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Majority of U.S. Citizens Think Government Has Too Much Power

Gallup is reporting that a solid majority of Americans (some 60%) think the U.S. government has too much power. This is another encouraging sign of increased awareness on the part of the American people. Their intuition about government power is seen more clearly though the tie between government and corporations and just how corrupting large corporations have become has not yet been seen so clearly. But it will be. Stayed tuned here for more.

Friday, September 20, 2013

"Surprising" Fed Decision Makes Sense

The decision of the Federal Reserve announced on Wednesday to continue the policy known as Quantitive Easing, or QE3, was called surprising by many on Wall Street. But astute observers could have seen that the reasons for the original so-called quantitative easing are still present. These include high unemployment, stagnant wages, and jobs which continue to move over-seas. Being a quasi-political "animal," the Federal Reserve did the only thing it really could do -- continue to pump money into the financial sector. This bid to strengthen the economy will not work in the long-term just as it has done nothing to truly create jobs, strengthen the economy, or end the recession. The announcement that quantitative easing could continue into the new year, further hints at doubts about any impending economic turn-around. Ironically, the Fed has turned out to be one of the more honest institutions in a very dishonest business.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Alexis' History Should Have Raised Red Flags

The story linked to below details the various encounters Aaron Alexis had with authorities over the years, raising issues which should have disallowed his security clearance to a secured area. I am glad Congress and the Secretary of Defense are pledging investigations into the screening process for security clearances. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/18/us/washington-navy-yard-shootings.html?src=recg

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

CNN Report Calls Vetting Process for Military Workers Into Question

TMP Follow-up -- The Cable News Network web site is openly questioning the vetting process for military contract workers and quoting major government figures. I agree with Eleanor Holmes Norton and Susan Collins that many questions need to be asked about how someone with the kind of record of Aaron Alexis could have been given access to a military base. http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/17/us/navy-yard-shooting-military-contractors/index.html?hpt=hp_t1

Shooter Reportedly Had Secret Clearance

According to the article below the shooter in yesterday's horrible rampage had "Secret clearance" from the U.S. military along with a military-issued I.D. card. Nothing can excuse such sordid action as displayed by Alexis and my heart goes out to the families of the victims. At the same time, this event does call into question again the extensive use of private contractors working in secure areas of our military. I urge that the official investigations of this tragic incident include the issue of just how thoroughly employees of private contractors are checked out before being issued Secret clearance. http://www.legitgov.org/Suspected-US-shooter-had-secret-security-clearance-employer-says

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Saturday Poetry In Song

Here is a marvelous vocal group of young men from Wales. I hope you will be as moved as I was. Only Boys Aloud http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C06NhCkAjXk

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Flurry of Reports Now Indicate Diplomacy Has a Chance to Prevent War on Syria

Reports in the media today indicate a new focus on diplomacy between the United States government and the government of Syria. This shows the power of common sense as the American people registered their opinion in overwhelming numbers that bombing Syria was counter-productive to say the least. Reports also say Pres. Obama still plans to work for a strike against Syria. Why he would do that remains unfathomable to this blogger. Meanwhile, any news of a possible diplomatic solution to this crisis, is welcome in principle. Now it will be up to the diplomatic corps, it seems, to produce the desired outcome: a peaceful solution.

Congratulations to the American People

The American people have been calling, e-mailing, faxing, and writing old-fashioned letters in large numbers -- all to oppose a bombing strike of the sovereign nation of Syria. In addition to the impracticalities and lack of effectiveness of such a strike, the proposed air strike is illegal under the U.N. charter. Because the United States is a signatory to the U.N. charter, which is a treaty under the Constitution, such a strike would be illegal under the supreme law of the land. There was a time not so long ago when Americans would have supported and even applauded such an attack. But not now. Not after George W. Bush and "weapons of mass destruction." Not after Libya. And, interestingly, not after Egypt, and Egypt again. Despite an attempt to dumb down the culture, Americans somehow seem to have gotten their intellectual mojo. The inert and lax have woken up in rather splendid fashion and are paying attention again. What a gratifying development!

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Second Truthout Article Claims Possible Fraud in U.S. Intelligence on Syria

At the article listed below Truthout claims there is the possibility of fraud in the U.S. intelligence report on Syria. Here is a quote from the article:
The clumsy attempt to pass off intelligence claimed dubiously by the Israelis as a U.S. intercept raises a major question about the integrity of the entire document. The Israelis have an interest in promoting a U.S. attack on Syria, and the authenticity of the alleged intercept cannot be assumed. Murray believes that it is fraudulent.
Source: http://truth-out.org/news/item/18559-how-intelligence-was-twisted-to-support-an-attack-on-syria

Truthout Author Lists Reasons Why a Military Strike Against Syria Is Ill-Advised

Steven Zunes, at Truthout.org, has delineated numerous reasons why the proposed military strike against Syria is ill-advised. For reasons of copyright, I am unable to reproduce the entire article here. However, reason #3 seems to be among the strongest. I am happy to post it here:
3) Military intervention likely would lead to more death and destruction[.] Despite advances in military technologies which make cruise missiles and other explosives far more accurate than in previous decades, US attacks inevitably will result in civilian casualties. Furthermore, empirical studies have demonstrated repeatedly that international military interventions in cases of severe repression actually exacerbate violence in the short term and can only reduce violence in the longer term if the intervention is impartial or neutral. Other studies demonstrate that foreign military interventions actually increase the duration of civil wars, making the conflicts longer and bloodier, and the regional consequences more serious, than if there were no intervention. In addition, military intervention would likely trigger a "gloves off" mentality that would dramatically escalate the violence on both sides. History is replete with examples of supposedly "limited" military actions that dramatically escalated. The International Crisis Group, a reputable and mainstream organization of some of the world's leading policy and strategic analysts, noted that it could "trigger violent escalation within Syria as the regime might exact revenge on rebels and rebel-held areas, while the opposition seeks to seize the opportunity to make its own gains" and, depending on the scale of the US strikes, even result in "retaliatory actions by the regime, Iran or Hizbollah, notably against Israel."

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

A Labor Day Message

Message from Robert Reich -- When I served in President Clinton's cabinet, we had some good years when -— for many Americans -— doing good work meant earning good pay. But these days, with persistently high unemployment and with inequality on the uptick, many working families just don't have the opportunities they used to. As we celebrate this holiday weekend, let's honor the spirit of Labor Day by committing ourselves to turn that around. ...[H]ave a great Labor Day. –Robert Reich ************************************************************************************ I spent the last week of August preparing for fall activities and resting. It was with regret I had to take a short vacation from this blog. I plan to continue posting regularly. All the best -- TMP

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Bill Clinton Warns on Rising Nationalism

Rush Link -- Bill Clinton on Rise of Nationalism