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, June 30, 2014

Boehner's Boner

Boehner has really committed a boner this time.  His proposed lawsuit against Pres. Obama has stirred up a hornet's nest, at least among Democrats.  Constitutional scholars have weighed in, and unimpassioned observers have pointed out such a lawsuit has no chance of success.

The article at the link below is one of the more impassioned responses to this ridiculous and dangerous lawsuit.

Boehner's Frivolous Lawsuit

Friday, June 27, 2014

Progressive Economist Explains Huge Drop in Gross Domestic Product

Rober Pollin, co-director of  the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, speaks here about the underlying reasons for the very large decline in domestic out-put in the First Quarter.  He also addresses the cheery explanations which have been given by major media.

The huge drop has been alarming and it is good to see it addressed effectively.

Progressive Economist Explains Huge Drop in Gross Domestic Product

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Boehner Seeks Law Suit Against Barack Obama

 In an outlandish and outrageous act, Speaker John Boehner has announced he will seek to have the House of Representatives sue Pres. Barack Obama.

Pres. Obama likely has abused his powers, specifically in sending drone attacks to countries the United States is not at war with.  But this suit seems politically motivated.  The proper avenue for such an effort under the Constitution is impeachment.  Otherwise, the law suit appears foolish at this point.  

Boehner Seeks to Sue Pres. Obama

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center Building 7: Revisited

Below is a video report of the bizarre collapse of building 7 of the World Trade Center at 5:20 p.m. on September 11, 2001.  If you have not seen this before, I highly recommend it.  (The music track is avant garde and was rather loud on my system.)

Even Jimmy Carter Says He Believes His Communications are Probably Monitored

TV report, including Pres. Carter on "Meet the Press."

Jimmy Carter Speech Boycotted by American Press

In following up on yesterday's post I find that no major U.S. media reported on the speech Pres. Carter gave at a German-American relations group meeting last year.  I plan to have further details on the speech soon. However, neither the American press nor the outlet which reported on the speech, Der Spiegel have provided a complete transcript.  Thus, the quotes which have been given are not in context, leaving much to be desired.

What this episode does tell us is the American press and media don't care much about democracy.  For in the speech Mr. Carter is quoted as saying the United States does not have a functioning democracy at this point in time.  You would think the press would jump on this quote.  Afterall, there is no mid-ground here. Either Pres. Carter is right, or he's wrong.  Either way, it is a very newsworthy statement.  Since there is no evidence Carter has lost his mind, perhaps it is the press which have lost theirs.

But the main issue is, the evidence is mounting.  A functioning democracy is not to be seen in the U.S. these days.  The meaning of this is profound, the implications grave.  History has seen this before with every previous democracy.  The United States has been the longest-lasting democracy.  If its democracy is no longer functioning, Americans must get busy and correct course -- and soon.

A good start is reading blogs such as this one which attempt to clarify the matter.  Not enough people ask the kinds of questions needing to be asked in order to restore and even strengthen mass democracy within America.  Too many people are willing to enjoy the entertainment culture, while millions of Americans are hungry and under-nourished.

What is the relationship between the profit system and hunger?  Is it possible the system itself is responsible? If huge corporations are not checked (and indeed they have gotten themselves named as [human] persons under the law) can we guarantee that some will not starve?  There are many more such questions which can be asked.  One is:  can democracy and the profit system really exist together on a permanent basis?

We can thank Jimmy Carter for his observations. Now it is incumbent upon us who live in this country to understand as much as we can.  I, myself, will continue to work toward this end.    

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Jimmy Carter Speaks Out on NSA Spy Scandal

Though these comments were made last fall, they are still pertinent today.

Several months ago Pres. Jimmy Carter spoke out on the spying scandal at the National Security Agency.  In a speech in Georgia last fall the former President spoke on several topics including Egypt and America's standing in the world.  He even said America no longer has a functioning democracy, a statement I essentially agree with.

I don't agree with Mr. Carter on every point here, especially with the statement (as reported) that there is no reason to be optimistic about Egypt.  But, otherwise, his comments are spot-on.  Kudos to Jimmy Carter.  (Please note that the translation from Der Spiegel is by Google and contains errors of syntax.  Nevertheless, the article is very readable and worthwhile.)

Pres. Jimmy Carter on NSA Spy Scandal and Other Matters

Monday, June 23, 2014

Gathering Storm, Or Solution in Hand?

Quickly --

There is a continuing furor over the decision of the Supreme Beings (the Fascist Five on the Supreme Court) to allow virtually unlimited spending by corporations in elections.  This decision, commonly known as Citizens United after the group of corporations (not citizens) who organized the court suit, continues to come up in conversation and e-mails.  It is the poster boy for numerous web fund-raising groups.  And with good cause.

My point here today is there is an increasing feeling that something is wrong with the system.  It is this realization which is bringing a change in the winds.  How strong these winds will ultimatelybe, and how fast, remains to be seen.  But the direction seems clear, and that is a welcome development.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Saturday Poetry

Brief Excerpt from H.D.

This week's featured Saturday Poet is H.D., who was Hilda Doolittle (1886-1961).  I love stanza four of her poem, Tribute to the Angels.  It is clearly an anti-war poem, told in forceful yet beautiful language.  For copyright reasons I can only re-print a couple of lines here.  (Apologies)  But perhaps you can find the entire poem on line in another location.  Let us echo H. D. in all her attractive sincerity.

from Tribute to the Angels

Not in our time, O Lord,
the plowshare for the sword,

not in our time, the knife,
sated with life-blood and life,


The rest of the poem is not so graphic, but the reader will get the point.



Friday, June 20, 2014

A Divided America

Recently headlines have told of polling data which show deepening divisions among the American people. While one wants to be very careful, it was partly because of internal divisions that the Roman Empire was ultimately toppled.

My latest reading adventure is Michael Grant's The Fall of the Roman Empire.  A Reappraisal.  I am early in the book, but the introduction holds out promise of a great tome.

Surely, America is divided.  This is not exactly new, or news, but the divisions seem to be becoming more profound due to the ability of people with a cause and/or a vengeance to be part of an online community, separate and apart from a geographical locality.  Thus, complaints can be shared and amplified over vast distances and without a friendly local counter-balance.

To connect today's post with my last post, can the operation of the Roman Empire at all be compared to fascist Italy?  After all, the Roman Empire and Mussolini's dictatorship both arose in essentially the same territory.

Sometimes, you see, it is easier to ask questions than to answer them.  But I intend to continue asking questions and trying to answer them as long as you, dear reader, are there.  

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Is This Fascism?

What's in a name? is a question asked by philosophers and poets for hundreds if not thousands of years.  So I ask, what is in the term "fascism?"  How important is it to know the answer?

In his book Anatomy of Fascism, Robert Paxton does a fine job of charting the origins of the movement back to late nineteenth century Italy among the farmers who were getting a raw deal on their produce.  As is so often the case with political movements, fascism began with a grievance.  In this case the grievance was justified.  And early fascism did not carry the same pejorative meaning it carries today.

Nevertheless, by the time Mussolini and then Hitler came along, fascism had gone through many stages and phases.  Hitler and his followers eventually jettisoned almost all of the socialist aspects of National Socialism, leaving a bare-bones and brutal metallic skeleton which came to be called Nazism.

Does fascism survive today?  When we look at recent times, we know about Spain under Franco, Chile under Pinochet, and Uganda under Amin.  All these regimes could be considered fascist, in spite of the differences between countries.

But surely, we do not have fascism in the United States, right?  This is the question I want to spend time with this summer.  I want to do it as carefully as possible, even if the material is spread out over several entries in blog form.  Other writers such as Thom Hartmann have written convincingly of a type of fascism which is present in America, if not rampant.  I cannot duplicate his research here.  But perhaps through several posts I can present certain facts pointing to the truth about our economy.  For the truth is this is an economy run primarily for the benefit of the few, with the assistance of the government.  This is the elemental definition of fascism.  Thus, even if we don't have storm troopers in the streets and gas chambers in the Rocky Mountain states, there is still a basic system supported by elites (including very much media elites) which dominates economic activity.  It is this system which is proving so harmful.  But this assertion needs facts to back it up.  In a way, ever so many posts on this blog offer support. (Some are found under "Popular Blog Posts" to the right.)

So the story will continue.  More events to come will show the meaning of my thesis.  Please "stay tuned."

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Today is Flag Day in the U.S.

Saturday Poetry

Today's poem is of Emily Dickenson, that great poet of 19th-century America with her love of nature and her questionings of the divine.  I see this poem as great, for its enthusiasm and its wonder.  It is on the subject of this web log in the wide sense.  Matters of heart and soul are very much with us these days, in America and beyond.  Desires fierce and soft break all around.  To put emotions into such poetry as Emily Dickenson does is of inestimable value, and precious, even.


Exhilaration -- is within --
There can no Outer Wine
          So royally intoxicate

          As that diviner Brand

          The Soul achieves -- Herself --
          To drink -- or set away

          For Visitor -- Or Sacrament --

         'Tis not of holiday

          To stimulate a Man

          Who hath the Ample Rhine

          Within his Closet -- Best you can

          Exhale in offering.

             -- c. 1862


Friday, June 13, 2014

Time to Adopt "Brat" As a Term of Endearment?

The Nation magazine reports that a major theme of the David Brat campaign in Virginia was opposition to Wall Street and Washington financiers.  Once again, we see the major media missing an important part of the story.

Just who David Bratt is remains largely a mystery.  But the true nature of his campaign is beginning to be known, at least to those who pursue alternates to the national media.

This may indeed be a time, as Ralph Nader is pointing out, when the right and the left can agree on certain issues such as the nature of business in America and the inappropriateness of government meta-spying.

Cantor Opponent Called Out Corruption

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

"Brat Beats Singer"

In church and synagogue, a cantor is a person charged with leading congregational singing.  And (in or out of a religious institution) a brat is, well, a brat.  So, as you will see I am having a bit of fun with today's bold headlines announcing the news of the defeat of Eric Cantor by David Brat ("brawt"?).

I am describing this defeat as a net wash nationally -- for now.  The analysis of an anonymous politico in today's Washington Post that Cantor's defeat is what happens to a fellow who does not tend the weeds in his own backyard sounds right to me.  (Cantor has been flying all over the country raising money for other Republicans.)

What it does say for certain is that people are indeed angry with establishment Washington and Cantor was very much a part of the Congressional establishment.  As others have said, it also announces the power of the tea party movement, at least in some places.  We will very likely see more dalliance with the right as economic conditions continue to deteriorate.

All we are left with is the question:  Will the Republicans without Cantor know how to sing a new tune?  

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Saturday Poetry

Only great poetry seems able sometimes to evoke the reality of war in all its horror.  Yesterday, the world marked the 70th anniversary of D-Day.  (Properly, Operation Overlord referred to the invasion and fight for Europe, and Neptune referred to the invasion of Normandy alone.  This was not a distinction much observed at the time or since.*)   This helacious fight enveloped all who participated in it.  The gratitude we have to those brave men is incalculable.

Carl Sandburg, notable poet of the 20th Century, had his own viewpoint on war.  In his poem "Wars," Sandburg describes in neat detail the differences between the wars of the past, present, and future.  Due to copyright concerns, I am unable to re-print the entire poem here.  You can find the entire poem in Carl Sandburg.  Selected Poems.  George and Helene Hendrick.  Harcourt Brace & Co., 1996, p. 108.)

from "Wars" by Carl Sandburg --

In the old wars clutches of short swords and jabs into faces with spears.In the new wars long-range guns and smashed walls, guns running a spit of metal and men falling in tens and twenties.In the wars to come new silent deaths, new silent hurlers not yet dreamed out in the heads of men.

(c) 1996 by Maurice C. Greenbaum and Philip G. Carson as Trustees for the Carl Sandburg Family Trust

*Source:  Eric Larrabee, Commander in Chief.  

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Commander in Chief

Franklin Roosevelt is regarded as being second only to Lincoln as the greatest war President this country has ever had.  When one looks into the matter this seems an unnecessary distinction, as Roosevelt was a great war President, particularly considering the world aspect of World War II.

Eric Larrabee lays out the vast history of the War as led by FDR.  So far, I have read of the period from early isolationism to Pearl Harbor.  The story has many components, and, gratefully, Larrabee tells the stories of George Marshall, and Gen. King equally well -- in addition to that of FDR.

One is struck by the reluctance of the U.S. in the inter-war years to commit to an adequate defense should there be another major war.  In fact, such a war seemed inconceivable to many.  Thus, the armed forces were undermanned and under-equipped right up to and beyond the infamous Pearl Harbor attack.

This circumstance is more striking still when compared with American strategy after World War II when we have never relinquished world leadership as a war power!  Although in the first years after the War America did scale down from World War force levels, the apparatus for war was never given up.  And by 1961, the commercial machinery for making war was robust enough to inspire Dwight Eisenhower, former World War II general and now President, to give his famous warning about the military-industrial complex.

Now, as the 100th anniversary of World War I approaches, American has its own Century as so many wanted.  Even with a more diverse world, American might continues.  What is behind that might -- the economic structures, the financial underpinnings, the manufacturing ability -- whether those are still equally as strong is very much a matter of debate.  

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Evolving Focus

Quickly --

As readers may have noticed, or sensed, this blog is evolving.  There have been more posts recently which are short essays of a more general nature, and fewer news items with attached links.  As time goes on, I find traditional and even non-traditional news sources as less relevant to actual needs at this time.  It is fine to report on news events, and I plan to continue to do so.  However, there needs to be a certain kind of thoughtfulness now, not often found in simple news reports.  So, expect to find posts of a more reflective nature, perhaps, and fewer strictly factual/news stories.  Do return!

Monday, June 02, 2014

Summer Is a New Opportunity

Early June is a time full of promise.  To some "June is bustin' out all over."  To those in the far north it may be a chilly and windy time, though less cold than January, say.  In the southern hemisphere the official start of winter is close and autumn is drawing to a frosty close.

Since I am in the northern hemisphere let's experience an atmosphere of hope and newness for a moment.  In years past summer has brought freedom bus rides and lunch counter protests.  A few years later there has been police brutality -- or Sammy Davis, Jr. hugging Richard Nixon -- take your pick.

Now, we have the opportunity for another kind of summer.  Before the pundits completely take over our country with a projected Hilary Clinton/John Ellis ("Jeb") Bush race, let us prepare ourselves (legally and non-violently) for the coming crisis of finance and confidence.  I have spoken of this coming crisis before. Most recently, this has been written of in The Crash of 2016, by Thom Hartmann.

I see my duties now as reading as much as I can, posting here, and getting my own financial house in order. Beyond this, I see myself developing some specific to-do lists relating to how to survive and how to help others survive.

As you can see I am a bit ambitious.  For now, I am listening, watching, waiting, and trying to cooperate with reality.

N.B.  The close of the season has been a busy and hectic time for me.  Things are easing now, and among other summer-time duties, I hope to continue posting here.  It is apparent to me that a new day is indeed coming.  

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Bill Clinton Warns on Rising Nationalism

Rush Link -- Bill Clinton on Rise of Nationalism