The Spirit of '76

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

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Is This Not Illegal?

The article linked to below tells of little niceties of law which make the bombing of Iraq and Syria illegal.  Especially in the case of Syria where the head of state is opposed to American intervention, but in Iraq, too, America is violating its treaties, according to David Swanson.

No matter how much we loathe the so-called Islamic state, offensive operations of this nature are an act of war.  The author here lays it all out.

The Legalities of War

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Protesting Students Receive Support

Students in a Denver, Colorado, suburb have received support from the College Board in their protest movement against a school board member who would sanction a conservative re-write of history.  The board member wants to cut out the portion of the AP History test she and her cohorts disagree with.  The College Board, which administers the test, has issued a ringing endorsement of the students in their efforts at "[c]ivil disorder...."

Read more on this exciting story here:
Students Protest Right-Wing Re-write of History

Friday, September 26, 2014

Beware the "Probabilities"

This must be quick -- we need to be cautious as a midnight cat when it comes to win "probabilities" in the fall election, as announced by news media organizations.  Sam Wang of Princeton Election Consortium is the best in this regard because he takes the time to explain what a probability means.

For those who take the time any probability is a snapshot based on current polling.  There is, at the same time, an argument to be made that past polling is a somewhat good predictor of future outcomes.  What I object to is turning someone's probability number into mathematical certainty.  Here is where Wang is good.  He makes clear that  probabilities are based on past and current polling only (in his model).

Others such as the late professor Neil Postman wrote a great deal about the numerical approach to life, and the dangers of such an approach.  And, rather than be awed by numbers, we should be skeptical -- at the least -- of turning politics into something one can put on an abacus.

Yet the drive to just know what is going to happen is strong, and understandably so with so much at stake.  The Princeton Election Consortium is still showing a "70%" chance of the Democrats holding the Senate in November.  I urge involvement on the part of all who care about the economic and health rights of all Americans, to get busy -- give money, volunteer, whatever is possible.

Then, let's continue the struggle for fair elections, and a fair economic system for all.  

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Full Plate of Steaming, Hot News

Begging your pardon for a few days being out of action here --

The news has, in a fashion, been all over the place the past few days.  The careening nature of world events is one reason your Musical Patriot has been led to seek refuge in a mental and emotional cottage of reflective relaxation.  Or, in any event, it becomes a good time to tend to other issues such as family matters.

But now it is time to come back to reality, as it were, and see what the new season of autumn is bringing us.  The most serious issue is the ISIS-ISIL vs. America conundrum.  The newspaper says today the tide has turned, and so forth and so on.  It is all so dreary, repetitive, and reminiscent of so many wars in the past.  Most all seem to begin with great gusto accompanied by stern statements of resolve from the President and other leaders.

Of course, this by no means is meant to minimize the threat of what we may call the "ISIS of evil."    Whatever the intent, the ISIS group is brutal, maniacal, and actually not all that successful.  Here is a clue to the situation:  If one looks on a map, one sees this Al Qaeda redux hasn't really won that much land, although the land it has won is important.

Thus the conundrum I spoke of earlier.  But aren't conundrums what we pay millions if not billions of dollars a year to unravel?  And don't we pay money to keep things and groups like this from developing in the first place?  Just asking, as they say.

Along with the drum-beats of war we need to hear another beat:  the beating of footsteps to the doorsteps of our legislators.  "What exactly do you have in mind, Sir?"  and "When will this end, Madam?"   and "How is it that this war will permanently solve this problem?"

Just asking.

-- The Musical Patriot

Friday, September 19, 2014

Hot Money -- Capitalism As a Cause of Global Climate Change

Naomi Klein in her brand-new new book, This Changes Everything, calls capitalism's contribution to global warming, "hot money."   This clever term is evidently an apt description of what the magnates of international corporations have been trading in as they have sought to defend their power and privilege, even in the face of impending climate disaster.

Klein was interviewed on the radio and TV program Democracy Now! yesterday.  What she had to say was very important indeed.  Based on this interview I recommend a look-see of her new book.  The link below will take you to Amazon's page for the volume.

This Changes Everything

Third Party Danger 2016

The estimable Bernard Sanders, U. S. Senator from Vermont, is floating the idea of a run for the White House in 2016.  As much as I respect Sen. Sanders, I advise against a third-party run by Mr. Sanders in 2016, under our current system.

The last time a major socialist candidate ran for President was Eugene Debs in 1920.  Impressively, Debs garnered nearly a million votes.  This shows how desperate people were for an alternative under the profit system of the time.

As soon as I can I will research the Presidential race that year to see what kind of impact it had on the Democratic candidate.  The only time in my memory a Democratic Presidential candidate did well against a third party left-of-center opponent was Pres. Harry Truman in 1948.

Now Sen. Sanders is also talking about the possibility of running as a Democrat in the primaries in 2016.  That makes more sense, though it is not immediately the most natural move, since Sanders has an identifiable image as an independent.  Still, I see him as able to contribute in important ways to the national discussion in the lead-up to the nomination, even if he did not get it.

But a third party effort?  Think again, if you please.  

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

United for Peace and Justice

Quick Link --

It is apparent the idea of going into Iraq and Syria militarily is not universally popular, though immediate polling has indicated a majority of Americans in favor of the Obama approach.

One group which works for both peace and justice is a group called United for Peace and Justice.  I have been aware of this group since at least the Iraq War of 2003.  Now Americans seem to have a longer memory and that war is remembered.  This time there is opposition from the President's own party, with at-risk Democrats such as Begich and Udall announcing they are against various aspects of this new proposed war.

Let us be about the important task of uniting for peace in the Middle East.

United for Peace and Justice

Monday, September 15, 2014

Learning from North Carolina: Get Out There and Work!

Over the last two years, decent and caring North Carolinians have had to learn how to combat an aggressive attempt to turn back the clock on voting rights and other issues.  It took some time, but progressive leaders in the Tar Heel state have been able to show disheartened citizens that all is not lost in their state.  First came weekly protests at the state Capitol.  Now there is the campaign of U.S. Senator Kay Hagan, surely the biggest surprise of the season, leading her Republican challenger in several polls by a small but clear margin. 

It seems that when a candidate sticks to bread-and-butter issues, the electorate responds.  Democrats are, of course, doing this across the board.  The biggest obstacle to truth in America now is the media -- a media which gulps down huge splashes of ad money like a bloated whale in a sea of sardines.  If the Koch brothers can spend multi-millions to tip the scales in races all over the country, that is of no concern to the amoral media.  Where is our free air time for our democracy -- a plan which was announced several years ago?  Other major industrialized countries have such a requirement.  America squanders its media opportunities in banal "political ads," with little or no obligation to tell the truth.  It is indeed a sad state of affairs.

Yet somehow the picture is not entirely dire.  For here and there appears a Kay Hagan, or a Greg Orman, or any of a number of solid, courageous Americans ready to do their duty for the country through government service.

Hip, hip, hooray for responsible courage in America!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Youth Develops What May Be a Break-through Cancer Test

Science News

A new test developed by a fifteen-year-old young man is said to possibly be one of the most important discoveries to hit the world of cancer science in years.  See more here:!

(Two copies of video displayed.  Working to correct duplication.)

Note:  Video from Smithsonian may show other content when played.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Current Polls Indicate a Qualified Probability of Democratic Senate Control

Princeton's Sam Wang does a very good job of analyzing current polling.  The only major question is whether he is dealing with polling of all registered voters or only likely voters, the latter being the better choice now.

Otherwise, he is very astute and careful.  The current projection for Election Day puts Democratic control of the Senate at 70%.  Other polls are actually close in their predictions, but due partly to the closeness of the race, several such as New York Times and Washington Post, have a probability of Republican control.

It is all very interesting, and Wang has more details on his Princeton Election Consortium site.  (See right column below, here, for more information.)

Sam Wang's Latest New Yorker article

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

The Body Politic Is Stirring

There is more good news coming from the pollsters.  In spite of an onslaught of money, Democrats are doing surprisingly well in polls for the Senate.

The Democratic Party organization has much catching up to do in terms of the House races.  However, their impending major get-out-the-vote effort should benefit House candidates as well.

In short, let's not let the pundits run the election through their sophistry!

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Congress Has the Chance to Do the Right Thing on Domestic Spying

In a revealing article in the current issue of Wired magazine, Edward Snowden, patriotic whistle blower, is interviewed and photographed in his secret Moscow domicile.  This article contains at least two scoops, and is chock-full of information about Snowden's life, especially the patriotic phase in which he decides to combat governmental breaches of the Fourth Amendment.

Congress has the power to get the government's spying monster under control through a new bill:  the USA FREEDOM Act.  Yet at the same time Congress is faced with a different bill which the Electronic Frontier Foundation calls "privacy-invasive."   For more, see the link below.  It is long-past time for Congress to act to remove the threat of limitless and unlawful spying on innocent American citizens by rogue agencies of the government.  We can keep Americans safe while protecting their Constitutional rights.

Congressional Bills to Support and Oppose

Photo courtesy Softpedia

Friday, September 05, 2014

Democratic Chances to Retain Senate Control Climb: Princeton Consortium

According to an up-date a few hours ago, Sam Wang of the Princeton Election Consortium shows a significant increase in the chances for Democratic control of the Senate come next January.

Sam Wang has been very accurate in past elections.  My only caution would be that his history is not long. So much can happen in politics, including people dropping out of races, candidates dying (not to be hoped for), or switching parties.  This kind of unexpected activity seems to be picking up.  Witness the Kansas Senate race, the Alaska governor's race, and earlier the stunning defeat of Eric Cantor in primary.  At the same time, his work is based on actual polls and not admixed with incidentals (what are euphemistically called "fundamentals,"  really just a foundation for speculation).

The people are in electoral revolt and it is high time.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Music, the Bridge Between Nations

Evidently, the Musical Patriot is going to have to become an Internet version of an American-Russian friendship center.  I can think of no greater honor or purpose, for world peace is one of the long-term goals of this blog.

As illustration of the role of music in this endeavor, please click on the recording below.  The work is by the Russian Romantic-era composer Alexander Glazunov.  The work features a well-known American tune, the title of which I will keep secret until you listen to the work.  In this fine performance one cannot help but be moved by a Russian composer's adept feeling for this tune.  There is both liveliness and dignity, respect and charm.

Compare this to the shallowness of a David Cameron who acts as if the very existence of the world depends on a NATO-led charge against Russia.  Yet my research shows that the West's financial powers have been intent on extending their hegemony throughout both Russia and Russia's traditional sphere of influence.

I certainly do not agree with much in today's Russia.  There has indeed been a squelching of dissent.  Yet, who am I as a member of another country to act as expert and arbiter over internal affairs of another country?  And if said country has evidence of interference by Western powers in the internal affairs of a neighboring country -- while not justifying all actions -- does this not at least explain any sense of concern and fear which may arise in the country?

So, friends, let us not be quick to judge another nation, and let us not be knee-jerk reactionaries in support of a Cameron or any other national leader who would take us back to the Cold War.  Let us keep a close eye out for both camps.  But let us not assume we know more than we actually do.

Coming -- I Want My Perestroika Back  

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Quick Post: Election Heating Up

Sam Wang of the Princeton Election Consortium is beginning to post more frequently now that summer is ending.  With Democrats doing better than expected, his analysis is continuing to develop in timely fashion.  For more, see the Princeton Election Consortium. (Link is in my Links list to the right.)   

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Harry Truman's Worst Adventure

What was Harry Truman's worst adventure?  Historian David McCullough says it was the news that over 200,000 Chinese troops had poured into North Korea and were badly routing American and United Nations troops in late 1950.  The drama of this event is unknown to most Americans today.  But it was a most serious and dangerous time in world history.  Truman added to the drama and the danger by telling reporters the atomic bomb had "always" been under consideration as a possible weapon.  This statement sent shock-waves all over the world, alarming friend and foe alike.

(McCullough goes on to write of Truman's decision not to further escalate the war;  that this was one of his best decisions while in office.)

What we see from all this is what set the stage for today's world situation.  I say now I am categorically opposed to this New Cold War, as it is being conducted.  This is a reprise of some very bad times we do not need!  As one who grew up under the constant threat of nuclear annihilation, I say as clearly and as strongly as I can, We do not need another Cold War.  It will be unwinnable, de-stabilizing and destructive to the entire world economy.  I will have more to say about this later.  But let us be clear about the terrific down-side to this escalation of rhetoric.  It is unnecessary and ever so harmful.

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Bill Clinton Warns on Rising Nationalism

Rush Link -- Bill Clinton on Rise of Nationalism