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

Friday, March 27, 2015

American Prosecutors Wielding Tremendous Power

According to an excellent article in The Economist  (October 4, 2014), American prosecutors are holding tremendous power over life and liberty in their hands through new procedures, customs, and laws.  Sadly, I am aware of one case in particular where this was evidenced.  Though I don't directly blame prosecutors, the young offender (victim?) eventually died.  This article makes us keenly aware of how justice has changed in America in recent years, and how Attorney General Eric Holder has offered a small ray of hope.

On-line article:
America's Overly Powerful Prosecutors
(See print magazine for fuller, deeper article)  


Somehow, I was able to get the Socialist Worker web site installed as a favorite on the web browser tool bar at the public library!  Although I am not a supporter of state socialism, I have used the Socialist Worker web site as a good source for news here in the past.  Now, others may be encouraged to go to the site, as well.  Great!  

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Day's Work

Dear Reader:

I'm sorry to be so brief.  Things are hectic due to the season.  I did want to share with you one suggestion based on an action I just took.  I just signed up for the Aftershock Publishing newsletter.  For monthly information on money and investment matters I recommend what they have to offer.  I don't actually recommend any investing in stock markets or such.  But Aftershock's newsletters are broader than that and offer statistics which can be helpful in getting an idea of the actual state of the economy.  Information, as they say, is power.  

Best of luck.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Week Ahead

Coming this week --

Excerpts from Time for Outrage, a tract by Frenchman Stephane Hessel.  A wake-up call to French students in a time of peril for democracy.  Bears on the United States centrally.

Please join me  

All on Blogspot

Friday, March 20, 2015

Blogging The Rev. Robert H. Schuller: Do I Have To?

"Do I have to?" is a question I am sometimes asked by students.  So, with a touch of humor I am following through on a promise made earlier in the week to post something on the perils of being a popular minister in the mold of a Robert H. Schuller.  However, this subject is deeper than it first appears, as my research is showing.  (Long-time readers here know I value research.)

It happens I do see beauty in the original Schuller message.  And his faith and optimism had a positive impact on my life several times in the past.  Whatever has happened since doesn't erase that fact.

Having said that, it is obvious something went terribly wrong at The Crystal Cathedral.  Some are saying things aren't right at Sheperd's Grove (the successor church), either.

From past experience I know well that churches have problems.  They are made up of people. And people, being imperfect, bring along problems.  This is to say the obvious.

The point is it does seem a bit uncharitable to bash someone who is down, as Rev. Schuller certainly is -- at least in one sense.  He is reportedly happy in new circumstances.*  He is also 88 years old and having trouble speaking after surgery.

Not to so quickly put the foregoing aside, but there is nevertheless a moral tale to be seen at the Crystal Cathedral.  There are theological problems with the success theology promoted by Rev. Schuller.  Somehow a doctrine of sacrificial love for both Christ and Christ's people seems to get short shrift in such a theology.

In a world hurting from vast economic uncertainties and pain, an emphasis on one's own safety is understandable.  Thus, the appearance of ministries which offer reassurance is, again, very understandable.

Love -- true love -- involves criticism, if kindly given.  Let us be critical of the Crystal Cathedral problem, even as we commiserate with all who suffered.

* Source:  The Rev. Robert A. Schuller, the son, as written of on-line recently

The Clintons in Haiti: Let's Start Here

As Pres. Obama said this week, Gitmo doesn't represent who we are as a people.  Likewise, the way things are being run in Haiti doesn't represent the American people -- not in the deepest sense.  Sadly, Haitian relief efforts, the way they are organized, do represent the way business is done in the America of once and now.

The Nation magazine has recently detailed problems with USAID efforts to rebuild Haiti after its disastrous earthquake five years ago.  Dissatisfaction with the pace of recovery has been growing among the Haitian population.  There has been a distinct lack of accountability and transparency. Such lacks extend to the efforts of U.N. Special Envoy Bill Clinton, unfortunately.

The mistake I wish to avoid here is to blame any one person.  The Nation has the right idea by fixing blame on the system.  The system was created and maintained by human beings, of course.  So ultimately we must take a look at human nature.

Meantime, the U.S. government is set up to deal with matters of this kind.  Certainly a Congressional investigation is called for. But let the investigation not seek to excoriate or demonize any individual or individuals.  Let the system be put on trial.  I suggest Bernie Sanders as possible head or co-chair of the investigation.

Haitian Relief American Style

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Pres. Obama should be congratulated for his honesty on the subject of the Guantanamo prison in Cuba.  Here is more on this remarkable admission.

from Huffington Post --  
WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama said Wednesday that if he could go back and do his presidency over again, he would have immediately shut down the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"I think I would have closed Guantanamo on the first day," Obama said to applause at an event in Cleveland, Ohio.

Obama went on to say that he didn't rush to close the military prison when he first took office because there was already bipartisan agreement that it should be closed. He noted that his GOP presidential opponent Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) had also called for shutting it down.

"I thought we had enough consensus where we could do it in a more deliberate fashion," Obama said. "But the politics of it got tough, and people got scared by the rhetoric around it. Once that set in, then the path of least resistance was just to leave it open, even though it's not who we are as a country and it's used by terrorists around the world to help recruit jihadists."

The prison, which has been operating at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base since 2002, is being used to detain unlawful combatants from Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries who were captured in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The U.S. has come under international scrutiny for holding prisoners there who haven't been charged, for torturing prisoners and for denying Geneva Convention protections. As of January 2015, 122 prisoners were still there -- down from a total of 779.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

It's Musical! It's Patriotic (I Think)

Here is the official trailer for the new Star Wars episode coming in December.  I think it is appropriate for this blog because of John Williams' music themes, and because of the epic battle between good and evil so centrally displayed in the Star Wars films.  At root, it is the same battle featured on this blog, though not often put in such stark terms.  Enjoy the video.  

Monday, March 16, 2015

What's Ahead

Coming this week on my blogs:

  • More on Election 2014.  Research from Brookings Institution
  • Bill Clinton's financial stake in Haiti
  • Robert H. Schuller and the perils of ministerial fame

Join me.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Professor Irwin Corey Brings a Laugh

Dr. Jim Crow Operating Without a License in the South

Greg Palast, surely one of the most fearless and compassionate reporters in the world today, has released a report of the disenfranchisement of hundreds of thousands of voters in the South at the time of last autumn's national election.  Martin Luther King III has expressed concern.  I share his concern.  It is time for Dr. Jim Crow to stop operating in the south before he kills democracy itself.

See more at my sister blog here:
Dr. Jim Crow Operating Without a License in the South

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Democrats Respond With Appropriate Concern Over Republican Meddling in Treat Negotiations

Republicans, along with any American, have every right to criticize the President.  What seems unusual, if not unprecedented, is the Republican effort to undercut, even ruin the negotiations being carried out by the Obama Administration.

I do not know enough about the situation to say just what I think should be done as to Iran, although it does seem Obama is making progress in setting up safeguards against an Iran with nuclear weapons.

This brings home the point I have made here repeatedly since the sham elections of last November.  Republicans are not to be trusted.  It is unfortunate that the Obama administration has its own trust issues (see my treatment of the election of 2008 here).

What is frightening is the apparent break-down in the very functioning of the U.S. federal government.  The long-standing bi-partisan nature of American foreign policy is being riven by the Republican leadership in the Senate.  To be completely fair and honest, I do want to check into the Republican claims before making the very most categorical statements about U.S. foreign policy toward Iran.  But clearly what the Republicans are doing exacerbates an impression that the federal government is dysfunctional on a policy level and that the Republicans have done their share to bring about this disastrous situation.  And -- is it not a disaster?

Democrats Lead Chorus of Opprobrium for Republican Meddling In Iran Treaty Negotiantions

German Foreign Minister Brings Republicans to Task Over Iran Letter

Quick Post --

The German foreign minister comments on the Senate Republicans' letter interjecting themselves into sensitive negotiations with the government of Iran.

German Foreign Minister Criticizes Republican Letter

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Stop the World, I Want to Get Off?

No, Stop the Profit System, I Want to Get Back On

Developing Story --

It is becoming increasingly clear that the profit system is out of control.  People are being flung out to the nether reaches of life by out-of-date-mortgage rules, whip-sawing energy and grocery prices, to say nothing of ever-changing policies and regulations by large corporations and sometimes government.

What is a person to do?  The answer is in the old labor song, "You've got to organize!"  Of course organizing isn't easy.  First you must have a coherent rationale.  I have been trying to develop a rationale here over the last months and years.  First, we must acknowledge that the profit system, focused as it is on money (capital) rather than people, is incapable of the kind of efficiency and flexibility which is needed in the modern world.  (Oh, how the Wall Streeters would disagree with me!)

A prime example of this inappropriateness is the housing fiasco I mentioned above.  Houses are still being foreclosed on.  It is like a hurricane in its effect.  Houses "under water" might as well be literally under water or blown off the map for all their usefulness.

Yet housing, along with food, is a basic human right.  If a system cannot guarantee basic human rights what good is it?

So, second, is the alternative.  Apparently, what will work is a type of system not yet developed, one in which nations will respect one another in a deep way, and workers everywhere will have the justice which is coming to them, starting with adequate food and housing, not through government hand-outs but as part and parcel of this new system.  I realize it is hard to visualize such a system.  If one thinks of the early church or the type of economy the Scandinavian countries have gone for, one can start heading in the right direction.  Also, FDR's proposed Economic Bill of Rights sends America in the right direction.

We have a long way to go.  But we can start now.  For instance, how much one has invested in the stock market, if anything, is a personal decision.  Many persons have largely or completely gotten out of the stock market and have discovered it is possible to survive.  There are many other such ways.  And indeed, people are making good decisions every day.

But with an oppressive financial-government regime operating full steam ahead, citizens get dragged along for the ride whether they want to be carried along or not.  This is what must stop.  

Monday, March 09, 2015

Where Not to Grow Old

Quick Post --

America's aging population continues to grow as those born after World War II retire.  You can read the statistics at the link below.

Fortunately, the U.S. is one of the better nations in which to grow old, ranking eighth by one measure.

The needs of the aging will thus increase in the coming years.  Advances in medicine will need to keep up and communities will need to be alert for ways to expand care.

Find the Five Worst States to Grow Old In Here:
Worst Places to Grow Old

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Pres. Obama's Valiant Veto

O wield they mighty pen,O vanquisher of the Right.

President Obama finds himself in the position of acting more Presidential than ever as he wields his veto pen with new-found vigor.  

Of course, it remains a shame that the basis of the government is so flimsy after last fall's election fiasco at the hands of Republican operatives.  (See earlier posts.)  The one consolation is how powerless the Republicans seem, not just procedurally powerless, but morally powerless and bankrupt.   They as people -- and we as Americans -- deserve better.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

The Tedium Grows

I have no way of quantifying this at the moment, but there is a real sense that America grows ever more tedious day by day.  We are asked to be excited about a possible Hillary Clinton run.  And we are not.  We are asked to be excited about the forth-coming new Camaro.  And we are not.  We gave up being excited about Barack Obama long ago.

So what is a living, breathing person to do?  "Create your own excitement," was what my parents' generation were exhorted to do.

But how?  Can we really overcome the torpor of this halting, lugubrious, economy?

In keeping with part of this blog's title and mission, maybe music can help.  Recently I have been making a musicological study of the Beatles, and jazz.  These I have been very aware of, naturally. But I had never really studied them.  As I look a little more carefully at the Fab Four rock group, and the entire jazz world I am more than a little astonished at what is there.  Both jazz and rock and roll were a reactions to some pretty tedious times.  In the first case it was the Lost Generation following World War I.  In the second case it was the Eisenhower administration and the Cold War.

So, once again music comes to the rescue.  Nothing against the other art forms.  But only music truly sings.   Long live the arts, and in this case, music most especially.   

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Warren Buffett Has Something to Say

Warren Buffett, the well-known financier has a message for America:  cheating in American capitalism has been rampant.  This is not news to the average American, but to hear it from such a wealthy individual is refreshingly bracing.

So, let's have the discussion that Buffet doesn't care to have.  I whole-heartedly commend Buffett's honesty.  At the same time I whole-heartedly disagree with the premise that capitalism is inherently just or "American."

Warren Buffett
The profit system has been terribly inefficient and unjust.  It is not just "bad apples."  This is the point of disagreement.  But let's have the discussion. And let it be honest.  The alternative to capitalism doesn't have to be Soviet-style communism!  (I could put more exclamation marks there.)  We can have what the Scandinavian countries have gone after so successfully in the post-war years -- a sensible, well-ordered, mixed economy.

That, in fact, is what we already have had in America ever since Teddy Roosevelt and Congress began putting restrictions on corporations early in the 20th Century.  Social Security and Medicare were further incursions into the capital-generating capacity of big business.

So -- the time is now.  We must have this discussion.  And it must occur at once.  Time is wasting.

MSN video

Monday, March 02, 2015

Greece Once Again Stands Up for Human Rights

Note:  For updated information see Patriot in Exigency at the link above.  

 ...with the government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras only two weeks old, the political and financial elite of Europe, from Germany's Angela Merkel and Wolfgang Schäuble to Mario Draghi, head of the European Central Bank (ECB), have rejected all proposals to negotiate Greece's huge foreign debt or relax the austerity conditions imposed as a condition for the bailout of the country's economic system. With a showdown approaching, all eyes are on the struggle in Greece and the hope it holds for the future.

SYRIZA supporters gather in front of Greek Parliament (AP photo)
People are coming to see that "austerity" is just another word for "impoverishment."  The people of Greece know this -- also the people of Spain.  Certain powerful financial sources and the government leaders who facilitate them have militated for ever-burgeoning power to control outbreaks of economic justice in certain European nations.   At the article which is hyper-linked below, the writer reports on the backbone found in the new Greek government.

Observers are now wondering whether Greece can be successful in fighting off the talons of the oligarchs which have dug their way into Greek life.   Tsipras and his party, SYRIZA are certainly going to try.

We should support them whole-heartedly.

Greece Fights Back

Featured Post

Bill Clinton Warns on Rising Nationalism

Rush Link -- Bill Clinton on Rise of Nationalism