Wednesday, April 29, 2015

What Is Education About?

Education -- the issue -- has become a political football in recent years.  This is not because teachers have not been trying hard enough, essentially.  It is because various persons of wealth, unbelievably, have sought to make education a profit center!

The other aspect, the fact that education in America has been troubled in recent years, is a fact.  What America most assuredly does not need is a swift technocratic fix along the lines of what a corporation might do to "streamline" and make itself more efficient.

In the book dealt with in the linked article below, famous author Neil Postman helps us clarify what education is supposed to be about in the first place, particularly in a democracy.  The purpose of education in a democracy, declares Postman, is not so much to serve the public as to create a public.  This the founding fathers such as Thomas Jefferson were keenly aware of.   The so-called "Dark Ages" inasmuch as they were in fact dark, were so, in a large way because of lack of knowledge.  This is the reason the Enlightenment thinkers were interested in education.  This is the reason the founding fathers were interested in teaching people how to read.

In America today if people can get the right reading material they can learn how to think more clearly and to become solid, creative citizens.  That is the theory.  I challenge anyone to verify the theory.

A New Way to Look at Education

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Many in Church Recognize Economic Unfairness

As people around the world, including tragically in the United States, continue to suffer economic deprivation leading to food insecurity or worse, plus poor housing and inadequate medical care, some in the church are questioning how the profit system is being run.  Others dodge the matter by saying they are not competent to pass judgment on the whole system.

Nevertheless there is disquietude among the ranks of believers as they see something other than Christian love and compassion at work.  Elsewhere on this blog I have dealt with the failings of the profit system and how the time has come to abandon the system, even as it sinks further into dysfunction.   This is not a time to waffle.  This is a time to be clear. It is a time for decision.  Either we will slump along with what we have always known, even if it no longer works, or we will respond and build a better mouse trap.

We can begin with the following from Christian Orthodoxy.  I won't get into Christian theology at the moment, though Christianity at its root is very compassionate, and not in favor of selfishness in any form, including its economic aspect.  Later, I hope to present more along this line, after I have a chance to research the matter a bit.

For now, listen to what Joseph Stiglitz has to say.  His comments are sharp and sharply critical of the current world order.

Many economists and institutions of global development agencies embrace economic globalization as indisputable reality and suggest that there is no alternative to this. They assume that Neoliberalism contributes to the prosperity and the equitable development of all nations. Unfortunately though, its economic practices have not been designed to meet the immediate needs of the world’s poor people. Global inequalities between nations and within nations are widening. Joseph Stiglitz, former World Bank Chief Economist (1997-2000) and Nobel Laureate in Economics notes that economic globalization in its current form risks exacerbating poverty and increasing violence if not checked, because it is impossible to separate economic issues from social and political issues.
                                                                           -- web site of the Greek Orthodox Church in America


One Christian Church on the Profit System



Friday, April 24, 2015

Pacific Fast Track Wins Approval of Senate Committee

As evidence of how thoroughly big money interests now control the Senate, a committee of our once-honored institution, the United States Senate, has approved what appears to be a truly seedy operation known as the Pacific Rim Fast Track.  This subversive bill will now go to the full Senate.

Senate advocates of such deals are hoping approval by their committee will mend divisions in the House where the Bill would go if approved by the full Senate.

Meantime, a full-court press is being conducted by American labor with demonstrations around the U.S. and large-scale phone lobbying of Congress.

We can and should have a healthy world-wide trading system, but not this way.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Time to Demand Return of Rule of Law

“We should be demanding more reforms than the intelligence agencies are gladly willing to offer us,” said David Segal of the activist group Demand Progress. 

Congress is dealing with the matter of the unusual (unconstitutional) powers it gave the government following the events of September 11, 2001.  According to The Guardian, there is not yet a bill in place to re-authorize the U.S.A. "PATRIOT" Act.  Evidently, controversy has continued during the last several months, as legislators debate the merits of the sweeping powers given to the F.B.I. and the N.S.A.

It is much easier, of course, to question these powers if one has a background in the events themselves.  The video displayed at right raises certain questions about one building on 9/11/01, which leads to other questions about that fateful day.  It is indeed time to question, if not "everything," than surely the need to continue these draconian curtailments of civil rights guaranteed in the Constitution.

Congress Seems Interested in Curtailing Government's Intrusive Powers, But Not Enough

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Bill Clinton At and On Georgetown



As the U.S. and the world tries to make sense of so much at this time, we are presented with the apparent necessity of contemplating what it would be like to have Bill Clinton as "First Gentleman."

The video below, which I stumbled upon, is up-to-date and quite interesting.  Hillary Clinton also recently presented awards named after her at the same institution.

We could do worse, much worse than to have Bill Clinton back in the White House.  But, God if there is a God, please don't give us another Bush candidacy.  (Or any other commonly-named Republican possibility!)



More about Bill Clinton at Georgetown:

President Bill Clinton (SFS'68) talks with his former professor Rev. Otto Hentz S.J. about how Georgetown influenced his purpose during the third lecture in the #ClintonLectures series today in Gaston Hall.
Posted by Georgetown University on Tuesday, April 21, 2015
(Click on "Georgetown University" hyper-link.  Then look to the right of the page for video.)


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Now at 'Patriot in Exigency'

Common interest would prevail over individual interest, just as the fair sharing of proceeds between workers would override the power of money.    
                                                                              -- Stephane Hessel in Time for Outrage  

The program of the French Resistance movement of World War II has been up-dated for today.  Warm, passionate, exciting...     


The French Provisional Government Can Teach Us Much

Monday, April 20, 2015

Taking America's Economic Temperature

From last week --Charisma in Business

Charisma is seen as a generally positive attribute for a leader to possess, yet many studies give it a "mixed report card": finding it can have little or no effect, or worse a negative effect. Hermalin develops a model to explain why. The key insight is that presenting the cold hard truth is often incompatible with simultaneously firing up followers - a tradeoff exists between information and inspiration. In particular, a temptation exists to hide bad news behind upbeat rhetoric. Rational followers understand such appeals conceal bad news. But as long as any followers are swayed by such appeals - respond to the leader's charisma - rational followers' pessimism is tempered, and more so the more charismatic the leader. Hence, a more charismatic leader can generate better responses from all followers with an emotional appeal than can a less charismatic leader. This is a benefit to charisma. But this power has a dark side: a highly charismatic leader is tempted to substitute charm for action - she is less likely to learn relevant information and, on certain margins, works less hard herself - all to her followers' detriment.

                                                                                     --  National Bureau of Economic Research


Left over from last week is a promised evaluation of the American economy.  This is a big subject, especially big for a part-time blogger.  However, it is possible to begin a study in pieces.  Today I have chosen to begin with a report on a paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research on charisma in leaders.  Please join me in this research by following the link below.  Since so much of government these days is done on the basis of charisma, it is important to understand the subject of charisma itself.  I think you'll see why I say this by consulting the report here:


Charisma in Business


Wisconsin's Democracy About to Go Dark?

Wisconsin's Common Cause director Jay Heck explained:

What is at stake here is the independence of the Wisconsin judiciary. The Wisconsin Supreme Court was once considered the model for the nation in terms of its impartiality and independence. That history could be wiped out by a single decision by this court to open up the doors to coordination with outside groups and effectively render campaign contribution limits meaningless.

Wisconsin's  democratic form of government  could essentially be undermined by an up-coming Wisconsin Supreme Court decision, according to Huffington Post.

What has happened to Wisconsin, the state of "Fighting Bob Lafollete,"  the great champion of the people in the twentieth century?  Let us hope the people of Wisconsin can get organized to defend their way of life and protect their democracy.

Wisconsin's Dark Money

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Presidential Campaign Announcements Coming Earlier

Ever since Bill Clinton in 1991,  major presidentiacandidate campaign announcements have been coming earlier.  It's as if the marketing sell campaign has been planned carefully, including the needed announcement date.  The earliest announcement in recent years was Barack Obama in 2007, almost two years before the next election.    Long gone are the days candidates did not campaign, following the conventional wisdom that to do so was beneath the dignity of the office.  Now it is "dignity, shmignity, I'm going for it!"

Dwight Eisenhower could have been called dignified, if not gray.  And Jimmy Carter had his rectitude.  So there is some history for self-selecting, then campaigning and holding one's personal dignity.

But what of the dignity of the office?  Ted Cruz is a grand-stander, not to be taken seriously except for the scary ardor of his "believers."  The other Republican candidates announced so far are little better.  On the Democratic side, as the The Washington Post observed, Hillary Clinton is more a celebrity than a politician.  

There is something slightly oily and seedy about this "campaign" so far which seems new.  The way forward for these candidates has been greased by big money.  The actual dollar amounts will come later, of course.  But for now, as in every year since about 1952, the Presidential election campaign is a media "show," as much as a serious endeavor of a great democracy.  This is a great tragedy.

Below is some information about the dates and times of campaign announcements by various Presidential candidates in recent times.  

In June 1952 the five-star general [Eisenhower] retired from the army after 37 years of service, returned to the United States, and began to campaign actively.  -- Encyclopedia Brittanica

John F. Kennedy -- January 2, year of election -- 1960  (presidency.uscb.edu)

Jimmy Carter -- "Just before the end of the year, Jimmy Carter announced his candidacy for president."  -- Miller Center, University of Virginia

Bill Clinton -- October 3, 1991, year before election (C-SPAN.org)

George W. Bush --   "[George W. Bush] Bush was practically anointed as the Republican standard-bearer by the GOP establishment in early 1999 after he proved to be a one-man fundraising machine..."   -- Miller Center  

  Barack Obama -- February 10, 2007 -- some twenty-one months (nearly two years) before the election   (Washington Post)

Ted Cruz -- March 23, 2015 -- more than nineteen months before the election  (CNN.com)   




Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Important Anniversary

A tweet from a musical patriot --

That any magazine lasts for 150 years in America is noteworthy.  That the magazine would be called The Nation, is patriotism made visible and also persevering.  

Monday, April 13, 2015

Spring Warms Things Up

Planned for this week on The Musical Patriot Blogs:

  • Hillary Clinton's "Soft" Announcement
  • The Nation magazine's 150th anniversary
  • The Economy:  A Health Check
 
Looking forward to seeing all my readers this week. 
 

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Say It Isn't So!

A certain investing company which I respect very much has said that in the coming time of economic collapse (the inevitability of which is something I take as essentially self-evident), the social safety net as we know it in this country will disappear.  (See excerpt below.)  What would replace it would be a "means-tested" system. This must not be allowed to happen!  For what this would invariably mean would be unimaginable political turmoil as legislators debated over merits and details, with millions of Americans left in limbo uncertain about their status.  The programs being referred to specifically include Social Security and Medicare.  These remain programs paid for by the workers of this country.  That is the only reason they are derisively called "entitlements."  People do deserve the money they have worked for!  That is, they are entitled to it.  This is elementary justice.

Elementary justice is not something economists are much concerned with.  They aren't even concerned with the nation, being consumed totally with wealth creation and preservation.  It is this mentality which must be opposed.  There is absolutely no reason to tamper with people's retirement, the funding of which they have worked so hard to secure.  


Excerpt from Aftershock Investing*


Question:


... how will we pay for the uncounted liabilities such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security?
Answer:
 ... ultimately what will happen with both the debt and most unfunded liabilities is that they will be repudiated when the government decides it can't afford to keep printing money to pay for them. Entitlements like Social Security and Medicare will be replaced by a means tested welfare and healthcare system, with lower government expenditures and funded by heavy taxation on those relatively few with assets and income to tax.


*For useful economic information and analysis see their web site at:

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Los Angeles Occupy Movement Protestors Earn Settlement

Protestors in Los Angeles have won an agreement from Los Angeles City Hall to the tune of $2.5 million over harsh treatment they say infringed on their First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights.  Descriptions of the treatment they received as outlined in an article on Brad Blog are indeed quite shocking.  Evidently, this kind of treatment was common as authorities began to clear out the various Occupy encampments around the country in late 2011.

While City Hall has done the right thing in agreeing to the settlement it is shocking these events happened in the first place.  However, they are a sign of the fight going on now in America over how this nation is to be run.  Is it to be run by and for the American people or by and for the wealthy? This is a fight we have seen before in American history, such as in the Haymarket Affair and the Flint Sit-Down Strike among many other incidents.  Now, however, the people seem to be claiming some ground, however incrementally.

I'll keep monitoring this issue as long as time and strength permit.


Occupy Movement Protestors Win Settlement

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

A Morality Tale at NBC

It seems clear from a new Vanity Fair article that NBC is roiling with instability and angst.  Those words are not too strong given the facts now coming out -- at least from the aforementioned magazine.

The important thing here is the picture being presented -- one of systemic break-down with ratings decline at premiere shows such as Today and Meet the Press.  And did I mention the new head of NBC News is apparently British?  No wonder the situation required a full-blown article to make sense of.

This is not a time to chortle over individuals who have fallen from great heights to the very ground the rest of us walk on.  It does represent, however, an opportunity to see how the modern-day press is operating.

One thinks of Paddy Chayefsky's film, Network, from 1976.  That telling morality play rang true to millions of Americans.  The statement, "I'm fed up and I'm not going to take it anymore!" as shouted from home windows in the movie, became a national tag-line.

Below right, on this blog, you will find a link to a book by Robert McChesney entitled "Telecommunications, Mass Media, and Democracy."  In this landmark work, McChesney details the history of broadcast media in this country and how it started out as a non-commercial venture.  What both Network and now the Brian Williams fiasco show is a system apparently run by the profit motive at the expense of the truth -- at least in the case of Mr. Williams.

As I've intimated before, America can do better.

[Note:  Link to Vanity Fair article has been removed due to inappropriate language.]


Monday, April 06, 2015

Edward Snowden Remains in the News

Edward Snowden
American patriot, Edward Snowden, remains in the news.  Today I have begun reading an interview with him conducted by the editor of The Nation magazine.  Snowden is a voice of sobriety and reason in a sea of foment and authoritarianism.

I will have more to say about Snowden and this interview later.  For now, you can find more plus a link to the interview on my sister blog,  Patriot in Exigency. 



Rev. Robert Schuller's Death Announced Last Week

Quickly --  


In case you may have missed the news or want to read more about the passing of the Rev. Dr. Schuller, the following article in The New York Times is quite good.


Rev. Robert H. Schuller Dies at 88

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Dr. Robert H Schuller Reported Near Death by Family: Source

According to the Orange County Register (California), the Rev. Dr. Robert H. Schuller is reported near death by his family.  This is a follow-up, since I recently posted here about the failed ministry of Rev. Schuller at the former Crystal Cathedral.


Dr. Robert H Schuller Reported Near Death by Family

What Really Happened on 9/11

Curiously, the media in the United States seems to have completely lost interest in the subject of the events of September 11, 2001, except for the yearly anniversary.  But questions about just what happened remain, despite official federal investigations.

The article on my sister blog, Patriot in Exigency,
tells a bit more and will lead you to further research.


Understanding Allegations of a 9/11 Hoax

Featured Post

Bill Clinton Warns on Rising Nationalism

Rush Link -- Bill Clinton on Rise of Nationalism