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, May 29, 2015

Happy New Year

Happy New (Blog) Year

Today is the first day of the tenth year of this web log.  You are reading the words of a proud papa.  This blog began in the relatively early days of web logs, has passed through rumors of the demise of blogs as a major force, and come into the days when web logs have had surprising resiliency.  Whether blogs will continue to be important in the days of "smart" phones and Internet wrist watches or whatever else comes down the pike from Silicon Valley, remains to be seen.  

For now, it is an honor and a privilege to have a world-wide audience in such exciting, albeit often perilous, times.  It is clear the world is yearning, even groaning for change.  People want the deeper kind of change.  This is what they wanted from the current U.S. President as he ran for office in 2008. They did not want a Pacific trade bill, fast-tracking jobs to other countries.  Of course, I'm all for jobs for people everywhere!  But not at the expense of a living wage.  Needless to say, if good-paying jobs in one country are destroyed, there is no justice in that.  That is the pain and agony in America now. 

For, once there were fairly plentiful good jobs for those willing to work, especially in industries with unions.  Today, union membership is said to be at 11.1%, down .02% from 2013.  Clearly union membership is very low, and weakening, as of the recent statistics.*  

The United States will not fare well in any way with such low union membership.  Barring some sort of major revolution, unions must be strengthened if the economy is to be strengthened.  For, a workforce without money to spend only depresses the economy.


The coming year promises to be filled with surprises.  One hopes for greater clarity of thought and action than what we have seen recently.  As the writer of this blog, I hope for greater clarity of thought as I think and write from this happy vantage point.  

So, Happy New Blog Year to you and yours.  

*Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Web headline, Google, accessed May 29, 2015.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

CNN's Elitist Response to Bernie Sanders' Announcement

Yesterday I blogged Bernie Sanders' announcement on my sister blog, Democratic Campaign Watch.  Today, I take a moment to look over one media outlet's response to the Sanders declaration.  Here's what CNN had to say:

The firebrand Vermont Senator vowed Tuesday to wrest back America from the hands of billionaires, formally launching a populist grass roots White House bid that threatens to tug Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton towards the liberal left.

Is this an example of elitist language?  Let's take a look.  First the word "firebrand."  Here's the definition of "firebrand,"  according to Merriam-Webster on line:

 one that creates unrest or strife (as in aggressively promoting a cause) : agitator  .

Perhaps this is a description Senator Sanders would embrace.  However, is it accurate?  Is Senator Sanders trying to stir up unrest or strife?  Is he an "agitator"?  First, unrest  means:

a disturbed or uneasy state :  turmoil  .

Is a United States Senator trying to create turmoil?  Is he an agitator?  If so, wouldn't that be cause for serious concern?  Common sense says he is not any of these things.

On the other hand, Mr. Sanders has used the word "revolution" in his announcement.  Now there are violent revolutions and revolutions which are non-violent.  So is Mr. Sanders talking about a revolution involving civil unrest?  Or is talking about, as he himself said, going door-to-door engaging voters in conversation about the state of the country?  The latter hardly seems like civil unrest.  Thus, CNN is over-reaching.

What about the word "populist"?   Is that such a bad word?  Again, the dictionary:

a believer in the rights, wisdom, or virtues of the common people  .

Would anyone in his right mind say he is not a populist under this definition?  Even Fox News would be called a populist outfit under this definition.  So the use of the word "populist" by CNN is an attempt to turn a perfectly good word into a pejorative.  

And, last, is Bernie Sanders physically abusing Hillary Clinton by tugging on her?   Yes, I'm having a bit of fun here.  We can take "tug" as a metaphor or a euphemism for "exerting force".  Personally, I don't see the metaphor, but it is in line with normal reportorial jargon over the years when it comes to politics.

Of more importance is whether Bernie Sanders is doing the right thing.  This needs to be judged in two ways.  First, is he right on principle?  I posit that he most assuredly is.  Second, is he right in terms of political strategy?  It seems to me he is showing a degree of brilliance in running within the Democratic Party rather than outside it.  Whether this will split the Democratic Party is another matter.  I have my fears about an unhealthy effect.  

Finally, can an avowed "independent democratic socialist" be elected President?  Let's hope so!  Is Bernie Sanders that man?  He has a ways to go to convince people that he is.  After all, actually being President is a big job.  Most citizens in and out of the parties are not up to it.  

So, we will have to see how things develop.  For now, since Sen. Sanders has mentioned the role of the media, it seemed useful to examine the immediate response of one major media outlet to his announcement of yesterday.  

(c) 2015 by The Musical Patriot   

Friday, May 22, 2015

Iraq Location for New War

Iraq is increasingly becoming headquarters for a new war -- this one against the Islamists known as ISIL or ISIS.

In the latest announcement from the Pentagon, 2,000 anti-tank rockets are being sent to the middle-eastern country to help fight against the Islamist movement after the recent defeat of U.S.-backed forces at Ramadi.

As much as I am opposed to the Islamic "state," I wonder what new pathway to war we may be on.  We have seen this so many times before.  Sure, let's fight the terrorism of Islamists in the Levant.  But let's be clear of our motives.  Are we sure we are fighting violent extremism, or -- once again -- fighting on behalf of economic hegemony benefiting multi-national corporations?  It's a question worth asking, and let's not assume we know the answer until we ask it clearly.

U.S. Sending Equipment and Arms to Iraq

Thursday, May 21, 2015

TV: Deluding Ourselves to Death

A number of years ago Neil Postman wrote a book entitled Amusing Ourselves to Death.  Since some of us have miraculously survived the torrent of suffocating entertainment rained down upon us by Big Media, it is good to conduct a reality check and a sanity check.

It seems I am not the only one who has noted the hoopla over the Letterman resignation. (See previous post here.)  My concern was over the involvement of former Presidents who saw fit to appear on the show in some way during the lead-up to Mr. Letterman's retirement.  One President, two Presidents, three?  How many actually appeared?  (As I said before I do not receive television programming at home.)

At any rate I like the author who describes the evolution of late-night TV over the last forty years, as the triumph of irony.  That is a description which is as good as any.  Irony has triumphed over outrage, she says.  I agree.  (See the link below.)

Edward Snowden says broadcast TV is old technology for him.  And I agree with that, too.

Let's hope the Internet may somehow help television  live up to its potential as a medium for true education and change, not just entertainment -- and that of a cheap kind.

About the article linked to below, a quick fact check.  The author has this to say about Gerald Ford:
"... the bumbler who tried to sell his shocking pardon of Nixon with the clumsy and obvious lie: “Our long national nightmare is over.”  This quote of President Ford's was actually said a month before the pardon (on August 9, 1974), and was thus completely unrelated to it.  The pardon came on September 8.  Still, I believe it was Bob Woodward who revealed a number of years ago that there had indeed been an "understanding" between Nixon and his Vice-President Ford regarding a forth-coming pardon.  I leave it to others or a future post here to reveal greater detail or a refutation.

Letterman's Swan Song to Irony

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Major Banks Fined $6 Billion

Rush Post --

Four major banks have been fined billions of dollars for trying to manipulate foreign exchange rates and sending more money their way.

Reuters report:
Financial Institutions Guilt of Market Manipulation

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

I Protest

Quickly --  

No one should be comfortable with the way the Pacific trade deal is being railroaded through Congress.  

Monday, May 18, 2015

Death of the Romerican Empire: A New Series

Michael Moore showed it best in the opening to his movie, Capitalism:  A Love Story.   Roman swords on end were followed by American missiles aimed skyward.  Dictators in togas were followed by Dick Cheney with a sneer.  Chariot races were seen first, then drag races.

The spectacle of sport and show which lubricates the social fabric of America today, increasingly rings hollow.  We know we are supposed to be excited by the Final Four, and Memorial Day car races, and often we genuinely are.  But later there can be a falling off of enthusiasm, even a collapse of the dynamism of a few hours ago.

What's going on?  Without going into a psychological analysis, we certainly do have a discontinuity between the merriment of the media and the drudgery of work.  (I must say I am ever so fortunate to be doing work I enjoy.  However, it is still work with a large responsibility.)

An example is the long farewell to Dave.  Yes, that Dave -- you know Dave L.  Now, I have nothing against Dave and his Late Night enterprise.  However, as I have no television service, I am ignorant of so much about the show.  A major newspaper yesterday, though, filled in all the gaps for me.  This newspaper managed to fill a two-page spread with all the greatest, or at least most famous, moments brought to us by Dave.  So many of these moments were simply shocking rather than newsworthy or moving.

From what I know of Dave, he is not shallow as such.  He appears to be intelligent, and often caring.  Well, yes, he has his faults, too.

But my point is not to review David Letterman.  My intention is to question this Amusement Syndicate which seems to run our media.

Is today's media the tip of the iceberg of the American Empire, or what I am calling the Romerican Empire as in "The Fall of..."?  The Roman Empire in its daily functioning sought to entertain and feed the masses as a way to pacify them and distract them from whatever sorrows or worries which might be troubling the citizens' minds and souls.

So today we start a new series by looking at the surface.  Later, I will attempt to show something of the depths.  And, I can hope there will be wholesome things to show along with the troubling things.
The comparison of the U.S. to the Roman Empire is not new.  It's just that now, the comparison seems clearer and more emergent than ever.  

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Truth about Fast Track

Fast track is a back track.  The AFL-CIO is working hard to defeat fast-track authority.  The latest proposal from corporate America is to broaden fast-track trade authorization to several Pacific rim nations, many of whom, like Columbia before them, have very bad human rights records -- such as Brunei.

Setting aside concerns over people in foreign countries the trade deal with Korea has cost some 70,000 jobs according to the AFL-CIO.  Why are we allowing this to happen?

Americans have been subject to a propaganda campaign akin to an intelligence operation.  Corporations which have millions to spare have organized concerted efforts to extend NAFT-like agreements around the world.  The results of these agreements overall have been good for corporations, and special interests in foreign countries, and bad for American workers.

If a new trade deal with Pacific nations is bad for American workers -- and thus our economy -- and bad for human rights and workers in foreign countries, what's the point?

What's the point?:
What the AFL-CIO Says About Fast-track

Photo:  AFP/Getty Images  

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Workers See Peril In Pacific Fast-Track Bill

Quick Link --

You can help support your job security by clicking here:
AFL-CIO Opposes Pacific Fast-Track

N.B.   Work-related issues are keeping me busy this week.  I will continue to post here, though articles may not be as fulsome as usual.  

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Democrats Block Presidential Fast-Track Authority

Democrats in the Senate have blocked action to begin debate on a bill authorizing "fast-track" authority for the President regarding a proposed new trade pact with multiple Pacific nations.

The successful effort to block debate is a stunning and impressive victory for opponents of this latest in a long-time string of such trade pacts.  Labor groups and other left-wing groups involved in Democratic Party politics have pointed out the trade pact is aimed toward increasing benefits to corporations and other business interests at the expense of workers.

The winds of change are in the air.  No longer, it seems, can big money interests with the collusion of the President railroad through these odious trade deals.  

Senate Democrats Rightfully Raise Questions Over Trade

Senate Democrats have raised the main issue in the proposed Pacific Rim Trade deal:  countries like Malaysia and Brunei cannot guarantee workers' rights and thus do not deserve this trade deal.  Surely these Senators are right.  They are right on principle.  And regarding weak or confused protections for American workers they are right on practicality.

Like the corporate push to privatize education, the corporate push to side-line American workers through these "fast track" trade deals is running out of steam.  We, the people, are tired of being fast-tracked to poverty.

It is time to stand up and make this very clear to Congress.

Senate Democrats Oppose Obama on Trade

Friday, May 08, 2015

How Conservatives Won in Britain

In a quite surprising election result, David Cameron and the Conservatives bolted to victory in Britain's closely-watched Parliamentary elections.  Much is still to be learned, of course, but it appears at this point the victory can be attributed to American-style negative campaigning built upon a type of wedge politics over the Scottish question.

It seems likely, that the result of such a campaign will be, as in America, more divisiveness and even rancor.  Conservative economics cannot save a profit economy in Britain any more than in the U.S.  Pain for ever so many English citizens will continue, even as the U.S. reconsiders its allegiance to capitalism.

Let us hope the Conservative "victory" will be short-lived.

How Cameron Won

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Unions Work to Organize Fast-Food Workers

On April 15 workers across America organized in a mass protest called "Fight for $15 and a Union."  Although unions have not lied about their involvement they have had to soft-pedal their sponsorship in light of the ferocious daily onslaught by those who benefit from the current exploitative system.

Organizers have called this day of demonstration the largest by workers demanding justice in the workplace ever.  While USA Today claimed not to be able to verify this, the numbers were clearly strong across America, including New York and Los Angeles.  At least one McDonald's had to lock its doors temporarily due to the protests.

Clearly something important is going on.  As one worker said, This economy is not working for us.  Ever so many Americans feel this even as they may be influenced by the vast anti-union propaganda in this country.  By demonstrating for a $15 per hour wage and union representative protestors were standing up for all workers.

This day of protest is a clear indication that the fight for economic justice -- and through unions, too -- is not dead as some would claim.  In fact, it is just getting started.

Fast-Food Workers Demonstrate; Some Strike

Acknowledgement is hereby made to Ellen Reiss writing in the May 6, 2015, edition of the international journal The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known for facts and a unique perspective on the events of April 15.  

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Remembering Warren Buffet's Better Angels

One of the advantages of a web log like this is the opportunity to take a moment and put things in historical context.  Warren Buffett has had a bit of a hard time lately, it seems.  Looking backward,  the title of his justifiably famous 2011 Op-Ed in the New York Times now rings out with irony:  "Stop Coddling the Super-Rich."

What Buffett is saying is, "It's okay to be super-rich, just don't expect to be coddled."  Yet, coddled they are.  Is it any wonder the American public is angry and dissatisfied?

Warren Buffet's Important 2011 Op-Ed

Monday, May 04, 2015

Waitress Has Words for Kansas Governor

As reported on Yahoo, a waitress in Topeka wrote a message on the Governor's bill admonishing him to tip the schools not her.

Many schools are closing early this year due to government cut-backs.  This is a competence issue.  If the officials of government can't find a way to fund public schools, a bedrock of our democracy, they should not be in positions of authority.  To have schools which are under-funded is a travesty in the United States of America.

N.B.  For the hidden agenda of such cut-backs, see other posts here.  I'll have more on this subject in the future.

Waitress Gives Words of Wisdom to Kansas Governor

Friday, May 01, 2015

Day of Protest and Solidarity

Today is a day to both remember rights activists of the past and the workers of today, many of whom are under such stress on their jobs and in their lives.  Even we who are more fortunate, may be so only temporarily, then cast back onto our own resources in the face of job loss.

This morning I have been reading in Stephane Hessel's  Time for Outrage, an important tract on the kind of emotion which is necessary for workers to have now.  Rather than an incitement to violence, it is a goad to young people for thoughtful action.  The urging on toward action should be taken by older people as well.

Indeed it is a time for outrage.  While violence can and must be understood, there is no need for physical attack on another human being.  Yet, let the wealthy overlords know, justice cannot be denied forever.   

Featured Post

Bill Clinton Warns on Rising Nationalism

Rush Link -- Bill Clinton on Rise of Nationalism