Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Pacific Partnership Bill Would Do Real Damage: Experts

People who have looked at the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) bill, such as Public Citizen experts, have been sounding the warning against this proposal.  With a corrupt Congress granting fast-track authority to the President, there will be even less citizen input possible.  The special interests are winning, my friend.  But for how long?  There is no wealth without labor.  And an economy cannot thrive or even survive if the average worker has no money to spend.

A group whose message I find still current is at the link below.


U.S. migrant workers in days gone by.  Are we headed back to such scenes?
Group Opposes Trans-Pacific Bill

Monday, June 29, 2015

Why the TPP and Fast Track Are So Dangerous

Congress Has Shackled the American People on TPP

Just how bad is the agreement to fast-track Congressional review of the proposed Trans-Pacific "Partnership"?  The article at the link above gives a good overview of the current situation.  The picture is downright ugly;  there is no other way to say it.

This is not the first time Congress has tied America's interests to special interests.  Remember NAFTA?  Ross Perot got it wrong only regarding the sound or lack thereof, as jobs have been lost due to that infamous trade agreement.  There hasn't been so much a "giant sucking sound" as a silent sinking, as in quicksand, while workers livelihoods are slowly, inexorably sucked under never to be seen again.

But the TPP is worse, according to experts.  In many practical ways, America's interests will be tied directly to the interests of nations such as Brunei and Japan.  Rather than my trying to delineate all these evil effects, it is best simply to refer you to the article at Huffington Post.  The excerpt below will get you started.


Congress is shackling itself in two ways. First, through the grant of trade promotion authority, Congress removes its power to amend the agreement's text. This loss of Congressional power is not a problem when it comes to traditional trade issues such as tariffs. But it is a major problem when it comes to the details of regulation, such as IP regulation, because regulatory details have severe implications for public welfare. Trade promotion authority fetters Congress so that it cannot reshape the legal texts, precluding reforms.
Second, after the TPP is enacted, if it hurts America's interests, Congress can't easily amend the law afterwards. Rather, the treaty will bind Congress so that eleven other countries would have to approve any amendment. Otherwise, the United States would be in violation of international law and subject to sanctions.
Even more damaging to America's interests, to enforce these provisions, the TPP allows multinational companies to sue the U.S. as well as TPP member countriesbefore private arbitral tribunals if the country amends or interprets its IP laws in ways that a company alleges violates TPP constraints. The process - called investor-state dispute settlement - bypasses U.S. courts and the decisions of these private tribunals cannot be appealed.  [italics mine]
In short, Congress will have put itself in a policy straight jacket at a time of rapid technological change. 
                                                                                         -- Prof. Michelle Goodwin

Friday, June 26, 2015

What the Supreme Court Ruling on the Health Care Law Means

Yesterday's ruling on the 2010 Affordable Care Act allows the program to continue supplying subsidies to millions of Americans who otherwise would not be able to afford health care coverage.  This is the second time the Supreme Court has acted to shore up the law which extended health care to large numbers of Americans who were struggling to secure health care.  As such it is a great victory for progress in America and a defeat for a strict profit motive in health care delivery in the United States.  Needless to say, it can mean life instead of death for countless citizens.  Bravo to the Court.

A good summation of the ruling:
What the Supreme Court Ruling on the Health Care Law Means

Monday, June 22, 2015

South Carolina Governor Calls for Removal of Confederate Flag

South Carolina's Governor has called for the removal of the Confederate battle flag at the state Capitol in Columbia.  Backed by an inter-racial group of leaders, the Governor said the flag while "an integral part" of the state's past has no place in the state's future.  Demonstrations were held at the Capitol over the week-end and national leaders of both parties also called for the removal, including Hillary Clinton, and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who is running for President.

This is progress, very very late, but progress nonetheless.  America will breathe a bit freer when this flag comes down forever.

Television news report:
South Carolina Governor Calls for Removal of Confederate Flag at Capitol

Friday, June 19, 2015

 
 
 
According to activists Senate Democrats have an opportunity to stop the fast-track authority for the Pacific.  I must say after the horrific killings in Charleston, South Carolina, it should be obvious we need to take care of our own problems, such as racism.  Racism, while a choice, also has an economic component.  More on this later.
 
 
N.B.  I realize this is a rather fast elision of topics.  However, the point should be self-evident.  We need to preserve American jobs as a way of cutting down on wandering youth, as Roof is said to have been.  As I indicated above, there is much more to the story.  But most assuredly fast-track for far-away Pacific nations in the way it is set forth in TPP should not be part of that story.  

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Update on TPP: White House Colludes with GOP

President Obama is leaving Congressional Democrats in the dust as he scrambles to make buddies of his nominal political enemies, the Republicans.  This shameful betrayal of his own party and the American people is the most egregious lapse of political honor by a Democrat since Lyndon Johnson fought anti-war Democrats during the Viet-nam era.

As a result the Trans-Pacific Perversion (TPP) is once again advancing in the national assembly.  However, it is unclear whether the President can persuade Senate Democrats to go along with a bill which now provides not a sliver of help for displaced workers.  Mr. Obama should abandon this extremely ill-advised bill and get back to preserving American jobs at a livable wage!


White House Colludes with GOP Over TPP

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Bush-Bush Must Be Stopped (If He Doesn't Kill His Own Chances First)

First, this must be short due to time constraints.

However, I am acquainted with the record of John Ellis Bush (J.E.B. = "JEB", and thus "Bush-Bush"), who has been running for the Presidency for months but only officially announced it the other day.  (This in and of itself is a likely violation of federal campaign law.)

Those looking into the record of this man, such as The Washington Post are beginning to find problems.  I plan to have more on this subject later, such as questions about his financial dealings at the time of the Savings and Loan Scandal).*

For now, what is troubling people is Bush-Bush's alleged crazy-quilt foreign policy statements.  I am in the process of catching up with this story.

However, putting together verbal gaffes, with his far-right agenda in Florida as governor, plus questions about his past financial dealings, America should be very wary of this individual.  Haven't we had enough Bushes, for the love of Pete?  As a campaign button had it in 2000:  "Stay out the Bushes."  That was good advice then, it is good advice now -- to say the least.


Bush-Bush's Far-Right Florida Agenda



*See here:  "Jeb" Bush's Failed Investment?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A Real Political Fight

It has been rare in recent years for the people of America to actually win battles in the war against high finance and global trading conglomerates.  Last Friday was thus an unusual event when the House refused to rubber stamp Corporate efforts to easy their skids on trade.

This week I will be following this subject.  As events develop I plan to bring you the news and offer a bit of perspective which I hope will have a clarifying effect.

-- TMP  

Friday, June 12, 2015

Pacific Nations Fast-Track Bill Defeated

Breaking News --

VICTORY FOR THE PEOPLE

Union Efforts Succeed 

According to Reuters news service, the bill authorizing fast-track handling of the Pacific nations trade bill has been defeated in the House of Representatives.  This is a "technical" defeat.   Details and comment here later.  

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Pres. Carter Inaugural Speech Unique

One of series of posts on the former President

Every Presidential inaugural speech is unique to the individual giving it, of course, for only one person out of millions is the President at any given moment.  There is something about the Carter speech, however, which is especially individualistic and thus unusual.  Of course, Carter came to be criticized in ways presaged in his 1977 inaugural address.  But criticism of the critics can also be traced back to this speech.  For when one reads it, one finds an idealist, and an ethicist, if not a moralist.  (I find no hint of a narrow moralist in this speech.)

I call your attention to the list of accomplishments Jimmy Carter hopes will be achieved during his Presidency.  Sadly, they were largely unfulfilled, even now.  Instead we got a drum-beating Cold Warrior, and the leader of an administration racked by the Iran-Contra Scandal.  No great ethical leader, Ronald Reagan.

So the looking at Jimmy Carter in a fresh way as
promised in my previous post has begun.


Jimmy Carter Inaugural Speech

Jimmy Carter: Former President Not Forgotten

Our flighty American media, obsessed with glitz and glamour of the ephemeral kind, seems to have forgotten former President Jimmy Carter, who has been called the best ex-President in American history.  The story linked to below shows Pres. Carter still inspires young people today.

The fact than an 11-year-old can relate to a 90-year-old is evidence that age is not the divider some claim it to be.  Of course, Jimmy Carter is an unusual man.  Does this mean, just possibly, that America was very fortunate to have Jimmy Carter as President, not just as an ex-President?

The time for a re-evaluation of Pres. Jimmy Carter is long over-due.  In fact it sounds like a good summer project for The Musical Patriot.  You are invited to check back here later for more.


Jimmy Carter Inspires Youngster

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Crisis in the Church

What's Not Said:  Good News

The apology from a pastor given at the web page is remarkable for its clarity and simplicity.  Many times what remains unsaid in such apologies is significant, often dark.  What remains unsaid here is more a result of ignorance.  

I certainly do not wish to take away from the beauty of the humility shown at the document linked to below.  But for those who may be interested in such things, I have found a church which is indeed different, though not perfect.  The historic church does not necessarily need to shoulder all the blame for the modern short-comings found in the American church.  What I am referring to is another church which is not western;   that is the Orthodox Church, sometimes called the Eastern Orthodox Church.  For those who can deal with what at first seems like a strange liturgy and a small array of unexpected customs, the historic Orthodox Church has less to apologize for than some other churches.  Or shall we say Christians?  

This is where a fuller accounting of things than given in the Presbyterian pastor's letter is needed.  The part I am most concerned about is the decline in attendance at and approval of the modern American, western church.  This is indeed a precipitous decline according to the latest Pew study which is being quoted widely.   What I wish to underscore here is that from my experience there is no need to be angry with or reject the Orthodox Church, with one caveat.  The exception is the relative lack of interest on the part of Orthodoxy in economic systems.  I have read the statement on the economy from the Greek Orthodox Church, for example.  Here we find small comfort and little light, though the church is clearly trying.

The problem is the profit system simply cannot be justified in light of the Scriptures.  I have searched and searched trying to find an economic system which is explained by Biblical scholars with their approval of said system.  So far, I have been unable to find any such treatise.  I will keep looking.  Perhaps some kind soul can enlighten me in this regard.

In the meantime, the short paper below is a start.  Let's not throw the baby out with the bath water. Instead let's be honest critics of the church without demeaning the beauty of the Gospel message of love and justice.  


A Pastor's Apology

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Political Campaigns As a Way of Informing the Public a Mess

Quick link.  

With a Presidential campaign in full swing and already over-shadowing local campaigns this year, the media is already being criticized -- and rightly so -- for shallow reportage.  As usual, political strategy is dominating coverage to the detriment of issues.  This is tragic -- and dangerous.  The new media is exacerbating the problem, but also holds promise for improvement.

Today I have scanned the first part of the article linked below.  Please help me examine it more closely.

Brookings Institution on Shallowness of Media New and Old

Thursday, June 04, 2015

The Important Days of June

The month of June 2015 is already shaping up to be an important one.  Here are the issues I am watching now.


  1. The European debt crisis, especially rumors of a Greek "default"
  2. The dangers of a major economic crisis in the U.S., with numbers such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) down
  3. The amazingly early and full Presidential campaign showcasing most anybody who wants the power of the Presidency as an actual or potential candidate.*  
  4. The exception at the moment -- Martin O'Malley who is running on a program favoring restoration of Glass-Steagall.
There is so much going on, winds of change are beginning to swirl.  Much of the breeze is flowing against the denizens of Wall Street.  I predict this wind will become of gale force before the final chapter of this story is written.

* Since humor is part and parcel of the current scene, I thought I'd imbibe of the draught a bit.  

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Tiring, Tiring, Tedious

Not again!  Oh, yes, again.

At this point in my life seeing another Presidential election cycle heat up with yet another horse-race cast to the reporting of it, is almost sickening.

Yet that is what we have from The New York Times, as they present the large crowds in Iowa for Sen. Sanders as a contest between his "campaign operation" and hers.   The policy differences are mentioned, but not in detail, only as differences of direction on the political spectrum.  This is the old "left, centrist, right" terminology.  (Didn't this right-left business come from French revolutionary days?)

Not only does America deserve better, it must have better.  There is too much at stake.

One cautionary word which does have resonance is whether Mr. Sanders can actually be elected.  Think about it for a moment with me:  Can he?  I do not see a Bernie Sanders winning the Presidency without a wholesale revolution in the Democratic Party machinery and/or a major national emergency of an economic kind.  So those two things are possible.  Are they likely?   The second of these is a distinct possibility.  And if the economic emergency were great enough -- millions of people standing in bread lines, the party machinery would eventually be affected.  But how fast?

So, as a country we have our work cut out for us.  Be wise, America.  O, be wise.  

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Tracking the Counter-revolution -- Quick Post

No one has ever established exactly what caused the explosion or who was responsible, but the consequence was the brief Spanish-American War of 1898.
                                                                                     -- HistoryToday.com



A Conservative View of the Sinking of the U.S.S. Maine

Hurricanes: Real Ones, Not Political Ones

As a public service to U.S. readers --

You may have heard the 2015 hurricane season is predicted to be below normal in terms of activity.  However, the actual prediction is more nuanced, and a major "catastrophic" hurricane is still possible.  The video below has more information.


Monday, June 01, 2015

GDP growth was expected to fall from 2.2 percent in the 4th quarter of 2014 to 1 percent in this year's first quarter. But the most recent estimate is that we actually contracted by 0.7 percent.
                                                                           --  Aftershock Publishing




This latest news, coupled with other less-than-robust signs, seems to indicate possible trouble ahead for the economy in the short term.   What it may portend for the long term takes more looking.

At the least, a contraction in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is a startling reminder that nothing is completely predictable when it comes to the profit system.  As millions of Americans already know, times are uncertain at best, and for a significant percentage of people, poor to dire.

Claims of a rebound or a recovery have been more muted of late.  Now, I don't spend much time listening to the major media, due to their corporate status and slant.  It does seem clear, though,  the economy is not thriving.  Why else would we be registering this very unwelcome contraction?  

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Bill Clinton Warns on Rising Nationalism

Rush Link -- Bill Clinton on Rise of Nationalism