Friday, September 30, 2011

Chris Hedges on the Class Warfare Waged by Corporations

“The only word these corporations know is more. They are disemboweling every last social service program funded by the taxpayers, from education to Social Security, because they want that money themselves. Let the sick die. Let the poor go hungry. Let families be tossed in the street. Let the unemployed rot. Let children in the inner city or rural wastelands learn nothing and live in misery and fear.”  

– Chris Hedges.

My comment:

There is class warfare being waged in America, and the aggressors are corporations, the wealthy as a class, their sycophants in the Republican Party, with the  help of Tea Partiers and Theocrats. Every day, America is coming closer to becoming a Third World country with a high-tech military and nuclear capabilities.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Video: Esperanza Spalding Performs Weaver of Dreams

Here is a video for Esperanza Spalding's recording of Weaver of Dreams, written by Victor Young and Jack Elliott.

Many Jazz luminaries have recorded the song in the past, including John Coltrane and Oscar Peterson, and it was also a popular hit for Nat King Cole and Johnny Mathis.

Esperanza is in great vocal form, and she lays down a groovy bass line and tasteful solo. Like much of Esperanza's other work, the vocals are strong, disciplined, lovely, and not over the top. This recording is a sparse, well-produced arrangement, and makes for pleasant listening.

This recording is available as an MP3 download on Amazon and other online stores, and is a track on an obscure various artists CD, Mile: A Hush Compilation.

A nice rare gem for Esperanza fans!

You can download the recording here:
Esperanza Spalding- Weaver of Dreams

From Alternet: 6 Ways the Rich Are Waging a Class War Against the American People, by Joshua Holland.

From the article:
The American Right has decided that returning the tax rate paid by the wealthiest Americans from what it was during the Bush years (which, incidentally, featured the slowest job growth under any president in our history, at 0.45 percent per year) to what they forked over during the Clinton years (when job growth happened to average 1.6 percent per year) is the epitome of class warfare. Sure, it would leave top earners with a tax rate 10 percentage points below what they were paying after Ronald Reagan's tax cuts, but that's the conservative definition of "eating the rich" these days. But there's another way of looking at “class war”: habitually vilifying the unfortunate; claiming that their plight is a manifestation of some personal flaw or cultural deficiency. Conservatives wage this form of class warfare virtually every day, consigning millions of people who are down on their luck to some subhuman underclass.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Anglican Rosary

Here are two videos here on the the Anglican Rosary; a brief explanation of the Anglican Rosary, and how to pray the Anglican Rosary. There are other videos in the series, on Youtube.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Elizabeth Warren on Debt and Fair Taxes

Elizabeth Warren talks about the debt crisis being caused by hefty tax breaks for the rich, two unpaid for wars, and an unpaid-for drug prescription program which is a give way to big Pharma.

She also makes clear the point that if you build a factory and are successful, you need to recognize how society contributed to your success, with educated workers, a transportation system to move your goods to market, a police and fire department to protect your property. No one gets rich on their own; to keep the social covenant, you need to pay it forward.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"We are Troy Davis!"

Today, a great travesty of justice has occurred, as a man, Troy Davis, was executed at 11:08 PM ET.

Many notable persons advocated for Troy, including Bishop Desmond Tutu, former President Jimmy Carter, Pope Benedict XVI, former congressman Bob Barr, former FBI director William Sessions, actor and singer Harry Belafante, Sister Helen Prejean, and many others.

Troy was very possibly innocent; 7 of the 9 witness against him in his trial have since recanted, citing police coercion. When the Supreme Court of Georgia in 2008 refused to hear an appeal in Troy's case, a dissenting opinion from the Chief Justice stated "if recantation testimony, either alone or supported by other evidence, shows convincingly that prior trial testimony was false, it simply defies all logic and morality to hold that it must be disregarded categorically." Former Republican Congressman and Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr wrote that he is "a strong believer in the death penalty as an appropriate and just punishment," but that the proper level of fairness and accuracy required for the ultimate punishment has not been met in Davis's case.

The Georgia NAACP characterized the prospect of executing Davis a "legal lynching." The factor of race cannot be discounted in this case. The repeated rebuffs in Troy Davis case seemed tinged with arrogance on the part of the authorities. The evidence and innocence of the accused be damned, they got their man.

It seems to this observer that politicians are willing to have people executed if they think that makes them look tough on crime, and get votes. Texas governor and presidential hopeful Rick Perry is a solid example of this.

America seems a back ward country in some respects; a nation that still practices the death penalty (the victim's innocence often not being a mitigating factor), that does not consider health care a human right, and that is willing to torture, leaves us in a state of arrested moral development compared to most other industrialized nations.

As Bob Dylan once wrote in his song "Hurricane," about another innocent black man accused of murder, this case can't "help but make me feel ashamed/ to live in a land/Where justice is a game."

The chant of those protesting Troy Davis' murder should be on our minds and lips today: "We are Troy Davis!" For as Martin Luther King Jr. once so famously stated, "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

Video From the Washington Post: Troy Davis' Sister

The sister of Troy Davis' sister, Martina Corriea, battling breast cancer in a wheel chair, advocates for her brother;  she calls on people to hold politicians accountable for injustice in the prison system.

Esperanza Spalding Live in the Bing Lounge in Portland

Esperanza's interview before the performance. As always, she is extremely gracious, thanking her teachers for her current success. When asked what was the single best benefit of winning the Grammy, she said that it shines a spot light not only on her, but on her influences, many of whom may not be known to the wider general public, and for the benefit concert she was doing that week (August 23). She is glad that her Grammy helps her to talk about musical education in the schools, which encourages creative development of children, and reinforces their citizenship.

Here is a Youtube play list of her performance:

from the Kink 101.9 Website:

"A very special performance by Portland's own Esperanza Spalding! Ms. Spalding is the first jazz artist to win the Grammy Award for "Best New Artist of the Year" this spring. She's was in her hometown to perform a benefit jazz concert, "Esperanza Spalding & Friends in the City of Roses". provided much-needed support for the American Music Program, a nationally-recognized jazz education program for local 7th-12th grade students. For more information on this fine organization, visit "

Monday, September 19, 2011

Republican Hardship

"By the time I feed my family, I have maybe $400,000 left over..."

- Rep. John Fleming (R-LA), in an interview on MSNBC, on why as a small business owner he can't afford a tax increase.


The congressman is a multimillionaire. I am sure he has even more than 400k at the end of the day.

This shows either how out of touch the Republicans are, or how damned selfish they are, or both. The congressman here exhibits the emotional intelligence of an adolescent.

One can see why congress only has a 12% approval rating. Why anyone working for a paycheck would ever vote for Republican these days is beyond me.

Bernie Sanders: The US has the most unequal distribution of wealth and income of any major country in the industrialized world

"The US has the most unequal distribution of wealth and income of any major country in the industrialized world. During the Bush years, the wealthiest 400 Americans saw their wealth increase by some $400 billion and are collectively worth over $1.3 trillion. Today, the top one percent owns more wealth than the bottom 90% and earns more income than the bottom 50%. Meanwhile, a record-breaking 50 million Americans have no health insurance and nearly 44 million Americans live below the poverty line."

- Senator Bernie Sanders, Sept. 19, 2011

Senator Bernie Sanders Web Site

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

True Love Last for Ever - Even Beyond Death

I think the most beautiful love story I ever heard was told by Father Michael O'Connell, at the Basillica of St. Mary's in Minneapolis Minnesota. It was probably 10-15 years ago.

It was the feast of the Assumption. Father Michael was giving his sermon.

He told a story about his parents.

He was visiting his widowed father in Arizona. His mother had passed away a few years before.

Father Michael got up one night during his visit to use the bathroom, which was right by his father's bedroom. As he walked by, he thought he heard his father praying the rosary- "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus..." But as Father Michael listened, he noticed his father did not complete the prayer, "holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death, Amen."

Father Michael stood there by his father's bedroom door, listening. His father would always say, "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus..." but not complete the prayer. He would wait a few seconds between each recitation.

Then Father Michael realized what was going on. His father was STILL praying the prayer with his beloved, with his wife, who had passed away a few years before. Her part of the prayer had been the last part- "holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death, Amen." They had prayed the rosary every night of their lives for decades, and now, that she was gone, he still prayed it with her, allowing her to recite her part of the prayer.

I cannot recall a more beautiful love story.

Thank you Father Michael, for sharing this beautiful, spiritual, inspiring story about your parents.

True love does last forever- even beyond death.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

President Obama on Investment in America

‎"Ask yourselves — where would we be right now if the people who sat here before us decided not to build our highways and our bridges; our dams; our airports? What would this country be like if we had chosen not to spend money on public high schools, or research universities, or community colleges?"

--President Barack Obama, in his speech September 8th, 2011. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

President Obama's Plan a Step in the Right Direction- But Ideology Stands in the Way

President Obama tonight proposed a $447 billion job stimulus bill designed to create jobs and stimulate the economy. It also provides extension of unemployment benefits, which is a compassionate policy and is sorely needed. The President's plan is a step in the right direction. Government spending in this economic down-turn is the right prescription. But is it too little too late? It probably should STILL be twice what the President is proposing- and can it even pass in an intransigent congress?

The original stimulus package was too stingy, too short on spending, too heavy in tax cuts. Instead of $700 billion, it should have been probably $1.5 trillion, and more concentrated in job creation and infrastructure, as Nobel-price winning economist Paul Krugman has said. It is demand side investment that can help stimulate our economy and save the middle class. Like it or not, government is a major component of  a large economy.

I appreciate that the President was a little more assertive, more blunt in his criticism of his opponents, a tack he should have taken long ago. The ideology of small government, cuts in services, and tax cuts for the very wealthy, associated with the current Republican Party and the Tea Party, is exactly the wrong approach for our current crisis.

What we have needed all along was a bold stimulus bill to rebuild our infrastructure and put people back to work. The ideology of trickle down not only does not work, but has in large measure contributed to the current economic distress.

Tonight I watched our local TV station, Kare11, interview a small group of unemployed persons- all were middle class people who had been unemployed for a long time. They watched the President's speech tonight and shared their thoughts. I could only shake my head in disappointed exasperation as one of the men in the group suggested that we should not have government spending but instead rely on "our own resources." Well buddy, where has that gotten you so far? And where would you be if the Republicans had their way, and you would have been cut off your benefits long ago?

Marx was right; the oppressed internalize the ideology of their oppressors, of the ruling class. We in America have largely bought the ideology of the ruling class, and that is expressed in the type of people we vote for. Add to that reinforcement of religious ideology that emphasizes a narrow sense of morality over more vital and pressing concerns, and you get a stubborn, intransigent, ideological congress that is not up to the momentous challenges of our day.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Lord's Prayer in the Language of India

Brother John Martin Sahajananda, abbot of the Shantivanam Ashram in India, offers a version of the Lord's Prayer in the language of the Indian sages. Below is the Lord's prayer as traditionally understood in English, with Brother Martin's Indian interpretation of each phrase in parentheses.


Our Father in heaven (the Source of our being)

Holy be your name (lead us from unholiness to holiness)

Your kingdom come (from fragmentation to wholeness)

Your will be done on earth as in heaven (from conflict to harmony)

Give us this day our daily bread (from time to eternity)

Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us (from sin to grace)

Do not bring us to the test (from duality to unity)

But deliver from evil (from darkness to light)

- from Brother John Martin's book, You are the Light! Rediscovering the Eastern Jesus


For more on Brother John Martin, see this link:
Who is Brother John Martin Sahajananda? 

For more of Brother John Martin's teachings, see this link:
Monastic Interreligious Dialog- Brother John Martin Sahajananda

Favorite Albums: Love, Devotion, and Surrender- Carlos Santana & John McLaughlin

This is the first of a new blog series on my Favorite Albums. Some will fit into the category of Classic Albums, that will seem predictable choices; others, like this one, reflect my own personal taste, and may seem a random or obscure choice to some.

Love, Devotion, and Surrender was an collaborative album by Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin, released in 1973. It was their tribute to Jazz musician John Coltrane, and reflected their enthusiastic spirituality.

Guitar greats Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin were mutual fans, and as they developed a friendship, they began playing together. Santana felt he learned a lot from McLaughlin, and increased his technical proficiency. But Santana has always played with intense feeling, and on this record, he exhibits some of his trademark searing solos.

Another strong bond between the two musicians was their spirituality. They both practiced meditation, and McLaughlin introduced Santana to his guru at the time Sri Chinmoy. The title of the album- Love, Devotion, and Surrender- reflects concepts in Sri Chinmoy's teaching.

The album is also a tribute to John Coltrane, and the musicians recorded two of his songs here, the opening track, A Love Supreme; and Naima, a lovely ballad performed on acoustic guitar.

John McLaughlin wrote two other compositions, the Life Divine, which is the center piece of the album in my view, and an exhilarating display of the two guitarist's virtuosity; and Meditation, a instrumental guitar ballad.

The album is rounded out by an instrumental version of traditional Christian hymn, Let us go into the House of the Lord, which is performed in the jazz-fusion style of the album.

I am sure that the musicians, who were trying to promote a spiritual message, may have been disappointed to learn that this album was one of the favorites for me and my friends to listen to stoned back in the 70's; the mostly instrumental, jazz-fusion style and flashy guitar work on the album is perfect for psychedelic listening and recreational pot use.

But now, with drug use three decades behind me, I listen to it straight and find it just as compelling and beautiful and moving. Even though both men broke with Sri Chinmoy long ago, the spiritual eagerness expressed in the album remains vital for a life long spiritual seeker such as my self. I still listen to it quite often. The over the top virtuosity displayed in some of the tracks is still a guilty pleasure, like it was when I was a teenager.

I am a fan of both guitarist, and they both have no doubt recorded much better records than this one; still, it remains a personal favorite of mine, one that I often listen to on my blackberry. It has aged well, and its beauty is even more apparent 38 years later.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Vedic Wisdom on Almsgiving

"Of all duties, benevolence is unequaled in this world, and even in celestial realms. It is to meet the needs of the poor that the worthy are to labor arduously to acquire wealth." 

 - Tirukural

"The powerful man should give to one in straits; let him consider the road that lies ahead! Riches revolve just like a chariot's wheels, coming to one man now, then to another." 

- The Vedas