Friday, February 24, 2017

Friday Film- Refuge: Human Stories of the Refugee Crisis

by Nomad

When we think of the refugee problem, it's too easy to forget that each of the people, each family has its unique story, unique tragedies.
And each refugee has his or her own hopes for a better future and a safe place.

This documentary (and the "making of") attempts to give a misery a human face when a small team of filmmakers set out for Greece to interview the victims of this humanitarian crisis back in 2016.

Part 1-Refuge


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Thomas Jefferson, Donald Trump and the Dangerous Path of the Republican Party

by Nomad

Founding father Thomas Jefferson would probably not be surprised by the rise of Donald Trump and the decline of the Republican party. A few of his quotes remind us that Jefferson understood very well why governments fail their people. He also warned what happens when ruling parties ignore the warning signs.

Wolves over Sheep

Like all of the founders of the United States, Thomas Jefferson was anti-royalist and had a strong dislike of all forms of despotism. He devoted much thought (and a tankerful of ink) on the subject.
The principal author of the Declaration of Independence considered monarchies and aristocracies to be governments of force, rather than the rule by consent, deeming them to be "a government of wolves over sheep."

Corrupt rulers- whether they are elected or assume power by undemocratic methods- never stopped innovating new and devious means of enriching themselves at the public expense. They are the curse for anybody who values their liberty and who despises criminal mismanagement. It has been the blight of humanity since the first governments were created.

With the establishment of the new American nation, those flaws of government would be amended.  First, to prevent the rise of a despot, there would have to be some basic ground rules. 
As Jefferson wrote to Lafayette in 1816:
"[To establish republican government, it is necessary to] effect a constitution in which the will of the nation shall have an organized control over the actions of its government, and its citizens a regular protection against its oppressions."
In an enlightened age, government must be thought of as public trust and politicians, employees in the service of a nation.  In this capacity, a president must expect to be under constant scrutiny by the press, he or she must expect to be fairly criticized by opposing parties. He or she can no longer expect to conduct financial arrangements in secrecy.
(In President Clinton's case, even a sexual dalliance between two adults was considered fair game for congressional investigations.)

Monday, February 20, 2017

From the Archives: The Day when Bankers and Businessmen Betrayed a Nation

by Nomad

Scouring the archive again.
In a 2015 post, This Day in History: When Bankers and Big Business Betrayed a Nation, we examined the willing complicity of the German industrialists and how the fascist leader's seduced the people who once had underestimated him.

On February 20, 1933, - exactly 84 years today- something extraordinary happened in Europe. Of course, nobody knew about it and few could have understood the significance at the time.

This was the day that Chancellor Adolf Hitler made his pitch to the leaders of banking and industry.
On that day, Hitler held a secret meeting aimed at allocating campaign financing for the Nazi party in the crucial upcoming elections.
It was for the captains of industry a moment of decision, a time to choose between the good of the country or supporting an extremely ambitious man with deeply dangerous ideas.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Some Notes and Three Timely Quotes from a Roman Republican

by Nomad

It's time to take a breather from the hectic pace of present politics. I wanted to share some reflections on a noble Roman who also lived in troubled times.

For much of my life, I have been fascinated by Roman history, especially the transition from Republic to Empire. The first century after Christ was full of drama and plot twists all driven by larger-than-life characters, some very ambitious and evil-minded and some very noble and admirable.

A Man at the Center

One such character was Marcus Tullius Cicero, better known as simply. Cicero. As a Roman philosopher, politician, lawyer, orator, political theorist, consul, and constitutionalist, Cicero was at the very center of politics during the Fall of the Republic, even as that center was spinning wildly out of control.

Interesting times to say the least. Interesting but lethal. He would eventually become one of its notable early victims, murdered by a power-hungry man's squad of hit men, on the road outside his villa.
In defiant fashion, he bared his neck for the killing blow and told his killers:
"There is nothing proper about what you are doing, soldier, but do try to kill me properly."
There's a lot more to Cicero than meets the historian's eye. His writings, (which include his essays, speeches, and letters) were somehow salvaged throughout the Dark Ages. That has become Cicero's legacy to countless generations.