There comes a time in every epoch when pragmatism simply evolves into extreme acquiescence and surrender to the forces of apathy and do-nothingness, a guarantor of the status quo in all of its easy, democratic criminality--its fortress of greed.--TL Simons
To usher it in we need to run. We need a national movement steeped in the tradition of political street theater.
We need to run in symbolic unity. Once a week, preferably every Friday throughout the summer, during your lunch hour if you have one, walk out of your workplace. Walk up to the first policeman you see. (You'll have to find one, but they're everywhere. Plan ahead a little if you have to, work in small groups.)
Make eye contact, don't speak. Then run away. Have your friend shoot the video of you "escaping." If the cop yells at you to stop--stop. If he chases you down, don't resist. Talk to the officer about why you are running away. Tell him/her there must be accountability and sanity.
If the officer ignores you, try another. If he pulls his weapon, get down and stay down. Don't resist.
There are certain risks (street theater can be dangerous, you might get shot for nothing like so many others), but if you haven't done anything you're within your rights to run away.
If you're harmed, you own them.
Send your videos here. I'll publish them, or create another blog for the occasion.
Word will get around quickly. Law abiding citizens running away from the police become powerful symbols of unity and an expression of your disgust with police brutality and sanctioned murder.
What else are you gonna do this summer before starting your weekends with a brew?
Faced with intractable poverty, high rates of deadly violence and a "poison" relationship between citizens and the police, it's perhaps not surprising if many Baltimore residents feel like Pierre Thomas, 37, a protester who told NPR this week that calls for "peace" only come when the powerful feel threatened. "Where was the peace when we were getting shot? Where's the peace when we were getting laid out? Where is the peace when we are in the back of ambulances? Where is the peace then?" Thomas said. "They don't want to call for peace then. But you know when people really want peace? When the white people have to get out of bed, when cops have to wear riot gear, when the cops start talking about, oh we got broken arms. Then they want peace." "Peace?" Thomas went on. "It's too late for peace."
From the HuffPost.
I'm ready here in Portland. Ready to roll up my sleeves. Give me a call, Bernie.
Not optimal, but likely as close to Eugene McCarthy as we'll get in my lifetime.
We will take our corrugated steel
out of the land of thatched huts.
We will take our tanks
out of the land of the water buffalo.
We will take our napalm and flame throwers
out of the land that scarcely knows the use of matches.
We will take our helicopters
out of the land of colored birds and butterflies.
We will give back your villages and fields
your small and willing women.
We will leave you your small joys
and smaller troubles.
We will trust you to your gods,
some blind, some many-handed.
I've dialed into a couple of television items thanks to my Netflix free trial.
The German production "Generation War," which CD has praised at his blog, is dang good, though it has been criticized in some circles for misrepresenting the extent of anti-semitism among Polish resistance fighters during WWII. I'm not sure how much faith to place in either side of that debate, as it's just another example of the many holes in my understanding of the deeper nuances of the war.
Might be an area I need to investigate, as I have somewhat in terms of the French resistance and collaboration. (BTW, one of my favorite movies on that theme was Louis Malle's brilliant "Lacombe, Lucien.")
The other program on my mind is "Bloodline," a direct-to-Netflix series underwritten by Sony. Set in the contemporary Florida Keys, it's a family saga with, among many fine costars, Sissy Spacek and Sam Shepard as mom and dad to a brood of a feuding/loving siblings.
Pretty standard fare thematically (few have done it as well as Shepard with True West), but this is very good television.
Shepard, whose acting usually underwhelms me, stretches out here--his best work yet.
Check out all of the above if you haven't already.
If our wars in the Greater Middle East ever end, it’s a pretty safe bet that they will end badly -- and it won't be the first time. The “fall of Saigon” in 1975 was the quintessential bitter end to a war. Oddly enough, however, we've since found ways to reimagine that denouement which miraculously transformed a failed and brutal war of American aggression into a tragic humanitarian rescue mission. Our most popular Vietnam end-stories bury the long, ghastly history that preceded the “fall,” while managing to absolve us of our primary responsibility for creating the disaster. Think of them as silver-lining tributes to good intentions and last-ditch heroism that may come in handy in the years ahead.
UMass historian Christian Appy on identity and war.
My mind goes back Krakauer's description of the Khumbu icefall just above base camp. The route was changed this year along the icefall, a Nepalese mandate after last season's avalanche killed 15 in the area of the red line marking the previous route.
Perhaps that decision alone saved some people this time?
A Google exec died. The names of 2K more down the mountain haven't been released.
In the years before he ran for President in 1968, Richard Nixon’s publicists promoted a New Nixon. It was the same old Tricky Dicky with the rough edges smoothed away. The old Nixon lost the 1960 presidential election to John Kennedy in 1960; then Pat Brown defeated him in 1962, when he ran for the Governorship of California. The hope after that was, as Nixon himself put it, that the press would no longer “have Nixon to kick around anymore.” Nixon had always had trouble with the press. But this was not to be. You just can’t keep a good scoundrel down.
A highly charged yet nuanced take down of the scheming Hillary camp, the dithering Republicans, old versus new electoral strategies, praise for Jim Webb, and much more--by the always luminous Andrew Levine.
What we have learned from news reports and human rights investigations over the years has been disturbing. Consider, for example, that the the government counts “all military-age males in a [drone] strike zone as combatants … unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent”, as the New York Times reported in 2012. For many years, the US government also regularly carried out drone strikes on people they openly admitted they could not identify. The CIA referred to these as “signature strikes”, which targeted people who seemed to be up to no good from the sky, but could have just been in the wrong place at the wrong time.
And we wonder why they hate us?
It’s futile to hope that the GOP’s gaggle of corporate-hugging, right-wing presidential candidates will seriously address the issue of rising inequality in our land. How about the Democrats? Well, Hillary Clinton has warned that “extreme inequality has corrupted other societies.” Uh…yes. But what about our society? Clinton says: “We have to have a concerted effort to meet a consensus about how to deal with this.” Huh? That’s not an answer, much less a solution. It’s a political tap dance around a crucial matter facing America. Why would she dodge a chance to swing away at a down-the-middle issue that’s right in the wheelhouse of her party’s populist strength?
Oh, I don't know. Perhaps she's a fraud?
They keep using that word, “socialism,” but I don’t think it means what they think it means.
Look, there’s no reason for “socialism” to serve as a synonym for “stuff Republicans don’t like.” It’s an actual word with a fairly specific meaning, involving public ownership of the means of production.
And it in no way reflects the Obama era. After corporate profits reached all-time highs, the stock markets reached all-time highs, and the sharp drop in the unemployment rate was based almost entirely on private-sector job growth, I thought to myself, “Well, at least they’ll stop calling Obama a ‘socialist.’” But here we are anyway, hearing the same nonsense.
I doubt I'll be able to follow this comedy to its end.
Six people lay lifeless in the filthy brown water. It was 5:09 a.m. when their Toyota Land Cruiser plunged off a bridge in the West African country of Mali. For about two seconds, the SUV sailed through the air, pirouetting 180 degrees as it plunged 70 feet, crashing into the Niger River. Three of the dead were American commandos. The driver, a captain nicknamed “Whiskey Dan,” was the leader of a shadowy team of operatives never profiled in the media and rarely mentioned even in government publications. One of the passengers was from an even more secretive unit whose work is often integral to Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), which conducts clandestine kill-and-capture missions overseas. Three of the others weren’t military personnel at all or even Americans. They were Moroccan women alternately described as barmaids or "prostitutes."
Nick Turse wrote skillfully about Vietnam in "Kill Anything That Moves," and in recent years has made his own "pivot toward" Africa, rooting out all he can about clandestine ops in AFRICOM for TomDispatch.com.
His latest is "Tomorrow's Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa."
Aspirants to the White House, both Democratic and Republican, have, as we all know, begun “announcing,” thus initiating, from a rationalist’s point of view, a media carnival featuring, on both sides, an array of supposedly God-fearing clowns and faith-mongering nitwits groveling before Evangelicals and nattering on about their belief in the Almighty and their certainty that if we just looked, we could find answers to many of our ills in the Good Book. The candidates will cloak their true agendas – serving the Lords of Wall Street far more zealously than Our Father who art (or really, art not) in heaven – in pious patter about “values,” about the need to “restore America” and return us to the state of divinely granted exceptionalism President Obama has so gravely squandered. This Season of Unreason will end with the elections of November 2016, but its consequences – validation of the idea that belief without evidence is a virtue, that religion, and especially Christianity, deserves a place in our politics, our Constitutionally enshrined secularism notwithstanding – will live on and damage the progressive cause. But it does not have to be this way. Jeffrey Tayler argues that secular journalists--were they serious or curious--could influence the coming campaigns and obnoxious "faith-based" strategies of these people by asking some pointed questions.
We live in a nation where public acceptance of evolution is the second lowest of thirty-four developed countries, just ahead of Turkey. Roughly half of Americans reject some aspect of evolution, believe the earth is less than ten thousand years old, and that humans coexisted with dinosaurs. Where I live, many believe evolution to be synonymous with atheism, and there are those who strongly feel I am teaching heresy to thousands of students. A local pastor, whom I’ve never met, wrote an article in The University Christian complaining that, not only was I teaching evolution and ignoring creationism, I was teaching it as a non-Christian, alternative religion. A very nice article on the challenges of teaching evolution in Kentucky, that hotbed of college basketball and evangelical Christianity.
Aside from watching docs all weekend, I've been brooding about how to approach another project.
At some point, if I can get jacked up for it, I want to read "The Talent Poems" and edit in some stills by RP Thomas (I wrote the poems based loosely on some of his images) and perhaps some video.
Publish it at YouTube, of course.
But my bigger fantasy goes beyond this. I can see the work shot as a live-action sketched film, which is my nomenclature for a series of scenes that the poems conjure in my head.
The poems only vaguely suggest a story, yet they're related as glimpses (or takes) of a fictitious community with a possible relativity lingering at the edges.
(Alas, in some circles this is known as artlessness or diminished craft, but in my mind is likely "the best I can offer.")
With minimal dialogue (as written sparsely in the poems) the action would carry each take (or scene) as a self-contained motif that would have more in common with Expressionism (in painting or film) than mainstream moviemaking.
Yet there would exist the challenge of making each take whole, not so much as to create a linear narrative or compelling story, but to give each scene an impetus for open-ended emotion and context.
In other words, my group of actors would remake the poems, each according to the depth of his/her understanding--each poem as a short story, if you will, tangentially related to the whole.
It's an old-fashioned idea, but dammit it's time for a revival!
I spent the weekend watching a few old documentaries and a couple of newer ones. This one doesn't tell you anything that isn't common knowledge at this late date, but it kept my interest. I'd not seen it before and I offer it here just in case you haven't either and you're interested.
Here's a more recent one by the mystery writer James Patterson as he obsesses about poverty in his home town in New York and the neglected communities near his present home in wealthy Palm Beach, Florida.
And this one about the life and work of Richard Feynman.
Sorry about the ad in front of this one, but if I can take it so can you.
The second meaning of “American exceptionalism” holds that the domestic United States “homeland” is a uniquely excellent and unmatched global role model of political and societal democracy, freedom, and opportunity. This is what US politicians mean when they customarily refer to the US as “the envy of the world” (a phrase Obama has used more than once), the “greatest nation on Earth,” the “leader of the free world,” and the like. It’s what Republican US Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) meant when she called the US “the beacon to the world of the way life should be” – this during a speech given on the floor of the US Senate in support of Congress authorizing George W. Bush to invade Iraq if he wanted to. So what if the current “New Gilded Age” United States is now the most savagely unequal society is the industrialized world, an ever more openly plutocratic nation where the top 1% owns more than 90% of the wealth and a probably comparable share of the nation’s democratically elected” officials? So what if 6 Walmart heirs possess as much wealth between them as the bottom 42% of US citizens (or ex-citizens) while 16 million US children live below the federal government’s notoriously inadequate poverty level and 1 in 7 US citizens rely on food banks for basic nutrition (half of those people are employed, incidentally). And who cares if these and numerous other terrible facts reflect more than three decades of deliberately engineered upward wealth and income distribution: a ruthless state-capitalist concentration of riches and power that has brought the “homeland” to a New Gilded Age of abject oligarchy and (along the way) to the brink of environmental catastrophe? Or that white median household wealth is 22 times that of Black median household wealth while Blacks make up more than 40 percent of the nation’s 2.4 million prisoners in the US, the world’s leading prison state (a curious achievement for the self-declared Land of Liberty!) and 1 in 3 Black adults males carry the crippling mark of a felony record?
More from Paul Street.
Be sure to read it this weekend because you will be tested come Monday.
Our country’s addiction to arrests and incarceration has created fear in poorer communities of being arrested for minor, nonviolent offenses, prompting interactions with police that we have seen time and again escalate quickly into unnecessary tragedies. A moment of conjecture: If Walter Scott does not fear that a routine traffic stop or owing money is going to lead to his arrest and possible imprisonment, does he flee from the officer? Is he alive today? Ezekial Edwards of the ACLU says it better than I can.
The fact is, Iran has not invaded another country since the 1730s, when Nader Shah waged war on both the Ottoman and Mughal empires and established an ephemeral empire stretching from the Caucasus to the Indus Valley. In modern times Iran has been the victim of repeated attacks and encroachments on its sovereignty—by Britain, tsarist Russia, the Ottoman Empire, the Soviet Union just after the Second World War, and Iraq (with U.S. blessing and support) from September 1980 to August 1988. But it has not directly attacked any of its neighbors. In 1953 the U.S. itself engineered a coup in Iran against a democratically elected prime minister (to prevent his plans to nationalize the oil industry). It imposed on the Iranian people the brutal, tyrannical rule of the Shah up to 1979. In the latter year, in the most genuinely mass-based revolution in Islamic history, the Shah was overthrown. Ever since then the U.S. has held Iran in the cross hairs, applying economic sanctions, freezing its U.S. bank-holdings, even providing Iraq in the eighties with military aid and satellite intelligence as Saddam Hussein waged an aggressive war against his neighbor. All to punish the Iranian people for having the audacity to (at least try to) shuffle off the shackles of imperialist hegemony.
The essay of the day by Gary Leupp.
Most Americans don't know or understand this stuff because corporate media don't reveal crucial facts about American imperialism, past or present.
The average Joe does not understand how controlled and guided by coercive power his own life is, never mind the damage such persuasion has on sovereign nations and people around the world. He has not heard of Mohammad Mosaddegh because he has ignored history, or finds it fallacious.
He has not heard of Abbas Kiarostami because he hasn't the slightest interest in the cultures of other lands.
If his leaders or the propagandists in the media who represent power tell him another nation is evil, he becomes a talking parrot without understanding that those leaders are not vested in him as a citizen, but rather to their corporate handlers.
He will bitch about taxes, but expect the roads to be smoothly paved for him.
He will scorn the poor and people of color, even as they are choked to death and gunned down by those sworn to "protect and serve."
He'll trade the social contract for a new cluster of bombs.
He will decry "liberal" education while ignoring history and science and not understanding the proper uses of "their, there, and they're."
He will look to the exceptional shield God has constructed around his fabled nation and call it good when, in too many ways to name, it is rotten to the core.
Say, did you know
it's Opening Day?
But it's not as sweet
as long ago,
when "Say Hey"
Willie Mays roamed
centerfield for the Giants,
and peanuts didn't cost
an arm and leg.
Batter up anyway!
To question. To seek the truth as an upholder of the Fourth Estate.
This woman is supporting the elite and the lie, a losing proposition.
This is a pathetic Wall Street Journal piece by the maven of germ warfare, Judith Miller. She demonstrates how an acquiescent, influential writer with too close ties to real power got it wrong--but alas, she is still blaming others for her reportorial incompetence.
She has never met G.W. Bush, but so what? In 2008 she found a new job after the Times self-corrected.
I cite this because I once wrote to an Oregon congressman and pleaded with him to not vote in favor of the Iraq War because the jury was still out on WMD for all but the hawks in the White House.
"Read Germs," he protested my intransigence. Never mind that many had already debunked that Judith Miller tome as it related to Iraq. (Arms inspectors knew Hussein had killed innocents with American-purchased gas. They also figured he had ended the campaign. But who wanted to listen to that enlightening fact?)
Well, I learned my lesson. There was no logic in attempting to convince a corporate shill that the threat was exaggerated and hysterical. That congressman had the war fever and was unapproachable. He'd read too much Judith, who was now his ally--the ally of a corrupt administration.
And of course his justification of the invasion/occupation/mayhem adapted along with the others'. The US had invaded for a lot of reasons the partisans initially forgot to mention.
The war was now, you know, about freedom...
His crowd still votes for him every two years, the obviously overwhelmingly stupid farts who live in the hinterlands of my great state.
The case for WMD was indeed manufactured, as many have subsequently noted--with the exception of Judith Miller here, who is lucky enough, I suppose, to push this piece off on a sympathetic rag.
Karl Rove may be a lot of things, but being sorry for the 2003 invasion of Iraq is not one of them. A 32-year-old Iraq war veteran confronted Rove at the University of Connecticut this week, calling on the former senior advisor to President George W. Bush to apologize for the horrors of that war and its lingering effects both at home and abroad. "I've taken responsibility for my actions and dealt with my demons while advocating for a peaceful resolution for a war that was an act of aggression with no clear goal," said Ryan Hemowitz, who said he served as a medic with the 2nd Battalion of the 7th Infantry Regiment, at an event sponsored by the UConn College Republicans. "Can you take responsibility and apologize for your decision in sending a generation to lose their humanity and deal with the horrors of war, which you have never had the courage to face? Will you apologize to the millions of fathers and mothers who lost their children on both sides of this useless war?" Rove, who helped lead the disinformation campaign that led to the 2003 Iraq invasion, refused to say he was sorry.
It was a reasonable request, but we all know that truth and reconciliation are not part of the fabric of America.
The obtrusiveness of the shimmering ads and constant motion therein is ugly, another instance of a site not leaving well-enough alone.
"New and Improved" has never been so damaging to the cause.
Another site I go to often, CommonDreams, plugged in a similar new design last year, though they made a quick amendment and ditched a ridiculous home page that made the hunt for content too challenging--or as in my case too much like work.
The site works okay for me now, largely because it is donor-driven and not reliant on ads, but the small fix did wonders as well.
If you look at the ESPN site you'll note the larger, flash-driven ads are no longer innocent sidebar attractions, but full-scale assaults on your senses with a column-width nearly the size of the text space.
The site's new, more aggressive ad world accentuation is not my cup of tea.
The war on terror morphed into a legitimization for state terrorism as was made clear under the willingness of the Obama administration to pardon the CIA torturers, create a “kill list,” expand the surveillance state, punish whistleblowers, and use drones to indiscriminately kill civilians—all in the name of fighting terrorists. Obama expanded the reach of the militarized state and along with Democratic and Republican Party extremists preached a notion of security rooted in personal fears rather than in a notion of social security that rallied against the deprivations and suffering produced by war, poverty, racism, and state terrorism. The war on terrorism extended the discourse, space, location, and time of war in ways that made it unbounded and ubiquitous making everyone a potential terrorists and the battlefield a domestic as well as foreign location, a foreign as well as a domestic policy issue. Obama has become the master of permanent war seeking to increase the bloated military budget—close to a trillion dollars–while “turning to lawless violence….translated into unrestrained violent interventions from Libya to Syria and back to Iraq,” including an attempt “to expand the war on ISIS in Syria and possibly send more heavy weapons to its client government in Ukraine.” Fear became total and the imposition of punitive standards included not only the bombing, abduction, and torture of enemy combatants, but also the use of the police and federal troops for drug interdictions, the enforcement of zero tolerance standards in public schools, and the increasing criminalization of a range of social behaviors that extended from homelessness to violating dress codes in school.
Henry A. Giroux gets down with it.
Terry Simons is the founder of Round Bend Press Books, Round Bend Press Detritus, and an associated writing/editing service to aid and abet renegade authors. He has worked as a day laborer, dishwasher, factory drone, community organizer, journalist, media consultant and freelance writer. He attended the University of Oregon and Portland State University, where he read journalism, politics, literature and history. He is the author most recently of "Along Came the Death Squad: Political and Scattered Notes."
RBP books are available from Amazon and Lulu.
Write to: email@example.com