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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, Michigan
Home country: Citizen of the world whose address is in the U.S.
Current location: Detroit, Michigan
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 65,186

Journal Archives

Chris Hedges: The Imperative of Revolt

from truthdig:

by Chris Hedges

TORONTO—I met with Sheldon S. Wolin in Salem, Ore., and John Ralston Saul in Toronto and asked the two political philosophers the same question. If, as Saul has written, we have undergone a corporate coup d’état and now live under a species of corporate dictatorship that Wolin calls “inverted totalitarianism,” if the internal mechanisms that once made piecemeal and incremental reform possible remain ineffective, if corporate power retains its chokehold on our economy and governance, including our legislative bodies, judiciary and systems of information, and if these corporate forces are able to use the security and surveillance apparatus and militarized police forces to criminalize dissent, how will change occur and what will it look like?

Wolin, who wrote the books “Politics and Vision” and “Democracy Incorporated,” and Saul, who wrote “Voltaire’s Bastards” and “The Unconscious Civilization,” see democratic rituals and institutions, especially in the United States, as largely a facade for unchecked global corporate power. Wolin and Saul excoriate academics, intellectuals and journalists, charging they have abrogated their calling to expose abuses of power and give voice to social criticism; they instead function as echo chambers for elites, courtiers and corporate systems managers. Neither believes the current economic system is sustainable. And each calls for mass movements willing to carry out repeated acts of civil disobedience to disrupt and delegitimize corporate power.

“If you continue to go down the wrong road, at a certain point something happens,” Saul said during our meeting Wednesday in Toronto, where he lives. “At a certain point when the financial system is wrong it falls apart. And it did. And it will fall apart again.”


Inverted totalitarianism does not replicate past totalitarian structures, such as fascism and communism. It is therefore harder to immediately identify and understand. There is no blustering demagogue. There is no triumphant revolutionary party. There are no ideologically drenched and emotional mass political rallies. The old symbols, the old iconography and the old language of democracy are held up as virtuous. The old systems of governance—electoral politics, an independent judiciary, a free press and the Constitution—appear to be venerated. But, similar to what happened during the late Roman Empire, all the institutions that make democracy possible have been hollowed out and rendered impotent and ineffectual.

The corporate state, Wolin told me at his Oregon home, is “legitimated by elections it controls.” It exploits laws that once protected democracy to extinguish democracy; one example is allowing unlimited corporate campaign contributions in the name of our First Amendment right to free speech and our right to petition the government as citizens. “It perpetuates politics all the time,” Wolin said, “but a politics that is not political.” The endless election cycles, he said, are an example of politics without politics, driven not by substantive issues but manufactured political personalities and opinion polls. There is no national institution in the United States “that can be described as democratic,” he said. ............................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_imperative_of_revolt_20141019

Chris Hedges Honors Humanists Combating the ‘Culture of War’

Posted on Oct 19, 2014

Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges channeled his solemn, sermonic style at Stony Point, N.Y., on Saturday at a dinner inaugurating the Anne Barstow and Tom Driver Award for Excellence in Nonviolent Direct Action in Retirement.

The couple—she an author and retired professor of history at State University of New York; he an emeritus professor of theology and culture at Union Theological Seminary and a minister in the United Methodist Church—created the Colombia Accompaniment Program, a volunteer operation aimed at supporting “communities of Colombians who have been displaced by the violence of the forty-year war in their country,” according to the program’s website.


Investing in Junk Armies: Why American Efforts to Create Foreign Armies Fail

from TomDispatch:

Investing in Junk Armies
Why American Efforts to Create Foreign Armies Fail

By William J. Astore

In June, tens of thousands of Iraqi Security Forces in Nineveh province north of Baghdad collapsed in the face of attacks from the militants of the Islamic State (IS or ISIS), abandoning four major cities to that extremist movement. The collapse drew much notice in our media, but not much in the way of sustained analysis of the American role in it. To put it bluntly, when confronting IS and its band of lightly armed irregulars, a reputedly professional military, American-trained and -armed, discarded its weapons and equipment, cast its uniforms aside, and melted back into the populace. What this behavior couldn’t have made clearer was that U.S. efforts to create a new Iraqi army, much-touted and funded to the tune of $25 billion over the 10 years of the American occupation ($60 billion if you include other reconstruction costs), had failed miserably.

Though reasonable analyses of the factors behind that collapse exist, an investigation of why U.S. efforts to create a viable Iraqi army (and, by extension, viable security forces in Afghanistan) cratered so badly are lacking. To understand what really happened, a little history lesson is in order. You’d need to start in May 2003 with the decision of L. Paul Bremer III, America’s proconsul in occupied Iraq and head of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), to disband the battle-hardened Iraqi military. The Bush administration considered it far too tainted by Saddam Hussein and his Baathist Party to be a trustworthy force.

Instead, Bremer and his team vowed to create a new Iraqi military from scratch. According to Washington Post reporter Tom Ricks in his bestselling book Fiasco, that force was initially conceived as a small constabulary of 30,000-40,000 men (with no air force at all, or rather with the U.S. Air Force for backing in a country U.S. officials expected to garrison for decades). Its main job would be to secure the country’s borders without posing a threat to Iraq’s neighbors or, it should be added, to U.S. interests.

Bremer’s decision essentially threw 400,000 Iraqis with military training, including a full officer corps, out onto the streets of its cities, jobless. It was a formula for creating an insurgency. Humiliated and embittered, some of those men would later join various resistance groups operating against the American military. More than a few of them later found their way into the ranks of ISIS, including at the highest levels of leadership. (The most notorious of these is Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, a former general in Saddam’s army who was featured as the King of Clubs in the Bush administration’s deck of cards of Iraq’s most wanted figures. Al-Douri is now reportedly helping to coordinate IS attacks.) ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175907/tomgram%3A_william_astore%2C_america%27s_hollow_foreign_legions/

Eugene Robinson: At this point, the war against the Islamic State can only be seen as failing

from truthdig:

by Eugene Robinson

It’s not too soon to state the obvious: At this point, the war against the Islamic State can only be seen as failing.

U.S.-led air power has barely been able to keep the jihadist militants from capturing the Syrian town of Kobane, near the Turkish border—and the besieged city may yet fall. Far to the southeast, Islamic State fighters have come within a few miles of Baghdad and threaten to consolidate their control of the vast Anbar Province, the Sunni heartland of Iraq. The self-proclaimed “caliphate” remains intact and its forces are advancing.

Intervention by the world’s mightiest military force has produced no shock and no awe. To be sure, U.S. and coalition airstrikes are inflicting some damage on Islamic State troops and equipment. But the bombing has done virtually nothing to alter the strategic balance of power—or to boost the fortunes of our ostensible allies on the ground, the “moderate” Syrian rebels and the hapless Iraqi military.

Why, then, are we fighting this war? ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/no_shock_and_no_awe_20141015

The Real World of Reality TV: Worker Exploitation

(In These Times) On September 10, 16 editors on the Bravo reality show Shahs of Sunset walked off the job in Hollywood after informing their employer, Ryan Seacrest Productions, of their intentions to unionize. The next day, Bravo announced they would delay the premiere of the fourth season.

“We thought it was about time, in the fourth season of a popular show, to get health care and pension benefits,” says Vanessa Hughes, one of the editors seeking representation through the Motion Picture Editors Guild, a division of the International Association of Stage and Theatrical Employees (IATSE). “We thought it’d take a day or so of picketing.”

But on September 26, Bravo announced they would take over production of the show, and the striking editors would be fired—leading workers to believe that Bravo would complete the season with scabs.

None of the fired editors ever spoke directly with their bosses or the network, hearing about their termination through a press release. “We appreciate the passion, commitment and contributions these editors made to the fourth season of Shahs of Sunset,” Ryan Seacrest Productions wrote in a statement. ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/17254/reality_tv_production_workers_win_collective_bargaining

Columbus Day and the Sanitization of History

Columbus Day and the Sanitization of History

Sunday, 12 October 2014 00:00
By Owen McCormack, Truthout | Op-Ed

The strife that has engulfed Christopher Columbus' legacy in recent years has put the concept of an Indigenous People's Day at the forefront of discussion.

In theory, as we move forward in our lives, we should make every effort to broaden our perspective and to seek out the truth. As we mature, so should our thought process. Such maturation holds true on both an individual and a societal basis. A broad understanding of history enables one to reconcile the past, comprehend the present and reasonably theorize how future events may unfold. As truths are discovered, norms begin to shift. Such forthright thinking is necessary to fully grasp the complexities of historical events and figures.

This is particularly true with respect to the legacy of Christopher Columbus, a polarizing historical figure whose life has been defined by many for his astonishing level of courage and intestinal fortitude. Nevertheless, such impressive traits should never blur the fact that he oversaw a murderous quest for material riches that resulted in the utter demise of a people. Each year, as October 12 comes and goes, a question is raised - what are we celebrating about his life?


With an extensive arsenal of advanced weaponry and horses, Columbus and his men arrived on the islands that were later named Cuba and Hispaniola (the latter, present-day Dominican Republic and Haiti). Upon arrival, the sheer magnitude of gold, which was readily available, set into motion a relentless wave of murder, rape, pillaging and slavery that would forever alter the course of human history. A young, Catholic priest named Bartolomé de las Casas transcribed Columbus' journals and later wrote about the violence he had witnessed. The fact that such crimes could potentially go unnoticed by future generations was deeply troubling to him. He expanded upon the extent of Columbus' reign of terror within his multivolume book, History of the Indies:

There were 60,000 people living on this island, including the Indians; so that from 1494 to 1508, over 3,000,000 people had perished from war, slavery, and the mines. Who in future generations will believe this? I myself writing it as a knowledgeable eyewitness can hardly believe it.


The fact that Columbus Day is celebrated each October is a testament to the intellectual dishonesty that has stemmed from the likes of academics, teachers and politicians. It has become an annual ritual to sanitize history and present half-truths as absolutes. ..............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/26732-columbus-day-and-the-sanitization-of-history

Our Empathetic Rich: The Rarest of Birds

from Too Much: A Commentary on Excess and Inequality:

Our Empathetic Rich: The Rarest of Birds
OCTOBER 11, 2014

A landmark new study has laid bare the dirty little secret of modern American philanthropy: America’s wealthy don’t particularly care all that much about the rest of us.

By Sam Pizzigati

Billionaire CEO Nicholas Woodman, news reports trumpeted earlier this month, has set aside $450 million worth of his GoPro software stock to set up a brand-new charitable foundation.

“We wake up every morning grateful for the opportunities life has given us,” Woodman and his wife Jill noted in a joint statement. “We hope to return the favor as best we can.”

Stories about charitable billionaires have long been a media staple. The defenders of our economic order love them — and regularly trot them out to justify America’s ever more top-heavy concentration of income and wealth.

Our charities depend, the argument goes, on the generosity of the rich. The richer the rich, the better off our charitable enterprises will be.

But this defense of inequality, analysts have understood for quite some time, holds precious little water. Low- and middle-income people, the research shows, give a greater share of their incomes to charity than people of decidedly more ample means. .................(more)

- See more at: http://toomuchonline.org/empathetic-rich-rarest-birds/#sthash.HBqK3wM9.dpuf

Chris Hedges: Ordained to Write

from truthdig:

Ordained to Write

Posted on Oct 13, 2014
By Chris Hedges

Thirty years ago I stood in a church in Albany, N.Y., with my father, a Presbyterian minister. I had graduated from Harvard Divinity School and had purchased a one-way ticket to El Salvador, where the military government, backed by the United States, was slaughtering between 700 and 1,000 people a month.

I had decided, as George Orwell and James Baldwin did earlier, to use my writing as a weapon. I would stand with the oppressed. I would give them a voice. I would describe their suffering and their hopes. And I would name the injustices being done to them. It was a decision that would send me to war for two decades, to experience the worst of human evil, to taste too much of my own fear and to confront the reality of violence and random death.


James Baldwin, the son of a preacher and for a time a preacher himself, said he left the pulpit to preach the Gospel. Baldwin saw how the institutional church was often the enemy of mercy and justice. He saw how it too easily devolved into a sanctimonious club whose members glorified themselves at the expense of others. Baldwin, who was gay and black, was not interested in subjugating justice and love to the restrictions imposed by any institution, least of all the church. And that is why there is more Gospel, true Gospel, in Baldwin than in the writings of nearly all the theologians and preachers who were his contemporaries. His essays are sermons—among them “Princes and Powers,” “Down at the Cross,” “The Devil Finds Work,” “Sermons and Blues” and “History as Nightmare.”


The love that informs the long struggle for justice, that directs us to stand with the crucified, the love that defines the lives and words of a Baldwin or an Orwell, that defines the lives and words of James Cone and Cornel West, is the most powerful force on earth. It does not mean we will be spared pain or suffering. It does not mean we will escape death. But it gives us the strength to confront evil, even when it seems certain that evil will triumph. That love is not a means to an end. It is the end itself. That is the secret of its omnipotence. That is why it will never be conquered. ..............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/ordained_to_write_20141013

Boy, 3, stable after fall into jaguar exhibit at zoo

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A 3-year-old who fell into the jaguar exhibit at the Little Rock Zoo was in stable condition Saturday and "is expected to improve," officials say.

The boy was being treated at Arkansas Children's Hospital for extensive scalp lacerations, a depressed skull fracture, and minor puncture wounds.

Lt. Sidney Allen of the Little Rock Police Department said Friday it was not known whether the puncture wounds came from the fall or one of the animals in the exhibit. Doctors said the wounds were not life-threatening.

Officials did not release the name of the child. .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.freep.com/story/news/nation/2014/10/12/jaguar-little-rock-zoo-fall/17148309/

I sure hope the Schauer campaign and the organizations supporting him ......

...... are planning a media blitz closer to election day. I'm seeing nothing but (factually challenged) Snyder commercials.

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