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Chris Hedges: 'American Sniper' Caters to a Deep Sickness Rippling Through Society
$200 million in box office receipts is a measure of how messed up this country is.
“American Sniper” lionizes the most despicable aspects of U.S. society—the gun culture, the blind adoration of the military, the belief that we have an innate right as a “Christian” nation to exterminate the “lesser breeds” of the earth, a grotesque hypermasculinity that banishes compassion and pity, a denial of inconvenient facts and historical truth, and a belittling of critical thinking and artistic expression. Many Americans, especially white Americans trapped in a stagnant economy and a dysfunctional political system, yearn for the supposed moral renewal and rigid, militarized control the movie venerates. These passions, if realized, will extinguish what is left of our now-anemic open society.
- snip -
“The movie never asks the seminal question as to why the people of Iraq are fighting back against us in the very first place,” said Mikey Weinstein, whom I reached by phone in New Mexico. Weinstein, who worked in the Reagan White House and is a former Air Force officer, is the head of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which challenges the growing Christian fundamentalism within the U.S. military. “It made me physically ill with its twisted, totally one-sided distortions of wartime combat ethics and justice woven into the fabric of Chris Kyle’s personal and primal justification mantra of ‘God-Country-Family.’ It is nothing less than an odious homage, indeed a literal horrific hagiography to wholesale slaughter.”
- snip -
The book is even more disturbing than the film. In the film Kyle is a reluctant warrior, one forced to do his duty. In the book he relishes killing and war. He is consumed by hatred of all Iraqis. He is intoxicated by violence. He is credited with 160 confirmed kills, but he notes that to be confirmed a kill had to be witnessed, “so if I shot someone in the stomach and he managed to crawl around where we couldn’t see him before he bled out he didn’t count.”
Kyle insisted that every person he shot deserved to die. His inability to be self-reflective allowed him to deny the fact that during the U.S. occupation many, many innocent Iraqis were killed, including some shot by snipers. Snipers are used primarily to sow terror and fear among enemy combatants. And in his denial of reality, something former slaveholders and former Nazis perfected to an art after overseeing their own atrocities, Kyle was able to cling to childish myth rather than examine the darkness of his own soul and his contribution to the war crimes we carried out in Iraq. He justified his killing with a cloying sentimentality about his family, his Christian faith, his fellow SEALs and his nation. But sentimentality is not love. It is not empathy. It is, at its core, about self-pity and self-adulation. That the film, like the book, swings between cruelty and sentimentality is not accidental.
Posted by Hissyspit | Tue Jan 27, 2015, 11:04 PM (31 replies)
Posted by Hissyspit | Mon Jan 26, 2015, 09:52 AM (13 replies)
"My 12 Years of Support for the Troops "
Before I post my more general thoughts later today or tomorrow about the ruckus of the past week regarding the response to my heartfelt comment on twitter about my uncle who was killed in World War II by a sniper - and how I was taught to despise snipers of any stripe - I would like to address this one insane mantra that the right-wing has twisted my tweet into: "Michael Moore hates the troops."
Well, who would know better about hating our troops than those who supported sending them into a senseless war Iraq in the first place?
And, for 4,482 of them, a senseless, unnecessary and regrettable death.
If you supported that invasion, if you voted for George W. Bush and the Republicans and Democrats who backed this war, then you are the ones who have some 'splainin' to do. Not me. You.
Because only "haters" of our brave young men and women would recklessly send them into harm's way for something that had absolutely nothing to do with defending the United States of America. Nothing. Nothing to do with 9/11. Nothing. In fact, WE, the USA, were the ones who provided Saddam with his weapons in the 1980s that he used against the Kurds. We wanted him to use them against the Iranians, but you hand a crazy guy crazy weapons, something crazy is probably going to happen. Ask Osama bin Laden about that -- what he did with the crazy training, crazy money and crazy weapons that WE gave him. Oh wait. You can't ask him. Because the new president took him out. No 150,000 troop invasion necessary. Just 12 or so Navy SEALS and two and a half choppers.
Here's the truth they can't or won't report: I'M the one who has supported these troops - much more than the bloviators on Fox News. To prove it (and I know this is going to crush some of you out there), here's just a partial list of all the things I do and have done for those men and women who serve -- and I guarantee you, you've never heard any of this reported about what the real me does because, frankly, it messes up their little story of the fictional "Michael Moore" they've created for your hate and enjoyment (please feel free to cut, paste and send this to your conservative brother-in-law):
** I have an aggressive affirmative action policy specifically to hire Iraq and Afghanistan veterans at my film production company, my movie theaters in Michigan and my film festival. I have asked other businesses in my town (and nationwide) to join with me on this. http://www.traverseticker.com/story/michael-moore-asks-businesses-to-hire-a-vet . A vet was an editor on my films "Fahrenheit 9/11" and "Sicko" and a vet (who served in both Iraq AND Afghanistan) is the projectionist at my flagship theater in Michigan (to name a few).
** I also ask people to post a sign I designed and have made available: "I Shop Where Vets Work". Here's my policy and the poster: http://www.statetheatretc.org/veterans#opening (Can someone at Fox News send me your posted affirmative action program to hire Iraq and Afghanistan vets?)
** Since I opened my movie theaters in northern Michigan, this has been my admission policy: "Admission to all movies at my theaters is FREE, 365 days of the year, for ALL active duty military and their families."
** I allow local veterans support groups to use my theater to meet for PTSD issues, I host quarterly PTSD summits, and I've hosted a conference to start a jobs movement for vets in our town.
** I have raised tens of thousands of dollars through my website for groups that help veterans and wounded warriors: http://web.archive.org/web/20140829053240/http://fahrenheit911.com/soldiers/
** In the early years of the war I made all my books and DVDs available free of charge to all service members through BooksForSoldiers.com
** I produced and hosted a benefit for military families at the House of Blues that received national attention to their plight (raw clips here from the AP:
** I will NOT do business with vendors who don't have a policy to hire vets.
** I gave voice to the troops who weren't being heard by publishing a book of their letters from the front lines in "Will They Every Trust Us Again?" (NY Times bestseller for 4 weeks)
** I regularly post blogs from troops http://www.ivaw.org/blog/ivaw-featured-michael-moore and I show and support many movies about what they've gone through in the past 12 years at my theaters.
** I took vets, soldiers and their families on a 60-city tour of the country so their concerns could be heard:
** I helped Iraq Vets against the War with "Operation Recovery" http://www.ivaw.org/operation-recovery and http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-moore/how-bout-dinner-just-you_b_791535.html
** My movie, "Fahrenheit 9/11" - #1 selling/#1 rental on all military base PXs
** My books were the #1 requested books by troops from the nonprofit BooksForSoldiers.com
** I sit on the Advisory Board of the Pvt. Bradley (Chelsea) Manning Support Network
** From the Dept. of Irony: I only hire Navy SEALS and ex-special forces for when I need security - such as this week, when so-called supporters of those SEALs want me harmed.
** When my father passed away this year, in lieu of flowers I asked that donations by made in my dad's name to the veterans group, Veterans for Peace. Enough money was raised so that the Vietnam Vets chapter could build a home in Vietnam for a family still suffering from the effects of Agent Orange. It's being dedicated in my dad's name.
** I am currently showing "American Sniper" at my theater that I helped restore and that I program and help run in Manistee, MI. Not because I like it, but because, unlike the other side, I'm not a censor. I trust smart people and people of good heart will know what to do. You can't have a conversation about what Clint Eastwood is up to if you haven't seen what it is he's up to. And regardless where u are on the political spectrum, you'll see that every character in Clint's film comes out dead or permanently damaged. This ain't no John Wayne rah-rah pablum. Eastwood made maybe the greatest western ever - "Unforgiven" - but now it's sad seeing him talking to an empty chair on a stage or making an Iraq movie that Rolling Stone this week called, "too dumb to bother criticizing."
In the end, the thing I'm most proud of for what I've done for the troops was sticking my neck out 12 years ago to become a leading opponent to Bush and the war. I tried to save more lives than a sniper ever could hope to -- by preventing us from going to war in the first place. Well, I failed at that. But I've done everything else humanly possible to try and make it up to those troops when they return home -- that is, the ones lucky enough to return home.
So, Fox News and the other lazy media -- quit making shit up about me! You look ridiculous. If you want to have a debate with me about the ISSUES and the POLICIES, then let's have it. If you want to debate a movie that's trying to rewrite history, then let's have that. But when you hide behind falsehoods and then use them to try and manipulate the public, then all you are is afraid. Afraid of me, an unarmed American, and the truth I bring along as my sidekick. Only cowards have to lie. Be brave. Report the truth. It will feel good.
Posted by Hissyspit | Sun Jan 25, 2015, 02:20 PM (63 replies)
Source: Associated Press
@AP: BREAKING: Exit poll projects radical left anti-bailout Syriza party winning election by wide margin in Greece: http://t.co/fwRNg7tGZa/s/P_i8
Greece exit poll shows anti-bailout party winning election
BY ELENA BECATOROS
JAN. 25, 2015 12:08 PM EST
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — A Greek state TV exit poll is projecting that anti-bailout party Syriza has won Sunday's parliamentary elections — in a historic first for a radical left wing party in Greece.
But it's unclear whether Syriza has won a decisive enough victory over Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' incumbent conservatives to govern alone. For that, they need a minimum 151 of parliament's 300 seats.
The centrist Potami (River) party is battling for third place with the Nazi-inspired, extreme right-wing Golden Dawn, whose leadership is in prison pending trial for running a criminal organization.
Read more: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/9b1816988138404e924c96a12f14bc6f/greeks-go-polls-critical-snap-general-election
Posted by Hissyspit | Sun Jan 25, 2015, 12:13 PM (50 replies)
Saudi Arabia’s Tyrant King Misremembered as Man of Peace
By Murtaza Hussain @mazmhussain Today at 8:44 AM
- snip -
It’s not often that the unelected leader of a country which publicly flogs dissidents and beheads people for sorcery wins such glowing praise from American officials. Even more perplexing, perhaps, have been the fawning obituaries in the mainstream press which have faithfully echoed this characterization of Abdullah as a benign and well-intentioned man of peace.
Tiptoeing around his brutal dictatorship, The Washington Post characterized Abdullah as a “wily king” while The New York Times inexplicably referred to him as “a force of moderation”, while also suggesting that evidence of his moderation included having had: “hundreds of militants arrested and some beheaded” (emphasis added).
While granting that Abdullah might be considered a relative moderate within the brazenly anachronistic House of Saud, the fact remains that he presided for two decades over a regime which engaged in wanton human rights abuses, instrumentalized religious chauvinism, and played a hugely counterrevolutionary role in regional politics.
Above all, he was not a leader who shied away from both calling for and engineering more conflict in the Middle East.
- snip -
In a quote recorded in a 2008 diplomatic cable, Abdullah exhorted American officials to “cut the head off the snake” by launching fresh military action against Iran. Notably, this war advocacy came in the midst of the still-ongoing bloodshed of the Iraq War, which had apparently left him unfazed about the prospect of a further escalation in regional warfare.
Posted by Hissyspit | Fri Jan 23, 2015, 10:02 AM (0 replies)
You knew it and I knew it, but here's new research from Duke, MIT, etc...
Low-income loans didn't cause the financial crisis
What caused the housing bubble and collapse of the financial system? Many fingers have pointed to a lack of regulation, financial innovation that didn't live up to its promises of risk-sharing and risk-reduction, and low interest rates from the Fed, which created an excess of liquidity.
Another cause that's often cited says the financial crisis was the result of government pressure to make subprime home loans to those at the lower end of the income scale. But recent work from the National Bureau of Economic Research provides no support for that claim.
The typical narrative is that government, through the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) and Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac, caused lenders to reduce standards in order to make these loans. That in turn led to an abundance of loans to people who could not afford to repay them. These loans went into default in large numbers, and that fueled the financial crisis.
- snip -
However, the new evidence from Manuel Adelino of the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, Antoinette Schoar of the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College and Felipe Severino of the Sloan School of Business at MIT undermines this story. In their paper, "Changes in Buyer Composition and theExpansion of Credit During the Boom," the researchers found:
"While there was a rapid expansion in overall mortgage origination during this time period, the fraction of new mortgage dollars going to each income group was stable. In other words, the poor did not represent a higher fraction of the mortgage loans originated over the period. In addition, borrowers in the middle and top of the distribution are the ones that contributed most significantly to the increase in mortgages in default after 2007. Taken together, the evidence in the paper suggests that there was no decoupling of mortgage growth from income growth where unsustainable credit was flowing disproportionally to poor people."
MORE AT LINK
Posted by Hissyspit | Wed Jan 21, 2015, 09:03 AM (3 replies)
Barack Obama Is Out Of Fucks
If you’re a liberal this paragraph from the end of Obama’s State of the Union has to excite you:
I have no more campaigns to run. My only agenda for the next two years is the same as the one I’ve had since the day I swore an oath on the steps of this Capitol — to do what I believe is best for America. If you share the broad vision I outlined tonight, join me in the work at hand. If you disagree with parts of it, I hope you’ll at least work with me where you do agree. And I commit to every Republican here tonight that I will not only seek out your ideas, I will seek to work with you to make this country stronger.
Obama has zero fucks left to give. This is good. This is smart. To quote Mark Manson’s wonderful “The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck”:
Developing the ability to control and manage the fucks you give is the essence of strength and integrity. We must craft and hone our lack of fuckery over the course of years and decades. Like a fine wine, our fucks must age into a fine vintage, only uncorked and given on the most special fucking occasions.
Obama also made a fairly convincing case that Congress is giving too many fucks.
So the question for those of us here tonight is how we, all of us, can better reflect America’s hopes. I’ve served in Congress with many of you. I know many of you well. There are a lot of good people here, on both sides of the aisle. And many of you have told me that this isn’t what you signed up for — arguing past each other on cable shows, the constant fundraising, always looking over your shoulder at how the base will react to every decision.
Imagine if we broke out of these tired old patterns. Imagine if we did something different.
Understand — a better politics isn’t one where Democrats abandon their agenda or Republicans simply embrace mine.
Posted by Hissyspit | Wed Jan 21, 2015, 03:11 AM (10 replies)
Posted by Hissyspit | Mon Jan 19, 2015, 09:52 AM (18 replies)
SATURDAY, JAN 17, 2015 08:00 AM EST
Obama ditches the centrists: How a break from neoliberalism boosted his popularity
The president's more popular than he's been in nearly two years. Here's why that should have neoliberals scared
All that said, both Wang’s data and an anecdotal impression of recent (not-conservative) media will tell you that Obama’s ascending popularity kicked off sometime between late November and mid-December. Not incidentally, this was also the period when the president began not only acting more aggressively in terms of using his power unilaterally, which he’s actually been doing in some form or another since last year, if not earlier, but also supporting policies that could be easily characterized as typically liberal. In November, he announced a major change in how the federal government handled undocumented immigrants, which predictably cost him support from working-class whites but further established his party as the pluralist, multicultural alternative to the overwhelmingly white GOP. And in December, he not only spoke more frankly about his blackness than he had at any point in his presidency, but also announced a break from a half-century-plus-old policy by taking steps to normalize relations with Cuba.
Having walked head-on toward what have historically been two of the Republicans’ most effective attacks on Democrats — the party’s association with nonwhites and its “softness” in the realm of foreign policy, especially regarding communists — Obama went even further in January by unveiling a plan to offer millions of Americans a college education for free. He did this despite the fact that the policy would easily be described by conservatives as promoting “big government” (as indeed it was), and despite the fact that the plan’s funding would be unapologetically redistributionist. Much more than the Affordable Care Act, which also relied on using high-end taxes to provide health insurance for the working class and the poor but did so through an embrace of subsidies and by relying on market incentives, Obama’s college plan represented a straightforward argument for having government do what a broken market could not. This was not a DLC, neoliberal-style proposal to encourage the market to act, through outsourcing and tax incentives. This was simply using government.
To many, that probably seems like a distinction without a difference. But that would only be true if the neoliberal model of deregulation, outsourcing, privatization and free trade that was made Democratic Party orthodoxy by Bill Clinton (and Labour Party orthodoxy by Tony Blair) could actually reach traditional liberal ends through traditionally conservative means. You’ll certainly be able to find those who disagree, but I believe the verdict is in, and it is negative. That doesn’t mean the era of neoliberal government is over, of course; there are still plenty of high-profile “New Democrats,” like Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo or the woman who is likely to be the party’s next presidential nominee. For that matter, Obama’s recent “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative and his continued support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade proposal show that he himself has hardly made a clean break from the “third way.”
Posted by Hissyspit | Sat Jan 17, 2015, 02:27 PM (20 replies)
Source: CNN / Associated Press / SCOTUSBlog
@SCOTUSblog: All four same-sex marriage petitions are granted.
@SCOTUSblog: Questions: does the 14th Amend. require permitting same sex marriage (90 mins argument) or to recognize a marriage from another state (60)
@SCOTUSblog: Get in line now: SSM arguments at SCOTUS will be the week of April 27; very likely April 29.
Supreme Court agrees to take on same-sex marriage issue
By Mary Kay Mallonee, CNN
Updated 3:37 PM ET, Fri January 16, 2015
(CNN)The U.S. Supreme Court decided Friday it will tackle the issue of whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry, or whether states are allowed to ban gay marriage.
The nine justices are expected to hear oral arguments in April and deliver a ruling by June.
Supreme Court gay marriage decision could have 2016 impact
The Court had before it petitions from four states -- Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky and Michigan - all in the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals which recently went against the national trend and upheld gay marriage bans. The court granted petitions for all four states.
Earlier this month Florida became the 36th state in the country, in addition to the District of Columbia, to allow gay marriage.
Read more: Link to source
Posted by Hissyspit | Fri Jan 16, 2015, 03:36 PM (62 replies)