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Member since: Mon May 28, 2012, 12:11 AM
Number of posts: 484

Journal Archives

Exploring Our Paradoxes

Walter Rhett: Exploring Our Paradoxes

There is a convergence of paradoxes no one seems to understand. There is an outward motion that is taking unusual turns and twists, and politicians are using these unique circumstances and unfamiliar challenges to offer and project blame.

But blame obscures our paradoxes. It’s a pretense to an easy answer that misses the real point. One main point is itself a paradox: the point that paradoxes are often missed. They are confusing and confounding. Paradoxes challenge not only our identity and legacy, the missions we have “accomplished,” the “hope” at the center of our faith and courage—and our voting—they challenge the zeitgeist we cherish—paradoxes challenge the spirit of the age. All around us, paradoxes are redefining our times. Our response is we fuss, surrender, complain or turn mean.

One major American institution, driven by greed and ego, has been taken over by its own self-created paradox: the media that is to inform us often conceals and shades from us the most important facts it purports are its reason to exist. Too often, its reporting offers no analysis. Its experts spend too much time on politics and prophecy—answering the unanswerable, “what happens next?” Seldom does it answer what happened before.

The news, intended to inform us, is a tabula rasa (an erased tablet) and instead is shaped by its thrill factor, be it warmth or fear. Warmth: YouTube pets parade through the networks; cute, cuddly, silly; American. Fear, horror: any GOP sound bite, any battlefield; any natural disaster or crime scene or courtroom...

More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2014/08/27/exploring-our-paradoxes/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Wed Aug 27, 2014, 06:11 PM (0 replies)

Stormy Monday, 8/25/14

Jeff Rosenzweig: Stormy Monday, 8/25/14

Michael Brown’s funeral will be held at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis on Monday. Brown’s father Michael Sr. has appealed to protesters to suspend their activities temporarily. “We just want a moment of silence that whole day. Just out of respect for our son,” he told hip-hop station Hot 104.1 FM. Along with planned memorial services and vigils across the country, a protest is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. outside the White House.

Now that the Iberia Parish, Louisiana Coroner’s Office has released information flatly contradicting outlandish police claims that Victor White III fatally shot himself while handcuffed with his hands behind his back as he sat in a patrol car last March, his death can be expected to resonate anew.

Protests against yet another example of police violence are likely to continue on Staten Island this week after a large Saturday rally led by Al Sharpton over the July 17 death by chokehold of an unarmed African American, Eric Garner, while in custody.

This week, the administration undertakes a review of federal funding and provision of surplus military-grade weaponry to police departments, practices that, like so many other foolish, wasteful and counterproductive policy decisions, were instituted soon after September 11, 2001...

More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2014/08/24/stormy-monday-82514/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Mon Aug 25, 2014, 12:12 AM (1 replies)

‘Police are deeply saddened by this tragic event’

Jeff Rosenzweig: ‘Police are deeply saddened by this tragic event’

The most sobering thing I’ve read in the aftermath of the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri didn’t focus on Brown, his uniformed killer, or Ferguson at all. It was a news item from last December about an incident in Iceland.

On December 2, police shot a man to death in Reykjavik, the first such shooting in Iceland’s history as far as anyone knows. He was reportedly firing a shotgun in his home for reasons not disclosed, and fired at police as they entered the building after an unsuccessful attempt to subdue him with teargas. The chief of police held a press conference the same day, describing the shooting as “without precedent” and noting “police are deeply saddened by this tragic event and would like to extend their condolences to the family of the individual in question.”

As the Guardian article linked above points out, Iceland is by no means a gun-free society. GunPolicy.org estimates its citizen gun ownership to be 30.3 per 100 people, ranking Iceland 15th in the world on a per-capita basis (the United States tops the list with a rate roughly three times higher). They also estimate that Icelandic police have an arsenal of 1,039 guns, though police officers on “routine patrol” do not carry firearms.

Iceland’s population of about 326,000 is very close to that of St. Louis, with about 318,000. Yet in 2011 alone, police in St. Louis shot 11 people, three of them fatally, according to statistics compiled by crime writer and former FBI agent Jim Fisher. (Ferguson, eight miles away, is part of the Greater St. Louis area, but has its own police force, however dysfunctional.)

More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2014/08/22/police-are-deeply-saddened-by-this-tragic-event/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Fri Aug 22, 2014, 08:15 PM (1 replies)

Drowning in Pain and Anger

Walter Rhett: Drowning in Pain and Anger

There are times when words aren’t heard; their sense is lost, drowned in pain and anger. In our deafness, we only know how to blame. We have forgotten how to heal. We are no longer able to hear. The Sisyphean landslide has burnished and buried our ears’ common sense.

What should we be listening to? In America, the police and many citizens should be listening because American communities are not war zones; the police mission has no inherent right to kill in order to protect. Petty crimes should not involve the loss of life and should not be turned into confrontations and threats that lead to deaths.

Somebody should have been listening to a collective national consciousness of grief and anger that began to break through on the national stage with the death of Trayvon Martin; the death of the unarmed teen Jordan Davis, who never got out of the car through which the bullets entered as the car was speeding away; the death of Eric Garner in front of a Long Island store, whose death was ruled a homicide by the New York City Medical Examiner’s office. There are other cases, lesser known, but well known in local communities.

There are grievances that are historic. In Ferguson, the Justice Department has been told of a 2009 beating by police in which the beating victim was charged with destruction of government property—because his blood spattered onto police uniforms...

More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2014/08/20/drowning-in-pain-and-anger/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Wed Aug 20, 2014, 09:15 PM (1 replies)

Stormy Monday, 8/18/14

Jeff Rosenzweig: Stormy Monday, 8/18/14

At the behest of Attorney General Eric Holder, the body of Michael Brown will be autopsied for a third time this week as federal and state investigations into his fatal shooting by police officer Darren Wilson continue. Tensions between protestors and police in Ferguson, Missouri showed little sign of abating over the weekend, despite Governor Nixon’s declaration of a state of emergency and imposition of a curfew.

The President is still in Washington for a previously announced interruption in his Martha’s Vineyard vacation with the family. The White House announced Sunday that he will receive a briefing from the Attorney General on the situation in Ferguson, and another from the National Security Council on Iraq. He’s scheduled to return to the Vineyard on Tuesday, barring the undeniable possibility that someone somewhere will do what the President would probably describe as “stupid shit.”

Rick Perry will be busy this week insisting to every friend and family member, fellow Texas Republican, probing reporter, and/or pizza delivery guy he encounters that he’s innocent of any wrongdoing despite last week’s grand jury indictment on two felony counts. In a hilarious appearance on Fox News Sunday, Perry claimed:

This is not the way we settle political differences in this country. You don’t do it with indictments. We settle our political differences at the ballot box.

Which I guess explains his vigorous efforts in 2011 to disenfranchise minority and low-income voters, who favor Democrats, with a draconian voter ID law that, like Rick Perry, will soon be the subject of a court case...

More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2014/08/17/stormy-monday-81814/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Sun Aug 17, 2014, 11:58 PM (1 replies)

Paradise Lost

Jeff Rosenzweig: Paradise Lost

“As above, so below,” says a venerable precept of esoteric thought. A modern addendum might be, “And it gets even worse farther down.”

By 121 votes, Republican Bob Beauprez won election to a House seat in the Colorado 7th in 2002. He was reelected in 2004. There were rumors of a Beauprez Senate run in 2008, but it never happened. This year, he’s challenging Democratic incumbent Governor John Hickenlooper, after losing the 2006 gubernatorial race to Hickenlooper’s predecessor, Bill Ritter. Beauprez can afford to indulge his electoral fetish, since profits from real estate development and a controlling interest in Heritage Bank have given him a net worth of an estimated $100 million. And he’s evidently convinced that he has something to contribute to the body politic. But what?

If you guessed intellectual acuity, guess again. In 2012, Beauprez was interviewed by Christian internet radio host Perry Atkinson, who raised the topic of the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty then still in negotiation. That gave Beauprez an opening to yammer about “American sovereignty” and “individual liberty and freedom” and “our right to arm ourselves, especially as individuals.” None of it had anything to do with the UN treaty, of course, but Atkinson’s is an audience that clicks in just to have its confirmation bias legitimized, not to be “informed” in any generally accepted sense of the word. Beauprez obliged, claiming the treaty would “cede” sovereignty to the UN and restrict, if not destroy, 2nd Amendment rights, assertions that still echo throughout the cyber-right. He broadened his critique to describe the administration as “pushing the boundaries like none I think we have ever seen,” which even the laziest student of American history should be able to recognize as a fictional construct, and not even a clever one. He also said, “I hope and pray that… we don’t see another revolution in this country. I hope and pray we don’t see another civil war,” which in the context of the interview was as good as saying he hopes and prays for just that.

Which brings us to Paradise. Teddy Bear Paradise – a Texas woman whose parents had the good sense to name Denise – is now in custody after pleading guilty to threatening the President. It seems Ms Paradise sent him a letter saying she was going to kill him, something she later reiterated to the Secret Service...

More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2014/08/16/paradise-lost/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Sat Aug 16, 2014, 01:44 PM (1 replies)

Surround and Surrender

Walter Rhett: Surround and Surrender

A favorite couplet of W.H. Auden explains much of the world’s confusion:

The situation of our time
Surrounds us like a baffling crime.

The confusion and crime is in the global circular firing squad which is supposed to function for political sanity. The one that insists everybody should be in, especially, its titular leader, the United States. US President Barack Obama is in disfavor because he won’t spend the dollars or spin the wheel to keep the rigged roulette scheme turning out jackpots that widen the gap between rich and poor. A host of non-state conflicts see refugee populations growing, education disrupted for a generation of children, possessions lost, security and community dashed as civilians become the targets of violence financed by unseen sources.

Its secret fountain of supply is a global slosh of wealth that creeps into the mean to spread death and violence. Despite the intent of good works, wealth, even at its best, misplaces priorities.

Take Bill Gates. Ever in search of the perfect, waterless, composting, energy generating, germ-free toilet, he roams the world while an entire continent, Africa, does not manufacture medical supplies or drugs or infection control gowns—all important basic weapons needed to confront immediate, recurring threats of diseases with more devastating consequences to the social fabric that the lack of sewers in rural villages...

More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2014/08/13/surround-and-surrender/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Wed Aug 13, 2014, 05:02 PM (0 replies)

Stormy Monday, 8/11/14

Jeff Rosenzweig: Stormy Monday, 8/11/14

Hostilities intensified over the weekend as assorted anti-American theocrats, terrorists and heavily armed extremists – Republicans, in other words – ratcheted up their rhetoric against President Obama’s latest efforts to help Iraq’s faltering government defeat Islamic State insurgents. If you opted not to spend part of Sunday watching foreign policy luminaries like John McCain and Peter King tell the nearest TV camera just what a mess the President has made of Iraq, you probably won’t be shocked to learn that they believe it’s a terrible mess indeed. Really terrible. Very terrible. Terribly terrible. What a refreshing change from the Bush era, when Republicans strenuously insisted that criticism of the Commander-in-Chief during wartime is inappropriate; nowadays they deem it inappropriate not to be screeching about every decision and announcement emanating from the Oval Office.

Reports began circulating Sunday evening of a coup attempt against Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki, who stated over the weekend that he will pursue a third term.

If that’s not quite ominous enough for you, there’s this: Laura Ingraham, of all people, is urging restraint in assessing the President’s handling of the situation in Iraq. “I don’t think you can judge how he did right now,” she said on Fox News Sunday. While there have been no other harbingers yet of imminent apocalypse, political commentators, theologians and Ingraham groupies are fretfully monitoring the situation...

More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2014/08/11/stormy-monday-81114/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Mon Aug 11, 2014, 03:00 AM (0 replies)

Mean Reigns

Walter Rhett: Mean Reigns

Mean reigns: its banner rises above the poor and the suffering and the global violence that bombs homes and threatens children and that seems to incite mobs and nations to reflexively attack the weak and completely ignore the trampled moral view, missed political opportunities and lost economic progress.

Even in the midst of good news and new milestones, mean is on display, in full regalia. Among the week’s high points was the historic US-Africa Leaders Summit held in Washington, from August 4 to 6, headquartered at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, with meetings throughout the city.

The Summit is the first ever gathering of African heads of states in Washington, a historic landmark under-reported by all the networks and major media. The broad agenda includes health, education, women’s issues, infrastructure, the rule of law, faith, food security, wildlife trafficking, and a future look at governing by the next generation. First Lady Michelle Obama and former First Lady Laura Bush team up (in another historic first!) to organize a day of activities for spouses in support of the main agenda.

So important is this first of its kind, historic meeting that the menu for the state dinner is top secret. White House chef Cristeta Comerford (of Philippine heritage!) embargoed the menu, preferring to talk about the difficult logistics of cooking for leaders of countries—carrying out “culinary diplomacy”–with so many religious restrictions and customs among their diets, but she has said several dishes will feature foods selected and picked from the White House garden begun by the First Lady in the first term. The garden’s offerings will include 30 pounds of green peas. (Note: the dinner was held Tuesday night, August 6; the one item we now know was served was the great American favorite, cornbread. The main course was a specially grown Texas wagyu beef.)

More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2014/08/06/mean-reigns/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Wed Aug 6, 2014, 03:05 PM (0 replies)

Eat Your Lunch and Don’t Hold Your Breath

Walter Rhett: Eat Your Lunch and Don’t Hold Your Breath

An old Revolutionary War tale begins with a meeting between a British officer and the legendary Swamp Fox, the American officer Francis Marion. As an act of hospitality, Oscar, Marion’s manservant, prepared a dinner of sweet potatoes baked in the campfire’s hot coals.

A painting depicting the dinner hangs in the Congressional gallery in the US Capitol. It’s meaning and importance is found in the report the British officer took back to his general staff. “We cannot defeat the colonials,” he concluded. When asked why, he replied, “Men willing to fight for freedom on suppers of sweet potatoes will not be defeated.”

Marion’s men were living on roots, drinking water, and “all for liberty.” This example of the exceptionalism of the American Promise—the willingness to sacrifice and show the courtesies of humanity even to enemies engaged in bitter war is never raised by originalists who put priority on budgets over values. John Blake White’s painting of the American heroic spirit is forgotten and today unknown.

The painting is a powerful reminder of three things. One, Marion’s manservant was an adult, Oscar; rarely did historic portraits show children except in family portraits. Two, this simple sharing of meager provisions led to the perception of greatness and put fear and doubt into an American enemy with a superior force. Three, the budget has never been the guidebook to politics, but wars are made and fought for wealth...

More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2014/07/30/eat-your-lunch-and-dont-hold-your-breath/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Wed Jul 30, 2014, 08:39 PM (0 replies)
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