Last Saturday, I pondered America’s soul.
I was in Portland, Maine, attending the annual Veterans For Peace convention, which featured Chris Hedges as its keynote speaker. Hedges, a Harvard divinity graduate who worked for many years as a war correspondent in El Salvador, Bosnia and other very violent places, gave a take-no-prisoners speech that prophesized the end of America as we know it.
The way Hedges saw it, the forces of militarized capitalism organized a coup in America, and that coup has been successful. The party’s over and things are going to get a lot worse. He spoke of a land fallen into barbarism and a dictatorial state in power.
It’s becoming pretty widely understood that America is in the midst of a major, epochal reckoning that does not seem to be letting up. Few in Portland would have disagreed with this. The issue was in the degree of unpleasantness one could stand as one contemplated the future. Some felt Hedges had come too close to hopelessness.
As Dylan said: “Somethin’s happenin’ here, and you don’t know what it is … do you, Mister Jones.”
Veterans For Peace march through Portland, Maine
One of the great mantras of the modern economics profession is that markets know best, and that the collective “wisdom” of investors is generally correct.
I’ve never really believed that, having spent years writing about business and finance. In fact, my interviews with market strategists, Wall Street economists and portfolio managers have convinced me that it’s the rare investor or analyst who has done much serious reading of history, political science or even economics and finance for that matter. Sure, some people can be very good at analyzing the worth and the potential of a specific company, but when it comes to macroeconomic trends, most of the explanations you get are very narrowly focussed and ignorant, showing little concern for or understanding of the great drivers of history, economics or politics.
That said, I’m still left scratching my head at today’s roughly 3% jump in the US equities market, which the investment analyst community is attributing to a report by the relatively obscure Institute for Supply Management, which announced that its index of manufacturing activity in the US had risen a bit to 56.3, instead of dipping slightly, as had been predicted by analysts.
Victor Grossman, an expatriate American journalist now in his 80’s and living in Berlin, sees ominous parallels between America’s anti-Communist outrages during the 1950’s and the conservative ‘Blame-The-Other’ assaults rampant today in America, and in many European countries, including Germany.
Grossman ought to know. It was the Red-bating of the late ‘40s and early ‘50s that drove this Harvard grad to make a life-altering decision and leave America behind.
“It’s the same old trick everywhere and it works so often!” the Ivy Leaguer said, warning “It is also a main concentration point of the fascist element.”
A prime driver of the racial/religious intolerance roiling in America today is the FOX News cable network that employs two luminaries in the Blame-The-Other game: Glenn Beck, the broadcast agitator and Sarah Palin, the political hustler/presidential aspirant.
While FOX hosts and guests regularly rail about ‘threats’ facing America from Communism, a large advertiser on FOX is Wal-Mart, America’s largest importer of goods from China, ironically the world’s largest Communist country.
Can a song played at rush hour over the Islands of Hawaii cause car crashes?
Can a song make you suddenly sob and shake and weep and completely lose control of
your automobile while you are driving from Honoka’a to Kona on the Big Island of
Hawaii? Can a song be banned from the radio on the mainland because it is too powerful,
too moving, too compelling? Perhaps. I’m not sure. I’m still trying to find out the facts.
Let me begin at Sam’s Hideway in Kona. It’s a little karaoke place where working
people go after their day’s over. My friend Charles Colman took me there on a Friday
night. It’s in the Kona Marketplace just off 75 – 5725 Ali’I Drive, down the block from
Uncle Billy’s Kona Inn. Charles said we had to go on Friday night, when Kimberly
sings. I’ll give you the number, so you can check the next time you’re in Kona.
It’s 808 326 7267.
“Taft is a fathead.” (Theodore Roosevelt, 1912)
The anti-gay blog QueerHunt has just launched an expose that General David Petraeus is gay and has a secret Arab boyfriend he periodically meets in a Dubai hotel. The young man goes by the code name ‘awrence, an apparent reference to how T. E. Lawrence was known by his beloved Arab boys.
Just imagine the legs this will get in the blogosphere.
But wait. There is no blog called QueerHunt (that I know of) and I just batted out the lead paragraph above on my keyboard. I totally made it up. But in this freaky world we live in, it’s now a meme out there for any nutcase with a blog to run with.
My apologies to General Petraeus for abusing him to make a point, but there’s really no difference between this hypothetical scenario and the absurdity that 18% of Americans and 31% of Republicans think President Barack Obama is a Muslim.
It’s time for us progressives to stop playing defense on Social Security.
We’ve watched the retirement system suffer years of attacks by conservatives and by class traitors in the Democratic Party. We have seen the retirement age raised since 1983 from 65 to 67, and the cost-of-living calculation altered so that our benefits have declined in value over time, while the tax rate on working people has risen.
It’s time to stop fighting rear-guard actions and to go on the offense.
President Obama’s Deficit Commission is all smoke and mirrors. Its members are making a big show of laboring over ”painful” choices and considering all options in their quest to bring down the deficit. But inside the Beltway everyone knows what’s going to happen: The commission will reduce the deficit on the backs of the old and the poor, through cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Some opponents have taken to calling it the Cat Food Commission, since that’s what it’s victims will be forced to eat once the commission gets done slashing away at their modest entitlements.
In fact, the true intent of the Deficit Commission was evident before it was even formed. That intent was only driven home when Obama appointed as its co-chair Alan Simpson, a former Republican senator from Wyoming who is well known for voicing, in the most colorful terms, what Paul Krugman calls the zombie lie” that old-age entitlements will soon bankrupt the country.
Plans to cut Social Security could have retirees sharing with their pets
So, psycho-babble specialist Dr. Laura Schlessinger spins her shamed retreat from nationally syndicated conservative talk radio with claims that she’s collateral damage in America’s N-word War.
Schlessinger sparked ire in some circles recently when she used the word “nigger” eleven times while scolding a caller to her radio show for lacking a “sense of humor” because that black caller objected to her white husband’s friends and family members constantly making racist remarks.
Schlessinger’s half-hearted apology for that radio rant evaporated quickly with a verbal offensive couching her decision to reject renewing the contract for her highly-rated radio show as a heroic act to regain First Amendment rights “to say what is on my mind” particularly for assailing “special interest groups [who decide] this is the time to silence a voice of dissent.”
Yes, Dr. Laura, too many are “hypersensitive about color” as you proclaimed during your crass responses to that caller who was clearly seeking compassion.
And yes, Dr. Laura, hypocrisy and craziness abound (among all races) around use of the word nigger, the long-standing racist slur now reduced to the sanitized, psychic-salving phrase: “the N-word.”
But please Dr. Laura, stop your BS about you being the real victim here!
First it was Press Secretary Robert Gibbs attacking the “professional left” (whatever that means) for wanting to “eliminate the Pentagon.” Then the liberal New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd kicked the left for “constantly sniping at Obama” and for considering “pragmatism a moral compromise.”
Next, pragmatist Senator Harry Reid announced he opposed building an Islamic community center two blocks from Ground Zero in New York, the sort of pragmatism power-Democrats understand, ie. pandering to the intolerant bigot vote in a close election, in Reid’s case against Republican nutcase Sharron Angle.
The fact the New York community center is far from Nevada and is the project of a Sufi element of Islam that preaches peace and love didn’t seem to bother Harry.
The left does not oppose pragmatism or compromise; the left can’t stand the absence of backbone and a moral compass.
The saga of the Muslim community center in Lower Manhattan, deceptively dubbed the “Ground Zero Mosque” by a right-wing clique with the avid support of Rupert Murdoch and his New York Post and Fox TV Network, exposes the right in America as a bunch of charlatans, hypocrites and plain old garden-variety scumbags.
New York, the ultimate melting pot of cultures, races and religions in America, has no problem with a Muslim center being set up in Lower Manhattan. (It is not, let me note, being built on the site of the World Trade Center, or even next door. That area is reserved for strip clubs, bars etc., and a big hole in the ground that nobody can figure out how to fill.)
The community center, which will include a Muslim mosque and a multi-religion chapel, is blocks away from the site of the old Twin Towers, which, if you’ve lived in Manhattan as I did for years, is described locally as “across town.”
The biggest hypocrisy about this right-wing fake scandal is that the people making all the noise are the same right wing ranters who are always complaining about the Federales interfering with local people’s right to do things their own way.