Recent Articles

Chris Hedges warns of the illusion of freedom

| August 14, 2016 | Reply

Chris Hedges sizes things up. I wish I could disagree with him.

No vote we cast will alter the configurations of the corporate state. The wars will go on. Our national resources will continue to be diverted to militarism. The corporate fleecing of the country will get worse. Poor people of color will still be gunned down by militarized police in our streets. The eradication of our civil liberties will accelerate. The economic misery inflicted on over half the population will expand. Our environment will be ruthlessly exploited by fossil fuel and animal agriculture corporations and we will careen toward ecological collapse. We are “free” only as long as we play our assigned parts. Once we call out power for what it is, once we assert our rights and resist, the chimera of freedom will vanish. The iron fist of the most sophisticated security and surveillance apparatus in human history will assert itself with a terrifying fury.

The powerful web of interlocking corporate entities is beyond our control. Our priorities are not corporate priorities. The corporate state, whose sole aim is exploitation and imperial expansion for increased profit, sinks money into research and development of weapons and state surveillance systems while it starves technologies that address global warming and renewable energy. Universities are awash in defense money but cannot find funds for environmental studies. Our bridges, roads and levees are crumbling from neglect. Our schools are overcrowded, decaying and being transformed into for-profit vocational centers. Our elderly and poor are abandoned and impoverished. Young men and women are crippled by unemployment or underemployment and debt peonage. Our for-profit health care drives the sick into bankruptcy. Our wages are being suppressed and the power of government to regulate corporations is dramatically diminished by a triad of new trade agreements—the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Trade in Services Agreement. Government utilities and services, with the implementation of the Trade in Services Agreement, will see whole departments and services, from education to the Postal Service, dismantled and privatized. Our manufacturing jobs, sent overseas, are not coming back. And a corporate media ignores the decay to perpetuate the fiction of a functioning democracy, a reviving economy and a glorious empire.

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John Oliver warns us that the death of newspapers makes us all far more vulnerable to political corruption

| August 9, 2016 | Reply

Here is yet another excellent video by John Oliver. This issue of the defunding of responsible newspaper reporting, and the lack of investigative journalism effects you and me every day. The answer, I believe is public funding of legitimate media, because it is a common good that can no longer sustain itself. Oliver’s ending video is a very sharp sword. We are living in dangerous times where no one is babysitting most of those in power at all levels of government. We can’t have a democracy without the Fourth Estate. We are rapidly approaching the time when we won’t have a Fourth Estate, merely a shell of what it used to be. This is an extremely complex and serious issue. Thank you, John Oliver for given it the spotlight. Please share.

For more on this loss of serious reporting, consider the writings of Robert McChesney and John Nichols, including Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America.

I spoke with John Nichols a few years ago about the loss of reporters:

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Why Wikileaks is critical to Democracy

| August 6, 2016 | Reply

JULIAN ASSANGE:

Well, WikiLeaks has become the rebel library of Alexandria. It is the single most significant collection of information that doesn’t exist elsewhere, in a searchable, accessible, citable form, about how modern institutions actually behave. And it’s gone on to set people free from prison, where documents have been used in their court cases; hold the CIA accountable for renditions programs; feed into election cycles, which have resulted in the termination of, in some case—or contributed to the termination of governments, in some cases, taken the heads of intelligence agencies, ministers of defense and so on. So, you know, our civilizations can only be as good as our knowledge of what our civilisation is. We can’t possibly hope to reform that which we do not understand.

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ALAIN de BOTTON: We marry the wrong person because we fail to focus on excellence in resolving conflict

| August 5, 2016 | Reply

Alain de Botton has written an extremely insightful article at the NYT on why we marry the wrong person.

What do we traditionally look for: During a perfectly romantic date, we propose marriage as an attempt to bottle up romance forever. Or we act Machiavellian, seeking to find someone for strategic advantages. There’s nothing bad about any of this, but it leaves out a critically important area of concern.

Alain de Botton urges that we not overlook that we are all dysfunctional, and that dysfunction often is left unexplored until after the vows are uttered.

We seem normal only to those who don’t know us very well. In a wiser, more self-aware society than our own, a standard question on any early dinner date would be: “And how are you crazy?” Perhaps we have a latent tendency to get furious when someone disagrees with us or can relax only when we are working; perhaps we’re tricky about intimacy after sex or clam up in response to humiliation. Nobody’s perfect. The problem is that before marriage, we rarely delve into our complexities. Whenever casual relationships threaten to reveal our flaws, we blame our partners and call it a day. As for our friends, they don’t care enough to do the hard work of enlightening us. One of the privileges of being on our own is therefore the sincere impression that we are really quite easy to live with.

For instance, we tend to seek those things that traditionally make us happy, but many of those things are things from our dysfunctional childhoods:

What we really seek is familiarity — which may well complicate any plans we might have had for happiness. We are looking to recreate, within our adult relationships, the feelings we knew so well in childhood. The love most of us will have tasted early on was often confused with other, more destructive dynamics: feelings of wanting to help an adult who was out of control, of being deprived of a parent’s warmth or scared of his anger, of not feeling secure enough to communicate our wishes. How logical, then, that we should as grown-ups find ourselves rejecting certain candidates for marriage not because they are wrong but because they are too right — too balanced, mature, understanding and reliable — given that in our hearts, such rightness feels foreign. We marry the wrong people because we don’t associate being loved with feeling happy.

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Police misconduct analogized to child abuse

| July 16, 2016 | 2 Replies

child abuse analogyWell . . . this sums it up perfectly. Found this on FB..

It’s not surprising, is it? There are bad doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers. We should make sure everyone out there is well trained. If they can’t be trained to do their job safely, they shouldn’t do it at all.

“Assuming one is against police when they’re against police brutality is like assuming one is anti-parent when they’re against child abuse.”

How about this quote too, to keep things in perspective?

brutality

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Betty Bowers Applauds the Profits of Gun Manufacturers

| July 11, 2016 | Reply

Yes, this will no doubt offend.   The carnage on the street has got to stop.

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Walk in the Garden

| July 6, 2016 | Reply

I can see the stone wall of the Missouri Botanical Garden from my front porch. It often beckons to me. Though my walks are often brisk, I bring a camera to slow me down to catch a brilliant color, an engaging pattern or a playful reflection. Sometimes, I sit for 5 or 10 minutes and try to meditate.

IMG_0266 MBG Music night

At the MBG, there’s people watching, of course, and this often causes me to think of the people I care most about–how could this not be the case in such a beautiful place?

IMG_0358 MBG Music night

But the two things come to my mind almost every time I visit the garden:

1. David Attenborough’s “Private Life of Plants.” (It’s about the only thing I keep my VCR for – it’s not available in Zone 1 on DVD). It’s a beautiful video series that blurs the line between flora and fauna, when plant growth is run in fast-motion.

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FBI continues to target journalists and their sources

| July 5, 2016 | Reply

In 1990, I was fired for being a whistle-blower by the Missouri Attorney General, who subsequently spent time in prison. Therefore, the topic of this post is an issue that speaks loudly to me. If you believe in participatory democracy, it should speak loudly to you too.

If you are wondering why there is very little investigative journalism anymore, the attached article lays out one of the big reasons. If you were a whistle-blower trying to get important information to the public regarding government corruption or wrongdoing, you can now be easily identified by government spying without any need for a search warrant and without probably cause, at the un-monitored and unlimited discretion of “law enforcement” agencies including the NSA and the FBI that have repeatedly trampled on your constitutional rights.

[More . . . ]

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Disenfranchised Americans

| July 2, 2016 | 2 Replies

Matt Taibbi sums it up:

Voters in America not only aren’t over-empowered, they’ve for decades now been almost totally disenfranchised, subjects of one of the more brilliant change-suppressing systems ever invented.

We have periodic elections, which leave citizens with the feeling of self-rule. But in reality people are only allowed to choose between candidates carefully screened by wealthy donors. Nobody without a billion dollars and the approval of a half-dozen giant media companies has any chance at high office.

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