Dangerous Idea: Every American needs to SEE David Simon’s ‘My country is a horror show’ speech!


 
It’s a very big Internet, so you can be forgiven if you’ve missed David Simon’s absolutely incendiary op ed ‘There are now two Americas. My country is a horror show’ that was published on The Guardian’s website on December 7th. But if you’re reading this sentence, you no longer have an excuse and need to click over to said essay NOW and return here after you’ve read it.

You’ll thank me. Trust me, you’ll be smarter after you’ve read it. Go. Now. If there is anything worth your time, it’s THIS. Who wants to be ignorant? Not you, right? NOW.

In the days since it was published, Simon’s essay has turned into a shot heard ‘round the world. In my opinion it’s the most incredibly articulate, passionately argued, well-thought out meditation on America since, I dunno, something Mark Twain (or Kurt Vonnegut) wrote. I believe David Simon’s words to be of historical importance, that is to say future historians will read his essay in an effort to try to understand HOW the American people let it get THIS BAD and still allowed those responsible to continue to operate exactly as they had before. You’d think the economy crashing might have ushered in some change. And it has: Bad for the common man, but great for the capital-hoarding elites.

As Simon rhetorically asks—I’m paraphrasing here—“How much longer until the entire shithouse goes up in flames?”

David Simon’s words have incredible power. The kind of power that educates people, changes minds and makes them do something. It needs to be passed on and on and on until everyone has read it, even your idiot teabagger Fox News-watching Uncle Dumbshit. Especially him.

If you’ve already read Simon’s piece, what you may not be aware of (and the YouTube views thus far would seem to bear this out) is that the essay is actually an edited version of an extraordinary speech that The Wire creator gave in Australia at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas at the Sydney Opera House. Simon spoke for about 30 minutes and then there was an extended Q&A beyond.

Watch this and then pass it on. On and on and on. He’s not exactly offering much of a prescription here—that’s not his goal—but the diagnosis is spot on…
 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
America need a reboot?
10.01.2013
07:52 pm

Topics:
Politics

Tags:
America
Twitter

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Sounds like a plan…
 

 
Via Chris Hall

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Lowlife: The powerful and compelling photographs of Scot Sothern (NSFW)

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Photography, says Scot Sothern, wasn’t so much an interest, when he was growing-up, as something he was born into. His father owned a photographic studio, for portraits of weddings and baptisms; and Scot’s earliest memory is tied to a photograph.

‘My first clear memory correspond to a photograph and because of that I’m not sure if it’s a memory I would even have if not for the photograph to ring the memory bell in my head.

‘My father was a photographer with a wedding and portrait studio in the Missouri Ozarks and back in the fifties when I was about four years old cowboys were all the rage for boy tots like myself and portraits of little boys dressed in cowboy drag became de rigueur. I remember we were out on a farm and my dad wanted to set me on a rail fence, I guess the way cowboys were supposed to do. Anyway, it was too high and I didn’t trust my balance and freaked out when my dad set me there and so he had to take me down and let me stand in front of the fence instead. I remember him being irritated that I was acting like a pussy.’

Last year, Scot released Lowlife, a collection of his photographs and writing of his experiences amongst prostitutes in the 1980s:

’When I pulled off the freeway into San Diego, I had a single twenty dollar bill in my wallet. My car, a 1973 Toyota station wagon, rattled my teeth and died in idle. At stops I had to divide my right foot: heel on the brake, toes revving the accelerator. I had barely enough gas to get back to Los Angeles.

‘On El Cajon Boulevard I drove slowly and studied the street walkers. In their eyes I could see desperation-induced madness, premature death. In my eyes they could see my craving for the nasty little secret I kept from friends and family. I could give my twenty dollars to any one of these women. I could buy a quick sex fix and she could buy enough crack to put a smile on her face for an hour or so.

‘In the passenger seat, belted and buckled, frail and beautiful, my four-year-old son, Dashiell, slept curled around his best friend, a pillow-sized stuffed facsimile of Hulk Hogan. It was Sunday night and my weekend with my little boy was over.

‘When we arrived at his mother’s house, Dash awoke. He cried and clung tightly, arms around my neck. He didn’t want me to go. His mother Sylvia, my ex-wife, was happy to see me go, but first she wanted money. I made lame excuses. She called me a jerk and pried our son from my embrace. I took my twenty dollars and drove back to El Cajon Boulevard.’

 
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More from Scot Sothern, after the jump…
 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
You have to watch this: Save Mandi’s house!
12.31.2011
09:49 am

Topics:
Heroes

Tags:
America


 
And don’t just watch the video, read the utterly heartbreaking article about Mandi Shaw and her daughter, Cortney, residents of Kearns, Salt Lake County, Utah who are threatened with imminent homelessness. It took me nearly a hour of sitting in stunned silence before I could even get out of my chair after I read it.

No matter WHAT is going on in your life right now, this will put everything into perspective. 

Ladd Brubaker writes in the Deseret News:

Struggle is no stranger in the life of Mandi Shaw.

The 47-year-old Kearns woman has spent her life dealing with severe, debilitating birth defects. And in recent years, heart problems have rendered her permanently disabled and unable to work. She has only 20 percent of normal cardiac capacity.

In 2010, her husband died from cancer.

Now, her only income is a small disability check.

Shaw is far behind on the mortgage payments on her small home of nearly 20 years, and she has little prospect of ever catching up.

With no family to fall back on, she and her 19-year-old daughter, Cortney, are facing the very real possibility they may soon be living in their pickup truck. Instead of Christmas cheer, they experienced a grinding anxiety.

In desperation, they are making a public appeal for help. A video on YouTube titled “Save Mandi’s House” depicts their plight, but it’s gotten only about 100 hits.

Since that article from the Deseret News, and one that appeared on the Huffington Post blog, nearly 8000 views of the video have occurred. The video was the idea of Ron Baker, a local insurance broker and Mormon outreach missionary specializing in financial counseling, who volunteered to help the Shaws. Talk about a real latter day saint.. These ladies are lucky to have Mr. Baker in their lives, as I am sure they must know.

Here’s more from the Deseret News article (although I’d really recommend clicking there directly instead):

Even before she was born in 1964, Mandi’s cards were being dealt from a deck steeply stacked against her.

She says her mother was working to put Mandi’s father through medical school, and Mandi’s conception came as an unwelcome surprise, so the couple decided to put the baby up for adoption.

Her birth defects may have contributed to their decision, Mandi says.

There were no takers. No one wanted a disabled child facing lifelong medical problems.

Born to a future doctor and his wife. Imagine that. She later met her birth parents, but they wanted little to do with their own child.

Mandi was made a ward the state of Utah after a doctor insisted that a baby like her would fare far better in Utah, than an orphanage in Chicago. Two big-hearted nurses from the hospital agreed to take turns raising the helpless little girl.

Mandi’s birth defects and handicaps were likely the result of her mother taking Thalidomide, a drug used as both a sedative and for morning sickness. Although it was never approved by the FDA, millions of Thalidomide pills were taken by pregnant American women in the early 1960s. My own mother was given Thalidomide pills by her doctor, but opted not to take the drug.

I thought about that when I read Mandi’s story and I imagined myself in her place.

“Most people can bounce back after they’ve had such difficulties,” Mr. Baker said. “But Mandi doesn’t have any bounce. I mean, how do you bounce back from what she’s gone through?”

How indeed? You don’t. You can’t. You will need other people to help you, especially someone like Mandi who can’t count on the government to do much for her. What are her options?

America is a cruel place. A woman this ill facing living in a pick-up truck… Takes your breath away, doesn’t it?

If you don’t think you could ever be in a situation like this, well, keep voting Republican, that’s all I can say…

To help Mandi and Cortney keep their home and their lives intact, contact Ron Baker at mandishouse@gmail.com or call him on 801-553-9797

If you want to send a check, make it out to “Mandi Shaw, Help Save my Mortgage” and mail, care of Stacey, to

Granite Credit Union
3109 West 4700 South
Taylorsville, Utah 84129

Using Paypal, send to Mandishouse@gmail.com

Discover Card has a feature where money can be sent, at no charge. Go to Discovercard.com and look for the tab “Send Money”. Use Mandishouse@gmail.com to send donation.

Update 12/3, 5 p.m. central time: Dangerous Minds just spoke with Ron Baker and he’s very encouraged by the positive response his video of Mandi is receiving. Donations have been coming in from all over the world including Bangladesh, Greece, England and Canada. So far, they’ve raised about $7000. There’s still a long way to go but they’re getting there.

This could only happen in the age of the Internet. Ron, armed with a camcorder and a good heart, did something he’d never done before. He used the Internet to spread the word about an injustice that deeply bothered him and suddenly Mandi’s life is looking a little bit brighter. It’s taken him totally by surprise and he is humbled and hugely appreciative of the generosity extended to Mandi. And Mandi’s broken heart is pumping a little stronger right now. She can’t believe what’s happening.

Ron and his wife Connie are the real deal, two people who do more than talk about a problem, they do something about it. Now it’s your turn.
 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Johnny Cash: The Last Great American
12.30.2011
03:40 pm

Topics:
Heroes
Music
Punk

Tags:
Johnny Cash
America
Little Richard

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From 2004, Johnny Cash: The Last Great American was the first major TV retrospective of the singer’s life and times. Featuring contributions from his daughter Rosanne Cash and son John Carter Cash, longtime manager Lou Robin, and fellow musicians, Little Richard, Cowboy Jack Clement, Kris Kristofferson, Merle Haggard and Elvis Costello. This documentary contains incredible archive and some superb performances, and is a fine testament to The Man in Black.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds

Competing James Bond themes: Tom Jones vs. Johnny Cash’s ‘Thunderball’


 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
High Noon on Friedrichstrasse: The Rise and Fall of the Berlin Wall

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Let’s start with the painting, for that was the sign something ominous was about to begin.

In East Germany during the Cold War, you didn’t join the Stasi, the Stasi asked you to join them. This is what 19-year-old Hagen Koch discovered when the Stasi approached him and said, “We need you to help secure our country’s peace.” 

Koch arrived in Berlin on April 5th 1960, to a city without a wall, without barbed wire, without division. He had been chosen for a specific job and was soon promoted to Head of Cartography.

It was a warm day in August 1960, when Stasi Private Hagen Koch arrived at Checkpoint Charlie and started painting a white line. No one took much notice, which was understandable, only in the following days would the enormity of Koch’s actions become apparent. For unknown to Berliners and the West, Koch was marking the ground for the building of the Berlin Wall.

Years later, Koch said the Wall was not against the West but “against the population of East Germany.”

It was also the first sign that East Germany’s so-called “Workers’ and Peasants’ Socialist Heaven” had failed, and marked the start of the slow and difficult demise of Soviet bloc Communism. 

Further, the creation of the Berlin Wall led to a standoff between Russia and America that nearly caused World War Three.
 

 
How the Berlin Wall nearly led to War and how holidays brought it down, after the jump…
 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Literally Unbelievable: Stories from ‘The Onion’ as interpreted on Facebook
05.27.2011
04:36 pm

Topics:
Amusing

Tags:
Facebook
America
Dumb
The Onion

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Literally Unbelievable collects stories from The Onion as interpreted on Facebook by people, who, as source of all things interesting, Laughton Sebastian Melmoth points out, “think ‘satire’ means ‘not sat there’”.

The site is curated by Hudson Hongo, who is a contributor to McSweeney’s, The Morning News and The Bygone Bureau.

Check Literally Unbelievable here.
 
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With thanks to Laughton Sebastian Melmoth
 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Capital Exploits Labor: The US-China Trade and Beyond


Why are these people smiling? Fom left, Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan, Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo, Hillary Clinton, and U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner at the 2011 U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., Monday, May 9.

 
A guest editorial courtesy of our super smart friend, Charles Hugh Smith, cross-posted from his essential Of Two Minds blog:

In a classic Marxist set-up, Capital is free to exploit labor because labor is in surplus.

The fundamental dynamics of the U.S.-China trade partnership—certainly the biggest economic story of this generation—boil down to “capital exploits labor.” I am well aware that this sort of quasi-Marxist analysis is supposed to be passe in the era where young nerds can start billion-dollar enterprises in a garage or dorm room. Capitalism is a priori “win-win,” as all those workers in China are getting ahead while our youth launch $50 million IPOs of social networking Web 2.0 companies.

But if you scrape away the high-gloss propaganda and myth-making, then the fundamental dynamic is definitely Marxist: American capital jettisoned American labor as a costly hassle in favor of cheap, no-hassle Chinese labor.

Since Capital’s best buddy in the whole world is the Central State and its proxies, i.e. the Federal Reserve, then the Central State and the central bank (the Fed) smoothed over the exploitation and furthered the consumer economy by inflating a credit-housing bubble. Since 60% of American households own a home, this enabled the increasingly impoverished “middle class” to borrow trillions of dollars in “free” money that could be spent—surprise!—on the new imports from China that filled the shelves of big box global retailers everywhere.

Allow me to illustrate this dynamic by deconstructing two recent stories in the Mainstream Financial Media: ‘Superjobs’: Why You Work More, Enjoy It Less Businesses expect a lot more out of their employees these days…

Taco Bell and the Golden Age of Drive-Thru: Operational innovations at restaurants like Taco Bell rival those at any factory in the world.

The first piece describes in clinical fashion how U.S. capital is ruthlessly exploiting labor, demanding more work for little to no additional pay. The underlying dynamic here is purely Marxist: capital encourages over-supply of labor, which then drives the value of labor down. Competition for the few jobs available makes desperate wage-earners willing to put up with exploitation and insecurity because the options of escaping the cycle of centralized Corporate value extraction are insecure and risky.

Global Corporate America fosters a surplus of labor in the U.S. via three mechanisms:

1. Vast illegal immigration which keeps labor costs down in low-skill corporate workhouses such as slaughterhouses, fast-food outlets, etc.

2. H1-B visas for high-tech workers (now falling out of favor as those positions are better filled directly in India and China).

3. Ship production, software coding and back-office functions to China, and to a lesser degree, to India and elsewhere in east Asia.

The unemployment rate among PhDs is roughly 50%. So much for “winning” by becoming ever more educated. The number of slots in academia is shrinking, and the total number of research positions is relatively inelastic. For more on academia’s “plantation economy,” please read Faulty Towers: The Crisis in Higher Education (The Nation).

With labor in surplus, capital is free to demand whatever it needs to boost all-important profits. The propaganda machines in HR (human resources) spray-paint slogans everywhere (“you’re really really valuable to us, Super-Duper Team Member!”) but everyone knows the reality: everybody is dispensible, and everyone but the CIO at a hot startup a few months from an IPO is a corporate serf a paycheck away from being booted out of the castle into abject poverty.

As a result of this exploitation—known as “wage abritrage”—corporate profits (which boost the wealth of the top 10% who owns the vast majority of stocks and mutual funds) are extremely plump and juicy:
 

 
In the second piece, BusinessWeek breathlessly assures us that we have thousands of highly efficient factories running 24/7 in the U.S.—fast food outlets. Yes, all 6,000 Taco Bells are miniature factories pumping out “product” in vast quantities. The fast food “industry” revenues are $168 billion a year, and the workers, we’re told, are paid $1.25 above minimum wage—woo-hoo, love you, Corporate America!—which means that the full-time employee makes $16,500 a year.

$16K a year doesn’t go very far in urban America, but there is no pressure on Corporate America to raise wages.

I realize that I am an outsider, and biased against global corporate power regardless of the nominal country of origin (down with Canal+!), but I still found it noteworthy that BusinessWeek could run thousands of words of glowing praise for the profitable efficiency of the fast food “industry” without noting that it isn’t an industry at all—it’s just a consumerist fantasy (fast and cheap meals that require no effort or discipline) that produces “food” of low value that pushes the consumer into ill-health with overloads of salt, sugar, and low-grade fat.

70% of the fast “food” served is via the drive-through window, which suggests that an overworked, stressed out, focused on getting through the next two hours American is opting to shut the kids up and stave off hunger by pulling into the drive-through lane and loading up on a “meal” that they know is bad for them but they have no time to make a real meal at home (or so they’ve been brainwashed by thousands of hours of adverts).

If Taco Bell is the “manufacturer/factory of the New America,” then I think we need a peaceful revolution, and soon. The toadies and sycophants of the financial media are pleased to worship 1) CEOs 2) profits 3) efficiencies 4) globalized “growth” as long as its owned by global corporations and of course, everyone’s favorite, 5) innovation, because “innovation” drives profits!

Elsewhere in the latest issue, BusinessWeek breathlessly cooed over digital game company Electronic Arts latest “innovation,” which was selling a digital parrot for $10 a pop that sits on your digital warrior’s shoulder.

Excuse me while I raise my glass to American “innovation.” If pumping out fast food garbage (hello, 60% obesity rates, is there any connection?) is the new American “factory” and “innovation” is selling kids with access to Mom’s credit card a $10 digital parrot (and what does the parrot say? “Kill ‘em all and let God sort ‘em out, brawk!”) for their hyper-violent fantasy wargame, then this nation is well and truly doomed.

To reap a fat profit, you need to sell the stuff being imported from the American-owned factories in China. Since wages have been flat for decades, that posed a problem, as consumers were tapped out. Never fear, capital’s best buddy rode to the rescue, inflating a stupendous credit-housing bubble that enabled the working stiff to speculate “like the big boys” with free money and limitless leverage, all supported by lies (liar loans) and the misrepresentation of risk.

Wall Street reaped tens of billions in profits originating and packaging the debt loaded onto the middle class debt donkeys—not just mortgages, but auto loans, student loans and even credit card debt.

But now, at long last, capital’s doting partner, the Federal Reserve, has run into a spot of bother: the only way to keep profits rising is to crash the dollar, and doing that has squeezed the purchasing power of the debt donkeys. By exporting inflation to China and the rest of the world, the Fed has engineered massive profits for U.S. corporations (when profits earned overseas are stated in dollars, presto, a 10% increase) but it has also forced China into raising prices and fueled an oil and import-driven inflation in the U.S. which has caused millions of insolvent households living paycheck to paycheck to cut back on their consumption.

China has its own problems, namely runaway domestic inflation (thanks, Federal Reserve) and finding places to dump its excess dollars. It was a wonderfully beneficial trade for awhile: we print paper money, and you give us tangible goods for the paper. Thank you very much, and we can offer you some terrific low-yield Treasuries to recycle your growing stash of dollars.

The Fed’s inflation games are sinking the value of the dollar, and the Chinese are not amused. They are trying to buy tangible resources with their ocean of depreciating dollars, and even sinking to buying Spanish debt.

They have another problem: as capital’s return in China slips, it will exit China just as fast as it exited the U.S.

There is a grand irony in that dynamic: a supposedly Communist country trying to run a central-command quasi-capitalist economy will find that Marx had a point after all. Not that the leadership is at risk themselves; the ChiCom offspring already have homes in Vancouver B.C. and Los Angeles and citizenship/green cards, and the family fortune is safely invested in Switzerland and North America.

The “story” is that the Chinese consumer is about to step up spending, and as a result, “you gotta be in China to profit from all the trillions in new consumer spending.” The reality is that the Chinese middle class is already spending like drunken sailors and their 900 million rural compatriots already own TVs and other cheap consumer goods.

The reality is that Capital has already skimmed the big, fat easy profits, and it’s looking elsewhere as labor costs and pesky regulations rise in China. The truth is American and European corporations have already earned out their investments in China, and shipping the factories from China to Vietnam is not much different than crating the factory up in the U.S. and shipping it to China.

There is a theory that the Fed’s “master plan” is to sink the dollar to the point that the low-income states in the U.S. will be the lowest-cost manufacturing base in the world.

At $16,500 a year for full-time workers pushed to maximum production, they might be getting close.

The above essay was written by Charles Hugh Smith and is cross-posted from Of Two Minds

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Class War: ‘Funny isn’t it?’

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Nicole Belle put it nicely at Crooks and Liars:

Man, conservatives sure do want everyone to buy into the notion that the only answer to Medicare is to not have it. They go on and on about how Medicare is going to go bankrupt. But what is never mentioned is the actual end of that sentence “...under current spending levels.”

Let’s remember that there are two sides to that coin. One way to deal with rising costs is to drastically cut benefits. But that doesn’t reduce the existence of the need for those benefits, it simply transfers the costs to the individual, who is on Medicare because they cannot afford private insurance. As in our current system with those who are uninsured, if those individuals can’t pay those costs, they get passed on to everyone else in the form of increased premiums and bloated medical charges (nothing like paying for a $20 box of tissue during a hospital stay).

But the other way to deal with it—which is apparently unthinkable to George Will and Chrystia Freeland—is to increase spending, in the form of tax increases. Yes, I said the dreaded phrase: tax increases. At the time that Medicare was enacted in 1965, the top marginal tax rate was 70%. Now it’s less than 40%. Of course there’s no money…we’re too busy allowing the uber-wealthy and corporations to skate on their share of the social fabric to create huge population-sized holes in the safety net.

I do have to credit the GOP with the talking point that it won’t affect anyone currently getting Medicare or scheduled to receive it for the next ten years. *Wipes brow* whew! I guess that leaves me—in my mid-40s, with a history of cancer and without a steady paycheck for 15 years, so I’m imminent competitively hire-able—in the perfect spot to afford private insurance policies as a senior? I guess it’s a good thing I had children…I’ll need somewhere to live when my IRA (since Social Security is in the crosshairs as well) goes almost exclusively to my medical needs. Multiply that over tens of millions of Gen X-ers and Y-ers and Millennials and suddenly, that doesn’t seem so sustainable for the economy, does it?

And can we please call a moratorium on calling Medicare and Social Security “entitlements”? I’m so sick of that bull excrement. There is nothing “entitled” about having taxes taken out of every paycheck to a trust fund that will enable one to live through one’s golden years without resorting to eating catfood or wearing a Walmart greeter’s vest because the idea of a true retirement is out of the realm of possibility. The only entitlement I see is the white privilege of the Beltway establishment, unwilling to actually be honest about the consequences of such destructive Republican policies.

Below, Rep. Eric Cantor says things that will make you want to vomit on Fox News.
 

 
Cartoon via Bart Cop

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
The 112th Congress?
01.02.2011
08:37 am

Topics:
Politics

Tags:
America
The Three Stooges

 

Starting to look that way, isn’t it?

Via Paul Krassner

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Not just Berkeley & London: The international student movement is on fire!

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Demonstration against the privatization of education, New Delhi, December 2, 2010
 

As our UK-based Dangerous Mind Paul Gallagher has noted, London students have taken the issue of educational democracy off the campuses into both the city’s freezing streets and the faces of lines of cops. Of course these have been paralleled by media coverage of a couple of years of anti-tuition hike protests at the University of California. But they’re just the tip of the iceberg.

Turns out the international student movement that’s been brewing is on the way to becoming the primary dynamic popular movement of our time. From Manila to Santiago to Jakarta to Marrakech to Milan to Prishtina, students have been hitting the capitals to protest the privatization, commodification and militarization of education and research. Their fight against the fee hikes, budget cuts and other politricks affecting access to education is already the most effective and wide-reaching youth movement you’ve ever seen. Period.

To state the sweepingly obvious, the global financial industry played a huge part in causing the worldwide educational crisis. And democratized education will be key to defending humanity against the most powerful wave of greed we’ve seen in a while. That makes the global struggle for free, emancipatory education the key struggle of our lifetimes.

You may think I’m overstating it. Hell, maybe I am. But just in case, do yourself a favor: keep an eye on this movement and support it in whatever way you see fit.
 

 

Written by Ron Nachmann | Discussion
Long live Chalmers Johnson, American apostate and anti-imperialist

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The new generation of public intellectuals and pundits owes a lot to guys like Chalmers Johnson, who died yesterday at 79. This guy was one of the foremost experts on both America’s ascension as an empire and its inevitable decline, and he wrote the now-classic books Blowback and The Sorrows of Empire
.

Like Noam Chomsky and Gore Vidal, Johnson’s formed his worldview during the Cold War; his friend the progressive realist Steve Clemons calls him “a one time hard-right national security hawk” in the great piece he wrote today about the man. Most of us discovered Johnson after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and he’d cultivated his views about American imperialism. The Left in this country loved the irony of this academic with the old-school-Establishment-wonk demeanor breathing fire against Yankee hegemony. He’ll be missed.
 

 

Written by Ron Nachmann | Discussion
Unemployment Offices To Add Armed Guards

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Caught this lil’ masterpiece of understatement on the Drudge Report this morning:

Armed security guards will be on hand at 36 unemployment offices around Indiana in what state officials said is a step to improve safety and make branch security more consistent.

No specific incidents prompted the action, Department of Workforce Development spokesman Marc Lotter told 6News’ Norman Cox. Lotter said the agency is merely being cautious with the approach of an early-December deadline when thousands of Indiana residents could see their unemployment benefits end after exhausting the maximum 99 weeks provided through multiple federal extension periods.

“Given the upcoming expiration of the federal extensions and the increased stress on some of the unemployed, we thought added security would provide an extra level of protection for our employees and clients,” he said. [Emphasis added]

Increased stress? Is this asshole kidding?

I guess they’re expecting there will be some people who won’t react too kindly to being told they and their children are being left to starve come December.

This is how we live now. If you think it’ll get better by voting for Republicans—or not voting at all—tomorrow, you are sorely fucking mistaken.

Unemployment Offices To Add Armed Guards: 36 Offices Beefing Up Security Before Benefits Set To End (WRTV: The Indy Channel)

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
U.S.A. at 234, Leaves of Grass at 155, Alice in Wonderland at 145: Dangerous Minds of History

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A 36-second wax cylinder recording of what is thought to be Walt Whitman’s voice reading four lines from the poem “America.” [MP3]

As the sky lights up over Hometown U.S.A. tonight, let’s remember that today’s also the anniversary of two literary masterpieces of proto-freak culture. In 1855, Walt Whitman had 800 copies of his Leaves of Grass pressed by the Scottish-born Rome brothers at their Fulton St. shop in Brooklyn.

The Wikipedia oracle notes that Walt was definitely considered an original dangerous mind:

When the book was first published, Whitman was fired from his job at the Department of the Interior after Secretary of the Interior James Harlan read it and said he found it very offensive. Poet John Greenleaf Whittier was said to have thrown his 1855 edition into the fire. Thomas Wentworth Higginson wrote, “It is no discredit to Walt Whitman that he wrote ‘Leaves of Grass,’ only that he did not burn it afterwards.” Critic Rufus Wilmot Griswold reviewed Leaves of Grass in the November 10, 1855, issue of The Criterion, calling it “a mass of stupid filth” and categorized its author as a filthy free lover. Griswold also suggested, in Latin, that Whitman was guilty of “that horrible sin not to be mentioned among Christians”, one of the earliest public accusations of Whitman’s homosexuality. Griswold’s intensely negative review almost caused the publication of the second edition to be suspended.  Whitman included the full review, including the innuendo, in a later edition of Leaves of Grass.

Seven years later to the day, math teacher Charles Dodgson and a friend took the three young daughters of Henry Liddell (the Dean of the Christ Church College where Dodgson taught math) on a short rowboat trip. Dodgson published the surrealist story he aimed at Liddell’s middle daughter Alice as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland under the name Lewis Carroll on July 4 1865.

Without forgetting Robert Cauble’s fantastic depiction of Alice’s search for Guy Debord, below are some amazing film interpretations of Alice:

 

Written by Ron Nachmann | Discussion
Independence: Allen Ginsberg’s “America” Interpreted

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My college friend Alex Marshall surfaced this excellent montage (done apparently by a filmmaker named Azure Pepe Valencia) of Ginsberg’s classic 1956 poem to the country, the ideal, the situation. Hurrah for independence!
 

Written by Ron Nachmann | Discussion
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