There’s been a lot of ink spilled about the increasing political polarization in America, which is at historically high levels. There are a lot of reasons for it, including changing demographics, women’s growing empowerment, the internet, the economy and cable news. But religion and religious belief plays an important role as well. There’s no way around it: America is quickly becoming two nations, one ruled over by fundamentalist Christians and their supporters and one that is becoming all the more secular over time, looking more and more like western Europe in its relative indifference to religion. And caught in between are a group of liberal Christians that are culturally aligned with secularists and are increasingly and dismayingly seeing the concept of “faith” aligned with a narrow and conservative political worldview.
Imagine that a little-known but increasingly powerful group of ideologues had hatched a plan to transform the United States into a Christian theocracy harkening back to the Dark Ages of Europe, a time when society was governed by the laws and officials of the Catholic Church.
Suppose further that this plan had a scary simple strategy: Recruit bright, young law students; put them through an intensive indoctrination program; place them in plum internships across the country; and watch as they swim upstream until they reach the top of the legal system, where they can create, enforce, and interpret laws according to a legal philosophy infused with fundament-alist Christian theology
How many liberals have politically noxious relatives who were once reasonable people until they turned on Rush Limbaugh for their commute to work or ran across Fox as they flipped through their cable channels? Robert Sobel, writing for the Examiner, asked the question, “Why do Americans vote against their own interests?” He concluded that too many Americans are caught in the right wing misinformation echo chamber, whether it is listening to right wing radio, watching Fox News, or reading the conservative blogosphere. Recently, an upcoming documentary, “The Brainwashing of My Dad,” has been gaining attention. For this documentary, Jen Senko traces the history of her father’s transformation from mild-mannered Democrat to angry, racist Republican. As one might guess, this metamorphosis occurred following a change in his routine where he ended up having a long commute to work and tuned into Rush Limbaugh. His seething, bitter personality change only worsened as he dove deeper into right wing media. In her documentary, when it is completed, she intends to show her efforts to “de-program” her father. No doubt everyone will be curious to see how that works out.
Personally, in my family, the worst offenders in terms of personality deterioration following heavy doses of the right wing propaganda mill have been my grandfather and uncle.
Here is how it works these days: You start hearing about a big, national problem and then it becomes a drumbeat. First there are a few articles and columns mentioning that such-and-such is a problem. Then a number of articles appear, then a “study” from a “think tank” confirms the problem and sounds the alarm about how terrible it is, and then just as the issue seems to be the only thing you are hearing about a solution is presented. Of course, the solution always involves taking something away from you and giving it to some company or industry standing in front of a billionaire or three. The right question to start asking when you hear about these “problems” is which billionaire is driving this.
Here are five-plus examples of billionaires who use their money to try to get us to think what they want us to think in order to enact a right-wing economic agenda.
1) Pete Peterson’s deficit/debt scare campaign and his ongoing effort to gut Social Security and other entitlements.Leading every list of billionaires pushing an issue is billionaire Pete Peterson and his forever war on government doing things to make our lives better, especially Social Security. Peterson leads the list because of reports of his pledge to spend $1 billion on his pet issue.
Have you ever heard anywhere that the budget deficit and national debt are a problem?
From CHRIS HEDGES
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has been Wall Street’s anointed son for the presidency. He is backed by the most ruthless and corrupt figures in New Jersey politics, including the New Jersey multimillionaire and hard-line Democratic boss George Norcross III. Among his other supporters are many hedge fund managers and corporate executives and some of the nation’s most retrograde billionaires, including the Koch brothers. The brewing scandal over the closing of traffic lanes on the George Washington Bridge apparently in retaliation for the Fort Lee mayor’s refusal to support the governor’s 2013 re-election is a window into how federal agencies and the security and surveillance apparatus would be routinely employed in a Christie presidency to punish anyone who challenged this tiny cabal’s grip on power.
Christie is the caricature of a Third World despot. He has a vicious temper, a propensity to bully and belittle those weaker than himself, an insatiable thirst for revenge against real or perceived enemies, and little respect for the law and, as recent events have made clear, for the truth. He is gripped by a bottomless hedonism that includes a demand for private jets, huge entourages, exclusive hotels and lavish meals.
From New Republic
Athough I am not an enthusiastic user of the Internet, I recognize that its emergence has notably expanded free expression around the world and inflicted an almost-mortal blow to the censorship regimes that authoritarian governments rely upon to control information and thwart opponents. Emily Parker, a former journalist at the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, has convinced me of this in her upcoming book that reviews what the Internet and social media revolutions have meant for China, Cuba and Russia.
Parker’s book, Now I Know Who My Comrades Are: Voices from the Internet Underground, is a rigorously researched and reported account that reads like a thriller. Parker, who speaks Mandarin and Spanish, knows and has interviewed the majority of influential bloggers in the countries she covers. She gracefully navigates the catacombs these bloggers tend to inhabit, from which they connect with the outside world and from which they are giving their compatriots—formerly paralyzed by apathy, fear and pessimism—a renewed hope in progress and democratic change. It’s been a while since I have read a book that is so entertaining, not to mention one so encouraging for the culture of liberty.
In the aftermath of the reign of Nazi terror in the 1940s, the philosopher Theodor Adorno wrote:
National Socialism lives on, and even today we still do not know whether it is merely the ghost of what was so monstrous that it lingers on after its own death, or whether it has not yet died at all, whether the willingness to commit the unspeakable survives in people as well as in the conditions that enclose them.
Adorno’s words are as relevant today as they were when he first wrote them. The threat of authoritarianism to citizen-based democracy is alive and well in the United States, and its presence can be felt in the historical conditions leading up to the partial government shutdown and the refusal on the part of the new extremists to raise the debt ceiling. Adorno believed that while the specific features and horrors of mid-century fascism such as the concentration camps and the control of governments by a political elite and the gestapo would not be reproduced in the same way, democracy as a political ideal and as a working proposition would be under assault once again by new anti-democratic forces all too willing to impose totalitarian systems on their adversaries.
For Adorno, the conditions for fascism would more than likely crystallize into new forms. For instance
Philip E. Agre
Liberals in the United States have been losing political debates to conservatives for a quarter century. In order to start winning again, liberals must answer two simple questions: what is conservatism, and what is wrong with it? As it happens, the answers to these questions are also simple:
Q: What is conservatism?
A: Conservatism is the domination of society by an aristocracy.
Q: What is wrong with conservatism?
A: Conservatism is incompatible with democracy, prosperity, and civilization in general. It is a destructive system of inequality and prejudice that is founded on deception and has no place in the modern world.
These ideas are not new. Indeed they were common sense until recently. Nowadays, though, most of the people who call themselves “conservatives” have little notion of what conservatism even is. They have been deceived by one of the great public relations campaigns of human history. Only by analyzing this deception will it become possible to revive democracy in the United States.
It’s our duty to save democracy from the authoritarianism emerging from the Executive Branch.
“Knowledge (of) the scale of our capability would raise public awareness generating unwelcome publicity for us and our political masters.” — Classified UK NSA document
“To approve such a program, the Court must have every confidence that the government is doing its utmost to ensure that those responsible for implementation fully comply with the Court’s orders. The Court no longer has such confidence.” — U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Order, p. 12, 3-9-2009
For those alarmed by the steady growth of lawless, violent and authoritarian U.S. Executive power for the last 50 years, the events of the past few months have been exciting. The emergence of a de facto coalition of progressives and conservatives opposing the National Defense Authorization Act law giving the Executive the right to unilaterally detain or execute American citizens without a trial
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- FailureLast night I attended the Mendocino Music Festival’s third orchestral concert of this year’s festival, my wife a cellist in the most excellent orchestra. The second half of the program was Symphony No. 2 in E minor by Sergei Rachmaninoff, a massive work that lasted more than an hour. The third movement of the four-movement symphony was especially moving to m […]
- Hoefest 2014A gentle rain keeps me company in the wee hours as I pen these words. We desperately needed it. Throughout May and June, storms danced by with thunder and lightning all around, teasing us like a stripper in a night club when you know you ain’t getting none. “It’s gonna rain 2 inches,” said Jetta […]
- Lost Coast RambleWe approach the twentieth anniversary of the wilderness trek of the two greatest radical journalists of our time: the late Alexander Cockburn and Bruce Anderson, editor and publisher of America’s Last Newspaper—Anderson Valley Advertiser. In September of 1994 Alexander and Bruce, along with the chair of the Counterpunch board, Joe Paff and his wife Karen […] […]
- Local Folks, Part 2As promised in my previous article, here are descriptions of a few more local folks as I remember them during my time in Anderson Valley from the late 1950s to the late 1980s. Jack Clow — Proprietor of Jack’s Valley Store. Situated then, as now, about a mile northwest of Philo, Jack’s Valley Store in […]
- New Russia Sanctions: Washington, Delusional About US Energy Capacity, Lashes OutThe effect of the sanctions will be to speed the Russian decline, forcing up world oil prices as soon as US tight oil maxes out and goes into its inevitable nosedive.
- Ukraine - headlines•US and EU Lose Major Energy Battle in Ukraine •Coordinated Sanctions Aim at Russia’s Ability to Tap Its Oil Reserves •Ukrainian 'seizes Avdiivka' in rebel Donetsk stronghold •Ukrainian prime minister Arseny Yatseniuk resigns •Ukraine votes to keep Western companies out of gas industry •US intelligence officials just gave a very unsatisfying briefi […]
- Local Communities Playing Vital Role in Marine Conservation...it’s good news that a first of its kind assessment of community-led marine conservation in the Western Indian Ocean adds to growing evidence that marine conservation works best when local communities are responsible for fisheries management.
- Livestock: more than meatBeyond the debate about meat in our diet and the environmental impact of cows, there is an emotional and cultural angle on our human relationship with livestock that is rarely discussed.
- Court Denies Police Unions’ Late Attempt to Join Stop-and-Frisk Case, Approves Agreement to Proceed with Joint Remedial Plan
- New Analysis: Dark Money Groups Dominate Independent Spending in House Toss-Up Races
- Congressional Representatives and 157,975 Concerned Americans Demand that President Obama and the Department of Health and Human Services Intervene in Detroit Water Crisis
- Bipartisan Bill to Expose Tax Write-Offs for Corporate Wrongdoing Clears Committee
- TV: Nuclear waste “flowing out to sea” from underground tunnels at Fukushima — 950 Billion Bq/m³ of cesium in Unit 2 shaft next to ocean — 11,000 tons estimated in tunnels — ‘Stream’ of moving water — Gov’t regulators ‘urgently assessing’ problems, ‘sense of crisis’ needed (VIDEO)
- Video: Fukushima debris “waist high” on Canadian island; “Catastrophic death” trapped in nets, it’s horrifying; 15-mile long lines of floating trash — Journalist: Radioactive tsunami debris found far from Fukushima plant — Global concern over spread of contamination
- TV: Mounds of millions of jellyfish-like creatures wash up on Pacific beaches across multiple states — “They lined entire Oregon Coast” — Seen for first time in a great many years — Official: “They just covered the sea surface… as far as we could see” — Thought to mix with ones from Japan (VIDEO & PICS)
- CBS: This is really disturbing, sea stars dying by the millions on West Coast — Like the Black Death, only faster and deadlier — ‘Mystery plague’ affecting 20+ species — TV: Disappears from Orange County coast over 2 week period — Expert: “Largest epidemic ever in ocean… Something has changed in marine environment to lead to this” (VIDEO)
- A Public Wiki Shines Light on North America's 4 Million Oil & Gas Wells'We're not doing anything the regulators can't do themselves if they were so inclined,' says the founder of WellWiki. By Lisa Song When residents of America's fracking communities want to know if a particular oil or gas well in their neighborhood has a good environmental track record, they usually face the cumbersome task of searchin […]
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- White House: $150 Billion a Year Will Be Cost of Climate InactionDamage to public health and biodiversity, as well as physical impacts from rising seas and more severe storms, droughts and wildfires will add up quickly. By Katherine Bagley Seeking to blunt Congressional criticism of its climate agenda, and in particular its new power plant rule, the White House released a report on Tuesday that argues the world could face […]
- InsideClimate News Responds to Steve Everley of Energy in DepthThe ploy to manufacture an imaginary public enemy called the 'anti-fracking industry' is not a substitute for controlling fracking's toxic air emissions. By David Sassoon Last week an oil and gas industry public relations front group called Energy in Depth published a lengthy criticism of InsideClimate News and our partner for the past year, t […]
- If Corporations Have Religious Beliefs, This is the Logical ExtensionRuben Bolling shows us how some companies are taking the whole "corporations have religious beliefs" idea a little too far:
- Pierce County Council (in Washington State) Votes to Display “In God We Trust” in ChambersA couple of days ago, we learned that the Pierce County Council in Washington state was considering a proposal to add the phrase "In God We Trust" to its chambers. At the time, only two of the seven council members opposed the plan.Last night, the council decided to approve the religious display by a 4-3 vote. And the same dimwitted officials attem […]
- Creationist Ken Ham Says That Atheist TV Will “Poison and Destroy” the Minds of ChildrenIn case you missed the launch of Atheist TV last night, the introduction video is below. I would pay special attention to the speech given by American Atheists' founder Madalyn Murray O'Hair at the group's 1990 convention, beginning at the 5:45 mark. Nothing she says is unfamiliar to those of us who read books and visit websites about atheism […]
- 50 Signs You’re in a Bad RelationshipThe video below, part of The Atheist Voice series, discusses 50 signs you're in a bad relationship:
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To be truly radical is to make hope possible, rather than despair convincing.” ~ Raymond Williams
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I've observed that people tend to live at one of two extremes in the spectrum of life: those who live on the edge, and those who avoid the edge. Those who live on the edge are hanging out in the most dangerous and unstable places — yet they're also often the most powerful agents of change, because the edge is where change is happening; away from the edge, things are naturally unchanging. ~Thom Hartmann
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Society is like a stew: If you don't stir it up every now and then, the scum rises to the top.~Edward Abbey
You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete. ~Buckminster Fuller→
How thoughtful of God to arrange matters so that, wherever you happen to be born, the local religion always turns out to be the true one. ~ Richard Dawkins
Life is without meaning. You bring the meaning to it. The meaning of life is whatever you ascribe it to be. Being alive is the meaning. ~ Joseph Campbell
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THE SMALL ORGANIC FARM greatly discomforts the corporate/ industrial mind because the small organic farm is one of the most relentlessly subversive forces on the planet. Over centuries both the communist and the capitalist systems have tried to destroy small farms because small farmers are a threat to the consolidation of absolute power.
Thomas Jefferson said he didn’t think we could have democracy unless at least 20% of the population was self-supporting on small farms so they were independent enough to be able to tell an oppressive government to stuff it.
It is very difficult to control people who can create products without purchasing inputs from the system, who can market their products directly thus avoiding the involvement of mercenary middlemen, who can butcher animals and preserve foods without reliance on industrial conglomerates, and who can’t be bullied because they can feed their own faces. ~Eliot Coleman
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you have everything
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