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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- Gene Logsdon: Trivia That May Not Be So Trivial
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- Naomi Klein: the hypocrisy behind the big business climate change battle…
- Angry Letters to the One Member of Congress Who Voted Against the War on Terror…
- Censorship and What Freedom of Speech Really Means: Comedian Bill Hicks’s Brilliant Letter to a Priest…
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- Elaine on Will Parrish: Drum Demo At Shasta Dam
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- Mendocino County Today: Tuesday, September 23, 2014DAVID SEVERN revives his crucial Vine Watch duties to report, “After being out of town for three days I was surprised to find the Navarro River actually trickling in a few spots where it had been underground most of the summer. This could be the result of early leaf fall from the trees which usually […]
- Saving Mendo HistoryThe Friends of the Observatory monthly lecture series will feature Dr. Paul Poulos, board member of the Mendocino County Historical Society, presentation of “From the Eye of the Beholder: Saving Mendocino County’s History and Preserving Our Science.” The event is scheduled for Thursday night, September 25, at 7:30 p.m. in the council chambers of the […] […]
- Mendocino County Today: Monday, September 22, 2014Gridiron Etiquette; Unassisted Living; Puddle Mendocino; Water Policy; Sports Porn; Down, Wanton; Older Women; Emergency Services; Peters, Candidate; Neuroth Mystery; Rural Outernet; Crummy Hotel; GJ Appreciation; Catch of the Day; Mysterious Weed; Life Choices; Climate Marches; California Dreaming
- Jesus Plays No Tricks Harvest FestivalOctober 31st. 6:30pm-9pm This is a free Family Friendly Event for the community There will be free food, jumping house, games, costume contest and prizes. We want to invite all ages to come out to a night of Fun. Ukiah Assembly of God, 395 N. Barnes St. Ukiah, Ca. 95482 Contact Info: Jerry Rivera, 707-353-0275 […]
- Paul Krugman’s Errors and OmissionsIn a New York Times op-ed published September 18 titled “Errors and Emissions,” economist-columnist Paul Krugman took a swipe at my organization, Post Carbon Institute, lumping us together with the Koch brothers as purveyors of “climate despair.” But not only does Krugman misrepresent our position, he himself is guilty of 5 errors and 3 omissions.
- Peak Oil Review - Sept 22A weekly update, including: - Oil and the global economy -The Middle East and North Africa -Russia -Quote of the Week -The Briefs
- Low Oil Prices: Sign of a Debt Bubble Collapse, Leading to the End of Oil SupplyOil and other commodity prices have recently been dropping. Is this good news, or bad?
- Kostakis & Bauwens: Network Society and Future Scenarios for a Collaborative EconomyMichel Bauwens and Vasilis Kostakis have just published a new book that offers a rich, sophisticated critique of our current brand of capitalism, and looks to current trends in digital collaboration to propose the outlines of the next, network-based economy and society.
- Mass Climate Protest Disrupts Financial District — Hundreds Currently Risking Arrest
- California Environmental Justice Alliance & Sierra Club Call on Attorney General to Investigate Collusion between Utilities and the California Public Utilities Commission.
- Climate Marchers to Global Leaders: No Dirty Energy in the Green Climate Fund
- The Climate Justice Alliance hosts People's Tribunal on Global Leaders convening Tuesday
- Gov’t Expert: Fallout in California thousands of times higher than we expected for several days after Fukushima explosions — ‘Orders of magnitude’ above estimates at start of crisis, even though estimations based on Chernobyl — Article: Releases at these levels would mean “many hundreds of kilograms” of “many other fission products!” (MAP)
- VIDEO: Radioactive material now flowing toward Tokyo and contaminating their water supply; Problems “actually only getting worse” — “Truth is no one in world really knows how to deal with Fukushima” — Gov’t Expert: Tepco “should give up’ making ice walls
- Japan Times: Fukushima plant plagued by problems as radioactive material bleeds into Pacific — Radiation level in groundwater now 25,000 times higher than when year began
- Reuters: Investigation suggests another drum with plutonium ruptured at US nuclear site — TV: “There are new concerns at WIPP that there could be another radiation leak” (VIDEO)
- Kerry Vows Commitment to Climate Solutions a Day Before UN Summit(The Guardian) The U.S. secretary of state, John Kerry, promised to put climate change "front and center" of American diplomacy on Monday, raising expectations for this week's United Nations climate summit. A day before the first world leaders' meeting on climate change in five years, Kerry said he would take it upon himself to make sure […]
- Climate Advocates Need to Embrace Carbon TaxOP-ED: “Forget cap-and-trade. It’s too complicated to resonate with the public, and too prone to manipulation and gaming.” By Charles Komanoff Charles Komanoff directs the Carbon Tax Center in New York. This story was updated at 1:15 PM EDT. Which is mightier—the obstacles to enacting a U.S. carbon tax, or the tax’s unique capacity to drive down global-warmi […]
- Climate Primer: Explaining the Global Carbon Budget and Why It MattersOnce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere tops 3.2 trillion metric tons, chances dim to avoid climate disaster, according to new calculations. By Elizabeth Douglass, InsideClimate News For as long as scientists and policymakers have been grappling with climate change, they've been up against two critical questions: How much extra carbon has mankind sent […]
- NYC Climate March Tops Expectations At Columbus Circle marchers flowed by at a rate of about 10 per second. By John H. Cushman Jr., InsideClimate News InsideClimate News spent Sunday covering the People's Climate March. This story was last updated at 4:45 PM. NEW YORK—They took the A train—or the B, C, or D, or the 1 or the 2. They piled off buses and ambled across Central Park. All along […]
- New Survey Says Americans Equally Split Between Those Who Think Government Gets in the Way of Religion and Vice VersaAccording to the 2014 American Values Survey just released by the Public Religion Research Institute, Americans are equally divided between those who worry about religious groups turning their beliefs into law (e.g. Hobby Lobby) and those who worry that government is interfering with their faith (e.g. Hobby Lobby):Of course, when you break it down by religio […]
- Friendly Atheist Podcast Episode 19: Dan Arel, Author of Parenting Without GodOur latest podcast guest is Dan Arel, author of Parenting Without God:
- Americans Now Think Evangelical Christians Are More Discriminated Against Than AtheistsA new survey out today by the Pew Research Forum shows that more Americans than ever before (72%) think religion is losing its influence on society… and, for some reason, many of them think that’s a bad thing. Don’t get too excited. What that’s saying is that a lot of Americans *wish* religion had more [Read More...]
- John Oliver Brilliantly Debunks the Scholarship Claim Made by Miss America Pageant OrganizersIn case you missed it last night, John Oliver's team on Last Week Tonight did what all good skeptics do: They heard a claim that everyone just takes for granted (in this case, made by Miss America Pageant organizers), dug into the details, and discovered the evidence for it was incredibly dubious.The whole segment is terrific, but the relevant portion b […]
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UB Mission Statement
Living From Our Local Landscape and Countryside - Wendell Berry
The Idea of a Local Economy - Wendell Berry
The Work of Local Culture - Wendell Berry
Finding Meaningful Work - Dave Smith
Embrace the Mystery
Carl Sagan Took My Faith and Gave Me Awe
The 30-Second God Debate
Not Afraid of Burning In Hell
The 20 Basic Reasons To Abandon Christianity
Religion Is Not Only Mistaken, But Does More Harm Than Good
Mondragon: The Loving Society That Is Our Inevitable Future
Surely Something Will Save Us... - Thom Hartmann
Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason - Sam Harris
Telling the Truth about the Holy Bible - Robert Ingersoll
How To Be Saved - Robert Ingersoll
The Great Infidels - Robert Ingersoll
Interactive Chart of Biblical Contradictions
Why support independent, locally owned businesses?
The Local Multiplier Effect
The Dirty F@#*ing Hippies Were Right!
To be truly radical is to make hope possible, rather than despair convincing.” ~ Raymond Williams
Small is beautiful, when small is skilled and dedicated... There is so much artificial and plastic crap around, the human spirit yearns for the homespun and the real. ~Gene Logsdon→
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
What is not worth doing, is not worth doing well. ~Abraham Maslow→
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
I sang as one / Who on a tilting deck sings / To keep men's courage up, though the wave hangs / That shall cut off their sun. ~C. Day Lewis
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Local Organic Family Farms
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
Are The Heart
Of Free Communities
If you have a garden
and a library,
you have everything
you need. ~ Cicero