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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- ‘Witch Hunt’: Fired MSNBC Contributor Speaks Out on Suppression of Israel-Palestine Debate…
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- Mendocino County Today: Friday, July 25, 2014Forgotten People; Geyserville Truth; The Deserters; Two-Hour Execution; Mendocino College; Supes in Covelo; Input Here; Ukiah Chemists; Catch of the Day; Crackpot Wisdom; Disproportionate Force; Sanctuary Forest; Israeli Insanity; Jim Larsen; Craig on the Couch
- Off With The Bandages, In With The BandWe are all looking forward to our FUNdraiser on Sunday, August 3rd, where we can celebrate our fantastic community and support Mark and Charlie and their families. Thankfully, we can see light at the end of the tunnel, for both Mark Pitner and Charlie Paget-Seekins have been improving over the past week. It’s time for […]
- Honey Oil Production Explodes In MendocinoLast month in Ukiah, Wayne Briley stood in front of the board of supervisors waving a hash oil extractor, an empty butane canister and some other butane hash oil (BHO) making paraphernalia, explaining to the supervisors why houses are blowing up across California. Briley heads the Redwood Empire Hazardous Incident Team (REHIT), a county level […]
- Local Folks, Part 1Although I have been writing articles about my time in Anderson Valley from the late 1950s to the late 1980s for more than two years, I have been reluctant to say much about those who lived in the Valley during this period, except for those who were our neighbors. My reasons were simple. First, I […]
- Open Source, Time Banks, Fablabs - Welcome to the "Irrational" EconomyThe idea that people may actually choose to cooperate with each other in managing important resources, and to reap their gains in nonmonetary forms, is “irrational” to economists.
- Strengthen Community Forest Rights to Fight Climate ChangeExpanding and strengthening the community forest rights of indigenous groups and rural residents can make a major contribution to sequestering carbon and reducing CO2 emissions from deforestation, according to a new report.
- IEA Oil Market Forecast: Optimistic Assumptions And An Economy Unable To Grow Out Of Its ProblemsThe International Energy Authority does does its best to paint a rosy picture of peak cheap oil. The reality is an economy which can no longer grow its way out of its problems.
- Energy Crunch: Global debate heats upNews that last month was the world’s hottest June on record provided another reminder that urgent global action is needed to combat climate change.
- The Trauma of Palestinian Children
- Statement on House Passage of McGovern-Jones-Lee Iraq Resolution
- Four Journalists, Including Three US Citizens, Detained in Iran
- More Than 80 Farm, Consumer, Rural and Faith-Based Organizations Call on Justice Department to Extend Review of Proposed Tyson-Hillshire Merger
- ‘Green burst’ and ‘criticality event’ under investigation by gov’t in connection with plutonium release at U.S. nuclear site #WIPP — Official: Underground fire may have initiated reaction in ruptured radioactive waste drum — Concern over possible arson/sabotage? (VIDEO)
- Gov’t reports “big, big decline” in Alaska caribou — “Mortality very high” after Fukushima releases began — “Low survival rate” for calves also in 2011 and 2012 — Official: “Worrisome” how quickly this happened… In truth, we don’t have an answer why (AUDIO)
- ‘Unthinkable Twist’: Japan expert calls for immediate health exams outside Fukushima, must act urgently or damage will be worse — Gov’t Officials: “I don’t want to discuss the issue”… Discovery of cancer could cause excessive anxiety
- Officials in U.S. report “very rare mutations” in Pacific sea life — “Never seen anything like this” — Photos show red crabs completely white, “shockingly bright blue… almost unnatural”, or with yellow legs — Environment “could play a role” — Also observed recently by Japan (VIDEO)
- Obama's Safer Oil Train Plan Faces Rulemaking HurdlesIt could take more than three years to fully halt the shipment of the most flammable liquids in the most dangerous rail cars. By Elizabeth Douglass The Obama Administration's proposal Wednesday for making oil-laden railcars safer runs 203 pages and includes a host of new rules for carrying flammable fuels by train—but they come with caveats. The most im […]
- Colorado: Judge Strikes Down Town's Fracking BanSixty percent of Longmont, Colo. voters favored the ban in a 2012 ballot measure. Activists say they will appeal. By Zahra Hirji A Colorado court has ruled that the city of Longmont's ban on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is invalid. The Boulder suburb—and the affiliated local and environmental groups that later joined the case—now have 44 days to a […]
- Runaround: Three Months of Correspondence With the EPAEPA's non-responsiveness in the Texas air pollution story is troubling because it keeps taxpayers in the dark about a critical issue. By Lisa Song and Jim Morris For more than a year, InsideClimate News and the Center for Public Integrity have been reporting on air pollution caused by the fracking boom in the Eagle Ford Shale of South Texas. Despite hun […]
- New Data on Extreme Temperatures Underscore Planet's Warming Trend, Scientists Say'It is more often the climate extremes that noticeably impact society, infrastructure, and ecosystems,' a new report warns. By John H. Cushman Jr. This past June was the warmest ever recorded by scientists since record keeping began in the 19th century. The average surface temperature of the earth was 61.2 degrees Fahrenheit, up 1.3 degrees from th […]
- Teacher-Led Prayer Halted in Indiana Middle School After a Parent Speaks UpOn May 27, the top ten students in every grade at Sarah Scott Middle School (in Indiana) gathered for an awards banquet. One of the teachers at the school, Jeffrey Burress, began the celebration by doing what he did the previous year: He said a prayer. All the award recipients along with the student council members who were there were expected to bow their h […]
- Atheist Billboard in North Texas Reaches Out to HispanicsThe Dallas--Fort Worth Coalition of Reason began a billboard campaign this week to reach out to Hispanics. The month-long campaign includes a billboard reading, "¿No Eres Religioso? ¡47 Millones Están De Acuerdo!” (Not Religious? 47 Million Agree!)
- Debunking Four Myths About PolyamoryThis is a guest post written by Miri Mogilevsky. Miri is a graduate student in social work and the author of the blog Brute Reason, which covers psychology, mental health, and social justice from a secular perspective....Polyamory -- the practice of having multiple sexual/romantic relationships with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved -- is curren […]
- No, an Ohio State Class Did Not Teach That Christians Are Dumber Than AtheistsAccording to an article on the conservative site Campus Reform, a recent online quiz for a Psychology 1100 class at The Ohio State University asked students:Theo has an IQ of 100 and Aine has an IQ of 125. Which of the following statements [would] you expect to be true?- Aine is an atheist, while Theo is a Christian. - Aine earns less money than Theo. - Theo […]
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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