Todd Walton: Propaganda of Childhood



“What we remember from childhood we remember forever—permanent ghosts, stamped, inked, imprinted, eternally seen.” Cynthia Ozick

The propaganda of my childhood said that Santa Claus rewards children for being good by giving them what they want. And long after I figured out that my parents were Santa Claus, I continued to believe that the reason I never got what I wanted was because I was not good. Every year I was given clothing I did not want, books I did not want, and things my father wanted, so that as I unwrapped those gifts he would chortle, “What a coincidence. Just what I needed.”

However, when I was ten-years-old, my parents gave me a real bow and arrows with steel tips, something I had been asking for since I was old enough to ask for something. And when I went outside to shoot that bow and arrows, and found that my father had also bought a bale of hay to which he had affixed a beautiful target, I was more than happy; I was filled to bursting with the sense of being good.

I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was six. Mother took me to see him in a department store and he asked for my autograph.” Shirley Temple

In response to the depressing fact that the latest tax bill signed into law by President Obama actually increases taxes on the poorest 150 million Americans while allowing the super wealthy to pay no taxes at all, a friend remarked, “That doesn’t fit with the propaganda of our childhood.” And her comment struck me as a cogent explanation for why my peers and I continue to be so deeply disappointed by the machinations of the corporate overlords as carried out by their trusty puppets. And her comment also explained why we, the people,

Herb Ruhs: Looting The Country

Anderson Valley

“…ensuring that government of the banks, by the banks, for the banks shall not perish from the Earth.” – from: In Money-Changers We Trust by Robert Scheer

This otherwise great article by Scheer is still pussy footing around the fact of a blatant, and not too concealed, financial conspiracy to loot the country and reinvest overseas by the wealthy of this country led by the banking industry.  The article does come close enough in its analysis and list of perpetrators for folks without blinders to see the general plan and conduct of the greatest looting in history.  US corporations are adding jobs faster than ever, only just not in the US. Looted money seeks a home to invest in and it is not here. I wonder if, a little down the road, it won’t be in the banks interest to just cut the umbilical and collapse the US dollar and do business in other currencies.

For the time being the only thing preventing a total financial abandonment of the nation that is the need for the Military to recruit soldiers in the US. With the current high unemployment of military aged individuals in the US that problem is temporarily solved. However, with its rampant contracting the US military is coming to depend on US recruitment less.  Lots of ruthless mercenaries looking for work out there, and the support services, always a large proportion of any force as compared to combat units, are already filled by non-US citizens.  So, if you count effectiveness in the way that was done throughout history to include support units, the US Army is ALREADY not a majority native US force.

Historically, when empires reach this point where foreign mercenaries outnumber citizens – in the case of Rome the “barbarian” legions, British the sepoys, Hessians, Gurkas, etc. –  the empire is overextended and doomed. The book Sorrows of Empire

WikiLeaks does what journalists are supposed to do — piss off powerful people.

Thanks to Anna Taylor

Truth Telling and the End of Democracy

[…] Put simply, Wikileaks is a journalistic organization. They serve as a clearinghouse for whistleblowers from public and private organizations around the world to leak documents into the public domain. Unlike more traditional news organizations, however, Wikileaks collects, categorizes, and releases raw data, unprocessed by spin. By skipping the value-laden contextualization we commonly associate with, and recognize as, journalism, Wikileaks is as close as it gets to being an unbiased source of news—with their only biases coming in the form of what they chose to release…

Wikileaks isn’t particularly about government documents. It’s about raw data. Their sourcing and verification of raw data has earned them awards for investigative reporting—a reporting that often leaves its analysis to readers or other reporters. Much of what they’ve reported since their 2007 launch has focused on corporate crime. For example, they’ve taken on the private entity that collects highway tolls in Germany and that country’s private health insurance providers. They’ve exposed labor problems at a private, for-profit education corporation in the US. They’ve exposed illegal, immoral, or reckless dealings by banks in Britain, Switzerland, Iceland, the Cayman Islands, and the US. They’ve exposed illegal toxic dumping, suppressed details on a leaky Japanese nuclear reactor, and the so-called “climate-gate” emails that were embraced by Republican climate-change deniers.

Wikileaks has also exposed government corruption in Kenya, East Timor, and the Turks and Caicos Islands, to name a few examples. They laid bare the nuts and bolts of Internet censorship in China and Thailand. They released documents investigating alleged corruption in Shriners hospitals,

**Greater Ukiah Transition Meeting


The time has come for those of us in the Ukiah area to join together and begin the work of transitioning to a future beyond fossil fuels.  This is a grassroots movement that seeks to build community resilience in the face of such challenges as peak oil, climate change and the economic crisis.  It empowers people in the community to work together to strengthen it against the effects of these challenges, resulting in a life that is more sustainable, equitable and socially connected.  This meeting is for those who would like to learn more about the Transition Movement and who are interested in becoming part of the core group to help lead this effort.

Meeting time, Tuesday, January 11th, 5:15 – 6:45 PM, Saturday Afternoon Clubhouse, 107 S. Oak St., Ukiah.  Optional potluck.

Contact, Debora, 462-9392, if you plan to attend.

Bring your vision, passion, and commitment to help create the change we know is possible.

Will Parrish: California — Epicenter of the Great Unraveling


When the Great Unraveling of the world financial system began in earnest three years ago, the the term “Wall Street” instantly emerged as the main shorthand for big business interests that pull the strings of global politics and the economy. In the US’ increasingly impoverished political discourse, the phrase is often used interchangeably with “Corporate America” now.

Politicians from both major parties have recently issued forth countless verbal blusters about the undue economic influence wielded by “Wall Street” mega-firms — all the while helping enrich those same firms with nearly every figurative stroke of their legislative pens, as with the “tax cut” compromise measure just passed by the US Congress.

To the extent that this overriding focus on the activities of Wall Street bankers reflects some sort of new class struggle in the US, it is a fine and righteous tendency. In recent decades, America’s class war has been almost entirely one-sided. Two-thirds of the income gains made between 2002 and 2007 went to the top one percent of U.S. households. By contrast, real wealth among the bottom half shrank in that same period, having stagnated since the mid-1970s. To say that most people would benefit from a renaissance of American working class militancy, ala the massive upheavals in the fields and factories of the 1930s, would be a gross understatement — particularly with Medicare and Social Security now inching ever closer to the chopping block.

But the popular narrative that suggests “Wall Street” as the source of all global economic woes obscures more compelling explanations for the financial crisis. It also serves to disempower those who might otherwise strive to combat the ongoing

William Greider’s critique of the traditional media’s Social Security failure

From digby

Nyhan Prize winner and political reporter William Greider discusses why the traditional media has failed so drastically on reporting Social Security with CJR’s Trudy Lieberman.

Trudy Lieberman: What are we to make of this consensus on fixes to Social Security that some in the media tell us has been reached?

William Greider: This is a staggering scandal for the media. I have yet to see a straightforward, non-ideological, non-argumentative piece in any major paper that describes the actual condition of Social Security. The core fact is that Social Security has not contributed a dime to the deficit, but has piled up trillions in surpluses, which the government has borrowed and spent. Social Security’s surpluses have actually offset the impact of the deficit, beginning with Reagan.

TL: Why don’t reporters report this?

WG: They identify with the wisdom of the elites who don’t want to talk about this—because if people understand that Social Security has a $2.5 trillion surplus, building toward more than $4 trillion, people will ask why are politicians trying to cut Social Security benefits?

TL: Is that why coverage has been so one-sided?

WG: Most reporters, with few exceptions, assume the respectables are telling the truth about Social Security, when it is really propaganda. What elites are saying is deeply misleading, and they deliberately are distorting the story. But reporters think they are smart people and must know what they are talking about….

WG: Most reporters who cover difficult areas typically develop sources, and they write for those sources. They don’t want to offend them

10 Great MoJo Long Reads


Conventional wisdom is that people don’t read long magazine stories online, but Mother Jones readers regularly prove otherwise. Every time we run a compelling, multipage article on our website, we find that many of you read all the way to the end…and comment, tweet, Facebook, and Tumble enthusiastically about details deep into the story. And what better time to curl up with a great read than over a long weekend (including you lucky ones with new iPads)? Below, a selection of our (and our readers’) best-loved MoJo long reads from 2010.

What Killed Aiyana Stanley-Jones?
A nighttime raid. A reality TV crew. A sleeping seven-year-old. What one tragedy can teach us about the unraveling of America’s middle class.
By Charlie LeDuff

Oath Keepers and the Age of Treason
Glenn Beck loves them. Tea Partiers court them. Congressmen listen to them. Meet the fast-growing “patriot” group that’s recruiting soldiers to resist the Obama administration.
By Justine Sharrock

The Ongoing Mysteries of the Elizabeth Smart Case
The verdict is in. But questions—about polygamy, prophecy, and insanity—remain.
By Scott Carrier

The Deadly Corruption of Clinical Trials
When you risk life and limb to help test a drug, are you helping science—or Big Pharma? One patient’s tragic, and telling, story.
By Carl Elliott

Glenn Beck’s Golden Fleece
How Beck and other right-wing talkers turned paranoia into a pitch for Goldline, the gold dealer one congressman says is conspiring to “cheat consumers.”
By Stephanie Mencimer

What Does It Matter?


We are living in the most destructive and, hence, the most stupid period of the history of our species. The list of its undeniable abominations is long and hardly bearable. And these abominations are not balanced or compensated or atoned for by the list, endlessly reiterated, of our scientific achievements. Some people are moved, now and again, to deplore one abomination or another. Others – and Hayden Carruth is one – deplore the whole list and its causes. Much protest is naive; it expects quick, visible improvement and despairs and gives up when such improvement does not come. Protesters who hold out longer have perhaps understood that success is not the proper goal. If protest depended on success, there would be little protest of any durability or significance. History simply affords too little evidence that anyone’s individual protest is of any use. Protest that endures, I think, is moved by a hope far more modest than that of public success: namely, the hope of preserving qualities in one’s own heart and spirit that would be destroyed by acquiescence. – Wendell Berry “A Poem of Difficult Hope”

In the circles I run and write in, it is a common device to claim that other thinkers and writers have failed to understand the real, deepest cause of our problems, and have instead embarked upon too superficial a narrative. What’s fascinating about this is that the thinkers doing so are almost always correct – that is, they nearly always right that someone has missed a deep underlying cause. The reason for this is that causes are nearly as ample as effects. Thus, the person who laments America’s dependence on foreign oil sources can be usefully corrected by someone who observes that the problem is everyone’s dependence on a finite resource, rather than a geopolitical error of resource development. The same person, speaking of finite resources can be accurately corrected by someone who observes that a growing population is the “real problem”

Book Review: The Witch of Hebron


A good novel is one that conjures images that linger. It creates characters that you feel a variety of emotions toward. The person stands in front of you and you can imagine interacting with them. You know whether you’d invite them to dinner or bar the door when they come knocking. A good novel does more than have a plot, an adventure, a tale. It brings you into the lives and times of the characters and gives you a chance to feel what they must feel, share their wishes and dreams, and hope along with them for the best (or the worst) as you move through the story. You sympathize, feel anger toward, want to comfort or hold your breath saying to yourself “No, don’t do that!” knowing quite well that the character will in fact do that very thing.

And you understand why.

For me then, as a clinical psychologist, a good novel is all about character development, even more so than it is about the demographics, diversity, or employment opportunities of those characters. Like a good meal, it leaves you satisfied after you finish it and haunts your thoughts. It may also bring lively debate…

The Witch of Hebron

Let me state for the record that I love the last two novels by James Howard Kunstler, and I’ll read every upcoming one eagerly. The characters have stayed with me, like friends I know, and I care about. I find no misstep in Kunstler’s novel for his lack of full-blown, in-depth female characters. Okay, so Jim’s women are courtesans, mystics/magicians, or wives, but I look at it this way: If you want vivid female characters, write your own novel. Or wait for his next installment. I don’t slam people for what they don’t write, I prefer to look at the stories they do tell, and this is a great continuing tale. Both books are a very entertaining