Around the web

Thom Hartmann: How Stupid Has the Democratic Party Become?



From Thom Hartmann

“Given a choice between a Republican and a Democrat who acts like a Republican; the voters will pick the Republican every time!”

Republicans haven’t taken over red states; Democrats have lost them by not running as real Democrats.

That’s my big takeaway from Alec MacGillis’ fascinating look into the biggest political mystery of our time: why poor white people in red states are not bothering to turn out to vote, leaving the field to Republicans elected by more affluent whites in those states.

There a lot of theories as to why this happens.

One of the most famous comes from Thomas Frank, who argued in his book What’s The Matter With Kansas? that poor white people vote Republican because Republicans have duped them into caring about social issues like abortion, guns, and gay marriage.

There is a lot to be said for that line of analysis, but Alec MacGillis, has a different theory.

The media and the Paris terror attacks…



Thanks to Jim

Last Friday’s terror attacks in Paris have triggered an international media campaign aimed at inspiring panic and justifying an escalation of the wars in the Middle East and the assault on democratic rights within the US and Europe.

The establishment media accepts uncritically all of the claims of government officials, as well as their cynical statements of sympathy for the victims and their self-serving denunciations of the killers as evil incarnate. It works to use the latest attack to legitimize the wars and repressive measures that produced it and previous terrorist atrocities, while setting the stage for wider wars and outright dictatorship.

The calls for more troops and bombs in Syria and even more pervasive government spying, harsher policies against immigrants and other undemocratic measures have nothing to do with protecting anybody. They are about implementing pre-existing plans to seize the oil resources of the Middle East and clamp down on restive populations within the imperialist countries.

CNN, for example, has been recycling a video clip of Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, declaring that she has premonitions of disaster like those she had just before the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.

The Washington Post published an editorial Tuesday denouncing President Obama’s policy in Syria as insufficiently aggressive. It called for increasing the deployment of Special Forces troops beyond the level announced by Obama earlier this month, using drone missiles, and setting up so-called “safe zones” as staging grounds for an offensive to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

FAIR: Context-Free Coverage of Terror Helps Perpetuate Its Causes…


From Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR)

At the time of the attacks in Paris, FAIR’s website led with a piece by Ben Norton (11/13/15) about US reporting on the ISIS bombing in Beirut—noting references to the civilian neighborhood targeted by the bombing as a Hezbollah “stronghold” (MSNBC11/13/15), “bastion” (Reuters11/12/15) or “area” (NPR11/12/15). Given this framing—and the generally limited amount of coverage granted to the Lebanese victims—it’s unsurprising that the Beirut terror failed to provoke the same sorrow, horror and identification among US audiences that the Paris massacres did.

It feels callous to question the allocation of outrage; empathy is in such short supply in this world that one hesitates to question it when it emerges. But as a long-time citizen of New York City, I’m all too aware of the weaponization of grief. The outpouring of no-context, ahistorical sympathy after 9/11 helped pave the way for a violent reaction that killed in Iraq alone roughly 150 times as many people as died in Lower Manhattan  that day—an opportunistic catastrophe that did more to mock than avenge those deaths.

Just as the question of Al-Qaeda’s motives in 2001 provoked more self-congratulation than serious inquiry (Extra! Update10/01), coverage of Paris in 2015 tends to skirt over political realities. Thus the New York Times (11/13/15) could report: “A stunned and confused French capital was again left to wonder: Why us? Once again?” The obvious answer was alluded to obliquely by a soccer stadium spectator: “With all the strikes in Syria, we’re not safe anymore.”

America’s Empire of African Bases…


U.S. military outposts, port facilities, and other areas of access in Africa, 2002-2015 (Nick Turse/TomDispatch, 2015) 

[Note for TomDispatch Readers:  Last week, Nick Turse appeared on Democracy Now! to discuss his superb TomDispatch work on Special Operations forces and his new Dispatch book, Tomorrow’s Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in AfricaClick here to check him out at DN! (or here for the online extended interview). Then, if you’d like a personalized, signed copy of his new book, just go to the TD donation page. For $100 — and the knowledge that you’ve helped this website roll into 2016 — it’s yours! Tom]

As I’ve written elsewhere, what Chalmers Johnson called America’s “empire of bases” was “not so much our little secret as a secret we kept even from ourselves” — at least until Johnson broke the silence and his book Blowback became a bestseller in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.  In those years, however, if (like Johnson) you actually wanted to know about the way the U.S. garrisoned the world, you could profitably start simply by reading the Pentagon’s tabulations of its global garrisons, ranging from military bases the size of small American towns to what were then starting to be called “lily pads,” which were small sites in potential global hot spots stocked with pre-positioned materiel and ready for instant occupation.  It was all there on the record for those who cared to know.  Well, perhaps not quite all there, but enough of it certainly to get a sense of what the “American Raj” (as Johnson called it) looked like from Europe to Asia, Latin America to the Persian Gulf.

Robert Fisk: ‘We remain blindfolded about Isis’ says the man who should know…


From Robert Fisk
Thanks to Todd

With atrocities in Sinai, Beirut and Paris (and let’s keep the order in sequence here, since all those lost innocents, Russian, Lebanese and French, are equal as our brothers and sisters), I was beginning to think that our emotions were becoming as insane as the perpetrators of these crimes. An “act of war”, a response “without mercy” – the French response was straight out of the Isis vocabulary.

So immediately after the Paris massacres, I sought for reason, clarity and wisdom from a man who spent four and a half years in the hands of Muslim kidnappers – 54 months wearing a blindfold, always waiting for death.

Brian Keenan was held by Shia Muslims loyal to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Had he been taken by Isis in Syria or Iraq, we would by now have been able to watch his beheading on video – yet he kept his sanity to write the only literary work to emerge from a Western kidnap victim of Beirut in the 1980s, An Evil Cradling, a book that will live for a hundred years as a monument to humanity amid suffering.

Regarding the Horrible and Stupid Christianist (and Islamist) Bullshit About People Burning in Hell…


From Captain Cassidy

(Content note: discussion of serious burn injuries.)

I’m really sorry about there not being a FULL KITTEN UPDATE today. With Paris reeling from horrific terrorist activity, I felt uncomfortable about running such a post right now. We’ll do it next week, and if you’re around Paris or have loved ones there, then please know you’ve got my sympathies and hopes for a speedy resolution to this crisis. Today we’ll talk about a belief that I think contributes to extremist thinking: that somehow people deserve harm and eternal torture for not believing in a specific set of supernatural claims or complying with a religion’s demands. Religious people’s danger is in falling prey to extremist thinking–and this extremism infects any religions with a black-or-white, all-or-nothing structure that admits to no compromise or empathy with outsiders and which only wants dominion over all other people. The extremists who are terrorizing Paris have more in common with Christian extremists on American soil terrorizing women’s clinics and synagogues than they do with the more moderate members of their own religion. My heart goes out to the people of France and those who have lost loved ones to the violence erupting there, and my anger continues unabated toward the mindset that makes it okay to do anything like what is happening there.

I want to talk about Hell today.

There is something truly grotesque about the way so many Christians seem to get off on the idea of people burning in Hell. I’m sure you’ve seen what I have: the way their eyes glitter when they talk about it, the eager tone of voice they get when describing in lurid detail the horrors non-believers will experience there. I don’t think they even realize they’re coming off that way, they’re so desensitized to the idea by now. The idea that a huge number of their family members, loved ones, and total strangers alike are one day going to burn forever and ever and ever is so endemic to their worldview that I’m not sure they even realize what it means or what their gloating implies about them as people. Today we’re going to talk about this mindset and what it means–and why good people reject it.

Giant Utilities Try to Kill Solar Power…


From WashingtonsBlog

Rooftop Solar Poses a Threat to the Utilities’ Century-Old Business Model of Centralized Power … So They’re Trying to Make Solar Much More Expensive

One of the main reasons that solar energy is growing so fast  in California is “net metering” … i.e. crediting rooftop solar users for surplus power their systems create, which is fed back into the grid for use by other customers.

Currently, rooftop solar owners are credited at the same rate they would pay the utility for electricity.

Not only is net metering a huge incentive to buy solar panels, but it is part of a wave of decentralized energy production which could help to solve our protect against terrorism, fascism and destruction of our health, environment and economy.

But the giant California utilities – PG&E, Southern California Energy and San Diego Gas & Electric – are determined to kill net metering, because it cuts into the profitability of their centralized energy production business.

Thom Hartmann: Republican Racism is Killing Poor White Americans…



How ‘Platform Co-ops’ Can Beat Death Stars Like Uber to Create a Real Sharing Economy…


From Resilience

We have an epic choice before us between platform coops and Death Star platforms, and the time to decide is now. It might be the most important economic decision we ever make, but most of us don’t even know we have a choice.

And just what is a Death Star platform? Bill Johnson of StructureC3referred to Uber and Airbnb as Death Star platforms in a recent chat. The label struck me as surprisingly apt: it reflects the raw ambition and focused power of these platforms, particularly Uber.

Uber’s big bet is global monopoly or bust. They’ve raised over $8 billion in venture capital, are on track to do over $10 billion in revenue this year, and have over one million drivers who are destroying the taxi industry in over 300 cities worldwide. They’ve done all this in just over five years. In fact, they reached a $51 billion valuation faster than Facebook, and plan to raise even more money. If they’re successful, they’ll become the most valuable startup in history. Airbnb is nearly as big and ambitious.

Platform coops are the alternative to Death Stars. As Lisa Gansky urged, these platforms share value with the people who make them valuable. Platform coops combine a cooperative business structure with an online platform to deliver a real-world service. What if Uber was owned and governed by its drivers? What if Airbnb was owned and governed by its hosts? That’s what an emerging movement is exploring for the entire sharing economy in an upcoming conference, Platform Cooperativism.

Shareable helped break the platform coop story last year in a Nathan Schneider feature entitled, “Owning is the New Sharing” along with Trebor Scholz of the New School. These two thought leaders, also the conference organizers, identified a wave of platform coops forming, but we’re still in the early days.

What forces are driving the rise of Death Star platforms? And what’s at stake?

GENE LOGSDON: Good Farming Means More Than Good Food


The Contrary Farmer

​Some 19,000 people die in traffic accidents every year and another two million are seriously injured. If death rates like this happened in any other sphere of activity, society would be rising up in holy wrath but travel is the most sacred part of our culture and any effort to diminish it significantly is not about to happen. Nor is it just a problem of modern technology. Take away cars and planes and the roadways would pulsate again with the thundering hooves of horses and runaway stagecoaches. Hi ho Sillllllver.

But small scale farming provides a way of life that decreases traffic automatically. If you own animals, you must stay home most of the time whether you want to or not. When crops need planting or harvesting, you had better be there. Nature waits on no man, and very few women. I suspect that most small, caretaker farmers have chosen their way of life because they don’t really like to travel anyway and can use their farms as a legitimate excuse for their sinfulness. I know there are thousands of people out there traveling to make a living who dream and plan for the day they can get a piece of land of their own and stay home. It would really be interesting to know how many traffic deaths and injuries would be avoided if they all could realize their dream.

Can Earthquakes and Volcanoes be predicted? This guy is doing it all the time…


Earthquake forecast video (issued late Oct 31 into Nov 1 2015)

From Michael Janitch


California earthquake unrest is building into what appears to be a coming larger event.

Today, after a series of M4.0+ earthquakes in California, Arizona, and Oklahoma, now we see a moderate M3.5 earthquake has struck directly below an ancient “unnamed” volcanic butte in Eastern California.

unnamed volcano nov 3 2015

nov 3 2015 earthquake california

The earthquake struck next to a location called “Volcanic Hills”, which really are a series of ancient (long extinct) volcanic buttes situated at the Eastern border of California.

These multiple groups of butte volcanoes speckle the region, and they tell the tale of the violent volcanic past which makes up the Southwest , Western, and Northwest United States.

unnamed volcano nov 3 2015 a

Any time we see long extinct volcanoes showing SEISMIC activity, we know that pressure is building below the plate, as evidenced by the FOUR different M4.0+ earthquakes which struck the West coast into Midwest over the past 24 hours.

The pressure from the Pacific plate causes the ancient magma chambers, and hardened associated hardened lava tubes to be slightly perturbed – the natural “weak spot” being the crust puncture region where the old magma chamber flutes up to the surface.

The result of the greater pressure on the West coast is the movement of dormant volcanoes.

This is a warning sign of larger movement coming.  Any force that can move the whole North American plate on a M4.0+ level, and cause earthquakes at long extinct volcanoes, is a force to be watched closely for larger release.

craton movement november 2 2015


The earthquake forecast in video (at the top) specifically called for long dormant ancient volcanoes to show movement this week along the West coast, this is happening currently (November 3, 2015).

In Memoriam: William Edelen has moved on after stroke…

[My comments following obituary… ds]

WILLIAM EDELEN (1922 – 2015)

From The Desert Sun
Palm Springs

Bill Edelen, an ordained minister, anthropologist, Marine fighter pilot, Taoist, newspaper columnist and author of such books as “The Breath of Life” and “Toward the Mystery,” took his own final breath Friday, in what he believed would be the beginning of a mysterious journey.

Edelen, 93, died in a Palm Springs convalescent home, surrounded in his final hours by his son, Bill Jr. He had suffered a stroke just more than a week ago and was taken to Desert Regional Medical Center, where he had been uncommunicative. But his son returned him to the convalescent home that had been his residence for the past year and said he began reminiscing about their early days before succumbing early in the morning.

Edelen was known for fighting religious intolerance with the same tenacity he brought to his service in World War II and the Korean War, where he picked up wounded Marines from the 38th parallel into Inje, North Korea.

He was brought to Palm Springs by former Ambassador Walter Annenberg, who sponsored him to lead a weekly symposium at The Tennis Club on spiritual free thinking. He was supported in his later years by Harold Matzner, owner of Spencer’s restaurant at The Tennis Club.

In 1999, Edelen and his friend, Barry Manilow, performed a memorable benefit concert in the Annenberg Theater for the then Palm Springs Desert Museum. Edelen would recite from his philosophical writings and Manilow would sing and play keyboards on songs reflecting Edelen’s ideas.

Edelen was awarded a place on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars the next year. Among his presenters were Floyd “Red Crow” Westerman, who played Ten Bears in “Dances With Wolves.” Matzner called him “one of a kind.

“He had a wonderful life,” he said. “He inspired a lot of people, including you and me.”

Edelen had his own talk show on KPSI and was a Desert Sun columnist for 14 years. He generated more passionate letters to the editor than any other writer during his tenure. His regular column was eventually suspended, but he was brought back as an occasional guest writer.

In 2001, he wrote a column stating, “(Pope) John Paul does not have enough days left in his life to say “For my part … I am sorry” to all of the millions and millions of human beings slaughtered by the Christian church, to all new discoveries of truth slaughtered by the church.”

The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights responded, “The Desert Sun, a Palm Springs, California daily, published a piece by William Edelen that was so unbelievable it had all the markings of a person gone mad. The biggest problem we had with the article was the fact that it got published.”

But Edelen was friends and associates with some of the 20th century’s greatest freethinkers, including Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, philosopher Joseph Campbell, Native American Indian activist Vine Deloria and cartoonist Charles Schultz, who listened to Edelen’s lectures in his home town of Santa Rosa, Calif., when Edelen lived there.

Architect, inventor and visionary Buckminster Fuller called him, “An original thinker in the oldest of thinking worlds, that is, thinking about God. He’s in love with the truth. Edelen dares to do his own thinking. He has wide experience to enrich that thinking.”

Edelen spent 12 years in the Marines, logging more than 1,000 hours as an instructor before seeing combat duty in Korea. He left in 1954 to study and write. He earned a degree in horticulture at Oklahoma State University and became involved in a First Presbyterian Church, where he received a grant to study at the McCormick Seminary at the University of Chicago.

He earned a master’s in anthropology at the University of Colorado, teaching that and religion at the University of Oklahoma and the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash. He became a Congregational minister in Tacoma, where he was known as a religious iconoclast.

“I had the senior minister of the First Presbyterian Church in Tacoma one day ask me who Zoroaster is,” Edelen recalled. “I thought, ‘You dummy. You’ve been preaching it every Sunday — Zoroastrianism’.”

A grant from Annenberg allowed him to leave the Congressional Church and devote himself to writing and lecturing. Actress and natural health advocate Suzanne Somers was a fan of his writing.

“Bill Edelen once wrote, ‘Today the bees are bee-ing and the birds are bird-ing’ and I instantly knew what kind of day he was describing,” she said. “Few are blessed with such an ability to work words so beautifully. He was our treasure. A thoughtful treasure. He will be missed.”

Edelen told The Desert Sun in 2012 if he were to describe himself as a disciple of any deity, it would probably be the Lakota Indians’ Wakan Tanka. His friend, Native American leader Russell Banks, told him the name translated to “Great Mystery.”

He said at age 90 he was looking forward to moving toward the mystery.

“I think there’s some kind of consciousness connection,” he said, “some kind of unknown, we know not what.”

Besides Bill Jr. of Santa Rosa, Edelen is survived by his daughter Lee Reeves of Pensacola, Fla., two grandsons and a great-granddaughter. Plans for a memorial service are pending.

From Dave Smith

Back in the seventies, Bill lived in Santa Rosa and had a weekly column in the  Press Democrat which I followed (un)religiously. Eventually, Bill moved to Palm Desert and the PD discontinued his column. Several years ago, Mark Scaramella of the Anderson Valley Advertiser ran one of his current columns and I was able to track his website down where they were still being regularly published.

Coincidentally, the first post I encountered was Bill asking for someone to run his website. I contacted him and volunteered. More recently, at the end of 2013, after running into problems with his web host, he asked me to shut it down and just run his columns on my own blog… this one.

I will continue to post his writings every Sunday here on Ukiah Blog, reposting some, and adding more from his several self-published books of past columns. Here are three recent ones.

Reflections On My Own Death

Reflections at Age 92

Surprised by Joy

The Inspirational Guitarist With No Arms…



Great video: ‘How Germany is Powering Tomorrow’…




From Daily Kos

“It’s what you do after that matters,’ Bush insisted. “Does anybody actually blame my brother for the attacks on 9/11? If they do, they’re totally marginalized in our society. It’s what he did afterwards that matters, and I’m proud of him. And so are a bunch of other people.”

j[And actually, he and Cheney ARE ALSO to blame for 9/11…]

U.S. Flag Recalled After Causing 143 Million Deaths…


From The Onion

WASHINGTON—Citing a series of fatal malfunctions dating back to 1777, flag manufacturer Annin & Company announced Monday that it would be recalling all makes and models of its popular American flag from both foreign and domestic markets.

Representatives from the nation’s leading flag producer claimed that as many as 143 million deaths in the past two centuries can be attributed directly to the faulty U.S. models, which have been utilized extensively since the 18th century in sectors as diverse as government, the military, and public education.

“It has come to our attention that, due to the inherent risks and hazards it poses, the American flag is simply unfit for general use,” said Annin & Company president Ronald Burman, who confirmed that the number of flag-related deaths had noticeably spiked since 2003. “I would like to strongly urge all U.S. citizens: If you have an American flag hanging in your home or place of business, please discontinue using it immediately.”

The War On Science…



NRA Calls For Teachers To Keep Loaded Gun Pointed At Class For Entire School Day…



From The Onion

In the wake of tragic school shootings, representatives from the National Rifle Association pushed for all teachers around the country to keep a loaded gun pointed at their classes throughout the school day. “The only way to ensure safety in our schools is to make sure teachers hold fully loaded firearms at students from the moment they walk into the classroom until the moment they leave,” said NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, explaining that educators should, at the very least, point one 9mm semiautomatic pistol at the class while also keeping a concealed .357 magnum revolver and several spare cartridges of ammo nearby at all times.

“If teachers need to write on the board or turn the page of a textbook, they should always use their free hand while keeping the gun at face level of all students and holding one finger firmly on the trigger. Frankly, this is just common sense if we want to prevent these tragedies from happening again in the future.”…

Human Kind…



From George Monbiot
The Guardian

[We humans have evolved to be kind and helpful, and we don’t need a god to make us that way… ds]

Fascinating new lines of research suggest that we are good people, tolerating bad things.

Do you find yourself thrashing against the tide of human indifference and selfishness? Are you oppressed by the sense that while you care, others don’t? That because of humankind’s callousness, civilisation and the rest of life on earth are basically stuffed? If so, you are not alone. But neither are you right.

A study by the Common Cause Foundation, due to be published next month, reveals two transformative findings. The first is that a large majority of the 1000 people they surveyed – 74% – identify more strongly with unselfish values than with selfish values. This means that they are more interested in helpfulness, honesty, forgiveness and justice than in money, fame, status and power. The second is that a similar majority – 78% – believes others to be more selfish than they really are. In other words, we have made a terrible mistake about other people’s minds.

The revelation that humanity’s dominant characteristic is, er, humanity, will come as no surprise to those who have followed recent developments in behavioural and social sciences. People, these findings suggest, are basically and inherently nice.

review article in the journal Frontiers in Psychology points out that our behaviour towards unrelated members of our species is “spectacularly unusual when compared to other animals”. While chimpanzees might share food with members of their own group, though usually only after being plagued by aggressive begging, they tend to react violently towards strangers. Chimpanzees, the authors note, behave more like the Homo economicus of neoliberal mythology than people do.

The Great California Genocide…



From Daily Kos

 What do you think of when someone says “California”? Beaches? Sunshine? Hollywood?

How about the largest act of genocide in American history?

“The idea, strange as it may appear, never occurred to them (the Indians) that they were suffering for the great cause of civilization, which, in the natural course of things, must exterminate Indians.”
– Special Agent J. Ross Browne, Indian Affairs

California was one of the last areas of the New World to be colonized.

It wasn’t until 1769 that the first mission, Mission San Diego de Alcalá, was built in California at present-day San Diego. It was the first of 21 missions, which would become the primary means for the Spaniards to subjugate the natives. The leader of this effort was Franciscan friar Junípero Serra.

Despite whatever the movies portray, the missions were coercive religious, forced labor camps. Through bribes, military intimidation, and the eventual onslaught of European diseases (that usually targeted children), the colonizers ensured that eventually sick and desperate indians would come to the missions for help. That’s not to say that they intentionally spread diseases, but there was a consistent, two century long pattern.
The indians that wound up there had their children taken from them, and harsh, manual labor was the rule. Beatings and filthy living conditions were common. The death rate at the missions was appalling. By 1818 the percentage of Indians who died in the missions reached 86 percent. Over 81,000 indian “converts” eventually managed to successfully flee the missions.

Soon there were indian revolts.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,669 other followers