Around the web

Kurt Vonnegut: Hooray For Our Team…

 

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From A Man Without a Country (2005)

Our daily news sources, newspapers and TV, are now so craven, so unvigilant on behalf of the American people, so uninformative, that only in books do we learn what’s really going on.
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People are so afraid. Take the man, with no address, who wrote me:

If you knew that a man posed a danger to you—maybe he had a gun in his pocket, and you felt that he would not hesitate one moment to use it on you—what would you do? We know Iraq poses a threat to us, to the rest of the world. Why do we sit here and pretend we are protected? That is exactly what happened with al-Queda and 9/11. With Iraq, though, the threat is on a much larger scale. Should we sit back, be little children that sit in fear and just wait?

I wrote back:

Please, for the sake of us all, get a shotgun, preferably a 12-guage double-barrel, and right there in your own neighborhood blow off the heads of people, cops excepted, who may be armed.
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“Socialism” is no more an evil word than “Christianity.” Socialism no more prescribed Joseph Stalin and his secret police and shuttered churches than Christianity prescribed the Spanish Inquisition. Christianity and socialism alike, in fact, prescribe a society dedicated to the proposition that all men, women, and children are created equal and shall not starve.

Adolf Hitler, incidentally, was a two-fer. He named his party the National Socialists, the Nazis. Hitler’s swastika wasn’t a pagan symbol, as so many people believe. It was a working person’s Christian cross, made of axes, of tools.

About Stalin’s shuttered churches, and those in China today: Such suppression of religion was supposedly justified by Karl Marx’s statement that “religion is the opium of the people.” Marx said that back in 1844, when opium and opium derivatives were the only effective painkillers anyone could take. Marx himself had taken them. He was grateful for the temporary relief they had given him. He was simply noticing, and surely not condemning, the fact that religion could also be comforting to those in economic or social distress. It was a casual truism, not a dictum.

When Marx wrote those words, by the way, we hadn’t even freed our slaves yet. Who do you imagine was more pleasing in the eyes of a merciful God back then, Karl Marx or the United States of America?

Killing People and Breaking Things: U.S. Special Operations Command Details Dismal U.S. Military Record…

 

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From TomDispatch

Winning: it’s written into the DNA of the U.S.A.  After all, what’s more American than football legend Vince Lombardi’s famous (if purloinedmaxim: “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing”?

Americans expect to be number one.  First Lady Michelle Obama recently called the United States the “greatest country on Earth.” (Take that, world public opinion, and your choice of Germany!) Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton went even further, touting America as “the greatest country that has ever been created.”  Her rival, Donald Trump, who for political gain badmouths the country that made him rich and famous, does so in the hope of returning America to supposedly halcyon days of unparalleled greatness.  He’s predicted that his presidency might lead to an actual winning overload.  “We’re going to win so much,” he told supporters.  “You’re going to get tired of winning. You’re going to say, ‘Please, Mr. President… don’t win so much’… And I’m going to say, ‘No, we have to make America great again… We’re gonna keep winning.’”

As Trump well knows, Americans take winning very seriously.  Look no further than the U.S. gold medal count at the recent Rio Olympics: 46. The next highest total?  Great Britain’s 27, almost 20 fewer than those of the country whose upstart rebels bested them in the eighteenth century, the nation’s ur-victory.  The young United States then beat back the Brits in the early 1800s, and twice bailed them out in victorious world wars during the twentieth century.

In the intervening years, the U.S. built up a gaudy military record — slaughtering native tribespunishing Mexico, pummeling Spain — but the bestwas yet to come.  “Our troops are the finest fighting force in the history of the world,” boasted President Barack Obama in this year’s State of the Union address.  In this he echoed his predecessor, George W. Bush, who, in May 2001, declared that “America today has the finest [military] the world has ever seen.”

Fires of Hell…

 

From Harmony James (homeschooled, raised in an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist home)
Thanks to Bruce

Raised in the back woods hidden away

And kept out of sight

Is it any wonder I would want to run to the light

I ain’t ever been drunk on liquor

I ain’t ever been kissed

I heard at the store there’s a whole lot more

Of sins on that list

Au revoir and fare thee well

I’m headed straight for the fires of hell

Took that Holy Bible right to the bottom of the lake

Where I’m going I will not be carrying that kind of weight

Pure as the driven snow but now all set to be defiled

The sins of the father once again passed on to the child

Au revoir and fare thee well

I’m headed straight for the fires of hell

Get down on your knees dear mama

Get down and pray

I get a feeling you’ll be kneeling for my soul to be saved

I’ve wandered astray

Au revoir and fare thee well

I’m headed straight for the fires of hell

Au revoir and fare thee well

I’m headed straight for the fires of hell

I’m headed straight for the fires of hell
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Fast Growing Numbers of Young Adults Religiously Unaffiliated…

 

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Colin Kaepernick on Terence Crutcher and ‘Racism Disguised as Patriotism’

 

cKaepernick lands on the cover of Time magazine

From The Nation

A new generation of athletes and sports fans are learning that courage is contagious.

In recent weeks, everyone from Beltway pundits to the online bigot brigade have tried to turn Colin Kaepernick into a caricature. He’s been reduced to his afro, his socks, or a T-shirt he wore depicting Malcolm X and Fidel Castro. By turning him into a joke, his opposition hopes they won’t have to reckon with the substance of his message or the fact that the protests are spreading.

Meanwhile, Kaepernick is not backing down. In recent comments following the police killing of Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, he disproves anyone in the media who still claims he’s being unserious or just looking for attention:

There’s a lot of racism disguised as patriotism in this country and people don’t like to address that and they don’t like to address what the root of this protest is. You have players across this country, not only in the NFL but soccer and NBA and high school players, they don’t like to address this issue that people of color are oppressed and treated unjustly. I don’t know why that is or what they’re scared of, but it needs to be addressed.

Kaepernick also spoke about the killing of Terence Crutcher, saying, “This is a perfect example of what this is about. It will be very telling about what happens to the officer that killed him.… It’s very interesting to me how the situation that happened [Monday], they shot and killed a man and walked around like he wasn’t a human being. People are getting killed and not being treated as human beings. No one went and checked on him, no one tried to resuscitate him, nothing. They walked around, went about their business and made up lies to cover up their murder that they just committed. That’s not right, and they should be in prison.”

The Dangerous Acceptance of Donald Trump…

 

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From The New Yorker

Columnists and magazines that a month ago were saying #NeverTrump are now vibrating with the frisson of his audacity.

“Vice is a monster of so frightful mien, / As, to be hated, needs but to be seen,” the poet Alexander Pope wrote, in lines that were once, as they said back in the day, imprinted on the mind of every schoolboy. Pope continued, “Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face, / we first endure, then pity, then embrace.” The three-part process by which the gross becomes the taken for granted has been on matchlessly grim view this past week in the ascent of Donald Trump. First merely endured by those in the Republican Party, with pained grimaces and faint bleats of reluctance, bare toleration passed quickly over into blind, partisan allegiance—he’s going to be the nominee, after all, and so is our boy. Then a weird kind of pity arose, directed not so much at him (he supplies his own self-pity) as at his supporters, on the premise that their existence somehow makes him a champion for the dispossessed, although the evidence indicates that his followers are mostly stirred by familiar racial and cultural resentments, of which Trump has been a single-minded spokesperson.

Now for the embrace. One by one, people who had not merely resisted him before but called him by his proper name—who, until a month ago, were determined to oppose a man they rightly described as a con artist and a pathological liar—are suddenly getting on board. Columnists and magazines that a month ago were saying #NeverTrump are now vibrating with the frisson of his audacity, fawning over him or at least thrilling to his rising poll numbers and telling one another, “We can control him.”

How the Christian Right’s Sex Hang-Ups Turned Zika into a Bigger Crisis

 

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Planned Parenthood Founder Margaret Sanger 1916

From Valerie Tarico

God may have created the Zika virus, but the Religious Right has turned it into a devastating epidemic of brain damage.

Zika could have been an ordinary epidemic like the ever-changing influenza that emerges each winter and spreads across the Northern Hemisphere with sad but rare complications. But the Religious Right’s antagonism to birth control and abortion (and honest conversation about sex in general) has transformed the Zika epidemic into a nightmare that will devastate lives for an entire generation.

In the absence of pregnancy, Zika isn’t usually a big deal. Only one in five people who contract Zika experience symptoms, and those who do mostly feel like they’ve gotten the flu. This is not to say Zika never does lasting harm to adults, just that—like the flu—those cases appear to be rare.

The difference, as most people now know, is that getting Zika while pregnant is really, really bad. The virus attacks the fetal nervous system, eating brain structures that have already developed and blocking development of others. Even babies that look normal may be damaged for life. Unlike the flu, when it comes to Zika, pregnancy prevention or timing is everything.

Three Ways to Rapidly Safeguard Families 

Bill Moyers: We, the Plutocrats vs. We, the People…

 

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From Bill Moyers

Saving the soul of democracy

Sixty-six years ago this summer, on my 16th birthday, I went to work for the daily newspaper in the small East Texas town of Marshall where I grew up. It was a good place to be a cub reporter — small enough to navigate but big enough to keep me busy and learning something every day. I soon had a stroke of luck. Some of the paper’s old hands were on vacation or out sick and I was assigned to help cover what came to be known across the country as “the housewives’ rebellion.”

I was hooked, and in one way or another I’ve continued to engage the issues of money and power, equality and democracy over a lifetime spent at the intersection between politics and journalism.

Fifteen women in my hometown decided not to pay the Social Security withholding tax for their domestic workers. Those housewives were white, their housekeepers black. Almost half of all employed black women in the country then were in domestic service. Because they tended to earn lower wages, accumulate less savings and be stuck in those jobs all their lives, social security was their only insurance against poverty in old age. Yet their plight did not move their employers.

The housewives argued that Social Security was unconstitutional and imposing it was taxation without representation. They even equated it with slavery. They also claimed that “requiring us to collect [the tax] is no different from requiring us to collect the garbage.” So they hired a high-powered lawyer — a notorious former congressman from Texas who had once chaired the House Un-American Activities Committee — and took their case to court. They lost, and eventually wound up holding their noses and paying the tax, but not before their rebellion had become national news.

The stories I helped report for the local paper were picked up and carried across the country by the Associated Press. One day, the managing editor called me over and pointed to the AP Teletype machine beside his desk. Moving across the wire was a notice citing our paper and its reporters for our coverage of the housewives’ rebellion.

I was hooked, and in one way or another I’ve continued to engage the issues of money and power, equality and democracy over a lifetime spent at the intersection between politics and journalism. It took me awhile to put the housewives’ rebellion into perspective. Race played a role, of course. Marshall was a segregated, antebellum town of 20,000, half of whom were white, the other half black. White ruled, but more than race was at work. Those 15 housewives were respectable townsfolk, good neighbors, regulars at church (some of them at my church). Their children were my friends; many of them were active in community affairs; and their husbands were pillars of the town’s business and professional class.

This Is What A Trump Scam Looks Like…

 

From Jacob Bricca
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Thom Hartmann: Here’s What FDR Said About The Big Lie Technique That Trump Is Using Now…

 


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Can Cooperative Businesses Save Communities?…

 

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From Resiliance

Nearly a decade after the beginning of the Great Recession, the economic recovery has been concentrated in a few sectors and a few places, mostly fields in technology and in coastal cities. Many Americans have been left behind in jobs with stagnating wages, while rising housing costs prevent them from moving. To stabilize their communities and rebuild the household wealth lost in the financial crisis, many Americans—particularly those in once decaying inner city neighborhoods—are turning to the model of co-operative businesses, which emphasize joint ownership by workers and democratic management.

James Razsa, a 32-year-old resident of the traditionally blue-collar Boston neighborhood of Dorchester, is one of them. He’s a founding partner of Democracy Brewing, a co-op brewery currently raising money to start production.

“I’ve done a lot of unpleasant jobs,” he said. “Starbucks was where I started to understand that a lot of my co-workers were living in poverty. We were taking $2,000 in profit a day and sending it to people who had never been there.”

Starting a co-op was a way to have the best of both worlds, he said. He gets to do a job he loves and be a business owner.

Razsa isn’t alone, either.

The number of worker co-operatives in the United States has been growing for two decades, according to the Democracy at Work Institute, and employee-ownership advocacy organizations such as the Democracy Collaborative and the Surdna Foundation report surging interest since the financial crisis.

Labor Day Time To Build Worker Power…

 

Low Wage Protest

From Popular Resistance

Private-sector workers who are members of a union have fallen from 1 in 3 workers in the 1950s to about 1 in 20 today. Politics is about power and the loss of organized worker power has meant a loss in political power for all workers and a loss of wealth, income and benefits.

In recent years, there have been strong signs that labor is getting more organized and militant in fighting for worker rights. They have linked worker issues to other issues, e.g. racial injustice, climate change and creating stronger communities; and are showing signs of resurrection.

Recent years have seen aggressive attacks against workers: pension funds are raided, health benefits are cut or ended, the right to collective bargaining is destroyed and social services are cut. This  is dramatic and needs to be reversed. Thankfully, there are strong signs of the revitalized worker movement that we need to see, understand and build on, because workers are in an economic crisis.

The Economic Crisis Confronts the Every Day Life of Workers

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report this month that shows the wealth divide has reached new levels of disparity. The CBO found that the wealthiest top 10% of families with incomes of at least $942,000 now hold 76% of the total wealth and averaged $4 million in wealth. There was not much left for the rest of the population and the remainder of the top half of the population took most of it, 23%, which left only 1% of wealth for the bottom 50%. That bottom 50% can barely pay their bills, has no money for emergencies, no savings, can’t afford to send their children to college and are trapped with great insecurity and no upward mobility . In fact, the bottom 25% of people in the US are, on average, in debt $13,000, the bottom 12% are $32,000 in debt.

Meet the Farmworker Who Helped Win Rent Control in California’s Wine Country…

 

Gervacio Pena Lopez Climate Workers

From YES!
Thanks to Will

When Gervacio Pena Lopez migrated to Sonoma County 30 years ago, he just wanted to find work to support his family. Since then, he has won victories for domestic and day laborers.

After his single mother suffered an injury, Gervacio Pena Lopez left school in Mexico and made four attempts to enter the United States in search of work to support his family. He eventually found a job pruning grapes in Sonoma County, California. It was punishing labor that earned him $3.35 an hour and left him so exhausted he chose sleep over meals.

Today, he is a landscaper, laborer, and board president of the Graton Day Labor Center, a worker-led day organization that advocates for the rights of domestic and day laborers. He has studied liberation theology, marched with the United Farm Workers, taken on the powerful wine industry, and fought for rent control—and won.

For Pena Lopez, who is Mixteco and whose grandparents farmed, farmworkers bring millennia of traditional ecological knowledge, passed down intergenerationally, about how to live in balance with the land and each other. Yet, indigenous and immigrant workers regularly see their skills devalued, their knowledge discounted, and their labor exploited.

Brooke Anderson of Climate Workers and Davin Cardenas of the North Bay Organizing Project recently sat down with Pena Lopez in Sonoma County, California.

WILLIAM EDELEN: The Sage of Ojai

 

From Our Archives
WILLIAM EDELEN (1922 – 2015)
The Contrary Minister

Ojai, California is nestled in the radiant mountains just south of Santa Barbara. I say “radiant” because famous there is what they call their “pink moment” when every evening at sunset, all the mountains and valley are covered with a rich and bright “pink” color that is gorgeous to witness.

Ojai has a reputation of being one of the artistic and cultural centers of the United States. Many of the creative giants of the world beat a path to the “Sage of Ojai” Krishnamurti, a mystical genius who pointed their lives in a new direction: Joseph Campbell, Joan Halifax, Julian Huxley, Thomas Huxley, D.H. Lawrence, John Lennon, David Bohm (Nobel in physics), Jonas Salk, Charlie Chaplin, and too many more to name.

In my 18 years of my Sunday Symposium I have for some strange reason not spent an entire session on this “sage of Ojai” though often quoting him.

Based on my own life experiences, at 90 years old, I soon realized

America Needs To Listen To What Colin Kaepernick Is Actually Trying To Say…

 

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From Dave Zirin

There has been a lot of analysis — both thoughtful and noxious — of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s decision to sit down during the national anthem in the past few days. Unfortunately, there has been less conversation about the politics behind his action.
Instead of reckoning with the substance of his critique, much of the media coverage has fostered an abstract discussion about patriotism and etiquette — centering the question of whether he has the “right” to protest rather than examining what it is he’s trying to say.

As Charles Modiano breaks down brilliantly, this is the wrong approach:
“Colin Kaepernick’s deliberate act of protest to sit out the national anthem caught the nation’s attention, and this initial sentence framed most media headlines: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color.” But the meat of Kaepernick’s cause actually came two sentences later: ‘There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder’.”

Hold it right there: “Getting away with murder.” That is the story.

Kaepernick makes it clear that his action was connected to the movement against police violence. But a closer examination of his 18-minute press avail on Sunday reveals even more about his motivations and thinking. The transcript itself contains the most effective defense against the legions trying to distort or delegitimize his actions.

In The Good Old Days (Featuring Donald Trump)…

 

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Say No To the Savior Complex…

 

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People with privilege often engage with the world as saviors, and leave devastation behind. The world does not need more heroes, we need systemic solutions to racism, patriarchy, colonialism and capitalism.

Award-winning journalist Jordan Flaherty brings us inside the dark and politically twisted mind of the savior. Starting with Brandon Darby, an FBI informant whose rise within radical circles showed how movements are susceptible to a particular style of political heroism, Flaherty introduces us to would-be liberators and the damage they cause. We meet the young and idealistic college graduates who join Teach For America and displace unionized African American teachers. We hear anti-sex-work crusaders and the marginalized women their programs put behind bars. We see Red Cross coffers grow at the expense of local communities who consistently do more with less. And we also see a growing response to these dynamics: grassroots and street-based uprisings like those in Ferguson, Missouri, creating accountable movements focused on real, systemic change.

Insightful and unsparing, No More Heroes is an indispensable tool for social justice activists, reminding us that charity is not solidarity: saviors need not apply.

Jordan Flaherty has produced news and documentaries for Al Jazeera’s Fault LinesThe Laura Flanders Show, and Democracy Now. He is an award-winning journalist who has appeared on television and radio shows including Anderson Cooper 360CNN Headline News, and News and Notes on NPR. He is author of Floodlines: Community and Resistance from Katrina to the Jena Six.
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GENE LOGSDON: A Quiet Revolution Coming to a Farm Near You

 

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From Our Archives
GENE LOGSDON (1931 – 2016)
The Contrary Farmer

When farmers started telling me that they were getting rid of their machinery and putting their entire farms into pasture, I thought, “Yeah, right.” But when they led me around their farms more or less by the nose to prove it, I became a believer. After five years of experimentation, I, like thousands of farmers now, know that meat, milk, eggs and other farm products can be raised without annually cultivated crops, sometimes even without barns. In most American climates, grazing animals need only a wood lot or windbreak for shelter, will harvest grass and legumes themselves for their feed, and will control most weeds and spread their manure for fertilizer for free.

At the Bruce and Lisa Rickard farm near Mount Vernon, Ohio, there are about 25 beef cows and calves, 600 head of sheep and not a stalk of corn or soybeans. The only barn is a shearing shed. “Eventually,” Bruce said, “we think we can perfect rotational grazing to the point where we can graze year-round and get rid of the haying machinery, too.” “You can dynamite all those stupid silos, too,” added Bob Evans, a lifelong cattleman near Gallipolis, Ohio. With improved plants, he has proved that he can raise beef on pasture year-round.

Ingersoll: What Infidels Have Done…

 

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From The Archives
ROBERT INGERSOLL (1833 – 1899)
The Great Agnostic

One hundred years after Christ had died suppose some one had asked a Christian, What hospitals have you built? What asylums have you founded? They would have said “None.” Suppose three hundred years after the death of Christ the same questions had been asked the Christian, he would have said “None, not one.” Two hundred years more and the answer would have been the same. And at that time the Christian could have told the questioner that the Mohammedans had built asylums before the Christians. He could also have told him that there had been orphan asylums in China for hundreds and hundreds of years, hospitals in India, and hospitals for the sick at Athens.

Here it may be well enough to say that all hospitals and asylums are not built for charity. They are built because people do not want to be annoyed by the sick and the insane. If a sick man should come down the street and sit upon your doorstep, what would you do with him? You would have to take him into your house or leave him to suffer. Private families do not wish to take the burden of the sick. Consequently, in self-defence, hospitals are built so that any wanderer coming to a house, dying, or suffering from any disease, may immediately be packed off to a hospital and not become a burden upon private charity. The fact that many diseases are contagious rendered hospitals necessary for the preservation of the lives of the citizens. The same thing is true of the asylums. People do not, as a rule, want to take into their families, all the children who happen to have no fathers and mothers. So they endow and build an asylum where those children can be sent—and where they can be whipped according to law. Nobody wants an insane stranger in his house. The consequence is, that the community, to get rid of these people, to get rid of the trouble, build public institutions and send them there.

Rush: Roll The Bones…

 

Thanks to Bruce

Well, you can stake that claim
Good work is the key to good fortune
Winners take that praise
Losers seldom take that blame
If they don’t take that game
And sometimes the winner takes nothing
We draw our own designs
But fortune has to make that frame

We go out in the world and take our chances
Fate is just the weight of circumstances
That’s the way that lady luck dances
Roll the bones

Why are we here?
Because we’re here
Roll the bones
Why does it happen?
Because it happens
Roll the bones

Faith is cold as ice
Why are little ones born only to suffer
For the want of immunity
Or a bowl of rice?
Well, who would hold a price
On the heads of the innocent children
If there’s some immortal power
To control the dice?

We come into the world and take our chances
Fate is just the weight of circumstances
That’s the way that lady luck dances
Roll the bones

Jack…relax
Get busy with the facts
No zodiacs or almanacs
No maniacs in polyester slacks
Just the facts
Gonna kick some gluteus max
It’s a parallax…you dig?
You move around
The small gets big
It’s a rig
It’s action…reaction
Random interaction
So who’s afraid
Of a little abstraction?
Can’t get no satisfaction
From the facts?
You better run, homeboy
A fact’s a fact
From Nome to Rome, boy

What’s the deal?
Spin the wheel
If the dice are hot…take a shot
Play your cards. Show us what you got
What you’re holding
If the cards are cold
Don’t go folding
Lady Luck is golden
She favors the bold
That’s cold
Stop throwing stones
The night has a thousand saxophones
So get out there and rock
And roll the bones
Get busy!

Roll the bones

Why are we here?
Because we’re here
Roll the bones
Why does it happen?
Because it happens
Roll the bones

~~

Sam Harris: What Hillary Clinton Should Say about Islam and the “War on Terror”

 

(RNS1-sept9) In Sam Harris’ new book, “Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion,” the usually outspoken critic of religion describes how spirituality not only can, but must, be divorced from religion if the human mind is to reach its full potential. For use with RNS-HARRIS-BOOK, transmitted on Septemeber 10, 2014, Photo courtesy of Simon & Schuster Publicity

From Sam Harris

The following is part of a speech that I think Hillary Clinton should deliver between now and November. Its purpose is to prevent a swing toward Trump by voters who find Clinton’s political correctness on the topic of Islam and jihadism a cause for concern, especially in the aftermath of any future terrorist attacks in the U.S. or Europe.—SH

* * *

Today, I want to talk about one of the most important and divisive issues of our time—the link between the religion of Islam and terrorism. I want you to know how I view it and how I will think about it as President. I also want you to understand the difference between how I approach this topic and how my opponent in this presidential race does.

The underlying issue—and really the most important issue of this or any time—is human cooperation. What prevents it, and what makes it possible? In November, you will be electing a president, not an emperor of the world. The job of the president of the United States, even with all the power at her or his disposal, is to get people, both at home and abroad, to cooperate to solve a wide range of complex problems. Your job is to pick the person who seems most capable of doing that.

In the past, I’ve said that groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda have nothing to do with Islam. And President Obama has said the same. This way of speaking has been guided by the belief that if we said anything that could be spun as confirming the narrative of groups like ISIS—suggesting that the West is hostile to the religion of Islam, if only to its most radical strands—we would drive more Muslims into the arms of the jihadists and the theocrats, preventing the very cooperation we need to win a war of ideas against radical Islam. I now see this situation differently. I now believe that we have been selling most Muslims short. And I think we are all paying an unacceptable price for not speaking clearly about the link between specific religious ideas and the sectarian hatred that is dividing the Muslim world.

Inciting Wars the American Way…

 

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From AntiWar.com

The New York Times took notice recently of the role that so-called “think tanks” play in corrupting U.S. government policy. Their review of think tanks “identified dozens of examples of scholars conducting research at think tanks while corporations were paying them to help shape government policy.”

Unfortunately, and perhaps predictably, while their investigation demonstrates well that the US is even more corrupt, though its corruption is better disguised, than the many foreign countries whom we routinely accuse of corruption, it failed to identify the most egregious form of corruption in our system. That is, those think tanks that are constantly engaged in the sort of activities which the DOD identifies as “Information War” when conducted by foreign countries who are designated by the US as an enemy at any given moment.

Those are activities using disinformation and propaganda to condition a population to hate a foreign nation or population with the intent to foment a war, which is the routine “business” of the best known US think tanks.

There are two levels to this information war. The first level is by the primary provocateur, such as the Rand Corporation, the American Enterprise Institute, and the smaller war instigators found wherever a Kagan family member lurks. They use psychological “suggestiveness” to create a false narrative of danger from some foreign entity with the objective being to create paranoia within the US population that it is under imminent threat of attack or takeover.

Once that fear and paranoia is instilled in much of the population, it can then be manipulated to foment a readiness or eagerness for war, in the manner that Joseph Goebbels understood well.

The measure if success of such a disinformation and propaganda effort can be seen when the narrative is adopted by secondary communicators who are perhaps the most important target audience. That is because they are “key communicators” in PsyOp terms, who in turn become provocateurs in propagating the false narrative even more broadly and to its own audiences, and becoming “combat multipliers” in military terms.

It is readily apparent now that Russia has taken its place as the primary target within US sights. One doesn’t have to see the US military buildup on Russia’s borders to understand that but only see the propaganda themes of our “think tanks.”

Ingersoll: An Honest God is the Noblest Work of Man…

 

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From The Archives
ROBERT INGERSOLL (1833 – 1899)
The Great Agnostic

THE GODS 

EACH nation has created a god, and the god has always resembled his creators. He hated and loved what they hated and loved, and he was invariably found on the side of those in power. Each god was intensely patriotic, and detested all nations but his own. All these gods demanded praise, flattery, and worship. Most of them were pleased with sacrifice, and the smell of innocent blood has ever been considered a divine perfume. All these gods have insisted upon having a vast number of priests, and the priests have always insisted upon being supported by the people, and the principal business of these priests has been to boast about their god, and to insist that he could easily vanquish all the other gods put together.

These gods have been manufactured after numberless models, and according to the most grotesque fashions. Some have a thousand arms, some a hundred heads, some are adorned with necklaces of living snakes, some are armed with clubs, some with sword and shield, some with bucklers, and some have wings as a cherub; some were invisible, some would show themselves entire, and some would only show their backs; some were jealous, some were foolish, some turned themselves into men, some into swans, some into bulls, some into doves, and some into Holy Ghosts, and made love to the beautiful daughters of men. Some were married—all ought to have been—and some were considered as old bachelors from all eternity. Some had children, and the children were turned into gods and worshiped as their fathers had been. Most of these gods were revengeful, savage, lustful, and ignorant. As they generally depended upon their priests for information, their ignorance can hardly excite our astonishment.

These gods did not even know the shape of the worlds they had created, but supposed them perfectly flat Some thought the day could be lengthened by stopping the sun, that the blowing of horns could throw down the walls of a city, and all knew so little of the real nature of the people they had created, that they commanded the people to love them. Some were so ignorant as to suppose that man could believe just as he might desire, or as they might command, and that to be governed by observation, reason, and experience was a most foul and damning sin. None of these gods could give a true account of the creation of this little earth. All were wofully deficient in geology and astronomy. As a rule, they were most miserable legislators, and as executives, they were far inferior to the average of American presidents.

Stop Being Dumb & Partisan on So-Called ‘Free Trade’…

 

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From Thom Hartmann

In recent days, President Barack Obama and much of the Democratic establishment have doubled down in support of the TPP, especially in light of Donald Trump’s measured speech yesterday about his plan to cut taxes and renegotiate America’s trade deals.

But it’s time to get something straight, this isn’t a partisan issue.

So-called free trade is bad for the American middle class, and it has been ever since Ronald Reagan, the Republican savior himself, declared that “Almost all responsible economist, … are unanimous. They agree that free and fair trade brings growth and opportunity and creates jobs. And they warn that high trade barriers, what is often called protectionism, undermines economic growth and destroys jobs. I don’t call it protectionism; I call it destructionism.”.

It’s been just over 30 years since Reagan proclaimed that, and every president since then has followed the religious belief that so-called “free trade” will save us all. And 30 years later, it’s pretty clear that Reagan was dead wrong about trade, and so are the Democrats today who are saying the same thing.

The fact is, sweeping trade deals like NAFTA, the TPP, and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership only benefit the CEOs of the corporations that are at the negotiating table. Democratic proponents of so-called free trade make it seem like the options are either antiquated tariff-based protectionism or forward-thinking globalist “free trade” deals.

But Democrats have historically been the party that opposes these sort of sweeping corporate-managed trade deals and supports the kind of tariff based, or VAT tax based, trade that made America the most powerful manufacturing powerhouse that the world had ever seen. The truth is, the only way that countries can really benefit through trade is if the two countries have different resources or different specialties, what economist David Ricardo called “comparative advantage”.

For example, the soils in France are well-suited for growing grapes for wine, and the soils in Scotland are better for growing barley and wheat. By applying human labor to fields and grapes and grains, both countries would have used their comparative advantage, their soil and climate, to produce a product to trade with that benefits citizens of both nations. Everybody in both countries can eat bread with their wine.

But what happens if France starts growing wheat in a big way, in addition to making wine? What happens if they can grow it cheaper than Scotland? In a ‘free trade” scenario, that would lead to Scottish farmers getting wiped out by French wheat exports, which could then lead to hungry, poor Scots fleeing Scotland for the relatively more prosperous France, producing a challenge for both nations.

5 Ways to Make Sure Trump Loses…

 

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From Michael Moore

Friends,

Over the past few days, a number of polls have come out showing Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump nationally by double digits, including in blue collar states like Michigan (10%) and Pennsylvania (11%). If you are a Clinton supporter and have felt a sense of relief when you saw these numbers, your shoulders suddenly relaxing and an audible “phew” coming from your mouth, if you got excited that your belief system was now reassured that there was no chance your fellow Americans will vote for a narcissistic misogynist, then you just became part of the problem — and why Donald J. Trump could actually win on November 8th.

Please do not think for a second this election is over or in the bag. There are three long months to go. If you think that all we have to do is just let Trump keep shooting himself in the head – that “Trump will beat Trump” and the rest of us just have to sit back and watch with glee – well, you are playing with fire. And you’re looking for a way to get out of doing any work. Clearly you’ve forgotten this election is not about whether there are more people “for” Hillary or Trump. Of course there are more people for Hillary! She will lead in the opinion polls from now until Election Day.

AND IT DOESN’T MATTER.

Because this is not a popularity contest decided by polls (or in this year’s edition, a contest over who you dislike the least). As I’ve said, if people could vote from their sofa via their Xbox or remote control, Hillary would win in a landslide. But this election is only about who SHOWS UP to the VOTING BOOTH on November 8th (or to early voting or by absentee ballot). The election this year is not being held as usual on the first Tuesday of November; it’s happening in the second week of the month, so if you live in the top half of the country, that means a greater chance for snow or icy rain — and that means a lower turnout. A lower turnout helps Trump.