Articles and excerpts – May 16 to June 23, 2014

 Worldview

Reality Reconciles Science and Religion: Michael Dowd at TEDxGrandRapids  

Worldview – contrast

Dangerous Divisiveness Politics Grows More Partisan by Charles M. Blow, New York Times, JUNE 15, 2014 For an increasing number of Americans, the tenor of politics has reached a near-religious pitch, in which people on opposing ends of the ideological scale take on theological properties: good or evil, angels or demons, here to either save our way of life or destroy it. According to a report released last week by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press…….…This phenomenon coincides, to a certain degree, with the rise of talk radio and the stridently ideological cable news — profit-driven provocateurs whose livelihoods ride on their abilities to rouse rabble, stir passions and diabolize opponents. And many of their listeners, viewers and readers become the apostles of passion, enforcing rigid binary ideologies that accommodate little subtlety. Any seeming equivocation is deemed evidence of apostasy. This, in itself, is dangerous….Our politics are now strung with tripwires of hypersensitivities and micro-aggressions. Every position is assumed to have a sinister subtext, made all the more complicated by the fact that some actually do have such subtexts. The phenomenon, more recently, is epitomized by views about President Obama, which, depending on which silo one is in, either read as blind allegiance or blind hatred. This robs him of the glory of his legitimate achievements and artificially shields his missteps. To be fair, his presidency, in many ways, has been hamstrung by opposition. In the wake of his ascension came the rise of the Tea Party, the incredible assertion by the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, that conservatives’ top priority should be to keep Obama from being re-elected (that didn’t work out so well), the stunning assault on voter rights, the influx of conservative billionaires like the Koch brothers into the political arena, blatant gerrymandering after the last census and the unprecedented levels of obstruction by Republicans in Congress…

Fear, hate, violence

America Can Be a Violent, Hateful Place: One Group Is Fighting Back By Frank Joyce, AlterNet, June 19, 2014

Americans Are More Likely to Be Killed by Right-Wing Terrorists Than Muslims—But the Media’s Afraid to Say It By CJ Werleman, AlterNet, May 20, 2014  … you are far more likely to be murdered by a far Right-wing American than a Muslim American, but the term “terrorist” remains reserved exclusively for acts of political violence carried out by Muslims. If terrorism is defined as violence against innocent civilians designed to advance a political cause, then all racist murders that occur in the U.S. are also acts of terrorism, because the perpetrators commit the violent act to send a political message to minority communities (i.e. intimidate them into a subordinate status.).. In the years 1990 to 2010, there were 145 acts of political violence committed by the American far Right, resulting in 348 deaths. By comparison, 20 Americans were killed over the same period in acts of political violence carried out by Muslim-American civilians…. our conception of the terrorist threat is shaped more by ideology than objectivity… The Southern Poverty Law Center calculates there are 939 far right-wing hate groups across the country today, including neo-Nazis, Klansmen, white nationalists, neo-Confederates, racist skinheads, border vigilantes and others…The number of Patriot groups, including armed militias, skyrocketed following the election of President Obama in 2008 – rising 813 percent, from 149 groups in 2008 to an all-time high of 1,360 in 2012. The number fell to 1,096 in 2013,” the SPLC calculates. Yet terrorism and racist violence are not considered to be equally significant threats by the U.S. government and the mainstream media……Like the violent acts we normally think of as terrorism, racist violence not only takes the lives of its immediate victims, but also sends a larger message of fear to the wider population… The growth in far Right extremism is fueled not only by a right-wing echo chamber that legitimizes false propaganda about immigrants and other minorities, but also, in part, by liberal timidity, which is why Sen. Reid’s use of the term “domestic terrorist” is an important step forward in dealing with the threat of far Right extremism. I mean, terrorism.

 Values, faith, religion, spirituality

 For the Bible Tells Me So? By Mark Sandlin, patheos.com, June 18, 2014

Liberal Christianity — 10 things to know about this ‘middle way’ By Douglas Todd, Vancouver Sun, June 6, 2014

 Reason

 Have Conservatives Abandoned Rationality, Skepticism and Truth? By Amanda Marcotte, AlterNet, June 19, 2014 

On Your Mark, Get Set, Lie: Supreme Court Weighs Truth in Politics by Massimo Calabresi, April 22, 2014

Beyond the war on science: Why the right embraces ignorance as a virtue Amanda Marcotte, AlterNet, June 13, 2014

Anti-intellectualism

The Results Are In: America Is Dumb and on the Road to Getting Dumber By CJ Werleman, AlterNet, June 4, 2014

Climate change

A Call to Arms: An Invitation to Demand Action on Climate Change by Bill McKibben, Rolling Stone, published by Common Dreams, May 21, 2014   When world leaders gather in New York [September 20 and 21] to confront climate change, tens of thousands of people (and maybe you) will be there to demand they take action before it’s too late…it will be the largest demonstration yet of human resolve in the face of climate change…this is dead-serious business, a signal moment in the gathering fight of human beings to do something about global warming before it’s too late to do anything but watch the “world’s leaders” haven’t been leaders on climate change – at least not leaders enough…The world’s scientists earlier this spring issued a 32-volume report explaining exactly how much worse it’s going to get, which is, to summarize, a lot worse even than they’d thought before. It’s not that the scientists are alarmists – it’s that the science is alarming. Here’s how one Princeton scientist summarized the situation for reporters: “We’re all sitting ducks.”…

Global Citizens to Elites: Join Climate Fight ‘Or Step Aside’ by Jon Queally, staff writer, Common Dreams, June 6, 2014

House Directs Pentagon To Ignore Climate Change, HuffingtonPost, 5/23/2014

Human family

 White House announces new initiatives to help working families By Brigid Schulte, Washington Post, June 23, 2014

Generational justice

Dear Millennials, We’re Sorry by Frank Bruni, New York Times, JUNE 7, 2014

Starting Out Behind By THE EDITORIAL BOARD, New York Times, JUNE 7, 2014  …While the worst is over, economic conditions are still subpar, damaging the immediate job prospects and long-term living standards of young adults starting out now….Over the last six years, one of the economy’s biggest problems has been faulty fiscal policy, with the federal government underestimating the need for economic aid or withholding and reducing help prematurely. Another drag has been lack of business investment, even as financial markets have prospered with the help of loose monetary policy. The result has been an economy where young people starting out are at risk of prolonged underachievement. It is possible to defuse that risk, but not without responsive policy and robust investment.

8 Reasons Young Americans Don’t Fight Back By Bruce Levine on June 8, 2014 …Traditionally, young people have energized democratic movements. So it is a major coup for the ruling elite to have created societal institutions that have subdued young Americans and broken their spirit of resistance to domination. Young Americans—even more so than older Americans—appear to have acquiesced to the idea that the corporatocracy can completely screw them and that they are helpless to do anything about it…How exactly has American society subdued young Americans? 1. Student-Loan Debt. 2. Psychopathologizing and Medicating Noncompliance. 3. Schools That Educate for Compliance and Not for Democracy. 4. “No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top.” 5. Shaming Young People Who Take Education—But Not Their Schooling—Seriously. 6. The Normalization of Surveillance. 8. Fundamentalist Religion and Fundamentalist Consumerism.

The Boomers “Failed” Us: Climate Activist Tim DeChristopher on Anger, Love, and Sacrifice by Sarah van Gelder, YES! Magazine,  June 4, 2014 First the anger, then the love—overcoming generational anger to find the courage required for the difficult work ahead.

 America’s decline

 U.S. Healthcare: Most Expensive and Worst Performing By Olga Khazan, The Atlantic, June 2014  

US Health System Ranks Last Among Eleven Countries on Measures of Access, Equity, Quality, Efficiency, and Healthy Lives By Mary Mahon, Bethanne Fox, Commonwealth Fund, June 16, 2014

An Animated Video Explains What’s Wrong With The U.S. Prison System In 4 Minutes By Tiffany Willis, Liberal America, April 5, 2014 Isn’t it incredible that the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world? Yet another area in which we’re the “winner” and it’s not a good thing. More than two million adults are currently incarcerated behind bars, walls, and barbed wire. They away from society and their communities. The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world. One of the most troublesome truths about the prison system is that many of these two million prisoners are eventually released. That’s when the real struggles begin for them.

Americaculture

5 Signs That America Has Gone Bonkers — And a Glimmer of Hope by Jim Hightower, AlterNet/BillMoyers.com, May 30, 2014 …Symptoms of this national insanity include these examples: We can’t even keep the doors of our government open. In October of last year, Washington’s tea party Republican faction…shut down the nation’s government for 16 days and bled $24 billion from the US economy…2)  Lloyd Blankfein, bankster-in-chief of Goldman Sachs…took a $10 billion taxpayer bailout to keep it afloat and lobbied furiously to kill regulatory reforms…continues to reign… and hauling in $23 million last year in personal pay. 3) A narrow, five-man majority of the US Supreme Court has decreed that corporations are “persons” with the right to spend unlimited sums of their shareholders’ money to elect or defeat whomever they want — and to do so secretly. This year, in McCutcheon v. FEC, the Court also overturned the campaign finance rules limiting individual’s contributions on aggregate federal campaign contributions — thus enthroning a tiny elite as America’s ruling electoral power. 4) Big Money’s control of politics gives it control of public policy…5) From retail workers to adjunct college professors, the new normal for workaday people is poverty-wage, part-time, temporary, no-benefit employment…Most people know that things are screwy, that this is not the America that’s supposed to be. And therein lies the good news: The USA hasn’t gone crazy — its leaders have and they can be changed.

War Gear Flows to Police Departments By MATT APUZZOJUNE, New York Times, June 8, 2014

Culture wars – sex

The feminist battle of the story in the wake of the Isla Vista massacre by Rebecca Solnit, by TomDispatch, posted on CommonDreams.org June 2, 2014

Culture wars – race

The Truth About Race In America: It’s Getting Worse, Not Better By Gary Younge, The Nation, May 23, 2014

 

 Economic justice – corporations

 Another Atrocious Corporate Trade Scheme Planned in Secret Comes to Light WikiLeaks shows that big corporations and the billionaires behind them consider themselves powerful enough to just ignore governments. By Dave Johnson, Campaign for America’s Future, posted on Alternet.org, June 20, 2014 

 Labor

 The Audacious New Proposal To Save The Labor Movement By Josh Israel, June 17, 2014 at 10:38 am Updated: June 17, 2014

Economic justice

‘The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap’ by Matt Taibbi By Hedrick Smith, Washington Post, April 11, 2014 …Taibbi offers the searing indictment that America’s wealth gap has corrupted the nation’s system of justice, fostering a “legal schizophrenia” that harshly prosecutes the poor but practices selective leniency on Wall Street…that the United States now lives by a hypocritical double standard — “letting major systemic offenders walk, bypassing the opportunity for important symbolic prosecutions and instead . . . putting the smallest of small fry on the rack for negligible offenses.”… “The Divide” is an important book. Its documentation is powerful and shocking. But it can ramble off track, as Taibbi falls in love with a story or a character. Its logic is sometimes diminished by his understandable rage at unethical, though probably not illegal, behavior. His periodic tirades against American justice as “a sci-fi movie, a dystopia,” distract from the force of his argument. But he drives home the telling point that the wealth-driven dichotomy in our legal system stems from our bending the law to match our social attitudes…Today, he concludes, “the rule of law has slowly been replaced by giant idiosyncratic bureaucracies that are designed to criminalize failure, poverty, and weakness on the one hand, and to immunize strength, wealth and success on the other.” Hedrick Smith is former Washington bureau chief of the New York Times and the author of “Who Stole the American Dream?”

Class wars

Class Warfare is Naked Aggression, not Misguided Policy, ruggedegalitarianism, June 17, 2014

From Elections to Mass Movements: How Wealthy Elites Are Hijacking Democracy All Over the World by Sonali Kolhatkar, TruthDig.com May 29, 2014

The Head of the IMF Says Inequality Threatens Democracy. Here Are 7 Charts Proving She’s Right. by Erika Eichelberger, Mother Jones, May 30, 2014

Secretive Bilderberg group holds annual conference for global elite by Renee Lewis, america.aljazeera.com, May 29, 2014  http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/5/29/bilderberg-conferencesecret.html

Communications – conservative

Does Fox News Cause Ignorance, or Do Ignorant Viewers Prefer Fox News? A new study reveals the gap between the channel’s fans and the rest of America By Danny Vinik @dannyvinik, The New Republic, June 10, 2014

 Revisionist history

Wrong! Deconstructing 5 Famous History Stories by Robert Krulwich, NPR.org, June 20, 2014

 Rule of law

 On Your Mark, Get Set, Lie: Supreme Court Weighs Truth in Politics by Massimo Calabresi, April 22, 2014

 Citizenship

Americans Are Dangerously Politically Ignorant — The Numbers Are Shocking ByCJ Werleman, AlterNet, June 17, 2014 

Lost in the Past by Timothy Egan, New York Times, May 22, 2014  … a 2010 report that only 12 percent of students in their last year of high school had a firm grasp of our nation’s history…. Civics, said [filmmaker Ken] Burns, is “the operating system” for citizenry; if you know how government is constructed, it’s no longer a complicated muddle, but a beautiful design.

 Gun control

 9 Signs of Dangerous Gun Nut Craziness in 2014 By Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet, June 19, 2014

How the NRA Rewrote the Second Amendment Michael Waldman, Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, Crossposted on Politico Magazine, May 20, 2014

Privatization

The Privatization Scam: 5 Horror Stories of Gov’t Outsourcing to Greedy Private Companies By Dave Johnson, AlterNet, May 14, 2014   http://www.alternet.org/economy/privatization-scam-5-horror-stories-govt-outsourcing-greedy-private-companies

Military-industrial complex

The Real Villains of the Bergdahl Tale By Ray McGovern, Consortium News, Truth-out.org, June 5, 2014  The right-wing media is denouncing Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl as a “deserter” who wasn’t worth ransoming from the Taliban, but the real villains are the architects of the disastrous Iraq and Afghan wars who frivolously put the many Bergdahls in harm’s way.

Threats to democracy

Republicans’ Insane Political Strategy: Ruining Our Country Hurts the Democratic Party By Thom Hartmann, AlterNet, May 13, 2014  …For six years now, Republicans have been hard at work damaging America and the American people… they know, consistent with the Republican Chaos Strategy, that most Americans, when they go to the polls, won’t realize that it was exclusively the Republicans who were responsible for this. They only know there’s a Democrat in the White House, and so they think that the Democrats must have something to do with it. The Republican Chaos Strategy is brilliant, and will continue to work as long as they can keep the American people ignorant of who controls which branches of Congress and how Republicans manipulate the filibuster in the Senate. The Republicans frankly make no secret of it: Newt Gingrich, who was there, bragged about it… The only way to stop the Republican Chaos Strategy is to educate the American people as to how the Republicans, for the majority of the Obama presidency, have been able to systematically and intentionally damage our economy and our nation for purely political purposes. This should be the single-minded focus of the Democratic Party between now and November.

Democracy – rule of law

Bush and Cheney are war criminals, says former Bush counterterrorism official by David Phillips, Las Vegas Democrat Examiner, May 29, 2014

 Politics, power and elections

 DC Is a Revolving Door of Money, Media, Power and Vanity: A Requiem for Democracy by Mark Karlin, June 17, 2014, Truthout.org -  review of THIS TOWN: Two Parties and a Funeral By Mark Leibovich

Dangerous Divisiveness Politics Grows More Partisan by Charles M. Blow, New York Times, JUNE 15, 2014

Population Shifts Turning All Politics National By ASHLEY PARKER and JONATHAN MARTIN, New York Times, JUNE 15, 2014 …For all the talk about how partisan polarization is overwhelming Washington, there is another powerful, overlapping force at play: Voters who are not deeply rooted increasingly view politics through a generic national lens…Friends-and-neighbors elections were already a thing of the past in congressional campaigns. But the axiom that “all politics is local” is increasingly anachronistic when ever-larger numbers of voters have little awareness of what incumbents did for their community in years past and are becoming as informed by cable television, talk radio and the Internet as by local sources of news. In this year’s primaries, the trend is lifting hard-liners, but it has benefited more moderate candidates in general elections.  “We have a mobile population and its movement to the Sun Belt is making that region both more conservative and more moderate,” said William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution.

Election Rigging, Dark Money in Cantor’s “Upset” Loss to Koch Stealth Candidate By Ben-Zion Ptashnik and Victoria Collier, Truthout, June 22, 2014

The Fix Isn’t In – Eric Cantor and the Death of a Movement by Paul Krugman, New York Times, JUNE 12, 2014 …Movement conservatism, which dominated American politics from the election of Ronald Reagan to the election of Barack Obama — and which many pundits thought could make a comeback this year — is unraveling before our eyes… “movement conservatism,” [is]an interlocking set of institutions and alliances that won elections by stoking cultural and racial anxiety but used these victories mainly to push an elitist economic agenda, meanwhile providing a support network for political and ideological loyalists…For around three decades, the conservative fix was in; but no more. To see what I mean by bait and switch, think about what happened in 2004. George W. Bush won re-election…Republicans would mobilize voters with social issues, but invariably turn postelection to serving the interests of corporations and the 1 percent…In return for this service, businesses and the wealthy provided both lavish financial support for right-minded (in both senses) politicians and a safety net — “wing-nut welfare” — for loyalists. In particular, there were always comfortable berths waiting for those who left office..The combination of a successful electoral strategy and the safety net made being a conservative loyalist a seemingly low-risk professional path. The cause was radical, but the people it recruited tended increasingly to be apparatchiks, motivated more by careerism than by conviction… it seems clear that Republican base voters didn’t trust him to serve their priorities as opposed to those of corporate interests…the elite believes that it must find a way to reach Hispanics, whom the base loathes. There’s also an inherent conflict between the base’s nativism and the corporate desire for abundant, cheap labor…establishment figures who won primaries did so only by reinventing themselves as extremists…what we’re looking at is a party that will be even more extreme, even less interested in participating in normal governance, than it has been since 2008. An ugly political scene is about to get even uglier.

New [Gallup] Poll Shows America Is Becoming More Liberal by Salvatore Aversa,  AATTP June 1, 2014

Progressive Candidates Reap Big Gains In Primaries By Alex Lazar, The Huffington Post, 6/05/2014  “We won because we were true to the issues we wanted to have a discussion on, whether or not it was immigration reform or protecting Social Security or looking to lift the cap on Social Security, making sure that those who were the least among us were being lifted up and being attended to.” Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, New Jersey Democratic primary

Republicans have a 77% chance of taking the Senate By John Sides, Washington Post, May 16, 2014

Money in politics

Koch Bros. Group Readies ‘Endless Millions’ for Rightwing Takeover by Jon Queally, Common Dreams, May 9, 2014 …Americans For Prosperity—the rightwing advocacy group funded by the billionaire Koch brothers Charles and David—is prepared to spend $125 million (and likely much more) this year as it begins execution of a long-term strategy to win back the electoral map at all levels of government in this year’s election and beyond.

A Crisis to Address: Why the Senate’s Discussing a Democracy Amendment by John Nichols, The Nation, June 5, 2014 Americans recognize that the promise of American democracy is now fully threatened…the Constitution must be amended in order to preserve democratic self-governance…in order to restore the right of citizens and their elected representatives to organize elections where the vote matters more than the dollar by a two-to-one margin, Americans believe government officials are inclined to promote policies that favor the wealthy rather than the working poor…The disconnect between the popular will and public policy is so radical that it fosters cynicism and disengagement…voters are turning off to a process that does not respond to them…Turnout for US elections is dismal

Right wing ideology

How Hypocrisy Is Simply Not a Factor in the Right-Wing Mind By CJ Werleman, AlterNet, May 7, 2014  …It takes a Republican to be pro-death penalty, pro-war, pro-torture, and pro-bombing, yet be “pro-life.” …there are countless other examples that demonstrate right-wing hypocrisy…… The collective thinking of today’s movement conservatives accounts for little more than magic wand waving, the dangerous belief that if we eliminate all forms of the federal government, all our problems will vanish into thin air… it’s arguable that the most damaging 11 words ever uttered by a U.S. president are Reagan’s “government is not part of the solution, government is the problem.” Or how about Reagan’s other famous line: “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”.Those two phrases have blanketed an entire generation of Republicans with hypocritical habits….Hypocrisy allows Republicans to ignore that it was the federal government that built the great American middle class through labor laws, reforms in the financial and banking industry, and a progressive tax code that shared the prosperity. It was also the federal government that created the interstate highway system, so that private enterprise could deliver to expanded markets. We tackled poverty with Social Security and Medicare, and on and so on. But instead of trying to starve the government or drown it in the bathtub, “we need to tackle our problems head-on, and that will require better government.”

Ted Cruz returns to the Texas Republican convention a conquering hero By Karen Tumulty, Published: June 8 | Updated: Monday, June 9, 2014 http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/ted-cruz-returns-to-the-texas-republican-convention-a-conquering-hero/2014/06/08/f4c339f8-ef18-11e3-914c-1fbd0614e2d4_story.html?wpisrc=nl_hdtopThis year’s Republican primaries proved beyond doubt that in the Lone Star State, the tea party is now the mainstream of Republicanism. Indeed, the entire Texas GOP appears to have been made over in Cruz’s image. Come January, barring a massive shift in the state’s political winds, candidates who ran by his playbook will hold just about every statewide officeThe GOP platform approved Saturday also reflected a new, harder edge…Texas conservatives say that they are not out of step but rather leading the way…Cruz may be reviled by some in Washington for his role in bringing the federal government to a halt last year, but at home, Republicans see him as that rare politician who actually does what he promised. http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/ted-cruz-returns-to-the-texas-republican-convention-a-conquering-hero/2014/06/08/f4c339f8-ef18-11e3-914c-1fbd0614e2d4_story.html?wpisrc=nl_hdtop

GOP cliff walk, Houston Chronicle, June 9, 2014 … Texas Republicans…political party so averse to the reality of a growing, changing, dynamic state that its members prefer a return to the 1950s…the ideologues have taken uncontested control…If they get their way in a couple of years, the hardliners will storm the White House, as well. Tea party torch bearer, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, ran away with the presidential straw poll with 43 percent of the tally…Cruz and the tea party are “pushing the Republican Party off the ideological cliff,” said Texas Democratic Party communications director Manny Garcia. We tend to agree, but neither Democrats nor moderate Republicans seem capable of reversing the trend any time soon.

Right wing message machine

From Bergdahl to Benghazi, Republicans fire up the scandal machine By Dana Milbank, Washington Post, June 4, 2014

Right wing operatives and dirty tricks

Why Karl Rove Uses Dirty Tricks: They Work By Peter Beinart, The Atlantic, May 2014… He hinted it, thus giving himself deniability while ensuring that the slur lingers in the public mind. Which is what he’s been doing his entire career…Why does Rove allegedly smear his opponents this way? Because it works… he’s now planted questions…that will lurk in journalists’ minds as they do that reporting… Once you kindle public suspicion about your opponent, it’s easy to keep throwing logs on the fire…

Unholy alliance

The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy By The Daily Take Team, The Thom Hartmann Program, June 5, 2014 The “vast right-wing conspiracy” machine is alive and well in America today…ever since President Obama was first elected president back in 2007, the “vast right-wing conspiracy” machine that Hillary Clinton first pointed out way back in 1998, has been churning out conspiracy after conspiracy, no matter how bizarre or outlandish they may be, all intended to take down President Obama. The folks over at Mother Jones have compiled an amazing list of just about every conspiracy about President Obama that’s ever hit the Internet…When it comes to all of these conspiracy theories that have been floated around over the past six years, what we really need to be asking ourselves is, “Who benefits from these outlandish and absurd beliefs? Where is the money behind these ideas coming from?” The answer, of course, is that it’s coming from the billionaires and economic royalists who are in control of our country. By floating around anti-Obama conspiracy theories, and by using Republicans in Washington to do their dirty work, America’s billionaires and economic royalists know that they’re weakening and disempowering the Democratic Party. And while a weak and disempowered Democratic Party is bad news for you and me, it’s great news for the billionaires and economic royalists. It means they can stay in power a lot easier…

 Progressive movement

Saving the world should be based on promise, not fear by George Monbiot  The Guardian, June 16 2014 

The Left’s Quiet Advance in Democratic Primaries by Molly Ball Jun 19 2014, 

Activists Quickly Organize to Oppose More War in Iraq By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, AlterNet, June 21, 2014 

Three Reasons Liberals Lack Traction With Voters, Despite Conservative Failures by Robert Kuttner, prospect.org, June 16, 2014

Progressive Activism Seen as Key to Democratic Turnout in Midterm Elections By Sam Knight, Truthout, May 8, 2014 … Democrats are likely to lose ground to Republicans this November if they continue to emphasize fundraising over organizing…. midterm turnout is “killing us”… the party needs to rally working- and middle-class families to bridge the enthusiasm gap…. We’ve got to get out in the street and talk to the people. That is the road to success.”  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/23559-progressive-activism-seen-as-key-to-democratic-turnout-in-midterm-elections

Climate Change, Economic Inequality Are One Debate, says Sen. Warren by Jon Queally, staff writer, Common Dreams, June 3, 2014  Both issues show clearly that ‘we have a rigged system, where a handful are able to reap benefits at the cost of everyone else.’

Raising Our Voices With Confidence  by Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, www.popularresistance.org, June 7, 2014

Can a New Populist Movement Fight Off American Oligarchy? By Jon Queally, staff writer, Common Dreams, May 23, 2014 Amid push for “new populist” agenda, can progressives ignite a grassroots insurgency, battle both parties, and save the democracy?

The Aggressive Progressive: Reverend Barber In opposition to every extreme and every dark time, there are always voices that speak out from the moral core of our collective humanity to defend and fight for that humanity. This brief video captures one such very eloquent voice that can encourage the spirit, engage the mind and warm the heart. The Man Behind Moral Mondays by Lynn Stuart Parramore, The American Prospect, June 17, 2013 Activists to Watch: Rev. Dr. William J. Barber by Peter Dreier, Moyers and Company, October 24, 2013

 Moral politics

 Moral Mondays: ‘Democratic tool’ or Great Awakening? By Jonathan Wilson-hartgrove, Commentary, Religion News Service, Washington Post, June 6, 2014 

Fomenting a Revolution: Extreme Acts of Greed Against the American People by Paul Buchheit, Common Dreams,

Christians: It’s Time to Break Our Silence on Faith-Based Terrorism By Rev. Brian McLaren, TIME, May 29, 2014 – Six reasons why faith communities should refuse to be enemies.

Moral Monday Sit-In Equates People’s Health with Eco Health by Jon Queally, staff writer, Common Dreams, June 3, 2014

Faith in social justice by Paul Massari, Harvard Gazette. HDS Communications, May 2, 2014 …a new report from the Brookings Institution that contends that “religious voices will remain indispensable to movements on behalf of the poor, the marginalized, and middle-class Americans.”

Spiritual progressives

The Stunning Resurgence of Progressive Christianity by Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, Executive Religion Editor, The Huffington Post, 06/04/2014  Anyone born within the last 50 years would be justified in thinking that Jesus’ teachings and Christian preachings were the exclusive domain of social and fiscal conservatives. The ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s were dominated by Christians with names like Falwell, Robertson, and Dobson who leveraged television and radio to make theirs the default religious voice in America….There has been a largely unnoticed but radical movement over the last decade during which the spiritual fire has shifted to more progressive Christians and that has the potential to change both the political and spiritual landscape of America…progressive Christian leaders are speaking out and being heard in their effort to impact the public square. Pastors and priests have spoken out on blocked Medicaid expansions, gun control, and climate change…immigration reform…religious right to perform gay marriagesNet Neutralitychange drug sentencing laws. Groups like Nuns on a Bus, Sojourners, Red Letter Christians, The Cana Initiative, Moral Mondays, Faithful America and many others are consistently witnessing to injustice in visible — and reportable — ways. Now, when the mainstream media is looking for a Christian to comment on a story, they have a powerful progressive set of voices to chose from…The way forward is for people of good will of all faiths and no faith to work together on matters that promote the common dignity, respect and well-being of all Americans.

 

 

Iraq Update – 2014

 

The First Iraq War Was Also Sold to the Public Based on a Pack of Lies by Joshua Holland,  billmoyers.com, June 27, 2014

Bush and Cheney are war criminals, says former Bush counterterrorism official by David Phillips, Las Vegas Democrat Examiner, May 29, 2014

The Worst Mistake in U.S. History — America Will Never Recover from Bush’s Great Foreign Policy Disaster By Peter Van Buren, Tom Dispatch, March 7, 2013 

Combat Veteran and Military Historian [Andrew Bacevich] Tells Bill Moyers, “No Way” Do We Go Back into Iraq – interview by Bill Moyers, Moyers and Company, posted on Alternet.org, June 20, 2014 Moyers…former Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter Elizabeth wrote a long essay in “The Wall Street Journal.” They say, “Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many. Too many times to count, Mr. Obama has told us he is ‘ending’ the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—as though wishing made it so…ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I’d say rarely has a major American newspaper published an op-ed that was so thoroughly shameless. Again, what is the cause? What was the catalyst of the instability that racks Iraq today? The simple answer is the one that Cheney and his daughter don’t want to mention: the unnecessary, misguided, and frankly immoral war launched by the United States in 2003. We destabilized Iraq. In many respects, we destabilized the larger region. And misfortune of Barack Obama is that he inherited this catastrophe, created by the previous administration….I think the contrast between what Cheney said in 1994 and what he says 20 years later is actually very illustrative of this point. And that is that what passes for foreign-policy debate today, is just nakedly partisan…For somebody like Vice President Cheney berating Barack Obama for somehow surrendering American leadership and in the course of doing that simply ignoring the record of the administration in which he served– that’s duplicity. That’s malicious partisanship.

The Collapsing Obama Doctrine By Dick Cheney And Liz Cheney , Opinion, Wall Street Journal, June 17, 2014   - ...Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many….

Iraq Is Coming Apart at the Seams — Here’s Our Essential Reader by Joshua Holland, BillMoyers.com, June 18, 2014

The totality of the Bush administration’s failure in Iraq is stunning by Ezra Klein, www.vox.com, June 17, 2014

Mainstream Media’s Echo Chamber on Iraq by Eric Alterman, BillMoyers.com, June 19, 2014 … Where were the watchdogs of the press?… No one denies that the truth was available at the time. Not all of it, of course, but enough to know that certain catastrophe lay down the road……the very same people who sold us the war are today trying to resell us the same damaged goods…Paul BremerDoug Feith …Marc Thiessen …Robert Kagan …William Kristol…Dick Cheney.

Glenn Beck: ‘Liberals, You Were Right’ About Iraq War By Alana Horowitz, The Huffington Post 06/17/2014 …”From the beginning, most people on the left were against going into Iraq. I wasn’t…. Liberals, you were right. We shouldn’t have.” Glenn Beck

On Iraq, Echoes of 2003 by Nicholas Kristof, The Opinion Pages, New York Times, JUNE 18, 2014  Is this 2014 or 2003? I’m flinching at a painful sense of déjà vu…Our 2003 invasion of Iraq should be a warning that military force sometimes transforms a genuine problem into something worse. The war claimed 4,500 American lives and…500,000 Iraqi lives… latest estimate is that the total cost to the United States of the Iraq war will be $4 trillion. That’s a $35,000 tax on the average American household. The total would be enough to ensure that all children could attend preschool in the United States, that most people with AIDS worldwide could receive treatment, and that every child worldwide could attend school — for the next 83 years. Instead, we financed a futile war that was like a Mobius strip, bringing us right back to an echo of where we started…The least surprising hawk is Dick Cheney, who in a Wall Street Journal op-ed article with his daughter Liz preserves an almost perfect record of being wrong. From the vice president who himself obtained every possible deferment to avoid Vietnam, who asserted “with absolute certainty” in 2002 that Saddam was making nuclear weapons, and insisted in 2005 that the Iraqi insurgency was in its “last throes,” we now have a blast at President Obama for failing to extinguish the continuing throes….Let’s acknowledge that hawks are right, that Iraq presents a serious problem. But is American military intervention really the best response at this time? Not at all.

The 25 Most Vicious Iraq War Profiteers The Iraq war is many things to different people. It is called a strategic blunder and a monstrous injustice and sometimes even a patriotic mission, much to the chagrin of rational human beings. For many big companies, however, the war is something far different: a lucrative cash-cow. The years-long, ongoing military effort has resurrected fears of the so-called “military-industrial complex.” Media pundits are outraged at private companies scooping up huge, no-questions-asked contracts to manufacture weapons, rebuild infrastructure, or anything else the government deems necessary to win (or plant its flag in Iraq). No matter what your stance on the war, it pays to know where your tax dollars are being spent. Following is a detailed rundown of the 25 companies squeezing the most profit from this controversial conflict. 1. Halliburton (a long string of military/KBR wartime partnerships, thanks in no small part to Dick Cheney’s former role with the parent company.) 2. Veritas Capital Fund/DynCorp 3. Washington Group International 4. Environmental Chemical 5. Aegis 6. International American Products………….

Big Shocker—Iraq War Architect Goes on ‘Meet the Press’ to Argue for Endless War By Laura Clawson, Daily Kos, posted on Alternet.org, June 16, 2014  The George W. Bush Iraq War sales team was out in force on the Sunday [June 16,2014] talk shows to explain that if President Obama had just made Iraq a truly endless war, everything would be fine and dandy over there now….How is it that after the destruction these people wrought—the horror in Iraq then and now, the deaths and injuries of American troops, the massive financial cost—they are still considered serious commentators whose opinions we should consider on this issue?

The Real Goal of Iraq War in 2003: Oil and Inciting Terrorism to Create Permanent Conflict by Steven Jonas, MD, Truth-out.org, June 16, 2014   …Iraq. It is now teetering on the brink of even more disaster than it has been subject to since the US invasion…one of its original major justifications, other than the non-existent WMD, was that the War on Iraq was a part of the “War on Terror”…” But it was very much in the interests of those forces which forced the US into war to cement the “terror/fear” environment in the minds of the US people. And they certainly have achieved that goal, within the GOP/TP “base,” at least let’s connect the dots to see what was really happening. 1…Bush/Cheney lied the U.S. into war. 2. There was no post-war planning…the US eventually left Iraq, not with any kind of “victory” but because it was pushed out, by the very puppet government that Bush/Cheney set up. But the Permanent War Society, or at least the Permanent Preparation for Permanent War Society, is very much in play. In terms of its original objectives, regardless of what happens in the Middle East now, the War on Iraq can only be said to have resulted in a victory - for those who originally planned and prosecuted it.. full text

Pat Robertson unloads on Bush for latest Iraq crisis: ‘We were sold a bill of goods!’ By David Edwards, Rawstory.com, June 16, 2014  Televangelist Pat Robertson on Monday blasted former President George W. Bush for selling Americans a “bill of goods” before the Iraq invasion, which led to the violence that is currently sweeping across the country….In the end, Robertson reckoned that there would be conflict in Iraq until an Antichrist appeared before the Second Coming of Christ. “They will continue to play out until such times that the Lord brings out of Babylon some evil Antichrist or something,” he remarked. video from CBN’s The 700 Club, broadcast June 16, 2014.

The Iraq Mess: Place Blame Where It Is Deserved John Cassidy, The New Yorker, June 13, 2014  …we have reached the moment that skeptics of the 2003 United States invasion warned about all along: the implosion of the country, and, possibly, the entire region…President Obama and his military advisers are scrambling to come up with a response…the blame game has already begun…“Could all of this have been avoided? The answer is absolutely yes.”  McCain is right; it could have been avoided. If, in the aftermath of 9/11, President George W. Bush had treated the arguments of Doug Feith, McCain, and other advocates of the Iraq War with the disdain they deserved, we (and the Iraqis) wouldn’t be where we are today…greatest mistake was the initial one. In invading Iraq and toppling Saddam, the Bush Administration opened Pandora’s Box. Given what has happened since 2003, it is almost comical to read the prewar prognostications of the neocons and paleocons for what would happen after Saddam was gone. There was talk of turning Iraq into a democratic model for other Middle Eastern countries…The irony is painfully acute. Eleven years ago, in response to a terrorist attack by a group of anti-American religious fanatics, the United States invaded an Arab country with hardly any jihadis, or very few of them, to overthrow a secular dictator. Today, with much blood and money having been spent, northern and western Iraq is full of jihadis, and the U.S. government is figuring out how to prevent them from overrunning the rest of the country.…the October, 2011, decision, which had the overwhelming support of the American public, will be relitigated. That’s a legitimate debate to have. But it shouldn’t be allowed to distract from the broader truth, which is that Iraqis and the rest of us are still living with the consequences of the initial determinations made by President Bush, Vice-President Dick Cheney, and their colleagues. The Iraq invasion and occupation was ill-conceived, ill-executed, and ill-fated. It had terrible consequences not just for Iraq but for many other countries. It illustrated the limits of American military power—the opposite of what it was intended to do—and it helped accomplish what Osama bin Laden could never have achieved on his own: drawing the United States and its allies into an open-ended global battle with militant Islam. When you hear Feith and other architects of the Iraq invasion criticizing Obama for cutting and running, it is well to remember that.

Real Goal of Iraq War in 2003: Oil and Inciting Terrorism to Create Permanent Conflict by Steven Jonas, MD, Truth-out.org, June 16, 2014

The Iraq War Was Launched to Own the Country, Not to Liberate It by MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT, June  17, 2014 Mini-excerpt – You can start with the profoundly tragic irony that the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld Iraq War of 2003 created a terrorist threat instead of ending one…With the power vaccum opened up by the US overthrow of Hussein, the groups labeled as terrorists started amassing in Iraq in the absence of a centralized government outside of the US military…If there is another 9/11, as [Senator Lindsay] Graham forecasts, it is because of the false narrative and war crimes that he and others promoted at the behest of the Bush administration. The terrorist threat did not exist in Iraq until Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld decided to try to own it – and in doing so, broke it.  

A refresher course on Iraq for Republican revisionists by Bruce Lindner, theeverlastinggopstoppers.com June 17, 2014

“What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in [the Bush] administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne,” he said. “What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income – to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression. That’s what I’m opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war.” Barack Obama, State Senator from Illinois, 2002

Statement by Sen. Wellstone regarding military action against Iraq delivered on the floor of the senate October 3, 2002. YouTube

Former Envoy Pipes Up in Conservative Chorus of ‘Told You So’ on Iraq By JENNIFER STEINHAUER, New York Times, JUNE 18, 2014 …John R. Bolton…the opinionated, galvanic former United States ambassador to the United Nations … is among the cavalcade of neoconservatives newly emerged on cable television and in hawkish policy seminars to say “We told you so” on Iraq…Paul Wolfowitz, William Kristol …what amounts to a homecoming week for the Bush administration…Mr. Wolfowitz, a deputy defense secretary under Mr. Bush who is widely viewed as an architect of the Iraq war, echoed Mr. Bolton on MSNBC, saying that he was not the architect of the war but that if he had been, “things would have been run very differently.”…For Mr. Bolton, a regular contributor to Fox News, the current crisis is a new opportunity to criticize Mr. Obama’s foreign policy as fecklesshis views are a balm to traditional conservatives in Congress and beyond who worry about the ascent of libertarians within the party, like Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, who lean more isolationist.He has been a good, clear voice on peace through strength,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, of Mr. Bolton. “Some people in our party are to the left of Obama on foreign policy, and we are pushing back.”…“He oversaw some of the most disastrous foreign policy decisions in American history,” said Lincoln Chafee, the Democratic governor of Rhode Island, who at the time was a Republican senator whose objection to Mr. Bolton helped block his nomination, and who has no regrets. “He has just been wrong on every issue.”…

The War in Iraq Cost $4 Trillion and Enormous Loss of Life: 8 Warmongers Who Would Take Us Back by Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet, June 13, 2014  The Iraq War hawks are back. And they have two knee-jerk ways of seeing the convulsions in Iraq where Sunni militants have seized cities from Syria to Baghdad’s doorstep, killing government workers and civilians, and grabbing weapons from a vanishing Iraqi Army. First, it is always President Obama’s fault; and second, the U.S. must return to war, despite what has been one of the biggest debacles in American military history. Hawks are only happy when we are at war, fueling the military-industrial complex as U.S. soldiers die and platoons of maimed veterans return home to underfunded medical care…the same warmongering editorial pages and many of the same writers who gladly carried the water for Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Colin Powell, Ari Fleischer, Scott McClellan are back at it…1. Senator John McCain 2. Senator Lindsey Graham 3. House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon 4. Former George W. Bush Speechwriter Micheal Gerson 5. Wall Street Journal Columnist Daniel Henninger 7. The Weekly Standard’s Max Boot 8. Washington Post Columnist Jennifer Rubin … George W. Bush’s war of choice in Iraq lit a time bomb that has cost trillions of taxpayer dollars, killed thousands of U.S. soldiers, maimed 320,000 with brain injuries, and left more than 650,000 Iraqis dead. Despite everything the U.S. has tried, Iraq is still falling into chaos and civil war of its own making. Yet America’s war hawks want us to go back in, for ridiculous reasons that can only make a bad situation worse.

The Duplicity of the Ideologues by Andrew J. Bacevich, commonwealmagazine.org,  June 4, 2014

Previous postings about Iraq War

10 Years After the Invasion: America Destroyed Iraq But Our War Crimes Remain Unacknowledged and Unpunished

About the Iraq tragedy — commentary and information

Lessons from the Iraq War tragedy - ProgressiveValues.org e-letter of March 20, 2013

Reflections on Iraq tragedy compiled by Phyllis Stenerson,

Lessons from Iraq tragedy — excerpts

Iraq War excerpts updated 3–30-13

Timeline highlights — Iraq War — 1965 to 2009

Ten years of questions, outrage, tragedy, grief and change — The Iraq War, ProgressiveValues.org e-letter of Feb­ru­ary 15, 2013

Prince of Darkness denies own existence — Richard Perle by Dana Milbank, Washington Post, February 20, 2009 

10 Years After the Invasion: America Destroyed Iraq But Our War Crimes Remain Unacknowledged and Unpunished By Nicolas J.S. Davies, AlterNet, March 15, 2013   

Ten years of questions, outrage, tragedy, grief and change — The Iraq War by Phyllis Stenerson, ProgressiveValues.org e-letter of February 15, 2013

Tony Blair [and George Bush] should face trial over Iraq war, says Desmond Tutu by Toby Helm, political editor, The Observer,  1 September 1, 2012

Ten Years — A decade in American democracy — Editorial, September 2011 Uptown Neighborhood News, Minneapolis, MN — September 2011 - Editorial by Phyllis Stenerson  

The Attack-Syria Coalition: Brought to You By the Same People Who Gave Us the Iraq Debacle By Samer Araabi, Right Web, Alternet.org, October 15, 2012

Romney’s Neocon Foreign Policy: Written by Those Who Ignored al Qaeda Threat 

 

 

Flag Day – June 14

What kind of country does our flag represent?  Commentary by Phyllis Stenerson published in Uptown Neighborhood News, June 2010, Minneapolis, MN

It’s Flag Day in the United States commemorating the day in 1777 when the Continental Congress approved an official flag for a new nation. Old Glory is probably the most recognizable, powerful and revered symbol of the United States. I think we all pretty much agree on that.

The question of what kind of a country Old Glory represents, however, is causing unprecedented, deep divisiveness. Dialogue and dissent are essential to a well functioning democracy. Right wing protests that are edging toward violence, shouting that drowns out civil discourse and misrepresentation of facts and history are grievously damaging our nation. We need to hear more progressive voices.

The seriousness of our times cannot be overstated! The man-made environmental disaster in the Gulf is the latest, gruesomely visible challenge. Our crisis of democracy is also a man-made problem heading toward disaster unless we act. If this doesn’t get our attention, what will?

It’s taken me awhile to come to terms with how extremist the formerly honorable Republican Party has become and how they are damaging America – and have the nerve to take a strong stand. I am disappointed by the Democrats who have failed to articulate and fight hard enough for our cherished values of justice and opportunity for all. Congress is basically dysfunctional and overly compliant to the big money interests that fund Members’ campaigns. The Republicans need to take responsibility for eight years of creating problems and be part of the solution instead of continually attacking Obama for not fixing everything in just over one year.

President Obama’s job is tough beyond comprehension and his actions often baffling but I still believe in his intellect, vision and potential to be a great president. I need for him to prove to me his commitment to progressive values. Obama needs to toughen up and fight back – and again inspire the American people to work for a better America for all.

We progressives need to remember and revive the passion of the campaign and the thrill of the inauguration. We need to overcome our exhaustion and creeping cynicism and again work to advance Obama’s vision for America.

Political/moral movies on Netflix

Right wing

Jesus Camp 2006PG-1384 minutes This documentary follows three kids at a controversial summer camp that grooms the next generation of conservative Christian political activists. Cast: Lou Engle, Becky Fischer, Ted Haggard

Constantine’s Sword 2007NR95 minutes This intriguing documentary examines anti-Semitism in the Catholic Church and the link between the U.S. military and the Christian right. Cast:Liev Schreiber, Eli Wallach, Natasha Richardson

The Revisionaries 2012NR83 minutes This documentary looks at a pitched cultural conflict over school textbook standards in Texas, as determined by the state’s Board of Education. Cast:Don McLeroy

Outfoxed: Murdoch’s War on Journalism 2004NR77 minutes This documentary explores Rupert Murdoch’s ever-expanding media empire, offering a look at the dangers of corporations controlling television news.Cast:Jeff Cohen, Bob McChesney, David Brock

Ayn Rand & the Prophecy of Atlas Shrugged 2012NR83 minutes This documentary examines the roots of novelist and social philosopher Ayn Rand’s ideas and how they’re manifesting in contemporary America society.

Patriocracy 2011NR86 minutes This incisive and timely documentary examines the extreme polarization of the U.S. political landscape and seeks to identify the underlying causes.Cast: Pat Buchanan, Eleanor Clift, Ken Rudin

GOP Operatives, dirty tricks and scandals

Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story2008NR87 minutes Examine the life and career of the late Lee Atwater, notorious for his no-holds-barred strategies that powered the campaign of George H.W. Bush.Cast: Ed Rollins, Michael Dukakis, Tucker Eskew

Casino Jack 2010R108 minutes No stranger to wealth and power, slick lobbyist Jack Abramoff lands deep in a political corruption scandal after bilking millions from Indian tribes. Cast:Kevin Spacey, Barry Pepper, Kelly PrestonGenre:Dramas

Casino Jack and the United States of Money 2010R118 minutes Documentarian Alex Gibney reproaches convicted Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff and other legislators for their negative impact on U.S. politics.Cast:Jack Abramoff, Tom Delay, William Branner Genre:Documentaries

The Big Buy: How Tom DeLay Stole Congress2006NR76 minutes A hard-hitting examination of one man’s dangerous agenda, this film probes the Texas congressman’s unscrupulous efforts to bend democracy to his will.Cast:Tom Delay, Martin Frost, Chris Bell

Politics – past – progressive

One Bright Shining Moment2005NR124 minutes This documentary profiles 1972 presidential candidate George McGovern and features interviews with Gore Vidal, Gloria Steinem and other supporters. Cast: George McGovern, Warren Beatty, Gore Vidal

The Eleanor Roosevelt Story1965NR88 minutes This award-winning documentary chronicles the life of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, whose pioneering spirit inspired generations of feminists to come.Cast:Eric Sevareid, Archibald Macleish, Frances Cole

Culture/politics

The West Wing 1999-2005NR7 Seasons This powerful political epic chronicles the triumphs and travails of White House senior staff under the administration of President Josiah Bartlet. Cast:Allison Janney, John Spencer, Bradley Whitford

Erasing Hate 2011NR91 minutes This documentary presents a first-person look inside the dark world of racist skinheads, but offers hope in the story of one man’s redemption. Cast:Andrew Micheal Carter, Matt Franta, James W. Thompson Jr.

Politics – recent

Housequake 2009NR92 minutes Capturing political theater, this documentary recounts the Democratic Party’s takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2006 elections. Cast:Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, George Bush Sr.

Global

No End in Sight 2007NR101 minutes This Oscar-nominated documentary examines the decisions that led to the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq and the handling of the subsequent occupation.Cast:Campbell ScottGenre:

Economic justice

The One Percent 2006NR76 minutes Filmmaker Jamie Johnson examines the gap between America’s poor and the 1 percent of the population that controls half the country’s wealth. Cast:Steve Forbes, Adnan Khashoggi, Nicole Buffet

End of the Road 2012NR55 minutes End of the Road: How Money Became Worthless – In 2008 markets around the world crashed, stock prices plummeted, and major financial institutions, once thought to be invincible, collapsed.Cast:Peter Schiff, Eric Sprott, James Turk

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room 2005R109 minutes This documentary takes a behind-the-scenes look at the powerful energy company whose downfall forever changed the landscape of the business world.ast:Peter Coyote, John Beard, Jim Chanos

Activism – issues

Ralph Nader: An Unreasonable Man 2006NR122 minutes This film profiles the personal and professional life of Ralph Nader, one of America’s most controversial consumer advocates and political activists.Cast:Ralph Nader

The Chicago 8 2011NR89 minutes Following several days of riots in Chicago in 1968, eight notorious political activists are arrested and tried in a case that rivets the nation. Cast:Gary Cole, Mayim Bialik, Steven CulpGenre:Dramas

Military/industrial complex

Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers2006NR75 minutes Director Robert Greenwald’s documentary about profiteering and the Iraq War alleges that private contractors are getting rich while others suffer.

Transformation

2012: Time for Change 2010NR85 minutes With many predicting doom, this documentary suggests a global shift is coming, and people have the power to help the world change for the better. Cast:Maude Barlow, R. Buckminster Fuller, Gilberto Gil

Articles and excerpts – May 16 to June 10, 2014

May 16 to June 10, 2014 – click on header for more articles on related subjects

Anti-intellectualism

The Results Are In: America Is Dumb and on the Road to Getting Dumber By CJ Werleman, AlterNet, June 4, 2014

Religion

Liberal Christianity — 10 things to know about this ‘middle way’ By Douglas Todd, Vancouver Sun, June 6, 2014

Climate change

A Call to Arms: An Invitation to Demand Action on Climate Change by Bill McKibben, Rolling Stone, published by Common Dreams, May 21, 2014   When world leaders gather in New York [September 20 and 21] to confront climate change, tens of thousands of people (and maybe you) will be there to demand they take action before it’s too late…it will be the largest demonstration yet of human resolve in the face of climate change…this is dead-serious business, a signal moment in the gathering fight of human beings to do something about global warming before it’s too late to do anything but watch the “world’s leaders” haven’t been leaders on climate change – at least not leaders enough…The world’s scientists earlier this spring issued a 32-volume report explaining exactly how much worse it’s going to get, which is, to summarize, a lot worse even than they’d thought before. It’s not that the scientists are alarmists – it’s that the science is alarming. Here’s how one Princeton scientist summarized the situation for reporters: “We’re all sitting ducks.”…

Global Citizens to Elites: Join Climate Fight ‘Or Step Aside’ by Jon Queally, staff writer, Common Dreams, June 6, 2014

House Directs Pentagon To Ignore Climate Change, HuffingtonPost, 5/23/2014

Generational justice

Dear Millennials, We’re Sorry by Frank Bruni, New York Times, JUNE 7, 2014

Starting Out Behind By THE EDITORIAL BOARD, New York Times, JUNE 7, 2014  …While the worst is over, economic conditions are still subpar, damaging the immediate job prospects and long-term living standards of young adults starting out now….Over the last six years, one of the economy’s biggest problems has been faulty fiscal policy, with the federal government underestimating the need for economic aid or withholding and reducing help prematurely. Another drag has been lack of business investment, even as financial markets have prospered with the help of loose monetary policy. The result has been an economy where young people starting out are at risk of prolonged underachievement. It is possible to defuse that risk, but not without responsive policy and robust investment.

8 Reasons Young Americans Don’t Fight Back By Bruce Levine on June 8, 2014 …Traditionally, young people have energized democratic movements. So it is a major coup for the ruling elite to have created societal institutions that have subdued young Americans and broken their spirit of resistance to domination. Young Americans—even more so than older Americans—appear to have acquiesced to the idea that the corporatocracy can completely screw them and that they are helpless to do anything about it…How exactly has American society subdued young Americans? 1. Student-Loan Debt. 2. Psychopathologizing and Medicating Noncompliance. 3. Schools That Educate for Compliance and Not for Democracy. 4. “No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top.” 5. Shaming Young People Who Take Education—But Not Their Schooling—Seriously. 6. The Normalization of Surveillance. 8. Fundamentalist Religion and Fundamentalist Consumerism.

The Boomers “Failed” Us: Climate Activist Tim DeChristopher on Anger, Love, and Sacrifice by Sarah van Gelder, YES! Magazine,  June 4, 2014 First the anger, then the love—overcoming generational anger to find the courage required for the difficult work ahead.

Americaculture

5 Signs That America Has Gone Bonkers — And a Glimmer of Hope by Jim Hightower, AlterNet/BillMoyers.com, May 30, 2014 …Symptoms of this national insanity include these examples: We can’t even keep the doors of our government open. In October of last year, Washington’s tea party Republican faction…shut down the nation’s government for 16 days and bled $24 billion from the US economy…2)  Lloyd Blankfein, bankster-in-chief of Goldman Sachs…took a $10 billion taxpayer bailout to keep it afloat and lobbied furiously to kill regulatory reforms…continues to reign… and hauling in $23 million last year in personal pay. 3) A narrow, five-man majority of the US Supreme Court has decreed that corporations are “persons” with the right to spend unlimited sums of their shareholders’ money to elect or defeat whomever they want — and to do so secretly. This year, in McCutcheon v. FEC, the Court also overturned the campaign finance rules limiting individual’s contributions on aggregate federal campaign contributions — thus enthroning a tiny elite as America’s ruling electoral power. 4) Big Money’s control of politics gives it control of public policy…5) From retail workers to adjunct college professors, the new normal for workaday people is poverty-wage, part-time, temporary, no-benefit employment…Most people know that things are screwy, that this is not the America that’s supposed to be. And therein lies the good news: The USA hasn’t gone crazy — its leaders have and they can be changed.

War Gear Flows to Police Departments By MATT APUZZOJUNE, New York Times, June 8, 2014

Fear, hate, violence

Americans Are More Likely to Be Killed by Right-Wing Terrorists Than Muslims—But the Media’s Afraid to Say It By CJ Werleman, AlterNet, May 20, 2014  … you are far more likely to be murdered by a far Right-wing American than a Muslim American, but the term “terrorist” remains reserved exclusively for acts of political violence carried out by Muslims. If terrorism is defined as violence against innocent civilians designed to advance a political cause, then all racist murders that occur in the U.S. are also acts of terrorism, because the perpetrators commit the violent act to send a political message to minority communities (i.e. intimidate them into a subordinate status.).. In the years 1990 to 2010, there were 145 acts of political violence committed by the American far Right, resulting in 348 deaths. By comparison, 20 Americans were killed over the same period in acts of political violence carried out by Muslim-American civilians…. our conception of the terrorist threat is shaped more by ideology than objectivity… The Southern Poverty Law Center calculates there are 939 far right-wing hate groups across the country today, including neo-Nazis, Klansmen, white nationalists, neo-Confederates, racist skinheads, border vigilantes and others…The number of Patriot groups, including armed militias, skyrocketed following the election of President Obama in 2008 – rising 813 percent, from 149 groups in 2008 to an all-time high of 1,360 in 2012. The number fell to 1,096 in 2013,” the SPLC calculates. Yet terrorism and racist violence are not considered to be equally significant threats by the U.S. government and the mainstream media……Like the violent acts we normally think of as terrorism, racist violence not only takes the lives of its immediate victims, but also sends a larger message of fear to the wider population… The growth in far Right extremism is fueled not only by a right-wing echo chamber that legitimizes false propaganda about immigrants and other minorities, but also, in part, by liberal timidity, which is why Sen. Reid’s use of the term “domestic terrorist” is an important step forward in dealing with the threat of far Right extremism. I mean, terrorism.

Culture wars – sex

The feminist battle of the story in the wake of the Isla Vista massacre by Rebecca Solnit, by TomDispatch, posted on CommonDreams.org June 2, 2014

Culture wars – race

The Truth About Race In America: It’s Getting Worse, Not Better By Gary Younge, The Nation, May 23, 2014

Economic justice

‘The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap’ by Matt Taibbi By Hedrick Smith, Washington Post, April 11, 2014 …Taibbi offers the searing indictment that America’s wealth gap has corrupted the nation’s system of justice, fostering a “legal schizophrenia” that harshly prosecutes the poor but practices selective leniency on Wall Street…that the United States now lives by a hypocritical double standard — “letting major systemic offenders walk, bypassing the opportunity for important symbolic prosecutions and instead . . . putting the smallest of small fry on the rack for negligible offenses.”… “The Divide” is an important book. Its documentation is powerful and shocking. But it can ramble off track, as Taibbi falls in love with a story or a character. Its logic is sometimes diminished by his understandable rage at unethical, though probably not illegal, behavior. His periodic tirades against American justice as “a sci-fi movie, a dystopia,” distract from the force of his argument. But he drives home the telling point that the wealth-driven dichotomy in our legal system stems from our bending the law to match our social attitudes…Today, he concludes, “the rule of law has slowly been replaced by giant idiosyncratic bureaucracies that are designed to criminalize failure, poverty, and weakness on the one hand, and to immunize strength, wealth and success on the other.” Hedrick Smith is former Washington bureau chief of the New York Times and the author of “Who Stole the American Dream?”

Class wars

From Elections to Mass Movements: How Wealthy Elites Are Hijacking Democracy All Over the World by Sonali Kolhatkar, TruthDig.com May 29, 2014

The Head of the IMF Says Inequality Threatens Democracy. Here Are 7 Charts Proving She’s Right. by Erika Eichelberger, Mother Jones, May 30, 2014

Secretive Bilderberg group holds annual conference for global elite by Renee Lewis, america.aljazeera.com, May 29, 2014  http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/5/29/bilderberg-conferencesecret.html

Communications – conservative

Does Fox News Cause Ignorance, or Do Ignorant Viewers Prefer Fox News? A new study reveals the gap between the channel’s fans and the rest of America By Danny Vinik @dannyvinik, The New Republic, June 10, 2014 

Politics and Power

New [Gallup] Poll Shows America Is Becoming More Liberal by Salvatore Aversa,  AATTP June 1, 2014

Progressive Candidates Reap Big Gains In Primaries By Alex Lazar, The Huffington Post, 6/05/2014  “We won because we were true to the issues we wanted to have a discussion on, whether or not it was immigration reform or protecting Social Security or looking to lift the cap on Social Security, making sure that those who were the least among us were being lifted up and being attended to.” Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, New Jersey Democratic primary

Republicans have a 77% chance of taking the Senate By John Sides, Washington Post, May 16, 2014

Threats to democracy

Republicans’ Insane Political Strategy: Ruining Our Country Hurts the Democratic Party By Thom Hartmann, AlterNet, May 13, 2014  …For six years now, Republicans have been hard at work damaging America and the American people… they know, consistent with the Republican Chaos Strategy, that most Americans, when they go to the polls, won’t realize that it was exclusively the Republicans who were responsible for this. They only know there’s a Democrat in the White House, and so they think that the Democrats must have something to do with it. The Republican Chaos Strategy is brilliant, and will continue to work as long as they can keep the American people ignorant of who controls which branches of Congress and how Republicans manipulate the filibuster in the Senate. The Republicans frankly make no secret of it: Newt Gingrich, who was there, bragged about it… The only way to stop the Republican Chaos Strategy is to educate the American people as to how the Republicans, for the majority of the Obama presidency, have been able to systematically and intentionally damage our economy and our nation for purely political purposes. This should be the single-minded focus of the Democratic Party between now and November.

Democracy – rule of law

Bush and Cheney are war criminals, says former Bush counterterrorism official by David Phillips, Las Vegas Democrat Examiner, May 29, 2014

Citizenship

Lost in the Past by Timothy Egan, New York Times, May 22, 2014  … a 2010 report that only 12 percent of students in their last year of high school had a firm grasp of our nation’s history…. Civics, said [filmmaker Ken] Burns, is “the operating system” for citizenry; if you know how government is constructed, it’s no longer a complicated muddle, but a beautiful design.

Gun control

How the NRA Rewrote the Second Amendment Michael Waldman, Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, Crossposted on Politico Magazine, May 20, 2014

Privatization

The Privatization Scam: 5 Horror Stories of Gov’t Outsourcing to Greedy Private Companies By Dave Johnson, AlterNet, May 14, 2014   http://www.alternet.org/economy/privatization-scam-5-horror-stories-govt-outsourcing-greedy-private-companies

Military-industrial complex

The Real Villains of the Bergdahl Tale By Ray McGovern, Consortium News, Truth-out.org, June 5, 2014  The right-wing media is denouncing Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl as a “deserter” who wasn’t worth ransoming from the Taliban, but the real villains are the architects of the disastrous Iraq and Afghan wars who frivolously put the many Bergdahls in harm’s way. 

Money in politics

Koch Bros. Group Readies ‘Endless Millions’ for Rightwing Takeover by Jon Queally, Common Dreams, May 9, 2014 …Americans For Prosperity—the rightwing advocacy group funded by the billionaire Koch brothers Charles and David—is prepared to spend $125 million (and likely much more) this year as it begins execution of a long-term strategy to win back the electoral map at all levels of government in this year’s election and beyond.

A Crisis to Address: Why the Senate’s Discussing a Democracy Amendment by John Nichols, The Nation, June 5, 2014 Americans recognize that the promise of American democracy is now fully threatened…the Constitution must be amended in order to preserve democratic self-governance…in order to restore the right of citizens and their elected representatives to organize elections where the vote matters more than the dollar by a two-to-one margin, Americans believe government officials are inclined to promote policies that favor the wealthy rather than the working poor…The disconnect between the popular will and public policy is so radical that it fosters cynicism and disengagement…voters are turning off to a process that does not respond to them…Turnout for US elections is dismal

Right wing ideology

How Hypocrisy Is Simply Not a Factor in the Right-Wing Mind By CJ Werleman, AlterNet, May 7, 2014  …It takes a Republican to be pro-death penalty, pro-war, pro-torture, and pro-bombing, yet be “pro-life.” …there are countless other examples that demonstrate right-wing hypocrisy…… The collective thinking of today’s movement conservatives accounts for little more than magic wand waving, the dangerous belief that if we eliminate all forms of the federal government, all our problems will vanish into thin air… it’s arguable that the most damaging 11 words ever uttered by a U.S. president are Reagan’s “government is not part of the solution, government is the problem.” Or how about Reagan’s other famous line: “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”.Those two phrases have blanketed an entire generation of Republicans with hypocritical habits….Hypocrisy allows Republicans to ignore that it was the federal government that built the great American middle class through labor laws, reforms in the financial and banking industry, and a progressive tax code that shared the prosperity. It was also the federal government that created the interstate highway system, so that private enterprise could deliver to expanded markets. We tackled poverty with Social Security and Medicare, and on and so on. But instead of trying to starve the government or drown it in the bathtub, “we need to tackle our problems head-on, and that will require better government.”

Ted Cruz returns to the Texas Republican convention a conquering hero By Karen Tumulty, Published: June 8 | Updated: Monday, June 9, 2014 http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/ted-cruz-returns-to-the-texas-republican-convention-a-conquering-hero/2014/06/08/f4c339f8-ef18-11e3-914c-1fbd0614e2d4_story.html?wpisrc=nl_hdtopThis year’s Republican primaries proved beyond doubt that in the Lone Star State, the tea party is now the mainstream of Republicanism. Indeed, the entire Texas GOP appears to have been made over in Cruz’s image. Come January, barring a massive shift in the state’s political winds, candidates who ran by his playbook will hold just about every statewide officeThe GOP platform approved Saturday also reflected a new, harder edge…Texas conservatives say that they are not out of step but rather leading the way…Cruz may be reviled by some in Washington for his role in bringing the federal government to a halt last year, but at home, Republicans see him as that rare politician who actually does what he promised. http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/ted-cruz-returns-to-the-texas-republican-convention-a-conquering-hero/2014/06/08/f4c339f8-ef18-11e3-914c-1fbd0614e2d4_story.html?wpisrc=nl_hdtop

GOP cliff walk, Houston Chronicle, June 9, 2014 … Texas Republicans…political party so averse to the reality of a growing, changing, dynamic state that its members prefer a return to the 1950s…the ideologues have taken uncontested control…If they get their way in a couple of years, the hardliners will storm the White House, as well. Tea party torch bearer, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, ran away with the presidential straw poll with 43 percent of the tally…Cruz and the tea party are “pushing the Republican Party off the ideological cliff,” said Texas Democratic Party communications director Manny Garcia. We tend to agree, but neither Democrats nor moderate Republicans seem capable of reversing the trend any time soon.

Right wing message machine

From Bergdahl to Benghazi, Republicans fire up the scandal machine By Dana Milbank, Washington Post, June 4, 2014

Right wing operatives and dirty tricks

Why Karl Rove Uses Dirty Tricks: They Work By Peter Beinart, The Atlantic, May 2014… He hinted it, thus giving himself deniability while ensuring that the slur lingers in the public mind. Which is what he’s been doing his entire career…Why does Rove allegedly smear his opponents this way? Because it works… he’s now planted questions…that will lurk in journalists’ minds as they do that reporting… Once you kindle public suspicion about your opponent, it’s easy to keep throwing logs on the fire…

Unholy alliance

The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy By The Daily Take Team, The Thom Hartmann Program, June 5, 2014 The “vast right-wing conspiracy” machine is alive and well in America today…ever since President Obama was first elected president back in 2007, the “vast right-wing conspiracy” machine that Hillary Clinton first pointed out way back in 1998, has been churning out conspiracy after conspiracy, no matter how bizarre or outlandish they may be, all intended to take down President Obama. The folks over at Mother Jones have compiled an amazing list of just about every conspiracy about President Obama that’s ever hit the Internet…When it comes to all of these conspiracy theories that have been floated around over the past six years, what we really need to be asking ourselves is, “Who benefits from these outlandish and absurd beliefs? Where is the money behind these ideas coming from?” The answer, of course, is that it’s coming from the billionaires and economic royalists who are in control of our country. By floating around anti-Obama conspiracy theories, and by using Republicans in Washington to do their dirty work, America’s billionaires and economic royalists know that they’re weakening and disempowering the Democratic Party. And while a weak and disempowered Democratic Party is bad news for you and me, it’s great news for the billionaires and economic royalists. It means they can stay in power a lot easier…

Moral politics

Christians: It’s Time to Break Our Silence on Faith-Based Terrorism By Rev. Brian McLaren, TIME, May 29, 2014 – Six reasons why faith communities should refuse to be enemies.

Moral Monday Sit-In Equates People’s Health with Eco Health by Jon Queally, staff writer, Common Dreams, June 3, 2014

Faith in social justice by Paul Massari, Harvard Gazette. HDS Communications, May 2, 2014 …a new report from the Brookings Institution that contends that “religious voices will remain indispensable to movements on behalf of the poor, the marginalized, and middle-class Americans.”

Spiritual progressives

The Stunning Resurgence of Progressive Christianity by Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, Executive Religion Editor, The Huffington Post, 06/04/2014  Anyone born within the last 50 years would be justified in thinking that Jesus’ teachings and Christian preachings were the exclusive domain of social and fiscal conservatives. The ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s were dominated by Christians with names like Falwell, Robertson, and Dobson who leveraged television and radio to make theirs the default religious voice in America….There has been a largely unnoticed but radical movement over the last decade during which the spiritual fire has shifted to more progressive Christians and that has the potential to change both the political and spiritual landscape of America…progressive Christian leaders are speaking out and being heard in their effort to impact the public square. Pastors and priests have spoken out on blocked Medicaid expansions, gun control, and climate change…immigration reform…religious right to perform gay marriagesNet Neutralitychange drug sentencing laws. Groups like Nuns on a Bus, Sojourners, Red Letter Christians, The Cana Initiative, Moral Mondays, Faithful America and many others are consistently witnessing to injustice in visible — and reportable — ways. Now, when the mainstream media is looking for a Christian to comment on a story, they have a powerful progressive set of voices to chose from…The way forward is for people of good will of all faiths and no faith to work together on matters that promote the common dignity, respect and well-being of all Americans.

Progressive movement

Progressive Activism Seen as Key to Democratic Turnout in Midterm Elections By Sam Knight, Truthout, May 8, 2014 … Democrats are likely to lose ground to Republicans this November if they continue to emphasize fundraising over organizing…. midterm turnout is “killing us”… the party needs to rally working- and middle-class families to bridge the enthusiasm gap…. We’ve got to get out in the street and talk to the people. That is the road to success.”  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/23559-progressive-activism-seen-as-key-to-democratic-turnout-in-midterm-elections

Climate Change, Economic Inequality Are One Debate, says Sen. Warren by Jon Queally, staff writer, Common Dreams, June 3, 2014  Both issues show clearly that ‘we have a rigged system, where a handful are able to reap benefits at the cost of everyone else.’

Raising Our Voices With Confidence  by Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, www.popularresistance.org, June 7, 2014

Can a New Populist Movement Fight Off American Oligarchy? By Jon Queally, staff writer, Common Dreams, May 23, 2014 Amid push for “new populist” agenda, can progressives ignite a grassroots insurgency, battle both parties, and save the democracy?

The Aggressive Progressive: Reverend Barber In opposition to every extreme and every dark time, there are always voices that speak out from the moral core of our collective humanity to defend and fight for that humanity. This brief video captures one such very eloquent voice that can encourage the spirit, engage the mind and warm the heart. The Man Behind Moral Mondays by Lynn Stuart Parramore, The American Prospect, June 17, 2013 Activists to Watch: Rev. Dr. William J. Barber by Peter Dreier, Moyers and Company, October 24, 2013