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Insanity Is Deja Vu All Over Again

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  • With the present so radically departing from our past, history has become a damning package of inconvenient truths.
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  • Building a Nation of Know-Nothings
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David Sirota, In These Times

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Out of all the famous quotations, few better describe this eerily familiar time than those attributed to George Santayana and Yogi Berra. The former, a philosopher, warned that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” The latter, a baseball player, stumbled into prophecy by declaring, “It’s deja vu all over again.”

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As movies give us bad remakes of already bad productions (hello, Predators), television resuscitates ancient clowns (howdy, Dee Snider) and music revives pure schlock (I’m looking at you, Devo), we are now surrounded by the obvious mistakes of yesteryear. And it might be funny—it might be downright hilarious—if only this cycle didn’t infect the deadly serious stuff.

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Building a Nation of Know-Nothings, Timothy Egan, New York Times | NY
It’s not just that 46 percent of Republicans believe the lie that Obama is a Muslim, or that 27 percent in the party doubt that the president of the United States is a citizen. But fully half of them believe falsely that the big bailout of banks and insurance companies under TARP was enacted by Obama, and not by President Bush.

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What Have We Learned Since 9/11?

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  • This is a test of our character; and we dare not fail it.
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  • The United States of Fear
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Jim Wallis, Sojourners/God's Politics

This Saturday (September 11), we commemorate the ninth anniversary of 9/11. It is with pain and sadness that we remember the day the towers fell, the Pentagon was attacked, and another plane full of passengers crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after brave citizens stopped the terrorists from hitting their target. For nine years the anguish of lost loved ones and the feeling of vulnerability we all felt as terrible acts of violence were perpetrated on our soil have stuck with us all.

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At this time, it is also appropriate to ask, What have we learned? How have we grown as a country? How have we healed, or how have we, in our hurt, turned around and hurt others? These are not either/or questions. We have, in fact, done both: healed and wounded, learned and regressed, grown and shrunk back from the challenges before us. The challenges before us today lie in our ability to move forward in healing and building the cause of peace while remembering the lessons and lives lost in the past.

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The United States of Fear, Bill Quigley, Common Dreams
You tell me what happened to the land of the free and the home of the brave since September 11, 2001.

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Size of Government Does Matter

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  • Amidst all of the “No Big Government” rhetoric is a lack of explanation on the actual benefits of cutting government’s workforce. On the contrary, the government should be the average persons bastion against unbridled corporate power, not a pass-through supporting it.
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  • Regulatory Capture Of Oil Drilling Agency Exposed In Report
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Scott Tempel, Minnesota 2020

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Parker and Hart

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Amidst all of the “No Big Government” rhetoric is a lack of explanation on the actual benefits of cutting government’s workforce. On the contrary, the true costs of underfunded, understaffed agencies are clear. Having fewer people to manage an increasing workload will decrease efficiency, efficacy, and ultimately the quality of the work performed. Other side-effects include worker burnout, loss of institutional memory, loss of oversight and an actual increase in costs. When the work needs to be done and there is no one there to do it, government agencies turn to private contractors.  It is in the long-term best interest for the State of Minnesota to attract and retain the best employees and to maintain knowledge, experience and institutional memory as public assets.

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According to a 2009 Mother Jones report  (Out of Service, Sept/Oct 2009), contractors outnumber staff in some federal agencies by a 7-1 margin. And any Do-It-Yourself-er knows that hiring a contractor is way more expensive than doing it yourself, especially when government staffers already have the expertise to do the job. That is one reason why government spending went up so much under the Bush administration. The MJ article cites that more than 70% of the US intelligence budget goes to contractors, who make more than double what a career civil servant would make.  But the more insidious problem is by cutting and phasing out knowledgeable staff, the expensive outsourcing is self-perpetuating. And where does that leave the taxpayer? At the mercy of the corporate bureaucracy.  Add to that the fact that these corporations are spending billions on the lobbyists that bring in those juicy contracts.  And now with the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. FEC those corporations are free to spend billions literally buying the legislators themselves. The government should be the average persons bastion against unbridled corporate power, not a pass-through supporting it.

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Regulatory Capture Of Oil Drilling Agency Exposed In Report, Dan Froomkin, Huffington Post

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  • Rather than take issue with the report's findings, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement's (BOEMRE) new reform-oriented director, Michael Bromwich, has responded with an implementation plan aimed at fixing the problems.
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  • Uncovering the Lies That Are Sinking the Oil
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Robert Scheer on The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street

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  • We speak with veteran journalist and Truthdig editor, Robert Scheer, about his latest book, The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street.
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  • “Perp Walks Instead of Bonuses”
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Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Thomas Sklarski

Guest: Robert Scheer, longtime journalist based in California. He is the editor of Truthdig and author of many books. His latest is The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street.

Amy Goodman: As we continue our discussion on the state of the economy, we’re joined in Los Angeles by veteran journalist and Truthdig.com editor Robert Scheer. His book is out today; it’s called The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street.

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“Perp Walks Instead of Bonuses”: Veteran Journalist Robert Scheer on AIG Bonuses, the “Backdoor Bailout” and Why Obama Should Fire Geithner, Summers, Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!
Appearing on Capitol Hill, AIG CEO Edward Liddy was repeatedly questioned over why the failed insurance giant is paying out over $165 million in bonuses after it received a $170 billion taxpayer bailout. While the Obama administration is expressing outrage, more details have come to light indicating that some officials have known about the bonuses for months.

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Empire of Illusion

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  • It's all about spectacle and debauchery. People are so disconnected from reality that they don't know how to read what is happening--they cannot grasp that the walls are tumbling down--and so they retreat into absurdities. This is the disease gripping American society today.
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  • Building a Nation of Know-Nothings
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  • Lady Gaga: Pop Star for a Country and an Empire in Decline
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Jeff Dietrich, The Catholic Agitator

Chris Hedges is a weekly columnist for TruthDig who spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa, and the Balkans. For 15 years he worked for the New York Times and in 2002 won a Pulitizer Prize. He left the Times after being formally reprimanded for denouncing the invasion of Iraq.

He has authored nine books. His most recent book is Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle (2009).

Hedges is a Senior Fellow at the Nation Institute in New York and teaches at a correctional facility in New Jersey.

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Building a Nation of Know-Nothings, Timothy Egan, New York Times | NY
It’s not just that 46 percent of Republicans believe the lie that Obama is a Muslim, or that 27 percent in the party doubt that the president of the United States is a citizen. But fully half of them believe falsely that the big bailout of banks and insurance companies under TARP was enacted by Obama, and not by President Bush.

Lady Gaga: Pop Star for a Country and an Empire in Decline, Sarah Jaffe,  AlterNet
We have made monsters out of others in order to kill them without fear. Gaga makes herself a monster to try to show us ourselves.

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Pulitzer-winning cartoonist Paul Conrad dies at 86

His favorite target was President Richard Nixon. At the time of the president's resignation, Conrad drew Nixon's helicopter leaving the White House with the caption: "One flew over the cuckoo's nest."

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Andrew Dalton, Associated Press, in Google.com

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Paul Conrad, the political cartoonist who won three Pulitzer Prizes and used his pencil to poke at politicians for more than 50 years, has died. He was 86.

David Conrad says his father died Saturday of natural causes at his home in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.

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Conrad took on U.S. presidents from Harry S. Truman to George W. Bush with his stark, aggressive visual style.

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His favorite target was President Richard Nixon. At the time of the president's resignation, Conrad drew Nixon's helicopter leaving the White House with the caption: "One flew over the cuckoo's nest."

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David Conrad said his father considered appearing on Nixon's enemies list to be his proudest achievement.

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Conrad worked at the Los Angeles Times for 30 years and helped the newspaper raise its national profile.

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FDR’s Labor Day Plea Resonates Today

Seventy-four years ago, Roosevelt ended his Labor Day address by declaring that the needs of all American workers “are one in building an orderly economic democracy in which all can profit and in which all can be secure from the kind of faulty economic direction which brought us to the brink of common ruin.”

Sarah Anderson, Common Dreams

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Lydia Howell

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Stuart Carlson

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On the eve of Labor Day in 1936, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt warned in his “Fireside Chat” of a potentially dangerous surge in class divisions if more was not done to support ordinary workers.

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For FDR, providing the opportunity to labor for a “decent and constantly rising standard of living” was fundamental to a healthy democracy.

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“The Fourth of July commemorates our political freedom,” he said. “Labor Day symbolizes our determination to achieve an economic freedom for the average man which will give his political freedom reality.”

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This year, our economy is similar to 1936 in at least one way. A rebound from crisis is evident in many indicators — except those most important to working families. When FDR delivered that radio address, unemployment was down from the peak of the Great Depression but still a painful 17 percent.

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It's Time to Show Alan Simpson, Vet Hater, the Door

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  • I call on the Congress and President to show Alan Simpson to the door of the deficit commission’s deliberations and to restore honor and decency to our national conversation on veterans!
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  • I also call on my fellow citizens to hold their President, Congressional Representatives, and Senators accountable for removing Mr. Simpson by contacting them and reminding them that their oath of office demands meeting this country’s obligations to its veterans.
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  • Alan Simpson Condemns Disabled Vets for Breathing Agent Orange
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  • Veterans Group Calls for Removal of Alan Simpson
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David Culver, Evergreene Digest

Just who does this sadistic, uncaring, ignoramus Alan Simpson think he is? I can tell you right now, the guy’s starting to get on my nerves, to put it charitably.

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I know he’s a former GOP senator from Wyoming, co-chairman of Obama's deficit commission, and an Army veteran who was once chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee.  But who does he think he is? 

His contention that “veterans are not helping to save the country from debt” is an unwarranted slap in the face to veterans, questioning as it does our right to be returned to wholeness.  It’s sadistic, unmerciful, ungrateful, and wrong-headed in its implications.

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It may interest this uncaring ignoramus to know:

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1.    that this nation has never even remotely come anywhere close to paying veterans fully for their service; (To suggest, therefore, that we’re part of the budgetary problem is beyond the pale.)
2.    that veterans have already bled several times for their country, psychologically, spiritually, physically, and are, therefore, under no obligation to give more; (The bills we’ve presented to this country for our service and care are fair and payable on demand.)
3.    that if a balanced budget (a ludicrous concept for a government anyway) is that important to him and his colleagues of twisted logic, then I suggest he propose to balance it, not on the backs of veterans (or social security recipients) but on the backs of a fairly taxed bloodthirsty oligarchy and their corporate friends in the arms business who are the only ones who have profited from the carnage Major General Smedley D. Butler, USMC, Retired, calls “a racket.”

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There was a time not so long ago in this country when talking about veterans and their affairs in such a derogatory, ignorant manner would mean the immediate end of a person’s political career and, sometimes, an invitation to a private tar and feather party. (Mr. Simpson doesn’t know how lucky he really is. The very vets he dishonors with his vulgarity and stupidity were once in situations where they could shoot back!) That he is still in a position of power after making such incredulously stupid and insensitive remarks is a sad commentary on how far we’ve come in tolerating the public’s ever-increasing negative view of, and responsibility for, veterans and is a sad reflection of what President Obama’s opinion of veterans really is.

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I call on the Congress and President to show Alan Simpson to the door of the deficit commission’s deliberations and to restore honor and decency to our national conversation on veterans! He’s already called social security recipients (I and a lot of my fellow veterans are SS recipients, too) suckers on cows’ teats, and now he’s blaming vets for part of the deficit problem. How much more negative behavior will he have to demonstrate before our public officials gets fed up with him?

I also call on my fellow citizens to hold their President, Congressional Representatives, and Senators accountable for removing Mr. Simpson by contacting them and reminding them that their oath of office demands meeting this country’s obligations to its veterans.

After all, this is a country of, by, and for the people, not the uncaring ignoramuses!

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Alan Simpson Condemns Disabled Vets for Breathing Agent Orange, David Dayen, FireDogLake

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  • Maybe if Simpson and the ruling class weren’t so damned bloodthirsty, we wouldn’t have choices like this to make.
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  • Veterans Group Calls for Removal of Alan Simpson.
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