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The Big Dick School of American Patriotism

America's new military mystique and what we make of it

Nan Levinson, TomDispatch

big_flag.jpg?itok=jtV2VoaSThink of it as the 'Big Dick School of Patriotism' and understand that so many of our foreign policy failures show that having an oversized military doesn't solve problems, it creates them. (Product image: via

March 17, 2015 | Let’s face it: we live in a state of pervasive national security anxiety. There are various possible responses to this low-grade fever that saps resolve, but first we have to face the basis for that anxiety -- what I’ve come to think of as the Big Dick School of Patriotism, or (since anything having to do with our present version of national security, even a critique of it, has to have an acronym) the BDSP.

The BDSP is based on a bedrock belief in how America should work: that the only strength that really matters is military and that a great country is one with the capacity to beat the bejesus out of everyone else. Think of it as a military version of 50 Shades of Grey, with the same frisson of control and submission (for the American citizen) and the assumption that a good portion of the world is ripe to be bullied.

Nan Levinsons new book, War Is Not a Game: The New Antiwar Soldiers and the Movement They Built (Rutgers University Press), is based on seven years she spent not-quite-embedded with military-related antiwar groups around the country. As a freelance journalist, she writes about the military, free speech, and other aspects of civil liberties, culture, and technology. She teaches journalism and fiction writing at Tufts University.

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The Washington Post Will Kill Us All, davidswanson,

When you're starting wars … on the grounds that if you don't start a war now someone else could theoretically start one later, you have set up a logic of Armageddon. And it may kill us all. … But we won't all die, I feel fairly certain, without the Washington Post cheering death through the door.



War Is Not a Game: The New Antiwar Soldiers and the Movement They Built ~ Nan Levinson, Described in FireDog Lake (FDL) Book Salon

  • Written with sensitivity and humor, War Is Not a Game gives readers an uncensored, grunt’s-eye view of the occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, while conveying the equally dramatic struggles that soldiers face upon returning home. 
  • Militarization of America - We've Become a Failed State
  • The Big Dick School of American Patriotism

I never realized how dumb our cities are until I saw what a smart one looks like.


There's community and there's commuting. Let's not confuse the two.

Maz Ali, Upworthy

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Medellin-0bed2f60d678be0adfde1b1f425abf2d.jpgWith the population growing and most of it happening in cities, these Canadian journalists wanted to take a closer look at whether our sprawling modern villages are up to the task of housing more humans.

Over half of the world lives in urban areas. That includes over 80% of people in the United States and 81% of folks in Canada, where this report was produced. Therein lies the problem.

Most cities have been designed for cars, not for people.

Look out your window and see for yourself. Brent Toderian, former chief city planner for Vancouver, says it's a big problem

Maz Ali, Curator, Upworthy

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Get Up, Stand Up ~ Bruce E. Levine


  • "We are living in a land in which corporate power buys as many politicians as it needs, unjust laws shovel money to the rich, and media substitute entertainment for information. Yet Bruce Levine dares to show how we can reclaim our deadened souls, regain integrity and passion, and begin to change a political system we have let numb us into resigned helplessness." —Rev. Davidson Loehr, author of America, Fascism, and God
  • Uniting Populists, Energizing the Defeated, and Battling the Corporate Elite
  • 8 Reasons Young Americans Don't Fight Back: How the U.S. Crushed Youth Resistance

Described in Chelsea Green Publishing

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Bruce%20E.%20Levine%20%7C%20Get%20Up%2C%20Stand%20Up.jpgPolls show that the majority of Americans oppose recent US wars and Wall Street bailouts, yet most remain passive and appear resigned to powerlessness. In Get Up, Stand Up, Bruce Levine offers an original and convincing explanation for this passivity. Many Americans are deeply demoralized by decades of oppressive elitism, and they have lost confidence that genuine democracy is possible. Drawing on phenomena such as learned helplessness, the abuse syndrome, and other psychological principles and techniques for pacifying a population, Levine explains how major US institutions have created fatalism. When such fatalism and defeatism set in, truths about social and economic injustices are not enough to set people free.

However, the situation is not truly hopeless. History tells us that for democratic movements to get off the ground, individuals must recover self-respect, and a people must regain collective confidence that they can succeed at eliminating top-down controls. Get Up, Stand Up describes how we can recover dignity, confidence, and the energy to do battle. That achievement fills in the missing piece that, until now, has undermined so many efforts to energize genuine democracy.

Chelsea Green Publishing: Bringing the politics and practice of sustainable living to the world

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8 Reasons Young Americans Don't Fight Back: How the U.S. Crushed Youth Resistance, Bruce E. Levine, AlterNet

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. 



Transformation of Community Policing Into Military Policing Sanctions Government Violence


American lunacy, its out-of-control certainty that authorized violence has things under control. We need some kind of outside intervention. I fear the death of Andy Lopez in Santa Rosa won’t bring about the fundamental changes we need, any more than the tragedies that preceded it. We lack systems capable of holistic assessment of our problems; we lack systems that are not part of the problem.

Bob Koehler, BuzzFlash / Global Non-compliance

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images/dotoregon11_30.jpg 30/11/2013 | What goes around comes around . . . and around, and around.


Last month, the day after I left Santa Rosa, Calif., a 13-year-old boy carrying a toy replica of an AK-47 was shot and killed on the outskirts of that town by a Sonoma County deputy sheriff with a reputation for being trigger-happy. The officer had ordered the boy to drop the “gun,” then in a matter of two or three seconds opened fire, giving him no chance to comply.

This is not an isolated incident, which is why it’s yet one more tragedy I can’t get out of my mind — one more logical consequence of the simplistic militarism and mission creep that’s eating us alive. This is gun culture running unchecked from boyhood to manhood, permeating national policy both geopolitically and domestically. This is the trivialization of peace. It results in the ongoing murder of the innocent, both at home and abroad, at the hands of government as well as criminals and terrorists.

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When law enforcement is law and order’s biggest threat, Simon Maloy, Salon

  • The debacle in Ferguson represents a near-total breakdown of our civic institutions. Here's why that's so scary
  • All hell has broken loose. 
  • Cops Behaving Badly, June 28,2014

Unknown Atrocities of Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan

  • I think of all the My Lais that most Americans never knew existed and few are aware of today. I think about young American men who shot down innocents in cold blood and then kept silent for decades. I think about horrified witnesses who lived with the memories. I think of the small number of brave whistleblowers who stood up for innocent, voiceless victims. But most of all, I think of the dead … of all the massacres that few Americans knew about and fewer still cared about.
  • Part 1: My Lai 45 Years Later—And the Unknown Atrocities of Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan
  • Part 2: Lethal Legacy of the Vietnam War
  • Seven Stories I Wish They'd Tell About the War in Vietnam

Compiled by David Culver, Ed., Evergreene Digest

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Part 1: My Lai 45 Years Later—And the Unknown Atrocities of Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan

On the anniversary of the infamous My Lai massacre, Nick Turse recalls the numerous, less-well-known atrocities that marked the Vietnam War, and asks which atrocities from Iraq and Afghanistan we will be remembering in 45 years.

Nick Turse, The Daily Beast

/1363712614224.cached.jpg03.16.13 | Forty-five years ago today, March 16, roughly 100 U.S. troops were flown by helicopter to the outskirts of a small Vietnamese hamlet called My Lai in Quang Ngai Province, South Vietnam. Over a period of four hours, the Americans methodically slaughtered more than 500 Vietnamese civilians. Along the way, they also raped women and young girls, mutilated the dead, systematically burned homes, and fouled the area’s drinking water.

On this day, I think back to an interview I conducted several years ago with a tiny, wizened woman named Tran Thi Nhut. She told me about hiding in an underground bunker as the Americans stormed her hamlet and how she emerged to find a scene of utter horror: a mass of corpses in a caved-in trench and, especially, the sight of a woman’s leg sticking out at an unnatural angle which haunted her for decades. She lost her mother and a son in the massacre. But Tran Thi Nhut never set foot in My Lai. She lived two provinces north, in a little hamlet named Phi Phu which—she and other villagers told me—lost more than 30 civilians to a 1967 massacre by U.S. troops.

Nick Turse is the associate editor of and the winner of a 2009 Ridenhour Prize for Reportorial Distinction as well as a James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Nation, In These Times, and regularly at TomDispatch. Turse is currently a fellow at New York University's Center for the United States and the Cold War.

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Part 2: The Lethal Legacy of the Vietnam War

Fifty years after the first US troops came ashore at Da Nang, the Vietnamese are still coping with unexploded bombs and Agent Orange.

George Blackthe Nation

battle_of_khe_sahn_otu_img.jpgAmerican troops in action on Hill 875 at Dak To (fall 1967), one of the bloodiest engagements of the war (US Army Heritage and Education Center)

February 25, 2015  |On a mild, sunny morning last November, Chuck Searcy and I drove out along a spur of the old Ho Chi Minh Trail to the former Marine base at Khe Sanh, which sits in a bowl of green mountains and coffee plantations in Vietnam’s Quang Tri province, hard on the border with Laos. The seventy-seven-day siege of Khe Sanh in early 1968, coinciding with the Tet Offensive, was the longest battle of what Vietnamese call the American War and a pivotal event in the conflict. By the off-kilter logic of Saigon and Washington, unleashing enough technology and firepower to produce a ten-to-one kill ratio was a metric of success, but the televised carnage of 1968, in which 16,592 Americans died, was too much for audiences back home. After Tet and Khe Sanh, the war was no longer America’s to win, only to avoid losing.

I learned later that this ravishing forested landscape was something of an illusion. In defense of Khe Sanh, the US Air Force dropped 100,000 tons of bombs on the surrounding mountains, stripped the forests bare with Agent Orange and incinerated them with napalm. Since the war, the Vietnamese government has replanted this barren and eroded land, part of a national effort to rehabilitate the portions of Vietnam that were devastated by herbicides—an area the size of Massachusetts.

George Black, a writer in New York, is editor-at-large for the Food & Environment Reporting Network (FERN), an independent nonprofit news organization. He is working on a book about the history and culture of the Ganges.

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Seven Stories I Wish They'd Tell About the War in Vietnam, Veterans for Peace Chapter 27 (VFP) (Twin Cities) 

  • A World Storytelling Day Event
  • 7 p.m. March 20, 2015, Macalester Plymouth United Church, 1658 Lincoln, St. Paul, MN

The Putin-Did-It Conspiracy Theory


  • The Times’ editorial doesn’t give much reason for hope that America’s upside-down “group think” has righted itself in any meaningful way. In the mainstream media’s latest repeat of the Iraq-WMD fiasco, the Times and virtually every other major news outlet remain committed to a dangerous misreading of the facts about Ukraine.
  • Robert Parry: ‘Group-Thinking’ the World into a New War

Robert Parry, Consortium News

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Patrick Chappatte

15 February 15 | The original falsehood behind the Iraq War was that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and intended to use them against America either directly or by giving them to al-Qaeda. The opening lie about the Ukraine crisis was that Russian President Vladimir Putin instigated the conflict as part of some Hitlerian plan to conquer much of Europe.

Yet, while the Hussein-WMD claim was hard for the common citizen to assess because it was supposedly supported by U.S. intelligence information that was kept secret, the Putin-Ukraine lie collapses under the most cursory examination based simply of what’s publicly known and what makes sense.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from

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Robert Parry: ‘Group-Thinking’ the World into a New War, Robert Parry,  / Rise Up Times

  • The armchair warriors of Official Washington are eager for a new war, this time with Russia over Ukraine, and they are operating from the same sort of mindless “group think” and hostility to dissent that proved so disastrous in Iraq.
  • Paul Craig Roberts: Russia In The Cross Hairs

Ferguson report: Perversion of court system, rampant racism

  • The report is as appalling as it is important, and it should be required reading and study in criminal justice classes, especially for future police officers.
  • No time to read the whole DOJ report? Read my summary.
  • About that "Miracle"

Mary Turck,

20229527c1c240439ddbc81bf821d95e.jpgIf you like reading this article, consider joining the crew of all reader-supported Evergreene Digest by contributing the equivalent of a cafe latte a month--using the donation button above—so we can bring you more just like it.

screen-shot-2015-03-10-at-8-16-24-pm.png?w=300&h=239Just about a week ago, the Department of Justice issued its scathing 102-page report detailing the racist and unconstitutional practices of Ferguson courts and cops. I read some of it at the gym, some on buses and trains, and finally finished it tonight. The report is as appalling as it is important, and it should be required reading and study in criminal justice classes, especially for future police officers. (Click here <> for full report.) 

Ferguson’s lessons go far beyond the abusive, racist police department. The first section in the report unmasks the collaboration of the court system and the police in raising revenue. That’s right — their primary objective is not law enforcement, but making money for the city.

Mary Turck is a writer, editor, and blogger. She is also the former editor of the TC Daily Planet and of the award-winning Connection to the Americas and AMERICAS.ORG and a recovering attorney.

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About that "Miracle" Mike Spangenberg, Question the Premise


  • There are most certainly topics here (in Minneapolis)—tax policy, affordable housing, city planning—that are very much worth discussing.  But discussing them without exploring the history (and current reality) of racial oppression and exploitation isn't just incomplete; it’s dangerously deceptive, and almost miraculously self-perpetuating.
  • Justice and the Law, with MOA in Between
  • Truth and reconciliation is coming to America from the grassroots.


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