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Mr. Fish | My Dream / Truthdig.com

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The trolls and bullies must not stifle community engagement

Constructive and engaging public dialogue is the antidote to the nasty rhetoric polluting America.

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Ryan Blethen, Seattle Times | WA

If you liked reading this article, consider contributing a cuppa jove to Evergreene Digest--using the donation button above—so we can bring you more just like it.

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If we as a nation learned anything from the shootings in Tucson it is that stirring, meaningful speech is still possible. Yet it can be hard to hear above the roaring sewer that often passes for public dialogue.

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President Obama did what is expected of a leader in response to the national tragedy. He honored the victims of the shooting rampage, but gave a rousing speech filled with — dare I say — hope.

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Related:

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Words Have Consequences, Gary Hart, Huffington Post
We all know that there are unstable and potentially dangerous people among us. To repeatedly appeal to their basest instincts is to invite and welcome their predictable violence.

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Special Report | The Tucson Tragedy

"I think it's the vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out from people in the radio business and some people in the TV business and what we see on TV and how our youngsters are being raised, that ... This has not become the nice United States that most of us grew up in, and I think it's time that we do the soul searching," Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said at a press conference on Saturday (Jan 8).

8 Items including:

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  • Keith Olbermann Issues Special Comment On Arizona Shooting: 'Violence Has No Place In Democracy'
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  • Poor, Poor Sarah
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David Culver, ed., Evergreene Digest

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Stuart Carlson

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Alaska, Gabrielle Giffords and Sarah Palin’s Map, Billy Wharton, Bronx County Independent Examiner | NY

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  • “We'll aim for these races,” “This is just the first salvo” and “join me in the fight.”
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  • Giffords warned in March of ‘consequences’ to Palin’s violent rhetoric
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Giffords warned in March of ‘consequences’ to Palin’s violent rhetoric, Stephen C. Webster, Raw Story

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  • "I think it's the vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out from people in the radio business and some people in the TV business and what we see on TV and how our youngsters are being raised, that ... This has not become the nice United States that most of us grew up in, and I think it's time that we do the soul searching," Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said at a press conference on Saturday (Jan 8).
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  • Alaska, Gabrielle Giffords and Sarah Palin’s Map
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Keith Olbermann Issues Special Comment On Arizona Shooting: 'Violence Has No Place In Democracy' Keith Olbermann, Huffington Post

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  • Appearing on a special edition of "Countdown," Olbermann told his audience that "we need to put the guns down. Just as importantly we need to put the gun metaphors away and permanently."
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  • Giffords warned in March of ‘consequences’ to Palin’s violent rhetoric
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  • Psst: The death of public civility
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Words Have Consequences, Gary Hart, Huffington Post
We all know that there are unstable and potentially dangerous people among us. To repeatedly appeal to their basest instincts is to invite and welcome their predictable violence.

William Rivers Pitt | The Wrath of Fools: An Open Letter to the Far Right, William Rivers Pitt, Truthout
This is not the end of the story, but is just the beginning. The good people of the United States of America, the true patriots, have finally seen you with your media-painted masks ripped off. They have seen what comes to pass when hate, venom, ignorance and violence goes unchecked and unanswered. You have been exposed, and the fact that it took such an unimaginably horrific act for that exposure to take place only increases the fierceness with which you will be answered. You will be repudiated, not with violence, but with the scorn and rejection you so richly deserve. Spin it as you will, scramble all you like. You are found out, and you have nowhere to hide.

Fox News: The No. 1 Name in Murder Fantasies, Steve Rendall, FAIR/Truthout

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  • A demented Fox News culture permits on-air personalities to fantasize about assassination and other forms of violence against those deemed enemies of the station, its personalities or their worldview.
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  • How America lost control of its airwaves
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  • The Wrath of Fools: An Open Letter to the Far Right
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Peace and Civility Pledge, Jim Wallis, Sojourners
The horrible shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and others is an important American moment. We strive to honor this tragic event by reflecting deeply on how we speak to and about one another, and how we create environments that help peace grow -- or allow violence and hatred to enter.

Poor, Poor Sarah, William Rivers Pitt, t r u t h o u t

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  • I will save my tears for the real victims here, for the living and the lost, and the America that people like Sarah Palin have been tearing apart for ambition and profit.
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  • Alaska, Gabrielle Giffords and Sarah Palin’s Map
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Duty to Warn: Approaching Spiritual Death

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  • Is it Too Late to Mend America’s Dying Soul?
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  • Duty to Warn: Another MLK Day is Safely Past
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Gary Kohls, Evergreene Digest

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

Those were the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. in his famous “Beyond Vietnam” speech that he delivered on April 4, 1967, exactly one year to the day of his 1968 assassination in Memphis, TN. The people who heard that speech recognized it as one of the most powerful speeches ever given articulating the immorality of the Viet Nam War. Some also realized that King was signing his own death warrant by exposing so forcefully those groups and individuals who orchestrated and carried out what Thomas Merton accurately characterized as “the overwhelming atrocity that was Viet Nam.”

King was speaking out from his deeply felt sense of anguish and outrage at the horrible sufferings and deaths of millions of innocent and unarmed Vietnamese civilians, mostly women, children and the aged. King knew that non-combatants were the main victims of a whole host of lethal US weapons, including one of the US Air Force’s favorites, napalm, which burned the flesh off of whatever part of the body that the flaming, jellied gasoline splashed on.

King knew of the atrocities that hundreds of thousands of unaware US soldiers were ordered to commit because of that absurd and long-discredited “domino theory”. He saw the clear racist similarities between the killing of dispensable “gooks” on the battlefields of Southeast Asia and the oppression, discrimination, segregation, impoverishment, imprisonment and lynching of “dispensable blacks” in America.

Remembered as a secular civil rights leader, King was far more than that.

King was being faithful to his commitment to the ethical teachings of Jesus of Nazareth by speaking out against injustice wherever he saw it. Just like his contemporaries in the South American, gospel-based liberation theology movements, King knew that the violence of institutionalized racism, poverty and militarism had the same sources: fear of “the other” and the willingness of the greedy, ruling elite (who controlled the churches, the police and the economy) to violently protect their own wealth and power from the working class and the underprivileged poor - from whom the elite’s wealth was extracted.

King knew that the opposition to his gospel-inspired nonviolent resistance movement was formidable. It came from cruel far right-wing Klan members and their sympathizers in the neofascist South and from his more respectable religious detractors - the conservative white clergy that dominated the “christianity” of America. Even deadlier opposition came from the CIA, the mafia and from J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI; but opposition also came from silent, guilty bystanders who should have had the courage to have spoken up and actively joined the movement.

Killing off King’s nonviolent revolution with a single bullet to the head

Those forces of opposition were dangerous enough, but when King started speaking out against his own nation’s crimes against humanity and theinternational war crimes that were being committed in Southeast Asia, he was indicting a system of wealthy, conscienceless war profiteers in the Pentagon and on Wall Street that were willing, when it appeared necessary to do so, to conspire to end King’s nonviolent revolution with an assassin's bullet. And they also had the power to frame a patsy for the crime, just as they did in the assassinations of JFK and RFK.

The Vietnam War was popular with many powerful segments of society, including many in the investor class, the economic elite, the holy war Christians, the superpatriots, the white military veterans, the Pentagon, the CIA, etc, etc. King’s anti-war stance threatened those group’s self-interests, and he knew it. Courageous prophet that he was, King persisted in protesting America’s involvement in the Viet Nam War, and exactly one year after his antiwar Riverside Church speech, he was dead.

King’s speech had been too truthful for the masters of war who, along with many racist politicians, clergypersons and the flag-waving mainstream media, had succeeded in convincing most Americans that the Viet Nam War was a just war. But King knew, better than most, the teachings of Jesus on the matter of violence and he felt compelled to continue to speak out.

Silencing the prophets

Initially, many in the civil rights movement tried to get him to stop talking about the war. But King stuck to his convictions. He knew that the indiscriminate mass slaughter that always occurs in modern wars was contrary to the gospel teachings. So, getting no capitulation from the prophet, a massive disinformation campaign was begun, similar to the campaigns that had been orchestrated against other outspoken, dangerous altruists like Jesus of Nazareth, Gandhi, Malcolm X, John F. Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy and Paul Wellstone.

The easily brain-washable public bought the lies, and support for King and the movement waned. Powerful covert agencies, including unknown law enforcement officials, led the campaign and, on April 4, 1968, a hired assassin other than the framed patsy James Earl Ray pulled the trigger that violently ended King’s leadership role in what had been a peaceful revolt against injustice.

King was right about a lot of things, including his prophecy that America was losing its soul. Violence of all types was, and still is, endemic in our culture, especially the violence of poverty, racism and militarism. Physical assaults, rapes and neglect are epidemic in America, as is gun violence. Corporations and investors who make obscene profits in the weapons industry have sabotaged even the most modest handgun and assault rifle control legislation – all the while successfully flooding America and the world with increasingly lethal rapid fire, personalized, hand-held weapons of mass destruction.

The institutionalized military violence that was exemplified in the Viet Nam War era seems to be alive and well in our supposedly more-enlightened time.

Consider the rhetoric we will be witnessing in the aftermath of last weekend’s Tucson assault-weapon murders. The National Rifle Association will be publishing press releases and lobbying their hundreds of bribed politicians advising everybody to go slow on legislating sensible laws restricting their lethal weapons. We will be hearing disingenuous “mea non culpa” claims of innocence in the matter from the violence-inciting, gun-toting Tea Party that preached so much hatred and violence during the last political campaign.

Discredited right-wing politicians like Sarah Palin will be lying about the effect of their campaigns to incite fear and hatred of their liberal “mortal enemies”. And we will hear protests of innocence from the every right-wing politician in the nation, none of whom, including the new Speaker of the House John Boehner, Minnesota’s ex-governor Tim Pawlenty and Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, were ever heard to object to Palin’s vitriolic “gunsight” tactics that were aimed at their mutual enemies.

And, of course, the right-wing radio and TV “celebrities” like Limbaugh and the hate-mongering talking heads from FoxNews (Hannity, O’Reilly and Beck) who have been rallying their easily brainwashable followers to “lock and load” (which meant, for who knows how many of their irrational followers, that the use of violence was OK). It may be too late now to stop the carnage or the soul destruction of our once-respectable nation.

Both the affluent and the poor have succumbed to the addictions of America’s exploitive, corrupt, dog-eat-dog capitalist system, a bubble system that has run so far amok that it is obviously already bursting. Addictions to entertainment, gambling, shopping, drugs (both legal and illegal), sports and religions have overwhelmed the lives of far too many Americans, who then have no time or inclination to tend to the nurturing and healing of their own souls, much less their nation’s soul.

During the 1980s and 1990s (the American Decades of Greed I and II), the anti-democracy elite spent their minds, time and money attaining wealth and power no matter what would be the cost to most of us, their victims. And it seems like the Cheney/Bush/Obama Decade of Greed III that just passed was worse, what with the orchestrated and enforced permanent war economy and the Wall Street Ponzi schemes that were so devastating for the many but so profitable for the few.

Fear, hatred, violence and greed predictably blow out the spark of the divine in those humans who use violence. And the ability to be responsive to the suffering of others is inevitably diminished in both the victimizers and the victims. Billions of innocent people are suffering in a world of agony that is not of their making.

The choice: nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation

At the end of his Beyond Vietnam speech, King concluded: “War is not the answer. We still have a choice today; nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation. We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace and justice throughout the developing world – a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act we shall surely be dragged down the long dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality and strength without sight.”

America, including its current so-called “christian” leaders, has failed the vision and missions of both Martin Luther King and Jesus. Our nation at times looks like it is on its spiritual deathbed. The $2 billion dollars per day that are wasted on war, war preparation and inedible weapons systems is money that is obviously unavailable for programs of social uplift, especially hunger relief, poverty alleviation, affordable housing, affordable education, affordable medical care and meaningful, life-sustaining jobs, not to mention helping to solve the crippling debt crises of our states and cities. America is committing slow suicide.

War profiteers have sealed America’s doom

The war profiteers may have sealed America’s doom when the administrations of Johnson, Nixon, Reagan and Bush I instituted and/or continued the massive borrow and spend (deficit spending) policies that bloated America’s military machine. And then, starting with the Reagan/Bush I era’s voodoo economics (that lavished massive tax breaks on the wealthy), the US debt has now reached a crippling $14 trillion, greatly aggravated, of course, by Wall Street’s corporate malfeasance and the bankrupting wars of the Cheney/Bush/Obama regimes.

Martin Luther King, if he was still alive today, would have fulfilled his duty to again point out the immorality of the mass slaughtering of hundreds of thousands of innocent, unarmed civilians, this time in Iraq, Afghanistan and who knows what other locations around the US-militarized globe. The captains of industry, the financiers, the institutional investors and any number of conscienceless corporations that profit from war are again making out like bandits. And the wasted money will never be applied to even the most basic of human needs.

Is America’s spiritual corpse being hoisted up on top of the idolatrous altars of greed, blind patriotism and the decidedly un-Christ-like Gods of War and Wealth? Is there still time for a resuscitation attempt?

We Americans don’t have all that much time to debate the issue. America is being sucked rapidly downstream, getting ever closer to the high falls that drops straight down to spiritual oblivion. We are certainly much closer that we were 44 years ago.

I can hear Martin, and Jesus, weeping somewhere.

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Related:

Duty to Warn: Another MLK Day is Safely Past, Gary Kohls, Evergreene Digest
"Now that he is safely dead let us praise him,
build monuments to his glory,
sing hosannas to his name.

"Dead men make such convenient heroes.
They cannot rise to challenge the images
we would fashion from their lives.

"And besides,
it is easier to build monuments
than to make a better world." --Carl Wendell Hines

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The Deafening Silence About the War in the Deficit Debate

It is this type of corporate welfare system, along with periodic bank bailouts and tax cuts for the super-rich, which suits the two political parties just fine. Welfare for the truly needy, however, is generally abhorrent to them, and thus the limited nature of the current debate about the federal deficit.

Dan Kovalik, Huffington Post

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There is a lot of talk right now on Capitol Hill about the need to balance the federal budget. Sadly, both Democrats and Republicans alike are largely debating about how best to balance the budget upon the backs of the poor and working people (who are many times the very same people) and the elderly. First and foremost on the chopping block appears to be Social Security and Medicare -- the lifeline for millions of seniors in this country and the only hope for any sort of retirement for the vast majority of people in this country.

Meanwhile, belying any real interest in balancing the budget, the extension of unemployment benefits for millions of people out of work through no fault of their own is being made contingent upon tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans.

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David Morris: How America lost control of its airwaves

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  • Today, stripped of all rules requiring decency and fairness, talk radio has become hate radio.
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  • Together with a similarly unrestrained Fox News, aided and amplified by the Internet, incivility and hatred has infected the general culture. Public threats of violence are becoming the norm.
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  • Fox News: The No. 1 Name in Murder Fantasies
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David Morris, Minneapolis Star Tribune | MN

In the wake of the murders in Tucson, our leaders once again are calling for civility in public discourse.

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We forget that for almost 40 years, we didn't have to plead for civility. We demanded it.

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The story of how we did so, and why we stopped, illuminates the intersection of politics and culture.

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Related:Fox News: The No. 1 Name in Murder Fantasies, Steve Rendall, FAIR/Truthout
A demented Fox News culture permits on-air personalities to fantasize about assassination and other forms of violence against those deemed enemies of the station, its personalities or their worldview.

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William Rivers Pitt | The Wrath of Fools: An Open Letter to the Far Right

This is not the end of the story, but is just the beginning. The good people of the United States of America, the true patriots, have finally seen you with your media-painted masks ripped off. They have seen what comes to pass when hate, venom, ignorance and violence goes unchecked and unanswered. You have been exposed, and the fact that it took such an unimaginably horrific act for that exposure to take place only increases the fierceness with which you will be answered. You will be repudiated, not with violence, but with the scorn and rejection you so richly deserve. Spin it as you will, scramble all you like. You are found out, and you have nowhere to hide.

William Rivers Pitt, Truthout

To: Palin-lovers, Fox "News," the "mainstream" media, and the Far Right, et al.
From: William Rivers Pitt
Date: Monday 10 January 2011
Re: The blood on your hands

Dear “Patriots,”

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Rep. Gabrielle Giffords isn't much older than I am. She served in the Arizona State House of Representatives, and the Arizona State Senate, before being elected to three successive terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. She once described herself as a "former Republican," and is today considered a "Blue Dog" Democrat, meaning she holds a number of conservative political positions. This is not terribly surprising, given the generally conservative political bent of the state she has served for the last ten years. She was married four years ago to a space shuttle commander who had served as a Naval aviator, and who flew 39 combat missions in Desert Storm, before volunteering for astronaut training.

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In Money-Changers We Trust

The failure to provide serious regulation of the financial industry to avoid future downturns is documented in devastating detail in (a) Dec. 28 Bloomberg report, written by Christine Harper: “The U.S. government, promising to make the system safer, buckled under many of the financial industry’s protests. Lawmakers spurned changes that would wall off deposit-taking banks from riskier trading. They declined to limit the size of lenders or ban any form of derivatives.”

Robert Scheer, Truthdig

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Lorenzo Canizares

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President-elect Barack Obama, accompanied by budget director-designate Peter Orszag, smiles during a news conference on Nov. 25, 2008, in Chicago.

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Two years into the Obama presidency and the economic data is still looking grim. Don’t be fooled by the gyrations of the stock market, where optimism is mostly a reflection of the ability of financial corporations—thanks to massive government largesse—to survive the mess they created.

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The basics are dismal: Unemployment is unacceptably high, the December consumer confidence index is down and housing prices have fallen for four months in a row. The number of Americans living in poverty has never been higher, and a majority in a Washington Post poll said they were worried about making their next mortgage or rent payment. 

In a parallel universe lives Peter Orszag, President Barack Obama’s former budget director and key adviser, who even faster than his mentor, Robert Rubin [formerly of Clinton Administration], has passed through that revolving platinum door linking the White House with Wall Street. The goal is to use your government position to advance the interests of your future employer, and Orszag and Rubin’s actions in the government and then at Citigroup provide stunning examples of the synergy between big government and high finance.

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