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Extremism normalized

  • How Americans are efficiently trained to acquiesce to ideas once deemed so radical as to be unthinkable
  • How propaganda is used in the U.S. to control it citizens
  • Michele Bachmann's damaging innuendo
  • How to Think

Glenn Greenwald, Salon  

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., left, shakes hands with Vice President Dick Cheney after McCain introduced Cheney during a campaign stop, Friday, July 16, 2004, at the Lansing Center in Lansing, Mich. (Credit: AP Photo/Al Goldis)

(July 31, 2012) Remember when, in the wake of the 9/11 attack, the Patriot Act was controversial, held up as the symbolic face of Bush/Cheney radicalism and widely lamented as a threat to core American liberties and restraints on federal surveillance and detention powers? Yet now, the Patriot Act is quietly renewed every four years by overwhelming majorities in both parties (despite substantial evidence  of serious abuse), and almost nobody is bothered by it any longer. That’s how extremist powers become normalized: they just become such a fixture in our political culture that we are trained to take them for granted, to view the warped as normal. Here are several examples from the last couple of days illustrating that same dynamic; none seems overwhelmingly significant on its own, but that’s the point.

After Dick Cheney criticized John McCain this weekend for having chosen Sarah Palin as his running mate, this was McCain’s retort:

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Related:

How propaganda is used in the U.S. to control it citizens, Jack Finley, Veterans for Peace

  • This video can provide a one and one-half hour of a Marketing 101 class on how rulers govern.
  • The End of America? Naomi Wolf Thinks It Could Happen

Michele Bachmann's damaging innuendo, Eric Schwartz, Minneapolis (MN) Star Tribune

  • If the casual use of public innuendo is not challenged at every turn, we will undermine our national security.
  • Michele Bachmann, have you no shame?
  • Remove Rep. Bachmann from the Intelligence Committee!
  • Beware of Radical Islam

How to Think, Chris Hedges, Truthdig

  • If universities think a Milton Friedman or a Friedrich Hayek is more important than a Virginia Woolf or an Anton Chekhov, then we become barbarians.
  • Chris Hedges on The Alyona Show
  • Special Report | The Dumbing Down of American Politics: Week of July 1
  • George Lakoff | How Right-Wingers Scam People Into Buying Their Toxic Philosophy
     

Michele Bachmann's damaging innuendo

  • If the casual use of public innuendo is not challenged at every turn, we will undermine our national security.
  • Michele Bachmann, have you no shame?
  • Remove Rep. Bachmann from the Intelligence Committee!
  • Beware of Radical Islam

Eric Schwartz, Minneapolis (MN) Star Tribune

This article is made possible with the generous contributions of Evergreene Digest readers like you. Thank you!

(August 2, 2012) Last month, five members of Congress wrote to the State Department inspector general and similar officials at other federal agencies, declaring that U.S. policies and activities "appear to be the result of influence operations conducted by individuals and organizations associated with the Muslim Brotherhood," Egypt's oldest and largest Islamic organization. The members asked for a report on the purported influence operations and for recommendations for "corrective action."

As a former official at the National Security Council and the State Department, I can attest to the critical importance of sustaining the integrity of our national-security institutions. The question is not whether we face threats, but rather how we make Americans safer while ensuring our values.

Full story...

Related:

Michele Bachmann, have you no shame? Seattle (WA) Times
U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann's claim that Huma Abedin, an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, deserves the same censure in Congress that Joseph McCarthy received for his witch hunt for Communists 60 years ago.

Remove Rep. Bachmann from the Intelligence Committee! Ben Betz
, People For the American Way

  • I wanted to make sure you took this opportunity to stand up to the Extreme Right. Michele Bachmann is up to her same irresponsible and fear-mongering -- and we need your help to stop her.
  • Conspiracy theories and McCarthyism have no place in our government. Michele Bachmann should be kicked off the House Intelligence Committee immediately.

Beware of Radical Islam, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., Minneapolis (MN) Star Tribune
(August 1, 2012) I'm on the case because someone has to question Obama administration's indulgence.

 

Hail and Farewell, Gore Vidal

  • Gore had to witness a great torrent of hogwash in the last dozen years, but even in his wheelchair, ever the soldier, he faced it, showing up here and there to speak, write and defy.
  • Catching Up with Gore Vidal

Peter Z. Scheer, Truthdig

This article is made possible with the generous contributions of Evergreene Digest readers like you. Thank you!

Gore Vidal in 1974 / AP
(August 1, 2012) I remember Gore Vidal like a Bond villain. He was sitting on the edge of his bed in that same big house in the Hollywood Hills where he died Tuesday night. Holding on to a glass of whiskey with one hand, he used the other to stroke a giant white cat with an angry mouth and a cloudy gray eye. He called it “pussy.” Of course he did.

I was there to record the great man with the booming voice while he read his latest Truthdig essay. We had done this before, but I got the impression that my arrival had disturbed him and I was anxious as I fumbled with my equipment. He was a pro with Southern grace and diction that could dent a microphone, but he chose that day to fuck with me. Rather than read his own words as written, Gore kept going off script, eyeballing me and smiling every time I ruined the recording by laughing nervously at his improvisations. The audio was unusable, but the great man had his fun and that mattered much more to him than the godforsaken hits we might generate with a podcast. That was four years ago.

Full Story...

Related:

Catching Up with Gore Vidal, Truthdig
(August 1, 2012) Since 2006, Truthdig has been proud to publish the essays of Gore Vidal. Below are some of his highlights.

 

The Perversion of Scholarship

  • College and university administrators defund libraries, close foreign language and classics departments and invest staggering sums in gargantuan sports arenas and athletic programs. And the only time the student body protests or riots is when, as at Penn State, something unpleasant happens to the beloved football coach.
  • The real madness is 'one-and-done' title
  • Universities Gone Wild: Big Money, Big Sports and Scandalous Abuse

Chris Hedges, Truthdig

This article is made possible with the generous contributions of Evergreene Digest readers like you. Thank you!

Illustration by Mr. Fish

(July 30, 2012) Fraternities, sororities and football, along with other outsized athletic programs, have decimated most major American universities. Scholarship, inquiry, self-criticism, moral autonomy and a search for artistic and esoteric forms of expression—in short, the world of ethics, creativity and ideas—are shouted down by the drunken chants of fans in huge stadiums, the pathetic demands of rich alumni for national championships, and the elitism, racism and rigid definition of gender roles of Greek organizations. These hypermasculine systems perpetuate a culture of conformity and intolerance.  They have inverted the traditional values of scholarship to turn four years of college into a mindless quest for collective euphoria and athletic dominance.

There is probably no more inhospitable place to be an intellectual, or a person of color or a member of the LGBT community, than on the campuses of the Big Ten Conference colleges, although the poison of this bizarre American obsession has infected innumerable schools. These environments are distinctly corporate. To get ahead one must get along. The student is implicitly told his or her self-worth and fulfillment are found in crowds, in mass emotions, rather than individual transcendence. Those who do not pay deference to the celebration of force, wealth and power become freaks. It is a war on knowledge in the name of knowledge.

Full story...

Related:

The real madness is 'one-and-done' title, Minneapolis (MN) Star-Tribune

  • Kentucky's NCAA win spotlights hypocrisy in college sports.
  • Universities Gone Wild: Big Money, Big Sports and Scandalous Abuse

Universities Gone Wild: Big Money, Big Sports and Scandalous Abuse at Penn State, Henry A. Giroux and Susan Searls Giroux, Truthout

  • If university administrators cannot defend the university as a public good, but instead, as in the case of Penn State, align themselves with big money, big sports and the instrumental values of finance capital, they will not be able to mobilize the support of the broader public and will have no way to defend themselves against the neoliberal and conservative attempts by state governments to continually defund higher education.
  • Special Report | The Shame of College Sports: December 18, 2011
     

U.S. has never held accountable those who authorized torture

This failure has continued in spite of a worldwide trend of holding high government officials accountable for human-rights violations.

Chuck Turchick, MinnPost

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

Detainees sitting in a holding area at Naval Base Guantanamo Bay / Reuters

(This week) is the anniversary of two tragedies. Five years ago the 35W bridge collapsed, 13 people died, and dozens of others were injured. We cut corners and people died. The other anniversary, equally tragic, won't get as much attention in this state. This tragedy is ongoing, and the lessons have not yet been learned.

Ten years ago, the so-called "torture memos" were written for President George W. Bush. Those were the memos, authored by the Justice Department's John Yoo and Jay Bybee, that defined torture so narrowly that it was virtually defined out of existence. After those memos became public, they were repudiated by the Bush Justice Department and deemed "inoperative."

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NBC Invents War-o-tainment

  • On "Stars Earn Stripes," celebrities will pair-up with members of the U.S. military to compete at war-like tasks, including "long-range weapons fire." Only there won't be any of the killing or dying.
  • Demand a more accurate picture of war by signing the petition to NBC.

RootsAction Team, Roots Action

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Betty Culver

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

Demand a more accurate picture of war by signing the petition to NBC below.

NBC has created an entertainment show that breaks new ground. "Stars Earn Stripes" will be co-hosted by retired U.S. general Wesley Clark.  NBC is promoting the show during its Summer Olympics telecast as the next big sporting event.  But the sport it's exhibiting is war.

On "Stars Earn Stripes," celebrities will pair-up with members of the U.S. military to compete at war-like tasks, including "long-range weapons fire." Only there won't be any of the killing or dying.

Our wars kill huge numbers of people, primarily civilians, and often children and the elderly.  NBC is not showing this reality on its war-o-tainment show any more than on its news programs.  Other nations' media show the face of war, giving people a very different view of war-making.



In the United States, our tax dollars are spent by the billions each year marketing the idea that war is a sport and associating the military with sporting events.  Media companies like NBC are complicit in the propaganda. 

While 57% of federal discretionary spending goes to the military, weapons makers can't seem to get enough of our tax dollars.  In the spirit of transferring veterans' care to the realm of private charity, "Stars Earn Stripes" will give prize money each week to "military-based charities" in order to "send a message."  We have our own message that we will be delivering to NBC: Dont lie to us.

One of NBC’s corporate parents, General Electric, takes war very seriously, but not as human tragedy -- rather, as financial profit.  (GE is a big weapons manufacturer.) A retired general hosting a war-o-tainment show is another step in the normalization of permanent war.

Please sign this short petition to NBC.

Please forward this actionl widely to like-minded friends.

--The RootsAction team

P.S. RootsAction is an independent online force endorsed by Jim Hightower, Barbara Ehrenreich, Cornel West, Daniel Ellsberg, Glenn Greenwald, Naomi Klein, Bill Fletcher Jr., Laura Flanders, former U.S. Senator James Abourezk, Coleen Rowley, and many others.

Full story...

Eagle Scouts stand up to the Boy Scouts of America (BSA)

  • When Eagle Scouts start returning their medals to the Boy Scouts of America, that matters. Especially when these men are making this decision because they think it's the best way to demonstrate the values of being an Eagle Scout.
  • An Outraged Eagle Scout Wrote This Powerful Letter When He Sent Back His Medal

Maggie Koerth-Baker, boingboing

This article is made possible with the generous contributions of Evergreene Digest readers like you. Thank you!

(July 23, 2012) If you aren't familiar with American Boy Scouting's Eagle Scout award, it might be a little hard to explain how important this story really is. Eagle Scout is a big deal. For one thing, it takes a lot of work to get the position. A scout has to earn 21 merit badges and then spearhead a community service project that they organize and manage themselves from start to finish. Add to that the fact that most kids don't stay in scouts through high school anyway, and you end up with the award representing a relatively small and elite group. Since 1911, about 2.1 million men have earned an Eagle Scout award. And it has serious implications once you graduate high school. There are scholarships. Eagle Scouts who enlist in the military after high school can start off with a higher rank than their peers. The adult Eagle Scouts I know have told me that they've gotten interview call-backs or even job opportunities because the award was on their resumes. Basically, it's more than just this medal you pick up at age 17. For many men, it's a lifelong position—and one that demonstrates a commitment to serving others and caring for the community.

So when Eagle Scouts start returning their medals to the Boy Scouts of America, that matters. Especially when these men are making this decision because they think it's the best way to demonstrate the values of being an Eagle Scout.

Full story...

Related:

An Outraged Eagle Scout Wrote This Powerful Letter When He Sent Back His Medal, MoveOn.org
Thanks to Evergreene Digest reader Mike Sodos for this contribution
(July 27, 2012) Last week, the Boy Scouts of America made the shameful decision to reaffirm their ban on gay members. Since then, Eagle Scouts from across the country have been returning their medals in protest.* Here’s one letter we think is really powerful.

 

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