Category Archives: Language

Shit Hitting the Fan as a World goes More Looney

I can’t think of anything that harms nature more than cutting down trees and burning them, said William Moomaw, professor emeritus of international environmental policy at Tufts University

Oh, the number of top 10 or top 20 stories flooding the cloud servers delivered to us promptly, nanosecond speed, over the fuck-you Three-Face-Book, or on your email server, on the Dumber Dumbed Down Smart (sic) Phone, and, of course, on the telly. Imagine, instantaneous fake news, falsified un-News, the entire suite of topics New York Times covers, LA Times feeds, and on and on.

Delivered instantaneously, and yet, water is getting shut off, electricity is being turned off, roads are buckling, and that old time religion — privatizing everything until all shit breaks loose — determined to give USA a D-minus in infrastructure. Rebar in bridges, dikes, buildings, and the like, going the way of rust, baby. Reinforced concrete, crumbling, and the entire wasteland that is Auto Nation USA, all of that endless trucking back and forth, like a fucking spider web from space, it is what we have in this broke-back country.

I’ve talked with old folks (80 years plus) and with city and county “politicians.” I’ve talked to numerous people who just can’t get that reality out of their craw — so–soch — ehh-cism! The end of humanity is, well, on the horizon. Thanks to that Socialism Derangement Syndrome (SDS). It is built into the systems in the USA, and the DNA of USA-USA-USA, well, over generations of murdering Indians, slaves, and that checkerboard of people in countries from sea to oil slick sea, it has turned most of USA into a whack — job: under-educated, under curious about the world around them, dumb as dirt, compliant, cancelling ideas/discourse/thinking/pushback/socialism on all ends of the right-left divide. The wounds in this serial murdering society can’t be cauterized.

There has to be immediate amputation of the gangrenous rot coming from all 50 states. The rot of consumerism/retailism/financialization/indebtedness is spread like a million species of bacteria and viruses and other diseases that are indeed resistant to any medicine-goop-treatment.

There are so many deplorables, that term that Hillary hacked up, she being one of millions in the deplorable camp of neoliberalism. Deplorables who would gut you for stumbling into them on a sidewalk. Deplorables who are armed to the tooth who would shoot anyone stumbling into their backyard.

Think about it. People at a bloody concussion fest, UFC, chanting USA-USA-USA with this subhuman and his other subhuman followers traipsing into the stadium with their potbellies and juggling jowls as they take a load off their sagging asses in their multi-millionaire seats.

Read the junk here: NYPost.

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There is no deep outrage with this sort of optics that runs the USA prime time attention span. No outrage here, that the sweetness of all those sodas have yet more and more of a price, in that shit-hole Florida, run by those shit-hole Diaspora from all over, especially the East Coast, Trump and Company no less. Read the ProPublica interactive story below, linked!

It is environmental racism, and alas, this stinking country can’t keep the water on, can’t feed the farms with irrigation, can’t give out stinking fans to dying folk in this heat wave. Imagine, all those toys, those trillions to the DoD, and those men and women in uniform, also called the Armed Forces, where are they? No triage or MASH tents or massive pouring out of USA tax dollars to mitigate and solve the unfolding problems wrought by Capitalism on Crack. Story after story. Burning cane fields, yep, that’s good for the air. And this story was the same in 2001 when I went from El Paso to Spokane: massive fires lit by wheat farmers to burn stubble. Oh, the irony of Capitalism on Crack. Good old time stupidity. But stupidity and compliant people, well, that combo makes them trillions.

Read, ProPublica — Black Snow!

The burns release smoke containing pollutants harmful to people and the environment.

Then these Nordics, these putrid white saviors in Europe touting their carbon neutral smoke and mirrors fake science. Again, tearing down forests, in this case, North Carolina, brought to us by CNN.

Northampton has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state — which almost doubled during the Covid-19 pandemic — and nearly 22% of its residents are living in poverty.

“If the wood products industry and biomass were a way of growing strong rural economies in the southeastern region, these rural communities should be some of the wealthiest on the planet,” said Smith. “We are in the world’s largest wood producing region. But you don’t see any evidence in these rural communities of thriving rural economies. The opposite is actually true.”

Enviva currently employs 98 people at their Northampton facility and pay roughly 37% more than the average wage in the county, the company told CNN in a statement, adding that they strive to hire locally if workers have the right qualifications.

Imagine, the scams, and, in the end, these communities, again, pay the price of environmental racism:

Pretty, unh? Would love to have this in your backyard, right?

/

The EU, which aims to be climate-neutral by 2050, is set to revise its Renewable Energy Directive this summer and is expected to update sustainability criteria for biomass. Critics hope they will restrict biomass imports from overseas, exclude whole, living trees as “waste product” and properly account for carbon emissions from cutting and burning wood.

But a draft document that surfaced this past spring does not suggest substantial changes are coming for Europe’s directive.

/

I live in a state where the Democratic weak kneed governor got stiff knees and shut down everything, and this is the reality of stupidity around the planned pandemic. The lack of rural and inner city clinics, and just a lack of a massive movement to treat people with the common cold, gut diseases, the flu, and the bioweaponized SARS-Cov2, that’s what the Kate Brown, self-described bi-sexual, is all about. And, the reality is, this privatized medicine (sic) needs ending. Imagine, ending CEO and CFO and stockholder dividends. Oh, it would be easy to turn hospitals into cooperatives, employee owned outfits. On a sliding scale, before single payer health care.

But the reality that the shenanigans of the hospitals have killed thousands. Not because of the batty virus, but because of delays, and no treatment. Now? Oregonian, read it.

The emergency department at Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center seen from outside at night.

After 18 years as a nurse, much of it in the emergency department, Jeremy Lail considered himself a battle-tested veteran.

But last week, he asked his bosses at Providence Portland Medical Center if he could go on leave. Lail said he’s overwhelmed by the horde of patients seeking treatment at his ER and unnerved at the erratic, angry nature of many of those patients.

“I dreaded going to work,” he said. “I found myself thinking, is this the day someone is going to pull a gun and shoot me? We’re seeing how society can devolve right now. I’ve been dealing with a lot of anxiety and depression.”

For months, hospital workers have wanted nothing more than for the pandemic to end and life to return to some semblance of normalcy. But the much-deserved respite has yet to begin. Instead, a combination of understaffing and a tidal wave of seriously ill patients who have deferred health care for months has made life in the ER as bad or worse than the height of the pandemic.

It’s a recipe for disaster that is unfolding at hospitals across the country: Blend emotionally exhausted caregivers with emotionally disturbed patients, throw in a wave of street violence and the departure of some of the most experienced workers on the wards due to fatigue and burnout, and voila, America has its latest health care crisis.

Many employees argue there is another key ingredient added by the hospitals that makes the end result particularly toxic: A penny-pinching mentality that allows the understaffing to develop in the first place.

Oh, now we can see god in the science of trillions wasted on artificial (sic) suns (sic). You have this sickness, about limitless and green energy sources. Makes no sense, really, when billions are on the brink of starvation, polluted slow and fast deaths. Imagine that, no solutions NOW for farming collapses, fisheries collapses, broke-back poverty and chronic illnesses, and just endless droughts. Nope. We have all these resources and mental lifetimes in the tens of millions working on this?

These stories never-ever look at things from an ethical point of view. From a life cycle analysis view. From the view of the hoards of us, useless breathers-eaters-breeders. This news coming out of Europe or China or Israel or USA, well, no one looks at the reality of how land is desiccating and desertifying. All those satellites for 6 G internet of nanotechnology. None of the real humans are the tables of power looking at, well, all these issues tied to environmental racism, structural violence, reparations, land theft, and the like.

Because, these stories will go the way of the stories to dare valorize Palestinians, or debunk the lies of the murderous Jewish Israeli Regime of More Than Just Apartheid:

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Another casualty of Israel’s war on truth: ‘Canadian Journalists for Free Expression’ fired a staffer for publishing a routine letter that criticized Israel for killing journalists…

By Kevin Metcalf

In May, Israel bombarded Gaza for 11 days, killing 256 Palestinians, including 66 children.

In the midst of this attack, hundreds of journalists in Canada signed an open letter calling for fairer coverage of Israel and Palestine. CBC then barred reporters who signed the letter from covering the region, claiming that doing so made them appear biased.

I was one of those who signed the open letter, because I believe the media should report fairly. I also expected there’d be a backlash to the letter within newsrooms, especially at the CBC, due to my own experiences: Years before this letter was released, I was fired from my media job for writing about Israel’s killing of protesters and journalists.

With help from the state broadcaster, over the course of a few weeks in 2018 my career was destroyed and my life’s work was completely uprooted. I now work as a landscaper for a living. (Source)

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If my fellow writers haven’t already experienced this, well, not just criticizing Israel or the Jewish mentality of many Jews who are as racist as any Steven Miller or Donal et al Trump LLC.

Try having conversations with people in workplaces about bioweaponized SARS-Cov2. Any discussion about therapies that would have saved hundreds of thousands from oxygen-depleted, intubation death. Cancelled big time. I am an educator, so, that one is out the window to dare question masks and lockdowns. Dare question USA from a truly communist lens? Question Trump? Cancelled. Question Biden? Cancelled. Question the rapaciousness and profit motives of medicine and pharmacy and virology? Cancelled. Question how some or key points of the company you work for? Cancelled. It’s a sickness this society, so, again, the “Israel Policies Are Monstrous and Murderous” critique gets you cancelled.

Read this science story. Of course, anything tied to all the chronic illnesses, or we call them intellectual-developmental-psychiatric disabilities, is good to see how things can be mitigated (of course, the idea for both left and right elites is to say, “Hmm, useless eater, well, abort-abort.”). But this sort of story below is another form of colonizing. There are millions of people working on learning how the forever chemicals, all the hormone disrupters, all those additives-chemicals-pollutants-particulates-drugs-GMOs-et al, can cause a storm of epigenetic issues down the line, and, yes, autism spectrum disorder is just one area of massive numbers of younger and younger people developing DD-ID-PD disorders. A magnitude of 100.

You will not see these scientists looking for the genetic cause looking at all the synergistic causes of depleted sperm, wombs of wild chemical storms, none of that, of course. Nope. They are getting paid to look deep at all the causes of Autism-Autism like disorders.

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An increase in the incidence of Type 2 diabetes, obesity and autism has been reported in Scotland. Similar increases have been seen globally. The herbicide glyphosate was introduced in 1974 and its use is accelerating. The manufacturers claim it to be safe, but none of the Regulatory Agencies are monitoring glyphosate levels in groundwater.

By courtesy of independent researchers around the world we present evidence that glyphosate interferes with many metabolic processes in plants, animals and humans, and glyphosate residues have been found in all three. Glyphosate is an endocrine-disruptor (as are many herbicides) it damages DNA and it is a driver of mutations that lead to cancer. We present graphs from the US which correlate glyphosate application and the percentage of GE soy and corn crops to the incidence and prevalence of various diseases in those on a Western diet. The Pearson’s correlation coefficients are very strong and highly significant for obesity, diabetes, autism, thyroid cancer, liver cancer, deaths from Parkinson’s, Senile Dementia and Alzheimer’s, inflammatory bowel disease and acute kidney failure. We present Cancer Research UK graphs of upward trends in cancer incidences between 1975 and 2009, which are in line with the US graphs.

Other consequences are gastrointestinal disorders, heart disease, depression, infertility, birth defect s and other cancers. The data for the amount of non-agricultural use of glyphosate in the UK appear to be confidential. Parts of South Wales, in former mining areas, Japanese knotweed and Himalayan Balsam abound. The local Council does not hold glyphosate records. Instead it contracts out to a commercial organisation to supply industry approved vegetation management techniques. A quote from the contractor: “The glyphosate we use called round up has a hazard free label.” The level of glyphosate in a river draining from areas of Japanese knotweed was 190 parts per trillion (ppt) and local tap water was 30 ppt. These were of the order of concentrations found in a study in 2013 which showed that breast cancer cell proliferation is accelerated by glyphosate in extremely low concentrations: “potential biological levels at part per trillion (ppt) to part per billion (ppb).”

It’s short. Fifty-six pages. Read it! GLYPHOSATE: DESTRUCTOR OF HUMAN HEALTH AND BIODIVERSITY

Versus: Researchers discover new genetic driver of autism and other developmental disorders

Oh, this is big, no? The Nile? Egypt and Ethiopia? You think this water story is not the issue of our times? Oh, that Artificial Sun will save us. Think water wars all over the planet:

A dispute over the Nile, the world’s longest river, is coming to a head. At stake are the lives and livelihoods of millions of people who depend on its water.

Egypt is objecting to efforts by Ethiopia to start operating a $4.8 billion dam on a major tributary of the Nile, a hydroelectric project that it hopes will power a social and economic transformation of the country, without a binding agreement that preserves Cairo’s rights to the waters.

Egypt has said Ethiopia’s move to resume filling a reservoir behind the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam threatens the Nile region’s peace and security.

Then, well, we get to the Zoom Doom story, the post planned pandemic story. Apple, of course, should be shut down, taken over, and the entire honchos put on that Epstein Island. Or Musk’s. Take your pick of billionaire islands. But this is the new abnormal. Working in your underwear, latte chilled, all those airplane and spider plants, and the puppy underfoot and four-pound beef-lovers pizza at the ready. These people who are threatening to leave Apple, well, I guarantee you they are dream hoarders, Hillary-Kamala lites. Believers in social distancing for life, masks on everywhere, and these are the ones who are ramming digital and cloud and satellite surveillance and AI and robotized tech up our asses.

The state of news (sic):

Apple stood its ground last week in the face of employee protest against its new requirement that they work from home only two days a week. Both the policy–which came directly from CEO Tim Cook–and Apple’s comments about it betray a striking lack of emotional intelligence. That’s a bad idea in today’s tight labor market. The approach is one no small company or startup can afford to take.

Our story begins about a month ago, when Apple announced its new return-to-the-office policy in light of widespread vaccinations and falling Covid-19 infections. In an internal email, Cook announced that, beginning in early September, employees would be required to work in the office at least three days a week. Specifically, those days would be Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, with the option to work remotely on Wednesdays and Fridays.

The Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California.

The headline says it all about this cancel culture stupidity, using “emotional intelligence as a cudgel: Apple’s Remote Work Policy Is a Complete Failure of Emotional Intelligence: Don’t try this at your company

Finally, the top 10 or whatever stories, prompted by my friend, Joe the Farmer from Merced:

How long will it be before we start seeing adds for front end Protest Protector guard bars for F-150’s, Chevy Silverado’s and the Amerikaner favorite, Dodge Ram? What good fascist could possibly pass up the opportunity to keep protesters blood and body parts from damaging their radiators and having expensive body shop repair bills? I’m sure some enterprising asshole is already marketing “Protest Protectors” as I write this. Only in Amerika. The land of opportunity.

He was reacting to a Counterpunch story, pulling this quote from it below. But Paul Street needed to research the term, Amerikaner — “A round cakelike pastry of flour, butter, and lemon juice, with a sugar glaze, most often plain white, but sometimes chocolate or half-white/half-chocolate.”

Need a new dessert to make for parties and birthdays? Try our recipe for German-style cookie cakes! You can decorate them in sohttps://foodal.com/recipes/desserts/german-amerikaner-cookie-cakes/

Talk about “fascism with American characteristics”!

“In the wake of last year’s Black Lives Matter protests,” VOX’s Cameron Peters noted last April, “Republican lawmakers are advancing a number of new anti-protest measures at the state level – including multiple bills that specifically make it easier for drivers to run down protesters… If the recent spate of anti-protest measures in Florida, Iowa, and Oklahoma is disturbing on its face, however, context does little to make it better. There is a specific history in the US of the far right using cars as weapons, and it’s not hard to see how bills like the one that is now law in Oklahoma might only make things worse…The most notable example is from August 2017: Heather Heyer, 32, was struck and killed and at least 19 others were injured when neo-Nazi James Alex Fields Jr. rammed a crowd of counter protesters in Charlottesville. Fields has since been sentenced to life in prison…But it’s more than that single incident. According to Ari Weil, the deputy research director for the Chicago Project on Security and Threats, there were at least 72 incidents of cars driving into protesters over a relatively short span in 2020, from May 27 through July 7… Examples aren’t hard to find. There’s even a Wikipedia page specifically dedicated to ‘vehicle-ramming incidents during George Floyd protests.’ And as Weil explained in an interview with Vox’s Alex Ward last year, ‘there’s an online environment that for years has been celebrating and encouraging these types of horrendous attacks’. (emphasis added).  From Iowa Nice to Iowa Nazi: a Report from the Friendly Fascist Heartland

These are examples in USA and UK of how we help the sick, tired, overworked, the useless eaters, useless breeders, useless breathers, useless resters: “OH, JOE — The White European and White United Snakes of America and Klanada, they are all worthless scum, and we are useless breathers, useless eaters, useless breeders, useless one and all, unless there are fines/levies/penalties/tickets/violations/tolls/taxes/triple taxations/surcharges/fees-to gouge the poor and lower classes to death in their operating systems.”

Portland Roadways — Giant Piles of Boulders

New York Post — Cop rolls bike over protester’s head during Breonna Taylor demonstration

The post Shit Hitting the Fan as a World goes More Looney first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Making Sense of Sex and Gender

A few months after I had written an article critiquing the ideology of the transgender movement, a comrade from a progressive group told me he wanted to understand why I was challenging trans activists, whom he saw as being political allies on the left. I outlined what is now called the “gender critical” feminist argument, which rejects the rigid and repressive gender norms in patriarchy but recognizes the material reality of human sex differences. That analysis flowed from radical feminist politics, I explained, which is essential to challenging men’s exploitation of women in patriarchy, the system of institutionalized male dominance that surrounds us.

By the end of that long lunchtime conversation, he said he had no trouble following my argument and found little to disagree with. “To tell you the truth,” he said, “I don’t really understand a lot of what the trans movement is saying.”

I told him I had no trouble understanding his confusion, because the transgender movement’s arguments seemed unclear, sometimes even incoherent, to me as well. Then I asked him: “Is there any other issue on which you can’t make sense of a political movement’s arguments but you still support its policy proposals?”

He winced, knowing he couldn’t think of another such case. That was the end of the conversation. At the time I was being denounced by various people on the left for my writing, and we both knew he wasn’t going to publicly support me, or even ask trans activists for a clearer articulation of their arguments.

If time travel were possible, I would beam back to that moment in 2014 and hand my friend a copy of Kathleen Stock’s new book, Material Girls: Why Reality Matters for Feminism. It likely would not have changed his political choices, but it would have clarified why he was having trouble making sense of trans arguments. Stock explains, carefully and respectfully, why those arguments so often don’t make much sense. I mean that not as insult but as a recognition of so many people’s confusion. My friend was hardly the only person I have met who is perplexed by the foundational assertion of the trans movement: that a person is a man or woman, or neither or both, based on a subjective internal feeling about “gender” (for which no viable theory has yet been presented by trans activists) rather than the material reality of “sex” (about which we have an expansive understanding from biology and everyday life).

Stock’s book, on the other hand, is eminently sensible, in both meanings of the word. It is intellectually cogent and useful in helping us make personal and policy decisions. In this polarized political moment, she delivers her analysis firmly but politely, with none of the rancor that has unfortunately become so common in this debate, especially online.

For example, it’s sensible to define terms in a debate, although the transgender movement shies away from being pinned down on the meaning of terms and even celebrates this ambiguity as a virtue. Stock is careful with definitions, beginning with her analysis of the four ways “gender” is used these days. Once readers work through those options, it’s clear (at least to me) that the term gender is best understood as the social meaning (captured in the terms masculinity and femininity) ascribed to biological sex differences rooted in reproduction (male and female). Sex is a function of the kind of animals that we humans are, and gender is how we human animals make sense of sex differences. Sex is biological, and gender is cultural.

That’s the way feminists have used the terms since the 1970s, as they challenged patriarchal claims that men’s domination and exploitation of women is “natural” because of biology. Patriarchy turns biological difference into social dominance. Feminists have long argued that gender is connected to our sex differences but is “socially constructed” in a way that reflects the unequal distribution of power between men and women over the past few thousand years. Anything socially constructed could be constructed differently through politics.

The trans movement flips that understanding, routinely asserting that gender is not the product of social forces but is a private internal state of being, which may be innate and immutable (opinions in the trans movement vary). In other words, transgender ideology asserts that gender is something one feels and has no necessary connection to one’s body and reproductive system. Trans activists routinely assert that “sex is a social construction,” that the biological distinctions of male and female are not objectively real but are created by societies. Stock painstakingly explains why this—again I’ll use the phrase, though it sounds harsh—doesn’t make sense.

In the preceding paragraph, I wrote “routinely assert” not only because there are differences of opinion within the transgender movement (which is to be expected in any movement) but because I have heard trans activists shift arguments when asked to defend a position (which is an indication of a weak argument in any movement). I once asked a trans activist, “If sex is socially constructed, that implies that it could be constructed in some other way. Do you know of any other way for humans to reproduce other than with an egg (produced by a female) and sperm (produced by a male)? By what means would human reproduction be socially constructed differently?” The activist offered no rebuttal to that, but simply dropped the claim, moving on to assert that trans people know what sex they “really” are and that any challenge to this idea was hateful and bigoted.

[A necessary footnote: There is an extremely small percentage of the human population born “intersex,” with what are called DSDs (either Disorders or Differences in Sex Development; terminology preferences vary) that involve anomalies in genes, hormones, and reproductive organs. One of these conditions is hermaphroditism, which is still occasionally used as an umbrella term for DSDs. Stock explains those variations, noting that such conditions have nothing to do with transgenderism. Gender dysphoria (discomfort or distress when a person’s internal gender identity differs from their biological sex) is a psychological not physiological condition.]

Stock’s emphasis on precise language continues throughout the book. For example, she explains why the term “sex assigned at birth” is deceptive in light of the stability of the categories of male and female, evidenced by the success of human reproduction over millennia. In the vast majority of cases, everyone agrees on the sex of a newborn, which is observed not assigned. These questions about words are not trivial; how we talk about the world can change how we understand the world. Stock rejects replacing “breastfeeding” with “chestfeeding,” for example, because the trans-friendly term undermines our ability to name reality. Babies nurse at the breast of a female human, and the existence of women who identify as men (transmen is the common term used today) or as non-binary (rejecting an either/or choice) but still nurse a baby doesn’t change that.

Stock also offers sensible analysis of policy debates, most of which focus on the demands of men who identify as women (transwomen is the common term). For example, should transwomen be allowed into female-only spaces, such as bathrooms, changing rooms, hostels, or prisons? Stock explains why such a policy creates anxiety and fear for women, who live with the everyday reality of the threat of male violence, especially sexual violence. The problem is not that every transwoman is physically or sexually aggressive. But when claiming membership in the other sex category requires no explanation or evidence, the likelihood of abuse increases as predators find openings to target women when they are vulnerable.

Stock also explains why allowing transwomen—again, males who identify as women—to participate in women’s sports will undermine and potentially eliminate sex-segregated activities that create opportunities for girls and women to thrive. Separate athletic competitions for males and females exist because of the physiological advantage males have over females, and those advantages don’t disappear by identifying as a woman.

Does any of this really matter? Well, it matters to teenage girls who may not want to change clothes in a locker room next to a boy who identifies as a girl. It matters to women at a health club that allows transwomen in a “women only” space. It matters to clients in a women’s homeless shelter that refuses to restrain sexually aggressive behavior of transwomen in order to be “inclusive.” It matters to the woman who is bumped from a country’s Olympic weightlifting team when a transwoman is allowed to compete as a woman. It matters to the women who were sexually assaulted by a transwoman who was housed in a women’s prison. It matters to the lesbians who choose not to date transwomen—because their sexual orientation is toward female humans and not male humans who identify as women—and are then called bigots and ostracized. And it matters to the woman who had to fight to get her job back after being fired for publicly stating that she believes “that sex is immutable and not to be conflated with gender identity.”

Trans activists’ responses to these challenges vary, but they can be reduced to a trans slogan so popular that an LGBT organization in the UK put it on a t-shirt: “Transwomen are women. Get over it!”

To say the least, the meaning of the statement “transwomen are women” is not obvious, either intuitively or logically. It’s a claim that many people find hard to understand, not because they are bigots but because it seems at odds with material reality. It would be more accurate to say: “Transwomen are transwomen, which raises many complex intellectual, political, and moral questions. Let’s work out solutions that respect everyone’s rights and interests!”

Not the catchiest slogan, but accurate and honest. It’s a t-shirt that I think Stock would be comfortable wearing. She doesn’t condemn or mock trans people but rather seeks deeper understanding to make public policy choices as fair as possible for all.

Whether or not one embraces Stock’s conclusions, she argues with precision and follows the widely accepted rules of intellectual engagement that require evidence and logic to establish a proposition. If that’s the case—and I can’t imagine any open-minded reader accusing her of intellectual fraud or bad faith—then why have Stock and many others with similar views been denounced on either intellectual, political, or moral grounds? She writes:

I find it particularly telling that academics who are strongly critical of views like mine, as expressed in this book, tend not to address them with argument or evidence—as would be expected, given disciplinary norms—but often instead resort, relatively unusually for such norms, to complaints about my presumed motives or personal failings. They also tend rhetorically to collapse criticism of the intellectual tenets of trans activism into moral criticism of trans people.

Stock points out why this should worry everyone, even people who may never have direct experience with transgender policies or are not interested in philosophical debates:

treating males with female gender identities as women in every possible context is a politically inflammatory act. In effect it sends a contemptuously dismissive message to women already conscious of unequal treatment of their interests. This message says: the interests of males with female gender identities are more important than yours.

In short: Many of the demands of transgender politics are anti-feminist. If that’s a plausible claim, then why have so many feminists and feminist organizations embraced the transgender ideology? Stock suggests one factor is “the current cultural mania for ‘diversity and inclusion,’ taken as some kind of mindless mantra without genuine thought being given to what it actually means or should be doing.” The struggle for social justice is impeded, not advanced, when transwomen can insist that they must be included in any space on their terms, without explaining or justifying the policy and without regard for the effects on girls and women. Stock points out that just as replacing “Black lives matter” with “all lives matter” undermines anti-racist campaigns by ignoring the specific threats to Black people in a racist society, demanding that transwomen always be included in the category “woman” undermines feminism’s ability to advance the interests of girls and women, who face specific threats in a sexist society.

It’s easy for people to get confused by, and frustrated with, the debate on this issue, which is too often weighed down by jargon and abstract theory. So, let’s get back to the core questions:

  • Is gender an internal subjective experience, the origins of which have yet to be explained, or is it produced by social and political systems, which can be analyzed and put in historical context?
  • Is gender immutable and private, or are gender norms open to change through collective action?
  • Is institutionalized male dominance best understood by analyzing individuals’ internal sense of gender identities, or is patriarchy rooted in men’s claim of a right to own or control women’s reproductive power and sexuality?

The reference to “reality” in Stock’s subtitle suggests that absent a clear and convincing account of sex, gender, and power from the transgender movement, the feminist and gender-critical perspectives offer the best account of biology and history, of psychology and society.

Since that first article I wrote in 2014, I have talked with steadily more and more progressive people who feel pressured by the transgender movement to embrace trans policy proposals without asking questions. Too often, that pressure works. Are we creating a healthy political culture on the left when people and organizations believe they have no choice but to adopt policy positions they either don’t understand or disagree with? Are progressive politics advance when legitimate differences of opinion are muted because people fear being accused of bigotry?

Stock’s work—along with other books such as Heather Brunskell-Evans’ Transgender Body Politics and websites such as Fair Play for Women—is a valuable resource for people who want to work their way through these questions rather than simply accept the ideology or policy proposals of the transgender movement. Even if Stock’s book doesn’t change trans activists’ minds, it provides a model of principled intellectual engagement with compassion.

I say “compassion” because Stock is trans-friendly, as are most of us who hold feminist and gender-critical positions. Stock doesn’t condemn or attack trans people but instead offers a different way to understand the experience of gender dysphoria and a different politics for challenging a patriarchal system that is the source of so much suffering and distress.

Feminist politics is not a denial of trans people’s experiences but an alternative way to understand those experiences that does not involve drugs, cross-sex hormones, and surgery. Feminist politics is an embrace of our differences and a way to live with those differences collectively, as we struggle to eliminate the hierarchies that impede our ability to thrive.

[Note: Material Girls: Why Reality Matters for Feminism was published in the UK in May and is scheduled for release in the US edition in September.]

The post Making Sense of Sex and Gender first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Sending Love to the Daughter I Always Wanted

Balance. Inside out, outside in. From science driven diving, environmental warrior in the 1970s — in AZ, in Mexico, in the Sea of Cortez —  to small-town daily newspaperman: Tucson, Bisbee, Wilcox, Sierra Vista, and all these small towns in several rural counties south, on the borderline. El Paso, New Mexico, Mexico, Central America.

Teacher, social worker, mescal-guzzler, photographer, aspiring failed novelist, always moving, always moving on, always distracted.

She’s seen me buoyant and busted. She’s heard me wax poetic and polemic. She’s admired me and feared me. She’s understood me and debated me. She’s heard me embrace her and argue with her.

There is no handbook, no guideposts for being a father . . . or to flip the script: there are no guiderails or throttle governors to learn how to be a daughter of a character like me!

primal scream

her chin lifts
air of Chihuahua
scorpion stingers
sink into corner
clouds on wall
painted by Mario
beer in hand
homeless
the world his home
her room, sanctuary

daughter is innocence
listening cicadas
odors of cumin
green giant chiles
desert valley
thunderbird on mountain
her shadow

protector bird
one day a woman
alone at night
sounds of city
harsh, tumbling humanity
trapped, concrete prisons
she tastes poblano
lime gnashing
eagle out there
stars held
on outstretched
wings of hope

— Paul Haeder, 7/2/2021

I was in Spokane, helping my amazing daughter get her small business going.

Lots of tough days with her father, me, always on the air, in print, hurly burly, angry at the world, alone writing, man lost of tribe, lone wolf, perfectionist, over “college” educated. Always flapping his lips.

She asked me, “Are you really proud of me, dad? I didn’t finish college? I am not this politically engaged and active person in Spokane. I am not the daughter you wanted, right?”

Shit, now that takes a 64-year-old know-it-all, big blustery dude like me down a few notches.

The reality is, of course, I am proud of her. Of course, I am not disappointed about the lack of a college matriculation. Of course, I am not expecting in 2021 that college means much.

Proud, and with love. Seems like a no-brainer combo in this completely (almost) fucked up (oxymoron) world (theirs, ours, mine, hers).

It is the father issue, for sure. Divorce. Other things in my daughter’s life that not only cemented her spirit into what we call CPTSD — complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder — but also her view of the world, with her own beat of a very different drummer in the background, low grumble bass in her chest.

Those are her stories to tell, though my daughter is self-actualized, open, and articulate about her struggles.

“Come to Dust”

Spirit, rehearse the journeys of the body
that are to come, the motions
of the matter that held you.
Rise up in the smoke of palo santo.
Fall to the earth in the falling rain.
Sink in, sink down to the farthest roots.
Mount slowly in the rising sap
to the branches, the crown, the leaf-tips.
Come down to earth as leaves in autumn
to lie in the patient rot of winter.
Rise again in spring’s green fountains.
Drift in sunlight with the sacred pollen
to fall in blessing.

All earth’s dust
has been life, held soul, is holy.

Ursula K. La Guin 

She is in Spokane, since age six, and alas, at 25 she’s feeling everything I lamented and wrote about: small town now traffic snarled; pigs/cops hassling homeless;   unchecked building (growth); water issues; broken down buildings; homes and rents out the roof; Californians (other big monied folk) swooping into town and the county buying up stuff, and hiking rents.

I was there, June 30, at a 112 degrees, 101 in the night, 1 am. Planned rolling blackouts by the electrical service, Avista. Roads cracking and buckling. Fireworks stands. Death, sickness, the new normal — unmitigated survival of the fittest (richest) and nothing ever prepared now, yesterday and for tomorrow’s heat domes.

The show is over, with unfettered casino-predatory-disaster-zombie-parasitic capitalism.

Shit, how does a guy like me help a gal like her, 25, 500 miles away (I drove the 2006 van, which I have kept up, worked on it myself, called a sucker for having a rig with 230,000 original miles on it).

I wrote a poem for her, well, many, in fact —  Philosophy of a new-birthed esthetician/aesthetician

She’s also an amazing photographer, and she was my photographer for my magazine column — she did this starting at age 16!

Here, some photos of hers with one of my poems — Dystopia Blues – Who Will Write a Song about Ice Caps Melting When All Music Dies?

MakennaHaederPhoto12

She’s an on-her-knees kind of photographer, but also right there, with a heart of empathy, for what  Eduardo’s poem belies — “the nobodies”. Others call them/us — useless breathers, useless breeders and useless eaters. Makenna is there, in their spaces, and her own heart is so drawn into that unknowable force that makes some people “empaths.”

Makenna haeder 451

“The Nobodies”

Fleas dream of buying themselves a dog, and nobodies dream of escaping
poverty: that one magical day good luck will suddenly rain down on
them—will rain down in buckets. But good luck doesn’t rain down
yesterday, today, tomorrow, or ever. Good luck doesn’t even fall in a
fine drizzle, no matter how hard the nobodies summon it, even if their
left hand is tickling, or if they begin the new day with their right
foot, or start the new year with a change of brooms.

The nobodies: nobody’s children, owners of nothing. The nobodies: the
no ones, the nobodied, running like rabbits, dying through life,
screwed every which way.

Who are not, but could be.
Who don’t speak languages, but dialects.
Who don’t have religions, but superstitions.
Who don’t create art, but handicrafts.
Who don’t have culture, but folklore.
Who are not human beings, but human resources.
Who do not have faces, but arms.
Who do not have names, but numbers.
Who do not appear in the history of the world, but in the police
blotter of the local paper.
The nobodies, who are not worth the bullet that kills them.”

― Eduardo Galeano, Open Veins of Latin America

Makenna haeder 451

She’s stayed in Spokane and has enveloped herself in that part of the Inland Pacific Northwest, because of the fairy like worlds in the woods and in mountains and valleys:

Makenna haeder 451

The ecosystems — running water, lakes, mists, the dews, soggy soils — those are the victims of climate heating, bulldozers, human incursions. So, combine this formula after formula:

  • bigger than life father
  • mother an English teacher
  • father on the radio, in the news, making it and writing it
  • dad with full-throttle on boats, kayaks, motorcycles, diving, hiking
  • a childhood with lots of leeway
  • exposure to street life, and Spokane has a reputation of having tough lives on the street, and violence
  • being a vegan and self-styled, she was bullied at k8-12
  • mother hits the air to move to Australia
  • father raising a pubescent girl while on his own, dating
  • always railing against the systems of oppression, her father, well, not always a good bedside manner raising his only child
  • father moving away — Seattle, Vancouver, Portland, Oregon Coast!

Makenna-haeder-902

I look back and, of course, this is not the life I envisioned, the relationship with a child I was banking on. I wasn’t even thinking of children. I cycled through relationships, and that includes four marriages. I am not prudish or Puritan about this at all, but the ramifications are huge. Hell, I am trained on ACES:

 

About the CDC-Kaiser ACE Study |Violence Prevention|Injury Center|CDC

I’ve worked with youth for more than a decade as a social services provider. I have worked with adults who are coming out of prisons, are homeless, are facing addictions, and are poor. I know the epigentics of how even bodies (DNA) change under cortisol loads. I am there, understanding why some old guy with no teeth who just went off the wagon again, using meth, is bawling and apologizing. Old guy at 73, one of my clients when I worked with homeless vets. At 73, sliding into Meth in Portland. Everything goes to shit  because he goes MIA for days.

I know these men and women, and they have a boatload of influences in their lives. They did not wake up one day, at age 14 or 21, and say, “Man, I can’t wait to have all my teeth rot out of my head. I can’t wait to have collapsed veins, psychosis, COPD, the shakes, uncontrolled bowels, living in a box at the back of a warehouse, with a criminal rap sheet that is 30 pages long.”

My daughter has kept one good thing her old man instilled — “When you see that person on the street, all greasy and broken down, cardboard sign in hands, and shaky, and, wanting to drink or shoot up, with blathering and blathering as his or her SOP, remember, that person once was a baby. And even if it was a nurse in the delivery room, that old homeless adult once had at least a person in his or her life who swaddled him or her and loved. Unconditional love.”

Indianapolis' homeless face unwarranted harassment, writes columnist Suzette Hackney

 

It is tough being Makenna since her old man is always out there, putting it all out there for everyone to see, hear, read, view. She’s seen her old man locked up for various things, seen her old man sacked for various reasons, seen her old man broken by this or that slight coming at him from the bureaucrats. She’s seen her old man heart-broken. She’s seen her old man not exactly the ideal of a good All-American Father.

Yet, she has stuck with me. She embraces my spouse, now, finding the thrill of my wife’s laugh, the warmth of the chile-embraced tamales my wife makes so all can taste Aztlan on their tongues.  She has held my hand and warmed my cold heart. These are valuable humanistic traits in a time of Covid, post-Covid, Transhuman Dystopia, Unbalanced-Unbalancing world. But she is also one of the world’s vulnerable ones — heart on sleeve, deeply tied to humanity, absolutely through and through in constant ire against the authorities, the systems of oppression, the overlords and the mean as cuss cops/pigs/DA’s/judges/CEOs/Captains of Industry/Colonels of death!

During those last hours I was in Spokane — not surrendering to all that heat the real new normal for most of USA — I was being interviewed by Andy, Kenny and Eduardo for their podcast, “What’s Left.” I was in her pad, and alas, while she was getting an ultrasound for excruciating side aches, I was doing the interview.

The closer I look at the Zoom recording, the more fidgety and disjointed I am now after so many decades of railing, screaming to be heard. I’ll post that interview when Andy and his fellows wrap it up.

But am I Beale?

All I know is that first, you’ve got to get mad.

You’ve gotta say, “I’m a human being, goddammit! My life has value!”

So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out and yell,

“I’m as mad as hell,

and I’m not going to take this anymore!!”

— Network (1976)

Thanks, daughter, for putting up with me and my rants, like the one below I just posted on the show I will be on today — What’s Left. I was recorded with Che in the background in your cute, sweet, house-plant invested apartment in Spokane. Hasta luego, chica:

Yes, indeed. All my travels — physically, intellectually and emotionally — have taught me that, of course, communism and collectivism work. Yeah, act locally, think globally. Well, what a hell of a resource extraction world the Capitalists have set forth. You do not have to travel far into history or your own backyard to see that predatory-casino-parasitic-penury-disaster-war capitalism is the gift that keeps giving: fines, tolls, add-ons, penalties, triple taxations, taxes without representation. Rape the land, force pollutants onto the people, charge the people for cleaning them up (they never get cleaned up, ugh, forever chemicals, PCBs, dioxins, radioactive by-products). Epigentics of DNA mutations.

Then, attempt to critique or fight this tyranny, and, well, zip up that mouth and lose that job, because a person counting on a dirty boss and dirtier paycheck to make ends meet is not going to be looking that rotting gimpy gift horse in the mouth. You will, however, not see anyone on the right actually fit any humane or human role, so that dead horse don’t need no kicking. I have interviewed, argued with, taught, and even looked down the wrong end of the barrel of right-wing fuckers’ gun, and to a person, they are not in this world to be holistic, to be collective, to be fair, to be one in the whole. Dog-eat-dog, pull-yourselves-up-by-your-own-bootstraps, I’ve got mine, and I give a shit if you don’t have yours.

These are the human eaters. When I say right, let’s make that clear — that’s Clinton or Bush, Carter or Reagan, Obama or Trump. Add to that DNA similarity the mutated minds of the western thinker — sociopaths, pedophiles, bestiality’s punks, torturers, criminals, Oedipus-loving narcissists. So, critiquing lockdowns, or questioning the Big Pharma-Big Tech-Big Finance- Big Capitalization/ Financialization agenda, seems like what Che did, Marx did, a million other communists did and do. Keep up the good work, What’s Left, and remember to have some fucking fun with these snakes and poisonous propagandists and murderers.

Check out one motherfucking funny and off the wall dude

Remember, any motherfucking patriarchal prick who thinks of the 80 percent as useless eaters, useless breeders, and useless breathers, well, it doesn’t matter which side of the “political” manure pile in this country’s duopoly he sits on: those people are, well, mass murderers, in situ, with the power of a mouse click, the power of the rule of corporate law.

Galeano’s work, above, “The Nobodies”! Says it all, if you spend time talking about its meaning, its context, its writer.

Or hell, Pablo Neruda, man — says it all about EVERYTHING, 71 years later: Musk, Exxon, Bates, Soros, the Fortune 1000 thugs, transnationals, the Group of 30 and the 147 companies controlling the world:

The United Fruit Company by Pablo Neruda , 1950

When the trumpet sounded, it was
all prepared on the earth,
the Jehovah parceled out the earth
to Coca Cola, Inc., Anaconda,
Ford Motors, and other entities:
The Fruit Company, Inc.
reserved for itself the most succulent,
the central coast of my own land,
the delicate waist of America.
It rechristened its territories
as the ’Banana Republics’
and over the sleeping dead,
over the restless heroes
who brought about the greatness, the liberty and the flags,
it established the comic opera:
abolished the independencies,
presented crowns of Caesar,
unsheathed envy, attracted
the dictatorship of the flies,
Trujillo flies, Tacho flies,
Carias flies, Martines flies,
Ubico flies, damp flies
of modest blood and marmalade,
drunken flies who zoom
over the ordinary graves,
circus flies, wise flies
well trained in tyranny.

Among the blood-thirsty flies
the Fruit Company lands its ships,
taking off the coffee and the fruit;
the treasure of our submerged
territories flow as though
on plates into the ships.

Meanwhile Indians are falling
into the sugared chasms
of the harbors, wrapped
for burials in the mist of the dawn:
a body rolls, a thing
that has no name, a fallen cipher,
a cluster of the dead fruit
thrown down on the dump.

Re: Challenge Magazine!

The post Sending Love to the Daughter I Always Wanted first appeared on Dissident Voice.

On “Conflict”, “Peace” and “Genocide”: Time for New Language on Palestine and Israel

On May 25, famous American actor, Mark Ruffalo, tweeted an apology for suggesting that Israel is committing ‘genocide’ in Gaza.

“I have reflected and wanted to apologize for posts during the recent Israel/Hamas fighting that suggested Israel is committing ‘genocide’,” Ruffalo wrote, adding, “It’s not accurate, it’s inflammatory, disrespectful and is being used to justify anti-Semitism, here and abroad. Now is the time to avoid hyperbole.”

But were Ruffalo’s earlier assessments, indeed, “not accurate, inflammatory and disrespectful”? And does equating Israel’s war on besieged, impoverished Gaza with genocide fit into the classification of ‘hyperbole’?

To avoid pointless social media spats, one only needs to reference the ‘United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide’. According to Article 2 of the 1948 Convention, the legal definition of genocide is:

“Any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, such as (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part …”

In its depiction of Israel’s latest war on Gaza, the Geneva-based human rights group, Euro-Med Monitor, reported:

The Israeli forces directly targeted 31 extended families. In 21 cases, the homes of these families were bombed while their residents were inside. These raids resulted in the killing of 98 civilians, including 44 children and 28 women. Among the victims were a man and his wife and children, mothers and their children, or child siblings. There were seven mothers who were killed along with four or three of their children. The bombing of these homes and buildings came without any warning despite the Israeli forces’ knowledge that civilians were inside.

As of May 28, 254 Palestinians in Gaza were killed and 1,948 were wounded in the latest 11-day Israeli onslaught, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Though tragic, this number is relatively small compared with the casualties of previous wars. For example, in the 51-day Israeli war on Gaza in the summer of 2014, over 2,200 Palestinians were killed and over 17,000 were wounded. Similarly, entire families, like the 21-member Abu Jame family in Khan Younis, also perished. Is this not genocide? The same logic can be applied to the killing of over 300 unarmed protesters at the fence separating besieged Gaza from Israel between March 2018 and December 2019. Moreover, the besiegement and utter isolation of over 2 million Palestinians in Gaza since 2006-07, which has resulted in numerous tragedies, is an act of collective punishment that also deserves the designation of genocide.

One does not need to be a legal expert to identify the many elements of genocide in Israel’s violent behavior, let alone language, against Palestinians. There is a clear, undeniable relationship between Israel’s violent political discourse and equally violent action on the ground. Potentially Israel’s next prime minister, Naftali Bennett, who has served the role of Defense Minister, had, in July 2013, stated: “I’ve killed lots of Arabs in my life – and there’s no problem with that.”

With this context in mind, and regardless of why Ruffalo found it necessary to back-track on his moral position, Israel is an unrepentent human rights violator that continues to carry out an active policy of genocide and ethnic cleansing against the native, indigenous inhabitants of Palestine.

Language matters, and in this particular ‘conflict’, it matters most, because Israel has, for long, managed to escape any accountability for its actions, due to its success in misrepresenting facts, and the overall truth about itself. Thanks to its many allies and supporters in mainstream media and academia, Tel Aviv has rebranded itself from being a military occupier and an apartheid regime to an ‘oasis of democracy’, in fact, ‘the only democracy in the Middle East’.

This article will not attempt to challenge the entirety of the misconstrued mainstream media’s depiction of Israel. Volumes are required for that, and Israeli Professor Ilan Pappé’s ‘Ten Myths about Israel’ is an important starting point. However, this article will attempt to present some basic definitions that must enter the Palestine-Israel lexicon, as a prerequisite to developing a fairer understanding of what is happening on the ground.

A Military Occupation – Not a ‘Conflict’

Quite often, mainstream Western media refers to the situation in Palestine and Israel as a  ‘conflict’, and to the various specific elements of this so-called conflict as a ‘dispute’. For example, the ‘Palestinian-Israeli conflict’ and the ‘disputed city of East Jerusalem’.

What should be an obvious truth is that besieged, occupied people do not engage in a ‘conflict’ with their occupiers. Moreover, a ‘dispute’ happens when two parties have equally compelling claims to any issue. When Palestinan families of East Jerusalem are being forced out of their homes which are, in turn, handed over to Jewish extremists, there is no ‘dispute’ involved. The extremists are thieves and the Palestinians are victims. This is not a matter of opinion. The international community itself says so.

‘Conflict’ is a generic term. Aside from absolving the aggressor – in this case, Israel – it leaves all matters open for interpretation. Since American audiences are indoctrinated to love Israel and hate Arabs and Muslims, siding with Israel in its ‘conflict’ with the latter becomes the only rational option.

Israel has sustained a military occupation of 22% of the total size of historic Palestine since June 1967. The remainder of the Palestinian homeland was already usurped, using extreme violence, state-sanctioned apartheid, and, as Pappé puts it, ‘incremental genocide’ decades earlier.

From the perspective of international law,  the term ‘military occupation’, ‘occupied East Jerusalem’, ‘illegal Jewish settlements’ and so forth, have never been ‘disputed’. They are simply facts, even if Washington has decided to ignore international law, and even if mainstream US media has chosen to manipulate the terminology as to present Israel as a victim, not the aggressor.

‘Process’ without ‘Peace’

The term ‘peace process’ was coined by American diplomats decades ago. It was put to use throughout the mid and late 1970s when, then-US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, labored to broker a deal between Egypt and Israel in the hope of fragmenting the Arab political front and, eventually, sidelining Cairo entirely from the ‘Arab-Israeli conflict’.

Kissinger’s logic proved vital for Israel as the ‘process’ did not aim at achieving justice according to fixed criteria that has been delineated by the United Nations for years. There was no frame of reference any more. If any existed, it was Washington’s political priorities which, historically, almost entirely overlapped with Israel’s priorities. Despite the obvious American bias, the US bestowed upon itself the undeserving title of ‘the honest peace broker’.

This approach was used successfully in the write-up to the Camp David Accords in 1978. One of the Accords’ greatest achievements is that the so-called ‘Arab-Israeli conflict’ was replaced with the so-called ‘Palestinian-Israeli conflict’.

Now, tried and true, the ‘peace process’ was used again in 1993, resulting in the Oslo Accords. For nearly three decades, the US continued to tout its self-proclaimed credentials as a peacemaker, despite the fact that it pumped – and continues to do so – $3-4 billion of annual, mostly military, aid to Israel.

On the other hand, the Palestinians have little to show for. No peace was achieved; no justice was obtained; not an inch of Palestinian land was returned and not a single Palestinian refugee was allowed to return home. However, American and European officials and a massive media apparatus continued to talk of a ‘peace process’ with little regard to the fact that the ‘peace process’ has brought nothing but war and destruction for Palestine, and allowed Israel to continue its illegal appropriation and colonization of Palestinian land.

Resistance, National Liberation – Not ‘Terrorism’ and ‘State-Building’

The ‘peace process’ introduced more than death, mayhem and normalization of land theft in Palestine. It also wrought its own language, which remains in effect to this day. According to the new lexicon, Palestinians are divided into ‘moderate’ and ‘extremists’. The ‘moderates’ believe in the American-led ‘peace process’, ‘peace negotiations’ and are ready to make ‘painful compromises’ in order to obtain the coveted ‘peace’. On the other hand, the ‘extremists’ are ‘Iran-backed’, politically ‘radical’ bunch that use ‘terrorism’ to satisfy their ‘dark’ political agendas.

But is this the case? Since the signing of the Oslo Accords, many sectors of Palestinian society, including Muslims and Christians, Islamists and secularists and, notably, socialists, resisted the unwarranted political ‘compromises’ undertaken by their leadership, which they perceived to be a betrayal of Palestinians’ basic rights. Meanwhile, the ‘moderates’ have largely ruled over Palestinians with no democratic mandate. This small but powerful group introduced a culture of political and financial corruption, unprecedented in Palestine. They applied torture against Palestinian political dissidents whenever it suited them. Not only did Washington say little to criticize the ‘moderate’ Palestinian Authority’s dismal human rights record, but it also applauded it for its crackdown on those who ‘incite violence’ and their ‘terrorist infrastructure’.

A term such as ‘resistance’ – muqawama – was slowly but carefully extricated from the Palestinian national discourse. The term ‘liberation’ too was perceived to be confrontational and hostile. Instead, such concepts as ‘state-building’ – championed by former Palestinian Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, and others – began taking hold. The fact that Palestine was still an occupied country and that ‘state-building’ can only be achieved once ‘liberation’ was first secured, did not seem to matter to the ‘donor countries’. The priorities of these countries – mainly US allies who adhered to the American political agenda in the Middle East – was to maintain the illusion of the ‘peace process’ and to ensure  ‘security coordination’ between PA police and the Israeli army carried on, unabated.

The so-called ‘security coordination’, of course, refers to the US-funded joint Israeli-PA efforts at cracking down on Palestinian resistance, apprehending Palestinian political dissidents and ensuring the safety of the illegal Jewish settlements, or colonies, in the occupied West Bank.

War and, Yes, Genocide in Gaza – Not ‘Israel-Hamas Conflict’

The word ‘democracy’ was constantly featured in the new Oslo language. Of course, it was not intended to serve its actual meaning. Instead, it was the icing on the cake of making the illusion of the ‘peace process’ perfect. This was obvious, at least to most Palestinians. It also became obvious to the whole world in January 2006, when the Palestinian faction Fatah, which has monopolized the PA since its inception in 1994, lost the popular vote to the Islamic faction, Hamas.

Hamas, and other Palestinian factions have rejected – and continue to reject – the Oslo Accords. Their participation in the legislative elections in 2006 took many by surprise, as the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) was itself a product of Oslo. Their victory in the elections, which was classified as democratic and transparent by international monitoring groups, threw a wrench in the US-Israeli-PA political calculations.

Lo and behold, the group that has long been perceived by Israel and its allies as ‘extremist’ and ‘terrorist’, became the potential leaders of Palestine! The Oslo spin doctors had to go into overdrive in order for them to thwart Palestinian democracy and ensure a successful return to the status quo, even if this meant that Palestine is represented by unelected, undemocratic leaders. Sadly, this has been the case for nearly 15 years.

Meanwhile, Hamas’ stronghold, the Gaza Strip, had to be taught a lesson, thus the siege imposed on the impoverished region for nearly 15 years. The siege on Gaza has little to do with Hamas’ rockets or Israel’s ‘security’ needs, the right to ‘defend itself’, and its supposedly ‘justifiable’ desire to destroy Gaza’s ‘terrorist infrastructure’. While, indeed, Hamas’ popularity in Gaza is unmatched anywhere else in Palestine, Fatah, too, has a powerful constituency there. Moreover, the Palestinian resistance in the Strip is not championed by Hamas alone, but also by other ideological and political groups, for example, the Islamic Jihad, the socialist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and other socialist and secular groups.

Misrepresenting the ‘conflict’ as a ‘war’ between Israel and Hamas is crucial to Israeli propaganda, which has succeeded in equating Hamas with militant groups throughout the Middle East and even Afghanistan. But Hamas is not ISIS, Al-Qaeda or Taliban. In fact, none of these groups are similar, anyway. Hamas is a Palestinian Islamic nationalist movement that operates within a largely Palestinian political context. An excellent book on Hamas is the recently published volume by Daud Abdullah, Engaging the World. Abdullah’s book rightly presents Hamas as a rational political actor, rooted in its ideological convictions, yet flexible and pragmatic in its ability to adapt to national, regional and international geopolitical changes.

But what does Israel have to gain from mischaracterizing the Palestinian resistance in Gaza? Aside from satisfying its propaganda campaign of erroneously linking Hamas to other anti-American groups, it also dehumanizes the Palestinian people entirely and presents Israel as a partner in the American global so-called ‘war on terror’. Israeli neofascist and ultranationalist politicians then become the saviors of humanity, their violent racist language is forgiven and their active ‘genocide’ is seen as an act of ‘self-defense’ or, at best, a mere state of ‘conflict’.

The Oppressor as the Victim

According to the strange logic of mainstream media, Palestinians are rarely ‘killed’ by Israeli soldiers, but rather ‘die’ in ‘clashes’ resulting from various ‘disputes. Israel does not ‘colonize’ Palestinian land; it merely ‘annexes’, ‘appropriates’, and ‘captures’, and so on. What has been taking place in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem, for example, is not outright property theft, leading to ethnic cleansing, but rather a ‘property dispute’.

The list goes on and on.

In truth, language has always been a part of Zionist colonialism, long before the state of Israel was itself constructed from the ruins of Palestinian homes and villages in 1948. Palestine, according to the Zionists, was ‘a land with no people’ for ‘a people with no land’. These colonists were never ‘illegal settlers’ but ‘Jewish returnees’ to their ‘ancestral homeland’, who, through hard work and perseverance, managed to ‘make the desert bloom’, and, in order to defend themselves against the ‘hordes of Arabs’, they needed to build an ‘invincible army’.

It will not be easy to deconstruct the seemingly endless edifice of lies, half-truths and intentional misrepresentations of Zionist Israeli colonialism in Palestine. Yet, there can be no alternative to this feat because, without proper, accurate and courageous understanding and depiction of Israeli settler colonialism and Palestinian resistance to it, Israel will continue to oppress Palestinians while presenting itself as the victim.

The post On “Conflict”, “Peace” and “Genocide”: Time for New Language on Palestine and Israel first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Try as You May to Deny, but Evil is in Our DNA

What’s gotten in the way of education in the United States is a theory of social engineering that says there is ONE RIGHT WAY to proceed with growing up.
― John Taylor Gatto, Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling

Exploring Coffee's Past To Rescue Its Future : The Salt : NPR

We used to research the cup of coffee. School. Mostly community colleges, but at two universities — UT-El Paso and Gonzaga. A lot of evening classes I taught. Even on military compounds, and in prisons, and in the bowels of twin plants in Juarez.

In the old days, sleeves rolled up, adults and young people in classrooms, computers, paper and white boards at our ready, would get comfortable and uncomfortable. It was not an easy class, those Composition 101 and 102 mandatory (sometimes ONLY) writing classes for college students (I am so for mandatory 12 classes on writing, thinking, media, rhetoric, propaganda, etc.). Food and drinks, music during essay writing, and face to face consternation and confrontation. Cooperation.

That cup of coffee from the earliest look at where that bean came from originally intrigued the students. Who would have known (we talked about the Colombian exchange, the Doctrine of Discovery, food, animals, other things that came to the Imperialists). Think of the spice islands on steroids:

The original domesticated coffee plant is said to have been from Harar, and the native population is thought to be derived from Ethiopia with distinct nearby populations in Sudan and Kenya. Coffee was primarily consumed in the Islamic world where it originated and was directly related to religious practices.

Fun stuff, this sort of research and writing, and deep dive. We turned these assignments into poetry, poster illustrations, research papers on the diseases of coffee, on the power of coffee like so many thousands of other foods and products, crossing oceans. Many a product of empire and racism, and the coffee paper also turned into “Is There Slavery in Your Chocolate?” essays.

In recent years, a handful of organizations and journalists have exposed the widespread use of child labor, and in some cases slavery, on cocoa farms in Western Africa. Since then, the industry has become increasingly secretive, making it difficult for reporters to not only access farms where human rights violations still occur, but to then disseminate this information to the public. In 2004, the Ivorian First Lady’s entourage allegedly kidnapped and killed a journalist reporting on government corruption in its profitable cocoa industry. In 2010, Ivorian government authorities detained three newspaper journalists after they published an article exposing government corruption in the cocoa sector. The farms of Western Africa supply cocoa to international giants such as Hershey’s, Mars, and Nestlé—revealing the industry’s direct connection to the worst forms of child labor, human trafficking, and slavery. (Source)

Hear no Evil, See no Evil, Speak no Evil by Gavin Mayhew
Your Chocolate Pleasure Supports Child Slavery - YouTube

So much has happened since I first hit the streets as a newspaper journalist in 1977, and so much has changed since I started teaching college classes in research writing and writing and journalism (1983). The “see, speak, hear no evil” paradigm is the destiny of capitalists. It is the way of who we are every waking nanosecond of our lives. Boycott Divest Sanction my ass. This is where I also pretzel myself into contradiction after contradiction. I should be on an island, or just on 20 acres I have near Mount Adams. Eating mushrooms and stitching moss and bark clothing.

Do ostriches really bury their head in the sand? - BBC Science Focus  Magazine

Capitalism is the cancer, virus, prion, the tapeworm, the carrot and the stick. It is the blood sucker of all concepts. Slavery is Capitalism. We talked about this, in so many ways, not always me railing overtly with my anti-Capitalist thesis. I would bring to class small business owners, restaurant owners, ex-military, nonprofit directors, friends who were homeless, living in garages, artists, and dissidents of many kinds. Another thing that is DEAD in the water.

Now, you have to get people vetted and approved to come to a classroom. This is the sickness of our lefty culture. The rightwing has already played this card, too. “Why the hell are you bringing a person from Planned Parenthood to your class? Illegal. Stop. I’m calling the president.”

U.S. Coffee Facts Infographic by Kellen Lester, via Behance This infographic touches coffee consumption stat… | Coffee facts, Coffee facts infographic, Coffee uses

That coffee, now, looking at a cup, the ecological footprint, the energy used to get a cup of coffee to say, my Spokane students. Because Spokane loves its coffee. The amount of water used to grow a cup of coffee. We’d look at the coffee in Central America, or Colombia. Where that plant is grown. What was bulldozed to bring that plantation there. Who works the finca? Which indigenous group of non-Spanish speakers in Guatemala work these plantation, tends the bushes, picks and dries the cherries. Species lost, pesticides used. Water diverted. And, food crops denied.

Again, young and older adults, blown away in my classes, since I was teaching them to look deeper at any number of topics, and develop critical thinking and discourse skills, in whatever watered down version I’d get with many students who were coming to college ill-prepared to really write “essays.” Variations on a theme. Just the cup of liquid, first grown and processed in poor countries, takes about 38 gallons of water to grow.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is It-takes-37-gallons-of-water-to-produce-one-cup-of-coffee.jpg

We’d try and research more and more on the life-cycle of a ceramic cup or Starbucks thermos, and the life cycle and life span of a coffee maker. Embedded energy, waste, mining, slave warehouses, metals, all that fossil fuel to move those metals, cook them, mill them, ship them around the world. Sure, we could look at at sack of dried but not roasted coffee cherries coming from the Guatemala Highlands, and then where it gets shipped by boat, and then moved by truck, and then the actual cleaning and roasting of the coffee. Packaging, and then, that journey is crossing back and forth, over land, in the air, over seas.

The assignment blows many students’ minds, as it should. In the classroom, and I’d bring in a coffee person, with coffee and snacks, and she’d talk about farms in Mexico and Africa she’s visited. Talk about the flavor, the various types of coffees.

We’d look at Fair Trade, Beyond Fair Trade, Shade Grown and the like. Socially responsible coffee. I’d talk about how Vietnam — where I had gone and worked — was cutting more and more forests down to grow coffee. Coffee pests and diseases, and soil enhancements with fertilizers. The entire life cycle analysis of as many things we could extract from the coffee history and production, well, it blows students’ minds, and it only works in person. Don’t fool yourself with the fucking mouse, keyboard and Zoom camera/mic.

We need to talk about the environmental and human and ecological costs of plantation, mountain-razing coffee:

2.2 A Bitter Brew- Coffee Production, Deforestation, Soil Erosion and Water Contamination | Environmental Biology

This pathetic Zoom and remote learning (sic) formula is the deadening of the brain. Recall, Americans already have three quarters of their brains (or more) colonized by lies, propaganda, hate, myth, plain stupidity, largely from terrible K12 (prison with smiling teachers) and all the marketing, and a government whose job is to fleece the masses for the company men, and fleecing includes culling thinking and deep analysis.

All this work, for coffee? Nope, because the students then do some of their own research on any manner of things. Cause and effect, solutions, pro-con, classification, expository, digital rhetoric, and deeper position papers. Research, and while we share sources and do all sorts of things at home, in groups, the big thing is getting the classroom energized, talking, arguing. Debate every minute. We even meet out of class in a, well, coffee shop, and coffee roaster.

Thinking about origins and perspectives. This is a full-time job as an instructor, in the class with all sorts of human beings there taking in and reacting to the work, the talks, the learning and the discourse. This Zoom shit is the death of humanity as I knew it. Radical Pedagogy, 2003 article!

Why Online Education Can Never Replace the Real Thing 1

Always with food, something in the class, mostly evening classes.

In 1960, the University of Missouri published a short “Guide for Television Teachers.” Across the country, over 100 different colleges offered nearly 500 televised courses to a half a million students. So professors needed pointers about the best way to teach in this burgeoning new medium.

“Relax,” the Missouri guide underlined. “Try to be yourself.” Male professors should wear “conservative” ties, the guide added, while women should avoid necklines or hemlines that might “cause discomfort or embarrassment” if they leaned over a counter or sat in a low chair. Once they were properly attired, they could loosen up and let their real character shine through. “Remember that the TV camera projects your natural personality best,” the guide urged, “and the more relaxed and natural that you are, the better you will reach your viewers.”

Slavery: The Original Bitter In Your Chocolate | Chocolate Class

Who are these children forced to work the cocoa plantations of the Ivory Coast?

Ask more of your chocolate – Alter Eco

Shit, those were the days. And here I am, suffering at age 64. I am feeling the burn, the beat-down burn, of more and more people around me stupid, mean, see-speak-hear not evil when it comes to this fucked up Empire, This War Machine. Those were the good old days? Is that my new mindset and refrain?

See no evil, Hear no evil, Speak no evil by Simulacrumble on DeviantArt

It is the contradiction to be an American totally — North American, Canadian or citizen of the USA. Every waking and sleeping minute we are covering the world in blood, exploitation, penury, death. Pain and misery is the way of the land. The hollow media, the celebrities in music and film, oh even more viral than the politicians. They are the elite, or the elite’s house boys or house girls.

“So what can we do but go with the flow? Just let it go. They have all the power, so just live your life as best you can. It’s not that bad. If we don’t bomb the world, steal the minerals, colonize space with weapons, then someone else will. What about China, Russia? I want a family, a job, and just a chance to live on weekends and kayak and smell the moose dung.”

I am down — really depressed — because of what that cup of coffee assignment represents: I am old. I am no good as a teacher because it is a digital and PC and cancel culture study body. I am down because most of the people I would have worked with years ago on political issues, as artists, well, they are either dead, or brains deadened by the struggle and the losing. I am depressed because that cup of coffee assignment is not lauded. The entire Western Civilization or Western Culture is in various forms of mental illness. That illness grouping includes a million wrong ways to medicate or mediate the illnesses of the minds.

Mental health: 'Spike in self-harm, suicide ideation amid Covid-19  pandemic' - Times of India

I am not that, but I am alone, it seems. Now, the coffee, and where it comes from. Do I invest in Folgers Coffee (a division of J.M Smucker Company)? This is what’s depressing me now — my spouse and I are moving some money saved into some investments. Now I have to decide how to put some of it away, or as they say, to invest it. Because there are no interest rates, the average person can’t go to a state bank or any institution and put money into a municipal bond to do some good for society and make a few percentage points above zero. What’s wrong with 4 percent or 5 percent interest? That is the crime, zero or negative interest rates. Criminal. Imagine, there is not one thing on planet Earth, planet Wall Street, planet Retirement Fund which is not heavily tainted with DDDD: death, disease, destruction and destitution. We have been relooking at Socially Responsible Mutual Funds, or ESG’s, and the picture was never pretty:

ESG Ratings: How can a business' environmental and social impact be measured?

Oh, you can say, “Broker, find me a fund that isn’t into war, weapons, mining, prisons, guns, germs, exploitation, banks, insurance companies.” It is virtually impossible. You might not want Walmart stock in the mutual fund, but then Amazon and Facebook and Kraft Foods might be in it. Microsoft, Boeing. Any amount of honor or commitment to NOT engaging in investing that gives money to the murderers, the exploiters, the ocean-soil-jungle-forest-wetland-river killers, it is all lost because they all are wrapped up into one big fat thievery corporation — BlackRock and Blackstone and the top 100 banks, hedge funds, and so many other “if-you-can-make-6-or-12-percent-on-yearly-return” investment products are so embedded in the master slavers in Fortune 1000 circles, and even within the 10,000 largest corporations.

Housing Is A Human Right Stephen Schwarzman Proposition 21 Blackstone

[Modern-Day Robber Baron: The Sins of Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman]

The system is rigged for brokers to use brokerage houses, big ones, and those fees — buy, sell, trade, manage — more money and profits made for NOT producing one potato or bicycle. Yet, MBAs and the others in this crew believe that they don’t want their precious children to work the slave fields of Ivory Coast, or to be soccer ball stitchers, or to be at the wrong end of a toxic waste discharge hose. But invest in Hershey’s, or Nike, or Smithfield, well, out of sight, out of mind. Yep, they would not want their precious families bombed with the amazing number of components tied to an amazing number of businesses wrapped up in one missile. Screws, wires, capacitors, metal shrouding, telemetry, paint, seals, nuts and bolts, precision metal parts, tubes and coils and electronic guidance systems and batteries and, well, you get the picture. But goddamn, you can make bank on investing in defense (sic) companies because there is an endless demand by governments to have that shit in stock. We the taxpayer pay for those Hellfire’s:

Lockheed Martin, Boeing (previous second source), and Northrop Grumman (seeker only for AGM-114L Longbow Hellfire) Unit cost US$150,000 (FY 2021)!

The Military-Industrial Complex | Hoover Institution

It’s much more than just those three companies making bank for these missiles. There is an entire contingent (armies) of companies and service economies tied to this murder weapon:

AGM-114 Hellfire II Missile, United States of America

Pretty simple looking murder weapon: those companies making tons of money, and the death makes more money for them, in resupplying.

3d hellfire ii missle missile model

In the past, I have studied mutual funds I have invested in, to squirrel away some savings, and the picture is pretty ugly. There are no SRI’s that are nothing more than just market washing. Socially Responsible Investing, NOT:

21 Best Mutual Funds for Investment in 2021-22

Top Holdings — Axis Bluechip

Company Sector P/E 3Y High 3Y Low % Assets
up Infosys Technology 29.50 10.06 1.48 9.36
equal Bajaj Finance Financial 76.34 10.38 4.36 8.98
up HDFC Bank Financial 24.82 10.94 6.06 8.97
up Tata Consultancy Services Technology 34.90 9.05 2.30 7.32
up Kotak Mahindra Bank Financial 33.90 9.46 4.74 7.12
up ICICI Bank Financial 23.28 8.05 0.00 7.07
up Avenue Supermarts Services 178.26 7.41 2.45 5.55
equal HDFC Financial 23.54 6.82 1.28 5.01
up Reliance Industries Energy 27.33 8.33 0.89 4.30
up Divi’s Laboratories Healthcare 57.37 3.15 0.00 3.15
equal Hindustan Unilever FMCG 68.89 5.27 1.49 2.58
up Ultratech Cement Construction 34.72 2.36 0.00 2.24
up Asian Paints Chemicals 85.41 4.24 1.32 2.17
equal Nestle India FMCG 77.15 4.59 0.00 2.14
up Motherson Sumi Systems Automobile 147.57 2.08 0.00 2.08
down Maruti Suzuki India Automobile 46.37 5.83 0.00 1.89
equal Pidilite Industries Chemicals 86.93 2.55 0.60 1.82
up Bharti Airtel Communication 5.50 0.00 1.79
equal Cipla Healthcare 31.01 2.36 0.00 1.62
up Wipro Technology 25.80 1.83 0.00 1.55
down Shree Cement Construction 49.08 1.59 0.00 1.32
new Tata Steel Metals 17.76 1.21 0.00 1.21
equal Titan Company Cons Durable 139.72 3.45 0.78 0.98
equal Dr. Reddy’s Lab Healthcare 44.62 3.21 0.00 0.94
equal HDFC Life Insurance Financial 99.18 1.82 0.00 0.89

This is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Fund holdings, in general:

The Gates Foundation's Hypocritical Investments – Mother Jones

Top Warren Buffett Stocks By Size

Here are the top 10 Warren Buffett stocks by number of shares, as of March 31:

  • Bank of America (BAC), 1.01 billion
  • Apple (AAPL), 887.1 million
  • Coca-Cola (KO), 400 million
  • Kraft Heinz (KHC), 325.6 million
  • Verizon (VZ), 158.8 million
  • American Express (AXP), 151.6 million
  • U.S. Bancorp (USB), 129.7 million
  • Bank of New York Mellon (BK), 72.4 million
  • General Motors (GM), 67 million
  • Kroger (KR), 51.1 million

Look at what Warren Buffett owns as part of Berkshire Hathaway. Products — Diversified investments, property and casualty insurance, Utilities, Restaurants, Food processing, Aerospace, Media, Toys, Automotive, Sporting goods, Consumer products, Internet, Real estate, Railroad

How Does the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Invest Its Money?

So the average Joe and Jane, if they get a mutual fund or two for some long-term investment, this is the reality — you might be a social justice warrior, an anti-racist campaigner, an anti-war proponent, an environmentalist, community crusader, a socialist, an anti-capitalist, but if you stick your toe just a bit into the pond for minimal investments, just to protect a few thousand dollars here and there, this is what you get — money into the pockets of madmen: school to prison pipeline experts, war lords, surveillance capitalists, drug pushers, bad loan chieftains, medical fraudsters, real estate thugs, polluters, mountaintop removers, river toxifiers, land thieves, propaganda priests.

I am so serious about this now — where does the money go, and which company is being supported by stockholders shoveling money into their companies? Look at the union busters, at the price gougers, at the political lobbying arms, all these giant corporations and their networks of bunkos!

You can turn blue in the face decrying Monsanto (Bayer) for its pesticide poisons or Exxon for climate change propaganda or Sackler/Purdue Pharmacy for opioid addictions, but if you have a mutual fund, there is a chance that somehow those companies are entwined somewhere in the formula of a “strong mutual fund.”

The corporate giants are also demanding that Congress allow the repatriation of about $2.5 trillion stashed abroad without paying more than 5% tax. They say the money would be used to grow the economy and create jobs. Last time CEOs promised this result in 2004, Congress approved, and then was double-crossed. The companies spent the bulk on stock buybacks, their own pay raises and some dividend increases.

There are more shenanigans. With low interest rates that are deductible, companies actually borrow money to finance their stock buybacks. If the stock market tanks, these companies will have a self-created debt load to handle. A former Citigroup executive, Richard Parsons, has expressed worry about a “massively manipulated” stock market which “scares the crap” out of him.

Banks that pay you near zero interest on your savings announced on June 28, 2017 the biggest single buyback in history – a $92.8 billion extraction. Drug companies who say their sky-high drug prices are needed to fund R&D. But between 2006 and 2017, 18 drug company CEOs spent a combined staggering $516 billion on buybacks and dividends – more than their inflated claims of spending for R&D. — Nader

We all are sinners in capitalism — just paying our tax bill: death and destruction raining down on Palestinians, for example:

“Seven deadly sins: Wealth without work, Pleasure without conscience, Science without humanity, Knowledge without character, Politics without principle, Commerce without morality, Worship without sacrifice.” – Mahatma Gandhi

America's Last Snake-handling Cults

Oh, we all think we have found the formula for living in this insane and murderous country. Oh, we have to put nose to the grindstone. Follow the leaders. Get the jab. Do as you are told. You home is not your castle. There are no 40 acres and a mule. No handouts. Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. Pinch your nose, cover your eyes, plug your ears, muffle your mouth!

What is capitalism for dummies, currency rate of exchange in mexico

So, you end up throwing in the towel — no purity test, no selective boycotting of this or that product or service. No true anti-Imperialist leaning, when tax filing time comes. Nothing free in this un-Democratic land of thieves, murderers and thugs. Almost every step you take in America is full of landmines, cow pies, toxic puddles and electrified fences. The horizon is one theater of the absurd after another. The amount of nonsense and self-congratulatory verbiage from all manner of people who think they are enlightened or vaunted or above the dirty, scab-sucking, ripoff fray of capitalism, well, that is the self-delusion, the big lie.

You have a military industrial complex : LateStageCapitalism

So, the role of k12, and of higher education? One of the key foundations for a society — good education, robust, and deep learning, deep thinking, and systems thinking growing. Under capitalism and consumerism and conformist ideology that is US of Amnesia, there are so many broken things about face to face education, and I have written tons on this. Taking it to Zoom, to televised classes, remote learning, well, all the bad gets funneled into this new normal-abnormal.

In addition to education, colleges and universities provide indoctrination in the values and shared beliefs that our society deems important. These commonly shared values and tenets must be instilled, importantly beginning in grade school and before (the Jesuit boast, variously stated, is “Give me the first seven years and you can have all the rest”), and continued and reinforced through high school and college.

It is at the university where young men and women of indoctrinated conviction are most typically apt and able to respond to what is going on in the world around them, perhaps even take to the streets. Indoctrination can be overt or subtle. — George Heitmann

Allentown's Muhlenberg College allowed a limited number of students to live on campus this fall semester.

The post Try as You May to Deny, but Evil is in Our DNA first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Mike Pezzullo and Giving War a Chance

Those madly titillated by conflict have become bolder of late in the corridors of the isolated Australian capital.  In such spaces, insanity can be nurtured with a sickening attention to detail, much of it fictitious.  One of the most powerful bureaucrats of the Australian Public Service has made a contribution to a war dance he regards as virtually unavoidable.  Mike Pezzullo, Home Affairs Secretary, is keen to shed some blood in combating the China Menace if needed.

The outcome of this wish is always vicarious: others die so that bureaucrats may shuffle papers, consult minutes and scoff the scotch.  This is then justified on the basis that sacrifices are necessary to defend that indefinable property called freedom.

The Secretary’s ANZAC Day message to his staff was stocked with the usual rhetorical trinkets of the barely closeted warmonger.  “Today, as free nations again hear the beating drums and watch worryingly the militarisation of issues that we had, until recent years, thought unlikely to be catalysts for war, let us continue to search unceasingly for the chance for peace while bracing again, yet again, for the curse of war”.

War is never caused by these “free nations”; it is provoked by those nasty unfree ones who go around stirring trouble.  Resorting to war “might well be folly, but the greater folly is to wish away the curse by refusing to give it thought and attention, as if in so doing, war might leave us be, forgetting us perhaps.”

In wishing to summon the dogs of war, Pezzullo drew upon a person who was, for all his faults, a formidable general who knew a thing or two about combat.  US Army General Douglas MacArthur, in his address to the West Point Military academy in 1962, explained to cadets that “their mission was to train to fight and, when called upon, to win their nation’s wars – all is entrusted to others”.  One imagines Pezzullo, flushed with pride in using lines best reserved for a military veteran rather than a fantasising civilian.

The bureaucrat’s poor use of history was much in evidence.  Having pinched from MacArthur, he duly did the same to US President Dwight D. Eisenhower who, in 1953, “rallied his fellow Americans to the danger posed by the amassing of Soviet military power, and the new risks of military aggression”.  (He forgets that the same president also warned of the paranoia and dangers associated with the Military-Industrial complex.)  Eisenhower was a good egg, having taken to instilling in “free nations the conviction that as long as there persists tyranny’s threat to freedom they must remain armed, strong and ready for war, even as they lament the course of war.”  The blood-readied formula for Pezzullo: “In a world of perpetual tension and dread, the drums of war beat – sometimes faintly and distantly, and at other times more loudly and ever closer.”

When MacArthur found himself relieved by US President Harry S. Truman, a statement of priorities was made.  The General had been keen to expand the Korean conflict with the use of atomic weaponry, there being no credible substitute for victory.  In fairness to him, Truman had also given him ideas, wishing to threaten the potential use of atomic-capable B-29s should the need arise.  MacArthur saw that need, claiming that 30 to 50 tactical atomic bombs would have done the trick; Truman did not, preferring the bluff.  Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison might do well to consider a similar option regarding Pezzullo, who is making his far from negligible contribution to incitement.

In the context of Australian history, few military engagements have been necessary for existentially sound reasons.  There have been no marauding armies of Huns, Mongols or Tartars to threaten the country, laying waste to villages and towns, and initiating hearty pogroms.  (The same cannot be said for the Indigenous populace, doomed the moment European settlement became a sanguinary reality of massacre, disease and dispossession.)

A pity it is that a more mature constellation of thinkers have not impressed themselves in the field of Australian strategic thinking.  Instead, Australian soldiers have been fighting and dying in a range of operations in profound ignorance of their geography and history.  These recruits supply the needless cannon fodder for empires not their own, placating the officialdom of foreign capitals.

The Australia-China policy, and the insistence on placing Australia on the warpath, is a suicidal wish linked to Washington and based on an alliance that is dangerously unconditional and misplaced.  Unfortunately for Australia’s military and defence establishment, all such alliances, however friendly, remain putatively conditional.  Matters of strategy, resources, and realities, will intrude.

The fall of Singapore to the forces of Imperial Japan in February 1942 was one such jarring reality.  The guarantees of security made by Britain to Australia, assumed since the late eighteenth century, were shredded by a stunningly bold campaign waged by soldiers who had been woefully underestimated.  British naval power was blunted as Japanese prowess grew.  The reassurances of the Empire were dashed by surrender.  “This was a quintessential failure of an alliance,” wrote academic strategist Hugh White in 2017, “and of a strategic policy based on alliances.”

White, far more sensible than Pezzullo on this score, speaks of the Singapore disaster as a telling lesson for Australian strategists.  It was a failure that revealed “an inability to recognise and accept fundamental shifts in the distribution of wealth and power which were transforming both the globe and the regional strategic orders, and undercutting Britain’s place in them.”

The parallels with the US are all too clear.  From 1996 to the mid-2000s, bipartisan politics seemed to accept that Australian security could well be left in the broad, clasping hands of Washington.  But be wary of the shifting patterns of power, warns White, for “America is weaker economically, diplomatically and military than it has been since World War Two, and yet we rely on it more.”

Another factor also lubricates such slavish refusals to accept the changed order of things.  Ignorance is the less than golden raw material that precedes misconceptions.  In time, these misconceptions become policy platforms.  The Australian Public Service (APS) is sorely lacking in much expertise that might sharpen a coherent focus towards the Indo-Pacific.  In 2019, an “independent review” of the APS characteristically tooted that, “The ongoing shift in global economic weight to Asia presents tremendous opportunities for Australia, along with risks and significant challenges.”

Tritely, the review, titled Public Service Our Future, notes that the APS needed to “deepen its experience in, and knowledge of, Asia.”  Those behind making policy required “a more sophisticated understanding of the region, as well as Asian language proficiency.”

For almost a decade now, there has been much chatter about needing to beef up the stock of knowledge of that most complex of continents.  The 2012 Asian Century White Paper was almost banal in stating that Australia was essentially flying blind in the region; there was a pressing need to “broaden and deepen our understanding of Asian cultures and language, to become more Asia literate.”  But the APS review found something quite different: “Coordinated and sustained action to deepen Asia-relevant capabilities was not taken then, and it remains a skills gap across the APS.”  Pezzullo’s barking remarks suggest that illiteracy regarding Asia has become intellectually fashionable and monumentally dangerous.

The post Mike Pezzullo and Giving War a Chance first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Milquetoast for all Three Meals: All’s Dumb in the United States of A

The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them.
— aphorism

There is dumb-downing, cancel culture (I’ve been cancelled since beginning in 1972 in high school, way before the trendy terminology), forced consent, manufactured bifurcation,  false balance, triangulation, perception as reality, equivocation, a host of propaganda techniques unleashed by Edward Bernays and Goebbels,  and the ugly quartet of  Infantilization-McDonaldization–Walmartization-Disneyfication:

George Ritzer introduced the concept of McDonaldization with his 1993 book, The McDonaldization of Society. Since that time the concept has become central within the field of sociology and especially within the sociology of globalization.

According to Ritzer, the McDonaldization of society is a phenomenon that occurs when society, its institutions, and its organizations are adapted to have the same characteristics that are found in fast-food chains. These include efficiency, calculability, predictability and standardization, and control.

Ritzer’s theory of McDonaldization is an update on classical sociologist Max Weber’s theory of how scientific rationality produced bureaucracy, which became the central organizing force of modern societies through much of the twentieth century. According to Weber, the modern bureaucracy was defined by hierarchical roles, compartmentalized knowledge and roles, a perceived merit-based system of employment and advancement, and the legal-rationality authority of the rule of law. These characteristics could be observed (and still can be) throughout many aspects of societies around the world. — Source 

Understanding the Phenomenon of McDonaldization

Now, we know infantilization was once applied just to young people, teenagers and such, giving them the one-two punch of treating them as if they have the mental capacity of a four-year or six-year old (now, the nanny-state, and the SARS-CoV2 paranoia and ignorance, making youth think a virus leaps from the ground outside while running in track by themselves will give them the DARPA virus — even DARPA isn’t that good, hail to virologist bomb makers at Fort Detrick and Plum Island). Underestimating the potential of 16-year-olds to understand “our” adult world, or the complexities of society. You know, give a 16-year-old the right to vote since it is that group most affected by the bad bad brew of politics and electioneering that will effect them the most and longest. Nope. That concept of infant-making of the American mind, of course, has been scaled up to an entire society fed on pabulum, cultivated through mass media that are geared to childish concepts of consumerism, fear, patriotism, and celebrity culture and bowing to the rich and famous.

Patronizing might be just one aspect of infantilization, but believe you me, I have been in many arenas — social work, education (higher and K12), environmentalism, union organizing, politics, journalism, the arts (literary, photography), urban planning …  and then in so many workplaces as an organizer and social services specialist. I’ve seen some dumbdowning and infatalizing and agnotology from supposed brightest and best coming out of elite Ivy Leadure schools. What has happened in the USA is one broad infantilization and massive Collective Stockholm Syndrome. It took 50 years, or 60.

Walmartization is pretty simple and deadly — Large chain stores moving (bulldozing) into a region (neighborhoods) which then not only devastate local businesses driving and then displacing those workers into low paying chain store jobs, but the money made by these national and multinational chains  leaves the community. It could be a bank chain, or hardware chain. That Home Depot is moving profits to shareholders, to the huge monster at the head of the huge serpent that kills local enterprise, local community support. Community of place is replaced by the transnational community of purpose — that purpose being profits anyway possible, and cutting labor costs, benefits, health and safety. Hell, get those workers on state Obama Care, food stamps, and the leftover public assistance. If you work at Amazon, what’s so wrong with three workers living in a beat up RV?  That Walmartization is about economies of scale, eating the soul of small manufacturers, small retail businesses, mom and pop’s, and, alas, the money leaves the community and goes to the highly paid family owners or company roughriders — the Cabal of millionaires, multimillionaires, hedge funds, and billionaires that are to put it kindly, bloodsuckers, and viruses.

NYC Educator: The Walmartization of Education

Disneyfication is a sophisticated intended and unintended set of processes that basically strips a real place (built environment, nature, etc.) or thing of its original character. That is the strip-mall which has boom and busted, and the great 200 acre malls, or the same 7-11 in a million places, as well as those Starbucks shit stores placed everywhere including the bathrooms. It is both a sanitization of real life, of real character, of real communities. Again, anything negative — like telling the real history of this Indian-killing, slave-owning/killing, union-busting/killing, global terror cop propagating country (sic) —  is removed, hidden, and then, here we are, with facts that are dumbed down with the psychological and marketing intention of rendering any negative, truthful, hurtful subject more pleasant and easily grasped. Replacing the real bar, the real bookstore, the real coffee shop, the real bodega, the real restaurant, the real park, the real playground, the real forest, the real wetlands, the real swamp, the real everglades, the real farm, with something either idealized … or giving something tourist-friendly veneer. There is a fake “Main Street, U.S.A.” everywhere,  and then the ugly side of what makes Milquetoast (but globally deadly) United States of Amerigo Vespucci a dying, wasteful, broken, rotting country.

The Disneyfication of Edinburgh – Bella Caledonia

Now, below will be a short Opinion piece I penned quickly to help my county to realize we have yet another deficit — lack of a literacy initiative, literacy center, literacy professionals and volunteers to help people learn how to read, learn how to decipher children’s schools’ labyrinthine rules and guidelines. To participate in this 21st century, or the Century before this one and the one before that one: learning how to read, and to critically evaluate all the snake oil labels, all the scams, all the hidden fees-tolls-poles-fines-add-ons, to call spade a spade when PayDay comes to town, or when red-lining rules the roost, or when complete and total neighborhoods are fleeced financially, culturally and environmentally.

1963,1966: Campaigns to Repeal Texas Poll Taxes | South Texas Rabble Rousers History Project

Literacy — And I have been at that game since, well, since my first year of college, University of Arizona. I’ve taught in prisons where lack of literacy is one big reason for many being locked away. I ran a communications program at a large military base (Fort Bliss, El Paso) where privates all the way to five or six striper NCOs had reading grade levels of 4 or 5 or 6. That’s fourth, fifth and sixth grade (if they were lucky).

I’ve written about this before — cartoon instructional manuals (usually with a buxom blonde white woman as the instructor in series after series cartoon strips) bending over to show how to arm a Stinger missile or how to use a Vulcan machine missile gun.

The U.S. Army Had an M-16 Comic Book | by War Is Boring | War Is Boring | Medium

If reading isn’t important, than, I suppose every single law drawn up by ALEC and every single omnibus bill, every war lord’s thousand-page contract for this or that bound-to-be-triple-cost overrun killing systems, whether in the air, on the water, underwater, on land, in space, over the web, inside telephones and computers, or inside a bacteria or virus just is not that important.

To the point where 9 or 11 trillion dollars is missing from DoD, and how many trillions have been shelled out to war lords, bankers, virus mercenaries, poverty profiteers?

That I have to work on getting one person into a volunteer-run literacy program as if I am writing the new laws or formulating something unique is troubling (read my Op-Ed piece below).

Functional or complete illiteracy. Remember Jonathan Kozol:

Kozol believes that liberal education in our inner-city schools has been increasingly replaced by “culturally barren and robotic methods of instruction that would be rejected out of hand by schools that serve the mainstream of society.”

Oh baby, did I have Kozol on speed dial in the college classes I taught —

  • Kozol, Jonathan. Death at an Early Age: The Destruction of the Hearts and Minds of Negro Children in the Boston Public Schools. Houghton, 1967, revised edition, New American Library, 1985.
  • Kozol, Jonathan. Illiterate America. Anchor/Doubleday, 1985.
  • Kozol, Jonathan. On Being a Teacher. Continuum, 1981.
  • Kozol, Jonathan. Ordinary Resurrections: Children in the Years of Hope. Crown, 2000.
  • Kozol, Jonathan. Savage Inequalities: Children in America’s Schools. Crown, 1991.
  • Kozol, Jonathan. Shame of the Nation: The restoration of apartheid schooling in America. Crown, 2005.

This is what Studs Terkel said about Kozol’s Illiterate America — “Stunning… with passion and eloquence Kozol reveals a devastating truth… and offers a challenge and remedy.”  Source

If it is any comfort to this man, he should know that he is not alone. Twenty-five million American adults cannot read the poison warnings on a can of pesticide, a letter from their child’s teacher, or the front page of a daily paper. An additional 35 million read only at a level which is less than equal to the full survival needs of our society.

Together, these 60 million people represent more than one third of the entire adult population.

The largest numbers of illiterate adults are white, native-born Americans. In proportion to population, however, the figures are higher for blacks and Hispanics than for whites. Sixteen percent of white adults, 44 percent of blacks, and 56% of Hispanic citizens are functional or marginal illiterates. Figures for the younger generation of black adults are increasing. Forty-seven percent of all black seventeen-year-olds are functionally illiterate. That figure is expected to climb to 50 percent by 1990. — Kozol, Illiterate America

Now, that was from a book Kozol wrote 36 years ago. THIRTY-SIX. Those numbers above pale in comparison to this year’s averages. Since we have 335 million in this country, and alas, functional illiteracy is at an all-time high, a larger percentage of people are duped, fooled, cheated, imprisoned, bankrupted, scammed, and structurally murdered because they can’t read or can’t understand what they are reading. Make that 80 percent of people reading the car-seat instructions for their loved one’s safety, in fact, install the car seat INCORRECTLY after reading a 7th grade level set of simple instructions.

Image below: Jonathan Kozol a long time ago teaching reading

Why do I use milquetoast in the title? Here, Kozol, telling it like it is about Dumb Downed USA, with Sleepy Joe — “Joe Biden’s shameful record on school segregation

Advocates for children and civil rights who have not yet given up entirely on the struggle to break down the walls of racial isolation in our public schools may want to take a good hard look at Joe Biden’s shameful record on school segregation. Despite his recent effort to allay concerns about that record, it cannot be expunged or easily forgiven.

In an education-policy proposal released by his campaign on May 28, Biden briefly spoke of encouraging diversity by giving grants and guidance to districts that are willing to pursue it. But he said nothing to disown his long history as a fierce opponent of school busing and a scathing critic of the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education.

Former Vice President Joe Biden

Milquetoast to all the idiots who fight me tooth and nail when I explicitly state I never have or never will vote for a democrat or republican for president. That a two-minute scribble exercise called voting does absolutely ZERO for me, and for the causes I fight for, including a literacy center in every rural, suburban, urban community.

Illiteracy is bad all around, but oh is it sweet to the bankers, real estate folk, the doctors, lawyers, accountants, IRS, military, marketers, flimflam folk that rule this country …  as you will read in the short piece I did for the small twice a week rag, Newport News TimesBut what makes this country a house of horrors and run by corporate and war lord whores, is how all of those elites and monsters conspire to make people dumb downed, and that is the McDonaldization-Walmartization-Infantalization-Disneyfication of everything.

Literacy is a matter of life and death, happiness or penury

I used to get my elbows up into many literacy projects as an English and writing faculty member at community colleges, universities, prison school programs and writing/journalism workshops for people who are exploited because of their status as low income or as former felons, and those homeless citizens as well as adults living with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

Events like “Banned Books Month” (October) or National Poetry Month (April) I worked hard to promote/support. Big journalism organizations like Project Censored and groups like Reporters without Borders are still in my blood.

I am now working again in a small rural community dotted with small towns. I am not only supporting folks with job development and on-the-job training and coaching, but I am helping two Lincoln County citizens with reading literacy.

In my situation with Shangri-La, these two are adult men in their 30s who are seeking reading literacy programs.

It may come as a surprise to citizens, lawmakers and politicians alike, but Lincoln County does not have a literacy center. There is no one-stop place for people who need literacy tutoring, whether they are functionally illiterate in their English skills as a U.S.-born citizen, or those who are English as a second/third language learners.

I’m working with a Salem group, Mid-Valley Literacy Center (founded in 2009). Vivian Ang is my contact who is helping train Newport and Toledo-based citizens to help tutor my two clients. This is not an easy task, and Vivian, with more than 20 years of tutoring including at Chemeketa Community College, says it’s hit or miss.

“I do not have any experience with assisting an adult with a learning disability (developmental disability) to learn how to read,” she has repeated to me several times.

An adult who drives a car, works at a factory, runs a large piece of construction equipment, lives on his own and presents as a “regular sort of guy” can be in one of the most dire of circumstances — functional and complete illiteracy.

Wanting to learn how to read when you are in your 30s takes guts. There are stigmas for someone who can’t read an insurance form or simple job application.

The need is high in Lincoln County for adults like this client of mine — born in Newport and educated in Newport’s K-12 system, including special education classes — to learn how to read. But we have many from Mexico, Guatemala and other countries in our communities where learning how to read and speak English is more than just a step toward better pay.

Vivian tells me a story about an Oregon woman, from Mexico, illiterate in English, who had a sick daughter who needed medication to improve. The prescription stated, “Take this medication once a day.” In Spanish, once is the word for the number 11, so, tragically, the mother followed the prescription contextualized in her Spanish reading abilities. At 11 times a day, after a few days, the medication killed her two-year-old daughter.

Navigating housing, employment, the legal system, utility companies, landlords, cultural activities, and representative politics are basically off limits to a person who can’t read or write. The amount of exploitation, fines, fees, garnishments, late payments and other penalties is a regular occurrence for people who can’t read and write.

According to the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy (founded 1991), low literacy in the USA costs us as a society $2.2 trillion a year. According to U.S. Department of Education, more than half of U.S. adults aged 16 to 74 years old (54 percent or 130 million people) lack proficiency in literacy, reading below the equivalent of a sixth-grade level.

For my many clients across the board, lack of reading, low reading levels and functional illiteracy can be linked to poorer health, low levels of civic engagement and low earnings in the labor market. On average, more than 70 percent of people following the seventh grade reading level for instructions on how to install an infant car seat fail to follow the proper steps.

I am enlisting tutors for my two clients. I have a librarian and a library technician on board. Three retired women living in Toledo and Newport, too. One of my client’s workplaces is stepping up and paying the nonprofit Vivian runs for the materials and training. That general manager is also providing a private space with internet access to his worker (I’ll call him Samuel) who is illiterate.

He tells me, “I wish I had 22 Samuel’s working for me. He’s an incredible worker, reliable, goes the extra mile.” Source

 

The post Milquetoast for all Three Meals: All’s Dumb in the United States of A first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Washing Away One Trail of Tears After Another

White Washing: According to one Merriam-Webster definition, to whitewash is to “gloss over or cover up,” which, in a sense, is what the racial form of whitewashing does. It creates a White world where sins against people of color, including Blacks, Native Americans, Asians, Latinos, and other minority groups cease to matter because, in revisionist history and reality, those minority groups barely exist.

Here’s one example believe it or not which ties into my neck of the woods on the Central Oregon Coast, and even Portland, OR: ‘Daniel Boone was a man. Yes a big man. With an eye like an eagle and as tall as a mountain was he. Daniel Boone was a man. Yes a big man. He was brave, he was fearless and as tough as a mighty oak tree. The rippin’est roarin’est fightin’est man the frontier ever knew.’

We get to Boone in a moment, and all the mythology and falsified history of his very existence.

There are all sorts of ways to wash away complicity or guilt, and the color wheel is just one way to describe this highly sophisticated form of propaganda-marketing-PR spin-Revisionist history/thinking/mythology. Whitewashing is a form of fabrication.

Part of the fabrication are those scared cows like “we support our men and women in uniform.” I personally have a few hundred examples of going up against many armies of the lie, or battalions of the bullshit.

There are good journalists and good teachers, for sure, but the majority, for the most part, are not sacred or holy or fool-proof agents of democracy. There are many ways I have been hobbled for not supporting the illegal wars of this country, especially Bush’s “declared victory” in the Middle East. Hobbled by fellow journalists and educators.  I was living in El Paso, and Cocaine and Southern Comfort W Bush was the governor of that Tex-ass state. El Paso is a huge arena for military and retired military. The Mexican-Americans (88 percent of the population in El Paso/El Paso County) may have voted straight democrat on their ballots (Bush and other retrograde redneck vicious governors have come to town courting that vote), but many Latinx love their USA flags and military men and women from their ranks. So, going against Reagan’s wars in Central America or Bush I’s against Panama, Malvinas and his Desert Shield, I was up against supposed liberal left fellow teachers and journalists. Even supposedly disenfranchised Latinx.

Once the Prez or Congress or whomever (CIA, NSA) gets us into a war, we all must support the troops, no, tie a yellow ribbon on the chain-link fence sort of thing . . .  support the mission, support whatever the Commander in Chief does with his tin soldiers. How many times have I gone up against college/university presidents and provosts and department chairs and even my own fellow faculty when I questioned the veracity of rationales for bombing other countries. As Kim Peterson illustrates in his recent DV article, “North Korea Steadfastly Resisting US Hegemony,” by illuminating A.B. Abrams “… comprehensive book, Immovable Object: North Korea’s 70 Years at War with American Power, there is a whole lot of rooting for war and destruction by the average North American:

US wars are not only a function of its government and military. It is important to realize that the US carries out it warring and provocations against foreign countries often with overwhelming approval of the American populace. Abrams writes that the majority of American citizens supported using nukes against North Korea. (p 131) American public support for warring was also evident by support for intensified bombing by the US during armistice negotiations. (p 224) That this American public support for militarism was not an anomaly was revealed during the US attacks on Muslim nations following 9-11, with 70% of Americans indicating a belief in Saddam Hussein being connected to Al Qaeda. (p 390)

You can fiddle with terms like illegal alien, positing that no human being is “illegal,” or debating how the term “alien” ascribes more than a negative otherness to the person — it dehumanizes the person.

These are important discussions, especially in politics, in journalism and in educational circles. Yet, these discussions have lingered in academia, and have withered at the root of American enlightenment.

I’ve had to confront people about what it means to be humanistic and abiding by the Earth Charter and Dignity and Rights of All People. You know, that socialistic and humanistic and democratic and communist set of principles of for-by-with-because-of the people:

  • pinko
  • self-loathing white
  • un-American
  • anti-American
  • anti-patriotic
  • traitor
  • love it or leave it
  • bleeding heart liberal

These are terms of vile against me and others for fighting for the simple rights of people — some of the most able, of the land and poor village people and farmers whose lives are torn up, destroyed, disposed of, displaced through the strong arm and long arm of economic-cultural-political-military warfare.

You can be labeled “anti-American/anti-business/anti-poor” for questioning Walmart. You can be called a “traitor” for questioning bombing, chemical spraying, immolating, polluting, imprisoning, permanently displacing people the USA deems enemies, supportive of enemies of the state, or collateral damage.

Proportionality when discussed by the average American is questioning the very fabric of our way of life, our leadership and our own form of enslavement and dictatorship. The military is right, and whatever they need to intervene or overreach, they know the deal.

Proportionality in international law, however,  is not about equality of death or civilian suffering, or even about equality of firepower. Proportionality weighs the necessity of a military action against suffering that the action might cause to enemy civilians in the vicinity.

Under international humanitarian law and the Rome Statute, the death of civilians during an armed conflict, no matter how grave and regrettable does not constitute a war crime…. even when it is known that some civilian deaths or injuries will occur. A crime occurs if there is an intentional attack directed against civilians (principle of distinction) or an attack is launched on a military objective in the knowledge that the incidental civilian injuries would be clearly excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage (principle of proportionality). — Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Chief Prosecutor, International Criminal Court.

The above Moreno-Ocampo statement is more or less memory-holed, erased largely from discourse, and hardly every cited in educational circles. This form of washing away knowledge is called agnotology – a concerted effort to wash or erase facts, history. The white wash cited above, as in support the troops right or wrong, is well, pretty obvious in the K12 textbooks, or watching those crocodile-teared GOP or Democrats with their metal USA flag lapel pins, shakily saluting while death jets like F-15, 16, 18 models zoom above inebriated football fans. Hourly fuel costs —

Fighters:
F-15C Eagle Fighter — $41,921
F-16C Viper Fighter — $22,514
F-22A Raptor Fighter — $68,362

$1,500 – Predator drone
$11,500 – A-10
$70,000 – V-22
$32,000 – F-35
$44,000 – F22
$135,000 – B-2
$5,000 – F-16
$17,000-$30,000 – F-15C
$19,000-$30,000 – F-22

VIP transport:
C-20B VIP Plane (Senior Pentagon Officials) — $32,212
C-32A VIP Plane (Vice President, Cabinet Officers) — $42,936
VC-25A Air Force One — $161,591
E-4B Flying Headquarters — $163,485

Operating expenses total $206,337 for every hour the president’s plane is in the air.

Which brings us to more than just white washing, or blood money trading. Imagine the US military is the biggest single source of pollution in the world, and imagine creepy politicians and GS-18’s and highflying ex-four star generals and CEOs of the mercenary companies like Raytheon and Aerodynamics, just getting their free air time spewing lie after lie about a more sustainable US military — mean, green, lean fighting machine.

Greenwashing is a whitewash or green sheening by corporations to promote themselves as “environment friendly.” It also encompasses that environmentally and socially responsibility flim-flam, full of the PT Barnum deceptive promotion to lie through their teeth. Key concepts for all washing it marketing and advertising themselves as environment friendly. Spend money on the Mad Men and Mad Women, rather than actual actions, is called greenwashing.

Add to the wash of the green, blue-washing:  a technique deployed by corporations and companies to form collaborations and associations with various United Nations agencies to portray themselves as being compliant of the ten principles of United Nations Global Compact, while not being so in actuality.

Advertising spin of the blue wash variety is supposedly showing congruence with these principles above, to include actions against child labor, slavery and corruption, safeguarding human rights.

Then, well, we get into the latest arena of washing, bullshitting, lying, mind manipulation, closely linked to the fearful majority who would dare speak out against Zionism as a massively inhumane belief and operating system, one counterpoint to the 10 Principles illustrated above. You are, in a nutshell, pigeon-holed as anti-Semitic if you criticize these aspects of Zionism or the country (sic) of “Israel.” Washed out of existence, another form of washing. Akin to being memory-holed  as a non-human, a nobody.

Who would have thought Pink-washing would be tied to “Israel,” but . . . .

[Below: Anarcho-queer collective Mashpritzot hold a “die-in” protest against Israeli pinkwashing and the perceived homonormative priorities of the LGBT support centre in Tel Aviv]

Over a decade ago, activists adopted the term “pink-washing” to describe the Israeli propaganda tactic of washing away the oppression of Palestinians by painting Israel as a gay-friendly and liberal state. Israeli pink-washing tries to win the hearts and minds of international audiences and prevent solidarity with the Palestinian struggle

white paint overlay over a close up of details of a marble column

Reversing back to this screed’s start

We’ll get to Ralph Nader’s Radio Hour in a second. We’ll get to Daniel Boone too, in a second, tied to the white-washing pulled quote above.

First, a little bit of my work again in social services, a field that is for the most part vastly underpaid, with workers who are dedicated at first, highly motivated to help people, and whose lives are in many cases the epitome of sacrifice — student loan debts, master’s degrees for $17 an hour work, and mandatory several thousand hours of unpaid clinical hours.

Think about that for a moment — pre-Covid-19, a society fraught with trauma, fraught with chronic physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual illnesses. People who are left alone, left out to dry, folks who are traumatized by family, by neighborhoods, by circumstances. People who were already damaged in many ways in utero, and after birth, well, the society in general and at large, eating away at the typical American soul. Tape worms of the soul: Capitalism. Pin worms of the heart: Consumerism. The giant proverbial leech sucking people dry in this economic gulag: Market Driven Madness.

Some of the people I serve have head injuries. Traumatic Brain Injuries. That act of “god” or “fate” can alter a person completely for life. In most cases, there is a lot of physical impediment, or some, but the memory is shot-through, many times. Spotty short-term and long-term memory. Swiss cheese of the brain in many cases.

Then a head bash-trauma can also strip away a person’s emotional and empathetic cores. They just can’t feel the normal range of human emotions. No tears when a loved one dies. Little joy. Even brain injured children are considered low on the person’s emotional totem pole.

On the job, a person in this situation needs accommodations, needs personal support workers to help the injured person just do the basic activities of daily living/survival.

It isn’t an easy life — going from a perfectly healthy and active 15-year-old thriving teen, to a paralyzed, comatose and soon recovering brain injured human being.

My job is to support these sorts of people in getting work, and in getting to first base in the first place by coaching interview techniques, by helping contextualize life gaps, such as the years after a brain injury.

The emotional complexities of the human species are many times missing, and so I have to act as the bridge and interpreter as this person attempts to navigate integrated employment.

The problem is that this sort of survival is a growing concern. Emergency Medicine can keep people alive after horrific accidents, accidents which just a few years ago would have been a death sentence.

Now, what do the “recovered” do to survive, to find some niche in society by working and carrying on? When the society in general is still fifty years behind the times?

Many of the people with a TBI live a life surrounded by/surrounding themselves with mythology, sacred cows, propped up belief systems. They many times want to believe in “normal/normalcy” in a world where that — normal — is an ever-moving target.

The “new normal” is no normal.

Which leads us back to the entire white washing of USA, of this country’s past, this country’s under girder and foundations of, well, theft.

Brains and Daniel Boone

I write, participate in revolutionary activism, muckrake, and work in social services, as I have laid out in DV many times in the past 11 years, grappling with many different challenges in those gigs or jobs I’ve had assisting people — people in distress, traumatized, in full-blown crisis, a la PTSD. Brain injured as adults (war time, too), born with Down Syndrome, dementia and Alzheimer’s, mentally retarded (according to various school districts and Special Ed programs), with drug affected conditions leading to all manner of learning and developmental disabilities. Old and young, functional in terms of our “normal” society, or highly impacted by fetal alcohol syndrome or cerebral palsy, and the like.

I’ve worked with folks living with psychological disabilities, like schizophrenia. With full-blown mental breakdown caused by bad families, bad circumstances, bad drugging, bad war experiences, bad people. Everyone of the military women I have worked with were victimized by rape. Brutal. Many women in general I have worked with have been sexually assaulted. And with all of the psychological tears and battering those rapes do, there are also physical issues tied to pounded faces, pounded necks, and, thus, we have bad backs and necks and all the other secondary and tertiary things associated with violent attacks on bodies.

I’m working with what the people who come to me have, helping them enhance the positives and push down some of the barriers. And the barriers are more than just their own, their own families’, their own community’s. The barriers are cultural. Many Americans want “them” to maybe be seen but not heard. Many do not want them to be seen, either.

Another threadbare existence for tens of millions of people. Maybe more. And there will be more on the horizon with more and more people surviving crashes and accidents, left with major mental-psychological-neurological-physical disabilities. The handicapping comes from policies, legislation, lack of housing, lack of real support teams. Just one of a million things lacking in this Corrupt and Criminal Capitalism.

Funny stories arise, though. One fellow I work with read the local paper, Newport News Times. I’ve written for the twice-a-week rag. On homelessness and environmental stuff.

He was excited to know that the Oregon timber town where he lives once had a fellow and his brood there, on an island, whose family line included that fellow, Daniel Boone:

‘The history of McCaffrey Island’ —

Van Daniel first homesteaded the island in 1897 but never owned the property, according to James’ correspondence with Van Daniel’s daughter, Carol Holbrook. The family first moved into an abandoned shed on the island but built a full home there by 1901. Nine of their 10 children were born on the island, and they went to school by rowing to Oysterville.

The family made its living harvesting oysters and raising pigs. On the upper tier of the island was a waterfall and garden. Holbrook said there were no trees on the island when they first moved there, but they later planted many, including an apple and plum tree.

Holbrook said Indigenous people often visited the island, and her father hired them to help the family shuck oysters. One of Van Daniel’s sons also found arrowheads and beads on the island while they lived there.

When Van Daniel’s wife fell ill with tuberculosis in 1917, the family moved from the island to an abandoned house on the mainland. They didn’t sell the island because they didn’t own it. They never learned who owned the abandoned house they moved into on the mainland either.

So, of course, my friend/client got all excited because of that famously present seeding of lies the US school system and Holly-Dirt have perpetuated since that old cherry tree was chopped down, or that first “thanksgiving” with the Puritans and Pokanoket Wampanoag.

We talked about the old TV show the 35-year-old client watches — Fess Parker as Boone in the 1964-1970 TV series. Strange how these racist old series still float around the ether.

“Man, I always wanted to be like Daniel Boone when we watched that show. I watched the show when I was young. What was it, fifteen years or whatever after the show was cancelled.”

So, with his permission, we looked at the Boone myth which was precipitated by an innocuous piece in the local rag on some pioneer (sic) families and others who had that island.

Boone has been portrayed in books and in movies and TV shows as a regular tough guy, all-American, the new Adam paving the way for Manifest Destiny and land claims for a beginning white nation. Here is a decent two paragraphs that put the white washing in the context of Boone and his modern-day worshippers:

In 1992 Native people in KY and allies during the 500th anniversary of Columbus decided to correct local historic monuments to alleged heroes of colonialism in the Ohio Valley. The picture you see above is one example. It was a statue of Daniel Boone at the entrance to? “Cherokee Park”. There are 4 parks in Louisville named after the people driven from this land. Cherokee, Shawnee, Chickasaw, and Iroquois. Of course there are monuments all over this city to Confederate Generals, Indian killers, slave owners, and the like. There are absolutely none to Tecumseh, Blue Jacket, Harriet Tubman, or any native or African-Americans. A couple of streets that is it. So as I was watching Tecumseh’s vision, the PBS special last night, I was reminded of several things that deserve exploring. So once again I am going to poke holes in “American History” and saw the legs off of statues to genocidal murderers. Sorry. — Source.

To begin with let us be clear, the colonial Americans never had any desire to live harmoniously with their Indian hosts and in fact Thomas Jefferson explicitly ordered their removal and extermination, owned slaves, and was aside from his humane policies toward his fellow colonists was a rapist, slaving, ethic cleansing murderer. So was Boone. So let us be exactly and historically honest shall we? Let us start with Daniel Boone as he was the “Indian Fighter” exemplar. Now let us remember Tecumseh was born in 1768. Boone was killing Indians and escorting colonists as Tecumseh drew his first breaths and Boone then became an elected official and presided over the ethnic cleansing of the Delaware, Shawnee, Cherokee, and all the indigenous people in the way of “progress” till his retirement. Many would say he just did what was expected of him in that time. OK? What was expected of him was that he kill Indians and escort colonists to steal lands that belonged to someone else.

The fine line I have to toe is that I am there for my clients on many social services levels — the official duties — but I am also more importantly an advocate, a teacher, a model, a mentor, and someone they can relate to who happens to have years working with “disadvantaged” but who himself thus far has had or currently has none of the disadvantages they have had to bear (yet). Sure, we are all in this predatory, insanity called United Snakes of America together, but unfortunately (and for obvious infantilizing reasons) we do not have the same depth of research, life experiences, multiple perspectives, and worldly views. When I am with the average Biden Boy or Obama Yes We Can Cultist, I know I am with someone who is ultra conservative, ultra pro-money, ultra stupid when it comes to history and facts. That is the very nature of those millions of gears working to “white” wash or “green” wash or “pink” wash the world.

When it comes to sacred cows, well, the discussion turns interesting. And for many people, with or without trauma and disabilities, very uncomfortable.

Weight of Rape, the Weight of Racism

The reality is that the average “dude” or “gal” who may be coming at things with a less severely redneck or reactionary point of view, well, they either can’t fathom the number of people in the USA (no, I am not getting into other societies with just as bad situations) who have been violently raped as adults or sexually assaulted as underage humans. Mostly women, but not exclusively. In 2021, I still get people with or without college degrees, telling me, that “this is not a rape culture.” Telling me “many women are faking it.” Telling me that “Trump is a target because he is famous and has money . . . there is no way he did that . . . he has children, man, and what would his wife say if it was true?”

That white washing is a unique sort of push back against women.

Then, well, many just can’t take the Portland uprising anymore, as if Portland is this huge Fallujah bombed out metropolitan area. They can’t take “black lives matter” anymore. They can’t take the crescendo of news stories of more pigs/cops getting accused and acquitted of murder. The white washing of our murderous men (and women) in uniform is just so complete that the few that want to defund the military and the police, well, they are propagandized into people who are not true Americans, rabble, provocateurs.  “All those statues coming down, what do you think, Haeder? Isn’t that erasing history?” I just got asked this question. Again, people on their duffs, consuming main-line TV as if it’s crack.

So the beat goes on and on, to explain to them, that Andrew Jackson or Daniel Boone or even Honest Abe, coming down, well, isn’t it obvious that the disenfranchised and basically helpless people of this predatory land have to release something symbolic to show their disgust of this country’s white washing? I attempt to explain, yes, a better reaction and process would be to put a mural around each bloody statue, with just the head of the white murderer sticking out as he sits upon his horse. On that mural, well, the real history of this person’s contribution to Indian killing, Slave owning, Black murdering. Of course there are a million teachable moments, but in a country that doesn’t do nuance well, one that is all about flash in the pan, all about spasms of this or that reaction to the zeitgeist, we are not going to see those sorts of responses to the racist monuments. And yes, many of those confederate monuments were put up AFTER the south lost the war. Decades after. Tin monuments for tinhorn racists and rapists. They are not sacred monuments, in the true sense of the word. Sacred Racist Monuments.

Does Anyone Not Get Why a Democrat Would NOT Hire One Nader?

So, I do encourage folks to listen to Black Agenda Report, or to read Mother Jones, In These Times, The Progressive, Mint Press News, Consortium News, Counterpunch, DV, and others, for sure. But for most, I get them to listen to a bastion of powerful knowledge and real on-the-ground activism. Someone who actually ran for president of the US of A. Twice!

Simple stuff, not exactly radical Black Panthers or anarchy —

Ralph welcomes the former head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Richard Cordray, to talk about how this important agency – created in the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown and moribund in the Trump years – needs to start protecting consumers again. Plus, Ralph pays tribute to the late great muckraking journalist, James Ridgeway.

Richard Cordray is the founding director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, where he served from 2011 to 2017. He is the author of Watchdog: How Protecting Consumers Can Save Our Families, Our Economy, and Our Democracy.

“Every aspect of our legal system has been turned around by financial companies to oppress individual consumers. And yet, individual consumers are not permitted (often by these arbitration clauses) to band together to seek collective justice against the company.” [ Richard Cordray].

Cover for Watchdog

So we talk about this issue, with me pointing out that antigovernmental entitlements or antigovernmental this or that is actually anti-public, anti-people thinking. The corporations — all of them, with the unholy facilitation of  banks, credit companies, tech companies — they are the enemy. And each and every politician they have in their back pockets is the enemy, but the public realm, the public potential for true democratic socialism, that is not the enemy. AT& T, Wells Fargo, Safeway, Amazon, Walmart, Walgreens, and a few million other corporations are the true enemy. They have cooked the books, stacked the deck, and conspired to rip-off the public. Listen to just this one episode of Ralph, and when I ask people who are skeptical of my criticism of all corporations, they have a bit more to deal with here: Finances.

Listen to the beginning, where Nader talks about the death (and work of) the great American journalist, James Ridgeway. Note that this man was a muckraker, a man who looked for truth, and never tired of investigative reporting, never jading himself to the people’s needs. He did die, as Ralph states, a poor man.

Here’s a Mother Jones article on Jim when he worked for MoJo

Jim Ridgeway—who leaves MoJo’s staff roster this week to become a contributing reporter—is, though he’d never put it this way, one of the legends of modern muckraking. Back in 1965 he helped establish the nascent field of consumer reporting when he revealed that GM had run a dark-ops campaign against a young Ralph Nader, whose book Unsafe at Any Speed detailed how automakers had knowingly sacrificed safety for sales. He went on to break more stories than we can count, digging into everything from energy politics to national security to the sex industry. MoJo co-founder Adam Hochschild remembers becoming a Ridgeway reader in 1968, when Jim and the late Andrew Kopkind started a newsletter called first Mayday and later Hard Times.

‘I still remember the yellow paper it came on, how eagerly I waited for each issue to arrive, and the pleasure of instantly knowing we shared a view of the world if I found that a new acquaintance was also a reader. It is sobering, in a way, to see how many of the problems Jim wrote about half a century ago are still with us. But it’s inspiring to see someone keep the faith all these years, especially someone who could have very easily had a successful and doubtless much more lucrative career writing unthreatening stories for the mainstream media. That, in fact, is where more than of few of the dissenters of the 1960s ended up.’

Most people I interface with do not know of Jim Ridgeway, and those that know about Nader, still incorrectly and stupidly think “he’s the guy that got Bush into office.” More white wash and agnotology:

It is true that approximately 95,000 Florida ballots were cast for Nader in 2000, and assuming every single one of those votes went instead to then-Vice President Al Gore (which is an incorrect assumption, but we’ll get to that later), Gore would have been easily able to supplant the 537 vote differential in the Sunshine State that gave Bush the presidency.

What that oft-cited factoid leaves out are the inconvenient truths laid out by Jim Hightower in Salon way back when, including the fact that only about 24,000 registered Democrats voted for Nader in Florida, whereas about 308,000 Democrats voted for (wait for it…) Bush! Further, approximately 191,000 self-identified “liberals” voted for Bush, as opposed to the fewer than 34,000 who went with Nader.

The conventional thinking goes like this: Nader voters lean left and Gore is to the left of Bush, therefore votes for Nader would have gone to Gore. But leftist academic Tim Wise pushed back on this summation in 2000, writing that “Exit polls in Florida, conducted by MSNBC show that Nader drew almost equally between Gore, Bush, and ‘None of the above,’ meaning his presence there may have been a total wash.” — Anthony Fisher

Covid-19 Fears, Fools, Fascists 

Hyper paranoia, misinformation, one bad leader leading a bunch of bad leaders. One man’s science, isn’t another 10,000 scientists’ and journalists’ science.

Everyday, a few dozen pleas by clients and their charges and their families about what to do next with lockdown A, B and C done, and more cases (maybe) of Covid-19 (many articles being scrubbed from the WWW about faulty tests for CoV2).

Amazing how many bad mask wearers I run into — literally, 90 percent of the masks out there in la-la land do not stop exhales from hitting the common air locations, whether it’s the grocery store, restaurant, liquor store, or on the beach.

The dichotomy of American thinking is the dangerous thing now, and the retribution, the white washing and green washing and blue washing and vaccine washing and the science washing, all of it, now, we have many new normal’s tied to more scrubbing (agnotology) and banning and outright fascistic attacks on people, like, well, Robert Kennedy Junior.

https://youtu.be/MZz8lUniwHM

Agnotology (formerly agnatology) is the study of culturally induced ignorance or doubt, particularly the publication of inaccurate or misleading scientific data. It was coined in 1995 by Robert N. Proctor, a Stanford University professor, and linguist Iain Boal. The word is based on the Neoclassical Greek word ἄγνωσις, agnōsis, “not knowing” (cf. Attic Greek ἄγνωτος “unknown”), and -λογία, -logia. Proctor cites as a prime example the tobacco industry’s advertising campaign to manufacture doubt about the cancerous and other adverse health effects of tobacco use. More generally, the term also highlights the condition where more knowledge of a subject leaves one more uncertain than before.

David Dunning of Cornell University warns that “the internet is helping propagate ignorance,… which makes [users] prey for powerful interests wishing to deliberately spread ignorance”. Irvin C. Schick refers to unknowledge “to distinguish it from ignorance. He uses the example of “terra incognita” in early maps, noting that “The reconstruction of parts of the globe as uncharted territory is … the production of unknowledge, the transformation of those parts into potential objects of Western political and economic attention. It is the enabling of colonialism. — Source.

Check out Chapter One, Agnotology: The Making and Unmaking of Ignorance. That is, in a nutshell, something I have been battling since day one as a journalist (I was 19) and day one as a college part-time faculty (I was 26).

This is not child’s play, this entire game of narrative framing, myth-making, mind scrubbing, brain washing, collective Stockholm Syndrome, Collective Abused Spouse/Worker/ Student/Consumer/Citizen Syndrome. It infects our culture of words, books, TV, movies, mass education, media, social digital networks, Madison Avenue, history book creation, and the marketing that is the way of Capitalism. Mediums are the Message, but then, how the child is wired in utero, and then right out of the womb. Bombarded by ignorance in the culture and brain washed parents. Bombarded by images and sounds and the smells of consumerism, there to draw in newer and younger and more buyers of the junk, the dangerous products, the more dangerous ideology of the masters in this complex.

Learned helplessness is nothing compared to learned and gloating ignorance. And here we are, even here with the author attempting to be “objective” with a piece in Town and Country Magazine on RFK, Jr. Imagine what this writer says, doubting the veracity and the validity of Kennedy’s research into vaccines over a sordid historical record. Imagine, thousands of journal articles parsed by RFK, Jr., thousands of books annotated, thousands of people interviewed by Kennedy on the many troubling things around pharmaceuticals, drug makers, scientists using people as Guinea pigs and around vaccines. That’s Kennedy, man. Yet, the elite author of the more elitist rag (Town and Country)  has to put in his pretty shallow and sallow two cents.

The room that Kennedy, who is 66, uses as an office is walled with books on shelves stacked six high from floor to ceiling, hundreds and hundreds of books. On top of those: a long line of framed photos like cars on a freight train—old ones, recent ones, black-and-white, color. A sprawling L-shaped sofa with blankets and pillows, a big TV.

On this subject, I think he is dangerously wrong. But that’s not the most interesting thing to talk with him about, nor is it the subject of this story. You can judge his arguments for yourself on your own time. The debate about whether vaccines are safe rages every day, and you can go online and read studies and opinions on every side. You can read almost any story by or about Kennedy and you will encounter the substance of his beliefs in detail. There aren’t many doctors in the world who think it’s a debate at all, of course.

A deeper question than whether he’s right or he’s crazy is why Bobby Kennedy Jr. is doing any of this. There was a time when he was almost universally admired, a fighter for conservation and the environment—perhaps the dominant issue of our time—and a shining figure worthy of his family’s legacy. Now he is shunned by many of his former allies and admirers, ignored by much of the once fawning media, and just tuned out by many who are uncomfortable with his sometimes hectoring obsessiveness.

Look, I am in the process of writing my memoir/anti-memoir (sounds pretentious, but . . . really, does the world need Epstein’s madam’s book, another Trump tell-all, all the creepy stuff from the rich and famous, more crap from actors and musicians?). I have a wheelbarrow’s worth of novels (unpublished but hawked by my deceased NY agent) and plays and a teleplay and other such stuff. I’m 64, and, well, some things in my life have been amazing full circle existential wheels through the magic of ecology and meeting fellow man/woman in fellowship.

Drinking from the spring where Winona LaDuke’s father, Sun Bear, had his gatherings, sure, that was another wheel of life I have written about. I have hundreds of these moments, with a ship-load of connectivity to the circle of life.

For now, though, it’s Kennedy. Our two lives are so different in so many ways, that the circle, the multiple circles of connectivity, well, maybe it takes a working class fool like myself to really drill down on that stuff.

I am not taken by money, and in fact, I am anti-money, anti-rich, anti-famous. Celebrity culture is to me worse than the guys and gals I used to run with who were hooked on lines of coke and drams of Scotch.

However, here’s the interesting thing. Make that a decade ago when I heard RFK, Jr. speak. I got to take him aside, and talked with him, but that is another story. He was in Spokane as President of the international Waterkeeper Alliance. We already got our Spokane Riverkeeper, and Kennedy was in town  helping with fundraising for Spokane Riverkeeper and Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeeper. Kennedy was at the Fox Theater in downtown Spokane. I also met him afterwards.

Here you go — if you get any sense of Kennedy from the Vanity Fair article cited, you can see a real battler (that’s the epigraph to this essay above). He certainly came from a famous family. Our two lives are diametrically different.

But the circles, man, those five or 10 degrees of separation. I had an aunt who owned– with two other immigrant (Scotland) women — The Whale Inn, in Northampton, Massachusetts. An amazing restaurant and B & B. I had relatives (aunts, uncles, cousins) who lived in Short Hills, NJ. My uncle was a well-known surgeon and did stints for Columbia University as an MD. Now, I was back east a few times, spending time at the Whale Inn, and in Short Hills, in the City, in Boston, and at Cape Code. Poor kid of the military man dad, and I got a taste of East Coast.

So, get this, I also had a mother who worked for an advertising agency in Albuquerque and part of that was some publicity for John and Jackie Kennedy when they came to New Mexico.  When we lived in Germany and France, many people thought my mom looked like Jackie.

Okay, so let’s get real — I have worked around people with developmental disabilities for a long time, officially the past decade. RFK, Jr. also spent time around disabled people —  “When not at school Bobby used to spend a lot of time at the house of his Aunt Eunice—his father’s sister, and Bobby’s godmother. She ran a camp for children with intellectual disabilities, and she founded the Special Olympics in 1968, and Bobby remembers there always being people at her house who had Down syndrome, ‘at every meal, virtually. I was always around people with intellectual disabilities.’”

He also to this day does animal rescuing and wildlife recovery. He drives a mini-van that has the stench of pit bull rescue pets and road kill he finds and takes back to boil and articulate or at least display the skull.

rfk pro celebrity tennis tournament august 26, 1972

[Kennedy in 1972, around age 18, at a tennis tournament named for his father. Even in his late teens, Kennedy was battling drug addiction, which he would eventually beat. — Ron Galell photo]

He was hooked on heroin until he was 30. He was and still is an avid adventurer. Much of that above I related to directly. Not heroin, but other drugs. The road kill? Yep. Animal rescue? Yep. Mini-vans? Yep.

environmental lawyer activist robert f kennedy jr l riverkeeper john cronin out on hudson river, revitalized through efforts of their riverkeeper, inc in legal fight against water polluting industries photo by ted thaithe life picture collection via getty images

[In the early 1980s Kennedy teamed with John Cronin, right, to revitalize the Riverkeeper Association, which routinely sued large polluters. The group spurred the creation of the international Waterkeeper Alliance, of which Kennedy is president. — Ted Thai photo]

Here’s my piece on the second Riverkeeper for our Spokane River, after the first one (Mike Chappell, 44) unexpectedly passed away — “A River for Fish, Kayaks, Swimmers”

nyc screening of trace amounts

[In 2014 Kennedy edited Thimerosol: Let the Science Speak, about mercury and vaccines. Cindy Ord photo]

The point I am trying to make in this essay is that the circles I recognize and write about are as real as anything on planet earth. What RFK, Jr. and I talked about back then, well, I will write about at length later. I did mention to RFK, Jr. how burned out I was getting being with the greenie weenies, the so-called sustainability wonks and their pandering to corporations … and not just through green washing. We are talking about eco-pornography. Kennedy got a kick out of that terminology — eco-porn. You know, Shell Oil or Exxon or Monsanto running multimillion dollar ad/PR/public disservice campaigns to sell their idea of snake oil to the global public. That those companies are the best and the brightest hopes for stewardship of the environment. Now that’s pornography of the utmost degree.

I mentioned how another state eco group was taking money from Proctor Gamble or CocaCola, for what I call blood money from those corporations. Lots of blood money in the game of the Non-Profit Industrial Complex. We also talked about science gone awry, science for-by-because of  the profit motive, science in the name of Imperialism and Corrupt Capitalism. We also talked about vaccinations.

The circle I am drawing it that I was a young guy who did all sorts of adventurous stuff in the Sonora Desert catching rattlesnakes, Gila Monsters, scorpions. Lots of crazy cool stuff scuba diving (roughing it) in the Sea of Cortez. Lots of crazy stuff on my own on Baja, diving and free diving and camping alone.

Another point is, while our lives are so different, there are things that connect us, in my mind. Kennedy was pretty jazzed about my writing, my activism and my ability to go for the underdog over any hubris or placating. He was definitely in favor of my concepts of fighting white washing, green washing and agnotology (he hadn’t heard of that concept).

Here’s the title to that six-month old Town and Country article —

What is Robert Kennedy Jr. Fighting For?

It’s no surprise he gets into battles. Kennedys seem to be born with their chins out. But why does the 66-year-old scion of America’s most prominent political family take his crusades—the environment, vaccines, you name it—to places where very few people want to go?  By Ryan D’Agostino, OCT 19, 2020

Note: Several months after the publication of this story, Instagram deactivated RFK Jr.’s Instagram account. “We removed this account for repeatedly sharing debunked claims about the coronavirus or vaccines,” a spokesperson for Facebook, which owns Instagram, said in a statement.

Here he is, now part of the systematic suppression of debate, discourse, ideas counter to the prevailing winds, the current paradigms. He’s questions Fauci, Gates, 5-G, and the motives of Big Tech and Big Pharma. What we all are supposed to do, no?

And yet, those people I support with developmental/intellectual/TBI disabilities, they want to know, they want answers, they want to understand how someone like me, or someone like Kennedy is looking beyond the parables of propaganda and virtue signaling and systemic silencing of countervailing thought and opinions.

I wish I had Bobby Kennedy’s email or physical mailing address to exchange words and ideas. That is another circle that may or may not come to fruition, though circles are really never complete or ending or beginning, now are they? I know he probably saw this documentary, probably saw my review of it in Hormones Matter — “Injecting Aluminum: Documentary Questions Vaccine Safety” 

The piece also appeared in Dissident Voice“The Jury Has Been Out on Vaccines: Harm to the Brain, Immune System, Limbic System, Life”

2016 deer valley celebrity skifest

[In 2014, Kennedy married the actress Cheryl Hines, whom he met through his friendship with Larry David. “I have an amazing wife and amazing kids,” he says. “I have everything.”  — Emma McInty photo]

In that regard, the circles are still being shaped, huge veronicas in the sky, throughout our collective consciousness. At least for those who are willing to fight for the underdog. RFK, Jr., now counted as one of the underdogs. My whole life, while still in a category of white privilege in this racist country, I too have been an underdog. The grace of rebellion and revolutionary thinking has given me more privilege of knowing when the jig is up than I can actually express in a short essay here.

The post Washing Away One Trail of Tears After Another first appeared on Dissident Voice.

A Country in Turmoil: Why Netanyahu is a Symptom, Not Cause of Israel’s Political Crisis

It is convenient to surmise that Israel’s current political crisis is consistent with the country’s unfailing trajectory of short-lived governments and fractious ruling coalitions. While this view is somewhat defensible, it is also hasty.

Israel is currently at the cusp of a fourth general election in less than two years. Even by Israel’s political standards, this phenomenon is unprecedented, not only in terms of the frequency of how often Israelis vote, but also of the constant shifting in possible coalitions and seemingly strange alliances.

It seems that the only constant in the process of forming coalitions following each election is that Arab parties must not, under any circumstances, be allowed into a future government. Decision-making in Israel has historically been reserved for the country’s Jewish elites. This is unlikely to change anytime soon.

Even when the Arab parties’ coalition, the Joint List, imposed itself as a possible kingmaker following the September 2019 elections, the centrist Kahol Lavan (Blue and White) list refused to join forces with Arab politicians to oust Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Kahol Lavan’s leader, Benny Gantz, preferred to go back to the polls on March 2 and eventually join forces with his arch-enemy, Netanyahu, than make a single concession to the Joint List.

Gantz’s decision did not only expose how racism occupies a central role in Israeli politics, but also illustrated Gantz’s own foolishness. In rejecting the Joint List, he committed an act akin to political suicide. On the very day, March 26, that he joined a Netanyahu-led coalition, his own Blue and White alliance collapsed, with Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid and Moshe Ya’alon of Telem breaking away immediately from the once-dominant coalition.

Worse, Gantz lost not just the respect of his own political constituency, but of the Israeli public as well. According to an opinion poll released by Israel’s Channel 12 News on December 15, if elections were to be held on that day, Gantz’s Blue and White would receive only 6 seats out of 120 seats available in the Israeli Knesset. Gantz’s former coalition partner, Yesh Atid, according to the same poll, would obtain an impressive 14 seats.

While Netanyahu’s Likud Party will remain on top with 27 seats, Gideon Sa’ar’s “New Hope – Unity for Israel,” would come a close second with 21 seats. Sa’ar’s is a brand new party, which represents the first major split from the Likud since the late Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, formed the offshoot Kadima party in 2005.

Netanyahu and Sa’ar have a long history of bad blood between them, and although anything is possible in the formation of Israel’s political alliances, a future right-wing coalition that brings them both together is a dim possibility. If Sa’ar has learned anything from Gantz’s act of political self-mutilation, it is that any coalition with Netanyahu is a grave and costly mistake.

Ideological differences between Netanyahu and Sa’ar are quite minimal. In fact, both are fighting to obtain the vote of essentially the same constituency – although Sa’ar is hoping to extend his appeal to the disgruntled and betrayed Blue and White voters, who are eager to see someone – anyone – oust Netanyahu.

Never in the history of Israel, spanning seven decades, had a single individual served as the focal point of the country’s many political currents. While beloved by some, Netanyahu is much loathed by many, to the extent that entire parties or whole coalitions are formed simply to remove him from politics. That in mind, the majority of Israelis agree that the man is corrupt, as he has been indicted in three separate criminal cases.

However, if this is the case, how is a politically controversial and corrupt leader able to remain at the helm of Israeli politics for over 14 years? The typical answer often alludes to the man’s unmatched skills of manipulation and backdoor shady dealings. In the words of Yossi Verter, writing in the daily Haaretz, Netanyahu is “a first-class master swindler”.

This analysis alone, however, is not enough to explain Netanyahu’s durability as the longest-serving Israeli Prime Minister. There is an alternative reading, however, one that is predicated on the fact that Israel has been, for quite some time, navigating uncharted political territories without a specific destination in mind.

Prior to the inception of Israel on the ruins of historic Palestine in 1948, Israel’s Jewish political elites clashed quite often over the best way to colonize Palestine, how to deal with the British Mandate over the country, among other weighty subjects. These differences, however, largely faded away in 1948, when the newly-founded country unified under the banner of Mapai – the predecessor to Israel’s current Labor party – which dominated Israeli politics for decades.

Mapai’s dominance received a major boost after the Israeli occupation of the remainder of Palestine in 1967. The building and expansion of more Jewish colonies in the newly-acquired territories breathed life into the mission of Israel’s founding fathers. It was as if Zionism, the founding ideology of Israel, was rediscovered once more.

It was not until 1977 that the erstwhile negligible Israeli right formed a government for the first time in the country’s history. That date also ushered in a new age of political instability, which worsened with time. Still, Israeli politicians remained largely committed to three main causes in this specific order: the Zionist ideology, the party and the politicians’ own interests.

The assassination of the Labor Party leader, Yitzhak Rabin, at the hands of a right-wing Israeli zealot in 1995, was a bloody manifestation of the new era of unprecedented fragmentation that followed. A decade later, when Sharon declared the ‘Disengagement from Gaza’ plan of 2005, he further upset a barely functioning political balance, leading to the formation of Kadima, which threatened to erase the Likud from the political map.

Throughout these turbulent times, Netanyahu was always present, playing the same divisive role, as usual. He led the incitement against Rabin and, later, challenged Sharon over the leadership of the Likud. On the other hand, he was also responsible for resurrecting the Likud and he kept it alive notwithstanding its many ideological, political and leadership crises. The latter fact explains Likud’s loyalty to Netanyahu, despite his corruption, nepotism and dirty politics. They feel that, without Netanyahu’s leadership, the Likud could easily follow the same path of irrelevance or total demise as was the case with the Labor and Kadima parties, respectively.

With none of Israel’s founding fathers alive or relevant in the political arena, it is hard to imagine what course Israel’s future politics will follow. Certainly, the love affair with the settlement enterprise, ‘security’ and war is likely to carry on unhindered, as they are the bread and butter of Israeli politics. Yet, without a clear ideology, especially when combined with the lack of a written Constitution, Israeli politics will remain hostage to the whims of politicians and their personal interests, if not that of Netanyahu, then of someone else.

The post A Country in Turmoil: Why Netanyahu is a Symptom, Not Cause of Israel’s Political Crisis first appeared on Dissident Voice.