Undernews: October 7, 2013
Undernews: October 7, 2013
Since 1964, the news while there's still time to do something about it
THE PROGRESSIVE REVIEW
Israeli apartheid: the numbersAnother big leak at FukushimaIt could be worse: Ted Cruz's father could
be in the SenateThe canary in the global mineshaftFDA payments from Big Pharma to hear its
sales pitch on drugsNewspapers losing the battleTea Party can't even get its name
rightTop 50 marijuana usersCrime rate declines, but life sentences
soarStupid talk show tricks
Newspapers losing the battle
The Americans who are the most efficient people on earth. . . have invented so wide a range of pithy and hackneyed phrases that they can carry on a conversation without giving a moment's reflection to what they are saying and so leave their minds free to consider the more important matters of big business and fornication - Somerset Maugham
If you challenge the contemporary "communicator," you are likely to find the argument transformed from whatever you thought you were talking about to something quite different -- generally more abstract and grandiose. For example if you are opposed to the communicator's proposed policy on trade you may be accused of being against "change" or "fearful of new ideas" and so forth. There is an hyperbolic quality to this language that shatters one's normal sense of meaning. Simple competence is dubbed "a world-class operation," common efficiency is called "total quality management" a conversation becomes "incredibly transforming," and a gathering of hyper-ambitious and single-minded professionals is called a "renaissance" weekend.
- Sam Smith
becomes the norm
One of the hazards of being a long time journalist is that you get used to some people doing bad things but most other people not giving much of a damn. It used to piss me off but eventually I began to take it for granted. Now I sometimes describe my efforts as drawing animals on the walls of a Lascaux cave of our time. Maybe someone will find it; most likely they won’t.
Yet, like Quakers and existentialists, you can still witness, even if you’ve lost faith, because it is the only chance you have. You either defend justice and the right or you become their silent subverter. Besides, much of what is going wrong is happening in the penumbra of power. If you live far enough away, live a life well removed, and occupy your mind with distant thoughts, loves and occupations, there is still much that sadly you have lost, but you and those around you at least remain remarkably freer than those caught in the trap at the top.
Rummaging through the unrecycled trash heap of the First American Republic, there are little things that still surprise me. Not great catastrophes but trivial matters that also seem deeply revealing.
Like the refusal to let a German author into America because of what he had written about the NSA. Or the Seal kidnappings in countries that are members of the United Nations but which we now treat as if we’re the Chicago cops of the world and they are just part of the global ghetto. Or the Clintons thugging a documentary producer out of his efforts before Hillary Clinton has even announced her campaign.
Small but nasty stuff that most, from perps to media to public, now just take as normal repetitive indicators of how we have given up.
Part of the dirty little reason for this is because the people who used to stand up against such things are far more typically afraid. Churches don’t want to lose their members, universities their big bucks from government and corporations, reporters their jobs, non-profits their funding from foundations that have become co-conspirators with those they once challenged,
I have always been fascinated with stories about, and interviews with, major criminals. How can they possibly justify such a life style? How do they really feel when they kill someone? But over time I have learned from these interviews is that all you have to do is redefine normal and evil becomes just another routine day. The very absence of concern is what lets them act the way they do.
This works as well in politics and not just with Whitey Bulger. Which is why dictatorships often do not need military force to have their way. All they have to do is to get people to shrug their shoulders and look someplace else. As the French say, “It exists.”
The big story of America’s past few decades has been the normalization of wrong. We have lost the sort of major leaders who might challenge it, tell us why it is wrong, and build alternatives.
To be sure, plenty of the less powerful are still on the case, but never in my lifetime have I seen such little support for a better way coming from places like Capitol Hill, churches, universities, and those folks who dub themselves “public intellectuals.”
But while I’m short on faith, I still have a few dreams, one of which is that some black, latino, labor, ecological, youth and women’s organizations will finally discover how to stop defending just their own back yard, and join together in a movement that will make the Tea Party seem a minor anachronism. The numbers are there, the will is waiting, and the soul is just slumbering awaiting the sound of joyous rebellion and creation.
And if you need me, you can find me in one of those caves painting animals on the wall.