Notes on Patriotism

First of all, look up Emma Goldman’s screed about patriotism and give it a gander if you never have.

Yesterday morning, WNYC’s “The Take Away” had a whole segment about whether you/we are proud to be Americans… based on something Tim Geithner said last week: that the way to be patriotic is to pay your taxes.

I listened for a half hour to a far right immigrant and a centerish think tank dude talk about how great it is to be an American. I totally agreed with them for the most part but there were barely any caveats. Of course it’s great for a number of reasons I don’t have to get into. I had to turn it off because of what was not being acknowledged in a very direct manner: Of all the [Western] countries that we helped after World War II, the good ol’ U.S.A. ranks LAST in all sorts of categories. My point is that if you’re really patriotic, you need to stop cheerleading for the U.S. and work to make it better. At the very least, point it out so the public is aware this all could be better.

Occupy Wall Street and other forums are sure to raise these issues as soon as Spring starts and/or the movie comes out. If NPR wants to live up to the liberal windbag status that Andrew Breitbart gave it, instead of fawning over his legacy with little criticism, they should be covering Tim Geithner’s ties to Wall Street and the free pass he usually gets from the press. They could also do a story about why Reporters Without Borders ranks the U.S. 47th in its “freedom of the press” index.

These are complex issues and I’m sure 2012 will be great year for the movies.

Getting Straight on Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens left this mortal coil late last week before he could say goodbye to Vaclav Havel and Kim Jong Il. I was disturbed by all the eulogies that praised him effusively for having nought but wit, a profuse pen, and a big personality that worked well on cable news. So here are two essays that set the record straight on this propped-up imperialist apologist for the biggest mistake of the previous decade.

Glenn Greenwald compares his canonization with that of Ronald Reagan’s. Greenwald wrote a similar essay when Tim Russert died as a journalist celebrated for softballing any and all propaganda the White House dished out.

Katha Pollitt talks about his drinking and sexism.

Stories of Hitchens’ drinking bouts sometimes landed on the gossip pages and other anecdotes occasionally reached my ears. In the 2000s, he had written enough for me to disagree with him on most points so I accepted his essential schtick — the smart, drunk, party guy from the left who flipped out after 9/11 — but I was surprised anyone of the left or libertarian bent took him seriously anymore, especially his pity party at Vanity Fair. As Pollitt says, he will be missed because he was larger than life. After that, it’s the booze talking.

Let the Robots Fight It Out?

Barbara Ehrenreich’s essay ends on a strangely positive note. She doesn’t adequately consider the human generational aspects in her conclusion. The motivations of war machines to invent new killing machines, new enemies, and new bureaucracies to administer them is directly proportional to their survival instincts and economic necessity. No matter how inhuman and robot-ful war becomes, only human extinction will take out the human factor. Steve Featherstone concluded much the same in his Harper’s essay a few year back (subscription req’d). It’s a rather nice Star Trek sort of sci-fi fantasy though. Have a nice day!

Chalkhead Mentalities

chalkheads, night

If you’ve been following Glenn Greenwald, you don’t need to read this, but if you haven’t, it’s a must-read. Beginning with Eisenhower’s warnings about the military industrial complex to the Bush Administration’s admittance to phone-tapping (when Greenwald started blogging) to the current anti-Wikileaks campaign, through the present-day campaigns against Wikileaks, Glennzilla traces frightening trends that I’m disappointed more people aren’t talking about. I would like to highlight a few points that Glenn made:
Continue reading “Chalkhead Mentalities”

A Day for New York

The first amendment is alive and well in New York City. “Bloomberg fought back tears as he recalled that on 9/11, “more than 400 of those first responders did not make it out alive. In rushing into those burning buildings, not one of them asked, ‘What God do you pray to?'”
Apologies that I do not have a more grandiose photo. This is the High Line sort of looking like a hot tub.
highline bench

Two Good Documentaries

Hulu has two free documentaries which are necessary viewing whether you’re conservative, liberal, radical, communist, or an independent weirdo.

  • The Corporation – The beginning of “too big to fail” which is anathema to capitalism. It starts out sounding heavily left and critical but gives a fairly balanced view. The film was made by Canadians.
  • Manufacturing Consent – Noam Chomsky’s voice is usually censored from mainstream media which is anathema to free speech. Interestingly, also largely made by Canadians.

You have to put up with ads but that’s free TV. Feel free to discuss anything in these documentaries here or on hulu.

Uncle Wiggly’s Talk


(This photo means a lot to me because at the time it was taken, a friend was inside.)

On Obama’s SOTU speech, he sounded good but he is a tool of the village. He could have remade politics in his first year but he chose status quo. The U.S. presidential pulpit is more powerful than the pope’s and he chose to rubberstamp a lot of what George W. Bush did. The financial industry is lord because of their bonuses and political contributions and even taxes on those bonuses. They rule because money equals speech and those with the most money speak the loudest. Given the continuing war obligations pledged, I don’t see how there is anything left for the American infrastructure, energy, and job creation talked about.