Tag Archives | America

Revolutionary Potential: Default En Masse

$alt BlogAn op-ed in the New York Times from June, entitled “Why I Defaulted on My Student Loans,” features a picture of a bank-note burning like a draft-card in the Vietnam days. The story begins atomized as the author, Lee Siegel, recalls taking out his first student loan along with his parents at the age of 17, to be met with ‘congratulations,’ from the banker, “as if I had just won some kind of award rather than signed away my young life.”

Soon after, the author was faced with a decision. He could give up on his dreams of being a writer to pursue a life of quiet desperation, working a shit job for shit pay to pay off his massive student debt. Or he could default. The author says, “I could take what I had been led to believe was both the morally and legally reprehensible step of defaulting on my student loans, which was the only way I could survive without wasting my life in a job that had nothing to do with my particular usefulness to society.”

They decided on the latter noting that “It struck me as absurd that one could amass crippling debt as a result, not of drug addiction or reckless borrowing and spending, but of going to college.” As a result of this absurdity “having opened a new life to me beyond my modest origins, the education system was now going to call in its chits and prevent me from pursuing that new life, simply because I had the misfortune of coming from modest origins.”

As a result, Siegel notes that “The banks that made them have all gone under.… Read the rest

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America’s most lethal animal

Animal attacks have been in the news a lot. Late last year, a 22-year-old student in New Jersey was killed by a black bear he had been photographing. This summer, swimmers off the coast of North Carolina have suffered a record number of shark attacks, several of which resulted in amputations. And early in July, a 28-year-old Texas swimmer who ignored warning signs was killed by an alligator.

Of course, not all human-killing animals are so large. Each year, dozens of Americans die due to bites by venomous snakes, lizards and spiders. Other small animals such as ticks and fleas, though not naturally outfitted with their own lethal weaponry, can nonetheless kill by transmitting deadly infections, such as Powassan virus.

Worldwide, the animal responsible for by far the greatest number of human deaths is just such an insect that transmits a deadly infection: the mosquito.… Read the rest

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Self-centeredness, Anti-intellectualism — What is Killing America?

Source: Pixabay

Source: Pixabay

In response to David Niose’s article “Anti-intellectualism Is Killing America,” Ravi Chandra argues that it is actually self-centeredness which is killing America.

Here’s some of Niose’s argument:

Social dysfunction can be traced to the abandonment of reason.

Decrying racism and gun violence is fine, but for too long America’s social dysfunction has continued to intensify as the nation has ignored a key underlying pathology: anti-intellectualism.

America is killing itself through its embrace and exaltation of ignorance, and the evidence is all around us. Dylann Roof, the Charleston shooter who used race as a basis for hate and mass murder, is just the latest horrific example. Many will correctly blame Roof’s actions on America’s culture of racism and gun violence, but it’s time to realize that such phenomena are directly tied to the nation’s culture of ignorance.

In a country where a sitting congressman told a crowd that evolution and the Big Bang are“lies straight from the pit of hell,”(link is external) where the chairman of a Senate environmental panel brought a snowball(link is external) into the chamber as evidence that climate change is a hoax, where almost one in three citizens can’t name the vice president(link is external), it is beyond dispute that critical thinking has been abandoned as a cultural value.

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Why The New World Order Will Fail

Why-The-New-World-Order-Will-Fail- 600
Why The New World Order Will Fail!

When someone mentions “The New World Order,” it conjures up thoughts of conspiracy involving the Illuminati, the Freemasons, Skull and Bones, old privileged family wealth and royal lineage. Beneath that you think of the already bought and paid for world leaders and the secret agenda. And you might be right.

When I think of the New World Order, I’m thinking of an idea. It’s an idea that’s as old as war itself. How many times must we keep hearing this same ideology? Every single empire from the beginning of man had this same dream. You know the one, the dream of controlling everything beneath the sky from horizon to horizon.

Nothing has changed in thousands of years except the horizons and the dreamers. When all you could see was the Aztec Empire, then controlling that was good enough. When all anyone could see was the Roman Empire, then that was good enough.… Read the rest

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Help Wanted, Now Hiring – Leader of the United States

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I view America like this: 70 to 80% [are] pretty reasonable people that truthfully, if they sat down, even on contentious issues, would get along.
And the other 20 percent of the country run it. ”

— Jon Stewart, The Daily Show

On the heels of President Obama’s and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s on-going food fight, Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails and foreign contributions to her foundation, more shootings in Ferguson, and Congressional gridlock over budgets – we will hire a new President next year. Our recent hires have struggled: President Obama’s job approval averaged 42.6 percent for 2014 and former President Bush averaged 37 percent his second term. Congress approval in 2014 averaged a historic low of 15 percent. Americans now tell Gallup that government is our number one problem – even surpassing the economy.

Here is the rub: We get the leadership we select. If we want better leaders we must upgrade our selection criteria.

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A Frightful Prospect: Hillary vs. Jeb

"Jeb Bush by Gage Skidmore 2" by Gage Skidmore. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Jeb Bush by Gage Skidmore 2” by Gage Skidmore. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Andrew Levine via CounterPunch:

Around the world, elections happen; they are scheduled or called and then they are over and done with – all in short order. America is “exceptional.” Even before 2015’s April showers, 2016’s November election is taking shape.

The good news is that the first six months are usually low key. There is no reason to expect that this year will be different.

There is therefore plenty of time to stock up on anti-emetics. If, as seems likely, Hillary and Jeb become the candidates, the need for them will be acute.

There is time too to pray to a merciful God that we will not have to endure that nightmarish scenario, and that neither of those miscreants will ever see the inside of the Oval Office again.

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“Zero Tolerance” Policies in Schools Are Not the Answer

Marie (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Marie (CC BY-SA 2.0)

“Zero Tolerance,” modeled after the “broken windows” theory, has become common place in American school districts. Different infractions of varying degrees: possessing a weapon, smoking a cigarette in the bathroom, continual tardiness, and “willful defiance,” can result in suspension. These policies began to take hold during the Bloomberg years in high-poverty, urban school systems. Of course, this harsh attitude leads to higher suspension rates, which puts students at risk of “failing a grade, dropping out, or becoming incarcerated.”

Nonetheless, some school districts are wising up to the failures of zero tolerance policing. The suspension rate for LA schools fell by 53% after they banned suspensions “for subjective offenses such as ‘willful defiance.'” In contrast, LA graduation rates rose by 12%.

Carly Berwick at The Atlantic writes:

It turns out that there are plenty of options, and that’s where progressive education steps in. Indeed, many of these options hark back to the era of early 20th-century schooling, when educators pushed back against the teaching philosophies typical of the 1800s: an emphasis on rote memorization and physical obedience, for one.

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American democracy is doomed

Via Vox

Via Vox.

Via Matthew Yglesias at Vox:

America’s constitutional democracy is going to collapse.

Some day — not tomorrow, not next year, but probably sometime before runaway climate change forces us to seek a new life in outer-space colonies — there is going to be a collapse of the legal and political order and its replacement by something else. If we’re lucky, it won’t be violent. If we’re very lucky, it will lead us to tackle the underlying problems and result in a better, more robust, political system. If we’re less lucky, well, then, something worse will happen.

Very few people agree with me about this, of course. When I say it, people generally think that I’m kidding. America is the richest, most successful country on earth. The basic structure of its government has survived contested elections and Great Depressions and civil rights movements and world wars and terrorist attacks and global pandemics.

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‘The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one’

thierry ehrmann (CC BY 2.0)

thierry ehrmann (CC BY 2.0)

Robert Frisk writes at The Independent:

Uri Avnery is without doubt the most intellectual, philosophical, prescient leftist Israeli seer I have ever met. Like TS Eliot, he has a habit of using the fewest words to tell the greatest truth. Every essay he writes, this reader always says the same thing: Exactly! Yet, for the first time in 40 years, I disagree with the great man.

He has just suggested that Benjamin Netanyahu’s agreement to address the US Congress at the invitation of Republicans tomorrow– two weeks before an Israeli general election – and Barack Obama’s decision not to see the old rogue, has destroyed Israel’s bipartisan support in America. For the first time, says Uri, Democratic politicians are allowed to criticise Israel.

Absolute Tosh.

Congressmen of both parties have grovelled and fainted and shrieked their support for Bibi and his predecessors with more enthusiasm than the Roman hordes in the Colosseum.

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