The Weekly Watch
Alabama, Cults, and Circles
Well finally some good news from an Alabama election....not all is bad in this state with such a bad reputation. There's good and bad everywhere I guess. Alabama does have cults. Have you read Salvation on Sand Mountain? I taught many children from the Holiness Church discussed in the book, but that's not the kind of cult I have in mind. It is the cult of media that Max Blumenthal talks about that we'll discuss in today's column. Then finally we'll go round and round the news cycle and end up celebrating the longest night of the year.
Jimmy Dore had a couple of pieces on Alabama's election
The first clip is a look at a Guardian article on lessons learned
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZgL1yDDi-Zg (17 min)
and the second is a take on Barkley's comments to the democrats
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lw0oXIjsEXU (22 min)
When Jimmy questions black folks voting for Moore, my guess is the ever present religious fervor with a healthy dose of homophobia played a role. I also think Shelby's comments right before the election relieved many republicans, and really encouraged them not to bother to vote.
Paul Jay and Nina Turner have a similar take (28 min or text)
So does Shaun King https://theintercept.com/2017/12/15/charles-barkley-doug-jones-democrats...
Joe Reed long time education lobbyist and Alabama leader in an insightful interview.
Thankfully the black community showed up to vote and put Jones a nose ahead. The electorate was 65% white, 30% black, 2% Latino. For a detailed analysis of the voters see:
That blue swath through the center of the state is the Black Belt. Many people think it is called that because of the people that live there, but actually it is the soil type. The moon shaped crescent of the black belt was native grassland...prairie where mastodons and buffalo grazed. It was the bread basket of the Confederacy with it's fertile soils and large plantations.
There are other good aspects about Alabama. It has a rich natural history. It competes with much larger California as the most ecologically diverse state. This is at the heart of my love of Alabama. Just look at all the systems in the lower coastal plain which E. O. Wilson discusses below.
Scientist E.O. Wilson, born in Birmingham and raised in Mobile, in a clip from "America's Amazon," talks about the biodiversity found in the Mobile River Basin, in particular the Mobile-Tensaw Delta. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tyv3aD4GcOU (1 min)
If you enjoyed that clip here's the entire piece, America's Amazon (57 min)
Wilson is working to save more than a piece of Alabama. He wants to set aside half the natural world.
As species go extinct at 1,000 times the normal rate thanks to human interference, E. O. Wilson’s book “Half Earth” holds a bold plan to preserve the world’s biodiversity: set aside half of the entire planet for natural habitats. (6.5 min)
The other thing that makes me feel positive about this backward third world state (with a constitution designed to keep the elite whites in power) involves all the people who have struggled against this unjust and often inhumane system. Many are well known...
Julia Tutwiler who worked for women's education and prison reform
Booker T. Washington who was the first leader of the Tuskegee Institute
Helen Keller who over came her disabilities to become a leading socialist
And although he was born in Atlanta, perhaps we can claim Dr. King who did so much work here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Luther_King_Jr.
But I'm really speaking about all those unsung heroes. The foot soldiers of the struggle. People like my mentors Cliff and Virginia Durr
And their New deal friends like Aubry Williams http://www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/article/h-1056
I often describe Alabama as a third world state where waists are wide and minds are narrow...and there's much truth in the description. Yet there is incredible natural beauty and there are all those who have struggled to improve the fate of first nations peoples, people of color, and poor folks...the ones who seem to always bear the brunt of our inhumanity.
Well on to the rest of the nation and world.
So how do these tax cuts become law? Haven't we already made a big enough mess in the Middle East without provoking a war with Iran? How can a theocratic pedophile almost become a Senator? Why do we cause our biosphere degrade? Why are we so blind?
The cult of corporate media...
Instead of explaining how it reported a false story on Russiagate, CNN brought on neocon David Frum to defend it. Max Blumenthal says that's a "window into a cult created around Russiagate." (19 min or text) http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=767&...
How about the op-eds written by corporate interest and presented as fair and balanced?
Corporate media is good at...Keeping secrets
Bill Binny and Jimmy Dore
If you have not seen “A Good American” about Bill Binney, it is worth your time (2 min trailer)
(I think it is still playing on Netflix – h/t Mark from Queens)
The Oligarchs are celebrating the loss of Net Neutrality and tax cuts for billionaires.
Paul Jay explains you have to look at the Democratic Party and the corporate Democrats who created the conditions for the rise of Trump. There was an enormous increase in income inequality during the Obama presidency. This is wrapped in a request for donations (2 min or text)
The arrogance of the 1% is palpable. Here's a video Pai recorded with the right-wing publication the Daily Caller, in which the FCC chair and former Verizon lawyer outlines "a few of the things you will still be able to do on the Internet after these Obama-era regulations are repealed"—which include "take selfies with your pets" and "binge watch your favorite shows." (article with 2 min clip)
Open internet defenders are urging the public to not be swayed by the proliferation of "net neutrality is officially dead" headlines—the fight is "not over," they say.
The FCC repeal of net neutrality is dangerous, but with court challenges and more grassroots activism on the way, it can still be stopped, says Craig Aaron of Free Press... We can hope. (10 min or text)
Perhaps the ruling will lead to public broadband
Richard Wolff and Thom discuss the horrid tax bill as a driver of ever more inequality.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdSbTPofmBg (9 min)
As Richard says, no economists think this tax plan is a good idea
Trump slipped up and (correctly) called the GOP plan the "biggest tax increase" in American history. https://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/12/15/trump-just-accidentally-tol...
Bob Reich explains the fallacy of the tax plan in simple terms. https://www.truthdig.com/articles/guide-trump-republican-tax-plan-disgra...
Max and Stacy discuss the proposal to send Erik Prince’s private army to secure the trillions of dollars of national resources in ... Afghanistan. And while the elite like Prince rig the system at the top to dole out free money for oligarchs, so too must the bottom 99% game the complex Obamacare system in order to get free healthcare. It is the collapse of the empire. (1st 15 min)
And we wonder why in the United States, one of the world’s wealthiest nations, 41 million people are living in poverty. https://www.truthdig.com/articles/heart-poverty-united-states/
The US has become a corporatocracy (as evidenced by the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality) run by greedy oligarchs who love war (consider the tax scam). The revolution will not come to us. We must create the change we want to see. https://www.truthdig.com/articles/revolution-u-s-brewing/
In Trump’s world, myths and “alternative facts” replace verifiable truth, prudence or any sense of humility. “Believe me,” he assures us. Americans must reject this.
Recommendations from the DNC Unity Commission will go to the Rules and Bylaws Committee, “There are virtually no Bernie supporters on the Rules and Bylaws Committee.” says Jim Zogby (who was removed from the Executive Committee by Perez),
Jeremy Corbyn is having his own challenges within the Labour Party.
The plan is obvious. Privatize schools to control content, profit, and people.
But there's a problem with these charter and voucher schools...they teach creationism, racism and sexism. They’re also taking your tax dollars.
Educators of all stripes... classroom teachers, principals, and district superintendents... are highly skeptical of vouchers, charter schools, and tax-credit scholarships.
Studies have long shown a high correlation of harsh, zero-tolerance discipline practices and out-of-school suspensions to eventual involvement in the criminal justice system. So DeVos and T-rump plan to end the restrictions on discipline policies and to encourage out-of-school suspensions (which is disproportionally applied to black and brown school children and students with disabilities).
We know one of the best strategies is to start children (especially at-risk kids) early. Tulsa OK provides the first long-term study of a universal pre-K program that shows how kids benefit.
War and domination
Another good intercepted podcast with former Nixon White House counsel John Dean about the Mueller investigation, how the CIA and military may benefit from Trump’s presidency, and how Trump stacks up to Nixon and Reagan. Then Daniel Ellsberg talks about the classified secrets he has kept for decades. Jeremy takes on the false news report about the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks that was aggressively promoted by CNN, MSNBC, and CBS. The co-director of “American Carnage,” Farihah Zaman talks about Bannon. It concludes with Patterson Hood of the band Drive-By Truckers who talks about growing up in Alabama with the civil rights struggle and George Wallace.
The United States faces a trap of its own making. For decades, this country has forcibly overthrown regimes it deemed to be hostile to US interests. North Korea fears that it is next. https://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/12/16/stopping-armageddon
Mohammad Saba'aneh, Palestinian Cartoonist, discusses the Israeli occupation of Palestine through his political cartoons with Chris Hedges (26 min)
US Ambassador Nikki Halley's speech on alleged Iranian violations was even less convincing than Colin Powell's fraudulent UN presentation on Iraqi WMDs, says Trita Parsi
Talks aimed at transferring US nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia serve as an indicator of where the Saudi-Iranian rivalry is heading as well as the strength of the informal Saudi-Israeli alliance against Iran. http://therealnews.com/t2/component/content/article/473-james-m-dorsey/3...
And let's just have a private CIA. Sounds profitable to me.
Hey there's some good news...The World Bank and the world's third largest insurer, AXA, just announced it will divest from coal, tar sands and tar sands pipelines. (video and text)
Costa Rica, which has among the cleanest electrical grids in the world, has just passed a law promoting electric vehicles https://www.truthdig.com/articles/costa-rica-passes-law-promoting-electr...
"These changes will impact all of our lives," Mathis said. "They will mean living with more extreme weather events, paying higher food prices and dealing with the impacts of climate refugees."
Migration to the US is just beginning as the ravages of climate chaos strike in Central America.
Well They are already circling the wagons
But I want to focus on natural circles...the ones that hearken back to our connections. Our little revolution around the sun is about to shift light and energy back toward the northern hemisphere.
I find it interesting how so many cultures think of the universe as a circle (usually incorporating four corners, directions, or sides)
... the Power of the World always works in circles, and everything tries to be round. In the old days when we were a strong and happy people, all our power came to us from the sacred hoop of the nation, and so long as the hoop was unbroken, the people flourished. The flowering tree was the living center of the hoop, and the circle of the four quarters nourished it. The east gave peace and light, the south gave warmth, the west gave rain, and the north with its cold and mighty wind gave strength and endurance.
This knowledge came to us from the outer world with our religion. Everything the Power of the World does is done in a circle. The sky is round, and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball, and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls. Birds make their nests in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours. The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle. The moon does the same, and both are round. Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back again to where they were. The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves.
Black Elk (1863-1950) - Oglala Sioux
Mandala is a Sanskrit word meaning "circle". It is a spiritual symbol representing the universe in Hinduism and Buddhism (although it has become a generic term for any diagram, chart or geometric pattern that represents the cosmos). The basic form of most mandalas is a square with four gates containing a circle with a center point. Each gate is in the general shape of a T. Mandalas often exhibit radial balance.
Medieval alchemists used the Quadratura Circuli, or squared circle, to represent the synthesis of the four elements — earth, water, fire and air. Carl Jung says “they knew in those days that the circle meant the deity” and later that “the idea of those philosophers was that God manifested himself first in the creation of the four elements. They were symbolized by the four partitions of the circle.”
So round and round we go. Good and bad, bad and good. It is a real skill to focus on the good while being aware of the bad. The interview with Patterson Hood of the band Drive-By Truckers on intercepted this week talked a little about George Wallace, a man who seemed to haunt Patterson. He did many bad things. He also built community colleges within driving distance of everyone in the state. He also really improved the roads (of course his brother Gerald was AlaDOT chairman). May be there's even something good about T-rump? I thought for a minute he might reduce our global quest and footprint, but alas, no.
So, I hope your path is peaceful and happy - more good than bad - and your ride 'round the circle of life is fulfilling!