Tom Hayden :
Where is Obama’s exit strategy?

The Islamic State wants the Americans to bomb and invade its territory because foreign aggression is the surest way to unite all Sunni factions.

president obama Sept. 10, 2014 speech

President Obama delivers prime-time televised address, Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014. Photo by Saul Loeb / Getty Images.

By Tom Hayden | The Rag Blog | September 10, 2014

A disturbing omission in President Obama’s proposed Iraq War speech was its lack of an exit strategy. Spokesmen for the White House and Pentagon speak of the mission taking years beyond Obama’s tenure.

Once again our country has been invited to support the “long war” doctrine outlined by key Pentagon officials as lasting 50 to 80 years. This long war is probably both unwinnable and unaffordable, but no president and few politicians have the political willingness to acknowledge failure and end it.
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Roger Baker :
America: You’ve got three more years to
drive normally!

Three more years? That’s pretty scary! Surely there must be a mistake in that headline.

zombies and cars

Take me for a ride in your car-car. Image from Luxury4Play.

By Roger Baker | The Rag Blog | September 10, 2014

First in a series

Is it possible that average Americans could have a hard time driving only three years from now? Preposterous, to say the very least! Three more years to drive would be awful scary if it were true. Fortunately, it can’t be true because the USA has been racing ahead, drilling like crazy, with the result that we are now the world’s third biggest oil producer, just behind Russia and Saudi Arabia.

As everyone who follows the news has heard by now, an innovative drilling technology called “fracking” has added about three million barrels a day of new “tight oil” production, from areas of the U.S. like the Bakken in North Dakota, and the Eagle Ford shale in Texas. Obama used to tell us how we need to break our petroleum addiction, but now he can’t bless new drilling enough.  As a result, Americans are feeling better and driving more.
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Jack A. Smith :
The continuing failure of U.S. interventions

At this time of great conflict in the world, U.S. foreign/military policy seems to be intimately connected to virtually everything that’s going wrong.

iraq gis 2

GIs in Iraq. Front line of failed policies. Image from Express-Tribune.

By Jack A. Smith | The Rag Blog | September 10, 2014

The United States insists on throwing its formidable weight around and being recognized as world hegemon, but refuses to take any responsibility for the great number of negative results that emanate from its constant military and political interventions in the affairs of other states and regions.

At this time of great conflict in the world, U.S. foreign/military policy seems to be intimately connected to virtually everything that’s going wrong. Like the bull in a china shop, Uncle Sam’s blundering wreckage is left behind but the rich superpower emerges relatively unscathed to enter into yet another perceived trouble spot requiring its dubious interference.
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dave meggysey
David Meggyesy thinks new UT football coach Charlie Strong “is blowing it” and calls his “Joe Hard-ass” approach “insane” in this Rag Radio interview.

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Jean Trounstine :
A moment of restorative justice

While the U.S.criminal justice system offers revenge as its principal method of restitution, families may find better solutions for achieving remorse and
true rehabilitation.

hands on bars

Image courtesy of National Justice News.

By Jean Trounstine | The Rag Blog | September 9, 2014

It never happens. That’s what the chairman of the Massachusetts Parole Board said on August 26, at the parole hearing for lifer Keyma Mack when families of both the victim and the murderer reached out to each other with sobs of remorse and vows of forgiveness. Mothers, fathers, cousins, siblings — all were refusing to be bound by shame and hatred.

For those of us who witnessed this, it was a moment of grace and an example of why restorative justice was created.

Keyma Mack, who shot Christopher Pires in 1992, was the fourth juvenile in Massachusetts to be eligible for parole and to have his hearing before the seven-member Board. In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark decision, Miller v. Alabama, that enabled this historical moment.
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Friday on Rag Radio: Lamar Hankins discusses the chilling Church of Wells scandal and the Rick Perry indictment.

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Murray Polner :
The Ukrainian mess: Where are the skeptics?

is this another replay of the Vietnam and Iraq eras when our mass media merely echoed government spokespeople?

no fascism

Anti-government poster at a rally on Freedom Square in Kharkiv, April 2014. Image from Creative Commons.

By Murray Polner | The Rag Blog | September 9, 2014

Poor Katrina van den Heuvel and husband Stephen Cohen, she the editor of The Nation and he a scholar of Russian history and the author of a definitive biography of Nikolai Bukharin, who was executed during Stalin’s mad blood purges, and more recently, Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: Stalinism and the New Cold War.

Almost 25 years after the collapse of the USSR, they wrote, “The White House declared a new Cold War on Russia — and that, in a grave failure of representative democracy, there was scarcely a public word of debate, much less opposition, from the American political or media establishment” — not to mention the craven silence of our usually voluble pro-peace groups and liberal Democrats.
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Ron Jacobs :
BOOKS | Mr. Kurtz comes to America

In the spirit of Joseph Conrad, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s ‘Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States’ illuminates the genocidal destruction of the indigenous peoples of North America.

indigenous peoples history

An Indigenous Peoples’ History: Writing from the dark side.

By Ron Jacobs | The Rag Blog | September 8, 2014

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz will make appearances in Austin at BookPeople on Monday, Sept. 15, at 7 p.m.; at the Julius Glickman Conference Center, UT-Austin, Tuesday, Sept. 16, 3:30-5:30 p.m.; and at Resistencia Bookstore, Tuesday, Sept. 16, 7:30 p.m. For more information go here.


[An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz [2014: Beacon Press]; Hardcover; 296 pp; $27.95.]

Joseph Conrad is responsible for some of the best writing on imperialism’s darker side in the English language. The jungles of Marlowe and Kurtz in his classic novel Heart of Darkness remain some of literature’s ugliest manifestations of European hubris and white racism ever written.
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Thorne Dreyer :
PODCAST | Former NFL star David Meggyesy wrote the classic memoir, ‘Out of Their League’

Meggyesy speaks out on the uber-violent ‘military culture’ of pro football. And he calls new UT coach Charlie Strong’s ‘hard-ass’ approach ‘insane.’

dave meggysey

David Meggyesy. Photo by Julia Moore / Mail Tribune.

By Thorne Dreyer | The Rag Blog | September 8, 2014

David Meggyesy, author of the classic football memoir, Out of Their League, is our guest on Rag Radio.

We talk about why he quit the NFL in 1969 at the peak of his career; his 25 years working with the players’ union and his role in bringing free agency to the NFL;  the “war games” nature and extreme violence of today’s football, including head injuries and brain damage, as well as domestic violence, bullying, and related issues; and the O’Bannon class action suit over rights for college athletes.

And why he thinks new Texas football coach Charlie Strong is “blowing it” with his strict disciplinarian approach to coaching.
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Moira Herbst :
THEATER | Brechtomania!

Why Marxist playwright Bertolt Brecht is theater’s hottest old name

threepenny opera pic

Actors F. Murray Abraham, left, and Mary Beth Peil on opening night of Bertolt Brecht’s The Three Penny Opera in New York in April 2014. Photo by Monica Schipper / Getty Images.

By Moira Herbst | Portside | September 7, 2014

The playwright, theorist and poet Bertolt Brecht is known worldwide as a giant of modern theater. But until recently, few theaters — especially in the U.S. — have been staging his plays. Production companies haven’t seen much of a market for the Marxist playwright’s overtly political style and have generally stuck with more familiar, accessible works.

That’s starting to change. Since last year, Brecht suddenly seems to be everywhere. In New York alone, we’ve seen productions of The Good Person of Szechuan (originally translated as The Good Woman of Szechuan), A Man’s a Man, and The Threepenny Opera, which has also been performed in Long Beach, California, Washington, D.C., and Yorkshire, England.
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Harry Targ :
Lies and war!

U.S. administrations ever since Truman have justified aggressive foreign policies by lying and distorting the realities behind complex international relationships.

truman doctrine speech

Harry Truman delivers his Truman Doctrine speech before a joint session of Congress, March 12, 1947. Image from American Rhetoric.

By Harry Targ | The Rag Blog | September 4, 2014

Post-modernists talk about “discourses,” “narratives,” “tropes,” and verbal “deconstructions.” They should be commended for suggesting how words are used to mobilize, inspire, deceive, promote self-interest, and, too often, justify killing everywhere.

Former Arkansas Senator, J. William Fulbright in describing how he was tricked by his old friend President Lyndon Baines Johnson to support a resolution authorizing escalating war in Vietnam said: “A lie is a lie. There is no other way to put it.”
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Marilyn Katz :
It’s time to speak out for Gaza

Why have American politicians and editorial boards been silent in the face of extreme violence?

israeli peace rally

10,000 rally for peace in Tel Aviv, August 16, 2014. Image from Counter Current News.

By Marilyn Katz | The Rag Blog | September 3, 2014

The latest seven-week war in Gaza is over. More than 2,000 people are dead — most of them civilians, 500 of them children. At least 10,000 people have been injured, and 500,000 are homeless. Yet there have been few words of criticism from our nation’s editorial boards or political leadership for these reprehensible, tragic events.

What has happened to us? Where is our sense of outrage at the deaths of thousands of innocents that we show when a single American, 200 airline passengers, or three Israeli youths are killed?
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