Tom Hayden :
From Vietnam to Iraq, lessons never learned

We cannot trust the ‘best and brightest’ to have the answers any more than students trusted their pedigreed elders 50 years ago.

tom hayden ann arbor 1969

Tom Hayden speaks at the Vietnam Moratorium in Ann Arbor in 1969. Photo by Jay Cassidy / Courtesy of Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan.

By Tom Hayden | The Rag Blog | September 17, 2014

[The following remarks, provided to The Rag Blog in advance, will be included in a speech that Tom Hayden will deliver tonight, Wednesday, September 17, 2014, at Angell Hall on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor, on the lessons of Vietnam for Iraq. Angell Hall was the site of the first Vietnam teach-in in 1965.]

ANN ARBOR, Michigan — I am joining many peace groups around America in expressing opposition to the escalation of the Iraq War into a quagmire that is likely to be costly in lives, tax dollars, and our tarnished reputation.

Ann Arbor is the place, along with Berkeley, where the young American peace movement demanded a teach-in, an end to campus business as usual, an end to intellectual conformity, and congressional hearings as we confronted the growing horror of the Vietnam War.
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Jonah Raskin :
BOOKS | Cultural historian McNally takes readers on a long strange trip

For those who lived through the era and still care about issues of class, race, and gender, ‘Highway 61′ is the book to read about American music.

on highway 61

On Highway 61 will awaken memories and stir the heart.

By Jonah Raskin | The Rag Blog | September 16, 2014

[On Highway 61: Music, Race and the Evolution of Cultural Freedom by Dennis McNally (October 2014: Counterpoint); Hardcover; 384 pages; ; $28.]

Dennis McNally’s publisher might have persuaded him to call his new book A Dead Head Looks At American Music, or The Head Dead Head’s Guide to Jazz, the Blues and Bob Dylan. After all McNally served for many years as the Grateful Dead’s publicist and historian. The author of A Long Strange Trip: The Inside History of the Grateful Dead, he knows the Dead and the Deadheads, too.

His forte as an author lies in his ability to look back at the history of American music through the eyes of the Grateful Dead and from the perspective of the cultural upheavals of the Sixties.
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Harry Targ :
Obama and the myth that ‘war works’

Twentieth century narratives of international relations are no longer relevant (if they ever were).

soldiers in Afghanistan

The unwinnable war: Soldiers in Afghanistan. Photo from Getty Images.

By Harry Targ | The Rag Blog | September 16, 2014

President Barack Obama spoke to the nation Wednesday night, September 10, about the need to “degrade and destroy” the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). For him ISIS (he calls them the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant or ISIL which culls up the good old days of Western Empire in the region) constitutes “a small group of killers.” This small group of killers threatens the stability of Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and other regional states and Europe. Furthermore, he said, if unchecked some of them may even threaten the security of the United States as well.

The President reported that the United States had already been carrying out large scale air strikes against targets in Iraq, has been working to create a new more diverse Iraqi government in Baghdad, and is building a regional coalition to respond to the threat.
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Alan Waldman :
Australian true-crime series ‘Underbelly’ not for faint-hearted

This powerful show chronicles actual bloody underworld wars and police malfeasance in Sydney and Melbourne from 1976 to 2004.

underbelly s3

By Alan Waldman | The Rag Blog | September 15, 2014

[In his weekly column, Alan Waldman reviews some of his favorite films and TV series that readers may have missed, including TV dramas, mysteries, and comedies from Canada, England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Scotland. Most are available on DVD and/or Netflix, and some episodes are on YouTube.]

Underbelly is the overall title of three exceptionally fine Australian 13-part TV drama series that tell the true stories (virtually blow-by-blow histories) of actual drug gang wars and police efforts to solve crimes, hampered in many cases by major corruption.
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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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lamar hankins 2
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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