The United States political system, we are told repeatedly, is the gold standard for the world.
Image from Philosophers for Change.
Through her decades of entertaining on stage and screen, [Joan] Rivers developed numerous classic bits and catchphrases, but three small words stand above the rest: “Can we talk?” (Kelli Bender @kbendernyc, 09/04/2014, also at People.com)
I never liked comedienne Joan Rivers who died recently. But her famous one-line introduction to talk show interviewers and stand-up performances is a powerful reminder that certain subjects might be dangerous to discuss in polite company. Whether the United States political system is a democratic one is such a subject.
Everything we Americans have learned since infancy suggests that the United States is a democracy. In fact, the United States political system, we are told repeatedly, is the gold standard for the world.
Arthur Hertzberg believed that the quasi-religious reverence for Israel, right or wrong, tainted the beauty and grandeur of Judaism.
New York Jews say “No!” to the Israeli occupation, August 2011.
One of the smartest, most courageous and provocative rabbis I ever knew was Arthur Hertzberg, raised in a Hasidic family, a congregational rabbi, historian of Jewish life and Zionism, university professor, a member of the Zionist Jewish Agency who once publicly rebuked Prime Minister Golda Meir for her pro-Vietnam War views, and regularly criticized Israel’s occupation and settlement policies.
Hertzberg, who died in 2006, also took on American Jews for their unquestioning worship of Israel, wondering as well if Zionism and Judaism were identical. Judaism, he once told me (he wrote a regular column in a magazine I edited) was a faith of universal morality, not a nationality. The quasi-religious reverence for Israel, right or wrong, tainted the beauty and grandeur of Judaism. Too many rabbis, he wrote (in an article which inspired me to write a book about American rabbis), resembled “institutional executives” and were “entertainers” in sparsely attended non-Orthodox synagogues.
They are protesting the police killings and forced disappearances of students in the Mexican
state of Guerrero.
Thousands of striking university students and representatives of social organizations demonstrate in Mexico City, Wednesday, October 14, 2014. Photo by Mario Marlo / Somoselmedio.org
By Johnny Hazard | The Rag Blog | October 16, 2014
MEXICO CITY — Students at most public universities in the Mexico City metropolitan area are on strike for 24 to 48 hours. The student strike is part of the continuing protests against the September 26 police killings of five and forced disappearance of 43 students from the teacher preparation school in Ayotzinapa, Tixtla, Guerrero.
The students were ambushed — some shot, some kidnapped — by local police in Iguala, Guerrero, on September 25 and 26. On Tuesday, federal officials announced that, based on DNA evidence, at least some of the mass graves — which, according to cops who have been detained in connection with the crimes, contain the bodies of the students — in fact contain other corpses.
Posted in RagBlog
Tagged Angel Aguirre, Educational Reform, Guerrero, Instituto Politecnico Nacional, Johnny Hazard, Mexican Massacre, Mexican Student Movement, Mexican Student Strike, Mexico, Police Repression, Rag Bloggers
The first time I remember his face it had a smile directed toward me and I smiled back. From then on, when we saw each other we smiled.
Davey Brinn. Photo courtesy Lisa Belli.
My friend Davey Brinn died. It’s been over a year, closer to 18 months, but I just found out. We hadn’t seen each other for over 20 years. Somewhere along the way we lost touch with each other. Then we reconnected. Our reunion was only via email but it was one of my best days of this millennium. I wanted to see him — in my mind I started making plans. But I didn’t. And then he died.
Life plays funny tricks on you if you take it for granted. I thought I was pretty good in that regard. I slipped up on that one.
Posted in RagBlog
Tagged Austin Activists, Austin History, Civil Disobedience, Davey Brinn, Direct Action, East Lansing, Ken Wachsberger, Kent State, Mental Health, Michigan State, Radical Politics, Rag Bloggers, Sixties, Underground Press
‘The City is Ours’ examines both politically and socially the squatters’ movement in Europe over the past 40 years and provides a template for the movement’s future.
Essays on the squatters’ movement in Europe.
[The City is Ours: Squatting and Autonomous Movements in Europe from the 1970s to the Present, edited by Bart van der Steen, Ask Katzeff, and Leendert van Hoogenhuijze (September 2014: PM Press); Paperback; 336 pp; $21.95.]
British novelist Doris Lessing wrote a novel titled The Good Terrorist. The story revolves around an autonomous leftist cell in London that decides to step up their participation in the struggle against capitalism and imperialism by providing material support to the IRA. Eventually, the cell moves on to taking their own armed actions, which result in the death of one of their members.
The main character in the novel, a woman named Alice, has political and moral disagreements with the course she and her comrades have taken but remains committed to the course of action. The cell’s living quarters is in a squatted building in London. Unlike her fellow squatters, Alice takes an active interest in making the squat a livable quarters. Lessing’s descriptions of the squat and the work undertaken to make it livable are why I mention this work of fiction.
While the U.S. government lauds its Mexican counterpart, a new mass grave appears to contain bodies of ‘disappeared’ education students.
Students of the Instituto Politécnico Nacional are shown marching on Friday, September 30. 2014. They took over part of this highway, known as Circuito Interior, en route to various government buildings. Photo by Luis Ramírez Tamayo.
MEXICO CITY — By now many in the U.S. and most in Mexico have seen the evidence of what we feared: Mass graves were discovered Saturday that appear to contain the bodies of almost half of the about 50 education students murdered or “disappeared” since September 26 in Iguala, Guerrero.
Most were students of a “rural normal,” a teacher preparation school in Tixtla, Guerrero, in southwest Mexico. (Acapulco, Zihuatanejo, and Ixtapa are famous places in Guerrero, but the state as a whole is one of the poorest places in Latin America and was home to two major guerrilla movements in the 1970s.)
Aging Berkeley radicals and young undergrads mark the anniversary of the FSM in a gathering that’s short on nostalgia, long on hope, zero on regret.
FSM vets and Berkeley students gather for rally, October 1, 2014 Photo by William Pinkus / The Rag Blog.
BERKELEY — Lynne Hollander Savio served as the MC for the event and played a tape of her husband, Mario, delivering his famous speech in which he invites fellow students to “put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop!”
Mike Smith of the Oakland Seven stood behind Lynne Hollander Savio and held an American flag. Sixties radical and UC Santa Cruz professor, Bettina Aptheker, spoke, as did Dolores Huerta of the United Farm Workers (UVF), plus Jack Weinberg, who noted famously ages ago, “Don’t trust anyone over the age of 30.”
Posted in RagBlog
Tagged Bettina Aptheker, Dolores Huerta, Free Speech Movement, Jack Weinberg, Jonah Raskin, Mario Savio, New Left, Rag Bloggers, Sixties, Student Radicalism, UC Berkeley
Halsted by Maxwell had a great hot dog stand which I frequented during late night hunger attacks for polish sausages smothered with grilled onions and hot peppers and greasy fries on the side.
Long Train on the Plains, 1979. Photos by Michael James from his forthcoming book, Michael Gaylord James’ Pictures from the Long Haul.
[In this series, Michael James is sharing images from his rich past, accompanied by reflections about -- and inspired by -- those images. These photos will be included in his forthcoming book, Michael Gaylord James' Pictures from the Long Haul.]
Throughout 1979, work, politics, and travel commingled. The brutal winter blizzard that year brought me extracurricular work driving a dump truck and a small front loader to help remove the onslaught of paralyzing snow. When winter finally broke, I was in get-out-of-town mode; in April I embarked on a solo drive West.
Posted in RagBlog
Tagged ChicagoFest, David Meggyesy, David Orr, Electoral politics, Heartland Cafe, Maxwell Street Market, Memoir, Michael James, Pictures from the Long Haul, Rag Bloggers, Ray Mungo, Rising Up Angry
For seven seasons, members of the MacDonald family, their servants, neighbors, and visitors, scheme and counter-scheme at a massive Scottish Highlands estate.
Monarch of the Glen is charming Scottish dramedy.
[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.]
Monarch of the Glen is a humorous British television drama series set in the picturesque Scottish Highlands; it aired seven seasons between 2000 and 2005. Six of the series (64 episodes) are on Netflix and Netflix Instant streaming. Here is the pilot episode.
The estimate of three years of easily affordable driving depends primarily on how long the current fracking boom, which is holding down the global oil price, can be sustained.
Drive, he said. Photo by David Pardo / AP.
Second in a series
Part 1 of this series stirred up a lot of interest with Rag Blog readers, and it was reposted by Resilience.org where it was also popular. I imagine the article’s somewhat alarming title struck a nerve, calling attention to the repressed fears that challenge our suburban, car-centric American culture. Fears that stem from our culture of denial in response to business as usual.
In Part 2 we will further explore the constraints on our energy resources and will look at the role of finance capital in perpetuating our denial; denial that inhibits energy reform until there is a full blown crisis.
Posted in RagBlog
Tagged American Society, Driving Series, Finance Capital, Fossil Fuels, Fracking, Oil Prices, Oil Production, Peak Driving, Peak Oil, Rag Bloggers, Roger Baker, Transportation, World Economy